Friday, January 30, 2009

Foster Pooches

The canine population of our home increased by one last weekend. We're now up to three Boxers. Before my daughter was born, I had two dogs of my own and two or three foster dogs at any given time. After she arrived and our house suddenly got much smaller (I'm not sure of the exact mathematical calculation whereby an eight-pound person takes up 1400 square feet*, but it seems to be accurate), we opted just to take one foster dog at a time. After Karl passed away in December, however, I agreed to take on a second foster dog. (I say "I" because P tolerates the foster dogs but . . . just barely sometimes.)

Brin arrived on January 17th and Fritz arrived on January 25th.

Brin napping with Giddy.


Brin came into rescue after I got a call from a concerned shelter manager. It seems Brin had been abandoned in a house for at least two weeks with no food or water. The shelter lady told me that she cried when she saw how emaciated Brin was. And let me tell you, it takes a pretty severe case to make a shelter employee weep. They've seen it all.

Apparently Brin's owner had some sort of half-assed plan for someone to feed Brin, but it didn't happen. I don't know all the specifics, but eventually Brin was rescued and the shelter then held this brindle girl for two weeks until they could obtain legal ownership of her. The shelter manager told me that she suspected that Brin's owner was going to come looking for her, so she wanted to get Brin moved out of the area (we've seen cases where a dog has been seized from one moron, and that moron sends a brother/cousin/whatever to adopt the dog from the shelter under false pretenses). I live on the other side of the state, so I agreed to take her.

Another rescue volunteer held her for a week until we could make transportation arrangements. By the time I got her, she was still very, very thin so I can only imagine how skeletal she must have been at first. She is a sweet little girl, full of wiggles and kisses. She is also full of . . . urine. I have been fostering for nine years now and have never had a dog I couldn't housebreak, but some are harder to crack than others. Brin, as it turns out, is a tough nut. Hope springs eternal, though.

The other new kid is Fritz, who turned nine on January 14th (which is also my mother's birthday - she says that Fritz must indeed be a spectacular, highly intelligent Capricorn as well). He was surrendered to rescue because his family was moving and said they couldn't take him along. We are starting to see more financial hardship cases, where people are losing their homes and having to move into apartments and such. I have seen surrenders where I felt like the family could have tried harder to find a rental property that would allow dogs, but it is really not my place to judge so I try not to.

Fritz looks remarkably good for his age. If I didn't know his date of birth I would have guessed him to be something closer to six. His teeth are in good shape and he seems healthy. Poor Fritz is also a bit bewildered. I can see it in his eyes, like "Wha' happen?" Older dogs are not as resilient when it comes to sudden homelessness as the younger pooches are. He didn't eat for three days. Finally, I fed him some kibble by hand and then held the bowl in my lap for him and he agreed to eat. I would love to find Fritz a home where he can go back to a quiet, only-dog sort of life. He is fine with the other dogs, but I think he would love to have a soft spot of his own on a couch somewhere. I picture him lying between some nice older couple, watching CSI.

As for Brin, if I can convince her that doggies that pee outside have a better chance of getting adopted (maybe even by me), we'll be in good shape. I should write an ode to my carpet steam cleaner.

*I have no earthly idea of the square footage of my home.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I am not the fresh-faced "girl next door." Well, at my age I should probably change the term to "rapidly hurtling toward 40 broad next door." I am not a hippie chick. I am not a natural beauty (or even an unnatural one). No, I am a painted-up city woman, a term once used on an episode of "I Love Lucy." I dig make-up and I don't care who knows it.

Growing up, I thought of my mother as a fairly glamorous lady. The lyric "raven hair and ruby lips, sparks fly from her fingertips" always made me think of my mom (though not so much the "witchy woman" line). What I internalized was this: you don't go out of the house looking like shit. You iron your ensemble and you coordinate your jewelry and, at the very least, you apply a bit of foundation and lipstick.

Imagine my horror, then, to be a college freshman away from home for the first time and to witness all of my dorm mates rolling out of bed and going to class IN THEIR SWEATPANTS. I just could not get my mind around it.

But back to the topic of make-up . . . I am closing in on a tragic situation. My eyeliner is no more. Many years ago, after much trial and error, I concluded that the very best eyeliner around was made by Bonne Bell. Yes, the Lipsmackers people. The eyeliner went on smoothly and didn't migrate off my eyelids. Specifically, I liked the forest green shade.

