Friday, December 25, 2009

A Little Willing Suspension of Disbelief Goes A Long Way

The Christmas I was nine, I had pretty much given up on the idea of Santa. It's strange to me that I had not given up on it sooner--I was, after all, the kid who couldn't sit through the Wizard of Oz without harping on the fact that it would've been impossible for all those "people" who'd never met--Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion--to know all the words to the song "We're Off To See The Wizard." On the other hand, I did not seem to have much trouble accepting a talking Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion or, for that matter, a green-faced Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys so perhaps it's not so odd after all.

In any case, I didn't quite NOT believe in Santa but mostly that was the same kind of bet-hedging I imagine many on-the-fence agnostics indulge in--better not to say out loud, "There is no Santa" just in case there is one and he might be offended and vengeful at my disbelief.

So Little Sister and I were in the bedroom we shared, awake late, too excited to sleep, wondering aloud about the surprises there might be under the tree, just generally being kids on Christmas Eve. At some point--and I'm not sure if she was still awake or not--there came the sound of tinkling bells.

They were sleigh bells, of course. No other logical explanation could be found in my wanting-to-believe brain. And that sealed the deal on at least six more months of being right around 85% certain that Santa Claus not only existed but did in fact fly around the world in a sleigh pulled by bell-bedecked reindeer.

By the following Christmas, I no longer believed and I can't remember exactly what compelling evidence pushed me to non-believer status, but there was always this weird nagging doubt in the back of my mind--"What about those sleigh bells?"

Three years or so after I heard those sleigh bells, I was digging for dimes in the desk drawer where my father sometimes threw his pocket change and came across a photo of him with the box of the pinball machine we had found under the tree the Christmas morning I was nine and suddenly those sleigh bells made a lot more sense. It hadn't been a sleigh landing on the roof, it had been my father test-driving the pinball machine.

Thirty-two years later, the fact that I didn't recognize the bells of the sleigh the night before Christmas as the bells of the pinball machine Christmas morning remains one of my most enduring lessons in the power of our wishes and moods to influence our perceptions of the world around us. Though I've not always put it to good use*, the awareness that what I see is often influenced by what I "want" to see was a much longer-lasting gift than the pinball machine or anything else I found under the tree that morning.

*In that way, it's like the gift of exercise equipment--you have every intention of using it and you know it would do you good to use it, but all too often it ends up abandoned in some corner--a treadmill turned clothes rack.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Drum Roll Please

And here it is--the final disappointing post to top off a month of mostly disappointing posts. It's kind of a tradition.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Under The Wire...

I left the house at 7:30 this morning and walked in the door five minutes ago (11:30 p.m.). Worked an eight-hour shift and then drove for six-and-a-half hours getting Sons-Two and Three back to college. Spent the last half hour of the drive watching the low fuel light flicker and wondering if the friggin' light was serious or just messin' with me. Not that it really mattered because there was nowhere open to stop (welcome to the Boondocks, baby). As an added bonus, I didn't sleep well last night between worrying about a financial aid issue Son-One is having and poring over the incredibly enthralling Sarah Palin memoir*. Anyway, blah, blah, blah, whine, whine, whine.

There's the post and, speaking of running out of gas, thank goodness there's only one day left.

*It's like the proverbial train wreck--no matter how much you know you'd be better off if you just looked away, you somehow can't make yourself look away.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

You Are What You...Read?

I spent the afternoon cramming in the last third of Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood. It was due at the library today and unrenewable due to the long list of other rabid Atwood fans waiting their turn. Atwood is one of my favorite writers because whatever world she chooses to draw on the page is utterly convincing. It's my personal belief that the writers who are most capable of drawing their readers in are the ones who immerse themselves most fully in their written worlds.

In the case of The Year of the Flood and Atwood's other futuristic tales--The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake (for which Flood is sort of a companion novel more than really a sequel--there are overlapping characters but the action takes place alongside Crake rather than much before or after it)--this ability to paint persuasive pictures is chilling. Though all three books are fiction, the dystopian futures contained within them are built with the blocks of factual current events and the outcomes, though different, are utterly believable. The Handmaid's Tale imagines a future in which religion as government is taken to a frightening, and heartstoppingly believable, extreme. Flood and Crake imagine a future in which technology (particuarly biotechnology) and the corporations that control it manipulate the world for their own ends with catastrophic--and heartstoppingly believable--results.

I have spent the evening trying to shake the vague uneasiness (and okay, a little outright panic) Atwood worked so hard to create.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Birthday (Saint) Hubby

Today is Hubby's 42nd birthday. Convenient that Thanksgiving so often falls on Hubby's birthday since he's one of the things I'm most grateful for in my life at the moment.

We've definitely had our share of rough spots (and sometimes it seemed like a few other people's shares as well). There have been whole stretches of time when it seemed not only unlikely but completely impossible that we would be together to celebrate his 42nd birthday but here we are--still driving each other crazy (both good crazy and bad crazy), and still together. Thankfully.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Since You Put It That Way

In honor of the upcoming official start of the holiday shopping season I offer this little nugget from my own Christmas shopping past:

When I was nine or ten, my dad took my siblings and I shopping for our mom. I really wanted to get her an electric can opener but my dad said, "Don't you think you should pick out something a little more personal?"

His suggestion? A frying pan. Her own personal frying pan.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

That's My Boy

Son-Three texted me recently: "There's this guy that travels around to college campuses preaching against gays and trying to get people to punch him so he can file lawsuits."

Fearing a repeat of the skin tag conversation in which he asked me if it was okay to rip off a skin tag and when I said no, he told me he had already ripped it off, I said, " didn't punch this guy did you?"

And he said, "No. He's not coming 'til tomorrow."

Always a champion of saying the things that should go without saying, I say, "Well, don't punch him."

Then my thoroughly heterosexual 18-year-old son said, "I wasn't going to. I was going to walk by while holding hands with JC [his gay roommate]."

