Stupid thing we did last night

This one? No substance whatsoever.

The Molly Sleep Situation has regressed to Month Four levels. Jack threw up twice yesterday which means no playgroup this morning, which means no fun for me. They're both asleep right now, which is how I'm justifying this quick breaking of the Internet Fast. No kids to neglect! Also: if Jack keeps barfing every time we put him in the nursery at church, someone is going to pay. Probably me, in the form of Not Getting To Pay Attention all over again. 


It looks sunny outside, so maybe we can trek to the park. Although the weather the last couple days has been something like out of the Book of Revelation, so I should be careful. I don't want to drive a double stroller in a hail storm. Or a plague of locusts. 

Last night I met a friend for coffee and then offered to drive her home, since she totaled her car a few months ago and has been bussing it ever since. So we get in my car (which she was all, "Where's the Jetta?" and I'm all, "Shut up about my mini minivan, dude." and she's all, "No! It's GREAT!" and I'm all, "LAY OFF") and we're driving out of the parking lot when my car makes a HORRIFIC BEEPING SOUND. 

It scared the pants off me, people, and occurred right after I said something like, "Driving stresses me out." Which, why did I even say that? Because it's not true. Driving often UN stresses me. Oh, we were talking about the bus and I was saying I missed The Bus, Population: Crazies and how it used to be the way I could actually read a book and blah blah blah. Which: okay. Whatever. Driving doesn't stress me out because I can't sit there and read a book but WHATEVER. 

Anyway, it was a smidge embarrassing, not least because I had no freaking idea what the beeping was about and mysterious beeping is never a good thing and OMG WHAT IF THE CAR BLOWS UP. Meanwhile, my friend is sitting there thinking she should have just taken the bus, at least then she'd be with Proper Crazies and not someone made temporARILY crazy by horrific beeping sounds.

(Tangent! I once thought my car WAS going to blow up - there was smoke! coming out of the hood! - and I thought this was a good reason to immediately vacate my car ON A BRIDGE which therefore caused a horrendous backup, and even though I was a nice girl waving at drivers because my cell phone was dead and I needed help, it was FOREVER AND EVER until someone stopped to say, "You can probably drive your car off this bridge and right into the shop at the the other end." And this person was not only right, but kind for not adding, "YOU EFFING MORON," to the end of that sentence. I still pray for her.)

So I pulled into another parking space and stared at the dash as if it would magically explain what was going on. And it did, in it's own way- a weird little light came on, but unfortunately I don't speak Dashboard and was still very confused. I decided to turn off the car and turn it back on. You know, like rebooting a computer. Every time I complain about my computer Phillip barks, "REBOOT" before I'm even done talking. Works for cars too, right? 

The weird little light was back on, and now the radio display was dark, but there was no beeping and I managed to get my friend home. When I dropped her off she said, "Do you have your cell phone?" and I said "Of course!" reaching to pull it out of my bag, thinking she wanted a number or something. But no, she was just making sure I wouldn't be stranded if something DID happen to the car. Which is how distracted I get, people. I wasn't even thinking about getting Stranded. 

Then I drive home wondering why the radio isn't working and how NOT FAIR it is that the radio isn't working the one time I get to drive ALL BY MYSELF. What is driving all by yourself FOR if not to sing at the top of your weak little lungs? So that was a bummer. Oh, and then I forgot to tell Phillip something was Up with the car until, I don't know, an hour later. At which point he very still and stern with the, "What KIND of light?" And I said, "It looks like parentheses with an exclamation point in the middle!" I mortify my own self, folks. 

I also told him about the radio and he said, and I quote, "Did you try turning it ON?" And YES, YES I DID. STILL BROKEN. 

Phillip immediately fled to the garage to decipher the mysterious light. Two minutes later he shouted upstairs that he'd be leaving to fill up the tires. Aha! Air pressure! And, when HE turned on the car, the radio was working FINE, he doesn't know WHAT I'm talking about. 

And that was my evening. It was great!

The children are stirring so I better go. Why don't you head over to read Lisa's interview? She posted Friday but I am so behind in my blogs (BLASTED INTERNET FAST) that I only read it yesterday. (Because she, ah, reminded me in the comments. FOR SHAME.) Lisa's working on adoption #2 and has some interesting things to say about people supporting adoption and whether she'll go back to work eventually (a topic I've been thinking about a lot lately, and on which I wrote a 5000 word blog post last night that is now in the Recycle Bin where it belongs.) (You: Shouldn't this one go there too?) 



As if "Please, Mother, stop typing" would be any better

I'm trying to teach Jack the sign for help. I haven't done signing with him, except for a few half-hearted attempts at the high chair. But I'm trying 'help' because I am SICK AND TIRED OF THE WHINING.

He gets stuck in the basket: WHINE!

He can't pull a toy from the shelf: WHINE!

His ball is trapped between the dining room chairs: WHINE!

He can't stuff the little toy people into the little toy bus because he's trying to stuff them in all at the same time: WHINE!

