Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Name is Marcia and I’m an Internet Addict

The other morning I got up at my usual time of 4:15 and shuffled to my computer, ready to greet the day. It was dark and cold and dank and a little bit creepy, but that didn’t matter because I had my internet, my world that never sleeps.  Facebook, email, gmail, my newspapers, my favorite blogs. All was well.

That’s until I got that uh-oh feeling. There was a rather nasty message on my screen, something about "can’t find website, please try again.” Oh God, it couldn’t possibly be true. My internet couldn’t possibly be down. After all, I’m a good person.

I sat for a few seconds in disbelief and then I restarted my computer, praying the good old off-on application would do the trick. When that didn’t work, I started plugging and unplugging cables and looking at the little blinking lights on the receiver thingy. I went from Firefox to Explorer, hoping one of them would be at fault. They weren’t. Next, I turned on the TV to see if my cable was working.  It was. For a while, I just sat sadly at the computer, pushing my mouse and fingering the keys, pretending to surf the net, similar to the way little boys pretend to drive while sitting in their daddies’ inert cars. I thought to call my son, Billy, on the west coast because he can usually talk me through these things, but thought better of that stupid idea as it was just after midnight there.

I decided to go ahead and get my bath, hoping to calm myself and find comfort with warm water and a supine position. But alas, calm and comfort were not what descended upon me. As I lay there naked in my tub, I worried about my kids who, although they were all sound asleep, might wake up and post something on Facebook and when I didn’t comment might think I was dead or worse, that I hadn’t paid my cable bill. And in thinking about my cable bill, I began to worry about my bank account, which, because I couldn’t check my balance, might have been infiltrated by someone who stole my identity (after shutting down my internet) and I’d end up in debtors' prison or pushing a grocery cart down Ponce de Leon Avenue and having to use the public library to get online. And then there was the weather. How would I know what to wear to work if I couldn’t check the weather on Just looking and sticking my arm out the window certainly wasn’t going to do the trick.  OMG!  It might be somebody's birthday!  How was I to know without Facebook?

Come to think if it, we might have had the end of the world while I was sleeping.  That's probably what caused my internet to be out.  The fact that my cable was working was no indicator because the station my television was set on was HGTV and I doubt if they have anyone on staff in charge of Armageddon, not like I'm sure The Huffington Post has.

I finally pulled my saturated self out of the suds and despondently dragged my wet body back to my forlorn computer, thinking maybe I could at least write something on a Word document, perhaps a sad poem.

Hello World! My internet was back up, right there on my computer where it was supposed to be, proving I really am a good person.

Monday, January 24, 2011

No Eye Deer

I don’t think I know one single woman who can tell a joke. Most men can’t tell them either but they don’t seem to realize it. In my earlier days, I remember standing mute, drink in hand, while some fool monopolized the conversation with a long drawn out story beginning with “Did you hear the one about…?” That doesn’t seem to happen to me any more, but I don’t think it’s because men have stopped telling jokes.  Instead, it seems to be based on a confluence of two things: one, I no longer frequent cocktail parties, and two, I no longer hang out with all that many men.

To me, the funniest stories are the true ones about real people doing stupid things, especially when I know the people doing the stupid things. For example, I love the story about my friend, Cindy, who, when she saw an errant shopping cart heading down the street toward her car, she honked at it. Or the one my ex tells about visiting a small-town doctor’s office as a pharmaceutical rep and sitting for quite a while in the waiting room, being eyed by the patients as they all viewed Jerry Springer via their peripheral vision on the mounted TV in the corner. That was until one of the patients asked the other patient sitting next to him on the naugahyde couch, “Hey Myrtle, didn’t this used to be a doctor’s office before we moved in here?”

I also like the stories where I’m the one doing the stupid things. For example, there was the time my daughter, Melissa, who was about eight, talked me into taking her to the only movie Rick Springfield ever made. As we were walking down the aisle of the theater, I spotted the cute little blond who was our dental hygienist. Since I was a busy multi-tasking mom with little time to spare, I dragged poor Melissa down to the cute little blond dental hygienist and then stuck my fingers into poor Melissa’s mouth so I could show the hygienist the weird things Melissa’s teeth were doing. It turned out the cute blond dental hygienist was, instead, the cute blond lifeguard at our neighborhood pool, a girl who knew nothing about teeth and wasn’t all that interested in looking in my daughter's mouth. She was, instead, quite interested in backing up as I came honed in on her, dragging my slobbering child teeth first with my soggy fingers.

