Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Worn Green T-Shirt

I was cleaning out the attic today and a job that was supposed to take 2-3 hours took...well, actually it's not close to being done yet, thanks to my A.D.D. I'd open a box, lift out a photo album, open it, and 45 minutes would elapse.  Case in point, look what I found in a "book" published by Kimmy's 1st grade class.

Midway through the day I was sorting through a box of old clothes and pulled out a worn green t-shirt with three short words written on the front. Three very important words. Three very true words. Three words that made me very, very happy.

My Chute Opened.

As I held up the t-shirt the memories came flooding back:  the day 3 of my friends bullied me into going sky diving with them. 

It had sounded like a great idea at happy hour the night before, but when they pulled up to my apartment that Saturday morning I'd more than come to my senses.

"Sorry, can't make it. I just remembered have to study..for that big Math Stat test!"

They completely saw through my lame excuses (especially considering we were on summer break) .  They dragged me to their car for our road trip to the Fostoria, Ohio sky diving school where we spent about 3 hours preparing ourselves for our impending deaths.

We were to jump solo, and pull our own rip cords.  But just in case we were too stunned to pull the cord, the parachutes were triggered to open at a certain point - hopefully before we hit the ground. We learned how to pull the toggles on the parachute so we could change directions during our fall, and avoid any obstacles between us and the ground.  We also learned how to land without injury.

But what surprised (and scared) me the most was that we weren't going to simply jump out of the plane. We were instead going to lean out, grab a hold of a wing bar (see photo), and hang on until the jump instructor told us to let go. (Apparently this methodology minimizes the chances for flipping and any subsequent nasty leg/string entanglements.)

The 4 of us boarded the small plane with our jump instructor. We were to take the plunge in order of weight (from high to low). I was shaking in my jump suit. 

Tim was the first to go. I leaned over to the jump instructor after Tim's jump and shouted, "Did his chute open?"    He nodded.

Next came Ron. Again..."Did his chute open?"   Then it was Janet. "Did her chute open?"

The flight instructor looked at me and pointed to the door. "Your turn".  

I seriously thought about not going.  But I knew my friends would never let me live it down if I didn't take the jump. I made a quick sign of the cross and moved to the door.

I sat with my legs hanging out of the plane and reached out for the T-bar. I slid my butt off the edge of the doorway and dangled my shaking body from the bar.

The flight instructor yelled, "OK, let go!"

I shouted, "No"

He repeated, "Let go!"

I screamed, "I don't want to."

He got out his hammer and pounded my fists.  

Not really.   But somehow I let go.

I don't remember much after that. I recall how quiet it was as the plane flew away. And I started to cry. I completely forgot to pull the rip cord, but thankfully, it went off at the right time. I gently made my way to the ground and I landed as  instructed, with no bodily harm. I kissed the ground.

The four of us went back to Bowling Green feeling quite brave.  We headed straight to a t-shirt place to have our green "My Chute Opened" t-shirts made. And we wore them to happy hour. We were so proud.

That's the way I felt today when I wore my "My Chute Opened" t-shirt to Food Lion.  It may have been my imagination, but I believe the other shoppers were looking at me in admiration.  

Either that or they thought I was homeless.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Slow Boat to China

I’ve been known to pick on the Japanese a few times in my blog, but I've left the Chinese alone. I mean, how could I possibly pick on China, a country that has been transformed from a nation of poverty to become the world's largest exporting nation? In fact,  I have nothing but admiration for the Chinese!

Sure, there's that foot binding thing. I could definitely pick them for that. Can you imagine, wrapping your feet in tight cloths for years with the goal of keeping them no longer than 3 or 4 inches? In the name of beauty? I thought plucking my eyebrows hurt! And I don't know about you, but I don't see anything beautiful about these feet!  (My apologies to anyone who may have been eating.)

At any rate, my daughter Kimmy had to make an unplanned trip to New York City this weekend and was trying to find a reasonable flight. There were no e-savers and the last minute prices were off the charts. It looked like this trip was going to take a major bite out of Kimmy's shoe fund.

Until we heard about the China Bus.

For those of you who have never heard of the China Bus, it's an overnight bus that travels between Columbia and New York City, delivering its primarily Chinese patrons door-to-door for only $50. It seemed like a no-brainer, in light of the alternative ($500+ airline prices).

 Until I did some research.   (OK, I'll admit it.  This is not a real picture of the China Bus.  But I like it better the real one and it's my blog.)

