Wednesday, April 29, 2009


In my world, people fall into two categories: photogenic and unphotogenic. I fall into the latter, of course. This curse usually doesn’t strike until you start first grade. Before then, children are immune to bad pictures; even the goofy ones look adorable. But eventually, those doomed to Quasimodo-photo-itis will see their pictures descend into the grotesque. Whether the shots are posed for or candid, they are unbecoming.
In my case, whenever a camera is in evidence, my cheeks inflate to Chevy Astro van airbag size, my eyes disappear into barely visible slits, and my nose casts a massive shadow that covers most of my mouth. My hair will plaster itself to my skull on top and frizz out at the bottom. My body slouches into a scoliosis-like position, and my gums will look about two miles high. I have so many pictures that can be used as blackmail that I have given up trying to burn them all.
Here are some of the worst examples of my curse: When I was 12, my mother was going to bring us kids to the local photographer to get the yearly picture taken. I let my mother convince me to let her do my hair. I was growing out a perm, first of all. Second of all, my mouth had yet to experience any kind of orthodontic help, so my two front teeth looked capable of building a dam across the Mississippi. Third of all, it was the eighties. Have a mental picture yet? My mother, with the help of the mangled, permed hair, managed to construct a gravity-defying sculpture that was a clearly defined “up” arrow. I, having already suffered through a good six years of unphotogenic pictures, thought that maybe she knew better than I did what would look good on film. The result, which hangs on my grandmother’s photo wall, is a disaster of epic proportions. Every new addition to the family, boyfriends, girlfriends, newborn babies, will peruse the photo wall for the first time, stop at that picture, squint at it as if to see if it might be trick photography, then burst into helpless laughter, tears streaming down their faces. It has happened so many times that I have become immune to the ridicule.
Another such example took place when I was 14 and went with my mother, my sister, and some of my mother’s family on a trip to New York State to visit the various landmarks. Besides being unphotogenic, I was fashion-challenged and created some of the most criminal outfits and accessories known to man. By this time, I had braces, but as a result found it very hard to close my mouth over both my teeth and the braces. I could do it, but it took major mouth muscles and my chin would wrinkle from the sheer strain of it. All of the pictures from that trip that include me are foul, but the most heinous is one where all of us stood at the top of a tiered hill that had a statue at the top. There were hedges around every tier, and my uncle stood one tier down and told us all to smile down at him. I don’t know whether I didn’t hear the command or didn’t feel like smiling, but amidst the smiling faces of my family, peering maliciously over the hedge, is a scowling, wrinkle-chinned face, its hair pulled back both by a rubber band and a cloth headband. My sister shows that picture to me at least once a year, before nearly passing out from hysterical giggles.
The last and most complete humiliation happened as a result of my friend Pam’s boyfriend deciding to propose. He devised a plan in which he would dress up as the mall Santa and I would invite Pam on a Christmas shopping trip and suggest that we get my three-month-old daughter’s first picture with Santa taken. The plan came together and Pam’s mother called all of the local newspapers to make sure it was well-documented. Pam had no idea it was her boyfriend Matt underneath the beard and fatsuit as we plopped my drooling baby daughter onto his lap and crouched on either side of his Santa-throne “to make sure the baby didn’t cry”. After the official picture was taken, “Santa” suggested that Pam sit on his lap. I backed up a little, holding my daughter. As Matt brandished the engagement ring, Pam let out a shriek that echoed through every corner of the mall. As I remember it, I let out a musical, feminine chuckle. The newspaper photo that appeared in the next day’s paper told a different story. There was Pam, perched sweetly on her new fiancee’s lap, looking shocked and overjoyed, hands to her face. There was Matt, showing her the ring he spent three months’ salary on. There, in the back and to the left, holding a baby, is a braying elephant seal. Head thrown back, nostrils aflare, mouth the size of a cantaloupe. You can almost hear the earsplitting honk-laugh that accompanied. To make it that much worse, this was not just fodder for my family, this was on display for the entire county. Old schoolmates would see it and shake their heads, saying to each other “That Lindsey hasn’t changed much.” People would cut it out and tack it up on bulletin boards with the header, “When Sea Lions Attack”. I could only hope that time would erase the evidence until Pam’s mother assured me she had multiple copies of the paper and had the article pasted into a scrapbook for Pam.
We of the cursed know we only have one option when faced with having our pictures taken. Drag as many other people into the frame as possible, smile gently with our mouths closed, and fade unnoticeably into the background, blending in with the shadows. Long live the unphotogenic!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oh, right, bills and housework and...stuff.

So the man of the house has left for Seattle for two weeks of new job training. He gets to stay in a five star hotel room, eat whatever he wants on the company's dime, and has full access to a 24 Hour Fitness right across the street.