One day, much to my horror, THEY STOPPED MAKING IT. I immediately spun myself into a frenzy and called the company. The nice lady who answered the phone agreed to send me a dozen of the green pencils (whatever was left in the warehouse, I guess) in exchange for my credit card number. I have been hoarding my stash ever since. I use each one until it is a tiny nub that I can no longer grasp between my thumb and forefinger.

And now, I have just one. I do not know what will become of me once that one is gone. It goes without saying that I'll need to quit my job and start ordering my groceries online. I'll stay inside my house henceforth, poking my head out the front door periodically to scream at neighborhood children who step on my lawn.

I tell you, this is almost as bad as when Apple Slice was discontinued. It's been gone for 20 years and I still miss it so . . .

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sleeping Beauty: Giving Kids Weird Ideas about Death Since 1959

The recently released "Sleeping Beauty" DVD has been in heavy rotation at our house since Christmas. The movie was made in 1959, and Disney recently released it from "The Vault." Santa brought the animated flick to our home last month. I, I mean Santa, didn't want to lose his chance to purchase this movie like he did with "Beauty and the Beast." Stupid Santa.

My daughter tells the story like this: "The witch died Sleeping Beauty. Don't touch the spindle! The fairies helped Sleeping Beauty and changed her dress. After she got dead, the prince killed the dragon and kissed Sleeping Beauty and then she wasn't dead anymore."

Now, I have always pretty open with the kid when it comes to death. Two of our dogs have died in the past two years. I explained to her that Lucy and Karl were old and that their bodies didn't work right anymore. "They died," I've told her in the most straightforward way I know how. I am careful not to say things like, "We put them to sleep."

"Sleeping Beauty" seems to have knocked us into a whole other ballpark, however. The other day at dinner, my sweet little girl looked at me and said, "Mama, you didn't got dead?"

Me: "No, I didn't . . . get dead."

Her: "You're going to live forever?"

Me: "Eat your beans."

Seeing as how the movie is now 50 years old, I figure there must be at least two generations of people wandering around out there who grew up thinking that a kiss could wake someone from the eternal slumber of death. It wouldn't be the first time a Disney movie freaked someone out. To this day I cannot watch "Dumbo." It seems all at once to tap into my deep hatred for the circus, my love for my mama, and my fierce drive to protect animals. I cannot handle the scene where Dumbo is separated from his mommy and she is shackled. Shit, I'm tearing up just thinking about it! I was also a bit traumatized by the stampede scene where Mufasa is killed in "The Lion King" - and I was well into my 20's when that flick came out.

With a little luck, "Snow White" will be re-released soon, and then I get to explain why you can also die from eating fruit.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dumbing Down

For many years now I've had a girl-crush on Robin Meade from CNN. Sure, my affection for her dimmed a bit after I found out how much she likes country music, but I continue to watch her every morning - or at least until the kid gets up and I'm forced to turn on Noggin. Now, though, Headline News is calling itself HLN and I'm finding myself feeling awfully irritated about it. Why, Robin, why?

Years ago, I pointed out to my husband, who persists in calling a touchdown a "TD," that touchdown and TD both have two syllables. Hence, it takes the same amount of time to say it either way. Same story with HLN and Headline News. I just hate shortcuts that aren't shortcuts. When someone tries to get me to take a driving "shortcut" to a destination, my standard response is, "Do I have to make more than three turns? Because if I do, it's not a shortcut."

Not long ago, I was watching one of my favorite programs, "DogTown" on the National Geographic channel, and made another discovery. They are now calling it "NatGeoTV." That's right, we're too busy to say "National Geographic." I keep picturing some board meeting at National Geographic headquarters where an executive pipes up with, "Listen, these kids with their texting and their iPods - they don't have time for all those syllables!"

Finally, I was putting some leftovers in the "fridgelator" and noticed that my husband left an opened can of Mountain Dew on the top shelf. Only, the can doesn't bear the words "Mountain Dew" on the label. Nay, it says "MTN DEW."

