This week on Facebook people have been posting in their profile box a photo of a celebrity that looks like them. It's been enlightening to see who people think they look like. Some are pretty close and some are pretty, well, let's just say a lot of my friends apparently are on drugs.
Shortly after hubby and I were married I was getting to know a number of people in a church congregation that was new to me, but hubby had been attending for years. Because hubby had a relationship with most everyone there they felt a little safer approaching me randomly. This was fine, except I have a hard time keeping names straight. Faces, I'm good with, but names flutter around my gray matter like moths who sometimes land on the target, but often just batter up against the wall of my skull.
So imagine my delight when one fine Sunday afternoon an overly friendly brother sidles up to me and says, "Ever since you've moved in, you remind me of a celebrity."
Awww. How sweet. He then starts fumbling for her name. After a few "Ums" and "Uhs" I start throwing out suggestions I had heard before: "Kristy McNichol?" "No." He emphatically shakes his head.
I'm wracking my brain trying to think of celebrities people have told me I reminded them of.
"No" even more emphatically.
He's developed an acute frown and I'm feeling extremely awkward. To be honest, when we started this conversation I wasn't particularly interested in the celebrity I reminded him of, and now that we've spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to pick one, I just wish he would lie to me and PICK ONE!
Now, I'm at a loss. Even I think this one is a flattering stretch, but I throw it out there... "Audrey Hepburn?"
"Aaaahaaa!" He holds up his finger like he's made some sort of important discovery and I'm so excited to learn the glamourous eminence he pictured every time I entered his line of sight. I'm lost in my musings when his exclamation pulls me back to a screeching reality as he yells out:
Oh. Yeah. Um, thanks. Is it the nose, the stick legs or the big shoes?
"It is not advisable James to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener." - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged
"The soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut taxes now." - John F. Kennedy
I don't get boys. This past week we were gifted a HUGE storm from California. I believe we surpassed our annual rainfall averages in a couple of days. As a state we desperately needed the moisture and welcome the change in our usual weather patterns. Here in the lower portions of the state the storm was rain. In the upper portions of the state it was snow. Lots, and lots and lots of snow. It shut down major highways, cancelled lots of plans and left a thick blanket of white wherever the storm touched.
Lots of people around me were planning ski trips, sledding trips, trips to their cabins - all to enjoy the winter wonderland. Even though I don't like being cold, I get the love people have for the fun winter brings. I understand the joy of spending a day on the slopes, building snow sculptures, generally frolicking, then coming inside to a warm fire, a warm meal, a warm bed. Yes, this I get.
What I don't get is when hubby comes home from church and says: "The scouts and I are going on a snow camping trip."
"A snow camping trip."
"Where you sleep outside in the snow?"
"Yes, because we're men." He beats his chest and likely scratched something as he said it.
I'm thinking he's messing with me, because who in their right mind would sleep in the snow. "Don't most of the boys in your scout troop belong to families with cabins?"
"Yes, but we're men."
So now, a bunch of moms and wives are scrounging around trying to find adequate equipment for a group of stupid, thin-blooded, sun-lovers to sleep in the snow.
There is something broken in boys. Girls plan spa weekends, boys want to sleep in the snow.
I'm not sure how it happens to me. In my own mind, I think I'm pretty memorable. You may not remember my name, but you'll remember it's weird. You may not remember where you know me from, but my big flashy teeth I inherited from my dad make an impression on people.
Well, I just returned home from taking my sixteenth test at the Mesa Community College testing center. All of these tests have been proctored by the same woman. Every time I go in there, I feel like I'm in that movie "Groundhog Day" where the scenes just repeat themselves over and over.
I walk through the door this morning and one of the other employees recognizes me (we've had one conversation) and says "Hey! You're back!" I give him a high five and smile.
Approaching the proctor lady I feel like I'm in the right place. She looks up at me and says (no kidding):
"What do you want?"
