Sunday, August 24, 2014

Texting - ugh.

There’s nerds, dorks, and geeks. I’m all of them in one; I’m a Nerdorgeek. Actually, I’m the Queen of Nerdorgeeks. While many think that implies being technically savvy, it doesn’t always. It also means those who have absolutely no prowess when it comes to any type of grasp on the technological pulse.

Still, that hasn’t stopped me from diving into the hi-tech pool head first without stopping to notice there’s no water. Some of my many faux pas have to do with learning the shorthand language of texting and emailing. And, like a lot my blunders, things usually start or have something to do with my minions; or, as others might refer to them, my children.

Texting and emailing proved to be no different.

The kids’ “phone” plan (I put phone in quotation marks because they don’t use them to talk to anyone) had minimal amounts of actual air time, and unlimited texting. They made me crazy because when I called them they’d be mad that I was using up their minutes. They had a point, as Matt and I make them pay for their own plans. Still, I couldn’t resist noting that they wasted at least 30 of their precious seconds every time I called to remind me that I’m wasting their seconds. This usually results in another wasted 30 seconds of them complaining that I pointed that out, which makes me giggle.

I’m hoping that other parents will think that’s funny. In order to survive our kids, we have to have a sense of humor, mixed with a tiny streak of evil and a heaping helping of being easily amused. Either that or I’m going straight to hell.

At first, I didn’t see what they saw in typing on tiny keyboards. Then, one night, we were watching a movie and the girls spent half the show texting. I asked who in the world they were texting. They were writing private messages back and forth to each other. Part of me thought they were being rude. But the other part knew that if my sister, Jill, and I had that ability growing up, we’d be texting each other every minute as well. And probably doing the same thing my kids were - laughing at our parents.

As for my cell, I’d always had a decent-sized clam shell flip top phone, and liked it very much. Then a few years ago, it died and I was introduced to the world of Blackberry. Sadly, we never became good friends. No matter how many emails they sent, crowing about all the things I could do with it, I wasn’t impressed. As far as I was concerned, I needed it for one thing. Phone calls.

The kids, on the other hand, were thrilled since now they had a reason to force me to text them. I looked at the miniature keyboard and (correctly) saw nothing but trouble ahead.

At first, I had no idea what they were saying when the first flurry of texts came through. They use abbreviations, or, texting shorthand. I told them that I didn’t understand much of what they were writing, but they insisted that I join the 21st century, and learn them. Once, Aubrie sent me a message with several abbreviations, but I had no earthly idea what she was talking about.

I knew that Elyse was in her room, so I called up the stairs, “What do “IDR, LYL, and TTYL” mean?” She yelled back, “I don’t remember, love you lots, talk to you later”. So I said, “Oh, OK, I’ll ask Aubrie when she gets home.”

I thought Elyse was going to hurt herself, she was laughing so hard.

Another time, I had to send some bad news to several members of the family. Matt saw the message and asked why I thought it was funny. I was confused. He pointed to the “LOL” I’d put at the end of the message, and said, “That means laughing out loud.” I had thought it meant lots of love.

I spent the rest of that afternoon on the phone calling everyone who received the email.

It’s been a few years, and I’m getting the hang of texting. Well, when I have my reading glasses handy; which isn’t all that often. Still, we homeschooled the kids, so we’re all pretty adept at deciphering odd messages – for the most part.

What the kids don’t know, however, is that since I hate texting, I figured out a way to get them to call me. I start punching random letters and spaces and hit “send.” The phone usually rings in less than a minute with a kid saying, “Mom, what the heck are you talking about?”

And every once in a while, my inner evil streak rears its head as I answer, “IDR.” It’s good to be Queen.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Down the Shore

For the almost 26 years I’ve been a member of the very large Kells family, we’ve vacationed together in Ocean City, NJ, over an extended Mother’s Day weekend. We'd all get down there on a Thursday, and stay until Sunday or Monday; pretty much inhabiting an entire floor of the resort.

Perhaps the word “inhabit” is a bit tame. Take a loud Polish/Irish Catholic family, throw in some beer & other assorted alcohol, house them in cramped quarters, & let's just say that things can get pretty rowdy.

Occasionally, an errant family had the misfortune to be wedged in a room between our very vocal clan. We just did what Star Trek's master race, the “Borg”, would do and assimilated them; it was the only humane thing to do. Besides, resistance would have been futile.