I can't stand it. No, that's not true. Obviously I am standing it. And for the most part I tell myself, "This is what they do. This is what they do. This is what they do." What other way does he have to express frustration? But honestly, sometimes I can't help expressing my own frustration. As in, "DUDE. CALM DOWN. I will get your milk IN A SECOND."

Anyway. Signing is not exactly taking off in the Cheung household. I've tried 'more' and 'all done' and 'cheese' (he likes cheese!) and I have to start with 'please' and 'thank you'. When I sign 'help' he just looks at me like I'm stupid. Signing seems to work really well for some of my friends' babies. Some of my other friends haven't done signing at all, but then again, their kids are talking. Mine? Not so much.

Now he's yelling because he can't put the foam number six back in it's foam frame. SO ANNOYING.

Of course, accompanying the whining is a whole new language of jibber jabber and I will never get tired of listening to jibber jabber. And the noises he makes when he's driving his cars across the floor or when he's singing to himself or when he's making sound effects while I carry him down the stairs.

But this: carries a book up to me PANT PANT PANT WHIIIIIIIIIIIINE. That means "Read this to me NOW!!!!"

And this: sees me even MOVE towards the laptop WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

It was fun to have my nephews here and see how they communicate. The older one, obviously, never shuts up. And the younger one isn't talking, but gets his point across with a series of grunts and pointing. I guess we're all different.

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Perfectly adorable.

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Still adorable.

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Seconds before the WHIIIIIIIIIIIINE.

Excuse me while I go put the whiner in his crib for some alone time while I take a breather in the shower.


I am writing this while Phillip does my contract work for me

When I was 8 or 9 years old I was in a community theater production of A Christmas Carol. I don't quite know why my parents let me do this, since the theater was quite a ways from our house and I remember going to quite a few rehearsals. Maybe they had visions of my Future Stardom? But I don't even think I had lines. Anyway, it was fun, and one of the best parts was having my dad all to myself while he drove me there and back.

My family had a gigando van and a small station wagon. My dad drove me to rehearsals in the station wagon, which was a treat, and he often took me to a fast food restaurant for lunch, which was an even bigger treat. One day my dad picked me up and told me there was a surprise waiting at home. A SURPRISE! I'm sure I badgered him about it all the way there, but he wouldn't give me a hint. Finally, when we got home and the garage door opened, there was a new car inside. Our old white van with the red stripe (people called it The Ambulance) was gone and in its place was a new-to-us Ford van, just as hulking as the old one, but blue and much newer and better looking than the white van.

I cried.

It wasn't that I loved the white van. I mean, even at 8 or 9 I knew it was the farthest thing from a Sweet Ride. But the white van was our van. And this van... was nicer, yes, but DIFFERENT.

I offer that trip down Memory Lane to show you that I am unreasonably sentimental. Ridiculously so. I mean, hello, I am a THIRD GRADER. We are talking about a CAR. And not even a car, but a huuuuuuge van, a van so big my mother could pretty much walk around inside and dole out snacks to the five of us in car seats. And so unattractive that it had its own nickname.

So it makes sense that I would be at least a little bit morose about the fact that my little hippie car, with its excellent mileage and shiny blue paint and sparkly rearview mirror disco ball, is sitting on some dealership lot somewhere and there's a mini minivan sitting in its place in my garage.

(Yes. That is what Phillip and Maggie Cheung did on their fifth anniversary: try out car seats in a dealer's showroom and "negotiate" with a car salesman for an hour, only to say we needed to sleep on it, by which we meant "agonize about getting a new car over our anniversary dinner of halibut and salmon". GOOD TIMES.)

Even though we'd already pretty much decided to get a new car AND we were 99% sure which one we wanted, it was still a hard decision. I mean, it seems pretty stupid, in these Dire Economic Times, to trade the car that got 42 mpg on our little weekend road trip for one that [supposedly] gets 27 mpg at best. And do we really NEED that third row? No, we guess not. Making sure you can take your 91-year-old neighbor on a 10 minute ride once a week sort of IS a silly reason to buy a totally different car. And if we DID buy this new car... that third row is super tight. I mean, my Teeny Tiny Sisters would fit just fine (seriously- why didn't I get THOSE genes?) but normal sized people? Not so much. And buckling a kid into a car seat in that third row might require more agility than Phillip and I possess. Shouldn't we be considering a Real Van? One that would be enough space, even if we had a third kid? A used one, so we'd still manage to get away with no car payment?

I was feeling guilt over wanting a New and Less Fuel Efficient car while Phillip was frowning over whether to just go for a full size van.

But today Phillip went back to the dealer on his own (can you imagine keeping a baby entertained for the duration of a Finalizing The Car Purchase afternoon? During NAP TIME?) and came home with a new car. Which we then immediately piled into because we were late for my grandmother's birthday party an hour away.

So far I love it. It doesn't drive like a van (although perhaps I don't know, as I am used to driving vans that handle like buses) and when you have been driving a diesel for two years, it doesn't take much for you to describe another car as "zippy". It's blue. It has all the fancy stuff, because Phillip's consolation prize for owning a mini minivan is that it will answer his phone for him. It's SO MUCH EASIER to get Jack in and out of a car that has sliding doors and is higher off the ground. I even think it's sort of cute (although, again, I grew up with a van that could seat 85 people.)

