Sunday, November 16, 2014

Geek Squad Rule #1: Run From Mom Jeans

Geek Squad Rule #1:  Run From Mom Jeans

Yesterday I went to Best Buy to shop for a computer.  Seeing as how my memory bank is full of irrelevant stuff like the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song, there has been no room in it to learn about new technology.
In order to compare computers in the store, I took pictures of them on my iPhone and typed their specs in the “Notes” section of the phone.  Hoping to attract a salesperson's attention, I looked around and spoke to myself out loud..

"When I write in 'Notes,' I wish I could put pictures with it."  

Rajeev, a nice salesman nearby, made the tragic mistake of looking me in the eye.  He was now going to have to engage me in a sales conversation. 

Poor Raj was a fairly new employee, and he had just been thrown under the bus by his “Team Member” pals who scattered at the sight of approaching mom jeans.
Rajeev addressed my dilemma bravely.

“Ma’am, this might help you,” he said with a voice of dread, like he was slowly sinking in quicksand.  He pointed to the little jumbled black and white square by the computer descriptions.
“Those squares remind me of that game ‘Tetris’ we used to play!” I said excitedly.  

Raj stared at me, silently cursing his Geek Squad agents for leaving him with someone who was alive when Elvis was.

Please note, he did not stare at me like this . . .

But like this . . .

“Do you have a QR Reader?” asked Raj, seriously expecting me to know what that was, despite my mom jeans.  “It’s an app.  Here, let me see your phone.”

He searched for a second and found it right next to my app “1000 Glorious Ways to Swear Using Emojis.”  



I do not know how either of those apps got there.

He opened the app, “QR Reader” and took a photo of the Tetris-looking box.  Like magic, the picture and specs of the computer I was looking at popped on my screen.   My eyes widened and my mouth dropped open with delight just like when there was only one line on the pregnancy test I took last year.
I grabbed the phone from Raj and tried it myself.  As Raj babbled on about stuff, I couldn’t get the camera to work.  Raj snapped at me.

You're MISSING it!"

“I am NOT missing your point!” I rebutted, having no clue as to what he was just  babbling.  

“No,” Raj said patiently as he touched my hand softly.  

“Whoa.  Why did he do that?  I know I’m looking nice in my jeans and I just got my roots done.  But Raj, it just couldn’t work.  I’m almost 40. (bwaaahhh ha haaa!)  How am I going to break this to you gently?”

“No, you’re MISSING,” said Raj, interrupting my thoughts.  “You’re aiming at the BAR CODE—not the um . . . Tetris-box.”

“Oh, my bad.”

Raj took a deep breath, implying he wished he was in the break room writing code, as usual, for The Cloud instead of dealing with me.

In a final, desperate attempt to get commission for this freaking sale, he spoke to me slowly on account of me being a moron and all.  

“First, hold the phone over the Tetris-box, NOT the bar code. 

Second, do NOT press the button to “TAKE” the picture!  QR Reader will AUTOMATICALLY take the picture when it's focused, for God’s sake!”

Why didn’t he say that before?

Well . . . maybe he did.  It’s not my fault I couldn’t concentrate.  While he was babbling, something else was blaring in my mind.

"Here's the story of a lovely lady
who was bringing up three very lovely girls . . ."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Can't Wait to Get My Personal Drone

Can’t Wait to Get My Personal Drone

Recently my youngest child started driving, (Note to self: increase meds) and sometimes I feel my teenagers don’t need me anymore.  Then I get the calls from school.

“Can you bring my cleats?”

“Can you go buy a journal for my English class and bring it to school?  I didn’t buy one this weekend because Heather and Josh broke up.  I had to help her, Mom.  It’s not my fault.”
“Can you pleeeeeese bring Chick-fil-a for my advisory group in 30 minutes?”

“Can you bring my Friday Dress clothes?  It’s not my fault that I forgot!”  (umm . . . because Friday came on a different day this week?) 

And my favorite:

Teen:  “Mom, can you bring my tennis shoes because it’s raining and now practice is gonna be in the gym.”

Me:  “I told you to take your tennis shoes this morning because of the rainy forecast . . .  and you chose not to.”

