Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Adventure at the Medi-Mart

I went to one of those department store clinics the other day. Something about the combination of merchandise and doctoring seems unnatural. I am justifiably worried that my many happy shopping memories will be corrupted!


*Floyd, the person sitting behind the desk of the clinic, was wearing a stained grey-blue hoodie and jeans. He had a buzzed haircut and rolls of fuzzy skin on the back of his neck like a Shar Pei. He had short, brat-sized fingers with gnawed-down fingernails. I figured he was a delivery guy using the phone. I wait. Floyd greets me and asks why I’m there. “None of your business,” I thought, “and don’t you have some deliveries to make?”


“I have an infected blister, “I state, importantly--immediately realizing how nonsensical “infected blister” sounded out loud.


“Why don’t you have a seat and fill out the paperwork?” Floyd says. Hmm—he must be making frequent visits to the Medi-Mart—he knows the routine. Still…

“O.k.—that’s a good idea,” I say.


When I’m done completing my paperwork, Floyd reappears. Is he covering for someone on a break?

“Do you have your insurance card?”


O.k. I’m beginning to get that this person works here.


“Here you go,” I say, handing him my card.

“Any allergies?”

“Lots.” I list them

“Oh, you don’t have to worry. We won’t be using any of those drugs on you today.” Floyd says. I am relieved that Floyd has enough knowledge of the drugs I’ve listed to compare them with my reported “ailment.” This is encouraging.

At this point my daughter says,

“I’m allergic to furry cats.”

“He won’t have to use any of those on me, though, honey. Ha-Ha.” I say, with a laugh. WHAT DID I JUST SAY (my inner-voice chastises)?? I’m famous for stupid, nervous humor.


“It’s a good thing you’re not allergic to chocolate,” Floyd says to me, randomly.


Encouragement diminishing….

“Huh?”

“Yeah, because-- than you wouldn’t be able to eat chocolate.”

“Oh. Yea. Ha.” Floyd is being funny, I suspect.


Floyd is losing points by the nanosecond.


“Come on, back” he leads us to the examining room.


Now at this point I should clarify. I’m sort-of a hypochondriac. It’s hard for me to let something minor go unchecked. An infected blister, you might be saying, is hardly reason for a doctor visit. I say not so! Hillary Swank almost lost her foot to an infected blister. It COULD happen. It’s always best to get it checked out. O.k., back to the story.


Floyd looks at my foot. He says it doesn’t look that bad, but he’s prescribing a cream. Whew!! YAY! What a relief! Floyd says it’s no big deal! I could have had Soupy, the Dog Groomer tell me that. I am not comforted.


“But what about the red rashy thing around it,” I point. Floyd must have missed that. Here we go….this will concern him…definitely.


Floyd is unimpressed with the red rashy thing around my red blister. I’m noticing he doesn’t have a badge or anything. I think I’d like to see a REAL doctor to assess the severity of my very painful, nearly coma-inducing, festering blister.


“Do you hear that?” Floyd says, mysteriously.


WHAT??? This has GOT to be a joke. Am I on the “How Far Will You Let Someone Dressed as a Garbage Man Go” Show?


“Hear? Hear what?”


“There-that…” I did hear some scratching noise above us.

“Yeah, that noise kind of freaks me out—sounds like a bunch of birds.” Floyd says.
”…or rats...” offers Krista.


O.k. That’s it. Just GIVE me my prescription and get me THE HELL out of here!!

*Not his real name

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

They'll be here in.....20 MINUTES!!

Members of my household generally agree we clean for company because we want to make our guests feel comfortable, and by comparison, our normal cleanliness level isn’t. Most days I believe the house has me in a “happy place” cloud and I honestly don’t see the dirt. I am complacent until such time we are notified that someone is coming over. The “I-live-in-a-clean-house” drug wears off and I come out of my trance to the reality that…(gasp), I am a messy housekeeper!


If you arrive unannounced at our home, you will most likely “bust” us as we truly live—as dusty oafs, sitting around in a living room of filth, dirty dishes and dog hair. You will definitely find clutter, unfolded towels in the bathroom and the toilet paper roll off its dispenser. If you’re lucky, you might even see the artwork my daughter sculpts with the nearly-dry toothpaste in the sink.


