Purpose

So, the other day I was once again caught up in the horrible abyss of Pinterest-type browsing (you know, you’re looking for an idea, then you click on something, then you click on two other somethings, then you click on four other somethings from each of those pages, and suddenly you’re a subscriber to 257 different newsletters on how to make a gourd into a candle holder), and I was paying particular attention (as A.D.D. as I was, with my clicking) to how the pages were set up, whether they looked nice, whether the rolling-down-the-page-as-you-scroll advertising was a nuisance, whether these people had site editors, etc.

One thing I took particular notice of was the fact that most of them had defined a particular purpose for their sites.  Johnny is a stay-at-home Dad who makes Art with coffee cans and wants to share his vision, Mary has 42 kids and wants to share her ideas for recycling apple seeds, etc.  I also noticed some not-so-great writing and some bad English, which started the mental ball rolling about the fact that these folks don’t give a fig about English and writing (which, to me, seems to be part of the whole blog thing), they care about coffee cans and apple seeds, and bugger all the difference between “there” and “their.”

I also (begrudgingly? Defiantly?) realized that I do not have a particular purpose for my (renewed) foray into blogging.  Yes, I have a lot of nonsense things to say, and some of it is really not nonsense, at all, but, do I have a particular purpose for this?  I suggested in my “About Me” blurb that, as a “writer,” I think I go a little crazy when I have ideas bubbling through my brain and they’re just not getting put onto paper.  I can’t tell you how many “almost books” I have, floating around up there.  And I’m annoyed with those “almost books” and the fact that it’s been 4 years (egads!) since I published my Motherhood book, and it’s just getting ridiculous to not do anything about it.

Last night, I discovered that I could retrieve some of my posts from my original blog site (again, apologies if you were bombarded with email!!!), and I got to reading some of my old rants (and thank you, Jimmy, for asking about cached sites, because I tried, one last time, and found my stuff).  I remember at the time thinking that the whole idea behind my posts (could it be….. my purpose???) was to get people to perhaps think a little more about the world around them, and to be honest about themselves, and yes, maybe even to try to be nice, now and then.  It may seem odd that my oft complaining in a negative fashion has anything to do with honesty or niceness, but it’s there.

It’s nothing Earth-shattering or overly artsy, what I have to say here, but it’s certainly an attempt at sharing my outlook, warped or not, and maybe getting you to laugh a little, along the way.

Thanks for joining me on the next part of the journey!

 

Skis On Escalators

Warning: This is a long post.  Prepare yourself accordingly.

When I was recently on “vacation” I came to an important realization.  Now this may come as a complete surprise to most of you, and I’m sure it’s a totally unique thought, but, the thing is, I really enjoy the freedom of staying home and doing whatever the hell I want.

Understand that I thought long and hard before writing that last sentence. You know, you have to be careful when phrasing things lest you fall prey to the “Be Careful What You Wish For” gods…  Because of course, if I wrote something like, “I wish I didn’t have to work every day!” I would be fired next week.  And it’s not that I’m terrifically lazy or hate the idea of “work.”  I actually like my job (knocking on wood), and for once, on the last days of my “vacation”, I wasn’t actually sinking into a depression about returning to the office.

The thing is, not spending my hours at the office affords me time to do the things I enjoy. This is a shocking revelation, I know.  I had the leisure time to write, shampoo the rug, and think about all the other things I should have been doing with my spare time, such as organizing old photos (the kind that sit in a box, not in my computer) and cleaning out my email, when in fact I was watching bad crap on t.v. and playing Facebook games.

I always say to myself that I’m going to set aside time each day to do some writing (when I’m not on vacation), and, as you may have noticed, I’m not very good at that.  And that’s really ridiculous, because this is something that I enjoy.  But it is also “work.”  If you think I just sit down and take 20 minutes to ramble on and hit “publish,” you would be mistaken.  Since I’m a bit anal about English stuff, I do quite a bit of re-reading and editing before I hit that sacred button.  And part of that is my fault, because, this is a blog, after all, it’s not a submission for Pulitzer consideration.

Anyway, who wants to hear about that?  I have a few random items to share, which are earthshakingly important, and I’d better mention them now.

I happen to be one of those sorts who reads instruction/warning manuals which accompany newly purchased products.  It’s not a religious thing, particularly on items for which I need no instruction/warning, such as shoes, or mixing bowls… but generally I will take a gander, sometimes just to see if there is anything stupid in the “Warning” section.