Monday, November 23, 2009

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Blubber*

A few weeks ago, Daughter-Only and I were waiting in the car at Kmart while Hubby was inside shopping for I really can't remember what and it kind of bugs me because it's pretty rare for me to sit outside while he goes shopping so you would think I would remember what it was he was shopping for, but I don't and it's not at all relevant to the story, so...

Daughter-Only and I were sitting in the car in the Kmart parking lot around dusk one evening and I had partially reclined my seat and was yawning frequently. I said, "I'm soooo tired. And I'm really sick of being tired all the time. And it's hard for me to figure out why I'm so tired since it seems like I don't really do that much, but something that not everyone realizes is that when you're as overweight as I am, it's like carrying around an entire extra human being all day long--and not just a child-sized human either but a pretty good-sized adolescent or young adult."

This is not the first time I've made this observation to a member of my family, but it is the first time I've decided to share it with the bloggy world at large. Yes, I realize that it's largely (ha ha) my own fault I'm carrying around this extra person. And yes, I realize that only I can set this extra person down--but I can't set him down all at once--and all the things I can do to set him down bit by bit, I must do with him still hanging on.

Please understand, this is not a poor me, I'm fat post--it's a matter-of-fact observation that everything an overweight person does they're doing while carrying around an extra person. Try to imagine a 120-pound indvidual going about her day carrying around another 120-pound individual. It would definitely slow a person down and wear a person out.

For a lot of people, "fat" and "lazy" go together like sick-and-tired and salt-and-pepper. It's almost like it's all one word: fatandlazy. And I'm just here to say that until you've walked a mile in our extra-wide shoes while carrying an entire additional person, you have no idea how hard we "fatandlazy" people work just to make it through our day.

*Actually he sort of is. That's kind of the point of this post.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Other NaBlos I Have Known

NaBlos come and NaBlos go, but cop-out posts are forever.

"I came, I saw, I posted (sort of). I'll try harder tomorrow."~~Nov. 4, 2006

"I'm posting.It's not much but that's what I've got today.It counts, right? And I promise to do a better job tomorrow. Maybe promise is too strong a word...(Hey, it's got a beginning, middle and an end--they're just all really close together.) " ~~Nov. 4, 2007

"The halfway mark & I got nothin'. I realize I've also had nothin' a significant number of days leading up to this one. The difference is, as celebration of the halfway mark, I'm respecting us both enough to just say so up front." ~~Nov. 15, 2008

And my personal favorite...

"Blahg Post
Blah blah blah blah, blah-blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah-de-blah blah blah blah.Blah blah blah blah blah*, blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah; blah blah blah blah blah!

*Blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah." ~~Nov. 6, 2008

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ripped From The Headlines--Or Actually From The Inbox Of Daughter-Only's Phone*

Daughter-Only was texting the guy she's calling her best friend this week--who several years ago was her boyfriend and with whom she's maintained a fairly steady friendship broken up by occasional weeks of "I hate him! He's an ass!" where they weren't speaking to each other. This guy was talking about Daughter-Only maybe coming over to hang out over Thanksgiving break but warned her that it was boring at his dad's house.

D-O responded: Well at least you'll have company.

Best Friend For Now: Yeah, and misery loves company.

D-O: Correct.

BFFN: But company only likes misery as a friend.


BFFN: Hence it's miserable.

*Not only did she give me permission to plagiarize her text conversation, she practically begged me to do it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Speaking of Bestsellers That Will Likely Make Me Want To Do Bodily Harm To Myself...

Part of me wishes she would just go away but a whole other (meaner) part is hopeful that all this new exposure will expose her* for what she's been all along--a person wholly unqualified to hold any major governmental office--and then she'll go away.

*To the few who haven't already noticed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Twilight: Zigging When Everyone Else Zags--With A Link For All You Zaggers Out There

A disclaimer: I have read none of the Twilight books. At the height of the furor over the books, I did consider reading them. And the entire set is owned by a member of my household who shall remain nameless but who is not the member you would assume owns these particular books so it would've been easy enough to do. But I didn't because a) I have a long history of zigging when everyone else zags (See: Andy Gibb vs. Shaun Cassidy, Rad Daly vs. Scott Baio , etc) and b) I have given in to this kind of temptation when it comes to books before with results that left permanent psychological scars.

Most recently, I gave in to the hype about Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. A book's topping the bestseller lists for ridiculous amounts of time usually works to
dissuade me from reading it (zig-zag) so it took recommendations from lots and lots of people close to me to convince me to give this book a try. I have to give Brown credit for a suspenseful plot--had it not been that suspenseful I would never have made it to the end of the book without simultaneously stabbing myself in both eyes so as not to risk ever having to look at a passage from that book again. (Seriously? After six years the main things I remember about the book are the albino monk and Dan Brown's egregious overuse of the word "upwelling.") In case it's not obvious I am still a little bitter about that experience.

Before that, it's all the way back to 1992 and The Bridges of Madison County. It was short, which was a good thing but the prose was so purple it was practically grape-scented and essentially the whole thing boiled down to a glorification of adultery which left me less than impressed.

In the case of the Twilight books, even people who have ravenously devoured all four books admit that the writing is not all that great. So no, I haven't read the Twilight books or seen all of the first movie but I know lots and lots of people who have so in honor of the release of the Twilight sequel New Moon, I'm going to send any New Moon fans out there over to Jen Lancaster's blog Jennsylvania where she has posted
her own version of New Moon acted out by the official action figures of Bella, Edward, Jacob & Alice. (Spoiler alert--though I doubt very, very much that anyone for whom this movie could possibly hold a plot twist or secret not already leaked or purposely read about is likely to click the link.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm Actually Doing You All* A Really Big Favor

Long day which began with taking Daughter-Only to school careened through a staff meeting and a training session (bloodborne pathogens and sexually transmitted infections anyone?) bounced to grocery shopping and picking Hubby up from work early due to some miscommunication that's better left unelaborated** upon and then screeched into an eight-hour shift during which the only time I sat down I was behind the wheel and, finally, stumbled into me twisting my ankle on my way to my car at work because the flipping outside lights that are supposed to be on a timer are apparently on a different schedule on Wednesday nights than any of the rest of the week.

