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    Friday, October 30, 2009


    I’m pretty sure God is the only one who knows how truly neurotic I really am. But my husband is a close second. The other day he told me that if I get any more germaphobic he’s gonna have to put me away. Provided my padded cell is regularly sterilized, I think I could live with that.

    In addition to Cloroxing doorknobs, household surfaces, and random strangers at King Soopers, I also lace my kids’ orange juice with Echinacea and have achieved the enviable title, OCD Handwashing Nazi.

    I’ve also introduced Family Gargle Time. We tried to come up with a catchy slogan. “The family that gargles together—something something something—together.” Turns out the word gargle rivals the word orange in its dazzling array of rhyming options.

    You might be surprised to hear that my boys don’t give me any trouble at all about their nightly warm saltwater gargle. If you know me even in passing, you know I have a top notch gag reflex and the projectile power to back it up. Each night I struggle not to puke while I gargle. But the boys? They love it! I’m not kidding. And to prove it to you, here’s a sound clip of a special performance they gave a couple nights ago.

    That was a real treat, wasn’t it?

    And now, it’s time to go wash my hands, and my keyboard, and my earphones, and that plastic pumpkin over there, and the neighbor’s dog, and the sidewalk…

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Please Pass the Brain

    Just a quick update before I get into today’s weirdness. Monkey did better with his flu shot this year. He didn’t hide under the couch, climb the walls, or kick anyone in the solar plexus. It was traumatic, yes, but we made it. Kory helped by making the boys laugh with his tough, pirate grunts and manning up for his shot first. Thank God for daddies!

    Okay, now on to something completely different.

    “Please pass the brain,” is one of my favorite phrases. Like so many things worth discussing, this expression is rooted in my teenage years and has to do with my brother and zombies.

    Case had this game, possibly called Please Pass the Brain. I can’t remember for sure. But the premise of the game was this. All the players are zombies working in a fast food restaurant. In order to do your job—flip burgers, clean the bathroom, refill the salt shakers—you had to have the brain. Of course, there was only one brain and you had to roll for it. Highest roll gets to use the brain, complete their task, and get ahead.

    Now even if you never got the brain, you could still achieve minimal success. There were cards with various cheeses on them, and you could substitute cheese for brains and sort of “get by.” The catch phrase went something like this, “You can use cheese in a pinch, but you can’t win the game with it.”

    Lately, I’ve suspected that the space between my ears is filled with a glob of runny mozzarella. I’ve been engaging in relationships, nurturing my children, balancing motherhood, wifehood, and womanhood, and writing a book with nothing but cheese!

    And so, if you’ll forgive me, I must loose this desperate cry. Would someone, for the love of all that is holy and decent, PLEASE PASS THE BRAIN?!

    I need it!

    I’m the mom who forgets she’s supposed to be volunteering in her son’s classroom and arrives breathless, fifteen minutes late. I’m the mom who forgets that people expect dinner every day. I’m the mom who puts a load of laundry in only to find it still in the washer, crunchy and stinky, a week later.

    And what’s worse, I have two little boys who have not yet learned to get by with cheese. I have every hope that one day they will possess brains sufficient to win the game, but for now, let’s be honest; we’re working with sharp cheddar.


    They need me, ME, to make sure they eat regularly, wear clothes out of the house, and go to bed before 10. And those are just the basics! There’s homework to inch through, music class to barely make it to, vitamins to take, social development to foster, ethics to teach, college to plan for. Folks, I’m doing the best I can with my hunk of oozing mozzarella.

    I have the sneaking suspicion that other moms might feel the same way. Do you secretly suspect you’re a moldering zombie with limburger in your skull? If so, couldn’t we form some sort of co-op? We’ll steal a brain from one of those well-dressed, career women who give us dirty looks in the supermarket when our kids touch everything, sing loudly, and hit each other. Then we’ll share our prize. You can check out for a bit when your kids are at school and loan me the brain so I can make it to my dentist appointment. And when you have that PTA meeting, I’ll willingly lob the brain your way.

    Who’s with me? Let me hear it, ladies.


    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Monkey's Lizard Brain

    Poor Monkey is terrified of needles. He’s never had a horrific experience with shots, well, not in reality. In his mind? Who can say what dreadful imaginings lurk in the brain of an eight-year-old boy?

    Of course I don’t blame him for not liking shots, but as he gets bigger, his fight-or-flight response gets harder to manage.

