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Sugar Daddy: Are you coming upstairs to sleep with me?
Madhousewife: No. I’m coming to get more laundry.
SD: You aren’t going to ravish me sexually?
Mad: No. I already did that.
SD: What? When was this?
Mad: Earlier. You were asleep.
SD: Did I enjoy it?
Mad: Oh, yeah. It was tons of fun.
I don’t know what it is about my husband’s presence that makes me especially unproductive. I should be more productive because he’s there watching me like a hawk, but somehow it has the opposite effect on me. Almost like I want to see how much sloth and bon bon eating I can get away with. I don’t know why I would do this. It’s not like I can enjoy sloth and bon bon eating when he’s standing over my shoulder (on the couch playing video games) like that.
Every day when my husband is home, he asks, “So what’s on your agenda today?” I hate that question. You know, this is why I didn’t become a teacher, because I didn’t want to have to turn in lesson plans in advance. It’s not that I don’t have any plans, but maybe I just don’t feel like sharing them. Or maybe I don’t have any plans and I’m just going to see what shakes out. Clean clothes and/or dinner? Perhaps. You’ll just have to wait and see.
I don’t know how I’m going to deal with his retirement. Maybe that’s when I’ll get a job.
Yeah, that was funny.
I had a laundry dilemma earlier this week. When you have an article of clothing that is almost exactly half-black and half-white and you’re supposed to wash it with “like colors,” do you wash it with things that are mostly white, or mostly black? It’s cotton, if that helps you. In my experience, mostly dark tends to dull the mostly-light portions of clothing, but a big chunk of black in a mostly-light load just seems wrong. I did it anyway, in cold water. I don’t expect it to make much difference one way or another, but considering that it took me two days to come to this decision, I’m hoping Princess Zurg just doesn’t wear that shirt again.
I have to make myself lunch and useful, so I’ll just cut it off here. Gentle readers, adieu.
So now I have survived two traumatic experiences this summer. Back in June I was in a four-car smash-up, and yesterday I went white water rafting. If you know me at all, I know what you’re thinking: “Madhousewife, why were you white water rafting?” I am not fond of the outdoors. I don’t like to have fun. Therefore, it makes little sense that I should have been white water rafting. Except that my husband wanted to take me and the older kids white water rafting, so naturally that is why I was white water rafting. When my husband says he wants to do something that I’m not particularly interested in doing, my response is to murmur indifferently and hope that he will eventually forget about it. To say I’d rather not do something he’s decided would be fun to do is to invite criticism of my well-established hatred of fun. In addition to fun and the outdoors, criticism of my fundamental personality traits is something I don’t enjoy. I only invite personal criticism when it’s really important. I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head. Maybe I will get back to that later.
Anyway, my husband went white water rafting with his co-workers as a team-building activity last summer, and for his birthday the white water rafting company sent him a gift certificate for a free white water rafting trip for an individual. This reminded him that he wanted to take me and the older kids white water rafting, and it wasn’t like he could not take advantage of one of us being free—hence, he booked us on a white water rafting trip. I was not excited to go, but I was willing to go because despite my hatred of fun and my apparent willingness to own it, I am clearly not willing to fully own it because I still occasionally feel guilty about it and doubt my own judgment when it comes to outright rejecting activities that I have no desire to participate in. I have no desire to spend three days at amusement and water parks at the end of this month, but I am uncomfortable saying, “I will not do that,” because a) it just seems rude to tell my family I won’t go on vacation with them, b) what would I suggest instead? I’m not a fun person, and c) even if they left me at the hotel to read a book, which I would enjoy, I would feel like I was missing something because the rest of my family is off having fun and—for want of a less cringe-inducing phrase—making memories without me. I have to go to the amusement park and the water park, or otherwise I am not part of the family. I would sooner excommunicate myself from the church (and I’m not aiming to do that any time soon).
When it comes to things I’ve never done before, there is also the remote possibility that I will end up enjoying it. It isn’t likely, given my nature, but how do I know unless I’ve tried it? I like to think that there are many things I’ll agree to do once. I once agreed to eat tripe. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. But now I know, and now when I’m confronted with the opportunity to eat tripe or not eat tripe, I can make an informed decision, with or without guilt. Well, in the case of tripe, it’s without guilt because there are several people in the family who won’t eat tripe. I don’t have to feel like I’m letting them all down by not eating it. Also, maybe I feel like some tripe today. I don’t know. I also don’t feel guilty about refusing to eat olives. This only affects my family when it’s time to order pizza. I guess this is one of those examples of when inviting personal criticism is worth the risk. I really hate olives. I don’t care what the rest of the world thinks. Thanks to experience, I also know that I really hate raw baby squids—eating them, not so much their existence—and I have no qualms about refusing to eat those, even if it means offending the entire nation of Japan, should I ever find myself in a remote fishing village there again.
Where was I? Oh, yes. Until yesterday, I had never been white water rafting. Maybe I would like it, maybe I wouldn’t. How would I know unless I tried it? I wasn’t excited to try it, but I was willing to try it, for the aforementioned reasons I have already explained, despite the fact that it involved the outdoors (which I’m not fond of) and also involved water, with which I have a complicated relationship. (I’m not sure it’s worth going into the history.) Despite the fact that I am generally terrified of drowning (part of my complicated relationship with water), my anxiety over the trip was not so much over the (distinct) (but at the same time statistically unlikely) possibility of drowning but the certainty that I was going to have to spend several hours in a wet suit, which didn’t sound comfortable (what if I get an itch I can’t scratch?) and that I would need to exert myself physically (physical exertion being another thing I have a complicated relationship with) in a manner that might require coordination (coordination also not being one of my strengths). So yes, I was anxious, but I wasn’t scared anxious.
That was before I got to the white water rafting place. The wetsuit actually wasn’t that bad. I got an itch. I was able to scratch it. It was unbearably hot, but they told me I’d be grateful for the insulation once I was in the 40 degree water, and I believed them. I still had my doubts about the physical exertion/coordination thing, but they were not overwhelming. What was overwhelming was when they started talking about what I’d need to do if I fell out of the raft or the raft turned over and everyone, including me, fell into the river. Obviously, I knew all along this was a possibility—falling out of the raft and into the river—but I didn’t know-know it until they were giving me instructions on how to deal with this scenario and I realized that I would never in a million years remember all of this stuff. I could remember some of it—Number One rule, for example, “Don’t Panic!” Easy to remember. Not so easy to follow, which brings me to my second overwhelming experience, the realization that I would, in the event of falling into a river, definitely not remember anything I was supposed to do except not panic, and therefore I would definitely panic. I’m sorry, but what is the alternative when you can’t remember how not to drown? I can’t think of one. At the same time, I can’t think of a better way to drown than to panic while underwater, so you see why my anxiety increased exponentially at this point. I really had no choice but to stay in the raft, and being ill-coordinated and inexperienced (at white water rafting), I was not 100 percent confident of my ability to do so. Did I mention that I was now rationally anxious, as opposed to just silly-anxious? Seriously, an itch I couldn’t scratch? How could that ever have bothered me? I’m some kind of idiot, that’s how.