But I have an itsy bitsy twinge of something inside. Did we do something dumb? Irresponsible? Silly? Short-sighted? Something we'll regret?

And this is where you all say (or maybe just my mother): OH MY GOD WHO CARES IT'S A FREAKING CAR WE ARE SO SICK OF HEARING ABOUT CARS AAAUUUUGGGGHHHHH.

And then I will say: Suckas! I still have the Story Of Actually BUYING The Car And Why I Should Not Be Allowed To Be Anywhere Near Car Buying Negotiations and the Story Of Why We Traded It In (which is very short, it goes something like "no one wanted to buy it, I am assuming because they are stupid" and also "one of us is very impatient and got tired of no one emailing her, can you guess who?")


Day 2 and/or 9th Day of Christmas

We ended up having friends over on New Year's Eve which meant we had to actually stay up till midnight. And here I was thinking I'd finish off the champagne and crawl into bed at 10!

I made some treats (tomorrow: gloomy depressing this-is-never-going-to-happen post about getting down to my Pre-Jackson Weight which, to be honest, was not terribly impressive in the first place) and drank a little too much wine. And the baby slept through the night. I KNOW. He didn't, however, get the memo that his idiot parents didn't go to bed till one and would have liked to sleep in a little.

Don't think the sleeping is any better. It's not. Last night we let him cry for half an hour in the middle of the night. Torture! For us and for him. Eventually I went in and rocked him back to sleep, but seriously, we're not sure what to do. Half the time he's yelling WHILE WE'RE ROCKING HIM. I hold fast to my theory that he sleeps [much much MUCH] better when he's allowed some time and space to fuss it out and put himself to sleep in his crib. Before Christmas he was no longer crying when we laid him down AND he slept great. After Christmas he seems so tired that he doesn't have energy to fuss and then sleeps terribly. Tonight we're going to put him down freakishly early and see what happens. I mean, his bedtime is between seven and seven thirty. How much earlier can it be?!

So we stayed up and watched the fireworks. Except: good one, Seattle! A computer glitch kept the fireworks from going off. Nice! I had to hide my eyes so I wouldn't die of embarrassment watching the newscasters try to fill in the empty space (while all the revelers in the background hurled insults and shook their fists). The general consensus in my house was: someone's fired!

A few years ago we were actually THERE. I have no idea what possessed us. I'm generally not much of a New Year's girl. I'm exhausted by the time Christmas Day is over, quite frankly, and New Year's is more like an extra couple days for recovery. One year we had some friends over for a big hot pot dinner (do you know of the holy yumminess that is hot pot?) but mostly I'm at home with my friends the wine bottles. But anyway. We had some friends in town and they wanted to Do Something so we thought we'd Go Out. We met at the Westin hotel for drinks (oh, how I LOVE meeting at the Westin for drinks! So long pre-baby life!) and then wandered down 5th avenue till we ran up against a zillion people waiting for the countdown. It was super cold and super crowded, but it was fun to be out and celebrating and we got a pretty cool picture out of it.

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Note: This year's fireworks looked like this, but without the fireworks.

Anyway! Happy New Year! A whole day late! Which also happens to be my parents' 30th wedding anniversary! Which means I AM NEARLY THIRTY! YAY PARENTS!

(See how I can make anything about myself?)

Now I've got to dress the boy and feed him and figure out how to keep us both happy on a very dark very wet day. I see a trip to the mall in our future. Does anyone have ideas for how to get out of the house without spending money? If it were a nice day we'd just go down to the lake, but we have to stay inside. I can't think of a place to go that's inside that doesn't cost money. Not that the mall has an entrance fee or anything, but how are you not supposed to buy anything when you go? DILEMMAS!

Here's to hoping Day 2 goes well for everyone!


It was like being back in college

The entire purpose for buying a new house was accomplished over the weekend- my new! red! couches were delivered Saturday morning.

But first. We had to move the old couch. BLAST.

Getting that couch IN my house in the first place was nothing less than a triumph of superhuman prowess. I admit that as Phillip, Sean and Neighbor's Husband stood in the entry way arguing over how to slide the couch up the stairs, I was secretly hoping it was impossible, thereby speeding up the arrival of the long awaited red couches. But because they are brilliant, with bulging biceps and great skill in yelling "PIVOT!", the old couch finally heaved its way onto the second floor. CURSES.

Getting the couch out of my house was fairly easy, considering the brawn and skill it took to move it in. I shed no tears. So long Phillip's Old Parental-Hand-Me-Down Bachelor Apartment Couch!

Getting the couch into my Explorer for transfer was fairly simple as well. Lift couch, slide in. However we were then confronted with the issue of how to secure the couch to the car as it stuck out about a foot. The door wasn't going to close and I wasn't going to let Phillip DRIVE like that, was he serious? So commenced the search for the little piece of rope to tie the door to the bumper for couch transportation. It wasn't anywhere in the Explorer. "What'd you do with it?" Phillip asked accusingly. "I have nothing to do with anything involving rope," I snotted. As IF.

"Well," said Sean, "I have some Velcro in my car."