I pushed the can aside and noticed that my jaw had tightened. Maybe it is the English major in me that is so opposed to this dumbing down, this abbreviating everything to death. At work, I receive instant messages from co-workers that say things like "thx" and "pls." "Thanks for not wasting all those vowels on me!" I often write back, only half joking. I love language. I receive Merriam-Webster's "Word of the Day" in my in-box daily and read it with glee. Yes, I am the sort who trots out words like "apothecary" instead of "drugstore" because really - which is more fun to say? I download NPR's "A Way With Words" and listen to it faithfully every week. It makes me happy to know that there are other people out there who wince when someone says, "Drive careful."

That is not to say my grammar is perfect. I still remember Mrs. Bathgate yelling at me when I struggled with sentence diagramming in ninth grade GT English class. She threatened to move me to - gasp! - regular English if I didn't get my act together. So, while you won't hear me using "irregardless" and pretending it's a word, I don't claim to be an expert in the language either. I guess I'm just not willing to throw in the towel (and the vowels), nor to stop trying to preserve the integrity of the language I love.

Comedian Brian Regan has a very funny bit about Pop Tarts. He notes that a box of Pop Tarts contains both microwave and toaster directions. He sagely observes that, "if you don't have time to toast your Pop Tart, you might want to loosen up your schedule a little bit." Similarly, if you don't have time to type "please" with all of its intended letters intact . . .

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cakes and Stuff

After my Weight Watchers meeting yesterday, the kid and I made a birthday cake for her dad. His birthday is tomorrow. If you are a Weight Watchers member, you may know this already but if not, let me break this news to you gently . . . cake . . . is . . . 12 . . . points. I know, it's tragic. Wait, the news gets worse. This calculation is for a THREE-INCH SQUARE PIECE OF CAKE. Trust me, I wept the day I found out.

Anywho, A and I donned our respective aprons and got to work. My main job was to keep her from licking beaters, knives, etc. until after the cake was made. At one point I caught her licking a dollop of batter directly off the counter. You know, the counter that I clean periodically with 409?

Here it is, the piece de resistance:

Don't bother submitting it to Cake Wrecks - they only accept cake-y disasters made by professionals. And clearly we are not that. It is downright edible, though. I took the 12 points like a man and will avert my gaze from the kitchen counter until the leftover chocolately goodness is all gone.

In other news, it looks like I may have to contact an attorney and file for the big D tomorrow (yes, on his birthday). Yesterday afternoon, we were in the car on the way to pick up our daughter from a playdate. I hooked up my iPod and put it in shuffle mode for the drive across town. "Everyday I Write the Book" came on.

"Oh, I hate Elvis Costello." My husband curled his lip in disgust.

"What are you talking about? Who hates Elvis Costello?"

"He's terrible. He doesn't have a single good song."

Needless to say, I turned up the volume. And sang along.


You'd think that after 16 1/2 years together, I would have known of his disdain for Elvis Costello. And yet, I think you'll agree that this ranks right up there with "irreconcilable differences." I was willing to tolerate his dislike of fruit and I'm totally on-board with his negative feelings about Bob Seger, but Elvis Costello? That's over the line, man.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fallacious Thinking (Subtitle: Where Snow Comes From)

She could tell you a thing or two

I've noticed that a three-year-old's thinking is at once perfect and fallacious. One one hand, I love how her brain knows no prejudice. She loves people and does not yet divide them into categories. Everyone is her friend. She's bright and she's absorbing her world at lightning speed. It's very cool to watch.

On the other hand, some of her thinking is, well, wrong. But how to convince her of that? You don't. Trust me, I've tried.

Snow comes from streetlights. What, you didn't know? It''s been snowing a lot lately. At night it is, of course, easier to see the snow when you look up at the streetlamps. And since you can really only see the snow under the streetlamps, obviously they are generating the snow. Makes perfect sense.

Only girls have ponytails. She's pretty firm on this one. "I'm a girl because I wear a ponytail," she tells me.

"Okay," I respond, "But what about Brian at church? He has long hair and wears it in a ponytail."

She looks at me blankly. Does not compute. I even pointed (somewhat discreetly) at Brian last Sunday. "Look, he has a ponytail and he's obviously not a girl."

"Only girls have ponytails," she said matter-of-factly.

Boys drink green soda and girls drink brown soda. She is not totally off-base on this one. I have been working in the software development industry for 12 years and the guys are more inclined to be Mountain Dew addicts. I drink Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi, which is brown, and therefore I am a girl.

Her eyes are changing colors. My daughter's eyes are blue, but sometimes they do appear more of a grayish blue. Or even a greenish gray. My eyes are hazel - they are primarily green with a bit of brown around the pupil. Lately she keeps looking in the mirror and saying, "Mama, my eyes are turning green like yours!"

