Monday, April 29, 2013

On Planning the Day

When I began the day I planned on eating a good breakfast.

Instead, I ate a donut.  It was delicious.

When I began the day I planned on walking with my neighbor for an hour.

Instead, I skipped our walking routine because of the rain.  It’s amazing how the rain makes everything instantly green in the spring.

When I began the day I planned on sending an email.

Instead, I edited text for half an hour before sending the email.  I found some mistakes in the text that would have been embarrassing.

When I began the day I planned on getting a head start on the laundry.

Instead, I found a load of clothes in the dryer that I forgot about.  It’s a good thing they were just towels; nobody cares about wrinkled towels.

When I began the day I planned on drinking less coffee and more water than usual.

Instead, I drank the same amount of coffee.  But I did drink more water.   

When I began the day I planned on writing my own blog post first before reading other people’s.

Instead, I read other blog posts before writing my own.  They were good ones.

When I began the day I planned on cleaning bathrooms.

Instead, I decided that I won’t do that today.  They’re not too bad; they can wait another day.

When I began the day I planned on rushing the kids through their morning routine because of their doctor appointments.

Instead, I got smiles and “Love you, mom” all around.

It’s a good thing the day isn’t over yet; I still have time to see what other plans might go awry.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Last April on About 100% - An Exercise in Narcissism

Reflecting on past blog posts is like gazing in the mirror.

Sometimes it’s painful, but you just can’t look away.

This time last year on the blog I was all over the place.  The month of April was a cornucopia of topics; looking back, the ideas were varied and I have to admit, vaguely interesting.  One of these posts made it into my top five most read posts, which means that it probably included the words “Penis” or “Porn,” because as everybody knows most people visit the internet for one or both of those topics.  Last April was obviously a rich time for me writing-wise despite last April being really busy in this house what with all the painting and redecorating we did that is still not finished.

In contrast, this April finds me idling in front of my computer daily, yet I can’t seem to produce much of anything except a few lame posts.

I call it “having writer’s block.”  The rest of the world calls it “being lazy.”

Last April there were two posts about candy.  OF COURSE, because April is Easter, and Easter is candy.  If you’re new here, let me bring you up to speed by stating that candy is everything.  Of course, now that I’ve spent most of my life eating it, my body has decided that it actually hates candy, so I have had to let up on the candy consumption.  A LOT.  I wrote one post about bringing my own candy into movie theaters even though I regard that behavior as an egregious sin, and one about eating all my children’s chocolate Easter bunny pops.  Some things never change.

I wrote a post about feeling Mean, which was probably PMS-fueled, and thus should be struck because I hate that hormones make me do terrible things, except I posted my favorite picture of an elderly lady smiling and wearing a T-shirt that says “I HATE EVERYONE.”  Which always makes me feel anything but Mean.

April included a post on reasons why people have children, the #2 most viewed post on the blog (#1 by a mile is Sock Bun Fun, which was one of my first ever posts, and incidentally the #1 article brought up if you Google "Sock Bun Fail."  Yep.  You read that right.  I'm famous!  Try it.  Man, I wish I was famous for something else.)  My number one reason for having children was so parents would have other people to do chores for them, people who don’t need to be paid.  You might think this is child abuse or goes against child labor laws in our country, but I disagree.  Children are made to work.  Who else has hands small enough to fit into a toilet hole?  Those things don’t clean themselves.

I wrote about the frustration with having bangs.  Actually, this was an exercise in MS Paint that I feel came out pretty good.  Sure, it took me three times as long to write this post as any other, but I was pretty pleased with it.  Unlike my feelings about having bangs, which is why I no longer have any.

Two posts on TV shows; one about Mad Men. It’s my favorite show.  It was last April as well, as I confessed to watching nothing but Mad Men for weeks until there were no more episodes to watch.  That was a sad day indeed.  The other was about how My Little Pony Friendship is Magic will be the end of me.  This is a cartoon show which our daughter watched on a loop before school and after school endlessly for days.  I’m not sure where she gets her obsessive-compulsive TV-viewing habits.

