Have you ever had people say things to you — and I’m talking nice things here — that made you see yourself as someone other than the person you think you are? It always amazes when I see myself from somebody else’s perspective since usually the image does not jive at all with the image I have of myself. I mean, it sort of makes you wonder if the private you — the one that mostly lives inside your head — and the public you — the one that goes to work and the grocery store and PTA meetings — have anything in common whatsoever. This past week I had three people say things to me/ask me questions that threw me for a loop: 1) The person who cuts and styles my hair told me, “You’re always so sweet and cheerful when you come in. It just makes me day,” when really I think of myself as crabby and grumpy, especially when I have to spend $$$ just to make my hair look presentable; 2) the person working in the dressing rooms at my favorite discount-clothing store asked me if I knew where to find a purse with a clasp closure for a Christmas present, when I really think of myself as someone who can barely find her own purse and get outside the door with two matching shoes; and 3) a person in local-theater circles and I were chatting at a local coffee shop about the struggles of writing and what to do when you hit a wall and I said that caffeine always helps and this person said that (insert name of illegal drug) helps, too, and then sort of paused as if waiting for me to suggest we go get some. So in the space of three days, I’ve been identified as sweet, stylish and a drug user — when really I’m just a grouchy un-put-together coffee fiend. Sigh.
A – Age: 51
B – Bed size: Queen
C – Chore(s) you hate: Every single damn one of them
D – Dog’s name: Abby the Lately Beloved
E – Essential start-your-day item: Cappuccino. Espresso. Coffee. Rinse and repeat.
F – Favorite color: Green. No, yellow. No, blue.
G – Gold or Silver: Platinum
H – Height: One inch higher than whatever my husband claims.
I – Instruments you play: Cellphones
J – Job title: I used to have one of those …
K – Kid(s): Older Daughter (mother of grandson Capt. Adorable), Younger Daughter (college student contemplating fulfilling her mother’s dream of master’s/doctorate in English) plus Son-in-Law (Most Talented Artist Ever) and four cats.
L – Living arrangements: Married. With benefits.
M- Mom’s name: Susan Jeanette
N – Nicknames: ????
O – Overnight hospital stay other than birth: Too fuzzy to remember
P – Pet Peeve: People who cannot drive. And people who yell at people who cannot drive.
Q – Quote from a movie: From “Time Bandits” — Kevin: Yes, why does there have to be evil?
Supreme Being: I think it has something to do with free will.
R- Right- or left-handed: Right
S – Siblings: Two younger brothers, who of course were spoiled rotten and were raised by different parents than those who raised me and they got everything they ever wanted. But as all my friends and other family members know, I’ve come to grips with this and have moved on and don’t ever hardly think about it one little bit anymore at all.
T – Time you wake up: Anywhere from 4:30 to 5:30 a.m. — I know, I know. I can’t help it. It’s a curse.
U- Underwear: Yes.
V – Vegetable you dislike: One word — limayuckybeans
W – Ways you run late: Standing in my closet frantically throwing clothes on the floor and moaning, “I don’t have anything to wear. Why are all my clothes so awful? Why doesn’t anything fit? Why do I look so horrible?” In other words, typical morning routine.
X – X-rays you’ve had: Too fuzzy to remember.
Y – Yummy food you make: I am well known for my peanut-butter cookies, sandwich rollups, Chex Mix, spiced-tea mix and fresh salads. Hey, I’m thinking restaurant menu …
Z – Zoo favorite: Being on the outside looking in.
When the bottom shelf rack fell out out of the refrigerator door not once but twice a few days ago, I knew we were heading into our own personal Series of Random Unfortunate Events, because this is what happened next (and I’m not even counting the fact that our upstairs heating-unit stopped working on Christmas Eve Eve and my college-senior daughter got her nose pierced in October): 1) My car needed all new tires; 2) My digital picture frame’s screen went weirdly and sort of scarily red; 3) Our Comcast Internet and local NPR station were gone for days; 4) Our new Christmas-present TV wasn’t working properly, leaving us unimpressed with big-screen high-def; and 5) The refrigerator incidents resulted in two broken bottles of wine and one smashed-to-bits shelf. But 1) we got new tires and figured out how to set up our TV properly, 2) Comcast and NPR came back, 3) I’m working on digital-picture-frame and refrigerator-shelf replacement and 4) none of these problems required calls to or visits from plumbers, electricians, doctors, hospitals, insurance agents, fire fighters or police officers and all loved ones are happy and healthy and accounted for, so what am I complaining about?
