Wednesday, September 05, 2007

MESSING WITH THE DNA

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, about our children. AF and I discuss our kids on an almost-daily basis on the phone, and we both end the conversation with a heavy sigh.

Errant kids seem to be more the norm than the exception anymore. Children with no sense of direction who, even as adults, scream, "Mommy!!!" when they have a tummy ache. I don't know about all you other parents out there, but when I finally closed that front door on the last of mine leaving the nest, I expected to go entire days without hearing from them, maybe even an entire week.

But something happened. You know how the DNA strands are all pretty and perfect? Well, it seems that we totally fucked up the pretty colors and now have a huge chunk of gray where the pink was or something. And I think I have figured out what happened: Lead paint and mercury.

This revelation came to me as I was sitting in the bathtub recovering from my ten-hour workday, sigh, trying to talk my 27-year-old son into believing that he probably was NOT going to die from the cut on his pinkie finger, when I flipped to an article in my magazine about Mattel Toys once again pulling products made in China from shelves because of high levels of lead paint. We ate too much lead paint before we procreated. Not only eating lead paint, but breaking thermometers and rolling the mercury around on tables, as well as playing in the waste bins behind physicians' offices to see who could find the most used needles, most likely were not good choices, but who knew?

Just as not knowing how a new drug is going to affect everyone in the long-term, we did not know that gnawing on wooden toys saturated with lead-based paint was going to alter the DNA strands and effect a change in evolution. It only takes a tiny, tiny, TINY portion of gray replacing the pink to screw things up. Not only did we not know then what these hazardous materials were lurking around doing in our bodies, now we have to deal with the fact that we do not have the slightest idea what suddenly removing lead paint from the diets of children is going to do a couple of generations down the road.

When you hear me yelling, "Put every one of those grandchildren back in!!" you all will understand my concern. Hopefully my granddaughter will not be sitting at a computer blogging about what happened to cause her children to have metal heads, because hey, something has to replace the lead, right?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What My Dog Watches on TV

This past Monday night I was busy around the house after work, doing dishes, some light housework that had not been done over my busy weekend of sitting around drinking coffee and shopping, and earlier that evening I had turned the TV on in the living room to keep my four-year-old Dachshund company. She was looking at me with those sad, lonely eyes, the same way my boyfriend looks at me when I have spent too much time working on the computer and not enough time sitting by him while he watches TV. Annie was begging for some company in there, and I was determined to finish what I had started, which is a very rare occurrence for me.

In the kitchen, I was washing dishes, carefully drying them all and putting them away, when I heard domestic violence in the living room. Rushing in there, I found Annie sitting in the recliner facing the television, her elbow resting on the arm of the chair, and one foot on the remote. She tried to regain her composure quickly enough to turn the channel back to the Animal Planet, but I caught her watching "Wife Swap."

Have you not always wondered what your dog watched while you were gone or otherwise occupied? Well, guess what? They apparently are watching "Wife Swap," an embarrassing, obviously sometimes violent and demeaning little reality show that no adult human should watch, much less the home's four-year-old! Okay, okay, she IS a dog, I know that. And when I wrenched the remote away from her, she actually, I swear, cried. I guess that might have been because I got her toenail caught in one of the buttons, but it had the proper effect on me.

What choice did I have then, but to sit down with her and watch the rest of the show, right? I made us a bowl of popcorn and never took my eyes off the TV screen. This was the conversation going on with myself, oh and with Annie:

"That's disgusting! That jerk! He doesn't DESERVE a wife! WALK OUT ON HIM, WALK OUT ON HIM!!"

Annie was very satisfied with herself. I think she knew all along what she was doing. If you cannot get the human's attention with the sad eyes, get her with "Wife Swap."

That crafty little dog! She even set the DVR to record the show! Dogs are definitely smarter than we give them credit for.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Household Appliances

About a month ago the belt on my clothes dryer broke. I cannot imagine why this happened. The dryer is only twenty years old and twirls about three loads of laundry each week, or more, since my children still think they have laundry room rights even though they have long ago flown the coup here.

