Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Way It Is: Benjamin Franklin, eat your heart out

Daily Forum column for 6-30.

Electricity has its perks.

Without it, I wouldn't have light or blistering hot appliances for which I use to get ready in the mornings. My male counterpart would have to do my laundry by hand. Our pampered pooches wouldn't have the luxury of napping the day away in a climate controlled environment.

So when a tornadic thunderstorm roared through our town, knocking out power, we did the most logical thing possible in such a situation. We freaked out.

Within minutes we were using our flash lights to monitor the battery-operated thermostat as the temperature in our house began to rise.

"It's so hot in here," whined the already sweaty man of the house.

Our Shih Tzu princess Stella, cowering with fear, refused to leave my lap only adding to my heat-related problem.

"The fish tank!"

I reminded Mr. Steamy that his precious, saltwater tank inhabitants could also suffer as a result of the outage.

As Stella and I found our storm watching spot in the middle of the living room floor, armed with a flashlight and an already dying cell phone, we watched as neighborhood tree limbs whizzed by at NASCAR speeds.

Oblivious to what life would be like without electricity and cell phones, we thumb-wrestled for use of the car charger.

Mr. Steamy walked laps performing his manly duties of monitoring the home while assuring his fishy friends that they would "be OK."

Two hours and two phone calls to our electric company later, I began to fear for his sanity.

Not so long ago, when an ice storm knocked out the town's power for almost a week we lost nearly all of our freshwater fish when temperatures in our home took a dip.

Visualizing his most recent collection of not-your-average-goldfish buddies belly up was heartbreaking.

With nothing to do but wait, we retired for what would be a warm and dark night of sleep.

As my brain slowly began to comprehend exactly what was going on and my eyes adjusted, I realized the electricity had come back on.

Turning to alert Mr. Steamy, I found that he had already sprang from the bed and was nose to the glass.

"Everyone's alive and OK," he assured me.

"It's 3 a.m.," I reminded him.

With his spirits lifted, he coaxed me out of bed to perform a complete home assessment of the storm damage.

Shuffling into the kitchen, I completed my womanly task of resetting the microwave clock and went back to bed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Way It Is: Lessons from YouTube

With my kid brother preparing for his first year of college, I'm convinced my parents are already suffering the effects of ENS. Empty Nest Syndrome.

"What's your schedule look like for Father's Day," my mother asked during one of our daily phone conversations.

I had plans to get some work done in the office and a few things around the house, but things quickly changed.

"Well, your dad and I bought a boat and plan to take it out for the first time on Sunday," Mom pronounced.

A boat? What? They'd gone 25 years with my brother and I begging them to get a boat. We move out and poof, they buy a boat.

I quickly cleared my calendar of any activities for Sunday afternoon and pulled my swimsuit from the jaws of The Laundry Monster.

"I can't wait for you to see it," Mom chirped on one of our next phone conversations. "I learned that it needed deoxidized, and you should see it now."

Realizing that my parents knew next to nothing about boat ownership prior to buying their first boat, I began to fear for my safety on said Father's Day adventure.

"Your dad has been a nervous wreck, so he's doing a ton of research online and reading magazines and books," she said, trying to be reassuring.

When the big day finally arrived, Dad had managed to launch the boat with little help from the kid brother, who left his cell phone on the dock causing a minor catastrophe.

As my male counterpart and I neared the lake we were greeted with the site of my absentminded sibling skidding across the water as his tube wavered behind the boat.

Guess Dad got his revenge.

We boarded the boat for hours of water fun before deciding to head home.

"Who's gonna steer the boat while I back the trailer down," Dad asked?

Steer the boat? What did he mean steer the boat?

Mom reminded him that in his moment of nervousness, he had failed to allow any of us to drive the boat.

Luckily, my male counterpart had spent an entire summer driving boats a few years back and quickly volunteered.

Tightening the straps of my life jacket, I bravely asked, "Does Dad know what he's doing with the trailer?"
Mom's reply?

"Sure, he's watched a ton of YouTube videos."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Avoiding "The Laundry Monster"

Daily Forum column for 6-17

I've never really feared the monsters lurking in my closet or the boogie man in the basement — one quick flick of the light switch and those guys are history.

It's the multicolored mammoth made of cotton and polyester that makes my skin curl.

Around my home, its name is The Laundry Monster, and every two to three weeks it decides to take a nap near my washing machine.

About the time my male counterpart runs out of clean socks, the monster really starts to roar.
Fearing for my life, I take refuge in the empty closet.

When I was little, I never had to fear The Laundry Monster. My dad took care of that.

Having what my family considers borderline OCD for doing laundry, I lucked out and never saw that on my chore list.

As a college student, I helped feed my dad's obsession and made sure to bring home my dirty laundry on the weekends.

Now that I'm older and Dad is more than 100 miles away, I face The Laundry Monster with nothing more than basket and some fabric softener, or just run and hide until my disgruntled, sock-less roommate takes over.

I can do laundry. I know that whites require hot water and that a laundry sack is God's gift to delicates. It's The Laundry Monster's request to be folded, hung and put away that does me in.

Several weeks ago I decided to take down The Laundry Monster in celebratory fashion. With satellite radio blaring through the house, I piled the contents of four or so clean laundry baskets onto my freshly vacuumed, living room floor.

With plenty of space to sort and "get jiggy" while I completed the tedious task, I singlehandedly defeated the monster.

A few weeks later, the demon once again showed its ugly head.

