Monthly Archives: July 2012

Three Words

I have a  job interview.

Yes. Me. Friday. Interview. Noon.

Turns out it does pay to carry your phone obsessively in one hand for four months straight. Because whoever is calling for an interview might give up after two rings and go on to the next candidate on his list. It could happen.

You know what I’m most terrified I’ll do? (Besides show up without a shirt on, of course; I imagine that would be awkward.) I’ll think it’s actually Thursday on Friday. Or I’ll know it’s Friday, but I’ll get ready so early I’ll begin reading “Chesapeake” or something and forget what I’m all dressed up for. Not that I’d ever do something like that…

Well. That or not come up with a good answer for that most predictable and yet confounding of all interview questions: “List three words that best describe you.”

The first three that always come to mind are um, well, and  huh.

See? Not terribly impressive.

What are they looking for with that question? A headline writer? A telegraph operator? Someone to compose the text for small valentine candies? I guess I don’t think of myself in terms of isolated adjectives.

I think we should have a contest: Submit Three, we’ll call it. Contest closing date: August 3 at 10 a.m., PST

Best three adjectives wins a pumpkin.

(Payable this fall. By accepting this prize, you release Payee from all obligation to deliver just one pumpkin and agree to accept all pumpkins deemed earned by you and included in the delivery, at payee’s discretion.)


Lovesac, Baby, That’s Where it’s At

My little brother called me today.

He ignored my text last week–and I was offering him money–a substantial sum of money even (yes, I consider any three-digit number a substantial sum at this point in my life, and no, it wasn’t my money; I was just the middle man), so you know he was depressed.

But never mind, he has come out of his funk. Well, not really. He’s still depressed. But now we are depressed together, and that’s always more fun. We traded yesterday-I-was-so-depressed-that-I stories and mocked ourselves mercilessly for our obsessive need to be in control of our own destinies, and then we sat there in that awkward we-just-talked-for-an-hour-and-a-half-about-nothing-and-now-there’s-no-more-nothing-to-talk-about-but-how-do-we-end-this-weird-conversation silence for a few moments.

Fortuitously, my neighbor chose that moment to knock on my door, and not being so terribly depressed as to ignore it, we were both given a graceful excuse to end the call. Which proved fortunate, as she had an over-abundance of freshly-caught salmon to share, and I had been trying to figure out what to do for dinner.

It turned out that she, too has been depressed, though, so instead of cooking, I remained sprawled out on my Lovesac–which, incidentally, I inherited from said depressed little brother, and which I highly recommend as a piece of furniture (and yes, I’m talking the BigOne, in all its glory)–and we engaged in a mutual, in-depth, two-hour counselling session, while my boys wandered around looking pallid and pathetic. Several of them, anyway; half of them are out of town, and I’m pretty sure that excuses Mother from dinner-duty in most civilized countries. (Have you counted the number of hyphens in this post yet?)

I think they figured out the dinner clause, too; they’ve all disappeared at any rate, which leaves me no choice but to remain right here on my hand-me-down sac of synthetic foam and conclude that they can’t possibly be hungry at this time of night. Maybe I’ll direct someone to set out that Costco-sized bag of peanut M&M’s I’ve been saving for our camping trip, and call it good.

The Left end of the Stick

I read a book yesterday.  Well. I read two books yesterday. (Come on–what else does one do on a car trip, when one doesn’t have to drive?)

The first was Cold Cereal, by Adam Rex, and it was actually pretty funny. If you don’t mind small children who can turn villains’ heads into flower pots.  The second was Touching Spirit Bear, by  Ben Mikaelsen. The resolution was a bit far-fetched for me, but the view into the psyche of a severely disturbed teenager was fascinating.

Don’t read it if you have a weak stomach about eating live vermin or three-day-old vomit.

Anyway. There’s this Indian elder who helps said teenager deal with his anger. He gives the boy a long branch and asks him to break off the left end of the stick–and then he gets after him because no matter how many times he breaks it, the left end  is still there.

The point of the demonstration–at least, my interpretation of it–is that there are elements to our nature that are eternal. No matter how violently we attempt to part with who we are–well, there we still are. We can get frustrated and focus obsessively on the left end of the stick, or we can turn our focus elsewhere. Because a stick always has two ends. We can put it to good use, or we can destroy it, piece by vengefully-broken piece.

It’s a beautiful metaphor–you can feel yourself going all sorts of places with it, already, can’t you?


My tire was somewhat under-inflated.

This I knew: When I came out of Walmart, the van was listing to one side.

