Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Empty Wheelchair

It's been a long, hot summer and this week the weather is cool enough so that I'm no longer in danger of dehydrating before leaving the driveway for an afternoon run. Despite the nearly overwhelming desire to hit the dirt trail just 100 yards from my house, I'm trying to be smart and reduce the high-impact stuff until my knees are on the mend.

After a tough 40 minutes on the elliptical with nothing but Hoda and Kathy Lee to watch on the gym's tv while I elliptesized (oh, hell yeah, I'm making that a verb) and listen to music, I limped to the locker room to change. Knees and ego still aching from last week's diagnosis of "bone on bone" in the right knee and what I'm going to call, Oldageitis in my left, I suited up for an uninspired swim.

As usual, I forgot to shave and so I peeked out of the locker room to see if there was anyone else doing laps and how embarrassed I should be in case anyone noticed my 'situation'. The pool was still- it's surface like an aqua-blue pane of glass. Relieved, I flip-flopped to the edge of the pool where I stood and tucked my recently dyed hair into a very unflattering swim cap. 

There was an empty wheel chair sitting at the edge of the pool. I thought it was weird and the only explanation I could come up with was that someone had left it there and that this person must be nearby and would come back to get it. 

It is this thought process that clearly demonstrates the obvious- that raising children has riddled my brain with gaping holes that obstruct my ability to think in any logical manner whatsoever.

Then from the far end of the pool, I hear a mans voice ask, "So, are you swimming a mile these days?"

I realized it was the owner of the wheel chair. 

He was walking the pool's perimeter at a pace so slow that his movements left no discernible wake in the water.

His name is John and every few laps or so when I'd stop to catch my breath (yes, that's either how very, very fast I swim or that's how taxing swimming is for me), John and I would chat for a minute or two. 

John smiled as he spoke about some of his accomplishments. Twenty-five years earlier he had been a quadriplegic but eventually he was able to learn how to use the left side of his body and he still hadn't given up the hope that he would one day leave his wheelchair behind. Two years earlier, after turning 50 and after much pool training, he had been able to walk 40 feet without assistance. 

But like me, injuries had set John back and he had to change his workout routine. Unlike me, John didn't seem to feel sorry for himself and I did not hear him complain once about his struggles at the gym or the challenges he must face on a daily basis.

So, I shut up and swam. 

I swam twice as long as I had planned while chatting with John. After forty minutes, he finished the last 20 or so meters and was back where he left the wheelchair that had confused me so.

His goal was to go from his current one lap around the pool perimeter to four laps and eventually out of his wheel chair. 

My goal is to appreciate what I can do, stop complaining about my minor aches and pains, to never give up on my goals and never, ever forget about my swim with John.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Knee Jerk Reaction

I thought I hurt my knee doing squats and lunges at the gym the other day.

But as it turns out, I actually just got old.

The exam and xrays confirm that I have no acute injury, just wear n' tear typical of a very active, a-hem, person of a certain age. So the bad news is that no matter how often I go to the gym or how many miles I can run, these activities cannot stop my knees or all my other parts from aging. Grrr....

High on pain meds in the middle of the day, I've begun to think of all the dangerous poorly planned dumb things I've done in my life and my career and I came up with the following:

Tracking and tranquelizing black bear in the wild as a Game and Fish intern - No injury
Lifting Gigantasaurus baby out of crib multiply times daily for 18 months - Torn rotator cuff

Running 5 marathons with less than optimum "long runs" while training - No injury

Running 6th marathon in new (tight) shoes - Stress fracture of metatarsal (broke foot)

Jumping into arms of friend standing waste-high at the bar pool in Mexico in order to demonstrate a pivotal scene in Dirty Dancing - Bruise on bottom of foot

Upping my workouts to two hours daily, 4 days a week in order to continue to eat and drink as many potato chips and diet tonic and vodkas as I want and then finding out the pain in my knee is not a torn ACL but just worn down cartilage - Enormously bruised ego


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Getting Freaky in a Graveyard

This is going to sound really bad. 

I had sex in a graveyard.


When I was 17.

It sounds a lot worse than it really was. The idea of it, that is, not the sex itself. The sex was not bad, I'd say mediocre, at best.

To begin with, the act was performed with a boy that I was in love with and who had been my boyfriend for over a year. We had a mutually respectful relationship and we were looking for another way to connect. 
And also, new places to screw and not get caught by our parents.

