Saturday, December 13, 2008

People are crazy

Today was proof that the world is filled with people whose only purpose in life is to drive me crazy. Or proof that I deserve my own reality show.

I have a firm anti-weekend shopping policy during the holiday season. The stores are just too crowded and crazy. But I had to go out to the big chain drugstore to pick up a prescription and photo cards of the Prince and Princess. One stop, a drugstore, how bad could it be?

Actually, it wasn't too crowded. But it was off the charts crazy.

I walked back to the pharmacy pick up counter and noticed an older gentleman standing about five feet back from the counter and off to one side. He was hunched over with age and his coat hung from his thin body.

I figured he was waiting for someone, but, being polite, I asked him if he was in line.

He turned and snarled -- snarled -- "Yessss," using that "well duh" tone and giving me an eat-shit-and-die look that I thought only my children and high school girls were capable of.

I briefly considered running out to the car and using the drive thru to avoid being around when he started shooting, but didn't want to move too fast and startle him. I decided that if I stood real still and stopped breathing, he might forget I was there. Besides, those scrawny little arms wouldn't be able to hold a gun with much kick.

Along came a sweet looking little old lady with a walker -- obviously who he was waiting for, right? Of course not.

She asked if I was the end of the line. Psycho Man glared at both of us, and I half-turned to answer her, watching him out of the corner of my eye. I wondered if I could use her as a shield, or if I would just end up tripping over her walker when I ran away.

Finally it was Psycho Man's turn at the counter. I slowly edged up to where the line normally would be, but hung back behind him by about two feet. God knows I didn't want him to feel crowded and nervous! Besides, I figured that gave me enough space to make my get away.

I was still concentrating on not listening to the conversation between Psycho Man -- except for words like "kill" and "gun" -- and making myself very small and inconspicuous, when two more ladies joined the line. We'll call them Snippy Lady and Hippy Lady.

Snippy Lady asked in a very loud and, well, snippy voice, "Is there a reason this line is so far back?" Psycho Man turned to glare at her, but of course, I was the first in his line of sight.

Now I wasn't sure which side I would get it from first. I turned to Snippy and tried to explain that I was giving Psycho Man a little extra space. I spoke quietly so I wouldn't attract his attention (or gunfire).

"What? I can't understand you," Snippy Lady spoke slowly and loudly because, obviously, I was either deaf or a blithering idiot.

I checked to make sure Psycho Man was still busy with the pharmacist (and not drawing a bead on me with his rifle), then turned to Snippy and said "He was giving the person ahead of him a extra space, so I'm just trying to give him little space." I spoke a little louder this time, and tried to use hand gestures to indicate "space," and "back off bitch," without actually flipping her off.

That's when we landed smack dab in the middle of Bizarre-o Land. I was waving my hands around saying "a little extra space." Hippie Lady piped up, "I think that's discrimination." Huh? What the? And Sweet Little Old Walker Lady said "I think it's so we don't all catch what he has."

I turned back to Psycho Man, fully expecting the worst. He gave us all a quick scowl, then tucked his head and took off out of there with surprising speed. Apparently three women yammering nonsensically were enough to scare him off. If only I hand known that before!

Unfortunately, the pharmacist also disappeared. Still wondering how I was discriminating against him, I turned to Hippy and Snippy and tried to explained once more. I thought they finally understood, but then Hippy said "I think it's so nice you 'signed' it to us."

"Yes," said Snippy, "I wish I knew sign language. How did you learn it?"

Oh. My. God.

No, it wasn't sign language, I just move my hands a lot when I talk, I said. Psycho Man may not have shot me dead, but now surely I was dying of embarrassment.

That would be a great place to end this story, but while we were waiting for the pharmacist to return, Little Old Walker Lady shared this with us. Back in the '60s, a friend of hers used to do sign language interpretation for the State of California. One night she was suffering from a head cold, and was not really "with it." She couldn't figure out why the audience thought the speech about water treatment was so funny. Later someone explained she had signed "My Mother and I cooked a turkey and put it in the toilet."

