Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Yesterday a strange thing happened here. Water started falling out of the sky! Is that not the strangest thing you’ve ever heard? At the office we all started collecting around the windows in the building, pressing our hands and faces against the glass, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. We hadn’t seen something like that in so long that we had forgotten what it looked like.

You’d think Mother Nature would have eased us back into the rain experience with a nice, gentle summer shower, the kind that makes birds chirp and flowers bloom. That would have been the considerate thing to do. But no, she was in a bitchy mood and instead sent us hurricane force winds that drove the golf-ball-sized raindrops in horizontal sheets. It felt like the rain was attacking us, trying to get at us through the cracks in the mortar. This rain was taking the paint off exposed surfaces. It was a little unsettling, but we were safe and dry inside the office building, protected by the brick and shatter-resistant glass construction. We even did a little celebrating and high-fiving when we realized that enough rain was falling to water our lawns and cool our cars for the drive home. It eventually turned into quite a party by the windows.

But then I remembered my car. Oooooh, the car. And the cracked windows. Yes, forgot about that. I had left my car windows cracked open about an inch yesterday morning, as I always do in the summer unless there is rain in the forecast. I do it so I don’t burst into flames when I get in the car to drive home. The technique keeps the car interior temperature just below the flash point for human flesh. It doesn’t make a huge difference in my comfort, but it does keep me from catching on fire and that’s all I need. Since there hadn’t been rain in the forecast for at least a couple of months, I left them cracked yesterday without a second thought.

I wasn’t too worried as I headed to the parking lot yesterday afternoon. I knew there would be some cleanup needed, but I’ve handled a cracked window in a rainstorm before. A few swipes with the Sonic napkins I keep in the glove compartment and I would be good to go. I never thought a one inch gap in the car’s exterior could allow enough water to get into the interior to cause a problem, maybe enough to get the door a little damp and maybe a little on the seat in a heavy rain, but nothing catastrophic. I was wrong. The entire front half of my beloved Honda Accord was soaked. As in DRENCHED. As in SATURATED. There was enough water in the car to keep a school of goldfish alive indefinitely. The whole horizontal-hurricane-force-wind thing was probably the culprit. Great.

I dealt with it all as well as I could. The Sonic napkins were overwhelmed almost immediately, but I wrung them out a couple of times and kept on working on the doors and dash until the napkins disintegrated. I decided that sitting on the leather seats would probably soak up as much water as it would be possible to get at, so that’s what I did. I wiggled my ass as far as it would go down into the cracks of the seat and rubbed my torso back and forth on the seat back. I ran the AC on “extra-high” all the way home in an attempt to dehumidify everything, nearly giving myself a case of frostbite. I arrived home with ice crystals in my eyebrows and the entire back half of my outfit wet and stuck to me.

Later in the evening, as I was relating the whole story, DC had the nerve to ask me incredulously, “You leave your windows cracked open every day??” as if that was the silliest thing he had ever heard. He’s currently recovering from his wounds and won’t be able to have visitors for another couple of days, but feel free to send cards and flowers.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Things I Hate, Part 3


Yeah, I know it’s good for me. I know it’s a healthy, high-protein, low-fat snack full of good things to keep my intestinal flora correctly balanced. If those Dannon commercials are to be believed, it will also make me young, beautiful and athletic, and it will fill my life with fun friends and a professionally decorated apartment.

Here’s the thing. I think yogurt tastes like rancid milk. I’ve tried the fruit-on-the-bottom variety. I’ve tried the custard style. I’ve tried the extra-creamy kind. I’ve tried vanilla, peach, and raspberry. I’ve tried the “strawberry-rainbow-surprise (now with glitter and sprinkles!).” It tasted like strawberry-rainbow flavored rancid milk with glitter and sprinkles. In a word, I think yogurt is yucky.

A couple of months ago, I saw a commercial for a new kind of chocolate mousse yogurt in which two young, beautiful, athletic women sat around describing all the things that weren’t as good as this yogurt, while they rolled their eyes and slithered their tongues snake-like around in the bottom of their yogurt containers. It was driving them into the throes of ecstasy. I think they might have been having out-of-body experiences.

So I’m thinking I gotta get me some of that yogurt. Definitely. If yogurt and I have any chance of coming together in this life, that chocolate mousse yogurt is the yogurt that will do it. The next time I was at the grocery store I picked up, not one, but two containers of the stuff. That’s how sure I was that this was going to be my breakthrough, that I was about to join the ranks of the young, beautiful, athletic yogurt-eaters all around the world. I was nearly shaking with anticipation as I peeled the foil lid off that little plastic cup of heaven. Oh, hurry, hurry! I stuck my spoon in and got a big dollop of fluffy chocolate bliss and …..

And it tasted like rancid chocolate milk, whipped into a mousse-like consistency. It tasted exactly like yogurt always tastes. It was all a lie! There would be no yogurt delirium for me. It was just another gimmick foisted on the public by the yogurt people, trying to get their products down the throats of people who don’t like yogurt. I felt so violated.

It’s time to take a stand. From this time onward, I give up on yogurt. I just don’t like it. I’m not going to try it anymore, because I’ve just been wasting everyone’s time. Yogurt has now officially earned its place as the first entry on my “Dead to Me” list. Here it is:

Jill’s Dead to Me List:

1. yogurt

If there are any yogurt people listening out there, stop trying to convince me that you can make yogurt that doesn’t taste like yogurt. No matter how hard you try to hide it, that insidious taste is always going to be there. Thanks.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Dirt Guilt

As a child, I was taught that any woman who ever allows her home to be dirty is a bad person. Having a dirty house is the moral equivalent of drowning kittens or feeding crack cocaine to your children for breakfast. If you can’t keep a suburban house clean at all times, you may as well go live in a van down by the river, because you are a complete failure as a human being. By this standard, I’ve been a complete failure as a human being for most of my life. My cleanliness comes and goes in spurts and waves, never covering everything at the same time. If the kitchen is immaculate, odds are good that there is laundry piled to the ceiling or the bathroom resembles a Louisiana swamp. If the bathroom sparkles then there are probably dust dunes in the corners of the living room and lacey cobwebs hanging from all the light fixtures. I’ve just never been able to motivate myself enough to get it all done at once, and for that, I’ve always felt a little guilty. Not guilty enough to actually do anything about it, mind you, but just enough to poke myself with that pointy psychological stick every time I walk by something that needs to be cleaned. It’s just a little tug of guilt, but it’s always there.

Recently DC and I did something we’ve thought about on and off for several years. We hired someone to clean our house. It fell into our laps really. A friend moved out of town a couple of weeks ago and offered her every-other-Monday cleaning appointment with her cleaning lady to us. I took it without a second thought. I figured it was a sign that the time was right. Clearly, the universe did not want me to spend my weekends cleaning the house anymore.

