Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama cupcakes and office antics

One reason I love my neighborhood--I can walk a few blocks and get this:

(Trophy Cupcakes)

And before you ask, they were not offering cupcakes featuring the other candidate's likeness. But then I also saw someone (not in the cupcake shop) in a shirt that says "Republicans Suck." Now, that's not really good form. This is Nora Bee and I did not approve that message. Just so you know the tone of where I live, since reading blogs around and about I am reminded that it's not like this everywhere. And that's good. We get fined for not composting here. Or something like that.

A chat with a good friend and former coworker reminded me of a story that I love to tell. And it didn't even happen to me! Getting warmed up for holiday parties where I pretend to be an EXTROVERT and sparkle to my husband's coworkers and their wives, wowing them with my intimate knowledge of eye-rolling corporate culture, waving my champagne flute (that's what they all drink) for emphasis without spilling it. They won't see me coming--I'll blind them first with my mommyness and Dansko clogs and then I'll be all let me tell you a tale of middle management gone bad. And then they'll be all wha..? You had a JOB?

So the tale goes something like this. My friend keeps a really neat desk. Plant, candy dish, and I mean a seriously clean desk. Everything is in a file, and when it's time to work on it she takes out the relevant file, works on it, and then puts it away. There are never more than ten emails in her inbox. She's awesome. And she works her tail off. So you think her manager would parade her and her--I don't know, her WORK?--around to all the visiting fancies, right? The fancies might even think that my friend had cleaned her desk for them. They would be wrong, but they might think that. And that would be cool. Because next door they would see my very unimpressive amount of work and piles of papers that might just have a grilled cheese sandwich buried in them (like I could ever leave one unfinished). But no...her manager came by her office and asked her to mess things up a little bit so she looked "busier." She was afraid that the fancies would think my friend wasn't working hard enough. Ha! Ha!

Am I ready for the sparkly holiday small talk circuit or what?

Thursday, October 23, 2008


In our house we dressed up all the time. We had access to a huge "costume box" year round, always dressing up like hobos and princesses and LAURA INGALLS WILDER (sigh, love her) and such. And a magical mother who encouraged us to do so. But when Halloween came around, I froze. Too much pressure. How could I not produce the perfect costume with all these resources at my disposal? It was unthinkable. So the pajama or whatever other homemade look at Halloween fell short of my own wild expectations, without fail. A Wonder Woman costume from the store might have solved all my angstiness. Ha! Unlikely, says my 35 year old self. No! It would have! says my 10 year old self.

And also--get this--my parents were the ones that handed out Nature Valley Granola Bars to trick-or-treaters. Did you ever trick or treat at my house? You probably didn't, because we lived way the h*ll out in the country and any trick-or-treaters would have been brought by car or else braved the no-sidewalk unpainted unlit roads. Very little return on sugar-seeking investment there. You might have done it for a full-size Snickers Bar, but not for whatever crappy un-treaty treat my parents would have dropped in your bag. Bless them and their crunchy hearts, I want to burst with pride in them right this moment.

As much as this would make a nice post about how I am transitioning these values of healthy eating and creativity to my son, not so much. Not this year anyway. Granola bars are a major treat in our house, yes. And Hugo is terrified of any masks or costume, so we have at least until next year for that. Maybe he would be interested in a Laura Ingalls Wilder getup. And someone gave him a giraffe costume because giraffes? AWESOME. He wore it once, gazed at himself in the mirror for ten minutes, and then off with it forever. Darn, he is cute.

So gearing up for another low-key Halloween this year, though you can be sure on the actual day I will be seized with regret about not alchemizing (is that a word?) the perfect costume from whatever crap is in my basement. I'm sure someone with my creative upbringing could do a lot with a drumset, Jeff's electronics collection, an old chair, and some underwear from 2002 that I might just wear again you never know. And a cat carrier. Some dryer sheets. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The bad wife chronicles

I could start the list of things that I swore I would never do as a married person. It would be a long list. The funniest is possibly Jeff and I, young and in love, gazing deep into each others' eyes and pledging to share all household responsibilities (including income) 50/50. Right down the middle.


And then I found out that he didn't have to do chores as a child. Uh oh. So off he trundled to work.

Or how I would never pee in front of him, you know, to keep things fresh and mysterious. As my new hero Betty Draper says, if he keeps looking at me like that I feel like I'm earning my keep.


