Friday, December 28, 2012

Getting Carded

So I wrote Christmas cards this year.  I finished them at 1:30 a.m. in the wee hours of Christmas morn', as a matter of fact.

And if you're sitting there wondering, "What's THAT about?," you are, in fact, a straight male.  And I simultaneously am jealous of and hate you.

The rational mind asks: Well, why did you feel compelled to write out Christmas cards until 1:30 in the morning on Christmas?  Wasn't that a little late at night?  Wasn't that a little late in the season??

If you'd asked me that when I sealed the last envelope, my answer to all three questions would have been, "Shut up."

But, time has passed.  I've slept a little since then.  So, to answer all three questions: Guilt.

See, last year I didn't send out any cards.  Not even an e-card.  So, like any good part-Irish American, I was guilt-ridden about it all year.  I imagined how many close (female) family members held a grudge because they got their acts together and sent out cards, while I shirked my duty.  I mean, they knew I wasn't laid up in the hospital or suffering from a broken hand.  Which brought me to feeling bad about the faraway (female) friends who sent cards and didn't get one in return.  Did they wonder about my health and welfare?  Would they, too, be ticked that I didn't send anything?  Was I destroying relationships and alienating myself because I wasn't getting around to caring enough to send the very best via the U.S. mail?

Probably none of that was happening, of course.  Except the part about my family.

Nevertheless, I decided to break out the cards I bought last year but didn't get around to mailing.  Who knows why?  Maybe because 2011 would have been the first year since having children that I wasn't mailing a "picture card."

When they were little, Cara and Ryan graced the cards wearing adorable little holiday outfits.  Ryan wore knit holiday sweaters.  Cara had velvet dresses.  One year we even got  a  Santa hat into the picture.

As they got older, asking them to pose for a picture seemed about as likely as a Middle East peace accord.  So I would head to my computer to pick one that captured how fun-loving they could appear to be.  Who knew it was only for a second or so?

Then there was the time two years ago when I picked a photo and had it made up into 75 greeting cards -- at which point Cara declared she hated it and began mounting a protest to bar me from mailing it to anyone.  Rather than declaring martial law and just shipping them out anyway, I went through the process of picking another photo, getting another card made up and going to the store to retrieve them.  Only to get home with cards that had some other kid's face looking out at me.

So, there was that.

Cut to last year.  On top of everything else, I kept reading about how everyone was sending e-greetings.  Or getting Shutterfly to send their cards for them.  All you had to do was choose a photo, choose a card, choose an inscription, input or upload all your addresses and voila, they'd mail your cards for mere hundreds of dollars.

Well, as 2012 went on those same sources that ran stories about how e-greetings were so now and wow began running stories about the beauty of the hand-written letter.  The excitement of an envelope in the mailbox.  The death of the U.S. postal service.

So, yeah.  I felt bad.  I had taken the excitement out of not just the 2011 holidays, but of someone's overall expectations for the possibilities the mailbox could hold.  And I had contributed to the further decline of a U.S. institution.  My inability to get my #*! together last year would help lead to mass layoffs -- on top of the mass grudges from the family.

Hence, this year I went in a whole new direction.  I made an e-card, and sent it to friends and family.   I also posted it on Facebook.

AND I hand wrote cards.  I looked up addresses for those who had moved but whose location wasn't logged into my ragged address book.  I wracked my head remembering the names of relatives of friends I hadn't seen in a decade or more, just so I could seem more together. I even went to the post office and bought stamps!

Sure, they didn't actually get mailed until the day after Christmas... But hey, I was dedicated.  To saving face.  Saving jobs.  Oh, and keepin' merry.... 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

First Generation

I was going to write a post about what my daughter calls my "First World Problems."

You know, like when I remote-start my car, I think the car should automatically sense that it needs to go into defrost mode because the temperature dropped 30 degrees overnight and now the windshield is frozen and the air conditioning mode it was left in actually is not needed, thank you.

My thinking is, if I'm going to the trouble of remembering to start my car while standing at the front door in my pajamas, I shouldn't have to drive down the street wasting windshield washer fluid in a desperate attempt to melt the frost off the glass before the cops see me because Cara's late and I didn't realize that was frost on the window, not just morning dew, until I was backing down the driveway.  You know?  The car should sense all of that.