So I stopped at Les Schwab and asked for air, where a smiling man in blue happily obliged.

Until he saw the state of my tires. Suddenly he popped up next to my window and gestured frantically for me to roll it down. The expression on his face said something like are-you-out-of-your-bleeding-mind-woman? and his words weren’t far from that. I actually thought he might give in to his baser instincts, leap through the window, and strangle me.

Who knew that 48,000 miles is too far to drive on factory-installed tires?

Not the woman with the bleeding brain, obviously.

Almost $800 (and not Les Schwab as the retailer/installer, thank you) I have a brand new set of Michelin tires that are guaranteed to take me another 90,000 miles no matter what.

Speaking of bald: My daughter asked me to teach her how to cut hair today, using her friend as guinea pig. He has a scar that leaves him with a bit of a bald spot if the barber isn’t careful, so she was doubly worried.  Her brothers won’t let her-plus-scissors anywhere near them–and believing, as my mother did before me, that barbering is a crucial skill for all frugal women to possess, I was happy to oblige. Between haircuts for  five boys and one husband, I’ve saved a lot of money over the past twenty years. More than enough to pay for those new tires.

Her friend was very patient, and no, he did NOT walk away bald. It took her a while, but she did a good job. She’ll get faster. And she has a friend who will let her practice cutting his hair.  He also once took her shopping for a prom dress and sat outside every bridal shop in Spokane, waiting for her to try on and make up her mind about every formal gown the retail industry has in stock.  Without complaining once. I’m pretty sure that’s deserves some kind of medal of honor.

Speaking of things that are not bald: my daughter also brought home her ceramics projects from art class this year. I’m accustomed to charming little items like this:

Every other year or so, one of my children brings a hand-formed bowl home. I keep them on my bookshelf and they make me smile.

My daughter brought me a head. Check out the hair on this guy:

I think she was trying to make up for never bringing home a bowl, because she also brought me an architecturally-accurate  replica of the Sandpoint cabin we visit every year–which, inexplicably, I don’t have a picture of–and the head of a hippopotamus. Which is bald. And also little bit creepy if he stares at you long enough:

When I Say I Live in a Desert…

Well, the good news is that we all survived the pancakes.

I don’t know what you were worried about.

We also survived a four-hour youth group outing to the dunes.

I have lived in this town for almost twenty years, and people talk about going to “the dunes”. The town outlaws alcohol “at the dunes”. Late at night during the summer we can hear music blaring from that general direction. I make casual remarks about living in a desert.

But I didn’t realize that when they say the dunes, they mean dunes. As in: less than two miles away from my door is a completely otherworldly, barren stretch of 3000 acres of nothing but sand where crazy people (probably the ones the city council had in mind when they outlawed alcoholic beverages) drive really big trucks up and down with no apparent regard for human life. Theirs or mine.

In fact, NASA has compared the landscape here to the landscape on Mars. They actually came and did some training/testing here a few years ago. And you thought I just moved to “the States”. It’s like… another planet. Complete with strange alien life forms.

I had no idea.

The next he next time I mention that I live in a desert, I want you to picture this:

If I had half my daughter’s photo-taking stealth skills, I’d have sent you some pictures of the aliens,  but alas I do not, and I was afraid that then they really might run me over. Eliminate the evidence, and all.


What Flavor Was That, Again?

I have a red mixing bowl. It’s the perfect size for a triple batch of pancakes. It has an enormous handle and a spout for pouring; I don’t make pancakes without it.

Today was a pancakes-for-supper kind of day.

And I couldn’t find the bowl.

When I finally tracked it down, it was on my daughter’s bedroom floor. It looked clean.  I was pretty sure I’d just taken it out of the dishwasher yesterday morning, and the griddle had been heating up the entire duration of my search and was currently smoking. I blew a speck of dust away, and quickly mixed up the  batter.

My boys ate.

By the time my daughter came home from work,  the pancakes were almost all gone.

But that was okay, because she’s had a touch of the stomach flu; threw up seven times on Sunday, so she wasn’t very hungry.

Out of curiosity, I asked her why the bowl had been in her room. Popcorn?

“Popcorn? No. What bowl?”

“My red bowl. The pancake bowl.”

“Oh. That one. That was Sunday.”

“Sunday what?

“You know–I used it for a barf bowl after the garbage can got full.”

Sleep Experiments

I’m having a really bad attitude about the job market today. So far, I’ve been pretty optimistic.

Although possibly my subconscious isn’t buying it. It’s the only explanation.