I am at home with two allergy-ridden whelps with bad attitudes, who every so often will howl "I miss Daddy!" and flail around like they've just been electrocuted. The house is a mess, complete with a bag of popcorn that was dumped out onto the playroom floor and ground into smithereens by four-year-old feet. I have bills to pay. I have dishes to wash. I have floors to vacuum. I have a diet to stick to, work to go to, a kid to get to school and soccer practice. (Oh, and help do reading, math, spelling, and various other homework. Why the hell does a second-grader have two hours of homework a night?)

I have exercise to do, not only because of the bridesmaid dress sneering at me from inside my closet, but also because I brilliantly signed up to do a SEVEN AND A HALF MILE RUN on Sunday. Am I mental? I've never run more than THREE miles at a time, and nearly died while doing so!

The next two weeks are going to be trying. However, two days after the spouse walks through the door, I leave for Chicago for eight days. I'll chuckle evilly when I hear "I miss Mommy!" being wailed from inside the house as I leave.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nature Boy

Two of the neighborhood teenyboppers came up to me the other day and said, "Uuuuummm, Wyatt's mom? We just think that you should know that, like, Wyatt has peed in our yard twice in the past two days."

That's my boy, the world is your toilet.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Let me school you... stupid piece of crap scale in my bathroom. I eat LESS and exercise MORE, and the number YOU show me in the morning goes DOWN. DOWN, DO YOU UNDERSTAND!?!? NOT UP ALMOST ONE POUND IN 24 FREAKING HOURS! That goes against the laws of PHYSICS! And if I don't get that bridesmaids dress to zip up by May 16th, if I have to duct tape it shut or punch holes in it and thread a shoelace through it, I will go Michael Bolton from Office Space on you. I will beat you like Samir and Michael beat the fax machine in the field. Because it will be YOUR fault, bathroom scale, if I don't lose enough weight in the next month. It will also be that online dress company's fault for not making the dress the right size. I measured right. I know I did.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Salvaged from the old blog: BUGS

I have killed some bugs in my time. Granted, if it’s a spider of any size, I use a wad of paper towels the size of a boxing glove, but the end result of death to the bug is all that matters. That is immediately followed by flinging the wad as far from my person as possible, and doing the obligatory “get it OFF me” seizure, which consists of hopping from foot to foot while turning in a circle, whacking myself with open palms, and emitting a “hoo-hoo-heh-heh-heh” noise. Before you smirk at my cowardice, allow me to regale you with the spider horror story of my youth.
I was sleeping soundly on the top bunk in one of my childhood homes, my sisters snoring away below. Some malicious-bug sense woke me from my slumber. I opened my eyes to behold a spider crouched on my pillow, inches from my face. As I opened my mouth to shriek, the spider launched into action. It scurried towards me, onto my face, into my mouth, out of my mouth, and then I don’t know where it went because I had lost the ability to function as a human being. I thrashed around like a landed fish, fell five feet from the top bunk to the floor and began to beat myself about the head, hoping to dislodge the demon spider in case it was still around. I spoke in tongues as I crawled to the bathroom, dry heaving for a good ten minutes into the toilet bowl.
With this sort of memory lurking in my brain, it is a miracle that I don’t start to gibber and convulse when I see a spider. Spiders, however, are not my only bug enemy. I have, on occasion, come across other aggressive bugs that don’t have the natural fear of humans that the smart bugs do. It creeps me out worse than my imagined angry ghosts at 2am, because I don’t believe in ghosts, but I believe in bugs. Bugs are EVERYWHERE.
The scariest bug I ever met was on the back deck of my parents’ 7th or 8th house. They were out of town and had asked me to see to things while they were gone. I had taken care of the mail and was sunning myself peacefully next to the pool when I remembered that the flowers needed to be watered. I held my mother’s showerhead watering contraption above each pot for a count of 15, hoping my black thumb disease wouldn’t somehow jump from me to my mother’s Better Homes and Gardens flower-scape. As soon as the water hit the last flowerpot, a humongous, buzzing, hopping creature burst forth, causing me to scream, fling the showerhead into the air, and run for safety. After a few minutes, I peeped my head outside. The creature had disappeared. Heart pounding, I scanned the deck for any sign of it, and all of a sudden, it raised its head above the railing of the deck. It was a praying mantis of gargantuan proportions. It looked just like all the creepy aliens I’d ever seen on the Sci-fi channel, complete with bulging eyes and triangle shaped head. It stared at me and I stared back, trying to recall if I’d ever heard of anyone being killed by a mantis. This was no normal mantis, though, because it had big huge wings. Praying mantises don’t have wings! Do they? Was this a new species of mantis, one that was flesh-eating? I thought I remembered hearing that female mantises ate their husbands. Did the females have wings? Was it going to mistake me for a husband mantis because I had no wings? Seized by this scary thought, I ran to the garage and grabbed the first thing handy, a metal grass rake. I approached the mantis, trembling rake pointed at it. It didn’t move. I slammed the rake head down on the top of the railing, a mere ¼ inch from the monster bug’s sinister alien head. NOTHING. Why wasn‘t this bug afraid?!? It must have known something I didn’t, like maybe it could spit venom into my eyes and blind me! Thoroughly shaken, I thrust the rake forward, bopping the bug off the railing altogether. It buzzing madly away into the neighbor’s yard, and landed on a tree. I tried to lay back down and relax, but my eyes kept wandering over to the tree. What if it was just waiting for me to close my eyes so it could descend onto my body and devour me? That was it. I grabbed my things, went home, and locked myself in my bug-free bedroom.
When my parents returned home, I warned them of the predator mantis, but they just laughed at me. My mother said that it’s the people who are afraid of bugs that attract the bugs TO them. Great. I’m a dead woman. My only hope is to buy one of those biohazard suits that don’t even let germs in. No monster bug is going to feast on MY flesh.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Am I ignoring the signs???