Yeah, I know how she feels.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why I'm not a NASCAR driver

I was cruising down I-80 the other day when -- faster than you can say Talladega Nights -- I slipped into race car mode. My right foot staged a coup and took over control of my driving senses. My pleasure cruise through the heartland became a challenge to catch up to and pass as many cars as I could, as quickly as I could.

While it was fun and all that, I didn't think a speeding ticket would add much pleasure to my travels. I reluctantly slowed down and put on the cruise control, thinking that maybe if this whole Queen of the World thing doesn't work out I just might have a future as a NASCAR driver.

I would be a success, of course, but surely being Queen of the Track would have its drawbacks. Then it hit me:

1. No potty breaks. Well, not, you know, honest-to-God get-out-of-the-car-type pee breaks. I can barely make it from the Royal Castle in to town (all of 3 minutes, including waiting for the garage door) without a potty break. The little Prince and Princess hate shopping trips with me because I insist on potty breaks at nearly every store we visit. This is why it can take me all afternoon just to run a few errands. Better safe than soppy, I always say.

2. No eating in the race car. I've never seen a McDonald's bag rolling around on the floor in any of those "in car" shots during a race. And I've never seen a cup holder, either. I'll admit I don't watch a lot of NASCAR races, but you'd think maybe just once I would have noticed. When we bought the current Royal Carriage, I vowed no food would be consumed in it. That lasted approximately two days. And only that long because we didn't drive it on day two.

3. Jump Suit Ass. Need I say more? Sure Danica Patrick looks cute in her little jumpsuit, but she's elf-sized. Being of more Queenly proportions, I just don't think it would be a flattering look. Then again, perhaps a little fashion change is just what that sport needs!

4. Helmet Hair. Bad enough on its own, combined with number 3, this would be deadly. And a helmet is not something you could do without. Especially with those open windows. My hair would either be a wind-blown birds nest, or slicked-down, static clingy, helmet-shaped mop. I don't think there would be room under the helmet for my tiara, either.

5. More Voices in My Head. Just what I need, spotters and crew chiefs and who knows who else chattering away on the radio inside my helmet. I get enough advice about my driving already -- from the little Angels in the backseat, and the helpful gestures of fellow motorists -- I don't need anymore!

6. Road Rage. Despite my calm demeanor, there is a bitch inside me hiding just below the surface. I can picture the scene now: "Did Jeff Gordon really just cut me off? Oooohhh, I don't think so, Girlfriend. I'm gonna hafta get all up in his bidness. Looka hear you little..." Well, you get the picture. They'd be yanking my in-car camera and microphone for sure.

7. Too Freakin' Long. Those races are what, 200-, 500-, bazillion- laps? And for what? It all comes down to the last one or two laps anyway. If they finish under a yellow flag you could just chop off the last couple laps, too! The races are only that long so they can sell more concessions and advertising time. And as a potential driver, this gets back to numbers one and two. I couldn't race that long without a snack or a potty break.

8. They Don't Go Anywhere! So you finish the face. Where are you now? Right back where you started! To get my attention, they would have to move the finish line to somewhere important. Preferably somewhere with shopping. Or a restaurant. Or a bathroom.

9. Limited Computer Interface. Sure, the guys back in the pits are all sitting around watching U-Tube and playing Spider Solitare on their laptops while the drivers are out there ... driving. It would be just like at home, with everyone using my fast new computer except me!

10. It Just Wouldn't Be Fair. When you've got as much talent and beauty as I do, you have to work extra hard to keep everyone else happy. I don't want to be a glory hog. I can share the limelight. It's enough for me to know in my heart that I would rule NASCAR. I don't have to prove it to anyone.

Except that Suburban that passed me just past the Swisher exit. Next time I'll smoke him, but good.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Take this cheese and move it

"Somebody moved my cheese." Ranks right up there with "is the glass half empty or half full ?" in terms of modern trite, overused cliches. But they both offer great possibilities for smart-ass elaborations. My "glass" imagery has overflowed, so now I turn my scorn to the cheese.