So...yeah, I could write a "real" post but it would just be an extended whining session and no one really needs more whining in their lives, right?

You're so very welcome.

*Does a number you can count on one hand with a few fingers left over really constitute an "all?" It's like the Steven Wright joke about how he got into an argument with someone over what he considered an "odd" number. Or maybe not.

**I'm pretty sure it's a word or at least an acceptable construction consisting of word-like parts.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Worst Customer Service Job Ever

There are no guarantees in life. But if there were, who would be manning the customer service desk? Who would hear the complaints? And what complaints would there be?

"I like the color. It matches my eyes, but it's a little too tight in the hips."

"It's so much louder and more complicated than I expected it to be."

"There must've been a shipping delay. Mine came too late--I would've much preferred the Renaissance."

"Do you have something a little longer? I got this one as a gift and it's not quite right."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brought To You By NaBloPoMo

Welcome to tonight's episode of "Random Crap That's Inside My Brain!"

I had a long conversation with Cranky* today. We still talk once or twice a week--always at her initiation. I always figured that once we weren't around each other 8 hours a day, I would be better at tolerating her but either she's gotten significantly worse or my tolerance level has dramatically decreased. It's a weird thing--I feel some kind of sympathetic obligation to her because she really has so few friends and she's been unable to find other work since the flower shop closed, but talking to her almost always makes me feel like someone is rubbing a cheese grater across my forehead.

*Formerly Cranky Boss Lady, but as she's no longer my boss and was never really much of a lady, her name has been shortened accordingly.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Starting Even Earlier

As alarming as Fourth Niece's stories of the failed romantic relationships (of nine-year-olds) were, they pale in comparison to this gem from Baby Brother's Girlfriend's Then Four-Year-Old Daughter.

I picked her up on the way to Daughter-Only's (then) Boyfriend's house. Four-Year-Old had spoken with The Boyfriend by phone once or twice because Four-Year-Olds love the phone and at that point Daughter-Only and The Boyfriend spent a pathological amount of time on the phone and had to fill it with something.

I told her we were going to pick up the Boyfriend and Four-Year-Old said, "Is he the one with the hot voice?"

And I said, "Honey! You're FOUR!"

And she said, "What?! It's not MY fault he was born hot!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Maybe It's Time For A New Hobby

Drove Fourth Niece home from the skating rink tonight. The car ride was educational--as only car rides with nine-year-olds can be.

She says, "Well there was a lot more drama than usual tonight."


"I mean, yeah, you can't have skating without drama. There's always drama, but tonight, it was way worse than usual. About half the girls were crying."


"Well some of them got dumped and some of them got ran over*."

"Run over?"

"Yeah, like they fell and people skated over them? But I didn't get dumped or ran over tonight. Lots of boys like to dump girls at skating. I don't know why. I've only ever had one boyfriend..."

"And you dumped him?"

"No. He dumped me. At skating. Well actually he had his friend dump me at skating, but not tonight. It was a long time ago but I still love him. The boyfriend, not the friend who dumped me for him."

"So did you have a good time tonight?"

"Yep. Thanks for the ride."

*Same difference.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Consider The Source

When a not-terribly-bright person says something not-terribly-bright it's sad, but to be expected. For instance, during the first Gulf War I worked with a blond* chick who had earned her ditz reputation** so when she heard that we were bombing Baghdad and said, "I thought we were fighting Iraq," her confusion--while it made those around her roll their eyes--was not really surprising.

When, however, someone you've considered reasonably intelligent who has never given you cause to doubt that intelligence comes out with something duh-worthy, it can mess with your head a little.

Recently a coworker--a man in his fifties who has lived in our rural county for most of his adult life--said to me, genuinely confused, "Wow, there's been a lot of dead deer alongside the road lately. What do you think happened to them? It's probably cars--I mean, it has to be cars, right?"

I just nodded but I couldn't help wondering what he thought it might be if it wasn't cars. Exhaustion? Aliens? The mental and emotional stress brought on by NaBloPoMo? A plague in which the deer are coincidentally dropping dead right next to the road?

*Just a coincidence, not a stereotype.
**This is the woman who said, sincerely, that she was voting for Bill Clinton because he had a "nice ass."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


About mid-October, I got another promotion at work--this time to housekeeping supervisor, an official full-time position with benefits including sick, vacation, and personal days and paid holidays and insurance. The trade-off is that I work 2:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Sunday, I work 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. That means that Sunday is the new Monday. But you know what else it means?

Thursday is the new Friday--woo-hoo!

*Thank God Tomorrow's "Friday!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Here and Gone Again

"It is unacceptable, all the stunned and anxious missing a person is asked to endure in life. It is not to be endured, not really."
~~Lorrie Moore

Hubby is working with a guy who recently bought six or seven properties around town--the best of which would be generously called dilapidated. They are planning to work together to repair these houses as rental units. There is one in particular Hubby sees great potential in and asked me to go with him to check it out as a possible rental for us once the renovations and repairs have been made.

Hubby has a significantly better imagination than I have and where I see only the daylight coming in from the outside in places where daylight should not come in and the daylight failing to come in in places where it should (windows covered with plywood), he sees nothing but possibilities. He can imagine the place freshly sealed, drywalled, painted while I can only imagine it collapsing down around our ears.

We were bickering about which of us was more realistic about exactly how much work (time, money, materials and so on) the place would require to be just livable, let alone comfortable, when I stepped out on to the raised deck outside the back door and my right leg promptly went through the rotted wood to about mid-thigh. My left ankle had twisted at a nasty angle with the sudden shift in weight and there was nothing nearby to grab on to for leverage so I was stuck there with one leg dangling until Hubby could pull me out of the deck.