To be honest, on the days when that happens, Cara hasn't broken out the snarky "First World Problems" expression.  Probably because of "self-interest" and the fact that a "poorly placed" snarky remark could land her "walking to school" (her First World Problem) or worse, landing a long-winded lecture on the way there about early morning snarkiness.

But Cara often uses that phrase when what she really means is, "Hmmm, yeah... can we change the subject?"

Like, let's say we're at the mall.  And let's say she's off having fun with a friend at one end of the mall.  While I'm, let's say, at the opposite end of the mall.  With Ryan.  Trying to find jeans that pass the school code of "no tears or holes" even if they're put there by the manufacturer and he's arguing through the dressing room door that they're not dark enough, or he doesn't like the greenish hue that's on the blue jean but he likes it on the black jean so can't I just find a black pair that has the green stuff with no holes??

Let's just say that's the scenario.

Then, a text from Cara comes floating in.

Cara's text: "Hey, where are you guys?"

My text: "Where you left us."

Cara's text: "STILL?????  My God, what's taking so long?!"

My text: "Don't ask."

Cara's text: "Well, I want to shop with you, too."

Translation: She's probably running low on money.

This is when my "First World Problem" kicks in.  Because I can't type what I want fast enough on the iPhone without it changing "you" into "Yiu." And "trade with me?!?" into "read ewith me?!?." And "party in here?!?" into "pert inherent?!?"

So I'm trying to fix the auto-"corrected" mistakes, and meanwhile Cara's texts are raining down onto my screen.

Cara's text: "Hello?"

Cara's text: "Are you getting my texts??  Whatever.  What's his problem?  He's a boy!  Why would buying jeans take so long?"

Cara's text: "Anyway, I saw a really cute sweater.  And I want you to see it.  Christmas, hint, hint."

Cara's text: "Plus, he's been with you for an hour, and I wanted to shop with you."

Translation: She's eyeing way more than the "Christmas gift" sweater.

Meanwhile, Ryan's sticking his head out of the changing room door.

Ryan: "Did you ask the guy if they have those black jeans with the greenish but no holes yet?!"

Me: "Cara's texting me.  Hold on.  I'm trying to type back to her."

Ryan: "Oh, God.  Here we go."

Me: "Give me a second. Please!"

Ryan: "I'm IN my underwear.  Who cares about Cara right now?  What does she want -- more money to go to Aerie?  Or to buy tea?!?"

And this is when -- in the olden days -- a parent would just go to a bar and regroup.

But instead, I press "send" and tell Ryan he can put the pants he owns back on and leave the dressing room.  That he is not, in fact, being held hostage in there.

Ryan: "This is bull.  You care more about her.  I'm IN MY UNDERWEAR!"

On cue, Cara's texting again.

Cara's text: "What?? Do I want to read with you?  What's a pert inherent??"

You know, she didn't even ask if I was having a stroke, or my long-held, self-prediction of an aneurysm brought on by high levels of aggravation colliding with the current American custom of trying to appear "not deranged" when in public with your own children.

And THAT'S when it would be easier to just CALL my daughter.  Except cell service is so spotty at the mall, half the time the calls don't even go through or the conversation sounds something like:

Me: "Hi, Cara.  Where are you?  Are you almost ready to go?"

Cara: "Umm, y... I jus.... w... then... st... ...ale... new shoes."

When we finally get back together again, I let her know how annoying I find her text bombardments.  And that it's made even more annoying because of the iPhone's idiotic auto-corrections when I try to write back to her.  And  why is it nearly impossible to make a cell call on the lower level of the mall?

Cara, with a big sigh: "First World problems.  Can we go down to Aerie?  ...And Teavana?"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rock Me Like A...Oh, Never Mind

                                            hurricane sandy, frankenstorm, nor'easter, extreme weather

You know, when a hurricane hits your neck of the woods, the potential for inconvenience can really become heightened.  Especially if you're one of those people who relies on things like electricity, gas, a food supply, mass transit, an operating school system....  Otherwise, who cares, right?

Something about having the kids home for 11 straight days -- seven of which they were supposed to be in school -- can throw a monkey wrench into the system.  And considering our "system" is held together with duct tape and fishing line...