"Velcro?" scoffed I.

"Maybe we can try that." Phillip scratched his chin thoughtfully.

"VELCRO?" I repeated. Sean shuffled off to his car to retrieve the velcro. "VELCRO?" I said again, as Sean and Phillip slid the two strips of velcro between the door handle and the bumper and PRESSED THEM TOGETHER.

"That'll work!" Phillip said brightly. And got in the Explorer and took off before I, his wife, who is SANE and NORMAL and does not believe that velcro is the new DUCT TAPE, could say anything.

I rode in Sean's car and kept my eye on the velcro the entire way.

And Internet? It never budged. We secured a giant couch to a giant car that drove up a HILL with a piece of VELCRO and it WORKED. VELCRO. WHICH IS ONLY STICKY LIKE RUBBER CEMENT NOT KRAZY GLUE AND IS USED FOR BARBIE DOLL CLOTHES.

Whatever.

Then we had to get the couch into Sean's apartment. Which is on the third floor. Heh.

It was quickly determined that the couch? Was too tall for the elevator. Neighbor's Husband was not particularly thrilled about this turn of events. (Let us also note that Neighbor's Husband was the only Couch Mover not getting something out of this- Phillip was making space for new couches and Sean was finally getting some furniture. Neighbor's Husband was... just being a Nice Guy. Someone should make him some cookies.) This meant angling the couch around a couple of right angles and somehow making it into the stairwell- all that before they could even think about carrying it up three flights. Several attempts were made, all of which involved potential smashed fingers, broken ankles and concussions. (I was holding the door, by the way. I am an EXCELLENT door holder. Also an excellent exclaimer of things like, "Oh THAT'S not going to work!" and "I wouldn't do it that way" and "Why don't you do it like THIS?")

And still? The couch would not go. The couch was all, "I LIKED the potato chip crumbs and the spilled cereal milk and the dirty socks all over me at the last house. I WANNA GO HOME." I felt compelled to remind everyone that the couch could not go home. It had a new home. The couch MUST fit into the new home. THERE WAS NO OTHER OPTION.

"We can leave it in the garage," Phillip sneered.

"No!" cried Sean, he of nothing to sit on while he watches Season 1 of Lost back to back. "It has to fit!"

With Sean and I keeping up the rallying cry, the Couch Movers rethought their previous stance on the elevator. They hesitantly carried the couch back to the entrance hall and stared at the elevator door, as if it would magically open offering a couch-sized dumbwaiter.

"It'll fit," said Neighbor's Husband with the stubborness of someone who just really wanted to go home already.

"I don't know..." said Phillip chewing thoughtfully on his lip.

"IT HAS TO FIT," said Sean, who immediately entered the elevator and TOOK OFF THE CEILING. Granted, the ceiling was a plastic tray type thing that prevented elevator riders from the slow radiation death of the flourescent light tube, but still. He dismantled the elevator! Then Neighbor's Husband unscrewed the light tube thing which, apparently, does not get hot and, apparently, only stupid people like me don't know things like that and screech in horror, "WAIT! YOU'LL BURN YOURSELF!" as someone reaches up to remove it.)

"Better not tell the manager!" I joked because HAR HAR, Sean IS the manager. I crack myself up. That gash in the corner and the Exit sign hanging by one cord? Oh yeah, the manager'll fix that for ya. He's pretty good at vacuuming too.

So anyway, they stood the couch up on one end and slid it into the newly lengthened elevator (nearly crushing Sean's knees, by the way. Way to freak me out there, Sean.) Extricating the couch from the elevator and depositing it in Sean's living room was an easy task and quickly accomplished. There was much rejoicing as Neighbor's Husband got to go home, Phillip and I were free of the Great White Leather Scratching Post and Sean finally FINALLY had somewhere to sit.

We did that Thursday night. Friday night? I had nowhere to sit. It was horrible. It is impossibly to enjoy your television shows when there is nowhere to sit. We had to actually eat dinner at the TABLE. I do not wish this on anyone.

Saturday morning I ate my breakfast sitting on the counter and held my breath until the delivery guys came. The loveseat was no sweat. They had a little blanket thing that they dragged the couch on until they got to the stairs. Then they just picked it up and twisted it and because they didn't speak English I spoke slowly and loudly and did a lot of hand clapping. You want to be nice to the men in charge of carrying large heavy things through your delicate freshly painted stairway. The three seater, however, was too tall to slide so easily.

"It won't fit," said the one who knew the most English.

"No no no," I said.

"No no no," Phillip said. "We got a BIGGER couch up and down these stairs already."

The guy who didn't know any English shrugged. The first guy shrugged in reply. And with Phillip's expert Couch Mover direction, they found a way to tip the couch just so and haul it up the stairs. (With one yellow gash and one red gash in the walls, so I'm kind of regretting that congratulatory hand clapping I treated them to once they'd set it down AND the big glasses of water I distributed afterwards. Honestly. Now I might have to wield a paint brush again and the Internet does NOT want any more painting stories, I know it.)

So now I have them. Two gloriously red couches. That are, um, puffy.

