Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Grosser than gross

With Halloween coming up, I figured I could write about all the horrible things that scare me in this world... but then I realized that would be a bit too "real" and then I'd probably freak you out too, and nobody wants that to happen. So in the interest of keeping it a bit lighter, I have made a list of the scariest things in my own home. This way if you're still freaked out, you don't have to avoid anything but my home.

Hairballs: The Movie
The way I see it, clumps of hair are better off on the side of the bathtub than going down the drain. But once in a while, in a rush to get out of the shower, get dried and dressed (preferably in that order), I forget the clump of hair dangling off the side of the tiling. It's my hair, so it doesn't creep me out, but I can only imagine what my husband, or even more embarrassingly, my cleaning lady, think of these inanimate furry creatures. 
check out the tail on that thing!

Humidi-fier in the hole
What is the deal with humidifiers? Are they necessary, or are they the worst things ever? Everyone said we needed one for the baby's room, and given my propensity for nosebleeds in the heavily heated days of winter, I agreed. But since the second month, when I accidentally set the thing to blow "warm" instead of cold, this thing has been a mold machine.
I do clean it out "regularly," but considering how absolutely foul it is each time I clean it out, that is clearly not enough.
"*gag* *dry heave* *gag*" - me, as I clean this thing out
Oh, and can we talk for a second about what a HUGE pain in the ass it is to clean? First of all, my hands/fingers were not built to get in between some of these crevices. The tool they give you doesn't even fit. And if you think I have two hours to spend with a Q-Tip, detailing this thing, you are seriously mistaken. The vinegar burns my hands off as I slave away over the sink... I'm certainly not rushing back to do it again soon.
I set out to find a humidifier cleaning service because I was more than willing to pay someone else to clean it. In hindsight, it makes complete sense to me why that doesn't exist. The job sucks and is impossible to do completely. There's always a tiny spot you just can't reach. And with customers in general being such huge pains in the butt these days, everyone would then complain that it wasn't done to their satisfaction and ask for money off. (Yes, years as a service professional have seriously jaded me). In addition, what could someone reasonably charge for this, given the fact that a new one costs about $150?
What? Oh, yes, I spent $150 because I opted for the top of the line "self-cleaning" one. What a load of BS that is. Technically, I could just buy another one for around $60 if I know that they are essentially disposable anyway. But that doesn't make me feel very green. I can't have that crap weighing down my carbon footprint. My back and forth shipping to Zappos is bad enough.
So I continue to clean it out to the best of my ability, and secretly pray that the recycled mold that gets spread in a fine vapor throughout my precious daughter's room is actually helping to strengthen her immune system instead of slowly making her sick. Fingers crossed! Cramped, wrinkled, vinegar burnt fingers crossed!

Hey, he seems like a funghi
Why do I continue to buy mushrooms? I don't have anything that I regularly make that involves mushrooms, yet every month or so I feel overwhelmed with a desire to purchase a pack of lovely white button mushrooms. They inevitably become some science project in my fridge as I sacrifice 24 sq. inches of shelf space, refusing to throw them away until they appear truly fungly. I don't understand how I manage to forget this every few weeks and make the same mistake all over again. Somebody please stop me.
"*gag* *dry heave* *gag*" - me, when I find the mushrooms decomposing in the back of the fridge

Brita filter water
I can't even try to blame the Brita people for this display of grossness. They give us a calendar sticker chart thing to remind forgetful folks like me when to change the filter. Or to remind me just how long it has been past the time when I should have changed the filter. I could easily say that this escaped my attention for longer than it should because I refill the thing at night when it's dark. But I should have noticed it sooner. It's pretty vulgar that the water I have been drinking comes through something that looks like this, 

or maybe this is where the bad stuff stays and the stuff that filters through is perfectly clean... yeah, we're gonna go with that.

Other stuff in my fridge
I might sometimes make fun of them for their in-your-face anal retentive behaviour, but I also kind of envy my cousins for dating each item they open when they put it into their fridge. They never have a "was this salsa from this year's Super Bowl party, or last year's?" moment. That is admirable, even enviable. I do not date my stuff, so I have regular, "who wants sour cream with their quesadill... ah, g-d it's furry... never mind" moments.

