Thursday, January 31, 2013

What I Learned From Cartoons

I have spent much of my life in front of the TV. While some may diss television, I look fondly on it as my teacher, my muse. Much of what I’ve learned of the world I’ve gleaned from cartoons. Daffy Duck taught me about Messerschmitt airplanes (“A mess of Messerschmitts!”). I learned the word “atoll” from a Beanie & Cecil episode, when they sailed to “No Bikini Atoll”. Mr. Peabody and His Boy Sherman taught me all about history. I don’t remember any of it now, but I know it made sense at the time. Warner Brothers cartoons were so clever and fun. They didn’t talk down to kids. I’m pretty sure the cartoonists and voice artists had a blast going to work every day. My favorite cartoon of all time was Rocky & Bullwinkle. I was really young when I discovered it, but still understood the adult puns and jokes. I wasn’t brilliant, just maybe attuned to cartoons. I learned of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam from Rocky & Bullwinkle, only it wasn’t a Persian poem. It was a jewel-encrusted toy boat - a ruby yacht. There’s a lot of talk these days about the effect of violent TV on children. Cartoons from my childhood had all kinds of violence going on. Wiley Coyote had a gazillion ways of annihilating the Roadrunner. It makes me wonder what would be left to eat if he were successful. Characters were routinely shot or exploded, only to be whole again a moment later. I quite enjoyed seeing the different ways Bugs Bunny would destroy Yosemite Sam. Then he’d always come back for more. Nobody ever seemed to learn their lesson, and the sassy naughty ones triumphed again and again. Cartoons were my guilty pleasure, when I was too young to have a guilty pleasure. I think I’ve always expected to run across a dynamite shack, or see an anvil falling from the sky. Life imitating art? Meep meep...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Here are some things I never thought I’d say out loud...

-  To my dog, Lucy: “Girlfriend, you’ve got junk in your beard.”

-  To my dog, Cosmo: “Dude, did you just eat a bug?”

-  To my dog, Stella, after finding turds all over the living room carpet: “What did you do, poop and spin?”

-  To my daughter, Molly, after discussion of our life plans: “I’m no spring chicken. I’ve got to build my empire.”

-  After getting a new sewer pipe, and being able to finally use good, 2-ply toilet paper: “It’s a Christmas miracle!” (it was August).

-  To myself, while contemplating the down side of getting older: “Remember when you could get up from the couch without rocking first, or without farting?”

-  To myself after finding a single dog turd on my living room carpet: “Where’s the other one? They usually travel in pairs.”

-  To myself, after seeing a TV exercise commercial reference muscle confusion: “How about 'fat confusion'? That sounds like a better plan to me."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Weighing In

I have my annual physical tomorrow. Fun times. Aside from having to get naked and have my blood drawn, the most dreaded part is getting weighed. Due to surgery last spring, I have lost quite a bit of weight. I’m more curious than scared of the weigh in. Still, as is my routine, I have planned out my outfit. It will be my flimsiest clothes (I think it’s cheating to show up in my underwear). Track pants, blouse, no watch or jewelry. Oh, and I always exhale before stepping onto the scale. This may be silly, but I can’t ever seem to set aside my uber-planning ways. In the past, I have tried to decline getting weighed. My primary physician is a no-nonsense kind of doc and doesn’t put up with my antics. Also, her skinny little blonde nurse always rats me out if I refuse a trip to the scale. My rheumatologist, on the other hand, is very sweet and gentle. About every 4 months I have a check-up for my knees. At every visit, her nurse says “Do you want to get weighed today?” and I answer “Ummm... noooo”. Little did I know, my refusals were being documented. Last month, my rheumatologist was looking through my file to see how much weight I had lost. She scrolled through the big file, reading out loud “Declined” over and over. Damn...I had no clue. Everyone was so non-confrontational. I just assumed I had been getting away with something. My doctor finally found a weight documented from October 2010. Wow - I held them off for over 2 years! I’m not sure if I should feel embarrassed or proud. So tomorrow, we’ll see how much my dietary transformation efforts have paid off. I may still act reluctant to get on the scale, so the nurse won’t think I sent a stand-in. Or maybe I should freak her out and beg to get weighed. I think she deserves to have her teeny tiny little chain yanked a bit.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