And in my defense, it was a pet cemetery.

Even as a child, I had always loved the scare you could get watching a good horror movie. I was only five  when my parents took me to see a double feature that included Jaws and The Omen. I was wearing my pajamas and clutching a stuffed animal as I watched a giant, fake shark terrorize a New England beach from the back seat of our fake-wood paneled station wagon

To this day I cannot imagine why my parents thought it was a good idea to take me to see two of the scariest movies ever made. Strangely, it didn't freak me out, rather, it just made me really like horror movies. And surprisingly, there is no long-term psychological or emotional damage to me in spite of this early trauma (that we know of). That said, it was probably not the best parenting decision my folks made prior to their divorce a few years later.

By the time I'd reached high school, as far as I was concerned, there were no more good scary movies being made. They were too unrealistic, lacked imagination and the plots and dialog were always too stupid to believe. I was in need of a good scare and decided that my friends and I should visit a graveyard not too far from where we lived. Reluctantly, they agreed.

Maybe to insure that at least one person wouldn't back out at the last minute, I told my boyfriend that I wanted to 'do it' while we were there. Because that would be reeeally fucking weird scary.

He enthusiastically agreed. Not so much because he wanted to get laid in a cemetery- he just wanted to get laid. Anywhere.

It was around ten o'clock when the six of us arrived and parked behind the middle school across the street. We killed a couple of hours drinking, smoking and telling ghost stories before we all had the courage to leave the bleachers and head in the direction of the pet cemetery. We crossed the street and climbed over a short, chain-link fence that surrounded the cemetery. Out of fear all six of us walked in a tight cluster holding hands. We covered our mouths between muffled giggles and whispering, "BOO!"to each other, in hopes that the living neighbors whose houses surrounded the yard, wouldn't hear us.

It was nearly midnight and the slight breeze made it chillier than usual. The graveyard was small- maybe two acres and it was not maintained at all. The ground was hard-packed, desert dirt with occasional ground squirrel holes and dried up weeds littering the property. Most of the pet plots had nothing but crooked wooden crosses, the sun having baked off much of their white paint. There were no names that we could see on the first few grave markers we came across.

Real picture of our Spooky Neighborhood Graveyard in the daylight
(add your own creepy soundtrack here- I suggest wind whistling
or the sound of your kids opening up the squeaky cabinet
where you keep your home-made porn collection)
Under the guise of playing hide-and-go-seek, I grabbed my boyfriend's hand and we shuffled off giggling, knowing what we were about to do would be both silly and scary. We found a small area of concrete where there stood a tall flagpole at the back of the cemetery. We argued briefly about who would be on the bottom and thus, be forced to lay bare-bottomed on the cold concrete. Although it was dark and we knew our friends couldn't see us from across the cemetery, we also knew we would be unable to see any one of them approaching if they happened to come looking for us. 

We fumbled with belts and buttons and zippers and were in the middle of (fill in the blank with an illegal, underage activity of your preference ) _________ when we heard one of our friends call out. 

We were dressed and on our feet quickly, running in the direction of the cry. We found everyone  motionless and staring at one of the few, non-wooden headstones.

And it was not a dog.
Or cat.
Or bird.

It was a person. And though I cannot remember the name or the dates, I remember it was a young person, a kid. A kid that had died and was buried there nearly 100 years earlier. And we looked at the headstone next to it, and the one next to that one and the one next to that one. It was an entire family.

We were literally stunned into silence and I was mortified by my earlier actions. How disrespectful we had been. And how embarrassed I was for my behavior. And for having sex in front of ghosts. We thought we were screwing in front of labradoodles.

What a Zombie Labradoodle would look if he watched me have sex and
he also happened to be dressed up as a  Siberian Husky
( Zombie dogs always dress up on Halloween )

Ghosts saw me naked.

Someone wisely suggested we "get the hell out of here" and so we did.

Artist rendering of what our exit may have looked like the night we got freaky in a graveyard 

We spent the rest of the night hanging out behind the middle school and reliving the evening we spent among ghosts. 

I have not thought about that night in many years, I guess because it wasn't as scary or significant as I had hoped it was going to be. 

But just to be safe, my daughters will never be taken to a horror movie double-feature before the age of six and instead will be brought up on a steady diet of Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks. 

Didja know it's Theme Thursday?
Check out what other bloggers have to say about Halloween by clicking on the links below....