With a load of jeans in there drying for about an hour, imagine my surprise when I quickly ran downstairs to fold them and hang them up before working, only to find that they were warm but undeniably, without question, still very wet. No amount of standing there feeling them and trying ton convince myself that they had not dried completely simply because the load was heavy, made them any less wet, and I finally resigned myself to the fact that a trip to the laundromat was in my future.

Having spent everything I had on a mid-winter vacation with AF to Miami, knowing that there was not going to be enough money to cover a repairman, I began the routine: This will be FUN! I love people-watching at the laundromat! It will save me tons of electricity at home! It will be like old times, like college, when...and this is where the downside of reality crept in...I was dirt poor and could barely find a dollar's worth of quarters to even DO my laundry. Sigh.

For a month, though, I carried a basket of wet, heavy clothes to the car and drove to the nearest laundromat. I made a couple of friends there; an old woman who seemed genuinely concerned about my welfare on the slick streets and in the bitter cold, and a Hispanic girl and her child. We could not understand one another's verbalizations, but we bonded over the rather boring task of throw it in, feed it money, take it out, put it back, feed it more money, take it out, put it back...finally folding it damp and getting out of there quickly.

Finally, after about the fourth trip to the laundromat, the newness wore off and all I could concentrate on was getting the dryer fixed. Boyfriend told me if I would order the part, he would put it on, so after a trip to Home Depot, only to return with the card with the 800 number for ordering parts for archaic out-of-style appliances, the belt was ordered. It arrived on Wednesday and I met Don at the door with it, threw it toward him and said, "You put this on and I'll go to McDonald's and buy our dinner."

To make a long story short, I returned home from the drive-thru line from hell to find that the dryer, after ten minutes, was repaired.

There is a God!! There was load of wet laundry sulking in the washing machine that I quickly transferred to the dryer. Standing there listening to it tumble around in the heat filled drum of the dryer, the dryer whirring and spinning happily after its long hiatus, my arms wrapped firmly around it, kissing it, there were tears in my eyes.

I sniffed and went upstairs to have my Quarter Pounder with Cheese and fries and was nestled next to my boyfriend on the loveseat when the dryer's buzzer sounded, and did not stop. No quick reminder that the laundry was dry, but a constant, consistent, loud, annoying buzz that would not stop.

Don looked at me and said, "Hmmmm...guess I'll have to fix that this weekend." And I was consoled and happy once again!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Behind Bars

When I go on vacation, generally, being stuck behind bars is not part of the plan, of course, but AF and I spent about an hour in that exact predicament on the second day of our sabbatical to South Florida.

At the desk of our hotel, we learned that parking was definitely not free and that the lot they used was down the street and to the LEFT. Now, one of us heard "right" and one of us was not paying a bit of attention to the directions. We will leave that distinction to the imagination, but anyone who knows the two of us, probably knows which was which.

Day two: Move the car from the prime parking space that was available in the front of our hotel, to go look at cadavers, come back after venturing into the bowels of Miami, Florida, try to find the parking garage our hotel uses.

"Turn here, turn here!" I was only the driver taking directions, so I turned there. The gate to the obviously private garage would not open, and as I was preparing to back out onto the busy street, of course, someone who WAS authorized to use that lot trapped me in from behind. He used his nifty little private gate opener and opened the gate, at which point I was forced to enter the garage and at which point, after his entry into the garage, the gate slammed closed.

We asked the guy how we could get out and his reply was a very friendly, "You can't."

He was cute, we laughed, he did not smile, and we realized we were stuck in a parking garage. He finally told us if we would go sit in front of the gate in our car he would call Security, which he failed to do, and he told us that the security people in that building were "Not nice about this sort of thing."

Finally, sitting in our blue Toyota Corolla with about forty miles logged the odometer, a very comfortable and cute car that we were starting to panic about never getting out of, AF got out and began posing and waving in front of the security cameras, which I am sure caused much laughter and probably people reaching for the nearest firearms, when another resident finally showed up and clicked the gate open so he could enter the garage.

This blessed event caused AF to run to the car and try to get in so I could pull out, but I had the doors locked and could not find the button to unlock them. Thankfully the windows were down and she was able to climb in as I pulled madly out into the street before we were trapped again.

When we called her husband and said, "Guess where we are?" and he replied, "Jail?" we just looked at each other and drove off into the sunset to the parking lot on the LEFT side of the street with no gates and no pesky and nasty security.

