Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Merry Bitchmas

I have a bone to pick. (What the hell does that mean? How do you pick a bone? Why is bone picking a euphemism for complaining? It sounds incredibly gruesome, as if it has to do with picking clean the bones of a corpse. Which I also intend to do today, but later. For now, I just have a complaint I want to share with you.)

It's about Christmas. Actually, I have a list of complaints. I've tried writing them all out in list form and sending them to Santa, but the asshole never responded. So I'll post them here for you, not because I think you can do anything about them, but because there's no real joy in being grouchy unless you can infect others with your misery.

1) Why am I being tortured for a month and a half with the worst music ever created? Everywhere I go the same 15 bad songs are playing over and over, til not even the voices in my head can drown them out. I'm humming them under my breath while I wash dishes, to my unspeakable horror. They're more catchy and insipid and torturously omnipresent than Madonna songs were in the 80s. And it's not the subject matter of the songs (Christmas and Santa, etc.) that grates on me, it's the bad music itself. Somehow in every other aspect of the music industry, making a meaningful song with a good beat is the focus. (Not that they always succeed, but at least that's the goal). Yet when it comes to Christmas music, you can put out any piece of half-baked crap you want, and if has the word snowman or Christmas or sleigh in it, people will add it to the cartoonish loop of bad music that we're forced to listen to exclusively this time of year.

2) Why can't I go to the mall for the entire month of December? Every store in town is bulging with angry, frantic people and their crying children, and they've all gotten together at some point and made a pact to drive no faster than a turtle with Muscular Dystrophy can crawl. No checkout line in town has fewer than12 irate, eye-rolling, toe-tapping people in it, and every cashier is sullen and bitter. I know better than to wait til the last minute to do my Christmas shopping; I'm usually done well before Thanksgiving. But if December rolls around and I decide I need a new pair of jeans or a spice rack for my kitchen, the world suddenly conspires to prevent me from buying those or any other items. Oh sure, I could go out there and do battle with the mall traffic and the disgruntled customer service agents and the hateful shoppers, but someone's going to get hurt. And don't underestimate me. I'm small, but I'm scrappy.

3) Why do I have to send a card to everyone I've ever met? I understand why I'm expected to send them to relatives in Canada that I never see, but why do I have to send one to my friend who lives 10 miles down the road from me? Here's how most Christmas cards are conceived: You buy a box of 50 or 75 or however many identical cards, and you send that same card to everyone on your list. Very impersonal. Worse, you don't even include a handwritten message tailored to the individual recipient, just your name scrawled at the bottom. When the stack of cards with the signatures is ready to be stuffed into the envelopes, it's totally arbitrary which addressed envelope gets which card, because the cards are identical, inside and out; totally impersonal. If you've enclosed a picture of your kid, that's a different story; everyone likes getting pictures. But why must I send an impersonal card with my illegible signature to my neighbors who live down the block? The only time it's worthwhile to get a card in the mail with nothing but a signature inside is when that card is coming from an incredibly famous celebrity whose signature is worth big bucks. Even better if the celebrity manages to die in the few days before the U.S. mail delivers the card to you--but that's a long shot. Don't even dare to hope for that.

(That said, do not take me off your Christmas card list. There's nothing sadder than a mantle in late December that's completely devoid of Christmas cards except for the one from your insurance agent. As an adult, we get few opportunities to look really popular, and an empty mantle in December smacks of extreme unpopularity. If necessary, I can forge your signatures on cards I buy myself, and put those on display to fake popularity, but do you really want to reduce me to that?)

4) Why does a holiday for which everyone is expected to travel have to occur in the dead of winter? Who wants to pack up the family and travel across the state or country in December? I spend the entire winter season thinking up excuses not to leave my home. Now I have to bundle up and leave my nice, warm house to take a trip across the state? Can't we all make a pact to use the Easter holiday for cross-country family bonding from now on, and just sit at home with our immediate families at Christmas?

5) Why do I have to engage in a whole decorating project just for this one holiday?

I have to redecorate my whole house? I have to hang wreaths, put up cutesy little knicknack snowmen, big gold bows, garish silver garlands, fake greenery, hideous red tablecloths and sappy welcome mats? I have to use Christmas plates? Christmas napkins? Everything in my lovely, tasteful home has to suddenly turn red and green, the two worst-matched colors on earth?

I'm expected to climb up on my goddamn roof and risk life and limb to put some lights up there that are only going to cause a fire hazard and potentially burn my home to the ground with my family inside?

I have to chop down a live tree and drag it INTO my house? A beautiful tree that was formerly growing just fine outside, where God put it? Now I'm going to kill it and schlep it into my freaking living room? Then cover it in trinkets and more fire-hazardous lights? Am I really going to celebrate Jesus's birthday by killing one of his trees?

6) Why do I have to feel guilty about writing the word Xmas instead of Christmas? It's just faster and easier, which accommodates my incredible laziness. Anyone prone to indignantly shouting, "You're trying to take Christ out of Christmas!" is overestimating me. That would indicate that I'm ambitious or dedicated to a cause of some kind, when the plain fact is I'm just trying to shave off a couple of letters so I can finish writing whatever it is I'm writing and go take a nap.

