Friday, November 26, 2010

Oh hi.

I apologize. I missed Embarrassing Stories Thursday because I was in a turkey-based food coma. Rather than share a subpar story or do one of the epic ones still in the pen no real justice, I will share with you this photo from yesterday:

Mais oui, that is me driving, and yes, that is a beer I am clutching. I do not believe that the children witnessed this. At least, that is what I'm telling myself.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Holidays! I am gross and wishing for death.

I've been getting emails from race photography places, all urging me to buy holiday cards with one of my mid-race photos on them. Ha ha HA HA: No. First of all, in about 50% of them, I look like I'm walking (I WAS NOT WALKING) and in 100% of them, I look like I want to die. (I DO NOT WANT TO DIE.)

Anyway, just to clarify, no. No, I will not be purchasing a race photo holiday card and sprinkling them in everyone's mailboxes this year. Sadly.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reboot/ Facepunch

So, a couple of things, all ultimately related in the end. 1) It's Monday. 2) My husband and I are doing the Insanity* workout together and I sort of fell off the wagon last week because I kept getting pulled outside for a run instead or going to my exercise class because I missed The Girlz. (I have decided to spell that with a z.) But I didn't want to double up on workouts and increase the chance that my knees were going to burst like balloons. (There may have also been some laziness on my part.) I was supposed to be starting week 3 now, but instead I'm sort of rebooting week 2 and just pretending last week never happened.

(*60 days, no equipment, just hilarious painful things that you do on your own. It's HARD and I'm getting stronger for sure.)

So this afternoon, I'm flailing working out in the living room and it's all going relatively well, and then I accidentally punched my cat in the face. I'm using this opportunity to publicly apologize to him, though I don't think he reads my blog (I'll tweet it, too, increase the chances of him seeing it) and to note that this is an inauspicious start to the week. But! Thanksgiving approacheth, AND our hosts have rented a karaoke machine. So there is that, my friends. There is that. (Also: Pie.) (Mostly, though, I just wanted to use the word "inauspicious.")

Anyway: Monday. May the week improve from here, for Chewy at the very least.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Literal poop, literal fan. Hooray!

For today's installment of Embarrassing Stories Thursday, I'm cheating a bit. I don't know if I'd call it embarrassing, but it does showcase spectacularly poor judgment, and while I was a child at the time so some bad judgment is to be expected, the emphasis is truly on "spectacularly" and it being in italics. It is the real deal.

Back in the day, we had a Kirby vacuum cleaner. In fact, I'm fairly sure my parents still have it, but I wouldn't know that absolutely because following this incident, it took out a restraining order against me and I haven't actually been allowed within 20 feet of it, which made entering through the front door difficult, since it lives in the hall closet. I've spent the rest of my life entering my parents' house either through the garage, back door, or even an open window. But do not feel badly for me: It is my own doing.

Anyway, allow me to set the scene: These were dark days in my family. I don't remember where exactly we were on this scale, but my mother was either really ill or she'd just recently died. This whole time period is kind of a blur to me, actually, I'm sure I'd fail entirely at putting most events of my childhood on any sort of timeline if we hadn't moved a few times, allowing me a house background to help ground certain things. Like, "That happened in house #1!" and "Oh, that was after 1990, because we lived in house #3!"

Also important to the story is the fact that we had an absolutely terrible dog. This dog had one redeeming characteristic, which was that she was adorable, and one sentimental redeeming thing about her, which was that she’d been my mom’s dog, an almost identical pup to one she had as a child. The dog’s many, many cons were: 1) It was psychotic. 2) It bit. and 3) It occasionally pooped indoors. (It also ate photos of people, so you’d sometimes be treated to seeing your own face looking up at you from the lawn. It was hard not to take this personally, and truly I think it was intended that way. Thanks for that, Spunky.) However, I think we’d lost so many things that it was hard for my dad to say, “Well, time to kill your dog!

So, my grandmother is coming to visit! It is important that we present a front of having it together so she not worry about us. This includes having the house totally cleaned. The dog helpfully craps in the living room moments before our visitor’s arrival. My dad, delegating, assigns me to pick up the poop. I head into the living room, ready to move the poo to its watery toilet grave, and, what’s this? The shiny silver (extremely expensive) vacuum cleaner, parked right next to the poop? And already plugged in? WELL. The cogs in my brain turn like the game Mouse Trap and it takes me .041 seconds to decide that vacuuming up the poop is a really great and efficient idea.

