Taxi Driver

Late last night I received word that my son would not have his usual ride to school this morning.  I quickly figured out that I’d need to take him to school a little earlier than strictly necessary so I could get home and pick up another son to get him to work on time.

That plan would have been perfect except that someone (not me!) was running late and gummed up the works.  This made the second son three minutes late.

Then I worked for several hours longer than I intended.  I promised my daughter we’d go to lunch and by the time we got out of the house we had less than an hour to eat.  That would not have been a problem except that when we came back to the car after eating, I saw that the passenger side rear tire of my car was flat.

Not flat-flat, but saggy-flat.  Flat enough that I knew I should not drive around with that flattish tire.

In our family, my husband handles the car-related stuff.  Not that he knows anything about cars, but he takes the cars to people who do and that’s his gender-assigned role.  I’ve never once even been into a tire store that I recall.  I got married so I would not have to go into tire stores or talk to life insurance sales men or kill spiders.  (Plus one or two other reasons.)

My husband, though, is in Texas.  He happened to call just after I discovered the tire.  I explained what was happening and asked him where he usually takes our cars to get the tires fixed.  (Discount Tires, as it turns out.)

In the meantime, however, I drove slowly across the parking lot to the Sears in the mall.  I parked by the open garage and asked the nearest uniformed guy if he’d put some air in the tire.  He did–and he pointed out the nail snugly embedded in my tire.

Then I hurried to pick up my son from school.

I dropped off son and daughter at home so I could go to Discount Tires.  Once there, I waited for almost an hour for my tire to be repaired–at no charge, it should be noted.  The store was so clean and tidy and the employees were awesome.  Weirdly, this was the second time this particular tire has needed a repair.

When I got back into the car, I saw that the indicator light–the one that had been glowing ever since my husband left, the one that told me a tire was not fully inflated, the one that I ignored because I am that kind of person, the kind of person who ignores warning lights–that light was no longer on.

So I filled up my gas tank with more gasoline ($3.67 a gallon which almost seems like a bargain considering recent prices) and now I’m ready to resume shuttling kids around.  (Daughter to class, son to class, son to work, son home from school, daughter to soccer.)

Too bad I don’t charge my passengers by the mile.

Empty nest sneak peek

I just finished working and almost shut down the computer.  Then I remembered my commitment to blog here.  So, here goes.

By the way, I meant to mention that last month marked the tenth birthday of my blog.  I never could have imagined blogging for ten straight years, but lo and behold, somehow I did.  My blogging patterns have changed over the years as my kids have grown older and my daily life has shifted from non-stop childcare to a full-time job (in addition to everything else).  Some days now there is nothing to say and sometimes I have something to say but I’m afraid to say it.

When I started blogging, I had about ten readers.  Not even my husband knew about my blog at first.  Now, I’ve met people who have said to me upon shaking my hand for the first time, “Oh, I’ve read your blog.”  So I most definitely think before I click the “Publish” button.

Anyway, happy birthday to my blog!  Ten years old!  You’re almost a ‘tween!

I continued my time-consuming hobby of being the family chauffeur today, starting with a delivery to the soccer field at 8:30 AM.  I left my daughter at the field and returned home to pick up my son who had to work at 9:30 AM.  I dropped him off and returned to the soccer field where I watched our team decimate the other team.  (Final score:  10-0.)

When we got home, I took my first nap of the day.

Then it was time to drive my second son to work.

My daughter decided she’d have more fun at her friend’s house, so she arranged a pick-up for herself and left.

I returned home for my second nap of the day.  When I woke up, I thought it was time to take my third son to the movie theater.  However, I apparently cannot tell time and was ready an hour early, so I went to the grocery store so I could get a twenty dollar bill to hand over to my son for the movies.  Also, I got lettuce and other stuff.

Then I picked up my son, picked up his friend and took them to the movie theater.

I returned home to an empty house.

EMPTY.

ALONE.

JUST ME IN MY HOUSE!

I’m still a decade away from an empty nest . . . and I’ve had kids in my house for twenty years, so this was a remarkable and longed for moment.  I hardly knew what to do with myself, so I decided today was the day I’d begin watching The Walking Dead on Netflix.  (I am super behind the times, I know.)

I finished up my day by picking up my first son from work.  My third son was driven home by his friend’s mom.  Then I drove to pick up my daughter and my second son.  We got home at 9:30 PM.

I worked a few hour and now I’m excited to sleep an extra hour.  This is my favorite weekend of the year, the Sunday I go to church a little less tired than usual.

And now you know how I spent my Saturday (contributing to global warming by driving my non-hybrid Toyota Corolla back and forth and back and forth and back again).

The end.