I didn’t think much about it at first, but as our first Monday appointment approached, DC and I both became increasingly uneasy. We both are pretty self-sufficient generally and tend to feel weird about other people doing things for us that we can do ourselves. When dining out, I don’t need the maitre d’ to pull my chair out for me or put my napkin in my lap. When checking into a hotel, I don’t really want a bell boy to come and take my suitcase-on-wheels to my room for me. I got it this far, and I can get it to my room unassisted. My legs aren’t broken. DC’s self-sufficiency extends even further, into plumbing and carpentry. Last summer we hired a roofing company to put a new roof on the house, and I know he was thinking that he could do it himself and it was silly to hire someone else to do it for three times as much. So, needless to say, the thought of a stranger coming into our house and cleaning our dirt freaked us both out a little. We spent the Sunday before strategizing. What will she need? Should we get a new mop? The one we have is looking a little ragged. What if she doesn’t like paper towels and would rather use Handi-Wipes? We don’t have Handi-Wipes! Maybe we should move all the furniture into the extra bedroom so she won’t have to vacuum around anything. Maybe we should clean the stove before she gets here to save her some time. OMIGOD, somebody is going to see that there is dirt in our house!

Finally on Sunday evening, after some more strategizing and some squabbling and a quick trip to Walmart to pick up a few things, our preparations were complete. One corner of the kitchen was stocked with every cleaning supply available. We did our best to pick up all the clutter without actually cleaning anything. We were ready.

On Monday morning I was tense even before the doorbell rang, and when it did my throat closed up a little. As I headed downstairs to answer the door, I gave myself a pep talk. “It’s OK. She’s a cleaning lady. She makes her living cleaning other people’s dirt. We’re not making her do this. We’re giving her money to do it. She wants to do it. Everythingisfineeverythingisfineeverythingisfine.” Esmeralda was a warm, pleasant lady who didn’t seem to mind that I spent the first 5 minutes of her visit apologizing and making sure she had everything she needed, over and over and over again. After a quick tour of the house, I left her to work her cleaning magic and went to work.

When I got home, it was all rainbows and sparkles. The entire house was clean. All at once! All the rooms were clean AT THE SAME TIME. I’d never experienced this before, so I walked around dazed for a couple of minutes, every now and then finding something else that was clean now. The mirrors in the bathroom were clean. All the crud had been removed from the burners on the stove. The blinds were dusted. HOLY CRAP, there were points folded into the ends of all the rolls of toilet paper in the house! I think I may have cried. It was all so overwhelming.

Even now, almost a week later, I still have that “clean house” buzz. I can walk around in my own house without feeling any guilt whatsoever. Oh, the freedom! I feel so light and unburdened! Does anyone understand the ramifications of this??

I am no longer a failure!! MY HOUSE IS CLEAN!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Scary Dental Hygiene

Where can a person get a normal-looking toothbrush nowadays? I stopped by the toothbrush aisle at the local Walgreens last week and there wasn’t a regular toothbrush in sight. They all looked mutant space toothbrushes designed as props for an episode of Babylon 5. Some had whirly-gigs or doo-dads attached to their tips. Some had hinges so they could bend themselves to the slight curve of my jawbone. Some had wings of bristles to reach out and brush the teeth parts I miss on my own. Some were all ergonomically correct with special handles that are cushioned and conformed to the shape of my hand. That’s great, because I hear tooth-brushing is one of the major contributors to the epidemic of carpal tunnel syndrome in this country. I also saw some with bristles that stuck out at weird angles, with different colors and lengths. They look like Sid Vicious mated with a hedge hog. Just what exactly are the toothbrush people trying to accomplish here? Are they trying to entertain me somehow? Do they think that my attention span is so short that I won’t be able focus long enough to get the job done without something shiney to look at while I brush? Most importantly, do any these freaky looking things actually get your teeth any cleaner than a standard toothbrush? I doubt it.

Maybe the toothbrush people think they have to keep their customers interested and excited about all the pretty colors or we’ll die of boredom while brushing our teeth. Maybe they’re all in search of the Holy Grail of toothbrushes, the one that will remove all the debris from my teeth if I just wave it in front of my open mouth. Or maybe the toothbrush designers are just wanking off in the design lab. I don’t know. But, some things work just fine as they are. Some things don’t need to be improved. After a point, some improvements are simply gratuitous. I think we’ve long passed that point in the toothbrush aisle.

As for me, I’ve reached the point where these things are just too scary to put in my mouth. I’m afraid one of them is going to come to life and burrow into my gums or extract a molar of its own volition. I think they’re more suitable for voodoo rituals or scaring squirrels away from bird feeders. I don’t want my gums poked or massaged or conformed to. I don’t need funky colors or rotating bristles with wings or glitter imbedded in the plastic handle. I’m perfectly capable of turning my wrist those extra couple of degrees to reach my back teeth. All I want is an ordinary, normal-looking toothbrush, like the ones from the educational films of my youth, the ones that sang songs and danced while holding hands with a tube of toothpaste. Is that too much to ask?

And don’t even get me started about the current state of toothpaste technology…..

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Last Friday, DC and I took a day off from work and zipped down to Houston to check out this really cool exhibit at the Natural History Museum. It’s called Body Worlds 3 and it’s an exhibit of human bodies that have been sort of “plasticized.” I won’t try to explain it all here. Wikipedia explains it well though.


At first it was a little disturbing, but then it became just fascinating. We had a great day. In fact, the thing that I found most disturbing was the fact that there was a McDonald’s INSIDE the museum building, and, as far as I could tell, it was the only place where one could get food or drink in the entire place, other than a couple of water fountains.

It would have all been a perfectly marvelous day, except for one tiny thing that happened on the way to Houston. I got a freaking speeding ticket! Me. A SPEEDING TICKET! Me, the freaking Pollyanna of the freaking highway! I never intentionally drive more than 5 miles an hour over the speed limit, EVER. I had the cruise control set at a very restrained 73 mph on a road where the speed limit was 70 mph. Except, apparently, for about 20 feet of road near someplace called Paige where the speed limit drops to 55, and where Mr. Constable sat like a big, fat spider in his web, just waiting for some unwary insect to come along and get stuck. There is nothing in this place to indicate human habitation other than a deserted convenience store. There are no lights, no stop signs, no cross traffic. This place was so small that I never even saw a sign with the new speed limit posted. I never saw it, and I am Queen of the Sign Spotters! If I don’t spot a sign, that sign is not spotable. I’m the one who interrupts the conversation and points at the 45 mph speed limit sign when DC obliviously barrels into some peaceful little town at 85. He doesn’t even bother looking for speed limit signs anymore. He just asks me. I can’t even imagine how many tickets I have saved him from. Dozens at least. HE is the speeder, not me! This is totally unfair. And I’m not even mentioning all the self-satisfied smirks I got during the rest of our trip. He just sat over there, lording it over me and acting all superior and holier-than-thou, occasionally calling me a scofflaw, when everybody knows he is the REAL scofflaw in the family. And his intermittent use of a word I had never heard before (i.e. scofflaw) didn’t improve my mood either. Yeah, he thinks he is so smart. Well I for one am not impressed. Not one bit.