Back to jokes, which I generally don't like and can't remember.  I do, however, recall a few jokes and they are all dirty.  The first joke I remember was from Junior High.  I won't relate the joke itself as it's enough to know that the main character was someone named Johnny F^*kerfaster.

Then there's the joke my father-in-law told me just after I married  his son.  My father-in-law was a small-town doctor, esteemed, no, I should say beloved, by all who knew him.  So it would have to be said that he was a stand up guy in all ways, but that didn't stop him from telling me this joke about the female Hell's Angel who was being interviewed by a newscaster.  The joke goes like this:

Newscaster: Have you ever been picked up by the fuzz?
Hell's Angel woman:  No, but I've been thrown around by the tits a few times.

And then there's this one about when Tarzan first met Jane.

Tarzan:  What name?
Jane: Name Jane
Tarzan:  What whole name?
Jane:  Hole name Pussy.

And here's my last joke.  No, don't walk away to refill your glass.  This one is really good.

What do you call a blind deer?  No eye deer.
What do you call a paralyzed blind deer?  Still no eye deer.
What do you call a paralyzed blind deer with no sexual organs?  Still no f^*king eye deer.

Get it?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Electrocution of the Bookworm

The bookworm has been electrocuted, but don't be sad. There's a happy ending.

At my request, my brother gave me a Kindle for Christmas and I have to say I like it better than I thought I would. I was intrigued with the notion of an electric book but withheld judgment, waiting to see if it would do the reading trick for me, and so far, it has.

My only problem centers on heft. The Kindle is pretty light weight, which is good. The heft problem has to do with the fact that I apparently gauge the length of a book by its weight and girth, not to mention the number of pages. My Kindle doesn’t give me page numbers and it weighs the same, whether I’m reading War and Peace or a memoir by someone who hasn’t yet lived very long. It does give me the percentage of what I’ve read. For example, my Kindle will have something like 38% written at the bottom of the screen. But percentage of what? Thirty-eight percent of 200 pages or 1000? So, what happens is I’ll be barreling along, happy as that legendary worm eating its way through a real paper and ink book, when all of a sudden, I’m at the end. Okay, the climax was there and the ending was satisfactory and the little percentage sign did say 98, but I’m still nonplussed and undone, and that’s because I couldn’t count the number of pages I had left as I was moving along.

Who would have thought, when I was a little girl, that I would someday read an electric book? I remember hearing about how, one day, we would be able to see the people we talk to on the phone.  This has obviously already happened with Skype and that latest IPhoney thing. I also remember laughing about the notion of smellivision, technology which would enable us to actually smell what Mrs. Cleaver and Aunt Bee were baking in their cozy kitchens.

But an electric book! Who could have envisioned such a thing and why would anyone want one?

I've been a reader almost as far back as I can remember. I recall sitting in the back seat of my parents' car, book in lap, knowing I could read. I like to think I was somewhere around four, but it may have been later. I do remember it was after second grade  when I finished one of my brother's Hardy Boys books, which was too hard for me to fully enjoy, but I still took great pride in my feat.  And then there was the great joy I had as a child, which emanated from my being able to eat the occasional sandwich meal, not with my family around the dining table, but while lying in my bed with a book as my dinner companion.

Other reading memories as a child include:
  • 365 Bedtime Stories.  I read this book for years, even when I was too old for it.  My kids have tried to find it to give me as a gift, but, so far, no luck.
  • The Secret Garden.
  • Those biographies of famous people with the silhouettes on the front cover.  I only read the girl ones: Martha Washington, Clara Barton, Juliette Low.
  • Trixie Belden.  I loved Trixie and Honey and the Gang and so wanted something exciting like that to happen in my life.
  • The Diary of Anne Frank. Whatever goodness I have in me was bolstered by reading this book at a relatively young age.
  • Lost Horizon.  I don't remember how old I was when I read this one but I knew it was one of my mother's favorite books and it became one of mine too.
  • Born Free.  My mother actually read this book to me when I was about ten and we spent the summer at my grandparents' house in Phoenix.
In fact, many of of my childhood memories have to do with reading, coming back from the old Savannah Public Library on Bull Street with a load of books, picking through them, deciding which one I would read first.  I was a child who lived a dual reality, one of my own making and the other based on whatever book I was reading.  I could say the same about my adult life, a life made richer by the books I've read. 

And so, I think I'll juice up the Kindle and browse my digital stacks to figure out what I'll read next.  It's nice not to have to make my way to the bookstore or the public library.