So, a while back, much to my horror, I purchased some Crocs (sorry, to all you Croc-lovers out there..).  You know, those rubber clog shoe things.  Now, you can take some comfort in the fact that it wasn’t actually the rubber clog version that I purchased, it was a sandal with a heel version.  And, while I almost threw them down on the floor and hissed when I saw the label on the shoe box, I threw all caution to the wind and bought them, anyway.  Because they look pretty sturdy, and they don’t show too much toe, and, I don’t like toes.  Not even my own.

Anyway, fast forward to sitting at home and noticing the little placard attached to the shoes.  I know that I am always way behind in sensationalist news, so, the following will not likely be surprising to any of you, but, the placard contains an extensive warning about wearing one’s Crocs whilst utilizing escalators.  I read this multiple times, and checked the other side of the placard to see if I had missed anything, and indeed, I had not.

I wondered how it would be possible that some rounded rubbery thing with no straight or sticking-out edges could get caught in an escalator grate.  Skis, I imagine, might get caught in an escalator grate.  Or perhaps flip flops, which shouldn’t be worn in public on an escalator, anyway.  Much like skis.  But round rubbery ball-like accoutrements seem an unlikely escalator hazard.

After some investigation, and some active imagination, I admit, I still couldn’t figure it out.  Now, I didn’t read all of the 1,837 entries related to my “Crocs warning label” search, but the ones I did read all included stories of kids suffering toe injuries due to the nefarious flexibile grip type qualities native to the shoe.  Lawsuits citing “failure to warn” cropped up, and hence, the little placard attached to my yet unworn, and apparently dangerous, shoes.

Now, you’ve heard me mention this at least once before, but, let’s talk about the whole “failure to warn” idea.  Interestingly enough, one of the articles I read indicated the following:  When a product is inherently dangerous when used in a certain way, such as a hairdryer used in water, manufacturers are required to warn users of potential hazards. If they fail to do so, or if they do not effectively communicate the risk of injury or danger, then they can be considered legally responsible for harm that occurs as a result of the insufficient warning.*  

I said “interestingly enough” because the other warning label I noticed recently was the one attached to my curling iron, which stated “Do Not Use While Bathing.”  It was a placard attached right next to the plug: Conair is very serious about making sure their customers see the warning (I’m betting it’s because someone sued them over the fact that the original warning was in the Instruction Manual, and not easily readable with arrows and flashing lights surrounding it).

Now, I’m not sure about you Womenfolk out there (or you Men with long, fancy hairdo’s), but I’ve known for a very long time that a hairdryer (or an iron, of any kind) does not belong in, on, or around a bathtub.  I would say that I’ve known this since, oh, around the age of 3.  This was back in the day when you knew instinctively that a fast-food cup of coffee was hot and that a bag of peanuts may contain peanuts.  In addition to knowing that I should never throw the hair dryer in the bathtub just for fun, I also knew that it was pretty irrational to attempt styling one’s hair whilst in the bathtub (I admit, I was pretty wise at the age of 3).

What’s further interesting here, about the curling iron warning, is that you normally do not curl your hair while it’s wet.  Which means that, if you have half a brain, you would let it air dry or use a blow dryer first.  Which further means that, if you’re in the tub, and about to use the curling iron, you may have already made the massive mistake of using the hair dryer in the tub.  I submit that the warning label for the curling iron should read: DO NOT USE WHILE BATHING (AND ALSO, DO NOT BLOW DRY YOUR HAIR BEFOREHAND.  WHILE IN THE TUB, WE MEAN.  YOU SHOULD BLOW DRY YOUR HAIR BEFORE USING THE CURLING IRON, IN GENERAL, BUT DO IT OUTSIDE OF THE TUB.  GET IT?  OUTSIDE THE TUB.  AT LEAST 10 FEET AWAY.)

They also might want to add that one should shampoo and possibly condition one’s hair before using any electric styling products.  Perhaps add a little styling oil or mousse in the drying preparation.  This will save them the potential for a Bad Hairday Lawsuit.

Okay, I’m done with my rant.  It’s a little sad to see what we’ve become.  Though I suppose it does make for some good daily exercise in the shaking-of-the-head routine.  And, it also gives me something to write about.  For that, I suppose, I am thankful.