Now that I've gotten my list of grievances of my chest, I will say that I love one thing about Christmas--the gift buying. I really do love buying things for people, and I put a lot of thought into what I get each person. Oh wait, I love another thing: The booze. Well, okay, and the food. And the family. In that order. Wait, no--put booze at the top of the list. Really, the booze is the only thing that keeps me from losing it when I hear "Jingle Bells" for the 2,679th time, and stabbing the nearest 5 random people in the eye with a photo Christmas tree ornament.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I will kiss Paul English's feet...then massage his toes and paint his toenails

During a very dark period in my life, I used Sprint for my cell phone service. The reception was decent, but I hated the company as I have hated few things in my life. I switched providers specifically because it was simply not possible to reach their customer service department. I'd call and spend a small eternity listening to a robot voice slowly dole out tedious instructions--"Press 1 to pay your bill, 2 to hear our mailing address, 3 to get very, very angry, 4 to tear your hair out and stuff it down your own throat, 5 to throw your cell phone at a passerby and scream til one or both of your eyeballs explode." I'd press the appropriate number, and then be transferred to another department with a robot voice which doled out new instructions at the same incredibly slow rate. I'd pick the appropriate number again, and be transferred again...only to be offered some more robot choices. It was like being on a ferris wheel against my will. This went on and on, with no opportunity to speak to a person. Eventually my call would just be cut off. Seriously--after I'd spent 10 minutes pressing 2, then 5, then 1, then 3, then 72, then 119, then 2577860287, then 4, then 9, then 666, then being put on hold, my call would just get cut off. This happened enough times that I eventually just switched providers. Once I sat on hold for 45 minutes, only to have my call cut off. Christ, I hate Sprint.

But as you know, most companies have that same passive-aggressive robot answering their phones, doing nothing at all but making nice customers turn violent. That's why Paul English is going to get his feet rubbed. On his website he has posted an insanely huge list of companies and the shortcuts you can press in their automated systems to get right to a person. In some cases, it's as easy as pressing 0, but in others, it's more complex. For instance, with AT&T, you press the pound key four times, then 1. With Aetna, you press the star key three times. With Dell, you press 1, then extension 7266966, then press 1, then 4, then 4. This is the kind of information that would have saved me several pieces of broken furniture and 2 ruptured eyeballs.

How does Paul get this info? Does he spend all day, every day on the phone calling up Target and American Airlines and IBM, pressing crazy combinations of buttons til he discovers the the loophole? Or does he travel the country, sleeping with customer service reps from each company til he can dupe them into giving up the coveted phone system secret, then dumping them like cheap hookers? I don't know, but whatever his methods, I endorse them--even if animal testing or POW-style torture is involved.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to rub some feet.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

You assholes think you've cornered the market on thankfulness? I beg to differ.

It's Thanksgiving, and you know what that means: It's that time of year for everyone to guilt-trip you into coming up with a list of things you're thankful for. I know you guys think I'm an ungrateful asshole who does nothing but spout off a bunch of sarcasm and ridicule, but it's just not true. I'm as grateful as the next guy, and I'll prove it to you by listing a couple of things I'm especially thankful for this holiday season.

I'm thankful I'm being invited to someone else's house for Thanksgiving, as opposed to having to host it at my house. Actually, I've never hosted a holiday meal at my house. No one would give thanks for the inedible crap I'd cook up if it were up to me to serve dinner. They might give thanks for still being alive after eating it; they might give thanks for Tums; they might give thanks for the fast food joints they'd be passing on the way home afterward, but they would not give thanks for the slop they'd be served at my table. So I'm doubly thankful--not only am I thankful to my kind and generous in-laws who are having me over to their house this year, but I'm also thankful for my God-given ability to somehow weasel a Thanksgiving meal out of friends and family every year. I consider that to be one of my most impressive skills.

I'm thankful that the house I'll be dining at on Thanksgiving this year isn't inhabited by people who think it's acceptable to serve ham on Thanksgiving instead of turkey. Do you realize there are people out there who try to pull this crap on their loved ones? Imagine this horror show:

You're invited to someone's house for a Thanksgiving feast. You look forward to it with great anticipation, prepared to enjoy good food and great company at this magical time of year. You get all dolled up in your holiday best and head over to the appointed house for the big meal. You take your place at the table, all smiles and good cheer--and then it happens. The commie pinko host trots out a platter of HAM! HAM!! You sit there, bewildered and in denial, thinking, "Okay, that's an odd side dish, but to each his own. I'll probably be too full from turkey to try the ham." And you remain frozen, starting to sweat now, expectant smile plastered on your face, waiting for the golden bird...that never arrives! Holy hell, this is like a bad movie! Now you're trapped here, unable to leave without appearing rude, but these assholes are the rude ones for tricking you into wasting a whole Thanksgiving listening to their insipid chit-chat in return for a few slices of ham! How would you feel if you were unlucky enough to be put through this hellish scenario?

Well, cheated, robbed, obviously. Suicidal, probably. Jaded, bitter, at the very least. Thankful? Ha. No one gives thanks for pork.

Along those same lines, I'm also thankful my in-laws are not the kind of swindling shysters who would stoop so low as to try to pawn off a slice of pecan pie on me, or worse, mincemeat pie, on Thanksgiving. No, these are good and decent people, the kind who do the right thing and serve pumpkin pie. With whipped cream. As God intended it to be.

So there you have it: Proof that you're not the only ones who are giving thanks this time of year. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to eat my in-laws out of house and home, and then spend the next few hours complaining that I've eaten too much. When that overly-full feeling starts to subside a bit, I'll eat some more.

