The Ongoing Saga of Housecleaning

     My mom has been integral and plumb necessary to getting my house back up and running. Although we do have organizational and compartmentalization systems that are completely different. Mine is mostly a plan based on the concept of “like items go with like items.” Cleaning supplies all go in one place, DVD’s and books all go in another, riff raff goes in the riff raff pile. Mom’s is more akin to the unifying principle of “I’m Jean and I say it goes here. Don’t argue.” And considering Mom does the vast majority of the work when one of her bonehead boys (my father included) does something this stupid, we follow suit without question. But not without commentary.

My camera is in some box somewhere. When I want a possession, and this is true especially in the last week, I have to gauge how much I really want/need it and compare that against how much work is it going to take to find it. Yesterday, I really wanted to get myself back at least into the “I’m going to try to quit smoking” mindset and that requires the use of my e-cigarette for that period of time in the middle of the night when I wake up and smoke (don’t judge.) So I had to commit to at least 15 minutes of trying to find it in my sacks of “probably contains something I’m going to want in the time it takes for the house to be totally painted.” And after a little time, I found it. No big deal. I want to find my camera, but as I don’t have that kind of time this morning, a transcription of me and Mom’s text exchange will have to do.

That waiting time has also come to include whether my employer will help me out with what everything costs, so I have been putting off buying a new stove. It is with this little nugget of information that I texted mom a few days ago.

Me: You haven’t shopped for a stove yet right?

Me: You said the cleaning crew will come on Thursday yes?

Mom: Yed

Me: Is that a Jewish currency you’ll pay them in or something?

Mom: Bite me cubed.

 

And later:

Mom: I’ve done all I can do. The rest is heavy work. I took your shirt and ties home to be washed. They are full of shit. Talk to you when you have read the note.

Mom: Full of soot. Smiley emoticon.

Me: Nice save.

Her: Apparently voice-voice generated messaging is a technology that’s not quite perfected.

 

     And I am not impervious to the perils of text messaging. My new phone is a Galaxy S4 Mini. It’s really sleek and shiny, but the “buttons” on the “keyboard” are wicked small. So inevitably I close at least 2 sentences per day with an “m” instead of period cuz one is right above the other. For instance:

Me: I will call you when I am done with work todaym

Me: Today [period]

    

     And I am fully aware of my typo in the text message, but it seems that increasingly, people will let typos go. But that voice-recognition software struck again:

 

Me: Is this your hammer in this kitchen? You left a sweatshurt here.

Mom: No its yours Craigslist trying to get the window open with it. By the way I have your altar cloth and shower curtain in my car.

Mom: Greg was trying

Me: Ahahahaha …

That annoying keypad thing again …

Me: Can we do the painting on Sat at noon or so? I wanted to get to the gym too m

Me: Gym [period]

I recently read an article at The Huffington Post detailing the adapted meanings of things in text messaging. It buttressed my uniform objection to and the lunacy implicit of overuse of [!] and the bastardization of the intent when using ellipses [ … ] and the like. I picked and I chose. Mostly because I think, for the purposes of these kinds of blog posts, they make for some hella funny material.

 

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Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire

Fire Stove 1

 

“Oh, they didn’t take the stove out too?” she asked.

Greg and I looked at each other quizzically.

“Who didn’t take the stove out?” I asked.

“The firemen.”

It’s an honest mistake, I guess. After a fire, I suppose people do have instances of extremely mild PTSD. Although so far, I was handling it all with a semblance of Zen calm about the whole affair. I had no choice really. You can’t un-set a fire. You can’t un-total the stove. You can’t un-torch your gym bag and its contents. That would mean un-burning to a large pile of ash a library book, a pair of glasses, all my toiletries, running shoes, attire, and who-even-knows what all else was in my binder. Birth certificate? Social Security Card? The list goes on.

“Um, the firefighters come and put out the fire. The rest is on me,” I said.

“Oh. Yeah. Right” My roommate’s girlfriend averted her eyes sheepishly.

My roommate and I assessed all the damage. His suite in the attic of our place was fine as there is only one door leading up to it and that was almost entirely closed. And since smoke rises and disperses according to available avenues, the kitchen got the worst of it, The bathroom, which is right next to the kitchen, got it next. My room, which is next to the bathroom, was third in line. Smoke damage on the walls of my room. More in the bathroom The bathtub looked like a chimney sweep took a crap in it. The kitchen looked like someone had thrown a Molotov cocktail at the stove top at point blank range. I wondered at first about the shattered glass on the floor, then noticed the underside of the handle on the stove had a frame with shards of glass jutting out. There was a Rohrschach test of smoke and melted paint on the wall above the stove where the over mutt had been hanging over the light switch. A pretty grim scene, too be sure. But it could have been a whole helluva lot worse.

