Just Asking

I was in the shower trying to decide whether or not to shave my legs when it occurred to me that the larger question is what I want to do with the rest of my life.

The first thing that came to mind is: I want to be a computer programmer.

The next thing that came to mind is: WHAT? What are you talking about?

Followed quickly by: Do you even know what a computer programmer does?

Then: No. No you do not.

Finally: Programmer! Ha! Good luck with that.

Since I am temporarily no longer speaking to myself, I decided to ask you. But first I googled career aptitude tests comma free comma not scammy, which brought me to four different sites with four mostly similar questionnaires.

The first one promptly pegged me as a funeral services director.

I... I am trying to think of something for which I could possibly be less suited and I am coming up blank. Literally. Take everything at which I am absolutely terrible (dealing with strangers, emotional confrontation, Things That Are Really Sad, corpses, flower arranging) wrap them up and blammo! You have the world's worst funeral director.  

Moving on.

The second site said I should be a marketing manager and to be fair I probably am suited to be a marketing manager. I was a marketing manager. Part of me still secretly markets things, like: Frittata? You egg-hating children want to know what this frittata is, exactly? It's ham-and-cheese PIE that's what. But do I want to be a marketing manager again for real? No. Marketing never ends if you know what I mean. There is never a moment at which any company, anywhere, ever, says, ok, great, job well done marketers! Go home, take a rest! We have the perfect number of people demanding our product.

Personally, I need more closure. 

Site number three came up with: buyer. Also not a bad guess since before I was a marketing manager I was a retail buyer. But again, no.

The fourth site - the superior site - thought that I should be a computer programmer. Well, eventually. At first it thought I should be a shift supervisor in a non-retail setting and then it tentatively explored plant management but after that? Computer programmer and or slash video game designer. Boom.

PS Offhand do you know of a more reliable way to assess interests than online testing sites that are also willing to evaluate which Lord of the Rings character you would be (Aragorn)? Also, since I am actually kinda serious about the computer programming thing - no matter what my mind my say - do you, uh, know how... I mean... how exactly does one go about learning a little programming. I don't want to be very good at it, if that helps. Are there... I don't know. Community Ed? Library books? Where does one start? Do I have to pick a language? Are some languages better than others?

Core Competence

Walking from the car to the house Caroline suddenly shrieked, "Mom! Mom! Don't look!"

This - because I am human - caused me to stop in my tracks and immediately start looking all over the place

"What?" I asked.

"No. DON'T look. Just don't look. That's right. Keep moving."

I felt two small palms over my kidneys, gently but firmly pushing me toward the door. She steered me into the house and onto the couch, where she took one of my hands in hers and started patting it.

"Am I in distress?" I asked.

"No. Not yet. But. Well... ," she paused, "Dad put me in charge of the mouse traps while he's away" [Steve's gone for about a week] "and there is a... a corpse. In the garage."

Every fiber of my being wanted to laugh. My ribs creaked with it. But my role in this melodrama was obvious and it would have been cruel not to go with it.

I put my fingers to my lips.

"A... a corpse?" I faltered.

Caroline snatched my hand back and started patting it again.

"Yes," she said. "A mouse," she clarified - which, WHEW. "But don't worry. I know what to do. Dad showed me exactly how to handle it and he told me not to let you see. Because it upsets you. You know, dead things and all that blood and mushed up organs and broken bones and smashed... ."

"Yes," I said quickly. "I know."

So she brought me a glass of water and then bustled off to get... I dunno. Paper towels? Rubber gloves? A shovel? Lye? Bleach? I lay down on the couch and proceeded to look pale.

Later that night Steve called.

"You put Caroline in charge of emptying the mouse traps?" I asked.

"Of course."

"And told her not to let me see any bodies?"


"Because you think that our seven year old daughter is less of a delicate blossom than I am?"


I thought about this for a moment. I thought about the ramifications of implied paternalism and potential marital inequalities. Then I thought about how squicky a jellified mouse can be.

"Oh. Well. Thank you," I said.      

Just Like The Carpenters

I waited in the carpool line and watched as Caroline trotted toward me. Although the DC public school kid in me believes that elementary school uniforms are fascist; I have to admit that she looked adorable in her crisp white shirt, navy jumper and striped tights with the bunny faces on the knees. I studied her fatuously as she bounced along. Then she swung open the car door and I realized that something was wrong. Patrick articulated it for me.

"Caroline! Where's Edward?" he asked.

Caroline closed the door, tossed her backpack down and started to buckle her seat belt.

