Thursday, January 24, 2008

I Be Illin', Yo

So…I’m sick.

And I’m NEVER sick. I’ve never even had the chicken pox.

(OK, I’ve totally jinxed myself. It’s like when you’re driving along, singing to the radio, goofy smile on your face, and you turn to your passenger and gleefully (read: ignorantly) exclaim: “We’re making GREAT time!” and then you come around the bend into a sea of brake lights and a 12-mile back-up.)

So Saturday morning, I went to the walk-in clinic. There can’t be a more germy place on earth. I mean, it’s a room filled with people who were sick during the week and either didn’t have time, or deem it a necessity, to visit their doctors so they waited until Saturday morning, woke up feeling shitty, like they had razor blades in their throats, an ocean in the ears, a chest filled with goopy mucus, trouble breathing and semi-laryngitis (or something like that).

After having my first “bronch” (which is the fancy name for sucking air from a tube hooked up to a vibrating machine) and returning home with an upper respiratory virus, I spent the next three days in pajamas.

Three LOOOOONG days.

I have a hard time doing nothing. I get bored very easily. And TV can only entertain me for so long. I need to find something else to occupy my time.

Cut to December, 2005

I was convalescing from major abdominal surgery and was basically immobile. During those two months I became addicted to Ellen and ebay.

Around week 4 of my recovery I had exhausted online shopping, had Googled all of my friends from grade school, and had run out of books to read. So when the city’s snowstorm hotline number flashed across the television screen, I believed it was my civic duty to call.


Tuesday, 4pm

ME: “Hi, I’m calling to report a street that is yet to be plowed.”

A nor’easter had dropped about three feet of snow on Boston a few days earlier, and it was all still sitting in our street.

Disgruntled City Worker (sighing): “What part of the city and what street?”
Another loud sigh. Hey, it’s not MY fault that you hate your job.

ME: “Southie. Lovis Street. It’s on the West Side, off of 5th Street, near D Street.”

DCW: “I’ll put in the request. Someone should be there within the next day or so.”

Next day or so?

Oh, I don’t think so.

(Now, you should know that there was really no need to plow my street. You couldn’t park on it, and you could barely drive down it on a sunny summer day. There were only 4 rowhouses on each side…it was a really tiny street. But, I was bored. And I didn’t like this woman’s attitude.)

ME: “Hmmm….in the next day or so…I see. Well, I certainly hope someone doesn’t need an ambulance…or fire truck…guess they'd die or burn in their bed. Well, thanks for your help.”

Click.

Tuesday, 5pm

The bright lights caught my eye first. I carefully pulled back the shade just enough to allow one eye to see what was going on. Sure enough, there was the Channel 4 News Van, idling on 4th Street. A gutsy reporter carrying a microphone, followed by a camera man, were carefully making their way down the mini walkway we had shoveled from our door to the end of the street.

Holy shit! My street was going to be on the news! Because of me!

Tuesday, 6pm

I flicked on the news and hit record on Tivo. The segment started out with a shot of our street sign.
“There are still streets in some parts of the city that are yet to be plowed.”

And then it cut to the reporter standing in our half-assed shoveled walkway in front of our house.
“I’m here on Lovis Street, in South Boston, a street still covered in three feet of snow. Many are concerned all over the city, that emergency vehicles cannot travel down some streets, causing people to be literally trapped in their homes.”

If you looked closely enough (as I did, rewinding and watching the taped segment 37 times) you could see the shades moving a bit in the window above the reporter’s head.

Yep, that would be Yours Truly.

Tuesday, 6pm

First I saw the flashing lights on the ceiling. Then I heard the familiar sound of metal crunching against asphalt.

Holy shit! They were plowing our street! Because of me!

You’re welcome, Southie.

PRESENT DAY

So this time around, I was ready to lose my mind. There was NOTHING on TV (only so many times I can watch Legally Blonde on cable), nothing to buy online, and no disastrous situations in which I had to elect myself a representative for making the neighborhood a better place to live.

