18 August 2009

Do You Smell That?

My car stinks.

I don't know why. I've looked for all the usual suspects, and I'm familiar with them all, because I'm sort of a minor local celebrity for my ability to trash a car in less time than it takes to fill one with gas. I've looked for old lunches, forgotten leftovers from family gatherings, neglected pumpkins in the trunk, and wet moldy clothes rotting in the backseat. I've searched for dead animals (small and large) and dead bodies (small and large). I've done everything but go out to my driveway with a screwdriver and a lug wrench and take the whole damned thing apart. I can find nothing--mind you, nothing--that could even possibly begin to explain the foul and mysterious odor.

I can't even properly identify the stench. It's sort of like mildew, and sort of like feet. Sort of like mildewy feet. With a touch of garlic breath. And the slightest hint of urine. Not human urine, more that of some woodland creature. Like that.

I don't even really know where it's coming from. I get in my car, and as my brain is starting to think something is not-so-fresh, I turn the key and get a full-on assault from the dashboard vents. If I run the air conditioning for a few hours, the immediate blast subsides, but the foul and mysterious odor is still there, lingering, clinging to the upholstery and whoever is unlucky enough to be along for the ride.

It's driving me crazy.

For whatever reason, my husband gets to drive The Good Car. Or, as I refer to it, The Family Car. (He of course calls it "My Car." I checked the title. It's not.) The Good Car does not smell like feet or mildewy feet or anything stinky or unpleasant. The Good Car doesn't really smell like anything. And that's a good thing.

"I think I'll take The Good Car tomorrow," I have casually attempted on multiple occasions.

"No way. Your car fucking stinks," he has always replied.

I'm aware. I just don't know how to correct the problem if I don't know what causes it.

Any suggestions?

13 August 2009

In the Bag

This blogger has been on hiatus, as you may or may not have noticed. I've been sick. Physically sick, yes, but also sick of social networking and electronic media as a whole. I'm sure my apathy will lessen once summer is over and crappy weather sends me scurrying back into my hidey-hole, thus limiting my interactions with the outside world to the occupants of cyberspace. Fear not, young grasshoppers. I shall return.

My new phone is super cool.

With the touch of a button (or a few), I can access my email, check my Google calendar, and write myself a note (and set an alarm to remind myself of the note, if I'm feeling just that crazy). This insane new phenomenon has made my notebook idea all but obsolete. I'm not quite comfortable enough with these new-fangled mannerisms to lose the notebook just yet, so I'm still lugging it about. Which brings me to my new obsession.

I've been in search of The Perfect Bag.

Originally, I had a vision in my head of a messenger bag I owned once upon a time. I know this bag really existed because I vividly remember carrying it to and from the few college classes I actually showed up for. What I don't remember is getting rid of this bag, which I obviously did at some point because I've searched my house high and low and that thing just isn't there. Nor was the other messenger bag I used to own before I wrote my firstborn's name on it with a silver Sharpie and sent it with him to preschool. So either I went on a wild bag purge at some point, or the evil Messenger Bag Fairy paid us a visit. Either one is possible.

I started keeping my eyes open during my Target trips, but the selection of messenger bags was disappointing at best. I'm no fashion victim, but I'll be damned if I'm going to be seen in public sporting a Hannah Montana bag. I finally settled on a plainish gray and black model on sale at Target for a very attractive (read: cheap) price. But it just didn't work very well. The pockets weren't the right sizes (or in the right spots) for cell phone, keys, key card, etc. And it was a bit on the floppy side, where I need a bag that can hold its own.

When I got the September Real Simple in the mail last week, I read the editorial in the front and was happy to learn I'm not the only crazy person out there. There was the editor, telling a tale of her own quest for The Perfect Bag. And I'm paraphrasing here, but the general idea is the same:

It had to have plenty of pockets for wallet, keys, sunglasses, phone, and the like.

I'm with you.

I do a lot of reading at home, so it had to have a big interior pocket to carry files.

Ditto that.

It had to have handles that were short enough I could carry it without it dragging the ground, but long enough I could carry it over my shoulder.

