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


Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'm a rather low maintenance girl. I'm most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt and you can often find me in the same outfit multiple days of the week. So, while I don't get my nails done (I bite them myself) and I don't go to the tanning salon (a fine layer of dust seems to have the same effect) and I don't dye my hair...yet. I do draw the line at one beauty necessity: the eyebrow wax.

While I have a fairly high pain threshold, I can't pluck my own brows. (TMI? Well, you do come here of your own volition).

So I regularly let a highly-skilled glamorous Asian woman get me presentable every few weeks. This weekend I went in for a touch up and settled in to the relaxing, comfy waxing table in the privacy of the waxing room. OK, 'room' is a generous description, it's actually a cubicle with a curtain separating it from the nail salon, but at my price point this is as glamorous as it's going to get.

Lounging back, I close my eyes and ready myself for the spa experience. My technician enters, and gives me the once-over asking in a rather nasal tone, "What you want done?"

"Eyebrows" I reply and fold my arms ready for the warm dollup of wax I find so pleasant.

Instead of starting the treatment I'm startled by, "You no want your lip done?"

Ok, now I'm taken aback. I have never noticed that I had a 'stache. Oh my goodness, I've turned into one of those women who has lots of facial hair and doesn't notice. Those women you love having conversations with, but try desperately to find an inconspicuous place to look as they have mole hair, or chin hair or, as in my case, a handlebar mustache.

At this point I don't know what to do, and am in a full panic. I was not prepared for the lip waxing. I'm so flummoxed I ask the stupid question, "Do I need a lip wax?"

Again, the nasal reply: "Oh, yeah but you can do what you want. "

Girls. We have got to stick together. I don't know what I want. I do know that I do not want a mustache, but I need some sisterly advice. Suddenly the sanctity of the salon has shifted, and I feel like at the auto repair shop where I always feel like the mechanic is trying to take advantage of me because I know nothing about cars. Do I get the extended warranty on the flux capacitor? Do I have my windshield wipers rotated? Do I get my lip waxed? I DON'T KNOW!!! I just want someone I trust to tell me what to do and not have my husband ask me later what the heck I was thinking.

I figure I can always come back and have more hair removed from unseemly locations so I decline the lip wax. The responding huffy sigh shows I clearly have made the wrong decision, and I spend the entire time of the brow wax obsessing over how bushy my mustache looks.

Shielding my wolf-like face from the pedicure patrons I pay and run out to the car. I pull out of sight of the salon and check my mirror. Leaning closer and closer to the rear view mirror, I can't see a mustache. There are all sorts of other hideous things I need to speak to an esthetician about, but for the life of me I can not see lip hair that warranted that huffy sigh.

Still this is not a decision one makes lightly. I scurry home and barge in the house accosting my children with, "Do I have a mustache? Look really closely, now stand back, now squint a little, turn sideways while I walk by pretending I'm on the phone. Does the reflection of the phone make me look like I have a mustache?"

Of course, I put money in each of their therapy jars.

The Price We Pay

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Back in my childhood someone decided that I should play the piano. Many adolescents were subjected to the same parental dream with the same marginal success. What this means is we have an army of semi-grown ups out there who quit just after they became able to play Fur Elise and The Entertainer with bad inflection and timing.

I took a few years of lessons, most of which are a blur because of my dominant lazy gene which precludes me from working toward mastery of most things I attempt. One teacher still stands out in my brain: Mrs. Miles.

"Mrs. Miles" sounds benign enough, but Mr. Miles was long gone so all she did was sit in her home with her doberman, shellacking her perfect beehive hairdo and thinking of ways to torture me. Lisbeth, as my mother got to call her, was sweet and grandmotherly whenever a parent was around. Once that door shut behind a student's maternal protecter all gloves were off. Mrs. Miles, as the rest of us had to call her, was a Russian immigrant who had survived the German Nazi invasion. Needless to say she didn't take kindly to wimpy sixth graders who don't practice.

Out of sheer terror I became able to play a perfect Fur Elise, Entertainer and a few other pieces before I was released from her captivity. To this day I can't hear Chopin's Minute Waltz without having severe bladder control issues.

Now I'm the parent with musical dreams.

Interestingly enough, all three of my kids have done well on the piano. They have all gotten to the point where it is fun to hear them play, which is the real pay off for a parent. All we really want is for our kids to perform for the grandparents and show up the neighbor kids in something.

One of the elements of my children's school curriculum is strings study. #1 has become amazing on the viola and has played in a number of orchestras that didn't have the audience wincing in their seats as they endured the pain of Junior High strings version of My Sherona.

#2 and #3 study Suzuki violin at school...with about a hundred other fifth and sixth graders. It's one thing if the kid shows some interest in an instrument, it's a whole-nother thing when every kid at school has to learn Twinkle Variations on a temperamental instrument that even accomplished musicians work to keep in tune.