In the thirty or forty seconds that I was stuck there lots of things were running through my head--at least one of them the obvious I-told-you-so potential of being moderately injured by a house I had just argued to Hubby was a deathtrap. But one of the things that went through my mind in those seconds was that something very similar had happened to my mother many years ago.

In 1985, when the family was packing up to leave our house in New Hampshire, my mother was carrying a box across the raised porch and her leg went through a weak spot. I wasn't there when it happened (having moved south ahead of my family partially in pursuit of Mr. High School) but I saw the resulting bruise--enormous and rainbow-colored--and could easily imagine where on the porch her leg had gone through. The weak spot had been there a while and we had been warned away from that end of the porch for the last six months we'd lived there.

So I was stuck there in the deck imagining my mother 24 years ago stuck in a similar fashion in a porch 400-some miles away and it occurred to me, not for the first time*, that the people who are gone from our lives come back to us in the oddest of ways.

*Here & here for example.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Masked Mom's Media Monday: Eating The Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman

I started this book last night and am more than halfway through it though I have, at least theoretically, found time to sleep, eat and work an 8-hour shift.

The book is not at all about dinosaurs but instead is a collection of essays about pop culture and what the culture says about us. Klosterman is a genius at pointing out connections you've never seen but that seem both brilliant and obvious once he's called them to your attention.

The truth is when I'm reading Klosterman, half (or more) of my brain is in the book no matter what I'm doing, which explains this lame blog post and lamer review which does nothing to explain the greatness of the book or Klosterman.

Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Addictive.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Some Secrets About PostSecret (Some More Secret Than Others)

1. I have been a fan for a long time (at least three years, based on this post). I check the website for updates most weeks and own all of the books.

2. I have sent in two separate secrets over the years, neither of which I've seen again (so far).

3. About a year ago, I made the gigantic mistake of telling Daughter-Only that I had sent these secrets. While I did not tell her what these secrets were, I did agree that if either of the secrets were ever to appear on either the site or in one of the books and she asked me about that specific secret, I would tell her the truth.

4. So far--as I mentioned above--neither of these secrets has resurfaced but that hasn't stopped Daughter-Only from honing in on the most disturbing secrets to appear each week--and, of course, in the recently released book--and asking me if they're my secret(s).

5. At first, I was terrified that she would find and guess my secret but at this point, her finding out a "secret" truth about me would be better than her temporarily thinking these insane things about her mother.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hot For Teacher

One night, a couple years ago now, Hubby was interested in a little, shall we say, "vigorous cuddling." On this particular night (as on so many particular nights), I was exhausted. But in the spirit of marital generosity, I said, "Okay, I guess we can, but on one condition--you're going to have to do like 89% of the work."

Ever the negotiator, Hubby countered, "Well that depends on what your 21% is going to consist of."

"For starters, I'm going to be tutoring you in math."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

What's Next? A Thank You Card From FOX News For My Many Years of Faithful Viewership?

I know things have not been looking great for the Republicans, but I had no idea they were desperate enough to resort to random, nonsensical SPAM messages such as the one I found in my inbox this evening:

"Dear [Masked Mom],
On behalf of the leadership of the Republican National Committee, I want to thank you for helping our Party earn historic victories in Virginia and New Jersey yesterday.

Your steadfast commitment to our conservative Republican principles and your generous support of the RNC's 2009 campaign programs enabled us to provide all our GOP candidates with the resources they needed to run strong right through Election Day.

Electing Republican governors in Virginia and New Jersey is just the beginning. With the continuing commitment of RNC Sustaining Members like you, I am confident we can elect more GOP governors, make real gains in the U.S. House and Senate, stop the Democrats' radical leftist agenda and cut President Obama's term in half in 2010.
Thank you again for everything you did for our Party and our cause during Campaign 2009.

Michael Steele, Chairman,
Republican National Committee"

I can only assume that the meanings of "steadfast commitment" and "generous support" have changed dramatically to include "doing nothing" and "actively rooting against."

At least the Republicans sprung for a better copywriter than that widow of the Nigerian businessman who keeps hounding me with misspelled and gramatically incorrect e-mails about the millions of dollars she'd like to split with me. Perhaps I'll put her in touch with Mr. Steele and show those Republicans just how generous my support can be.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Six Degrees of Influation

You know flu season is bad when conversation at work consists almost entirely of how close the flu virus (seasonal or H1N1) has gotten to each of us.

Client: My boss has a grandson who has H1N1.
Me: My oldest son's girlfriend's roommate has it.
Client: Well, it's way closer to me than to you!

Ok, ok, you win.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

It's Like The Geek Olympics

So it's the original National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo)-- the chance to achieve fame (uh, not so far), fortune (not that either) and fabulous prizes (but not for me--at least not yet) but most importantly, the geeky sense of accomplishment that comes from posting every single day for a month (good thing it's the most important part 'cuz I've had that in geeky spades for the past 3 years).*

*My sense of accomplishment was only minimally diminished the year before last when I was gypped out of the ability to post the final day by the failure of not one but several communications companies to provide me with the ability to communicate via the Internet. But I'm not bitter because the only thing worse than being a geek is being a bitter geek.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Escalating Acts of Randomness*

If random (and moderately disturbing) texting ever becomes an Olympic event, rest assured, you don't have a shot at the gold. Bronze, maybe. Silver, if you're lucky. But the gold surely belongs to Daughter-Only and I.

Here's a recent text conversation between Daughter-Only and I in its shockingly pointless and odd entirety. It began normally enough--with D-O asking if I was getting a break from work (presumably so I could give her a ride home)--and then swerved completely out of control almost immediately. Daughter-Only got the last word because I was forced by the cruelties of timing to actually pay attention to my job while I was at work.

D-O: Break?

MM: In Bolivar [a town about 15 miles from home].

