Thursday, January 31, 2008

How To Get Fired

1. Apply for a job in the childcare for Kate's morning Family Literacy class.
2. Interview with Kate.
3. Listen carefully when Kate says, "It's really important that you are on time and reliable. A lot of people are counting on you to make the program successful."
4. Ask Kate when you're supposed to start.
5. Listen carefully when Kate says, "Tomorow."
6. Fail to show up for work the following day and don't call, either.

Success guaranteed.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Whispers of the Wind"

Eight-year-old Sara is writing a novel. Sometimes she does this for a chapter or two. I'll copy her first chapter here, and maybe she'll write chapter two one of these days.

Once not so long ago.

There was a girl of the age of twelve. She was the princess of Shashonee's her name was Titna. She was loyle and loved her home. But one day her tribe met, but she didn't want to. "Come", her father told her, but then he said she could skip it, so long as she did not go swimming.

Titna obeyed her father. Insted she headed to the thicket, where she loved to be. But instead of the small thicket there was a huge mess. Trees were all cut down and worst of all there were odd people no not people aleans with white skin. She did not even notice that one of the alians had snuck up behind her and, he grabed her she started to scream but her vioce was muffled by the sound of the captin of alians screaming "Back to the camp men." She was tiad up and tooken back to there camp. When she got to there camp and was tied to there post they had made. The captin siad, "Tomarrow we will put her on the ship and sial home."

"Yahhhh", shouted the crew which Titna thought probably ment Okay. Soon she dicided that here tribe would notice her disapperance and come to get her. But I have the sorry dutiey to tell you that this is not what happened.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Personal Trainer

I have started working with a personal trainer; but before any of you start envisioning Jennifer Lopez or Madonna, with live-in personal trainers who are weighing their grapefruit slices or taking core samples of their poop, it's not like that.

Our country recreation center has a team of personal trainers. For only $150, you can get 5 one-hour sessions. People usually spread the sessions out over several months. I meet every three weeks with Katie C., a sadist who, even 6 months pregnant, is fully capable of lifting me over her head with one arm, Popeye-style. At our sessions, she shows me exercises guaranteed to render me useless for days to come. I practice until I'm able to do them and still get out of bed the next morning; then she devises new torture.

So it was today. Seeing that I was capable of handling my free-weight routine, she said it was time to work on core strength. Cool, because I want trim and rippling abs. I guess it's not that simple. S***.

She showed me a machine that I have hitherto avoided because it looked incomprehensible: the one with weights that you lift by pulling on cables. Whatever it's called. At one point, she attached me to the thing my one of my ankles. Picture one of those emaciated medieval prisoners, shackled in a dungeon. Then she had me move out away from the machine (picture an angry pit-bull rushing to the end of its chain and being yanked back abruptly when it reaches the end of the line). The exercise was...I hope I can describe this... I had to let the cable draw my leg out to the side, then bend my knee and draw my leg up toward my chest like some sort of geriatric can-can dancer. The weight was not a problem - I couldn't balance, though, and wobbled all over the place, arms flailing. Everyone else in the (crowded) weight room carefully looked straight ahead into the middle distance. I was grateful. After a few of these, she decided to add a little extra interest and handed me a small-ish medicine ball. It's only about handbag-sized, but filled with some sort of fluid to make it heavy. I was supposed to hold this over my head at a diagonal; then, as my knee came up, I was to lower the ball, creating a kind of crunch effect. Before I had at least been able to flail my arms, at this point I just tottered all over the place.

Then (oh, the horror) I glance off to my right and there, also working with a personal trainer, is my hot next-door neighbor, Kent. Oh, great. I pause to smile at him, with my doofus ball held up over my head, swaying frantically on one foot while tethered to this cable. Hi, Kent! 'Scuse me while I just fall flat on my ass.

This clinches it: the personal trainers sit in their little office at the end of the day and laugh their asses off. "OK! OK! I've got one! Oh, God, this'll be great! Let's try making someone do this, like, sideways leg-lift thing!" [Hilarity] "Oh! Oh! You're killing me! No, wait - this is even better! We'll have that same person try to do it while holding the medicine ball in the air!" Everyone just about pisses themselves laughing. Katie C. says, "I know the perfect person to try this on."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Don't Mind Me...'s the PMS talking.