And while I've obviously already committed myself to dinner at my in-laws house this year, I'm already accepting invitations for next year's Thanksgiving dinner. As long as you adhere to the rules regarding turkey, pumpkin pie, and the absence of ham, I'll be happy to consider your invitation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Dear Jackass, Volume 5

Dear asshole who lets your dog crap in my yard:

Are you high? You must be, to think it's acceptable behavior to trot your ratty-ass mutt around the neighborhood on a leash, pausing patiently and admiring the scenery while your dumb dog giddily craps in your neighbors' yards. It's not like you're on vacation in some country you know you'll never visit again; you live here! What cajones you have, to casually deposit fecal matter on my property as if you were dropping off a handful of daisies, and then continue to saunter past my yard-turned-toilet day after day, without a hint of shame, as if you didn't just recently leave a steaming pile of crap in my yard a few days before! In my fantasies, I am the kind of person who repays you by saving up my own dog's crap for a month in a big plastic bag, and then dumps it on the hood of your car. (Sadly, in reality I am merely the kind of person who gripes about you on my blog--which you will never, ever read.)

Dear fitting room attendant at Academy Sports:

I'm sorry, did I interrupt something? Because when I approached the dressing room with some clothes I wanted to try on, you acted like I had showed up uninvited at your home and asked to try them on in your bedroom. I promise, if you're mistaking me for the person who peed on your pillowcase last week, it wasn't me. If you think you saw my number on your boyfriend's cell phone caller ID the other day, that wasn't me, either. So whatever grudge you're holding against me, real or imagined, what do you say we bury the hatchet, at least until after I finish trying on a few pairs of shorts and a couple tank tops?

Dear goofball in the bathroom stall next to me who talks on your cell phone while peeing:

Okay, I get it: You're not uptight. Your feel your natural bodily functions are nothing to be ashamed of; fine. But really--you don't see anything trashy about entering a public restroom while talking on your cell phone, then going into a stall, peeing, flushing, and leaving the bathroom, all while continuing to yap loudly and excitedly to your girlfriend on the other end of the phone? Only two possibilities exist here: Either you were raised in a bus terminal, or you're the head of no less than 7 of the largest corporations in the world, and simply don't have time to do drop everything to go to the bathroom. Judging from the sheer stupidity of the conversation I was forced to bear witness to, I'm guessing the it's not the latter of the two.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I hope I'm that funny when I'm living in the old folks home

If you haven't been reading Old Horsetail Snake--well, frankly you're just nuts. You'd have to be. This guy lives in an "old folks home," according to him. How many people do you know in the old folks home who have a blog? And it's not the kind of blog you'd expect from somebody's grandpa or great grandpa, either. The guy is a real writer and a great wit, and I'm continually amazed at how he finds something clever and interesting to write about every day. He's funny and smart and sometimes he really needs his ass kicked. I can't remember how old he has said he is, but I know the first number is a 7. (It's only a two-digit number, though, so that's not too old.) If you comment on my blog you're probably familiar with him, because you've seen his comments here, which are some of the funniest ones.

His daily posts are always a scream--although his most current post is the only one I've seen of his that isn't funny; it's his wife's obituary. She passed away Friday. Go pay him a visit. Give him some love, and while you're there, check out some of his other posts. If you don't pee just a little from laughing, I'll personally come to your house and mop your kitchen floors for you.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I'm still wearing the frilly red dress

My score on this silly little online test proves it: I'm not quite as stupid as previously thought!
You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 7/10 correct!

Still stupid, yes, but stupid on at LEAST an 8th grade level! This is way better than my previous belief that I was stupid on a 3rd grade level.

I've told you before (pay attention, people) that I'm beyond dumb at math. I'm dumb squared, in fact. I count with my fingers to add. Often, when presented with a simple math problem, I cock my head to the side like a Labrador puppy and go all glassy-eyed. I get that Anna Nicole look, without the inconvenience of porn star-sized boobs getting in the way.

On every standardized math test I've ever taken, I have answered the first few questions diligently and thoughtfully, and then as the questions went on, I would eventually reach a point (often around question #10) where I would surrender, and just begin putting down C for all my answers. I tended to do well enough in the other areas that it all worked out without my having to attend classes in the special ed trailer. (I still went there looking for dates, but didn't have to stay.)

Upon entering college, I was informed that my unspectacular performance on the math portion of the entrance test doomed me to having to take Basic Math, a class that the gifted--and even the merely normal--kids didn't have to take. As it turned out, I loved my teacher in that class, Professor Gann. He was one of the few instructors I'd ever had in that subject who had a way of explaining that weirdo math stuff so that I sometimes got it. I managed to maintain an unimpressive-but-passing C in that class all semester. On the day of the last class before our final exam, Gann gave the standard speech about how there would be no makeup for the final--you had to be there for that test, no excuses, and if you didn't make it, you would have no opportunity to retake the test. You'd get a zero for the final, and the average of that score and the scores you had gotten on the other tests and assignments throughout the semester would result in your final grade (with the final weighing heavier, naturally). If you had a high enough grade prior to the final exam, missing that final exam might not cause you to fail...but if you had a C like I did, you better be there, or you were screwed.

I woke up the morning of my math final convinced that I'd flunk the test...and why go through the humiliation? I made a spur-of-the-moment decision not to bother. I skipped the final and my roommate and I went shopping. And I failed the class, of course. But I got some really, really cute shoes at the mall.

So I had to retake Basic Math. I chose the same instructor. When he spotted me in class, he shook his head and admonished me for not attending the final last semester. Clearly, the guy thought I was nuts. "You had a C! You would have passed if you'd just come to the final!" I gave him a slack-jawed "I ain't too bright" grin and mumbled something incoherent.