Hear hear.

It needed a square bottom so it could stand by itself.

Are we looking for the same bag or what?!

Of course, she eventually found her Perfect Bag, but at a price high enough to require the handing over of plastic. I'm not willing to further damage my credit rating over a bag, even if it is a bag that can help dress me in the morning and make me a latte. Besides, I have bags all over my damn house. Surely one of them fit the profile. I started scouring closets and storage bins, running down the checklist in my head...

...and I found it.

The handles are sturdy, well-attached, and just the right length. The bottom is square and stable. There's a large central compartment with room for not one, but two, maybe three notebooks. There are also two small inside pockets, one large inside pocket with a Velcro closure, and another large inside pocket with a zipper. There is an open back pocket perfect for a file folder or two. There are two small pockets on the front with Velcro flap closures. And if you leave the bag unzipped, there are two small pockets on either side.

It's perfect. It's beautiful. It's Da Bomb.

It's a diaper bag.

Ironically enough, it's the first diaper bag I bought for the Toddler, before he was born. It was on clearance at Target for ten bucks. I think I used it twice before opting for a smaller diaper bag we received as a gift. I was going to use it as an "extra," but we had several premium bags mother-in-law snagged from her office. When the time came for a larger diaper bag, I started using the last one I bought for the firstborn (which is the Diaper Bag To End All Diaper Bags), so this bag has been hanging, unused, in the Toddler's room for so long, it still has Size 1 diapers in it.

Now it's free of diapers and butt paste and travel-size bottles of lotion, and full of my crap. I have a pocket for damn near everything. I'm happy, the Toddler's happy, my wallet is happy. I just hope it's not too obvious that my bag was designed to hold baby-shit disposal equipment. That would be awkward.

06 August 2009

I Need To Be Rich

(I'm still sick, so this entry is going to be short and sweet and probably not very funny. You've been warned.)

The building I work in is part of the Country Club Plaza, a business/retail district known for being old, lit up every November, and expensive. Among other retailers, it has an Anthropologie.

I heart Anthropologie.

I used to walk (waddle) past their windows and gaze longingly at the stick-figure mannequins decked out in their adorable little outfits, and I would think to myself, "someday, when I'm thin, I will shop there."

Now I am thin, and I walk past their windows and gaze longingly at the stick-figure mannequins and I think to myself, "someday, when I'm rich, I will shop there."

It's true--you can never be too rich or too thin. And if you're lucky enough to be both rich and thin at the same time, you are a rock star.

05 August 2009


Since my husband turned me on to Google Reader, I’ve been subscribing to CNN.com’s RSS feed. I do this because the headlines alone are usually pretty good for a laugh:

“Folks Who Want to Meet their Meat” (huh?)

“Police: Driver in Wrong-Way Wreck Drank Heavily” (no shit, Sherlock.)

“Watch Your Step and Iran Trip Can Be Safe” (great, I’ll call my travel agent right now!)

When I saw “Suspected Shooter Blogged about Killing,” I decided to take the bait and read the whole article.

Am I glad I did. I learned all about some lonely nerd in Pittsburgh who joined a gym and was overwhelmed by the vast number of delectable babes there, who he described as “so beautiful as to not be human, very edible.” In fact, the chicks were so hot, and so certain was he none of them would give him the time of day, he decided to go on a mass killing spree. Of course, he pussed out multiple times, but according to his blog, he eventually decided to summon up the old liquid courage: “it popped into my mind to just use some booze. After the gym, I stopped…and got a fifth of vodka and…Jack Daniels.” (Those are certainly my first choices after a good workout.) Then he wandered into the gym, turned off the lights, fired 50 rounds, then shot himself. Nice.

I think there are several lessons to be learned here.

