29 July 2009

People Who Steal Are Real Shitheads

I was catching up on BitchCakes' life recently, and she posted some more photos of her bike.

Her bike is awesome.

I have a special place in my heart for beach cruisers, and an even special-er place for souped-up beach cruisers. Pee Wee's bike was a souped-up beach cruiser. BitchCakes' bike is a super souped-up beach cruiser. It has a wicker basket on the front and super cute saddle bags. And it's pink. Freaking pink, I say!

Which brings back the stabbing pain in my chest that is the hole left by The Asshat Who Stole The Beast.

For those who don't know, it's been two years now (7/3/07) since TAWSTB walked up to my front porch in the middle of the freakin' afternoon and helped himself to my bike, affectionately dubbed "The Beast." The Beast was an original cruiser, all steel because aluminum is for sissies. It was perfect for the flat sidewalks of North Kansas City. It would be a nightmare in the hills of Happy Rock, but I still miss it. It was beautiful and it was mine, dammit.

The day after my life was ruined by TAWSTB, my husband and firstborn went to Wal-Mart and bought me a replacement bike. It's one of those imposter beach cruisers, the ones that are supposed to look like cruisers but just aren't. I appreciated the gesture, however, and have been riding "Blue Steel" (which is actually blue aluminum because I'm a sissy) since. It serves a purpose, but I still suffer severe bike envy whenever I see a bike like, say, BitchCakes'. Blue Steel is not a fabulous happy bike. I want a fabulous happy bike, with a basket and saddle bags and handlegrip streamers and SPOKEY DOKES.

And then I will be super cool.

28 July 2009

Adventures in Shopping

We took a family outing Saturday to Target because we're just that entertained by retail. Truthfully, they had school supplies on sale and we needed milk and other food-type items, so I sent the Husband and the Toddler off to the grocery side while the older child and I ventured off on our own. We had a list and a mission statement. We were ready.

Of course, once we entered School Supplies Land, our respective cases of ADD kicked in and what should have been a seven minute venture turned into a 30 minute excursion. I tried to ignore Bob's incessant "Hey Mom! Look at this! Hey Mom! Look at these! Hey Mom! Hey Mom! Hey Mom!" while he ignored my "Hey Bob, check this out! Hey Bob, over here! Hey Bob, stay where I can see you! Hey Bob, stop eating that eraser!" I tried to somewhat keep track of where my kid was while simultaneously deciphering the cryptic school supplies list. (Seriously, I have visions of a bunch of teachers gathered around a margarita pitcher trying to see what kind of crazy shit they can make us parents hunt for. "How 'bout dry-erase markers? Yeah--wait--low odor dry-erase markers! That's even better! Yeah, put that on there!") Eventually we located all the necessary items on the list and I set sail in the binder aisle.

Times have changed since I was in school. Gone are the rows and rows of Trapper Keepers in an array of colors and styles. There was but one stack of Trapper Keepers, in fact, albeit a stack in varied hues. I spotted a pink one and picked it up for inspection.

Man, was that disappointing. The sturdy vinyl-covered cardboard construction has been replaced by some sort of flimsy, flexible plastic coated in what might be highly-flammable nylon. The magnetic flap closure is actually not very secure at all. And inside? Three. Metal. Rings. Not to mention the thing is only about an inch deep, where the old-school TK's were a good 2-3 inches.

I settled on a white, 1-inch, 3-ring binder, the "clear-view" type that soured my relationship with Trapper Keeper in the first place. What can I say--I'm a binder slut.

Having spent the past few days filling my new binder, I've come to the conclusion one inch is not nearly enough room to cram in all the crap required for my organizational needs. I was debating a trip back to Target during yesterday's dinner when my husband piped up:

"I am going to Wal-Mart this evening. I am going to buy things."

Uh...okay. I'll play. What kind of things?

"Things that will prevent the Toddler from ever opening another cabinet, drawer or door, ever again, for the rest of his life."

Ah, yes. Things that will make it possible for either or both of us to prepare meals and/or clean up dishes without the Toddler (a) emptying the pantry, (b) emptying the Tupperware cabinet, (c) emptying the pots and pans cabinet, (d) running off with a knife pilfered from the dishwasher, or (e) all of the above.

I considered asking him to pick up a binder for me while he was out, but thought against it. Something about the evil glint in his eye. Plus, binder shopping is something I prefer to do alone. Like drinking.

24 July 2009

Survival of the Smartest

My mother-in-law is a pediatrics nurse practitioner. This means we are generally spared the drama and expense of office visits with the children, and now that we've "borrowed" a prescription pad from her stash, have all the OxyContin we can stomach.