And how I swore I would never go through his stuff and get rid of it without asking him. Because I RESPECT him. I would never DO that. They are HIS things. Besides, it is irrelevant anyway because we will be sharing everything 50/50 so he will periodically go through his own stuff and flag things for the Goodwill bag OF HIS OWN ACCORD. The bag that we will carry, jointly, to the car, because you know we SHARE things. Everything.


Because there are two garbage bags of Jeff's "things" for the Goodwill in the trunk of my car right now, not a single one vetted by him. And I'm pretty certain he won't miss a single one, since they are all either unworn gifts or clothes he hasn't touched in at least a year. I have reached a new low. I'm not saying I regret it, but how much lower than my own principles can I go? It's a slippery slope, I tell you. A slippery slope.

Friday, October 17, 2008

You can't count on anything anymore

Yes, the economy. Food prices. The most important presidential election in history ever.
We're all in massive uncertainty, the world is falling apart. Yes, yes.

But let's keep things in perspective, because my world was turned upside down today. FOR REAL.

The person next to me in a meeting opened her banana from the bottom.

I couldn't stop staring, it was like a train wreck, only not as bad or gorey and no one got hurt. In fact, she seemed to enjoy her banana just fine. I swear it has never occurred to me EVER in my whole life to eat a banana any other way than from the stem down. That nice, handle-shaped piece that seems positively engineered for opening. Yet there she was, holding her banana by the stem and munching away from the bottom down to the top.

I have not been able to get this out of my mind all day. Like looking at a mirror image that is just a little off, or trying to cross your arms with the opposite arm on top than you normally do (try it--I'll wait.)

Am I crazy? (yes) Am I grasping at any small thing to help me feel in control of my circumstances? (probably) How do you eat your bananas?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nora raises eyebrows at life insurance man, changes nothing

To be fair, he bought us coffee. And we bought his product (just so you know how it ends). And he didn't wear a short sleeve oxford shirt or try to scare us with stories of orphanages or anything. Overall, he was nice. A bit young, though. Like 12.

He's all, Nora. if Jeff died today, it would cost approximately $700 bajillion to maintain your current quality of life. You can see I've graphed it here for you, the red line. Or, you could go with $600 bajillion and still have a pretty good quality of life. That's the blue line.

And then he's all, Jeff. if Nora died today YOU WOULD BE FINE FINANCIALLY. JUST FINE. But we do recommend approximately $2 in coverage so you can pay her funeral expenses without having to tap too much into your piles of cash. I've graphed that here as the yellow line to show how YOU WOULD BE JUST FINE. But you can get a little something, you know, if you want. Totally optional.

First I'm all, ok. A little high from the strange comfort of being in the presence of men who have gathered to look earnestly after my welfare. I've been a student for awhile. My job hasn't started yet. I take care of our precious baby. Then I'm all, WAIT! Jeff would be SO not able to maintain his current quality of life if I died today. And I'm not even talking about crippling grief.

Mothers would cost $134,000 a year if fathers had to pay them. I say this. And Jeff looks at me, I think he feels my eyebrows twitching. And he's all, I assume I would have to pay someone more than we pay now to take care of Hugo if you died. And I'm all ha! And the housekeeping! And the shopping! And the cleaning! Ha! Ha! Full time nanny/housekeepers cost a lot of money, you know. And you have to pay them benefits too. Put that on your yellow line, insurance man.

(I perchance overestimate my value as a housecleaner here. Whatever it is it's higher than Jeff's.)

And then I raise my eyebrow at him. A meaningless gesture on my part that carries no clout whatsoever. I'm so not one of those women who causes anything to happen, or anyone to cower, by raising an eyebrow. Where is Catherine Zeta-Jones when you need her? But I did it anyway. And I'm all, you might want to remember this conversation with your future clients, and not tell them their spouse would be just fine if they died. I think I said it out loud, anyway. I was kind of drugged by all the male protectiveness and I sort of wanted to bake them a pie.

And the insurance man is all, good point, Nora. I didn't think of that. So yes, Jeff, you could use your $2 upon Nora's death to pay a nanny. Or something. He doesn't suggest upping it to $3. But he does look a little bit contrite. Or maybe that's his job.

So I spend the rest of the meeting overcompensating for my worthlessness by over-professionalizing myself and mentioning how pretty soon I'm going to be earning my own money and I can always get another policy then and oh I'll need to see the list of things you test for with the blood sample because I'm an expert in genetic testing and other drivel.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Earnest reflecting interrupted by Facebook

First, you know, at work, I go on Facebook and I'm all, I'm bickering with Jeff on gchat right now. And someone comments with a frowny face and I'm all OH NO I've pulled a TMI. Should not talk about fighting with husband on FB. Faux pas. So 20 minutes later I'm all, no more bickering! See! Happily married! I earnestly reflect on how I should blog about anger and its nonplace in discussions of marriage.