Something that has plagued our Mother's Day vacation almost every year has been rain. Not just any rain, a passing shower, or even a thunderstorm. I'm talking about torrential, coming down sideways, build an ark type of rain. Of course, on the day we're scheduled to leave, the sun comes out accompanied by perfect 80 degree weather and a balmy breeze.

One year, however, we watched in awe as a forecaster promised a sunny weekend.  Not willing to get our hopes up, we still packed our ponchos, umbrellas, and assorted ark building supplies. To our great surprise, the weather held. We walked around as dumbfounded as Pavarotti at a rap concert. We were convinced, however, that a freak monsoon, complete with a tsunami, was on its way.

To our utter amazement, the monsoon blew in on the day we left. For once.

Having so many people gathered in one area, we've had a few “incidents” over the years. But nothing beats the time that fire played a starring role during our vacation.

As a result of the ever present rain, every time we'd come back to the condo, we'd be soaked. Due to the lack of laundry facilities, we'd often turn to my mother-in-law, Gretchen, who is a highly skilled oven-drying virtuoso. After the kids would peel their clothes off, she'd have them dried in no time.

One afternoon, my daughter, Elyse, came home drenched. Unfortunately, she couldn't find Gretchen. So, she stuck her favorite pair of jeans in the oven and began the drying process. The only thing was, being a novice, she put the jeans directly on the heating element. Then, to speed the drying time, she turned the oven on to 450 degrees.

Thankfully, the room came equipped with a fire extinguisher.

The fireball was doused in short order, but Elyse's jeans were no more. Sadly, that wasn't our only brush with fire that particular weekend.

Two days after we'd checked in, we met our neighbor, Roseanne. She seemed pleasant enough; at first.  We never saw her during the daytime after our original meeting, though. The few rays of sun peeking through the clouds must have been toxic for her; or maybe they made her shimmer.

But when the sun went down, she turned into Katie Couric on crack; up all hours of the night entertaining quite the variety of visitors. We knew this because her door was constantly being slammed open or closed. And for some reason, she didn't seem to like her apartment in the evening hours, as the shared hallways held some odd fascination for her and her plethora of drunk, obnoxious friends.

None of them seemed to have a decent grasp of the English language, either. I have never heard curse words strung together with such stunning consistency, gleeful abandon and utter ignorance of all the other non-offensive words in the English language in my many years. I kind of felt sorry for all the other verbs, nouns, and adjectives that must have died from neglect within their limited vocabulary.

But I digress.

One evening after dinner, I smelled something. It smelled like fire, which of course I'd just smelled the day before following the oven drying/burning incident. Sadly, I’ve also lit our home kitchen on fire a few times - I'm becoming a connoisseur of the scent.

I looked out our window and discovered that our neighbor (who we'd taken to calling various names, such as Elvira) had brought along her hibachi. Problem was, she didn't seem to be knowledgeable of the correct (and safe) way to get the coals going.

I say that because the hibachi appeared to be engulfed in fire; white hot flames were leaping to the second floor. Although I'm no expert, I'm guessing that the reason for the fireball may have involved copious amounts of lighter fluid - the acrid smell was a bit of a give away. Add to that the fact that under normal circumstances, throwing a shrimp on the barbie doesn't require the services of the fire department, and you get why I suspected lighter fluid's involvement.

To my dismay, Vampira was no where in sight – probably because it was still light out. Not wanting to be marshmallows in our neighbor's bonfire, I began packing furiously. Matt and several others were battling to keep the fire contained, and thankfully, were successful.

Blessedly, the fire department didn't have to come out after all and no one was hurt. We couldn't help but remark that this just had to be the only clear day of the vacation.

And that's when God proved He has a sense of humor; dark clouds gathered and rain came teeming down.

Thankfully, the next few days passed by uneventfully. True to form, the little rainstorm that began after we'd successfully avoided being the main course at the Princess of Darkness' cook out lingered. We also had a lightning storm, but it was a breathtaking sight as it lit up the ocean.

Turns out, God's also an amazing artist.

Magical Mascara?

I'm a makeup and beauty supply freak. I buy every lotion and potion that comes down the pike and claims to do this or that. I keep thinking that there's no way people can make the claims that they do, right? It's so bad that my daughters barely buy makeup themselves. They just ask if I have whatever it is they're out of.

A few weeks ago, Aubrie mentioned that she was almost out of mascara. I went into my stash and produced the latest miracle product. As she took it from me, she just shook her head and said, “They see you coming, mom.” And she's right.

