Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Next Level of Sleepover

"Everyone sleep."

There are three boys in my living room. They keep talking about what sounds like real stuff, about fishing, building, eating, but they're playing a video game, a marathon of a single video game. Minecraft. I can't believe they've played it for so long. Mike built a fire in the fire pit outside. I asked a couple of times if they wanted to go outside, yet, the boys stayed in position in front of the TV. So, should we have kicked them off the game to come outside? They ate junk food and played. That's it. Mike said to let them be, so I let them be. So this is their sleepover, playing a single video game all night long?

Plus, they haven't needed us. I'm a little sad about that. We brought in pizza, chips, and yes, soda. Bleah. Mike told me to buy soda. I hate having soda in the house. It's the single worst use of calories that any of us consume. Two large pizzas, two bags of chips, and four or five sodas between three boys. Mike told me not to bother bringing out anything healthy. Apples? Carrot sticks, celery? No thank you, they said. I was only partially kidding.

Other than that, they showed me their Minecraft houses and that was it. I sat in front of the fire for a while. I painted my nails, checked Facebook, and watched the end of two movies with Mike in the bedroom. Now, I'm going to bed.

I imagine waking at my usual 2:00am and coming through the living room and finding the kids in the very same position that they were in at 11:45 when I fell asleep. What do I tell them then? Mike says I can tell them to go to bed at that point. Good. I was afraid he'd tell me to leave him alone. Already, he's said to give them soda, to let them eat junk food, not to offer them veggies, and to let them stay up.

Oh hell. It's their vacation. They'll feel like crap tomorrow, but they don't have to go to school for a week. I can't wait to see if Mike can get them to the laser tag session tomorrow morning.

I just wonder if I'll feel like crap too.

Thank you for listening, jb

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Modern Methods of Healing Affluenza

We went to the movies last night. It was a really nice theater with cozy seats.

What is it with people? I mean, really!

There was a family who arrived early and procured the best seats in the house, middle seats in a middle row. Fine. I have no problem with that. First come, first served. Besides, I like having an aisle seat in case I need to get up.

The movie was barely begun when a dad, I presume, and a kindergartner crossed in front of us to get out of the theater. Fine, I get it. There were spiders and they were too scary for a kindergartner.  Who decided that this was a movie that was appropriate for a kindergartner? Think about it. Orcs, spiders, wolves, and wild bears. Some interesting judgement there. As they passed, I missed being able to read some of the orc translation on the screen. Shoot!

Can you tell that we'd gone to see 'The Hobbit' and were quite interested in the story, really interested? Our friend Jack said that he didn't like the movie because it didn't follow the book closely. The joy of it for me was that it has been so long since I read the book that I can mentally disengage the two mediums and let the movie flow out in its own way. I want to tell Jack that a movie never follows the book except when the author has too much control over the screenplay and those are usually awful movies because the average author has no idea how to properly stage a movie.

A couple of years ago, in an attempt to read something he actually liked, Mike read 'The Hobbit' to Nick. They both loved the experience and it definitely brought Nick into the loop with Mike's 'Lord of the Rings' fandom. Mike is one of those people who will always, always watch a 'Lord of the Rings' movie when he finds it on TV, commercials and all, even though he has a boxed set on the shelf. Sometimes, when he's home with a cold, he'll watch all of them, one after another. So, we really wanted to see this movie, all of it.

The second time the child left the theater and came back, I was more annoyed. There were empty seats in front of me on the aisle. If they sat there and got up frequently, they might block me momentarily, but Mike and Nick would be okay. Plus, there wouldn't be anyone trampling my feet and pushing my knees out of the way as if I were the one causing the problem.

Then, the same man came through with a boy who was only slightly older than the girl, a second-grader, maybe? Really? In the process, the man actually paused to look at the movies screen as he was in front of Nick and I. Can you believe that?

Then, in between the migration of the children every twenty minutes or so, I noticed that the guy behind me was pushing my seat with his foot. The seats were wide, comfortable, and with an ability to rock a little. When the guy pushed my seat with his foot, it moved my seat as far forward as it could go as if it were dumping me out so I'd get up. After a while, I got into the habit of roughly pushing my seat back abruptly. The guy stopped for a bit, then began again. I ended up spending an inordinate amount of brain-processing time figuring out how long to wait between rocking back in my seat in a way that might jar an ankle enough to keep this man from dumping me out of my seat every few minutes.