Our illicit adult activities aside, there are pros and cons to having "Dr. Grandma" around. We almost never see the inside of the pediatrician's office, with all the screaming, wailing, flailing children coughing and sneezing and wiping their snotty noses all over every uncovered surface--Pro. We can't go to their house to swim without her repeatedly hosing my kids down with SPF 907 sunblock and forcing them into "rashguards" and hats and trying to keep them in the shade--Con. We can generally get a routine prescription called in to the pharmacy in a matter of minutes--Pro. The average doctor visit lasts 15 minutes, compared to the average Grandma visit which lasts at least three hours--Con.

There's no con, however, like having our own personal pediatric medical journal just a phone call away. All we have to do is dial the number (or answer the phone) and we can hear all about what horrors are plaguing the under-18 population of the United States, Canada, and some parts of Eastern Europe. My mother-in-law is a bit of a worry wart, and her delivery of the latest medical news always carries an undertone of doomsday.

"I'm just seeing so many kids coming down with the flu this year. I'd sure hate to see you guys end up with it."

"There are just so many people now getting skin cancer, you just can't be too careful."

"You should probably check all your toys to make sure they don't have any loose parts. I'd sure hate to see someone choke on something."

Which brings me to our most recent Dr. Grandma visit. The Toddler was due (overdue, but don't tell the people at Toddler School) for his shots, which Dr. Grandma graciously administered herself. (This is, of course, part of my evil plan to get my kids to associate Grandma with pain and suffering.) After plenty of hugs and kisses and the promise of a pony, he had forgotten the assault on his juicy thighs and was merrily getting into his older brother's shit.

That is, until Evil Dr. Grandma knelt down beside him and started ripping the freshly-stuck bandaids off his fuzzy little flesh. That pissed him off. I stood by and watched, dumbfounded, because I honestly couldn't understand what the hell she was doing. And then she explained:

"I will never forget that journal article I read about the little boy who was riding home in the car from the pediatrician's office, and pulled a bandaid off and put it in his mouth and choked to death on it."

I gave my husband my "is she for real?" look and he shrugged. (He's used to the over-abundance of caution. It's still relatively new to me.) I should have let it go, but sometimes the voices in my head just won't let me Spike Lee up and do the right thing. So I Went There.

"How many times has that actually happened?"

My mother-in-law doesn't find me nearly as amusing as I find myself, so she was quick to respond with "I don't know, but I sure hope no more than that one time."

I've been thinking about the absurdity of the whole story ever since. It's very unfortunate, of course (I am not entirely heartless, contrary to popular opinion). But the circumstances surrounding this incident, I admit, I just can't wrap my brain around.

The child was in a car, on his way home from a physician's appointment. Assuming this child was not gifted and/or exceptionally tall, there would have been an adult driving, presumably a parent. Did said parent not notice the child in the backseat was choking? Was there unusually heavy traffic that day? Was there a really good song on the radio at the moment? Did the child not use the International Choking Sign?

I don't know...parent not smart enough to prevent a child from choking less than five feet away...kid not smart enough to not eat bandaids...kinda sounds like natural selection at its most efficient.

Because I like to think my husband and I are smart people. Our kids are obviously smart, considering the myriad hazardous toys we ply them with (the Bag'O'Glass and the bottle of Advil come to mind) and the fact they have yet to seriously injure themselves. And bandaids? My God, the firstborn has been accessorizing with bandaids since he was old enough to wear shoes. And even though he wore his underwear backwards until just shy of his 7th birthday, he's managed not to choke on any first aid items.

I just hope neither of my kids ever sprain a joint and have to use an ACE wrap. After all, they might take it off and hang themselves from the ceiling fan with it.

23 July 2009

O Mead, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

I decided yesterday that all my problems in life can be solved with the simple purchase of a Trapper Keeper.

You remember the Trapper Keeper. Not just a 3-ring binder--The 3-ring binder. The binder to end all binders. It had a flap. A flap that extended off the back side and wrapped around to securely Velcro to the front side, thus keeping all your important papers (like the note declaring your undying love for Mikey even though he gets detention a lot) safe and secure. It had plastic rings that opened and closed with a simple sliding mechanism--no more trips to the nurse's office for metal ring injuries. It was designed to hold Trappers--not just pocket folders, but special pocket folders, with diagonal edges that kept important papers (like the answers to next week's history test your friend "accidentally" found on the teachers' lounge copy machine) safe and secure.

It. Was. Awesome.

The only bad part about the Trapper Keeper? Trying to decide which Trapper Keeper to get for the school year. Because you know you're only getting one, and it would take an Act of God to get your mom to break down mid-term and fork over the eight bucks for another one. So choose wisely. Lisa Frank unicorns? Precious kittens? Stylized illustration of a boom box emblazened with the word "RAD!"? Or do you go with the simple, plain Trapper Keeper in one of seven primary colors? Don't make this decision hastily. Because the Trapper Keeper you ultimately select is going to determine your social status for the next nine months, pal.