You'd think perhaps I'd do better in the class the second time around, since we would just be going over the same material as last semester. But I have never actually "learned" anything that has to do with math. I have memorized a few things--for instance, I have memorized the answer to 6 x 8...but I've been resolute in my determination not to actually learn anything in any math class. Since I have an incredibly short memory, and since I have a cruise ship-sized mental block regarding math, I had taken a moment at the end of the previous semester to shake my head like an Etch-A-Sketch and empty it of whatever math principles might be cluttering up the space I normally reserve for memorizing song lyrics, and poof: The Basic Math stuff was gone. So in semester #2 of Professor Gann's class, I maintained my same old C average. And when finals time rolled around, I again woke up convinced I'd flunk.

Now I know what you're thinking--no way would I skip the final a second time. That would be so incredibly stupid, so self defeating. Who would sit through a hated class twice, only to force failure both times? Me, apparently. I skipped the final.

The next day I was surprised to get a phone call from Professor Gann. He told me there was no way he was letting me get away with skipping the final two semesters in a row after maintaining a passing grade both semesters up til finals time. He said I'd better get my ass to his office that afternoon and take the damn final. So I went, marveling all the while at the fact that he was breaking his sworn promise not to let anyone retake the final for any reason. I sat at a lone little desk right outside his office door and took the test, while he sat at his desk two feet away, probably asking himself over and over, "What is wrong with this jackass?" When I finished the test, he made me wait while he graded it on the spot. I got a C. He rolled his eyes at me and said, "See? You passed. You would have passed it last semester. Stop skipping finals." I gave him a slack-jawed grin and mumbled something incoherent.

Poor Professor Gann. I'm sure any teacher would tell you there's something incredibly satisfying about finally "getting through" to a student who was previously having a hard time learning something. I imagine teachers live for those really rewarding moments when they can sort of see a light bulb go off over a kid's head as he or she suddenly understands and maybe even begins to enjoy the subject. A giant dum-dum like me makes it hard for a teacher to feel good about his teaching abilities, and poor Professor Gann must have had a moment or two when he wondered why the hell he bothered working so hard to teach something that some students work so hard at not learning. Hopefully he had lots of rewarding moments with smarter, more eager students than myself, and hopefully those rewarding moments made up for the times he had really thick-skulled morons in his class who seemed to be intentionally dumbing the place up.

My apologies to you, Professor Gann. The light bulb never went off for me, and I never got any smarter or enjoyed the subject any more. But you were a great teacher. If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that you can put a frilly red dress on a hog, but you can't teach the hog to flamenco dance.

Friday, November 18, 2005

100 Things Wrong With Me (Part 7)

If you missed the first 6 parts to this series, good for you. But here's a short recap:

Lots of folks in Blogville have a 100 Things list, in which they detail 100 miscellaneous facts about themselves, usually along the lines of "I read my horoscope every day," and "Turtles scare me." Because I'm not a very interesting person, I knew simply stating harmless facts about myself would bore the pants off of you. And trust me, no one wants to see you pants-less. Therefore I give you my list of 100 Things Wrong With Me. I broke it up into parts, so that one of the Things Wrong With Me wouldn't be, "I create ridiculously long lists and post them whole, knowing full well that no one wants to sit in front of their computer for 78 hours straight reading them." Here's #61-70.

61. I'm killing my plants. It's sad, really, to see them sitting in their various locations throughout my house, dry and parched. Their leaves are crispy and brittle, the soil hard and sad. Really, these are more like corpses of plants than actual plants. I wish I had a green thumb, but apparently I have a black thumb. You'd think I would do myself and these skeletal plants a favor and just throw them out, but I'm stubborn, so I continue this sick little dance. I remember to water them only often enough to barely bring them back from the dry brink of death, where they hover for awhile til the grim reaper begins his approach once again. Then I give them a little water, and they cling tenuously to life for another day. Exhibits A-C:

62. I won't go to the bathroom in front of my husband. We have those silly little swinging saloon doors in our master bathroom, making the toilet semi-private from the rest of the bathroom. "Semi" is not enough privacy for me. Only in the last year or so have I agreed to occasionally let him be in the bathroom while I pee behind the goofy little saloon doors, which is a big step for me. But no way would I pee in front of him with no doors to partially obscure me. Oh, and we're only talking pee here. I would never, ever do anything more ambitious than that in front of him, nor give him the slightest hint that such an activity was even on the horizon. In fact, when we stay at hotels, I don't use the hotel room bathroom if I have to do anything more than pee. I make up an excuse to go to the front desk or the ice machine, and then I scurry off to the bathroom that's usually located near the front desk. He'll be shocked to read this, because I'm sure he has no idea I put this much thought and effort into this silliness. But what can I say in my own defense, except that I have no interest in my husband discovering that I'm human.

63. I hate Chihuahuas. I know I'm supposed to love them as I do all other animals, but God help me, I detest them. I think they're awful, wretched little yapping assholes who seem to hate everyone but their owners. After an ear-splitting 30 minute session of psychotically barking at you without pause, they then have the nerve--the NERVE! to beg from you the second they see you with food in your hand. Feed them if you want, but the very second you're finished with the food, the little attention whores will resume psychotically barking at you. Oh, and for some odd reason, 97% of Chihuahua owners let these horrendous beasts get away with their atrocious behavior, to include barking, biting, jumping on people, snapping at people, scaring children, taking over the furniture, begging for food and just acting like assholes in general. The owners never seem interested in training them or reprimanding them or raising them to be good pets tolerated and loved by all. So the bad behavior goes entirely unchecked, making it impossible to carry on a simple conversation while visiting the home of one of these idiot mongrels. Chihuahuas are as angry as they are stupid, and I usually want to stomp them with my shoe. (I do happen to know at least one Chuhuahua owner who is a responsible owner. I mean, her dog is still a total dick, but at least she recognizes that and keeps him away from company.)

