Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Twelve Abominations of Christmas.

Have you purchased your partridge in a pear tree, yet? No? Well good luck, because between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you'll be lucky to find a crow in a cedar shrub.

The Twelve Days of Christmas is the ultimate holiday shopping song, full of gratuitous spending, overconsumption, and joyous gluttony. It's an apt representation of the Christmas season, a time when we come together to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus and logs of Hickory Farms summer sausage large enough to beat a horse to death with.

In deviant fashion, I have compiled the following list, a mini retrospective of my own Twelve Abominations of Christmas. To be honest, I had a hard time stopping at twelve- the holidays really are a time of excess everything. Including snark.

Lara's The Twelve Abominations of Christmas

1. Tinsel.
What is it with holidays and obnoxious, messy, shredded crap? Tinsel is exactly like Easter grass, only metallic. It comes in packs of about 500,000 strands for a buck, and if you get one single, solitary piece wrapped in the brush of your vacuum cleaner, you can expect to invest half of the burgeoning new year trying to wrastle it out. No one has ever used tinsel effectively except Merv Griffin and he is dead. We should have buried tinsel with him.

2. Blinking icicle lights.
Driving home last week, I was stuck at an intersection directly opposite a house covered in a net of blinking icicle lights. I came about five seconds from having a seizure. I couldn't entirely look away, because I had to watch the traffic, but when I eventually turned my vehicle onto the road, I was extremely disoriented and totally could have run over a pedestrian. Every day thousands of people are confused by icicle lights, resulting in deadly car accidents that kill, foremost, young, attractive white women. That is a completely unfounded speculation, or as Fox News would call it "a fact".

3. Gift wrap.
There is nothing more maddening than attempting to swathe gifts of manifold size and shape in paper that inevitably rips or is too small for the object you just measured it to fit around. I don't know who invented this means of disguising items, but this year I am going with the towel-and-hot glue gift wrapping method, and I suggest you do as well.

4. Similarly, tape and scissors.
Another fascinating and enraging aspect of the gift wrapping process involves the fact that even if you have six pairs of scissors and a dozen rolls of tape arranged in a wide, circular perimeter around you, when you need to cut a piece of paper, or tape a querulously- folded edge, you will be utterly unable to locate either tool. It's part of the magic of X-Mas that the rules of science and physics bend at will to inconvenience you.

5. Giant Santa hats on phallic-looking trees.

This is a new one for me, but I was downright disturbed one day to drive past a yard with a tall, narrow arbor vitae tree topped by a long Santa hat that resembled a giant, festive condom. I'm not certain what the message is supposed to be with that, but it was disorienting in a different way than the icicle lights.

6. Carolers. You don't want the Jehovah's Witnesses at your house pushing a religious agenda, so what's so great about a bunch of Christmas carolers doing it? Because they're singing? Don't be easily fooled, fool! Put that wassail bowl away.

7. Mall Santas.
Not only do you have to wonder about their professional motivations, they're probably giant jolly bowls of H1N1. If you want to spend your holidays downing Tamiflu instead of eggnog, go for it. But don't say you weren't warned.

8. Christmas trees.
You can't win no matter what route you go with the traditional Christmas or Solstice tree. Plastic trees are tacky, probably don't biodegrade in a landfill, and
may require dusting. Real trees smell awesome and look cool, but pose the likelihood that at some point you and each member of your family will experience pine needle foot impalement. This will almost inevitably happen while you're trying to get everyone to sit-still-for-one-God-damn-second-and-smile for the family holiday card picture.

9. Window cling decorations.
Kids love them. They don't stick, they curl up, and they obstruct the view from your window, rendering you unable to determine if you need to dodge your crazy, perennially shirtless neighbor when you go out the door. Some people abuse them to the extent that they appear to be using them in lieu of curtains. That's even worse than Blues Clues bed sheets.

10. Old Men get more Old Spice.
Because there is nothing else the grandkids can think of to buy ol' gramps, and he's been a fan since long before his olfactories started to fail. It's the end of the year. He HAS to be running out, for how much he bathes in every day. Kids, for the love of baby Jesus, just draw grandpa some pictures this year and spare the general public another 12 months of old man smell.

11. Drunk uncles.
Everyone has one, and you know you're going to see him at Christmas. He could be intoxicated any of the other 364 days of the year, but he has to choose this one to get utterly bombed. Remove any mistletoe that's hanging at the family Christmas venue; it's a family Christmas, after all, but drunk uncle will forget what that implies.