But there were a few things I learned from the Hurricane Sandy period:

1) --Do not, under any circumstances, keep baking supplies in the home, lest your power returns and your teenage daughter decides to alleviate college application anxiety mixed with "time on her hands" by baking 50 dozen chocolate chip cookies.

2) --If you find you have 50 dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies on your hands and it's midnight, the local cops working the overnight shift will take some off your hands.

3) --Cheeze-It crackers really ARE better than Cheese Nips.

4) --Popchips are FAR BETTER than the lookalikes, as are Pretzel Crisps.  So don't waste your time and money on anything else if you're inviting me over, thank you.

Risking you thinking all my lessons learned during the hurricane had to do with food -- a.k.a. the mass quantities of empty calories that were consumed when I instinctively went into "hurricane survival mode" and Cheez-Its seem like a strong choice under duress -- you're wrong.

I also learned that granola is an annoying health food, if only because its makers have decided schlumpy plastic bags beat cardboard in the packaging wars.  And like many inanimate objects in our house that seem to be breeding -- nail polish, hair bands and dirty socks among them -- the bags of granola have started their own colony.

Mind you, I do not buy all this granola of my own free will.  Cara comes to the store to "help" me and throws it in the cart when I'm clearly distracted -- like when I'm choosing a sympathy card or rifling through the toothbrush department.  Recently, I told her I'm declaring a housewide moratorium on granola.  So now she's missing out on a seasonal cinnamon pumpkin variety, which has garnered me the "Meanest Mom Ever" title for the 78th week in a row.

But, seriously, these idiotic bags are making me crazy.  Fine -- crazier.  These bags are the new "thing" food brands are adopting.  I haven't read a study on "why" so many food products are coming in bags these days, but I blame the biologists.  Lately, they're all, "Plants have feelings and lead rich lives." So now we can't cut trees to make a box, or even recycle the box because it's feelings have already been through the ringer so how much more can it possibly take?  I watched a video of a big tree getting cut down, and all the little trees started screaming for their mama.  It was pure propaganda on the part of the trees.

Truth be told, I know the packaging thing is all about money.  As in: what looks like it just came from "the market" in a ____ (fill in the blank) hipster/quaint/olde worlde place of interest?  Food in a box with bold, primary colors?  Or food in an adorable bag featuring homey pictures, charming lettering and a price tag that cold-cocks you right there in Aisle 11?

So now we have rice that comes in bags.  Pasta that comes in bags.  Dried fruit, coffee, croutons, crackers, even SOUP comes in bags.

You might say, "Well, Miss Who Doesn't Care About the Earth, using bags means less cardboard."  To which I reply, "Don't call me 'Miss.' It's sexist.  But don't call me ma'am, either. That's ageist."

Where was I?  Oh, right: the disaster area in my pantry closet.

So, it used to be I could pretend there was some semblance of order by stacking the food boxes.  Or simply putting the taller boxes in front of everything else if someone was coming over and I wanted to look all "not slobby."

Now, the jig's up.

Before you ask, "Hey, why don't you just put it all in food storage containers and stack them?" you need to know I just don't do that.  Mostly because I can't find the matching lids.

When the hurricane struck, Cara and Ryan had more free time at home than they'd seen since their pre-K days.  Hell, there was no school or homework, the town put curfews in place, a gas crisis kept everyone from driving, crashing tree limbs and live electrical wires terrorized people into staying indoors.  Of COURSE the kitchen became a crisis center.  And that pantry closet became a bag-ridden mess.  

Now, something's gotta give.  I mean, how long can I blame "the hurricane" for making my pantry look like a tornado hit it?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Home Ecchh!

Sometimes there are so many events unspooling in my household, it's hard to decide which hilarity to write about.  Like many a writer, I become paralyzed with indecision and take to raiding the pantry closet while considering my options, only to deem each event unworthy of putting down the bag of buffalo wing Snyder's.
But this week, one particular event stood out.  In it, the kids made out like bandits.  Of course, I felt robbed.  But I'll press on.

For Ryan's birthday, which was only half a year ago, he received an Amazon e-gift.  It's perfect for a kid whose always pushing for more Microsoft points and Xbox games.  Somehow though, he didn't spend this gift.  Something about having lots of GameStop gift cards, birthday cash and a Machiavellian personality aided him in getting all the new gamer tags, cheats and boosts he needed.

