Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wisconsin 101: This is why you wear gloves even if you are just going from your car to the school door, or, This is why you don't skip the abdominals at Body Pump

I was coming out of the polling place after the primary election (yes, I wrote this a few weeks before it posted because that's how I've got to do it these days) and thinking, "I just want to get home because it's so darn cold!" and then of course thinking, "How on earth did I ever let myself be tricked into moving here and how can I escape?"

Then I thought, "Man, it's cold! It's so darn cold! I hate the cold!"

It was about 11 degrees, I think, which is minus something for those of you on the C system. Minus ten? Would that be it?


The sun was starting to set. The light was getting weak. I wasn't wearing my glasses.

I walked a few steps out the door and noticed a woman lying on the sidewalk ahead of me. She was on her back and it looked like she was reaching behind the tire of the car.

"Wow," I thought. "Bummer of a time to drop your keys!"

I walked slowly, thinking about what there might be to eat at the house and would SH be home tonight or not. He was going out later to some stupid election party. No, I had no intention of joining him. Politics is his thing, not mine. I vote and then I focus on the more pleasant parts of life.

I got closer to the woman. Her left arm was still behind the tire but her right arm was flailing.

I squinted. Looked more closely.

She wasn't trying to retrieve something.

She had fallen.

She had fallen and she couldn't get up.

She looked like she was in her late 50s or early 60s. She was plump, but not heavy.

She couldn't get up.

I ran to her and grabbed her hand. I tried to pull her up, but she couldn't pull herself up.

"Push my shoulder," she gasped.

I dropped my purse - my gym bag was still on my shoulder - and with both hands, reached behind her right shoulder and pushed her to a sitting position.

Her clog had fallen off one foot and she was wearing only thin socks. Her hands were bare. I grabbed her right hand and pulled, trying to get her to standing.

She couldn't do it.

I saw some people waiting in idling cars across the street. I kept my left hand on her shoulder, then waved my right one frantically at them. Three people jumped out of their cars and ran over.

I stationed myself behind her while two of the others grabbed her hands. I pushed while they pulled.

It took three of us - three!- to get her up, y'all.

Three people to get one woman from fallen to standing.

I held her bare hands in my gloved hands to try to warm her as we walked her into the building.

And thought, "I am never going to skip the abdominal and core exercises during body pump again."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 231: Hoarders

Me: Sweetie, is it OK if I put those wine bottles [that have been in the dining room since September, when we had a political fundraiser at our house] in the recycling?

SH: What?! No! That's a really good assortment of wine!

Me: Oh for pete's sake. Why not?

SH: Why are you in such a hurry?

Me: A hurry? It's been months!

SH: But it's not like we're using the dining room or the living room. It's not like anyone sees it. [We keep the door closed to those rooms and the heat vents closed in the winter because money just flies out of our 1928 brick exterior/plaster interior walls when the heat is on.]

Me: I see it.

SH: I don't know why you're in such a rush.

Me: I want them gone.

SH: But even if someone sees them, they'll ask about them and it makes a really good story..

Me: Fine. Then would you please put the new filter in the furnace this weekend?

SH: Why must you nag so much?

This is why I miss living alone.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 635: No whine before its time

SH: I'm tired. I'm going to whine.

Me: Not to me, you're not.

SH: But you're the only one.

Me: Nope. I am not the designated whining receiver.

SH: No! You have to listen!

Me: Whine to your mom and dad.

SH: I can't whine to them!

Me: Yes, you can. That's all they do to you.

SH: They whine at me.

Me: Sauce for the goose.

SH: I can't.

Me: Sure you can. It's not my job to listen to your whining. I don't make you listen to mine. Make them do it.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 864: And then he burns them to keep them from the voodoo people

SH: What are you doing? Oh my gosh! You're doing it all wrong!

Me: I'm cutting my fingernails. Duh.

SH: Over the toilet? That's not the right way to do it.

Me: What's wrong with it?

SH: I sit at my desk and I very carefully clip them, not letting any of them fly away, then I carefully sweep the clippings into a pile and throw them away.

Me: My way is more efficient.

SH: It's not fastidious. My way is fastidious.

Me: I am not fastidious.

SH: I know. Oh my gosh! You don't even cut them right!

Me: What do you mean?

SH: I cut mine all in one piece, from one side to the other. You just cut little pieces off.

Me: So?

SH: My way, I get just one piece.

Me: You're nuts.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 564: A slow day at work

SH: I organized the popcorn by date.

Me: You did what?

SH: It's a two-year range!

Me: That's going in my blog.

