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Thursday
Jan242008

A Temporary Change of Heart

Our driveway? Is full of more obstacles than an episode American Gladiator. The poor little Toddler couldn't walk into the house this evening because there was snow in her way. She stood and stared. And stared some more. And stared some more, in search of some way of getting around the vast chasm of doom.

When she realized that I really wasn't going to rescue her (since I was too busy photographing her misery), she wondered, what happens when a teensy little corner of your tennis shoe touches a itty bitty flake of snow?

I'll tell you what does not happen. The world does not end. Your shoe does not spontaneously combust. Glass shards do not become embedded in your eyeballs. Cockroaches do not crawl into your ears. Fire does not shoot out of your nose. Your pants do not fall off. Worms do not slither up your legs. Rabid rats do not gnaw on your knuckles. Snakes do not slither down your back. Ants do not take up residence in your diaper. Bacteria does not eat your flesh. Battery acid does not seep out of your tear ducts. You don't even fall over dead. Yesterday? Every single one of those things happened simultaneously when the Toddler was faced with the exact same dilemma. Today?

The screams didn't start until I had to drag her glove-refusing, hat-hating butt into the house before she froze her tootsies off.

I'm sure tomorrow she'll go back to fearing all things snow. Which is good, because I was hoping to use her snow phobia as an excuse to spend winters in Florida.

Wednesday
Jan232008

And You Thought I was Exaggerating

Last night when I suggested that everybody just go hide in fallout shelter, I really was thinking that was a bit silly. After all, tragedy had already befallen me in the form of Heath Ledger's death, so the birthday curse had been fulfilled. Little did I know that the fallout shelter really wasn't such a bad idea after all.

This morning when I walked into work, I nearly ran into one of the Engineers who was standing in the hall sniffing the air. When I was done mocking him, he explained that he thought he had smelled gas, but couldn't seem to catch the scent again. Somewhere along the mocking trail, one of the Safety guys happened upon us. Mr. Safety figured it was worth a call to the gas company.

About 30 minutes later, just as I was settling in with my Grande Nonfat Caramel Macchiatto and some PowerPoint presentations, a funny little man with a funny little machine came walking by. In one hand he held a little balloon thingy (that's it's technical name) which he kept squeezing, causing it to make a puffing noise. In his other hand was the object of his affection, some sort of meter. As he walked down the hall puffing away, his equipment would beep, and he would tell anyone in his vicinity to (and I quote), "Please move to the front of the building for a moment." I grabbed the important things in life, my cell phone and my coffee, and headed to an office nearer the front of the building to ask some questions. A few minutes later, Mr. Puff and Beep happened along and, with a bit more urgency, insisted that we all move further to the front of the building.

Before long, there was a 40-person party congregated at the front of the office. Sadly, it was not my birthday party, but rather my Hey! There's a gas leak under the building party! Woohoo! We all stood around cracking jokes and whining about how we wished we were working when Mr. Puff and Beep appeared and requested keys to various rooms. About 60 seconds later, we heard sirens. Then we saw firetrucks. And police cars. And a couple of ambulances. By the way, my office building is on a dead end street. There was no doubt whatsoever where the emergency vehicles were headed as they came down the road.

The firemen came rushing into the building, bristling past my little gas leak party, in search of Mr. Puff and Beep. And then, one of them came RUSHING back. "Everybody, out of the building! NOW! NOW! NOW!" Go back up a couple of paragraphs now. See what I didn't grab on my way out of my office? My coat. My purse. My keys. My laptop. My sanity.

Really, the most important item I neglected to grab while I was out "for a moment" was my coat. It's funny, just yesterday I was thinking about how I don't really mind cold weather. Just today I was reminded that I don't mind it because I know how to wear a coat when I'm out in it. I could whine endlessly about standing outside for two hours without a coat while it was a mere 20 degrees, but since I wasn't the only one, I won't.

While we stood outside turning into human icicles, I thought about the fact that my house was just 2.8 miles away, and that if somebody could just drive me over there, I would be happy to whip up some nachos and keep the party going. But we weren't allowed to leave. Nope, our emergency evacuation plan doesn't include what to do if you don't know when or if you are going to be allowed back in the building, so we had the joy of standing around and waiting while the fire departments (yes, plural) and Mr. Puff and Beep determined where the gas leak was coming from and whether or not the whole place was about to blow-up.

You should know that, at first, I was ticked off about all the work that I wasn't getting done in my office. It doesn't just do itself, you know. But then, once I started thinking about going home, I started thinking about all the work that is there that I need to do. Sometime between the time that my left pinkie fell off due to frostbite and the moment my eyelashes froze to my eyeballs, I became real convinced that it would be a really good idea if we all just called it a day so that I could go home and whip up some cupcakes, sweep, vacuum, dust, put away laundry, dismantle the last Christmas birthday tree, give the dog a bath, figure out what I'm going to wear for a formal event Saturday night, take a nap, watch TV, read a novel, mop the bathroom floor, scrub the shower, plant the tulip bulbs that are sitting on the sidewalk, and find the cure for cancer.