Recently, Ryan got as far as uploading the Amazon gift code.  But he didn't want to wait for delivery of some hot new game every one of his Xbox friends from here to England was playing so he convinced me to go to GameStop: where males talk smack in inane jibberish that has nothing to do with sports or yo mama.

GameStop Worker 1: "Dude, I was so clamping his crecktar.  It was epic."

GameStop Worker 2: "That's ultra, man.  Did you transform from quagliator?"

My thought bubble: "Help me."

After absorbing that banter for the 10 minutes it took for them to serve two other customers, Ryan threw the game box on the counter for something that's rated "Not For Your 7th Grade 12-Year-Old Boy."

GameStop Worker: "It's okay that he gets this?"

Ryan, with an assured nod of the head: "Oh, yeah."

My thought bubble: "I need to leave.  I need to leave."

I just nodded numbly.

GameStop Worker: "So, buddy, you have PowerUp Rewards?  If you do your trade-ins now...."

My next thought bubble: "Oh, my god -- this store is somehow getting more boring!  Stop with the questions!"  It must be how a guy feels when he's trapped in Sephora.

The game cost $60-something dollars.  Ryan's Amazon e-gift was worth $50.

Ryan: "So, Mom, you take the Amazon money and buy yourself something, and I'll give you $10."

Me: "First of all, like I'll find time to buy something on Amazon.  Second, do you even have $10 left in your wallet?"

Ry, with a assured nod of the head, "...Maybe."

I promptly forgot about the e-gift.  Mostly because I have so many other fun places to shop, like the grocery store, Costco and Petco.

Cut to this past weekend, when the weather turned chilly here in the Northeast.

Cara: "I want to get a Snuggie!  I'm so cold!"

Me: "Didn't you mock Ryan for a solid three months last winter because he got one?  Now you want one?"

Cara: "But I want one that looks like a Harry Potter robe!  If they don't make one, I'll get somebody to make it."

Me: "So... this will be a Halloween thing?"

Cara: "Ohmigod! No!  It will be the most awesome Snuggie ever! Halloween... come on."

So there I was, doing whatever moms do in the kitchen on a rainy Sunday at dinnertime, while Cara was on her computer, doing what I thought was homework.  Suddenly she exclaimed, "Yes! I'm so doing this!"  But she didn't mean clean the kitchen, so I wasn't as revved as she was.

Cara: "There IS a Harry Potter Snuggie robe!  Can I get it?!"
Even though this thing isn't made by the Snuggie brand, it does bear that tres chic "oversized, backwards blanket with sleeves" look akin to Snuggie.  It also has the edgy Hogwarts emblem, shirt collar and private school tie woven into the design.

Me: "How much?"

Cara: "Well, it's $35.  But if you pay for it with your credit card, I'll give you the cash."

Me: "What cash? The cash you'll take from my wallet?"

Cara: "...Maybe."

Coincidentally, Cara found this item at a vendor for ... wait for it... Amazon.  She clicked on the purchase button and voila!, there appeared a $50 credit on our Amazon account.  Wow, how magical.  I wonder how that got there.

Cara: "Whaaat??  This was meant to be!  We have a $50 credit!"

Me: "Umm, yeah, that was supposed to be for me after I bought Ryan his Xbox game at GameStop."

Cara: "Come on -- you would never get around to using this.  And meantime, your daughter could be happy in a HARRY POTTER SNUGGIE!!  Come on, please!  Okay, I'm clicking 'Buy.'"

Did I mention that this robe is fulfilled by Amazon, and sold by This Is Why I'm

Now, ain't that hilarious?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ahoy, There!

When my kids were little, I took them out on Sundays so Mike could watch the NFL games without having screaming and crying going on in the background.  I can get a little loud with that.

But now that they're older, Sunday time has taken on a new meaning.  After all, Cara will be heading to college next year.   Not only do I want to spend as much time with her as possible.  I want her and Ryan to bond over the "things Mom MADE US DO!" in an effort to foster a "sibling relationship" between them.  As opposed to the simmering hostility and sarcasm that counts as kinship now.

And I want to take Ryan out if only to get him off Xbox.  He's not allowed to play it during the week.  Or Sunday nights.  So unless we're out of the house, he's always scheming to get back on.

Last Sunday, Cara had her usual boatload of homework to do.  She couldn't come out with me and Ryan -- to take a stab at kayaking or canoeing around the Meadowlands.

