Monday, July 19, 2010

Sallie Mae Can Kiss My Donkey!

You will all have to forgive me for this post, as I feel a little complaining/ranting is in order. Last week started out mildly enough, I had survived hand nursing four guinea pigs for several days, and things were looking up. DUM DUM DUM DUM….cue dramatic music. Unfortunately, my luck ran out Wednesday afternoon as one of the pigs died from aspiration. You see, guinea pigs are ridiculously eager eaters, and will suck milk right into their lungs despite the stressed and sleep-deprived ministrations of their caregiver. Sadly, I lost a second pig to this same fate on Saturday. This spurred me Sunday in deciding to abandon nursing them, and install them in a cage with pellets, grain, water bottle, etc. Well, the best laid plans are meant to be smashed into a hopeless pile of crap. Our boar guinea pig (with whom I had hoped to install the babies), had them wedged under the food dish in less than a minute. Buying a fifth cage for our temporary pets (am hoping to send them to good homes soonJ ), was not an option, so I set to building one out of supplies on hand; namely the plastic mesh from an old baby gate, pvc poles from a discarded play-tent, and an ungainly Tupperware dish. All was going as well as can be expected, when I suffered a characteristic lack of coordination. You see, I was crafting and removing said supplies with a pair of Chicago Cutlery scissors. Now I’m not sure if these things were intended to de-bone chickens or what, but they sure as heck do a bang- up job of cutting thick plastic. Things got dicey when my pinky, displaying dexterity here-to-for unseen, decided to bend itself into the bone crusher (I’m not sure if this is the intended purpose of this lil feature, but between the blades and handles of these scissors, there is what looks like a giant wire stripper with TEETH)! I will try to post a picture of the offending instrument, but given my recent luck, I won’t count on any success. The upshot of all this is that my neighbor has offered to put a stitch in the nail if it does indeed decide to fall off. I love having skilled friends. Put Sunday to bed watching a depressing movie that ended on an iffy note, and hoped for tomorrow, Orphan Annie style.

Late Monday morning finds me trudging, on foot to our local gas station, which if given a pot of coffee and a redbull, I could theoretically hit with a rock from my back porch. So what if I have been cleaning all morning and haven’t bothered to change out of my comfy, pocketed, manly sleeping pants? Well….I walk in and see the clerk, cigarette dangling precariously from the corner of her mouth with an ash built to at least three quarters of an inch, stocking the drink station. She reluctantly leaves her post, cigarette in tow, to “service” me, and gives me the most disgusted up and down look I have seen since junior high. Now I’m no expert in social stratification, but I’m thinking that if you are filling in mornings at the gas station, smelling of patchouli, with an ashtray full of suspicious leavings, and a face that says truck stop parking lot, you have NO cause to be critical of another person’s mode of dress. After my weekend, this woman’s behavior made me want to abandon a lifetime of pacifism, go out in that parking lot, grab the largest rock to be found and relieve my government of 10 years of social security payments (she didn’t look the health conscious type, so this is actually a generous estimate).

And the hits just keep on coming….

All set to head to the over-priced local haunt to get my fix of chocolate chips, I am interrupted by a phone call from an unknown number. Alas, it is the ole college debt rearing its ugly head. Here follows a near verbatim snippet of our conversation.

Vulture: It appears you have an unpaid debt of XXXXX.

Me: What?! I went to Purdue, not Harvard. I never borrowed such an amount!

V: Well, XXXX amount of that is due to incurred fees.

Me: What fees? Is that a Liberal Arts degree penalty fine?

V: No, that is a fee allotted to your debt managers.

Me: What? Did the government hire a tribe of out-of-work Sierra Leone warlords to track it down, cause I think I would notice them in my neighborhood!

V: That fee is besides the point.

Me [two full minutes of incredulous ranting]

V: Well, with nine monthly payments of XXX (the sum of a modest house payment, or four hours with a high priced escort), we can have you in the black and there will not be a negative report made to the credit bureau..

Me: Not likely pal. If the government wants their money so badly perhaps they could take some extra from the Citibank payoff and do me a solid, or…they could give me a job and take it out in trade.

V: Your being unreasonable ma’am. Surely you could afford that sum.

Me: Hahahahahaha

Well that about sums it up for now. Nothing has died today, haven’t lost any necessary range of motion in the extremities, and I have finished my summer reading program. So, I guess it could be worse. After all, I don’t have to poo in a Wal-Mart bag…

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Flying Toilets and Books

In our house, we have a bathroom. Yeah, I know we are living pretty posh. Last week I forced my ten year old to read an article about a shanty town in Nairobi, in which the dwellers (particularly the women and young girls) are so frightened to leave their improvised huts at night that they are forced to evacuate into plastic bags. Said bags are then tossed out of the shacks, hence their moniker: “flying toilets”. The resulting waste mounds have led to an increased risk of disease of course, prompting an upstart company to invent the bio-degradable flying toilet. You might ask yourself, why does this woman force such knowledge onto her impressionable young child. Perspective friends, I can think of a good fifteen people who may be in need of a good dose of it. Anyhow, back to my decadent bathroom.