Each week you'll have the opportunity to see what the same five whackos have to say about the same subject. Believe me, it will explain a lot.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Childhood Trauma #43

We had some New Friends over for an evening barbecue last night. They brought their two little girls and their puppy. It was nice- us adults were able to enjoy ourselves while the kids and dogs played/argued over toys/sniffed each other.

By the time they left, the house was actually pretty clean since the kids played mostly outside. The patio table had only a few stray dishes on it because the lovely New Friends helped clean up some of the mess. The kids (and dog) were exhausted and not fighting bed time since they were tuckered out from all of the playing/arguing/sniffing.

Ahh, a successful night!

Until I looked at the two text messages on my phone that apparently had been sent many hours earlier.

Around 6 pm from Angie: Where are you? We're missing your girls and we have a HUGE bounce-house in our backyard!

And later on from Becky: Are you guys ok? I miss you and my girls miss ur girls. Hope everything is ok.

Oh, crap.

I just caused my kid to miss her best friend's birthday party. No excuse. All my fault. We received the invitation a little late, just last week, and so in my mind the 14th must be waaay far away. I had plenty of time to get around to writing it on a calendar...or so I thought.

At any rate, I am feeling beyond bad about this and am trying to figure out a way to tell my kid that she will not be attending a Ninja themed birthday party with a HUGE bounce house.

The only thing I can say for certain is that I will NOT be telling the truth as to why my kid will miss the birthday party.

We can't say it was cancelled because she could eventually find out that it was not- I'm looking for something more imaginative than, "I forgot that it was supposed to be on the 14th and got buzzed with our New Friends at our own barbecue" but less imaginative than, "Mothra came and wrecked Nic's birthday party and Godzilla crushed the bounce house".

I am currently trying to not lose sight of the fact that this is sadly, not the worst parenting mistake I have made this month, much less this week.

I am also trying to find solace in the fact that in the grand scheme of things, missing this party is not the end of the world and will have little affect on my kid's future.

I am also taking suggestions on what lie I need to tell my kid so I come out smelling like roses.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Livin' the Dream- My First Day as a Zookeeper

I always wanted to work with animals and in the dark days before the advent of Animal Planet as a kid I actually wanted to be Jim Fowler. Jim was the compliant assistant to Marlin Perkins of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

Marlin Perkins on Wild Kingdom in a time before digital maps.
And good lighting. 

Being Marlin Perkin's 'assistant' meant doing all of the work wearing kick-ass, khaki pants and a sweet leather belt. It also meant being forced out of a Jeep or boat by Mr. Perkins in order to subdue a 40 foot long crocodile or something similar. Mr. Perkin's calming voice-over would offer up a narrative that made it sound like wrestling a croc was a perfectly normal thing to do and there was no danger whatsoever involved.

Marlin pointing out a crocodile to Jim so he could wrestle it by hand, into submission

After landing the ultimate, animal lover's dream job- working at a zoo- I quickly learned that Mr. Perkin's calm demeanor in the studio may have been a tad misleading.

"Just kiddin'! There's no croc- It's really a bear!" exclaims Marlin, much to Jim's delight

On my first day as a zookeeper, I was told that I would not be working with animals that day. The time would be spent filling out W2's, getting my zoo issue cargo pants and HR bullshit. And I would be doing all of this while spending the entire eight hours with my new boss, Tawny, a zoo keeping veteran of 20 years.

Yes, that is my ass and yes, I worried about splitting those pants every single day

Tawny was of indeterminate age but you would recognize her as the older lady with the over-processed hair that was rockin' out at The Scorpions concert you attended in 9th grade. Although it was nearly 15 years ago I can still recall Tawny's hair, voice and hands. She spoke like Jeff Spicoli and had speckled, leathery hands that showed every minute of the 20 years she spent working in the desert sun. 

Imagine the hair a little bigger and replace the checkerboard Vans with a rake and the bagel
with a walkie-talkie and  you've pretty much got Tawny.  And add a Scorpions concert T shirt.

With the exception of one very brief moment, most of that day remains a blur to me.

Ah, but that one moment.

I toured the zoo with Tawny in a golf cart that looked to have been built during the Johnson administration. It had been converted to have a mini truck bed on the back in order to transfer big buckets of poop around zoo grounds. While we drove past- no joke- a 15 foot wall of shit Tawny referred to as the "compost" pile, she received a call on her walkie-talkie. The conversation went something like this:

Disembodied static-y voice on walkie-talkie: "The tiger just arrived."