If you give us notice, however, the scene is quite different. The counters will be sparkling, knickknacks dusted on the coffee table, vacuum cleaner stripes on the carpet, bathrooms in full “spa-mode” and the whole place will smell like either Fantastic or pine-scented Mr. Clean (new concept: room spray that smells like your room again, so it’s not so obvious you’ve JUST been cleaning). We will be casually sitting in the living room wearing clean clothes, thumbing through magazines, when you arrive, pretending like “of course—this is the way we always live.”


This tradition of “The Pre-Company Cleaning Frenzy” goes way back. My Mom had bed sheets on our sofas year round. They would be taken off just prior to a guest’s arrival along with the arm rest covers, so that we inhabitants were treated to “full furniture access” for a short span of time. Also, if my Dad was home at the time, he would blow the dust out of the piano with his air compressor. We had “good” towels that we put out for company only--the ones that were perpetually thick. We also got much better food.


To me, there are three degrees of guests: Long-range planned guests, shorter-notice guests (1-2 hour), and finally….the most feared……the “They’ll be here in 20 minutes” notice company.


LONG-RANGE:

Not even an issue—there’s time to do everything: Stock the refrigerator with favorite foods, clean bedding, full floor washing on both levels and I’ve even been known to buy cut flowers and put mints on pillows.


1-2 HOUR RANGE:

This happened today and as soon as we hung up the phone, my husband jumped up like something bit him and rushed outside, wordless, to pull the weeds in our garden. I immediately shifted into maid-mode and swiffered, vacuumed, dusted and ordered the kids around. I also got one bathroom ready (de-toothpasted counter and fluffy towels displayed). But, don’t look in our master bathroom--where the sweaty clothes from sonic-fast cleaning lay!!


THEY’LL BE HERE IN 20 MINUTES:

My friend Toni said that once, out of desperation, and faced with the dreaded 20 minute company notice, she shoved all the garbage, dirty clothes and dishes into laundry baskets and put them in the trunk of her car (I have considered this.)

Priority-1 Protocol is:

1. Clean out sink and clear an area to sit at kitchen table.

2. Make sure there’s a full roll of toilet paper.

3. Close-off access to “restricted areas” (use guard-dog if necessary)

4. Light candles and trail a stream of Febreeze behind me as I hear the doorbell ring.


“Mom—it’s not like the house inspector is coming.” Krista states, simply. The truth is our guests don’t really care what our house looks like. My Aunt Mary Ellen said it once, “I come to visit you, not your house.” But there’s something about company that makes us want to put our best foot forward—oh, but dust that foot off first!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sensible Panties Sisterhood (SPS)

When you decide that bikini underwear really isn’t all that comfortable, you know you’ve crossed over. I made that discovery years ago, when I couldn’t find maternity bikini panties in my size. Once I chose briefs, I felt the arms of women all over the world embracing me as I grew into a new level of maturity—another consciousness. I am in a new group—the Sensible Panties Sisterhood--“High-Cut Briefer” brigade.


I am reminded of the sisterhood this past week when I was doing a mountain of greasy, nasty, college male laundry. My washer and dryer were monopolized for several days and I was seeing the barren bottom of my underwear drawer while waiting to do my laundry. WAY in the back, where I haven’t been in YEARS was the LAST pair of clean underwear. It was the jade-green pair. The pair that is WAY too tight.


I am embarrassed to think how old they must be. I think the reason I keep them is that they remind me of a thinner, younger me. I keep them to test how close I am to my goal weight. They are Cinderella’s glass slipper. If they fit, I will be transformed once again into my 20-something self. However, I remain, ever-after, the plus-sized step-sister.


I pulled the jade-green pair of bikini underwear out and looked at them. They chuckled at me. If I had seriously tried to step into them, they would have broken out into spasms of hilarity and said, “Come on Fatty, wouldn’t you rather have a cookie?” The underwear has a one inch Playboy bunny black silhouette floppy-ear rabbit head on the backside. Just then, I remembered these particular panties had a story:


I was wearing them 17 years ago when I was getting my boys cleaned up after a long camping weekend. I was changing with my door open, while David and Jon (then 4 and 2) were both in the bath tub nearby.