This one actually tugs at my heart a bit. Our eye colors are not at all similar. On the surface I know this is just a reflection of a little girl who wants to be like her mama (that'll wear off once she realizes what a goober I am). On a deeper level, though, I find myself wondering if she is starting to internalize the adoption discussion we had a few months ago. She doesn't bring it up too often, though periodically she will say, "I was a baby in J's tummy."

It is fun watching a child's brain develop and grow. I assume she won't go off to college thinking that snow comes from streetlights, so I don't argue with her too much.

I remember having some goofy thoughts myself when I was growing up. When I heard "this program brought to you by . . . " on television, I thought that broughtoyouby was a word. One year, on New Year's Eve, I was standing on our balcony with my father. This was before my parents got divorced, so I must've been six or so. Right at midnight, my father threw a cigarette on the ground and at the same time, we heard fireworks. For quite a while, I believed that something magical happened to the ground at the stroke of midnight and that if you threw a cigarette at it, fireworks would ensue.

A lot of my fallacious thinking was created and encouraged by my parents, though (this is what happens when teenagers reproduce and then use their small child as entertainment). My father has a mole in the middle of his back. He told me that after I went to bed, he would press the mole and that wings would come out of his shoulder blades. And then he would fly to 7-11. I won't even tell you how long I bought that one. I also believed in Big Foot. My parents told me that Big Foot would take my bike if I left it outside overnight. They also convinced me that if I ate some birdseed, I would be able to whistle just like our parakeet, Curtis.

Is it too late to call Child Protective Services?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It Smells Like Pink

My Muddah has received her birthday gifts, so I can tell you the TJ Maxx story now. No doubt you were waiting with bated breath.

A couple week ago, I went shopping to buy some birthday gifts for my mom. I knew I was going to a gift shop that features an alarming number of breakables that are positioned three feet off the ground. My daughter, as fortune would have it, is three feet tall. So, I left her at home with "Father" while I shopped.

When I got home, she was mad as a hornet when she realized I had shopped for Meemaw without her. Feeling guilty, I promised her I would take her shopping so that she could pick out a gift also. So, on Thursday, I took her to TJ Maxx after work.

As usual, she shed her coat as soon as she passed through the automatic doors. I have been carrying her coat all winter, like some hapless butler. I steered her towards the bath products. Immediately, she picked up a floral box containing a bar of pink Laura Ashley soap. The bar was as big as her head. I had honestly never seen a bar of soap that large and couldn't really picture my mom using it.

"Why don't you pick out one of these bath sets that has a shower gel?" I suggested. "Look, they have ribbons."

"But, I'm getting this for Meemaw," she replied with a slight frown. The boxed soap had a flat lid that stayed shut magnetically. She flipped it open for the salesperson behind the jewelry counter.

"This is for Meemaw's birthday. It smells like pink!" The lady nodded and smiled. I tucked a bath set under my arm, thinking that it would be the "real" gift.

We wandered around the store a bit. The kid skipped up to every stranger she could find and flipped open the lid of the floral box. "It's for my Meemaw! It smells like pink!" Initially I thought maybe I would ditch the soap at the register, but the more she showed it to unsuspecting shoppers, the more I knew it was ingrained in her brain and that she would never willingly part with it.

She accosted a man who was gazing at wee bottles of olive oil in the gourmet aisle. Again, I really need to have the stranger discussion with her. And soon. She told him about the soap that smells like pink and then she added, "Do you like my glitter shoes?" He turned around, smiled, and started chatting with her. Listening to their conversation, I would've guessed that the man batted for, um, the other team, as the saying goes. But then he mentioned his wife and the fact that he has twin four-year-old girls. It turns out that he knows all about glitter shoes and the like. (I suppose he could have been recruited by mistake - who knows?)

I guess she got tired of carrying the box around because she ran up to me and said, "Mama! Put this in your pocket!" She started trying to jam the floral box into my coat pocket. I pictured some loss prevention officer perking up in a monitor room somewhere in the bowels of TJ Maxx. "Okay, no . . . there's a name for people who put things in their pocket while they shop," I told her, and handed the box back.