SH: Wait! What's weird about that?

Me: Do I even need to answer that?

SH: I even stacked the harvest sun chips from back to front based on expiration date.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Marriage 543, Lecture 124: Can't live with you

SH: I decided. I'm going to the Middle East with you.

Me: That's just crazy.

SH: It will give me a ton of qualifying miles and I'll be able to get points for the hotel.

Me: I think you're nuts.

SH: I want to see it.

Me: It's not like Morocco. It's not interesting.

SH: I know. But I complain about the cities they build in the desert and I should see for myself.

Me: I'll have to work. I won't be able to spend time with you.

SH: But it will still be more fun for you to travel over there with me, won't it?

Me: Of course. But don't you want some time alone at the house? You always complain that you never get to be by yourself here.

SH: I know, but I thought about it. I don't have a Nighttime Wife any more.* And the weather is going to be crummy. It would be boring to be alone.

Me: I would think you would welcome the chance.

SH: If the weather were good, sure. But not now.

Christina has a boyfriend and is busy all the time now.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 612: You're not doing it right #542

So the latest complaint about me from the Well of Endless Drama, aka as The Vault of Everything Bad Thing CF Has Ever Done (which includes the fact that I am a Bad Bacon Eater and a Bad Christmas Cookie Sender), is that I do not address envelopes properly.

As in, I did not address the thank-you note I sent to these people in a way that they found acceptable.

As in, I wrote "LastName" on the "to" line and "Factotum" on the "from" line.

"Didn't she take your name?" they gasped in horror to SH during the Weekly Mandatory Phone Call.

I rolled my eyes. "Have I ever represented myself as 'Class Honey' to anyone, other than the IRS?" I asked SH. "My facebook page, which your mom and dad have not seen, I hope, is 'Class Factotum.' My email address, which they have seen, is 'Class Factotum.' As far as they know, I am Class Factotum and never changed my name."

[NB Which is why I do not understand - blessyourhearts! - why my friends who are the most adamant about keeping their maiden names are the ones who sent Christmas cards to me addressed to "Mr and Mrs Serious Honey. I have never called myself "Class Honey" to any of my friends. However, I am so happy to get actual mail that I am not complaining. Just wondering. That's all.]

SH shook his head. "I don't know."

I continued. "Besides, aren't they the big progressives? I would think they would reject the patriarchal system that endorses a woman changing her name just because she is married."

"They think you are rejecting them," SH said.

"Well of course I am!" I retorted. "I want nothing to do with them."

"They also don't like that you didn't address it to 'Mr and Mrs John Honey.' You just wrote 'Honey.'"

"I know," I said. "That's how I always address letters to married couples who have the same name. That's how I address letters to my mother. I'm lazy. The letter gets there. Who cares?"

"They care," he said.

I laughed. "And if I hadn't written a thank-you note at all, they would have complained about that. And if I had emailed instead of written an actual note, they would have complained about that. If I had addressed the letter properly, they would have complained about my handwriting. [Which would be a legitimate complaint.] No matter what I do, they complain about it."

"That's because you're not doing it right," he said.

A few days later, he said, as he was looking at a note I had written to a friend, "You don't address envelopes properly, you know."

"Oh for pete's sake," I answered in exasperation. "What are you talking about?"

"Instead of writing '15th Street,' you write '15 St.'"

"So?" I asked.

"That's not right!" he said.

I shook my head. "It's a good thing you didn't talk like this when we were dating."

Friday, February 15, 2013

The working life: The great seat dilemma‏

So here's something I am curious about. If you guys are on a bus (or a train or a subway) and you have to share a seat with someone, do you move if an entire seat opens up? 

If you do move, do you say anything to the person you were sitting next to? Or do you just move?

I have had both ways happen to me: the person just moved and the person moved with an explanation: "Now we'll both have more room."

When I move, I, too, feel compelled to explain to the person what is perfectly obvious: I am moving so we both have more room. But why? Why should I say anything? I don't know this person. This person probably couldn't care less that I am moving and indeed is probably relieved. 

I'm just worried she'll think I'm rude. The opinion of complete strangers is so important to me that I will state the obvious to stay in their good graces.

This is the same reason I was bothered that I don't put my makeup on until I get to work. If I eat any salt, I have puffy eyes the next day. Throw in the cold weather, which makes my eyes water, which is not good for eye makeup. I wait until I am in the warmth of my cubicle to put on eye shadow and mascara. When I expressed a concern about this on facebook - what would the people on the bus at 6:51 a.m. think about my unadorned face and how self-centered did it make me that I was concerned about it, my friend Ilene wrote, with a smile, that nobody noticed and nobody cared.