Tawny: (to walkie-talkie voice) "We can be there in five minutes"


And then Tawny turned to me and asked, "You want to go see a tiger?"

 "Um, yeah. Ok", I said, super casual and all, AS IF PEOPLE ASKED ME TO SEE VISITING TIGERS EVERY FUCKING DAY.

So this part is a little fuzzy. All I know is that a new male tiger named, Dutch, had just arrived by truck after being hauled across the country for nearly a week. I had no role to play in the transfer of Dutch's 12 foot long shipping crate from the back of a truck and into the tiger night-house*.  I tried my best to stay out of the way during the hour long procedure.

(*A 'night-house' is zoo-speak for the small, decrepit building that zoo animals are locked into at night, usually located at the back of the exhibit. They are usually infested with rats, scorpions and cockroaches as well as the odd tiger or lion.)

By the time we arrived, all of the zookeepers involved in the tiger transfer process were already inside the night-house. Tawny led me through the night-house- it reminded me of old-timey, underground jail cells. Lots of concrete, little ventilation and a long, narrow hallway. The smell was not totally unpleasant, like how you imagine your house would smell if your cat weighed 200 pounds instead of 9 and he peed on your couch every time you got home late from work. And you have a swamp cooler. That needs servicing.

As we began to walk down the hall, Tawny stopped in her tracks and looked me straight in the eye. She told me to "stay close to this", and gestured to the decades-old concrete wall with chipping paint on my left side. Um, ok, whatever. I practically rolled my eyes but instead I followed her quickly down the hallway without another word between us. 

On the right side of the hallway was just a chain link fence that I could have touched if I had stretched my arm a bit. Behind the chain link was a cell about 10 x 15 feet. Much to my disappointment the room was completely void of tigers and I felt gypped. Because I was hired to be a  zoo keeper for the animals that were used for educational presentations to church groups, nursing homes and rich, three-year old birthday parties, I would be limited to working with small parrots, snakes and hedgehogs. Odds were pretty good (unless I was lucky enough to see one escape!) that if it didn't happen today, I would not be seeing a tiger at the zoo anytime soon.

At the end of the hallway I was safe from harm as well as any chance of watching the probably very pissed off tiger enter his exhibit for the very first time. And although I couldn't see the tiger, I could see the head zookeeper, watching the silent crate at the end of the hallway. He was armed with a shotgun (no, not a dart gun, a SHOTGUN) just in case the shit hit the fan. Oh, and all the doors were locked. We were locked in. With a tiger. A probably very pissed tiger.

Why were we locked in? says you. I'm glad you asked.
On the off chance that the tiger would escape, the doors would remain locked until the tiger could be "contained". Or until he ate everybody.

(*Spoiler alert No. 1: I did not get eaten by a tiger on this particular day, however, later in my career I was locked inside one of those small rooms with a 500 pound African lion that was unexpectedly waking up under anesthetic. This was done in order to contain him until the tranquilizer began to take full affect and so that he wouldn't eat the zookeeper manager. The manager had locked herself safely in the lion-free hallway while leaving us in the cage to die deal with the situation. Another time the same manager also locked me and some zookeepers in with a waking-up orangutan.  *Spoiler alert No. 2 : I did not get eaten by the African lion *Spoiler alert No. 3: I did not get eaten by the waking up orangutan) 

I gathered that Dutch had safely exited his crate and entered his new bedroom because I could hear the keepers at the end of the hallway speaking in hushed tones. I could hear some of them using their 'kitty' voices saying comforting things like, "Hi, Dutchy!", "Easy now, Dutch", "You're ok, buddy" and "If you're going to eat someone, please eat that stupid looking new girl down the hall", or something like that, I think. Maybe. Pretty sure.

Although I couldn't see him, I knew by the eyes of the motionless keepers standing at the end of the hallway, that Dutch was pacing around his new bedroom. And I was right- the low growl/rumble/low frequency demonic verses coming down the hallway were not sounds indicative of a happy kitty. I was pretty sure they were the sounds tigers made before eating people. 

Everyone seemed to exhale a sigh of relief as Dutch was finally secure in his night-house and everyone could leave.Tawny stood at the far end of the hallway from me and motioned for me to come down to where she stood. At that moment I realized why she seemed so Bruce Willis-y earlier when she told me to "stay close" to the wall side of the hallway.