And the kids continued to parade back and forth, trailed by this arrogant father who never once apologized, across our knees and feet to get to the bathroom, to get away from scary images, to get their jitters out. Six or seven times, they looped around. I actually lost track.

When the movie was over, I made a point of making a comment about the rude people walking in front of us. See, by then, I recognized both the little girl's pants and the dad's pants so that I could properly time my comment.

"Can you believe how rude those people were who kept walking back and forth in front of us? There were aisles seats available and they never once, not even after going in front of us multiple times, considered sitting in them. They didn't even apologize as they went!" I said in a loud voice.

The man didn't even look in my direction.

The arrogance of some of the people who live in this area amazes me. I just read an article about a wealthy boy who killed four people in a drunk driving spree and he got completely off in court using the argument that he had 'affluenza,' a condition his psychologist gave to being sheltered because of his money. What the hell? It wouldn't surprise me if it were discovered that the judge in that case got a great lump sum cashier's check in the mail before the verdict.

"Nothing you say or do will change people like that," Mike said. Yet, we talked about it all the way back to our car. Apparently, the person behind Mike kept tapping the back of his seat with his foot. You know, that nervous tap that you get when you drink too much coffee? I'm annoyed just thinking about this!

I know those movie seats in the theater in the ritzy neighborhood were comfy, but I'm certain that it wasn't worth having to be in such close proximity with so many people afflicted with affluenza.

I have a great solution for the affluenza for that boy who killed four people. He should have been tossed in jail like anyone else would have been. His affluenza would have miraculously healed after just forty-eight hours with his inmates.

And those people in the movie theater? They should have heard my wrath about their behavior. The last time they came through, I thought of putting my leg up on the seat in front of me, where no one happened to be sitting, and barring their reentry to their seats. There were perfectly good aisle seats in at least four rows in front of me. You know how you think of the perfect thing to do or say, but never do it because you don't want to make a scene?

The only way for these people to change is if more of us peons stand up to them and set them straight. Maybe that should be a mission, a movement, a rebellion. I like telling adults that they're acting like unruly children and should behave more politely.

What about you? Will you help find a cure for affluenza? Just don't send money.

Thank you for listening, jb

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Just Ew

Happy Boxing Day!

I love it - there are a pile of boxes at the bottom of our stairs. It will be Nick's job to recycle them. Why do I love Boxing Day? It's a day of rest after a day of cooking and a month of ordering, wrapping, packaging, sending, decorating, baking, and generally being cheerful about inane music that is constantly repeating in your head or over cheap department store speakers. I will not miss the commercials. Yes, there is a relief to be finished with Christmas for the year, yet there is still an overarching feeling of Christmas, one that will last until New Years Day, a feeling of good will, of gratitude, all the cheer without the stress.

Yay Boxing Day!

So, I originally thought that it referred to boxing things up and putting them away. No! In fact, there is a long history of celebrating Boxing Day, back to the 1600s, of giving the servants bonuses and a day off to visit their families. That serves me well. On Christmas day, I'm working very hard to make a special meal, to stay up as late as it takes the night before to get everything set up under the tree and the house to look nice while everyone sleeps, then waking at the break of dawn to open presents. I clean up a huge pile of wrapping paper, that paper I so carefully wrapped before, and then I cook a meal that would feed twelve for a family of three. On Boxing Day, I don't cook. I don't clean. I get to sleep in. The music can change. It's lovely.

But can you imagine that next level? It's 1668. You work for a rich family. On Christmas Day and for many days preceding it, you work long hours to serve this family, to wrap their presents, to decorate dust their chandeliers, to hang fresh garland, to make complicated meals and desserts, to entertain and care for their visiting friends.

On Boxing Day, you finally get to celebrate. Though I would guess many of these people went home only to wrap presents, decorate, cook, and entertain for their own families as well. Did they ever really get a break from all the work? It would be interesting to really know.

Would you trade places with someone from the 1600s for just one day?

It's an interesting question. I might be surprised at how difficult it is to eat their food or to use their facilities. Have you ever used a chamber pot? I have, way back when I was a tiny girl and I didn't like it, not one bit. The idea of sliding a pot full of my pee back under the bed and going back to sleep was abhorrent. And there was the problem of emptying it in the morning.

Okay, TMI!