The "shelf life" of cereal rarely has anything to do with the actual time it spends on the shelf. For me, the lifespan of cereal goes from box, to cup or bowl, to chair or stroller, to floor. Sometimes it remains in sight, but sometimes it slips out of view (under bed, couch, table, closet doors). The way I judge the true shelf life of cereal is not only how it tastes out of the box, but also how it tastes weeks later when I am lying under my bed, reorganizing the contents of the storage boxes we keep there, and have to make the split second decision whether I am going to leave the piece of cereal there or eat it so I can get on doing what I am doing. Yes, I did do that. Because getting up to take a single Kick (I am assuming Kix is the plural, no?) to the garbage would have been just silly.

Vacuum: noun or verb?
While I am on this roll of grossing you out: clipped nails, be they from myself, my daughter, or my husband, don't always make it into the trash. Sometimes they disappear... kind of like some of the bogeys from my daughter's nose. One minute it is in her nose, the next I have removed it and it has disappeared. Kind of like magic, but much more repulsive.

Wow, I feel so much better having admitted all that. You, on the other hand, may feel much worse about coming over to my place ever again. Oh, you'll be fine. A little bit of dirt is good for our system. We're much better off than those crazy pants over-antibacterializers. (yeah, I'm looking at you Lauer)

Most of these things are scary... really they are just a bit gross. I could've titled the list: reasons why I am grosser than you, but I don't know how gross you are. You could be off the charts disgusting. Who knows. So we'll stick with the whole scary thing. And it ties into Halloween nicely, so there you go.

What's the scariest thing in your house? Are you gross too? Or maybe you just examine the contents of your tissue on occasion? Let he who is without the sin of being gross cast the first stone. And for the rest of you, confess away...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's the great pain-in-the-a$$, Charlie Brown

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The crispness of both the air and the apples just makes me happy.

And how about them changing leaves, right? Certainly one of nature's more majestic yearly recurrences, particularly when viewed from a sunny, mountainous vantage point. Many activities in the fall lend themselves to viewing the leaves, like going apple or pumpkin picking, hitting the outlets, going on hay rides, or simply driving around to see the trees in all their colorful glory.

These activities go on everywhere, but are definitely concentrated in the Northeast region. If you are a parent, they have become somewhat of a tradition, rite of passage and necessary part of life. The traditions of autumn are so beautiful and delightful, I really have no choice but to mock them.

You see, like most great things, there is the fundamentally good bit: the reason we all do it. And then there is the crap that goes along with it: the ridiculousness we all must suffer through in order to enjoy the good bits. To illustrate my point:

Good bit: Lovely day out in the fresh air
Bad bit: Traveling an hour from home and then sitting in traffic for an additional hour to go the final 1,000 feet as the orchard has neither perfected mass parking nor crowd control. It also appears that no fewer than 5,000 other families have had the same genius idea to go early on a beautiful fall Sunday. Roll down the windows and suck in someone else's exhaust of fresh air, baby. We in the country.

Good bit: Hot cider donuts
Bad bit: Burning your mouth on a hot cider donut... yes, but it hurts so good.

Good bit: Fun family-oriented activities
Bad bit: Frighteningly overpriced family-oriented activities: $2 for a slide down an inflatable slide? One slide down is $2... seriously? Oh, yeah, cause most kids are good with just one of anything. They barely know the words 'again,' 'another' and 'one more.'

Good bit: Engaging your child in the harvest process; teaching them about nature, growing fruit and how to collect their own food.
Bad bit: Smacking a rotten, wormy apple out of their hand before they are able partake in the fruits of their labor.

Good bit: Fresh picked apples
Bad bit: $25 for a bag of apples that is too large to bring back to a city apartment, no matter how many apple sauces/cakes/crumbles you plan on making.

Good bit: Shaking a tree to get the best apples from the top
Bad bit: Three words for you: baby black eye.

Good bit: Pony rides
Bad bit: $6 to go 50 feet on a pony and then having to spend the rest of the afternoon explaining why the pony had a full face mask on and why it's not as scary and horrible as it looks, when frankly, you're not convinced it isn't.

Good bit: Hay rides
Bad bit: Pulling hay splinters out of your ass the rest of the afternoon/evening and ripping your favorite "fall sweater" on one of the rails when you hit a bump.

