Thursday, January 28, 2010

The worst of the words

After reading Kathy’s post about her sister Maureen’s “list of words, phrases or topics that are either prohibited or encouraged in her lunch room at work,” I decided it was time for me to go public with my own (and my sister’s) word-phobia. My sister Melissa and I have been compiling a “forbidden words” list for as long as I can remember, with new terms added all the time. They include:

bud (this one is Melissa’s; I’m not really too troubled by it)
rupture (It’s usually associated with something that sounds horribly painful.)
tongue (I know, I’m really weird! I can’t help it.)

And the worst offenders:

moist (bleegggh! This was on Kathy’s sister’s list as well)

and (I can hardly bear to type it)

Ewewewewew!!! I just can’t bear it. What, may I ask, is wrong with “underpants?” It’s a perfectly good word, and provides a very accurate description of what the item does. It goes under your pants. Or call them “underwear” or even “drawers” or “bloomers.” I don’t really care what other term we come up with for them, I just think that that word should just be stricken from the English language forever. Ew.

I can’t speak for my sister on this, but I also have a really difficult time with body part words. For instance, if I ever had to say the word “penis“ in front of another living human being? I would just fall over and die on the spot. In fact, just typing it, all alone in my living room, has made me blush furiously. I understand that these words may need to be used for medical purposes, so they can’t be stricken from the language, but just don’t expect me to say them. Ever. If something goes awry with one of the body parts that I am unable to speak of, I’ll just have to write the doctor a note or draw a cartoon or something. Or, you know, maybe just go ahead and expire from whatever the ailment is, since I will want to anyway once the doctor says any of those words to me. I feel a little faint just thinking about it.

So, do you have any prohibited words? Leave them in the comments! I always thought that this was something particular to my family, but apparently there are a lot of us out there.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My sanity's in Jeopardy

Tomorrow night, I will make my sixth attempt to win a spot as a contestant on a game show. At this point, steely determination has been replaced by weary resignation, but I am still maintaining a tiny shred of hope. You won’t find me blogging, Facebooking, or checking email at 8:00 p.m, like I do most weekday evenings. Instead, I will be sweatily staring at my laptop screen, trying to make the dogs leave-me-alone-already-for-goodness-sake-don’t-you-have-toys-or-something?, and searching every corner of my poor wee brain for information about South American lakes and the name of President Hoover’s dog.

As far back as I can remember, I have wanted to compete on a game show. When I was a little girl, I used beg my grandmother to let me be on The Price is Right. (I was not mollified by her explanation that it was filmed in California, and we were in Kentucky, and I was not, at four, really the appropriate age to be a contestant.) As a trivia-loving nerd, I’ve always wanted to have the chance to embarrass myself on Jeopardy, but Kentucky is not very high on the list of audition sites for most game shows. So, I resigned myself to watching (and yelling answers at the TV) at home.

But then Who Wants to be a Millionaire exploded, and suddenly game show audition opportunities were popping up everywhere. Like Louisville, which is a very doable hour-long drive from where I live! The Weakest Link was holding tryouts, and my aunt K and I decided to head on over and check it out. (Unfortunately, we got stuck in traffic and were running late, so she ended up parking the car instead of going into the audition. I felt terrible.) After an exhausting, day-long tryout process, I was told that I had passed all of the tests, including the mock game, and that I might receive a call to compete in the next six months. About two months later, the show was canceled. So much for my shot at being publicly humiliated by Anne Robinson! (In retrospect, it was for the best, since I probably would have burst into tears when she yelled at me.) A couple of years later, K and I were delighted to hear that the Jeopardy folks would be making a stop in Lexington…and we could take the test! We waited in a loooooong line in a car-dealership parking lot, and took turns assuring each other that—really!-- we would be perfectly fine if only one of us passed the test. When the moment of truth arrived, we learned that we had both failed. Yet another disappointment for the game-show wannabees.

