Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Night in the Life

(A companion piece to my summary of my week - thus far - at a glance.)

Stopped off at my beloved Montgomery Plaza Super Target, and my not-quite-as-beloved-but-certainly-respected Montgomery Plaza Dollar Tree, after leaving the office at some point between 7 and 8 tonight.  Procured, among other items, six pieces of foam core board, two pairs of glow-in-the-dark shoelaces, couscous and a container of pumpkin spice almonds.  Also procured for the older boy a fleece-lined knit hat that he'd had his eye on (gray, with a multicolored "Space Invaders" retro video game design knitted into it), which MPST had been so kind as to mark down 20%, and - in the interest of parity and sibling harmony - picked up a fleece camo hat with ear flaps and fringe for the youngun'.

There was a new checker at MPST . . . except that he thought that I was the new one.  "Are you a frequent shopper with us?"  Um, yes - here's my well-worn Target Visa card to prove it.  He looked unconvinced.  I started to give him a long-winded explanation:  "I used to shop here five days a week, but then I was forced to move, so I have been shopping at the Overton Ridge Super Target because it's closer to me, but I REALLY DON'T LIKE THE OVERTON RIDGE SUPER TARGET on account of how it has the old floor plan, and it takes me forever to find things there, and I STILL HAVEN'T FIGURED OUT WHERE THEY HIDE THE EGGS - they aren't in the half of the dairy section that's upfront or the other half of the dairy section that's torwards the back, and, seriously, WHO SPLITS UP THE DAIRY LIKE THAT?, and the fact that you don't know who I am really sort of makes me want to starty crying right here in Aisle 12."

I didn't give him the long-winded explanation; I just checked out.  And then I comforted myself by cutting through the 7th Street retail development to get to Lancaster and then to University, which is totally a West Side thing, SO BOO YAH, New Target Guy, who's the seasoned veteran NOW?  Another West Sider had the same idea, and followed me along Foch, past La Familia and J Rae's (yum, J Rae's) and Times Ten Sellers, and he was following me a little too closely, which irritated me, because when you merge onto Lancaster at the light you have the ramp coming off of the bridge from downtown right behind you, and you have to merge into bridge-departing traffic, and I didn't appreciate him forcing the issue.  Mr. Impatient passed me, and got into the left lane ahead of me, poised to turn left on University, but then he apparently determined that he wasn't going to make the light, so he moved over one lane to the right, cutting off someone else, then went through the intersection heading into the Museum District, where he made what I'm pretty sure was an illegal U-turn to get himself into a position to turn right onto University, ahead of the rest of us, BECAUSE BASED ON THE EMPIRICAL DATA AT HAND BEATING THE REST OF US ONTO UNIVERSITY HAD BECOME MR. IMPATIENT'S SINGULAR GOAL IN LIFE.  Except . . . there was a car in the right lane ahead of him, and the light turned red, and that guy didn't immediately turn right, so, long story short, THE GOOD, NON-IMPATIENT TRAVELERS OF LANCASTER AVENUE, MYSELF INCLUDED, SUCCEEDED IN MAKING IT ONTO UNIVERSITY AHEAD OF MR. IMPATIENT, AND HELLS, YES, I DID A LITTLE FIST PUMP IN HIS GENERAL DIRECTION AS I CRUISED THROUGH THE INTERSECTION LEAVING HIS IMPATIENT, SORRY BEHIND STEWING IN THE EASTBOUND RIGHT TURN LANE.  Karma's a witch with a capital B, bud - just in time for Halloween.

Being your stereotypical numbnut, Mr. Impatient dealt with his embarrassment by flying past us at a zillion miles per hour - once he finally (heh, heh) caught up to us.  So I decided to take his picture with my camera phone.  Because, clearly, he had to be someone important to be in that much of a hurry, right?  So as his front window came up even with mine - SNAP! - I took a picture of him.  It was dark, so the flash went off, meaning that Mr. Impatient had to take note of the fact that he was being photographed, and here's the funny thing - Mr. Impatient was so confused by the fact that I took his picture (a picture of HIM - not his license plate, but of HIM, and after I took it I smiled genuinely and waved, like you would do if you encountered an important celebrity) that he forgot to drive like an a-hole and actually decelerated to the speed limit.

