Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bulk beer

Today I was buying Jay some beer at Sam's Club. (Yes, I know the fact that Jay asked me to buy him beer in bulk raises some interesting points, but that is not the main point of my story.) I had my wallet at the ready, because I was sure the cashier would ask for I.D. He scanned the beer, and the words, "IS MEMBER OVER AGE 27?" flashed on the cash register display.

The cashier didn't even pause for a tenth of a second before he pounded his finger down on the "yes" key, or whatever it was he pounded to allow me to buy the beer. He didn't need to think. Boop! The beer went through.

OK, seriously, Sam's Club Dude? Seriously? You didn't even need to stop for two seconds to wonder if I was, maybe, 26 and a half?


I don't usually drink beer, but now I think I need some. In bulk.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Quit Playing Games With My Heart

Last month, I heard a delightful rumor that New Kids on the Block are going back out on tour with the Backstreet Boys. I have yet to hear if the rumor is actually true, but I'm saving up my money for front-row seats, just in case.

I have to admit that I'm a little (OK, a lot) too old for the Backstreet Boys, and I don't know anything about them. I don't know the names of any of the guys. I have no idea which one is their Donnie (the bad one), their Jon (the quiet one), their Joe (the cute one), their Jordan (the relatively talented one), or their Danny (the unpopular one that everyone tolerates). In fact, if you intermingled all of the members of the Backstreet Boys with all of the members of 'N Sync, I would have absolutely no idea who was who. Justin Timberlake was in 'N Sync, right? I think I know who he is, although if he got lost in the Backstreet Boys/'N Sync crowd, I might not be able to pick him out. They all kind of look the same.

But I do have one connection to the Backstreet Boys. I've been carrying around a secret about them for 13 years, and now I'll admit it: That one song, "Quit Playing Games with My Heart"? I think it is really, really, really good. In fact, I think I love it.

This song came out in the summer of 1997, right after I had graduated from college and started working at my first Grownup Job. The song would always come on the radio as I was carpooling to The Grownup Job with a group of Fellow Grownups, who would always roll their eyes and complain bitterly about how much they hated the song, and the Backstreet Boys in general.

"Yeah!" I'd announce, hoping I sounded convincing. "How incredibly annoying!"

The real truth was that I secretly loved "Quit Playing Games With My Heart." It was catchy, and yet it made you ache for some poor guy whose heart was at the center of some sordid game. I couldn't get it out of my head. What could I do about it, though? This was 1997. You couldn't download embarrassing music from iTunes in the privacy of your own home. If I wanted to own "Quit Playing Games With My Heart", I was going to have to go to the mall and buy the CD (or the tape, if I wanted to listen to it in my car), where I risked running into someone I knew and/or a sarcastic sales clerk. I could always come up with a cover story ("It's a birthday present for my 13-year-old niece ... who lives ... far away ... in Canada"), but I'm not a very good liar, and I'd probably choke if confronted. "It's for my nephew! I mean my niece! I mean, I REALLY LOVE THE BACKSTREET BOYS! DON'T LOOK AT ME!"

No, it was just too risky.

So I carried on my forbidden love affair with "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" in secret. We were together only at fleeting moments, usually when I was alone in the car or getting ready for work and the song would happen to come on the radio at exactly the right time. We went on like this for most of the summer, and then the radio stations gradually stopped playing the song, probably to make way for the next Backstreet Boys song. (And for the record, "I Want It That Way" is a pretty awesome song, too. You know you secretly agree.) We drifted apart.

Then I heard the news last month about the Backstreet Boys teaming up with NKOTB, and all of my memories of "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" came rushing back. Now that we live in the Modern Age, I was able to immediately download the song from iTunes. Now, at long last, I can listen to "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" as much as I want. We're back together, and it's not a secret anymore.

I'm Karen. I'm 35 years old, and I really like songs by the Backstreet Boys.

I'll take it one step further: I'm Karen. I'm 35 years old, and I realize I have really, really, really crappy taste in music. All of my pre-set radio buttons in the car are to '80s lite rock stations. I've heard the John Tesh Radio Show. More than once.