The fire marshal that had taken the report asked me the standard questions. How long had the house been empty. What time did I leave. What time did Greg leave. He motioned to a spot on the front lawn where the remains of what caused the inferno lay. Rubble. No, more than rubble. A big pile of ash with the corner of a binder sticking out of it. It seems as though in preparation to go to my pet-sitting gig after work, I had put my gym bag with a couple notebooks on top of the stove. On the notebooks were the words “Lunch!” and “Dinner!” Reminders for me to get my Dinner! for that night and my Lunch! for the next day out of the fridge before I went to stay at Tim’s to care for the lovable Jude. Oh Judy judy judy judy judy did I make it bad. It seems that in my haste to get ready for work after going to the gym for a nice refreshing swim that morning, I had placed the gym bag and the notebooks on top of the burner I had used to make eggs only a short time before.

 

Fire Wall

Now, what I’ve decided to tell myself is one should never place anything flammable on top of a stove even 30 minutes after they used the burners because the burner must be cool to the touch before it is safe. The more likely explanation is I was in a rush to get my meals squared away, my shirt ironed, and other last minute household chores done before departing for the weekend. Then I would meditate for 15 minutes before I left for the weekend, stopping only to retrieve my things after work and before Jude-time. Oh how I wish I did have time to meditate before I left. I might have had the Zen calm to take this sad song and make it better. As it was, I had screwed up. Big time.

 

Fire shelves

Greg was amazingly calm about the entire affair. His room was fine. The bathroom and kitchen had sustained some significant smoke damage. But the only casualty was the stove. He even joked a little with me after the firemen left, indicating he had already moved past the stage in which he might have blown up and moved right into acceptance.

“Goddammit Andy! I invite you to come and live in my house and you almost burn it down?!?!” He said. “I mean, is that what you want me to say?”

“No,” I chuckled. “Not really. But I’m going to apologize another 5 or 6 times nonetheless.” He brushed this off absently.

 

Fire Rubble

The next week at my job as a wheelchair pusher at Eppley, the regional manager of my company was visiting to check on the operation. When my manager asked me about the fire in his presence, he told me about the employee assistance program that might very well help pay for my minor disaster. When word got out of this, fellow employees joked about what they may be able to get the company to help them out with. To one musing about a home stereo system, I mused, “They may very well help you out with something like that. Only problem is you have to damn near burn your house down and deal with the aftermath. Good luck with that.”

There’s a Chris Rock bit in which he jokes that they should just call insurance coverage “In case shit.” When I obtained my new car, my father admonished me to get comprehensive insurance coverage on my car because, well, it’s the first car I’ve had in 5 years that is worth a damn. So I did. In the wake of the fire, the first words out of every, single, person’s mouth, from my mother to my boss to the fire marshal to the dog across the street who seemed to shoot me a disapproving look when I first rolled up on the scene, was “Do you have renter’s insurance?” I did not.

 

Fire Shelves 2

But I’m looking into it.

 

 

Million-Dollar Idea, Pt. 4

A Facebook Friend recently posted a photo of her darling little dog (by the way, I am coming to dislike the term Facebook Friend. While accurate, it just somehow seems so impersonal, though a FB friend she is. And as I always say, it is what it is) after a dental extraction. I really sound very clinical when I say “dental extraction.” It sounds a lot more technical and medical than “the dog had another tooth yanked,” which is what happened. But the way I say it makes me think that those tuition dollars Mom and Da ponied up for half a semester of veterinary technician schooling wasn’t all for naught. Kathy posted a picture of Rafael and he only had 4 teeth left. Four. And while I don’t recall from my vet tech schooling how many teeth dogs start out with (I failed that exam, among many others. Stupid brain damage), I know it’s probably a good many more than 4.

Which got me to thinking (always a dangerous, if not amusing prospect), and I came up with one of my million-dollar ideas. I’ve had 3 so far, the explanations of which I’ve posted on this blog and I’m shocked that no one has run with them and thus deprived me of millions of dollars in royalties or at least a few grand in naming rights. But the specifics of this idea definitely lend themselves to some thoughtful consideration.

If you are a dog, you are by nature a carnivore. That’s why so many dog foods attempt to recreate the flavor if not the actual substance of lamb and chicken and beef and the like. Another FB friend of mine has been having issues with her dog’s vomiting and watery stool and I comforted her by saying The Dude probably just ingested something funky while she wasn’t looking. Because as most dog owners will testify, a great many dogs have a strange taste for things that we as humans are left shaking our heads and wondering what would possibly make motor oil or anti-freeze or an old shoe sound enticing. I don’t know if eating a leather couch or a box of nails is what ultimately lead to the rapid deterioration of Tucker (The Dude) or Rafael’s dental health, but I have come up with a solution.

 

Luke's denture 1

Doggie dentures. Let’s dispense with the “I could never sit my dog down long enough to get them in” or “They would just come loose” or “What person in their right mind would use a product like that. Feed the dog scrambled eggs the rest of his life and call it good.” I know a few people that probably have had thought like this but honestly, I love food too much to have pride about how I chew it. If I had to glue broken glass to my gums in order to enjoy Blue Diamond Smokehouse almonds I’d do it in a heartbeat. And I know dogs that feel that exact same way. I used to work for a dog boarding place that had some rotund clients who never missed a meal and their owners never missed giving it. Sadly, dogs can also be extremely obese and contract diabetes but that doesn’t keep them from the Beggin’ Strips if they can get at them. Besides, most dogs are smart enough to know through trial-and-error that if they sit still long enough for the owner to put in their teeth, there’s definitely some steak to go with the eggs on the horizon.

Addressing the question of doggie dentures having a precarious hold on the gums, I assume great strides have been made in adhesives over the years that the habit of having to constantly work ones lips and tongue in order to keep them in place doesn’t happen anymore. I personally haven’t seen it since this substitute teacher we had in fourth grade used to do it all the time. The mockery she received because of it is probably one of the reasons she didn’t sub at my grade school for very long (I went to grade school with some bonafide jerkweeds.) Although it would be wicked funny to watch a Chihuahua or Bichon Frise walk around smacking their gums all the time like Ms. Patterson.

And as far as the question of variety of diet, do you seriously want to relegate your dog to a constant intake of scrambled eggs or oatmeal or wheat paste the rest of its life? Smell is one of the dog’s primary senses, way beyond sight. That’s why millions of dollars are invested in making dog food smell good even if it has the consistency of chewed bubble gum mixed with chalk. So I say grab the tooth glue and lock and load.  take the dog to the vet and get him fitted for some phony choppers.  Your dog will eventually thank you, even if they do greet you initially with my K-Man’s patented “Are you freakin’ serious” stare.

 

Luke's denture 2

Fun with Texts, Pt. 2

I saw this thing on Facebook a few months ago that celebrated the fact that many people have made friends in various social networking avenues with people they’ve never actually met in person. This is overwhelmingly true for me in the Open Group for Bedlam Farm, a group solely devoted to creativity. One of my best “friends” there is a woman named Lisa and she has an absolutely fantastic blog called Just Ponderin’ in which she examines all facets of her personal life, from her family to her dogs and on and on. You can get to the blog by going to the left hand side of this page and clicking on the link under Blogs I Follow. And she’s really, really funny. Full disclosure: I stole the title Fun with Texts from her (you can read her contributions to the subject here) and as I seem to be posting more and more about my own experiences with text messaging, I should probably come up with my own title. I thought about it and haven’t come up with much. There’s just not much you can do with the word “text.” I thought about “Text-book Examples” or maybe “I Wanna Text You Up.” Not really catchy category titles, so I’m just gonna go with Text Ed. See? That’s not really catchy either, but anti-thievery is one of the laws of writing and I can’t outright permanently steal Lisa’s. So Text Ed it is.

So the second post in this fledgling category has actually turned out to be a part 2. I didn’t intend it to be, but you will see why it became such. See, many months ago, I posted about the many things that I see in my job pushing wheelchairs at Eppley Airfield. One of those things is the horrible brain child of someone looking to capitalize on the “Yea!!! A celebrity knows our town exists!” mind-set that spawned the “Omaha! Omaha!” T-shirt. If you don’t know about this, click here.

When I saw the shirt, my first and only thought was “Fantastic. All we need is one person wearing this shirt anywhere outside of Omaha to completely buttress the stereotype that Nebraska is just a bunch of bumpkin hicks.” I didn’t even consider that there might be a market for the shirts in the children demographic. I was wrong. Check this out:

Texts 2-2

Texts 2-3

 

 

Her friend Martha wanted a shirt for her grandson, a Denver Broncos fan. And while no one but me and the clerk would actually see me buy the shirt, you can imagine my chagrin at even this prospect and I told her so.