Anyway, back to my story and my determined resolve not to fall out of the raft, since I had already forgotten 85 percent of what they’d told me to do in that event—possibly 90, I couldn’t really tell since I’d forgotten so much. I got in the raft. The raft was in the water. Because we booked the trip late, our family had to split up and be in two separate rafts. Sugar Daddy and Princess Zurg were rafting with some outdoorsy, fun-loving young adults (or maybe they were middle-aged adults, I couldn’t really tell since I was focused mostly on the drowning thing), and Mister Bubby and I were rafting with a family of four—outdoorsy, fun-loving parents and their game-looking teenage daughters, one of whom had been rafting before but not at this level of rapids. I forgot to mention that this trip included level-2 and level 3- and level-4 rapids and also a level-5 waterfall thingy at the end. None of these levels meant anything to me before this trip; frankly, they don’t mean much to me now, except I now know that level-2 is about where my comfort level stops. But back to my story. I was getting off topic. We were in the raft. The raft was in the water. SD was in another raft. He said he was actually kind of glad he was in a separate raft because then he could better watch me as I was having my rafting experience. Forget the logic of this statement. What you need to know is that my husband has admitted that he enjoys witnessing my discomfort, to the extent that it’s important to him to get a good seat. I’m going to leave that for now and come back to it later, or we’ll never get past the part where I’m in the raft.
We’re in the raft, the raft is in the water, and we’re rowing. Or paddling. I guess you paddle in a raft. They taught us how to paddle. It made sense. I am executing the paddling motion. Am I awesome at it? No. Am I better at it than the girl in front of me? Yes. Is that saying much? No, but I don’t have any other reference. We are paddling in the raft, in the water, and we’re coming up on some rapids. What do they call these rapids? I forget. They all have cute names. One is “Maytag.” I do not like that name, but that is not the name of these rapids. I think these were “The Staircase” or something. Honestly, none of the names appeals to me, but that’s neither here nor there. We’re coming up on some rapids, maybe The Staircase, maybe something else fraught with devastating possibilities, and our guide—whom I like very much; he sounds a lot like the Crush the turtle in Finding Nemo, and I feel comfortable with him—tells us to paddle forward two, but I notice there’s a big rock where my paddle would go, and then the next thing I know, the raft is tipping and, despite my determination, I am falling out of it. I am telling this in slow motion. This is how it really went down: we’re paddling, everything’s cool, and then BOOM! I’m in the water and I’m drowning. I knew this would happen!
So I’m in the water, drowning. I don’t know what anyone else is doing because all I can think is, “Don’t panic,” and also, “Panic!” This is the conversation my brain is having with itself: “Don’t panic!” “I’m panicking!” “I said don’t panic!” “I know! I’m drowning!” “You can’t panic when you’re drowning!” “But I’m DROWNING!” “Okay, let’s think, what was that thing they said about recirculating? We don’t want to do that—“ “I AM F***ING DROWNING HERE!” “SHUT UP, I’M TRYING TO THINK!” “I’M PANICKING!” “What you don’t want to do is put your feet down, they told you not to put your feet down—“ “IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT THAT I GET SOME AIR RIGHT NOW” “I’M THINKING!” “Okay, I am breathing air now, but I can’t see anything and I can’t hear anything and the important things is that I’M STILL IN THE WATER AND NOT THE BOAT AND WHERE IS THE WATERFALL AM I GOING TO DIE” and on and on like that until finally I heard SD’s voice and the guide in his raft pulled me out of the water, and then I wanted to cry but I didn’t because the trip had just started and I had already almost f***ing drowned. If I cried at this point, what would I have left to do the next time I almost drowned? Do not be misled by my reluctance to type the F-word in public; I assure you that my private thoughts contained no asterisks. I’m sorry, I’m going to need a minute here.
It was terrifying. Also, cold, but at the time I didn’t mind the cold so much—frankly, it was rather refreshing—but the terror really put a damper on my mood for the rest of the trip. It turned out that the whole raft tipped over, so all six of us went in the river. Mister Bubby actually swam toward the raft. I learned to swim at an appropriate age, but apparently I can only access the skill if I’m not in a life-or-death situation, which, to me, pretty much misses the point of learning how to swim. But I don’t have time to dwell on that epiphany. All six of us eventually ended up back in our right-side-up raft and continued on our way as if we hadn’t just had a near-death experience.
Seriously, wet suits and itching. What was I thinking?
Actually, one of the previously game-looking teenage daughters now appeared to be even more traumatized than I was. She couldn’t stop crying. I knew how she felt. I would have been crying too, if I hadn’t been determined not to embarrass my son, who had made it clear before we got on the raft that he was not thrilled to be paired with me because I was so potentially embarrassing. So I was being strong, for him (not that he appreciated it), but my sympathy was with this poor girl, who—I believe I mentioned—could not stop crying. We kept paddling, she kept crying. We got to a part of the river where we had to get out and hike what seemed like a mile but probably wasn’t nearly a mile of rugged terrain, and she was crying the whole way. Eventually she and the mother just had to walk out, which left only four of us in our party, but that was okay. At least none of us was crying. Yet.
We got to the point where it was time to get back into the rafts, which were already in the water (having been zip-lined past the stretch that was apparently unnavigable), and our choices were to jump off a cliff into the water (about a 20-foot drop), or hike a more roundabout route to the place where the rafts were waiting. The jump was highly recommended by several, but I knew about this part of the trip from the outset, and I knew from the outset that I would not be jumping off any cliff for any reason, with any inducement. I don’t jump off of cliffs. I don’t jump off of anything. SD jumped off the cliff, but that was no biggy, he’d done it before. Also, he liked jumping off of things. Like diving boards and crap. MB and PZ also jumped off the cliff. I took the long road, along with half a dozen or so of my fellow catapedaphobic rafters. I can’t say the descent down the side of the cliff was a stroll in the park either, but there were ropes. I made it. I watched my children plunge into the river, on purpose. Then we continued on our merry way.
Really, there is not much for me to say about the rest of the trip. As I told MB and SD later, it might have been different had I not fallen into the river very first thing. Perhaps I might have enjoyed some of the gentler rapids. SD pointed out to me that I basically body-surfed a level-4 rapid on my back, which should have been awesome, but I really could have done without the experience. I spent the rest of the time just being afraid that I was going to fall in again. It is hard to forget that you just almost-drowned when your ears and stomach are still full of river water and your mouth is still full of the taste of fear. As we got closer to the end of the trip—the part where we were supposed to go over the waterfallOn the bus ride down to the starting point of the trip, I told MB—who was so bummed that he was with the embarrassing, fun-hating parent—that while I was definitely not jumping off a cliff, I did intend to go off the waterfall (which, like the cliff-jumping, was optional). I mean, why wouldn’t I? It was the climax of the trip, and after all, I’d never done it before, had I? And I couldn’t disappoint my son when I was the only parent he had in the raft with him, could I? So I said I’d go over the waterfall, but that was before I fully grasped the concept of “level 5.” As we got closer and closer to the waterfall, and they went over all the safety procedures for going over the waterfall, and they reiterated the stuff they said earlier in the day about the risk of “recirculating” (which I definitely didn’t want to do), I became increasingly certain that without a frontal lobotomy, I would not be able to enjoy going over a level-5 waterfall. And no matter how much I wanted to do it, i.e. not disappoint my son and miss the climax of the trip, even if I hated it, I could not make myself do it.