12. The whole "virgin birth" scenario.
I'm surprised, frankly, that this excuse isn't used more often among teenage mothers. It worked once, to profound effect. Additionally, I don't see what the big deal is regarding the whole "born in a manger" situation. I had a baby at St. Cloud "hospital" and I seriously doubt a manger could have been worse. They tried to feed me hospital cauliflower that was so mushy you could practically spread it with a knife.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sickos, Psychos, and Tentacle Ailments.

I can't blame the hubby for being a little nervous- in about the space of a year he suffered a stroke and enjoyed two unrelated and unexpected surgeries. Ever since the ominous specter of his 28th year slid past, he's become paranoid about health-related issues. Every headache is an aneurysm; every chest cold, the onset of lung cancer; every gas pain in the chest region is a certain sign of heart attack. Yet somehow, he's still walking around, dropping clothes next to the hamper and failing to recycle his beverage cans.

Being his requisite shoulder, I tend to hear a lot about what ails my dear spouse. But the kids have ears, as well. And brains like sponges. And bottomless needs for attention. It's a recipe for a household of one-upping hypochondriacs.

We spent a bit of time at the doctor with Jack this last week as he's had some minor, albeit unpleasant, issues going on. Perhaps all the discussion of Jack's medical concerns piqued the interest of the older two, because in the course of the three-day weekend I just enjoyed with the kids, I was posed with an unrelenting and dramatic series of ailments, as indicated by Noel and Sophie.

Noel injured one of his "boys" on Friday (or as Sophie pronounced, his "right tentacle").
It was a subtle injury, the sore tentacle, which Noel initially thought was "gas pains in [my] leg", and later decided was the result of the position in which he had been sitting. We continued to hear about this issue non-stop for the remainder of the weekend-- through the Christmas City of the North Parade (during which he also shared the details with other of our adult friends), in the car, while making dinner, cleaning house, doing laundry, and pretty much any other instance in which Noel felt he had a captive audience. I believe that cumulatively, I heard the tentacle injury detailed for no less than 3-1/2 hours. Who knew there was so much to say about the trials and tribulations of one right tentacle?

Sophie had to work a little harder, as she had no obvious bruises, swellings, or imperfections, so she brought up the scratch Jack had given her when he inadvertently "sliced [her] wif' his toenail" earlier last week. Soph also related that she was suffering numerous forms of visual impairments. "If I stare a light and close my eyes, I can still see spotty lights," she whimpered, "and when I'm looking at something, if I stare at it, it looks like it's getting closer, even though it's not moving." Noel jumped in to describe his challenges with "floaters". Both kids simpered about the fact that I hadn't made their routine eye appointments for them, yet. These maladies paled in dramatic comparison, though, to the incident in which Sophie was suddenly struck by the realization that she was ill and it was almost certainly because she "[didn't] have enough blood sugar!"

When the flu hit the adults in our household a few weeks ago, every day was ushered in with choruses of "I think I have a fever, too!" and "It feels like my whole body hurts!", despite the fact that none of the kids ever actually seemed to get the flu. I try to find a mid-ground response between gushing hysterically and fawning over the wee ones at every complaint, and being one of those parents whose response to ailment or injury is to tell their kid to "suck it up" or "walk it off"-- two phrases that never made much literal sense to me.

So I got up for work this morning, put on my plum mini-dress, sleek black knee boots, and trendy chunky beads. I sat at the dining room table writing a note to Mr. Novak, Noel's gym teacher, and trying to find the most tactful and sophisticated way to say: "Please don't make Noel run, because his ball is swollen, and it really hurts when it smacks against his leg."

Tactful and sophisticated... I'm a writer, but I'm not a miracle worker.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Good Wife's Guide: Revised.

No one teaches you how to be a married person. I distinctly remember a unit in high school Resources for Living class that covered forms of birth control and their proper usage (which clearly, I failed to pay sufficient attention to.) While we learned how to balance a checkbook, we learned little about how to balance a life.

What we ladies need is an updated version of the 1950's Good Wife's Guide. A primer on how to treat your hubby well and have a happy and fulfilling marriage.

So yeah, I'm going to take a stab at it.

I bring to the table eleven solid years of marriage, none of which have involved police intervention, public shamings, or flaming piles of clothing on the lawn.

Check out this list of Good Wife guidelines, abridged for the modern, sassy woman of the 21st century.

  • Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

    Make sure to call him BEFORE he leaves work to ensure that he stops by the pizza place on his drive home. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. It's rude to send him back out to get dinner when he walks in the door. Don't neglect to remind him to pick up dipping sauce; it's a real bummer if he has to go back to the 'Hut again.

  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

    Try to remember to use your own toothbrush and deodorant, not his. Or at least put them back so he can't tell that you did use them. If your top is extremely dirty, turn it inside out before he sees you, and if he notes that you are wearing the same pants you slept in, feign profound insult until he comes to believe that you are, in fact, wearing different pants that merely look similar to your pj's. Lots of people own more than one pair of reindeer sleep pants.

  • Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.

    Stop scrapbooking and eating saltines in bed. It may be a practice that's tough to curtail, but if a die-cut scrap slices his retina for the third time, your husband will have some grounds for discontent. Try to stem your hoarding impulses. No one is more put-off by finding cat feces in his slippers than your prince. Especially if you don't own any cats.

  • During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

    You can't compensate for the lack of a fireplace by placing your large metal popcorn bowl on the floor and burning stuff in it. It isn't romantic, and it isn't acceptable as a cost effective means of heating a small room. He will get mad.

  • Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

    Here's the genius angle on this one– if he doesn't have full hearing capabilities, he will never be disturbed or distracted by excessive or irritating noises, right? There are a number of ways to induce hearing loss. I will leave you to your own creative devices.

  • Be happy to see him.

    Don't immediately say, "Did you eat ALL the rest of the frickin' mini Twix? Why are we paying for Lipitor?!" or "Hey! You know what I want for my birthday?" when he walks in the front door.

  • Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

    If you down a bottle of pinot before he gets home, you can smile at anyone. If he suggests that you're only happy to see him because you're drunk, reassure him that alcohol is the great truth-serum. Let the romance begin...

  • Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

    Stare in his general direction while he is talking, and nod your head rhythmically. After a while, it becomes automatic and you can continue the charade of interest while thinking about things you actually care about like the G4 summit, alternative fuel sources, and scrapbooking.

  • Don't greet him with complaints and problems.

    Don't tell him that you horrendously plugged the toilet. He'll eventually figure that out all on his own. Why be the messenger?

  • Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

    Make him comfortable before you tell him that you drove into the garage door again. If he's lying down, you can run out of the room before he lurches back into a seated position to address your misstep.

  • Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

    Don't bother to tell him that you rubbed the baby's butt on his pillow when he left this morning without helping you get the older kids on the bus. You may feel apprehensive about being mean, but rest assured, he still deserves it for something.

  • Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

    Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Carefully log all his indiscretions in a journal, including any photo or video evidence. The next time you want to do a girls' weekend in Vegas, he will heartily agree. Or else.

  • A good wife always knows her place.

    You bet she does.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I'll admit it. I'm a bit of a sucker for those as-seen-on-tv products. I wanted the Steam Shark, I wanted Debbie Meyer Green Bags, at one point I even lusted after the D.R. Field Trimmer Mower, despite the fact that I don't exactly have a field- just a 100-something by 50-something-foot lot in the middle of town. Most recently, I was captivated by the extreme-volume-inducing Bumpit for hair. I just couldn't rationalize dropping twenty bucks plus s&h on something that might make me look like a baby with a head recently squeezed through the birth canal. I wanted to try it, though...

Sophie decided that this was the year she wanted her ears pierced, so last weekend we shuttled off to the mall to get her tiny lobes punctured. She was a real trooper and now has some sparkly green studs in her ears that she twists fanatically, continually asking me, "Should I turn my earrings, mom? Do I need to clean my ears with that stuff again, mom?"

So I was wandering around Icing, the ear piercing shop, admiring various girly accessories, when I spotted them-- three rows of BUMPITS in different colors! They were ten dollars! I immediately grabbed the one designed for brown hair. I was more than a little bit excited.
My pulse was racing.

I'm known for many things, but my ability to exercise patience in the wearing of new clothing or accessories would probably not make the list. As such, I can easily change a full outfit in a car. I can switch out my tops while operating a motor vehicle. I figured that since my husband was driving, I could easily arrange my hair with the Bumpit while we drove to the next destination.

Bad idea.

I first noted that the Bumpit packaging and instructions seemed to neglect examples of curly-headed models, and I started to wonder if there was a reason. The Bumpit is basically a banana-shaped item with small teeth that bite into your hair. To use it, you make a part across your head, settle the Bumpit in against your scalp, and flip your hair back over it. Voila! Instant volume!