Lesson #1: go to the gym to work out, not to get laid. If you’ve ever seen me at the gym, you know I already live by this. I am not hot when I’m gettin’ my sweat on. Well, I’m hot, but I’m damn sure not attractive by any stretch of the imagination. My workout wear consists of granny panties under baggy gym shorts with a raggedy jog bra under a maternity t-shirt. Sex-aaaay! If I’m wearing makeup at all, it’s because I put it on several hours earlier in anticipation of going to work. Same with my hair. If it’s a weekend, chances are good I’m bare-faced and my head looks like a Chia Pet. Not even a real Chia Pet, but some knock-off variety that only grows in patches. Mmm-hmmm. You know you want some of that.

There are ladies at my gym who obviously do not play by my rules. They arrive in carefully constructed exercise attire (with matching shoes) in full makeup with nary a hair out of place. These women rarely break a sweat as they read their gossip magazines and romance novels from their recumbent bikes. There is one—I call her “The Hot Girl”—who makes some semblance of physical effort. Sort of. She saunters over to the backwards-sit-ups thing (I don’t know what it’s called) and assumes the position, making sure everyone in the place can see her thong hanging out over her exceptionally tight sweats (with the word “PINK” splayed across her ass—thanks for the visual). Then she does 10 or 12 reverse sit-ups, hops off the thing, and slowly parades back and forth behind it, looking around to see if anyone noticed. The Hot Girl is not there to work out. She’s on a mission from God. Or whoever rules her planet and wanted her to come down here and breed. She provides me with endless entertainment.

But reading this CNN.com article about the freakshow in Pitt, I now wonder if The Hot Girl and her cohorts are actually a threat to my alive-itude. Are they dissing some lonely dork on a treadmill and thereby sending us all into certain doom? Egad.

So bitches, do us all a favor, and ugg it up when you go to the gym. Don’t go there to mate. That’s what work is for.

Lesson #2: when you die, or do something crazy, people will read your blog and use it to come to conclusions about your character. Wow. I am in some deep shit, aren’t I? I can only imagine the kind of CNN headlines MY blog would generate.

“Crazy Bitch Had a Soft Spot for Office Supplies.”

“Psycho Mom Held Grudge Over Bike Theft.”

“Comedian Michael Ian Black Taking Anti-Stalker Precautions, Moves to Undisclosed Location.”

Great. Quite a legacy to leave for my children.

04 August 2009


I’m sick.

This blog probably won’t be very funny as a result, because nothing is funny when you’re sick. Especially if you’re an adult. Double especially if you’re an adult with kids, because (1) no one feels sorry for you because you exist only to attend to their needs; and (2) you can’t take any sick time from work because you’ve already used all your sick time on your damn kids.

It all started Saturday. The husband and I dumped the toddler at Grandma’s house and went to the local amusement park—by ourselves. Which meant we didn’t have to waste time standing in line for the sissy rides and were able to ride our favorite roller coasters at least twice. Which meant I did a lot of screaming, because I scream like a little bitch when I’m plummeting to the earth at warp speed. After probably our third or fourth ride, however, I had to force myself to stop screaming because my throat was getting sore.

Sunday morning, I woke up feeling dreadful. It seemed someone had snuck up on me in the middle of the night and unloaded two bottles of Elmer’s Glue into my nostrils. And my throat was screaming bloody murder. Plus I felt beaten about the head and shoulders as a result of being knocked about on roller coasters (and being over 18). I took a hot shower and some ibuprofen and was seemingly back to normal by midday. I figured my malaise had been the result of screaming and having various allergens crammed into my sinus cavities by the force of the wind.

Then yesterday hit, and I noticed my sore throat wasn’t getting any better. If anything, it appeared to be getting worse. Plus I had that slightly asthmatic feeling in my chest that generally signals the onset of a cold. Considering the firstborn is coming up on two weeks of a barking cough and the toddler had a round of gooey eyes last week, I can’t say I’m surprised. I can, however, say I’m pissed.

I fucking hate being sick. I know, few people get their jollies from a good virus or bacterial infection, but I really hate being sick. Being sick is a luxury I haven’t the time nor money to enjoy. I have too much to do, and I barely get it all done on a normal, healthy day. Not to mention I’ve foregone antidepressants for adrenaline, and when I can’t get to the gym for a few days, I get grumpy.