Mascara makes the most amazing claims. This one or that is going to take your lashes to amazing lengths. Another will fatten up thin lashes. Yet another will find lashes you never knew you had. Where were they hiding? I'm pretty sure I would have noticed a few stray hairs, but I could be wrong. 

Still I watch the commercials, praying for a miracle mascara that will make my eyelashes look like the ones in the commercial. Sadly, my eyelashes are way less than perfect. Mine are so short, I have to use a magnifying glass to apply mascara, and even then, half of it ends up on my eyelids. Once I’m finally done putting the curling, fattening, lengthening, volumizing, carbon black and waterproof mascaras on my eyes, the first blink deposits most of it on my cheeks.

The commercials continue to make fantastic claims and, as everyone knows, if it’s on the tv, it’s the God’s honest truth. I bought mascara after mascara because of their claims to give me long, lush lashes. 

Ever the optimist (and having been raised in the TV generation), I trotted to the store like a trained circus monkey and bought one after the other.  Upon closer inspection and in the smallest print possible, you can barely see a disclaimer. Usually, it’s something like “results not typical”, followed by an even smaller admission that the model’s extra long eyelashes didn’t come from mascara. They came in the form of false eyelashes.

Wait – next you’re going to tell me that the shiny hair I’ve been chasing by coloring my locks is just lighting and shilac.  

None of the cornucopia of mascaras that I purchased lived up to their claims, but at least they coated my tiny little lashes and made them somewhat visible to the naked eye. Still, I wasn’t willing to give up on my quest for long lash bliss.

You can imagine, then, how thrilled I was when I saw that a make up artist was coming on a local talk show to demonstrate how to make dramatic lashes. I grabbed a pen and paper and patiently waited until her segment came on. 

Her first “trick” was to use an eyelash curler. She curled her model’s lashes, and then applied a coat of mascara. While the mascara was still wet, she sprinkled some loose talcum powder on her lashes, followed by another coat of mascara. The model looked into the camera and boy, did she have some awesome lashes. 

Circus music played in my head as I went to the store to buy a curler and some powder.

Now, there may have been some warnings about proper usage of the curler, but I was just too excited to try it. I held the contraption up to my eye and pressed down – firmly.

Turns out, you’re supposed to check for placement before you apply any pressure. Since I hadn’t, part of my tender eyelid found its way into the little jaws of death. 

I now understand what people mean when they say they saw stars; I was seeing constellations. 

I ditched the little torture device. It took about a week for the eyelid to heal, but then I was back at it.

I decided to try the talcum powder trick. I put mascara on, then lowered my lashes to my hand that held a pile of talc. Unfortunately, I got a little too close to the powder. The talc got into my eye, and instinctively, I began blinking like a caution light in a construction zone. This caused the mascara to get under my eyes and on the top of my lids. When I could finally see again, I looked in the mirror, only to see a deranged raccoon looking back at me. 

Thinking I’d learned from my mistake, the next day I tried again. Thankfully, I was smart enough to keep the talcum from getting in my eye. Unfortunately, being inexperienced, the powder turned to massive, mascara laden clumps. I looked like there were hairy tarantulas attacking my face. I tried to use a lash comb, which helped a little. But sadly, most of the talcum covered mascara landed in my eyes.

After a few days, I could finally put my contacts in.

Weeks later, I spotted a beauty supply store, and decided to take a look around. There was a whole section entirely devoted to false eyelashes; I was mesmerized. I had no idea that there were so many different brands and types. Some were labeled “natural”, “dramatic” and one that said “demi”. Having no experience with them, I grabbed a dramatic pair.

Here’s a handy tip; be careful which fake lashes you buy or you’ll stand out like a drag queen in church.

I got them home and, for once, read the directions. I flexed and applied the glue that came with them to the lashes. I tried to get them as close to my eyelash line as I could, but not being used to having gigantic lashes coming at me, they ended up in the middle of my eyelid. I pulled them off, but there was still glue on my eyelid, which temporarily glued my eye wide open.

In other attempts I managed to get the glue on my lower lid, and glued my eye shut. It took a lot of Vaseline before I was comfortable prying them apart.

Sadly, despite all my best efforts, it seems I’m doomed to walk the streets with tiny little lashes. And when I watch television commercials advertising revolutionary mascara, I have a mantra going through my head that no mascara will make me look like I’m wearing false eyelashes.

Wait a minute – hello! I just saw a commercial about a break through mascara that has tiny fibers that will adhere to your lashes and make them ten times longer!

Queue the circus music.

The Curious Case of the Brunette Lucy

The Curious Case of the Brunette Lucy
She was pretty dumb.