I've got curly hair. Long curly hair. I got to step one: make a part in your hair, and the trouble started. My hair wasn't really inclined to part "the wrong way" across my head. I couldn't even see the top of my head, because I was working with the aid of a very small visor mirror. I was tugging and it hurt, so I just sort of haphazardly bunched up some hair from the general top-area of my head and draped it forward.

Next: align the Bumpit. That part seemed easy. Once pressed against my scalp and wiggled a bit, the Bumpit really stuck. I looked in the mirror and realized I'd placed the apparatus way too far back. No problem- I'd just lift and re-adjust it. Except it was stuck. With a few yelps of pain, I had wrangled the Bumpit loose and resituated it.

My Bumpit now expertly positioned, I flopped the mass of hair I'd pulled forward, back over the plastic arc to create the signature "bump" of flowing hair. I then positioned the mirror and tipped my head to admire my lofty coif, which I assumed was now cascading like a waterfall of glossy curls.

*A critical aside: This is where I should probably mention that I've been cutting my own hair (including my layers) for the last year. I only trust about one person in the whole world to cut it. The last time I went in to the salon, my stylist yelled at me and told me to "stop trimming your own bangs and heat-styling your hair!" I felt a little dirty after the chastising, but subsequent to his warning, I not only continued trimming my own bangs and incessantly heat-styling my hair, I also stupidly decided to put in my own (abhorrent) highlights. I basically killed my hair. Now I am faced with an odd conundrum wherein I cannot go get my hair cut, because I so desperately need my hair cut, and I can't stomach the hellfire that will rain down when my stylist sees what I did to it.

So the Bumpit doesn't look so good if you slap it to a head of curly, self-cut wonky-layered hair. Even in the visor mirror I could see that. It had to come out before we reached Kohl's and I was forced to walk into the store looking like I had a nest of ratty hair giving birth to a banana clip.

Unfortunately, the Bumpit was in there pretty tight. Hair was lying under, over, and wrapped around it like a coccoon of tangled threads. I tried prying the hair away from the Bumpit, but I couldn't tell which direction would pull the clumps and strands loose, and tugging with any force HURT.

I felt my chest tighten and I became panicky. I shoved my head between the front seats and shouted for Noel, slouched in the backseat, to "get this thing out of my hair!" I abruptly felt violent yanking and hollered, "Ouch! Not like that! Stop!" Nathaniel shouted from the driver's seat, "It's not Noel- it's Jack!" I attempted to contort my body without moving my head, in order to wrest my hair from Jack's tiny, excited hands.

There I was, writhing backward in between the seats, howling and flailing my arms, my hair a ratty, tangled disaster. All three children in the backseat looked terrified and I realized that if I didn't calm down fast I was probably going to flail us right off the road. I gathered my wits, pulled my body back into the passenger seat, and spent the rest of the trip to Kohl's pulling strands of hair loose from the grasp of the Bumpit, while trying not to cry. By the time we got to the store, my scalp was stinging and sore, and the top layer of hair was an unkempt halo of tangle and frizz. It had a lot of volume, though; a lot of really ugly volume.

When we got home, Noel decided to give the Bumpit a try in his hair. It worked perfectly.
I'm going to go trim my ripped up hair. Shut up.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Meditations on the Grocery Store.

There's a woman in front of me and I'm annoyed.

She's parked her largely empty cart in the middle of the canned fruit aisle, in front of the peaches and pears, and she's blocking the flow of traffic.

She's older, but not ancient. Her back is hunched a little and she's turning a can of Dole pineapple in her hands as if it's a piece of airblown glass that's thin as vellum. She's reading it and studying it. She's contemplating it, and near as I can tell, she's mystified by it. She's going to be standing in this place, marveling at this can for a very long time, I can tell.

I have one child hanging off my cart, another grudgingly trudging along behind it, and a third in the cart's seat-- his fragile temperament held in check only by the near-continuous movement of the cart through the store.
If I can't resume the motion of this metal vehicle in short order, I'll have a tiny brown-maned nightmare ripping items off shelves, unfastening his belt, and grasping for some form of destructive amusement. Guaranteed.

I raise my voice,

"Excuse me, please!" I announce loudly, but in polite and cheerful tones.

The pineapple connoisseur appears unmoved, unhearing. She's absorbed in her process.

A line of people has formed behind me. They're trying to navigate the aisle, but we're all held up.

She's the accident-gawker, the storm-felled tree spanning the avenue, the time-consuming-hypochondriac-patient-right-before-you at the doctor's office, and she has a profound decision to make: chunks or rings?