And it's all OK. I am now fully at peace with my crappy taste in music. In fact, it could have some benefits. I don't think anyone would ever steal my iPod. I always picture the iPod thief checking out my playlist and then gently setting the iPod back down, realizing that he'd been about to steal from someone with serious mental and/or emotional issues.

"Dudes," he'd say, upon returning to the Den of iPod Thieves, "she actually downloaded Clay Aiken performing 'Mack the Knife'!"

The other iPod thieves would rush to hold him as he gently wept.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Brought to you by the letter M

WCK has been in kindergarten for over a month now, and life is different. I'm still sort of a stay-at-home mom, but not really a stay-at-home mom. I'm sort of, a little bit of a working mom (I'm doing a bit of freelancing right now), but not really a working mom. I am busy -- really -- but I'm not quite sure where the day goes. I think I spend a lot of time talking to myself and then wondering why the house is not spotlessly clean after I spent the past five years of my life repeating to myself, nearly hourly, "As soon as she goes to kindergarten, THE HOUSE WILL BE SPOTLESSLY CLEAN!"

Yeah. I'm staring at a sink of dirty dishes right now. It didn't happen.

And here's another surprising thing: Kindergarten has changed in the past 30 years. When I went to kindergarten, it lasted three hours. We were expected to show up, color pictures of Humpty Dumpty, eat a cookie, and try not to wet our pants. It was not a tough curriculum. Now, kindergarten lasts all day. They have P.E. and music and art and Spanish and computer lab. They start reading by the second week. And now kindergartners have homework.

I clearly remember not getting official homework until fourth grade. I remember this, because in third grade, I desperately wanted to have homework like the older kids. I imagined myself, sitting peacefully at home, working on my homework like a mature adult, appearing smart and worldly. "I cannot play," I would say to my younger sister. "I have homework, something a mere child like you could never understand." I would do my math problems as slowly as possible at school, just so I'd have no choice but to finish them up at home, as my mature, intelligent homework. My teacher figured out what I was doing and told me to knock it off. And that was the end of that.

But WCK started bringing home homework this week, and she's only five years old. The first few days were painless. One day was a worksheet where she had to identify shapes and color them certain colors. The next day, she had to bring in something that started with the letter M. She picked a monkey mask, which I felt should have gotten her extra credit. The third day, she had to take an apple to school. It was a breeze!

Then, last night, she had to write 10 capital letter M's and 10 lower-case letter M's. WCK hates handwriting. Hates it, hates it, hates it. It's been her chief weakness since her first year of preschool. I haven't pushed it a whole lot, because it just wasn't very fun.

But there we were, faced with 20 letter M's for this required homework assignment. I love my child, but trying to help her write the letter M 20 times was an absolute nightmare. Couldn't we start with something simple, like O? I never knew how had it was to write the letter M. I now know why I'm not a teacher and why I do not home school my child. WCK and I make a great mother-daughter pair in nearly every other way, but we cannot write lower-case M's together. It's like how you really, really love your husband, but when you have to go grocery shopping together, you begin to wonder, somewhere around the spaghetti-sauce aisle, if you can get the marriage annulled.

After about 15 harrowing minutes, we finished the M assignment. Thank God. I'm very hopeful the teacher will not expect the kids to learn any more letters for the remainder of the year. That's totally possible, right?

OK, fine! I'm here! I'm here!

My in-box has been flooded with complaints about my non-updated blog. Well, OK, it was, like, two friends saying, "Hey, what's up with your blog lately?" but I figure that's about 99 percent of my readership, so I'd better get moving. I'm totally fine -- just lazy.

Speaking of lazy, so's my M-spike. I got my latest results last week, and it made a meager drop from 3.0 to 2.9. In other words, it just sat there on its big M-spike butt and didn't do anything. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's not a super good thing, but not a super bad thing, either. The good news is, I'm no longer anemic! I admit that I cheated on my blood test by eating red meat for an entire week, but apparently that works. Thank you, Five Guys Burgers and Fries!

This means that Bon Jovi gets to stay at his current level of shirtlessness. Again, I suppose it depends on your point of view whether this is a good thing or a bad thing:

And I promise to go back to blogging more. I have a couple of things to write about, but I invite you to send me topics so that I never suffer from blogger's block again. Like Michael Scott on The Office, I'm a wizard at improv.