D-O: Why?

MM: Meeting.

D-O: Until when?

MM: 9--I'm not getting a break. Working til 10:30.

D-O: I know you work until 10:30 you silly little poopsicle.

MM: Sweet.

D-O: Yep. Diaper rash.

MM: Ostrich ass feathers.

D-O: Blue chicken wing pillow fights.

MM: Are just the wings or the entire chickens blue? Is it a naturally occurring blue or a sign of injury, disease or other bodily distress?

D-O: The wings are. And they were born that way, after of course, the Great Explosion of Nayithe, in which a number of cats vomited on William's coat.

MM: Ah, but the question remains who put the bomp in the bomp-de-bomp-de-bomp? PS--Whoever it was failed to put the bomp in the T9.

D-O: Well the little ditty of Vienna thinks you're so vain time after time.

MM: Uh--of COURSE I'm vain--this song is about me. And then some.

D-O: Nope. Wrong again. It's about the Pilgrims swimming in tidal pools of iguana saliva.

MM: Sweet salmonella--you win. But worry not--the hounds of heinieville will rise to howl again--and maybe even hump your leg.

D-O: Wicked wheat waffles!! How could the dolphin orphanages host such a curtain of packing peanuts? It's slutterly ridiculous.

MM: Depends entirely upon what is packed among those peanuts. Was it Schrodinger's cat? Cuz if you apply the Dupendorfer principle the answer is bad venison.

D-O: No, no. Schrodinger's brother was in those peanuts!! Incoming news: an obese walrus from Tenessee just had a severe heart attack on the walls of a Turkish ballet studio. Bring immediate help! (And two lollipops.)

MM: What flavor? Lollipops I mean. Everyone knows walruses are root beer flavored. Except the really old ones--they taste like avacados.

D-O: Not nearly as bad as the douche canoe flavor of an Indian Vortex Lion. Oh, what's that? You don't know what a douche canoe tastes like? That's insane. Who hasn't tasted a makeshift boat filled entirely, and only with vaginal cleansers?! You are sooo deprived.

MM: True story.

D-O: Not as true as the skies are blue.

MM: It is too truer than the skies are blue. But not quite as true as the blue chicken wings were blue.

D-O: Goat killing should be provided by the 97th amendment.

MM: I thought that was the plan. Unfortunately both goats and their potential killlers will succumb to a rogue hiccup virus long before that amendment's passed.

D-O: Terrible how one tiny sheep-wannabe can be mentally damaged to the point of no-return by a single rusty-orange fingernail.

MM: That's a whole other bale of fish fur.

D-O: Shedding bananas, SmudgyFace! What a brilliant observation. It's as delicate as looking into a tin foil mirror with only seconds left on the clock of doom.

*Randomness beat out randmosity here largely because the suffix "-osity" was ruined for me by the episode of Growing Pains where Carol got the job writing for the school paper and in her eagerness to show off her superior intelligence fills her assignments with unnecessarily long and complicated words. The paper's advisor calls her in and tells her, "This story stinks." She says, "I don't understand." And he says something like let me put it in words you will understand: "It's replete with stinkyosity."

Friday, October 16, 2009

C'mon, October, Seriously?

Dear October,

My blog buddy Erika over at Dry, Ink had a few stern words for you last week about your behavior in Louisiana--specifically about your failure to show your face and put an end to temperatures in the nineties. I'm not sure what you're doing with yourself in Louisiana this week, but I'm not at all amused by what you've done around here.

Your job in our little corner of the world is to gently usher the leaves off the trees as you gradually lower the temperatures, preferably with strikingly blue skies to highlight the gorgeous colors of the leaves. Instead, we've had rain and cold and clouds and this morning, we had this:

I mean WTF and a half, October! Two inches of wet, heavy snow?! Widespread power outages due to the leaf/snow combination breaking limbs and taking out power lines across the region?!

I wasn't really sure what to do with you, October. Should you be grounded? Or fired? Have your paycheck docked? Fifty lashes with a downed power line? Then it hit me, I'm going to do something even worse...

I'm telling Erika on you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Biopsy Performed By That Dude From The Frat House Down The Street

Son-Three was home from college a weekend or so ago and showed me a small growth on his neck--something he believed was a skin tag but that I was pretty sure was a mole in the larval stages. In any case, it didn't meet the criteria for anything to be overly concerned about--just something to keep an eye on.

He texted me the other day: "Can I rip off a skin tag?"

I texted back: "A. No. B. It might be a mole. C. No."

The return message? "Let's say I already did and I'm sure it's not a mole."

Let's say I'm glad I was 100 miles away when that determination was made.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

My Newest Superpower: Interior Design

Looking around our cramped bedroom that's painted a horrid shade of blue just this side of teal*, Hubby says, "This room needs painted badly."

I look around at the bulging and cracking wallpaper covered with a quarter-inch thick layer of pukey blue paint and at the window and door frames plastered over with the same thickly applied paint, and observe, "Uh, it's already painted badly."

*Teal is a four-letter word.

Monday, September 28, 2009

How It Got Here I Haven't A Clue*

A month into his first year of college, Son-Three reports that one of his new college friends marked two milestones in one day. In the morning, this friend, JD, got his first tattoo--praying hands--at a local shop called The Pink Armadillo. That evening, he decided to drink alcohol for the first time--and ended up drinking until he was quite wasted.

So wasted in fact, he approached Son-Three and said in a conspiratorial whisper, "Dude, look at this, look at this. Someone drew hands on me! Who would do that? I'm totally going to get to the bottom of this."

Son-Three says, "JD, remember? You got that from The Pink Armadillo."

JD mulls this over for a second then says with amazement, "Dude--did you know pink armadillos could draw?!"