At one point, I just shut the TV off, and laid on the couch in silence.

Every member of my family called me every day to see how I was doing (this is not normally, btw. They just couldn't believe that I was sick).

My conversations with my mother started the same way each time she called.

ME: “Hello?”

MOM: “How are you feeling?”

ME: “Um, okay? Maybe a little better?”

MOM: “Well, you sound just awful.”

ME: “Thank you.”

And so on.

Vito was very excited that I was sick. It meant he had a companion 24/7. Of course, any time I would finally drift off to sleep, the mailman would come, our crazy neighbors would park in front of our house, or another dog would walk by and send Vito in a barking frenzy.

Tuesday morning I felt good enough to go back to work. Surprisingly, traffic was light for the day after a holiday.

“Wow,” I said to myself outloud, “I’m making really good time.”

Friday, January 4, 2008

Who’s Looking For A Little Extra Money?

Because I am willing to PAY someone to come in and take down the Christmas decorations and clean up.

I’m talking everything: the tree, the lights, the snowmen. And not only take them down, but wrap them nicely, pack them in boxes and store them in the basement. And then clean the house, so that I’m not finding tree needles until mid-July (which is what usually happens).

Anyone free tomorrow? Because as of right now, it looks like my weekend plans involve a very dry, prickly tree, lots of tissue paper and the Dyson.

Admittedly, I am a little HM when it comes to decorating the house.

First off, I’m of the “less is more” school of thought. Putting up 150 snowmen instead of a modest 6 does not mean you have more Christmas spirit. (It just means you have more snowmen, and a very cluttered house).

Also, my decorations sort of have a “theme”. Like, most of my Christmas decorations are silver reindeer – silver reindeer stocking holders on the mantel, silver reindeer centerpiece on the dining room table (his antlers hold like 8 tea lights – it’s SO cute!) and silver reindeer figures throughout the bookcases. (Hand-painted ceramic Santas need not apply)

And this year – in an ultimate HM, crazy person move – I color-coordinated the tree decorations to match the living room.
(Hey, red would have looked silly in the chocolate and blue living room. And no, I did NOT go as far as to match the wrapping paper to the tree. Well, not all of it, anyway.)


As for the outside of the house, our neighborhood sort of bullies you into decorating. Unless you’re lighting a menorah, you’d better have white candles in your windows. Because if you don’t, you’ll be the only house on the block without them. (Insert disapproving looks from the neighbors here)

Sadly, the minute Christmas is over, I don’t want to look at the Christmas decorations anymore. I want to wake up on December 26 to find that they have miraculously disappeared.

I don’t want to fight with the tree bag (it’s a 4-week-old dead tree, how will the branches NOT poke thought that super-thin plastic bag?).

I don’t want to sweep up broken ornament glass (you know it’s going to happen).

I don’t want to wrap everything, pack it away (with 100 trips down to the basement!) and then walk into the dining room only to see a lonely, glittery silver tree on top of the china cabinet, mocking me.

So…any takers?

Me. Making A Big Deal About Nothing.

So, I just called to see if my nail/eyebrow place had any openings for a manicure tomorrow. Last minute, I know, but I'm not picky about the time or the person.

ME: "Hi, I was wondering if you had any open appointments tomorrow for just a manicure."

(When I'm trying to get something, whether it be an appointment or whatever, I always diminish it with "just". As in, "Can you give us separate checks? Just 9 of them. Thanks!") ((BTW, I'm NEVER that person with the split checks. That was just an example.))

HER: "Sure. How about 3:30? With Nicole?"

ME: "Sounds great."

HER: "Can I have your name?"

So...here it is...I give her my name and she sort of chuckles/laughs/smiles/recognizes it.

HER: "Oh! I know who this is."

WTF did she mean by that?

So of course we hang up, and I analyze her tone of voice and its hidden meanings.