I had a dream last night about a childhood friend from school. I haven’t actually seen Sarah for 25 years and have no idea why I dreamed about her. Sometimes after I’ve dreamed about a random person from my past, I encounter their name again the next day. For instance, when my sister Mickey was about 10 years old she went through what we called her “Roger” phase. At that time, she liked to wear a blue and white football shirt and wanted us to call her Roger. One night a few years ago, I had a dream about someone named Roger. The next day, I was buying plants at a nursery and kept hearing a woman hollering at her son, Roger. After that I went to the grocery store, where I overheard someone in the produce department talking to someone named Roger. It was freaky. So, I called Mickey to make sure she was OK. That’s the only thing I could come up with. I figured the Cosmos was trying to send me a message. Most of my dreams don’t make enough sense to try to interpret. All I know is that I’m very, very busy in my sleep. My most frequent recurring dream is where I need to be somewhere in 15 minutes. I go to my closet to pick out an outfit, and my closet is full of clothes I’ve never seen before. I can’t decide what to wear, while the clock ticks slowly away. It’s actually kind of an awesome dream, and I have yet to select an outfit. Many of my dreams are bizarre and make no sense. In one, Donny Osmond was under my bed, trying to coerce my cat to come to him. I had no cat, which is only the beginning of what’s wrong with that dream. My strangest dream involved another celebrity - Madonna. In that dream, I was sitting on a toilet in the middle of some kind of large, warehouse-type room. While I was sitting on this public toilet, Madonna climbed out of it. OMG! Seriously, why the hell would a vision like that pop into my brain? I have frequent celebrity sightings in my dreams, but that one takes the cake. I much prefer the amazing closet dream. Not a toilet in sight, and it doesn’t embarrass me to talk about it. Now that I’ve told the world, let us never speak of it again.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Nun Of The Above

Growing up Catholic in Utah added a kind of twisty dimension to life. We attended Catholic school, in full plaid uniform regalia. Might as well have had three heads and purple polka dots. But they say what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. When she was in sixth grade, my sister Kathy and her friend Robin sewed nun habits to play in. Kathy is a fabulous seamstress, and able to make anything except maybe shoes. By the age of twelve, her sewing skills were already finely-honed. I’m sure the nun habits looked authentic. Kathy and Robin walked around the backyard, heads bowed in prayer. My mom received more than one phone call from a neighbor who was concerned that someone was extremely sick. Apparently, they couldn’t see the girls on the swing set when the nun game got boring. I couldn’t quite figure out what was so fun about walking around praying, but decided to find out. I asked if I could play, and was rebuffed because I didn’t have the required outfit. I was in Kindergarten, and hadn’t had that much contact yet with nuns. I had only a vague idea how they dressed. In my mind, a nun habit involved a dress, veil, rope around the waist, and old lady chunky-heeled sensible shoes that tied. Aside from the rope, I had none of those items. So I improvised. I wore a full petticoat, with a half petticoat on my head (the stiff, noisy 1960 kind), and a rope around my waist. For footwear, I chose a pair of black cowboy boots that were decorated with red and green diamond shapes. They were too cool for words. They were also too cool for playing nun. My sister totally dissed my outfit and refused to let me play. So, I think I went and dug a hole or something. If any neighbors were still watching our house, they probably thought all the praying was for the little insane girl with the petticoat on her head. This was the beginning of the end of my religious faith.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rain Bonnets & Disco

As I left on my afternoon walk with the dogs recently, I saw an elderly neighbor lady out with her caregiver. It was sunny but extremely cold. This woman, bless her heart, was pushing her walker. She was wearing a dress under her coat, and I could see her poor little bare legs. She was also wearing a rain bonnet, which probably didn’t do much to keep her head warm. Gazing at that rain bonnet, it struck me that this item is something from a bygone era. Each generation has things they cling to, as time marches on. My mother was quite fond of rain and wind bonnets back in the day, to save her hairdo from the elements. I scoffed at this curious headgear, and vowed never to wear it myself. Seems to me I also cringed at the thought of getting my hair “done” once a week. So, I wonder what things my generation holds onto that my own kids scoff at. Music is always at the top of any generational list of things to make fun of. Disco is alive and well and living in my iPod, but it’s my own little secret. I don’t foist it on anyone, mostly due to not wishing to be the subject of the Eye Roll. My generation is having to get used to a paperless world. It’s weird weening myself from paper receipts and statements. I seriously doubt my kids ever fill out their checkbooks. They just check the internet, while I spend a couple hours every month balancing my checkbook. I find putting my receipts in little piles and matching things up kind of therapeutic, though. Go figure. I’m curious about what possible things currently cherished by my kids will be ridiculed by their kids. DVDs, iPods, skinny jeans? I will enjoy a front row seat, and try not to smile.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Zamboni Time