Ironically, I got my last ticket almost exactly eighteen years ago, as I was moving to Texas, in almost the exact same scenario. All my worldly possessions were in the care of some interstate moving company except for my house plants, which were seat-belted into the back seat of my very stylish-looking red ’88 Mustang (the suckiest car ever made, BTW, but I won’t go into that here). Back then the speed limit everywhere was 55, and I had the cruise set on 59. The trip was just fine until the plants and I blundered into a little speed trap in Malakoff, Texas, where the limit dropped to 35. I was so traumatized by the whole incident that I cried all the way to Waco. Pathetic I know, but I wasn’t very emotionally stable at 23.

And where does all this leave me? Stuck with a $140 fine or a $103 fee and a weekend of defensive driving class, that’s where! The enormity of the injustice that is being perpetrated is just beyond description. I’m calling the ACLU. I’m sure a top-notch civil rights attorney will be dispatched to defend me right away. Then they’ll all be sorry.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Mission Accomplished

If you ever find yourself in need of a fright, if you have the hiccups or want to scare away a relative, go move an appliance or a large piece of furniture that has been sitting in the exact same spot in your house for the last seven years. I know that because last weekend, in the throes of a cleaning frenzy, I got the bright idea that I would really REALLY clean the kitchen, that sort of once a decade cleaning that you don’t ever have to do if you move often enough. So I moved the refrigerator out of its refrigerator-sized hole in the kitchen cabinets in order to clean behind it. The refrigerator that had been sitting in the exact same spot for the previous seven years. Until I moved it.

Let me tell you, I am not a neat-freak, but what I saw behind that refrigerator was the scariest thing I’ve seen in this lifetime. I know for a fact that new life forms were evolving in the layers of dust and drippings and god-knows-what that coated everything. We have been living our lives (and actually cooking food!) within mere inches of unmitigated filth. If I had let it go another couple of years, something back there would have grown a nervous system and attempted to communicate with the outside world. How in the world would that much dust accumulate and how could something get splattered back here and what is THAT?? I was freaked out.

So I did what I always do when I’m met with more dirt in one place that I can face. I grabbed the thing that is always there for me, the thing that makes it all go away. The vacuum cleaner. It sucked up everything that wasn’t stuck on, including any previously undocumented species. (I apologize to any disappointed biologists out there.) Then I scrubbed the exposed surfaces and removed whatever it was that was left on the wall and the fridge itself. I definitely worked up a sweat.

Phase two was the inside of the fridge. I pulled all the little baskets out of the freezer side and discarded some lumps that were so covered in frost that they couldn’t be identified. I wasn’t interested in taking core samples to see what I had. (If it isn’t recognizable, it goes in the trash. That’s my rule. I hate to be such a hard-ass, but if you don’t have your principles, what do you have?) I then cleaned the frozen beer out of the bottom of the freezer section. How does a pool of beer get into a freezer? I don’t drink beer, so I know it wasn’t me. Hmmm, maybe we have little, alcoholic gnomes that visit in the wee hours of the morning and like to make beer slushies. Gnomes who don’t know how to clean up after themselves. Yes, that’s probably it. Must remember to put out the baited gnome traps later….

Then, on to the refrigerator side. Things were looking up. There was no rotting vegetation liquifying in the “fruit and vegetable” drawers! Woohoo! However, there was some bluish-green cheese in the “meat and cheese” drawer that scared me a little. There were also some individually wrapped slices of American Cheese Food Product that I expected to be ready to throw out, but, no, they were still good, even though I know they are at least two years old. What ARE they made out of?? No time to think about that now…. I cleaned out all the little crumbs and bits and tossed some mummified apples and a couple of limes that were growing their own antibiotics. I methodically went through DC’s condiment collection, and examined each and every bottle of hot sauce, mustard, dressing and marinade, checking for expiration dates and/or mold. Most made the cut and were allowed to live.

Once the fridge had been thoroughly cleaned and expunged, inside and out, I shoved it back into its cubby, and I was now one major appliance closer to a completely clean kitchen. At this point, I readjusted my goals for the afternoon. There's only so much dirt one person can deal with in an afternoon and remain sane, and I had already exceeded my limit. My need for an impeccably clean kitchen was transformed into a need for an impeccably clean refrigerator and a couple of episodes of “Project Runway.” And look! Mission accomplished! GW, I know exactly how you feel.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Garbage Eater

Let’s explore the following hypothetical scenario….

Let’s say that there is a box of Dunkin Donuts that was purchased yesterday and it has six donuts left in it.

And let’s say that someone took that box and set it in the kitchen garbage can last night.

And let’s further say that the box remains intact and its contents never actually touch the garbage, the garbage can, or anything icky. Except for the fact that the box has been moved to sit on top of a discarded cereal box in the garbage can instead of on the kitchen counter, it is essentially the same box with the same pristine contents.

In the given situation, I submit that the contents of that box are still completely edible. And if someone were to retrieve the box this morning, hypothetically, and eat one (or more) of the remaining donuts, that person has not done anything disgusting and does not deserve to be called a “garbage eater.”

And I further submit that the same logic can be applied to a bag of Oreos or Doritos, or anything else that might have mistakenly been tossed in the trash. As long as the integrity of the container has not been breached, the contents are still fit to be eaten.

In addition, I would like to note here that it is extremely impolite to call your wife a garbage eater, and also that calling your wife a garbage eater does not improve your chances of getting some nooky anytime in the near future.

I hereby rest my case.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

An Open Letter to Tom Cruise

Yeah, I know this is a little late. It's been percolating in my brain for a while and has only just now emerged. Pretend I wrote it six months ago.

Dear Tom,

Dude, you are an actor. You know about actor stuff. You know plenty more than most people about making movies, blocking a scene, etc. This is your field of expertise. If I ever have a question about any of those things, you’re the guy I’m going to call. You have the experience. You have the knowledge. You are the expert. I’ll listen enthusiastically to any advice or opinions you have.

Now listen closely to what I’m about to say here. Medicine is not your area of expertise. Let me say it another way for extra clarity. MEDICINE IS NOT YOUR AREA OF EXPERTISE. I’m not interested in your opinion about the efficacy and appropriateness of any particular medical treatment. I’m really confused about why anyone else is. That’s not your fault, I guess. If someone is willing to let you appear on a news show and make ludicrous, uninformed, sweeping statements about psychiatry, who am I to tell you not to do it? Nevertheless, I know for a fact that there are people in the world who are dumb enough to take medical advice from you, and it worries me that someone who really needs help may not get it because he saw you on TV, claiming to know things that you cannot possibly know.

