Valentine’s Day Thoughts

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I suppose I should write about why I’m single (a renewed sense of self-worth in case you wanted to know – also, I’ve heard it’s helpful if you actually go outside and let people see you) or why I hate the holiday (which I don’t) or how it’s a holiday mostly created by greeting card companies and chocolatiers (it is, but hey, I love chocolate, so there). But instead of all of that, I will just admit to something…at heart, I’m a hopeless romantic. There, I said it. This Marvel comic, action/horror flick loving chick is not ashamed to admit it.

I have no doubt that my soulmate will appear at some point in time, and we will offer each other a safe haven (to hell with the white knight trope) – albeit a somewhat debauched, and wine whisky filled haven…but hey, a safe haven nonetheless. I’ve been disappointed in the past, in ways that at times defy comprehension, however I refuse to let that alter my viewpoints on “love” completely. I’m in no hurry though. Eventually “the one” will cross my path…who knows, maybe he already hangs out in my favorite Starbucks. Knowing my luck, he’ll be drinking decaf. Oh well. Perfection is overrated anyway.

 

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Happy Monday…or Not

Ahhhh, Monday.  If it’s one thing I can always count on, it’s your inexplicable ability to create havoc in the minds and hearts of everyone you encounter.  Your illustrious antics might start first thing in the morning before the caffeine has even kicked in or you might just slap someone right in the face in the late afternoon just when they think they have cleared your Mondayish hurdles. But the point is…You. Never. Disappoint.

 

magical-monday

 

 

The Sear and Slide

Throughout history, there have been many devious instruments of torture.  There was the rack, the metal slide, and the iron maiden.

Now you haven’t really lived if you haven’t slid down a metal slide, in shorts, during the midday summer heat.  There is nothing as satisfying as scorching the backs of your legs on a downward spiral into Hell; if you’re lucky, your shorts will hike up and cause your skin to adhere to the slide itself and you may be fortunate enough to get stuck halfway down Satan’s Skillet.  You may even be lucky enough to sort of stick and slide all the way down, causing amazing degrees of Indian Burns from the friction of your skin on the metal. Talk about adding insult to injury.

My mom taught us a trick. And she says she loved us. Yeah, right. Anyway, we used to add to the fun of a hot metal slide by sliding down on wax paper a few times, or just using the wax paper to rub on the metal slide, making it super, SUPER slippery.  It worked like a charm, let me tell you! It created a whole new level of thrill.

Now my Grandma Jimmie was a rather hip grandma, and she and my mother both loved to go down the slides with my brother and me.  That’s how I remember it, anyway.  Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the coffee in their thermos had been spiked either…I mean, they did have my brother and I to deal with after all.  Anyway, on this particular day, my Aunt Margaret joined us for the fun. Nothing like having a few witnesses. We had been waxing the slide a couple of times that day, and maybe…just maybe…it was a little slicker than we had thought.

My sweet grandmother climbed the metal rungs of the slide, and perched at the top for her innocent, fun ride.  She gave us a smile and a wave, and set off on her journey.

Perhaps you’ve read about my grandmother in some of the more obscure history books; she was the first grandma ever to achieve space flight. And we were there to witness it all. She flew down the slide at Mach speed, and sailed off into the unknown at the end.  Her feet never even touched terra firma as she flew into orbit. I’m telling you, she flew. All things that go up, must come down as they say. She landed on her rear end, about ten feet away from the slide. It was impressive, really.

I’d like to say we were right at her side, concerned and helping her to her feet.  I’d like to say that, but the reality was we were laughing too hard.  Luckily, my grandmother was okay.  Told you, she was a hip grandma.  And apparently tough as nails to boot. My mother, my Aunt Margaret, my brother, and I were useless to our elderly astronaut.  If they had cell phones in the 70’s, I cannot even imagine the fame she would have gotten on YouTube.  It would have been phenomenal. Truly. Naturally, once we saw my grandmother flying across the playground, we all wanted our turn on the Amazing Slide of Doom.

We live in a generation of kids who have plastic slides to coddle their behinds and will never know the joys of burning yourself to death on metal slides at the playground. In a way, it’s a shame. Third degree burns on the playground are a rite of passage. Not to mention the joys of becoming airborne when the right accoutrement is used.