Saturday night found me laying face down on the travertine in my kitchen.  I was completely naked and paralyzed.

Well, except for my right wrist, and something like half a vocal cord.

If I concentrated really hard I could raise my hand and let it flop down on the floor. I did this repeatedly, adding to that dull thunk the loudest scream for help I could manage. I suspect it wasn’t very loud, because nobody came running.

Eventually one of  my sons came into the kitchen looking for a midnight snack. Unfortunately, his first reaction upon finding his mother prone and naked on the kitchen floor was not to check my pulse or even to call for help, but instant mortification.

That’s right, he pretended not to see me. Turned upon his heel and sped off in the other direction.

All of my children did this at some point. Even my husband came in.

He wasn’t mortified. He just thought it was funny. And a little irritating that he had to step over me to reach the ice cream scoop. After he left, my screams got more emotional, if not any louder. Pretty soon I was in danger of drowning in my own snot and tears–still unable, as I was, to move my head out of the puddle.

At some point I suspected I was actually sleeping, but it didn’t help–because I was sure that if I couldn’t will myself awake, I might drown anyway. I spent the rest of the night trying to move some part of my body other than my hand. To no avail.

That’s right.

Sheer exhaustion doesn’t work out so well as a sedative.  It just turns thirty-odd nightmares into one long one. Not really an improvement.

I know, I know, I’m supposed to practice meditation, listen to calming music, etc. Tried it. I go to sleep perfectly happy and calm, I promise you. But every night: the paralysis and the panic.

Sunday morning I consulted that most reliable of sources–internet forum posts by middle-aged, hysterical, and hypochondriatic women. The most commonly recurring scapegoats I could find for nightmares were dairy, sugar, and late-night eating.

Sunday I didn’t eat any sugar or dairy, AND I stopped eating at six o’clock.

At midnight I woke up with hunger pangs, and couldn’t get back to sleep.


God’s Rebuttal for Agnosticism:

I’m fairly certain.

Burnt Offerings

I’ve been having this recurring dream the past few weeks. The situations and locations are  always different except for one critical element: I know that if I fall asleep, terrible things will happen.

I spend the entire night, night after night, fighting to drag myself out of sleep, finally jerking awake, only to realize it was just a dream. But the minute I begin to fall asleep, panic sets in again; the car is going to crash, the children are going to wander off, the important person is going to walk in at any moment. Quite simply, I must wake up.

Nothing seems to help. Today, my tactic is to induce sheer exhaustion. I ran a 10k, spent three hours weeding my garden (what? you don’t have three hours of weeds in your garden?), and tried taking the antique mower for another spin. Unfortunately, the right wheel no longer rotates. I attempted to take it asunder and fix it (how complicated can that era of technology be?), but mostly just succeeded in mowing part of my thumb. It might not be complicated–and I will never know, unless I succeed in defying the mechanical law which decrees all nuts and bolts, joined before my grandparents were, shall everlastingly twain become one–but its blades are still sharp.

I will now attempt to clean my barbecue.  I have never actually used my barbecue, but it seems like something one might do when one is thwarted on every other hand by the gods of yard work. You won’t allow me to trim my grass? Fine, I’ll  char the fleshy parts of grass-eating kine on that most American of altars, the back yard grill.

On Muffin Tins and the Bombing of Central Washington. And Desert Hurricanes?

You ever feel like you’re living in some kind of alternate reality?

My son came home from work (My son…work… See, right there, reality is already sliding into skiwhompus proportions.) this past Wednesday with the news that while he was greasing the backhoe, a bomb blast rocked his world.  I wasn’t sure what seemed more wrong with that picture–my son greasing a backhoe, as opposed to, say, a muffin tin–or the fact that at 7 a.m. in the morning, in a tiny little town in central Washington, a WWII bomb was detonated.

Apparently it isn’t terribly uncommon for shed workers to find these devices coming in with the potatoes from the fields, or for farmers to dig them up and use them for lawn ornaments, not realizing their potential.

Nor is it, apparently, much of a stretch to imagine a sixteen year old employee driving your backhoe into a building; his boss thought maybe that explained the shockwave he felt inside.

My son drives backhoes?

Not to mention large trucks with heavily loaded trailers, and dump trucks. Through the middle of Moses Lake. Yeah.

Ah, well. You have to learn behind the wheel of something, I suppose.

Better one of those beasts than my own fragile, fiberglass plaything.

Holy smokes! It felt like a backhoe just hit my house. Oh wait. That’s… water? Ice? What the heck?

Since when do gale force hurricanes visit the desert?