Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How High's The Water, Mama?

Five feet high and rising.

Noooooo. Puh-leeeeze. I wouldn't pretend to falsify our situation in a self-serving attempt to garner sympathy. I do have SOME standards. 

It's actually $296.21 for last month. And after a quick, panic-derived call to the water company, sweet, sweet Annette assured us that this month's bill is substantially more impressive. Even my dear friend and poet of humanity, Johnny Cash, couldn't, I dare say wouldn't, draft prose around such horrifying possibilities. But here it is. In black (like The Man In Black himself) and white invoice form. 

We can make it to the road in a homemade boat

That's if we could get these checks to float
But Annette don't care if our children have no coats, 

Five feet high and risin'

How high's the fever, Papa? 

104.5 and rising.

I remember when Abby, the five-year-old, was an infant. Her pediatrician reminded me, "Anything under 100.4 is a safe and acceptable fever in a child. This helps to fight off infection, and arms the body with yet another tool to rid us the things that make us sick." So, what does 105 do, doc? (As the anxiety-stricken layman rounds up, of course.) Her loving father, in an attempt to help, lay awake in bed and utters, "That's probably frying her brain. You know that, right?"

Well, the hives are gone,
I've lost my bees
She's gotta fever that's makin' her wheeze
Daddy's diagnosis earns him a PhD
104.5 and risin'

How bad's the ulcer, Papa? 

Two Pepcid per hour and rising.

Poor, papa. He loves his children with a unique devotion and tenderness that I have had the privilege to witness beginning the day our oldest was born. And, as much as it pains me to see him worry, I'd be lying if I told you I didn't find his tendency toward catastrophic thinking endearing -- I'd even go so far as to say amusing.

"Fry her brain? Um. Seriously?"

"Beth, I remember being a kid." (Good to know his memories include childhood. Excellent preamble, counselor.) "I'm pretty sure we're supposed to put her in the bathtub with ice water or something. I think that's what my parents did, anyway. Besides, it's not unrealistic to think her brain cells are dying off right now."

I refrained from commentary such as, "Riiiiiiiiight. I think perhaps your parents waited too long to get you in ice water."

In humility, the following morning, I discovered he had actually woken up nearly every hour to monitor her temp. Despite his sagging lids and red eyes, the relief on his face was transparent as he announced, "She's down to 100.4!" Good job, papa.

Hey, come look through the window pane,
The bus is comin', gonna take us to the train
Her temp is down and papa's gut is feelin' no pain,
Spirits are high and risin'

Friday, February 18, 2011

Insults, Injury and the Status Quo

New Year Resolutions. I don't do them. In fact, I resolve very little, be it a page turn of the calendar or otherwise.  

Self-serving disclaimer to follow: I like to think my observational skills are such that, as necessity dictates, I can and will make changes to ensure life improves. Usually, for my offspring more than for myself. I'm rather content in my thirty-odd years of practically drama-free living. As the lead researcher of my own complex character existentialism, I see very little that needs changing (other than the sheets...) and understand, warmly embrace even, my own dependence upon variable-free day-to-day living, and I believe that ultimately results in a fairly constant state of peaceful existence.

However, if the winter onslaught of January and February wasn't enough, the past 72 hours have unfolded themselves, nearly hour by hour, as something of an epiphany for me. And, it seems, not only hour by hour but page turn by page turn, this stoic lead character (I think we'd all agree "heroine" is a bit of a stretch) has slowly come to realize that change, whether welcome or not, will indeed come knocking. And one may choose to open the door, and warmly embrace the arrival of the impromptu house guest. Or, turn the bolt lock with a snap, turn a nose to the air and turn a cold shoulder to the inevitable.

Through the process of this week's preliminary studies, I believe the latter to be detrimental. Seems my penchant for the passe precludes progress. As is evidenced by the following summary of the aforementioned 72-hour cathartic period.

Sunday, my darling, darling nomad of a spouse leaves for work.

Wednesday afternoon, the water meter reader arrives. Child is sleeping. Existentialist is hard at work, answering emails and pondering the frequency of the appearance of pink rings in the toilet bowls. Doorbell rings. (Think campy horror flick. Ding. Doooooooooong. Complete with warped and warbled sound effects. Danger, Will Robinson. Danger.)