"I have no idea," she said. "He never showed up for the carpool line. Did you bring me a snack? Do we have karate or are we going straight home?"

"What do you mean he never showed up? Where he is?"

"I have no idea," she repeated, patiently. "Is that an apple?

Patrick and I stared at each other.

"I'll go find him! I'll go look for him! I'll go get him!" Patrick - who for the secret record is about a thousand times more alarmist about the twins than I am; he won't even let me play Frank Turner when they're in the car because some of his songs use Language - started to fumble with his seat belt.

"Ohhhhh," said Caroline from the back. "You knoooooooooow." She took a bite of apple. "Maaaaaaybe."


"I think he might have gone to chess."




I have signed both Caroline and Edward up for an after school chess program this Fall and although this was the first time I had utterly and completely forgotten about it, it is never very high up on my list of things to remember. Everything was fine. He had just gone to chess.

But sweet mary marjoram! I thought I was going to have an apoplexy. Edward! Missing! And Caroline calmly asking about our afternoon plans as if we were just going to leave. Without knowing where Edward was. I can't decide if it's funny or alarming.

To be fair I suspect that Caroline knew where Edward was but was just trying to get out of going to chess herself, as she has discovered that she dislikes it. She had complained in previous weeks that her chess partners are mean to her and I was willing to sympathize until Caroline went on to explain that she tries to expedite games by removing more than one piece from the board at a time. 

"She cheats," Edward clarified.

To be more charitable I think she doesn't have the attention span for it and just wants the game to end. Edward, in contrast, loves chess. He has even developed a delightful habit: as he studies the board he reflexively strokes his chin and then draws his fingers down to a point a few inches below it. He has an imaginary chess beard. I think I am about to use the word adorable for the second time in less than 500 words... yes. I am. It's adorable.

Finally, and only vaguely tangentially, this morning I asked the twins if they might be interested in starting piano lessons.

They both said yes but...

"But not piano," Edward said. "I want to play the modern pipe organ."

"But not piano," Caroline said. "I want to learn the ukulele."

Then she turned to Edward and said, "O M G-O-S-H! Edward! You can learn the organ... "

["Modern pipe organ," Edward corrected]

"... and I can learn the ukulele and then we can start our own band!"


Toccata and Fugue in Tiny Bubbles Minor. I can't believe it hasn't been done before. 

Patrick Told Someone That My Midlife Crisis Is Soccer

Next up in the random question queue (number 39):

How you are coping with Chelsea's poor performance this season?


I have nothing to say.


Heh. Mourinho's post game interview? Anyone? After their 3-1 loss to Liverpool at the Bridge? It was like the journalist was Sisyphus, vainly trying to push his boulder of questions up Mourinho's steep slope of recalcitrance.

It went like this:

Q: What do you think of this defeat?

A: I have nothing to say.

Q: Don't you think the season has been a disaster so far?

A: I have nothing to say.

Q: Does this raise some concerns for you, ahem, personally?

A: What do you mean?

Q: YOU know (while, no doubt, the interviewer was making the universal gesture for You're About to Get Tim Sherwood'ed)

A: I have nothing to say.

Q: You have nothing to say?

A: I have nothing to say.  

The only actual response Mourinho gave was when he was asked if he had some message for the fans and he answered, "The fans are not stupid."

When the interviewer noted, "They were chanting your name"; Mourinho replied, "Like I said, they are not stupid."

It was all so amusing that I saved the recording in order to play it for Steve later and I can easily see it becoming part of our shared vernacular, charming Portuguese accent and all.

Who left the milk on the counter all afternoon? I hahv nothink to say.

What do you mean you don't know when you are coming back from the farm? I hahv nothink to say.


So to answer your question: I am trying to keep my spirits up, doing as well as can be expected, putting one foot in front of the other, getting out of bed in the morning.

For you non-futballers it is hard to fully express how very good Chelsea was last season and how very bad they are now. It's like the Patriots getting beaten by the Titans 51-3. At home. Every week. It's like the '95-'96 Chicago Bulls losing to the Washington Generals. It's jaw-dropping. It's baffling.

But if I am going to be completely honest I will admit that while loss after Chelsea loss engenders feelings of bewilderment and gloom in me; it is nothing - nothink - compared to the emotions I experienced when Poland scored that one critical goal against Scotland in the last freaking millisecond of the Euro qualifiers in October. I was curled in a ball on the couch moaning, "Blow the whistle, blow the whistle, blow the whistle" and then... Lewandoski. Speaking of shared vernacular 'Lewandoski!' is now what I exclaim when I slam my finger in a drawer or discover that the milk had been on the counter all afternoon. It is the bitterest of expletives and while I grudgingly acknowledge that he is a brilliant soccer player - who did I just watch Bayern play? I don't remember but I was struck by the fact that Lewandoski can hover six feet off the ground - I will never forgive him.