I was going to have to walk past that furious fucking tiger.

And now the hallway seemed extra long.
And extra narrow.
And control over my bowels seemed iffy at best.

Now, in the very small world of people that work with wild animals, there's a fine line between brave and stupid and I knew I needed to straddle it carefully. Both my reputation and my safety were at risk. And maybe my undies. Walking too close would probably make Dutch even more uneasy in his new place and his reaction would be unpredictable (cower in a corner vs. eating through chain link in millisecond and then eating my head). Walking too close the wall on my right would imply that I was scared to walk past a tiger that was safely locked up, even if I wasn't (but I actually really was). 

What Would Jim (Fowler) Do?, I thought to myself. 
He would look cool, that's what he would do. Whatever he did, he would look cool. 

So, I did my best to walk coolly, calmly, quickly down the almost middle of the hallway, a touch or two closer to the wall on my right. I stared straight down the hall as I began to walk the 15 or so feet past Dutch's bedroom. 

And that's when that unforgettable moment happened.

I didn't see him spring from where he was pacing at the back of the bedroom or even jump up on his hind legs. What I did see was the face of Dutch, a full grown Sumatran tiger, roaring less than three feet from my face as I walked past. I don't remember how loud it was (though on later trips to the lion/tiger night-house I was impressed with the how loud the roars of the cats were), I just remember actually feeling the roar. In my chest. My chest actually vibrated. Or I had stress-induced heart palpitations. Either way, I remember it in my chest.

The rest of that day was a blur, the only other thing I remember was thinking throughout the entire day, I got a job at a zoo!  I got a job at a zoo! I got a job at a zoo!

Whether my underwear life changing experience was because I was concentrating too hard on not looking scared (but I actually was) or because Dutch was ninja-fast, I'll never know. All I do know is that it was the first of a handful of times my body reacted in a very visceral way in response to a perceived animal threat.

Years later going  down the narrow hall past the tiger 'bedroom' for a veterinary procedure.
The oxygen is just in case a new zookeeper passes out when an angry kitty roars at him/her

And so the second day on the job led to the next and the next. My job changed more than once while at the zoo and I even left the zoo a couple of times so I could goof around overseas for several years. More than ten years went by and I kept returning to that dream job.

What I do remember is that Dutch was the first animal I met on both his and my first day at the zoo. Many years later, by then working as a veterinary technician at the animal hospital on zoo grounds, I was beside Dutch during his final moments. And despite some dark days, like the day we said goodbye to Dutch, working at the zoo really was a once in a lifetime job. It was there I had the pleasure and honor of working with some of the most amazing zookeepers and incredible animals I've ever known.

And although I had a few more adrenalin rushes working with sick, injured or not-quite-anesthetized animals I never did poop in my pants. 

Poop on my pants. Yes, just about every day but it was never my poop.
Poop in my pants. Nope, not once.

I doubt even Jim Fowler can say that.


Click on any one of the links below to see what other blogger's 'dream job' experiences have been- It will probably give you insight at why so many bloggers are emotionally damaged/fragile people

Something Clever 2.0
Aspiring to the Middle
Cloudy With a Chance of Wine
I like beer and babies.
a calibama state of mind
Mom With Her Running Shoes On
The Insomniac's Dream

Each Thursday you'll have a chance to check out what a bunch of different crazed bloggers (redundant, I know) have to say about a particular topic.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Don't Shit Where You Sleep

It was supposed to be our Big Night Out minus the little people.

It was an adults-only wedding. No, not that kind of 'adults-only' ( I wish!). Doug,  a friend of over twenty years, met someone really nice and so they decided to get hitched in a very nice wedding in his resort-like backyard last night. And not have all of our kids there to ruin it. 

Good planning on their part.

Here's a timeline of the events that occurred last night:

6:15 pm
Suited-up Tall Guy and I arrive 15 minutes late and sneak into the back of the ceremony already in progress 

Notice an old friend from high school that I was a little apprehensive to see standing twenty feet away at the rear of the ceremony as well (she and her husband apparently as flakey as me and Tall Guy since they obviously arrived late to the ceremony as well). She begins waving happily, frantically in my direction. I slowly wave back, surprised at the enthusiasm she has at seeing me. I am relieved- things won't be as awkward as I anticipated.

Then I notice the guy that she was actually waving at pass by me and go over and hug the frantically waving high school friend. Feel like an ass.