Apparently, the Motor Carrier Safety Administration has serious concerns with the China Bus' (a.k.a. Sky Express) safety record. They scored 98.62 out of 100 in a recent safety inspection. That sounded like a pretty darn good score to me until I realized that the higher the number the worse the score. (In other words, if 100 things could go wrong on their inspection, 98.62 of them did.)

David Wong, the operating manager of Sky Express, said the low rating stemmed from an incident in Durham where a bus driver hit a pedestrian. Oops.

I guess you're safer on the bus than walking in front of it.

It seems the drivers are very friendly. Of course, they'd be more enjoyable if you understood Chinese.

When Kimmy asked me if I'd go with her on the China Bus to New York I said I couldn't. I had a meeting on Monday I couldn't get out of. I told her, "I really wish I could go with you."

She said, "I know, I'd like your company, too."

"I just want to blog about the China Bus," I said. 

Then, realizing that I may have hurt her feelings I quickly added, "and I'd like your company".

Somehow, Kimmy managed to find a $200 student airline ticket so she won't be taking the China Bus.

It's probably better that way. There are just some things that children should not experience before their parents have a chance to. Traveling to Europe is an obvious example. 

And riding the China Bus is a close second.  Especially if you are a nerdling blogger.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Attending to Details

I have a new job! It's a very important job. I'm a "Personal Attendant to the Bride" It's the most important job in the entire wedding (not counting the bride and groom).

When my friend (now boss) Becca offered me the position, I accepted it right way, even though I didn't really understand the job requirements. I only knew that the benefits were outstanding: I get to be in the wedding party without wearing a bridesmaid dress!

I've since conducted some research and uncovered the PAB job description:

  1. help the bride transport her gown and attire
  2. help her dress
  3. hold a touch-up/emergency bag for her-lipstick, breath mints, Tylenol, safety pins, deodorant/perfume, wine etc. (I added the wine part)
  4. field messages for her at home/ceremony site so she isn't interrupted for every little thing
  5. protect her privacy/quiet time pre-ceremony
  6. take messages/gifts to the groom
  7. various "go-fer" duties--

But I'm adding one more item to the description. I'm going to do something very special for Becca and Brendon that may otherwise slip through the cracks.

It's my honor and duty as PAB.

You see, planning a wedding is a very complicated process. There are numerous details to arrange and coordinate: booking the church, finding the reception venue, selecting a caterer, ordering the cake, hiring a photographer, booking the musicians, to name a few.

Becca even has to make decisions regarding pew bows (which come in all colors and sizes).

I'm afraid that Brendon and Becca may be forgetting something very important. Again, as PAB I will attend to those details for them.

I know you're all probably very curious about what those details are.

First, I've found a beautiful dress for Brendon's dog Bella to wear as she walks down the aisle:

Secondly, I learned that Becca was considering using Kevin as a ring bearer, but didn't want to impose. 

I am not only allowing Kevin to be the ring bearer, but I've found the perfect ring bearer pillow which, coincidentally, matches Becca's dress!

I know you are all probably speechless by now.  I have even amazed myself.  

But I'm only doing my job.  Remember....I am the Personal Attendant to the Bride. 

And with my help, this wedding is going to be stinkin' unforgettable!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Trouble in the Back Seat

She looked innocent enough. But she was trouble. With a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for 'pee'. (Yes, I know that the Music Man's P stands for "pool", but my P stands for "pee".)

It was 17 years ago and I still shudder at the memory.  My 5-year old daughter Kimmy and I want on a road trip to visit my friend Debbie in Des Moines. Debbie asked me if we would mind driving her 4-year old granddaughter Melissa back with us to Milwaukee.

It was the longest 6 hours and 42 minutes of my life.

Melissa was a cross between Angelica and Esther the Orphan. Only she was way meaner than both of them. And her manipulation skills were off the charts.

Melissa: "This ice cream has too many chocolate chips."
Debbie: "I'm sorry, buttercup, let me take out some of the chips for you"
Melissa: "You took too many out!"
Debbie: "Let me get you a new bowl, dumpling. Kimmy can have this one."

When we said our goodbyes, Debbie warned, "Drive carefully, that's my Melissa you're taking home!"   I rolled my eyes.

The back seat driving started immediately.

"You better drive safely or I'm telling my grandma"
"Grandma's seats are more comfy than yours. I don't like these seats."
"I think you 're speeding . You better not speed, or I'm telling Grandma"

All that, and we hadn't even left her neighborhood.

The real excitement started when we stopped at a rest stop between Des Moines and Davenport. There was a flight of about 47 cement stairs leading to the rest rooms.