The Trapper Keeper was my Master.

Yes, I am a little crazy. But that's not the point.

As I was saying...I decided yesterday that all of my life's problems could be easily solved with the simple purchase of a Trapper Keeper. I would fill it with Trappers and tabbed dividers to represent the various areas of my life that are a mess--a Home divider (for cleaning schedules, chore lists, etc); a School divider (for lunch menus, calendars, homework planners); a divider for each of my two children (for various things like medication info--one kid could fill his own Trapper Keeper with this crap); a Money divider (for bills and budgets); a Meal Planning divider (self-explanatory); etcetera. The logic behind this being, if all this stuff is secure inside Trappers and a Trapper Keeper, it's not flailing about loose-leaf in my head.

The first step in this process, obviously, is procuring a Trapper Keeper. I went to it's maker's website (www.mead.com) and joy of joys, there it is. It's changed over the years--the flap is now magnetic, how ingenius!--but it's the same basic design. I crowed with delight like a baby in a candy store as I selected a color and clicked...


Damn. Oh, well, this color, then...


Now I started to panic. I clicked another color...and another...and another...

Every color. Unavailable.


I don't understand, Mead. What did I do? Where did I go wrong? Why are you punishing me?

And then it hit me. Eighth grade. The year I snubbed the Trapper Keeper. The year I caved to peer pressure and selected a plain, white, 3-ring binder for my educational needs. It didn't have a flap. It didn't have plastic rings. It didn't even hold Trappers because they were too big and stuck out past the edges of regular binders (and that was just not aesthetically pleasing). What it had was an open edge at the top, allowing one to slide things between the front cover and the clear plastic coating. Photos, magazine clippings, stylized drawings of boom boxes embellished with the word "RAD!". The possibilities were endless. It had the one thing the Trapper Keeper lacked--customization.

And so I used that binder, and used it to display photos of myself and my BFF doing stupid things (like not buying Trapper Keepers), and I lost important papers (and got snubbed by Mikey, who heard about my undying love for him all the way in the detention room), and I got busted with the answers to the history test, and I had to have the tip of my right index finger surgically reattached as a result of a metal ring accident. The thing fell apart shortly after Christmas and I had to get another one, but my mom didn't care because those things were like, a buck fifty. The following year, I started high school, and bypassed binders entirely for spiral notebooks.

I'd forgotten that slight. Mead, apparently, has not. And now they are punishing me. And it hurts.

I'm sorry, Trapper Keeper. I'm sorry I thought displaying pictures of myself with Q-tips in my nose was more important than brand loyalty. I'm sorry I didn't immediately recognize "function" is more important than "fashion." I'm sorry I fell prey to the Peer Pressure machine. But in my defense, I was twelve. I didn't know any better. My parents were buying my damn school supplies, they should have stepped in and been the voice of reason and experience and good judgment and demanded I use the Trapper Keeper. They were just all giddy over saving a few dollars. It's their fault, not mine.

All I'm saying, Mead, is give me another chance. I'm older now, and wiser, and I know the truth. I'm no longer blinded by the gimmick of a custom binder. I--

--wait, what? What's that I see in the "product description?"

With Trapper notebooks you can stay organized and have a notebook that is all yours with a customizable front cover.

Oh, wow, Mead. Really? You went there? For reals? That's just plain dirty.

This isn't over, Mead. This isn't over.

21 July 2009

TV or Not TV

When I was pregnant with my first child, I joined a popular parenting website so I could partake of their weekly emails comparing the size of my fetus to various fruits and vegetables. ("Week 19 : your baby weighs about 8 1/2 ounces, and is about the size of a large heirloom tomato!")

Even though my baby now weighs about as much as a bushel of large heirloom tomatoes, I still get random emails from the website. Some of them are informative (I now know "pour a Seven and Seven" is not something most 13-month-olds can do), some are more entertaining ("What your toddler should be drinking"--seriously? There's a need for this?). But some of them just make me shake my head and wonder just how soon humankind will reach Hell in this handbasket we're travelling in.

Today, for example, I got "5 tips for responsible tv viewing" in my in-box. I thought I'd already been practicing responsible tv viewing--I don't let my kids watch infomercials and I never let them watch if they've been drinking--but I decided to err on the side of caution and see what helpful hints lay in wait for me at the other end of the link.

What I found was actually a list of five more links to articles loosely related to tv viewing by children: Screen time guides for younger and older kids; 7 ways to break the tv habit; what to do when news or tv shows upset your child; computer games and guidelines; and a poll asking whether my child has seen a PG-13 movie.