VERY VERY POOFY PUFFY DANGEROUS FOR SMALL CHILDREN TO JUMP ON BECAUSE OF THE TRAMPOLINE-LIKE BOUNCINESS COUCHES.

My sister was over Saturday afternoon and we spent most of the day leaping on and throwing our full weight into the cushions in an effort to depoofify. (You catch that? De-poof-ify? I'm copyrighting that word.)

But maybe my old couches were so low and flat and BLEAH that a normal couch experience is completely foreign. They are not the deep sink-into-the-fold couches I've always wanted (like the one at my in-laws'- I LOVE that couch) or a big comfy sectional like the ones my folks have, but they are RED and they are BEAUTIFUL and my head and feet prop up perfectly on the love seat. And amazingly enough, we have not messed them up yet. (But I'm kinda looking forward to that because, apparently, you can DRAW on these things and just wipe it off with soap and water, such is the wonder of Microfiber! Crazy!)

(Perhaps I will have Sean write a guest post in which he defends the Old Couches, the Comfiness Of. Wouldn't that be fun?)


Maggie vs. The Universe

Reasons Why The Universe Hates Me

1. Phillip is supposed to be at work at 6 am. I am supposed to be at a meeting at 7:30 am. Phillip suddenly wakes up at 7. I stay in bed a few more minutes until I realize that I, too, am late.

2. I get shampoo in my eye.

3. We forgot to put our garbage out.

4. All the cars on Highway 99 zoom past me, the uncertain rarely-drives-99 motorist who absolutely loathes driving across the Aurora bridge. That bridge is HIGH, people.

5. I am ten minutes early to my 7:30 meeting, but I look like a wet rat. Curses.

6. I leave my meeting a half hour after it's over because the President of the BaneOfMyExistence Organization likes to chat. A lot.

7. I take the viaduct to my office while listening to 'Forgiven' by Deb Talan. Which makes me want to pull over and sob.

(One Reason Why The Universe Doesn't Hate Me: While driving over the viaduct, the Big One didn't happen.)

8. I feel so rotten that I don't ignore the homeless woman on the side of the road. I roll down my window to give her my five dollar bill. She says, "It'll turn out fine, honey." And I think, "Maybe." [This is important later on!]

9. I pull into the grocery store near my office because I'm starving. I am listening to 'Forgiven' for the nineteenth time. I turn off the engine, leave the power on to hear the rest of the song, and call my Hawaii friend to leave a mopey message on her voicemail. Wah.

10. In the grocery store I decide to buy myself a doughnut. Because that's the kind of day it is.

11. As I fish for my keys in my purse, I walk over to my beloved automobile. And see my keys in the ignition.

12. Suppress Cry of Woe as I realize that I have Done It Again.

[I believe that somewhere on this website is the sordid tale of the first time I locked my keys in my car, at the same grocery store, because I was listening to music and talking on the phone and did not take my keys with me when I got out of the car. And how my saintly coworker drove over and called Triple A and told them that she had been with me and they unlocked my car and OH HOW WE ADORE THE SAINTLY COWORKER. But I am too lazy to find it. Bite me.]

13. Call Phillip.

"Help me!"

"What's wrong?!"

"I locked myself out! Again! WOE!"

"Well... do you have a coat hanger?"

"Hmm. Let me pull my COAT HANGER out of my POCKET REAL QUICK."

14. Wonder whether I will save any face by walking to work and pretending that Phillip just dropped me off. Realize that I am expected back at a certain time after my meeting. Realize that I will have to call in no matter what to say I will be late. Dreeeeeeeeeeead.

15. Call Saintly Coworker.

"Hello?"

"Hi. It's Maggie. I need some help."

"What's up?"

"Can you come pick me up?"

"Oh, did your car break down?"

"Ummm..."

"You didn't."

"Ummm..."

"Where are you?"

"Same place as before."

peals of laughter erupt throughout office

16. Feel like idiot in Saintly Coworker's car.

"So what song were you listening to?"

"Oh, this awesome song called 'Forgiven' by Deb Talan."

"I think I've heard of her. What's the album called?"

"Actually I burned it onto a CD last night so I'm not sure."

"Oh. So it wasn't like you had to listen to the end of the song because it was on the radio and you weren't sure if you were going to hear it again."

"..."

17. The Saintly Coworker's Saintly Vehicle does not have power locks. I always forget to lock my door when I get out. She always has to remind me. "It's funny, Maggie, you always forget to lock my door, but you don't forget to lock yours." Begin to rethink Saintly Coworker's saintliness.

18. Phillip instant messages me to say that he has a lot more work than he realized. He might not be able to go home early and bring me the extra key. I'll have to take the bus home.

19. I look up the bus route home. Walk a third of a mile, take one bus, then another bus. Realize I gave all my cash to the homeless lady. Who said everything would be okay. SHE LIED.