*From "Margaritaville," a song in which Jimmy Buffet commemorates a few of his own milestones such as looking for his lost shaker of salt, blowing out his flip-flop by stepping on a pop-top and, of course, the brand-new tattoo: "It's a real beauty, a Mexican cutie/How it got here I haven't a clue."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Let Her Out Once In A While To Get Some Air

Bumped into a former Shop Groupie at the grocery store two days in a row. She's an old friend of Cranky Boss Lady who dresses almost exclusively in various patterns of camouflage though she neither hunts nor was ever in the military. On seeing me the second day, she said, "You sure cruise these, uh, food places a lot."

"Yeah, that's how I keep my girlish figure," I said, while waving my hand to highlight my decidedly ungirlish shape.

Camo Lady raised an eyebrow. "Where do you keep her?"

Laughing, I said, "In a locker at home--it's the only place she's really safe."

"Yeah, I've had mine tucked away so long I'm not sure I remember where I left her."

"I used to take her out on special occasions--I guess it has been a while."

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Happy To Do My Part

First day of school. Daughter-Only and I head out the door early--determined to get off on the right foot. Apparently, we're not the only ones. Traffic around the school is backed up through all the surrounding intersections--cars stopped at weird angles, people sitting through two or three lights halfway through the intersection, and so on.

Suddenly, I see our chronic lateness last year in a whole new light. I had thought I was disorganized and a failure as a parent for being unable to motivate my children to get out the door on time most days.

I see now I was merely playing an important role in reducing the morning traffic congestion around the school.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I'll Take Potent Potables For $500, Alex

My current state of mind, revealed in text messages:

Little Sister: We have a bunch of lemons. Do you want them for lemonade?

MM: Sure--are these literal lemons or metaphorical lemons?

LS: I will just give you the literal ones and spare you my metaphorical ones. :)

MM: That sounds good. Despite what you may have heard, the metaphorical ones are often too sour to make a potable lemonade.

LS: Definitely! and bitter too.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Our Little Girl Is A Woman Now, Or Have You Ever Really, Really Wanted To Laugh Even Though You Knew Laughing Was The Utterly "Wrong" Thing To Do?

So Ex Sister-in-Law and I and her two daughters, Third Niece and Fourth Niece*, along with Daughter-Only, were school shopping over the weekend. This shopping involved driving in Rochester, which compared with my teeny tiny town is the Big City. At one point, I lost patience with the guy in front of me and said just above a whisper, "All right, fuckwipe, make a decision or get the hell out of the way."

ES-I-L chuckled and said, "Wow, I've never heard you cuss behind the wheel before."

I explained that now that my job involves driving so much I really have a lot less patience for other people on the road. Daughter-Only piped up somewhat in my defense, "Well at least you're not as bad as So-and-So [a family friend known to be a little, shall we say, testy, especially behind the wheel]. She screams at everyone."

"Well, that's because So-And-So is a B-I-T-C-H," I pointed out, oh-so-cleverly spelling the word even though my nieces are 9 and 12 and well beyond the age when I can get away with that.

Without missing a beat, Third Niece chimes in, "Are you just F-U-C-K-I-N figuring that out?"

*Formerly Youngest Niece and Next-To-Youngest Niece, whose Blog Names have been changed by the arrival of Fifth Niece, brand new daughter of Baby Brother and Sister-in-Law-To-Be. Similarly, Only-Nephew has become First Nephew with the arrival of Second Nephew (formerly Fetus-On-The-Fridge).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Don't Even Mention The Table Saw

So we've moved again about which I'm not at all happy. I've been acting like a complete ass instead of acting grateful to have a roof over my head. In my defense, it's not that easy to muster gratitude for a roof when it's not only got moss growing on it but grass and a few stalks of goldenrod sprouting up there as well. Looking on the bright side in this case probably means being grateful that the goldenrod didn't have fertile enough ground to actually bloom.

In addition to the flora sprouting from the roof, the house was full of the previous tenant's belongings. Not just a few things left behind in a last minute move, but rooms full of furniture, clothing, bedding, eyeglasses, half-finished bottles of water, and so much more--all tidily arranged and remarkably clean considering the house had been left empty for nearly a year.*

This meant essentially moving two households of stuff over the course of six days. Our new landlord told us we were welcome to keep any of the left-behind stuff that we wanted and have a yard sale with the rest. Hubby was delighted to find a variety of new (still in the package) and like-new power tools on the cluttered back porch. On one of our many trips between houses, he said to me, "There was a belt sander that I don't think has ever been used."

From the backseat, Daughter-Only piped up, "Why would you want to sand your belt?"

*Long and complicated story, but we've been assured she's not dead and also not coming back for any of her stuff.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Embracing Change

Big changes are afoot here at Masked Mom Headquarters. (For starters, we've apparently begun using the word "afoot" with a relatively straight face.) Long-time readers and long-suffering real world friends and family members all know that change is not my favorite thing, but the thing about change is that it comes whether you like it or not.

The flower shop where I've been working (or engaged in occasional work-like activity broken up by long periods of reading, writing, gossiping, and yelling at the boss) for ten years closed permanently as of May 30. I was fortunate enough to find a new job before the shop closed--so there was no gap in employment but instead an overlap during which I worked 50-70 hours a week at both places all while still ferrying around four children and trying to occasionally remember I have a husband.

The new place is a halfway house where I have already been promoted to the position of "transportation coordinator" which is a fancy way of saying I'm in charge of getting seventeen assorted recovering addicts to their various appointments (and back again) in a timely fashion. Plus filing monthly reports on mileage, gas and other expenses and keeping up maintenance for the house's four vehicles.

It's more money than I was making before--and way more challenging and entertaining. So I'm learning at this late date that maybe embracing change is the best plan--especially when it's inevitable.
And I would embrace it--I really would--but I'm too tired to lift my arms.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Apparently Not Everyone Is Equally Hooked On Phonics

There was a period of time when the kids were younger when Hubby and I got in the habit of calling each other "diphthong" as a teasing insult. I don't even vaguely remember how it got started, but I know that at one point, Hubby called Youngest Sister that and she quickly came back with "Umlaut!" To which he responded, "Schwa!"