The only time I enjoy—well, not enjoy, but maybe “mind less”—being sick is that rare occasion when I get something seriously awful. Something that involves projectile bodily fluids of any kind. Something with delirium-inducing body temperatures and profuse sweating. The kind of illness that renders you damn near lifeless and makes going anywhere further away than the bathroom or the sofa a non-issue.

Unfortunately, I am most often struck with the Common Cold. The sort of illness that isn’t life-changing enough to freak people out and make them demand your quarantine. If you have a cold, you may be miserable, but you can still function. Your boss will still expect you to show up to work regardless of your sniffling-sneezing-coughing-aching-stuffy-head-fever-I-hate-my-life state. And your co-workers will hate you, because they all know it’ll be your fault when they’re in the same position next week. (Except for your co-workers who are single and/or don’t have kids. They won’t give a shit, because they kill 98.9% of all germs they’re exposed to with copious amounts of alcohol every night, and the few bugs that survive have a full bank of sick leave to draw from. Assholes.)

So, sorry, but I can’t be funny today. And I probably won’t be funny tomorrow, either. Sometimes situations aren’t in your control. Deal with it.

03 August 2009


I’ve mentioned my aversion to technology and gadgets. It’s not so much I think the old-fashioned way is the better way—certainly MP3s are better than CDs which were better than tapes which were leaps and bounds better than LPs, and I’d shoot myself in the foot before I’d go back to typing things on a typewriter. It’s more complicated than that. I don’t feel superior to technological advances. To the contrary, I feel ridiculously inferior.

See, gadgets make me nervous because I usually don’t understand them. I don’t understand how they work, or why they work, or why I can’t get them to work. They rely on concepts that are foreign to my 1980s brain—concepts like “waves” and “Wi-Fi” (I still don’t know what the fuck “Wi-Fi” stands for, although I have figured out it has something to do with wireless internet. Go Me!). They seem to operate more on ideas than actual mechanics. And that kind of witchcraft just scares the piss out of me.

If the fear weren’t enough, there’s the added humiliation of knowing many people—most of them half my age or less—are not only comfortable with these concepts, but know how to use them to their advantage. And that makes me feel inadequate, and—dare I say it—old.

This is part of the reason why I’ve held on to my cell phone for so long. (Do they even call them cell phones anymore? Are they “wireless communication devices” now? Or have they replaced land lines altogether and become known as simply “phones”?) My current phone is a flip-up type with a (bad) camera. My phone can make and receive calls, send and receive text messages, take and send pictures, and tell me what time it is. I can set an alarm on it to wake me up. It has a calculator feature. And I can record 30 second voice memos, often without even knowing I’m doing so.

I’ve maintained it’s all I need—I’m no slave to gadgetry; it’s a phone, for Chrissake, and all I need it to do is make and receive calls. I don’t need a phone that makes me French toast for breakfast (a simple bagel will do just fine). So you can keep your blueberries and your palm trees, ‘cuz this girl don’t need ‘em. No, sir.

Then my husband decided he’d had enough of his old flip phone. The battery wouldn’t hold a charge, and the phone itself wouldn’t hold the charger. I strongly advised him against a palm tree (I think the term “divorce” was used), and one day last week, he went to the Sprint store and returned with an LG Rumor.

I circled it a few times, sniffing it and poking it with a stick. When I determined it wouldn’t bite, I picked it up for closer inspection. I slid the face plate to the side and took my first look at the tiny QWERTY keyboard.

“Oh, now, see, this,” I began, shaking my head in self-righteous affirmation. “This just wouldn’t work for me.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m used to texting with just one hand.”

“When do you need to text with only one hand?”

When I’m driving was the obvious reply, but not the one I necessarily wanted to give him. I chose the next best option. “You know, like, when I’m holding a toddler.” Duh.

I smugly handed him back his fancy-pants phone, secure in my fuddy-duddy ways. It just wouldn’t work for me, because I can’t possibly text with two hands. However would I drive--or, uh, hold the toddler? Impossible.