Teen:  “Mom!  Oh my gosh!   I can’t control the weather!  It’s not my fault!

Maybe my teens still need me.  But I think they just need a personal drone.  Amazon is researching using drones to transport packages.  I could’ve used one last week to deliver a soccer jersey thirty miles away when “someone” forgot it and “someone” was going bat-crazy and it “Absolutely, Positively” had to be there in fifteen minutes.

One day drones will accomplish our everyday tasks, leaving humans enormously fulfilled. (Kind of like when scientists discovered Sudoku)

I can’t wait for a “Mom Drone.”  It’ll bring me my morning coffee in bed, find cute cat videos, and praise my pizza puffs.  And of course a Social Security drone will monitor a teen's social interactions because I think we can all agree that if you believe there’s such a thing as a “trustworthy teenager,” you’re an oxymoron.  (Just kidding, kids!)

Drones will also help you live longer because they’ll undo all the kids’ behaviors that drive you to your grave.  For example, on long car trips with preschoolers, a drone will be assigned to each kid.  When a child becomes fussy, the drone will be programmed to practice soothing techniques from a Level 1—humming an up-beat tune, to a DEFCON Level 1—strapping them to the luggage rack.  (Of course, in their carseats.  What kind of reckless monster do you think I am?)

Additionally, drones will rescue marriages by neutralizing a spouse’s annoying habits—drones will shut dresser drawers, re-adjust the thermostat, and remove clothes draped over the treadmill and hair from the freaking shower soap. 

They will also benefit spousal communication.  A husband will speak into the drone and it will translate a card-carrying Martian husband’s annoying carping about “Why the heck can’t you bring the trash cans up from the curb?” into a sweet, Venus-esque suggestion about bringing the trash cans up from the curb and how you looked especially beautiful this morning and why do you even wear makeup?”  If I heard messages like that, I’d be happier and he’d get luckier—a win-win.

Imagine how the divorce rate would drop.  Lawyers would no longer be needed, except to handle Mesothelioma cases.

Since people would be less stressed, most psychiatrists would go out of business too.  I’d hate to see folks lose their jobs, but as long as I can still get my meds . . .
As you can plainly see, using drones in the household will have fantastic benefits.  For one, I’ll have a lot more time for Sudoku.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Get Over It. Life's Just Not Fair

Get Over It.  Life’s Just Not Fair

Last week my high school daughters played basketball against the Memphis Homeschool Team, all of whom were six-footers.  Where do they get all those tall girls?  I’m pretty sure you can’t grow to be six feet tall eating only bean sprouts and granola.  And since their team doesn’t play in a regular “league” that checks their ages, I bet 95% of them are old enough to have watched the first episode of “Friends.”
The Homeschoolers are phenomenal because they do a couple of hours of classwork in the morning and play basketball the rest of the day while our kids have to go real school and learn stupid stuff like Latin (like, who even SPEAKS that anymore?) and endure Taco Tuesday.

A typical day for a Homeschool basketball player consists of getting up at 5 a.m., eating a yummy tofu scramble, playing online “Jeopardy! (quantum physics edition),” shadowing a Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon in an on-line internship, AP Calculus/Trig/Legos, followed by lunch of organic bean curd and “home-school ham,” composed of hand-pressed tofu and pink jello.  Then AP Adventures in Ancient Mandarin, AP Neuro-biometrics and Episiotomies Lab, and AP Cello.
At 12 p.m. basketball practice begins with the “make 100-three-pointers in a row or run til you puke drill,” flying to Louisville for a light scrimmage with the Louisville men’s team, and AP Sportsmanship. (stalling techniques when you’re winning by 40)

Adding to their humiliation, our girls have to watch their pre-game warm up.  Why warm up?  They could win with a serious case of pinkeye and one arm tied behind their back drawing graphs of exponential antiderivatives—with a PEN.  Instead of honing their 360 degree dunks, they should all just grab a carrot stick and listen to Yo-Yo Ma on their headphones.

It’s not fair that we have to compete against girls who play basketball all day and who actually understand how hang time and backspin affect trajectory.
But, you know, a LOT of things in this world aren’t fair.  For example:

Having to go to jury duty.  It’s fine for you guys, but frankly, I’m kinda busy.