It turns out that I am only so much of a good sport about drowning.
It also turned out that of the four of us left in the raft (besides the guide), MB was the only one willing to go over the waterfall. That made me extra upset about not being able to make myself do it, because 12-year-olds shouldn’t have to go over waterfalls without their mothers. Right? I mean, it seemed that way to me. I can’t describe the guilt that went along with this decision, which I absolutely knew was the only decision I could possibly make because the flesh was weak and the spirit was also weak. It made it very difficult to enjoy the relief I felt over not having to go over a waterfall, which I now think was really unfair, but at the time all I felt was regret–and an overwhelming fear of drowning, of course, but that goes without saying.
So I got out of the raft and walked with my fellow waterfall-phobic rafters to the bridge where you watch fun-loving people go over a waterfall in a raft and possibly fall out and get sucked into a whirlpool thingy and “recirculate” and meet their watery demise, and my anxiety level went up again. Here I was, safe on the bridge, and there were my children in the river, about to go over a freaking waterfall. I wasn’t worried about SD—he’d done it before and not died, so I was reasonably confident he could do it again—but neither of my children had ever navigated a waterfall before, successfully or otherwise. PZ was even less good at rafting than I was, and MB was all alone in the raft with a dude who talked like the sea turtle in Finding Nemo (not that he wasn’t a consummate professional). I almost didn’t want to watch, but I did.
They survived. Nobody fell out. And the fun was finally over!
SD said it was very sad to watch me getting knocked around by the rapids, clearly terrified, but I can’t help noticing that while SD always says it’s sad for him to see me scared, he also can’t seem to keep from laughing about it. Perhaps it’s a nervous reaction and he doesn’t actually enjoy my fear, but it’s just that he keeps pulling me into situations where I will be very afraid. Situations like roller coasters and haunted houses and big water slides and white water rapids. And he seems to enjoy reminiscing about those experiences. I don’t mean to invite you to judge him too harshly, gentle readers. I’m sure he’s only able to laugh because he (unlike I) knew all along that I wasn’t going to die. I’m sure he wouldn’t laugh at my fear if he ever thought I was in actual danger. I think.
MB: You didn’t enjoy the rest of the trip because you almost fell in the river.
Mad: There was no almost about it! I did fall in!
MB: I mean you almost fell in again. You only stayed in the raft the second time because you grabbed onto that 12-year-old girl.
Mad: Yes. And thank God she was there.
That’s all I have to say about white water rafting. Except that wet suits smell like feet. But that’s another post for another day.
Waiting in line for the Nightwish concert…
Sugar Daddy: Are we getting too old for this?
Madhousewife: Speak for yourself, man.
So last night my husband and I saw Nightwish at the Crystal Ballroom. Nightwish fired their lead singer, like, Monday, so that was a sad bit of news. The good news is that her replacement, Floor Jansen, was very good. She’s built like an Amazon and she has that long hair that swishes around when she does the head-banging thing. You know what a sucker I am for that crap. Well, maybe you don’t, but I am. Maybe that should be my new goal, to grow my hair long enough so it will swish around when I bang my head at metal concerts. That sounds like I’m planning to have some kind of accident at a metal concert. That is not my intention. I don’t know if I’ll ever have swishy hair, though.
Getting back to my story, it was a good concert. This was our third time seeing Nightwish but first time at the Crystal Ballroom. It was a pretty nice venue, but next time I think we should get there earlier so we can get a seat in the balcony. Everything else is standing room only, which would have been fine except that we were surrounded by really tall people. Seriously, I think the average height of the audience was six feet, men and women. I’m only 5’7″, in case you were wondering. Five-seven doesn’t usually count as “short,” but I certainly felt short last night. Every time we got a clear view of the stage, some giant would move in front of us. One time a wall of giants got in front of us. Seriously, freakishly tall people want to see Nightwish perform. It’s a problem.
The opening act was Kamelot, a band I was not particularly familiar with. I went in with low expectations because, well, “Kamelot”? With a K. Really? But they were pretty good, I thought. SD didn’t think they played a very good show. But they sold a very cool t-shirt, so he bought it. He didn’t buy a Nightwish shirt because they only had one design and he didn’t want us to be twinsies. He’s funny about that.
What else can I tell you? Oh. I’m sorry, I’m super distracted today. You’ll just have to put up with me. I know what you’re all wondering, just sitting on the edge of your seats with bated breath: Did Nightwish deliver, or did Nightwish deliver? Oh, Nightwish delivered, gentle readers. Substitute lead singer notwithstanding. She wasn’t like those non-union refs they were using in the NFL. If there were a metal vocalist union, I’m sure she would be in it. (Who knows if there is or not? These are Scandinavians we’re talking about.) So they put on a great show, as usual. I only have two complaints:
1. No encore. (What the what? )
2. “7 Days to the Wolves”–DENIED.
Naturally, you can imagine how let down I felt. So I guess, yes, technically, Nightwish delivered. I can’t deny their delivery, which was unambiguous. It was an awesome show. It just wasn’t the FULL awesome that it could have been if they had played our favorite song.
I mean, play it. I defy you to name something more awesome than an epic metal song about the threat of wolves devouring us. Go ahead. I dare you!
Aaaaaaaaaaaand here it is, Wednesday. I went to the dentist today. The teeth are fine. They complimented me on my superior dental hygiene again. Granted, people with braces inevitably get graded on a curve, but still. I don’t have many victories anymore. I like to savor my little self-esteem boosts. Sue me. No, don’t sue me really–I don’t have time to deal with your frivolous lawsuits. I am too busy brushing!
Tonight we have Back to School Night at the high school. I’m not sure I want to go back to school at the high school. It’s really big and crowded. And now all the parents will be there–so twice as crowded, in theory. (But probably not in reality.) The good news is that they might have enough parking. Yeah, that’s the best I can do. I’m not looking forward to it. It promises to be Snoozeville.
The really good news is that Princess Zurg is doing very well at high school now, after her rocky–nay, horrific–start. We had her IEP meeting a couple weeks ago, and her case manager remarked on her miraculous turnaround. We have tweaked her schedule since then. Originally we enrolled her in LDS seminary for one period–I know that sounds crazy, like “why would you do that, Madhousewife?” “I don’t know, it just seemed like a good idea at the time”–well, at the time it did seem like that. At least not a completely horrible idea. PZ may have a complicated relationship with her religion, but she very rarely misses youth activities at the church because she likes being able to socialize. And since most LDS students take seminary (we have so many Mormons here, they do it on a release-time schedule during the school day, in place of study hall), we thought she might want to be there with her peers and maybe meet some new kids in a possibly-more-relaxed-than-Sunday-School environment. Everybody said the teacher was really great and blah blah, but whatever. It didn’t work out for PZ. Not that she really gave it the old college try, but I only wanted her in there if she was going to enjoy it, and clearly she was not of a mind to enjoy it, so now she is taking PE instead. Ha! Okay, that’s only funny if you know how much PZ hates PE. Well, let me tell you: she hates it. But not more than she hates seminary.