Ceremony over with, bump into ex husband of a friend for the first time since he walked out. Weird. He may or may not have grabbed my ass. Nice. 
I still got it.

Bump into Frantically Waiving Friend, we hug, we catch up. Not awkward. Nice.

Find out there's no real booze at the wedding. Only wine and beer. Fuck.

Realized I neglected to bring flask. FUUUUUUUUCK!

Frantically waving friend (who has two kids under the age of 6), knowing the serious nature of my situation immediately offers to help me find booze in the house. I make a mental note to add her to the I.C.E. contact list on my phone because clearly, this girl knows exactly what needs to be done in an emergency.

Find Kirkland brand vodka and diet tonic. I feel like I have won the lottery.

My friends' drunk dad jokingly grinds against me while I hug him hello. Happy that I seem to be getting a lot of action tonight but am still slightly disturbed by the humping dad.

Another friend finds me and tells me how she found herself sitting behind Todd Smith during the ceremony. "Can you believe the irony??" she asks, I am unable to see the irony and ask, "What, did you date him or something?". She looked at me for a second, probably to see if I was drunk, joking or just stupid and says, incredulously, "I was MARRIED to him!". 
Sadly, I was not drunk and I was not joking.

Tall guy reads text from grandma, the big kid is having troubles with her asthma. Tall guy calls his mom, she is stressed, but kids seem ok as they can be heard in the background being obnoxious (an hour after bedtime). Probably high on gummy bears and trashing the place Keith Moon style.

Finally find Todd Smith (ex husband #2 if you're keeping score) and give him a hug, catch up. He looks exactly the same. And he still has a really, really long.....set of eyelashes. 
No, seriously, he does. 
And his cock is HUGE.

Communication error between stressed Tall Guy and irresponsible, buzzed wife finds me ride-less, sober and very far from home. Tall guy on his way to pick up sick kid and awake sister to take them home.

Not in the mood to drink now, feeling bad Tall Guy has to deal with sick/cranky kids solo. Make plans to spend night with dear friend Kathy that lives a couple blocks away and is also at the reception. Tall Guy will pick me up in the morning.

Mood changes, I decide to go ahead and get drunk (Mistake #1)

1:00 am
At Kathy's house, no diet tonic, only cranberry juice. I pour my first vodka and cranberry even though cranberry juice always upsets my stomach the next day (Mistake #2)

1:15 am
Polish off some delicious chicken curry Kathy warmed up (Mistake #3). 

1:45 am
Kathy throws some pork ribs in the oven, tells me they "only take 45 minutes". For some reason, I think this is a reasonable thing to do at almost 2 o'clock in the morning (Mistake #4)

1:47 am
Frozen chocolate chip cookie dough discovered in freezer and it just seems logical that we bake and eat these along with the short ribs (Mistake #5)

2:15 am
We lay, propped up on pillows in in her king bed covered in plates full of empty ribs and cookie crumbs. It looks like a crime scene. I finish my second vodka and cranberry. We watch an old episode of Breaking Bad (Not a mistake. That show is fucking awesome.)

2:30 am
We realize we are fucked as our synchronized hang overs begin to kick in. We raid the children's ibuprofen and take about 16 chewable tablets each (First Smart Thing I've Done All Night )

6:30 am
I wake up feeling like shit. I alternate between sitting on the toilet and walking around the house with a Tupperware bowl, just in case shit starts to get real in a hurry. I spend most of my time on the toilet.

6:45 am
Am annoyed with Allure magazine because it is fucking stupid. Prefer finer literature for extended toilet visits. Mental note to leave a good magazine behind next time I'm here in case my husband forgets me at another party and I wind up eating short ribs and pooping like crazy over here again. 
I know that a recurrence of this situation is not as unlikely as it seems like it should be.

7:00 am
I break guest bathroom toilet. I don't know how it happened. The water is just not refilling the bowl. It's as if it were turned off. I consider checking to see if the water thingy located on the wall beneath the bowl magically turned itself off since the last time I pooped (about 7 minutes earlier) but decide I am physically incapable of bending down at that moment.

7:11 am
Decide to move matters to the kids bathroom. As I flush, I hear the chain inside the tank break. 

9:00 -10 am
Kathy wakes up and very kindly drives me 30+ miles home so the tall guy doesn't have to schlep sick kids across town.

11:30 am
Make lunch for kids. Take a handful of various poop and headache meds.