"Ma'am? (Ugh. "Ma'am". Basically, a passive insult. Nothing good ever follows a "Ma'am?" It's like when your mom calls, and greets you with "Honey? You got a second?" Ding. Doooooooooong.) "Are you aware you've got a water leak out here leading from the main line?" Internal dialogue: "Why Yes! Dear, sir. Isn't it a thing of beauty? Bubbling up like a fresh natural spring. Peaceful. Wouldn't you agree?"

In reality, this conversation ends with a field trip out to the water box, with a detailed explanation consisting of the following phrases: "200% of your normal usage", "definitely your responsibility to fix", "plumber will need to bust up this sidewalk", "water will be out for days", "may want to contact the city", "you're screwed", "gather up your children and head out", "cash in your 401k", "get your living will in order".

Thursday phone calls ("We've traced the call... it's coming from inside the house.") from both our Home Warranty Company as well as our Homeowner's Insurance Company confirm that such a trifle matter is not covered by any of our policies.

Thursday evening, nomad wanders back to the tribe. Four year old receives an unfortunate and forceful blow to the brow with a metal doorknob. (Palpable irony.) After parental deliberation on severity of said injury, our foursome loads up and heads to the ER. (This experience deserves the solemnity of its own post. I will therefore withhold detailed commentary.) A leisurely four hours later -- wiled away with an oft-replayed downloaded episode of "Yo Gabba Gabba! on the nomad's phone, Ray Charles's Hit the Road, Jack, numbing cream and three sutures -- we head home.

Friday morning, five year old shuffles into nomad and existentialist's room, ablaze with fever and upset stomach, unsure she'll make it to the toilet. Internal dialogue: "Holy Hand Grenade. We have no water. Vomiting kid. No water." Ding. Doooooooooong.

Just as I'm heading to the front door with a screw driver and pliers to forcefully remove the doorbell (what I had at that time concluded as the source of all evil), the Masters of Disaster -- 24-Hour Emergency Plumbing Service arrive. After sucking down the smoke of three cigarettes, while bluntly prodding the sod in question, Mr. Disaster Master confirms, "It's not good."

Currently, we are awaiting a jackhammer to arrive to destroy the sidewalk covering the problem pipe, in so doing, significantly contributing to our neighbors' ever-growing distaste for us. I have decided to not only keep the doorbell functioning, but unlock the front door, open it wide, and freely accept any and all possible arrivals for the unforeseeable future. It is obvious to me, with head in the sand, I've ignorantly evaded change far too long. It has found me. Tracked me down like a thief in the night. Has me zeroed in, and will unrelentingly plop itself upon my front stoop until it believes I have succumbed to my fair share of drama-filled, variable-driven, lifestyle-altering change.

Ding. Doooooooooong.

"Why come on in! Yes. Yes! Of course, have a seat. I'd offer you a glass of water, but I'm fresh out." 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Slow & Sane Wins The Race

Today the high is forecast to be 39 degrees.

And as I watched the sun rise this morning over the blindingly white landscape, a new hope washed over me with every gulp of coffee I chugged. It appears we will indeed survive. Our mental capacities will hold out. This little family has built a foundation of perseverance with copious amounts of snow and an occasional oatmeal cookie washed down with a Samuel Adams Boston Lager. The finish line is in sight, and our four-person relay team will conquer this grueling marathon with strength and full neurofunction.

And as my pulse quickened with excitement, and I began to hear the theme to Chariots of Fire faintly rise in tandem with the sun above the horizon, I found my oldest in the mud room, tying her own snow boots onto the dog's front paws and saying "You ready for this Maddie? Time to go hiking."

Perhaps we didn't make it, after all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snow Me Your Punny Side

Snowco. Snowranged. Snowlirious. Snowmentia.
Let's face it. Too much of anything ultimately results in a plebeian cliche. (Think flannel, residential holiday mailbox flags, Dippin' Dots.) And on any other day, a day on which, oh I don't know, I'd be able to open my front door without 32-foot snow drifts threatening to charge through my foyer and consume my children, I'd scoff at the aforementioned trite, and find bits far more abstruse to ponder upon. However, today is not that day. Today is a day to celebrate the snowverdone plays on words, for some of which, I have many of you to thank. Keep them coming, folks. I've gotta fever. And the only cure, is more snow puns. Here are a few of my favorites, some snowlects, if you will:

Oh...snow you didn't.
Snow much for spring.
Snow way!
A snow's throw away
Snowly cow!
Well, snow me over.
There's snow way out
Snow'cha know??
The point of snow return.
Snow me to the door.
Snow holds barred
Snow me the money.
Snow effin' way!