As a child, I used to watch in fascination as my teachers erased their blackboards. I suspected something wasn’t right with any teacher who missed a spot or erased willy-nilly. In high school, I was in a math class taught by Sister Claire Assisi. She was easily a thousand years old, and I was terrified of her. One day before class, I came into the room to find Sister very slowly waving one of those really long erasers about six inches from the blackboard. I missed the part beforehand where she had wiped the board with a wet cloth, so just figured her brilliant mind had finally snapped. It took me a while to realize she was merely drying the blackboard before class. I hate to admit that I was a teensy bit disappointed Sister wouldn’t be carted off in a straight jacket. Some years later, my blackboard eraser fascination transferred to something new - the ice rink Zamboni machine. I could watch this vehicle all day. It’s so gratifying to see the ice get all shiny and new. I wonder if it’s as pleasant for the driver. Does he feel pressure, with the eyes of the world on his every move? I’ve heard there is a Zamboni Fantasy Camp. How awesome would that be? I’m not too certain, though, that I could handle driving this machine. I’m an OK automobile driver, and probably wouldn’t get all road ragey atop a Zamboni. However, I am seriously challenged when it comes to parking and totally suck at backing up. Perhaps there’s a Remedial Zamboni Fantasy Camp. I wrote an essay a few years ago, in an attempt to win a chance to drive the Wienermobile. I secretly knew this would be a bad idea, but damn... that would’ve been fabulous. My sweet ride... mobile lunchmeat. Still waiting for that flying car I thought we’d all be driving by now. Hmmmm...

(Note: Unbeknownst to me as I wrote this, today is the 112th birthday of Frank Zamboni, inventor of my beloved ice cleaning machine. How cosmic is that?)

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Hard Questions

The other morning while driving to work, I heard a radio ad for discounted Viagra. According to this ad, regular Viagra costs $18 per pill. Is that true? Wow! I thought only pills that could save your life would cost maybe $3 a pill. And if real Viagra is so expensive, is a knockoff going to work? Personally, I’d be afraid my privates might fall off or explode. This ad assures customers that the pills will be delivered in a discrete, brown paper package. So, when do you ever know the contents of a package that comes in the mail? Does mainstream Viagra come in a flashy box with red flags and neon letters? “Warning: This package contains BONER PILLS”. This seems like the kind of guarantee one might have heard for products in the 1950‘s. In a related subject, another ad that caught my attention was one for condoms. My favorite radio station was changing its format over to sports talk. A few days before the switch, they started playing condom commercials. Do sex and sports go hand in hand? (that sounds dirty) This ad had a man and a woman talking about what each liked the best about this brand of condom. It conjured up visions of fireworks and glitter. Then came my favorite part - The announcer assured us that these condoms were TRIPLE TESTED. Hmmm... exactly what does that mean? One condom, used 3 times? How do they do the testing? Vegetables or real people? How you get a job testing condoms? Is it a full-time position? I wonder what kind of questions you have to answer on the job application. Degrees? Years of experience? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Then after a hard day at the lab (tee hee), how do you even contemplate intimacy with your partner? I’ll bet they use robots. Really, really happy robots. Have these robots been programmed to smoke a cigarette after each test? I think it’s fair to assume I’m the only person on the planet who thinks of these things. That’s why I’m sharing... You’re welcome.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Blue Teeth

While I’m getting to know my new iPhone, I am also having to get acquainted with a new BlueTooth earpiece. My old one wasn’t compatible with the iPhone, so I had to buy a new State-O-The-Art one. I used the voice activation feature this weekend, and tried to call my daughter Molly. My BlueTooth called a bunch of names from my contact list - Shellie, Mick, Elaine, and the Vet (twice). It took 6 tries to connect to Molly. I believe this is a feature I can live without. One thing I enjoy about my new earpiece (alert the media) is the lady’s voice that speaks as soon as I turn it on. She says “Battery High”, which prompts me to sing “Bali High” from the musical “South Pacific”. Oh... I do amuse myself at times. Years ago, I encountered a woman near my house. She was walking along, talking and gesturing to no one in particular. She was alone. I had no idea she was wearing an earpiece and talking on her cell phone. I thought she was just an insane nutball. She didn’t seem crazy though. She was middle-aged and average-looking. No wacky clothes or tinfoil hat. Except she was talking to herself, or so I thought. Boy did I feel like a dork. My husband used to wear an earpiece when he went walking. For him, though, it was a bit different. His earpiece was a prop. He wore it so he could talk to himself without people staring. Hmmmmm... maybe they should have stared. One thing I’ve been wondering about... Do you call a bunch of earpieces BlueTooths or BlueTeeth? If I’m going to become techno savvy, I need to know. It might come up in polite conversation. Neither sounds right. I’ll go with “thingies” and stay my uniformed self. Too much enlightenment makes my head hurt. This process is going to take a while...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Still A Dinosaur