There are sound effects that go with this story (which I frequently tell at dinner parties (we do not get many repeat invites)) which make it infinitely better. I’m not sure I can recreate them here, but: VaroooommmWHIRRRRRRFFFFFTTTT, WHIRRRFTTTTTTTT, WHIRRRFTTTTTT and then, almost immediately, the smell of burnt crap. Everywhere. On your nostril hairs. In the living room. In the point of the house furthest from the living room. Possibly even across the street. Ohhh. My father comes galloping into the room, where I’m standing with my unfortunate permed bangs, holding the vacuum tube in one hand, having an out of body experience because I’ve realized what I’ve just done.

DING-DONG. Hello! Grannie is here!

This is a good place to note that the living room was DIRECTLY next to the dining room and we would shortly be eating dinner.

I don’t actually know what conversations ensued between my father and the vacuum repair place, but I can only guess that they were not unembarrassing and it wasn’t inexpensive. This is making me realize that I should send my dad an Edible Arrangement today. Or maybe invent a dedicated Poop Vacuum (one where The Shit does not literally hit The Fan and evenly distribute it inside the inner workings of the vacuum and burn it to enhance the smell?) and share the proceeds with him. Magical, fully funded happy retirement times for everyone! See you on the links (which I think refers in some way to golf or similar rich people pastime)!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Famous People, Warehouse Shopping (Obviously)

ZOMGosh, I totally didn't post anything for Embarrassing Stories Thursdays! I was totally thrown off by Veterans Day and spent the entire day either 1) thinking it was Wednesday. I even said, out loud, that it was Wednesday, more than once, and my husband (weird, someone was listening to what I said? Not normal on weekdays, when I am usually just surrounded by children who only seem to listen when I slip up and drop some above their pay grade knowledge, like the f-bomb when I burn myself, or similar, which they then put into regular, public rotation. But general, useful growing up learning knowledge? No. That they do not hear.) corrected me every time. But I still persisted in my belief that it was Wednesday. Or 2) thinking it was Saturday, which I also did a lot. It actually turned out to be a day that existed outside the normal calendar, in the end. Some sort of mix of weekend and weekday and holiday.

Since it was Veterans Day AND my children weren't currently harboring any sort of visible germ that could fell an elderly person in a single swoop (finally, I've been waiting for a window like this for at least a month) it was the perfect opportunity to unleash us on my favorite veteran (sorry, other veterans): My grampa. He lives just far enough away to normally be safe from our invasions, but today, no. I made large amounts of lasagna and salad to make up for the chaos we bring and the damage we do to his new, off-white carpet, which is more and more off and less white for every one of our visits. The boys LOVE to visit him and he and my husband enjoy discussing the possible causes of traffic and every obscure sports team ever, and I attempt to keep the kids from breaking his stuff.

I think my favorite ever visit was a tandem one where my sister and I both went at the same time and had all 4 kids with us and they were going in his bedroom and he insisted it was fine, there was nothing they could break or get into, and then he paused and went in there to check and came out with a couple of boxes of bullets and shotgun shells and a knife. Hahahaha. So. Visits there = #1. They really are.

But! I owe you, dear and every more volume of readers (where are you all finding me? I love the internet and the fact that it means people in Denmark and South Korea know about my flights of vomit tasting,) an embarrassing story. The problem here is that I haven't been running lately, and when I am in the middle of a long run, THAT is when my brain shuts off and spits out all the stories from my past and puts them in written format. What I am doing right now, instead, is a workout called Insanity, which will probably lead to me being committed with some sort of foot fracture and a blown out knee, but check out my abs! It doesn't lead to zen headspace, but more "watch out for the couch!" and "haha, look at that guy on the screen's face" and "ow" and laughing at the instructor saying, "Rest when needed! (obligated to say that legally) BUT PUSH THROUGH THE PAIN." Which? Which, Shawn T.? I am too sweaty to comb through your contradictions and frankly I cannot do these moving pushups anyway.