Here's what I have so far:

A. "Oh! I know who THIS is." (It's that super-nice girl with the great eyebrows!)

B. "Oh! I know who THIS is." (It's that high-maintenance bitch who takes forever to pick an appointment time!)

C. "OH! I know who this is." (Couldn't place the voice at first, but now I got it!)

D. "Oh! I know who this is." (Oh! I know who this is.)

(sometimes my mind is my own worst enemy)



Thursday, January 3, 2008

The New Birth Control

Have you seen it?

It’s a television show on TLC called “Jon & Kate Plus Eight”.


Storyline: This couple, Jon and Kate (who are younger than I am, btw) get married and want some kids. It wasn’t going to happen au naturel, so they headed to the fertility clinic and WHAMMO! Kate’s preggers with twin girls. Well, Jon and Kate decide that they want just one more… (You know where I’m going with this?) Back to the doctor and just under a year later, Kate is pregnant with sextuplets. As in six babies. Coming out of her hoo haa.

That’s EIGHT children, people!

Six of which are the same age!

(Think: feeding, changing and cleaning six babies at once! And what about potty training? Can you even IMAGINE?)

First off, let me say that I am ADDICTED to this show. LOVE it. Every episode is like a train wreck, I just can’t tear my eyes off of the TV. I won't even change channels during commercials. The DVR is set for the new season.

That being said, holy shit – I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have eight kids under the age of 6!

Now, I know they didn’t ask for sextuplets (“Hey, instead of ONE baby, let’s have SIX! What do you think? You in?”), but don’t IVF and similar treatments often yield more than one baby? I mean, they are their own living proof – they had twins the first time around!

Nothing about their life is normal, or will ever be normal again. Yes they are a couple who simply adore their kids. But, come on!

Take a minute and think of just ONE thing you like to do. One thing.

Then imagine doing it with eight children. (Seriously, play along)


Here’s mine: I like to cook.

Now, here’s me cooking with EIGHT CHILDREN:

ME: “Hey, Mommy’s gonna cook some dinner now. Are you all hungry for dinner?”

EIGHT Kids (screaming): “YES!”

KID #1 (taking every pan out of the cabinet): “I want hot dogs!”

KID #2 (trying to climb up on a chair): “I want macaroni and cheese!”

KID #3 (clinging to my leg): “Cheerios! Cheerios!” (Breakfast for dinner? This CAN’T be my kid)

ME: “How about everyone goes in the living room and I’ll put a video on for you?”

KID #1 (banging pans together – immense musical talent): “No.”

KID #4 (chewing on one of Vito’s toys): “No, thank you.” (Hey, at least he’s polite)

ME: (to Kid #4): “Please take that out of your mouth.”
(Then, to anyone listening): “If you don’t let Mommy cook, she won’t be able to make you dinner.”

((43% of kids start crying at the thought of having no dinner.))

KID #5 (small sobs): “I’m hu-hu-hu-hungry. I wanna eat!”

KID #6: “Me, too! Me, too!”

KID #7 (taking off his diaper): “I pooped!”

Vito sniffs diaper, determines Kid #7 is telling the truth, and heads for cover.

I survey the contents of the fridge, and determine that meatloaf is the way to go.

ME: “We’re having meatloaf!” (feigned enthusiasm. totally called for, however, because I make a killer meatloaf)

KID #3: “NO meatloaf!”

ME: “Yes, meatloaf.”

KID #3 & KID #4 (giggling): “NO meatloaf!”


KID #8 (wandering in from the other room…where the hell has she been all this time?): “I want cookies!”

ME: “No cookies. Hey, who wants to DRAW for Mommy what they want for dinner?”

EIGHT KIDS: “YEAH!”

ME: “YEAH!”

KID #4: “I’m gonna draw French fries!” (Seriously, I DO feed my children healthy meals. They just don’t feel like drawing broccoli right now, okay?)

KID #7: “I’m gonna draw my poop!”

Kids #5 and #6 run and get crayons and paper. Everyone finds a seat. I hand out sippy cups. All’s quiet at the kitchen table.