Ryan: "Mom, seriously, I do NOT want to do that!"

Me: "Why not?  It's nice out, we'll be on the water.  We've never done it before."

Ryan: "Exactly!  We've never done it before and we could tip over, or get lost or some animal or giant snake could come along...."

Me: "Ry, end it.  You're done with the Xbox for the weekend.  Put on your water sandals and get in the car."

He yanked on his Nike basketball sneakers and proceeded to punctuate the short ride to the Secaucus paddling station with banter like:

--"What kind of parent makes their kid DO something like this?!  I mean, kayaking??"

--"I'm not paddling.  I'm not.  Just so you know.  You're on your own."

We passed some "Live Dinosaurs!" park on our way to the boating area.

Ry: "What's that?  I'd go to that."

Me: "We'll do that another day.  I really want to try the boating."

We got to the paddling station and told the girl that was running it that her we wanted a rental.  She told me I couldn't take Ryan out unless another adult was with us.  I swear to you, while my mouth was hanging open trying to process this rule, Ryan suddenly went from Mr. I Hate The World to Ryan, The Agreeable Chum.  The girl said, "Sorry," and made a sad face.  Ryan was like, "Aww, it's okay," and waved good-bye.

We got back in the car.

Ryan: "HA!"

Rather than make him walk home, I opted to continue my quest to keep him off Xbox, and said we could check out the "Live Dinosaurs."


After I paid $10 to park in what I thought was a county parking lot, Ryan decided this looked too babyfied.

Ryan: "Mom, these kids are all in strollers!"

Me: "They're not ALL in strollers.  Come on we'll just walk around and kill some time."

Ryan: "I could be home on Xbox with my friends right now.  Instead, I'm walking around with babies and strollers.  I'd rather go KAYAKING."

Of course he would.

We walked up to the entrance, and I saw a ticket window.  I have no idea why I thought this dinosaur thing was part of the county park system, other than the fact that it's located at the ENTRANCE to Laurel Hill Park, a Hudson County-owned public land.  But apparently, it's not park operated.  By which I mean, its entry fees rival Six Flags.

This place was $25 for adults and $20 for kids 12 and younger.   Plus tax.  Plus that parking fee I just paid.  I was like, "Really?  I'm going to spend $60 to keep Ryan off Xbox for two hours, so I can listen to him complain about babies and strollers the whole time??"

I went back to the parking attendant, who knew exactly why I was walking up to him, got my $10 back and told Ry we were going on a walk.

"Who does this?!  I could be on Xbox! What kind of parent FORCES their kid to walk around parks to kill time?"

Gluttons for punishment, I would imagine.
We saw a plane heading to Newark, flying so low we could clearly see its landing gear.


We saw a bunch of older dudes with mega remote-controlled planes and helicopters.  We saw a retaining wall with water and lots of small fish.

And that's when I saw THE RACCOON walking on the other side of the iron fence.  In broad daylight.  It was a teachable moment and I told Ryan to get back because it could be rabid, since raccoons are nocturnal.  And then I told him to hold the water bottle while I took a picture.

Ryan: "Oh, I have to get back, but you're getting closer to take pictures.  What if it jumps through the fence?"

Me: "Raccoons don't jump.  And it can't squeeze through the bars of this..."

Suddenly, it was through the bars of the fence.

But just as quickly it went back, eventually sauntering into the trees and down toward the river.  So I told Ry we should continue the walk.

Ryan: "My god!  We just saw a rabid raccoon.  Planes are practically landing on our heads.  What will it take to make you stop and just go back to the car??  A bear coming at us?!"

Readers, I know you're all jealous of the fun I was having.  I continued down the path, determined to get to the end, or see if it looped around, whatever.  And when I say path, I don't mean some muddy, unmarked, backwater trail.  I mean a wide path of stone pavers.  Imagine the Yellow Brick Road, only not yellow.  This was the madness I was foisting upon my youngest child.

Just was we reached the end, Ryan saw a big turtle.

Ryan: "Mom, quick, look!  A turtle!"

Me: "Wow -- that's really big!  Hold the water bottle while I take a picture!"

Again, you live you learn.  Who knew that just because turtles have no ears, they'll move as quickly as their stump legs will allow to hide from people who are yelling and running towards them?  It disappeared into the meadow reeds.