Anyway, I’m off to make a grilled cheese sandwich with my electric frying pan in the bathtub whilst wearing my new Crocs.  As long as I’m not on an escalator, I think I’ll be safe.

Thanks for reading!

*http://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=25349

Don’t Bother Knocking

Well, lookee here.  Two posts in one week!  And this one is on my favorite topic, the Ladies Room!

In the beginning of the year, my office was moved to another building.  When we were touring the potential location beforehand, one of our first inquiries was concerning the bathroom facilities and whether they were up to snuff with our needs and expectations.

To my surprise (and later, after I thought about it, horror?), we were presented with a single-toilet bathroom.  Not a room with stalls, just one room, with a toilet and a sink.  Rather like your bathroom at home, or that of a hospital patient’s bathroom (I work in a hospital).

I wanted to be delighted with the prospect of all that privacy and space to do bathroom activities without the competition and odors of other office workers.  My delight was immediately snuffed out when I realized that, if there is a true “emergency” situation (you know what I’m talking about here…), you’re really going to be screwed.   If you are unfortunate to have that emergency, there is no chance, at all, in disguising the fact that you’ve had one, because there are no other stalls to possibly confuse the situation for innocent bystanders.  It doesn’t matter that there is a can of room deodorizer in there.

Only one toilet + you leaving the bathroom + bad odors = you’re that guy.

No amount of pretending or nonchalance will get you out of this.  You’ve done it, and there’s no mistaking it.  This is the first reason for dislike of “private” bathrooms.

My second is this:  Every time I’m in there… and I mean, every time… I have a sudden attack of fear in epic proportions that I have forgotten to lock the door.  It is generally within .0006 seconds of becoming partially disrobed (sorry) in preparation for doing bathroom business.  And the thing is, the door is like 8 miles from the actual toilet.  So it’s not like I can just reach over and click the lock.  One would have to make a leap in spectacular Olympianic form (while partially disrobed) in order to save the embarrassment of someone walking in while trying to peacefully (yet very, very quickly) do your thing.  And I don’t know if “Olympianic” is actually a word.

Here’s my third:  Apparently, some nincompoops (heh) actually DO forget to lock the door.  I’ve heard two accounts of folks who were caught with their pants down in there.  What the heck!?  I’m already mortified that this “prviate” bathroom makes no bones about the fact that humans are in there doing things which, while very natural, should be kept secret and unannounced.  Now I have to be worried that I’m going to intrude on these natural activities. Great.

I’ll mention here now, the real inspiration for this post.  It seems that there are other folks on my floor who have a similar fear of walking in on an unflattering situation (or, are just strangely polite?), so, they knock before attempting to enter the room.

Now, I’m not sure what that knock is supposed to do, but, let me tell you, it really…I don’t know.. surprises me.  I guess, if someone is in there who forgot to lock can yell out, “I’M IN HERE!!!” within the .0000002 seconds of hearing the knock and the person trying the handle, it’s a useful thing.  But other than that, I don’t see the benefit.  This is worse than the automatic flusher thing.  I have no idea of what to do when someone knocks.  Am I supposed to yell out that the bathroom is occupied?  Am I supposed to yell, “I’ll be right out!!”  Is it rude if I don’t say anything, and the knocker tries the handle and realizes there is a silent yet rude occupant utilizing the facilities?

My advice:  Don’t bother knocking!  It just makes a weird situation weirder, and gives the occupant a heart attack.  (“$hit, did I not lock the door?  What do I say? Do I say I’m in here?  Did I not lock the door??!!” all while trying finish business and putting clothes back on before someone opens the door.)  It’s just not necessary, I say.

And lastly.  If you are the lady who stands right outside the &&#^@$^#  door with a pissed look on your face because you’re waiting too long and you’re too whatever to use the damned unisex bathroom two feet away, I say this:  Stand the hell back.  I was just washing my coffee cup, I wasn’t doing anything bad in there (note, there are no odors in my wake), and anyway, what if I was doing other business in there?  Thanks for making me more mortified.  I bet you’re the type that doesn’t let people disembark the elevator, either.  I’m not apologizing the next time!

All in all, I give our “private,” probably-used-to-be-a-patient’s-bathroom (ew) a “thumbs down.”  There has to be some better way of approaching this life function without all of the stress that goes along with it.  We’ve put men on the moon, for Pete’s sake.

Though I’m guessing their bathroom situation wasn’t so hot, either.