I stare at the ground beef, potatoes, onions and spices on the counter.

I pour a glass of wine.

I pick up the phone.

ME: “Hi, I’d like to order five large cheese pizzas, please.”

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Au Revoir, 2007

**WARNING: super-long entry to follow**

Was it just me, or did this past year FLY by?

The past year was filled with ups (a new car! A treadmill! I woke up breathing all 365 days!) and downs (good-bye to Aunt Florence, Uncle Bobby and Aunt Rachel).

As I transfer all of the birthdays, anniversaries and eyebrow waxing appointments into my shiny new 2008 calendar, I’m having a good time reading and reminiscing about everything that happened in 2007.


JANUARY

Ah, my tap class.

My friend Anne and I had danced together when we were younger, and even though neither one of us had strapped on tap shoes in the last 15 years, it seemed like a great idea to take an adult tap class together (
"What a great way to exercise! I’ll work my leg muscles! I’ll lose weight!").

We took tap classes for 13 years…we were sure it would all come back to us, right?


The good news was, no one else signed up for the class, so there was no one there to laugh at us.

The bad news was, my feet no longer moved as swiftly as they used to. And my memory wasn’t what it used to be (she had to go over the warm-up every week with us because we couldn’t remember it. Hey, it’s her JOB to remember the warm-up…you don’t see me asking her to remember the registered trademarks for Subway® sandwiches and exactly which surfaces you cannot use Lysol® AND the warm-up, do you?)

In week five the instructor (who was younger than we were) asked: “Do you remember your time steps?”

Absolutely! LOVE time steps! I show off my single time step. Then I do my double. I end with a little STOMP STOMP for emphasis.

“Great!” Perky instructor praises me. “Now let’s add a triple time step to the single and double, insert a break for each one, and do it up to tempo.” She demonstrates and ends with her own little “ta-da!”.

Show off.


FEBRUARY

Hmm…it seems my only excitement in the month of February was a bikini wax and the return of The Amazing Race on TV.

Oh, and I had pants shortened (that no longer fit me, I’m sure).



MARCH

(in my best Kathie Lee Gifford imitation singing voice):

“If.

They.

Could.

See me now, aboard a Fun Ship cruise…”

Then they would see me trapped on a big-ass boat, surrounded by 800 Parrotheads. (Yes, I’m referring to Jimmy Buffet fans. Yes, they were on my ship. Yes, they were annoying after the first 23 minutes on board.)

For a week I watched people my parents’ age drink too much and wear too little. I swore I’d jump overboard if I heard “Margaritaville” one more time.

And I was worried about what I’d look like in a bathing suit in the middle of winter (pasty white appearance, remaining evidence of holiday indulgences, weird dry winter skin). Next to those Parrotheads, I looked GOOD.


APRIL

HB to me! (33...ugh)
HB to Mom! (33 plus 28)

Got a promotion at work!

Now I was basically doing the same amount of work, but getting paid a little more.

Respect I received from other people remained the same (at zero, btw).



MAY

Worst. Driving Story. Ever.

It would be 2009 by the time I actually recapped all of the ridiculousness that ensued on my drive from a new business pitch in Salisbury, Maryland to a video shoot in Richmond, Virginia.

Instead, I’ll give you the highlights (I guess you can consider these the highlights of the highlights from May, 2007):

Thursday, May 10

4:30pm: Leave new business pitch with coworkers on rented mini van (for more company-related horrific stories please see “Christmas Nightmares Part III: Holiday Dinner With Clients” down below)

5:30pm: coworkers drop me at Hertz rent-a-car in the Salisbury airport (and by airport, I mean a deserted runway with tumbleweeds).

6pm: I make small talk with the rental car guy, I sign for rental car (watch out! I’m driving an Impala!) and GPS navigation system and hop behind the wheel. Car has a bench front seat, which reminds me of my mother’s 1976 Gremlin. The gear shift is on the dashboard. I program the GPS, secure it to the windshield, and I’m off!