I know you don’t really care what my advice for you is, but I’m going to give it to you anyway. Fair is fair, after all. My advice is this. Shut up about medicine. Go back to doing what you know how to do. Make movies. Walk along red carpets and wave to the little people. Give interviews to the movie rags telling us all about your amazing new fiancé and your gorgeous new baby and how deliriously happy you all are. You have my full support.

But stop giving medical advice. You didn’t go to medical school. I doubt you ever took a college-level science class of any kind. You don’t know anything about medicine. You are only parroting the position of your church. Stop trying to convince us that the things you are saying have arisen out of any personal knowledge or experience. Stop acting like you came up with the things you are saying yourself. On behalf of all the little people out here, stop trying to convince us that you know what’s best for us. You don’t.


P.S. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stomach the sight of your likeness on a big screen for 90 minutes ever again. I’ll let you know.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Things I Hate, Part 2

August in Texas.

I am SO freaking tired of sweating. When is it going to end? The forecast for the next week puts the high above 100 degrees every single day. We're lucky if the thermometer drops below 80 at 4am. It's now 8pm and the temperature outside is still 99. This is ridiculous! This is the kind of heat where your shoes melt to the sidewalk if you stop moving, where a breeze just makes you feel even hotter. It's hard to breath without scalding your lungs. Human beings are simply not designed for this kind of continuous heat.

I'm an Indiana girl with genes from northern Europe. I'm genetically equipped for a much more temperate climate. Where I grew up we actually had four seasons, you know, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Here we have Semi-Pleasant, Hades, Hades-Lite, and Drizzle, and I'm sitting smack-dab in the middle of Hades. It's the time of year when I hibernate. I stay in the house with the blinds closed, the air-conditioning on, and the freezer stocked with fudgesicles, just waiting for the outside temperature to drop to a level that won't melt the flesh off my bones. Here's hoping for some Hades-Lite real soon.

P.S. You might think that since I moved here of my own free will and I continue to live here of my own free will that I have no right to complain about the weather. You would be mistaken.

P.P.S. If DC walks outside and declares "Man, I LOVE this heat" one more time, I'm going to smack him. I don't think anyone would blame me.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Some Things I Learned Today

I learned a few things today, and all before 10am:

1. In the time it takes me to get from the grocery store to the house, a pint of rocky road ice cream will have softened to the perfect consistency for eating.

2. I can fit eight peanut butter M&M's in my mouth at the same time and still chew.

3. There is a new Pop Tart flavor available: apple strudel.

4. It is dangerous to shop for groceries when you are PMS'ing.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Last night DC whipped up some yummy grilled fish for dinner, and we invited L (of the “Trulucks fiasco” fame) to join us.

(As I mentioned earlier, DC does the cooking in our house, and I stay out of his way. One kitchen is not big enough for the two of us, so to speak. However, don’t think that I lounge around while the cooking is going on, watching DC do all the work and perhaps getting a foot massage and being fanned with a palm frond. No, I am a very valuable participant. I am the table-setter, the dish-washer, and the runner-to-the-grocery-store-for-essential-but-forgotten-ingredients. I contribute, and I just want us all to be clear about that.)

Sometimes when L comes to dinner, he surprises us (and when I say “us,” I mean “me”) with a gift of dessert. And boy, did he ever surprise us (me) last night. It was a dark chocolate mousse cake from a local bakery. An amazing, luscious, covered-in-butter-cream, orgasm-on-a-plate, chocolate mousse cake. Lordy, it was beautiful. I quickly cleared a spot for it in the fridge so the butter cream wouldn’t melt, and we carried on with dinner, both preparation of and then eating.

After dinner, L and I fell on the cake like a couple of starving hyenas on a bloated wildebeest carcass. Forks, teeth and elbows were flying everywhere, and I think we might have stirred up a small cyclone in the corner of the room. We ate and ate and ate. It was unbelievably good. Wonderfully, blissfully, toe-curling good. GOOD. Mmmmmmm. DC kept his distance. He isn’t much into dessert and is even less into chocolate. His idea of a nice dessert is a second helping of the entrée, so L and I were left to handle the cake ourselves. Plus I think DC knows about how you’re not supposed to approach animals while they’re eating. He is smart like that.

Later, even after L and I had eaten until we could eat no more, there was still three quarters of the cake left. So, when it was time for L to depart for the evening, he and I went through this little ritual that we have when there’s any dessert left after we’ve both had our fill. It starts like this:

“You’re taking that with you!”
“No, I’m not!”
“Yes, you are!”
“If I take it, it’s going in the trash.”
“You’re not leaving it here!”
“I’m not taking it, I’ll eat it all.”
and so on….

The ritual almost always results in the dessert being left for me, and the reason is this:

When L says “I’m going to throw that out if you don’t take it with you,” what he means is, “I’m going to throw that out if you don’t take it with you.”

However, when I say “I’m going to throw that out if you don’t take it with you,” what I mean is, “I want you to take that so I don’t finish it, but I can’t bear to see it thrown away, so if you’re not going to take it and actually eat it, then leave it for me.”

DC once made the mistake of grabbing the extra dessert while L and I were in the middle of our ritual, tossing it into the garbage can and then STOMPING ON IT, thinking he had just solved the problem. You should have seen the look of proud accomplishment on his face. But later he learned that he had not, in fact, solved the problem. Instead, he had completely traumatized me. Me, the love of his life. How could he not have known?? I still haven’t gotten over the shock of seeing something delicious crushed under his size 10 Tevas right in front of my eyes. I’m still hoping it won’t permanently affect our relationship, but you just never know.

Naturally, he stayed out of the fracas last night, and left me to defend myself against L and the evils of leftover dessert. And naturally, I failed. Again. As I sit here now, licking the chocolate mousse out from under my fingernails and sucking at the butter cream stuck in my hair, I’m wondering if I will ever win.

Doubt it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Things I Hate, Part 1


OK, look, unless you live on an unpaved road and have to ford a river to get groceries, you do not need a full-sized Hummer. Hummers are utilitarian vehicles that are useful (and needed) in very specific situations. Those situations do not include being parked in an air-conditioned garage in the suburbs, being waxed once a week to maintain that sleek finish, and being driven to the country club for your 10am tee time on Saturday morning to impress all your golf buddies. Driving a Hummer in a place where there is zero chance of its immaculate tires ever touching the bare earth is like driving a tank to work every morning. It’s like putting a gold-plated front door on your house. It’s strictly for show. It’s complete, unnecessary, arrogant, wasteful, everything-that’s-wrong-with-America overkill. The things get like 2 miles to the gallon! They don’t fit in normal-sized parking spaces. Hey doofus, nobody can see around you in traffic, because you’re occupying about a thousand cubic feet more space than you could ever possibly need on the road. If you want everybody to notice you, dye your hair green or pierce some part of your face. If you really have a need to drive large machinery, do it like a real man in a place where it will be useful, join the army or buy a farm and grow corn. If you need to impress everyone and feel like a big-shot, buy a Rolex or a $5000 dollar suit or a bleached-blond call girl for your arm. Buy an expensive car that WILL fit in a parking space and doesn’t make you look like a self-centered, arrogant ass when you park it across two spaces in front of Blockbuster Video. Stop trying to dazzle everyone with how big and manly you are, because we’re really not impressed down here. Really.