There's some dink at the deli counter. He's ordered the honey ham and decided that it isn't what he wants because

"I don't really want it if it's sweet."

What incarnation of honey ham would involve the absence of some degree of sweetness?
What incarnation of douchebag doesn't think about this before ordering a type of meat, the title of which begins with the word "honey"?

I'm walking past the Kodak photo printer. It's plastered with a giant white sign scrawled with large black letters that read: "Printer Does Not Work." A customer in floods and a camp shirt hollers to the god-forsaken employee behind the photo counter,

"Is the printer not working?"

I am tempted to swerve my cart into the shins beneath his unfortunate-length pants.

The woman ahead of me in the checkout line has four thousand coupons, and half of them are expired, but this fact is as shocking and inconceivable to her as the moment she found out JFK had been assassinated.

Out in the parking lot, a 20-something girl has just unloaded the contents of her cart into the backseat of her car, which is next to mine. She gives her empty shopping cart a little shove so that it's out of her royal way and she can pull her vehicle out of the parking spot unimpeded.

I'm about to return my cart to the old corral, so I walk between our vehicles, grab her cart, and pull it along with mine, but not before giving her the "real nice, you lazy little shit" look. She pulls out of her parking space abruptly and goes tearing off.

On my way out of the parking lot, I accidentally cut someone off. I'm reminded that I'm one of the grocery store assholes sometimes, too. It's a little bit crushing to my ego.

At least I'm decisive about my canned fruit.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Gender Gap.

Noel has packed for the over-nighter at Grandma and Grandpa's house

So has Sophie.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Karmic Retribution

It's all just a big old circle, perhaps.

I think in a former life I must have done something really mean to birds, because they don't seem to like me now.

I went to New York City after graduating from high school, and in one afternoon, I was the only person in our group of half a dozen or so to be crapped on by a pigeon. Correction: I was crapped on TWICE by pigeons.

I can't wash the car without a bird abruptly stymying my efforts at vehicular cleanliness.

I'm glad we don't have vultures in Minnesota.

Truth be told, I don't think karma is a real thing, but I do try my darndest to honor the "do unto others" principle as best I can. It's hard sometimes. Really hard. Especially during PMS week.

I figure that it may not always pay to be nice, but it will eventually cost you if you are an asshole. People will see it, and you will be regarded accordingly.

I once stood in a parking lot, eyeing a truck with a bumper sticker that read something like "Learn to speak English or leave!". The occupants of the truck were exiting, pulling items from the cab and exclaiming about how they didn't "have nothing to eat 'cuz nobody got no groceries last night."

I'm sure the irony was lost on them.

I pass a particular car on the freeway with a fair degree of frequency. It boasts one of those intelligently crafted male icon + female icon = marriage bumper stickers.
The vehicle is always driven by a man that is about as physically attractive as a full-face canker sore.

In my perfect karmic afterlife, the Grammar Gang would spend eternity in English Comp., writing and re-writing research papers on the global water supply.
Mr. Homophobe would invest his other-worldly days drawing nude portraits of same-sex lovers entwined in passionate embraces.

Everybody else? They get a lifetime supply of cookie dough ice cream and a slip-n-slide amusement park in their backyard.

That's the way it oughtta be.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Fear of Death vs. the Fear of Dying Embarrassingly.

I will admit it. I'm maybe a little, eensy bit over-concerned about my physical self-maintenance. Yeah- that's basically a wordy way of evading the use of the term "vain".

The thought has crossed my mind more than once that while I may be wearing close-toed shoes, if I die and "they" have to put a tag on my toe, it would be really embarrassing if those corpse-toes were poorly manicured.

For real.

Death is a natural process. It's the end to all of our beginnings. It's inevitable.
Sometimes it's a long-awaited respite from suffering; other times it's a horrifically premature tragedy. While I'd rather not know how or when I'll die, I'd at least like to know that I won't die in a manner that makes people snort/chuckle and then slap their hand over their mouth.

I don't want to be remembered as The Woman Who Died Because She Fell Asleep on the Toilet, Tipped Over, and Hit Her Head on the Bathtub Spout (or something like that.)

I once suffered a concussion by passing out and hitting my head on a cash register.
I also suffered a concussion by hitting my head with a tree.
On more than one occasion, I have managed to slam my head in between a car door and the frame.

I cried the first time it happened. The second time I did it I just got very mad at myself.

I have fallen down every set of stairs in my house. That's five, including the outside ones. I've also fallen off the edge of my deck upon forgetting that there were no stairs there.