That without shoulder pads I look bottom-heavy. 

When networks interrupt Swamp People to run the Democratic National Convention or something stupid like that

That Luke and Laura left General Hospital

That I can’t get my 19-year-old son’s grades from his college because it violates his right of privacy, but the government can spy on my phone calls

That some people don’t realize that when you’re pretending to be on your cell phone, it means you don’t want to talk to them

Bruce Jenner now vs. Bruce Jenner then.  What a tragedy.  (I’m terribly sorry for you X-gens.  Google him, for the love of perfectly stunning Olympian gods).  We used to adore him with that strong jaw, long brown hair, short shorts, muscular legs . . . um, sorry, I digress.
Bruce, I know it’s NOT FAIR!  You didn’t realize what you were getting into when you were strapped down and stretched tight by Kardashians.  Kris should make it up to you by finding the identity of the Target credit card hackers.  Maybe they can help you get your man card back.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Meeting Big-Time Authors: All In a Day's Work

Meeting Big-Time Authors:  All In a Day’s Work

Last week I attended a fund-raising luncheon for Literacy Mid-South where W. Bruce Cameron, a New York Times best-selling author, was slated to speak.  He’s only just the funniest writer of all time, and I had the chance to meet him!   But to me, social situations where everyone knows each other feel like the front-yard lamb roast in My Big, Fat Greek Wedding.  Me being the lamb.  And honestly, it’s been a long time since my sweatpants and I have been apart that long.

The morning of the luncheon, I placed my hands over my heart chakra, greeted my Spanx respectfully with “Namaste,” (we had a little bad karma from the last Open House debacle) and successfully squeezed into rubber fabric the diameter of a garden hose. 

Arriving at the luncheon, I perused the books for sale and noticed a smaller room adjacent to the lobby where two mom-friends from school mingled with Mimosas.  Obviously this was the room for me, so I grabbed a flute and mentioned to them I wanted to meet W. Bruce but I was extremely nervous.  My friends were no help because they do not meet famous people every day like me, being a journalist and all.

I'm usually calmer after a drink and, I must say, I ALWAYS look better.  But I soon realized bubbly isn’t something one should drink when one’s mid-section is wearing an iron boa constrictor.  

Just then a sweet woman asked me if I’d like to meet Mr. Cameron.  After three mimosas, my swag was more than ready to take on a guy worth a gazillion dollars—I mean he’s just a writer like me, right?  (What??  Dear God.  The oxycodone from my root canal just shook hands with my friend, Korbel Brut)   

She introduced me.  “Heeyyy, Mr. W.,” I said.  “Ummm, sorry.  I called you W.  Wad’nt he a awesome president?” I asked in my Southern Brut accent.  The woman who introduced us flinched.

Mr. Cameron politely commented that winter is so bad in the South this year he probably wouldn’t come back for a while.
As I tried to redeem myself, a champagne burp, sparked by a Spanx revolution, rose and parked in my esophagus, and I was racked with angst because an expulsion of air was imminent.  Should I turn away?  Act like I was whhhhhispering Mimosa instructions to the oblivious bartender?  Or let it fizzle through my nose while he was talking?  That would've burned, and Dr. Oz says that's not safe AND it’s the leading cause of belly fat.  

I couldn't concentrate on what to say because my Spanx were hissing too loudly in Parsel-tongue, squeezing my mid section up into my brain. (Ok.  Parents of teens ARE my demographic, and you haven’t seen Harry Potter?)

Then, I realized if I stifled my burp, it Had. To. Expel. Somewhere.  

I got so nervous, my dress started sweating.  I casually crossed my arms while listening to W.’s writing tips and realized it was my shapewear that was sweating . . . spray Pam.  How else do you think I got the $%@# things on?  (FYI, there’s an online Spanx forum hosted by “Smart Physics Gals and Cross-dressing Divas,” since you ask.  I can’t think of that scientific stuff myself!  For the love of all professions with zero earning potential, I’m a writer!)

Soon another newbie writer wandered up and I bolted for the Ladies Room, exhaling something about squeezy snakes and 
“s-uurrrp-ents,” which I’m sure will surface on Youtube soon.