Thanks, I feel better now. And I think I need a cigarette….

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I have always been really really good at remembering schedule-related things. I never forget anyone’s birthday. I can tell you the date and time of a doctor’s appointment I have two months from now. I can recite my social appointments for the next month and not miss anything. I’ve never used a “Day Planner” or a “Week-At-A-Glance” or even a pocket calendar. Everything is just right there in my brain where I need it. Every morning, I mentally plan my day. I map out the things I’m going to do and in roughly what order. It’s usually just the normal mundane things of life. Am I going to exercise today? If so, when? Any errands that need to be handled? Bills to pay? Am I almost out of underwear? Do I need to bug DC about anything? This daily planning is flexible, and really just a rough outline for the day, a sort of scaffolding if you will. Things do come up, friends call, invitations for impromptu dining come in, but there is always a default framework for the day.

DC has come to rely on my scheduling skills. He seldom makes any plans without consulting the calendar, i.e. me. Here’s how it usually works:

He puts his hand over the talking end of the phone, and asks me “Hey, do we have any plans Friday?”

“Nope, we’re totally open.”

Then he makes a schedule update, “OK then, we’re going out to Stan and Sylvia’s place for a cookout Friday night. 7 o’clock. It’s Sylvia’s birthday.”

“OK, sounds good. I’ll pick up a card.”

Voila. The official schedule in my brain has been updated, and he doesn’t have to think about it again until I remind him about the event on Thursday.

There have never been any problems with this system. I’ve always been as consistent as the rising and setting of the sun, just like Old Faithful but without spewing hot water everywhere. Until recently. It started with just little things here and there. I’d let us run completely out of milk, or I’d forget to pick up that pile of clothes I dropped off at the cleaners last week. Then things got a little more serious. I came within a day or two of completely forgetting my mother’s birthday, instead of adding it to my official “to do” list two weeks early and having everything ready to send in advance, as is my habit.

Then last Saturday we had a near calamity. I totally forgot about a going-away soiree we were supposed to attend for some friends who are moving to California. I didn’t remember until 7:15pm and it started at 8! We made it and all was well, but JUST WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE? I don’t forget birthdays and social events. I do not. I am Jill, the human Palm Pilot, sans the pointy stick.

And other weird things are happening more frequently now too. Sometimes I can’t find the word I want. Or I’ll spontaneously forget the name of someone I know well. I’ll go upstairs or open my purse and forget why. Yesterday evening I searched the entire house for the pair of shoes that I had kicked off next to the coffee table. The same coffee table that I was sitting in front of when I decided I needed to find those shoes. Last week I spaced out driving home and forgot that I wanted to stop Walgreens on the way. I totally drove right past it without thinking! And I do not do such things! I am always alert and aware of my surroundings at all times.

This is freaking me out. Have I finally used up my brain? Maybe there is a finite number of neural connections that a human brain can make in a lifetime. Maybe my number is unusually low, or maybe I wasted my connections on remembering dentist appointments and baby showers instead of writing them down like a normal person.

Am I going to have to start leaving little yellow sticky notes everywhere so I’ll remember to do essential things, like brushing my teeth and going to work? Gaagh, at this rate, in a couple of years DC is going to be tying my shoes and feeding me applesauce from one of those plastic-covered baby spoons. I may as well kill myself now.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Suburban Grocery Etiquette

- Do not park your cart diagonally across the cereal aisle and leave it there while you read the nutrition information on each and every box of cereal in the entire store. See all those people loitering on either side of your cart? They would like to continue down the aisle, but they can’t because you are blocking the way.

- Do not take your cart of groceries, so fully loaded that it is creaking under its own weight, through the “Self-Checkout: 10 Items or Less” line and then let your two small children take turns scanning the cart contents for the next 45 minutes.

- Do not stop directly in front of the Double Stuf Oreos and talk on your cell phone. In fact, don’t linger directly in front of the Double Stuf Oreos for any reason at all. Just get what you need and move along.

- While in the grocery store, do not kiss, grope, fondle, or stick your tongue in the ear of anyone, ever. If you can't help yourself, at least behave like a civilized human being and wait until you get back to your car in the parking lot.

- If you haven’t finished shopping, do not get in line for checkout. Do not leave your cart unattended in a checkout line while you meander to the far outreaches of the store to grab those couple of Lunchables™ you forgot you needed. All the people in line behind you are actually ready to check out, and you are causing unnecessary delays for everyone.

- Do not stop in the store entrance to greet, hug, and catch up with Mrs. Smith, that nice lady who used to work in your office, and tell her about your upcoming vacation plans after you ask her how her kids are doing, even if you haven’t seen her in just ages and you really should get together for lunch sometime. Notice that this is one of only two available entrances for the entire store. Notice that the automatic doors are opening and closing repeatedly because they are designed for people who are moving THROUGH the entrance, and not for people standing IN the entrance.

- If at all possible, do not grocery shop in sweat pants that are two sizes too small. People are buying food. No one wants to watch you pick your underwear out of your butt crack.

Thank you. That is all.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

It's All About Me Me Me

DC is the resident computer expert in our circle of non-computer-literate family and friends. He’s entirely self-taught, which I find impressive. He’s self-employed and he manages his own three-computer business network with a tenacity and dedication unparalleled in the corporate world. He throws himself into it with wild abandon. Everything works perfectly all the time, and if it doesn’t, he works non-stop until it is set right again. And he loves helping other people with their computers too. He’s more than happy to take a look at any obsolete, virus-infested, Windows NT4 running machine owned by anyone we know. Friends of friends are fine too. He’ll get an antiquated machine working again, or he’ll assist in ordering a brand new one off the web. He’ll cobble the available hardware and software together to make something usable. He’ll find a hard drive here and a video card there and transform a dinosaur of a machine into a sleek well-performing greyhound capable of handling the latest in video game innovation. And he enjoys doing it. You can see the excitement in his eyes when someone mentions that they’re having a problem, or they need to get a new computer for their kid and does he have advice? He does! He’ll spend every spare hour he has for the next week getting any random computer up and running.

He also has another characteristic that is applicable right now. He’s extremely bad at estimating how long it will take him to do something. Whenever he’s embroiled in a task, work or play, and he tells me how long it will be before he’s done, I always double the number he gives me. Sometimes doubling isn’t enough, but it at least it gives me a ballpark number, and increases the amount of time he has before I start getting pissed at him for keeping me waiting around.