Which was a relief. Because the puffy-eyed, pre-makeup look is not a good one for me. So it's good to know that I am not being judged at 6:51 a.m. by people I don't even know. Except maybe the two young women who are on the bus every day with their hair, their makeup, and their nails done. They probably judge me. Big deal. Let them come back to me in 30 years and we'll see how they feel about getting up super early just to get dressed. They might change their minds.

Back to my apologetic moves. I usually say something when I'm on the bus. But I never say anything when I move from my assigned seat on a plane to an empty exit row. Maybe it's because I'm too  busy thinking, "I've got to hurry before someone else figures out the exit row is empty," although you know what? Hardly anyone ever moves on a plane. I don't get it. Why would you stay smashed in a seat next to someone when you could have an entire row to yourself?

Are you a mover? If you are a mover, do you say anything?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The working life: If I'm going to be a secretary, I want to get overtime‏

I'm a little cranky. I'm at work and I don't have enough to do because my boss has been gone for a week and won't be back for days and I need to review a bunch of stuff with him before I take it further.

I always worry when I don't have enough to do. Will they eliminate my position? What will happen? That's when I start to look for more things to do. I'm not being paid to sit around and do nothing, you know. Although that is what I was paid for when I was temping at the World Bank. I would do two hours of work a day - deliver the mail, print out my boss' emails and key in his handwritten replies, send a fax or two - and then I would be bored. Bored, after I was shocked that one secretary whom I was replacing had bookmarked several porn sites on her work computer. I still wonder why they bothered to get a temp to fill those positions when the secretaries were on vacation. I still wonder why they had those positions to begin with.

So my boss is gone. I don't want to do a lot of work that it will turn out he didn't want. 

I am bored.

Yet. When the country manager for Malaysia asked me to make his hotel reservation (when I make mine) for our upcoming trip to the Middle East (oh yay! Another 13-hour flight!), I got all cranky.

I am not a secretary.

I have been. It wasn't a bad deal. Easy work for almost as much money as I take home now, with none of the responsibilities. (Obviously, I was a very low-level secretary. I know senior executive assistants have to be really on the ball and do a lot of hard work.)

As a temp secretary, I never had to prepare financial reports for the board of directors and sweat bullets worrying that I had made a mistake somewhere. The buck stops with me on the numbers at my job. I don't do the initial reports, but I am the person who takes the numbers from finance and moves them around and puts them in the format that my boss wants and the BoD wants and believe you me, it is easy for a number to go wrong in all that shuffling and in all the different reports I have to do that I have come to realize might not even be seen by anyone. Which I suppose is better than having someone use them and notice a mistake.

I am not a detail person. I am good with numbers and math, but I am not good with corporate math, which involves imaginary numbers. Not the square root of a negative number kind of imaginary, but corporate imaginary with crazy targets and frantic accounting. I am not good with putting together an initial strategic plan and then changing it 400 times and making sure each time that all the numbers roll up and tie. It is work to make a person insane.

Where was I? Oh. Right. Responsible for more than basic admin work, but not paid much more than basic admin wages.

I am bored.

But I am not bored enough to make a hotel reservation for the country manager of Malaysia.

I don't care that we are both going to the Middle East. I don't care that we are staying at the same hotel. He and I report to the same boss. We are peers. I am not his secretary. I cannot believe he had the nerve to ask me to do it.

And yet I will. Because how do you say no to that? "It's not my job?" I hate that phrase. "You have insulted me by asking me to do your menial work for you, work you are perfectly capable of doing yourself?" Does a male from that part of the world even understand why this would be insulting to me?

Better go. I have to make a hotel reservation.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The working life: The miracle of the purse‏

This photo is completely unrelated to the post. I just love it - I saw it for the first time a few weeks ago in the book my mom put together about my Grandma Sylvia's life. (The one on whom we put red lipstick while she was in her coffin. That my friend Ilene put lipstick on.) That is my aunt holding me in her lap, a bottle in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
You guys, a miracle happened today.

It didn't happen as quickly as I would have liked, but it happened and in the long run, that's what matters. (In the long run, we are all dead, said Keynes or some famous economist. Econ 212 was a long time ago.)

Remember the purse SH and my sister bid against each other for on eBay? And SH ran my sister up $30? And she was ticked and who could blame her and then they were both ticked at me for telling both of them I wanted the purse and I was all, "It never occurred to me that anyone would spend that much money on a Christmas present for me?" 

That purse performed a miracle today.