I either strained or sprained my left ankle by tripping over my big toe.
I had to have my foot X-rayed for broken bones after stabbing it with the end of a prop cane during a performance of "Appointment With Death" in high school. I would like to note that it was an excruciating blow, but I totally did not break character.

I'm pretty certain that I came perilously close to drowning when I tried to use a neti pot last week.

I was nearly strangled by an automatic seat belt in a Ford Tempo during a camping trip in junior high. For this reason, I no longer go camping.

I once lit the wrong end of a cigarette and took a huge drag off of it. It tasted like something that really should have killed me.

I've had moments in my life where things seemed unbearably bad.
I walked through days feeling as though my chest was a fist, clenched so tightly that one-more-bad-thing would cause it to crush itself and crumble.

In a place like that, it feels like you'll die. But you don't. You just to learn to laugh at everything you can, because it loosens the fist.

So maybe if I die from inhaling and choking on a green water balloon, it'll make people laugh when they're terribly sad. That might not be so awful.

If I do pass in such a manner, some distant day, please make certain that my obituary reads: "Lara died in her home. She had impeccably manicured toes."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Five Minutes of a Glorious Afternoon.

It was a hot one. A relative scorcher for early May in Minnesota. The sun beat down turning car interiors into saunas and baking the spring sog out of turning lawns.

Jack was reveling in the day. He stood before the spouting stream, took a sip, and stepped back. He moved in again, testing his cold water chops a bit longer before abruptly darting outward. One more venture forth, and he tipped his whole chest into the sparkling, babbling water. The front of his black tee shirt soaked, he ripped it off and flung it to the heavens. He threw his six-year-old body to the ground, reveling in his own half-naked abandon.

The other patients sitting in nearby chairs at the dermatologist’s office looked a mixture of amused and perplexed.

We hadn’t even managed to register yet, and the drinking fountain had already prompted this much trouble. It didn’t improve considerably from that point on- particularly when he burst into another patient's exam room during their consultation, before the nurse or I could catch him...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Epic Fail Annals: Lara Grills.

I have a picture I'd like to share with you. It's on my phone. It's a picture of my grill all fabulously aflame. You probably won't see it because I can't figure out how to get the image from my phone to my computer. I don't have great technical skills. I don't have great skills where grilling is concerned either.

Some backstory: we have a gas grill that Nathaniel uses with regularity. He's pretty good at whipping up steaks for himself and the kids, and my requisite portion of white meat chicken. I once attempted to "get the grill ready" for Nathaniel while he was en route to the house. I even had his phone presence to guide me through the process. My efforts resulted in a disaster that left Nathaniel with temporary facial alopecia. I swore I would never use the gas grill again. He did not argue against my pronouncement.

Fast-forward to today. I wanted to grill. Nathaniel had to work late. I figured I'd be ambitious and haul out the old weber grill. I was pretty certain I'd used it successfully some years ago, and it was safer than that gas-powered bastard.

I was making hot dogs. I had Match Lite charcoal and a lighter. It seemed a relatively foolproof endeavor. Ha. Ha. HAAA.

I pulled the grill a safe distance from the house. I opened the bag of charcoal and stacked
the briquettes in an admirably delicate pyramid. I realized, smartly, that I probably shouldn't directly light the charcoal with the cigarette lighter I had as a catalyst for flame, so I looked around for something dry and brittle to use as tinder.

I found a stick. It wouldn't light. It would burn, but it wouldn't flame. I tried another. Same thing. I found some paper in the yard. It melted. It did not light. I tried a crispy leaf. I burnt my hand, but my grill remained virginally cool. A husky stem from one of last year's mammoth cosmos. No. Nothing. Complete failure. I began to wonder how anyone even started a forest fire in the first place. Ten minutes elapsed and I had failed to light the freaking Match Light charcoal.
I angrily announced to the kids:

"If you are ever lost in the woods with me, we will ALL DIE!"

Noel snickered.

Finally, the grill was lit. I admired the tall, lapping flames. It should be smoothing sailing from there on out, I thought.

Something didn't look right.

There was nowhere to put the food.

After a moment of puzzlement, I realized I had piled and lit the charcoal on the top grate.
I figured I could just pull the grate out quickly, like the old tablecloth trick, without even disturbing the pyramid.


I pulled the grate away, sparks and ash plumed upward, and the entire pile of briquettes tumbled to one side of the bottom grate.