This snowpocalyptic season itself has indeed become cliche. But my love for a snowtastic double entendre has not. Snow way.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A New Perspective

The latest weather report I've read described the upcoming onslaught as a "whopper of a storm." This has drawn me to several hypotheses.

1. Our local meteorologists have lost it. They're exhausted. Hungry. They've sat slumped in their crappy non-ergonomically correct newsroom chairs, unable to count the number of days they've been in the same shirt and tie. Their muscles in atrophy, they're completely apathetic to the plight of the people. Their eyes have glazed over, unable to focus on predictive computer forecast models. They are as desperate as unequipped and wary nomadic desert wanderers, seeing mirages of utopia-worthy temperate forecasts manifest themselves on their computer screens. "A breezy 74 with sunny skies awaits us tomorrow. Scrape the ice off the grills, people! Trade those snow boots for flip flops, and light the citronella candles. It's gunna be a whopper of a storm!"

2. I'm revising my latest grocery list. Previous to the aforementioned forecast being published, my local grocer was going to receive cash payment for the following:
Frozen Waffles
Peanut Butter
Toilet Paper

I've since decided to replace those items with the following:
2 Cartons of Marlboro Lights (I don't smoke. But given this latest turn of events, I figure it's best to increase all detrimental factors in order to make my misery as short-lived as possible.)

3. I will not retrieve my oldest from school today. They willingly accepted her back this morning, with every understanding that they were responsible for her well-being. She's better off there anyway. (Refer to hypothesis 2.)

In an interesting side note, my husband left yesterday for work. Between the time he arrived to his destination (a luxurious mountain lodge resort in the beautiful Ouachitas) and this morning, my BFF, Mother Nature, handed him three inches of snow and the inability to drive the ten minutes down the mountain to the account he is supposed to be working this week. So, while we at home successfully coax our ulcers out of recession and resist the urge to vomit, we can at least be at peace knowing he's snug as a bug in one of Arkansas's most beautiful natural landscapes, enjoying a crackling fire, a full wait staff and the perspective of an indefinite return.

Cheers, sweetheart.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Thaw. Coronary and Otherwise.

Snow-covered feeders await the day's first customers.
Last night, as I watched the last of yesterday's flakes dance and then disappear into the ginormous powder puff that was once my back yard, I tried determinedly to stifle the rancid case of pessimism that I'd been harboring the past four days. What gives? When did unabashed dread and acute mope-tastic behavior replace winter storm excitement? 

Here's what I believe to be true of the parent psyche relevant to ice, snow and any other manner of winter's wrath: 

Laundry piles up. Hourly. No sooner does one toss that last frayed fabric softener sheet into the trash can and stuff yet another newly-single sock into the rag bag does the next soggy, grimy, smelly round manifest itself. My children seem to be slow on the uptake on this one. You'd think after innumerable rounds of eye rolling, heavy sighing, grinding of teeth and 20-minute lectures on "The Essence of Clothes: Understanding Fabric's Attraction to the Coat Hanger & Dissecting Its Fear of the Floor", they'd learn to at least hide the barely worn clothing in some dark corner of the closet, temporarily sparing themselves yet another earful from me. Long days at home make for long hours in the laundry room. And there's no better catalyst for pessimism than laundry. 

Watching the Aristocats thrice daily impairs mental function. Everybody wants to be a cat? Huh? We're not cat people. Our smelly outdoor Golden Retriever, and her severe lack of intelligence, is right up our ally. And I'm fairly certain she does NOT want to be a cat. Or perhaps she does. It could explain her constant consumption of the neighbor cat's byproducts. Right. Another story for another day. 

Twenty-seven hands of Crazy Eights with a four and a five-year-old result in an inability to properly identify the cards held in one's hand. Jack? No, no, no. That's the "J" card. Queen of Hearts? Try the "Your Highness Sweet Pea" card. And throw out any previous understanding that there is any difference between a six and a nine.