20. Realize that if I took the bus home, I would not have keys to ENTER MY HOUSE.

21. It is only noon. Haaaaaaaaaaaate today. HATE.


Inquiring minds want to know

about the whole getting locked out thing aaaaaand, well gee. I'm just not sure I want to share. Especially since every time we tell this story in person, the listener asks, with great trepidation, "Did you hide a key outside somewhere?" We kind of look sheepishly at each other and say, "Well... not yet." Which doesn't say much for our collective smarts now, does it? (To our credit, we don't have terribly good experiences hiding keys outside, having once hid our neighbors' spare key outside for friends instead of our own, and also having to search all over an apple tree for my in-laws' spare key. My father-in-law, not satisfied with simply sliding the key under a doormat or inside a flower pot, decided to TIE the spare key to a TREE branch and then, by way of explaining where we could find it, said it was at EYE LEVEL. To which we said, "Huh?" and also, "WHOSE eye level???" Suffice to say that we never found the spare key in the tree, but it didn't matter because Phillip carries his own spare key to my in-laws' house, thereby NEGATING THE ENTIRE OPERATION IN THE FIRST PLACE.)

HI. I LIKE CAPITAL LETTERS.

So anyway. Friday night we were just sitting around trying to figure out how to get some air circulation going in our house (it was 88 degrees on Friday. Today it is barely 60. Bye bye sunburn.) Then some friends dropped by to borrow our grill for their party the next night. La la la, all is well in the world. Happy drinky laughy Friday evening. Then the friends leave and Phillip and I are standing in the "mud room" (seriously. Mud room? Is just an excuse not to lay tile or wood on the floor and instead stain the concrete which even the builder admitted was stupid as it is more trendy than useful and 50 times harder than putting tile down) talking about what switch turns on the light outside, whether or not we should always lock the door to the garage and if the front door locks automatically when you shut it. It then occurs to us that we have not checked the mail since we moved in. I run up to get the mail key and we dash outside to check out our Brand New Very Own Mail Box. (We are exceptionally dorky new homeowners.) There's nothing good inside, only heaps of boring home insurance papers, and we take our time walking barefoot through our Brand New Very Own Lawn. To find that the door is shut. And locked.

Phillip: OH @&*$.

Maggie: Huh.

Phillip: It's locked.

Maggie: You think?

Phillip: We locked it from the inside. Because we are IDIOTS.

Maggie: We were excited about getting the mail.

Phillip: Because we are @#(*#$%&* IDIOTS.

Maggie: HEY. YOU shut the door Mr. SmartyPants.

Phillip: checking every pocket Okay, I don't have a key. Who has a key? Have we given any keys to anyone?

Maggie: Only your dad. He's asleep.

Phillip: with mortal fear WE CAN'T CALL MY DAD.

Maggie: I KNOW. Let's call Sean.

Phillip: We have no phones.

Maggie: Seriously? You mean you left your home with out a small electronic gadget velcroed somewhere to your body?

Phillip: You make fun, but NOW YOU SEE THE PURPOSE OF THE BELT CLIP.

Maggie: Okay, let's walk to a store and call a locksmith.

Phillip: We aren't wearing shoes.

Maggie: What about the garage door opener in the car? That will get us in.

Phillip: We don't have ANY KEYS. We can't get inside the car. And if we could, we locked the garage door. BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT YOU WANTED.

Maggie & Phillip: stare forlornly at the front door. Which is made of glass. Which they totally think about breaking, but neither of them are exactly MacGyver and/or Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So we sucked it up and went to knock on a neighbor's door. We first went to knock on J's door because J was really nice to Phillip and mowed everyone's lawn. Except he wasn't home. And the people next door to J weren't home either. That left our next door neighbor K who I have not yet spoken to because every time I go out to check on the plants, she scurries back inside. (Not that I have made an effort to Meet The Neighbors either. New people! Cooties!)

However, we are barefoot and wearing shorts and tank tops. We have no phone, we have no keys. WE ARE AT K'S MERCY. At the very least we need her phone to call up our old neighbors and grovel our way into crashing on their futon because it is tragically apparent that there is absolutely no chance we are ever getting inside our Brand New Very Own One-Week-Old House.

So I'm the one who ring's K's doorbell (because I need to put on the appearance of being helpful and proactive and hide the pathetic reality that I am a whiny whimpering crybaby.) And K mercifully appears. She is, at that moment, the most beautiful and wonderful person we have EVER SEEN.

K: Hi?

P & M: OH GOD OH GOD PLEASE HELP US

K: Um, ok?

P & M: WE ARE SO SORRY YOU HAVE MORONS FOR NEIGHBORS. REALLY. PLEASE FORGIVE US.

K: You want to use the phone?

P & M: YOU ARE OUR BESTEST FRIEND IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. BFF!

K totally invites us upstairs to sit on her big cushy couch and watch baseball and chat and do we want anything to drink and we can totally use her cell phone and it's totally okay to call 411 to find a locksmith and it's way cool with her if we hang out in her living room until an hour later when the locksmith shows up. Talk about mortification. Not to mention our dirty bare feet all over her house and interrupting her while she's cooking. But she chatted us up about crooked refrigerators and how to get garbage cans and how the house was so designed by a man because the master closet is so small! In short, K? Exactly the kind of person who should be sharing the other half of your townhouse unit.