Jon looked at me and yells, “MOM!! CRICKET!”

“WHAT?? WHERE?”

“It’s …ON YOU!” David screams.

“WHAT??” I scream, “WHERE?”
”RIGHT THERE!!” they both say, panicking, pointing at me.

At this point I’m brushing myself off wildly, freaking out.

“WHERE IS IT?”

“RIGHT THERE!”


I took off running into the living room. I got brave enough to finally look behind me. It was the Playboy Bunny black silhouette floppy-ear rabbit head.


Since I am part of the Sensible Panties Sisterhood, I gave myself permission to finally get rid of them today. When they hit the waste basket, I heard a sigh. They are at peace. They were never all that comfortable anyway.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Confessions of a Psycho-Worried Mom

The art of “Keeping Your Mouth Shut” is not a talent I possess. I am new; a beginner---at the “finger-painting” stage. I have always considered it my duty to share advice and opinions with my children. Now that my two oldest kids are adults, I really have to let them make their own decisions and mistakes.

THE CHALLENGE: Watching my oldest son prepare for a 3-month trip to China when there’s something I really, REALLY, REALLY want to share….

(That’s where this blog comes in handy)

Top 9 Things A Psycho-Worried Mother of a 21-year-old son going to China obsesses about:

9. Natural and Unnatural Disasters

8. Animals and Mosquitos and the diseases they carry for which David has not been immunized such as Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis

7. Will he be warm enough?

6. What if he gets sick?

5. What if his roommate hates him, finds drugs and hides them in David’s bag? Then, when he tries to leave the country, a dog sniffs it, and he’s hauled to a third world prison, locked in a box the size of a television and I never see him again

4. If he accidentally says “Bomb” in some other language while on the plane

3. They see his passport. He’s got the worst, scary passport picture I’ve ever seen. Then they send him to …oh, another third world prison worry

2. He has a nervous breakdown during his 12 hour layover in Italy

1. The Black Dahlia Murder t-shirt he chose to wear on plane is taken as a declaration of international war and he is immediately executed as he’s exiting the plane

My observations of David’s preparations are an especially good test of my skills. It was 7:30 pm the night before his trip before he started packing. I saw his luggage bulging (certainly over the weight and size limit) and researched luggage limits on the Internet. I book-marked all kinds of helpful sites, made lists made of things he needed to bring and to remember and emergency numbers. I shared none of these with him--an exercise in self-discipline. The minutes are ticking by and the “what-ifs” are building up in me like a wave about to crash. Yet I know and go over and over, “let him learn himself.” I repeat this. I keep the worry in.

I’m waiting for him to ask me… JUST… ONE question. The worry increasing--my helpful suggestions suppressed. I am a balloon, growing larger and larger, filling with worry-and-helpful-suggestions. I am a strong balloon—I will keep mouth shut. No question is asked of me.

The next morning David entered the car wearing shorts and the murderous “Black Dahlia” t-shirt. We travel toward the airport. The urge to ask him if he packed a jacket is nagging. I am a sneeze-in-waiting. The pressure is building--I will not ask!

Out of nowhere, my daughter says, “Brrrr, it’s cold in here (the car)." I, as the balloon, am frantic. I MUST ask this question. I am GOING TO DIE if I don’t ask him.

Suddenly…..

“David did you bring a jacket?” I exhale.

“No.”

Here it comes…..

“DAVID-ITS-COLD-HERE. IT-MIGHT-BE-COLD-IN-ITALY. WHAT-ARE-YOU-GOING-TO-DO? DO-YOU-WANT-US--TO-GO-HOME-AND-GET-IT?” I released a delicious, satisfyingly large amount of air and tension. I, as the balloon am flying all over the place, pbsssting.

“DAVID-DO-YOU-HAVE-YOUR-WALLET? DID-YOU-REMEMBER-YOUR PASSPORT? WHERES-YOUR-WATCH? DO-YOU-KNOW-WHERE-YOURE-GOING?” Embarrassingly stupid, little-too-late questions I’ve been holding in are coming out like a hose on "full blast". Poor David recoils; both repelled and repulsed. I am ashamed.

