Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Can't Recall. . .

I have never understood the saying “a memory like an elephant”. Maybe that just highlights my overall lack of knowledge regarding pachyderms. But I gather from the way it’s used that elephants have great memories. And I’m sure there’s probably an opposite axiom, concerning forgetful mammals, something like “a memory like a seahorse”, or a hamster, perhaps, but I can’t remember what that saying is, so I’ll just say that my own memory is very unelephantlike.

Today, I forgot where I put my sunglasses. Which is weird, because I don’t usually forget little things like that. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve misplaced car keys in my life, and, for the record, they’re never gone for good. I would need a lot more hands to count how many times I’ve forgotten to return a phone call, show up for an appointment, or take a medication. A ten day course of antibiotics usually takes me the better part of a month to get through. And I’m constantly amazed at the amount of friends I have when I’m notoriously forgetting to call them back, or respond to an email. When I get those reminder calls from doctors’ or dentists’ offices, I’m always surprised by them. Like, “I’m supposed to be there at ten tomorrow? Really? Who decided that?” Oh. I did. When I scheduled it six weeks ago. Then I scramble for a babysitter and cancel whatever else I’ve double-booked in that time slot.

I have a calendar that I write these things down on, but I forget to look at it! I think I’m going to find some success setting calendar reminders on my phone, now that my husband pointed out I could be doing that. But, so far, it’s been confusing. The ring is totally different than my cell phone ring, so I ignore it, thinking it’s someone else’s phone. The other day, this guy from work and I were walking around trying to see where that unfamiliar sound was coming from and just when we’d get close, it would stop. Back to work. Then, there it is again. He finally said, “I think it’s coming from your pocket. That’s why it always seems so close.” I pulled out my phone and it said I had a lunch meeting with the American Red Cross, which I was in the process of getting set for. As I walked to the car, I realized I heard that same sound when I was in the grocery store the other night. My phone and I still don’t know all there is to know about each other, but I did manage to locate a chamber where I had stored that other thing that I missed, which was a reminder to send something in to school with my son. Something I forgot.

I make lists for the grocery store, so that I won’t forget what we need, but then I almost always forget the list. This endless cycle has led to me being a “regular” at Super Target. The cashiers all know me, and I’ll probably be invited to all of their children’s weddings one day. I’m careful not to wear red shirts and khaki pants because then people will start thinking I work there. Which might be a better solution anyway.

But, the sunglasses mattered to me. They only cost ten dollars, and I bought them three or four years ago (I can’t remember, exactly) at Super Target. Because I’m there . . . ALL. THE. TIME. And they fit perfectly. Even for running, which I do a lot of. It’s hard to find a pair of sunglasses that you can run with. Ones that don’t move, but aren’t too tight, which would be equally annoying. I’d rather not run without sunglasses this time of year, because the squinting is only going to etch more lines on my face. Then I’ll be wrinkled and forgetful, and I might as well sit around and knit or play Bingo and just forget about going running. Which, given my memory-handicaps, shouldn’t be too hard.

The worst part of this is that I can remember cleaning them yesterday, wearing them to the frozen yogurt shop, sliding them up on my head and using them as a headband. I remember wearing them upstairs as I went to take a shower. And then that’s it. My memory after that, concerning my sunglasses, was wiped clean by that blue flashy thingy that Will Smith toted around in Men In Black. I wish I could at least remember meeting Will Smith, but I don’t. I think they’re really gone. My sunglasses and Will Smith. I’ve searched everywhere I can think of and it’s like my sunglasses never existed. There’s no trace of them.

I guess I have no choice but to go to Super Target for the eight trillionth time this month. It seems like there’s something else I needed to get while I’m there, but I can’t remember what it is. . .

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Time Off For Bad Behavior

I heard that the federal government might shut down. What does that mean, exactly? I had to Google it. Not the federal government, just the shut down part. Turns out, my life probably won’t be drastically affected. As one of my insightful friends pointed out on Facebook yesterday, Netflix will still be up and running, and that’s a little more essential than being able to visit the Washington Monument. Apparently, probation officers won’t be working, so that will free up some time for me that I won’t have to meet with mine.