But wait, I just found my mother's copy of Lost Horizon, all dusty and forlorn on a bookshelf.  I think I'll pick it up, and read it again.  It feels good in my hands; not too light, not too heavy and it has just a right number of pages. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Make-Do Manor: The Land of Misfit Crafts

The other day, Molly and I were talking and, as is often the case, the TV show, Hoarders, came up. Now, Molly and I spend a good bit of time assuring ourselves that, despite our poor housekeeping, we are not hoarders. In this particular conversation, we agreed that we couldn’t possibly be hoarders because we don’t like to shop.

However, as I was talking, I looked around my living room and, in doing so, I had to  remind myself  that I can’t seem to get rid of anything that I have glued, snipped, sewn, or thrown. And the worst news is that I give away or sell the good stuff. It’s the failures that I keep and use in my home décor.

Some examples:

On my kitchen floor sit two bowls I made when I was part of a pottery class. One of the bowls was so ugly, I went back and tried gluing small ceramic tiles to it. The bowls are on the floor because I use them for my cat’s water. My cat has been dead for two years.

Hanging on my living room wall are two purses I created during my obsessive purse-making stage. Apparently they are hanging next to my front entry in case I need an ugly purse in a hurry on my way out the door.

Speaking of purses, I have two that I knitted (in my knitting era) hanging next to my computer desk in case I want to put my computer in a knitted purse, I guess.

Just recently, I’ve discovered the craft of making flowers out of organza circles. The best thing about them is that you burn the edges of the circles with a candle, which gives them somewhat of a last year's prom corsage look. I gave a few away to the very tolerant people with whom I work, but, alas, the others are now adorning a couple of my lamps and one ceiling light fixture.

Oh dear, I almost forgot my pillow-making phase.  About ten years ago, I made pillows out of reclaimed tea towels and table cloths.  I'm proud to say that I sold quite a few of them.  However, the leftovers are with me to this day, still attached to their little tags, in case somebody stops by and wants to buy one.

Finally, there's the wire angel on a shelf near me and the three pound pitcher I made out of clay sitting on my desk.  I remember my pot-throwing instructor telling me that you can tell the worth of pottery by how light it is.  Speaking of the worth of pottery, I also remember offering Molly one of my creations as a gift.  I told her she could choose and she did.  She chose the one piece not made by me.

And so, I make do with what's left, fashioning my own unique style and living in the luxury of my own creation.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day!

Today is a snow day for many of the Georgia schools and the hocus pocus that led up to this wonderful occurrence was almost epidemic, what with the flushing of ice cubes down toilets and wearing PJs inside out and backwards for good blizzard karma. Some prayed to the snow gods and others promised the Real God better behavior if they could just have this One Day.

And if you think I’m talking about kids here, you're wrong. I’m talking about the teachers.

Teaching school isn’t a glamorous job. After all, we work with children and working with children, while often fun and entertaining, isn’t something that you hear about on E!. I can’t imagine Lindsey Lohan doing it or even George Clooney (although I wish he would and that he would do it at my school). The pay is okay and the holidays are a bonus, but the days are pretty grueling, starting out early and ending just when you think you are going to pass out.

But every once in a while we get a Snow Day and a Snow Day trumps martini lunches and expense account dinners every time.  But we teachers must do some work first to earn our Snow Day.  The afternoon before, as the weather prognosticators are wooing us with their predictions, we must high five each other and say things like, "Hope I don't see you tomorrow!" and "Call me when you find out for sure even if we are three feet deep in snow."  Then, as afternoon moves toward evening, we have to get on Facebook and do some minor bitching about our system and our superintendent and how we are always the last to have school called off.  My favorite post from last night was this by an unnamed teacher who happens to teach across the hall from me:

"2 bits, 4 bits, 6 bits a bucket..... If we don't get a snow day, APS can suck it!!!!"  

We finally heard the good news around nine pm and the raucous rejoicing could be heard all over greater Atlanta, some of which actually emanated from the kids.

And so, I haven't changed out of my pajamas today, although they are now on right-side-out and frontwards.  I slept late and took a nap and, so far, my electricity and cable are intact (knock wood).  There's a chance we will have to make up this day some time in the future, but I'll worry about that later.  

Wait! The news people are starting to to announce closures for tomorrow so I need to get back to Facebook.

On a sad note, I did get an email from a retired teacher friend, who said that, although she enjoys not having to work anymore, she sure does miss having a Snow Day.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Stopping by the Sky Mall at 40,000 Feet

My daughter, Molly, and I fly together at least once a year to see our far-flung family in Portland, Oregon. The trip takes forever, especially since I tend to buy cheap tickets that require layovers in places like Phoenix, Denver, or, more often than not, Vegas Baby. So, with the extra two hours for security clearance and then the run from Gate A to Gate Z at any of the aforementioned airports, what should be a five-hour trip often takes nine or more.

