Thursday, June 23, 2016

Products I considered buying instead of using my frequent flyer points for a hotel because I was on hold for 43 minutes.

Huh! Lookit this! You can get Godiva chocolates with your points! And just dark chocolate - that's a nice touch. Classy-like.

Thank you for holding. A vacation consultant will be with you momentarily. We truly appreciate your patience and look forward to helping you with your vacation plans.
Well, I don't have a Grumpy Cat scarf/hat combo. It looks warm. And it's on sale! It's not a look an adult woman could or should really rock. But speaking of rock ... the Muzak has shifted from nondescript crap to "Roll With It" by Steve Winwood. I hope they paid him a lot of money. I now equate this song with depression.
OMG. Now we're talking! This is the chicken coop / Brady Bunch house / Barbie house of my dreams! I have no desire to have chickens, but we could play Brady Bunch Barbies with this! It could be what happens when the Barbies move to the farm. Barbies meet "The Brady Bunch" meet "Green Acres." I am brilliant.

We are currently experiencing a high volume of calls. We apologize for the extended wait time. Please stay on the line and one of our customer service representatives will be with you as soon as possible.
You can get a 3D printer with frequent flyer miles? This is insane! I still own a VCR!

I'm starting to feel mildly homicidal. I've been on hold forever, and one of the two "thanks for holding" messages plays not every minute, but every 30 seconds. It's too much. It's taunting me. I think it might be lying. What if my call isn't important? What if all the vacation specialists are on a smoke break, hanging out behind the building and laughing at my on-hold plight?
Lil' Frankfurter would really love this. I shouldn't encourage his "no walking ever" dreams, lest he end up on some "My 600-pound Dachshund" special on TLC wherein he is removed from our home via crane, but ...

Ah, Southwest. You are indeed the Greyhound of the skies, yet I cannot quit you. Your people are so nice and your credit card gives me a gajillion miles. Miles I want to use to book a hotel. If only you'd answer your damned phone.
This is AWESOME! I need this car! Look at these girls - they're like Thelma and Louise without all the death! The pain in my heart isn't due to Southwest Rapid Rewards - it's because I don't have a Power Wheels Ford Mustang with a sticker of the Frozen characters on the hood. My life is a lie!

Thank you for holding. Our vacation consultants are mocking your pain. We truly appreciate your patience and look forward to completely ruining your vacation plans by keeping you on hold forever.
If I use my points for this pool toy, my husband would be forced to install a pool in our backyard, right? Right? Then I wouldn't need a hotel, because I would never leave my house.

After all the frequent flyer miles-based suffering I've been through, I deserve a pool complete with a Pirate Island Adventure Set. I'm only calling Southwest because the website ate my points and then it took 72 hours to get them refunded and I'm not about to spoon-feed the website my hard-earned points again. No sirree. No. I don't have time to be on the phone because I need to be out in the yard, plotting out where our pool will go. I hope there's no ancient burial ground in our yard like in "Poltergeist." That movie totally traumatized my brother. I bet he wouldn't have been so upset if we'd had a Pirate Island Adventure Set.

Actually, I could really use a new electric toothbrush. Periodontal health is so important.

We are currently high. We apologize for the extended wait time. Please stay on the line and ... I forget what we're supposed to do.

Epilogue: After a mere 43 minutes, a very nice man booked my hotel. I was so taken aback by an actual human on the line that my initial communication was in the form of grunts. However, I managed to elocute my rewards number and get the hotel booked. I am appreciative, even if my mental health took a hit.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Why I should be your next elementary school commencement speaker.

Now that I'm an ancient 41, I firmly believe that I know nothing. Also? I'm super excited to give advice.

You might see a problem here, but I think an advice giver who thinks they know everything is way more dangerous. At least I'm all, "Ehh, take it with a grain of salt, buuut ..."

This attitude might be the reason why yet another graduation season has passed without me being asked to give a commencement speech. Couple that with the fact that I'm on year 23 of not being asked to prom, and it's been a rough few months.

But commencement speeches. I tend to be drawn to them in May and June each year, wondering if some celebrity is going to impart a bit of wisdom that would change my outlook. Mostly, I'm just entertained. And I like to pretend that every spring is a fresh start, so it's like I'm a new graduate every year.

Again, maybe this "new grad" mindset is hindering my chances of being asked to be a graduation speaker. After all, I was one of four speakers at my high school graduation when I was, in fact, a new grad. Even while I was giving the speech, I knew I was bombing. To be fair, there's not much audience engagement in a jam-packed gymnasium that isn't air conditioned. But still.

I think I'm a better candidate for speaking at an elementary school graduation. Let me tell you why.