The final bit of relevant information is that DC does all the cooking that gets done in this house. I don’t like to cook (unless it’s cookies, cakes or brownies), and I usually avoid it if I can. And, I certainly don’t help DC cook. He is strictly a solo cooker. He has his system and another body in the kitchen only slows things down.

These three things are all converging into a perfect storm, even as I write. About two hours ago, DC was just about to start dinner, when a friend of his called for some computer advice. He was expecting the call, and had told me that it would take about ten minutes at most. Just a couple of questions. Ten minutes, that’s all. Ten minutes.

Well, he's still on the phone. And like I said, that was two hours ago and I’m hungry and that lasagna is not going to make itself! It’s 6pm now, and the advice well is not running dry any time soon, so I’m betting it will be at least 9pm before we eat. By then my blood sugar will have dropped dangerously low and I will be a raving, irrational bitch. Of course, I would rather whine about it than go downstairs and nibble on a little something to keep me going until dinner is served. And I’d certainly rather whine about it than go downstairs and make dinner myself, or even go get some take-out. There are so many options open to me right now, but no no no, the only acceptable option is for him to stop helping people who really need the help and get down there and make dinner for me, a grown woman who’s perfectly capable of feeding herself.

That’s all I have the strength to write just now. I’ll post again tomorrow if I don’t die of starvation before then.

Pouty McSelfish

Pageant Overload

A couple of weekends ago I was feeling very accomplished for completing the pinning of my latest quilt (rendering it available for actual quilting the three layers together), and so I did what I normally do when I feel I've accomplished something. I plopped down in front of the television. There was nothing on that I particularly wanted to watch, so the remote control somehow stopped on the most visually attraction thing it could find: the 2006 Miss America Pageant. On the Country Music Television (CMT) channel. I still can't believe it myself. It’s like the remote had a mind of its own. OK, so I didn't sit there, not moving, throughout the entire broadcast. I was moving clothes from the washer to the dryer. I folded a load of towels. I picked a lot of my quilting tools that were scattered around the room. But, it was on the whole time and I definitely stopped to watch at all the key moments. I even gave my own critiques of the contestants out loud to the TV. It was OK, because DC was in his shop welding, and there was no one else in the house, and therefore there were no witnesses to my talking to an inanimate object.

After a couple of hours, a new Miss America was crowned. After getting hugs from her fellow contestants, she did her walk along the runway while smiling and crying and waving and getting sung to. Clearly, there was nothing else to see, so I started roaming through the channels again, and what did I run smack into?? The Miss Universe Pageant! All the planets must have aligned or something. What are the odds of there being 4 straight hours of pageant programming available from our local cable network?

( I should point out here that Miss America is not a milestone on the road to the Miss Universe Pageant, so I didn’t get to see the winner of first pageant go on to compete in the second pageant or anything that exciting. Miss USA is the national contest that feeds into Miss Universe. Miss America is produced by a totally different organization. As far as I can tell, the main difference between Miss USA and Miss America is that the Miss America pageant requires a talent, and Miss USA doesn't. To be Miss USA, all you have to do is look good and speak semi-coherently about all the meaningful activities you're involved in, and how you want to dedicate your life to helping other people. To be Miss America, you have to do all that AND be able to tap dance a little or sing or play the piano. )

Now, where were we? Oh right, so, I was already in a pageanty sort of mood when I ran into the Miss Universe extravaganza, but my interest was piqued mostly because of another mysterious coincidence. Earlier in the day I had watched my first episode of "Project Runway" on a completely different network while pinning together the three layers of the aforementioned quilt. Project Runway is yet another reality show where fashion designers compete against each other to win something, sort of like the American Idol of textiles. OK, it was mostly listening, because I sitting on the floor pinning the quilt layers together for the entire episode, only occasionally lying back on the floor to give my back a rest and actually watching. But, I got the gist of it. I definitely did not need to get drawn into another reality show, but there you have it. Anyway, the competition on this episode was designing an evening gown for Miss USA to wear at the Miss Universe Pageant. What are the odds? I mean, you'd think somebody planned it that way! So of course I had to watch the pageant, if only just long enough to see if she wore the dress without major design changes (she did).

Somewhere around the third hour of this four-hour pageant marathon DC came back into the house for a bathroom/food/water break, as he does on and off all day when he's working in the shop. It was mostly dark by then, and I hadn’t turned on any lights in the room. I sat in darkness except for the blue-green glow of Miss Universe, so I could only hear his voice emanating from a DC-shaped silhouette in the hallway. He cautiously asked me if I was OK. He sounded concerned. In hindsight, he must have been coming into the house for surreptitious bathroom breaks throughout the “afternoon of pageants,” noticed my unusual program selections, and thought something was amiss. I think also got an “Aren’t you offended?” query.

And now that I think about it, why wasn't there something wrong? I wasn't offended. Not once. And they were all six feet tall and skeletal. Miss Sweden's ribs were literally showing during the swimsuit competition. Ten years ago, if I had happened to run into a pageant while channel surfing, I would have announced to anyone within earshot that the whole thing was ridiculous and offensive and those women shouldn’t allow themselves to be exploited and paraded around like livestock in such a dehumanizing manner. Today, I spend a Sunday afternoon watching all the pretty dresses and assessing who has the most poise and waiting to see who is going to win.

I’m not so sure who is exploiting who anymore. I do remember thinking how really weird it is that we have this whole big production centered around tall skinny girls walking around in bathing suits and then walking around in evening gowns and then we give one of them a prize. But then, if those girls can get all those prizes and cash and attention for just walking around and looking good, more power to them. It's no stupider than a football game, and nobody’s getting a concussion.

But I worry. Am I losing my principles? Or maybe I’m just becoming a little less judgmental.

P.S. The winner of the Miss Universe title, Miss Puerto Rico, fainted about 45 minutes after being crowned. A statement was issued that she had, in fact, eaten that day. Hrpmh. I doubt it. I saw her protruding hip bones myself.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


In the early 1970’s, in rural southern Indiana, for some reason that is still unknown to me, my mother decided that her children would not use the word “snot.”

It wasn’t until just recently that I realized that this was a little strange. Snot is a perfectly useful word. It’s not a bad word, like shit or fuck. It’s not even a semi-bad word, like ass or damn. It’s not a racial or ethnic slur. What is it that made the word so offensive to my mother? It might not be the most refined word one could use, but when you’re a seven year-old who spends her days playing barefoot in the fields and woods surrounding her home, refinement isn’t really a consideration. I remember actually getting in trouble once for rebelliously whispering “snot” to myself after being scolded for saying it out loud in conversation. I don’t think it was a whipping offense, probably just brief room confinement, but there was a penalty nonetheless.