"Somebody moved my cheese." I can identify with the frustration over mobile goals. But in my kingdom, it's not always just the goal that moves. After a little (too much) thought , I found this one phrase could apply to oh, so many situations. A change in emphasis makes all the difference.

"Somebody moved my cheese." Meaning: I put it right here so I could start work on it right away. Now, 15 emergencies later, I'm here and it's gone. When I find out who moved it, there's gonna be hell to pay. Unless I didn't put it here, in which case, uh, never mind.

"Somebody moved my cheese." Meaning: I put it here. I know I put it here. I always put it here. Someone -- not me -- moved it. And why is it in the Little Princesses room, along with all my other stuff?

"Somebody moved my cheese." The most likely meaning: I put the cheese here so I could pick it up on my way out the door, and now it's gone and I will have to waste time looking for it and I'm going to be late -- again. Leave my freakin' cheese alone!

Another possible meaning: I put the cheese here instead of taking the extra five seconds to put it away properly. I knew full well I would have to move it. But now it's gone. Is it possible that someone else moved it for me? Could someone else actually have put something away? Aw no, that's just crazy talk.

"Somebody moved my cheese." Meaning: Awww man, I put my snack here and now it's gone. And I'm so hungry I might start gnawing off my own limbs. I've had a taste for cheese all day and I'm going to launch into full out pout mode if I don't get my cheese back. No, I don't want a cracker. I only hope they ate it, because if it sits out too long it's going to get gross and I'm not going to move it then. No way. No how. Oh, who am I kidding? Like anyone else would move a gross, smelly lump of cheese.

"Somebody, move my cheese." OK, a little change up, but it's close enough. Meaning: Would someone please move this cheese? It's been sitting here all week and you all have just been walking around it, setting stuff on top of it, generally ignoring it. Move the damn cheese already. What, are your arms broken? I'm not the freakin' housekeeper. Oh wait, I guess I am. Well, move the freakin' cheese anyway.

"Somebody moved my cheesecake." Meaning: Heads will roll.

"Somebody moved my cheese !?" Meaning: Huh, seemed much funnier when it first occurred to me and I was trying to drive and write at the same time. Back then it was like an epiphany that was worth the risk to my life. Now it's just kind of... (Oh yeah, you know what's coming)

Now it's just kind of cheesy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pot shots at the sunny side

Lately I've been thinking about optimism and flexibility. The outlook isn't good for either, and I'm sure it's not going to change. (Rimshot).

But seriously folks, I'm starting to doubt my optimism. And I am nothing, if not optimistic. Except maybe... pessimistic? (Another rimshot. Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week. Please make sure to tip your waitresses.)

I don't know if it was the election (Nah, I'm a big picture kind of person. It's going to take more than four or eight years to really, really screw things up -- worse than they are); the usual holiday season malaise (eh); a birthday/aging related gloom (possible); or the ongoing glut of acquaintances diagnosed with cancer (hmmm); or a combination of these. Regardless of the cause, I've been questioning my ability to look on the bright side. And how can you question optimism without asking "Is that glass half empty or half full?"

The obvious answer is "depends on what's in it, and how thirsty I am." This snappy rejoinder reassures me that even if my optimism is waning, my smartass-ism is healthy. I've come up with several equally smartass answers.

Looking around the royal quarters, one might be tempted to ask not if the glass is half empty or full, but instead "Is the glass half dirty or half clean?" The correct answer is, "Either way, you can use it again." The same could be said for the laundry -- except for undies, in which case one always assumes they're "used."

If you were to ask the royal husband, he would respond "Glass? What glass? If it has to do with dishes, let me check with the wife." I've trained him well. Although I would prefer his answer to be more along the lines of "Glass? Where? Let me put it in the dishwasher for you, honey."