Has the world been exceptionally rough on me the last few days, or is it PMS? If it is the PMS talking, wanna hear what it's saying (beneath the veneer of my usual genteel diplomacy)?

(Look out. I'm going to say naughty words.)

To the State Commissioner of Adult Education

What I said:

"Some of the program directors have expressed concern about one of the policies. This is policy 13.5.9, I believe. If the policy as stated is accurate, it is alarming and needs to be dealt with immediately. Please have a look at it. If you stand by it, I would like to request that we put it on the agenda for the next meeting of the Adult Education Consortium. "

Unfiltered PMS version:

"WTF!!! Were you smoking weed or something when you wrote that policy? Yeah, I'm talking about thirteen POINT five POINT nine. You had better say this was some sort of typo, Honey, or I'm bringing out the big guns at the next Consortium meeting! No way are you getting away with this. I'll take this all the way to Washington if I have to!"

To the Director of My Children's Daycare

What I said:

"Hi! Good morning, Heather! Thanks so much for answering my call! Yes, I'm wondering if we could schedule a few minutes to talk about that note I received in my folder yesterday? Yes, the one about the need to update everyone's initial security deposits? Uh-huh...yes! That would be wonderful. I'll see you then. Bye-eee! "

Unfiltered PMS version:
"You have got to be kidding me. You want to charge a security deposit? $222? What, does the owner of the daycare need to make her next yacht payment or something? We have written you a check for more than $200, without fail, on time and in full every goddamn week FOR THE LAST SEVEN YEARS! Yeah, since you were about twelve. This is a scam and we're not paying it. If you want to kick us out, fine. Good luck finding another customer as reliable as we are. And I'll make sure to tell all my friends that you're' a bunch of CHISELERS!"

To the US Government
Unfiltered PMS version:
"Know what? "E-Verify" SUCKS! Those ladies are doing a great job. Some of the best childcare providers I've ever had on my staff. They even plan lots of fun, developmentally appropriate activities for the kids. It took me forever to find them. No one else wants this job. Do you realize that people are NOT mining up for the privilege of a little four-hour-a-week babysitting gig. You expect me to FIRE them? I'm supposed to be an advocate, not a f***ing gatekeeper."
But, no... We must handle the matter delicately.
"I see that the social security numbers for two of my new childcare workers have been returned to us via "E-Verify" as non-matches. Thank you for that information. I will terminate their employment without delay. And may God continue to bless America."

Monday, January 21, 2008

You Call It WHAT?!

We had a storm this morning that dropped 18 inches of snow in the yard. Here's Nate with his snow shovel. He told me that it has a name: he calls it "Cat Flattener".

A Man's Life... measured out in ski passes? I was cleaning yesterday and found an old envelope full of Simon's ski passes from previous lives. He had another, more recent cache of them in his nightstand. I asked him to dump them all out on the table so we could marvel at how old he is.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bagging the Plan

I haven't posted for a few days. I've had plenty to write about, but I've been soooo sleeeeepy, again. Usually, given the choice of posting or sleeping, I'll post. This weekend, though, I have been in bed by midnight TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW. Unheard of.

Maybe I'm just pooped out from the ski-day I took on Friday instead of opting for a restful day in the office. I felt like I had earned a day off, after the trauma of the last few weeks; and I have vowed to ski more with friends this year than I have in years past. So, my friend/coworker Rebecca and I went to Snowbird and Alta. The two resorts interconnect - both Becca and I know Snowbird well, but haven't skied much at Alta. The trip from Snowbird over to Alta was complicated by high winds and low visibility. The way I'm familiar with was roped off because the wind had built up a cornice on it, so we had to take an alternate route. We negotiated our way through the white-out and were approached at the bottom of a chair-lift by a woman who asked us how to get to Alta. Pulling our face masks down, we hollered over the wind that we were making our way there ourselves and so she jumped on the chair with us. She was nice and, after doing a few runs and always finding that the three of us were standing next to each other in the lift line at the bottom, we laughed and decided to spend the day together.