Also, if you have to take PE, you may as well take it the semester when you’ll be coming into it a month late.
Apparently, they have two different PE classes–one that focuses more on team-sport activities, and this one she’s taking, which is called “Fitness Movement,” whatever that means. She has to take two semesters of PE, which, I don’t know, I’m happy for her, but man oh man, it does trigger my “In MY day…” reflex. Because in MY day we had to have SIX semesters of PE, and there was only one kind of PE class and it was called “Four-and-a-Half Months of Volleyball with a Smattering of Softball and Tennis Mixed In If Your Teacher Is Feeling Ambitious.” Six semesters! I’m still bitter about it, I admit it. I can’t get over. I don’t think I ever will. But I’m glad that my kids don’t have to suffer the same thing. Budget cuts–they’re good for something after all!
Well, my housekeepers are here so I’m going to stop typing and leave you with an Elvis story. We’ve been working on Elvis’s reading comprehension skills. This is the conversation SD had with him after book time the other night.
SD: Elvis, does Amelia Bedelia make good decisions?
Elvis (laughs). No!
SD: What does she do?
Elvis: She makes cookies.
Gentle readers, adieu.
Princess Zurg and Mister Bubby discuss middle school
Princess Zurg: So how is it, getting changed in the locker room?
Mister Bubby: It’s fun. Because the boys and girls share a locker room.
PZ: No, they don’t!
MB: And the girls take showers.
PZ: They do not!
MB: Just kidding.
Religion and public school intersect
Mister Bubby: There’s this kid at my school named John Baptist.
Madhousewife: That’s a cool name.
MB: Yeah. He just transferred from band to choir. Then he started healing people.
Princess Zurg: I don’t get what’s so complicated about wearing pants. I mean, you put one leg in, you put the other leg in, and you’re done!
Sugar Daddy and the new health regimen
Sugar Daddy: So I was feeling very carb-needy this afternoon, and I found something in the cafeteria that was very wrong.
Mad: What now?
SD: Lucky Charms Treats.
Mad: That was a mistake.
SD: There was something that made it even more of a mistake.
Mad: Why would you do that?
SD: Well, I think I haven’t been taking in enough calories for the amount of exercise I’ve been doing–
Mad: There are better sources of calories than Lucky Charms Treats.
SD: Like what?
Not overheard, but seen randomly on the interwebs
“Romney’s campaign is so dead the Mormons have baptized it.”
Obscure religious humor, FTW.
Speaking of death, I really don’t want this blog to die. I’m just having a hard time thinking of stuff to talk about anymore. Life is kind of boring, which is good, in a way, but also kind of boring. I mean, I’d like to quit blogging because I’m too busy doing more interesting stuff, not because even my inner life has lost meaning for me. What a terrible waste it is to lose one’s mind, or to not have a mind. Who said that, gentle readers? I’ll save you the Google. It was Dan Quayle. And what is Dan Quayle up to these days? I don’t know. Maybe he has a secret blog. We can only dream. (Because who cares what he’s really up to?)
Maybe I’ve said everything I have to say. Maybe I’m meant to devote the rest of my life to laundry and clogging. I suppose I could do worse. Or maybe I need better prescription drugs. You know what I really need? For the stupid phone to stop ringing.
And now I have 40 minutes until my mother-in-law comes over here. I should probably start on that laundry. Gentle readers, adieu.
I would give you thirty-seven fun facts about him, but I’m afraid that would be over-sharing.
So far I have had a good my-husband’s birthday. I took a 45-minute nap this morning, before Girlfriend’s play date arrived, and then after I put Girlfriend and her play date on the kindergarten bus, I had lunch with SD. At my favorite restaurant. Does it get any better than that? I’m grateful to SD for being born so I could enjoy this holiday.
Oh, and so we could get married and have this lovely family of ours. Blah blah blah.
Later we’re going out for barbecue, which means I don’t have to make dinner or do the dishes tonight. Well, at least not any more of them, once I finish the dishes from last night. I’m telling you, this husband’s-birthday thing is the best!
As a result of running so many laps in the school jog-a-thon, Mister Bubby and Girlfriend got raffle tickets for fabulous prizes. Girlfriend got a package of ten glow-in-the-dark necklaces. She put them all on at once. It gave her five minutes of joy. MB won a karaoke machine. I know–how did he get so lucky? Correction: How did WE get so lucky? Actually, he initially thought it was kind of a lame prize; he kept insisting he was going to sell it on eBay or something. Then later that evening he and Girlfriend took it out of the box and started playing with it. Now he doesn’t want to sell it anymore. Quelle surprise! He has burned two CDs of music for him to karaoke (if I may bastardize the Japanese language by using that as a verb) to. Interestingly enough, about half of the songs are instrumentals. I think he just likes going “do do do be do” into the microphone.
Top karaoke tracks for the Madhousehold include:
Feel free to use this playlist for your next party.
Girlfriend’s kindergarten class is going to be making pine cone bird feeders, so the teacher sent home a request for pine cones. Girlfriend said to me, “Mommy, I have a pine cone collection, remember?”
I said, “Yes, but a lot of your pine cones are probably too small to use as bird feeders.”
Well, a couple days later she came into my room and showed me a Ziploc baggie filled with her four biggest pine cones. “For the bird feeders!” she reminded me. And then, just for my information, she added, “Mommy, I sent the little ones back into the wild.”
A good steward of the earth, that one.
I know you all are dying of curiosity about my cough. Is it finally gone? No. But it is much better. I am no longer waking up in the middle of the night to cough my guts out. So that’s great. It’s about as much as I feel I can ask for at this point.
A friend of mine recommended that I gargle with Listerine (the real stuff that tastes like gasoline) morning and night. I may end up doing that if the cough lingers much longer–because as better as I feel, I don’t want to keep coughing forever. It makes people uneasy when you cough around them. The trouble is that I’ve never been much of a gargler. Just not a talent I’ve developed. Well, I learned how to tap dance at 34. Perhaps it’s not too late to learn to gargle.
Sugar Daddy talks music
SD: I’ve decided that Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash” is the least erotic song about doing it ever written.
Mad: No argument there.
SD: I’ve decided I’m going to write a love song called “When Our Privates Collide.”
(He’s so competitive.)
Somehow it seems right to end on that over-sharing note today. Also, I have to pick my kids up from school. Enjoy my husband’s birthday, gentle readers. Eat some barbecue. Don’t do the dishes.
Of course, that’s pretty much what I do every day. Perhaps to make today special, I should blog about whatever YOU want. But you’re not here in my private editor telling me what you want me to blog about, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to go with my original plan.
Did anyone else read “my private editor” and immediately think “My Private Idaho”? No?