You not only had to be there for that one, you also had to be a little bit of a geek.

Flash forward to this afternoon. Phone call from Son-One, "Mom, what's a diphthong? I just called Girlfriend-One a diphthong and she didn't know what it means and I just realized I don't really know how to explain it."

Ah, Son-One perhaps you should worry a little less about the defintion of diphthong and a little more about what other quirky time-bombs are left behind from your childhood...

Monday, April 06, 2009

Shakespearean Dandruff

Despite being present and very, very alert during her birth, I have occasionally wondered if Daughter-Only was perhaps switched at birth or dropped here from an alien ship because she is so very different in so many ways from her dear old mom. She's very social for one thing, supremely confident--occasionally annoyingly so, she will say anything to anyone (or so it seems). She has, for instance, proposed to several total strangers with a relatively straight face. She has walked down Main Street in town asking random people if they've ever been to Chuck E. Cheese or if they know the Mexican Hat Dance. She's just an all-around out-there kind of kid--unlike her mother, who while decidedly weird, has always kind of hidden her weird little light under a bushel.

Anyway, last night, she says to me, "Mom! How come T-9* has 'Shakespearean' but it doesn't have 'dandruff?'"

Try--just try--to imagine a texting world in which it would be necessary to use either the word Shakespearean or the word dandruff. And then, take that one step further into a universe in which the same person might need to text both words in the same one-hour period.

She's mine. She's definitely mine.

*T-9 is the texting "dictionary" in some cell phones.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Lessons Learned #346

In no particular order, some things Masked Mom has learned in recent weeks:

1. While I was born right-handed, I did go through a phase as a kid where I tried to retrain myself so I could work equally well (or at least acceptably) with my left hand. This was wildly unsuccessful and motivated almost entirely by the fact that I loved the word "ambidextrous." Recently I noticed that without even being aware of it, I had been texting left-handed. Not only can I text left-handed, I can text signficantly faster and more accurately with my left-hand than with my right: I'm ambiTEXTrous!

2. My 14-year-old daughter has a firm grasp of supply and demand and may be some kind of budding economic whiz kid. When she found out that tickets to the high school's production of Little Shop of Horrors cost $6, she said, "I thought, 'That's ridiculous for a high school play.' But then I realized that Hot Senior Boy is wearing tight leather pants in the play--now that's worth $6!"

3. There's nothing quite like waking up with a migraine to make you appreciate waking up the next day without one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Where's My Bailout?"

"Where's my bailout?" said Cranky Boss Lady to the (long-suffering and insanely underpaid) Masked Mom for the millionth time.

For the millionth time, I say, with exaggerated (and not entirely heartfelt) patience, "The theory* is that the bailouts given to the banks and other financial institutions will benefit the economy as a whole in the end--so we're all being bailed out, sort of."

Cranky Boss Lady says, with a whine for crap's sake, "It's not fair."

I lose it. "How old are you? Didn't you just turn 58?! Can you really be walking around expecting the world to be fair?!"

Seriously--you know what's not fair? Being trapped in a truly dead-end job with a FIFTY-EIGHT-YEAR-OLD boss who is still wounded by the unfairness of life and being trapped in that job at a time when the economy is so crappy that I feel lucky every day to have even that job.

*Note that I am not defending the theory. Neither am I pretending to fully understand the forces at work in high finance or in the federal government.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

And the Winner Is--

Rough coupla days around these parts. When it comes to the most disturbing thing I've heard in the last four days, it's a toss-up. The candidates:

My mechanic saying, "It is the fuel pump. Once you figure in all the parts and labor it's going to be just a hair over $400."

The girl at the car rental agency saying, "We're going to go ahead and upgrade you to the Malibu because the Cobalt has a funky smell in it and we can't figure out where it's coming from."

Monday, March 02, 2009

Refrigerator Art

Last night, Son-Three yells from the kitchen: "Just what I want to see when I'm trying to decide what to have for a snack: a fetus!"

Technically it's not a fetus, but an ultrasound picture held on the refrigerator by a magnet. And it's not a picture of just any fetus, but a fetus with my youngest sister's nose or a fetus who looks just like my brother-in-law, depending on which side of the family you ask. It is, in short, a baby whose expected arrival in late summer is eagerly awaited not only by Youngest Sister and her husband but by the many people who love them.

Even Son-Three, who is sometimes relentlessly, dangerously adolescent, is excited. Son-Three happens, by sheer coincidence, to share a real-life name with Youngest Sister's Husband*. This afternoon, he says to me, "Mom, if it's a boy do you think they'll name it after me?"

*Lou B. of the Masked Mom Comment Hall of Fame**

**There is no Masked Mom Comment Hall of Fame, but if there were you can bet your butt he'd be in it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Where's Homeland Security When You Need Them?

Taylor Swift's song "Love Story" is insidious. And not in a good way.

It not only gets in your head, it stays there. It is bouncy, repetitive and sickly sweet. I spent a recent night waking up repeatedly to the sound of those lyrics and that boppy tune chasing themselves around in my brain. It made falling back asleep difficult. I would finally drift off only to be woken up again a short time later. And again and again.

All this despite the fact that I haven't actually heard more than the opening few seconds of the song in days. When I hear it begin on the radio (I can name that tune in two synthesized notes), I change the channel not only quickly but vehemently. A song that relentless has got to have some connection to al Qaeda, right?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Decisions, Decisions...

Years ago, I read a riddle on the last page of Reader's Digest. It went something like, "There were seven frogs on a log. Five of them decided to jump off. How many frogs were left on the log?"

Two, right?

Son-Three, who was seven or eight at the time, piped up, "Seven!" without even a second's hesitation, which was of course the right answer because, as the punchline helpfully pointed out, "Deciding and doing are two different things."

