August 2008

When I was in my first apartment and going to OSU, I used to answer my phone (very professionally and cheerfully) “Planet Earth!”

I did it mostly for fun, and to see how people would react, but also, on some level, because I related more to being a denizen of this planet than to our country, state, city, school, or any other affiliation.

So I guess that’s why, for me, the most moving political speech I’ve heard was the one Obama gave in Berlin. He seems to understand that feeling of wanting to be a good world citizen. Of caring what the rest of the world thinks of us, and of feeling a sense of responsibility that comes along with being such a Goliath. That feeling has been missing for a while in our government.

I remember when Bush got elected the second time. I had gone to bed the night before, with the issue unresolved, thinking that surely the American people (gack! I can’t even type that phrase any more without hearing that idiot’s drawl) would do the right thing. When I woke up early and saw the results, I was terrified. I thought that surely the rest of the world would think we were idiots, and could not be trusted to wield the power that we hold. I fully expected airplanes to start smashing into government buildings, shopping malls, and schools within the hour.

The owner of the software company I’m once again, if temporarily, calling my employer, was the only person on Messenger at that hour, so I turned to him in my panic. He’s originally from another country, so I thought he might have some insight on what the rest of the world might think of us (and do to us). He calmed me down and let me know that the rest of the world knows that even if a lot of Americans are idiots, a lot of us aren’t, and that it’d be all right. I don’t remember exactly what he said all these years later, but I do recall it as being the best conversation I’ve ever had with him. He’s scary-intelligent, so I trusted his insights, and was really glad that he was there.

I didn’t completely calm down about it until I saw Desmond Tutu on the Daily Show. I can’t imagine why that seven-minute clip is NOWHERE to be found on the internet. It was extremely moving and heartwarming. (Actually, it must have been a rerun or something, because October of ’04 doesn’t jibe with the timeline my faulty memory is supplying.) At any rate, when Jon Stewart asked Bishop Desmond Tutu if the rest of the world thought we were idiots and wanted to bomb us, he said that the rest of the world is puzzled about our choices in government, but mainly judges the American people on their actions. Whenever anyone has a crisis anywhere in the world, Americans dig into their pockets and send money, they volunteer to help and send food and clothing to those in need. So no, they don’t hate us. They’re just puzzled.

So anyway, after all these digressions, we went and saw Barack Obama last night at a high school in Dublin. I really love that man. He gives me hope, and will reestablish us as a role model for other countries instead of a corrupt power to be feared. If not, if for some reason more of us go for “Bush Lite,” well, I guess the rest of the world will once again scratch their heads in puzzlement.

And if that happens, I will once again answer my phone “Planet Earth.”

Dad got no joy riding his motorcycle up and down West Broad trying to find some kind of computer connector dealie (yeah, that’s the technical term). I asked whether he’d tried Radio Shack, and he said that they didn’t have it.

Me: “Radio Shack used to be state-of-the-art, but they don’t seem to keep up these days.”

Dad: “Yeah, now they’re state-of-the-archive.”

I’ve been kind of busy and not so blogginy since we got back, but we took a mini-vaycay to the Washington, DC area. We stayed with my cousin, ErinSlick, who generously shared her nearly empty nest with us. Her Hannah was still there though, and our girls had a ball with her. They were able to compare and share all their tweenish interests, including the breathlessly anticipated HSM3 and cartwheelability.

We got there late Wednesday night, and enjoyed Erin’s comfortable hospitality (although she was completely remiss in not providing a wig brush or any of the other brushes mentioned in her Victorian guide), then took advantage of her laid-offness and tour-guidability on Thursday. We planned to meet our other cousin, Veronica (aka the school teacher who made Erin sick) at 4pm, and Cabana Boy and the offspring slept late, so we did the Clark Griswold tour of the sidewalk in front of the White House, the monument and as many of the memorials as we could cram into a couple of hours. Many pictures languish in my camera.

Thursday evening, after Sierra, Aja, and Hannah swarmed tiny, overwhelmed, one-year-old Jaya until her daddy got home from work, we all went to Minerva, an Indian restaurant and enjoyed the most scrumptious Indian food I’ve ever had. Of course my offspring ate only white rice and nan.

That night, I had every intention of playing Rock Band with them, but I totally fell asleep on Erin’s comfy couch and missed out.