"Okay, I thought, I just need to grab my tongs and tidy the pile."

The tongs weren't long enough to evade the tall flames still dancing up from their ashy pillows.
I looked around, wondering what I could use, and spotted my large garden shovel. I picked it up and proceeded to rearrange the coals, while Noel shouted that I was NOT "supposed to do that with Dad's shovel!"

The coal situation under control, I proceeded to attempt to replace the top grate and accompanying hot dogs. As I lifted the grate, the dogs began to swing from one end of their querulous platform to another, as if executing some sort of cruel, taunting log roll. One fell onto the ground and I cursed it audibly. I replaced the grill cover and went into the house to let the remaining Hebrew Nationals cook.

Ten-or-so minutes later, I returned to check on the hot dogs. They were not even REMOTELY done. Somehow the opening on the grill cover had gotten knocked closed and the whole apparatus had subsequently cooled down. I pushed the hot dogs around rapidly as though that would somehow help the not-really-cooking process along, loudly dropped some derivation of the F-bomb, looked up to realize an elderly pedestrian was staring at me, and then darted into the house.

I did eventually manage to heat them to an acceptable temperature, but the hot dogs did not develop crispy skins or juicy middles, and by the time they were "done", Noel had begun asking if we could just have beans for dinner.

Long story short: Lara can't grill, but she can screw up the process like no one else. It's good to be exceptional.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Top Ten Reasons I will Never Be a "Hipster"...

....for better or worse.

10. I get far too excited over coupons. I recently responded to a snail mail consumer survey which promised some particularly exceptional ones in return for my efforts and opinions. I eventually received a coupon for a large sum of change off the purchase of a box of Dulcolax. As I hadn't indicated any issues with constipation, I'm uncertain why I was targeted for this particular offer of savings. Or maybe that's the jig...

9. I don't eat sushi, but I do eat fruit roll-ups. Apparently this isn't a parallel distinction of sophistication. Whatever. The strawberry ones are still as good now as they were when I was seven. Not many things in life are like that.

8. I don't have any skinny jeans and I've an insufficient store of angst. I might be able to consume a significant quantity of wine and work myself into a frenzy over U.S.-Cuba relations, air pollution, and my lack of spirituality, in order to simulate some degree of existentialist drama.

7. The only country outside the U.S. that I've visited is Canada, and my cultural exposure there was limited to my experiences with other patrons of the Thunder Bay Mall and the guests and staff at my hotel.

6. I do not play or have knowledge of a trendy instrument. I can perform a vague rendition of "Little Drummer Boy" on a keyboard or "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on a viola, but that is about the extent of my musical aptitude. I should note that I am above average at whistling.

5. I don't own any ironic t-shirts. Since the Republicans are predominantly out of office, I don't even own any politically offensive ones anymore. I really should work out a Bachmann tee, but she's almost so easy to mock that it takes some of the fun out of it. If I did make one, it would be screen-printed with a houndstooth pattern.

4. I am woefully ill-informed on a broad range of "underground" bands. I had time to keep up with this type of info when I was a teenager and divided my efforts between learning stuff, working at the drug store, and smoking, but now I have to sleep and work and clean up children's puke all the time. Sorry uber-cool punk bands- I'd love to know ya'.

3. I have begun to talk at length about my and others' present or previous health afflictions. I thought you weren't supposed to be inclined to do that until at least your mid-forties.
"Thirty is the new twenty", my ass.*

2. During the recent salmonella scare, I did not run to whole foods and buy organic peanut butter. That not only makes me insufficient material for hipster-dom, but a horrible human being in general. If you don't have to stir your peanut butter, you are probably trying to kill everyone in your household. Even Michelle Bachmann knows that.

1. I have not posted an anti-mass media diatribe anywhere on the internet in at least two months. I have, however, mocked several television news personalities in the presence of some acquaintances. Some (possibly most) of the mocking had to do with "Stupid Al Roker and his Smuckers jam," so it wasn't necessarily legitimate, hard-core criticism, but I think it should count for something.

*Get off my lawn.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

He won't call me mama, but he sniffs my hair.

Sometimes the realizations of Jack's innermost thoughts and feelings are manifest in ways that require some really creative translation.

He missed me today and I could tell, because the first thing he did after body slamming me when he got off the bus was to grab a tangled wad of my curls, press it against his face, and inhale deeply. I suppose comfort smells like Pantene to him.

Sophie told me I'm a very "'telligent Mom", and Noel didn't entirely roll his eyes at the comment, so I'll take that as a double compliment.