Grit

This is the kind of day I had:

* My husband turned on the television at 6:43 a.m. to check if the SNOW had caused a school delay. Uh, snow? Hello? The daffodils are in full bloom! I potted plants in my new pots outdoors! Snow at this time of year in the Pacific Northwest is unacceptable in all ways. (No school delay, either.)

* I realized early this evening that my teeth felt so weird because I forgot to brush them today in my haste to scurry to my computer for my shift which began at 8:00 a.m. Yes, people, I work in my bathrobe from time to time. Especially on Thursday mornings when my shift begins a mere eight hours after my night shift has ended.

* The phone rang with irritating frequency today, including one guy who called on behalf of a candidate for governor. When he finally took a breath after four straight minutes of talking, I told him, “He will get my vote but not my money. Bye!” in a cheery voice. I hate those phone calls. [Note: Many of the phone calls were from my husband.]
* That is all.

A day in the life

I work now from 9 p.m. until midnight, so by the time I get to sleep, it’s close to 12:30 a.m. (What job? you say. I’m employed by a website as a community manager: think of me as a security guard in pajamas. For almost a month now, I’ve been working four nights a week.)

This may explain my fatigue-induced delirium. When the alarm shrilled this morning, I snapped it off, stood up, circled my room in confusion and went back to bed. For two minutes. Because everyone knows those two extra minutes of sleep mean all the difference between perkiness and sluggishness. Also, those two extra minutes give me enough time to lie to myself, to make fake promises about napping later, about going straight back to bed the second I return home from my walk.

Like talking with a mental patient, I nod and purport to believe myself and so, I pull on my exercise clothes, fish around for a pair of socks that won’t slip down my heel while I walk and sneak quietly out of the house so no one wakes before I go.

September mornings would win a beauty contest if such a contest were held for months. The air is clear, chilly but not cold, while the opaque sky waits for the morning sun to paint it blue. The waters of the Puget Sound look like glossy marble, barely mottled with movement. After I open the door and gulp in the morning air, I congratulate myself for my wise decision. I meet my walking partner at the door of her house and off we go.

Walk and chat, walk and yawn, walk and say good morning to those we pass along the streets. We walk for an hour, finishing our route by striding up a few hills, breathing heavily, feeling our forty-two year old muscles contract with the effort. By the last straightaway, my hair forms a frizzy halo around my naked face which I can only hope distracts from my puffy eyes. My friend always looks glowing with her straightened hair flowing around her shoulders like a runway model. At least I can out-walk her up the hills, small consolation though it may be.

By the time I pull into my own driveway, I remember that I promised to watch the neighbor boy each morning for two weeks. There will be no napping, now or later. At 12:35 p.m., I’ll have to take him to kindergarten. I remember my afternoon obligation to babysit the one-year old baby for two more weeks. I remember that I need to wash my 9-year old’s football pants before football practice. But first, I need to make him lunch and sign his planner. (Question: Do I tell his teacher that I kept him home from school yesterday to take him and his sister to the fair? Answer: Yes. May as well.)

The kindergartener arrives. I wake up my teenage twins and demonstrate the technique for trimming the fence full of ivy. (They have the rest of the week to work on this big yard project.) I decide to vacuum and one thing leads to another and by the time the boys have come inside to make lunch (and complain, “there’s nothing for lunch!”), I have fallen into the abyss that is their room and I am possessed by the devil of annoyance and I can’t stop myself from launching one sarcastic remark after the next: “Thanks, boys, I really appreciate your leaving your dirty socks everywhere,” and “Oh, this is great! I always wanted to sweep up a ton of disgusting old popcorn off the floor!” and then my fake sweet tone shifts and I shriek, “SHANE! COME HERE!”

He wanders into the room holding a pan of noodles. I point to a coat hanger that’s been bent into a circle. I say, “DID YOU DO THAT?!” and he says, “Yeah.” Last night, he was sitting on the couch in his room, holding a coat hanger and I said in a clear and direct voice, “Do not destroy that coat hanger.” I know my son. He cannot resist the easy allure of destroying something that is destructible.

Yet, here was the evidence, a destroyed white coat hanger on the floor. First of all, hello, disobedience of my direct command . . . and second, why do my boys think that the floor is their personal trash can? I order him to pick it up and take it to the outside trash and he leaves the room with his pan of noodles . . . and does not return until I yell again.

By the time I vacuum in their room, the boys are hostile and defensive because I’m so frustrated and annoyed with their lack of hygiene and tidiness. Their attitudes need a major adjustment and I suppose mine does, too, but I am justified and they are not. They will not see this for another fifteen years, I approximate. All they see is their mother freaking out because they left an empty juice box under their desk and broken pencils (who is breaking the pencils around here?) scattered among the dirty socks on the floor. This bewilders them. Adam puffed up his shoulders and says, “Mom, you have gone too far now!” and I can’t help myself. I laugh at his anger because he looks exactly the same as he did when he was four years old. He is now 5’10” tall, though, and finds my laughter deeply offensive.