Songs That Freaked Me Out When I Was a Kid

So, it’s been a while, my friends.  You’ll be happy to know that I recently took one of those quizzes that everyone posts about on Facebook- you know the ones- the “What color are you?” and “What were you in your past life?” and “Why are you taking this meaningless quiz?” ones.  The recent one I took was a quiz to determine what my perfect career (or something like that) would be, and, since I already found out that my evil twin is Voldemort, I figured I’d give it a go.

Well, what do you know, the quiz determined that I should be a Writer, so, this is Destiny, folks.  Thus, I thought it very important that I try to write a little more in my spare time, rather than sitting in a t.v. land coma for hours on end.  Plus, the EPL final matches aren’t until Sunday, so, I’ve got some time.

Anyway.  Yesterday morning my lights were flickering a bit, and for some reason, the song, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” popped into my head.  And it got me to thinking about how that song freaked me out a little when I was a kid.  Now, I had to do a little searching on this particular song, because frankly, I had no idea of what the song was about.  I just know that a song about lights randomly going off in an entire state sounded very spooky and unnatural to my kid mind.  Plus, there was something about a hanging in there.  But, the lights going out…. that was really bad.

(On a side note, I thought I was mistaken in my search because many of the song references indicated “Vicki Lawrence” somewhere in the blurb.  I thought they meant a different Vicki Lawrence, that they couldn’t mean the Carol Burnett lady, or that the Carol Burnett lady had made a funny parody of the song.  Boy, was I surprised.)

So, yeah.  Songs about blackouts freaked me out.  Never mind the hanging part.

Now let’s move on to another song that popped into my head soon thereafter.  Linda Papa, you might appreciate this one.  It’s “Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves” by our beloved Cher.  (and I know, it’s “gypsies” not “gypsys”)  I actually really liked that song, but it was very confusing and a bit scary to my kid mind.  For one thing, someone in the narrator’s song “preached a little gospel,” and I have to say, preachers freaked me out a little (no offense to any of you preacher folk out there).  I didn’t know exactly what they were, but I knew they weren’t priests, and there was usually some kind of yelling and seizure activity happening in their presence, and that scared me.  Not to mention, this particular preacher was selling “Dr. Good,” and that didn’t seem like an honest thing for someone to do.

Plus, there were all sorts of other nefarious goings on in that song.  I didn’t know what the men in the night were laying their money down for, but it surely was something bad, because it’s a very dramatic line in the song.  Even my kid mind knew that something serious and weird was going on there.  Not good.

As I’m writing this, and before I get to my last two freaky songs, I thought of “Love Rollercoaster,” and I suppose I should throw this one in for good measure.  I think it was one of my New York cousins who planted the seed about the scream and the murder/someone falling to their death accompaniment in the background.  And once you hear it, you can’t un-hear it, and they didn’t have Wikipedia back then, so, for a pretty long time (until about ten minutes ago), I believed the legend.  That’s some scary crap for a kid to hear.  Worse than Justin Bieber.

A quick high-five goes to “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” for bumming me out at a young age.  It’s just awful.  There was nothing confusing about what happened in that little ditty, and sometimes that’s even worse.  When you know that everyone died and they rang the church bells 29 times and some lake referred to as “Gitche Gumme” was surely some attempt at dark humor, because it sounded like something fun was going to happen there.  It didn’t.

And last on the list.  Probably my first heartbreak song that I can recall from my youth.  Another awful one.  It’s “Wildfire.”  You know, “she ran calling Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiild-fire…. she ran calling Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiild-fire….”  Ugh.  I want to cry just hearing that in my head.  No clue as to what that song was about (until about ten minutes ago), but I know there was a horse in there, and a storm, and the horse was lost, because the lady was running around looking for him.  A song about a horse lost in a storm was pretty much the ultimate awful thing that could ever be sung or written in my kid mind.  Heck, maybe even my adult mind.  I didn’t even care about the lady, I felt bad about the horse.

So, in thinking about all these wonderful songs from my youth, it brings to mind the question of whether the younger generation could write a blog post similar to this.  Since most of the songs I mention here freaked me out because I was confused about exactly what was going on, I’m guessing that the younger folk around here would have a bit of fodder for their posts.  Though, sadly, not overly prolific fodder.  “I was really freaked out by that song…. they kept beeping out words and my mother would never tell me what they meant!”