Deflated, I vow to go back and practice “Keeping My Mouth Shut” with my other two children (and maybe I’ll even practice it with my husband too).

Monday, May 19, 2008

Doctor! Doctor! It hurts when I head-bang!



This past weekend, my husband, daughter and I went to see our sons, David and Jon and their metal band, Erebus, perform in concert, then move David home from Madison, WI the next day following his graduation ceremony.


To prepare for this journey we needed to rent a trailer. Without the measurements of various large items Rick asked David multiple times for, he reluctantly brought home a gigantic trailer, longer and taller than our Suburban, which would certainly accommodate his needs.


We got to Madison and dropped Jon off at the Orpheium Theatre. Now we have to park….in downtown Madison…on graduation weekend….with a truck/trailer combo the size of a Brontosaurus. Rick gets the idea to scout out a parking garage. “Are you out of your mind?” I thought and said, “They don’t have spots big enough for this thing.” Many tense minutes followed, ending with us ditching the trailer in the hotel parking lot.


Then began a series of cell phone calls from Jon asking,

“Where are you guys?”

and making helpful suggestions from the theatre,

“No, you head down RITZISMITIFUSS street and turn left.”

“What?”

“RITZISMITIFUSS Street”

“Where’s that?”

“It’s past AUGHIBALIHOOT Blvd? Yeah? Then you missed it, turn around.”


Erebus’s show is billed as “Free” and for “All Ages.” This sounded friendly and welcoming to me. What that actually means is that you don’t have to be 21. It doesn’t mean that they want 43-45 year olds with their 8 year old daughters there. Case and point the minute when our son David sees us, he says not, “Hi, Mom” or “Hi Dad”, but

“I can’t believe you brought Krista.”

“Why? It said all ages.” I say.

“Yeah, but I use the “F” word about 17 times.”

That in itself is not an issue. Krista has heard the “F” word. Not on a regular basis, but occasionally enough that the word itself is not going to burn her ears off. But more importantly, you can’t understand a THING David sings at a live show.


Rick, Krista and I sat in the back of the theatre in the dark waiting for Erebus to go on. There are about 50-60 people in the theatre, some seated as we were, but most waited near the stage in the Mosh Pit area. Rick was trying to set up his video camera in the back and attempted to “oomph” himself onto a stool when he accidentally put his hand in someone’s chewing-tobacco spew-cup full of drool. Even over the commotion, I hear Rick cry out, “OR-UCHG!” and then rapidly find somewhere to wash up. Krista reported that the theatre seats were prickly, so I let her sit on my jacket. My jacket was covering up my BIG, BRIGHT-RED polka-dotted, bandana shirt, I remembered, so I slouched.


Once the band started to perform everyone starts head-banging. To head-bang, your head literally bows violently to the beat of the music. It’s stunning to see. It’s animal. It’s exciting. And it HURTS! I can only half-head-bang from a seated position (to FULLY head-bang you have to be standing). Rick is excused since he’s holding a camera still. When David says, “Let’s hear it, Madison!” we “WOOOO” and scream. We make the “Rock on” sign with our hands—only your pinkie and forefinger are up—all other fingers are tucked in. It takes me several moments to position my fingers like that, but I do it. It was a spectacular show and Erebus rocks!

(Shameless plug: www.erebusband.com)


At one point, David tells the crowd to form the “Ring of Death.” Krista looks like she’s going to cry. The "RING OF DEATH" is where on his orders the Mosh-ers to run INTO HIM in the middle of the circle. I was very worried about this last year. What if he were hurt—would the band keep playing? Jon and the rest of the band discussed this and decided if they heard David say the “safety word” they would drop their instruments, abandon their drum set (in Jon’s case) and go help him. They picked the word "BANANA." So when my wild-haired, screaming metal singer son yells "Banana” everyone is supposed to come to their senses and help him?? Yea--Right. But I find myself listening for the word “Banana,” primed to leap up and break it up if necessary.


When it was over, we went to the lobby. Krista was hungry and we saw some people dressed in metal-fan garb operating a popcorn machine below a ceiling hanging with water damaged tiles and what looked like fluffy, asbestos flowers dangling from them—“I think I have some gum in the car,” I told her.