But, after the kids were in bed, (...I make no claims that I bathed them or brushed their teeth. The five-year-old "won" at Crazy Eights, and presented a very convincing argument that winners never get dirty...) I found myself mesmerized by the scene out my window. It wasn't necessarily a bad day. Just a long one. And there was beauty to be found throughout it, if I would have ignored the laundry long enough to see it. Or snuggled on the couch for thirty minutes to watch it. Or realized the hilarity of matching "Super K Crown" cards to enjoy it. 

And in the splendor of today's long-awaited sunshine, as the icicles drip away and the powder puff blanket sinks into the brown grass, the cold pessimism of my winter heart is melting, drop by drop. (Due in no small part to the fact that the kids are sleeping and my husband is attempting to match socks. Bless him.) And perhaps, with enough sunshine - and the school doors reopening - this mental hang up called winter will yet again earn my appreciation for the excitement that it once harbored.

But, then again... maybe I'm just dreaming of spring.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 4. Snowpocalypse.

What follows is the cry for help sent out yesterday: 

Urgent. Send help. The troops are restless. Defying authority. Please notify the general that action must be taken, and soon. The situation is worse than we had originally feared. The troops have taken on a dog, providing it shelter and food within our living quarters. I believe delirium to be the culprit for one soldier in particular, as evidenced by her constant and continual request to change into her dress uniform and "perform a show". The rest of us are doing our best to hide our concern for her mental state, but just yesterday her fellow soldier informed me, "This snow is making me bananas."

The one glimmer of hope are the birds which we are able to see close to the barracks. But even the wildlife runs to safety when our soldier in question runs through the mess hall, towards the window screaming, "BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRDS!!!!!!!"

No end in sight. Our path to the dispatch is still blocked. All roads to the the Root Rendezvous are treacherous. Please advise of our next orders. Something must be done before it's too late.

And in true bureaucratic and tax-payer-funded government fashion, an unsurprising response: 

General Headquarters
Troop 1690-72701

...This is a generated message. Due to blizzard conditions all Headquarters and sub-committee offices regarding solution/consultation situations are closed. If this is an emergency contact your Senator and/or Representative. We feel all troop leaders have been properly trained and are capable of handling any emergency, anyway. Actually we have all managed to avoid any danger to our lives and have temporarily moved our offices to undisclosed (resort) locations. The President considers our role in the defense of the United States such that he has ordered our complete removal from any dangerous situations or difficult decision making.

There has been no return date discussed.

Semper fidelis

My futile retort:

Troop 1690-72701
General Headquarters C/O Carnival Cruise Lines


Please deliver the following message, as it is a matter of national security.

As of 1500 hours, Thursday afternoon, we will be abandoning our assigned post for Operation Subzero Brain Numb. We've made no headway in crossing over enemy lines, and at this point, feel our orders simply cannot be executed. As the officer in charge of the brigade, I've made the executive decision to leave the canine behind. While the troops sleep, I am packing their duffel bags, and with the help of my subordinate, Sergeant Major Allison, will secure our outpost for an indefinite return. It is increasingly clear that leaving the barracks is our only option to regain sanity of the soldiers in question.

At this time, I unfortunately cannot comment on our estimated time of return. Please await further communication on our progress. We will send CCs of this briefing to the tiki bar, masseuse, and hotel concierge to ensure this safely gets to you, and that you are at all times aware of our plight.

To date, there's been no response.

Adding To The Clutter

If you haven't heard, it's snowing. Again.

Yesterday, in a fit of delirium brought on by an extreme case of cabin fever, I composed an email to my parents, in a futile effort to initiate some sort of adult contact.

I posted the communication to my Facebook profile, and some nuts I call friends suggested I start a blog.

So here I am. Yet another noisy voice in the cyber clutter. Undoubtedly, I accept the reality that I will indeed be the only reader. (With the exception of my husband's forced participation.) But the social psychologists of the day (AKA, the aforementioned nuts and the voices in my head) tell me it is through these electronic means of communication that I will surely find some therapeutic value. Or at least, I'll find an excuse to further ignore the fact that my children's lungs haven't processed outside air in the past four days, resulting in inexplicable behaviors.

So, read. Or don't. Whatevs. This is, after all, for me, dammit. As all things, inevitably are.