Friday, with all of the free museums just waiting to open their glories to us, and with Erin just waiting to guide us to our choice of mind-opening experiences, I made the mistake of letting the kids decide what we should do. After all, this was our last-ditch guilty-parents-who-failed-to-take-the-kids-on-vacation-ALL-SUMMER trip. So what do my darling offspring feel would be the best use of this precious time? Half a day spent in Target’s toy aisle (that’d be Aja) and traipsing around various stores to find Sierra a bathing suit (she’d forgotten hers) so that we could go swimming. I mean, it’s not like we have a pool in our back yard or anything… Still, they had never jumped off diving boards before, or been in water 11 feet deep. I have to say that I did get a rush when Aja first jumped in and I saw how deep she went–I totally relived my first experience like that. Sort of frightening but totally exhilarating.

That night, while David and the girls ate pizza, Erin and I enjoyed the best Thai food I’ve ever had. (I would be even fatter if I lived there.) Erin’s hubby came home before we left, so we got in a decent (if brief) visit with him before we hit the road for an all-night drive home.

So there you have it. We went, we saw (quickly), we shopped, we swam. And we visited, but it was wayyy too short.

My extremely cool and extraordinarily geeky ex-coworkers have become my current (if temporary) coworkers once again, and I must say that it feels good to be back. I’m sure they totally appreciate having a blonde around again to make them feel even smarter. Yes, I forgot that the one single email I got regarding my new work there contained all the passwords I need and had to have my hand held to get set up. Yes, I gave my old username permissions instead of my new username (got my old laptop back even!), and spent half a day struggling to install software updates and having to log in and out of the different user accounts to get access. But by yesterday afternoon, I was back to work on the latest incarnation of the product I cut my geeky teeth on, and loving and appreciating the hell out of it. YES! Geekiness! I was so starved for geeky goodness with all those end user docs! I even got to watch them have math club at the end of the day! Ah, the nostalgic scent of neurons firing around the kitchen table!

Thank you ever so much, Mr. TrailHacker, sir, for advertising my availability in there. And congratulations on your new gig!

After she showed me what makeup Sierra had removed from my makeup drawer, I told Aja which things they could keep, and which ones I wanted put back in my drawer, and asked her to put them back. She said, “No Mommy, you put them back. After all, the girl who got them out came out of your stomach!”

This is from a few years back, but I just reminded myself of it with my forgetfulness…

My parents used to travel with these huge grocery bags full of herbal supplements for all kinds of stuff. My dad was particularly fond of ginkgo biloba, which is supposed to enhance the memory. Having never tried it myself, I will nevertheless always remember this quote word for word:

“This brand is the best ginkgo biloba I’ve tried. I mean, it really works! Now if I could just remember where I bought it…”

The priceless part was that he had no clue why I shot coffee out of my nose at that point.

We surprised the bejabbers out of my mom Saturday. We had all of her sliblings (I know, that’s a typo, but it’s kinda fun to read that way) and a couple of her cousins and a couple of her neices and her best bud from school and assorted spouses and spouses-to-be all shipped in from all around, and her offspring and a couple of local friends too. Here are some moments:

When we had a lot of people assembled, I went across the street to get Mom, and thought I’d come up with something clever to get her to come over. What did my brilliant mind come up with? Black stuff on my grout. Black stuff? On my grout?? Sheesh. But she totally fell for it. Gotta love my mom.

When my friend and her husband were leaving, my four-year-old nephew, a car fanatic, was exclaiming over their ’68 Porsche. My sister-in-law pointed out that the gas tank and trunk were in the front, and then asked if he knew where the engine was. When she pointed to the back, he made this totally delighted guyish sound like “wha ha haaAAAaaa!” And then he skipped in a circle.

When my uncle and my brother dragged our old fally-aparty porch swing over to put on the fire, my cousin says “If you burn furniture on your bonfire, you might be a redneck.”

Damn, I knew I should’ve blogged earlier. Cabana Boy had several blog-worthy comments, and I totally forget what they were. In fact, I should probably just put a mic on him. Half the stuff that comes out of his mouth is blog-worthy.