Unfortunately, the locksmith couldn't find our house. So Phillip and I took K's cell phone and stood outside on the corner looking for some kind of locksmithy-looking truck. But our guy was driving a little beat up Toyota and, when faced with the Super Annoying one way street, turned his car around and drove BACKWARDS to our house. His quick thinking and agility, however, were sadly limited to driving as it took him half an hour to pick one side of our lock ("This one is high security!") and found it impossible to pick the other side. He went back to his car and came back with a Big Ass Drill and spent another 15 minutes ripping a hole into our shiny one-week-old doorknob. Grief! Shame! Eternal Mortification!

He was supposed to call and come back the next morning and replace the lock (he'd only brought GOLD doorknobs with him and that just wouldn't do), but around 11 am the next day I picked up the phone- just to check- and there was NO DIAL TONE. I ended up ditching the whole affair for raspberry shortcake and hippie skirts at the Folklife Festival and left Phillip to tell off the locksmith and have everything done at Home Depot.

So... the Red Couch Fund is a tiny bit depleted... but no worries! And it IS nice to know that if someone wants to break in, they'll have to DRILL and it will take them FOREVER. (Or break the glass, I guess. But that's just messy.)

K came by yesterday to borrow a cocktail shaker. I gladly handed it off. As far as I'm concerned, K gets ANYTHING HER LITTLE HEART DESIRES.

Snide comments and snotty advice will be ignored at: mightymaggieATgmailDOTcom


The Near-Tragedy of the Lost Mail Key

SETTING:
Phillip and Maggie's Apartment, approximately 10pm, September 14, 2004
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Phillip as the Person Who Dropped the Mail Key and the focus of Much Wrath
Sean as the Sucker who Assisted Phillip in the Search for the Lost Mail Key
Julia as the Innocent Bystander
Maggie as the Peeved Lover of Mail

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PHILLIP: It appears that I have dropped the one and only mail key into the depths of our couch. Wherever can it be?
SEAN: I'm just visiting. I had nothing to do with this. Seriously. Please don't hurt me.
JULIA: Uh, you guys are NERDS.
MAGGIE: Mail? I can't get my mail? You dropped the key where? You guys, I need my mail. Do you know how many political candidates and starving children and hard-working community organizations are going to be out large buckets of dollars if I don't get my mail?

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PHILLIP: I believe the key has somehow slipped inside the frame! Fancy that!
SEAN: Too bad the bottom of the couch is covered with a thick piece of fabric, thereby preventing any Searchers of Lost Mail Keys from retrieving the key.
MAGGIE: And I've been WAITING for Adam Brody to write back!

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PHILLIP: Dude, if we tip it over, we'll at least know where the key is. Right? Right?
MAGGIE: And what about the ValPak coupons? I LIVE for those coupons! Who gets us free appetizers at Coopers? ME! ME!
JULIA: Got enough cardboard back there?

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PHILLIP: Okay, here's what we're gonna do: we're gonna shake the key out.
SEAN: You know, I just came over to say hi. And pick up my bottle of Chinese shampoo. That's all. No one said anything about shaking a 7 foot long couch.
MAGGIE: THIS IS SO NOT FUNNY ANYMORE.

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SEAN: Yep, that was painful.
PHILLIP: Okay, just a breather!
JULIA: What's that sound?
MAGGIE: Those are the downstairs neigbors wacking the ceiling with a broomstick. Fellas, can we work on not dropping the couch this time?

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SEAN: Phil, give me your knife! Stat! I bet we can CUT it out!
PHILLIP: Dude, we are so AWESOME.
JULIA: Are you seriously defacing the couch? The beautiful fabulous and oh-so-comfortable in 90 degree heat leather couch?
MAGGIE: Deface the couch! Deface the couch!

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SEAN: Because we are the most clever-
PHILLIP: and most manly men on the planet, we have finally retrieved the key-
SEAN: from where it disappeared into the dark and mysterious depths-
PHILLIP: and I will never ever allow myself to touch the key again.


Power Steering? What? And the Story of the Radioactive Green Fluid

I had car trouble today. The car I JUST BOUGHT. (Okay, the car my father-in-law gave me for free. Still.) But before I get to that, let me tell you about last month's car trouble.

LAST MONTH'S CAR TROUBLE or THE STORY OF THE RADIOACTIVE GREEN FLUID
So last month I am happily driving along in my big ass Ford Explorer, recently acquired from my in-laws, and the car I previously considered to be the Most Fabulous Vehicle In The World. It spent a few glorious years on the UW campus as my-future-husband's method of transportation. In fact, it may be the utterly breathtaking way he could slouch back, steer, and jab at the radio presets at the same time that made me fall in love with him in the first place.

But anyway, there I am driving up to Greenwood to meet my Way Cool Vegan Friend at a snazzy little vegetarian restaurant. (Yes, I said "snazzy vegetarian restaurant." We are so hip.) Of course, there is no parking near the vegetarian restaurant so I drive farther into the neighborhood and park in front of a house. I'm getting out of the car, congratulating myself on not having to parallel park, and- hmm. What is that little puddle snaking its way down the street?

I turn around and neon green liquid is GUSHING out of the front of the Explorer. And I am no mechanic, but I know that's not a good thing.