The little Prince would probably answer "Glass? Was it made of Lego? Did it have wheels?" If it doesn't fall into one of these categories, he wouldn't notice it if it were balanced on his nose. Once assured you weren't trying to get him to put away his toys, he would probably offer "That glass? I think my sister put it there."

Speaking of the little Princess, her answer would probably be "Glass? I looked for it but couldn't find it. Someone must have moved it." Of course, she would be holding the glass during this exchange.

All that deep thought, and I'm still not sure if I'm basically an optimistic person or not. But it does make me giggle. And in that case, I say the dribble glass is half full.

Drink up!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Birthday Decree

I hearby decree, by my royal authority (granted by me), that if you are unable to sit down and eat your birthday cake with family and/or friends it does not constitute an actual birthday, and you are not allowed to add another year to your age.

I can hear the commoners cheering now. "Huzza! Huzza!" I acknowledge the the teaming masses with the royal wave.

Therefore, following my own decree, I shall remain 42 for another year.

What I had planned as a low-key birthday turned out to be more of a no-key birthday.

There was careful planning on my part. I angled to get what I wanted without inflicting pain upon those that I love. Yes, yes. I know. I am far too kind.

I wanted to do something cultural. So I took the little Prince and Princess, and her friend, (another Princess, of course) to the C.R. Museum of Art to see an exhibit of work by the illustrator of Harry Potter. The Princesses enjoyed Harry Potter. The Prince often says he plans to be an artist when he grows up. It seemed a near-perfect match.

Apparently enjoying the act of reading or creating art does not translate into enjoying an art exhibit.

I believe the highlight for the kids was jumping on the beanbag chairs. This, of course, was the worst part for me. Who puts beanbag chairs in a public place?

Lunch at Appleby's was a passable hit. The kids were freezing but the food was hot. The dessert was gone in a flash. Happily, no fingers were lost in the feeding frenzy.

To make up for the museum debacle, and because I am certifiably crazy, I took the kids to "Planet X," super arcade and fun land. And because I am super cool, (and it was my birthday we were celebrating) I took part in all the activities.

The youngsters bounced with excitement as we pulled into the parking lot. They sang my praises as I purchased the nearly full-access (Laser Tag included!) passes.

They nearly carried me on their tiny little shoulders as we toured the facility.

Then reality set in. Laser Tag is played in the dark with sometimes faulty equipment. The cries of joy turned to cries of frustration.

I recalled my fear of heights about half way up the rock climbing wall. Luckily that was only about three feet off the ground, and rappelling is much more fun than climbing.

The trampoline-basketball thingee -- the kids loved it -- would have been fun if I didn't have post-childbearing bladder. It's hard to jump and cross your legs at the same time.

Putt-putt golf and the arcade games were huge hits. Although the automatic ticket counter may have been the biggest hit of the day.

All in all, about a 7 out of 10.

The other part of my devious plan was to stay home by myself and watch movies I wanted to see. I planned to send the King and royal babes off to the football playoff game, leaving me alone, by myself. With the TV all to myself.

There were seven movies in the Iowa City Public Library's catalog I wanted to see. Not new releases. Not super popular movies. Not movies you could find on Red Box at HyVee, or even at Mr. Movies. And not, as it so happened, movies you could find at the ICPL.

All seven of them were checked out. Some with waiting lists.

What kind of weirdos live in Iowa City anyway? Hello-0, not first run movies here, people. Get a freakin' life.

I could have understood it if one or two of them were out. But all seven? What are the odds? I'm sure they are right up there with the chance of me winning the lottery.

But I recovered, settling in with my own copy of Pride and Prejudice. This is a movie best watched alone, without anyone around to ask things like "why are they talking funny?" or "why is he wearing those goofy clothes?" or "why do they spend so much time just looking at each other like that." And those are the questions the husband asks. (Just kidding, dear.)

A happy, quiet time watching 4 of 6 VHS tapes, and a thorough cleaning of the house: a solid 9 out of 10. Wine would have bumped that to 10 of 10, but the frozen chimichangas didn't set right.