I'm not concerned about my kids' tv "habit." (Trust me, of all their habits, watching tv should be the least of anyone's concerns.) I don't let them watch the news or "adult" programs, and the only time I've seen either of them get upset over tv is when the Yo Gabba Gabba gang stops singing the Toddler's favorite song. They can't get computer time because their father and I are bigger than they are and not above shoving either of them aside to get to the desk first. And I think that poll is just a sneaky attempt to get me to admit I let my kids watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High because I was too drunk to get up and put them to bed. So I decided to check out the "screen time guides."

I started with the "older" kid version, since the Toddler really only watches one show (unless he makes off with the remote and somehow changes the channel to ESPN2). The older kid watches the greater variety of programs, although his evil mother refuses to let him watch anything on the Disney channel because my observation is every one of those shows could easily be titled "How to Be a Smartass and Point Out How Stupid Adults Are."

The "guide" was actually a couple of paragraphs reminding me that "screen" is not limited to tv, but an all-encompassing term referring to essentially all forms of electronic media, and allowing my child to spend more than two hours per day partaking of screens ranked me right up there with a cranky supervisor in a Honduran sweatshop. Additionally, I must not allow a computer, tv or video game console in my child's bedroom, and must insist all electronics devices be shut down well in advance of bedtime to allow my child to "wind down."

I don't have a problem with the not-in-the-bedroom part. I won't even allow those items in my own bedroom (though I suspect my husband sneaks his DSi into bed and pulls it out after I'm asleep). But as for shutting everything off "well in advance of bedtime?" Not a chance in hell, dude.

I get home for the day around 5:40. The oldest goes to bed at 8:00. If I were a good parent, I would spend the entirety of that two hours and 20 minutes paying attention to my kids. (If I were a really good parent, I wouldn't work at all.) Fortunately, I got over any aspirations of being a good parent years ago, and the simple fact is, I have shit to do. And when I'm doing shit, my options are either let the older child watch tv, or let him follow me around like a birddog. And I don't like birddogs.

There is also a lack of consideration for individuality here. Sure, some kids would probably readily accept the end of tv time and wind down on the sofa with a good book. These children are not mine. My child is seemingly unable to shut down his brain unless he's staring blankly at images displayed on a screen.

But really, where's the harm here? He's not watching A Clockwork Orange. Lately, he's been really into HGTV (which gives me hope of someday having a fabulously decorated house to enjoy with my tv-addicted children). Is the world really going to stop turning because I let him watch Ben Ten Alien Force before bed? When I think back to the number of hours I watched tv between the ages of 2 and 20, well, I don't know how many it was, but it damn sure averaged out to more than two hours a day. I spent the better part of Summer 1989 trying to save the princess (and the ungrateful bitch didn't give me a damn thing for it, either).

So yeah, I think I'll let common sense be my guide here. As long as he's not drooling incoherently into his oatmeal, I don't think there's a problem with his watching Alf re-runs before bed. Except for the whole "watching Alf re-runs" part. I really need to work on that.

19 July 2009

Paper or Plastic? Yes, Please.

It's a dangerous time of year for me to leave the house. I saw it coming last week in the form of a Bed Bath & Beyond mailer, replete with colorful photographs and vivid product descriptions of items guaranteed to make your co-ed's dorm experience more organized, fashionable and downright pleasant.

Back. To. School.

Back to School (or "BTS" as my husband would call it, because he's a web nerd and they're very into acronyzing everything) doesn't usually set anyone's heart aflutter. Certainly not kids, whose lives are just so hard the thought of going from doing absolutely nothing all summer to doing next to nothing all fall, winter and spring causes their anxiety/asthma/ADHD to flare-up. Even parents, overjoyed by the end of expensive summer child care (or the end of being saddled with their offspring all day every day), are known to shed a tear when the cost of school supplies and uniforms and clothes and shoes and books and all other accoutrements of the so-called "free" education is tallied up. Indeed, the effective End Of Summer sends me into a depression deeper than...well, something really deep.

That said, BTS brings out my inner shopaholic in the worst ways. I'm not into shoes or purses or lipstick or any of the usual girly shopping stuff. No, my weakness is paper products and brightly-colored bits of plastic, all of which can be found in abundance during BTS.

I've always had a weakness for organization and storage products. My idea of the perfect date would be dinner followed by a trip to The Container Store. In fact, I'd like to think there is a Heaven, and it's just like The Container Store, only on a much larger scale. With no shortage of clear shoe boxes. And everything is free.

The natural partner of an organization product obsession is list-making, and I am no exception. I make a lot of lists. Grocery lists, to-do lists, inventory lists, gift lists, address lists, chore lists, list lists. Which means I also have a fetish for notebooks, bound journals, 3-ring binders, divider tabs, pocketfolios and all manner of pens and markers and hi-lighters, oh my!

So you can see why it might behoove me to stay far away from the general retail area during BTS. Alas, my husband has yet to fully comprehend the severity of my affliction and continues to allow me to leave the house during peak season without supervision.