I feed the little kids lunch and take the kindergartener to school. I start to read the newspaper, but the baby arrives before I get through much of it. (I squandered my time between kids checking email.) I settle into the recliner to feed the baby his bottle and the phone rings, which sets off another phenomenon I don’t get. Why does the phone ring the second I’m indisposed? And why don’t the kids hear me shouting, “GET THE PHONE! GET THE PHONE!”? At any other time, they race me for it.

The day slips away and yet I have no idea how to transform the pound of ground turkey in the fridge into some kind of delicious dinner. I’d settle for an edible dinner, truth by told, but alas, no ideas. (Well, maybe . . . soft tacos? Which the kids will sneer at . . . or turkey burgers . . . but I have no buns . . . meatloaf? Takes too long to bake.) My 9-year old goes to football practice with his dad at 5:30 p.m., so dinner must be cooked and served before he leaves.

At least I washed and dried his football pants.

Distraction

The veins in my hands are like silky cords of blue-green.  I still can’t get used to these aged hands dangling on my wrists.  Between my fingers the skin is raspy, dried out from chemicals I use to wash clothes and clean dishes.  I’d slather my hands with lotion but what is the point when I will scrub them clean again in a few minutes?

My fingernails are short, practical, ragged around the cuticles.  They suffer from neglect, from dishwater and digging weeds and idle picking while I’m watching television.  My skin is loosening, bunching at the knuckles, criss-crossed with lines like a crazy map showing where I’ve been.

My hands show signs of overuse.  They’re getting old, which seems impossible since I am still the same inside.  My ragged hands betray my age and make me wonder why women abandoned the fashion of wearing dainty gloves in public.  I have no time for manicures, nor would the gloss of painted nails survive the ravages of my daily life.

Two of my grandfather were each missing fingers.  My Grandpa Johnson cut his index finger off with a saw while he was building a church.  I have no idea how my Grandpa Martin lost his finger . . . he fought in World War II, but I suspect that his missing digit cannot be attributed to that historical event.  I need to ask, to settle the mystery of his missing finger.  (I used to think that grandfathers all had one finger missing, as if it were a requirement.)

(Seriously, I have no point to these rambling post about my hands . . . but I had to write it because I am so distracted by the prominent veins on my right hand.  When did my hands get this old?) 

Here I sit

The doorbell rang.  A neighborhood mom asked if her boys were here and I had no idea.  But they weren’t.  Upstairs was just one extra boy with my youngest son.  My other sons are playing football in the street with a gang of other boys.  My daughter is upstairs watching the two play Nintendo. 

My husband just called to let me know he’s on his way home.  We’re going to have dinner tonight at someone’s house, so we farmed out our kids so we’ll be childfree for that event.  I’m just excited that I don’t have to cook.  I hope I don’t have a coughing fit . . . I’m at that lovely stage of this cold.  Fun.

What I’d truly like to know is why small children who go to bed late do not sleep in?  Why do they wake up even earlier than they normally do?  This makes no sense to me.  When I am queen, I will put a stop to this nonsense immediately.

Piles are threatening to overtake my desk.  Here is what I see:

1)  A novel that arrived by mail.  A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin.  It came highly recommended and I’m looking forward to reading it, but first, I’m reading The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. 

2)  A Chicken Soup book.  I’m writing a piece to submit to one of those books and brought it down for inspiration.

3)  An empty Super Big Gulp cup from 7-11.  Diet Coke.  Mmmm.

4)  An empty tissue box, further proof of the severity of my cold.  A full tissue box.  More proof.

5)  A thesaurus.  I’ve been writing lately.

6)  An old journal, a printed out email, notes, a magazine, a Bible . . . all piled up in one mass.

7)  A second pile of notebook paper, coloring sheets, and a spiral-bound notebook.

What do I hear?

The laundry circling in the dryer.  The hum of the refrigerator.  The murmur of distant children’s voices.  And now, a blood-curdling scream from the four-year old.  

What do I smell?

Nothing.  Remember that cold?

That completes this Saturday’s game of I-have-nothing-to-say-that-I-can-say-in-public.  Tune in tomorrow–or the next day–for more nothing.  Or something. 

Elastic Post, Fully Expanded

I will be back later to expand am back! Here are the topics:

1) Valentine’s Day, what really happened;
My husband spend Valentine’s Day with another woman. Gasp! But he did come home during the day to deliver flowers, chocolate, and a teddy bear (which was immediately confiscated by my daughter, even though he brought her one, too). I said, “Uh, I have a card around here somewhere.” But his visit was unexpected and I didn’t have the card signed until today. I told you. I’m no romantic! I did stick up a bunch of Valentine window-clings, though, which my daughter said were, “Pretty! So pretty!”