In Ireland, we visited a medieval castle. There were interesting holes with little ramps of stone angling away from the walls which were high up in the castle's walls. I forget the name of the castle, but it was the oldest one we visited, one with mold growing along the walls. When I asked about the holes, the docent told us that people used them as latrines. No wonder there was mold, I thought.

How did I get onto this subject? I have to admit that, as we were walking around this castle, I thought of pedestrian things like that, how the people inside took care of their basic needs. It was so cold and damp inside, I wondered how they even stayed warm.

Yes, I could imagine exchanging places with someone from back then, but I don't know if I'd survive it, or if my sense of decorum would. And remember I don't always have a great deal of decorum. I'm not sure I could stomach a rancid feast, sleep in the bed chambers rampant with bed bugs, or manage in the special little latrines. Remember, it hasn't been all that long since people built outhouses with more than one seat. Just, ew. There's a history for you to think about. I've heard that most of the chamber pots were dumped into the street back in the medieval days.

Just ew.

Thank you for listening, jb

Monday, December 16, 2013

Unsent Versus Unscented

I have ordered my last Christmas gift, given out all but one year-end thank you cards. I still have Christmas cards to do, and I'll admit to you, that we haven't put up our tree yet. We have lights up outside and that's cheerful, but I'm hoping we have enough merry left in us to get things going tonight, as long as Nick doesn't have too much homework.

Mike's officially on vacation until the end of the year and he's on his way home for the day. Nick only has two and a half more days of school before his break begins. And in honor of starting early, I'm still in my pajamas. For those of you who are time-zone challenged, that means that my child has come home from school already and I'm still in my pajamas. Oh, I had breakfast, a healthy lunch, tea, and a tiny square of chocolate, but I haven't yet showered.

In my defense, I don't smell. I'm in a new phase of adulthood. I'm too old to have raging hormones, the ones that make teenagers sweaty and smelly. And I'm still too young and floss too regularly, to have that sour old-lady smell. Well, usually.

Can I tell you a secret? I was starting to get that sour old-lady smell. A couple of times, I didn't even smell like myself. Yuck. Then, Mike bought a Rub Away bar. You know the ones that are supposed to take away the smell of garlic. I ask you - who doesn't like the smell of garlic? There are a lot of opinions online about how or if it even works at all. You know, it might be a hat trick, but for me, it works better than your average abrasive washcloth.

Here's what I think happens. You're supposed to stand in the shower with this bar rubbing on your arm pit for thirty or forty seconds. I don't even rub hard. I just make contact. I think it's electrolysis, the same process that turns your aluminum pans black in the dishwasher only if the inside is made of stainless steel.

So, the real test would be to use a washcloth on one arm pit and the Rub Away bar on the other for a week or two. Honestly, I'm not interested in going around with one stinky armpit, not even in the name of science. I think I smell better than I used to. I think the whole family does, though Mike and Nick still use deodorant in addition to rubbing their pits with stainless steel shaped like a bar of soap.

Can't some smart scientist tell me if I'm right or wrong?

I have this impulse for a couple more Christmas presents. I can think people who would benefit from this Rub Away bar. I have a relative who doesn't believe in sullying himself with toxic chemicals. I get that. I really do. But even thought this guy showers, he still smells. Doesn't he know that? It wouldn't really help another relative I have who doesn't even bother to shower. This Rub Away bar doesn't perform miracles after all.

It also won't get rid of the serious case of bed-head that I've been walking around with all day. A good hat will perform that miracle when I take Nick to karate later tonight.

Mike tells me it would be rude to buy Rub Away bars for these relatives for Christmas. Hell, I think helping a man become presentable enough to attract a woman would be a great Christmas gift. I'll refrain, then, but you know I really want to send them. 

Thank you for listening, jb

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tough Pumpkins

We tossed our pumpkins off the deck, over the fence, and down the hill today. The boys tried to hit the trees, the alders. Oh, one pumpkin hit an alder tree, but those pumpkins just did not provide a satisfying thud this year. We wanted them to crash into the trees. We wanted them to split into pieces. We wanted pumpkin guts to splash down the length of the tree. Where was the pumpkin carnage? Where were the pumpkin entrails?

Nope, every single pumpkin bounced, even the one that hit a tree, skimming it across one arc of the pumpkin's face.

Those are tough pumpkins. Here's to having weak pumpkins next year.

Now it's official. The Christmas season can begin.

Thank you for listening, jb