I’m rubbing my neck as I type this, but the memory of the Erebus show is worth a series of cortisone shots, don’t you think? Who says Moms can’t head-bang?

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Hairnets Off!" to Lunch Ladies

Lunch ladies have a bad rap. Sure they look weird with their eyebrows scrunched down by the webbing of the hairnets. Sure they’re grouchy and abrasive. People don’t realize what a tough job it is to be in a cafeteria behind the scenes. To really understand a lunch lady, one has to walk in her orthopedic shoes.

I have limped in those shoes.

I accepted a job at our local middle school lunchroom. I had worked in my college cafe and I run my own home and kitchen. I work out. How hard could it be? When I showed up on my first day, I quickly assessed that I was at least 15 -25 years younger than the other employees. This was going to be no problem.

Never underestimate a senior citizen wearing a hairnet!

Day 1. Lifting, moving, baking, hot pads, freezers, lifting trays, steam, flies (sounds like a Haiku). Holy Crap!  Those old women can move boxes like pacederms! They must be taking "Lunch Lady Steroids."  They never stop moving either…. and it’s HOT in the kitchen.  I was sweating down planes of my body that had never been sweat down before. The food service general issue “Lightly-Powdered Surgical Gloves” I was wore were filling at the finger tips with sweat, so that I had to keep changing them.  No one else looked amiss.  Was I in hell?  Was this to be MY hell-- to be miserable with no one whosoever to commiserate with?  At the end of the longest 4 hours of my life (which includes labor and delivery of my son, Jon and my daughter’s 4th birthday party) a coworker (looking dry and unaffected) yells at me for not being fast enough.   I went and bawled in the bathroom.  I looked at myself in the mirror when I got home and said out loud, "You loser.   They’re laughing at you.”

Old Ladies 1. Heidi 0

Day 2 -. I’m armed, and I’m dangerous. I've brought a 64 oz water bottle.   I am suited up in ALL cotton underwear, a cotton sports bra, and ankle socks.  I am wearing earrings and cool,yellow Chuck Taylor hi-tops to show how unaffected the previous day’s chewing-out has left me.  There’s a new kid in town.

Day 2 didn’t go well.  I'd downed my 64 oz water bottle in less than 2 hours and I was miserable. Standing aside the food heaters, listening to the senior lunch ladies call out:
"Did you do this?"
"Where is this?"
"Why didn't you do this?"

I felt first faint, then nauseous.  I straightened and tried to tough it out, but nope--I felt shaky and nauseous--definitely.   I tell someone I have to go to the bathroom.  I was so sweaty that I slid OFF the toilet seat and onto the floor.  Worse yet, I couldn’t get my pants back up (idea: they should have issued lightly powered PANTS for me).  At last, I emerge and my supervisor sees me and takes me to the office where I can sit in the only air conditioned room in the building for the rest of my shift.  The other ladies are serving, rushing, and shuffling kids, undaunted and not missing me a bit.

Old ladies 2. Heidi 0

Day 3. Aside from redeeming myself as both a woman and a useful member of a school kitchen, my two new goals are as follows: a.) not to cry and b.) not to be taken to the office.  It is only then that I realize these are the same goals I had as a kindergartner.  One of my coworkers has made me her “ward” and goes over everything I do, saying things like:

"Did you clean this, HONEY?"
"You've gotta tell someone, HONEY."
“Make sure you put the safety valve on the hot pretzel cheese, HONEY or you’ll scald yourself, HONEY.”

Old Ladies-Slam Dunk.

Upon my exit that day, I tossed my hairnet in the air, like some warped "Mary Tyler Moore" beginning sequence.  Hail, lunch ladies of the world!  I bow to your resilience, your no-nonsense attitudes and your ability to wield a laddle.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

We find the Panini......Innocent!!

I hear a sound like whale songs coming from inside my husband….from across the room!! “ Are you o.k.?” I ask.

“I think I may have food poisoning.” He answers, green.

“From what?”

“You know that Panini you brought me for lunch? I checked the expiration on it. It was 7 months old.”

“That was a frozen Panini—purchased frozen and kept frozen. Why…. did it taste bad?” I ask.