Saturday night, for example. I had planned to go out (yes, a social activity) with a friend, but plans fell through at the last minute. After the Toddler went to bed, I announced I was going to the nearest convenience store to buy beer. My husband countered with "why don't you just go to Wal-Mart and get (various items we were out of) too?"

I resisted. I hate Wal-Mart almost as much as I hate Fox News. But I relented, and bank card in hand, set about my mission.

As soon as I walked in, I was overpowered by the floor-to-ceiling displays of crayons. I freaking love crayons. Not coloring, just crayons. In the 64-count box with the built-in sharpener (that does not, by the way, work for pencils, so don't ever try this). The lure of the crayons was too strong to resist (not that I bothered trying), and before I knew it, I was in the housewares aisles, deciding we need a mandoline. (We do not. We have a Cuisinart.) I also decided we need a plethora of other items, including (but not limited to) pop-up laundry hampers, lunch storage and transport containers, an ironing board cover with iron rest and storage pocket, a set of melamine dinnerware, new bedding and a personal refrigerator.

I managed to resist all of those items, but one got past even my dogged determination (and tight budget). Small round laundry baskets, in white plastic, for $1.50 each. I've been looking for some sort of baskets or containment media to slide under a bench in our living room and thus store backpacks and shoes and purses and all the other crap we can't leave home without. These were perfect. Small, light, and ridiculously cheap. I could buy a couple more for the boys' rooms--their own personal hampers. I could buy a few for my trunk, to keep it organized and keep cans from escaping grocery bags. My God, the possibilities are endless. Endless, I say!

I bought six of them. They are, of course, about an inch too tall to put under the bench, but they go nicely in the front hall closet (for the same purpose). And the boys now have their own hampers in their rooms. (The Toddler, for one, is sleeping better at night for this.)

And it's not over. That "tax holiday" weekend is coming up in three short weeks, and I've already got my eye on a few things. Nothing extravagant, just a few minor items that will hopefully help me straighten out my bedroom closet and, therefore, my life.

And, of course, lots and lots of plastic shoe boxes. With clear lids.

17 July 2009

What Is That Pain?

I’ve been feeling rather old lately. I suppose this may have been brought on by certain former classmates setting the wheels in motion for our 20 year high school reunion. Or maybe by a certain musician’s recent passing, which incited every radio station with a signal to do a “retro” weekend, wherein I discovered most of my music collection is considered “retro.” Or maybe it’s my husband, who has taken to referring to me as “you old slut.” Lovingly, of course.

It’s bad enough no one at my local grocer's bothers to ask me for proof of age when I purchase alcohol anymore. (To the contrary, they ask if I know about their half-price pints special every Thursday from 11-6.) It’s worse the lifeguards at the pool have started referring to me as “Ma’am,” and when I protested to my husband (the one who calls me “you old slut”), he pointed out “they’re half your age,” and I couldn’t retort because damn him, he’s right. I know you’re only as old as you feel and age ain’t nuthin’ but a number (Aaliyah said so), but I have to admit, I’m starting to think perhaps my body is trying to tell me something. (Not “you’re an old slut.” That’s what my husband is telling me.)

I weigh roughly 25 pounds more than the day I graduated from high school, but I’m in better physical shape than I ever was back in the day. In 10th grade, I handed in my “get out of gym class free” card by way of bad knees and a doctor’s note. Now, I run at least three days a week, bad knees and shin splints be damned. It’s the morning after I run that is the problem. I wake up and stretch, only to realize a few minutes later I’m not stretching at all because I haven’t actually moved. My brain tossed out the command, but my limbs aren’t heeding the call. Finally I am able to talk my hand into reaching down and nudging a leg, which grudgingly complies, thereby sending a horrific pain halfway up my spine. The other leg then follows suit. About 30 minutes later, I find the wherewithal to get out of bed. And promptly lose it.

My head hurts a lot more than it used to, as well. I’ve always had allergy and sinus issues, which have made headaches a normal part of my existence. But they seem to have gotten worse lately, to the point I often wake up cursing a hangover before I realize I haven’t had any alcohol in six months. I suck down so many Sudafed the pharmacy guys raise a judgmental eyebrow when I approach the counter, and I’m pretty sure the suits sitting in that dark-colored sedan parked across from my house aren’t selling Amway.

Then there are the random aches and complaints that seem to strike without warning or ready cause. For the past two days I’ve had a stitch in my left side toward the back of my torso. After confirming with several sources that my appendix is, in fact, on the right, I have no fucking clue what the hell this pain means to alert me to.

I have, however, found a remedy for those times when I feel mere moments away from Geritol and 10% off my bill at Denny’s—hang out with kids. Seriously. Those little fuckers piss and moan about far more physical complaints than most dementia-ridden nursing home residents. I made this amazing discovery when I took a vacation day from my job to attend a field trip to the zoo with my oldest son and his day camp group. Not ten minutes past the gate, these kids were already complaining. “I’m tired.” “My legs are tired.” “My lunch is too heavy.” “I need a drink.” My personal favorite was the 9-year-old who declared he has plantar fasciitis and isn’t supposed to walk much. You read that correctly.