Maybe she thought it was some sort of gateway word, one of those crude words that are just a rest stop on the road to a foul mouth. Today it’s snot and butt and titty, tomorrow we’d be yelling "cock sucker" in Sunday school within earshot of our grandmother. Ironically, I say cock sucker all the time these days. Well, it’s usually more of a scream. It’s the word I shout at other drivers who have displeased me in some way, but only if I’m alone in the car with the windows rolled up. I’m not completely lacking decorum.

And the word that we were supposed to use, instead of “snot”? Mucus. No, I am not making that up. It still makes me laugh. Mucus. Yes, it’s definitely a much more refined word, highly appropriate for use on the playground among other second-graders, or maybe while sipping tea with the queen. “Pardon me, could you pass the Kleenex, please? I seem to have some mucus dripping out of my nose.”

I know her intentions were good. She was probably trying to save me from my potty-mouthed fate, but it was all futile. I’m simply not refinable. The effort to eradicate “snot” from my vocabulary failed, and I still use it every chance I get.

Snotty snot; snot snot snot snot snot snot snot snot snot snot, snot.

Friday, August 04, 2006

No Luck at Trulucks

We eat out a lot. Consequently, we're always on the lookout for new restaurants to add to our list of acceptable dining establishments. This new place opened a few of months ago. It's called Trulucks, and it's one of those fancy-schmancy, do-you-have-a-reservation-while-they-look-over-your-attire, seafood/steak sort of places. We don't eat at these sorts of places very often, but we have to try out the new ones to see if they'll make the short list for the next birthday/anniversary/mother's day dinner. There is another Trulucks in town, but DC and I have never been there. It's downtown, which makes it an enormous pain in the ass to get to, park, etc., so we've just never bothered. But now there's one just down the road from our house, so now it's easy. We tried just stopping in once without a reservation (on a Thursday evening) and the wait was an hour and a half. I thought that was a good sign. People want to eat there.

When the time is right (i.e., we decide where we're going to eat more than 2 minutes before leaving the house), we decide to make a reservation and go. We invite our best dining buddy L to come along with us to judge the place. L agrees to join us, but also tells us that he's been to the Truluck's downtown. He informs us that food sucked and the service was even worse. "Oh," I say, "How could a restaurant charge those prices and get away with crappy food?? It must have been a fluke." <--- note the foreshadowing here

So, we make our reservation and show up at the appointed time. Upon entering the establishment, we are overcome with a certain, shall we say, fishy odor. DC announces that the place smells like a "Galveston shrimp boat," which the hostess definitely hears. I try to make nice by pointing out that they have seafood on ice directly behind us, apparently displaying their wares, and there's a tank of live lobsters behind the hostess podium, so maybe the dining room won't be so bad. The dining room is pleasant. We get a nice cushy booth. My feet don't touch the floor once I sit down, but I can't hold that against them, because it happens frequently. I usually just kick off my shoes and sit cross-legged on the seat in this situation, but I don't, because it seems inappropriate in such a classy place. We order some fried calamari to get started. It tastes pretty good, but there is way too much breading. I take a fairly large piece and excavate it. In the core is a small, but tasty, piece of calamari. Not rubbery and overcooked. B+, for good flavor and crunch. Not an A because the calamari/breading ratio isn’t quite right.

The waiter is very good. Very knowledgeable and attentive. He and DC get into an extended conversation about the steaks on the menu. (An aside about steaks….DC is on a quest to find a fabulous steak place. You wouldn't think it would be so hard. We live in Texas, for crying out loud. A good steak should just land on your plate for the asking. You shouldn't have to go searching, looking under rocks, and sneaking into back alleys, giving the secret handshake, or whatever. There are cows everywhere!) Anyway, DC settles on a steak. The most expensive one on the menu, naturally, since it's my turn to pick up the check, but that's fine. All I want is for my man to be happy, and if a $36 steak will do that, it's a small price to pay. I ordered the grilled shrimp, described on the menu as "Grilled shrimp, served with garlic butter and Truluck's special rice." Perfect. L gets the fried shrimp.

We make small talk until the food arrives, bitching about this, ridiculing that, and so on, as is our habit. The waiter arrives and sets a large, well-dressed plate down in front of me. And there on the plate, nestled among 6 lovely grilled shrimp, are grilled BELL PEPPERS! There was nothing mentioned on the menu about bell peppers! Where did these come from?? I despise bell peppers. Hate them. Any color. Any shape. There's no disguising them. Even chopped up in a salad when I can't see, I know they're there, ruining the flavor of everything else with their insidious ickiness. And these aren't little pieces. They are enormous chunks, touching each and every one of my grilled shrimp. They have clearly been cooked with the shrimp, getting their nasty bell pepper essence all over everything! Crap! I take a deep breath. It's OK. I can be mature. I remove said peppers and hope the garlic butter will cover up enough of the abomination for me to get it down. Oh, how naïve I was….

Though the shrimp looked like normal grilled shrimp, they are, in fact, shrimp jerky. They are tough, like shrimp get when you COOK THEM TOO LONG. They were over-done, rubbery, over-salted, bell peppery-tainted shrimp. They suck. I ate two. But it's OK. I still have the famous "Truluck's special rice," to fill my gullet, right? Well no. The Truluck's special rice was not done. Each grain had that little hard, chalky center that you get when you DON'T COOK IT LONG ENOUGH. Even I know this. And I don’t cook. I crunch down on a couple of bites before abandoning the special rice.

Then there's the steak. The $36 steak. I haven't paid much attention to my spouse while being horrified by my own dinner. He's oddly quiet. I look over to see him exerting himself. His biceps are taut. There is the faintest hint of perspiration on his brow. What could he being doing?? He is attempting to cut his $36 steak. Then he tries chewing his $36 steak. He gives aid to his poor jaw muscles by squeezing his jaw and cranium together with his hands. The steak is tough. Very tough. And unseasoned. Now, I'm not a food snob. I have eaten sausage-on-a-stick at the local fair. I adore Smarties. I will happily zip down to Sonic and pick up dinner for my family. "Who ordered the extra-long cheese Coney?" When I eat a bag of M&Ms, I line them all up by color and eat the red ones first. I once begged my step-mother to mail me some chocolate vanilla-cream Pop Tarts, because I couldn't find them in Texas. But when I buy a $36 steak for my husband, I want him to like it. I want moans of delight. I want him coming in his pants while he eats it. I want him satisfied and HAPPY! He is not happy. By the end of it, he is tired. Yes, he finishes it all. What a trooper.

L’s fried shrimp were perfectly edible, but he was full of fried breading from the calamari and didn’t finish his dinner either. The waiter cheerfully asks us both if he can box up our shrimp leftovers to take home. Sure, why not. I always feel like I'm letting them down if I don't take the leftovers home, even if I know I’m not going to eat them.