Ryan: "Great.  The ONE THING that wasn't a fail, and you don't get a picture."

Ah, I don't know.  I think we had many, many priceless moments.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In Living Color

Sometimes I wonder about myself....

Like, why I waited until Cara -- who has zero time for ANYTHING anymore since she's actively playing the role of "stressed-out high school senior" -- why did I wait until she strangely had a few hours open last weekend to ask her if she'd like to come to a couple of stores with me.

"Which stores?"

And here's where I question myself.  In the interest of spending time with my daughter, I didn't weigh the true cost of inviting her "to a couple of stores."  I could have said anything: Staples and Lowe's.  I did need to go there.  That would have garnered a "What are YOU on?" look, she would have declined and I wouldn't currently be questioning my sanity.  But no.  I had to say, "Well, Harmon."

For those not in the know, Harmon Face Values is a beauty supply store.  Cara is a female.  Moving on!

At Harmon, the emphasis is on "values."  So whether it's nail polish, shampoo, lip gloss, hand lotion, hair clips, tweezers, flat irons, make-up brushes or make-up remover, it SHOULD be purchased because, hey, it's a value.  Says Cara, only half-kidding.

And when the place has roughly 4,000 colors of nail polish, grabbing six lousy bottles seems downright prudent.  At least Cara thought so.

Cara: "Hey, it's not like we're at Sephora."

Yeah, well, now that you put it like that.... really?!

Me: "Car, some of that has to go back."

Cara: "What?!  I don't have a fall color this dark. (She does.)  And this polish can go under this sparkly polish.  I didn't really like the nail pens I got last time. (Lucky me!)  And I don't know about the crackle polish..."

Ah, yes, the crackle polish.  I usually just let mine chip for a week to get the same effect.  But if you don't have the patience or don't want to invest that kind of time, you can buy products that will make your polish look like hell right away.


And that's just the tip of the iceberg... Crackle is just a gateway polish.  Next, females of all ages are dipping into nail glitter, nail lace and nail tattoos.

Just feet away from the polish, the fun continues with Katy Perry glam lashes, colorful mascara, and 47,000 shades of eye shadow, lip color, and foundations for every skin color under the sun but mine.

I saw a guy in the place with a female.  She was happily chatting away about someone at work while pulling out and putting back a dozen or so lip liners.  He looked like Cara and I must look when Ryan drags us into Game Stop: "Why am I here?!  It all looks the same!  Why can't I LEAVE!"

Meanwhile, Cara was informing me that she has declared this season all about plum.  And she had the requisite half-dozen items needed to achieve that lofty vision.

Me?  I actually went to Harmon for a manicure repair product -- because I had split my thumb nail nearly a week earlier but life intervened and I had to make do by covering the tear with a Band-Aid, which was doing wonders for my texting.  I can't even express how much the joy of using two digits to type a note on a small glass screen is enhanced with the addition of an ill-fitting plastic bandage.

So, yes, some nail glue and wrap was actually necessary.  Yet somehow, amidst the inundation of all that was plum, the product  negotiations and editing, the glue DIDN'T MAKE IT TO CHECK OUT?!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, what did I eventually scrounge up?  Krazy Glue.  ...Aptly.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hello, Out There In TV Land

An old vintage black and white television set with a snowy screen.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl growing up in the '70s with a black & white TV that was hooked up to an antennae on her rooftop in the countryside of New Jersey.  And for those of you who don't believe there is countryside in New Jersey, Google "NJ Bear Hunt."  It's a fun read when you don't live anywhere near a wild animal that could eat your cat as an appetizer.

But I digress.

Yes, I was that little girl, living in the wilds of New Jersey, on a blustery hilltop, when the TV antennae would inevitably "stop working."  Which would mean my dad would have to "go on the roof" and twist the antennae while we'd scream from the family room window "Still no picture!" or "Awww, you almost have it!"  The drama really kicked into high gear when ice and snow covered the rooftop shingles.

My father would go through this because there were five of us kids, and one television in the house.  He and my mom were wildly outnumbered.  But one fuzzy TV with eight channels could buy him all kinds of time for reading the local paper or sorting nails in the basement.