64. I picked a boring name for my blog. My husband tried to talk me into getting a blog for maybe a year before I finally did it, but I was reluctant because I really didn't think I'd have anything to say that would interest anyone, and I wasn't entirely clear what the hell a blog was supposed to be for anyway. But he wanted me to start one and he offered to set it up for me, so I finally told him to go ahead. He asked me what I wanted to call it. I had no idea. I thought about it for a few minutes and finally said he could just call it Karlababble. Of course, now that I read other blogs and have figured out what to do with my own, I see what an incredibly boring title that is, and I can think of about a billion much cooler ones. But I'm stuck with this snoozer. How any of you managed to find me is beyond me; generally when I see a list of links, I click on an interesting-sounding one, which Karlababble most certainly is not. Seriously, I can't tell you how much it bums me out that my blog has a boring name. I wish I could go back in time and change it.

65. When my husband takes off his wedding band, I like to hide it. He doesn't take it off often, but two situations he's guaranteed to remove it are when he mows the lawn and when he feeds the baby (so the ring doesn't thump Jake on the spine when Brian's burping him). He always puts it in the same spot--a little glass ring holder I have on my bathroom vanity. When I see it there, I hide it. The first couple of times, Brian panicked, fearing he'd lost it, but my gleeful snickering soon revealed otherwise. Common hiding places are along the tops of hanging picture frames, inside the cap of a can of deodorant or hair spray, inside the cotton ball dispenser, etc. This is my way of punishing him for not following instructions, since the ring is clearly inscribed with the phrase "Put it back on." How can this marriage survive if he won't obey?

66. I've had C Is For Cookie stuck in my head for 2 weeks now. And no, I haven't seen Sesame Street lately, and haven't heard the song in years. But the lyrics have been tormenting me, so I've been tormenting the people around me by singing them out loud. Over and over. Cheerfully.

67. I hate being tickled; really, seriously hate it. Which is hard for an observer to discern, because I'm incredibly ticklish, so I'm laughing my ass off even as I'm getting truly angry and begging for the tickler to stop. Clearly, it looks like I'm playfully protesting but still enjoying the tickling--but not so. It took my husband a while to understand this when we first got together. He would tickle me at length as I protested, and when I finally got him to stop, and when my giggle fit had finally subsided, I'd look at him solemnly and tell him "Seriously, don't do that again. I hate it." But he didn't think I was serious, and it would happen again later. Finally I found a way to get back at him. I'd bide my time, and later we'd be going somewhere, with him driving and me in the passenger seat. At a busy intersection, I'd slouch down in my seat and look idly out the passenger window as I reached over and laid on the horn. He'd wig out as other drivers turned to stare at him with that "What's your problem?" look. I'd giggle like mad, and he'd say "Seriously! Don't do that, it's not funny!" I'd reply that I was just getting him back for tickling me earlier. So the tickling promptly stopped. As it had to, before some angry trucker beat the living hell out of him with a tire iron.

68. The sound of my dog licking her paws totally repulses me. That slurp-slurping sound makes me want to ram a coat hanger into my eardrum to deafen myself. I don't want to reprimand her, because I don't want to make her think it's bad to clean herself; I like a clean dog. But at the same time, I do want her to cut it out so I don't vomit. So my solution is to toss something near her but not at her, so that it lands about 6 inches from her and distracts her. This totally works. I'll throw a pen or a Kleenex box or whatever's handy, it will bounce a few inches away from her and distract her, and she'll stop that disgusting licking and just lay her head down and relax. I've been so successful with this tactic that I'm going to try it with Brian next. When he starts telling me about some new techno-gadget out on the market, or begins describing the software he's working on at his job, I'll just toss a pencil about a foot away from him and distract him. Then maybe he'll forget what he was telling me.

69. I refuse to make goofy faces at babies and children other than my own. You know how every goddamn time you fly somewhere in a plane, there's a 5-year-old in the seat in front of you who remains turned completely around in his seat the entire flight, staring you full in the face like you're a zoo animal? I hate that kid, regardless of whether he's quietly staring or actually causing a noisy scene as he stares. I know, I know, he's just a kid. But he's a kid I hate. I had an ex who would always indulge that kid, and spend the flight making funny faces at the kid to make him giggle, which, of course, always prolonged the staring. Isn't that sweet, that he loved kids so much, and had such a playful nature? Puke.

70. I hate to iron clothes. Every once in a great while, when I'm feeling particularly magnanimous, I iron a couple of Brian's work shirts and he jumps for joy like I just coughed up a gold brick. I know he's praising me so highly in the hopes that I'll repeat the gesture in the future. Poor thing. He must lay in bed at night and fantasize about those women who cook every night for their husbands and iron their work shirts every day. And at that very moment, as he's fantasizing about those kind of wives, I'm probably somewhere else in the house hiding his wedding ring or throwing things at the dog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Getting drunk in costume: Way better than getting drunk in your own clothes

If you're still interested (were you ever?) in seeing our Halloween costumes, check them out here. We didn't end up doing anything too creative because we went to a party where costumes were optional and we didn't know how many people would be dressing up. I was a Catholic school girl and Brian was a priest. Some of you may recognize my friend Vanessa in some of the pictures, who was also a Catholic school girl.