Were it not for the fact that I fell off the deck trying to step onto a folding chair, absent-mindedly put on a shirt that had deodorant marks all over the sides, went outside in it, and did yardwork for half an hour, and am pretty certain the neighbors saw me riding my seven-year-old's very small "princess" bike up the alley because I was too lazy to walk it back to the garage, I could almost feel like a real winner...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Be intimidated, local Dems and Lefties... the Carlton County Conservatives who can't spell the name of our local community college correctly:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I would GLADLY give all the toes from one of my feet to anyone who could develop a "safe" cigarette.

I don't know why he/she would want my toes, but I am deadly serious.
I would do it.

I quit smoking in approximately July or August of 2006. I couldn't do it cold turkey, so I used nicotine gum.

I got addicted to the gum, and chewed it for the next 2+ years. I couldn't get off of it, so I went on the nicotine patch.

I used the nicotine patch and regular gum to wrest myself from the seductive grasp of my beloved "Equate" gum, and stopped using the patch when time was up.


Not just occasionally- every. damn. day.

I freely admit it; while other non-smokers swagger backward and frown when the wind sweeps a Marlboro cloud in their direction, I take a nice, deep breath in. I know it's poisonous second-hand exposure, but it's the only "bad" I can be, anymore.

Listen up, kids. As sexy as you might think it looks to slide a Camel between your long, outstretched fingers, draw it up to your lips, and take a long, salaciously sweet drag, before you know it, the outcome is this:

You're a thirty-one-year old woman at the park with your kids, trying to covertly position yourself downwind from a dirty-looking old man in a Miller Lite hat so you can suck some second-hand from his steadily burning GPC.

Just don't even start.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! It's almost impossible to be unemployed right now!

I recently made the transition from impending college graduate to unemployed college graduate/loser.

Truth be told, I am a bit selective in my choices of positions for which I will apply. Nevertheless, there is a veritable foaming sea of potential jobs surging and swelling at my well-qualified feet.

For my fellow unemployed cohorts, I offer the following list of gems, culled from the treasure chest of local jobs I like to call:

(The aforementioned title as posted on a reputable job bank site. Who needs writers and editors? Really?)

Required skills include: good manual dexterity, the ability to sit for 8-10 hours per day, ability to see small parts, and a good/positive attitude.
-I don't know about you, but I have an excellent attitude about my ability to see small parts. That's fifty percent of the requirements right there. This could be golden.

It's not just regular cashiering, it's cashiering in a cage!
According to the posting, "
Cage cashiers must at all times conduct themselves in a manner, which absolutely avoids even the appearance of wrongdoing."
-Yeah. If I look over at Cage Cashier #2, and she's wearing camel-toe pants, and I have a mocking thought, I'm going to realize that I'm thinking mean things, and I'm going to look guilty about that. I don't want to get locked in the cage overnight for looking guilty. I don't know about this one. It sounds dangerous.

Education required: *blank* Experience required: "None."
-So I guess it might be a good idea to find out which clinic is hiring for the aforementioned position, so that you could NOT go there. Also, I'm surprised, frankly, that "must floss as though attempting to commit homicide by means of causing hemorrhagic gums" isn't a standard qualification.

Of note: this job requires passing an exam, and offers a clothing/uniform allowance.
-The position of "lawn applicator", presumably, involves the application of lawns onto other surfaces. I want a lawn on top of my regular lawn, so that when one gets dried out in the summer, I can just peel it back to expose the under-lawn.

Must be able to measure using a standard ruler.
-Apparently, none but math majors need apply.

Requirements: "mechanical experinece in small engine and light equipment. must know how to weld also... must be albe to lift 75 lbs."
-I have no experinece with being a mechaic, but I am TOTALLY albe to lift 74 pounds!

-I think this is what I already am. In fact, I am the merchandise buyer of a good many items, and have broad experience in buying merchandise. Yesterday I bought some expensive cheese, and it was not good, so I would not pursue a position as "Merchandise Buyer -- Cheese," but I think I could handle denim.

Isn't this just a fancy way of saying "shopper"?
Some people would be very mad that I said that.

-If you are a computer, someone in Esko wants to hire you. This is a hedgy option. You never know if it's a request from someone who wants to word process on you, or look at clown porn. At the end of the day, you need to be able to respect yourself.

That's it. Good luck job hunting, or staking your fortunes on the outcomes of lottery ticket purchases. The odds of finding a winner in either pursuit appear to be roughly similar.