I've been thinking a lot about those frogs lately. The fact that Son-Three got it--at seven or eight and so quickly!--while I failed to get it at all at thirty-something was probably an indication of more than just my slow-wittedness. The fact is deciding and I have a decidedly dysfunctional relationship.

On the one hand, I will spend absurd amounts of time agonizing over seemingly trivial decisions--seriously, I've spent more than an hour picking out a birthday card on more than one occasion. Hubby has practically had to physically drag me out of the pen aisle at Wal-Mart when the choices--blue, black, ballpoint, gel, clicker or cap--have overwhelmed me. On the other hand, I will often make much more serious decisions--say getting married or naming one of my children after a high-end sports car--with much less agony and forethought.

Further complicating matters, the degree of agony involved in making a decision is no indicator whatsoever of the likelihood that I will actually follow-through with said decision. In other words, as fraught as my relationship with deciding may be, my relationship with doing is much more so. Deciding and I should maybe someday be in couples counseling. Doing and me? Well, it's straight to the Jerry Springer Show for us.

For instance, I have decided a number of times (a very high number) to go back to school. I have decided to look up information. I have decided on courses of study. I have decided to fill out the applications and financial aid forms. Of all the times I have made these decisions--sometimes it seems I've made them on a daily basis--I have made it three-quarters of the way through the applicaton process exactly one time before being distracted by the facts of my life and by the very convincing whining of my little chickenshit brain.

This is one frog who's very tired of sitting on the log. Tired of deciding over and over again to jump off. This frog has gotten tough with herself, putting her foot down--this time I'm serious!--and she's tired of that too.

This time, she's not deciding a single damn thing. She's doing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Wednesday UnWhine: "Guess What!? Tomorrow Is The Day Before Friday!"...

...that's how I was greeted this morning by Baby Brother's Girlfriend's Four-Year-Old Daughter, her voice full of excitement--the kind of excitement you might expect if she'd won the lottery and the oversized check was being delivered by Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny.

Hard to maintain a whiny attitude in the face of all that enthusiasm.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Wednesday Whine (Introducing An (Alliterative) Weekly* Collection Of Things That Have Annoyed Me Most In The Past Week)

For this, the premiere episode of The Wednesday Whine, I'll begin with the thing that annoyed me the absolute most this past week and then continue in no particular order:

A. Due to prior commitments to beings I brought into the world who think this fact somehow entitles them to huge chunks of my time and energy and commitments to other people I did not bring into the world but who nonetheless seemingly ceaselessly clamor for my (limited) time and energy, I was unable to begin The Wednesday Whine on an actual Wednesday but had to wait instead for Friday night after a stressful volleyball game and, therefore, am too exhausted to self-edit thereby producing this amazingly long, essentially senseless, if not actually run-on, sentence.

B. Church sign I saw last Saturday night: "NEVER BE AFRAID TO TRUST AN UNKNOWN FUTURE TO A KNOWN COD." Yes, it said "COD," just like that. I drove by, did a double-take and actually backed up to double check. Heck of a "typo," but that wasn't really what annoyed me. What annoyed me was they left it up like that all week. Who knows? Maybe it was a recruitment strategy: lure people into calling to report the "mistake" and then invite them to Sunday service.

C. When I mentioned the church sign to Cranky Boss Lady she said, "A known cod? Would that be Van De Kamp's or Gorton's?" That annoyed me, because it was fast and funny and Cranky Boss Lady's not supposed to be either of those things.

D. In other more typical Cranky Boss Lady news: After making the harrowing drive in to work during a winter storm, she said, "I couldn't help noticing that everyone off the side of the road was driving an SUV" in a tone suggesting there was some kind of karmic justice being wreaked out there on the road--arrogant, overconfident, four-wheel drive driving drivers, blah, blah blah getting what they deserve by winding up stuck in a snow drift. Great theory. Would've meant a heck of a lot more were Cranky Boss Lady not the proud owner & driver of a four-wheel drive vehicle who only last month found herself off the side of a snow-covered road, stuck in a ditch, needing towed out by a tractor. As she rambled on about irresponsible SUV drivers, not for one second did her own overconfident navigation of her own SUV cross her judgmental little mind. Errrrrgggg.

*No promises.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy, Happy Inauguration Day To You

On every birthday up to a certain age, someone invariably would ask me, "You're 4 (or 7 or 10) do you feel any different?"

And, of course, I didn't feel any different than I'd felt the night before when I was still 3 or 6 or 9 because the essence of being 4 or 7 or 10 can't be compressed into a single day or a single moment.

I was thinking about that today, as our 44th president was inaugurated: We have a new president, do I feel any different?

Well...the truth is that a new president will affect the day-to-day facts of our lives very little in the immediate future.

But...the other truth is that I do feel different and I think that feeling is called hope and I think and believe that the man who was sworn in today along with the team he has assembled around himself, can live up to that hope.

PS--Obama's speech was moving and perfectly delivered and I think that's great because I think a good 65% or so of the presidency is about public relations (at home and abroad), but still the best words I heard all day were on the AP radio feed: "A helicopter carried former President Bush away from Washington toward Andrews Air Force base..."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Two Observations For The New Year

--Flannel sheets are the double-edged sword of linens. Good: they are amazingly warm and fuzzy and comfortable. Bad: they are amazingly warm and fuzzy and comfortable so you never want to get out of bed, which severely compromises your ability to function in your normal life. But it's okay because flannel sheets are way better than functioning normally.

--I have grown increasingly perturbed in recent weeks by the fact that windshield wash comes in gallon jugs while the reservoir in my car apparently holds three quarts. I started thinking about it and I've never driven (or filled) a vehicle that did hold the whole gallon. At this point I have six quarts of windshield wash in my garage in six separate containers because I always forget about the leftovers. Shouldn't someone in the wash industry get with someone in the auto industry and hammer out a plan to address this disparity? Maybe we could use a couple million out of the bail-out money to finance that little project, it would make about as much sense as some of the other stuff that's come out of it.