    In our house, we sometimes talk about the lizard brain. It’s that instinctual part of your mind that reacts like an animal’s. There’s scientific mumbo jumbo to go along with this term, and educated folks might even be able to point to this part of the brain on a diagram. I, however, would point to the entire brain and say something stupid like, “There’s the chocolate zone.”

    What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Monkey’s lizard brain. He looses all rational thought when confronted with the prospect of getting a shot and becomes a fifty-pound Juggernaut. He will do just about anything to get away, including:

    • Pummel whoever is holding him,
    • Fling shoes, equipment, whatever is in reach, across the room,
    • Single-handedly fight off parents, doctors, nurses, technicians, and recruited bouncers,
    • Wedge himself in a corner, four feet up the wall, like Spiderman,
    • Hide under the waiting room couch (which had to be lifted off of him),
    • Writhe, scream, and—between the time he finds out about shots and the time he goes into animal mode—bargain and promise like a politician.

    Poor baby. He makes it so much harder on himself than it needs to be. But there is no explaining that concept to a lizard. Or a monkey. Or an eight-year-old.

    This Saturday our whole family is scheduled for flu shots. Of course I haven’t told Monkey yet. But come Saturday morning, he’ll figure it out quickly.

    We do have a fun surprise planned. No, not a straightjacket. If we all survive our shots, and don’t have to stick around for assault charges brought by the medical staff, then the whole family is going to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I’m hoping this dangling carrot will help Monkey retain some portion of his rational mind, and maybe, just maybe, we can get by without the hazmat crew.

    Whatever the case, I’ve been assured that our doctor’s office will be prepared with extra personnel, protective gear, and tranquilizers.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for me? When flu shot time comes around, do your kids turn into lizards? Ninjas? The Hulk? I’d love to hear how you deal with it.

    Friday, October 9, 2009

    Bubba and I Hate Each Other

    Awhile ago, I became aware—mostly through my husband’s theatrical sighs when paying bills—that I had a credit card addiction. In order to make myself care about this nebulous problem, I decided to think of my credit card debt as a person--a massive tent-wearing, wobbly-type person. You know, the “before” picture. And so, Bubba was born.

    Since I have Creative Personality Disorder, Bubba soon became an all-too-real imaginary friend. I imagined him waddling behind me at Target, huffing down my neck as I shopped on Amazon.com, and demanding extra whip cream for my frappucino at Starbucks.

    Since my mission—which I never had the option of choosing to accept—was to trim Bubba down a bit, I figured the least the behemoth could do was help me shed a few pounds. You know, I don’t add $4.50 to his swollen waist and he, in return, does not add extra whip cream to mine. Makes sense, right? Somehow I entered into an accountability relationship with a figment of my imagination.

    Shockingly, this did not work. I’m here to say that Bubba and I now hate each other, as evidenced by my suicidal scale and his rent-sized minimum payment. In the name of friendship, we’ve sabotaged each other. He offered to pay for my vanilla bean scones and I, like a weak-willed enabler, let him. Now both of us are huge.

    Which brings me to a ridiculous question, is there therapy for people who have relationship issues with their imaginary friends? Or maybe there’s a prescription that takes care of things like this.

    I’ve heard of this radical freezer therapy where you put your “friend” in a plastic container, fill it with water, then stick him in the deep freeze. As much as I hate Bubba for letting me get even fatter than I started out, I still can’t justify such cruelty.

    What am I to do, folks? Bubba and I are headed for a show-down. I can see it now. I lure him to the Cheesecake Factory, promising to only add a small salad to his straining balance. But just as I’ve duped him with the illusion of my restraint, I add a basket of calamari, a plate of Pad Thai, a couple of girly cocktails, and then four different kinds of cheesecake!! Die, Bubba, die! Bwa ha ha!

    But! Oh, no! What’s this? Just before my credit line draws its last breath, Bubba manages to get one more parting shot in. The cheesecake! Who could have seen that coming? Now my behind is the size of Canada, AND I’m stuck with the colossal carcass of my credit line!

    Okay, okay. Maybe I need to get out more. Take a pill for my hyperactive imagination. Get real friends. Go on a diet. Make a budget.

    I think I’ll call my budget Romilla. Romilla the Red Witch! Romilla the Red is my nemesis! While I do my part to nourish an anorexic economy, Romilla foils my every move, zapping me with lightning whenever I reach the checkout. My husband is Romilla’s unknowing pawn. I must liberate him from her iron fist of cruelty and teach him the ways of gracious overspending.

    Oh dear. I think I have a problem.