"I'm too tired to climb the stairs", Melissa complained.
I carried her up to the top.
Melissa: "I don't have to go to the bathroom"
Me: "Are you sure?"
Melissa: "Yes"

So Kimmy and I used the bathroom,  I carried Melissa down the stairs, we all got in the car, buckled the seat belts and I started the car.

Then came the voice from he back seat, "I have to go to the bathroom"

So we all got out and she whined, "I'm too tired to.."  I finished her sentence as I picked her up, "I climb the 47 damn cement stairs."

We got in the bathroom and she said, "This toilet is too dirty to use"

I took a deep breath.  Then Kimmy and I methodically wrapped toilet paper around the toilet seat so it suited Melissa's royal behind.   When we finished preparing her throne she said,  

"I don't have to go to the bathroom anymore"

I think at this point I may have lost a teeny tiny bit of my composure.  I placed her delicate hiney on the padded potty and said "PEE."

I'm not sure what it was that set off the subsequent tantrum. It could have been the 1-ply toilet paper, or the cold water in the faucet, or perhaps Melissa was simply bored.  But she began howling like the perverbial banshee. She plopped her body onto the sidewalk in front of the rest room and screamed "Leave me alone! I don't want to go with you!"

I was unscathed.  I picked her up and started for the cement stairway. It was when we were about halfway down the stairs that she screamed those four unsettling words... as if through a clear as a bell,

"You're hurting my PRIVATES!"

I seriously considered leaving her on the 34th step and driving to Milwaukee without her, but I had promised Debbie that I'd deliver her unharmed to her mother.

I picked up my pace. "Kimmy- open the back door" I screamed.

Melissa, apparently intent on winning an Academy Award, stiffened her body into a board that would not pass through the door.

A crowd started gathering.

"NO! I don't want to go!!"

I tried a different angle. No luck. She screamed even louder. I turned her perpendicularly, finally finding an angle that worked.  I shoved her in feet-first and slammed the door as soon as her head cleared. Kimmy jumped in the front door and we sped off like Bonnie and Clyde leaving a crime scene with a full bag of loot. 

Except the loot was Melissa.

I sped down I-80,  looking in my mirrors for the police lights.

They never came. Part of me wished they would. 

We'd have been rid of her for good.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Squirrel Envy

I know. It's wrong of me. But I can't help it. 

Whenever I hear about something unusual, outlandish, or downright disgusting happening to someone I think, "Damn! I wish that would have happened to me! It would have made a good blog!"

That's exactly what went through my head when my sister-in-law Maureen told me about the excitement in her living room last weekend. I mean, it was gaggingly disgusting. Perfect for my blog. Why didn't that happen to me?

But then again, would I really want to have a.......

Well, let's let Maureen tell the story:

I was straightening up the living room, turning off lights. I stood up and thought, what is that on the floor by the stereo closet? It looked like a crumpled up shirt so I go over and turn on the light and see, that lying on the floor in front of the door - I'm not kidding it was like 18" long from end to end - it was a DEAD SQUIRREL!!!!!!!! On the floor of my LIVING ROOM!!.

Maureen's dog Thompson brought the trophy home. I looked at Kevin with disgust. All he ever brings me is dirty socks. Dirty socks do not make a good blog.

Back to Maureen:

Do I need to describe the running out of the room, screaming to Tom, and locking myself in the bathroom that followed that discovery? I mean, what the FUDGEBALLS!

If I found an 18" dead squirrel in my family room, I would have had the same reaction.  (I probably wouldn't have said "fudgeballs".)

Brave, brave, Tom cleaned it up - he had it on the dustpan thing and he's like, where should I put it? I didn't have any problem telling him to throw it out in the street! I'm sure Thompson thought he had brought us a nice little prize, and I don't even want to think for one minute, about what it might have been like in a few days (BARF!) or to walk over and see Thompson playing with it!! Holy Shitballs, Batman - Holy Shitballs.

I talked to Maureen about being my guest blogger and how she had to bring poor dead Rocky back into the living room, re-enact the scene and take pictures. Can you believe that she refused to do that? I mean, what kind of blogger does she think she is?

So I did some searching and found the perfect photo for her, but Maureen told me that her squirrel "looked much deader than him". 

You know what I said? "If your squirrel looked that much deader than him, then go out to the gutter and take a stinkin' picture of him for my blog!"

Again, she refused.  Stupid rookie blogger. 

Maybe someday Kevin will bring me a dead squirrel so I can blog about it. When that day comes, I promise I will take a real picture for my readers.

In the meantime, this is the best I can do.