I’m livin’ in my own private editor…
Like I said, it’s my birthday. I’m forty-one. FORTY-ONE AND STILL HERE. So far the birthday festivities have included a shower (woo-hoo!), a bowl of my favorite breakfast cereal which happened to be on sale yesterday (COINCIDENCE?), an hour and a half playing puppies with Girlfriend before kindergarten, lunch at the Indian buffet with Sugar Daddy, who then took me to the DSW and bought me three pairs of shoes, and…well, I also have this t-shirt with a picture of a couple octopi in a takoyaki food cart with the caption, “It’s not a Taco. It’s a Tako!” I was going to take a picture of it for you, but I just realized that I have no idea how to access the webcam on this new laptop. Which I guess is an improvement on my old laptop, which had the webcam accidentally accessible at all times. (I am too lazy to take a picture with the digital camera and upload/download it. It’s my birthday and I shouldn’t have to work that hard.) Anyway, SD bought it for me for sentimental reasons–in memory of our trip to Japan, where we ate takoyaki. Also, he wanted me to have a shirt that said “Octopus Balls” on it.
I wish I had taken a picture of me at the DSW trying on these pink glitter platform shoes. I don’t buy a lot of shoes because I’m too practical. The three pairs of shoes I bought today, that’s not my usual thing. One pair was for necessity, one pair was practical, and the third pair was arguably frivolous but also on clearance. I almost wanted to buy those pink glitter platform shoes just on principle–the principle of awesome–but I wasn’t feeling that frivolous (despite the fact they were also on clearance). I understand why women wear those shoes, despite the fact that they’re extraordinarily uncomfortable and you feel like you’re going to tip over any second. It’s like being on stilts–you get an entirely new perspective on the world. LIKE YOU’RE THE SUPREME RULER OF EVERYONE ELSE. Also, your feet look tiny because they’re in the Barbie position.
But no, I just bought some very practical, comfortable and attractive shoes. I forgot where I was going with that last paragraph. I said I don’t buy a lot of shoes because I’m too practical, but I love shoes. If I bought every pair of shoes I wanted, I’d have about a thousand pair of shoes by now, and that’s about 980 too many. I’m not sure how many shoes I have right now. A couple of them are missing, unfortunately. But now is not the time for sad stories.
Speaking of sad stories, I’m going to save my Donna Summer Tribute Post for tomorrow. Not to make everything about me (even though it is), but a birthday just doesn’t seem an appropriate occasion for a wake, even a Disco Wake.
My son is complaining about where I want to go for dinner tonight. Can you believe the nerve of him?
Here are some things I need to do in the next hour and a half: help Elvis with his homework, take Elvis and Girlfriend to the library, do a load of laundry. That’s, like, nothing. But I should get started on it, or I won’t succeed, and to fail at doing nothing on your 41st natal anniversary is just depressing. Happy My Birthday, gentle readers!
Mister Bubby: It was hard enough getting the shoes in my backpack, so I’m just taking the fur and the belt as a carry-on.
Madhousewife: What shoes are you taking?
MB: My church shoes. What do you think? I’m in a play. I’m Leif Erickson. Vikings didn’t wear Nikes!
Mad: They didn’t?
MB: Nikes weren’t even around in those days!
Mad: They weren’t?
MB: Mom, this play may be fake, but it will teach you something. Humph!
Girlfriend is home sick today, so she is relaxing by watching Blue’s Clues. Unfortunately, it is TV Turn-off Week, so she isn’t lying on the couch watching it on the big-screen TV. She is crumpled in a chair watching it on the computer because she is convinced that that won’t count. I don’t have the heart to tell her that it actually does. Also, I don’t care. TV Turn-off Week bugs me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment. We should all watch less TV (except for those of us who already don’t watch any). I just don’t like being told when I’m supposed to turn my TV off. Maybe I celebrated TV Turn-off Week last week. Maybe I’ve been celebrating it for the last six weeks straight, but this week I feel like watching old MST3Ks on the Netflix. Is that any of your concern? No! Have I been celebrating TV Turn-off Week for the last six weeks, or any of the last six weeks? No, technically–but theoretically I could have, and anyway, it’s still none of your business.
The school invites us all to observe TV Turn-off Week and sends home this form for me to sign off on which days my child has not watched TV. Every child who participates gets a prize. I think it’s a pencil or something. I dunno. Who cares? I think Mister Bubby managed to not watch TV for the whole week last year, but he has no enthusiasm for the project this year. Girlfriend has had one TV-free day this week. Or at least she said it was TV-free. Obviously, I have since found out that she has a letter-of-the-law approach. Oh well, I’ve already signed off on it. Because I don’t care! I’m not going to let The Man dictate my media choices. Even if it means teaching my daughter that it’s okay to be dishonest sometimes? Well, yeah, I guess so. I don’t care!
You know what gets me about TV Turn-off Week? Aside from the implication that our family is addicted to TV and we need outside help to get us to turn it off? They send home this sheet of paper with the “rules,” and list all the things that count as watching TV. Watching a video or DVD counts. Watching something on the internet counts. I think under “video games” it says, “Ask your parents.” (Well, thank you sooooo much for the vote of confidence in my parental judgment.) But watching a movie at the movie theater doesn’t count. (What if you have a movie theater in your own home? HMMM?) And watching TV at school doesn’t count because that’s school. Hypocrites!
Well, these days MB likes to unwind after school by watching National Geographic documentaries on Netflix. No, for real. The other day he was telling me all about the situation in North Korea. (It’s bad.) That’s educational. That’s like school–or does it only count as school if it’s government-approved television-watching? Hypocrites! Totalitarians!
I’m still grumpy from Tuesday when I had to pack Elvis a “zero-waste” lunch in honor of Earth Day. It wasn’t a big deal, but my husband thought it was ironic that they had to kill trees making the flyers notifying us of Zero-Waste Lunch Day. (Not only did they send home a notification on paper, but they sent two! Tree overkillers!) And of course I’m freshly irritated at the advent of TV Turn-off Week, so naturally it rubbed me wrong that they were once again deciding for me when I should be a responsible earth citizen. When my child goes on a field trip and has to pack a sack (made of paper!) lunch, they tell me everything I pack in it must be disposable. So it’s okay to hurt the earth when it’s convenient for them. Hypocrites!
Sugar Daddy: I’ve figured out the perfect frivolous thing to do with my prize money. When Rhapsody of Fire comes to town, they’ll be selling VIP tickets. So for an extra $150 per person, we can hang out with the band before the show and we can go to the after-party. Won’t that be awesome?
Mad: But Luca Turilli’s not even in the band anymore.
SD: No, but there’s still Fabio Lione and Alex Staropoli!
Mad: Do we even want to go to an after-party?
SD: I don’t know. I’ve never been to an after-party.
Mad: It could just be drunken debauchery.
SD: Probably. But it’ll be drunken debauchery with Rhapsody of Fire.
Mad: Your point is well taken.
…but I took a stupid nap this afternoon, which was more like early evening and when I woke up it was 7 p.m. Oops.
You know what the problem is? The house is too cold, so I sit curled up on the couch with a book and possibly a blanket, and then what am I supposed to do? Huh?