I know, it’s a waste of packaging materials, but I just can’t disappoint the wait staff. I feel bad that they have to run and fetch for me and want them to feel satisfied by me being satisfied, even if I’m not really satisfied. All that matters is that they think I’m satisfied. I don’t want to have to explain why I don’t want to take the food home. I don’t want the manager to come over to make sure everything is OK. I don’t want free dessert or a gift certificate for $10 off my next visit. If I don’t like something, I just don’t eat it and I don’t order it again. If this happens more than once at the same establishment, or everyone at the table hates what they got, I just don’t go back there again. I’m very non-confrontational about dining out. I attribute this some of this attitude to a co-worker I had many years ago. He always tagged along whenever the work group went out to lunch or dinner, and he simply could not be pleased. Anything less than absolute perfection in the service or food was reason to call the manager over and complain. You never knew exactly what was going to set him off, but you knew there would be something. It was always a scene, and I don’t like scenes. Anyway, I know what I do doesn’t help the restaurant fix things it could fix, but what can I say. If the people running a restaurant can’t tell that they are serving shrimp jerky and tough steak at premium prices, then anything I have to say probably won’t make any difference. Besides, that’s why God made food critics. On the other hand, DC has completely different reasons for not complaining. He never sends back a steak. Never. He worked as a busboy in a steak house as a teenager and apparently saw some pretty ugly things. He’s convinced that anything brought to him after he’s sent a steak back will be contaminated with the cook’s DNA. I’d like to think those sorts of things wouldn’t happen in a restaurant that would charge $36 for a steak, but I have no data to back that up, and it’s not worth the risk to DC.

So anyway, the waiter packs up the shrimp for us to take home. We all console ourselves with this chocolate dessert thingy that is surprisingly good and then leave with the aroma of “Galveston shrimp boat” still clinging to our hair and clothing. I stick my leftover shrimp in the fridge when we got home without thinking about it and go on about my evening, unaware that something was brewing….

Apparently, some sort of evolutionary process happened in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning when I opened the fridge to get the milk, I was nearly knocked down by a fishy, shrimpy, disgusting stink. The shrimp still had some life left in them, likely microbial. While trying not to wretch, I immediately tossed the box in the kitchen trash with the intention of taking the whole thing out as I left for the office, but the kitchen stunk to high heaven by the time I had finished my first bowl of cereal. I interrupted breakfast to dump them in the can outside, and fanned the door a little to air out the house. The stink lingered in the kitchen, but at least it didn’t make me gag after that. Leaving for work that morning, I fully expected the yard to be overrun by cats and buzzards by the time I returned.

I didn’t hear from L for a couple of days after that. I was afraid that he might have been carried off by wild hyenas after they rampaged through his house, looking for his left-over shrimp, but not to worry. He was just fine. However, next time we're listening to him when he gives restaurant advice.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ethical Dilemma

A mockingbird has taken up residence in the tree directly outside our bedroom window. Normally this would be a good thing, or at least a neutral thing, as I like wildlife as much as the next person. I like watching the occasional squirrel scamper along the fence with a nut in its mouth. I saw a little owl in one of our cedar trees early in the evening a while back, and was totally thrilled. Before the electric fence went up around the tomato plants, we regularly had raccoons visit our yard to partake of said tomatoes, and they are just as cute as the dickens (even if they did drive DC into a sputtering frenzy, but that’s a story for another day). And who doesn't like listening to singing birds? I love chirping birds. Love them. Except for this particular mockingbird.

This bird is clearly obsessive-compulsive. How do I know? Because. He. Never. Stops. Chirping. Ever. EVER. He's chirping when I leave for work. He's chirping when I get home. He's chirping when we come back from dinner. He's chirping when we go to bed. He's chirping when I wake up to pee at 2am. He never stops. When does he eat? Do birds sleep? How can such a tiny body create so much noise for such an extended amount of time? Being a mockingbird, he has an entire repertoire of chirping noises. Sometimes he just emits a single loud chirp every 5 seconds or so, just as you're about to doze off again (after being disturbed by the previous chirp). Sometimes he cycles through a chirping medley, sort of like those car alarms that change their alarm sound every few seconds to attract more attention. In a word, he has become very annoying.

Last week DC offered to dispatch the little guy to the great forest in the sky via some unnamed method that I didn’t want to know about, but one that I’m sure is a violation of the homeowners’ association by-laws. My first reaction was “absolutely not!” Killing the local wildlife because it has become inconvenient just seems wrong. I know killing a mockingbird wouldn't be like, oh, say, killing endangered baby sea turtles. I mean, the things are everywhere. But, we can't just go around killing everything that annoys us, can we? Besides, the bird is bound to wear himself out eventually. Isn’t he??

Many days and many chirps later, it is apparent that the chirping is only gaining strength. His lungs are strong and fit from all that exercise. As DC pointed out, he may drown out the chirping of all the other males and get all the girl birds for himself. He could reproduce and create a whole flock of obsessive-compulsive chirping mockingbirds that would take over the entire neighborhood, the city even. So, last night, DC's earlier offer to remove the chirper turned into "I'm going to do it unless you tell me I can't."

And I totally caved. I told him to do it, but just not to tell me about it. I've become the thing I hate the most. I'm a hypocrite. Just like with lobster. I'm willing to eat lobster, but not willing to scald one to death in a vat of boiling water. This has probably doomed me to one of the circles of hell or something. I think it will be OK though, as long as it's not the circle with the chirping mockingbirds.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Things I know at 40

(or Things I Wish I had Known When I Was 20)

- After you get your first job, nobody will ever again care what your college GPA was, not even you.

- A boyfriend who cheats on you once will cheat on you again, no matter how earnestly he proclaims that he won't. No exceptions.

- Acting like an ass when things don't go your way won't improve the situation. It only makes you look like an ass.

- Nobody wants to be around an ass.

- Regular flossing greatly improves the average dental cleaning experience.

- The fact that a guy wants to have sex with you doesn't necessarily mean he wants to date you.

- Most rude drivers are really just oblivious.

- Your mother will not die if you don't come home for Christmas.

- It is possible for two sane people to look at the same thing and see two totally different things, without either of them being wrong.

- Waiting in line for a few minutes has never killed anyone.

- Just because someone speaks with great confidence doesn't mean they really know what they're talking about.

- An automatic transmission is well worth the extra $1000 when you're stuck in a traffic jam.

- People, organizations, and governments can easily control you by keeping you frightened.

- Self-help books all say pretty much the same thing.

- Never get into a discussion of any kind, on any topic, with anyone who has that smug, condescending, Pat-Robertson-ish, "you're going to hell and I'm not" smirk on their face. You know the one I'm talking about. A person with that look on their face has no intention of listening to anything you have to say.

- Men will come and go, but it's your girlfriends that you can count on. Don't neglect them when you get a boyfriend.

- Neither the size of her ass, nor the cleanliness of her house, nor the attractiveness of her outfit is a measure of any woman's worth as a human being.