In recent years, Jeopardy got smart, and realized that they could increase their contestant pool exponentially if they would offer online tests. I have participated in the past four test cycles, spending the nerve-wracking, hive-inducing half-hour test time blanking on answers in all of the categories I know the least about (Geography, Art, Sports, and US Presidents, in case anyone is interested). To prevent cheating, you don’t find out how many questions you answered correctly—you only receive notification if you pass the test, and are chosen at random to attend an audition. I kept track of my answers last time, though, and I know I missed at least 25. Out of 50. People, this test is a killer. So, you can see why I’m not getting my hopes up too much. But maybe, just maybe, the test categories will fall my way. Maybe I’ll be dealing with questions about pop culture, 80s music, food, celebrities, fashion, TV, shoes…you know, the things I actually know something about. Wish me luck! You’ll be the first to hear if I get called to Chicago to film an audition.

The little Whammy guy came from here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It's hard to believe I haven't broken my head yet

Do you ever feel like you're having a "clumsy day?" For instance, the other morning in the shower, I managed to drop my shampoo bottle, conditioner tube, AND razor. A clumsy day.

Except that I wasn't just having a clumsy day. I have a clumsy LIFE…and it's all the time. I fall off curbs, walk into walls, bump my knees and elbows, and hit my head with alarming frequency, so I'm always a mass of bruises. At least twice a week, I burn some part of my forehead, neck or ears with a flat iron, so I'm usually sporting a visible scorch mark. Thankfully, my clumsiness doesn't result in any sort of major injury, at least most of the time. I have done a few unbelievably klutzy things in my life, though. And, since I'm running low on blogging material this week, why not trot out some (more) of my embarrassing tendencies for public consumption? Here, in no particular order, is a little rundown of the more memorable episodes.

-Caught my foot on a parking-barrier rope while trying to jump it…on a dare. Resulted in a really gross rope burn and a moderately sprained right ankle.
-Slipped in beer spilled on a bar dance floor and twisted my right ankle; continued to dance on it, totally oblivious, for the remainder of the evening. Got home, took off my shoe, and burst into tears when I saw the ankle. Resulted in a severe sprain, two weeks on crutches, and several months to full recovery.
 -Jumped up from my desk chair, where I had been sitting on my foot, too quickly. Got my foot caught up in my skirt and fell. Resulted in (yet another) ankle sprain. To make things even more fun, this happened on my first day at a new job. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone, so I suffered all day in silence.
-Stepped in a hole, while carrying two 22-pound bags of ice. Resulted in a broken ankle (clearly, I'm not doing any ice skating on these ankles. They're probably weaker than matchsticks), three weeks on crutches, and two months of physical therapy.
-Tripped and rolled down that little slope-y bit of a friend's driveway. Resulted in two skinned knees and the ruination of a brand-new pair of jeans.
-Tumbled off an ex-boyfriend's back porch. Resulted in damaged cartilage and a big fluid pocket on one knee.
-Slipped and fell in the shower, after a too-liberal application of Clean Shower spray. Resulted in some kind of injury to my tailbone region that left me in tears for two days. (That's pretty rare. Even the broken ankle didn't make me cry.)
-Slipped on the curb after an ice storm and fell under my car. Resulted in a huge bruise on my hip/thigh that took about two months to heal, and a determination to find a house with an attached garage.
-Attempted to poke the lawn sprinkler in the drought-stricken back yard; felt a pop in my shoulder. Resulted in a torn tendon and ligament, five months of physical therapy, and an ongoing, (seemingly) endless series of sleepless nights.

See? Told you I was clumsy. Please keep in mind that all of these things happened to me as an adult. If I had included all of the moronic, where-was-your-brain clumsy things I did as a kid, this list would have been four times as long! So, how about you? Are you a klutz like me, or one of those lucky souls who seem to glide through life on a cloud of grace and fairy dust?

(Clumsy Smurf courtesy of

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Car Wash, the Firemen, and Me

As I was approaching my car in the parking garage the other day, I noticed that it looks really crummy. We've had some snow recently, and the poor thing is just covered in crusty road salt-it's gotten so bad that you can hardly tell what color it is. While I was making plans to go to the car wash, I remembered another post-snowfall trip to get the car cleaned up. Let's just say that it didn't end very well.

My husband and I had bought our car about six months prior to the incident, and I was still deep in the honeymoon phase. I kept it spotless, and I was (obsessively) concerned that road salt might damage the paint. So, on a bright January day, I headed off to the automatic (touchless! no scratches, you know) car wash on my lunch hour to soap off a week's worth of salt. The temperature outside was only 26 degrees, but there was a sign posted that said the car wash operated down to 15 degrees. I paid, rolled into the bay, sat through the wash cycle, and waited for the front door to open so that I could head back to work.