But enough about that. It is STILL too soon to talk about it. It will ALWAYS be too soon.

So yes I am grieved by Chelsea (Hazard in particular. What happened to him? Is he doing this on purpose? Did someone threaten his family? Blink twice if you're not acting of your own accord, Hazard) but I am discovering that to football is to grieve. It comes with the territory and I now understand the true purpose of fanwear. I use my Chelsea scarf to cover my eyes and I chew on my Scotland jersey when my nails are gone.

PS I posted this and then went to watch the last fifteen minutes of Chelsea v Stoke City. Gak. Gak gak gak gak gaaaaaaaak.

PPS They lost, by the way.

PPPS Of course.

I Mean, If I Absolutely HAD To

My writing paralysis has extended to the point that I had to use a random number generator to figure out what question to answer: 37. Which by my possibly inexact stubby finger to the screen method brings us to:

Toni said...

Which member of the Arsenal team you would sleep with. Giroud? Sanchez? Ospina?

Ha! Yes.


Oh. Sorry. I am supposed to choose one?

Let's see. The obvious answer is, of course, Giroud (I'll wait while you google him) because after I had had my wicked way with him (twice) I could use his cheekbones to cut wafer-thin slices of Westphalian ham and then use his abdomen as a charcuterie board.

[Gentlemen - please accept my deepest apologies for this shameless objectification of your sex. Of course I know that males are more than pretty, useful stereotypes. Why, just the other day Steve stripped to the waist and replaced the garbage disposal while I watched from the other side of the room and admired his rippling intellect.]

Good heavens I just had to fan myself. Where was I? Ah yes, romping my way through The Emirates.

So, Giroud. So handsome, so... healthy. But! Upon further consideration I think I am actually going to go with Theo Walcott. I like his smile. Also wikipedia notes, and I quote, he "possesses good balance, movement and technique."

Which... really. Key points to consider.

I'm embarrassed to admit how much your questions are entertaining me. Inspiring me, too, apparently. So thank you and kisses kisses et cetera. I'll randomly pick out another one later but in the meantime (as a sop to Kylie who likes day in the life posts - me too) I need to finish cleaning my bathroom and then Patrick (who has no school today) and I are going to make Latvian bacon buns.

PS As long as we are being chatty, your turn. Athlete to whom you would most likely grant your favors, go. Also feel free to add more questions. So helpful.


OK. I give up. Weeks and weeks of writer's block. What on earth did I find to say to you every day before I fell off the wagon?

Prompt me. What do you want to know?


When a child deliberately misunderstands what is said, it is obnoxious. Mrs Piggle-Wiggle, I believe, called it I-Thought-You-Said-itis and treated the afflicted by filling their mouths with frogs. Or something like that, it's been a while.


When a parent does it, however, it is perfectly acceptable corrective tool. A mild, playful reminder that when you talk as if your cheeks are stuffed with hard-boiled eggs no one can understand you.


Exhibit A, pretty much always:

Edward says, "Uhwnnrhhmchuzsangitch."

I reply, "I'm sorry? You want a hamster sandwich?"

Hilarity ensues and Edward then clarifies in rich yet dulcet tones that he would like a ham and cheese sandwich. Eventually this need for repetition will lead to self-modification and Edward's future peers, colleagues... all of humanity really... will thank me for the time and effort I put into getting my children to keep the E N U in enunciation.

Well, most of my children. Caroline always speaks like she's about to hand it over to Trevor who is reporting live from the scene and Patrick. Ah Patrick.


Exhibit B, yesterday, driving home:

Patrick says... god only knows what.

"Mister delicious said yes?" I offer.

"Yes," Patrick replies, coolly. "Mr Delicious Said Yes. That's exactly what I said. It's the title of a romance novel I'm writing."

"Glurk," I answer.

"Why? Why is it called that? Is that what you want to know? Because 'Mr Delicious Said No' wouldn't be a romance. It would be... a tragedy."


PS Today is my birthday. I! Love! My! Birthday! I'm not so crazy about the eye wrinkles and this new wibbly action that seems to be taking place under my chin but apart from that... birthday! Yay!

Starts With A P. I Think.

Do you think it is possible to have a really prolonged build up to a migraine? I have been feeling flat and sleepy and unfocused for almost two weeks and as I am sitting here waiting for Patrick it is dawning on me that I seem to be on the verge of a truly massive headache. Like, my teeth hurt and I cannot button my sweater and it has taken me ten minutes to write this, massive.