Oh, and the last couple of shots are of Jake in his costume, even though he didn't go to the party. (Lame ass said he didn't feel like getting drunk two nights in a row.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I seem to be trapped in a poop theme.

Imagine it:

Somewhere, in a bathroom in the not-so-distant past, a man sat patiently on his toilet as he waited for his body to do its thing. He had some time on his hands while he waited. But he was not one of those unimaginative fellows who just sits and stares blankly at the wall while waiting for something, oh no. He was always thinking, this guy. At that particular moment, the thought in his busy, crafty brain was this:

"Why are toilet seats all so plain and boring? I should be crapping on a beautiful arrangement of seashells instead of this plain white seat. Nay, I deserve to be crapping on a beautiful arrangement of seashells!"

And that, folks, is how all great inventions start: With one simple idea. Soon this industrious gent made his brainchild a reality, and voila! Now every one of us, as well as our children and our children's children--will have the ability to crap on seashells, and all for the low, low price of $69.99. Heck, if you're one of those fancy types who always has to have the best of the best, you can spend $89.99 and crap on a blue toilet seat with little fish inside. It's like all my childhood dreams are coming true!

And all thanks to that innovative, constipated genius who refused to settle for the status quo. I salute you, Constipated Genius, whoever you are.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

His bowels move in mysterious ways

It was one of those cute mother-son moments that you can only experience with a child still small enough to carry on your hip. I was parading Jake through the house pointing out different things to him. He was fresh from his bath and had that new-baby smell. I bounced him a little on my hip as I "beeped" the tune of La Bamba--come on, try it, it's fun. Instead of singing the lyrics--which no living human knows anyway--just sing "be be be beep be beep beep be be be beep beep" to the revoltingly cheerful tune of La Bamba. It may make you physically ill, but your baby will love it.

Jake was laughing and trying to grab at each thing we passed. We be-beeped into the kitchen, where I took a glass from the cabinet and was in the process of filling it with water from the refrigerator door water dispenser when I shifted Jake a bit on my hip to get a better grip on him. "Hmmm," I thought. "That's strange." My arm, the one supporting Jake's back, felt wet. How could that be? Any time a baby is found to be wet, it's a good bet that he's peed himself--but pee has a tendency to present itself on the baby's front, not on his back. That's when I was hit in the nose by a rolling wave of mystery-solving stench.

I hastily set down my water glass and took a gander at my son's back. What I found there cannot be described...but lucky for you, I'm handy with a digital camera. I galloped to the changing table and plopped my filthy progeny on the floor so that I could prep the area for the hell I was about to unleash upon removal of the diaper. Here's what the shameless little Pig Pen looked like.

How did he manage this? This is not the first time he has defied gravity and crapped upward, but each time it happens, I question the laws of the universe. To answer the most obvious question, no, I certainly did not hang him upside down from a shower curtain rod, nor did I tip his crib at an incline and put him to sleep head-down. In my house, we have a strict "upright baby" policy which dictates that we strive to keep him head-up and feet down, unless he's laying down. In that case, we tend to keep him level, with his head at approximately the same height as his feet. That's just the way we roll. At the time of The Incident, hereinafter referred to as The Crap Carnival, Jake was, in fact, standing upright in his Exersaucer, watching cartoons and blithely gnawing on a plastic fish. He looked quite normal, even innocent, and gave no hint that he was even then performing a modern-day miracle and crapping skyward.

If you're foolish enough to be asking yourself why I set the putrid little fellow on the floor instead of just putting him directly on the changing table, then you don't have an accurate idea of what I was contending with. While my changing table was no doubt specifically designed to handle a certain amount of poo, it was simply no match for the scene I knew was awaiting me in and around the general vicinity of that diaper. What I needed was one of those power hoses they use at the zoo to bathe the elephants, but I was forced to make do with the inadequate tools I had at my disposal. I deposited Filthy McBaby on the floor while I grabbed a towel to cover the changing table with, as well as several hundred baby wipes and a clean diaper. In hindsight, I should have taken a few quick swigs from a bottle of Wild Turkey as well, but that's a lesson learned. I'll spare you the details of the scene that unfolded next, but suffice it to say that I'm currently undergoing treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. At the end of a grueling, protracted struggle, I came out the victor, having finally restored my son's derriere--and his back--to their formerly pristine condition. Here's proof that beneath the thick coating of feces, an actual human child existed:

In a completely unrelated matter, I have a onsie (size large), a pair of navy blue infant sweat pants (size 9-12 months), and a large green bath towel that I will generously give for free to anyone who wants them.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Allegations have been made...

...and I will be contacting my lawyer. The monkey part is true, but the rest of it...well, it's just libelous and wrong.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Karla, Poop Detective

My kid just went #2, and it was so incredibly foul-smelling that I told him I don't love him anymore. Seriously, this shouldn't even be called a #2, this was more like a #50. Whatever we fed him yesterday is now officially banned from our home until the end of time. In fact, I'm considering not feeding him anymore, period. See, I've made careful notes on this subject, and I've come to the conclusion that there seems to be a direct correlation between food going in and poop coming out. I'm no dummy.