I have been accused, by at least one person, of harboring a tendency towards obsessive compulsive disorder. You see, I live in a 100+ year old house. Apparently, those many moons ago, builders weren’t compelled to incorporate linen closets into their middle income houses, hence the towel shelf. Lucky for me, when we moved into our glorious home, my mother-in-law donated a two-shelf stand to hold up my bath towels and other wash accessories. This god-send I strategically placed against the wall opposite of the shower. Given that I am the only woman in a house full of males, it is a safe assumption that I am the one doing the most sitting. As I sit, ridding myself of coffee, I am forced to contemplate the arrangement of the towels many times a day. We have striped wash cloths, solid wash cloths, and also both of towels. When I arrange said items after washing, I coordinate them. It has been my great misfortune to have my husband notice this tendency of mine. He has taken, at every opportunity, to sliding a solid towel in with a striped one, a striped wash cloth into a solid pile, etc. I am starting to feel like Julia Robert’s hubby in that movie “Sleeping with the Enemy”. I am contemplating hiding all of the bathing accoutrements until he repents, excepting one hand towel. The resulting video I shall post on you tube tagged as “Brittney Spears Nude”.

Also, just asking, but why is it that it is now possible to get a degree in Social Networking??? As I sit, proud un-employed bearer of a useless History degree, I can’t help but wonder if my time couldn’t have been better well spent pursuing a degree in Online Social Network Automated Grammar and Faux Pas Correcting. Imagine the embarrassment that could be prevented if there was application that would prevent you from tweeting, face booking, or myspacing your every marital spat, drunken rant, or infectious disease update??? Lives could be spared. Not to mention the fact that no one would ever be able to report that they were going to “hook up with their bff tomarrow” (it is killing my ocd, and my spell check to leave that as is, but I am just pointing out, tomorrow does NOT have an A in it people).

More stuff you don’t need to know. In order to justify the insistence that my boys participate in our town library’s summer reading program, I too signed up for the adult experience. I don’t know how many of you are readers, but I am a book addict. There is no other way of define me. Not surprisingly, after twenty years of reading adult literature, I pretty much know what I like. Unfortunately, the adult requirements (including reading six books in six weeks, which is pretty easy, though I have felt a little guilty reading on the side) include CATEGORIES. For instance, one book must be in a genre new to you (unless they have invented a new one, that isn’t possible for me, I read “The Bell Jar” for that one), a novel set at the beach (read some librarian recommended cookie-cutter character tripe called Beachcombers), an outdoor adventure (post-Korean war novel I picked and totally dug called “The Surrendered”. If you’re searching for new stuff, I highly recommend it), something Beautiful Throughout (really?!), etc. Why is it that you cannot pick your own six books??? How am I to know what category a book will fit in till I read it anyhow? One book to go, the “beauty throughout” selection (librarians recommendation, the very one who suggested the sappy “women’s read”). Wish me luck. Starting “The Flowers” by Dagoberto Gills. I will hope for the best and promise myself to the new Ha Jin novel.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Why cell-phones are cool.

Over the last several months, I have engaged in a rather bizarre hobby. You see, it all began with the high-speed, low-drag fancy phone and all of its lovely applications. Typically on car trips when I have left all reading material at home, I turn to the phone to amuse me. Mind you, I do not avail myself of these capabilities when I am driving. I am of the opinion that in every relationship, be it friendship or otherwise, there are passengers, and there are drivers. I was born to ride along. This has nothing to do with gender roles or any other social conventions. Hubby is a professional driver, and as such is surely over-qualified to drive the precious mini-van. I, while having never receiving a single traffic violation as a capable driver, will gladly defer to Aaron the driving reins. I would much rather gaze listlessly into the ubiquitous corn fields, but after several years of marriage, I have found that it is best to engage my mind as a means of distracting it from the stresses of Aaron’s “defensive” driving maneuvers. I digress. Anyhow, the phone has an application that allows me to view all coupons, sales, and what -not for the entire nation. The real perk of this is that it provides links that allow me to sign myself up for all imaginable sorts of free samples. Let me tell you, I sign up for all of them. My mail man must think I have a qualified mental disorder (which would explain the grin and reluctance to actually touch my hand when I meet him for the mail). Recently I received my requested sample of a brand-name feminine hygiene product. Now, I see the box and I think, jeepers they sure did waste a lot of cardboard on the packaging for this little tidbit! Ohhhh Nooo!!!!…I have lived a full 31 years, I have seen industrial fans, air conditioners, sledge hammers, etc., but never before have I seen an industrial maxi pad. This thing was prodigious! I could seriously tack it to the Chihuahua, send him out in the rain, and he would come in dry from nose to tail. I am thinking that if you need that sort of absorbency coverage, you should consult your GP. I am not confusing this with a Poise pad or any other type of bladder leakage product. I have a degree in History which is useful only when filling out crosswords and identifying menstrual napkins.