Instead of a story I should just post video of me trying to do these workouts: Serious LOL. I am very flail-y and incompetent.

But! Do not worry. I will unearth a story.

So! It's 2008, and the children and I are in Costco, procuring enough food to see us through the apocalypse/ the weekend. It is election fever time, and everyone's all "I can see Russia from my house!" and coming up with elaborate security light configurations to prevent lawn signs being stolen (I am way too lazy for that, which is why our signs got stolen. Twice.) and it's utter madness.

But who is that, selecting a flat of LifeWater or SoBe or whatever, one of those drinks that I don't understand, is a random guy. Who happens to be black.

"Barack Obama!" shouts my three year old, pointing. "Mama! Look! It's Barack Obama!" Joyfully, and, more importantly, at ear-splitting volume. And, MOST importantly, the guy TOTALLY hears him. Unfortunately in this instance, my kid has reasonably good enunciation skills for his age.

So then (after turning tail and zooming down another aisle) I am saddled with the enviable task of explaining how not every black man we see is Barack Obama and, in fact, if the man in question is doing his own shopping at a warehouse store in New Hampshire, it is extremely unlikely to be the presidential candidate. If we are going to see him, it will be at a rally (which we did! And you can point and identify him all you want there, son!) or on television.

This seems to have sunk in, since it hadn't happened again. Although I've probably just jinxed myself. I do that a lot.

I feel like this was weak. I'll either have a better story next week or post video of myself trying to do the Insanity Cardio Pylometrics or whatever. It's only fair.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Yesterday: Bed, Bath and Bodyworks and Beyond (-N-Things)

Ha. Yesterday. It started out fine, normal morning at home with the boys, puttering around and pretending to be Ironman (them) and trying not to make eye contact so I don't have to be, like, The Hulk or whatever (me) and then I got it into my head that I needed a Keurig coffee maker, like, RANOW. I was cleaning the Mr. Coffee and it flaked some paint off its warming tray (as it is wont to do, naughty Mr. Coffee) and I was all, you know what, Mr. Coffee? No. No. No is what, Mr. Coffee. I banish thee to the basement. You were meant to be a temporary measure when my beloved Grind 'n' Brew kicked the bucket by repeatedly vomiting grounds all over the kitchen, and you have overstayed your plastic, average welcome. I will keep you for emergencies but, let's be honest, will there be an emergency that the French press cannot handle? We shall see. Be gone.*

(*SPOILER ALERT I got a Keurig and WHOA I HAVE HAD THREE CUPS OF COFFEE SO FAR TODAY SAMPLER PACK WOOOO So much information and conversations with appliances to impart, OMG sit back and enjoy.)

So I wake the younger one from his "nap" (today instead of just the more mundane sleep, he went with a small amount of that plus a garnish of making a new and interesting smell and tearing down the curtains (curtain rods straight out of the wall, no halfway measures!) in his room "because of his rocket boots") we eat lunch and then pile into the car and head to school. Children delivered, I clutch my 20% off coupons and drive straight to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I arrive and... it's not there. Oh. That used to be a Linens-N-Things and it's been closed for AT LEAST two years AND I went to the closing sale. And my gym that I only just quit going to this year is next door to it so I've parked here probably 100+ times since it closed. Huh. Okay. It's a good thing I've only lived here for 4 years so I don't have even more history to get confused by, because this happens to me all the time. If I still lived where I grew up, I'd be like, "Let's go to Caldor! Or Zayre's!" So I've got no idea where the closest Bed Bath and Bodyworks and Beyond is. I go to places like that approximately never. Since my phone is circa 90210 and practically comes with a giant carrying case with a long curly cord that I have to plug into my cigarette lighter (and I absolutely never remember to charge it and/ or bring it with me) I head home to use the interwebs for location sourcing.

And I get barely a mile before the guy in front of me rams into a gorgeous full grown lady deer crossing the road. It was sad stuff, but somehow my once totally porous heart is hardened (I cried once because I saw a horse laying down in a field and would it be okay? WOULD IT BE OKAY? But since I had kids and got past the postpartum it's seriously like I have absolutely no room for any extraneous suffering and my brain just doesn't compute it. It's not like I go around all Clockwork Orange, or like I didn't pull over and make sure someone called animal control and the police, but while pulled over I didn't dry heave or cry hysterically for 45 minutes and then take a nap in the backseat.)