"Um, I'd like to take a proctored test." I slide my student ID toward her.
She takes the ID and says "What kind of test?"
"A proctored test." Because I have been here so many times, I know there is a big drawer where all the proctored tests are kept. Mine will be in there she just has to match the name on my ID with the name on the envelope.
"What's your name?" Sigh. I tell her and she says "I need your ID."
"You have it right there." I state patiently. Last time I was in here I was held up for a good half an hour waiting for clearance to use paper during an essay exam. I don't want to ruffle her feathers, so I use my inside voice.
"What kind of exam again?"
"A Proctored exam."
"Has it been mailed here?"
This would be a reasonable question if she had looked in the "Proctored Exam" drawer, but she hadn't yet. "Yes, I'm sure it's here." I state, in my Mary Poppins voice.
"What's your name?"
"Aselin - it's on the ID you have if that makes it easier."
"My ID, in your hand."
"What's your student number?"
"It's also on the ID."
"They don't put those on the ID."
"Well, (deep breath), I can show you mine on the front of my ID." I take the card and recite the number to her.
"I've never seen it on and ID before. Hey, Joe! Have you ever seen this before?" She actually gets up, walks away with my ID to show another staffer my student number. Mentally, I'm just trying to maintain my composure, singing 'If you're happy and you know it....' when I realize I'm finishing the song's statements with things like "Kick a hole in the wall" and "Rip the computer monitor off the desk and chuck it through the window." I take a deep, cleansing yoga breath.
My proctor comes back, sits at her desk with my ID in her hand and says... I swear... "Can I help you?"
No, the photo is not me, but it might as well be. This is a quote from one of my favorite books, Atlas Shrugged. I read a lot. It's a characteristic of my geekness that I heartily embrace. Encounters of great literature, the good turn of a phrase, a well developed character have been known to bring me to tears. I love pieces of lots of books, and feel like there are some whole books that should be requisite reading before one is let out into society.
My challenge is that due to my eclectic taste, few people agree with me. I just don't like the stuff other people read. I think I am the only person within the incorporated boundaries of my town that has not read the Twilight series. I didn't read "The Secret" and after one unfortunate selection in the late '90's have avoided anything with the Oprah stamp on it like the plague.
So imagine my joy when I very discreetly snoop at the lady sitting next to me reading her Kindle during our kids' basketball game on Saturday. I recognized the passage and my heart leapt with snooper's joy. She's reading Atlas Shrugged! On her Kindle! At a basketball game! How COOL is this?
I have a list of three must reads in no particular order: 1. Les Miserables - unabridged version. 2. The Peacegiver and 3. Atlas Shrugged.
Books so powerful I have read them over and over. Keep them on my nightstand and get all giddy when another member of general society finds them interesting too. It's rare. I usually get comments like "Those have too many pages." "I don't like to read books I don't understand." "You're a geek, don't ever recommend another book to me again."
And I skulk away in literary shame.
So here a normal, non-geeky member of society reading this book. In PUBLIC! I fully acknowledge this is not an actual validation of my entrance card to normalcy, but it's nice to be able to talk to some of you. She's not far enough into the book to analyze much of the content, and my wide-eyed violation of her personal space wasn't greasing the conversation skids, but I couldn't let it go. Like some sort of David Cassidy groupie of the '70's I'm reciting RANDom facts (See, that was a play on the author Ayn Rand's name - if you were cool like me I wouldn't have had to explain that to you.)
I was offering to let her borrow my "Who is John Galt?" sweatshirt and show her my early edition hardback copy. She was leaning away from me and suddenly snapped her head around yelling "What? Oh, I'll be right there...." as she ran away.
I get that a lot.
I have always had a disconnect between the mental vision I have of myself and reality. In my head, I believe I'm a floating twirling suburban Disney princess skipping through life with my feet barely touching the ground. The reality is much different.