I go to the Y every day at lunch. I go and I sort of work out and then I look at People magazine and bitterly resent people like Demi Moore who are ruining it for the rest of us. Would she just start to look like she's 49 years old already? I am trying to convince my husband that some flab and fat is normal in a woman my age and then there's Demi, rock hard in a bikini.

Although I will add that I am not having problems keeping my husband, despite my Milwaukee Roll. So there is that.

Anyhow. I go to body pump or to spin or step or something at lunch. And I listen to podcasts that I have downloaded the night before. For one, I hate exercising and I need anything I can to distract me from the drudgery, the tedium, and the horror of exercising. I think most of us would rather listen to a discussion of the potential restructuring of the county board than break a sweat. AmIright?

I also listen to podcasts because I hate the music they play in class. I haven't liked exercise class music since Jazzercise. Body pump must go straight to the well of horrible music with cheap licensing fees. It's pretty clear they aren't spending money to get the good music. (Oh man - I just had a horrible thought. Body pump is to good music as Marty Haugen is to good music! Is there a conspiracy out there against exercisers and Catholics? A two-pronged conspiracy to drive us mad with bad music? I think maybe there is.)

Yesterday morning, when I turned on my mp3 player as I prepared for my seven-minute walk to the bus stop for what should be a one-minute wait for the bus but is usually a four to five minute wait, which doesn't sound that bad but try it when it's eight degrees and windy outside, it went crazy. The lights were flashing and there was no sound. There is no way to reboot this mp3 player - it's a little cheap thingy that SH got on I couldn't turn it off, couldn't do anything. 

I threw it in my purse anyhow, just in case its little tantrum ceased before lunch, and went to work.

When I got to work, I tried turning it off again. No luck. Lights keep flashing and I thought, "It's kaput." I threw it back in my purse. And at lunch, I went to the Y to body pump. 

Where the guy who wears the same purple tank top to class every day was there.

I didn't mention the main reason I listen to podcasts. The main reason is because of the purple-tank-topped guy. He is the Guy Who Goes "Woo!" all during class.

Not just the occasional "Woo!" but constant "Woos!" Constant. Like several times a minute. And between songs. What is there to "Woo!" about between the songs when you are changing your weights?

Usually, I can drown him out or partway out. But yesterday, I had to hear him for an entire hour. 

I wanted to throw my weights at him. Which I could have, because I use such light weights. (See: Why don't I look like Demi Moore?)

I had to hear him. I grit my teeth and closed my eyes and tried to ignore him. And the horrible music. Honestely, Body Pump people. Is this what you listen to at home? Are you deaf?

I finished with class, went back to work, waited and waited and waited for the 2012 final numbers so I could do all the reports I have been stuck with since my boss quit in August, and finally went home.

Whereupon I noticed upon removing the mp3 player from my purse that it was off. I pressed the "on" button and lo! it worked. It turned on! And lo! there was sound! I wept with joy.

The purse had healed my mp3 player. I don't know how. I don't care how. I am just happy that it is done.

The Purse of Gentle Healing is now available for your electronics and appliances that need repair by immersion. Send them my way.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 235: Doing the right thing

Me: Maybe we should do a CSA share this year. [Where you pay money up front to have produce once a week from a local farm.]

SH: Maybe.

Me: Wait. Wow. That's expensive. It's $420 for a half share.

SH: What's that?

Me: Thirteen boxes, one every other week for the season.

SH: We could feel superior.

Me: Yes, but I am looking at a sample box. Last summer, in one box, they had

  • 1 lb. asparagus
  • 1.5 lb. rhubarb
  • 1.25 lb. spinach
  • red leaf lettuce
  • arugula
  • radishes
  • button mushrooms
  • green garlic
I can get all that stuff at the store for a lot less than $30.

SH: This doesn't sound like the sort of decision you make using objective decision criteria.

Me: What? I always use objective decision criteria!

SH: That's what I mean. It doesn't make financial sense to do this. So the reason to do it is to feel good about ourselves.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 153: Location, location, location

SH: Do you want the aisle seat or a window?

Me: Aisle. I want to be able to use the bathroom whenever I want.

SH: There are some aisle seats in the center section. Do you want the right side or the left side?

Me: I don't care.

SH: Really?

Me: No! Why would I care about something like that?

SH: I like the right aisle because when I am using my mouse, my elbow sticks out.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 653: Who cleans the vomit‏

 You guys, it's hard to blog and have a job at the same time, especially if you can't blog at work because you're busy working. I used to blog at work at my old job, but I had worked there for several years and knew the job well and also worked longer hours than I work now. I was a 7:30 to 5:30 or 6:00 person there, but here, nobody looks askance if you walk out the door after your nine hours are up. Now I am a 7:25 to 4:38 person. And I leave after my boss does. So it's cool.

