Where the hampster wheel always turns

About Me

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Middle aged underweight high school graduate
"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

Seek and Ye Shall Find!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I left home today in hopes of exposing myself to the general population to generate blog material. Wait, that didn't sound right did it?

At any rate, I dragged Unnamed Child #1 to IKEA. IKEA is really an unreal place, and a nice way to kill a few hours. Wandering through the aisles of furniture that was clearly conceived to decorate a Hobbit Hole stylishly and functionally, we planned on an exciting afternoon. Ascending the escalator to the second floor we found ourselves in a Swedish stupor after a few twists and turns.

Despite the double digits in her age, Unnamed Child #1 still likes to be seen with me. As we were looking at some of the pre-fabbed kitchens I decided that we needed to spice things up. Usually when we are in public, someone comes up with a game or a dare which puts us at odds with the rest of humanity. I told her that we no longer could speak in English, and must passionately discuss whatever item was closest whenever someone came within earshot. The first one to laugh, lost the round, and the loser of the game would pay dearly with an undecided punishment of the winner's choice.

What ensued was a game of verbal chicken that had my little teenager gesticulating and waving a spatula around while speaking complete, albeit passionate, gibberish. As the game progressed, neither one of us could win a round since our interchanges became more absurd, animated and pointed. Others tried to watch the crazy foreigners without being caught looking. (A skill that is rare and valuable) We were laughing, there was snorting - which #1 kept insisting was part of her chosen dialect. Once I went to the clicks and whistles of Swahili, we were all completely undone.

Gaining our composure, we were ready to descend to the bottom floor with our cart, so we approached the elevator. Pushing the button, the doors promptly opened; which always makes me smile - when the elevator is waiting for me rather than the other way around.

Inside were three women sporting summer costumes that are popular around town. Popular, but not wise, as hot pants and tube tops only work on a very small segment of the population. This percentage is even smaller once you add piercings and tattoos that make it impossible not to stare without being caught. (A skill I have not yet mastered). Fixated on a neck tattoo which went all the way up to a multiple-pierced ear, I stepped back as the women started to exit the elevator. Suddenly the leader of the coven realized it was the wrong floor. Now, in case you haven't been to IKEA, there are only two floors. Immediately I was confused, since if they were already in the elevator I assumed they got in at the bottom floor. Then, they all started laughing as deco-neck chick said "I thought the ride was taking a long time." The second droopy-tube passenger said, "Didn't anyone push the button?"

We all started laughing as they confessed they had been standing in the elevator for over five minutes. Smiling I said, "So we rescued you then!" This brought cackles that made all sorts of things bounce and jiggle, and Unnamed Child #1 kept raising her eyebrows at me as she shielded her eyes from the sort of impressive cleavage no one ever gets to see at our house.

As the doors opened on the bottom floor, the ladies, in unison all grabbed their tops at their armpits and gave a hearty hike toward the sky. "Thank you for rescuing us from ourselves!" their leader said as they ventured off into the labyrinth of IKEA. I winked at #1 and whispered, "I think they need more help than we can give."

She nodded emphatically, in English.

My mojo is hiding somewhere far, far away. Likely the dog ate it.

Recently we celebrated my sister's graduation from college. I cried through most of it. Partly because I was so proud of her; a young mother who got a psychology degree while raising her little ankle biter, working a day care and training for a 5K. Personally I think that 's an amazing accomplishment and I am bursting with pride for her.

The other reason I cried through the ceremony is the speeches lasted, and lasted, and lasted WAY past the point where anyone wants to hear any more "wisdom." I distinctly remember leaning over to my neighbor and saying, about the speaker opining about Dr. Seuss: "Don't do it, don't do it,...noooooooo!" as the speaker busted out an entire Suess book of wisdom and read it to us.

Don't get me wrong, Seuss is a genius, but there is a general rule in public speaking: leave 'em wanting more. No one at the graduation ceremony did that. Hence, my tears.

But this is not the reason I have taken a writing sabbatical. Instead, my life has had a bit of stress in it lately, and when serious things happen I find it hard to blather on about the blister I received from mopping or how my mailman doesn't seem to be able to match the numbers on the boxes with the numbers on the letters.

That being said, my own personal reading is going well. My research is fascinating. And my schoolwork putters along. So please believe me when I say I am not sitting in a dark room watching Jerry Springer all day. (That's just like a family reunion for me). My goal is to be back on track next week - so be on notice all you people in the grocery stores, mail men, bug spray guy, dry cleaner... oh sheesh, I'm depressing myself with how mundane my actual existence really is!!!

OK, I'm going to think really, really hard for something interesting to write about. So be on notice, because it could be you!!

Bad Ideas Make Good Stories

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Every year my in-laws have a Fourth of July party in Utah. Despite the fact that Utah is pretty dry, it does not outlaw over-the-counter fireworks like Arizona does. This fact has seemed a great injustice to my children over the years, but seeing as how we are invited to the party, it works itself out.

Since we don't know the first thing about fireworks, we usually just mooch off those around us. Trying not to be such a leech, I tell the kids we can bring our own this year. Imagine the squeals of delight as my children select a large pre-packaged assortment of incendiary entertainment from the grocery store. I'm all impressed with myself because I even had a coupon, and the assortment took two pre-pubescent minion to carry out to the car.