Years ago, circumstances unfolded that found me as a contestant in a local beauty pageant. (DO NOT LAUGH!) During rehearsals for the show I thought I was a carbon copy of Miss America herself as we went through the dance routines, different line up patterns and the evening gown parade. After a particularly long practice, the choreographer excused the troupe and then hissed "Except YOU!" Pointing at me. Immediately my fingertips went to my chest as my eyebrows raised and I looked over my shoulder. "Me?" I mouthed. He didn't flinch, just remained pointing a vengeful bony finger at me - now the only person left in the room.
He proceeded to express outrage that I was wrecking his whole show. That if I didn't learn how to keep up, particularly how to walk, then he would have to design a back row. A back row of one.
So I practiced, learned, practiced, had nightmares, practiced until finally, a week or so later, he deemed me "Proficient. Not good, proficient." Hey, I can live with proficient.
The night of the show I did great. I've seen the video, I didn't stand out at all. I was in my spot, I was on beat, I did just great. Until the evening gown portion.
Linked arm in arm (thank goodness) with the military escort who would set me adrift in my floating cloud of princessness we ascended the four steps to mount the stage. Smiling out at the audience, like any good princess, I mentally coached myself. "Step, and glide....step and glide... I was fine until the last step when it went something more like, "Step and grunt, and tip into military guy and stumble onto the stage trailing the tulle petticoat your last step had ripped from the inside of your gown."
It was an entrance worthy of a "Ta daaaaaa". I actually saw the choreographer in the back with his head in his hands.
Fast forward to last week. I'm still mentally coaching myself as I try and glide through my day. Unloading groceries from my car I have this whole mental dialogue going on about how many bags I can carry, how strong I am how graceful.... OOOF!
Holding umpteen full grocery bags my feet fly out from underneath me, I sail up into the air and land with a resounding thud squarely on my back. If this wasn't insult enough, it knocked the wind out of me so badly I was unable to respond to the glass pickle jar soaring in slow motion through the air. Soaring, soaring, soaring, dropping, dropping, and fortunately missing me just to the left where it hit the ground shattering in a kabillion shards of glass and pickle.
Laying completely incapacitated in a pool of kosher dill shame, it took me a good fifteen minutes to gather the strength to extricate myself from the pile of groceries, glass and gherkins. Leaving the mess, I crawled into the house. Greeted by the dog who got one whiff of me and ran in the other direction.
It just takes a special kind of grace to fall with style like that.
Not many years ago, Unnamed Child #1 suffered from a crippling fear of public speaking, being around people and just plain being noticed. When I say crippling, I mean crippling. Not average shyness which all of us suffer from in one degree or another, but complete, shutting down, running away, crying, hiding and breathing into a paper bag crippling.
As a parent it was pretty hard to watch. Coming home from school sobbing because someone looked at her, or trying to get her to participate in average activities like school pictures was an endeavor that required Donald Trump and his 'Art of the Deal' to negotiate. Usually we achieved success, but not without significant effort.
Yesterday was Martin Luther King day, another holiday that sounded good on paper but in reality is just another day off school. So there I am with my three kids in our morning standoff. Unnamed Child #3 "What am I going to doooooooooooo today?" "I'm soooooooooooo bored!" I am of the renegade opinion that it is not my job to entertain these people. They have food, shelter and the occasional pat on the head, so what more could they need from me?
As I'm working on my very important mom-stuff, each child would come in to report on the progression of their chores and social plans. So and so wasn't home. Did they have to put away ALL of the breakfast food? and If it was a holiday did they really have to practice piano? Standard negotiations. For the most of the morning Unnamed child #1 slept.
Suddenly my important mom-stuff was interrupted by the Cheshire Cat grin of Unnamed Child #1. "Mom, all of my chores are done." She then proceeded to tell me the activities she had organized for her posse. I nodded and she skipped out.
Ten minutes later she returned to report how the plans had changed and now they were going to Plan B.
