Monday, February 28, 2011

You Are What You Eat

In my early years at Hoover Elementary School, I was often hungry.  I remember politely asking for a honey sandwich to be added to my cold lunch and then being absolutely appalled that my request was denied.  Funny how history repeats itself... over and over again.
Today a coup was planned and executed at exactly 7:36 am.  I was bombarded with the following barrage of questions:
Why can't we have unhealthy food in our lunches?
Can we have just one fruit pie or just one Star Crunch?
How about a beef stick?
Please, please, please!
Everyone else has chips and crackers and ice cream!
Oh, really.  Who has ice cream in their brown bag lunch?
...Someone did... once!  Really!  I'm telling you the truth, Mom!
Yeah, I saw it too, Mom... I think.
Well, how about doughnuts?  Can we have doughnuts?
We are the ONLY ones who have just only healthy stuff in our lunches.  It's not fair!
Everyday.  Red peppers, oranges, sandwich on whole wheat bread, cheese stick, almonds, and granola bars.
It's not like I'm packing tofu and alfalfa sprouts.  I'm sure I've never stuffed kale or salmon in your lunch.
What's kale?
This is where I almost launched my "When I was a Kid" speech.  Instead, I simply asked the insurgents what one unhealthy food they would want if I let them choose one junk food.  All at once, without hesitation, they shouted in unison,
"Little Debbie Zebra Cakes!"
Don't tell me that wasn't planned.  It reminded me of a story a friend told me.  She and her siblings were listening to their mom mete out the chores for the day, when her sister interrupted with, "Everyone who hates Mom, raise their hand!"  And all of them raised their hands.
Another dear friend once told me why she and her husband decided to have a second child.  She was insistent that everyone had to have a sister or brother so that when the time arose they could call each other and say, "Can you believe what mom did?"
I have to say I agree.  Even though I was obviously being double-teamed this morning, I respected their united approach at trying to obtain those elusive Zebra Cakes.  Not saying it worked.  Just pleased with the relationship they have developed over the last seven years.  I'm sure I will regret saying that when their requests are much larger than and individually wrapped, cream-filled cakes.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Watch What You Say

Bidonkulars...?   That's what he said before trying to vacuum the words up and safely back into his mouth.   Here's how it went:

Getting ready for bed, he innocently asked a valid question.
Son: Mom, should I bring my bi-donk-u-lars on the camping trip? 

Mom: Your... bidonkulars?  I knowingly asked with a wide grin.

Son: Yeah...  No, no, no!  Uh... what's the word, Mom?

Mom: Binocu-

Son: I know! Binoculars!  That's what I meant to say, Mom!  You're gonna tell lots of people about this, aren't you? (relieved at first, then frustrated)

Mom: What makes you think that? (smirking)

Son: It was just a "word mix-up," Mom.  That's all.  This is the kind of stuff you think is funny, and I know you're gonna tell someone. (Expectantly)

Mom: Whom shall I start with? (another wide grin)

Son: (sigh) Well... go ahead and tell Dad... but that's it.  No more people! (smiling, while trying to be serious and somewhat wounded)

From somewhere out in the hallway-
Dad: Are you talking about those special glasses that can only see big butts? (In his best commercial announcer voice)

Son: Daaaaad!  You guys just want to make fun of me all the time! (giggle, giggle)

Dad and Mom: Well... not all the time. (smiling big and proud)

He's right.  I absolutely relish in those moments of missteps - even my own.  Just ask my sister... or my husband... or my parents.  Come to think of it, my former colleagues and old friends would say the same thing.  I can't remember how to scramble an egg, which way the Red River flows, or what I was going to say in any important conversation, but if you misspoke or performed in an embarrassing fashion that caused a burst of laughter in the room - you can bet your last dollar that I'm going to remember.   That's something to be really proud of, right?  Some people store sport stats or excerpts from crucial political events or even witty lines from Seinfeld in their memory collections.  I collect embarrassing stories.  But come on... bidonkulars?  I can't make that stuff up.
So as old as I feel some days, it's obvious I haven't grown up yet. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Me and My TV