By hour eight, we’re full of our complimentary soft drinks, pretzels, and Biscoff cookies; we’ve watched our little television sets and read our little books and we’ve snickered at the other flying weirdos making their way up and down the aisle. In addition, we’ve tried to eavesdrop on the couple in front of us who are fighting like the Sunnis and the Shiites, and we’ve poured over the electronic movable map, wondering why the front end of the little fake plane is in California while the back end is still in Arizona.

Hour eight is when we finally become miserable and punch drunk enough to pull the Sky Mall catalog from the seat pocket in front of us, all the while wondering just what type of people would actually purchase items they couldn't possibly need or even get any time soon, many of them quite expensive, while careening through the stratosphere.  We then rank our favorites from the merely sublime to the outrageously ridiculous.

Below you will find my rankings from our last flight (with Molly's input), employing David Letterman’s reverse scale to indicate people's mile-high decision-making, veering headlong from bad to worse, or more likely, from drunk to drunker.

10. The Lord Byron Wooden Side Table (made of faux books) for $249.  In addition , you can purchase a William Shakespeare Resin Sculptural Bust to go on top for $24.95.  Who needs real books when you can have a side table made of giant fake ones,?

9. The Thomas Kinkade Pop-Up 6 Foot Christmas Tree for $199.96.  Six foot tree pops up instantly and is pre-decorated with original artwork by Thomas Kinkade - This item manages to be easy to use and tacky at the very same time.
8. Bigfoot, the Garden Yeti Statue, captured in designer quality resin and hand-painted for startling realism. $98.95.  This one is Molly's favorite.  Startling realism in a Yeti?  Seriously?

7. You Don’t Have to Hide this Litter Box - Our Hidden Litter Box looks like a real clay pot, complete with an attractive Artificial decorator Plant for $129.95.  From the picture, it'd say the looking like a real clay pot isn't actually true.  It looks more like one of those rubber things outside restaurant doors where last-minute smokers park their cigarette butts.

6. The Hollywood Cookie Diet for $19.99. “I am in the Marine Corps and I lost 10 pounds and 2 jacket sizes in 2 days.” Walter M., Beaufort, NC. The personal testimony says it all.

5. Electronic Feng Shui Compass for $199.99  Working with electromagnetic fields,this hand-held feng shui compass helps you find favorable energetic conditions at home or anywhere needed.  Energetic conditions? What does that mean?  I thought if I placed the head of my bed opposite my door, I'd be okay.

4. Your Names in the Sand for $39.99. Personalize your passion for the beach with one of these unique prints.  This is a fake picture of fake people's feet in fake sand and you can add your own fake words in the middle of it .  Why would you take a real photo of yourself and your loved ones on vacation when you can pay these people for a fake one?  Plus, the feet are white.  I guess if you are a person of color or if you tan well, you can pull out your crayons and fix that.

3. One Dozen Roses, Hand-dipped in 24 K Gold for $598.99 (Save $120).  John Gotti is the only person I can think of who might actually buy these and I think he's in prison.

2. King Tutankhamen's Egyptian Throne Chair for $950.  I don't think I need to add anything to this, other than assuring you it's not an original.

1. Potty Train Your Cat Faster than most People Can Potty Train their Kids – Three Step Cat Toilet Training System for $59.99.  I ranked this number 1, not because it has to do with  urination,  and not because I don't like cats. In fact, as a cat lover, I understand the problem of the truly smelly sand box.  I even understand deciding to buy something as stupid as this.  What I can't understand is deciding to buy something as stupid as this while hurtling through space in a giant human-filled winged thermos on your way from Daytona to Dubuque.

Okay, you've seen my list. You now know how I feel about shopping at the Sky Mall.  I do have to say, however, that on my last trip, I did find a cute step ladder than folds into a chair.  It was only $149.99 and it's based on a really famous library chair belonging to Benjamin Franklin.  If I can't have King Tut's chair, maybe I can have Ben Franklin's step ladder.  

But I think I'll wait until the next time I fly to Portland to buy the really cute real replica of a Ben Franklin step ladder.  It just seems to be the easiest way to do it.  But I wonder: Will the flight attendant bring my chair/step ladder to me in mid-flight or will I have to wait until we land?  I do hope it's mid-flight so I can use it to get my luggage out of the overhead bin as we taxi toward the terminal.

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