On the other hand, if I turn up the heat and therefore (theoretically) stay awake, the house will be too hot for me to move around and do stuff. Therefore, theoretically, I should make myself warmer by moving around and doing stuff instead of curling up on the couch and reading. But I hate to do stuff!
Case in point: We are going on a little trip tomorrow, the Madhousefam + MadhouseMIL. Just a little trip, out to The Dalles. Someone heard we were going to The Dalles and said, “Why?” I dunno. Because it’s close and low-impact and we’re going to fool our kids into thinking it’s a real vacation. We’re going to stay overnight in a hotel and swim in the swimming pool, and that’s pretty much all our kids require in a vacation that’s only going to last two days. More than two days and there’s gonna need to be roller coasters.
Have I mentioned lately that I don’t enjoy swimming? But this vacation isn’t for me.
Anyway, we’re going on a little trip tomorrow, and I’m supposed to be packing right now. I was packing earlier, but then I stopped. I had some laundry to do, as it’s been piling up. I was only going to do one load, but then I realized that somehow, all of Elvis’s socks ended up in the laundry hamper. Every last one! This wouldn’t be remarkable except that he has about 20,000 pairs of socks. We all do, except for Mister Bubby, who is very particular about his socks and therefore only has about half a dozen that he’s willing to wear. It wouldn’t be remarkable if all of his socks wound up in the laundry at once. But anyone else, it’s kind of amazing. And suspicious. I doubt very much that all of those socks were dirty. That seems kind of impossible. And yet, there they all were. And I wasn’t about to start subjecting them to the smell test one by one. It was easier to just wash all of them. Are you beginning to see why I have so much laundry all the time? I suspect a conspiracy, but I don’t know who all is in on it.
Anyway, I’m waiting for the socks to dry so I can pack some. I really dislike packing. I do it because I’m the only one I trust to make sure everything gets packed that needs to get packed. I very rarely forget anything. But that’s because I almost always overpack. Often I overpack grossly. I just can’t not think of all the contingencies. We’re only going to be gone overnight and come back on Tuesday evening. Theoretically we should be able to get away with just one change of clothes and the clothes on our backs, shouldn’t we? Everyone’s toilet trained and no one wets the bed anymore. And yet…what if something happens? Something could happen that would make it so we needed more clothes. Something like what? I don’t know. We’re going to Multnomah Falls tomorrow–what if someone…falls in? Well, I reckon we’ll have bigger problems on our hands than wet clothes in that case, but you know what I mean. Something could happen. And if we don’t have spare clothes, it’s all on me.
It means I am overpacking again.
More than once in the past year our family has gone on a day trip and there’s been some event that caused someone to need spare clothes, but of course we didn’t have any because it was a freaking day trip and everyone’s toilet trained. I can’t even remember what any of these events were, just that Sugar Daddy would always turn to me and say, “Do you have any extra pants for Girlfriend/Elvis/whoever in the car?” and I’d be like, “Noooo [tone clearly implying “Why would I have extra clothes in the car when we’re on a freaking day trip and everyone’s toilet trained?”].” Well, clearly I ought to have. Not that SD was blaming me or anything–he was just being hopeful. But I hate to disappoint people. Also, I hate to be personally inconvenienced because I’ve disappointed people. So why haven’t I learned my lesson about the day trips? Always have extra clothes. Yes.
But if you’re going on a two-day trip, does that mean you need twice as many extra clothes? I just don’t know!
I have some banana-chocolate chip cookie bars sitting on my counter that are going to be stale by the time we come back from our trip. I don’t suppose I can talk people into eating them in the car. I can’t talk people into eating them while they’re sitting on their cans inside the house. I gave some to my MIL and some to our neighbors, but no one in the family wants to eat them. I take it back. SD had one last night. He’s still on his diet, but he’s relaxing a little lately because he’s so close to the end and he’s so far ahead of everyone else in his challenge group that something really crazy and unlikely would have to happen for him not to win.
Something crazy and unlikely like needing extra clothes on a freaking day trip when everyone is toilet trained!
I’m packing his gym shorts so he can exercise in the gym at the hotel. That’s how hardcore he’s gotten. He’s going to exercise on vacation. (A two-day vacation!) On the other hand, I am not packing my tap shoes so I can practice my clogging routine while we’re at the hotel. One of us had to make a sacrifice.
I want to eat one of those cookie bars, but I’m in the living room with the new carpet and I shouldn’t eat in here, and I don’t want to move the laptop into the kitchen. I’m too warm where I am. But I’m not falling asleep, no sir.
I’m telling you people, those cookie bars are good. They deserve to be eaten. I’m just saying this because I have such a hard time getting people to eat my baked goods. I’m not like the world’s most magnificent cook, but I know how to bake cakes and freaking cookies. Come on. This crap is hard to mess up. It’s not brain surgery or pie crust. And yet no one will eat what I bake. I know how that looks, and I know what you’re thinking: “If nobody’s eating them, that means they’re no good.” But you’re wrong! I eat them myself. Would I eat stuff that didn’t taste good? High-calorie stuff that doesn’t taste good? Do you really know so little about me? Please. No, the rest of my family is just obnoxious.
Yesterday I spent all day in my bedroom cleaning out my desk. It’s actually a desk with…I dunno…would you call it a hutch? There’s drawers and shelves and crap over it. It’s a big freaking thing that holds a bunch of crap, and I spent all of yesterday cleaning it out and didn’t finish. I kind of hate myself. But I hate my crap more. Why does it have to taunt me? This is the same problem I have with the packing. I want to toss out 90 percent of these papers, but I just don’t know which ones I’ll need ever again. I do not want to find myself standing around someday and SD turns to me and says, “Did you keep the EOB forms for Elvis’s speech therapy from 2007?” and I have to say, “Nooo [tone clearly implying “Why would I have saved those things when I obviously wasn’t ever going to need them again?”].”
As it is, if he ever does turn to me and ask that question, I will have to say, “Yes, but hell if I remember where they are.”
Which should tell me something, but something in my soul doesn’t believe it. What’s wrong with my soul? I should probably get some professional help specifically for this problem.
And please, please, please do not ask me if I’ve seen Hoarders. One, my house is disorganized and often a wreck, but I’m not a hoarder like you see on Hoarders. I’m only a mini-hoarder. I like to dabble in hoarding on the side. Two, I have a limited amount of time to watch television and why would I watch anything so depressing and close to home? I may be some kind of masochist, but I’m not that kind. I like to dabble in masochism on the side.
Which reminds me of a tangentially-related-but-not-really anecdote. SD and I teach the ten-year-olds at church and today we were telling the story of some people in the Book of Mormon who were in bondage, and one of the boys in the class was surprised to learn the meaning of bondage because he’d assumed that it meant “like you bond with a friend.” And I, being so very articulate, said something like, “No, usually when people speak of bondage, they’re not talking about the good kind…of…bonding…” and then I had to explain the difference between good bondage and bad bondage while my husband just sat there giggling.