When I was in high school, a handful of us were asked to speak to sixth-grade classes. It was towards the end of the school year, and we were tasked with answering questions about moving to the junior high. We were also supposed to empower the sixth graders and have an anti-drug message. The program was through DARE, and there was a cop supervising the whole shebang.

I was with one or two other high school kids speaking to the classroom taught by my grandparents' next-door neighbor. He was a low-key guy, and you could tell his classroom was similarly low-key.

My compatriots and I spoke about making new friends at the junior high and what it was like moving from class to class. Then, somebody raised their hand and asked if we had been nervous going into seventh grade.

This is where I jumped in and regaled all the kids, their teacher, and the DARE cop with my tale of woe about my seventh-grade locker.
Do you feel the tension?
See, I had never operated a combination lock before. And for the duration of the summer of 1987, I was obsessed and panicked about opening my locker at the junior high. I had a reoccurring dream that I'd get to the junior high on the first day of school, and I'd find my locker just fine. But I wouldn't be able to open it. And then, the bell would ring, and I'd be late for class. Then, I'd realize I was nekkid and I had to walk home.

Now, I like to believe that the kids who heard this were relieved. "Ah, it's not just me!" I was bringing honesty and authenticity to their worlds! But I don't remember their faces. Instead, I remember DARE officer putting his head down on a desk. Like he couldn't believe this was his life and he had to deal with these shenanigans and, if anything, I was a spreading the message of using drugs because DEAR GOD, KIDS, JUST DON'T BE LIKE HER.

My parents were horrified by this story. My grandma kind of shook her head, but I like to think she thought it was funny.

I was honest. And if I'm still being honest? I still have that dream about twice a year.

So, I'm just gonna put this out there: If your school needs an elementary school graduation speaker, call me. Obviously, I will tell it like it is.

Also, I am willing to be paid in cake.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Mouse Scourge, Part II: The Reckoning.

Don't even try to tell me I shouldn't write B movies. Check out that title - clearly, I have the gift.

So, I know you've been waiting with baited breath to hear how the whole there-was-a-mouse-in-the-kitchen-so-I-covered-everything-in-blood thing went down.

Well, I set the hardcore traps that my dad gave me. You know, the ones that you can only get at the farm and home store? Yeah. They are serious.

So, I set the two traps. Sadly, they didn't go off immediately. Instead, my rodent antagonist had decided to mess with me. I kept everything out of my kitchen drawers and then kind of forgot about it. I had to emotionally distance myself from the whole mouse/kitchen situation. It was just too much.

That night, I woke up because so help me Oprah, someone broke into our house. I could hear him (or her - no judging) sneaking around downstairs. I woke my exhausted, finally asleep husband and we both remained in bed, stiff with adrenaline coursing through our veins. I wondered when My Guy was going to grab his softball bat and if I shouldn't just go ahead and call 911.

After a minute of listening, My Guy said, "It's the mousetrap." Then, he rolled over and went back to sleep.

He abandoned me.

But, considering that I was then unable to sleep for the next three hours, I can say definitively that we were not burgled. And examining the trap the next day showed ... no mouse. Just tiny little claw marks in the trap's peanut butter.

Basically, the mouse had gotten a little bit trapped, made a whole lotta noise, and then escaped.

I set the trap again.

That night, no noises. Or maybe we were burgled but the dudes (or dudettes - no judging) were really quiet and with the house in such disarray, I didn't notice anything missing.

But turns out, there were no noises because the trap did its job. Inside my bread drawer was a dead mouse approximately the size of a Honda.
That was the good news. The bad news was that I was home alone.

I immediately shut the drawer with the dead mouse in it and started walking around my house, clapping purposefully. Like a pep squad girl who is a little bit off. I was clapping because hurray, we caught the mouse! And I was clapping because oh no, we caught the mouse and now we have to do something with it, and by "we" I mean "me" and I am completely freaked out.

See, the trouble with the really nice traps from the farm and home is that you can only get them at the farm and home. And there isn't a farm and home anywhere near me because I'm a fool and moved to the city, away from such places. These were hardcore traps, not the kind that you could just throw away without a second thought. There were traps of country folk. Folk who could kill a snake with a shovel and not think twice. (Hi, Melissa!)

I thought twice. I thought three and four times about what I was going to do about that dead mouse.

Then, I realized it was Saturday. My Guy was just out gallivanting around. He would be home within an hour. An hour wasn't enough time for there to be a noticeable increase in dead-mouse decay.

The carcass could wait. I could delegate. Because I am a leader and a strong woman and in no way would need to turn in my feminism membership card simply because I asked my life partner to complete a specific task in our home.

And so it was.

He made the Honda-sized mouse go away. I let scalding water run over the empty but certainly reusable trap. Order was restored.