Last night as one of my unnamed children "practiced" a piece that eluded them I could feel my flesh peeling off of my face. Beginner violin is one of the worst sounds in the universe. No, I take that back, beginner violin IS the worst sound in the universe. A kid that has an impressive piano repitoire, sat screeching out the vestiges of some tune that I believe is a pterydactyl mating call.

Of course, we then had the awkward moment where the kid looks up with soulful eyes and says "Wasn't that great mom?"

This is a pivotal moment in parenting. Do I tell the truth and crush the spirit of my budding musician? or Do I pad my words encouraging their efforts toward mastery?

Surprisingly, I did what any wise parent would have done: After an awkward moment of silence where their pleading eyes searched for my approbation, and blood dripped out of my ear drums, I tilted my head, nodded with a warm smile and yelled for viola-playing Unnamed Child #1 to come help as I sought refuge under a blanket.

Getting Things Straight

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I must make something very clear: there are HUGE holes in my parenting.

I know it's easy to create cyber fantasies about the bloggers you read and I don't want to give the wrong impression. I am only doing a marginally acceptable job at preparing my children for the real world. I try and disseminate relevant skills to them, but the reality is if at some point in their adult lives they don't live in my garage, it will be a miracle.

Case in point: despite the fact that we live in suburban Arizona where the temperatures often top 110 degrees in September, we do all our own yard work, and make our children join us. You might be nodding with impressed approbation thinking we are raising the kind of kids who will go around the neighborhood starting their own landscaping businesses or better yet, mowing the lawns of all the widows in the 'hood. Well just stop right there.

This Saturday hubby sends Unnamed Child #2 out to the garage by himself telling him to get started on his portion of the lawn. At a few points during this Rockwell-type moment I look outside from my air conditioned window to see my progeny quickly being dessicated by the sun. Sad, but watching them was making me miss my show on Food Network so I lost interest in their plight.

About fifteen minutes later, sweaty kid comes inside and proceeds to make themselves a snack. Getting ready to fire up the gas stove, Unnamed Child #1 yells at #2, "What is that smell? Why do you smell?" I barely look up because I often ask the same question of all of my children.

With all the savvy wisdom of one who has been appropriately instructed in the use of power tools, #2 says, "It's gasoline, I spilled it all over my pants when I was filling up the mower."

Unnamed Child #1 then shrieks with all the hysterical lung capacity of a teenage girl, "DON'T LIGHT THE STOVE!!!!!!"

At this point I probably should have gotten involved, but #2 beat me to the punch when they asked, calmly and with a straight face if their pants needed to go in the laundry because they had gasoline all over them."

Yep, some parents teach their children about the incendiary properties of gasoline before they let them play with it. Other parents teach appropriate hygiene and fashion boundaries that give guidelines for wearing flammable liquids. But those parents don't get to watch complete episodes of the Iron Chef do they?

Habits Make Life Harder

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Despite the fact that you think I'm amazingly glamorous, I am really a creature of habit. Maybe glamorous habit, but habit nonetheless. I like my stuff a certain way. I like getting the back-to-school routine all set up. And, while I deal with it, I don't like change that much.

A few months ago the Schwann's truck was driving through our neighborhood. I've always wondered what was on that truck. As a family we don't eat much pre-prepared food. Most of what my family has to endure is food I made from scratch. This should answer any of your questions about why we are so skinny.

So, the truck is tooling through the 'hood and dog and I run chasing it like a kid after an ice cream truck. The driver stops at a neighbor's house and of course, I invite myself to join their little food-delivery tete-a-tete. I realize as I'm flipping through the catalogue of options that I am weirder than I admit; most of the offerings are things we just don't eat. Now, because I've created such a scene - running after him and barging in to someone else's home with my panting dog, I figure I really should order something.

One item looks pretty good - a zucchini and eggplant pie. Please don't gag. I know normal people don't eat this sort of thing, but around my house this is rather common fare. Just not in a pre-packaged, microwave-safe container. That part is new.

Gathering my frozen "pie" dog and I walk the long road back home. (It's not actually that long unless you are holding a bundle of frozen food against your chest.)

Later, when I serve up my "pie", my family LOVES it. Really. The kids ask if we can have it more often, and I do admit, it was really tasty. I make a mental note the next time I see the Schwann truck, I need to run after it again. And yes, I do know that a grown woman running down the street after frozen zucchini is not a good resume bullet point.

Imagine my dismay when the next time the Schwann man and I meet, he informs me that Schwann's has discontinued my beloved frozen zucchini and eggplant pie. WHAT??? A place that sells deep fried cheese balls and ice cream is not making lots of profit on their zucchini and eggplant pie? I knew it was too good to last.

Such is life. Really. Everything eventually does change.

This week our church congregational boundaries were redrawn. Changing everything.

Last week my son told me he might be too big to sit on my lap. Changing everything.

And, sadly, no matter how far I chase the Schwann's truck, I cannot comfort myself with a hefty serving of pre-packaged, microwave-safe zucchini and eggplant pie.