This woman's name is Natalie, and she's an ad agency exec from New York. She's also a really good skier. I did not plan to spend the day pushing my competitive little self to the limit with an expert, but it was good for me. We skied some blacks [for my non-skiing blog buddies, ski runs are rated for relative difficulty: green, blue, black, double black] and I did well, which was s surprise for me. Until we ended up on a run called "Schuss Gully" that wigged me out a little. If I could just keep moving, y'know? But when it gets really steep, I chicken out of the turn and keep traversing, traversing, traversing... until I'm at the side of the run and come to a stop. Stopping is the kiss of death. If making a fearful turn while in motion is bad, making a fearful turn from a standstill is three times worse. Still, I got down it with a combination of side-slipping and obscenity. What did I expect, really, starting down anything with a name that includes "schuss". Other runs that I never ski because it's obvious from the name that I would stare death in the face: "Mach Schnell"; "Great Scott!", "Steeper than Hell". None of these would bother Natalie, I'm sure. Nor Rebecca. Technically, she and I are about the same, but she's a lot gutsier. Remember the time we went top-roping?

The plan was that Becca and I would ski until 4:00 or so, then catch a bus back down to the parking lot in the valley where we had left our cars. It was my turn to pick up the kids, run to the store, make supper. But Natalie said, "What about a beer? I haven't done any Apres since I got here." I refrained from saying, "For locals, Apres is driving home and taking a hot shower." Indeed, instead of following the plan, I found myself in the Tram Club ( a real private club that requires purchasing a membership, something I have never done in the 16 years I've lived in Utah), listening to a live band and sucking on a long-neck. Natalie bought a second round and appetizers. Don't hang out with people who are on vacation when you're not - it'll make you irresponsible. Becca and I missed the last bus to our parking lot. I had to call Si and ask him to....pick up the kids, run to the store, and then drive to a distant and inconvenient parking lot to pick us up and drive us back to our cars.

Half drunk and achy-muscled, Becca and I were apologetic when he picked us up, but he was actually happy about it. "Oh, for heaven's sake, let your hair down once in a while and bag the plan, huh?"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sitting Still

The best part of having friends is the occasional pleasure of having someone you can just sit and listen to. I don't get to do this very much; not even with my best friends. Usually there's eating, playing, laughing, etc...

David L. is one of the volunteers who tutor English in our program; he's been assigned to me for...I dunno...5 years? Some of our volunteers stay for a long time. David and I are friends to the extent that you can be when, all the time that you're together, you're focused on the needs of a bunch of other people. He likes to ride his bike to classes, and once in a while he'll beg for a ride home if it starts to rain, or if, like last night, we are slammed with an arctic blast. He always apologizes for the inconvenience, and I laugh - I like the company. He's a medical researcher at the U., so he usually tells me about his latest study. For several years, this involved rat brains, but he's just started something new: investigating the effects of our emotional states on our health. To say he's into it doesn't begin to express...

He was animated about this topic as we rode along and, after we got to his place, we sat in the car in his driveway for almost an hour. It was the most relaxed I have felt in a couple weeks. David is a way more highly evolved person than I am: serene, spiritual, unselfconscious. I imagine he must find me a little high-strung. Sometimes, he says I should try meditation, but I don't meditate well. Hmmm... a chance to sit still and think about my to-do list... It was great to just sit in the dark car while he told me about his study. Occasionally, I would ask a question or say something, but I was happy just listening and not worrying about where I was supposed to be or other things I was should have been doing. He talked about attitude and how people's sense of themselves influences their health. He wonders if people would be healthier if they attempted to live in the moment more often. I don't know if he realizes that he gave me about an hour to do exactly that.

Pretty cold evening for it, though. By the time I left, I couldn't feel my toes. Thanks for the down-time, David, but next time, could we go to a coffee shop or something?

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Solid "B Minus"

First, before I get started, I have to say that I hit pay dirt at the supermarket today: lavender-colored shampoo called "Free Me Freesia". I had to buy it for Si.


Now, this post is dedicated to my old friend Amy, who commented on my blog yesterday and called me "amazing". Yes, I did get my Christmas cards out by the second week of January, it's true. Maybe that does make me amazing.

Not according to my son. Poor guy. He's the victim of my un-amazing-ness. My star has fallen.

Nate woke up in the wee hours, screaming in pain. I staggered, semi-conscious, to his bedside and he howled that there was something in his eye! I turned on the light and there was...nothing! I searched, and I wiped the corners of his eye with a wet cloth, but nothing helped. Finally, I gave up and told him to close the eye, and we would see how it was in the morning.

As soon as he woke up this morning, he started crying. I searched again. Nothing! I dropped a little saline in his eye and he immediately felt better and trotted off to school. Huh! Well, okey-dokey; I trotted off to work.