Still, I have to cram eight hours of work into eight hours, so I'm busy. Plus, before, I didn't have a husband or cats and if you think work can consume your time, you haven't seen anything until you've seen a spouse/pets. Big time suck, a husband. Huge. Nobody told me that part before I got married. Spouses expect attention and they also make the house dirtier than just a person living alone, a person who can ignore the dishes in the sink overnight if she wants to rather than arguing with said spouse about if they should be washed. Also, living in a place where it snows means things take longer. I have to allow 16% more time to get to the bus stop when there is snow or ice on the sidewalks. You have to walk very carefully on icy sidewalks unless you want to slip and fall and break an ankle. Which would maybe not be a bad investment if you could sue the homeowner and get enough to quit your job, but that probably wouldn't happen and then what if your ankle doesn't heal right and you can never wear high heels again and all the beautiful Italian shoes you got on eBay are now wasted?

Not worth it.

Where was I?

Not blogging so much. And blogging late. I'm about to tell you a story about something that happened weeks ago.

But it's still funny. 

SH and I went to Pittsburgh over New Year's. As usual, we hired the neighbor kid to feed the cats and water the tree in our absence. He is a nice, nice kid and I have asked his mom not to let him go away to college. He is willing to feed our cats for not very much money and we might be expanding to use him for shoveling now that SH would actually be in charge of the snow removal instead of me. I know, I know. We're both healthy adults and should shovel our own snow. But I leave for work at 6:43 a.m. and don't get home until 5:30 p.m. I'm sure not going to shovel before I go to work and I don't feel like it when I get home. I would say don't shovel at all but then we'd get a fine so it's cheaper to shovel. 

SH doesn't want to shovel because he works longer hours than I do and doesn't want to spend his free time shoveling. At least we have the option of hiring someone. Our friends in Pittsburgh live in a tonier neighborhood than we do and the kids in that area don't work. Babysitters get paid $10 an hour! For babysitting! Can you imagine? The most I ever got was a dollar an hour and that's when minimum wage was about $3.50. So I got far less than minimum wage. Now sitters get more than minimum wage. I was born at the wrong time.


We hired this nice kid to feed the cats. When we returned home, Laverne was whining and whining and whining that she was soooo hungry, which is how she acts every time it gets anywhere close to 5:30 or whenever I walk in the door in the evening, whichever is sooner. 

She was lying. She wasn't that hungry at all. Why? Because our catsitter had left us a raspberry kringle as a little Christmas gift. Laverne took one look at it and said, "I think raspberry kringle is for cats" and chewed through the paper wrapping and ate a good chunk of the kringle. SH didn't care because he doesn't like raspberry anyhow (remember the "ends in -erry" rule?) but I love raspberries and I like kringle, so I was bugged. I cut the edges away from the part that Laverne had eaten, threw them in the trash, and didn't wonder when I saw that she actually left food in her dish, which has happened one other time since we got the cats. That was when she was sick and I had to pay the vet $109 for a shot. She got better.

We unpacked and put away all the cheese we had bought in Pittsburgh and argued about laundry strategy - I have given SH the blanket statement that at some point, I will do laundry, so if he wants his dirty clothes washed, he should put them down the chute.

That's another timesuck in marriage: when I was single, I just washed my dirty clothes and didn't have to have any discussions about it. I also didn't have to discuss knife placement or dishdrainer strategy.

Then we went to bed.

I slept. SH slept. I got up at 6:00 a.m. and went to work. SH sent me a facebook message: "Laverne has been a very bad girl. I'll tell you when you get home."

I got home. 

SH: Didn't you hear her last night?

Me: No. What are you talking about?

SH: At midnight! I woke up because Laverne was making the about to vomit noise!

I  hate that noise. I have rushed to grab the cat and move her to an uncarpeted section of the house. Cats have an affinity for rugs and carpets when they throw up. My friend Ilene says it's because they need to hold on to something as they retch, which makes sense, but honestly, we have floor covering on about 10% of our floors and darned if the cats don't find it every time.

Me: I didn't hear.

SH: I don't know how you couldn't.

Me: So what happened?

SH: She threw up all the kringle! And it was disgusting! [I will spare you the rest of what he said.]

Me: And?

SH: Well, I cleaned it up.

Me: Without waking me up?

SH: Did you want me to wake you up to help?

Me: Nope.