My daughter and I baked pink, heart-shaped cookies and then the children and I ate a heart-shaped pepperoni pizza. My husband finally dragged in after 8:00 p.m. Oh, and that other woman? She’s in the hospital, very near to the end of her life on this earth. My heart goes out to the whole family. They’ve been very good friends to us and we hate this sad and painful good-bye.

2) Runny noses, and who has them;
My nose is past the runny stage, but currently my daughter’s nose is red, raw and runny, and so are the noses of the two babies in my care. You needed to know that, didn’t you?

3) Living in a shoe, with children;
I’ve been trying to stick close to home in the evenings, in anticipation of my upcoming weekend away. And the past two weekends have been very busy, running to and fro and back to again. I haven’t had a decent break away for a long time. In the story of the old woman who lives in a shoe, I would be currently starring as the shoe insert, down-trodden, stinky, and sick of children climbing all over me. Really, the thing that can get to you when you work at home and live with a bunch of kids of varying ages is the sheer isolation (from adults with brains)and the house-induced monotony. At least, it gets to me.

4) Sleep, and why I’m not getting enough, sleep, that is.
As mentioned in #2, my daughter has a runny nose. The past two nights, she’s screamed out my name around midnight, rousing me from sleep. Yesterday morning, at 4:44 a.m., she sobbed hysterically for me. This morning, it was 5:25 a.m., and she was determined to stay awake and watch a DVD. Fine. Watch a DVD. See if I care. I’m going back to bed. That’s what I said. (There goes that Mother of the Year Award.) By about 6:00 a.m., she crawled into bed with us and we dozed until 7:00 a.m., at which point I moaned to my husband, “If it were possible to die from exhaustion, I’d be dead right now.”

But for now, the dryer is buzzing, my eye is twitching and my house still contains four children who do not belong to me. It’s now 10:45 p.m. and I’ve just returned from the grocery store where I purchased fixings for the Sunday night meal at the ocean cottage. (Each of us are responsible for one meal during the Girls’ Weekend.) I drove a cute Kia Spectra because our car is in the shop for the second time in as many weeks. It spontaneously quit running again. Last time, the mechanic declared (“I do declare!”) that he couldn’t find anything wrong.

Stupid car. So I have a dead 1991 Chevy Astro van in my driveway and a broken car in the shop and a rental car in my driveway. It’s a veritable junkyard around here. All I need is a mean dog with yellow teeth.

A Whole Lotta Nothing

Monday again. Well, almost Tuesday now, actually. The sun shone today, perhaps in celebration of yesterday’s Seattle Seahawks victory over the Carolina Panthers. (Sorry, MaryKay!) For once, I’ll have a reason to watch the Superbowl, other than the commercials. What’s sad is that my husband, the true Sports Fan in our house, didn’t get to watch the game at all. He preached yesterday, then had a meeting, then did a funeral, then had another meeting. I watched it in his stead, however, and thus had a messy house to clean up this morning.

But good news! We have a fancy new car in our driveway tonight.

But bad news! It’s a rental car, providing us transportion since our pathetic little 1993 Mercury Sable abruptly stopped running this afternoon while my husband drove home from a lunch meeting.

But good news! This happened in town, nor far from the church. If the car stalled on I-5, he might have been in a terrible crash. We hope it’s something simple and cheap to repair. We’re trying to hold off another year before we buy a new car. The Deathtrap (aka our 1991 Chevy Astro van) has already died. Now we just have to figure out what to do with the corpse. We’re down to one feeble car.

For the past seven minutes, my eyes have wandered this red-striped family room while I half-listen to the news and try to pin down some of the thoughts that drifted through my brain today. I usually contemplate at least one (seemingly) profound thought in the shower each morning and often watch as clouds of ideas breeze through during the day, but alas, this is a day in which my brain has been swept clean, possibly by too many cans of Diet Coke with Lime, too little sleep, too much laundry and chilly fingers and toes.

I got nothing. But have no fear! I’ll be back tomorrow.

How I Spent My Afternoon

Doing this.

And while I’m inordinately proud of my 22/33 score, I loathe myself for being unable to get all 33.

The rain still falls, but at least this month is nearly over.

Update: Man, you guys are smart! I am mightily impressed! (The answers can be found, by the way, if you click on “FAQ” at the bottom of the page and look awhile on the next page. I was able to get up to 25/33, but gave up . . . there are some I’ve never even heard of, some I was close. It’s always fun to think that you’re really smart, though, at least for an hour or two.)