Over the next two hours we made it to Plan Q, and finally she left the house to play football with a number of other adolescents.
Fast forward to 8:30 p.m. I'm sitting outside the home where she and eight hundred of her closest friends ended up. The front door to the home opens up and like some sort of swamp-monster-from-the-South she sloshes out in her shoes, jeans, long-sleeved shirt, stringy hair - all drenched. Leaving a trail of soggy footprints leading up to the car she opens the door looking like a wet rat sporting the same Cheshire Cat grin from earlier.
"Mooooooooom! It was soooooooooo fun. Maybe the best day of my entire life, oh, can I get in the car wet?" as she slides into the passenger seat.
"What happened to you? It's freezing outside!" I'm really not concerned for her welfare, rather the welfare of my car, but I had to pretend.
Somehow, the shy little girl from years gone by was jumping off who knows what, getting people to take turns following her into the unheated pool, all clad in her winter ensemble. Girls, boys, pets - everyone was following her lead. I can only suspect she's been banned from returning to this home ever again.
The entire ride home she reported on the events of the day, most of which she choreographed. According to the details, she's overcome her fear of having people notice her.
Guess my work is done.
Recently I've had the opportunity to apply for a job. I'm a really good employee. The problem is, my main employer for sixteen years has been my family, and many of the skills I've mastered don't automatically translate into the traditional workplace. But make no mistake, these skills still have value.
For instance, I can tell with 99.6% accuracy if someone is going to barf. How many Administrative Assistants have that skill? I can distinguish between a Krispy Kreme and fruit snacks induced stomach ache, food poisoning and multiple strains of influenza. I don't even need to see the person, I just need to hear their voice and can immediately triage the situation.
Also unique to my past experience, I have amazing multiple species mind-control skills. Whether applied to juvenile delinquents trying to avoid spinach consumption or canine aversion to bathing - one look, one particular look from me and my subjects haste to compliance. I defy you to show me an office manager with those powers.
I have developed a tremendous ability to operate at a high level despite my sleep pattern the night before. Look at all those single young things getting jobs right and left. They stay out late, imbibing who knows what and show up to work the next morning in varied states of consciousness. Me, since the birth of Child #1 I've yet to have a good night sleep. From the demands of infancy to the 4:35 a.m. 'butt dial' calls (this happened yesterday - kid was home but phone was in their pocket when they rolled over and redialed) I don't know the meaning of 8hrs sleep. This has done nothing to diminish my high levels of functioning, rather it has conditioned me to be a maintain acute focus rivaling any cyborg.
What employer wouldn't want that?
The plight of the American Housewife re-entering the workforce has been well chronicled. I'm not sure if I will actually take the plunge, but make no mistake. An employer would be hard pressed to find someone with more tenacity, patience, focus, multi-tasking skills than me.
Excuse me, the dryer cycle is complete...
I don't know why I am such a magnet.
A few months ago I was picking up a prescription at the Walgreens drive-thru. I'm not sure my Walgreens drive -thru is faster than if I were to go into the store since every time I pick something up I end up turning off my car to wait for the complicated task of finding the prescription in the "M" box and handing it through the window. These things are tough you know.
So minding my own business, I'm sitting in the drive-thru blocked by the car in front of me and a car behind me waiting for my turn when this red truck comes screeching around the corner and flies past the drive-thru line at way-fast miles per hour. I could hear the tires squealing over NPR and I mentally gave the irresponsible driver a lecture about safety.
It's my turn to drive up to the window so I move forward and turn the car off as I'm talking to the attendant when suddenly, behind the attendant, the driver of the car appears. He's yelling and wielding a gun. Pointing the gun toward the attendant and by extension at me.
I don't like guns. I think people should have the right to bear arms, just please, please, please don't bear them at me. This is one of those moments when time goes really slow, even though in reality it is going quite quickly. The car in front of me has not pulled away. My own car is off. I have no idea how effective bullet-proof glass is or if they bothered to install it at this Walgreens. So I do what any brave prescription-picking up patron would do... I ducked.