Despite my very best efforts, it appears I’m still a phone dinosaur. I bought my new iPhone on New Year’s Day, hoping to step officially into the 21st Century. My daughter spent about an hour showing me the ropes and helped me set up my contacts. Then, she went on her merry way and left me to fend for myself. I’ve given it my very best effort, but seriously, I’ve been a bit depressed ever since I got my fancy schmancy new phone. I miss my humble little not-so-smart phone. I felt no pressure to be techno savvy. We were just down-to-earth little buddies. I thought if I named my new phone, I would bond with it. I named her Betsy, but still haven’t formed a connection. I’ve added some free apps... still not bonding. I know I don’t hold my iPhone like a pro... doing everything with one thumb. Molly could probably bench press 500 pounds with her texting thumb. She really has some mad skills! I hold my phone with one hand, and text with my pinky. I’m sure that’s bad phone form, but the letters and numbers are so tiny. How do men manage it? I feel like I’m texting with ping pong paddles. I took my car to Jiffy Lube for an oil change yesterday. While waiting, I tried playing Spider Solitaire. I sort of got the hang of it. Yay for me and my apparently giant fingers! I was starting to feel hopeful that I would master my phone. Then at lunch today, Molly called. I kept saying “Hello... hello...” but she wouldn’t answer. I finally realized I was receiving a text, not a call. What a total dumbass! In my defense, I changed all my ringers, bells and whistles. I have no clue anymore what noise goes with what. Let me just say, today I took several giant steps backwards in my quest for hipness. I haven’t given up yet though. I have too much invested in this whole process to throw in the towel. Besides, I may have discovered a new past time - ping pong! Don’t need paddles... I got my own. Now I just need a ball and a table...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Treasure Box

In third grade, on Christmas Eve, our doorbell rang. At the door was the uncle of Jimmy M, my first crush. He handed me a little floral-printed tin box filled with candy. I was thrilled! I had loved Jimmy since the first day of Kindergarten and figured that my life was now complete. My crush eventually faded, but I kept the little tin box. I christened it my Treasure Box, and stored my most special items in it. I found the box recently, and decided to chronicle its contents:
  • 2 handmade trolls, also from that same special Christmas of third grade 
  • 4 swimming ribbons from 1965, my one and only summer on a swim team. Two were first place (relay), one was third place, and one was fourth place. My second place ribbon went in my dad’s coffin, as I was the most proud of it (an individual event) and had earned it on Dad’s birthday. 
  • cast pass from 1965 when I danced as a toy soldier in The Nutcracker 
  • 2 hospital bracelets from 1966 (broken arm and some weird stomach flu) 
  • a silver bullet from meeting Clayton Moore, TV’s Lone Ranger 
  • some Catholic stuff: a broken rosary, a little blue rosary I got in first grade (blessed by Pope John XXIII), and a scapular (in my mind, the most bizarre of Catholic accouterments) 
  • 4 little sheets of paper with my work and education history up to my marriage in 1977. I used to carry this list in my wallet, to help filling out job applications. It’s hard to believe I had ever worked for $1.35 an hour. It would have taken me 4 hours to earn enough to buy a large, vanilla latte (had lattes been invented then). 
I know my true treasures are my husband, son and daughter. I cherish them in my heart, though, since I doubt they would fit in my little tin Treasure Box.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Out Of The Box

Today is the first day of 2013 and I’m stepping out of the old proverbial Box. It’s not a new year’s resolution... I hate those. If I’m going to make a change in myself, I want it to be when I decide - not when the retailers have it scheduled, like buying storage bins and gym memberships the day after Christmas. If I were to make a change to start the year out with a clean slate, I’d work on being a bit less road ragey when I drive. OK... a lot less road ragey. That’s at the top of my list. On today’s agenda, though, was to finally buy an iPhone. I can’t fight it any longer. The radio station I listen to while I’m at work has changed over to a Sports Talk format. Just shoot me. So, I’m hoping my fancy schmancy new phone will enable me to find my favorite radio shows. That’s the plan anyway. I got my first Official iPhone call from my daughter, and couldn’t hear her due to the fact I don’t yet know where the volume control is. Or maybe she was calling from Greenland. Take your pick. I am looking forward to the camera feature. My previous little phone had a sucky camera. Anything short of bright sunlight made the photos look like they were taken in the Bat Cave. My old phone was pretty easy to use, with a handy little keyboard. I’m sure I will master this new technology. I have to. I refuse to be old and out of touch. My last experience with a touch screen phone was dismal, and I came close to pitching it across the living room. But, hey... it’s a new day, and a new year. I’m moving on. I think my daughter is jazzed about showing me the ropes. She is the Master of All Things Phone. In her hospital newborn photo, her hands were surprisingly relaxed. Most babies have tightly-clenched fists. Not Molly. Looking at that photo today, I realized she was born with perfect cell phone hands. I could totally see that tiny baby texting or making her first call. Maybe there is a mutant phone gene in me somewhere, to aid in my technological transformation. Here I go... I'm stepping out.