I talked more about parenting.  One was a post on how my children drive me crazy when they go to bed, as it morphs into a last-ditch effort to get the last word, the last shred of attention, the last time-wasting activity in before lights out.  I believe I used the term “wily, beastly beasties” to describe my kids.  This year they go to bed a half-hour later than last year, and those mind games have all but stopped.  I kind of miss those days in the way I miss high school.  That is, I may reminisce, but there’s no way on earth I’d ever want to go back there again.  The other post on parenting was about teaching children terrible habits like arm-farting and other inappropriate things.  Let’s move along.

By far my favorite post last April was where I reveal a health diagnosis that has since guided the course of my life, which is that I have an anatomically short leg, or ASL for short.  OK, it didn’t really alter the course of my life, but it did cause me to rethink my shoe wardrobe, which now has to include a heel lift, just like Tom Cruise.

Ahh, last April on the blog.  It was marked by hilarity as well as meaningful pieces surely to be remembered for years to come.

Thank goodness, because this April, I am clearly NOT pulling my weight.  On my own blog.  Pathetic all around.


This post inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

Prompt #4: Look into your archives. What were you blogging about a year ago around this time? Are you still dealing with the same thing? Your thoughts?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Just A Year

What a difference a year makes.

Last year at this time, I changed my eating and exercise habits, did a juice cleanse, and lost almost fifteen pounds.  I got rid of all my one-piece bathing suits, and had all the energy in the world as I threw myself into some major home redecorating projects.  I felt good.

I went out on my birthday and a guy in line at the club I was waiting to get into gaped openly when I told him how old I was turning that night.

Yes.  I went to a club a year ago, and didn’t get thrown out for being too old, which has happened to me since then.

This year I’m thinking that those jeans that used to fall off me?  Should probably go to the giveaway pile, since they seem to be shrinking.  I’ve had a pain in my neck for four months, despite regular visits to the chiropractor.  And I skipped the gym today.  And last week.  And it just so happens that the guy at the bar I went into just this past weekend waved me right in as I stood in line behind a few others he was harassing for proof of age.  He didn’t even bother to make a show of asking me for ID.

And I guess I just painted a picture of myself as a middle-aged bar hag.

Whatever.  Did you know that Fig Newtons makes cookies?  I mean real ones, not the kind you used to eat at Grandmas.  Yum.

Last year at this time I was marveling at all the grey hairs on my head and decided to stop fighting them and let them grow.  But they still bothered me.

But this year, not so much.  This year, my perspective is that these things are just things that happen.  Life causes us to change.  I'm older.  I feel more settled.  I don’t hang onto the things that used to make me feel younger.  I’ve let them go, just like my one-piece bathing suits.

Which, jeez.  Maybe I should try to replace them, you know, because of all those cookies.  Or maybe not.  After all, I’m not 80.  Yet.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

10 Blushable Situations

Coming up with a list of ten things that would make me blush is easy.  Making a list of only ten things that would make me blush is hard. 

So I’m a blusher.  It’s real, it’s involuntary, it’s unstoppable.

I noticed this phenomenon in my face about fifteen years ago, when I was in graduate school (yes, I said fifteen years ago.  Contrary to my amazing youthfulness and vitality both in person and online, I am not twenty years old.  Thank you for thinking it).  We were forced expected to regularly make presentations in front of the class and groups of underclassmen for professional development purposes and also I think to torture us psych nerds who were largely bookworms and uncomfortable talking to anyone other than a lab rat for an extended period of time.  On one of these occasions I launched a tampon out of my pocket and it landed directly in front of me.

Don’t ask.  You can read about it right here.

Since that fateful time in my life, I have noticed that I blush quite easily on occasion.  Or every occasion that looks like the following ten that I have listed below.  As a result, I try to avoid these situations, and it is not easy.  I’m currently working on not feeling embarrassed when I blush and instead making a clever comment about it, like “OMG I’m blushing right now.”

Okay.  I should work on my cleverness.

Anyway, here are the Top Ten Situations That Are Certain To Make Me Blush:

Launching a tampon out of my pocket in front of a large audience who is watching me make a speech.  That one was a giveaway.  But still, no less blush-worthy.