And, while their “confusing” songs may have been about wanton scenarios, and maybe some murders, and things that occurred during (actual) blackouts, it just isn’t the same.  Sure, I’m an old cranky lady now, but these folks have missed out, in my opinion.   They can just google the lyrics and avoid 38 years of confusion and angst.  That doesn’t seem right.

Someone should write a song about that.

Magical Fruit? More Like WMD’s……

So, anyone who knows me probably has a pretty good idea of my opinion on beans.  Yes, beans.  An old friend of mine and I used to share a titter about my reaction in a restaurant to a particular menu item, that of a delectable dish named, “19-Bean Soup.”  “Oh my God, are you kidding???  It’s not just one type of bean….not two… but nineteen different types of beans in there?!”  Probably funnier if you were there, but, for Pete’s sake, what a nightmare.

Over the years, I have developed a sort of tolerant relationship with beans.  And if you’re asking me, “What type of beans, Catherine?”, I’m telling you, it’s pretty much all beans.  I don’t discriminate.  They’re all kind of gross, even though they’re all different, with different flavors and consistencies.  I’m not sure how that pasty mush concoction known as “baked beans” (even when enhanced with the flavor of bacon), is remotely connected with black beans or kidney beans, but they’re all beans, and they’re all gross. I guess the Bean Gene is just not in my DNA.  Anyway, I’ve learned to be okay, and almost rather like green beans.  With olive oil, garlic, and almonds, or in a salad with vinegar.  But just the green ones, no mixing them in with those dreadful yellow ones, or, saints preserve us, chick peas (or any other type of peas, for that matter) (which could be a whole ‘nother post).

I once mentally noted, while Spenser was growing up, that he was going to be deprived of certain things in his gastronomic experiences, because there was no way I was going to make any sort of bean (except maybe green) and expect him to eat it.  I don’t know if this is a generational thing, but I remember forcing down some pretty gross things in my days as a kid in the Interlicchio household.  I suppose my mother must have liked beans, and thus, this was a normal thing to place upon the table.  And, since there were starving children in Africa, I had bloody well eat them.

If you grew up in that generation (oo, I feel old saying that), spreading the unwanted items around your dish, or attempting to hide a few under the rim, or taking a mouthful and gingerly stepping to the bathroom lest you accidentally bite into one on your way to discard them in the toilet, or tossing random ones under the table, to the feet of other family members (owning a dog would have been a real asset), was a routine part of your dining experience.

Part of me used to wonder if my parents’ generation had a particularly sadistic (or masochistic, because they actually ate that stuff) nature, or if this was just their way of getting back at their parents for forcing them to eat that crap in their childhoods.

Anyway, what has inspired me to write this compelling post on the nature of beans is this:  I recently made a stew concoction in my crockpot, and, being the conscientious and caring mother I am, threw in some frozen vegetables towards the end of the stewing time.

Imagine my surprise when I saw some things in there that looked confoundingly similar to these things known to the general world as “lima” beans.  I realized, with horror, that either the supermarket had mis-labeled my bag of “winter mix” vegetables, or, I had simply chosen the wrong bag.

I considered picking them out before they sank into the mire of beef, soy sauce, and tomato, but, decided against it.  Because something you do, when you’re a bean hater, is to hope that the other flavors or food items of the dish will be enough to cover the flavor of those nefarious items lumped onto your plate.  Not to mention that it’s always good to re-try things you hated as a kid.  Heck, maybe I’ll even like lima beans!

Mmmm….no.

I’ve re-discovered that lima beans are pretty #*)!_@@#% disgusting.  Still.  Not only that, but even after 8 plus hours of cooking in a crock pot, when the other, congenial food items have naturally broken apart, and become tender and flavored with the delightful juices in their neighborhood, the lima bean has the (un)natural ability to stay completely intact.  And to repel any other flavors which might invade its shell.  Yes, the lima bean retains all of its glorious lima bean flavor.

This, of course, led me to the reflection that lima beans could be used as weapons in the ultimate biological (heck, even nuclear) warfare.  Not only did they have the likely capability to endure extensive hours of heat and eventual impact/explosion, but the unfortunate enemies upon which they rained down would be forced to eat them in their dire circumstances.  If the explosion didn’t kill them, certainly the ridiculous lima bean flavor would.

I know this sounds a little far-fetched, but, my fellow bean-haters will recognize the value of what is written here.  There is nothing magical about beans.  And, they make you toot.  And you know how I feel about that.