12:00 pm
Feeling much better. Trying to decide on what we should make for dinner. Cannot get ribs off my mind (Probably Future Mistake #6)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

More News on Franklin the F*ck Up

Thank god I found this!

It helped confirm to me that yes, Franklin the tortoise is a fuck up that he is, in fact, a pussy (kindly pointed out to me by ).

It also opened my eyes up to that suspicious McStuffin family. This is a must read for all parents because it will help you understand what the hell is going on in pre-pre school pop culture that you have become familiar with the past few years. 

If you are not a parent and you know these shows, may God help you.

Anyway, it's Saturday and you are hung-over and the kids have been fucking with you all day. 

And lets face it, you need a nap but you're not going to get one. You may as well read this and at least you'll have a laugh.

Check it out!

Something Clever 2.0: What the Hell is Wrong With Kids' Shows?? (Part 2)...: About 8 months ago, I wrote What the Hell is Wrong With Kids' Shows?? (Part 1) . Now that my kid is a little older, and watching some new ...


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Elf on the Shelf or Demon Near the Ceiling? You Decide.

In retrospect, telling our three year old daughter that there would be a small, magical creature living in one or more rooms of the house, watching her every move was probably not the best idea. 

Let me go back.

Last year, one day in December,I heard (from three separate friends) about The Elf on the Shelf. 

"What the hell is an Elf on the Shelf?", thought the living-in-a-cultural-vacuum me of December 2011.

A quick email to a friend with a kid told me what (because of my inexperience with social norms), I was missing out on. 

And at that exact moment, I decided that our home  

For those of you as uninformed as I was, let me explain.

The Elf on the Shelf is a little elf-y doll that comes with a book. It's a Christmas-y story about how this random elf will show up in your house, unannounced, on a shelf some morning near Christmas. 

The Elf will then stare, glassy-eyed at the children of the house from high upon a shelf top and observe. Just observe.

That very night, the Elf will go back to the North Pole and report his observations to the Big Man. The Elf will return before daylight, to a different spot in the house, where he will do the same thing all over again. By Christmas eve, Santa will basically have a complete background check on every minor in the family. The book advises that the children not play with the Elf. It also states that although the kids can talk to the Elf, the Elf will not talk back. 

Creepy, no? 
I didn't think so at the time but hindsight now tells me otherwise.

To this day, I have no idea what came over me but once I knew exactly what a shelf Elf was, I knew that I could not spend another Christmas without one. I went to the big-box type book store a couple miles away but the Elf was sold out. In fact, the Elf/book ensemble was sold out at ALL 20 or so locations of three different chain bookstores in a city of 1.5 million people. 
Are you f*cking kidding me?!? 

Eventually, I ordered it online and paid extra for rushed delivery. 

The Elf on the Shelf book/Elf kit arrived on December 20th, two days before our move to a new home across town. I couldn't wait to read the story to our nearly four-year old in our New Home, introduce her to the Elf and start our very own, First Family Tradition!

The evening we closed on the house was spent eating pizza on the living room floor of the new place. When the kids weren't looking, I hid the Elf on a high, built-in shelf in the corner of the room. I brought out the book and read it to the kids- they loved it!

At the end of the book, I knowingly asked, "Do you want an elf to live in our house with you?" the big kid nodded slowly. The little one had no idea what I was talking about and was running around throwing pizza crust to or at the dog. She's like that.

"Let's look around and see if we have an elf!", I exclaimed. I ignored the fact that the big kid reeeally didn't seem all that into the idea- I knew she'd eventually come around.

Finally, the kid turned her head all the way around, her eyes looking up towards where the Elf lay in wait. She paused for a moment and then threw herself face first into the blanket we were sitting on. She did not cry. She did not beg for the Elf to go away. She was silent. 

"Do you see the Elf somewhere?" I said, still ignoring  delusional oblivious unaware that this kid was scared shitless.

The kid sat up, saucer-eyed, "No!"

Me: "Are you suuuuuure?"
Kid: "No!"
Me: (pointing towards the corner shelf) "What about right ov...."

So, although I ordered an adorable little doll designed to enhance a wonderful holiday experience
The angelic Shelf Elf I ordered

I wound up with something that would perhaps ruin my daughter's Christmas for many more years to come. 