“Yes, I ate half of it and then threw the rest out.” I feel very sorry, but don’t want to believe it, so I keep questioning him, hoping for some inconsistency---the AH-HA moment where I can blame a rotten breakfast burrito or a bad donut from the lunch truck. The more I question him the sicker he looks and the more it seems like the Panini and I, by association, are guilty.


Fred is never sick, but he is sick now. He stayed home from work and slept most of the day. I see new laundry lying in the bathroom in a heap, the fan in the bathroom on “constant”. The resulting air in our room is yellow and I cut a pathway through it with sprays of perfume from a bottle, wielded like a machete. Something is not right with him. Geez, did I really poison him? I’ve never experienced someone with SUCH bad stomach flu. Testimony to how great a caregiver I am--I slept in Krista’s room for three nights—afraid that I would somehow be barfed on in my sleep.


“How are you feeling this morning?”

“Awful”

“I think if it were the Panini, you’d have been throwing up.” I offer.

“I think it was the Panini.”

“I didn’t try to kill you, you know—if I had tried to kill you, you’d be dead.” I say.

“I know.” Fred coughs.


My daughter is playing Webkins in the room off our bedroom later that day. Fred is asleep again in our bed. I’m in the living room, and I see her exit our bedroom holding her nose. “Daddy just farted for 2 minutes solid,” she reports, “that’s a long time.” This reminds me of one of my favorite Krista-isms from years ago when she smelled something bad. She said, “It’s awful in my nose.”


Fred goes to the doctor a day later for tests. He was that sick. He returns home with all the ideas the doctor gave him as to what happened to his intestines—bacteria, flu bug, all those. “So, which one do they think it is?” I ask eagerly.


“Well, they think it may be food poisoning.”

“Gosh I’m sorry honey. I really think they’re (Paninis) delicious.”

“O.k. could you stop mentioning them now?”

“Ok”


Yesterday the doctor’s office called. Inconclusive. He is feeling much better and the tests show no sign of food poisoning. The Panini and I, by association, are….innocent!


(Fred is not his real name. Fred wanted me to delete some lines he felt embarrassed him, so I did and then decided to change his name to protect his identity. Fred would appreciate it if you didn't tell anyone he farts.)

Calling All Ant Bears!

Yesterday, my daughter Krista said, “Mom, I just saw an ant on the floor.” My husband and I were sitting at the table and my husband Rick froze. “Was it just ONE ant, honey, or more than one?” I asked, very slowly. “There might have been two, ”she said. In my experience, two ants is a plague.


The reason my husband froze is that every year we have ants and every year, they come out some wall in the house…frenzied!! Frenzied-- like the queen ant said, “Run like crazy, serpentine, go in circles! I command you--Freak out the humanoid!” And when this happens, I have a total MELT down.”


My husband is not bothered by the ants. He does not leap to my defense, nor does he put out traps, etc. For this I call my hero, the exterminator, to spray the interior and exterior of the house. I feel fairly safe when my perimeters are soaked with ant chemical. Inevitably, though, there are ants that are sacrificed and break through the “force field” and show up on the inside.


I’ve tried all methods of ant termination. It’s useless really, since our entire neighborhood is one giant ant hill. I’ve tried ant goo, which you squeeze on a tiny piece of cardboard. The idea is you wait, let a hundred-quadrillion ants crawl out from every corner and form a single-file line to the goo, eat it and report back to the nest and share it. This is too disgusting for me. When I see them coming out and lining up, I get so creeped out, I take out the ant spray and kill them all (rendering the “goo method” useless).


In my house ant spray is “husband repellant.” Rick can’t stand the smell of it (even the flowery purple can variety). If I spray even a tiny squirt, his ears prick first, then his face scrunches up, and he lies on his back and wiggles his feet in the air (ok, I’m making that part up).


I’ve been thinking lately about bringing in a predator. Anteaters, are also known as Ant Bears (I’ve actually researched this). From the sound of it, they’re solitary animals, eat up to 30,000 ants a day and …did I mention they eat 30,000 ants a day!! Ant bears don’t have a history of attacking people—they have sharp claws but no teeth. I could raise them and rent them out. I think I’ve been sniffing too much ant spray.