While cutting off and disposing of my Anaconda, I missed Bruce’s comments about his teenagers, the inspiration for his first book.
In “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,” he writes that his opinions are often out-voted and ignored by his wife and girls, but he never backs down from his role as Decision-Maker because—“I’m the Father, that’s why.”

Like Bruce, my opinions are ignored by my kids, but I still have to perform motherly obligations like signing forms and other really important stuff.  Besides, I still get satisfaction embarrassing my 15-year-old and her friends by driving them to the movies, loudly rocking my “Raspberry Beret."  I've totally earned that—because I’m the Mother, that’s why. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Getting Back to the Gym Shocks My Chakras

Getting Back to the Gym Shocks My Chakras

I recently started going back to GloboGym, as I call it, a name based on the powerful motion picture “Dodgeball,” winner of the prestigious “Rob Schneider Ill-Conceived-Film-We-Hate-To-Love” award.
I didn’t want to start attending again, but a friend dragged me by the muffin top and we waded into the vast, unfamiliar Elliptical Sea.  

My problem is I don’t like working out around people.  Actually, I just don’t like people.  I could medal in Avoiding Eye Contact, and I don’t want to talk to anyone at the gym EVER. (Can I make that any clearer, people?) 

Listen up gym talkers, I don’t want to converse with you because first, I am sweating Chardonnay. (unassuming, yet oaky with a hint of fruit, since you ask) Second, even though I’ve known you for years, I do not remember your name nor what you said to me the last time. That’s decidedly too much pressure early in the morning. 

I also feel like everyone’s judging me at the gym, and I don’t want to see young, thin girls, reminding me I used to . . . well, never look like that.  

Not only an expert in Avoiding Eye Contact, I could also grab the Gold in the Smoke and Mirrors event because I’ve mastered tricking people outside my family into thinking I’m put-together and somewhat cool.  I work hard to be aloof and indifferent, and my jig would be up if people saw me do ANYTHING in Power Studio Jam Dance class.
In a gym, one also exudes coolness by wearing the right clothes.  I noticed right off my workout clothes were out of style.  As everyone knows, ladies now wear yoga pants in which one Vinyasticates, which makes the pants so much more pretentious and yoga-ier than regular sweats.

Yesterday I went to a GloboGym yoga class.  I really don’t "get" yoga so I just watched.  After observing for fifteen minutes, my keen journalistic instinct (not everyone has this) told me I pretty much knew everything there was to know about yoga, except for foreign phrases like “Vishti hatha ashtanga recaca,” which I believe translates, “Vishti has ripped one with a strange odor.”

To me, yoga is like golf.  If I’m gonna spend an hour or two at something, I want to burn lots of calories instead of centering myself.  I mean, I can “center” with Benadryl, Kendall Jackson, Michael Buble, and my Skymall massage mat.  Dang, I’d be all kinds of centered.

I don’t think the yoga siri, or whoever, could read my aura as I watched the class on account of I don’t have a sociology degree.   But my aura wasn’t exactly positive.  As she babbled about keeping our chakras checked and other Utter Hooey, I watched a few downward dogs and decided everybody should forget their doshas, and work on their tushes.

I probably won’t go back to yoga, unless it’s to actually give it a chance.  Because of my unwavering commitment to indolence and the Queen Latifah show, I’ll probably just continue to stay active by cleaning Cheetos out of the couch cushions. 

I really need to get my “asana” stationary bike, but it IS almost happy hour.   Maybe I should ease into yoga by giving the “centering” thing a try.
Do a little Partner Yoga with Kendall Jackson, sing a few mantras with Michael, and become one with my massage mat.  If anyone asks, I’ll be in Nirvana.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sister Act Steals Mom's Heart

Sister Act Steals Mom’s Heart

I love the circus, and I even volunteered to be in a skit with a clown once. I didn’t know what I was getting into—kind of like motherhood. My three kids built a three-ring theater of chaos, creating a whirlwind of mayhem and magic. I’m Bozo with funny make-up and clothes, trying to force all of them and their gear into a tiny clown car, and sometimes trying to force them into my version of what the circus should look like. Both endeavors are usually unsuccessful.