There’s this “National Reconnaissance Office” that for the record I’ve never even heard of, but they’ll be shutting down, because “there will be no support services – no cafeteria, no cleaning crews, and minimal heating and lighting”. Yeah, how can we expect them to go to work with no cafeteria and only sixty-watt bulbs? And who doesn’t refuse to clock in when it’s chilly? I mean, I don’t know what these people do, but National Reconnaissance sounds kind of important. Can’t they just brown bag it?

Congress will obviously be closed, but I’m betting they get just as little done as when they’re in session. Lest you lie awake at night and wonder about the livelihood of your elected representatives, they would still be getting paid. Hmmm. . .a paid vacation. . .I wonder why they aren’t in a hurry to patch things up and fix this mess?

The IRS would shut down, and isn’t that convenient since they owe me lots of money! I bet they’d find a way to accept my check, but it’s just out of their control that they can’t cut me one. This official site I was looking at also said that “Personnel who normally answer Social Security questions will likely not report to work.” Shouldn’t we add EVER AGAIN, because there is no Social Security left for any of us? And maybe they’re just grateful to shut the phones off because they didn’t have any answers anyway.

All of this I could possibly withstand, but it was the last “closure” that nearly crippled me. The White House Visitor Center AND gift shop would close to the public. The gift shop? Say it ain’t so! I mean, how could my family survive without the White House gift shop? Are we supposed to just build our own replicas of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

But all sarcasm aside, which I’m sure you know is difficult for me, our military better get their paychecks on time! Because not paying the brave men and women who protect us all would be despicable. And in what universe would it be okay to pay slacking Congressmen who are acting like three year olds, during a shut down, but not the soldiers risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan? If they want to hang on to my tax refund for a while, fine, but they better not let down our military.

Now, if the NFL really shuts down, then you’ll see a nation that’s hurting. I’m not sure if I could live through a football-less fall. I’d be willing to donate my tax refund to the New York Giants in return for season tickets if that would help.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cowboys and Indians

One of my dear friends is expecting her first child this summer. We roomed together our freshman year of college in Texas. She hailed from the exotic foreign land of New Delhi, India and I came from the slightly less exotic, but no less foreign Floyd County, Virginia. We were both considered second-class citizens in Texas though because we weren’t born and bred there.

That’s okay, because second-class in Texas feels a lot like first-class everywhere else. Doors were still held open for us, there were gallons of pleases and thank-yous offered, and we had as much right to eat the superior Mexican food and drink the Dr. Pepper as anyone else. I almost got a Texas green card by marrying a native, but it didn’t work out. I couldn’t name all three of Sam Houston’s wives or recite the years that Roger Staubach was quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, so I was extradited out of the state.

My Indian (not to be confused with Native American) friend and I both moved away after graduation. And, as fate would have it, we spent a few years in the neighboring states of Ohio and Virginia. (We pretended West Virginia wasn’t there and you can, too.) We visited each other a couple of times and set ourselves up for a lifelong friendship. But then I started having travel prohibitive babies and she and I both moved to other states. Me to North Carolina, and she illegally immigrated back into the Lonestar State. And even with email, Facebook, and that antiquated invention, the telephone, I still miss her.

I miss a lot of people. I think it’s the age I’m at (33.8) that makes me feel so much nostalgia for the good old days. I’d love to take a month and just travel around visiting all of my old friends, from high school and college, and even the friend I’ve had since I was in diapers (32 years ago for the record). That’s not very realistic with my busy life and tight budget, but at some point you have to see those things for what they are: excuses.

The years start piling up and people drift apart despite the best of intentions, and I don’t want that to happen. So, I just took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and bought an airline ticket to go to her baby shower. (It was a figurative eye closing, because I didn’t want to end up with an airline ticket to North Dakota, where I know absolutely no one. Not that I couldn’t make friends in North Dakota. I could. But then I’d have more people that I never get to see because they live far away!)