In the blink of a "Hey, the channel won't change," moment, my husband and I were rocketed into the 21st century.  Our 700 pound television, at last, refused to recognize our remote in any way, shape or form. The days of wondering if something's wrong with my ears or if it's the dishwasher's whine drowning out John Stewart's nightly fodder - are over.  No chance of reconciliation. 
Husband Man and I exchanged glances laden with sparkle.  This was our chance.  We most certainly now "must" bring ourselves up to date with a brand new television... a cool one... one that doesn't scream, "What was so wrong with the early 90s?  I'm big and I own your living room!"  No, we were ready for HDMi cables and hi-tech calibration.  We set out to bag ourselves a big one!
After a full weekend of research and the full attention of several very eager salespeople, we finally made the purchase.  I was feeling almost kind of hip for a moment - which doesn't happen very readily any more.  I cleared my schedule for the designated day, unhooked the behemoth, outdated box of wonder, and waited for the big delivery.  At last, I heard the familiar rumble of a delivery truck backing up my driveway. 
This was it!  As I floated across the foyer to answer the door, "We're Movin' On Up..." from the 1970s sitcom, "The Jeffersons," was singing in full chorus in my head.  At once, two young men were at my door. They politely asked me a few questions, removed their shoes, then set to work on assembling and hooking up the wafer thin, shockingly clear, appliance of the future. 
We exchanged a few pleasantries (as much as is possible when talking to men who are wearing what appear to be towing ropes and have a pig-pen aura of Marlboro reds around them).  Then it was time to sign the delivery papers and go over last minute instructions.  I was hanging in there with my new found TV technology vernacular... again, almost feeling a bit hip.
As I was initialing this blank and that one, I realized how quiet it was, while the three of us stood in my self-proclaimed office off the living room.  All at once, in one fell swoop, all hopes of hipness washed out the door.  The music I had been listening to via my computer was now all that could be heard in the quiet room.  It seems that Pandora chose to play Frank Sinatra crooning "I Get a Kick Out of You" followed up by a little Henry Mancini's "Moon River" in that quiet moment.  I tried to remain cool - because, hey, that's good stuff, right?  Then I saw it as I glanced over my glasses:  Two young men exchanging raised eyebrows and smirks - as if to say, "Nice music, lady - how old are you anyway?" 
Being hip is totally overrated... right? 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Eye Don't Know...

Recently, I have been lying awake at night self-diagnosing a brain abnormality - just for good fun.  Pressure in the sinus cavity along with blurriness in the eyes?  Yes.  Light headaches behind the eyes?  Yes.  Eyelid twitching into contortions randomly for the last four months?  YES!  It must be something horrendous - right?
So I responsibly haul me and my head to the opthamologist - expecting grave news.  No - turns out I'm just old.  This seems to be a theme with me lately.  Apparently, I'm so old that the vitreous juice or whatever it is in my eyes has darn near dried up - to the parched desert stage... causing headaches, blurriness, and yes - random twitching.  The diagnosis: Old Eyes.
Me and my eyes - we go way back - like over 40 years or something.  I've been tossing out guesses at the "Can you read anything below this line?" chart for quite some time now.  Turns out, eyes don't get smarter as they grow up.  They just get dumber and dumber.  And, not everyone qualifies for remediation, special education, or a Title 1 program to get them up to "grade level."  Yes, I know, glasses are quite helpful and I am extremely grateful to that clever little Benjamin Franklin who fashioned the first pair - extremely grateful.  And I know many have had jolly good results with lasik surgery - it just seems that I have never been labeled the "perfect candidate" with my lazy eye, severe myopia, astigmatism, and autoimmune disease. (That really makes me sound like a hot little number, doesn't it?)  I've had doctors look at my eyes, scratch their chins and say things like, "Well... I guess we could try it... it you want."
So for me, the problem lies in the fact that at the eye doctor's office, they don't let me fake it.  They make me remove my glasses, while they secretly assemble some fancy eye charts, and then taunt me with heavy sighs and by saying things after my earnest attempts like, "There are no numbers up there." or "No... that's not a teddy bear - it's an R."  I know I'm not supposed to feel dumb.  I mean it's not my fault, right?  But that little exchange of conversation doesn't exactly make me feel like a Rhodes Scholar either.  Then you throw in a chaser of "You need to see me every year from now on, take this vat of eye drop moisturizers with you, and here's a prescription for bifocals," and you've got a party.
The good news?  No grave medical diagnosis.  The bad news?  This "party" ain't slowin' down - I'm afraid it's an all-nighter.