Cut to modern times.  We have two kids.  We also have four TVs, two desktop computers, three laptops, an iPad and iPhones laying all over the house.  We have DirectTV HD with, seriously, HD-DVRs attached to every TV.  Because you never know when you need to watch an high-def episode of "Phineas and Ferb" at 3 a.m.

Clearly, we are not in dire straights when it comes to screens in our home.  But when one TV recently ceased working, Mike called me in a state of panic while I was AT THE GYM (a.k.a., THE HOUSE BETTER BE ON FIRE BEFORE YOU CALL ME HERE!) to enquire about the blank screen.

Mike: "When were you guys going to tell me the TV in the living room isn't working?"

Me: "I'm sorry, you have the wrong number.  Good-bye."

Mike persisted. "Did you KNOW the TV is NOT WORKING?!"

Me: "It was working a half-hour ago when I told Ryan to turn it off."

Mike: "Well it's not working now and I have to go to Costco to buy a new one!  When will you be home?  A TV won't fit in my car!  DAMMIT!"

Somehow, Mike held it together until Ryan and I returned.  And within two hours, the old flat-screen was in the garage -- waiting for the "correct" day when we could put it to the curb without being hit with a fine or jail time by town officials -- and the new, (obviously BIGGER) TV was in place.

Now, see, what I used to like about watching TV was it was mindless.  You turned on the power button and it worked.  But that, apparently, was a little too mindless. These days, potential viewers choose how to turn the TV on by picking the HDMI 1 or HDMI 2, or AUX, or URSOSTUPID button to get it on.  And once you get the fancy new TV on, and you see that people look blurry if they turn their heads too fast!, you get to choose how to stop this fresh hell by going to the viewing menu, which includes: "standard," "better," "you-need-a-PhD-to-program this,""URSOSTUPID, give it up."

                              Picture Menu

Mike was seriously programming the TV for two hours to watch an episode of "Modern Family."  Children were born into the world, major contributions to science were made, Hollywood added another awards show to its roster and STILL he was programming the TV.

Mike, called me in a good 27 times to gauge his progress.  "Okay, how's this?"

Me: "Awww, you ALMOST have it!"

At least nobody was sliding around on a rooftop for this....

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Let's Get This Party Started -- A Day Earlier!

Can someone please tell me why the Super Bowl is held so late on a Sunday night? Is it due in any part to heavy lobbying by Budweiser?

Sunday games are always at 1 or 4 o'clock, Eastern Standard Time. At least, as far as I know or need to know. Or care to know.

But the National Football League has succeeded in turning the Super Bowl into a nationwide celebration. It's to the point where you're eyed suspiciously if you say you have any other plans than to be glued to your set on Super Sunday. So why does the party start so late??

Certainly, I'm not against a party. Who doesn't like stuffing their face with chips & salsa, chips & dip, chips & chili, chips & cupcake icing? (Let's face it: by the end of the day, the real dip is all gone, and so is all judgment.)

And that's just part of the problem with holding the Big Game hostage until 6:30 p.m., EST. People start the partying at about 2 in the afternoon. By 3:30, they're half in the bag. By 4, they're done with snacks and moving on to burgers, ribs, chorizo nachos, Buffalo chicken pizza, duck chili, the neighbor's cat.

Cut to 6:30: Game Time.

Party Goer #1: "I think I'm gonna barf. Whose idea was it to eat chips and icing, anyway?! And where's Fluffy?"

Party Goer #2: "I'm wrecked. Whose idea was it make Jager margaritas?"

Party Goer #3: "I'm in full hangover mode so everybody shut up. Zzzzzzz...."

If kids are in tow, this is about when they've had enough of the Super festivities and they're crying, fighting or entering their fifth hour of embezzling food and soda contraband, right under the unwatchful eyes of their disengaged parents.

Parent #1: "How many cookies has Susie eaten today? Did she even eat real food?!"

Parent #2: "Who cares! I'm losing my buzz, don't make it worse. Can't somebody fix the tap on this keg?!"

By half-time, if the kids aren't passed out with food all over their faces, clothes and hair, they're begging for a sleepover.

Parent: "You have school tomorrow. No sleepovers."

Kid: "School?! I'm not going to school! Today's the Super Bowl. This is like Christmas. You don't go to school the day after Christmas! I want a sleepov..."

Parent: "Get in the car! Party's over!"

Kid: "What?! Waahhh. I hate you! I hate this house and everybody in it! Waaaah."