I didn’t do very well, by the way. I eventually just had to change the subject so SD wouldn’t wet himself. (‘Cause then he probably would have asked if I happened to pack him a spare pair of dress pants in my purse, and I would have had to say, “Nooo…”)
The socks are probably dry now, and I’m starting to feel sleepy.
Sugar Daddy: So, how were the installers? Were they professional?
SD: Did they have you sign anything?
Mad: Yes, I signed their little paper, and I rated them a 10. I hope that was okay.
SD: Jeez, just give it away, why don’t you. Did you sleep with them too?
Mad: Yes. Both of them. The man and the woman.
So I came back from my California trip on Tuesday night, but I’ve been busy busy busy since then. Had to catch up with the kids, who were feeling unloved after a mother-free week. More urgently, had to prepare the house to have new carpet installed. Good news: it was only the downstairs that was getting new carpet. Bad news: There was a lot of crap and furniture downstairs that needed to go somewhere else. We don’t have that many elsewheres on our property. The garage and upstairs were already full of crap. And being that it’s only March, we can’t very well leave our furniture and crap on the front lawn. Or the back lawn, for that matter. (Full disclosure, the front and back lawn are also semi-full of crap, but it’s crap that we’ve more or less given up on. Don’t you wish you were our neighbors? You know you do!)
There are few things more depressing than the process of rendering a room completely empty. An empty room is not itself depressing. Quite the opposite, as far as I’m concerned: an empty room is a thing of beauty. It may be the most beautiful thing in the world. But getting to this point is a soul-killer. It’s the thing I hate about moving. Moving would be a piece of cake if it weren’t for the fact that you have to somehow get all the crap out of the place you’re living so you can go live somewhere else. If I could just pick up and leave and by leave I mean “leave most of my crap behind,” the thought of moving wouldn’t horrify me at all. But no–people tend to insist that if you leave, you leave completely. No traces of your crap-filled life may remain. Since we only had to empty two rooms–albeit two very crap-infested rooms–this experience was only a fraction as horrifying as an actual household relocation would have been. But it was still horrible.
Too many toys, too many papers, too many containers, too many lids that may have container counterparts somewhere in the house but who knows anymore, too many crayons and pencils and markers and pens and scissors and glue sticks and magnets and stickers and screws and nails and random plastic thingies that might be important but I can’t remember why, too many books, too many knick-knacks–and I really actually hate knick-knacks and actively avoid accumulating them but somehow I still do–and too many…things, just things that defy categorization which is why they’ve never been corralled into a box somewhere, but they just roam freely about the cabin like they own the place. Well, they DO own the place. Why shouldn’t they roam about accordingly? It’s just a hopeless situation.
What I want is for someone to come in and magically vaporize everything that I’d never miss. I don’t even care if it’s valuable or useful, just as long as I’d never know the difference. This is why I can’t get rid of the stuff myself. I overthink everything. I know I don’t want this stuff, but I can’t just throw it away. Why can’t I? I DON’T KNOW. It’s not like I care about using up valuable landfill space. They’re going to name our local landfill after us, probably. I don’t know. I grew up in a home where you’d take the butter out of its wax/foil wrapping and then scrape every last bit of butter that clung to said wrapping off of said wrapping so that none of it would be wasted. Do you know how many years it took for me to stop doing that? Do you know that I still have the instinct to do that every time I unwrap a new cube of butter? It’s no wonder I own so many ball point pens, and yet I never have one when I need one. And playing cards. Jeez louise, how many playing cards are lying randomly about this house? None of us even plays cards anymore, and yet I can’t throw out any playing cards because if I’m able to gather all the playing cards together, there must be at least one full deck in there, and a person ought to have a full deck of playing cards, just in case…something…happens, and you need a deck of playing cards. Don’t you? NO, YOU DON’T. And anyway, I can’t make a full deck, even if I wanted playing cards. There’s a metaphor in here somewhere. I’ve lost track of what I was saying.
Anyway, we were ripping out the old carpet late last night–or more accurately, SD was ripping up the old carpet and I was moving crap around, and then I was sweeping up the dust and debris left behind by the old carpet. This was the original carpet from when the house was built in 1987. It looked fine when we moved in, but after eight years of Madhousewear it looks…about 25 years old. We had the upstairs carpet replaced after the fire, of course, which made the downstairs carpet look that much worse, but you don’t really know how horribly you treated your carpet until you see what lies beneath. (Remember that movie, What Lies Beneath? It wasn’t about carpet, but maybe it would have been scarier that way.) You can see every place where somebody spilled something and whatever spilled seeped through the carpet and the padding and muddied up the dirt underneath and then hardened into a concrete-ish substance. It’s one of those things that isn’t surprising but is nevertheless dismaying. I mean, it’s not like you can be proud of it.
I spent about an hour scraping that crud off the family room floor last night. And I had a little epiphany. I’ve spent so many years wondering what I should do with my life, rejecting option after option and recently coming to the conclusion that I’m good for just about nothing, so maybe it’s better if I don’t think about it at all. And then there I was, scraping crud off the floor, giving myself some pretty neat blisters in the process, and I realized that there was something immensely satisfying about it–much more satisfying than the process of emptying the room of all the crap, because it was a discrete goal with a foreseeable end. I knew at some point I would be finished and wouldn’t have to immediately start over. More to the point, I may never have to do it ever again. (You only have to replace carpet every 25 years, right? I should be dead by then. Or so infirm that my husband won’t solicit my labor just to save $400 on the installation.)
What makes housekeeping so unsatisfying and so unfulfilling isn’t that it’s menial drudgery; it’s that so much of it is just perpetual chaos management. Not bringing order to chaos, which is something else entirely, but just managing chaos. Like herding cats for eternity. You and the cats are never going to go anywhere; you’re just going to herd them. Until you die. Or become so infirm that you become one of the cats that someone else has to herd. Or something like that. It’s a metaphor kit; I don’t have instructions for you, just improvise. Anyway, scraping the crud off the bare floor was the opposite of what I usually do, which is play musical chairs with an endless supply of crap. Now I’m throwing in another metaphor. Don’t get confused. It’s not even really a complete metaphor; don’t try to do too much with it. I’m just saying. It felt good to do something that wasn’t going to be undone just as soon as I’d done it. No one was standing over my shoulder pouring more 25-years-worth-of-filth onto the floor as I worked. It was very…empowering.
And I thought to myself, “This might be my calling. Scraping crud that I can walk away from. And just think if I were a professional crud-scraper, I would probably have much better tools and could do an even better job. But the important thing would be that I would love what I did and be proud of it.”
Back in November SD and I went through my MIL’s new house with the home inspector, and he (the home inspector) and SD got to talking about careers and stuff, and he–I’ll just call him Mr. Home Inspector–said something to the effect of “I didn’t have what it takes to go to college, which is how I ended up doing this,” and he said it all self-deprecating-like, but I was thinking, “Man, this guy knows so much stuff–all these codes and requirements and such–and he performs a valuable service, unlike some people I could mention *cough* English majors *cough*. I wish I had a purpose in life.”