I waved to him again as I exited onto the freeway.

And then I spent the next five minutes cursing the Fates as I made my way to The Apartment.  Yes,  you read that right - the net result of our relocation is five minutes added to my commute each way.  But those five minutes are extremely annoying minutes, and they add up - ten minutes a day, maybe ten times a week, translates into more than an hour and a half per week, which means that due to our displacement I AM LOSING THE BETTER PART OF A FULL DAY THROUGH DRIVING ALONE.  Believe me when I tell you that I do not have a full day, or the better part of one, to spare.  Also, did I mention that I am a West Sider?  Five minutes well exceeds the window for crankiness in a West Sider.

Over the weekend, I realized that I behave like a West Sider even when I am not living on the West Side.  As in:  on the way home from church, I announced that I needed to run into the mall to find a belt for the older kid, and I also needed stretched canvas, so I directed my spouse to proceed to Hulen Mall and the Michael's across the street.  This direction confused the heck out of my spouse, who knows that I hate both Hulen Mall and Michael's:

"Um, you mean Ridgmar Mall and Joann's, right?" 

"No, they're too far."

"Far from where?"

"The Apartment."

"But we're not there - we're here [our church - surprise! - is on the West Side], so we're near Ridgmar Mall and Joann's RIGHT NOW."

"But we LIVE in The Apartment.  And I shop the stores that are in the immediate vicinity of WHERE I LIVE.  So now I shop at Hulen Mall, and Michael's.  And when we move back into The House, I will resume shopping at Ridgmar Mall, and Joann's."

I actually articulated this to my spouse - and then thought, what the WHAT?  How does that even make sense?  Well, it makes sense to a West Sider, to whom straight line distance means everything - even shopping at places you can't abide.  (See "I don't know where the eggs are at the Overton Ridge Super Target," above.)

So tonight I, once again, made the laborious and soul-sucking trek to The Apartment, and walked into said residence and bestowed upon my youngest child (who was doing his homework at the dining room table, under the watchful eye of his father) his new winter hat, greeting him thusly:

"Happy It Finally Got Cold Day."

I think that this should be an official holiday in Texas, don't you?  Government offices should close, and the kids should get out of school, and everyone should enjoy a day walking around outside and not being hot, without work to distract them from the sheer bliss of walking without sweating.

Youngest Child liked his hat.  Youngest Child's Dad, who was fiddling with the time and temperature clock that my parents bought him for Christmas, asked me what sequence of buttons he needed to push to readjust the time.   The gadget is more useful than it sounds - it gives you the inside and outside temperature simultaneously, and it does other things like report barometric pressure, and the clock part is actually the least important part, but also the most vexing part, because when the time changed in the spring we couldn't figure out how to adjust it, so for several  months we had a clock that rather annoyingly displayed an incorrect time.  Last week, I got tired of looking at it, Googled the manufacturer, typed in the model number, pulled up the user instructions and adjusted the time - and then, for reasons that I can't fathom,  my spouse apparently unadjusted it.  And then wanted to know how to readjust it.  Because I am now The Keeper of All Weather Clock Knowledge.  I debated whether to share my wisdom with him.  Wouldn't want to become superfluous.  Oh, heck with it:  "Hold the SETUP button for exactly three seconds.  Anything more or less and it won't work.  Let go of the button at the three-second mark, and the clock will blink 12H.  Select that - unless you want it to be on military time, which i assume that you don't - and that it will let you change the hours and minutes."