What's the first thing I do?

Phillip: Hello?
Me: I have a problem.
P: Problem?
Me: Yes. The Explorer just threw up green stuff all over the street.
P: Oh, it's probably leaking a little radiator fluid.
Me: (Storing the phrase "radiator fluid" away for future use.) Um, no, not leaking. Gushing. As in, an entire bucket of green stuff was emptied onto the street.
P: *silence*
Me: Uh, can you call a tow truck?

Then I call WCFW to give her the rotten news. WCVF, because she is that cool, treks down to the scene of the destruction with me to wait for the tow truck. And Phillip shows up not much later, just to strut his stuff under the hood, and decide that yes, we definitely need that tow truck.

But before the tow truck arrives, a deceptively friendly-looking man pulls out of a nearby driveway, creeps slowly towards us, stops, and rolls down his window. "You guys gonna clean that up?"

Phillip, myself, and WCVF stare miserably at the vast amount of radioactive green fluid trickling down the street and collecting in the small ruts and holes in the concrete. I'm a wuss, so I say nothing. It's not WCVF's fault, so she says nothing. But my completely awesome husband begins to discuss the myriad of ways we could possibly clean up the mess- and is Mr. Righteousness-sitting-in-the-car willing to help?

Mr. Righteousness: That's poison, you know.
Phillip: We don't have anything to soak it up with. We'll have to go home to get some rags. Do you have any rags?
Mr. R: You can't just leave that on the street like that.
P: Maybe we can flush it away with water. Can we borrow your hose?
Mr. R: I don't mean to give you a hard time, but it's irresponsible to just leave it.
P: I know there's some stuff we can pour on the concrete to absorb it, but I think we have to vacuum it up. Do you have a vacuum cleaner?
Mr. R: A poor little puppy is going to walk by and lick that stuff and DIE.
P: We'll have to leave it while we're getting stuff to clean it up with.
Mr. R: Do you want to be responsible for all the dead pets on this street?
ME (timidly interjecting): Sir, we've discussed the options and we're doing the best we can.
Mr. R: Well, the responsible thing to do is clean it up.

And he drives away shaking his head, thinking about the Horrible Irresponsible People who let their Horrible SUV gush Horrible Poison all over his Pristine and Perfect Street.

Oh, it was awful! I really did begin to wonder about all the dead puppies. WCVF had some rags in her car that she let us borrow before she escaped the scary green fluid madness and went back to the world where cars work. And then? The tow truck arrived. And what did the tow truck driver do? Pour MORE scary green fluid into the Explorer and tell me that no problem, I can drive it to the shop myself!

I was not particularly excited about this proposal, but Phillip's car is a standard and I can't drive standards (shut up) and if Phillip drove the Explorer to the shop I'd just be stuck there with his Subaru... So I sucked it up, got back in the Explorer, and drove four blocks before it began to overheat. I lurched into a church parking lot where the Explorer purged itself of the rest of the radiator fluid. All over the church parking lot. Which was also a basketball court. Where small boys were playing. Small boys who might lick up radiator fluid. Who could DIE.

We called the tow truck back and he only gave us twenty bucks off and it was a REALLY BAD WAY TO SPEND THE EVENING.

And now TODAY'S SUCKTASTIC CAR TROUBLE

Today I am driving to Puyallup and cheerfully noting that none of the people stranded on the shoulders of the freeway are me. Yay me! And then, with my exit nearly in sight, the battery light goes on and I lose power steering. Did you read that? I lost POWER STEERING. On the FREEWAY.

Fortunately I am one cool cookie and and I can talk on my cell phone and drive without power steering at the same time.

Phillip: What?
Me: I can't steer. The steering wheel is locked up.
P: You're kidding me.
Me: I have to turn! Wait a sec! *drop phone into lap*
Me: I'm back! I turned! I don't know what to do!
P: Are any warning lights on?
Me: The battery thingy. And the radiator needle is going berserk. DAMN THE RADIATOR!
P: Pull over!
Me: There's my exit! There's my exit!

I drive 3 mph down the 20 mph exit, pull over to the shoulder, and execute my next line of attack.

Me: Help!
Most Wonderful Dad In The World: Where are you?
Me: The exit! Ten minutes away! Can't steer! Stuck!
MWDITW: I'll come get you.

And he did. Know what else he did? He drove the Explorer to the shop. Without power steering! Well, almost. He was late to a doctor appointment and left the last third to my mom and I who have about 10% of a mechanically-inclined brain between us. We assured him we could totally make it around the block to the shop and we did, after another 20 minutes and much yelling of "Can I go?! Can I go?!" and "You're clear! You're clear!". Also, my mom totally yelled back at the mean woman who yelled at me for partway blocking an entrance. Because my mom rocks.

It was the fan belt. And a turbine. Something about melting? And a turbine getting stuck? And the belt couldn't go around? I made them give me the turbine thingy so I could prove to Phillip that I wasn't making it up. I also made it back to Seattle in one piece, which is good, because I didn't want to have to sue the nice guy at the shop. But I am not driving anywhere tomorrow. The Explorer has to sit there all day and Think About What It Did.