It's hard to say how much protection I actually received, but with my head in the proverbial sand I did feel more secure.
I have no idea what was going on inside the store, the robber didn't push the "talk" button so I could hear him. Rude.
After a few moments I heard the now familiar squeal of tires, and I peered over the dash to see the same truck, backing up at "way too fast" miles per hour. He spun out, and drove straight into traffic on the main road speeding away. Employees had run into the parking lot, seemingly chasing the perpetrator. I was more than a little shaken up at what had just happened.
I looked over at the window to see my attendant ringing up my prescription. What does one say after a robbery? I am not up on the current etiquette. Without missing a beat the attendant matter-of-factly tells me the total of my purchase.
I ask if she thinks I need to stick around as a witness and again without missing a beat she says no, they'll call me if they need me.
Um, OK. I clutch the bag she handed me, start my vehicle and drive away.
How does one react after witnessing, sort of, a robbery? I've never had a gun pointed AT me. What kind of danger was I really in? I have NO idea. Time passed and I mentally recovered from the unsettling fact that I have no answer to these questions.
While lunching with some friends at a popular local eatery we were immersed in food, conversation and ambiance. Walking out to our cars we were still chatting when I looked up at a balcony above the patio we had just been on. Nudging my companions I say - hey, there's a guy in a ninja mask up there...with a bullet-proof vest and a rifle. Hey, there are three of them. Hey they are cops. YIKES?!?!?
Moments before we had been conversing literally under the feet of this undercover swat sting. Weird thing is there was no commotion, no yelling, even though they were wielding weapons, there was no action going on. This made me even more uneasy. Not interested in reenacting my Walgreens experience I said my goodbyes and jumped in my car. As I drove away I got a better look - yes they were wearing black ninja masks. Yes they all had rifles. Yes they were all wearing bullet-proof vests.
How does one react? Well, like any responsible citizen, I got in my car and drove away.
As I listen to my eldest child opine about her future driving opportunities, I chuckle. She has all these plans for the glamorous vehicle she's going to receive. As if a teenager should receive an award for aging up. I often remind her that she's not living on the set of the Price Is Right.
My first car was an El Camino pick up truck. The starter had long worn out so you didn't need the key, you could start it with a butter knife. It had a cage on the back so we could haul sheep in it. And, if that wasn't memorable enough, it was BRIGHT yellow. Who paints their car BRIGHT yellow? Well, a parent who wants everyone in a small town to be able to narc on their teenage kid's bad driving habits.
There was no driving this car and claiming it "Wasn't me." I'm sure it was the other bright yellow El Camino-with-the-cage-on-the-back in town.
I remember getting pulled over the first time. Unjustly accused of rolling through a stop sign, Officer Davis, one of two officers in our Mayberryesque town, strode up to my window. Leaning down to talk to me, he said, "Now Aselin, who taught you to drive?"
Sheepishly I thought, "Well, your brother the town driver's ed teacher." But I was smarter than that and just tried to look innocent. It worked and I got off with a stern lecture and the required promises to be a model driver from there on out.
Despite what one would think, I've had fairly good luck with the law in my life and considered all the times I've been let off as a huge blessing and a tribute to my ability to look innocent. This morning I was reading an article about a police officer in Utah when something jolted me:
If Deputy Greathouse Fox pulled you over but didn't give you a ticket, that may not have been a good thing.
Before she started work as a deputy, "She said she wouldn't give tickets to ugly people because it would be their only break
Oh crap. All these years I've thought it was my winning smile, demure charm and some sort of X factor I possessed which made enforcement officers take pity on me. I snickered at my friends who racked up tickets like they were collecting autographs. I gave unsolicited advice to fellow teens on how to evade capture. In my own mind, I was a cape-wearing, police-evading, teen superhero.
Turns out I was probably just ugly.
