Saturday, January 31, 2009

Birthday Number 37, Or Something Like That

I find myself mucking around in a late-thirties swamplands this week. Wondering, at the approach of 37, why my well-deserved late-thirties-fabulousness of bouncy, shiny well-coiffed hair and nonsplintering wooden floors and custom kitchens, advanced yoga classes and book club and wines-of-the-month has jetted off to someplace exotic and left me to croak out here in the swamp of late-thirties unoriginality.

And I do feel very unoriginal in my late-thirties. The other day, I was leaning over the bathroom sink trying to make my left eyebrow match the overzealous plucking I’d managed on my right, when I lost my balance and poked myself in the eye. I found myself sitting on the edge of the tub, kleenex clamped over my left eye, thinking about – Hot Pockets.

Someone had told me they had a new Hot Pockets flavor that was really good, and I had wanted to get some on my next trip to the store, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what the new Hot Pockets flavor was. And coincidently, Chris had requested that I start stocking up on Hot Pockets now that his spring semester of law school had started, apparently he finds Hot Pockets to be a brain food. I was sitting there trying to remember when Sam came in to use the bathroom.

“What happened to your eye?” Sam had a look of mild concern, and apprehension. He has lived with me for six-and-a-half years, after all.

“I accidently poked myself in the eye.” I admitted. “Hey, do you remember what the new flavor of Hot Pockets was that we wanted to try?” As Sam gets older, he finds me more and more tedious.

“I don’t like Hot Pockets.” He sighs.

“You don’t like Hot Pockets? Everybody likes Hot Pockets.” My eye was still not finished watering. I adjusted my kleenex.

“Hot Pockets is not one of my favorite foods.” Sam has grown up in a tiny house that has one bathroom for four people. He pees while I reach over him for some fresh kleenex. There is no pretense of a need for privacy around here.

“You have favorite foods?” I am genuinely surprised.

“One is Pop Tarts. Two is Ice Cream.” He has hoisted his ELASTIC WAISTED PANTS, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, back up and zips out of the bathroom without washing his hands. I consider calling him on it, but my eye is really hurting and it occurs to me that maybe I dreamed that someone told me about a great new Hot Pockets flavor.

This is when I spy him.

A tiny, gray-brown mouse. In the corner of my bathroom, in no particular hurry he makes his way along the wall and disappears under the heater. I feel panic rise up and I really wish in that moment that the kids had not made me watch Ratatouille a hundred times as I picture him joining up with thousands of his relatives inside the walls of my house, which now is not only shabby, but disease ridden. Unless this mouse can wash his paws and cook perfect french cuisine, like Ratatouille, in which case my Hot Pockets problem is solved.

I have no idea where I am going with this, hell I don’t know – maybe uneven eyebrows, Hot Pocket dreams and rodent infestations make late-thirties unoriginality at least more interesting.

On Monday, I will turn 37. I am a mother of two. I write. I run. I dream of Hot Pockets.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"I cannot wear these, or I will die." Sam wiggles out of a pair of cargo pants in the Old Navy dressing room and tosses them into the pile of 3,042 other pairs that could potentially kill him, if I made him wear them to school.

"Sure you can! These are totally awesome pants, they have big roomy pockets for all your Star Wars guys and everything." I argue as cheerfully as I can. I try to be really, really excited about these pants.

"They have a button. I don't want buttons." Sam looks over at the pile of pants and nonchalantly scratches his knee. "I don't want different pants, I like my own pants."

"Buddy, you are three inches taller than you were when we bought your old pants. You have to have new pants. These pants are really cool. They have big pockets and besides, the button isn't real, its only a decoration!" I point to button as if it is a fabulous prize on the Price is Right. "These pants come with decorative buttons and that is SO AWESOME! Plus, these are the EXACT SAME pants that Peter Parker wore in Spider Man 2!" Sometime in the last twenty minutes, I crossed over to Completely Loony.

Sam looks at me and his right eyebrow raises. I know, that he knows, that I know, that Toby Maguire did not ever don a pair of elastic waist toughskins with cargo pockets in any one of the Spider Man movies. We stand staring at each other, in the Old Navy dressing room, knee deep in denim. Suddenly, Sam's hand twitches and I clumsily lunge toward him with a pair of size 7 jeans.