I think there is a word for it, the before something happens feeling, but I can't think of it. But weeks, do you think?

 I need to get home and I need my medicine to kick in. Not in that order. Hell, I can't get my sentences to button either.

Jazz Hands To Distract You

"Madam," Edward said to me this morning as I tried to expedite his zippering, "I can put on my own jacket."

Every time I think of it I start laughing all over again. Madam! I think the Dickens must've seeped into his very marrow. 

[Nothing, and I mean nothing, going on over here. I could say that I didn't want to bore you with my minutiae but then you might point out that that has never stopped me in the past. I plead laziness. Also hours spent playing a game called FTL but I am not necessarily admitting to that aloud, merely hinting at it. And my mother is visiting.

In other nothing, I just finished listening to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and despite the fact that I have read it before I cried my way through the entire thing. It is great as an audiobook. Usually I dislike multiple narrators but it really worked with the epistolary form.

What's your favorite audiobook? And if you don't listen to audiobooks what do you do while you clean the kitchen? Whistle?]



All Alonely

I might have been speaking metaphorically when I said that I decided to watch the Euro qualifiers this past weekend rather than attend a giant party but I was not. It was the literal truth. Also - and this is key - whether I went or not Steve was going to attend and he would be taking the children with him.

You see my dilemma?

Drive three hundred miles into Wisconsin to... I don't know... socialize and dance before ultimately sleeping in a tent with my entire family OR stay home all by myself for over twenty-four hours with hot and cold running football and potato chip dip.

To me the choice was so glaringly obvious that I use the word 'dilemma' ironically, but I was amused when it highlighted an unexpected personality divide. When I explained my weekend plans to my ebullient friend Katie; rather than gnash her teeth in envy over my upcoming solitude, she said things like "Oh the party sounds so fun!" and "Are you sure you don't want to go?"

I thought about clarifying the situation for her (ALL ALONE in my house with NO OTHER PEOPLE AT ALL) but instead just shook my head. Extroverts. I love you but you are deranged.

So Steve packed for himself and the kids and after the Saturday morning soccer games they all headed off to our co-farmers' house way down yonder for an enormous outdoor Fall gathering

[When I say enormous I mean huge. Think 200, 300 people.

Edward said, "The police officer complimented my kilt!"

I said, "What?"

"He said, 'Hey, cool kilt!'"

I said, "No. Not what did the police officer say. I meant, what police officer?"

Patrick chimed in, "One of the ones who came with the first noise complaint."

Caroline clarified further, "It was a totally awesome party!"

"TOTALLY!" Steve shouted from his office.



Meanwhile I took a two hour nap on the couch, watched football and then a surprisingly depressing rom-com - have you ever watched Muriel's Wedding? - reorganized the books in the living room, downloaded the remastered version of Secrets of Monkey Island and had cheese and apples for dinner. It was divine. The next morning I woke up at the precise moment I chose and vacuumed every chair a cat has slept upon in the past three years. Then I went into Caroline's closet and ruthless gathered up every stray fairy shoe and Fisher Price Little People tricycle she has crammed into those bins over the years and donated them.

[Or rather, I meant to do so. I got as far as putting it all into a bag and then I put the bag in the garage and then the football started again and I got distracted. This is what is known in the parenting world as a rookie mistake.

Last night at bedtime Caroline produced a baby doll with one working eye and thrust it in my direction.

"What," she asked icily, "was this doing in the trash?"

"Ah," I said. "Yes. The bag in the garage. That. Well. I found a few things while I was tidying and... and that is where I put them."

"But I love this doll!" she wailed, throwing her arms wide in distress and accidentally bashing its head against the wall.

"Caroline. You have not seen or touched that doll since you got it three years and, now that I think about it, you never even had anything to do with it back then. You don't even like dolls."

"But I was using it! I need it!"

"Really?" I asked and I hope you can tell that my voice was dripping with incredulity. Because it was.

"Yes, really."

She hopped out of bed, went over to her little pink footstool, crammed the doll under one leg of it and then looked back at me.

"See? Now that won't wobble so much."

Caroline once had a preschool teacher who, upon overhearing Caroline telling Edward the right way to eat a cracker, said, "Aw, she's like a little mother! So nurturing."


Where was I? Oh right. Explaining that although I had plenty of time to check in with you over the weekend I chose not to do so because I was too full of the serenity of solitude to muck around with words.

PS Seriously. Pick one: home by yourself or attend a giant party?