In case you're wondering, no, I'm not going to become an exterminator.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

In which I douse my home in blood.

Remember that time that a mouse leapt out of my silverware drawer and up my leg? Weren't those some good, good times?

Well, after a several-month hiatus ... guess who's back!
Oh, look. It's a mouse on vacation in my kitchen. How adorable. And tropical.

I didn't actually see the mouse this time. But I saw his handiwork. And by "handiwork," I mean "copious amounts of poo." Because so help me Oprah, that rodent from hell pooped all in my silverware drawer, my towel drawer, all amongst my aluminum foils and Ziplocs, in my bread drawer, and, of course, on both levels of my lazy susan.

Maybe he was experiencing some sort of gastrointestinal distress. Or maybe he was just a jerk.

Guess who spent an entire morning cleaning and Clorox-wiping the bejesus out of her kitchen?

I tried to be zen about it. I mean, I will never be one of those ladies with muck in the bottom of their drawers because the mouse never stays away long enough for any muck to accumulate. And isn't it kind of exercise to remove all the drawers from the cabinets and wipe down every surface within 50 feet?

Well, I was zen, and I was malicious. Because I fished out the mouse traps my dad gave me and set them up immediately. You know, just in case the mouse was brazen enough to come back while I was cleaning.

So, I wiped down every canned good and our store of extra condiments. I went through a good number of Clorox wipes. And then I realized that there was red stuff on the wipe in my hand. I must have gotten ketchup on myself somehow. I wiped stuff down some more.

And then, I realized it wasn't ketchup. It was blood. At some point, I had sliced open my fingertip, probably on the broken countertop that we've been meaning to replace for five years. The bleach probably numbed the pain, because upon further inspection, more than a few of the used wipes had blood on them. I had literally wiped blood all over my kitchen, its cabinets and drawers.

My eyes rolled into the back of my head as I considered doing another round of Clorox wiping to get rid of the blood.

And then? Then, I decided to let it be. Let the blood be a warning to any rodent vagrants wandering 'round these parts. We here do not take kindly to mice, and we are ready to spill blood - BLOOD! - to combat you. And rest assured, the blood will eventually be yours.

I also channeled kind of a Tommy Lee Jones / Sam Elliott / Josh Brolin hybrid badass cowboy while working this out in my mind. It just felt right.

So, I refrained from deblooding the kitchen. So far, the mouse hasn't come back. Coincidence? I'll let you decide.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

And who did you date in 1995?

Today, I want to talk about college, friends, procuring formalwear under duress, and smoking.

Last weekend, some folks from my sorority pledge class had a little reunion. The last time we got together - perhaps 10 years ago - there was debauchery. And word is that somebody's husband puked at the late-night diner.

This time around? We met at 6 a.m. to do a 5K.

Now, lest you think I am not the girl you think I am, don't worry. I walked. Three other pals and I walked the course and felt embarrassed when the course monitors were all, "You can do eeeeet!" like Bela Karolyi.

But I digress.

We wandered around campus and did some day drinking and toured our sorority house and laughed and spoke in the shorthand that only longtime friends speak. It was good for my soul. There is just nothing better than people who knew you when.

Especially when they dig out their photo albums.

My pal Soup shared this lovely image.
Photo credit: Soup, circa March 1995.
Why yes, yes, that is me. That's me and my then-boyfriend, headed out to the 1995 Alpha Chi Winter Formal.

Behold the dress that I purchased with my friend Mo. It cost $109 at Dillards, and that was big, big money. But I felt like a million bucks, even though the beaded collar made my delicate ladyskin turn red and angry.

Similarly 90s-fab were my dyed-to-match shoes which are, sadly, out of the camera frame and lost to time. I distinctly remember I wanted the silk shantung shoes, but the lady at Payless said they wouldn't hold the dark dye, so I had to go for the shiny fake silk shoes. It was heartbreaking, but I still looked good.

Behold the wallpaper in the entryway of our beloved sorority house. It never occurred to me that it was anything but lovely, but in retrospect ... umm?

And finally, behold my then-boyfriend. He did not want to go to the 1995 Alpha Chi Winter Formal. No. Not at all. And that's why he didn't rent a tux until I shamed him into calling the tux rental place the afternoon of the formal.

Now, you might be asking, "Honey, why didn't you just let him wear a suit? It's fine." But this was 1995, and it was all tux, all the way. Plus, his next-best option was his least-dirty jeans.

He got on the phone with a very nice woman from the tux rental place who said she could cobble together a tux for him if she just knew his measurements. This led to me using the phone cord to measure his arms and waist while he was on the phone. When he provided said measurements, the woman laughed and said those were crazy measurements and she'd just wing it.

The fact that the tux fit at all was nothing short of a miracle. Thank you, tux rental place lady.