I really don’t know how these kids are going to survive junior high. The few of them that by the grace of modern medicine are able to reach adulthood are in for a very rude awakening. If they can’t handle a couple of hours spent walking casually around the zoo, the chest pains that magically appear each time they step into their corporate cube farm are going to knock them on their collective asses.

Which gives me an idea…maybe I should start bringing my kids to work. Perhaps listening to them bitch about how feeble and frail they are will renew my own youthful vigor.

Or maybe it will piss me off and raise my blood pressure to the point of imminent stroke. I’m not getting any younger, after all.

15 July 2009

Social Notworking (or, Get Out of My Face-book)

No, I don't want to be your Facebook friend.

It's not you, it's me. Actually, that's not entirely true. It probably is you. I just don't know what, specifically, it is about you that makes me not want to be your friend, but if I were to become your friend, I would likely find out in short order, and then I wouldn't want to be your friend anymore. So it's best we just nip this shit in the bud right now before I have to un-friend you and things take a turn for the ugly.

Let me explain.

I've never really been a gadget person. I'm the first to admit my technological retardation. I was still putting half-eaten cassette tapes back together and playing them in my boom box (the one Marc left in the trunk of my car on our last day of high school) until my parents took pity on me and bought me a CD player in 1993. (I think this had less to do with it being my birthday and more to do with their embarrassment over my lack of a respectable stereo.)

That said, I've been slow to warm to the whole "social networking" Internet shtick. I've been blogging in one format or another since blogs were called "web diaries," but always anonymously. I shunned Myspace entirely because, well, I'm not a 19-year-old sorostitute* looking for a forum for all those pictures of me on the receiving end of a beer bong and making out with my bestest friend FOREVER.

I don't know how I came to be on Facebook. I think my brother (ten years my junior) must have goaded me into it so our sibling group wouldn't have to actually phone each other anymore. At any rate, once I started acquiring friends, I was hooked. I even went so far as to join the Lafayette High School Class of 1990 Reunion Planning Committee in a fit of foolish (and likely intoxicated) nostalgia. I poked a few people, threw a couple of snowballs, and sent Kevin Jonas to more than a few unsuspecting chums. I threw myself into Facebook the way some people throw themselves into their jobs.

Then came the big layout change, and everyone got their collective panties in a twist over it. I didn't think it was any big deal. If anything, I preferred this new layout, because it allowed me to get the skinny on EVERYONE I KNEW in one fell swoop. Oh, look--Mandy is not ready for Monday. Kelly is getting ready to do some scrapbooking. Rob is working the 3-11 shift at the Leavenworth Bar tonight, and 6 people like this!

Gradually, though, I've come to notice a change in my general demeanor. I'm cranky and my tolerance for people and their bullshit has reached a serious low. This shift has concerned me, because I wasn't really sure where it was coming from. And then it dawned on me one day, as I was perusing the Home page and everyone's status updates and found myself angrily declaring in my head that I couldn't give a flying fuck less whether or not Mindy could find 1,000,000 people who hate cancer!, and thinking her wager was really fucking stupid because seriously, who is going to be that one person who says "not me, I fucking LOVE cancer, count me out!"?

I know too much. And it's pissing me off.

Because of Facebook, I now know the innermost thoughts of people whose innermost thoughts I really don't need or want to know. I don't care if the girl who sat behind me in 10th grade biology is eating a candy bar. I don't want to know what my sister-in-law's views on religion or the American troops in Afghanistan are. If anything, we're all better off not knowing this kind of stuff about each other. That's what keeps us able to smile at each other and make idle chitchat during family gatherings, and prevents us from going to blows over platters of turkey and stuffing. I don't want to know intimate details about my co-workers' lives, because to know they exist outside the office means I have to admit to myself my office and job are real and not just some horrible dream I have every night.

Once I made this realization, I started hiding people. And when that wasn't enough, I started avoiding Facebook, save a brief once-a-day glance at the people who don't make me want to put my fist through my monitor. I imagine eventually that, too, will fade out, and I will actually look forward to good old fashioned emails from people beseeching me to "forward this to 15 people or your cat will die!"

*sorostitute : noun. A female of college age who participates in sorority activities and, therefore, subtle acts of prostitution. As much as I'd like to take credit for this term, I actually stole it from my husband. Mad props to you, darling. Mad, mad props.

Old Jack City

There's a reason I have a legit, corporate 9-5 job and am not a career drug dealer. Well, there are several, including my need for paid time off, I don't look good in orange, and Weeds aside, most hardened career drug criminals don't take suburban white moms seriously. (Maybe if I looked like Mary-Louise Parker I could pull it off. But probably not even then.)