Running into someone who I haven’t seen in a long time.  Old childhood friends, high school buddies, old teachers, old bosses – if we have a history, and I see you on the street, please disregard my reaction.  Sometimes I wish I was a dog so when I see someone I know I’d just run around in circles and wag my tail, and you would say aw, how cute.  But instead I will stand there and stare at you with my uncomfortably red face and silently hope you won’t notice.  But of course you will, because hello.  It’s January and I look like I’ve got a sunburn.

Being surprised.  It’s the major reason why I hate surprise parties.  All the blood rushes to my face when I am surprised, and somehow the sweat that accompanies the heart palpitations that also happen turns into tears, so when you are jumping out from behind my couch and taking pictures of me at my surprise birthday party, I am a straight up mess.

Getting pulled over.  Darn cops, giving me tickets AND making me blush.  I would’ve slowed down if I had known you would cause me to embarrass myself this way.

Meeting someone famous.  Blushing is the main reason why I avoid famous men like Christian Bale and Adam Levine.  You’re welcome, girlfriends and wives of famous men.  I’m sure they would fall in love with me if they got an eyeful of my charming crimson face.  And neck and chest as well, if I’m being honest.  This goes for women, too.  Stay away from me, Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton.

Meeting someone new.  Even if I’m anticipating the meeting.  No amount of preparing for a get-together can prevent a full-on blush from happening.  It’s the dog thing again, and it is out of control.

Having to talk in front of other people.  Sometimes, blushing in front of a crowd is accompanied by a stammer or inappropriate comment.  Or a tampon launching out of my pocket.  In this case of a trifecta of awkward absurdity, just sit back and enjoy the show.

Saying something controversial. You know those people who live for being contentious?  Yeah.  I’m not one of them.  But sometimes I do have ideas that are against the grain, and I take the beating of my heart and the shaking of my hands as signs that I should voice them.  Then, when they are roundly dismissed, I blush furiously as I wildly try to grab them back so I can stuff them down my throat.

Saying something embarrassing.  Someday I will refrain from telling people all about personal business that I shouldn’t.  But for now, it happens.  All the time. 

Being guilty. Really, in this case I deserve all the blushing my body can produce.


This post inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

Prompt #2: List of 10 things that will make you blush.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Laundry Day

That turquoise shirt looks different lately.

Is it shrinking?  It seems to be losing its shape a little.

No, it still looks okay.  Not even faded – the color is still as bright as it was when we bought it, which says a lot.  It is cotton, after all.  The material seems softer, more worn.  We got it last year about this time.  I can’t believe it’s still around.  Their clothing hangs around a little longer these days than it did when they were small.

I know why it looks worn – she pulls on it.  How I wish she’d forget about covering up the parts she wants to hide.  When did she start doing this?  Just this year.

I’m so glad she changed before we left yesterday.  She still needs to be reminded that roller-skating is sweaty business.

She’s taller on skates.  Almost lanky.  In two years she’ll probably be wearing my shoes.

But that shirt.  It still fits.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Six Memorable Quotes

I’m not really a favorite quote person. Mainly because I'm not good at remembering things like that, but also because I find it annoying when people go around quoting other people and expect you to have the same epiphany about it that they do, and I don’t like to be annoying.  Without meaning to be, anyway.

If you have kids under the age of five, you probably have books filled with memorable quotes that your kids have said, like I do.  Yeah, I totally don’t.  I am the mom who documents almost nothing in my kids’ childhoods, save the twelve thousand pictures my husband has taken of them that threaten to overtake our home.  Little kids are quote machines; everything that exits their mouths is utterly share-worthy and worth preserving, or so it seems on Facebook.  Because I have no files of my kids’ quotes when they were small, and the memorable things that come out of their mouths these days are usually of the “YOU ARE THE WORST MOTHER EVER” variety, I have little to share of these types of things.

So I will share some quotes that appeal to my sensibilities.  Don’t ask me to tell you Who Said That a week from now.  Odds are I have to look it up, as I had to do with some of these memorable quotes I’m about to lay out here.  I said I'm not good at this.