6:15pm: Finally make my way out of the rental car parking lot after missing the turn and having to completely loop around the entire parking lot. TWICE.

Number of people I’ve seen since getting to the airport: 1 (the super-perky rental car guy).


6:30pm: I’m on the road! The nice GPS lady (whom I’ve named Flo) has informed me that my estimated arrival time is 9:30pm. I think I can hold off eating and peeing until I arrive.

7:00pm. Flo informs me of “Severe traffic ahead”. She politely suggests I take an alternate route.

Now, I am a GPS novice, and shame on me for not trusting Flo. But I was too afraid to hit the “Alternate Route” button and find myself in seedy sections of Maryland.

Flo was right. I HAD to find an alternate route, because the bridge I needed to cross (read: the only way out of Maryland and in the direction in which I needed to go) was closed indefinitely due to a really bad accident. When I got the base of the bridge, people were standing outside of their vehicles. Not a good sign.

7:30pm: I watch my arrival time advance. 9:40pm. 9:44pm. 9:50pm.

7:45pm: I suddenly have to pee. Badly.

7:46pm: I bite the bullet and press the “Alternate Route” button. Flo informs me that she’s “recalculating”. Then she tells me that my estimated arrival time is 1:10am.

W.T.F???

8:03pm: I’ve reversed directions and am on a new route to Richmond.

8:11pm: Roads are severely dark.

8:17pm: I spot the Golden Arches. I stop to pee and grab a cheeseburger and a Coke, all the while watching the rental car filled with my stuff and GPS (hey, I have NO idea where I am. I’m not even on a highway, just a route. I could be in Abductlostwomentown for all I know)

8:40pm: Stage 1 of driving around in unknown territory: utter disbelief.

“Really? Really? The bridge is CLOSED?” I ask outloud to no one in particular 23 times.


8:51pm: Stage 2 of driving around in unknown territory: anger.

“Really? Really? The FUCKING bridge is CLOSED?”


8:58pm: Stage 3 of driving around in unknown territory: despair.

((silent tears))


9:03pm: Stage 4 of driving around in unknown territory: delusion.

((uncontrolled, mad-woman-esque laughter))


9:30pm: I see a sign for I-95.

Relief! Something I recognize.

Frustration! I think I’m at the base of New Jersey.


(I contemplate driving home to Connecticut and hopping on a plane to Richmond in the morning)

9:47pm: Roadwork. Traffic. Tick Tock.

10:16pm: I find solace on the radio with Delilah (seriously, she’s been through more shit than everyone on earth combined. how can I let a little detour on a road trip rattle me?).

11:15pm: Hey, there’s the Washington Monument. Hi, George!

12:22am: Highway sign reads: Richmond 90 miles.

(Um, that’s like 90 minutes. Flo has me arriving in like 40 minutes. Math was never my strongsuit.)


1:02am: I realize that my co-workers have made it back to Connecticut (count them: five states away) before I made it to Richmond (count them: two states away).

1:10am: I have not arrived. Arrival time STILL says 1:10am. Weird.

1:27am: Still driving.

1:35am: Have to pee again.

1:37am: Ooh! The BeeGees!

1:46am: Still driving.

2:11am: Arrive at hotel.

Check-in. Ask for 6:30am wake-up call.

(Hey, afterall, I was there to work).


Am dead tired. Inspect GPS. Seems Flo was set to the Central time zone. Awesome.


JUNE

You know it was a slow month when the highlight was a trip back down to Salisbury, MD (Yeah! We won the business!) where I spent 3 days submersed in Chickenland (aka: Perdue headquarters).

We visited the Hatchery (ooh! cute and fuzzy chicks!), the Grow Out Farm (yikes! 20,000 chickens in one room….walking over my feet!) and then the plant (wow! so THAT’S what the defeathering machine does!)

And, sadly, we said good-bye to Aunt Florence.