No, the primary reason I am not a drug dealer is my inability to lie. Rather, my inability to lie well. I lie like a dog. I'm just not very good at it.

Case in point--my baby formula ring. What should have been as easy as post ad, answer phone, wait for buyer, hand over goods and collect cash has turned into a debacle of blowout-shitty-diaper proportions. Never mind most of the people who have inquired about the goods do not speak English as their primary language of choice. The biggest issue has been diversity of inventory. For the blissfully unaware, baby formula comes in more varieties than underarm deodorant (if you've been in the market for either, you know what I'm talking about). I have multiple cans of multiple different formulas. And while I had *hoped* to sell them all as a package deal, the buying public has not been so accommodating.

Yesterday, I got an email from a dude who requested all five cans of Similac Sensitive I had in stock. This stuff retails for roughly $8.25 a can; I was offering my five cans for $15. Quite a bargain, yes? I agreed to meet him at an undisclosed location to make the exchange of Baby Blow for cash.

When I went to load up the goods, however, I noticed one can had been opened. (We had a habit of switching up formulas because the Toddler had a habit of barfing a lot, so a nearly-full, open can was not unusal, just annoying.) I considered calling the dude and explaining I only had four cans and knocking $3 off the total price. Then greed (and my complete lack of scruples) took over, and I tossed in a can of Enfamil AR, another "sensitive" variety with a very similar orange label.

It's not like I was putting cyanide in someone's cocaine here. After having two formula-fed children, both of whom errupted like geisers after every feeding, I can assure you--it doesn't make any difference what color the label is. Inside, it's all the same shit. (And don't anyone feel the need to explain to me the difference between soy and milk-based, either, because I'm not even talking about soy, so suck it.)

So off I went to make a drop of four cans of Similac and one rogue can of Enfamil. I even took my oldest along for the ride, you know, so he could get a feel for how dangerous this business is and be compelled to stay in school and get a real job. I got out of the car, all smiles and innocence, handed the dude the (tightly closed) bag, collected my $15, got back in my car, and hauled ass out of there.

I felt pretty good about my odds. After all, I didn't just jack the guy for several thousand dollars worth of Colombian. It was a $3 can of baby formula. I figured either they'd just give it to their kid, or toss it and consider themselves out $3, but not really because they'd gotten the other cans for less than half price.

Then after dinner, I check my email and find this:

One of those cans was an Infamil Lipil AR. Do you still have the 5th can of the Similac? I would like to get that one from you and send the Infamil back w/ you sometime please.

Are you fucking serious? I know the economy is in the shitter, but seriously--this guy is busting my balls over three dollars. Three dollars!

I debated what to do next. I figured I could just ignore him. After all, the worst he could do would be, what, post something on Craig's famous list about how I "run scams" and "can't be trusted?" It's not like you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau over a bait-and-switch pulled by an unsuspecting suburban mom trying to unload leftover baby formula on an internet bulletin board. It's not like you can go to jail for that. Hell, maybe, but that's a risk I'm willing to take.

In the end, I decided to take the high road. I sent him the following email this morning:

I'm sorry about that, after I got your email, I checked the remaining cans and could not locate a Similac. My husband grouped these and it's possible he either thought the Enfamil was Similac or someone else has that other can of Similac. At any rate, if you email me a mailing address, I will mail the $3 back to you for the 5th can.

Note how I pushed all the blame onto my poor, unsuspecting husband. I thought that was a nice touch. At any rate, I figured the guy would shrug it off and tell me not to worry about it because it's not a good idea to give strangers you meet on the Internet your home address. And also because he would probably feel like a big douche actually telling me where to send him three freakin' dollars.

Again, I underestimate the depths to which some people will sink. I received his email, complete with mailing address, not ten minutes later. And while I have pondered the idea of sending him 300 pennies, I have decided it's not worth the added trouble and postage expense.

I have one other person interested in taking 14 cans of variety formula off my hands. I emailed her today telling her to meet me at another undisclosed location and to bring cash. Assuming she shows, that will be my final transaction. This weekend, I'm taking any remaining cans to the food bank and getting the hell out of the baby formula business. It's just too dangerous and I can't handle the stress.

I will, however, be auctioning off my children in the near future. Highest bidder wins. Cash only. You pick up. No refunds or exchanges or "buyer's remorse."

14 July 2009

Big Time Operator

Last weekend, the husband and I found ourselves sans children--Bob was with Fun Daddy for the weekend doing God-knows-what, and the Toddler was with the grandparents. So we did what every other married couple does when they get a few hours to themselves on a steamy, hot summer day.

We cleaned our filthy house.

Oh, all right, you got me--we had sex. Then we cleaned our filthy house.