So, no coffee maker and one maimed deer later, I get home and check the internet, which knows everything. Alas! There is one nearby, right over the border in New Hampshire! I head there immediately. Coffee! You will be mine!

I arrive and it's even right there, near the door, which is surely a sign. I heft it straight onto the checkout counter and hand over my coupon and credit card and think about sending Mr. Coffee to the basement where he belongs, in the Land of Misfit Appliances. But what's this? My card is declined. Please try again, I request. Declined again! And again! The cashier calls the manager over and they both look at me suspiciously. Am I the cause of the economic collapse? Am I an identity thiever? Blast! I am neither and also I would like coffee immediately. But I have no choice but to admit defeat (FOR NOW) and go home and iron this out.

I get home! And, indeed, there is a message from the Fraud Protection Services (protecting NO ONE but themselves, since the consumer's liability is limited -- you do not fool me, Chase) saying they'd like me to call back and confirm my recent purchases. So I call and do just that, and according to the robot who answered, the problem seems to be that I've made several purchases out of state. (This has happened to us before.) Hey, robot, do you have a map? I can casually run over the state line and back. I shop over state lines all the time. I wonder how people who live near the Four Corners feel. Their cards probably get shut off once a week, minimum.

But! My card is back on! I call my husband to check in, and while we're gleefully bashing Chase, call waiting beeps. Oh. It is the school. This is NEVER good. The last time the school called it was a cheerful, Hello! Please come collect your child and take him directly to the ER to have the washer cut off his finger! So I answer, flinching because that helps. And, indeed, it's below average information: My youngest wacked another kid in the face and could I please come collect him. Erf. Awful. SO I head to the school, collect the angelic looking and even seeming (oh, but I know) child in question and cart him out to the car. And drag his other child hitting self over state lines to buy a coffee maker!

Make sure to get the same clerk and brandish my legitimate card and she cares not even the tiniest bit, ha. But! None of this matters because I have SWEET MERCIFUL COFFEE and it is in my hands. Home we go!

Then we make a card for the kid he hit (which turns out to be one of the sweetest, calmest little girls in class, and the child of a good friend of mine, which is both better and worse depending on how my brain twists this information around) and go to deliver the note and pick up his older brother.

But, really, the moral of the story is that I have a Keurig now. It's fancy and makes the rest of my kitchen look like war years deprivation in the UK in comparison. Also, so far, the coffee is meh, and I need to do some K-cup research to find what works for us. However! This solves the problem of how to make drinkable coffee while my husband is traveling, because I sincerely cannot make palatable coffee no matter how hard I try. I swear I even ruin it a little bit when he sets it all up and I do nothing but hit the brew switch. You can tell it was me because it's just that tiny bit less delicious. It is my flaw. Or one of them, at least.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Running Post! Playlist Ackshun

So I've had some requests* for playlist suggestions (*okay, one request), so here they are. A lot of them are lifted directly from the Run Like a Mother playlists, for which I have been very grateful in my quick attempts to throw something new on the 'Pod* (*I like how I saved so much time by adding the apostrophe instead of the i and THEN also adding this note about it) and not wanting to eat too much into the time available for the run.

My current list (which I usually listen to on shuffle)

I Stand Corrected - Vampire Weekend
Electric Feel - MGMT
Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z/ Alicia Keys
Stronger - Britney Spears
Only Girl in the World - Rhianna
Defying Gravity (dance remix) - Idina Menzel
My Life Would Suck Without You - Glee Cast
Hate on Me - Glee Cast
Meet Me on the Equinox - Death Cab for Cutie (I especially like this for "everything ends" -- which is a nice reminder when I'm in the crappy feeling part of a run)
Hands in the Air - Girl Talk
Telephone - Lady Gaga
Tik Tok - Ke$ha
Here Comes Your Man - Pixies
Flashdance (What a Feeling) - Irene Cara (Really never fails to make me crack up.)
Last Name - Glee Cast
Give Me a Beat - Girl Talk
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
LDN - Lily Allen
Bad Romance - Glee Cast
Defying Gravity - Kristin Chenowith/ Idina Menzel (This has all the stage talk etc in it but works for me because I love it so much.)