I got a call from the after-school care this afternoon. Did I know Nathan's eye was huge and red? Awww, s***. You know what this means. InstiCare.

At InstiCare, the doctor awed and fascinated us by dropping dye in Nate's eye that glows under black light. In the darkened room, his little eye-ball glared neon yellow. Sara and I oooh-ed and aah-ed. The doctor showed me an opaque smudge on his cornea and turned the room light back on. "Well," she said, turning toward me, "it looks a lot like a...chemical burn?" She raised her eyebrows.

Deer in the headlights! Yes! Yes! I admit it! I've been by dropping battery acid into his little eyes when he wets the bed!

OK, no I haven't.

Then it dawned on me. Nate has been having trouble with chilblains lately (he washes his hands way too much, to ward off the evil flesh-eating staph infection he heard about at school last fall - a topic for a different post), and I rubbed Desitin into his hands before I tucked him in last night. If he had slept with his eye pressed against the back of his hand... That'd do it... Desitin is so thick and oily, too. Not the kind of thing you can just blink away.

The doctor prescribed drops, and we left, Nata's eye oozing interesting neon yellow droplets. As we walked out through the waiting room, I said to Nate, "Well, I guess the Desitin was a bad idea. No bonus mommy-points for that." "No," said Nate, taking my hand and quoting the Transformer movie to me as we walked across the parking lot, "I'd call that a solid B-minus."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Harper's Ferry

Harper's Ferry is a Black Diamond run at Snowbird. My eight-year-old daughter beat me down it today. She and I are perfectly matched ski partners, now; which means that, by the end of the winter, I'll be eating her dust. Already, it's, "C'mon, Mom! Let's go in the trees! Let's ski the bumps!" Give me strength.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Snarky Bitch!

That's me, I'm afraid.
I'm hoping it's just a temporary attitude quirk, easily adjusted by Jack Daniels, a hot shower or a long jog; but...I was contemplating the high and low points of my day today when I sensed a pattern emerging: the things which gave me pleasure and irked me did so because I am... [whisper this, with venom] not very nice.
High Point:

We had our monthly all-school staff meeting this afternoon, and during the meeting a "good-bye" card was circulating for H., the evil sadist who walked out and left the rest of our department scrambling, confused and exhausted. Alas, there was some confusion because there are two people on the staff with that first name. Suddenly, near the end of the meeting, one of the teachers gasped and started laughing, when the teacher next to her snorted, "Anybody got some white-out?" Several of the staff thought it was the OTHER H. who was leaving. The other H. is our head bus-driver; people had been writing comments like,"We knew we could count on you in any weather!" "Thanks so much picking up our kids for so many years!" I creased up laughing.
Low Point:
My daughter sings in her elementary school chorus, and they were invited to put on a concert at the state capitol building today. It has just re-opened after extensive renovations, so there are open-houses and receptions which allow the people to see how their $20,000,000 was spent. The windows are definitely cleaner. My office is only a few minute's drive from the Capitol, so I took a break and drove over there to hear her. This would have been great if not for the presence of the other mothers. I should start referring to them as the Othermothers, since I really do lump them together and stereotype them to that extent. School activities at which I have to hang with the Othermothers depress me, because I spend the whole time wondering how I measure up. By and large, the moms who can attend their children's functions in the middle of the day are the ones who don't work outside the home. They have time to volunteer at the school, serve on the PTA, etc... They all seem to know each other. Our part of town isn't the most affluent part of Salt Lake, but it's affluent enough to make me wonder how I ended up there. I keep thinking that I should have stayed in the mountains, where I was happy and semi-feral. I am intimidated by the Othermothers. One of them was standing by me and, all through the concert, I found my attention wandering to her. Hmmm...Taller. Slimmer. Perfect hair. Makeup. Cute furry vest. High end camera (I forgot mine at the office). AND, when the concert had finished, she turned to me and asked, "So, which one is yours?" I pointed out Sara, and she pointed out her daughter. I thought, "All that, and she's nicer than I am, too."
So, those were my (less-than-flattering-but-entirely-truthful) high and low points for today. How about you? I like to collect the high and low points of other people. Can you think of the single best moment of your day today? Single worst moment?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Just Lead Me To The Bed

You know how, when you get really sleep-deprived, your feech gets all spuzzy? You can't sentence a of string grammar proper? That's me. I stand still; I tip gently to the right, gently to the left.