I attempt to corner him, but the game is on, and he is lightening quick. I see the white blur of his Fruit-of-the-Looms as he streaks under the door and through the store. I stumble out of the dressing room and follow the screams.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I DO NOT WANT THOSE PANTS! I DON'T WANT THEM! IF YOU MAKE ME WEAR THEM I WILL DIE!!!!!!!!!" Sam howls and slides by in his socks. Everyone in the store is now frozen and staring in horror at the six-year-old racing around in his tighty-whities, and screaming about how his mother is trying to kill him with pants. The sales associates, bless them, are completely lost. They have no idea if they should be helping me, or Sam. On the one hand, he is running amuck in their store, but on the other hand, what if I really am some horrendous monster who tried to kill him with pants in the dressing room? They are still weighing their options when I find Sam lurking in a rack of clearance men's pajamas. He refuses to come out, until I bring him his old pants.

"Buddy, I can't do that. You have to have new pants. Your old pants are too small for you. We are here for new pants, you have to pick some new pants." I sit down outside the clearance rack, as I have no hope of maintaining any dignity anyway. "Samuel Cody Davis. You come out. You come out of there right now. I mean it. We don't do this, we do not run around the store in our underpants! The manager is going to have us arrested. We can't get arrested yet, Daddy isn't even finished with law school!"

"You're yelling at me!" Sam points out, helpfully. He takes a shaky breath and says "And you are being strict about pants."

"Both of those things are true." I admit. "I am yelling at you and I am insisting that you wear pants, buddy." I sigh and look around. The store looks huge from down here, and suddenly I feel what it must be like to be Sam sometimes. I feel very small with thousands and thousands of Old Navy pants looming over my head.

"The thing is kid, I have to make sure you have pants. If you don't have pants to wear then I won't be a good mama. Because part of being a good mama is making sure that you and your sister are dressed everyday. I know you are mad at me, but I can't let you win this one. Pants are a must-have item. Come on out and we'll figure it out together, okay?"

Sam peers out at me from the clothes rack. "No buttons." he says.

"No buttons." I agree.

He crawls out of the clothes rack and pats me on the head, we hold hands as I stand up, and we walk back to the dressing room. "Mom, I don't even like Spiderman anymore. I like Star Wars. Can we look for Star Wars pants?"


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Is it hot in here, or is it me?

"Welcome to NStar. If this is an emergency, please hang up and call our emergency line. Otherwise please listen to the following options..."

You can't decide if you have an emergency, but it sounds like if you do, then a real person will appear on the other line, and that tips it. Better safe than sorry, no?

It turns out that if your heat breaks in Massachusetts in January, you do indeed qualify as an emergency (lucky girl), and they will send a service technician to your house who resembles... Cindy Crawford. While you are bundled up in wool socks, two pairs of sweatpants and a ratty old sweater that was black 342 washes ago. And your hair piled up in a frizzy mass of scrunchies and Goody hair clips. For good measure, your nose is running.

For this, they send you a technician who has fabulously engineered blonde hair. When you open the door, you know a very stylish gay guy spent all afternoon streaking it with shades like "Tawny" "Honeycomb" and "Winterwheat", while YOU still haven't wiped the Nice N' Easy splatters off your bathroom mirror.

It takes you several minutes to regain your composure. This bombshell on your doorstep is going to crawl around in your spider-infested basement? What if she gets a cobweb in her $300 haircut?? You start to suspect that you are being punk'd, and look down the driveway for Ashton Kutcher. Nope. There's the utility truck. You are now officially nonplussed.

She is very nice. She asks how many zones you have. You didn't know you had zones. She takes you around your house and at each thermostat explains that it is for a separate heating zone. You tell her you know of three, in that case. And the one upstairs is the trouble maker. You go upstairs together to inspect the offending thermostat. You stand there with random toys in your hands and try to decide if you should stand and wait, or go on about your business. Just as you opt for moving on, she starts to chat amiable about her own kids. Same age as yours.

When she is done, she smiles at you kindly and tells you to stay warm and call back if you need any help. You have just been saved by a designer-jean-wearing, well-coiffed plumber and working mother of three. You have two kids, no job and haven't left the house in four days. HELP.