A scene like this usually ends up with observers muttering, "I may be bloated and bombed right now, but at least I don't have to sober up for that crap...."

And for most everyone (though not me, thanks to my teetotaler husband), halftime marks the moment when people start questioning themselves:

"Should we stay or should we go?"

"Am I close to winning the pool?"

"Can I even sober up in the next half hour?"

See, for East Coast fans, the game doesn't end until around 10 at night. And for some, the festivities will go much later this year -- depending on whether it's New York or New England that takes home the trophy.

Now, if the Super Bowl were on a "Super Saturday," all this would be different. People could pass out on the floor and stay there. Or, as a favor to the host, start sobering up at 9, drinking coffee at 10 and driving home at 2 a.m. They could deal with the headache and salt overload all day on Sunday, and arrive to work Monday. Still half-bloated. But at least they'd BE there, possibly in a productive state of mind.

And are there any stats on how many kids bail on school because they've been forced to stay at their uncle's party waaay too late for reasons beyond their control? Test scores everywhere are at risk!

I say enough! For the good of this country, this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the NFL, the presidential candidates and party people throughout these United States of America.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Taking The Vow

Mike and I went to the movies while the kids were home sick during Christmas break.  That's right, we busted loose to go see "Young Adult."  It's a dark comedy full of bitter humor.  I completely identified with it.

But equally as good as the movie was the trailer for an upcoming flick called, "The Vow." In yet another preview that was so long and rich in detail they saved me the inconvenience of seeing the picture, I learned this is a movie I would need to be either outrageously paid or outrageously bombed to watch in the first place.
                                                   The Vow Movie Poster
"The Vow" features a young couple who are just about as happy as two clams could be before they're cracked open and splashed with lemon and Tabasco.  Well, in the movie, a truck cracks into the back of their car and the wife goes into a coma.

After witnessing such a devastating and contrived Hollywood scene, I couldn't help but think, "Why did she feel the need to unbuckle her seat belt to kiss him while he was singing a Meatloaf song?"  Like, if you're husband is crooning, "I would do anything for you, but I won't do that," and you unbuckle your belt, I'm thinking you're automatically exiting the vehicle and dialing DIVORCE-R-US.  No?

I pulled myself out of my "What Would Really Happen" stupor in time to see the female lead (Rachel McAdams) address her husband as "Dr. So-and-So."  Ooohh, plot twist.  Because her husband is NOT a doctor.  So that must mean she's got -- dunh, dunh, DUNH -- amnesia!

In this schmaltzy, triple pack of Sweet-N-Low, cheese and barf, the husband (Channing Tatum) decides that this amnesia thing is just a little set back 'cuz he's gonna make his lady fall in love with him all over again.  They'll have a first date all over again.  They'll have their first kiss all over again.  They'll have their whole life ALL OVER AGAIN.  He will once again be the bacon to her eggs, the peanut butter to her mayonnaise, or whatever Elvis ate.

Cut to my New Year's Eve.  My sister and I saw a shortened commercial for "The Vow."   And, because she, too, has a brain, she was as incredulous as I at this insanity.

Anne: "What?!  She gets amnesia and stays with him?? My God, that's the perfect opportunity to change everything!"  

Me: "RIGHT?!?!?!  I was thinking of getting into a fender bender next week!"

Anne: "Really!  Then it would be 'Later for you losers!'  What could anybody do -- we'd have amnesia!"

amnesia-cropped traumatic brain injury

The New Year's champagne fueled the viability of our plan.

Anne, gesturing to her family: "These guys would go out and inspect the car.  They'd be like, 'What do you mean amnesia? There's barely a scratch on your car!  Did you even hit anything??'"

Me: "We'd just have to be like, 'Look, I don't recognize any of you.  In fact, aren't I supposed to be in Maui right now?  Is this Maui?  Who are those kids?  Why are you bringing me into a house that doesn't appear to be inhabited by George Clooney?  Why are there shoes and laundry everywhere?!'"

As my sister and I were scripting our escapes from the everyday, my brother-in-law just looked at us.  He didn't even crack a smile.  Come to think of it, maybe we shouldn't have brainstormed our master plan right in front of him like that.

Anywho, when you hear of my amnesia attack, you can send letters of condolence to the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.
Ritz Carlton Kapalua