JULY

What better way to welcome summer than with a root canal? THAT was awesome. And so was the not-so-temporary crown they put on that ended up in a million pieces when it fell off of my tooth and ended up in the saliva-coated mound of everything bagel I had in my mouth.

Also saw Michael BublĂ© at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. Awesome show. He’s very charismatic, that one. Made me understand how women fall for musicians. I was THIS CLOSE to becoming a groupie.


AUGUST

Sadly, my Uncle Bobby passed away. He had been diagnosed with cancer about 4 years earlier, went through treatment and seemed to be in the clear.

But that’s what’s so scary about cancer. Just when you think you’re doing okay, it sneaks back up on you. No matter how many donations, walks or T-shirts there are, cancer has a mind of its own.

Real life can be really scary sometimes.


(Oh, I also got a haircut.)

SEPTEMBER

The Newport House! We rented a house in Newport, Rhode Island for the month with my friends Tracey and Leigh. The locations was great (a short walk to restaurants and bars) and, miraculously, September was filled with sunshine and 80-degree weekends.

I love Newport. I would live there if I could. Of course, if I lived there, I would have to hold a Newport-ish job, like selling T-shirts on Thames Street, selling sunset booze cruise tickets or giving guided mansion tours (Just like Disney – only fewer Brazilian tour groups!).


OCTOBER

The month started with a company trip to Tennessee to celebrate our second birthday and the opening of our newest office in downtown Nashville (read: two days of boring classes and team-building activities).

Guess what October is like in Nashville?

It’s HOT.

Luckily, yours truly is an avid researcher/Googler/crazy-person so upon previewing the impending heat I was smart enough to pack shorts and a tank top. So when we were all running around the city on a scavenger hunt, I was sweating half the amount as other people. (And btw, I had the WORST team. THE WORST. One girl in particular from the LA Office has made my list of Top 20 people whom I can’t stand, and we only spent those few brief hours together, so kudos to her).


On our second night there we had a party at this big bar. We were on the second floor that overlooked the first floor and a massive stage. You’ll never guess what concert was going to be there night?

REO Speedwagon! (Are you hearing yourself say to yourself, “REO Speedwagon? I didn’t even know they were still alive!”).


If I had a chance to talk to Mr. REO, I would have gladly told him that he should no longer wear leather pants. (Seriously.)

And in my second attempt of the year to get in shape (twice the number of attempts compared to last year!), I took a pilates class. Lots of stretching and laying around on a mat, little sweating or calorie burning. I pretty much could have gotten the same results from sitting on my couch. (So that's what I've been doing instead, obviously)

And you know what I hadn’t had in a while? Car drama! Yep, this is the month everything goes terribly wrong with the Passat, and car bills spiral out of control.
(Please refer to past posts for the gory details)


NOVEMBER

Changed the clocks!

Picked up my new car!

Hosted Thanksgiving!


DECEMBER

What a crazy month, filled with holiday parties with clients, Christmas shopping and learning how to make my mom’s famous pignoli cookies (totally rocked them, btw).

And, sadly, we said good-bye to Aunt Rachel just a few days before Christmas.

Now, Rachel was my husband’s great aunt. She was 95 years old, had a 24/7 live-in caretaker from Jamaica named Diane and she was NOT a nice lady. Plus, she was on the what you would call the “stingy” side. She would sit in the dark and deny Diane the pleasure of television because she didn’t want to pay for the electricity.

At her wake, Diane sat front and center in the receiving line between my mother-in-law and Rachel’s sister. She just sat there and cried and cried, big old tears streaming down her cheeks. This amazed me because I knew for a fact that Rachel and Diane didn’t get along at all. They fought constantly and Diane took lots of vacations.

Anyway, at the end of the wake my mother-in-law walked a sobbing Diane out to the parking lot to say good-bye. She thanked her for coming and for all of her hard work and patience with Rachel.

Then, tears gone instantaneously, Diane asks my mother-in-law: “Do you think I could have the TV that was in Margaret’s room?”

Can’t make it up, folks!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2008!
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