Having resolved the Weather Clock crisis, I took the older kid his hat, receiving a thumbs up.  Then the older child advised me of the following:

"PJ was talking to me, and I needed to go to the bathroom, but he kept annoying me, and he was getting in my way and sort of provoking me, and - MOM, THIS IS IMPORTANT, DON'T WALK AWAY, I'M TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING  - he kicked me, sort of, and I ended up twisting around a little, and I peed on the hem of my shirt."

If the younger child had told me this story, my immediate question would have been, "Are you STILL wearing the shirt NOW?"  Because, with the younger child, you just can't ASSUME.

But this was the older child - the one who,  perhaps because he shares my sarcastic sense of humor, more often than not elicits a sarcastic response from me.  A response like the one I gave him (or, more precisely, intoned in my best Thomas Jefferson voice):

"When, in the course of human events, a little brother kicks you, SORT OF, forcing you to PEE ON YOUR OWN SHIRT. . . ."


Sorry, kid - sometimes Mom can't help herself.

Walked back into the living area, where Dad was chuckling appreciately (see, this is why I love the man - he not only tolerates my dorky Declaration of Indpendence riffs but actually finds them funny).  Dad encouraged me to step out on the balcony.  Why?  To experience the relative cold?  Yeah, I'm a fan and all - refer to my proposal to make The First Day of Cold a state holiday - but I just came inside from the relative cold.  So I'm familiar. 

"No, just . . . go outside."

"Ummmmkay.  Oh, you moved the chairs over to the side?"

"No.  Do you smell that?  Someone's smoking weed in the complex."

For some reason, my spouse thinks it's hilarious that we are temporarily living amongst college students who indulge in gateway drugs under the noses - literally - of their neighbors.  He is also fascinated by the people who live under us (we call them the Clown Car People, because when the door opens, six or seven people always come out) who frequently are seen coming and going with buckets of fried chicken.

Hmmm . . . fast food by the bucket.  Pot smoke.  I'm starting to make a connection here.

I gave my dorky, but lovable, spouse an obligatory eye roll, then retreated into the bedroom to change.  Younger child followed me, and advised me that his new hat can be worn several ways:

"The normal way."


"Green Arrow."

He kept referring to the normal, flaps-down configuration as "the German way."  Huh?  Okay, if you squint, maybe there's a shape reminiscent of a kaiser's helmet.  I told him that the hat reminded me of a gladiator, or a Spartan.

"Midas, Mom."

Oh, cool - we're displaying a budding interest in mythology.

"Remember him?  He was the 'bot that Noisy Boy fought in 'Real Steel.'"

Ah.  Never mind.

The half hour before bedtime was spent watching Phineas & Ferb.  I will admit to digging P & F:  it's a cleverly written show and basically plays out like a dramatization of "The Dangerous Book for Boys."  (But boys aren't the only ones who benefit from the wisdom imparted by the show:  a sorority sister posted on Facebook the other day that she was both impressed and a bit confused by her daughter's knowledge of basic welding - knowledge that she ultimately determined came from P & F.)

The other day, PJ asked me, "Have you tried meatloaf?"

I love it when kids assume that you don't  know about things. 

"Not only have I tried it, but I make it."

"Cooooool.  Meatloaf is cool, Mom.  It's like bread made out of meat.  Except it's not just meat - it has breadcrumbs in it, and egg, and other stuff."

"Correct.  And we know this because?"

"Phineas & Ferb sang a song about it."


During tonight's episode, I commented that Perry the Platypus has an interesting working relationship with his archnemesis, Professor Doofenschmirtz.  To which PJ responded:

"Um,  Mom, that's kind of the point.  Perry and Professor Doofenschmirtz are FRENEMIES."

Wait, what?  How does my six year-old know about frenemies? Oh, wait - we discussed the general topic of knowing things the other day:

"Dad, can 'late' mean 'dead'?"


"If someone says, 'my late wife,' does that mean that their wife is actually late or that she's dead?"

"Um, well, it could mean either one, but, yeah, most of the time, it's referring to a dead person.  How exactly . . . "


I [heart] my kooky family.  Particularly at the end of a long and trying day.

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