At this point I get the much-deserved 'look' from my husband and so I say, "It's ok honey, we'll ask the Elf to go away" 

Me to Elf: "We don't really need an elf this year, thanks! Can you please go back to the North Pole?"
Kid: (crickets chirping in the background as she slowly begins to recover from her catatonic state)
Me: "...but you can come back next year!"
Tall guy: (the 'look' again)
Me: "Ok, never mind  Elf. Just probably go back to the North Pole and help Santa. We don't really want you here. Sorry about this. Bye!"
Kid: Silent, laying face down on blanket again

While she was still passed out from anxiety, the tall guy quickly got up, ran across the room, grabbed the elf from the shelf and ran to hide it in another room. He did not need to run. The kid was still face down when he came back 30 seconds later.

The creepy Shelf Elf my daughter saw

We moved in on December 22nd and the girls adjusted to their new rooms and surroundings pretty well.

Until December 23rd.

We were driving home from preschool when the big one brought up the elf. I told her not to worry, he would not be back.

This year- but maybe next year.... 

(I KNOW. What the hell is wrong with me?? I can't say, honestly. I just really, really wanted the elf thing to work out for some reason)

So yes, I am now driving down the freeway, less than 48 hours from Christmas with a kid that is totally freaking out.

Not surprising that she didn't believe me when I tried to convince her that he actually, probably would not show up next year anyway. 

Nope. Not buying it at all. Trick me once with a creepy elf-creature skulking around my new house, shame on you...Trick me twice, well, still shame on you (you with shitty parenting and lacking in good judgement skills, that is). Nor was she  buying it when I told her I'd write a letter, send an email or a text, to the North Pole. Nothing. 


I had a plan to fix this but I couldn't reach the tall guy on the phone so I called my sister.

Sister: "Hey, what's up?"

Me: "You busy?"

Sister: "No. Just driving. Why?"

Me: (in very loud voice) "Hello, North Pole? I would like to speak with Santa. Right away!"

Sister:   "Uh...Wha..?"

Me: (in louder, angry voice) "He's busy? Fine. I'll speak with Mrs. Claus then!"

Sister: "Oh."

Me: "We do NOT want an elf at our house this year! (now yelling) DO YOU UN-DER-STAND ME??? WE DO NOT WANT AN ELF! EVER!!!"

Sister: (apparently to whoever was in car with her) "What time do we need to get there by...uh-huh...ok..."

Me: "Thank you very much, Mrs. Claus. You have a merry Christmas"

Sister: "Glad I could help. Merry Christmas to you too!"

And we did have a merry Christmas a couple days later, the elf and story book safely tucked away (along with my dream of a family Christmas tradition), on a shelf high above the washing machine.

That dream haunts me almost daily as I do the laundry for four very dirty people.

And now it's October.
It's getting near that time again....
She's almost five now....

Oh yes, you know I'm thinking about it.

And yes, someone needs to stop me.

Franklin the F*ck Up

Have you seen Franklin, the cartoon about a stupid little tortoise?

He looks nothing like this but I don't know about copy write laws and blogs and stuff yet.

If the answer is No, then clearly you do not own a child under the age of five or you don't have the Nick Jr. channel or both.

At any rate, it's a good thing because this little turtle is a total fuck up. 

Every episode involves him either blowing off some responsibility or not knowing the basics about modern American culture. 

For example, Franklin did not water Mr. Rabbit's petunias (even though he was specifically asked to) and went out to play instead. Or the time Franklin had NO CLUE about a major American kid phenomenon, The Tooth Fairy. I mean, what kind of kid- tortoise or not- has never even heard of the Tooth Fairy?? I don't give a shit if tortoises don't have teeth- I don't have  a prostate but I know about the cancer that winds up there in most people's Grandpa's, for Christ's sake.

This has me in a bit of a tizzy because my kids really love the show and I typically don't mind them watching one or two half-hour shows a day (it allows me time to do necessary household chores...or write this blog) but I feel like I'm doing them a disservice by letting them watch this loser tortoise. 

I am starting to think this tortoise kid is retarded- NOT that there is ANYTHING at all wrong with retarded tortoises- I just don't know if Franklin is 

1) representative of his species 
2) a good role model for my children 
3) being pervy when he takes his shell off (yes, he took it off at his doctor appointment) and runs around all neked.

And besides the fact that tortoises cannot talk or ride a bicycle in real life, as a biologist and former zoo keeper, I find it ridiculous that Franklin can take his shell off.

Piss off, Franklin.