So, I’m leaving in one week and going to Houston, Texas, where I will see not one, but two college friends and a really good friend from high school. And possibly some people I don’t even know yet. The pregnant Indian texted me today and told me to save some calories and spare pounds for when I’m down there, because the Mexican food is better than ever and BBQ runs freely in the streets now. I may need to stop eating tomorrow so that I can break even at the end of my trip. Ironically, my trainer was congratulating me today on how well I’m doing; I’m leaner, stronger, and faster than ever. I couldn’t look him in the eyes because I knew. I knew that come April 14th, I’d be doing unspeakable things that he’d never approve of. However, I fully intend to pack my running shoes and find a way to make that happen. Even if it’s just running to the closest “to-die-for” ice cream shop.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Dog Days Of Spring

I’m not a pet person. I was when I was younger though. I owned lots of different cats growing up, and one puppy. I never owned a dog though, so you can do the math on that puppy thing. And I didn’t just have pets, I loved them. Growing up in the country, there was no need to keep them inside; we had plenty of land for them to roam around, and we had outdoor buildings they could get into for staying warm. Well, I should correct that last statement. In light of what happened to the puppy, I guess there was a need to keep him inside. Or at least buy him some reflective wear for when he crossed the road at dusk.

Anyway, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when I stopped loving animals, but I just know that when I left for college, I was a pet person, and by the time I graduated, I wasn’t. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here though. Especially given that I’m a well-known Michael Vick fan. It’s not that I hate animals or wish them any ill will, nor would I bet on any if they were being forced to fight illegally. Or legally. This disclaimer could go on all day, so I’ll just sum up with I think they’re cute, but I have no desire to own any.

That desire is contrary to the desires of my children though. They don’t care that several members of our family are allergic to cats or that we don’t have a fence in the backyard for a dog. Or that hamsters are in the rodent family. They want a pet. So far, I’ve gotten away with a “maybe when you’re older” answer and they’ve accepted that. And, honestly, it makes them appreciate other people’s pets that much more. My parents had a cat that they adored. If you’ll note the use of past tense verbs in that sentence, you’ll know how that turned out. She was an old cat and had a good run. The kids were sad when she passed away, but the twins have this childlike hope that makes them continue to pray for that dead feline every night. They also still tell me every day they attend preschool that their friend Sami wasn’t there. She moved away, to another state, in December. I guess the whole “not coming back” speech I gave them is taking a while to sink in.

The pets we encounter most often are my best friend’s three dogs. Casey is pretty normal, but then there’s Zoey, who I’m pretty sure snorts crack in the morning rather than eating Kibbles, and Jake, who is late to his own funeral. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason those dogs always come to me, the one person who doesn’t want them to. They remind me of myself in high school (yes, I left that open to dog jokes) because I always wanted to date the guys that showed the least interest in me. My friend’s dogs don’t understand that I’m not playing hard to get, that I really just don’t want dog hair all over me, nor do I have the need to rub anyone’s belly.

But, I’m evolving a little bit. Since my friend told me that Jake is dying (about nine months ago), I’ve let him lay near me on the couch, occasionally shared a bite or two of popcorn with him, and even rubbed his head with my toes the other night. Even more telling is that I think I might actually be starting to like the crack head.

See, Zoey barks and rushes the door every time I come in, which is at least twice a week for the past six years, so you’d think she wouldn’t consider me a stranger anymore, right? But on Friday night, when I was there watching TV, my friend’s youngest child woke up with a fever, so we had to postpone the rest of our show and I was going to go home. Normally, my friend would walk me to the door and restrain Zoey, so that she didn’t leave. I’ve never understood why they don’t want her to, but whatever. My friend was upstairs and I was on my own, so when I got to the door and Zoey was right on my heels, I turned to her and said, “No, Zoey, stay here.” Miraculously, she listened to me and walked calmly back into the living room. Six years after I started telling her what to do, she finally obeyed me for the first time! It gives me hope for Reckless, who is only four and a half. Maybe she’ll start listening soon, too. If she does, maybe I’ll get her a pet.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

On The Road...The Squeakquel

While my family could easily be described as a circus, I don't think we're cut out to be the traveling kind. Today we came to visit my grandmother for her birthday, and a trip that should have taken three and a half hours took a little over four and felt like eighteen. Partly because I had to put up with Alvin and those other wannabe squirrels running around and singing pop hits in shirts and no pants, and partly because the "Are we almost there?" interrogation started 20 minutes outside of Raleigh. My husband and I got so irritated with that question that we seriously considered driving all the way to Canada just to spite them. The only thing that stopped us was the prohibitive fuel costs.