Behind bars now has a whole new meaning.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Looking at Fifty

One minute you are wrapped up in a quilt in your living room, drinking hot coffee, wishing for summer, poking at the fire in the fireplace, and the next you are in a sexy Victoria's Secret bra, a gauze island shirt, flip-flops and shorts wrapped up in a Burmese python on a street corner in South Beach Florida.

Life at fifty totally rocks so far!

After a busy day of communing with the cadavers at the Bodies Exhibit in Miami, AF and I boarded a bus for South Beach to have some dinner. It was at the point we began to salivate at the sight of a McDonald's that we realized how little we had consumed in the way of actual, usable calories in three days. Beer at the airport notwithstanding, we had eaten very little.

Standing in line at McDonald's to order Big Macs and Quarter Pounders with Cheese and fries was no easy task. We looked weak and starved, and we looked in the back of the line. Elbowing our way toward the front, really waiting until some mom had to chase her kid and then taking her spot one up in the line became a desperate game, and the food could not get to us soon enough. It was when we had consumed gigantic burgers, Cokes and fries, and AF went back for a second gigantic burger that I realized we were going to have to start eating on that trip.

We strolled Lincoln Mall and shopped at the street vendors' shops and enjoyed the warm, breezy South Florida night. It did not take long for one of us to mention the fact that English did not seem to be the language of choice there and decided to pursue the study of Suskatsusanian, our own private language. We coined terms such as "palm woody," "rundo," "squaro" and our favorite, "whoopsa!" and we spoke it for enough hours that soon we understood each other...and nobody else could. That came to a screeching halt when we ran into the man on the corner with the six-foot long Burmese python that he ceremoniously shoved in our faces. We were talking English pretty quickly after that with such well-known and accepted terms as, "Get that fucking snake out of my face!!"

But after a lesson about the nature of these creatures, we soon had the guy wrapped around our necks and were posing for a couple of fifteen-dollar Polaroid One-Step photos to commemorate our first encounter with what's-his-name.

A few days later, sitting in the relative safety of my own home, I began to ponder the ease with which that animal could have swallowed one of us, especially when he smelled those McDonald's burgers on us. Yikes!

And that was the first day.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

New York City by Way of Kansas City

I have a friend, who shall remain anonymous, who decided that in celebration of my fiftieth birthday we should travel to New York City. Never having been there, I am, to say the least, excited about getting this trip underway, even with the threat of noxious gases and bombs in the air.

We leave in a few days, and so this begins the chronicle of our journey. This is Story Number One. How can you tell a trip is going to be eventful? When the person responsible for getting you to your destination tries to route you from your airport in Louisville, Kentucky, to Kansas City, Missouri, to meet her.

Let's do the math, okay? First of all, I have to drive east of where I actually live, ninety miles, to my home airport. East, which is toward New York, and my AF (Anonymous Friend) has to fly from the West, one thousand one hundred and forty six miles west of my airport.

Stay with me here.

So, I drive ninety miles toward the city we are flying to. At first, AF wanted me to meet her in St. Louis. Well, okay, I agreed, even though I was going to go almost three hundred miles backward, small price to pay to meet my best AF for a four-day trip to the Big Apple.

But by the next day, something had happened. I guess because St. Louis and Kansas City are in the same state, she felt that it could not be too much further for me to meet her in KC instead. And her heart was in the right place, God bless it. She decided to fly me eight hundred miles in the wrong direction.

I had to put my foot down. I mean, I love her, and she is going all out to make sure that I remember the commencement of my second half-century of life, but I AM fifty. There are days when it is a bit of a struggle to go outside and get the newspaper, much less fly for ten hours to go a thousand miles. I want the memories to be which of us could spit the furthest off the top of the Empire State Building, you know, real grown-up stuff, not which of us cannot get out of bed because we are so tired from flying.

When I think about this flight plan she mapped out, it makes me wonder if she has maybe been living in her world a little too long. Her brother-in-law wanted me to "drop me off" in New Orleans on my way from Louisville to Albuquerque, New Mexico, once. And I just realized what I need to buy AF for HER birthday! A MAP!

Next installment soon...