I go for for years without hearing the word “snuff” and then I hear it twice in the same week. And not only hear it, but hear it in conversations directed toward me. The first time was when the doctor at the medical clinic I’d gone to with a sinus infection this past weekend asked me if I “dipped.” (Read more about this at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20081219/ARTICLES/812190302/1004). The second time was Friday on my (usually) daily visit to my 93-year-old mother-in-law at a local nursing home. When I go in the afternoon, she’s normally asleep, but that’s OK because her roommate — we’ll call her Mrs. H. — likes to talk. And by “talk” I mean she asks where Larry and them are and urges me to tell them to get a move on because they gotta go to town later and dinner’s almost ready. (It’s always a party at the nursing home.) But on Friday, after I asked Mrs. H. how she was and she allowed that she was pretty good, she looked me directly in the eye, jabbed a finger in my direction and said, “Don’t never do snuff. You can’t get shut of it. It’s that bad. I wish I never had.” Yes, ma’am. Point taken. I can absolutely promise never to do snuff. So that makes twice in one week that people have asked me/urged me if I did/not to do snuff. Very strange. My husband says this is chaos theory, which I interpret to mean you don’t do anything for five Saturday nights in a row and then three invitations arrive for the same Saturday night but you end up getting a sinus infection and stay home anyway. Or two people in one week mention snuff to you. Go figure.
In honor of the one holiday song I cannot get out of my head, let’s celebrate 12 Days Before Christmas. For each of the 12 days leading up to Dec. 25, I’m going to post a link, a suggestion or something Christmasy that’s caught my attention and hopefully will interest you, too. To start with Day No. 12 (one day late, but who’s counting?) , here’s a link to a great story in Sunday’s Parade magazine about budget-friendly family Christmases — http://www.parade.com/features/holiday-2008/holiday-traditions I especially like the suggestion to spread the love throughout the whole month instead of piling it all on Dec. 25. I mean, making one day perfect is a lot of pressure. Resist the urge and make every day a mini-celebration, focusing on “doing” rather than “buying.” That’s great advice all year ’round, too — and not just years in which we’re afraid to check our retirement accounts. (“Just don’t look,” my husband says. “Just don’t look.”) Come back for Christmas Countdown Day No. 11 — something mindlessly entertaining just for mom.
And the reason my 12 days of Christmas actually starts on day No. 11 is because I was down and out all weekend with a stupid, stupid sinus infection. Warning, warning! When your sniffles and sneezes and coughs turn into something that hurts — a lot — when you blink your eyes, it’s time to stop saying pitifully, “I just have a little cold” and start saying, with confidence, “I think I have the worst sinus infection ever. Ever.” Of course, it was Saturday morning when I finally decided this, so it meant a trip to the doc-in-the-box since our regular doctor quite understandably closes on weekends. Thankfully, my college-senior daughter is home on Christmas break and she sweetly volunteered to go with me, citing all the times I’d done the same for her — a karmic parental pay-it-forward I was happy to take advantage of. It’s nice to have company in these situations. For instance, she’s the one who noticed that the guy in the waiting room seated a couple seats down from me moved a couple more seats further away at one point — I know I looked bad, but was I really that bad? She said that when I got up once to call my husband, the guy leaned over, said “She’s really sick, isn’t she?” and then had moved down by the time I got back. (Hey! Sinus infections are not contagious, buddy! What happened to good old human compassion???) Anyway, when I finally got to see the doctor, he totally agreed with my self-diagnosis, although I was thrown by the series of questions he asked that started with “Do you drink?” I answered, “Yes, moderately.” He next asked, “Do you smoke?” And here I can answer definitely, “No.” His next question — “Dip?” — momentarily confused me. “Dip?” I asked myself frantically. “Dip? Like french onion dip? White cheese dip? Why is he asking me this?” Surely I didn’t say any of that out loud but maybe I did, because the doctor repeated patiently, “Dip. You know. Snuff. Tobacco. Do you dip?” Uh, that would be a no. And then I wondered what about me made him think that maybe I did. I mean, again, I know I looked bad, but still. Apparently I passed all the other sinus-infection tests so I got a shot and an indecipherable piece of paper that I only hoped said “Give this woman some of those wonderful miraculous antibiotics.” Luckily, it did. So with modern medicine and my daughter’s excellent nursing, I rejoined the world after losing only two and a-half three days (plus four Christmas parties, dang it), although the four pounds I’d lost from not eating all weekend nastily reappeared immediately after my husband and I had our weekly Sunday-night beer and nachos at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Worth it, though.