So! There's what I'm currently running to, with some changes to come when I get tired of it in a week or so. Please do add suggestions in the comments, because I'm always looking for more stuff.

(Dis)organized: Thanks, olden timey peeps.

So I am epically disorganized. There are rooms in my house where, if I were to let an organized person into them, they would probably have a panic attack. In fact, I did once let my cousin into my most amazingly terrifying room (and it was in worse than normal shape because I was in the middle of sorting thousands (truly, I know I exaggerate at almost all times, but I am actually not, right now. Maybe I should. OKAY MILLIONS) of ancient photos of my mom's side of the family.) My sense of wanting to share all the super awesome stuff I was finding overrode my anti-shame safety features and I was all heartily OH WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE THIS LETTER I FOUND and she stopped in the doorway and said, "Oh!" I think she'd thought I'd been robbed. Well, yes. I was robbed: Of any natural ability to create and maintain any kind of order at all. (But that letter WAS awesome.)

Anyway, so I'm tired of it. My house is about 40% functional and 60% cram everything in there and shut the door so no one will see. I know where the first aid kit is and I'm pretty sure I could dig up my passport but if you needed, say, wood glue, I would probably draw a blank and then go buy more and then the same thing would happen next time. So I decided, you know what? I'm an adult. I have an adorable house that I am straight-up ruining through ineptitude. So I went where I always go where I have a problem: Directly into denial.

But then, a few weeks (months) (okay, years) later I went to the next best place, which was the library. And, indeed, they did have the solution, as they always do. And: Free! So I got out a book called What's a Disorganized Person to Do? and I started reading it, figuring it would, if not solve my problems, at least give me some tools with which I could (sigh) solve my own problems.

And indeed, the book contained many, many helpful items. Unfortunately, my house is so completely unhelpful. Here are some tips for your pantry! (Er, what pantry?) Your mudroom can be more efficient! (Mud. Room?) Your foyer can store a multitude of items! (Hmm. Foyer?) Your linen closet! (Hmph.) Your bedroom closet! (Is the size of a phone booth!) Your garage! (Again, nothing.) Your basement! (Dungeon, size allows it to contain furnace, water heater, and not much else.)

So perhaps there is a reason my disorganization has reached epic levels despite a nearly restraining order level obsession with IKEA. My house is conspiring against me. It was built for 1850s and we've done nothing to improve it's storage abilities since then, doing things like adding indoor plumbing and owning refrigerators. (Well, actually, and adding a small addition but that's not that funny and, frankly, that addition is almost exactly the footprint of the bathrooms so we're sort of at square one.)

So my house is designed for someone who owns two outfits, no food processor, and who can store stuff in the minuscule basement because there's no furnace back in the olden times. So, essentially, I have to go buy the equivalent of a mace or a battering ram from the Container Store or the aforementioned IKEA (which I think would be, respectfully, Elfa shelves and BJURSTA items) and beat my house into submission. And so I go at it, hanging hooks and shelves and putting things in boxes and putting those boxes away etc. And, frankly, I'm failing. Everything looks exactly the same. I hang hooks and people hang random items on them immediately, almost before I can even finish screwing them in. I spend a whole week clearing a space in the basement to build some shelves and 1) my children lock me down there (really, but they did let me out (which is too bad because I stashed a book down there for exactly that eventuality)) and 2) as soon as the space was cleared, SOMEONE stored a broken down crib in it when I had my back turned.

As I see it, I am faced with two choices: A) Give up. (I am so very good at this.) Decide it will be easier when the children are older and let chaos reign in the meantime. 2) Get more battering rams and, more importantly, more game, and rule with an iron fist. (I just typed "iron fish" which I actually like better but which, sadly, makes less sense and sounds undelicious.)

I'm still deciding. But, just in case, I sort of took dozens of pictures of my house at its worst and might post them as before and then, when the shame gets to me enough to motivate me to use the iron fist/fish, after stories. Maybe. This depends, as all my potential kareoke performances (WATERLOO) do, on how much I have to drink. So: We'll see.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why, hello, prisoner road crew.

Oh! It's Thursday! Here is your weekly slice of my mortification! This excites you mildly.