I'm an efficiency nut. If something in my life can be streamlined I'm all over it. I constantly wonder why we haven't come up with a washing machine/dryer in a single unit. Moving the clothes from one pod to another seems such a waste of my energy. (Hence, the odd aroma surrounding most of my family). I constantly talk to other drivers as we are, what I call "working together" for the common good. Common good being my ability to drive where I want, when I want and how fast I want without Minerva Nimrod driving her car like a drunken Fred Flintstone.
Generally my predisposition toward efficiency does not lend itself to parenting. Everywhere we go someone has lost something, forgotten something or needs to express something. Despite my pleas to prepare for departure, I've yet to leave home with my progeny all coherently arranged. I constantly point out they're wearing mis-matched shoes, have hair growing on their teeth or have forgotten pants. This being said, I am training them well.
Over our holiday break I took a chill pill and let everyone pretty much run their own schedule. Sleep in till three? Sure. Eat kettle corn and cheese whiz? No problem. Don't bathe for days? Just wear this handy air freshener around your neck and you're good to go! While this allowed for a mellow couple of weeks, we got absolutely NOTHING done. I do confess to getting up at night after the kids had gone to bed and cleaning out one of their drawers. I agree, I'm a blessing in their lives!
So imagine my delight when the night before school, (AKA schedule), was to resume my kids would not go to sleep. 8:30, still giggling.
9:00 Threatened once.
9:01 Greco-Roman Wrestling breaks out.
9:15 Threatened second time.
9:16 Face painting and opera singing.
9:30 Threatened a third time with "You can either choose to sleep or sweep the garage!!!!"
My kids should know better than to push me, but apparently they take after my side of the family.
So Sunday night at 9:45 p.m. guess where they were? Yep. I pulled the cars out of the garage, made sure everyone had either a push broom, sweep broom or an old paintbrush, and ordered them not come in until it was clean.
Sufficiently secure in the knowledge that this will be one of those painful parenting stories they will tell their children, I settle in to wait... And wait... And wait...
Suddenly the door swings open and I'm prepared for the weeping and wailing to present, when what to my wondering ears did I hear? Singing. Happy, harmonized three-voice singing.
What???? This is not the meaning of punishment!!!!! Like some sort of confused Mother Grinch perched on the mountaintop I'm completely perplexed. Suddenly "Cindy Lou Who" approaches me and says "Mommy, where's the Pine Sol? We're gonna mop the floor too.
I dumbly pointed and realized I had been foiled by a genius I can never beat.
Well, at least my garage floor is clean.
As the dial rolled over ushering in a new decade I found myself at a loss. I know millions of my fellow humanoids are inspired by the passage of time, but I came to terms years ago with the fact that I will not stick to "resolutions" "goals" or "lifestyle choices" unless they involve developing new bad habits.
The sad thing is I could really benefit from the incorporation of some of the fitness, health, or inspirational ideas sold on late night infomercials. I could stand to smooth out a few of my rough edges. This I know, but am highly unmotivated to confront the reality of the mountain of work that would entail. I mentally balance precariously between the fact that I am a better person than the average underwear terrorist and delusion that I am equal to a Salvation Army bell ringer.
Over the holidays someone said to me "After getting past your exterior you're a wonderful person." They then hugged me. All my dreams came true.
How much actual change comes as a result of the New Year? My gourmet cousin has announced her divorce from cheese. All sorts of my friends have announced they are 'giving up sugar,' 'getting in shape,' 'being kinder.' Yes all noble goals, but how many of them will really last? Is the January momentum enough to carry them across the finish line? What is the finish line? How do you measure when you've gone long enough without cheese? At what point is one pinned with the "Kind Enough" medal?
So another year passes, actually it was another decade, and I find myself in no better shape, not much wiser and still eliciting snarky comments from new acquaintances.
Thank goodness some people are willing to get past my exterior.
Please pass the cheese.