Good bit: Great pictures to remember all the fun
Bad bit: In case you don't know how I feel about taking pictures of my kid, please refresh your memory here. In summary, taking pictures of my kid is torturous. The fun of the day was completely stripped away by the tedium of trying to record it all.
Looking around the pumpkin patch, I realized that we were surrounded by clusters of other families also floating around this autumn purgatory (too many people to be heaven, too many donuts to be hell). These folks were screaming their kids' names, propping up babies that continued to roll off of pumpkins, dangerously perching small children on rickety wheelbarrows and just looking miserable in general. I had to wonder, why do we all continue to subject ourselves to this nonsense?
Of course I know the answer: it is a combination of needing to post our whereabouts on Facebook or other social media to let everyone know we have ticked the autumn tradition box this year coupled with the pursuit of the highly coveted holiday card pic. Or if you're like us, pix, because we need several B-/C+ pictures to show people what our kid kind of, sort of looks like when we're wishing them a happy holidays.
The only way I could make the experience of trying to get a holiday card photo worse would be to partner it with the day of fun that includes sitting in traffic, poking my a$$ with hay, overpaying for a pony ride, burning my mouth on hot cider and getting stung by a bee. Then go to a pre-fabricated pumpkin patch (read: bunch of pumpkins lazily tossed onto a patch of dirt/parking lot) and attempt to figure out which settings on the camera will: A)gets my kid to smile and not look like she's saying the "CH" part of "cheese," B)keep her eyes open in the sun, and C)blur out the seven other families in the background of the picture who are all trying to do the same thing.
And yet, there we are, year after year, joining in on all that fun. Only to discover two months later when we are assembling our holiday card that the few pictures we thought we might be able to use actually suck. Of course we never put them on Facebook because we were "saving" them, but by then it's too late. People are already putting their awkward pictures with Santa up while we were holding those fall ones back for our holiday card. The holiday card which will now include a well-cropped photo of the kid on the toilet because she was having a good hair day and a blurry, overexposed one from the pumpkin patch because we think she looks the best in it, even if you can barely see her.

So, happy fall everybody! Hope your apples are crisp, your lines are short and your hay is soft. I also hope you enjoy these pictures of my amazing day with my family. These pictures were not at all frustrating to take and I look forward to doing it all over again next weekend... ha ha, yeah right. I need at least a full year before I'm able to do it all again.
Convinced this was THE shot, but Someone was messing around with the settings so we'll never know.

Look! Look! My city kid is handling a gourd! Isn't that just so outdoorsy of us?

Check out the family of ten behind us... we only had to get one kid to smile in each photo. I can't wrap my head around how annoying their picture-taking was.

These weren't "two-bite" donuts per se, but that's pretty much how we eat donuts.

She's a sucker for a hole in a painted piece of wood...
Who am I kidding? We all are.
This girl just realized she's on a pony for the first time. This guy just realized he's going to be in everybody's pictures today.

The directive was: hug the pumpkin. I actually told her to do that. Eat your heart out Annie Leibowitz.

Note to self: If you are planning on using pictures for the holiday card, make sure to wipe the donut crumbs off her face first.

Drunk in the pumpkin patch again! Unless you can't make jokes about two year olds being drunk in which case, ha ha, look at her uncomfortably lying down on the pumpkins... hi-LAR-ious!
And yes, obviously I have held some photos back to put on Facebook and some others back to put on the card. That's how this sh!t works. Don't hate the playa, hate the game.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

There are no words

Actually there are words. There are lots of words. There are arguably too many words. There are words that mean everything. There are words that mean nothing. There are words that all sound the same but mean different things. There are several very different words that can all describe the same thing. Yet somehow, despite this wealth of words in the world, I find it necessary to make up words (or believe I have) when the existing words simply won't do the trick. I'm not talking about abbreviated or nonsensical words like obvi or ridonkulous, although I do use words like that on occasion and then secretly curse myself for it. I am talking about seeing a void and filling it.

I "shant" believe anyone else came up with this
You see, by nature I am a void filler. One of my first forays into word-smithing came almost 20 years ago. It wasn't necessarily a situation where there wasn't a word for the thing I was talking about. There was: Capris. But this word just didn't do it for me, so I opted for the slightly more obvious, and no doubt more effective "shants," my nickname for short pants. I have been calling them shants for years, and I believe this word far exceeds the more commonly accepted "Capris." I'm proud of shants. And I would like to think I invented it. I will take no responsibility, however, for the word "jorts." That is just an ugly word for an ugly thing - jean shorts. Blech.