I had a hard time choosing today's story, but saw a road work crew with a Middlesex County Sherrif Department van keeping them company and those bright orange jumpsuits decided it for me. 

SO rewind to sometime this past summer, and they're repaving our road. My boys were a mixture of very excited (younger one, who likes trucks et al with enthusiasm bordering on epic) and mildly but not terribly interested (older one, who's said, "SIGH I hate dinosaurs." You hate dinosaurs? Why? "SIGH Well, I guess I don't hate them, but I'm just so tired of hearing about them. 'Oh, do you want to talk about dinosaurs?' NO." Ha ha. He's not 100% on the boy toy trifecta of dinos, trucks, and guns, I guess. Right on, sir.)  

But, despite antipathy on the older, it was still deemed more exciting than anything else going on at 8:30 in the morning (note that the TV wasn't on) so we accumulated in the foyer and filed outside. I was still in my pajamas, which consisted of a racer back tank and yoga capris, no bra. The no bra would normally keep me from the outdoors, but we didn't want to miss the show as it went past the house, so I figured I'd just hold the younger one on my lap as a visual shield and be golden. Onward, I say! To the front porch.

Oh, so many machines. There was a truck of some sort, something that made noise, some sort of giant rolly thing, who knows. It was loud, smelled vaguely terrible, and it was vastly entertaining. The road crew talked to the boys, even, which blew their minds slightly. (The older one wasn't really impressed. He rarely is, unless you have in depth superhero knowledge, like, perhaps, information about Hal Jordan's childhood or can unravel the secret of why there's more than one Robin in a way he can process.)

Oh, wow. Now the machines are mostly going out of sight. Good bye, machines! We enjoyed your -- ack! The small one is taking off! I launch myself after him, yelling, "You were supposed to be my visual shield!" (Okay, I wasn't really yelling that. It was more just a mixture of "Stop!" and things along the lines of "Dammit!" along with picturing him getting hit by a car or crushed by the rolly thing. He is, of course, loving this game of chase, and I am, obviously, not. I am not built to run with no bra, and especially not in public.

But, hark! What's that in the non-distance, pulling up right at the stop sign about 2 feet from my face? Why, it is a van full of prisoners, who have been procured to clean up our little local playground that day. Hello, sirs. Oh, please, DO gawk, that is what I'm here for, in fact, and you have been in the clink (are we still calling it/ did we ever call it the clink? Oh! A helpful list of prison euphemisms!) for so long and I sympathize. Oh, wait, no: empathize? No, wait! Neither! OMG, visual shield, you have failed me. And thusly I gather you in my arms and haul you inside and stew in a heady mixture of shame and embarrassment for approximately one hour. The end.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I came, I saw, I candied.

Man. So I have had some really poor ideas lately about what would be a good idea to consume. Say, folks, it's lunch time, I think to myself. Then I wake up an hour later surrounded by candy wrappers and with a sincere, non-joke-style headache. Wow, I think. That was a bad idea. Let's not do that again. Fast forward a half hour, suddenly feel fine, decide to have snack. Repeat previous action.

This has been going on for 3 days. It's a bad scene.

Today is also election day, and I'm afraid we're going to Pick Flick.

Actually, what I'm really afraid of is this:

But, frankly, while I'll be glad to see the back of the constant political ads, I'm going to miss the Governor's race coverage in the Boston Globe. It generally goes like this:

"Democratic candidate Deval Patrick spoke about blah blah blah at blah diner in Wakefield. Blah blah blah Deval blah blah. Republican Charlie Baker's staff handed out M&Ms and talked to children who were opposed to the taxes on candy. Blah blah blah Patrick, blah blah blah Baker. Many many paragraphs blah."

Then, near the end of the article, always, "Green Rainbow candidate Jill Stein spent the morning tending her herd of unicorns." Not exactly, it was "attended the Boston Vegetarian Festival in JP" or a pot rally, but still, it was pretty awesome. I almost, ALMOST wanted to vote for her so that Massachusetts could be run inside a Joan Aiken Armitage Story. SIGH I love Joan Aiken.

Anyway, my candy consumption is a total downward spiral of terribleness and it's got to stop. We only have crap left anyway, so you would think I'd stop automatically, but not necessarily. Erf.