On to the great cake debacle.

The Royal Book of Rules requires that, at a minimum, a birthday must be celebrated with a meal not prepared by the Birthday Person.

Unfortunately this rule does not take into consideration the obliteration of the royal family by various stomach ailments.

Mid-afternoon (with nary a dining out offer) I sought refuge in the comfort of a chocolaty, Betty Crocker Warm Delights. No sooner had I licked the spoon clean than the royal family approached bearing gifts and cake.

Oh. Hmm. That timing thing. Not so good.

Gifts were opened and enjoyed. Candles were lit and blown out, songs were sung. The cake was cut.

The little Prince didn't want any because he had a tummy ache. This was most likely brought on by unfettered eating of Halloween candy.

The King declined, also because of an upset tummy. This one of the flu variety. After a polite interval, he lay down and slept for a day and a half.

I didn't want any because I had just finished desert, and I didn't want to end up with an upset tummy.

The little Princess, however, did enjoy a large slice with extra frosting and ice cream.

Leftovers, microwave brownie, and chicken noodle soup. On any other Sunday this would have scored pretty well (it was easy, anyway). But on the birthday scale, factoring in the cake debacle, it's about a 3 for festive birthday fare.

Clearly a Sign From God. A heavenly "pass" or "do over." A "Get Out of Aging Free" card, if you will.

And now, by Royal Decree, available to anyone else with unbelievably bad birthday luck.

You're welcome.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Requiem for a Laptop

Please join me in a moment of silence in memory of "Old Clunky," my beloved and belated laptop.

Ok, that's long enough.
It seems like only yesterday I was happily tap, tap tapping away at Clunky's keyboard when he started, well, clunking. But not when anyone else was around it hear it, of course. Clunky's clunking would immediately and miraculously disappear when I had my favorite IT guy and husband listen.
Eventually the clunking became both frequent and persistent enough to catch his attention. ("What the hell is that?") Irritating, but nothing to worry about, he assured me.
The sudden appearance of the blue screen of death? Unusual, but not fatal.
The switch to the boot up screen of no return, however, did catch his attention.
Plans were made -- hushed whispers, well out of range of Clunky. No need to add insult to injury when the patient is on (virtual) life support. After all, Clunky was considerate enough to let me finish and save projects before slipping into unconsciousness. For the most part.
Much too quickly Clunky's "spells" went from being a mere annoyance, to being a major pain the ass. One reason I can be a stay at home mom is that I can do all of my volunteer and "at home" work via computer. No computer, no volunteer work.
No e-mail, no patience.
No more Mrs. Nice Guy.
It was with heavy heart that I walked in the Best Buy that fateful Friday to find a replacement. How can you replace something that has been such an integral part of your life for lo, so many years?
No, really. How can you replace something that knows all your passwords and e-mail addresses an doesn't want to give them up? How can you replace something that knows all your documents and pictures? All your favorite programs that you have finally -- FINALLY -- figured out?
Yes, Slick, the new computer, runs faster (OMG, so much faster) and more reliably. And we (who am I kidding?), I mean, the IT guy was able to transfer all my old files. But the e-mails, bookmarks, and more importantly my passwords -- like for this blog! -- are somewhere in limbo between computers.
It is with heavy heart I embrace this new technology. The faster processor and slew of new games has made my computer the computer of choice by everyone else in the family. I have to wait in line to use my own computer. I frequently find my carefully searched out web sites abandoned, and my Mahjong games -- close enough to taste victory -- closed.
Don't even get me started on trying to figure out this new version (who knew?) of Spider Solitare. Open Office is nice, but it is so darned ... different!
My Cheese! Someone Moved My Cheese!
I am an Old Dog, being forced to learn new Programs. I am too lazy to learn new programs. To paraphrase Barbie, "Thinking is Hard."
Oh Clunky, how I miss you. And my passwords.
On the bright side, now I have a new excuse for those missed deadlines.