I have never been one of those people who finds toilet humor all that humorous. I am mostly just embarrassed by the whole subject, and have probably never made reference to fecal matter more than a handful of times in my whole life, and probably always with a really prissy look on my face. Recently, that's changed. Once you have a baby, suddenly your whole life begins to revolve around the subject of poop. I am certain that my husband and I have never once had any discussion prior to Jake that made mention of doo-doo in any way, yet now we sit around discussing it daily, as if discussing the weather. In addition, I have become a Poop Detective, constantly on the sniff for signs of trouble. Sometimes the situation is so dire that it is instantly apparent that my services are needed; the smell hits you like a fecal fog. Other times, I have to pick the happily playing baby up and hoist him in the air as I wave my nose near his diaper, collecting olfactory evidence. At such moments, I have my suspicions, but I'm hoping against hope that my instincts are wrong. I'm sure it's something akin to how a homicide detective feels when he's looking for a body--he's looking for something that needs to be found, and if he finds it he'll feel some satisfaction that his job experience and his intelligence led him to his target--yet he can't help hoping he doesn't find anything, because what he's looking for is something no human would ever wish to contend with.

So naturally, I did my duty and fought the enemy that was lurking inside that war-torn diaper. As it stands, his derriere is clean enough to eat off of--if you're, uh, really, really hungry, and if you can come up with a reasonable explanation as to how food ended up there in the first place. All in all, his backside smells as fresh as a summer day. But I know it's only a matter of time before God will test my love for Jake again, and will smite us with a diaper so full and so foul that I will stand at the changing table and shake my fist at the sky, shouting like King Lear...or, uh, Denis Leary, for those of you who don't read Shakespeare.

Now I ask you: Who would ever guess that behind this sweet face lies an ass that's capable of such mayhem, such pure evil?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

100 Things Wrong With Me (Part 6)

If you missed the first 5 tedious parts to this series, a short recap:

Half the folks in Blogtown have a 100 Things list, in which they detail 100 miscellaneous facts about themselves, usually along the lines of "I believe in angels," and "9 is my lucky number." But I know my readers; you people aren't interested in getting to know the real me, you're interested in getting to mock the real me. Feel free to mock me for the 100 Things Wrong With Me. I'm posting this list in installments, in an effort to keep the tidal wave of mockery from becoming a tsunami. Here's #51-60.

51. I get cranky when I'm hungry. At a certain point, it's in your best interest to get some food in me before I start busting caps.

52. I like to take scalding-hot showers. The only problem with this is that I'm then hot for about an hour afterward, a fact which is exacerbated by the time spent blow-drying my hair with super hot air. Although I spend most of my average day struggling to stay warm, this post-shower experience is my one time of the day to complain about being hot. It's hard for a girl to fix her hair and put on makeup while sweating like a construction worker, so I crank the air conditioner up to meat locker conditions. My poor husband, who, like most of the world, is chilly after a shower, shivers and turns blue while all this is going on. When he adjusts the temperature in an effort to ward off hypothermia, I notice the moment the cold air stops blasting out of the vent, and I sneak behind his back and make it cold again.

53. I don't know if I could make it 24 hours without making a small-penis joke about someone. I've tried, but I started to break out in hives after the first couple of hours.

54. I am one of those boring types who orders the same thing every time I go to a particular restaurant--as in, I have "my usual" I always order at Mi Cocina, and I have "my usual" I always order at Outback, etc. I rarely have the urge to deviate from my customary order. People whine about this, acting like I'm missing out on life or something if I don't eat something different every goddamn minute of the day, but I look at it this way: True, I may order the same thing every time I go to Outback, but I don't go to Outback that often, so it's still been a long time since I had that particular item, right? When I do deviate from custom, I am often sorry. I usually don't like what I end up getting, and my husband is forced to trade with me. Which, fortunately, is no big deal to him, because he'll eat fried camel hump if you put it in front of him.

55. I don't hesitate to call my husband at work to ask him the most retarded questions that could definitely wait until he gets home from work, or that I could figure out for myself with a little effort. The most frequent questions are along the lines of "The wireless internet is down. How do I fix it?" and "What's the fastest route to (insert area of town here)?" As irritating as this must surely be, he always takes my calls and is always patient and acts like it's totally acceptable for me to interrupt his busy work day for incredibly trivial things. I'm not sure if this is because he is a living testament to patience, or if it's because he's afraid if I'm not immediately tended to, I'll have some kind of psychotic meltdown and run naked and screaming through the city park, or possibly set our house on fire and skip town with the baby to join the circus.

56. I'm, shall we say, less than friendly on the phone at work. For instance, if I answer the phone and say "Can I help you," and the caller pauses for a split second before speaking, I hang up on them, swiftly and joyfully. I often see other people answer the phone and then repeat "Hello? Hello? Helloooooo?" as they patiently court the silence on the other end. With me, not only do you not get a second "hello," but you better speak fast, mister.

57. I cry at movies--and by that I mean practically ALL movies. I could probably find a spot in Anchorman to cry. I am embarrassed by this goofy behavior, and I go to great pains not to let whoever I'm with know that I'm crying. You know the tricks--I act like I'm scratching my eye as I'm wiping a tear away, then a second later when the next tear comes, I act like I'm messing with my hair. I'm not sure which is goofier--the fact that I cry or the fact that I work so hard at not being caught at it. Okay, I figured it out; it's the crying.

58. When it comes to problem-solving, I'm not one of those proud pioneer types who thinks, "I'm going to figure this out on my own and be a better person for it." My policy is "Why struggle figuring this out when I can call someone who already knows the answer?" This thought is almost always swiftly followed by a phone call to my husband at work.