Managing my teenagers is like herding the big cats into the main arena when they know the smell of the raw meat is not coming from anywhere near there. They know that if they remain distracted, they can make a mockery of the poor lion tamer and avoid doing any tricks in the center ring—or the laundry room.

Actually, distraction is an art form they’ve perfected. Late one night I yelled upstairs and asked my exhausted, giddy girls for their soccer uniforms so I could wash them. They were lying on the floor upstairs, and from below, I could only see their bare feet kicking the bannister and hear their giggling.   shutterbug2188

Me (from below):  Go get your uniforms!  I need to wash them!
C:  Mooooommm, we’ll just wear them dirty.  I was almost asleep.
B:  Yeah, I was getting under the covers.
Me:  I want you to get your uniforms.
C:  I want a golden toilet seat. 
Me:  (laughing)  What jersey number are you? 
C to B:  Don’t make eye contact with her, you’ll turn into a (incomprehensible mumble).  Do you know what number I am?
B to C:  Why are you asking me?
C to B:  ‘Cause it’s your turn to keep me.
Me (hearing their conversation):  I'm gonna keep pestering you!
C:  Mooooom, you’re such a NAG!!
B:  Yeah,  go nag DAD!

This is the sweet stuff of my life. My kids sprinkle Gobstoppers and Gummy Bears into my single-scoop, vanilla world, and give me a delicious zest for life—and sometimes brain-freeze. They are the essence of bedlam and bliss, all wrapped up in sugar and sass and stinky cleats.  by Rix Weber

 I never had siblings so their relationship captivates me. Laughter and late-night whispering weave their teenage hearts together, forming a sacred sister-bond of private affairs and pinky swears. I marvel at the rhythm of their dance, an interplay in which they are as opposite as oil and water and as intimate as peanut butter and jelly.  
I love getting to watch them every day in their center-ring silliness. I don’t even mind being the clown. However, I’m pretty sure Bozo never nags.

A Sleighful of Fuzzy Polaroids and Magic Memories

At Christmas my nostalgia rises like the aroma of snickerdoodles wafting through the kitchen.  Of course that would be the “slice-n-bake” kind rather than homemade because, instead of Martha Stewart, I’m more like Peg Bundy minus the stilettos.

When my son comes home from college this month, I’ll pop a luscious Mrs. Smith’s pumpkin pie in the oven along with some Sister Schubert’s rolls to recreate the aroma of Christmas Past just like he remembers. Nothing less for MY son.   

We’ll buy our live tree and decorate it together with the kids’ old handmade ornaments.  And like always, I’ll reminisce about the magic that permeated our home when little hands wrote crayon letters to “Santa Cwaus at de Nawth Po.”  

Dreaming of racetracks and toy kitchens with real sizzling sounds, my kids used to climb up on the mall Santa’s velvety lap.  One year, as I watched them there within the finger-licking scent of Cinnabon, I realized MY dreams had all come true.  

I stood in grateful silence.  Amid the chaos of scrambling elves and flashing cameras, I breathed an epiphany that grabbed my soul with both hands. It opened my heart like a sacred book, etching within its pages close-up snapshots of dimples and bashful in a smocked dress.  And the timid essence of a chubby little finger reaching for Santa’s beard.

The Jolly Guy gave them a treat as they slid from his lap, but I didn’t realize I would turn around and their hands would clutch car keys instead of candy canes.

It seems like yesterday that three freshly-bathed kids, waiting for Rudolph, snuggled up to Dad as he read The Night Before Christmas.  My two girls with pink, chipped toenails peeking out from Barbie nightgowns.  And my son in his Star Wars t-shirt leaning in close behind Dad’s ear.  They hung on every word, and Dad paused at the end of each sentence so they could finish the rhyme.  

I never imagined listening to Dad would be so hard for them when they became teenagers.

Christmas Day meant the patter of four little feet in footy pajamas tearing down the hall and a wide-eyed, squealing baby girl toddling after the fun.  She was just happy to be puttering behind her brother and sister, learning by heart the meaning of family and forevers and fa-la-la’s.  I was too.

Toddlers in full-body fleece were long ago replaced by teenage girls in boxer shorts.  But I often stroll through photo albums and love on my sleighfull of memories wrapped in Silent Nights and Little Tikes.  

