a longer list than i'd hoped for

Thursday, October 25, 2007

This week's regrets include:

1. Thinking All-Bran crackers are delicious and good for me. Well, they are both of those things. But they also have five grams of fiber per serving. I had three servings. If my intestines could speak, they would politely inform me that three servings is too many. Or they may say, "We quit. We're cleaning out our desks."

2. Running into a wall at work, just in time to see the CEO approaching and making direct eye contact. And this CEO isn't like the one at my last job, who might have shared a sandwich with me or asked me to scratch his back. This CEO is a bigger deal. It was a noisy bump. I was flustered. All I could think of to say was, "What the geez?!"

3. Admitting to the bishop's wife that for Halloween, I'm dressing up like a character from the world's most R-rated movie ever.

4. Watching a television program called Nova. Imagine a beautiful collage of sunrises and sunsets, children playing in the ocean and animals frolicking in their natural habitats... now add some soft orchestral music... and finally, the soothing voice of a sweet British woman informing you that unless we fix global warming in the next ten years, our earth will shrivel up and die before the turn of the century. Take that, frolicking animal. And... scene.

best in show

Monday, October 15, 2007

After visiting my new favorite website, cuteoverload.com, I felt inspired to share a little cuteness of my own. This is Ella. She is miraculous. She has changed my mom from someone who looks down her nose at “Pet People” into someone who actually buys a Halloween costume for her dog (a witch). My dad used to accept pets as a way to silence his childrens’ incessant begging for pets. And now, you are likely to overhear him having a private one-on-one convo with Ella that sounds like this:

Dad: Are you the dog? Are you MY dog? Are you the Ella-dog?
Ella: --

I don’t know how this happened. Oh, who am I kidding? Ella is an angelic, magical pet with a sweet disposition, bunny-soft hair and disarmingly human expressions. She wins over even the coldest pet-hater. With just one cock of her tiny, adorable head, she manages to tell people:

“I know you aren’t usually that into dogs and I understand. Maybe a dog has wronged you. Maybe you just think dogs are kind of smelly and hairy and pointless. Don’t worry, I get it. But I’m going to melt your face all the same. And you will be irresistible to my charms.”

Everyone loves Ella. Seriously, who wouldn’t? But she’s so much more than just a pretty face and a powerful ability to read minds. What is truly miraculous about Ella is that she represents the downfall of the Hall Family Pet Disaster Empire. Tell me, would YOU give it another go if you had experienced (survived) the following pet debacles?

1. Mitzy, the incontinent poodle.
Mitzy only lasted about two weeks. She left a path of destruction (+ urine and feces) in her wake and left us (the kids) wondering if mom and dad would ever let another dog in the house. We took her back to live with her previous owners, who apparently thought "well behaved and potty trained" meant "bites people and eliminates bowels at random."

2. B.J., the garbage-loving hamster.
B.J. was named after each of my younger brothers. He lived a life fairly typical of the domestic rodent, complete with plastic treadmill and pellet dinner. But, he longed for more. And by “more,” I mean garbage. He escaped his cage and was later found in the bottom of the kitchen garbage can, bloated and filthy… with a tiny hamster smile on his face.

3. Marcie Noreen, the box turtle who never ate a meal.
Marcie Noreen was the name of my neighbor’s Cabbage Patch Kid. Cabbage Patch Kids were a crapshoot, as any child of the 80’s will remember. A popular gift item in the mid-later decade, Cabbage Patch Kids came complete with adoption papers and a pre-chosen name. As such, you could end up with something charming like “Sabrina Amanda” OR you could be saddled (as I was) with the care of “Gerta Dawn.” My next-door neighbor’s Cabbage Patch Kid was Marcie Noreen and I was wildly jealous. It was considered bad taste to rename your CPK (which is to say nothing of renaming with a friend’s doll’s name), so I stole the name for my pet box turtle instead. Eff Gerta Dawn. Who cares about a stupid doll when you have a Real Live Turtle (even if you can’t braid its hair)? You can dress it up in ribbons and have fashion shows! You can watch it saunter across the driveway with a pink bow on! But you can only do that for two weeks because it won’t eat a single meal and it will die while you are at school.

4. Chuckles, the miserable guinea pig who ruined my life.
I’m pretty sure Chuckles was an attempt by my parents to shut me up about wanting a pet after Marcie Noreen passed away. It worked. I hated that thing. Guinea pigs are disgusting creatures. This particular one loved staying up all night, snorting (chuckling) and kicking wood shavings all over my room. I cried and cried until my parents agreed to let me give her back to the pet store. They probably high-fived each other on the way home.

5. Ferdinand, the ball python who sort of lost his novelty and slowly died of neglect.

What can you say about a snake? He once crapped in my pocket while I was holding him. And I didn’t even realize it until an hour later. They say snakes are cold-blooded, but Ferd was quite warm. He was probably the best of the pets… but he wasn’t dramatic. He didn’t demand attention. So, he didn’t get any. Poor guy.

6. Whitney, the child-biting schnauzer who hated everyone and everything including fun.

Whitney was a cute puppy, but somewhere along the way, she developed a taste for human blood. After that, she lost much of her cuteness. She didn’t like toys or walks or playing at all. She lived and died by the Milkbone. And she would stone-cold eat your hand for it. The only person she didn’t despise was my mom. They had a special bond. Almost like tamer and lion. Only more dangerous.