But I found myself stealing casual glances at the LG Rumor, with its pretty display and its nifty little buttons.

“Does it play music, too?” I asked, trying not to sound too interested—you know, because I was only asking to be polite.

“It can. You have to buy the SD card for it.”

“Oh, sure.” Like I knew all about SD cards. “How much do those run these days?”

“About 20 bucks usually.”

Ah, see? Another downside. You cough up the cash for the phone, then you gotta buy extras. That’s how they get you, every time. No, thank you.

But the LG Rumor kept showing up at the same places I was. Almost like it was trying really hard to get my attention. It even called me a few times. Oh, sure, my husband claimed to be the one calling, but I’m not stupid.

Then I started thinking about my recent attempts to solve my organizational issues. It sure would be nice to have everything in one nice central location—my calendar, my phone list, my to-do list, my grocery list, etc. It would be even nicer if that central location could poke me when I needed to be somewhere or do something, or remind me to check my to-do list. And then I started contemplating the PDA. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was online, ordering a new phone—

The Samsung Rant.

It’s gotten mixed reviews, but so has just about everything out there. The greatest complaints seem to be about short battery life, but I don’t plan to spend consecutive hours texting my peeps. It’s very similar to my husband’s LG Rumor, but because I was (well over) due for an upgrade, it was free.

Did I hear someone say “free?” I sure did!

My new phone should arrive in the next 1-3 business days. I’m so excited I pee a little every time I think about it. I’m a little nervous about figuring it all out, but considering it only took me a year or two to learn how to operate my MP3 player, I think I’ll be okay.

Commuter Blue

Sometimes I read other people’s blogs about other people’s lives and I think, “wow, so that’s how they do it there.” I grew up in a smallish town and now live in a suburb of a smallish city in the Midwest with no mass transit or vibrant urban core, so the daily routines of people in, say, more metropolitan areas vary considerably from my own. Which made me wonder if people in vibrant urban core areas might be fascinated by my suburban minutiae. I’m just self-absorbed enough to think they would. So here it is. Enjoy.

5:30am – The alarm goes off. It’s a clock radio that’s either set to a local sports talk station or a Christian station, I’m not sure which, but whatever it is, it sure gets our attention. The alarm is on my husband’s side of the bed, because it’s his alarm—I don’t have to get up yet and I ain’t about to.

6:00am – I awake to the sounds of a toddler being tossed into bed with me, along with a bottle of milk. Yes, he’s plenty old enough to ditch the bottle, and he has for the most part. This morning bottle is more a bad habit of mine than anything else, but hey, it gets me another 10 or 15 minutes in the sack with a cuddly little fella who likes mornings about as much as I do.

6:15am – I get up and take the toddler to his room to change and dress him. He doesn’t like this because he’d rather I just return him to his crib and let him sleep another hour or two.

6:30am – I send the toddler and the husband on their merry way and head upstairs.

6:35am-7:30am – I start the firstborn’s bath and go to wake him up; shower while the firstborn is in the tub, singing, playing, doing everything but washing himself; alternate hair and makeup with yelling at the firstborn to hurry up and wash himself; make the firstborn a toaster item for breakfast, then head back upstairs to get dressed; make my coffee and our lunches and go about getting us out the door.

7:35am – I drop off the firstborn at school and head for work.

8:10am – 4:50pm – I perform a variety of tasks that may or may not include checking my Google Reader list, reading/responding to emails, paying bills on line, making phone calls, returning phone calls, dodging phone calls, scheduling appointments, eating lunch at my desk, going out for lunch, walking downstairs to Panera for a soda or bagel, and maybe (or maybe not) doing some of the actual work I get paid to do.

4:55pm – I run like hell from my office to the parking garage across the street, get in my car, and try to get started on my evening commute before every other asshole in town does the same. Because of the construction taking place on the Paseo Bridge, my former direct route is shot, so I have to get off the highway, cut through the city market, take a backwards route along the river to the casino area and get back on the highway to finally cross the river into suburbia. Yay.