In this world of barely legal claims of effectiveness, I just love it when I find stuff that works as advertised, or better yet, better than advertised. Here are two things like that: UltraSwim and Burt’s Bees Lip Balm.

If you have a pool, or a kid who swims a lot, and that kid has hair, you probably want UltraSwim. We have a pool, and two kids who swim a lot. One of those kids has like three kids’ worth of hair. Every summer, I’d have to trek to the beauty salon and beg to purchase one of those stupid, expensive packets of goo that you have to mix up, slather on the child’s head, and then cover with plastic while she sits under a hair dryer. (Okay, we don’t actually own a hair dryer. I made the poor kid sit in the sun for an hour while her head steamed.) And even then, although it got rid of the greenish cast, her hair still had a weird texture.

But then, we discovered UltraSwim! Ahhhh! (In case you couldn’t tell, that was a chorus of angels trumpeting.) I’ve only found it at Meijer’s, but we’ve been blessed with it for several years now so I’m relaxing into thinking it wasn’t one of those short-lived test-market-town trials that we see so often here. The thing about UltraSwim is that I have never seen it advertised. I was just looking for something, anything, that would get rid of that greenish cast and that nasty feel. Her hair would look greasy when it was dry, like we hadn’t rinsed it well enough; it was nearly impossible to get a brush or comb through; when I’d try to shampoo it, I could use a whole bottle and it would barely lather; and it never seemed like it was rinsed all the way.

But the copy on the UltraSwim bottle said that it would remove chlorine in a single shampooing, and that it was safe to use every day. Hmm, I thought, (and I’m pretty sure I quirked my eyebrow), we’ll just see how good it is. The stuff from the salon claimed it worked too, and it was not only a pain in the butt, it also failed to remove all of the chlorine. So I took it home, tried it out that night on my daughter’s slightly green head, and Ahhhhh! (angels again) It lathered beautifully! It smelled wonderful! It rinsed thoroughly! Her hair dried and didn’t look like I forgot to rinse it! It looked and smelled clean! And I managed to drag a brush through it! YAY!!!! I went back and bought like three more bottles in case they quit selling it here, and told everyone about it. Yes! It works!!!

Another thing that works? Burt’s Bees Lip Balm, the kind with pomegranate oil. The same daughter that had the green hair has developed a habit of licking her lips compulsively if they get a little chapped. I’ve been buying all those Bonne Bell Lip Smackers that I loved so much as a tween (although I don’t think we were called tweens back then) and my husband gave her Chap Stick (ouch–that stuff’s hard) and nothing seemed to do anything. The Lip Smackers, I think, tasted too good, and encouraged the licking. David gave her his Burt’s Bees regular lip balm with peppermint oil, and that seemed to work okay, but she lost it immediately. So the other day I got her another one, but saw that they had one with pomegranate oil that was supposed to be smoothing. I opted for that one, since by this point she looked like she had been plumping her lips with a curling iron (can’t believe I found that–it’s after the 3 minute mark).

So anyway, she put it on, said “Mmm, that smells good, and it doesn’t sting like the other kind.” and went out to play. I swear, she hadn’t even put it on a second time before her lips looked like they were healing! Another day and you couldn’t tell they’d ever been chapped and crusty and nasty. Woo hoo! I love it when stuff works!

So there you have it. There are at least two things in this world that actually work. And I don’t recall ever seeing an advertisement for either of them.

So yeah, I got laid off last week. You know how in The Secret they say that you get whatever it is you’re putting the most focus on? Like whether it’s really what you want or not? Well, I was focusing quite a lot of my energy on “jeez I wish I had some time off with pay.” Hmm, guess I didn’t specify “but not severance pay.”

Oh well, I’ll find something. Hint to job seekers: Don’t bother driving yourself nuts digging through the jobs on Monster and Dice. Just drive yourself nuts wading through all the screens you have to fill out to make your resume public on there (and when they freeze up, just go to the other one until the frozen one decides to cooperate) and let the recruiters contact you about the much yummier jobs that they’re keeping secret. Within 24 hours, you’ll start getting calls that begin with “I found your resume on Monster (or Dice)…”

All right, this all feels like recycled words, because I’ve already said variations of this stuff in emails. Enough already!

Sierra: “Where’s Daddy?”

Me: “He went across the street.”

Sierra: “Aw that little wee beastie!”

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