Hard to blog. Must sleep.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Boy, Not Shark

Nate lost his first tooth the other day. (Sigh!) The beginning of the end of his sweet, chubby baby face.

Sara doesn't like the idea that the tooth fairy is coming, but not for her.

"Oh, Nathan! What's the big deal? Sharks lose, like, ten teeth a day!", and she flounced off.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Nate's Mortality

Nate is coming to grips with his mortality. He's finally figured out that he's eventually going to die, and he has issues with it. As far as I can figure, it's not so much actual death that worries him; but, will he be kidnapped first? And will he be mummified afterward?

"Pirates of the Caribbean" is to blame for the former concern. Much as he liked some bits of the movie (He greets me with ''ello, Poppet!'), the whole concept of kidnapping has him a little wigged out. This morning at breakfast, he held up his new "Optimus Prime" Transformer and asked, "Mom, what if someone kidnapped me so they could get their hands on Optimus Prime (which he pronounces 'pwime')?" "C'mon Nate. Why would anyone kidnap you for your toy? Why not go to Target and buy one just like it? Why not just snatch the toy?" "Oh. Well, yeah." [Long pause] "If I did get kidnapped, would you pay any amount to get me back?" Of course, I soothed him with cuddles and expressions of undying love and willingness to sell anything - even the car- to get him back. This with "The Ransom of Red Chief" running through my mind.

And it's a book about Ancient Egypt that has him all freaked out about mummies. He loves this book and we read from it almost every night at the moment. But the other night, after we had finished, he said, "Moooooom???" in a quivery little voice. I looked down at him and saw tears perched on his lashes. "Mooooooom? Do people still make mummies?" "Uh, no, not any more." "Why not? Why did they stop?" "Well, it takes a really long time and think how expensive it would be in today's world. Even then, they only did it for kings and other big shots." "If I die... (his little voice rises to a squeak) will someone make me into a mummy?" "No. Of course not." I refrained from saying, "They'll just drain all your blood out, replace it with chemicals, pop you into a box and bury you. Oh! Or you could choose to be burned to cinder." Bonus mommy points for my admirable restraint in high-stakes situations, huh?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

All Points Bulletin

Well, it's a pretty stressful time for me right now, so I haven't posted in a few days. I was up WAY to stinkin' late last night, working on a grant proposal; and at about 2:00 AM, I had a sudden brain wave. Which probably means this posting is going to be a bad (or at least a dumb) idea.

I try not to lose contact with people, but when I was younger, I wasn't so careful. What if I were to mention the names of people I'm hoping to find in my blog? Sooner or later, almost everyone Googles themselves, right? Uh, right?

Georgia Tinley! David, Bruce or Andrew Tinley! Auntie Georgia, I'm your niece, Katie. Mom didn't stop writing intentionally: the letters she sent were returned to sender; then she got a letter from you with no return address. I haven't seen you since I was 5 or 6, but I remember you, and my cousins as well.

Willem van Santen. I was your pen-pal all through high school and college. I came to visit you in Holland in 1988. We lost touch in 1992. You must have moved to a different apartment, and I had lost your parents' address. How are you?

Priscilla Katherine Cole, AKA Katie. We were roommates during a summer job in Wyoming in 1986. I last heard from you in the early '90s - you were living in Washington, DC. I think about you and wonder what you're doing.

Filip Janc. I'm sorry. Forgive me. And how is your mother?

Wynn Conroy. In July 1989, I met you on a long bus ride from Sydney to Brisbane, Australia. I had been planning to sleep on a bench in the bus station and you invited me to stay at your place, even though you hardly knew me. I'm still grateful. Thanks for being so nice to a strange American.

Michal Jagodzinski. I was your English teacher at the Liceum. You had some problems and I tried to help. I still have the wrestling shoes you gave me. I wonder how you are and marvel at the size of your feet, even 16 years later.

Mary Katherine Menikheim. We were roommates Freshman year. A while after graduation, I tried contacting you at your family's home and they had moved. Maybe your dad moved after your mom passed away? You must be out there somewhere...

Carol Romney. We were both working in Wyoming in the summer of 1986. You were friends with my husband Simon. The two of you and another friend, Duncan, traveled to Vancouver at the end of the summer, for the World's Fair. Simon and I live in Salt Lake, now. Sometimes we wonder if you still do, as well.