5:35-5:45pm (depending on traffic) – I arrive home to my husband and children, who have been home for a good half hour to 45 minutes already. The toddler is either eating or has eaten, and the husband has either prepared (or is preparing) our dinner—or neither, in which case, we are calling for take-out in short order.

6:15-7:30pm – Various and sundry family activities, including but not limited to: park-going, playing in our backyard, going to the nearby public pool, riding our bikes to the elementary school playground, going for walks, watching Yo Gabba Gabba!, going to the public library, etc.

7:30-8:00pm – Putting children to bed. Toddler first.

8:00pm – I drive my car to the gym. I’m not sure what the husband does, and I'm not sure I want to know.

8:10pm – I arrive at the gym, which is in a strip mall that also features a grocery store and a restaurant. Meaning as I walk through the parking lot from my car to the gym, I smell steak. Nothing but steak. Lots of steak. I fucking love steak. And I am not going to go have a steak, I am going to go work out. This is torture of the highest caliber.

8:10-8:50pm – I do my 40 minutes of cardio. I used to break down my workouts into cardio and free weights, but I’ve been trying to drop some more poundage, so I’ve been doing strictly cardio for the past few weeks. There are several tvs mounted in the cardio area, but they are typically all tuned to the same shit programming, so I may have to resort to people-watching. If there are no worthy participants present, I get very bored and that 40 minutes of cardio stretches into an eternity, but somehow, I get through it. Yay, Me!

9:00pm – I arrive back home. Take a shower, put on some pjs. Try to organize crap for the following morning. Watch tv with the husband.

10:30-11:00pm – Bedtime.

Some people might read this and think, “wow, so if she wants to go somewhere, she just like, gets in her car and drives there? Fascinating!” (Some people might read this and think, "wow, no wonder she blogs, because her life is crashingly dull!")

But in terms of the driving part, I've determined driving is really only cool for about six months after you turn legal driving age and get to go motorin’ for the first time. I have now reached the age where I curse living in one of the only remaining metropolitan areas that does not have a mass transit system. I hate driving in rush hour traffic. Hate it. I hate having to spend 35 to 40 minutes (or, God forbid, longer in the event of an accident or some other delay) stuck behind the wheel of my car, unable to do more than occasionally fumble for my cup of iced coffee and pray I don’t spill it on myself in the process. How I would love to be able to climb on board some big piece of public transportation and zone out with a magazine or a paper or a book (hey, then I could read again!), sip my iced latte and listen to my MP3 player and let some other yutz worry about traffic and deer and errant spiders in the driver’s field of vision. God, just thinking about it makes my eyes fill with bitter, jealous tears.

“Oh, but you have the Metro! You can’t discount the Metro, Mitzi!”

To which I respond: Get real. Have you ridden the Metro? It’s a bus. A slow-moving bus. Do you know how long it takes to get across town on the Metro? Seven hours. Give or take a few days. I ain’t got that kind of time. (In all seriousness, I checked the Metro’s “trip planner” just to see how long it would take me to take the bus to work. I would have to board one bus at 6:35am, get on a second bus at 7:15am, and arrive at my final stop at 7:40am. Total commute time: 1 hour. No thanks.)

So I've been suffering Commuter Envy since I started thinking about this inability to let "Jesus take the wheel," so to speak. Until this morning, as I drove to work in relatively light traffic, sipping my iced skim latte and listening to "Blue Monday" on my MP3 player, and thinking, Gee, this isn't so bad, really. And I remembered that poor fellow from the movie Singles, the one who worked for the Seattle Transportation Department and was trying to push his idea for a commuter train, only to be constantly told, "people really love their cars," even by his girlfriend.

It's true, people who have been driving everywhere on their own since they turned legal driving age do really love their cars. There's a certain freedom that comes with being able to walk out of one's dwelling and immediately be on the road to wherever, without being at the mercy of another individual or an unpredictable transit system. Yes, self-transporting has its issues (traffic congestion, random insect invasions, spilled coffee and ruined pants), but at least I know who (or what) was sitting on my seat before me.