Except the door didn't open.

Luckily, I'm not claustrophobic or anything, so I was pretty calm at this point. I peered out the windows to see if there was an emergency release switch I could activate to open the door, but then I realized that I didn't really feel comfortable with the idea of getting out of the car. You know, in case the car wash turned on somehow. I could just see the headline: WOMAN TRAPPED, SUDSED TO DEATH IN CAR WASH. Um, no thanks. I was still pondering about what to do when, in my rearview mirror, I saw a car pull up to pay for a wash. Saved! I was sure that the front door would open as soon as the person deposited their money.

Except the front door still didn't open. The rear door, however, did.

I could see the car-wash-wanting person behind me, gesturing and waving his arms. Apparently, he thought I was just hanging out in there, relaxing, instead of realizing that I was stuck. Eventually, he gave up and drove off...which provided me with the opportunity to try to back out of the wash bay. Saved (possibly)! As I backed up, I heard some sort of machinery whir to life, followed by a sickening scraping sound. I felt the car shudder, and I realized that the door had closed again. On. My. Car.

Oh, crap. Both doors are closed, my car is at least partially squished, and I still can't get out. I decided that my only option was to call 911. The fire station was right next door to the Car Wash from Hell, so I could see (through the !@#$ front door) the firemen streaming out, pulling on their gear. One of them pried up the rear bay door, found the emergency shut-off, and guided me out. They figured out that the front door had frozen to the ground, which was why it wouldn't open. One of the firemen asked why I didn't get out and activate the emergency switch, then looked very amused when I answered, "I was scared that I would get washed."

When I examined my car, I found that the rear lift gate was merely scraped, not squished, and the damage looked fairly minor. Unfortunately, the situation took a turn for the worse after I contacted the owner of the car wash. I (very reasonably) requested that he pay for the repairs. He low-balled his estimate at some shady repair place; I refused to accept it; and I spent two months fighting him. I eventually decided that life was too short to spend it dealing with greedy little people, and I cashed his paltry check.

Since I'm incredibly lazy, I still use automatic car washes, but now I make sure that there are no doors. If you're too lazy to wash your car, here's a tip: always take your cell phone, and, for Heaven's sake, watch out for the suds.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

In which I discuss the harshness of reality

Where I dream of being:

gorgeous, tropical white sand beach (courtesy

Where I actually am:

my patio - snow-covered, 30-mph-gusty-windblown, 16 degrees

Reality bites. (Sob.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Going back to the way things used to be

Once again, it has been quite a while since I've blogged. I could make the usual excuses--I was too busy (it was Christmas), too sick (I did have a head cold), and too tired (we did a major clear-out of the house last week). But really, that would be dishonest. The truth is that I have fallen back in with an old love. I've been reading. Y'know...books.

When I was a kid, I read constantly, usually making it through three or four books a week. Lately, though, I had kind of lost interest in reading fiction (except for Harry Potter books), and non-fiction can be kind of dry after a while. For a year or so, all of my reading was strictly online. Until the British mysteries came along, that is.

I tried reading mysteries when I was in junior high school, and I didn't care for them...not enough romance to suit my silly, sappy teenage tastes. Now that I'm older (and more realistic), though, I have discovered that I love a good, twisty mystery. So far, Colin Dexter's books are my favorite--I finished the last one in a day and a half. A trip to the library today yielded four more Inspector Morse books, and, since it's cold enough to freeze a welldigger's hinder off outside, I am all set to snuggle up and read to my little heart's content.

But what about my online life? Blog posts uncommented-on, LOLcats not LOLed-at, inane Facebook quiz requests ignored (What Kind of Vegetable Are You?), and a dirty, lonely Pet Society critter sadly languishing in her little house. And my poor blog, nearly un-blogged for the last two months. Well, this won't do. So, I'm going to work on dividing up my free time a bit better, so that I can keep up with all of my online peeps, too. Now, which household chore can I ignore in order to gain that extra free time? I already don't cook, so that leaves laundry, loading the dishwasher, and cleaning. I guess if you see me at Aldi buying a huge pack of paper plates, you'll know which one I chose.

(The reading puppy came from: