Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Riche burn more fossil fuels

Last year I wouldn't have turned on the furnace yet. It's just a bit in the morning and maybe a bit after dinner when the house is cold.

Instead I lit the pilot and turned on the furnace. So nice this morning.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Like the Home Shopping Network, but more subtle

First there were the joys of cable television with its many channels.

In the last couple days I discovered I can order movies. They play instantly. I put the kids in bed, and now I've watched Penelope, and Men in Black, and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and James Bond. And the R-rated Four Weddings and a Funeral. It's nearly 3 in the morning, and I'm going to be trashed tomorrow.

But the laundry's folded!

Monday, October 27, 2008

shopping, not for breakfast anymore

"I wonder if I should l take myself out to breakfast?" I wonder out loud.

Captain Awesome is sitting beside me in the car, typing on his laptop, making phone calls, and Captain knows what else. That's why I am driving, as usual. Also, I drive so he can go directly from the conference to the airport without having to park the car.

"Didn't you get breakfast?"

"The kids ate all the pancakes, so I'm hungry." I'm trying to recover some of my dropped skills, like making pancakes for breakfast on a school day. The kids have been missing the things I used to do to improve our lifestyle with minimum outlay, like making pancakes for them in the morning, or making biscuits to go along with dinner. Or doing their laundry on time.

"You should have breakfast at the conference," says Awesome, and somehow I'm managing to look back into those green eyes while driving. "They have a good breakfast at this hotel. And you could come hear my presentation. You've never heard my presentation."

"Um..." I say. My hair is still wet. I have on no make-up. The shirt I threw on with my jeans is extremely wrinkled. "I'm not exactly dressed for a conference." And I don't like hotel breakfast. They're always boring: refined flour, air-dried cantaloupe, sour orange juice.

"I think you look great." One of the things about Captain Awesome, is he really means it when he says things like this. I think it is actually one of the keys to his success. He sees the positive and pulls out all the stops. This is not, however, a skill I have. I know if I try and go to conference breakfast, I'll just be uncomfortable and self-conscious about the wrinkled shirt and the sockless tennis shoes and the wet, uncombed hair. I grabbed my wallet but not my purse. I don't even have lipstick. And if I go hear his presentation, I'll only hear how the delivery differs from an ideal.

And I'm bent that he's leaving again.

We arrive and say goodbye. From here Captain Awesome will fly directly to Tampa. The Captain is kind of upset that I'm blogging all his travels to A-list cities as going to Tampa, but he's the one who wanted me to try harder to be anonymous.

Now I'm alone in the big city. Six months ago, if I had spent the gas to get up here and had a little money in my pocket I definitely would have continued to nearby Flagship Department Store--once I got a dress there for $35, the selection at Flagship is wider than at home and the discounts deeper. And if I were up here with no money I would have fumed at the lost opportunity. Right now, I could also go look at furniture or fabric for my theoretical new house.

Instead I pull into traffic and head home. It's not just that I'm half-ready for the day: I could buy a clean shirt at Flagship and get a set of make-up that I probably need anyhow. This is what it is: I want to finish cleaning up after the pancakes, I want to keep my exercise schedule, and I want to do the things I used to do regularly, not the things I used to do rarely.

On the drive back, I eat the dehydrated apple slices and crackers left over from yesterday's carpooling as my breakfast.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In which I join the gym

So, I joined the gym, which meant I had to do an orientation on the cardio and weight machines.

Which have changed since I used them in high school. There is a keypad and display on each machine. It tells me how high to set the seat or arms or legs, what my weight-lifting target is, it counts my lifts for me, and it clucks at me if I lift too fast to be effective.

Albus did my orientation. Nice guy, older than me, very kind. I was ridiculously self-conscious about the weight-lifting. I didn't know how anything worked, I didn't know how hard to work, and I was very worried about my back and knees. I was embarrassed that on any arm machine, I'm pushing or pulling only 15 pounds. Good grief, most babies I pick up must weigh more than 15 pounds. The bags of groceries I carry in from the car must weigh more than 15 pounds.

Albus had some really good pointers that came out in conversation. That made me wonder about hiring a personal trainer.

Then Cedric took over on the orientation. Cedric was a twenty-something, an ex-football player I'd guess from his build. So suddenly I was old and fat and stupid. Where Albus cautioned me about not overdoing it, Cedric was perplexed why I wouldn't just do as much as I could. He reminded me of myself in college.

I've been to the gym an handful of times since then. Because of Albus I felt like I could do it. Because of Cedric, I got braver and upped the weight load on about half the routines.

I haven't lost any fat, but I'm becoming aware of my own body again. Whether I'm standing up straight. Where my limbs are.

I will say this: exercising does take an amazing lot of time. On the days I lift weights, the excursion to the gym is more than 90 minutes. Not the lifestyle of a working mother. But I'm going to see where it leads.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fashion: Controlled by the Rich and Powerful

Do you know the real reason low-rise jeans are everywhere in style? That's so old chunky biddies like me can wear a small jean size, despite the fact we have 35-inch waists!

Do you know why bangs are making a comeback? That's so chunky old biddies like me can hide the wrinkles on our forehead. We weighed that against how much fatter our faces will look, and hiding the wrinkles won. Take that, you 20-year-old wrinkle-less models!

Do you know why they play all those old songs from the 80s and early 90s at the stores? That's because that's my favorite music!


Edited to add comeuppance: I decided to trim my bangs again after writing this post. Stupid, overconfident me, I cut them too short, thereby dropping the socioeconomic level of my hair by at least two levels.

Now I'm afraid to go back to the Bobcut Salon until I grow them out, because when Bobbie sees what I did to myself, she's going to throw up her hands.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Indulgence: New Bike Rack

Spoil me! I bought a bike rack for my car!

oo0o, it is so nice. Much easier to use than the one I got at a garage sale that almost immediately fell apart.

I know the weather's going to make it pointless soon, it would be more sensible to wait until Spring.

But why be sensible? Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I go to the salon, and I experiment with tipping

Last week I called for a same-day appointment. Captain Awesome was getting back early from Timbuktu, and we were going to go to dinner with someone who wasn't mormon. I needed eyebrows. I made the appointment, but then showed up late. They put me in the waiting room the same length of time. Then a young Russian woman who happened to be there that day waxed my brow, quickly enough that I wouldn't be late to pick up the kids, and she wouldn't be late to her next appointment.

At the front desk, I tipped her $20.

Twenty dollars?!! said the receptionist. I think mostly that was about it not being a mistake I'd be angry about later. I was surprised $20 was enough for her to check, and I was surprised the attitude about receiving a tip isn't take-the-money-and-run.

"Yes" I said, giving her my best level gaze. "Her work is totally worth it."

Not that I'm going back anytime soon. But I was feeling very grateful, that she had done a good job, that she had fit me into the schedule, and that I was going to arrive at the elementary school on time.

I'm looking forward to Waiter Rant's next book on tipping.

The Secret Millionaire

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I wasn't drinking coffee

My girlfriend was in town for the weekend, and invited me to join her in the city for brunch. Captain Awesome encouraged me to do it, though I would miss church.

I didn't know how traffic would go--it turns out there can be very little traffic on a Sunday morning. Also, I left early, once everyone else left for church. So I arrived a whole hour early. There is an Anthropologie store nearby. I knew it would be there, right by where I would park.

I decided to go see what was there.

I have a few friends who decorate and dress very stylishly, in fact in the very Anthropologie style, without ever shopping there, and possibly without ever going in. I'm not like that, and I'm fascinated by this store. My decorating gene is broken, and I'm a perpetual "before" of what not to wear. I used to wonder, if I could just go in the store and buy everything the way they have it, if it would still be cute when I took it home. I haven't tried it, but since I've been able to, I've suspected it would not.

I ended up trying on a couple things, which is more than looking. And then, when it was obvious I would look better in the elegant sweater than the t-shirt I was wearing, I decided to buy it. And the other sweater. And a handbag.

I started chatting to the gal who rung up my sale. She has the same number of children as me. She works there full time. I used to work in retail, so I was asking if she got the "good" schedule, working the shift that starts in the morning. Retail jobs are hard to work around a life. She has to close once a week, so that night she's not home with her kids.

Of course, by shopping there today, I am contributing to the fact she doesn't have Sunday home with her kids.

When I connected up with my girlfriend, she didn't have time to stay for a full lunch. We grabbed coffee instead, so she could catch an earlier flight home. Of course, "grabbed coffee" means I had hot chocolate, while she had coffee. I was wearing my Sabbath-breaking sweater, and my shopping bag was parked by the chair.

There are times, when it's clear, I'm doing it all wrong.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Costco is full of stuff

I was really at Costco to get toilet paper. I started meandering, and found myself face-to-face with an X-box game system. You know, like the one your son goes to the neighbor's house to play. And I thought: I could put that in the cart.

And then I turned around, I guess I was standing in the Christmas section, in the middle of the store. And there was stuff to buy, everywhere. In colors. It was garish.

I don't think I've ever really looked at Costco. I just go in, buy my toilet paper, or my 50lb sack of flour, I don't look around. Suddenly, at Costco, and everywhere else, there is all this stuff to buy, that I could buy.

I could just put that X-box in the cart and run. To the check-out, that is.

It's like I moved here from Russia. I'm wowed by things on the shelf.

Though actually, these days, there are more millionaires in Moscow than anywhere else. Or was that billionaires?

They call it a halo setting

No, that's not my ring. But it is very pretty.

I was at Costco again...and drifted over to the jewelry case.

I don't know what it is about me and my fascination with diamonds. You can refuse the diamond culture in Provo and then discover yourself wondering about it ten years later.

Not too long into our new situation, Awesome and I had a conversation, where we reaffirmed it is more important to buy a house than a diamond. And, also I learned that it is going to be hard for Awesome to buy me a diamond. Apparently guys measure each other based on the rock the wife is wearing. So much better not to play the game.

Most the engagement rings in the case this time were halos. I was surprised. The first I'd ever heard of halos was on Pricescope earlier last month. But then, less than ten years ago I was so fascinated by the Tiffany Lucida, and now I wouldn't want one.

I wonder what it is like to have a diamond ring for many years. It would help me know what would be worth buying, if any would be worth getting at all.

in which I give a gift

I've never been good at gifts. I'm embarrassed when I receive them, and I'm stressed when I try to give them. It really has been rather convenient, that I simply haven't been able to afford them for so many years.

So this year, for his birthday, I decided to buy Captain Awesome a pair of sunglasses. Real sunglasses. Maui Jim's.

I drove everyone in the store a little crazy picking them out. I wanted something that would look great with a suit. But not make him look like a hitman.

So, he opened the box, he was delighted, the kids were delighted with cool dad. The sunglasses made their way into the glove box of the car. He never wears them.

They cost more than $200! So much for me and my gift-giving abilities.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What would you do with a million dollars, part 26

While driving my daughter to seminary, we're reminiscing about the house close to where we're driving, the one we lost the bid on.  The kitchen was small, but it did have a gas stove, which is a particular hang up of mine.

Daughter: Mom, oh my gosh! We could have a stove where all four burners work!  That would be epic.

And I wonder why I'm having adjustment issues.

impart of your substance

There are ads on the radio, a chain of stores collecting coats for foster kids, a fundraiser for the homeless shelter downtown. I have an impulse to give, but then instead I wonder if I would buy the right kind of coat or if the church that runs the homeless shelter hates mormons. And then I do nothing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

So, today my card was declined.

Office Lady: So, we have some payment plans, she picks out papers from clear boxes on the wall, and once that's settled we can set up your next appointment.

Office Lady: now these hours, some of them will be for time spent on phone calls, time reviewing files...

Me: I understand, and I am cutting her off when I say this. I have a lawyer and an accountant. I don't expect them to do all the work I pay them for in my presence.

Me: I don't need to see the payment plans. I'll pay now. We'll make the appointment now.

Office Lady: Okay, but there's no rush.

Me: I know this might seem somewhat impetuous to you, but I made this decision a year ago and I've been saving the money. So, I'll pay the full amount now. and I put my credit card on the table.

Office Lady: okay, then let me recalculate. I'll take off 5%.

Office Lady, says something polite, and swipes card through little machine that looks like a black printing calculator. Same kind of machine as they have at the orthodontist.


Office Lady: Oh dear, your card has been declined.

Me, having flashbacks, to times this has happened before. Usually this happened before because Captain Awesome was out doing some awesome thing for his company, out of our checking account. I have no idea what my face did at this point of the conversation. I am trying to figure out how this could be happening.

Office Lady: Let me just run it again. Sometimes it just doesn't go through.


Office Lady: Oh dear, your card has been declined again.

Me, thinking this was never going to happen to me again, ever in my life.

Me, wondering if people whose cards have never really been declined, have this reaction too, or a different one.

Me, thinking about how much money is in the bank. A lot. If it really is gone, where would it be?

Office Lady: I'll just go downstairs and use the other machine.

Me, somewhat aggressive: Has it ever, ever been the case, that when you go downstairs, the answer is different? No matter which machine you send the message from, the answer must come from the same server. The same answer.

Office Lady doesn't answer.

Me: I'm not sure what the problem is, but another machine isn't going to make any difference.

Me: I'll go to the bank. I'll bring you the money now.

Office Lady: oh, that's not necessary. You can send the money later this week. You don't need to pay now.

Me: I'll go to the bank now. I don't know where my checkbook is anyway.

Office Lady: Actually, it is a bank holiday today.


Me, peeking into my purse. Perhaps for my keys, I have had enough. But there, at the bottom, between the crumpled grocery receipt and the unopened package of screws, is the checkbook. Where were you when the PTA donation committee came by?

Me: Look, here is my checkbook. I will write the check now. It will clear later this week. I don't want another errand to run later.

I write the check. The amount is some ridiculous number, like a Sudoku game on some smaller square, where no two digits can be used twice. It was a different number, but a number like this, before she took the 5% off. I suppose it is supposed to make me feel like the number has been exactly calculated, that each penny reflects some costful effort they will expend on my behalf. It makes writing the check more onerous, since each place value must be written out on the line, and it will all barely fit in.

I am sure Office Lady is assuming this check will bounce. I am sure she thinks I am playing my part of some elaborate game, the game where her previous move was to offer to try the credit card machine downstairs.

I sign the check and leave.

I consider, briefly, going straight home rather than to the mall next door, where they sell the jeans I need. At home I can get online and see what's up at the bank. At the mall, I may get to play card declined again. At the intersection I decide a normal person would go ahead and buy the jeans, since I'm on this side of town. Stick to the original plan.

The card works fine at the mall. I give it a workout.

At home, online, I see that my money, more than enough to cover the check, is still in the bank.

Perhaps the fraud department doesn't like Sudoku numbers anymore than I do.

In which I console myself by going shopping

My one pair of pants died this weekend, the pocket ripped leaving a hole behind, and I had to borrow a pair that belonged to my kid.

So at the near-to-errands mall, I went to Gap and bought jeans, and then cords, and then a couple t-shirts. The colors were absolutely delish. Rusty red. Cranberry. That deep Fall blue. Livid green. Anyway, apparently I was having some kind of sensual color experience there. And then socks for $2 pair. And socks for my kids so they won't steal mine. Then I drove across town and bought myself new running shoes And a $20 watch with a set of wristbands in different colors.

Then I went to pick up the kids, and realized everything I was wearing is new. I had changed into the new clothes, piece by piece, along the way. That was very odd.

Pretty soon I will run out of things I obviously need. I need something better to do than shopping.

No longer about my hair color or dress size.

I just realized. If Captain Awesome died, someone might want to marry me for my money.

Dang, that's weird.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I came clean to Captain Awesome

So, I told Captain Awesome about my blog.  And, after he picked himself off the floor laughing, he told me to shut it down.  

Okay, I said.  But, it's very funny.

But no one should know who we are, he said.

Well, that's the problem.  Some people figured it out.

Well, then you should shut it down.

I looked very sad.

He started laughing again.

Okay, he said.  Just don't make us look bad.

Captain honey, looking bad is the whole point of this blog.   The fact is, I'm very bad at this.  I do look bad.  

He's still laughing.

and he said I could keep telling my story.

So, here I go.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Hire an Interior Designer

Today I paid an interior designer $280 to talk me out of moving the piano and keep me from pulling a couple bookshelves off the wall.  It's sort of like hiring your own suicide watch--lady, step away from the crowbar.   

I stacked the deck by renting a storage unit first, to which I carted off our excess of furniture and boxes this afternoon in the van.  After the designer told me what to keep.  Four trips in the van. 

 Sometimes I think I've fallen into hiring people to rubber stamp my own decisions.  I had my feng shui close to right, but I'm happier now that the room is further adjusted.  Someone might argue that the room looks pretty much the same as it did before, except clean, and that person might be Captain Awesome when he gets back from Tampa.