I NEEDED Mr. Puff and Beep to go along with my plan for home domination. He didn't. Instead, he discovered that the leak was clearly coming from the furnace. Turns out, there's an easy fix for that--shut off the heat. So we all sauntered back into our little spaces and resumed working and shivering.

Alas, the birthday curse is alive and well. It doesn't look like anyone is going to get seriously injured this year, which is, of course, good news. I've already been informed by the HR Manager (and everybody else in the whole building) that I will be taking my birthday off next year, so as to not impact my coworkers with my birthday curse.

That's fine with me. I didn't want to share my contraband space heater with them anyway.

Tuesday
Jan222008

Happy Birthday to Me! Now Go Hide in a Fallout Shelter.

Just two short years ago I received a call from a family member saying something to the effect of, "You better get started on having that baby!" I replied, "Uh, no," just as I had for months prior anytime someone voiced that it would be REALLY! FUN! if I got to share my birthday with the baby. In fact, the moment I learned I was due right about my birthday, I vowed that the child would not be allowed to be born on, or immediately preceding, January 23. I don't know precisely how I planned to stop it from happening, I just knew it wasn't an option.

Every time I would look at someone like they had three heads for suggesting just how much fun it would be to share my birthday, they assumed it was because I didn't want to share "my" day. I'm not good at sharing, but that wasn't the real reason. I admit I played along with that theory because it was easier to just nod and agree. All this time, I've kept the real reason a secret. Just what is the real reason? Peeps, my birthday sucks. Every year, my birthday sucks. If something horrible doesn't happen on the actual anniversary of my birth, then it happens a day or two before my day. Every year, without fail.

To demonstrate my point, let's look at the history of January 23rd:

1556 - The deadliest earthquake in history, the Shaanxi earthquake, hits Shaanxi province, China. The death toll may have been as high as 830,000.
1570 - The assassination of regent James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, throws Scotland into civil war.
1870 - In Montana, U.S. cavalrymen kill 173 Indians, mostly women and children, in the Marias Massacre.
1941 - Charles Lindbergh testifies before the U.S. Congress and recommends that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Adolf Hitler. (Great idea, Charles! Hitler was such a nice guy, after all.)
1973 - A volcanic eruption devastates Heimaey in the Vestmannaeyjar chain of islands off the south coast of Iceland.
1985 - O.J. Simpson becomes the first Heisman Trophy winner elected to the Football Hall of Fame. (I don't care how great of a player he was. He doesn't deserve the honor.)
1991 - World's largest oil spill, caused by embattled Iraqi forces in Kuwait.
1993 - Indian Airlines B737 crashes art Aurangabad, 61 die.
1996 - The first version of the Java programming language is released. (Trust me, this was a sad moment in history.)
2002 - Reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped -- and subsequently murdered -- in Karachi, Pakistan.
2005 - Johnny Carson, American television host died.
2004 - Jennifer Lopez breaks engagement to Ben Affleck. (A great day for Ben, but it was all downhill from there for J.Lo. I mean, have you seen her current husband? Yuck!)
2007 - Iraq: twin market bombings kill over 100.

OK, OK, so none of that actually affected me personally. Want some "my world" examples? Fine:

1980 - The water lines in our house froze and we had to spend the night at a flea-bag hotel complete with orange shag carpet, a heavily stained green/orange plaid comforter, and an hourly rate.
1981 - While driving cross-country to my Grandpa's funeral, our car went kaput. We were stranded in the no man's land of rural Wisconsin for hours.
1982 - My birthday party was cancelled due to TWELVE FEET of snow.
1983 - My birthday party was cancelled due to sub-zero temperatures. (I never bothered to try to have another one after that.)
1986 - A little boy in my neighborhood died of Spinal Meningitis.
1989 - My parents forgot my birthday. Seriously, they FORGOT it. I kept thinking there was going to be some big surprise at any minute. I thought wrong.
1991 - My Dad was called up from the Air Force Reserves for deployment to the Gulf War.
1992 - My Mom had a radical mastectomy to treat breast Cancer.
1994 - My college roommate thought it would be a great idea to have her boyfriend spend the night in our all girls dorm. The things that went on in that top bunk were loud, smelly, disgusting, and very memorable. Did I mention that she was pretty heavy-set? What about that her boyfriend was more like morbidly obese? I bet that's a pretty picture in your head right now. I HAD TO BE THERE! I spent most of the night silently praying that the bunk bed wouldn't give way. I spent the rest of the night (not) sleeping in the hall.

I could fill in all of those other years, but since I'm more of a sunny-side up sort of person, I refuse to do it. Just trust me, something always happens. Given that one of my absolute favorite movies ever is Ten Things I Hate About You, I think it's safe to say there's already been one stroke of grief for this year. Let's hope there's not another.

Alexis, just be glad you were born on January 27th. It's a much happier day.

Psst . . . if you want to make my day better, you could maybe click over on one of those little Blogger's Choice buttons over to the right and place a vote. That would make me smile!