"Let's have a laundry party," I pronounced, making it sound way more fun than I knew it would be.

Halfway through the pile, my partner jumped ship and retreated to the closet. I gathered up the remains and shoved them back in the laundry basket for another day. Round 2 went to The Laundry Monster.

So when I arrived home from work earlier this week, I was greeted to a man with a laundry basket. Never the sight you want to come home to after a long hard day at the office.

"Let me grab a bite to eat and I'll come help," I stated as he began to fold.

With the remains of my sandwich in hand, I peaked into the bedroom.

Excuse number two — "Since you've already got a handle on that, I'm going to vacuum real quick and then I'll come help."

After vacuuming the entire house, I peaked in again.

"I'm not sure what that spot is on the floor, I'm going to get the shampooer out."

A few hours and a spotless floor later, the laundry was folded.

"Don't think you got off that easy," my laundry maid stated. "Your stuff's in the basket."

There in the corner, The Laundry Monster let out a growl from a stack of my folded clothing left to be put away.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Way It Is: Embracing my hereditary randomness

Daily Forum Column for 6-9-11

My mother started it, so it's all her fault. As it usually is.

It's no secret to any person with a pulse, who knows me and has met my mother, that I am exactly like her. Exactly.

My own father, brother, grandmother and grandfather have confused us on the phone, and often in person.

So the other day, my mother started something that got me thinking.

There on Facebook, for the world to see, my mother created a post about being random. As in, a random person.

She blamed my kid brother for randomly telling her that she was "the most random person he knew."

Can't say I disagree with the kid. I'm actually kind of impressed that the kid who once refused to call Frosted Flakes anything but tiger flakes and actually thought he was Darth Vader a time or two, realized our mother's randomness on his own.

She is pretty random, but as I always referred to it as crazy.

My mother, who is by far the most organized person I know, is in fact the most random person I know.

I recall moments of confusion as a kid when my mother would so rudely barge into the bathroom during my relaxing shower to vent a frustration, or simply tell me something she had forgotten to before.

Conversations about our day could turn to stories about bodily gasses or the weird things people wear in an instant. Nothing is out of the ordinary when it comes to my mom.

But reflecting on her randomness has lead me to the conclusion that being random may just be hereditary, like Canavan's disease or going bald.

I've already inherited her dashingly good looks, ability to multi-task and love for pickles; why not her randomness too?

Often times I have been pegged goofy or unique for my abilities to verbalize a random thought at very quiet moments around the office.

Take for example my random outburst, to anyone who was listening, that "Oh, my, God! June 22 is National Onion Rings Day!" And with that, I went back to work.

Just the other day I caught myself committing a crime I had once charged her with and blamed on insanity.

As I barged in on my unsuspecting, male counterpart during his time in the shower to tell him what cool new thing our saltwater fish had done, it hit me. I'm just as random as my mother.

I fired off the talents of our new Nemo at warp speeds and darted out of the bathroom as quickly as I had entered. It was off to the next random thing on my to-do list.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Way It Is: A "what were we thinking" moment

Daily Forum Column for 6-2

You know those times when you stop and ask yourself "what was I thinking?" Well, this one was one of those times.

As the very excited, four-legged fur ball stood shaking on my chest, the lack of light entering the seams of our curtains told me it was early. Too early.

It was obvious that the bedroom intruder needed to go outside and realizing it was just 3 a.m., I couldn't help but wonder "what was I thinking?"

My other half and I had agreed to puppy-sit for his parents 1-year-old Shih Tzu — for an entire week.

As if the early morning intrusion wasn't enough, the little Shih chewed up a few living room fixtures, also while we were sleeping.

What were we thinking?

The next night went much the same with a few added moments of frustration as the little guy couldn't find his way onto our bed after jumping off, several times.

I was awakened, a final time, by the sound of the little guy getting a stern talking to from the other half.

"Bunker! That's bad!" he hollered from the living room.

After deciding one of them probably needed rescued, I reached for my glasses and went to assess the situation.

There was Bunker, tail wagging with excitement, holding a plastic, fish aquarium plant within his crooked little teeth, oblivious to the fact that he was being scolded.

I'm still not entirely sure where he found the aquarium greenery but it was dry, so the fish appeared to have escaped any major turmoil, this time.

What were we thinking?

"He never does that at home," his doggie mommy pronounced from her sunny Florida vacation spot.

As luck would have it, I remembered her also making mention of his favorite bed at one time or another. It was more like a thick, wool dish towel after his daily use had worn the stuffing to nothing, but a dog bed nonetheless.

Her stories of the bed involved Bunker dragging the thing into their bedroom and onto their bed each night. I could only hope the beloved wool scrap would allow us to get some sleep.

We already knew we were crazy for taking on what equaled a third dog inside our house, going out of the way to get the dog his bed hardly seemed nuts.

So the third night, with Bunker's bed placed firmly atop our comforter, the little guy snuggled in at my feet. Our Shih Tzu princess, Stella, decided it was finally safe to emerge from her hiding place underneath the bed and reclaim her spot near my pillow. Things were looking up.

With minimal, midnight intrusions and nothing strung across the living room floor, the doggie bed proved its worth.

We made it though the next few nights only to find a few socks and flip flops strung thought the house and
"Bunker! That's bad!" was only uttered another time or two.

The little guy was given a brush though and sprayed with a bit of Stella's pooch perfume — to cover the smell of slobber that he was covered in from a week's worth of canine capers — before being sent home to mom.

What were we thinking?