Eventually I herded her up to the register so that I could pay for the enormous bar of soap. A couldn't resist opening the lid one last time and as she did so, the bar hit the floor with a thud and skidded a few inches. She scooped it up, put it back in the box, and handed it to me. I inspected the soap for damage and miraculously, there was none. The soap, it seems, is made of titanium. Titanium that smells like pink.

My mom called last night to thank her granddaughter for the soap and the other items we sent. And guess what? It turns out my daughter knows my mother better than I do. She gushed about the pink mammoth and said she couldn't wait to use it. "There's nothing like a good bar of soap," said my mom.

I handed the phone to the kid so that she could chat with her Meemaw while I went to finish the dishes. After a few minutes I went back and took the phone. My mom was still on the line. She told me that she had thanked A for the soap and that A had said, "I didn't drop it!"

I smiled. "Well, actually . . . "

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Sad Truth About My Parents

As you know, I've been threatening to put my parents in a "home" for some time now ("with a special wing for dementia!"). The biggest hurdle I face, however, is that they are only in their 50s. Apparently I am supposed to wait until they've actually retired and are decidedly infirm. Eccentricity is not a solid diagnosis all on its own, it seems. Now, however, I think I have a bit of proof that they are unable to care for themselves. My daughter drew this portrait of them today and I have to tell you: it is pretty accurate.

She started to write "Granddaddy" at the top and ran out of room. As you can see, neither of my parents has a nose. But, it's okay - they have each other and that's the most important thing. They both have ears, so there's that. My mother has a very large head, whereas my dad's noggin is tragically undersized. They have three fingers on each hand, but they are strong people and they do not let their deformities get them down. The biggest deficiency of all, of course is this: neither has a torso. Their limbs are attached directly to their skulls.

It's a wonder my sisters and I turned out halfway normal.

Speaking of Meemaw, her birthday is coming up on Wednesday. She is not allowed to speak to my daughter until then, however, because the kid will sing like a canary and tell her Meemaw exactly what we've sent her for her birthday. I have a whole other story about the shopping excursion for the birthday gifts, but that'll have to wait.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


On Tuesday evening, the technician from Time Warner Cable came to our home (I'm surprised he didn't meet his maker on our driveway - the Ice Capades have been performed on smaller sheets of ice) to fix our DVR. Actually, he did not attempt to fix it at all. He simply swapped our box for another one. They must wipe the hard drives and then continually redistribute them around town, because I noticed a few dings on the last one.

When he arrived, my daughter was finishing up her dinner. I couldn't help but notice how her eyes lit up when she realized there was a stranger/victim in our home. "I'm done!" she announced excitedly. I scraped off her face and hands with a baby wipe (at what age do you have to stop buying those? Cuz I am planning to keep them in stock until she leaves for college) and excused her from the table. She had been playing dress-up, so she skipped into the living room wearing one of her sparkly princess gowns.

"Do you want to see my room?" she asked the cable man. He smiled politely. P and I ushered her out of the living room, explaining to her that the man was trying to do his job. She went to her room and came back with two cups and saucers from her new tea set.

"Guess what?" she asked him. "There are balls under these cups." She received some Silly Putty-type stuff in her stocking and has developed her own version of the old ball and cup game.

Again, we herded her back to her bedroom and suggested that she just play there for a few minutes. I set about clearing the table while P wandered aimlessly around the kitchen. Just then, A came streaking through wearing only her Minnie Mouse panties. We caught her just as she was rounding the corner and headed into the living room. We sent her back to her room, and then repeated the scenario twice more.

I thought modesty was one of those naturally ingrained sort of things, but I guess not. She could not think of any reason on earth not to hang out with the cable man in her undies.

I guess we'll be having the "stranger" talk soon, but I honestly think she is one of those "there are no strangers - just friends you haven't met yet" types of people. The teenage years should be . . . interesting.

Monday, January 5, 2009

"No one can take you from me"

We had an ice storm on Sunday and could not leave the house. I ran out of creative ways to entertain the kid by lunchtime. She played dress-up. We played Lucky Ducks until someone got in a huff over losing. Am I supposed to let her win? I'm never sure of the rules on that. If I let her lose, her little psyche is damaged. If I let her win, she never learns about disappointment and then grows up to be a maladjusted adult. If we are playing a game and I've won more than once in a row, I'll usually try to rig it so that I lose the next game. Some games are easier to rig than others.