Then later I see someone else's link to the dissertation dance contest where you can make a video of your dissertation as an interpretive dance for prizes so I send it to my PhD friend who then posts it on HER Facebook page and then we are all making dorky comments like ha ha ha I could never make a dance about clinical utility and mine would be so dumb because it would just be a bunch of people standing around not caring or paying for a stupid genetic test. Finally our coolest friend saves the day by reminding us that we will need scarves. Nerdy nerd nerd all over the place.

Then a woman from my high school posts something like JUST WONDERING why aren't more people concerned about Obama's known associations with a domestic terrorist. And then I go gchat with another high school friend and I'm all go see! And she's all smart and stuff and writes this beautiful response full of facts about why she thinks it's not a big deal. And then this OTHER guy writes in and is all Ayers is in bed with Hugo Chavez and socialist and radical and get your facts right and it just gets nasty quickly and so I feel compelled to stand with my friend and I write in all I agree with my friend, but wouldn't it be great if the students at our old HS were engaging in debates about politics right now? Wouldn't that be great! And then the hostiess is all don't comment if you can't bring more to the table LOL. I swear she said LOL. And then I'm all, just all done with that thread but thank GOD for the chance to interact with people with a range of views, yes? Thank heavens for high school.

And then sometime in there I become a Facebook fan of The Bloggess and this other woman from high school sends me a message and is all, you too? I love her! And it turns out that she has a blog that totally gets a ton of comments and through my ENVY I realize I can see why once I go peek at it.

And meanwhile I had started the day in earnest reflection about my life as a mother because I'm excited no thrilled no relieved no I just exhaled and didn't know I needed to because Hugo doesn't need any more bloodwork, which means I can stop dying a little bit every time we have to go to the hospital. Four months of owies and train stickers, and he is all done. Plenty o' platelets. Thank GOD.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Project Royal Wedding heats up

I've made no secret of my desire to marry into the British Royal Family. More than ever, in these trying times, I think it would a place of great refuge for me (and Jeff and our son, of course), and I could contribute a great deal to Royal family life. A cute baby, for starters. Plus, I give a great dinner party. I'd need a little help with the hats, but I could do ribbon cutting ceremonies and the like.

The difficulty, of course, has been in arranging a MEETING with me and one of the young Princes. This blog, shockingly, has not seemed to provide the necessary entre. My current plans are fairly pathetic, such as screaming on the red carpet when Princes William and Harry will attend the new Bond film premiere in London. Where would I find child care, first of all? And granted I'm tall, but I'm really not a crowd person. Not my scene.

Alternatively, Buckingham Palace has an opening for trainee butlers. Maybe, but my guess is there's like a five thousand year old ban on princes marrying butlers. And I'd probably get fired anyway for not polishing the silver right. I can't even do the dishes right in my own house, it's all crusty pans and sour-milk smelling bottles, it ain't pretty.

But! Recent "events" have possibly given me my chance!

First, Prince William recently became a rescue pilot for the Royal Air Force. I know! It's perfect, isn't it? I just need to get myself into a little bind, and then he can rescue me! My blunder would be serious enough for a helicopter rescue, but not really that serious and something to temporarily enhance my feminine vulnerability. A sprained ankle, perhaps? A hangnail? Some kind of swoon? We will gaze into each others' eyes, and before you can say Joe Six Pack I am a princess.

But the question is, you ask, how will you get into the right sort of bind? And I have an answer. See, Queen Elizabeth has commissioned the world's largest wind turbine. You're seeing where this is going, right? I just need to get myself involved with the turbine-building on new Scottish "offshore windfarms," someplace where, in an emergency, a RAF rescue helicopter will be the best way to save me.

I'm still figuring out the details on how exactly I will find myself involved with the wind turbine project, knowing nothing about wind, turbines, engineering, or math. Jeff knows about mathematics, maybe he would get a job on the turbine and I could go along to make everyone tea and biscuits. Or maybe they would hire me to assess the public health impacts of the new turbine, being a card-carrying assessor of emerging technology and all. But it would be something cool. In fact, maybe Jeff and I could join them as a team. (Hugo, of course, would have a very important job as worshipper of all the guys.) I'm liking the sound of this.

I think this may be my big break. So stay tuned, yall, soon you will be able to say you knew me when.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

World, meet my new camera lens

It's got potential, maybe. More than me, anyway--