They oohed and ahhed over the opportunities that lay inside the cellophane wrapped package. Unnamed Child #2, getting a rush of testosterone, even pulls out a pocket knife because everyone knows packages of fireworks are impressed by a kid wielding a pocket knife. Stabbing at the shrink wrap because "Mom, I'm just making it easier to open later" seems completely helpful and logical. I figure, as long as a human is not being stabbed, everything is OK.

Pulling up to the soiree, I'm completely confident all the other attendees will be impressed at the arsenal of gunpowder we've just hauled inside. Let's just say I would have gotten more reaction had I brought a package of paper plates to the party.

Out on the lawn, waiting for our arrival, are my nephews. Teen-aged nephews. One of them , legally teen-aged. They don't have a pre-packaged assortment of exciting fireworks. No sir-ree. They had two large suitcases, large enough to stash a dead body inside, full of fireworks from the Indian reservation. Fireworks that are not only illegal in Arizona, but also illegal in the other 49 states, including Utah.

Dejected, and weirdly mesmerized, my children ooh and ahh over the black market set-up being organized in the third bay of the garage. They had lain out their options, in order of how tonight's performance would go. My fireworks contribution to the show was not even an entre act. My stuff was the equivalent of the guy outside a concert venue in a light up top hat riding a unicycle and selling water.

As dusk unfolded the show began. As the family gathered in their lawn chairs, the show had a build-up. A fountain, synchronized bottle rockets, then one or two shooting stars up high in the sky that burst into patriotic wonder and dusted us with ash we accepted as a badge of honor for being witness to the illicit display.

As time wore on, those holding the lighting wands grew more creative: syncing multiple shots into the sky, in a rather professional production. All we needed was a little music and we could have charged tickets.

If you've been a long time reader, you know this isn't going to end well. Although, I'll admit, it ended better than it could have.

In what would be the prematurely final firings for the evening, six launches were arranged and their release promised to be spectacular. It certainly was.

The first couple of shots went off inspiring wonderment as the lawn chair audience gazed into the sky. Somewhere around the third shot, we had a misfire. No one quite knows how it happened, but of course, rather than shooting into the street, or a fence, this rocket tipped over and shot straight into the third bay of the garage. It all happened so fast, I'm still hopped up on the adrenaline.

Grazing my nimble sister-in-law's leg, the starburst exploded raining colorful sparks all over the waiting congregation of contraband explosives. The flash was blinding and the realization of what was likely about to happen made all of us leap one direction or another. The braver in the gene pool ran to the garage to save sis from the likely explosion of gas fumes from the lawnmower, weed whacker and actual gas cans stored inside the garage. Not to mention the four-hundred remaining fireworks yet to be lit. The lesser of us took cover. I was hiding somewhere under a bush when the all clear was given. The fact that there was not a secondary explosion is nothing short of a miracle. The fact that sis was not horribly injured was also miraculous.

Once we all were assured everything was OK, that's when the real firework show began, and let's just say, it was spectacular. Let's just also say, it doesn't matter if you're of "legal" age when your parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and neighbors yell at you...the law cannot protect you here.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

You know those hysterical, screaming people running around during emergencies? I'm not one of them. When something terrible happens, my left brain takes over and I go into ultra-focus-boss-people-around mode. While this mode is extremely unpleasant for others in my normal day-to-day life, during an emergency I'm the best person to have around.

Once, in a head-on car accident with two pregnant friends (I was also expectant), I took command and saved the day. The only thing missing was a bullhorn. It was not until later, in the hospital, when I spoke to hubby over the phone did I break down in a completely incoherent blather of sobbing.

While traveling I have the opportunity to do lots of driving. Yesterday I went to Idaho to retrieve Kid #1. Driving along the picturesque base of a mountain range I was enjoying the quiet. i was thinking about how spectacular the scenery was, how different the terrain of the places I've been in the last few weeks is, and how I was really, really hungry (OK, that thought rarely goes away).

Suddenly, someone driving southbound launched something out their driver's side window. I am a furious opponent of littering, especially wondering how cigarette smokers don't think flicking their expended butts out the window isn't littering. Before I have time to work myself into a frenzied rage - the site burst into flames. It was sort of an explosion, likely because the brush was so dry. The flames were taller than my car, and there were two sites burning. I quickly passed the location and figured I should report this atrocity.

Dialing 911, Sheila answered with the standard "911 what's your emergency?" I've only called 911 twice in my life before, (pregnant car accident and person trying to break in to the house I was inside of) and both times they responded with calm assurance, and were very helpful.

"I'm driving northbound on I-15 and a brush fire just broke out..." I was about to try and describe what exit I was near when Sheila said: "Can you hold?"

WHAT THE HECK!!! I understand the standard customer interface platform of putting us Plebeians on hold, sort of the Disneyland crowd control strategy of having most of their guests stand in line, but this is a FIRE!!!

I drove for what seemed miles before Sheila returned and asked my location.

There are a few things I wonder about this. The highway I was on runs the entire state and I was on a cell phone. Possibly they were able to note my general location, and maybe wanted to get the firemen started putting on their gear, but still....HOLD???

I don't know, when I returned to the site an hour later I expected to see all sorts of hullabaloo, and miles of charred dry brush. Clearly the authorities in Northern Utah have it together. There was about a mile of crispy burned median, but no damage other than the removal of the brush, which is likely a good thing.

Still, HOLD???