Leaping from fuzzy Polaroids, my snaggle-toothed Cindy Lou Whos bear hug me, and I forget the frustration of finding red icing smeared into the carpet and meltdowns in the toy department.  And sometimes it was the kids who melted down.

Once while Christmas shopping, I almost had a mental collapse changing a diaper under the raised tailgate of my SUV.  Unusually stressed, I fumbled with the sticky strips in drizzling rain while the other kids’ fists were flying in the backseat.  I felt a familiar twinge of bat crazy twisting from my stomach when a misguided Happy Meal toy smacked me squarely on the forehead and a Goodnight Moon book whizzed past my ear.  

Every inch of me wanted to scream, “I don’t deserve this!” but I tried to remember the awe of kneeling beside them after bedtime prayers and butterfly kisses.  That sense of wonder always washed away the spilled sippy cups of exasperation and every bit of drippy ice cream on new shoes. 

These days I am humbled when I steal into my teenagers’ rooms at night and kneel in the same holy spot I’ve knelt in for eighteen Christmases.  The sense of Extraordinary cleanses away the leaking Gatorade bottles of frustration and every ounce of dripping sarcasm on the phone.  It’s that magical moment of the day when I linger over their amazing, lumpy bodies under the covers.  My misty eyes trickle praises to the Creator and I marvel, “What did I ever do to deserve this?”

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dad Coaches: "Have Fun. Winning Is Fun!"

Dad Coaches:   “We’re Gonna Have Fun.  Winning Is Fun”

My daughters won their school’s State Championship in soccer last Saturday.  My senior daughter said goodbye to an incredible coach she’s had for four years. 

School coaches do a great job teaching the nuances of their sport to kids who already know the basics.  But who taught them the basics?  Dads (and moms) who sacrificed their patience and sanity coaching church and community leagues since their kids were spastic kindergartners.

A good Dad-coach knows his players in ways a school coach can’t.  He’ll call Katie before a game to reassure her she can handle that tall #23 under the basket.  He knows Anna’s gonna cry if he yells.  And he knows Alexa likes chocolate milk with her pancakes after his daughter’s sleepover. 

A good Dad-coach will angrily throw his clipboard down.  And at least once each season, he’ll be ejected from the ball park and watch the game from his car for uttering “another word” when the umpire orders him not to.

He knows how to smile nicely while questioning a ref’s masculinity.

He knows how to beat the Star Wars pin ball machine at Garibaldi’s after games.

He knows trash talk is just as crucial as a good helmet.

And the best team isn’t always the one that looks best on paper.  

A good Dad-coach is also ├╝ber-competitive.  In second grade, my daughter played on a basketball team coached by her friend Grace’s dad.

In the championship game, they were short a player because of a stupid family wedding or something, and Grace, the best player on the team, was injured.  Naturally, Coach John sent his daughter onto the court as if she was simply sporting a bandaid on her toe instead of a giant orthopedic boot.

The ref, a teenage boy with video game needs, wasn’t going to get paid for a forfeit, and boots weren’t prohibited in the manual he didn’t read. So game on.

Soon Grace flew through the air, diving for a loose ball.  My daughter Catherine, a 3 1/2 ft. Dick Butkus, but twice as mean, joined the fray and Grace’s boot cut her forehead.

The ref, at the sight of blood, was thrown into a Call of Duty virtual war zone haze so Coach John stopped the game.  I let John handle it because I’d get my Mom Card taken away if I approached my child on a court/field unless her eyeball was falling out.    

After the game, I called John’s wife who wasn’t there.  “We won!  And Grace scored 15 points!! 

“What?”  Silence.

“Oops.  Well, I really can’t talk right now because I’m taking Catherine to get, um . . . stitches . . . her head ran into Grace’s boot, um . . . we have a bad connection,” I said.

“Are you telling me John let Grace play?  What the heck was he THINKING?” she asked. 

“I don’t know, but Catherine’s beaming.  She said Coach John taught them something today—’Don’t come in second.  That’s just being the first loser.’”

Poor John, our brave, competitive Dad-coach won on the court that day, but I’m sure he paid the price at home that night.  Licking his wounds, he probably just left the house for awhile and worked on his pinball game at Garibaldi’s.