“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can - there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.” – Sarah Caldwell.  Now, I don’t know who Sarah Caldwell is, nor did I know this quote before I read it on a poster in my son’s middle school a month or so ago.  That probably tells you more about me than the fact that I like the quote does, but whatever.  I fully subscribe to the mentality behind this quote, which basically says “Don’t be too proud to pass up any opportunity to learn something from anyone, because someday you’ll kick yourself for being so stupid.”  Maybe Sarah Caldwell wishes she had said that instead.

“I don’t look as dumb as I am!!” – My little brother, circa 1984.  My little brother, 7 years my junior, confused the wording of the oldie but goodie “I’m not as dumb as I look” and spouted this attempt at a verbal smack-down to my older brother and I, who were probably torturing him with Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.  I forget the details of what happened that day, but I will never forget this quote, which still makes me cackle.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – The Bible, New Testament, Romans 12:18 (New International Version).  I mean, you can’t really get clearer than this, can you?  Plus it’s from God, so it’s a command.  The part that I love is “as far as it depends on you.”  Come on world, get it together man.

“Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they’re rather stupid.” – Mrs. Banks (from Mary Poppins).  As an aside, I loved this movie when I was a kid.  Something about Mary Poppins and her no-nonsense confidence made me wish not that I had a nanny like her, but that I was her.  Maybe that’s why I’m a little bit of a neat freak.  Or why I own so many high-collared Victorian dresses.  Either way, this quote (which is a line from ‘Sister Suffragette,’ a song in the movie) always stood out to me, even though MP didn’t say it.  Seriously, though.

 “There are three types of people in the world: people that make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who stand around and say, ‘What the heck just happened?’” – Mary Kay Ash (paraphrased).  My senior class quote.  I spent so much time trying to get out of school my last year of high school that I completely missed the process by which this quote became significant to our class, which solidifies my membership in category #3 here.

“You are/he is/she is busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.” – Unknown.  This is more of an idiom than a quote, but damn if I don’t love saying this, particularly when observing my friends who have many children to parent.  I always laugh after saying it; they don’t.


This post inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

Prompt #1: List six of your favorite quotes

Friday, April 5, 2013

False Advertising

On a Friday mid-afternoon, the at-home mother glanced at the clock and knew that in just a few minutes her freedom from bowing and scraping to her family's every whim would end.  In a desperate attempt to hold on to any vestige of control over her life that would soon be lost, she quickly scanned the offerings left over from the previous weekend's activities and chose the most promising option.

If she was to go down, she would go down beautifully.

She hoped, after this particular post-Easter feeding frenzy, that the odds would be in her favor this time. After all, it said so right on the box.  The awareness that she might have misunderstood what the label on the box was describing, and the consequences of what she had just done hit her as she was licking the last of the evidence off of her fingers.

The front door opened, and her son walked in.  She shrieked.  

Too late, she realized that the label on the chocolate bunny she consumed would fail to produce in her the physical effects she thought it promised.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Deviled Eggs

The kitchen sprang to life.  One woman disappeared behind the refrigerator door and emerged with a ham under each arm; the other woman produced two zipped containers of china dishes from the server in the dining room.

Should we use the silver? she asked.

I think so, said a third woman.  Why not?  It’s Easter.  She was older than the other two, and still seated at the table.  Once in charge of preparing the meal for the family that would soon come together for the holiday, she watched as the other two busied themselves.  Just keep us company, they said.

Tables were set for eleven, rolls sliced, pickles and olives arranged in bowls for snacking.  Recipes were consulted, ingredients combined, and before long hot dishes were bubbling in the oven.  Vegetables were chopped for a salad; dressings were found and shaken.  Soon the whole house was infused with the aroma of home-cooked comfort food – ham and potatoes and green beans.

What will we do with these?  asked the first woman, whose tasks were completed.  A plate of dyed hard-boiled eggs lay on the counter. Each was dyed a bright color: pink, yellow, orange and blue.  A few had a marbled effect. 

I don’t know, said the second.  Just leave them there for decoration.  They’re so pretty, but no one will eat them.

How about deviled eggs?  they both wondered as they regarded the plate.  They hesitated.  Making deviled eggs was not a strength of either of these two women.  They remembered the last attempt.  It was not wonderful.

Can I do something? asked the third woman, again.