But it's not the tux that caught Soup's eye when she shared the photo. It was then-boyfriend's cupped hand.

He had a lit cigarette. In the foyer of the sorority house.

I did not remember this at all because I clearly blocked it out.

This was a time when having a lit cigarette inside the sorority house would get a girl sent down to the standards board. She could get fined or - even worse - forced to skip a date party or - gasp! - even formal.

I was clearly so exhausted from the tux-procurement that I had completely given up and couldn't begin to fight the lit cigarette.

Then-boyfriend broke my heart into a gajillion pieces about a month later. Crazily, he didn't end up disappearing into a hole. He's a good guy with kids and is very successful in his career. Like, national awards. He is a grown-up. Well, now, anyway.

Back in the day? I measured him for a tux using a phone cord and then he smoked inside my sorority house.

Welp. There you go. Young love. Or young woman trying to pretend her then-boyfriend isn't acting like a total tool.

I think I ended up paying for the tux, too.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

In which I turn 41 and realize I've received the gift of contentment. For the most part.

I just had a birthday. I turned 41.

I know what you're thinking: Did I go to Vegas? Did My Guy whisk me off to Paris? Or perhaps we just had an intimate gathering for 500 of our closest friends.
This is a dramatic reenactment of the celebration.
While these are obviously great guesses, the truth is far more glamorous. Here's how my birthday went down.

1 week prior: I look through our Amazon orders in an attempt to reorder Lil' Frankfurter's specialty dog food. I spy an order ... my birthday gift order. My Guy has ordered me a power washer.

You might think this is right up there with the Christmas my dad bought my mom a toilet seat. But no. I love power washing and have long desired my own power washer. Just think of all the things I could clean!

So, I kind of ruined my own birthday surprise. And my husband bought me yard equipment (because he says I can't use the power washer inside the house - whatever). But I am delighted.

2 days prior: The power washer arrives. I try it out. It is all I ever hoped for. I realize this makes me either really sad or really secure in myself and happy with my life.

Birthday morning: My Guy lets the dogs out, and I find it strange that they don't come back to bed. I realize my sweet husband shut them downstairs. This evidently was not to Big Doodle's liking. I come downstairs to find that my 80-pound prince of a dog has peed not 1 but 2 oceans of pee to communicate his displeasure.

I spend 20 minutes and an entire roll of paper towels cleaning up the oceans and the splatter. Because when a tall dog pees, there is a splash issue.

I am somewhat crabby.

I check my email. I have received spam from Poise, urging me to upgrade my bladder protection. Poise pads - what every 41-year-old wants for her birthday!

Birthday day: I do laundry. I clean Big Doodle's stinky, infected ear. I finish up 3 work projects. I am still in my workout clothes - without having actually worked out - when My Guy gets home from work.

Birthday evening: I change my clothes. We go out for dinner. I order a guava mai tai. I order this $8 drink because it's my fucking birthday and I fucking deserve it.

This is adulthood. This is a birthday as an adult. I get a power washer (yay!) and an appeal for Poise pads (boo!) and I order a drink like a fucking lady (boom!).

The most upsetting thing is that I'm not that upset. This is actually just fine.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book review: Bernadette Peters Hates Me.

If you're anything like me, you have real problems with Broadway legends hating your guts. And you just wish this was an experience that was represented in literature and, dare I say, the cultural zeitgeist.

I know. I know! Patti LuPone hasn't spoken to me in years. Or ever. But still.

Thankfully, there's a new book that addresses all of this and more. In Bernadette Peters Hates Me: True Tales From A Delusional Man, Keith Stewart shares his difficult journey as the target of Ms. Peters' disdain.

Actually, that's only one essay. But it's a doozy. And isn't the cover cool?

This slim volume is like a bar of rich dark chocolate. You just need a little bite at a time because it's so good. Now, you can totally gorge yourself and that's cool. But I found this was a book to be savored.

And maybe that makes it sound high brow. But ... nooooo. Keith covers such universal topics as:
  • When your family gets in a rumble with another faction of the family at a funeral.
  • Going to the post office in your underwear.
  • That time granny hid her handbag in the washing machine, forgot about it, and then did a load of wash, which set off the loaded pistol in said pocketbook.
  • When your family breaks a church window during a funeral and then can't stop laughing but COME ON, they were playing "Freebird" on a cassette boom box.
Also, there's an essay entitled, "Hot Yoga, or How to Self-Administer Your Own Stroke."

I want to be his best friend.

You can check out Keith's writing over at his blog, A Strong Man's Cup of Tea. But be sure to support this first-time author by picking up his book, too. Here, we give it 5 out of 5 slightly unhinged dachshunds.
What have you been reading lately?