I’m telling you, kids. My so-called “writing career”–meh. My even-more-so-called “housekeeping” career–meh. Bringing four human beings into the world–meh. Scraping crud off the family room floor–I felt like I really accomplished something last night. And I rewarded myself with chocolate cake, even though it was 12:30 a.m. because I didn’t just need it–I really believed I deserved it. It just doesn’t get any better than that. No, it doesn’t.
Madhousewife: Argh, I hate when this happens.
Sugar Daddy: When what happens?
Mad: The steam fogged up my glasses.
SD: Well, if you weren’t such a nerd, you wouldn’t have to wear glasses.
Mad: That’s true.
I went grocery shopping today, and because I didn’t feel like making myself lunch when I got home, I picked up a sub sandwich from the grocery store deli. It was not a good sandwich. It was so not-good that I only ate about half of it, and that was mostly out of moral obligation. I could have made a better sandwich myself. I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t it always better when you make the sandwich yourself? But no. Generally I prefer sandwiches made by others. Just not this one.
And to make up for how not-good that sandwich was, I ate half a can of Pringles.
I bought the Pringles a couple weeks ago because they were on sale. I’ve been hiding them in the garage because they’re for me and not anyone else. I might have deigned to share them with my husband at some point, but he’s been on a diet since January, so I don’t have to worry about sharing any food with him these days. He’s lost 20 pounds, incidentally. He looks great. But he’s kind of a bummer to eat with.
Fortunately, I don’t require companionship for my meals.
Tonight it’s just me and the kids for dinner. I’m dithering between hot dogs and fish sticks. I’m in more of a fish stick frame of mind myself, but Girlfriend explicitly requested hot dogs the other day and, well, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who really likes fish sticks. And I do. I like them very much. I think I might be the only person I know who likes them at all, let alone very much. My children tolerate them. Elvis eats them with ketchup. *shudder* I could seriously eat a whole box by myself. I don’t, of course. I hardly ever have them, because they’re terrible for you. But they were also on sale, so what was I supposed to do?
The hot dogs were on sale, too, but they’re the all-beef kind, so they were still expensive. Is it just me, or have all-beef hot dogs gotten really, really expensive? Is there a scarcity of bovine odds & ends these days? I don’t want to think about it.
I’m back on the fish sticks again. I was just thinking that it’s Lent now, yesterday being Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday always does creep up on me. And there’s no reason why it shouldn’t, since Mormons don’t observe Lent, so why should we care when Ash Wednesday is? I just like to know these things, that’s all. I’ve always had a lot of Catholic friends. I just seem to gravitate toward Catholics, for some reason. I went to a Baptist college and immediately fell in with the Catholic sub-populace. (There was no Mormon sub-populace. Well, there was, but it was me.) The cafeteria served fish every Friday during Lent. Not fish sticks, but actual fish. I don’t think I have ever known a Catholic who liked fish, and certainly not one who liked fish sticks. But they served fish in the cafeteria during Lent anyway.
My mother didn’t serve a lot of fish when we were growing up, aside from the occasional fish stick. Fish can be tricky to prepare. Also, expensive. Unless you’re talking about tuna from a can, which my mother served plenty of. She made tuna casserole sometimes, but more often she made this tuna-and-gravy-over-biscuits thing, which–I know, you just threw up a little in your mouth, didn’t you? But I don’t remember it being disgusting. Not that I’m aching to be transported back in time so I can consume that meal once again; I’m sort of afraid to. But I recall it being quite edible (unlike some sandwiches I’ve had).
I don’t really count tuna-from-a-can in the fish category. I mean, clearly it’s fish, but it’s also clearly from a can, so that has to mean something.
I’m going to move away from food and talk briefly about books. Not good books, just books. I just finished a romance novel. Not even a serial-killer romance novel, which you know is my new favorite genre, but just a straight-up romance novel. I may as well name names, as long as I’m confessing things. It was The Sweetest Thing by Barbara Freethy. I got it for cheap on the Kindle. It’s a cheap book to begin with, but I got it on the extra-cheap on account of it being February. (I also got a Kurt Vonnegut book for cheap on account of it being February, so I’m not sure there’s a romance/Valentine’s Day angle here–but I haven’t read the Vonnegut book yet, so who knows?) I am not usually so impulsive with books that I have to buy, even when they’re cheap, but every so often I get in a mood. It sounded cute, so I got it and I read it.
Okay, so it was cute for the first few chapters. You know me; I’m not picky. The set up is that there’s this guy, Alex Carrigan (yeah, I know, “Carrigan”–are there any romance novel heroes that don’t have rich white boy soap opera names?), who’s a successful entrepreneur (because unsuccessful entrepreneurs are called “deadbeats”) who has never known true love. Ha ha. No, really, he hasn’t. He has abandonment issues. His grandfather, who has recently come to live with him, insists that it’s because their family is cursed because fifty years ago he (the grandfather) and his true love broke some ancient Native American pottery and some spirits were released and she got freaked out and left him. No Carrigan has known true love since! Don’t snicker. The spirits are real. We know they’re real because Faith, the friendly neighborhood baker, touched the broken pot and she felt the spirits, too. She knows she will not be able to rest until she helps Grandpa Carrigan find his true love. Alex can’t believe she’s indulging the old man’s delusions. He also can’t believe he’s falling for this sentimental loony bird just because she has red hair and green eyes and beautiful, beautiful breasts. (I know, I couldn’t believe it, either.)
Did I mention that Alex has a long-lost daughter who shows up on his doorstep after her mother dies? The mother had told Alex that he wasn’t the father of her baby, but she told the daughter that he was. Apparently there was no need for paternity testing back in the day. Whatever. That’s also part of the story. I know you don’t believe me that it started out cute, but it really did. Or maybe I just wanted to believe that because it was February and love was in the air along with cheap Kindle books. If tree falls in the forest, etc., etc. Or, you know, insert appropriate aphorism here. Anyway. It started out cute. Then as the story went on it started to seem less cute and more sort of dumb. Then it became less sort-of dumb and more completely dumb. And then I was almost finished and thinking, “How dumb is it, really, when I’m reading the whole thing? And not just because I paid for it but because I want to know what happens, even though I should know already that Grandpa will be reunited with his true love and Alex and Faith will get married and Jessie will really be his daughter even if there is no paternity test?” Also, “What kind of name is ‘Barbara Freethy’? Could you really write anything but romance novels with a name like ‘Barbara Freethy’? Is that even her real name? But who would make up a name like that?” You’d be amazed at all the different things I can think while reading. I’m a great multi-tasker. Sometimes.
Anyway. I finished it. I don’t feel good about myself, but I’m blogging about it. I’m owning it. It’s like when I ate half a box of fish sticks by myself the other week. (I don’t have them often, but these were in the freezer already, from the last time I bought them when they were on sale.) That was not a good idea. I could have told myself from the outset that it was not a good idea. But it was what I wanted at the time. And now it’s done. If I could go back in time and change the past, it’s not the first place I’d go, you know? That’s my way of saying that I guess I might have liked that book in spite of myself and its dumbness.
And now I’m going to let my daughter play PBS Kids while I have some yogurt because that is another thing women like. Romance and yogurt. It’s February, suckahs!