I don't give an"UKS"
A phrase that recently got some popular attention from modern teenage girls and their obsessions with them is the "thigh gap." The thigh gap is the space between the upper thigh that some, but by no means all women have when they stand with their legs together. Personally, I see a void there. Let's face it, I have no need for the phrase "thigh gap" and I never will. For those like me, may I offer you the Upper Knees Squeeze, or Uks (pronounced Uh-cks) to refer to the butt-like wedge your thighs make when you are standing up, sometimes not even with your feet together. Yes, but can you use it in a sentence? Of course. "Yeah, I've got uks, but since I don't see myself giving up cheese or cupcakes any time soon, I will probably have uks forever."
I use other anatomical compound words like g-unt (my personal preference over the word f-u-p-a) when necessary and I am glad those words exist. And who doesn't love a nick ch-eck (when there is no true distinction between someone's chin and their neck). The Upper Knees Squeeze has always existed (at least since the first cave woman with "athletic" legs). Now it has a name.

How healthy is too healthy?
Veganorexia is a name for a newfangled disorder that I temporarily thought I came up with. A bit of internet research proved that I most definitely did not. Just so we're clear, I do not mean to suggest that people who choose a Vegan lifestyle have underlying eating disorders... far from it. But it would also be foolish of someone to suggest that absolutely none of the people who seek out the Vegan lifestyle have an exaggerated or possibly undiagnosed eating disorder. It may be only a handful, but there are some, nonetheless. I think the Vegan lifestyle is wonderful, if you have decided to do it for reasons other than maintaining a specific body type. Those who are in it for the wrong reasons, celebrity or otherwise, could have veganorexia. It's a decent new word, even if I can't fully claim it as my own. I'm just happy other people are aware of it. That should hopefully prevent it from becoming too major of a problem. It also comes in super handy when I'm flipping through US Weekly and need to refer to some of the gals I wish weren't role models, but are.
Another modern issue I would like to draw attention to are the women who work out too much. Again, there is a difference between those choosing a healthy lifestyle and those who abuse that lifestyle at the expense of (or for the misguided purpose of) looking healthy. There is a very subjective line between the women that look fit and active and the women who look just too cut and defined with absolutely no meat on their bones that the muscles and veins just kind of pop directly out of the skin and cling to their arm bones for dear life. Those women have got "scaarms" (scary ass arms). And I hope they also get the help they so desperately need. But again, at least I have a word to gasp under my breath as they walk by that can't get me busted outright.

Me "Likesy"
We "Google" things all the time, which is a great example of a brand name becoming the commonly used word for the thing it is or does, like Xerox, Kleenex or Q-Tip. In a slightly less 'proper noun' version of this, I am a huge fan of "likesing" things. Sometimes I am referring to actual Facebook activity, the process of scrolling through things and "likesing" them based on content or content provider. But I also enjoy taking likesing outside of its comfort zone. I tend to tell people that I "likesed" their previous email, the dessert they served me at their home or the way their shirt complemented their eyes. And while I realize the proper way of saying it would be to simply say, I "like" these things, what can I say, I just likes the way it sounds.
C'mon, you know you likes it

A "finkle" in time....
My daughter is also a bit of a void filler. She proved her mettle at the ripe old age of 18 months. After a bath she was lying on her changing table as we dried her and put her pjs on. She was curiously gazing at her fingers, so I asked her: "are your fingers wrinkled?" To which our junior word maker replied: "Yeah, finkles." She thoughtfully examined her hands a bit closer and then again confirmed them to be "finkles." Of course... because what else would we call wrinkled fingers? Happily the name has stuck and we talk about her finkles after many an extended bath or pool time.

When you stand like that, I can See your Caucus
One of my new favorites came about when my husband "misheard" me talking about the great state of New Jersey. I can really only use this one because I have lived there (one of those weird loopholes like fat people being able to make fat jokes or members of Congress believing they can accuse other people of not getting stuff done). It is a nickname for the state made famous by Bon Jovi and Snooki... "Vagersey." Just conjures a lovely image, or a horrible one, depending on your disposition. Bruce is still from Jersey. Respect.

Hors-Camel-Moos-Goat? Wait... what the F is that?
It's a female moose. It was parked in my friend Jess's backyard and as a result of her sharing this photo, I will now refer to all female moose as foose, or fooses... but I'm pretty sure it's foose.

I know I'm not the only one who makes up words. Anyone else out there want to share? If your words are any good, I promise to start using them in my day to day... and then who knows, maybe one day I will think I was the one who came up with it. And if not, well, it can't be long until I strike foose gold again.