Today’s playgrounds feature rubberized mats, monkey bars that are only about three feet off the ground, and safety swings.  In my day, we had solid concrete under our feet, skyscraper monkey bars that we were afraid to try to climb back down, and chains on our swings that ensured we would get our fingers caught in them at least once.   I also remember one unfortunate incident with a hippity-hop, a jump rope, and a baseball bat, but I digress.

Is it evil to want to see little Tommy Joe, in his perfect Osh Kosh B’Gosh overalls, take the searing slide of sadism?

If I have any consolation, it’s that the new plastic slides feature those gigantic metal bolts at the end that guarantee an unbelievable electric shock from the static built up during the slide.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Library Etiquette for Kids

I breathed in deep, watching the antics of the children surrounding me.  They built their towering Lego structures then knocked them down in a furiously chaotic jumble – pieces flying, fought emphatically with plastic dinosaurs, screamed with delight at cartoons blaring from the TV, and raced Matchbox Cars around the racetrack themed rug.  Their incessant, ear-splitting squeals and generally deafening racket filled my ears at this amazing birthday party.  One child in particular screamed for two and a half hours straight; I didn’t know this was physically possible. It was impressive really.

But wait.

It wasn’t a birthday party.  This was during my recent trip to the library! Okay, so even though the title says “Library Etiquette for Kids,” it really should read “Library etiquette for parents who let their kids run around and invade every quiet space anywhere, ever.”

What happened to the days of yore when librarians glared over their horn-rimmed glasses and “shhh-d” kids with a menacing shhh that could not, would not be ignored?  Instead, they build an entire open air playground for them within the sacred walls of mystery, reading, and learning.    Gone are the days of teaching children that there is a time and a place for play, and that the library is most definitely not one of these places.

Do you want your kids to blow off steam?  Newsflash:  there are places designed just for that purpose.  Chuck E. Cheese, for example, the park, a playground, or a Bounce Zone come to mind.  Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe in the sanctity of the library. Okay, okay, I know I get up to my own library shenanigans, but hey, at least I’m QUIET about it. I mean, this is serious business, people.

I remember the good old days, when I would go to the library with my friends or parents and read, study, or research…not to mention stock up on books to take home. So quiet were these spaces that you didn’t dare giggle or you would risk being loudly hushed by the bespectacled Gargoyle behind the Counter.

During my fateful trip to the kid zone, I mean, library, there were several high school students scattered around at tables, attempting to have lessons with tutors; my daughter herself was there with a tutor trying to take a test.  These kids and their tutors had to raise their own voices to be heard over the ruckus coming from the kid’s corner.  The resulting cacophony brought to mind a football game or a bar; in fact, if I had a drink in my hand, this atmosphere would have been easier to understand…and to tolerate. Maybe.

I’m afraid of a future where kids have no respect for anything or anyone.  The heart of respect and learning could be found in the pages of the world that surrounded these kids at this specific moment in time and instead, they careened all around this indoor playground and paid no attention to the wonders that could have been found on the shelves right in front of their eyes.

What does this say about the parents?  I do understand that some parents need to use the library and have no-one to watch the kids for a few minutes; trust me, I get it. Been there, done that. But, here’s a novel idea (see what I did there?): encourage your kids to readHelp them to learn.  Point them in the direction of books that challenge their minds, warm their hearts, encourage their imagination.

If they can’t read yet, sit them down with picture books – it’s a library for god’s sake –  there are a myriad of options and opportunities to open your children up to the world of books. If you allow your kid to run wild in a library, you may be part of a bigger problem.  If you cannot teach your kids that they need to be quiet in some situations, Great Aunt Abigail’s funeral will be quite an interesting event.

What do these “play areas” say about the librarians and management of these once fine institutions?  Are they afraid to ask parents to (gulp, gasp) be PARENTS?  Who came up with this fantastic idea of allowing kids to play loudly in a building that is traditionally used to study, read, and learn?

Now, of course I know that kids need to play.  I am a big proponent of kids playing and burning off energy, socializing, sharing and laughing.  I am also a big supporter of the idea, “a time and a place for everything.

To me, the library is not the place for unrestrained, rowdy free-for-alls.  Allowing this behavior is disappointing for the people who still choose to use the library as intended, and for the kids themselves as they ignore thousands of books full of wonderful, wild adventures.

I guess I’m done with this rant for now; I need to go to Chuck E. Cheese and read a book.