As you can imagine, deciding to get another dog was huge. I campaigned for Ella for weeks, but I never thought they’d go for it. I just had a good feeling… somehow I knew they had paid their dues to the Bad Pet Club. They had suffered through years of disappointment (Marcie Noreen), heartbreak (Ferdinand) and torture (all others). The expectations were high. The stakes were higher. That’s a lot for a little puppy to be saddled with. It could have gone horribly wrong and we wouldn't have been all that surprised.

But just look at her. In this picture, she’s asking “Wasn’t it all worth it?” Yes, Ella. Yes, of course it was. But you knew I was going to say that.

love is this

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dear TiVo,

I know we just met, but I feel comfortable saying this: I am crazy about you. It seems like just yesterday (or the day before) that you arrived on my doorstep in your plain brown cardboard box. And yet, I feel like you already know me so well. How is that possible? How do you know I enjoy such high-quality programming as The Office... but that I simultaneously love the vulgar Extreme Makeover (not Home Edition)? When I tell you to bring me Oprah, you don't look at me with disdain and say "Oprah? Do people seriously watch that crap?" No. You just bring me Oprah. You bring her swiftly and without protest. And then you bring me more.

People won't understand what you and I have. They'll say we're crazy. They'll say we'll never make it. They'll point out that I just quoted Shania Twain. They may even say I'm wasting my life away and that I'll start finding more excuses to watch television. Whatever with them. What they don't know is this: now, instead of flipping mindlessly through the channels and settling on "Flavor of Love," I'll actually get to watch what I like. No more "The Hills." No more horrible MTV dating shows. It's just depressing docu-dramas and Steve Carell from here on out. I realize now that the romance/new relationship analogy has gotten away from me. Oh well.

I hope this feeling lasts forever.



P.S. You looked really cute today.

smells like scat

Saturday, October 6, 2007

There are two things in this world I can’t stand. One is the sound of liquid being poured into a glass full of ice. No explanation. No horrifying memories of being molested by an ice water-drinker. But yet I turn myself inside out and break into hives when I hear it. In movies, on television, in person… it’s bizarre, I know. Not long ago, I was having dinner at a friend’s house and someone offered to refill my glass. I was thirsty, so I accepted. I should have known better. I tried to act casual, but apparently my face revealed the truth. A few seconds into the pour, Mark said, “Umm, is this bothering you?” My teeth were clenched and bared. I was holding my breath. I looked as though I was watching him empty live slugs into my drinking glass. I knew I looked this way because, well… I once emptied live slugs into someone’s drinking glass and I remember their reaction.

The problem is, this sort of quirk (I’ll call it that because it sounds cute and endearing rather than alarming) is irresistible to mimicry and torment once it has been exposed. For the rest of the night, my friends filled up each other’s glasses at painfully slow rates, lifting the pitcher as high into the air as they could reach. “Is this bothering you? Would you like a little more?” Cursed face. You have betrayed me.

Thankfully, refills are usually administered behind closed doors at restaurants, so I rarely have to deal with these sort of situations. And at home, well… I ask you: Do you think it’s a coincidence I don’t keep ice cubes in my freezer?

I know it’s weird and silly. I also know that the next time we have dinner, you’re going to do the painfully-slow pour from one glass to another, looking at me expectantly. Nice. Real original.

So, that’s one thing. While I don’t expect you to understand or share in my water-pouring neurosis, I do hope to convert you to my other main annoyance. That annoyance is scat. I know what you’re thinking: That sounds familiar! Isn’t “scatology” an interest or preoccupation with excrement and excretion? Doesn’t scat have something to do with Poo?

Yes. Yes, it does. Scat IS crap.

But the scat I’m talking about has little to do with actual excrement and more to do with terrible jazzy music. The scat I refer to is a style of improvised jazz singing in which the voice is used in imitation of an instrument.

What a terrible idea… with such disastrous results. Since when is a jazz performance ever in need of more ridiculous jazzy instrument noises? And doesn’t it upset the trumpet player when the vocalist starts doing a bad impression of his instrument? Isn’t he convincingly jazzy?

If you aren’t familiar with scat, I submit to you the following:

Some jazz fans may try to convince you that there is such a thing as “good” scat. Don’t listen to them. They are wrong. That’s like saying someone is really good at air guitar. How good does one really need to be? Scat, with its “instrument imitations” is always a bad idea. No one would ever get away with doing that in another genre of music. James Hetfield would never break into a fit of air-drumming halfway through Master of Puppets. One: he is a singer, not a drummer. Two: It would be stupid, pointless and uninspiring. Three: Metallica has a drummer. His name is Lars Ulrich. At least I think it’s still Lars Ulrich. I haven’t kept up with Metallica over the years.

I’m pretty sure NOTHING is more uncomfortable for me than scat. I think I’d rather be surrounded by one million people pouring liquid into one million glasses of ice than listen to one minute of scat. Seriously, can we all agree it isn’t coincidence that poo and jazzy singing are synonymous? It really isn’t even up for debate! Check your dictionaries! Scat: either way you take it, it’s crap.


P.S. “To Catch A Predator” also makes me very uncomfortable, but I didn’t go into that because, well, unlike the other topics, I’m pretty sure uncomfort is “To Catch A Predator’s” primary objective.