Texts 2-4

She had a point there. I mean I do owe this woman, at least partially, my life. Like, a couple thousand times over. So I agreed. Grudgingly.

Texts 2-5

Unaware at this point if she had read either the post about the shirt or the Fun with Texts Part. 1, I warned her of the possible ramifications (I also ignored the glaring error in light of my giddiness).

Texts 2-6

Turns out, she had read Part 1.

Texts 2-7

Him (Dependence Day)

I cleaned up what little there was to clean up after the meeting that never happened. It’s Independence Day, I told myself. Of course there was no one here.

“There was no one here, Ahab,” He commented from chair in the corner. “Not a one. That’s pretty pathetic.”

I went into the kitchen and dumped the two full pots of coffee, one regular made just the way I like it (a little extra on top of the customary one scoop. I like my coffee strong. And my coffee, my rules), and one decaf. I went in to the other meeting room and double-checked the doors (locked) and the closets (nobody sleeping in them. I’ve never seen it, but I’ve heard it’s happened). Turning the lights off again, I passed through the kitchen, turned the light off, then walked back in to the main meeting room. He was still sitting in a chair in the corner, His feet propped up on the table and His arms crossed behind his head.

“Wonder how many of your regulars went back out tonight, it being the Fourth and all,” He mused.

He was right of course. I have heard it said in the Program, always by newcomers of course, that they just couldn’t resist drinking at least a little on St. Patrick’s/Christmas/New Year’s/Memorial/Flag/Boxing Day. I mean it’s a holiday for God’s sake, they say. As if there is some written rule somewhere that on holidays, the rules and guidelines of AA don’t apply, at least to them. This kind of thinking causes me to have a truly Zen moment of anger and frustration at the disease yet compassion and sympathy for the diseased.

But no one? Of my group of hardcore AA friends, none of the ten showed. Some have immediate families, but some did not. I told myself that it was only because I agreed to chair the meeting (it was Maren’s turn) that even I showed up.

“Come now,” He said. Condescension was His favorite tone and the one He’s the best at. “It’s because you have nothing better to do and you know it,” He sneered and pulled from his flask. “And I guarantee you, at least 2 or 3 of your new little friends came running back to the bottle.”

“Once again, you just don’t get it,” I said as I gathered my open Big Book, my suckers and my keys. “I suppose it’s possible that some people went back because of today, but I don’t think …”

“Oh course they did,” He said. “And the best part is they’ll be so ashamed of themselves that they won’t come back.” Shit-eating grins all around, please.

“Not true,” I said. “We don’t shoot our wounded. Cindy came back, didn’t she?”

“Yep. And then she went back out. Again. Didn’t she?”

This was also true. The primary motivation for not coming back is shame. And the primary motivation for coming back is courage. To face your friends who are still sober? A little. To face yourself and admit that you need the Program. You better believe it.

“And the first time she used again? What was her motivation?” I asked.

“Because no one showed up at a scheduled meeting,” He said and bowed His head for moment.

“That’s correct,” I said. “And I’m not going to be the guy who has to sleep at night knowing somebody showed up at the meeting I chair and got frustrated enough that they went back out because there was no one there.”

“Jesus just admit it,” He said as He got to His feet and walked around to me. ”It’s Independence Day and you want to be out there at a ballgame or a fireworks show or just hanging out in somebody’s backyard like a normal person.” He got to me and poked me in the sternum. Hard. “I mean good Christ. You’re an Irishman for God’s sake. Just own up to the fact that an Irishman who doesn’t drink is like a fish who doesn’t swim. What are you going to do?”

“I guess I’ll follow Darwin’s theories and be the first fish that grew legs and walked out of the water,” I said. “I’ll adjust.”

I went back to the spot where I sit as the chairman and gathered my suckers, keys and Big Book. As I did, a car pulled into the parking space right outside the door. Larry and Brad got out. Larry’s been sober for 30 years next week. He calls himself a “man of hope.” Brad was sober for a long time, but didn’t realize that he couldn’t stay sober without the Program. I walked outside and met them as He looked on. I walked back inside, went into the kitchen and started another pot of my special coffee.

“What the hell are you doing?” I heard Him ask.

“Gonna be a meeting after all,” I yelled back. “And the boys want coffee.”