Friday, February 4, 2011

If that desk could talk...

"Mom!  You have a dangerous object in your desk!"
I put down the dismal junk mail I had been flipping through in the kitchen and sauntered across the living room to confirm the presence of danger.
"Mom, what IS this?  Did you know you have secret treasures in here??"
I have a beautiful antique mahogany desk that belonged to my Grandma.  It's a gorgeous piece of furniture complete with wavy front drawers, a drop-down desk, ornate claw feet, and small slots and cubbies on the inside.  It's one of those conversation pieces that I wish could talk and let us all in on the secrets and events it has witnessed over the last century.
My Grandma received the desk among other pieces of furniture when a distant relative from California passed away and her estate was divided among living relatives.  I remember when the big delivery came and how excited everyone was about the beauty and the history that surrounded each piece. It was much like the excitement in the scene from "A Christmas Story" when a mailman delivers the "major prize" to Mr. Parker.
I was around seven years old - the same age as my daughter is now.  Much like my daughter, I was curious about the drawers and tiny cupboards that lined the interior.  My Grandma was so proud of it.  She placed the desk in their very too-small-for-more-furniture-living room where she could see it everyday.  She used to write letters, make out bills, and keep track of her prized genealogy records at that desk.  The drawers underneath housed sets of playing cards with puppies on them, as well as the highly coveted "Book of Hoyle" - which was consulted when we needed a refresher on the rules of "Fan Tan" or "Canasta."
Soon after my Grandmother received the desk, she allowed me to complete some first grade homework on it.   And soon after that, a hard plastic protector was added to the desktop.  I can still see the capital K's unintentionally engraved into the otherwise pristine desktop.  Later, it was moved to the back of the house to the area we all called the "sun room."  Grandma still used it daily and would regularly tromp to the back of the house to retrieve some random piece of information or to sit there and write a letter to far away relatives with her Cursive Script Typewriter - another piece of Americana not often seen anymore.
Well, it seems that this is the first time my daughter noticed this desk - a piece of furniture that has been in plain sight her entire life.  She was carefully inspecting each drawer when she came across a "shiny sword."  Several letter openers along with a sealing wax stamp caught her eye.
"What is this??  This looks very dangerous!"
I explained how each of the tools were used, but not without having a flashback memory of my Grandma tearing through all of her mail - always using the letter opener emblazoned with a coat of arms labeled "Sharingham."   Not sure where it came from or how it came into her possession, but it always seemed very fancy to me.  My daughter continued her archaeological dig through the desk and I sat alongside of her explaining and telling stories.  Finally, she opened the tiny cupboard that is ornately carved with what seems to be rays of sunshine.  I have always kept a photo of my grandmother in that cupboard.  The photo was taken long before my time.  She was probably about the age I am now - maybe a little older.  In the photo, she is wearing a navy pencil skirt and a crisp white blouse.  She is standing in her driveway in front of a 1960s car, with her hand on her hip, looking straight into the camera with a beautiful smile across her face.  My Maya stared at the photo for a moment and then said, "I bet you keep her in here so that you can talk to her when you miss her - it's kind of a secret between you and her... right, Mom?"
"Well... I guess it is, sort of."
Then she leaned into me real close and whispered, "When I grow up, Mom, I'm going to keep a picture of you and Nana in here. Shhh...don't tell anyone".
These are my favorite kind of secrets - the kind that send love from one generation to the next.