It's broke. Again. The computer is a BROKE DOWN PIECE OF JUNK. Is this a higher power telling me to leave the blogging world? Because I can't take it anymore. It's like I'm in rehab for online addicts and they've made me go cold turkey and I'm having BAD BAD withdrawal symptoms. The only computer action I get is stealing a few moments on the work computer, and most of the time I get kicked off by someone wanting to see what their 5:00 appointment is. I feel defeated.

Monday, April 6, 2009

June Cleaver, I ain't

It was a bright Saturday morning in June, and I was going to make breakfast for my new husband. We had recently returned from our honeymoon, and I was anxious to give him a preview of the delicious meals I’d be providing him with in the blissful years to come.
I didn’t have a lot of cooking experience under my belt. Mac and cheese, Ramen noodles, and sandwiches were about the only dishes I’d mastered up to this point. I once attempted buttermilk biscuits, but I didn’t know there was a difference between baking SODA and baking POWDER and what I pulled out of the oven were hockey pucks not even our dog would eat. This is not my fault. As a kid, our family moved around all the time. I went to a middle school during sixth and seventh grade where the eighth graders had Home Economics. We moved to a new town when I had one month of seventh grade left. In the new middle school, seventh graders took Home Ec. I got one lousy month of cooking grilled cheese sandwiches with a teacher who spent most of her time flirting with the assistant principal. On the first day of school, I actually filled the Home Ec room with black smoke from a charred sandwich. I got a “D“. After my parents divorced when I was 16, my grandmother made attempts to teach me how to cook, but I wasn’t interested in pot roast, I was interested in how to get A.J. Hernandez to realize I was the flat-chested, frizzy-haired woman of his dreams.
I assumed, however, that when I got married, the knowledge of how to cook, clean, sew, and throw dinner parties would just magically come to me, like it’s hidden in a female’s brain until the words “In sickness and in health” pass through her lips. All of a sudden, the secret Domestic Arts brain door would spring open and I’d become June Cleaver!
Of course, it didn’t quite turn out that way. I stood in our eight-square-foot apartment kitchen and surveyed our groceries. Scrambled eggs, toast, orange juice, and sausage was surely the perfect breakfast to showcase my new culinary talents. I put the bread in the toaster, scrambled the eggs, and plopped the frozen sausage links into a pan. The toast popped up, I carefully slathered it with butter, and then realized my mistake. Oh, no! I hadn’t timed it right! The toast was done and now getting cold, and the eggs were cooking swiftly in the pan, but the sausage was still frozen! I cranked the heat under the sausage pan up to high. The higher the heat, the faster it cooks, right? The eggs finished cooking, I deposited them onto a plate with the toast and willed the sausage to cook faster. My husband sat politely at the table where I’d directed him, watching me unravel. I peeked in at the sausage. NO! NO! It was burning on the outside! I whisked it off of the stove and rolled the links onto the plate.
I walked to the table, hair awry, panting, and presented my husband with his feast. The poor guy tried. He gave a valiant effort to eat it, but the sausage was frozen in the middle, and the toast and eggs were cold. He assured me everything was delicious, he just had to heat things up in the microwave a little. I dissolved into hysterical tears, feeling the accusatory disappointment of generations of my Polish ancestors shaking their heads at my ineptitude. If I couldn’t do a simple breakfast, how was I going to manage Thanksgiving dinner, when our children and grandchildren sat at my table, anticipating the kind of delicacies my mother and grandmother have provided at every holiday feast for years? I had no business trying to be a housewife! I should release my husband from his vows! He could find himself a new wife, someone who would provide him with omelets and homemade cinnamon rolls in lingerie, instead of charred or frozen food in a ripped T-shirt and old boxer shorts.
My husband, used to dealing with unreasonable females due to the fact that he has half-Irish, half-Polish relatives, put his arms around me and assured me that it would take time to learn everything about cooking and that he wouldn’t trade me for a million other women who could cook omelets. Eventually, I calmed down and told him next time, I’d do better. But my husband is no dumb cluck. We’ve been married for six years now, and he makes his own Saturday morning breakfast as I happily munch away on my cereal. You can’t burn cereal.