Which brought us to our tiny kitchen and the issue of The Formula. My mother-in-law works in a pediatrics office and was our willing supplier of formula samples for the duration of the Toddler's bottle-feeding. And by "samples," I mean real, full-size cans of powdered formula. The ones that sell for around $15 a can retail. White gold. Texas tea.

So while it was great we were getting all this formula for nothing, the downside is we were getting an abundance of it, because in mother-in-law land, you never know when there could be a formula shortage and then you'd be screwed. So we had a hefty stash of the stuff coming in on a regular basis. All those kitchen cabinets up near the ceiling that you never put anything in because you can't reach them? Ours have been full of formula for the past year.

Since he turned one, however, the Toddler hasn't had any use for formula, because he's busy shoveling other things in his mouth, like bacon and dry cat food, which he washes down with regular milk. Our stockpile of formula has just been sitting there taking up valuable otherwise-unused kitchen cabinet space.

So during our childless Saturday of sex and cleaning, I decided to pull all the formula off the shelves. The question then became--what the hell do we do with it?

According to my father, milk-based formula is often used to cook meth, but since I'm probably already on the DEA watch list due to my Sudafed habit (and I don't know the recipe), that option was out. I had a variety of about 50 cans total. I decided to post them on my pal Craig's fabulous List at a fraction of the retail price.

Within an hour, I had my first interested party. We arranged to meet at a nearby gas station to make the exchange of cash for white powder.

Wait--did I just say that?

I drove away from that first transaction feeling dirty. And guilty. And...sort of...cool.

Yeah, that's right, baby, I got what you want. You know you want it. How much you need? You know I got the best stuff in town. Your baby can't live without it. You don't want to let your baby down, now, do you?

Since then, I've made a few more transactions. I've wheeled and dealed by email and I've hung up on people trying to get me to lower my price. ("Listen, lady, you won't find this stuff anywhere else in town for four G-Dubs.") I've even got the husband involved in my dirty little operation--he and the Toddler are making a drop tomorrow to some corporate dude on his lunch break, although he has expressed concern over my involving him in my "dealings with unsavory characters." (He's such a jokester, that husband.)

In the end, this little venture will only end up netting me about 70 bucks, which is, of course, better than a swift kick in the pants. I think I'll miss the thrill more than anything. At least I still have my home-based internet porn site, or I'd be really bored.

I Have Girl Wood for Michael Ian Black.*

*It's kind of a shame my husband doesn't read this, because he would totally appreciate the "girl wood" reference.

Mi amor is a big fan of The State. Big, big fan. A majority of our conversations have gone something like this:

Him: (obscure reference)
Me: What the hell are you talking about?
Him: It's from a State sketch.
Me: Of course.
Him: I can't believe you didn't watch that show.

I did watch that show. But in The State's heyday, I was over 21 and doing things that over-21 people do--like work all day and weep bitter tears in a bar all night. Ergo, I don't necessarily remember every sketch. He, on the other hand, was in high school, doing things high school people do--like memorize every sketch on The State.

There were definitely a few that stuck with me over time. "Slash," for one, because I found the idea of a Slash infestation riotously funny (albeit scary as hell). "Blueberry" still comes to mind every time I bite into a muffin. And who could forget "The Jew, The Italian and the Red-Head Gay"? Not this wise-cracking Gen-X'er. No, sir.

So when he told me he blew his wad on a limited pre-release copy of the show's entirety (all however-many seasons) on DVD, I wasn't nearly as excited as he was. Although I was glad for the opportunity to see the Slash bit again. (It really is that funny.)

Then we watched it, and it all came back to me. Of course I remember this show. I watched it all the time. Now I remember the sketches from whence my husband draws his obscure references.

What I didn't remember was Michael Ian Black being so damned hot. I mean, he's practically edible. Even dressed like a girl in the "origami" sketch. (I'm a product of the 80s, so I'm naturally attracted to men dressed like girls. What can I say?) And when Levon starts talking about all that pudding, I want him to throw me down and take me like I'm a big ol' pile of butterscotch.

I don't care that the images I'm getting all hot and bothered by are a good 15 years old. I don't care that he's married with children (and so am I). It's not like anything will ever come of my lustful admiration. If there were any actual chance in hell of me tracking down Michael Ian Black and eventually conning him into doing the nasty with me, it wouldn't be a fantasy. It would be stalking. And that's not Good Eats.

Now I'm glad my husband doesn't read this, because if he did, he'd probably start talking like Levon the next time we get jiggy with it and I'd be so embarrassed I'd turn six shades of crimson and die.

On an unrelated note, I also didn't remember "Chicken Lady" wasn't a State sketch. When I asked if it was possibly on the third DVD, the husband looked at me with pity and said "That was 'Kids in the Hall,' dear."

Oh, yes. I thought they were hot, too.