I also attempted to teach her to play checkers. She demanded that we switch colors in the middle of the game, so I gave up on that one. I think she may be a little young for checkers. Either that, or I'm too old to muster the required patience for teaching it.

She had a tea party using the new Disney Princess set she got from her Meemaw for Christmas. The other day she held up one of her toys and said, "Mama, who got this for me, Santa or Meemaw?" That's it, just those two options. Like I haven't spent every cent I have on her since May 3, 2005.

P had to work Sunday evening so, while the tea party was still in session, I decided to take a quick bath. I left the door unlatched, of course, in case A needed anything. I grabbed a book I've been reading (A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier) and sank into the hot water. I put my head back and closed my eyes for a moment.

Two seconds later: "Mama?" There was a curly-headed kid wearing Tinker Bell pajamas standing next to the tub.

I told her that I had turned on Noggin in my room and that she could go and watch it if she was done with her tea party. Nope, no dice. My daughter knows that I stay with her while she's in the tub, and now she was going to return the favor.

She stuck her hand in the water and scooped it back and forth. "Is it worm?" I've only recently noticed that she mispronounces that particular word. "Is it comfy?" I assured her that the water was fine and that I was fine. Everything, in fact, was fine.

"Is that your book?" she asked. I nodded. "Do you want my Max & Ruby book?" She started fishing around in her toy bin for the plastic bath book.

"I'm all set," I told her.

She chattered on and asked me questions like: why was my shampoo green? why did I need conditioner? could she sniff it? did I want to play with her bath blocks? was the water still worm? why did I have a pillow in the tub?

I laughed as I listened to the litany of questions, nodding or giving a simple response as required along the way. I know I am biased, but my kid is damned articulate. She's got the gift of gab and she leaves me in awe most of the time.

Realizing that my bath would be more of a utilitarian endeavor and not a relaxing soak with a good book, I told A that I was all done. It was then that she said something that has settled in my heart and stayed there ever since.

She leaned down, tapped on my knee with her fingers, and smiled at me.

"You're my mama. You're not anybody else's mama. Nobody can take you from me."

I nodded. "Yes, I'll always be your mama." I felt tears springing to my already-wet eyes.

Never having been a particularly lucky person (not the sort who wins prize drawings or chooses the most efficient check-out lane at the grocery store), I still find myself overwhelmed with gratitude over this one instance where my fortune made a spectacular turn. Becoming a mother took seven years and a lot of heartache. It also took the pain and selflessness of another mom, who entrusted me with a beautiful, pouty-lipped baby three and a half years ago. Losing out on the occasional bubble bath seems a price that's more than fair . . .

Sunday, January 4, 2009


As you can tell, they sell red slushies at the snack bar

We took the kid rollerskating yesterday afternoon. I think half the town was there for the matinee session (when you live in the land of ice and snow, the weekend entertainment options are limited at best).

At first we put our little newbie skater in traditional skates, but the wheels spun a bit too efficiently and she could not keep her feet under her to save her life. The rink also offers Fisher Price skates that fit over the shoes, so we swapped for those. The second pair worked a lot better, and gave her a modicum of traction. Towards the end, she actually started to get a bit cocky and skated on her own for a few yards at a stretch.

I have to tell you: I love rollerskating. I can't wait for A to learn how to skate proficiently so that I can take her to the rink regularly and pretend that I'm there for her benefit. My rollerskating career got off to an inauspicious start when I broke my arm in the mid-70's (I tripped over a wagon handle while out skating), but by the mid-80's I was spending every weekend at the rink. I wore a comb in my back pocket, which was mandatory at that time, and waited for a dark-haired boy named Mike Matheny to ask me to skate. Eventually he did, but he did not know how to skate backwards and that really put a damper on the ol' "couple's skate." My friend Rachel made "woo woo" noises at us from the sidelines. (Rachel, remember the time your mom picked us up and ran over my foot with her car? I still don't know how I managed not to have any broken toes from that.)

I was awash in flashbacks during our skating session yesterday. The lady who owns our local rollarama is a hoot. I don't know how old she is, but I'm guessing she is a grandma and, probably, the fittest grandma in town. She zooms around on her skates and one minute she is helping you find the right size skate and the next minute she is holding up the limbo bar out on the skate floor. She is one of those people who just genuinely loves kids and it shows. Just don't come in there with gum in your mouth because, as far as I can tell, that is the one thing that really pisses her off.