As fun as all my hobbies might be, I have lately begun to wonder if I am not venturing into the territory of the “old”. You know that place where you no longer know what is “happening” and cool. Sure, I keep abreast of world events, new novels, and delicious new home appliances (Dyson vacuum you will be mine some day), but do I really know anything about the current culture? I have never watched a full episode of Lost, American Idol, Grey’s Anatomy, Dancing With the Stars, ad nauseum. I am even afraid to admit that this isolationism has encompassed the music genre. I have no idea what is current in the popular music category, and have no exposure, barring Saturdays when my neighbor cleans her house. This was never more evident than on my thirty-first birthday when my husband, another couple and I decided to venture into the college bar. Said bar has a piano bar area. The song requests, which I couldn’t name if asked and probably shouldn’t given the self-imposed PG-13 nature of all of my online postings (anyone who thinks what you post online is private, no matter your “security” settings, is a darned fool. I am quite sure none of my grandchildren will want to google me twenty years hence and view pics of me performing body shots [not that I would ever do that] on grandpa) baffled me.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On Camping

Pleading amnesia with regards to last summer‘s outdoor experiences, my family and I recently inaugurated our new old camper. The weekend began with a crisis of logistics. In a pick-up that legally seats three, we parceled out our children (to the gracious in-laws, and their big honking 6 seat dually) till we were left with my ten year-old son, Aaron, the German shepherd, and myself. The seat lottery, heartily rigged, lodged the German shepherd in the bed of the truck, tethered to my wrist through a lead in the sliding window. Did you all know that dog slobber makes the most delightful scattered spray pattern when traveling at 55 miles per hour? Neither did I! Well, we are not the squeamish type, and we gamely wiped away the spittle from our necks and faces and set ourselves up for adventure. Aside from the minor set-backs (door to camper swinging open on the highway, a mysterious dripping, and a campsite that was the obvious victim of recent flooding), our first night of camping was concluded with smores and air-conditioning.
Day two commenced with my ritual walking of the dog. Armed with a plastic bag and a dose of caffeine induced optimism, I trotted my neurotic pet out into what could be considered the campground lawn. This grassy area is surrounded by concrete plots occupied by various motor homes. Samson and I proceeded unimpeded. Its early, naught but the thirsty mosquitoes seem to be stirring. Doggy proceeds to hunch into his evacuating stance, I ready the bag, and proceed to demean myself. As I stand I feel a tell-tell tug at the lead that signals that Samson’s attention has been drawn. Before I could shout the word no, Samson begins lunging with all his might at a Shi-Tzu with over-confidence issues. I plant my feet to stop the pull. Alas, I am wearing flip-flops, and every blade of grass is coated in dried river-bottom silt. I begin to slide. Seeing my fate, my shouting reaches fever pitch. The little girl walking the bait scoops her doggie into her arms, and beats a hasty retreat. This is not before I am dragged to the ground. It is at this point, as I am standing up, reevaluating my station in life, that I realize that I never cinched the poo bag. I look down at myself to discover that I have been splattered with offal (little known fact: some animals, when placed in situations such as long car rides, new environments, and dubious drinking water, display gastrointestinal distress resulting in loose or watery bowels, uh huh). As if my situation weren’t already life-affirming, I noticed that every camper within earshot, had mysteriously awoke and had been following my predicament with great interest. I trudged back to camper, eyes downcast, swearing viciously.
If any of you are pet owners, or child rearers, you have probably played the game “Name that Smell”. You may not have precipitated it, but at one point in your life, you have turned to another, and the dialogue has went something like this:
Person A: [sniff sniff] Do you smell that?
Person B: What?
A: Over here, cant you smell it?
B: Now I can, what is that?
A: I don’t know. Where’s it coming from?
B: I don’t know, smell over here. Does it seem stronger here?
You get the gist. Well, we had ourselves a rousing game this past weekend. At about high noon, ye ole camper began to heat up like the social security office on the first business day of the month. The poor air-conditioner was doing its level best, but just couldn’t seem to effectively circulate any air. A fan was procured. About 20 minutes later the smell arrived. I am not blaming the fan in any way. Numerous suspects were suggested, namely the dog. I countered that I had been with the dog nearly all day, and if a 100+ lb dog cops a squat anywhere in your vicinity, you are bound to notice. Other suspects included: flooded septic receiver, old reservoir, and an indiscriminant camper toilet user, etc. I hope to have this issue resolved before this weekend’s upcoming trip. Wish me luck