59. I have no idea what a meme is. And I could look it up, yeah, but I'm not going to.

60. I have a Caesar salad list. I don't think this should be considered a Thing Wrong With Me, but every single person who hears about it disagrees, so I'll put it on the list. My terrible memory and my love of a good Caesar salad are constantly at odds. For many years, I would repeatedly relive the same scenario, in which I would sit at the table in any given restaurant debating whether to order the Caesar or the house salad. Was the Caesar too fishy at this restaurant? I'd had it in the past, but couldn't remember. I'd go ahead and order it, only to realize that indeed, it tasted like someone had thrown a live trout in a blender and poured it over the lettuce. Oh, the crushing disappointment of getting a bad Caesar when you could have instead ordered a perfectly decent house salad. So now I keep a running list in my purse of which restaurants have a good Caesar salad. It looks something like this:
Birraporetti's: Yes
Sardines: No
Outback: HELL NO
...and so on. Is this a crime? Can anyone explain to me why, each time I whip out my incredibly efficient and handy list, my dining companions begin to point at me and hoot with laughter? Am I too picky about salads? Is the act of list-making too anal-retentive? Or are my friends just gigantic assholes? One thing I do know: You'll all be frantically trying to call your old buddy Karla next time you're sitting in a restaurant trying to decide which salad to order, because you know I alone have been diligent enough to take copious notes on the issue. Will you be calling my asshole friends? No, you'll be calling me. And I will have the answer.

Friday, November 04, 2005

I was attacked by an internet predator--and lived to tell about it

Well, okay--I wasn't exactly attacked. And he's not exactly an internet predator. But wouldn't that have made for an interesting post? I almost wish I could have teetered on the brink of death just for a moment or two, to make the story more compelling.

As mentioned in a previous post, Common Wombat was in the Dallas area for a few days hunting down children and killing them doing some design work at a local mall. Obviously he's alienated himself from all the potential jobs in his own hometown, and has to travel far and wide for work now.

We were scheduled to meet at a restaurant at 7 PM--but God tried to intervene on my behalf and prevent me from attending this meeting by putting me in the midst of some crazy backed-up traffic, which made me, my husband and my friend Brooks (who were in the car with me) about 20 minutes late. My friend Vanessa got to the restaurant on time, and met up with Wombat first. He had mentioned in a recent post of his that he is sometimes the target of gay guys looking for love, so I told Vanessa to be on the lookout for a panicked fellow surrounded by a pack of gay dudes, but apparently our Dallas homosexual crowd is pickier than the Baltimore gays, because he was strolling along unmolested when Vanessa spotted him. By the time we arrived, Vanessa lay dead at Wombat's feet in a pool of blood the two were cheerfully engaged in conversation. Wombat was disheveled and fidgety, and had a swastika carved into his forehead turned out to be a nice, normal-looking fellow. I patted him down for axes, nunchucks, machetes, bayonetes, carving knives, pistols, dentist's drills, and bone saws, but found nothing. Assuming he must have keistered his weapon, I vowed to be wary anyway.

Over the course of the next three hours, Wombat tried to bite and strangle each of us repeatedly we had a lot of fun talking and eating. Seriously, the guy is demented in all the right ways, and fit in perfectly with our similarly demented group, as indicated by this photo. So in summary, I did survive! I was not killed, maimed, skinned, hobbled, burned, bitten, punched, poked, scratched or even given a flea dip. I can safely vouch for the relative harmlessness of the Wombat. He was funny, charming, pleasant and completely odorless. We loved him! It's just lucky for us that Baltimore and Dallas are so close together, so now we can hang out with him and his wife Sally on a regular basis. (Hmm...wait a minute. I might need consult a map before I swear to that.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

This may be the last time you ever hear from me.

Yes, it's true: This may be the last post I ever write. In fact, I may not live through the week. No, I haven't been diagnosed with some kind of fast-acting cancer, and no, I'm not about to engage in any risky thrill-seeking behavior like skydiving or having unprotected sex with Tommy Lee. I am going to have a face-to-face meeting with someone I have thus far only met online.

You see, one of my favorite bloggers, Common Wombat, is going to be in the Dallas area later this week, and we've made plans to get together for dinner. Now, I know we've all heard stories about internet predators who pretend to be someone they're not, convincing some innocent rube to meet them for a "harmless" get-together...at which point the naive victim then gets raped, killed, and buried in a shallow grave in a wooded area. I could very well be the next statistic. True, I'm bringing along my husband and a few of my friends to this meeting--but are they any match for a bloodthirsty axe murderer? Only time will tell. And true--we're meeting up at a restaurant, not my house or a dark alley or abandoned field--but a crafty serial killer can find a way to satisfy his hunger for human flesh even in a crowded place. Will I be diced into bite-sized pieces, the parts divided up into gift baskets and mailed anonymously to local politicians? It's entirely possible. Will I be skinned alive, de-boned, and my nose be carried around in Wombat's pocket for good luck, as a reminder of his conquest? Perhaps. But it's a chance I have to take because...have you read his blog? That's some funny shit.

But I'm nothing if not a planner, so I've gone to the trouble to make some provisions in the event of my death and subsequent dismemberment. I've made a flyer that you guys can print out and distribute when and if I go missing.

Please print out as many of these as you can, and distribute them throughout your town. Call your local police department and tell them what you know. But don't send them to Wombat's site to try to gain information that would help in their investigation--they'll probably just end up giggling a lot and emailing the link to their friends instead of getting any real work done on solving my murder.