The joint opened in 1972 and although I didn't live here at that time, I have to suspect that not much has changed. The black carpeting has neon swirls on it, so I'm guessing it was re-done sometime in the 80's. Behind the snack bar, they sell things like orange rabbit's foot key chains and candy necklaces. Being there reminded me so much of the rink I frequented when I was in junior high. They played the "Ghostbusters" theme song yesterday, which added to the air of nostalgia quite a bit. I felt like I wanted to attempt to Shoot the Duck or something. I wanted pompoms on my skates, just like my mom used to make for me.

I left my daughter with her dad so that I could skate around by myself for a while. I built up some speed and flew past kids and parents alike. I attempted cross-overs around the turn (though for some reason I can do them when going clockwise, but not counter-clockwise). I skated backwards a bit, just to see if I still could. I wonder if Mike Matheny ever learned how.

This was taken about a half second before they both went down.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


The DVR stopped working. [insert expletives here] Time Warner is sending a technician on Tuesday evening.

Oh, and I asked the customer service representative about the movie channels and apparently they do that as a "teaser" so that I'll be enticed into ordering them. Evil plot no workie. I quickly remembered why we never keep movie channels to begin with. I watched exactly one movie ("Babe"), and that was it. The movie channels had all disappeared by this morning. P is lamenting the lost possibilities of offerings like "Skinemax," but I'm not too brokenhearted. I am plenty pissed about the DVR not working, though.

Now I'm headed to Weight Watchers, and yes, I have to pay because I'm over my goal weight.

The kid slept in my bed and kicked me in the kidney all night.

Basically, I'm in a mood. I'm off to kick some kittens or beat up some orphans or something.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The last person on the planet to get a DVR: me

My friend Leslie is always bragging about how she DVRs shows like "The Woman with Giant Legs" and "I Eat 33,000 Calories a Day." (These are actual programs on TLC - look 'em up if you don't believe me. If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'.) With each passing day, I have grown more and more bitter about her and her "I'm not tied to the linear passing of time so ninny-nonny-boo-boo" attitude. Me, I'm stuck watching "Wow Wow Wubbzy" in real time while my favorite programs go on without me.

When I visited my mother in Oklahoma last month, even she was not locked into regular television. She has a brand new flat-panel screen and DirectTv to boot. (And this is a woman who nearly went into cardiac arrest when we got a new VCR and a new microwave in the same week when I was in junior high.) But now she has conquered technology and even has wireless internet and a laptop. My mom has some sort of abnormal fixation on the show "Cops" (we are planning an intervention) and can now record it to her heart's content. Drunk with power, however, she went a bit overboard with the "record" button and began recording programs like "Good Times." My daughter was trying to watch "Oswald" on Noggin one morning, when all of a sudden the TV switched channels and started recording "Good Times." This happened three mornings in a row, though my mother was asleep at the time. When I asked her about it later, she acted like she had no earthly idea who in her home was trying to record a 30-year-old sitcom. I should point out that my mother lives alone (well, her plus four surly cats.)

Anyway, eventually I realized that I was the last person alive who was watching TV shows as they were actually being broadcast. I called Time Warner Cable and asked about the DVR. The tentative voice on the other end of the line informed me that I could get a DVR free for six months and then pay $4.00 a month for 18 months after that. I thought that sounded pretty good. "How about for two TVs?" I asked. She assured me that the pricing was good on two.

I hauled our two digital cable boxes over to the Time Warner office on New Year's Eve. "Oh, noooooo," the man behind the counter said, his i-can't-believe-i-have-to-fucking-work-on-new-year's attitude more than apparent. It would cost something like $8.95 a month for the second DVR. I decided to pass and went home with one DVR and one regular digital cable box. In talking with other friends who have Time Warner, I'm pretty sure we are all paying different amounts for the same services - I really think it is a matter of which customer service representative you get when you call, and how much they hate their job (and maybe you) on that given day.

After a fair amount of cussing and calling the mass of cables behind each television a few names, P had both boxes set up. I immediately set up the DVR to record "Dogtown," a show on the National Geographic channel that I never seem to catch. I may watch it later. Shit, I may never watch it - just to prove I can.

Oh, and I should put this part in very small print but . . . Time Warner seems to have given us a slew of movie channels that we are not supposed to have but we'll just be vewy, vewy quiet about it until they notice.