There were other minor frustrations, like accidents, construction, and speed limits. And then despite my rationing out water like we were miners trapped underground with no hope of rescue, Reckless still needed to use the restroom. "When are we going to stop?" she asked me as we passed by one exit after another. Clearly, "We'll stop when I see a place that doesn't pose a DEFCON Four level threat of infectious diseases!"

Later, we realized we just weren't trying hard enough to distract them. As we were traveled through what we on the East Coast refer to as mountains, my son looked out his window and hopefully asked, "Is this where the Presidents' faces are painted on the mountain?" Carved, I corrected him. And, "No, Mt. Rushmore's in South Dakota." In the spirit of honesty, I'll admit that before I answered, I conferred quietly with my husband on whether it was North or South Dakota. But, then we realized that we should have them look for things. Things they wouldn't easily find. Things that weren't even there. "I mean, there could be Presidents' faces painted on the side of a mountain out here somewhere," I said. And, don't judge me; there really could be, you know. "Do you see any buffalo?" my husband asked the kids. Their eyes widened and suddenly it was like we were traveling through Jurassic Park, everyone was on high alert.

We had a lovely time visiting with my family at my grandmother's 87th birthday party, which was off the hook, and now the kids are nestled all snug in their hotel beds with visions of breakfast buffets dancing in their heads and I was just sitting here trying to determine what it says about my packing and organizational skills that we made it here with more pillow pets than toothbrushes. And thinking about packing brought to mind one of my favorite posts ever. The one about the "go bag", and I thought I'd paste part of it on here:

"So, I pack. And, in order to pack economically, I try to ask myself what's essential. Kind of like packing a "go bag". The kind it was highly recommended we keep on hand post 9/11. (Those people at FEMA are all about being prepared, ya know.) And anyway, once that train of thought left the station for me, I started wondering what I would pack in a real "go bag". The obvious approach is to say, "What could I not live without?"

1. My glasses. I'm not sure if this unknown and hypothetical emergency is an "on the run" scenario or a "fleeing disaster" one, but, either way, I'm supposed to take my contacts out at night and would love to be able to see where I'm going.

2. My cell phone. How our world made it so many eons without cell phones is a complete mystery to me. And I even lived in those very dark ages. If the emergency is so serious that I need a go bag, I don't know that calling 911 would be a viable option, but I'd still need to text my friends. Like. . .No tennis 2nite. Running from Attila & Huns. Or, to my Texas friends, East Coast destroyed. Can we come 2 ur house 4 dinner?

3. My iPod. I can't run from anything without music. And, don't worry, I already have a "go playlist".

4. A ponytail holder. The only thing more annoying than being forced from my home and running for my life is not having anything to put my hair up with.

5. Chapstick. I seriously question my will to live with chapped lips.

6. Running shoes. Should be self-explanatory.

7. Water. I'm not the kind of girl that could sniff out and identify a safe fresh water source during an emergency. I could sniff out a Sonic and they have many drink choices, but I'm not sure I should count on that.

8. Cash. I'll still use the Visa if I can because it has cash back rewards, but if the Huns are holding my husband hostage and I have to buy his release, I might need the cold hard stuff.

And, if there's room for just one more item (and isn't there always), it would be white-chocolate covered pretzels. Because if my time on Earth is limited, which a go bag would imply it may be, I'm done counting calories.

FEMA suggests a compass (I don't know how to use those things at all), and your passport (mine's expired, but I have considered investing in some fake ones, a la Jason Bourne), and duct tape. What's with the full-court press on duct tape, anyway? Is duct tape the official sponsor of the end times and all natural disasters until then? I'm almost 33 and have never needed duct tape, so I'm not wasting valuable go bag space on it. I'm pretty sure it would just get stuck in my hair." (quoting myself in "Can I Get That To Go?" from June, 2010)