Yes, said the first.  Can you make deviled eggs?

Of course, said the third woman, getting up from her chair.  It took her some time to rise and come to the counter.

As the second woman assembled and prepped the ingredients her grandmother needed, her mother retrieved a bowl and asked her mother-in-law if she needed anything else.

Just a mixer, she said.

The two youngers watched their elder add dressings and spices to the yolks, then mix them together using the small hand mixer.

They tasted the filling and proclaimed it perfect.

As Mom got to the next task of filling the emptied egg whites and I sliced some olives and located the paprika for garnish, Grandma turned toward the sink and washed and dried the dishes that she used.  Mom and I stayed out of her way as she made her way around my kitchen, her role as head holiday chef reinstated.

Those deviled eggs didn’t last long this Easter.  They were, hands down, everyone’s favorite part of the meal.


This post is inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

4.) Write a post inspired by the word: Eggs

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Stuff I Never Learned in School*

Life is an education that never ends.  When I became an adult I learned never to take your friends for granted.  When I became a mother I learned that I couldn’t love another human being as much as I loved our children (apologies to my husband).  And when I was a child I learned not to eat brown stuff if I wasn’t absolutely positive that it was chocolate.

But there are some things that I didn’t learn, useful things I wish I’d learned early when I was in school, so that they would be part of my general knowledge today.  Things that I should have been taught but hadn’t when I had the chance; things that would have freed me up to learn more exciting things as an adult.  Here are six of them: 

You Will Use Math in Real Life.   All through school I heard the same thing: you will never use math in real life.  I hated math, and took the easiest math classes once I got to high school, just when things started getting hard.  Now, I’m not working out cosines and tangents at home for kicks, but it sure would have been helpful to have spent some more time calculating percentages at school so I wouldn’t spend so much of my adult life looking like a balloon head when figuring out a tip.  Plus I haven't been able to help my kids with their math homework since they were in second grade.

Typing.  Am I the only person in the free world who can’t type without looking at my own hands?  My eyeballs get a workout bouncing from keyboard to screen to fingers and back again.  How did I miss those classes that all my friends took, where they held words-per-minute competitions?  If I never edited anything I typed it owul dlook liek thils.  Every single sentence.  Worst typist ever.

What I Am Good At.  This is more a guidance department fail, but whatever.  I remember being given aptitude and personality tests in the guidance office one time in my junior year of high school.  I showed aptitude for careers like actor, dairy farmer, zipper tester, and traveling salesman.  Then I was set free in college, where it took me three years to come up with a major, and I’m still not sure I made the right choice.  I never got much feedback on real skills I was good at, like learning languages, writing, and internalizing emotions.  This would have saved me years of working out how to keep a cow in the backyard.

Teachers Are Real People.  I was intimidated by teachers in school because I believed all the hype that teachers were weirdos who hated children.  I simply couldn’t put it together that teachers are ordinary people with families and problems and were doing the best they could at their jobs.  I was the kid who hid in the produce department if I saw a teacher at the grocery store.  If I had been taught that teachers put their pants on backwards just like I did sometimes, I wouldn’t have acted so awkward around my kids’ teachers when they started school and been a normal mother who volunteered and brought in cupcakes for birthdays once in a while, for cripes’ sake.  On the other hand, maybe not.  That sounds like a lot of work.

Life Skills.  I was shockingly unprepared for what adult life is really like, and would have appreciated a heads up in school. I’m talking about real classes that teach these specific skills, like learning that you must earn the money you spend, and how to live within that dollar amount.  And learning in real-life situations how long it takes to travel to a destination, so people aren’t always waiting for your late ass to show up.  And learning how to hang a picture, change a tire, and that the air filters on your home heating/cooling system must be changed.  And realizing when your skill set has been maximized and the appropriate professional to call to finish the job.

Good Manners.  Like a real class on manners.  Because if a class on good manners had been mandatory, like spelling or math, then everyone would have been exposed to them, and this world might be a little nicer.


 *This post was originally slated for a previous writing prompt exercise over at Mama Kat’s, but since I was never taught time management in school, I missed the window for this particular post.  Thanks a lot, school.