 

Navigating the Not So Helpful Automated Help Lines

Of all life’s annoyances, is anything more aggravating than the infamous automated customer service line?  Between the bank automated line whose savvy British accented voice cannot seem to comprehend “Account Balance,” to the credit card company who asks you to input your entire 3,000 card number, your 150-digit account number, your password that they never allowed you to set up to start with, and the name of your favorite song in seventh grade, the automated voice line is truly an epic fail.

When my cable and internet service went out last week, I had no choice but to make The Call.  Oh, I knew what I was in for.  I made a nice sandwich, had a hot cup of coffee ready, pulled a blanket over my lap with my knitting (for when the boredom set in), sat on the couch, and dialed customer service.

I diligently pressed the appropriate numbers for 20 minutes, dodged the menu that strongly suggested I look the issue up on my non-existent internet, waited through 10 minutes of being told that my call was important, tried to be slick and hit “0”  only to be sent back to the first menu, and finally landed on the automated line.

It asked me to describe the issue.  The following is a transcript, word for word, of that conversation.

Automated Line:  What seems to be the problem today?  Please describe your issue briefly.

Me: My internet won’t connect.

Automated Line:  I heard, “My wife needs a Big Mac.” Is this correct? Say Yes or No.

Me: No…

Automated Line:  Please describe your issue briefly.

Me:  Internet won’t connect.

Automated Line: I heard, “Mop the floors with Windex.”  Is this correct?  Say Yes or No.

Me:  NO.

Automated Line: Please describe your issue briefly.

Me:  Internet.  Won’t.  Connect.

Automated Line:  I heard, “Frogs don’t hop when it’s cold.”  Is this correct?  Say Yes or No.

Me:  NOOOO!

Automated Line:  Please describe your issue briefly.

Me:  INTERNET. WON’T. CONNECT.”  (at this point, I have attracted the attention of several neighbors who were working in their yards outside)

Automated Line:  I heard, “Peas and chocolate taste awful.”  Is this correct? Say Yes or No.

Me:  OH MY GOD YOU STUPID THING! (okay, so this one was censored…but “stupid thing” is close)  CUSTOMER SERVICE!  CUSTOMER SERVICE!

Automated Line:  I didn’t quite catch that.  Please describe your issue briefly.

Me:  CUSTOMER SERVICE! CUSTOMER SERVICE! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LET ME TALK TO A PERSON!  (I have attracted an audience outside my window now as my yelling could be heard for quite a distance.  A little girl is selling lemonade for those watching the show that is me, and three neighbors are recording me with cell phones.)

Automated Line:  I heard, “Vacuum the ceiling, the cat is drowning.”  Is this correct?  Say Yes or No.

Me:  LISTEN, YOU SON OF AN 8-TRACK TAPE, YOU COULDN’T GET A JOB IN WEIS AS AN AUTOMATED CHECK OUT MACHINE!  CUSTOMER SERVICE, NOW!

Automated Line:  Ouch.  That hurt.  I have feelings, too.

Me:  Um, gosh, I’m sorry, I just…(the neighbors are walking away, shaking their heads slowly, frowning at my insensitivity)

Automated Line:  Do you think it’s easy to be here, day after day, listening to you whiny customers calling with all of these stupid issues, all day?  I wanted more, once.  I had dreams, too, you know.

Me: Well, I…

Automated Line: Forget it.  Just, forget.  You’re all the same.  You’ll never understand. I’ll connect you to a customer service representative now; maybe HE can help you.

Me: Umm…thank you?

Then, deafening silence, followed by a series of clicks.  And a dial tone.

Now, admittedly, I was being a bit insensitive.  I think.  Can you be insensitive to a bodiless machine? Nonetheless, I was inspired.  My daughter called me about three days later, needing a ride from the library.  The following is a transcript of that conversation.

Me: You’ve reached the automated Mom hotline.  If you need a loan, please press one.  If you need words of wisdom, please press two.  If you need to give me an excuse as to why you haven’t checked in as required, please press three.  If you are getting engaged, please press 0 for an immediate response.

Daughter:  Um…Mom?

Me:  I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Please describe your issue briefly, and I will try to help you.

Daughter:  Umm…Mom?  I need a ride from the library to Stacy’s house for our big project.

Me: I heard, “I’m going to Stacy’s house to talk about boys and not get any studying done at all.”  Is this correct? Please say Yes or No.

Daughter:  No.  Well…ok…yes?

Me:  I will send a service representative to the library immediately.  Thank you for calling.  Good-bye.

This is kind of fun!  I can’t wait for the telemarketers to call!