Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Luck Be a Lady

I hadn't really planned on writing a blog post this week. Then again, they say if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Since Monday was Memorial Day, I wound up with a three day weekend but only four days of work week. In essence, I was already starting out the week a day behind.

However, as I sit here typing, my car is trapped inside our garage by a four foot-tall pile of dirt occupying our entire driveway. I am getting further behind by the minute, and yet everyone around me seems to think this is a normal situation. You see, "we" are having a little landscape project done. My frustration stems largely from the fact that whenever "we" do any sort of project around the house, I am the only one who truly feels the pain. Clint generally schedules these projects, then goes about his merry little way while I, Susie Homemaker, stay here and deal with the misery that inevitably ensues.

The landscape crew is doing a lot of digging (remember that dirt pile that's almost as tall as me?). We are having some kind of drainage improvements done. If it sounds fascinating and extremely glamorous, well, those are the kinds of things that are my life. They started around 9:00 this morning, and just after 10:00 had already very efficiently managed to cut the phone/cable/Internet line to our house. This would seem difficult since it was clearly marked, but kudos to these gentlemen for doing the near impossible. When I pointed out to them that my phone, cable, and Internet were out, they insisted it must be a coincidence. The repairman said otherwise when he finally showed up four hours later. And so goes another day here at Maison de Madness.

My point is that this is the type of fortuitous luck that I, as the lady of the house, seem to almost always encounter. Clint is probably working on his putting in his office hallway right now, and I am trapped like a rat until the people digging up my yard release me back into the wild. The windows are rattling, the walls are shaking,  the dog is barking, and my nerves are crawling. My version of a business lunch has been foraging our cabinets, which were emptied over the long weekend, for any scraps of food that could loosely be considered lunch. I would sing and dance for a Lean Cuisine at this point.

I called my mom, knowing that she has been in this very situation multiple times. She can relate. We swap stories about what it's like being the woman of the house, and how much easier the men have it. She adds that she and my dad went shopping Monday. Within a half an hour, my dad found a new bathing suit for their upcoming beach vacation. The hardest part of the decision was what color t-shirt to buy to coordinate with the new trunks. On the flip side, my mom is now asking us to just throw her in the pool with all her clothes on so that she won't have to endure swimsuit shopping. She says once she dries out, we can come over and pretend to surprise her by throwing her in again. And repeat. It seems like a serious stroke of luck that no man has ever had to endure things like string bikinis, Spanx swimwear, or the horridly dreadful swim dress. Do men even get cellulite? I have a feeling that if they did, it would suddenly be considered sexy. If the men of the world dealt with the things their girlfriends and wives have to, my hunch is that stretch marks would be the new black.

Before I can really enjoy the thought of any type of party or outing, I need to know what it is I am going to wear. Once the outfit piece of the puzzle has been secured, I am free to plan the rest of the fun and, barring a bad hair day, get on with living my life. This is not a problem for Clint, since the most grueling part of his wardrobe decisions are matters of khaki shorts or khaki pants, loafers or flip flops. I'm not saying men have it easy, but they have it ridiculously easy. And I'm not even going to tackle any heavy issues like glass ceilings or childbirth. If we can't have equal pay, I would superficially settle for equal pain. Be a good boy and pour some hot wax on that, would you?

Women are called the fairer sex, or, in some uninformed instances, the weaker sex. However, most days I think that if Clint and I switched to-do lists, he would be curled up in the fetal position, frightened and begging for mercy by early lunch time. At which point he would turn to me, wide-eyed, and ask, "What's for lunch?"

All that said, while under house arrest this afternoon, I made lemonade out of dirt-covered lemons by doing a little online shopping for the lady of the house. My new shoes and bangle bracelet will be here in five to seven business days. Hey, you can get a woman down, but counting her out? Good luck with that.

Please don't mistake what she's wearing for a dress. It's a cape.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Going Postal

There are a lot of people who will tell you the United States postal system is obsolete. They argue that we don't need paper mail, that by the time these letters and bills and magazines reach your mailbox, the information is already out of date. We are people who want technology at our fingertips, immediate results, and instant information. Who has time to wait for the mail to arrive?

I used to be a fan (and one of the very few) of the U.S. Postal Service, but I am afraid they are doing their best--or maybe I should say worst--to change my mind about that. I still buy stationery, send cards, write real thank you notes. I have a couple of books of stamps I keep on hand, not to mention my collection of return labels I have lovingly accumulated (flowers, polka dots, Tiger paws, IPTAY--for the many moods of my mailings). I absolutely love getting mail, and most of the time, I cannot wait to make my daily trip to the mailbox to see what treasures might be inside.

We used to have a fantastic mailman. His name was Terry, and I would see him practically every day when I walked the dog. We talked about church, our weekend plans, our families; he taught my dog how to shake hands. I still send him and his wife, Gloria, a Christmas card every year. But a few years ago, Terry told me (tearfully) that the USPS was changing his route and he wouldn't be delivering mail in our neighborhood anymore. Our new mail carrier(s)--it never seems to be the same person two weeks in a row--now comes late in the afternoon, sometimes not until after dinner, when it really does seem like yesterday's news. Terry used to lovingly stack our mail in a neat, orderly pile, whereas now it looks like someone rared back and punted everything into the mailbox. It's hard to feel the love when I pry open the overstuffed box and find torn, tattered mail shoved in willy nilly.

And so my fondness for the postal service is starting to wane, with a particular snowflake leggings fiasco back in January acting as a catalyst. Since I did not receive a much wanted pair of snowflake print leggings for Christmas, I did what any rational woman would do and ordered them online as a gift to myself. My order confirmation assured me they would arrive in 5-7 business days. Imagine my disappointment when, three weeks later, they still had not been delivered. I contacted customer service and was told the order had been shipped two days after I placed it. And it was sent priority mail, no less (I shudder to think about the slow, painful death non-priority mail must die). The USPS website listed the status as "out for delivery." And it had been "out for delivery" for the full three weeks. I called, and was told the package was now available at our local post office for pick-up. I wasn't sure why they didn't just get delivered to my house, but for the sake of fashion, I will roll with the postal punches. I could barely sleep that night, knowing I was going to snag that package the very next day. Hold on, snowflake leggings--I'm coming for you!

I waited somewhat-less-than-patiently at our notoriously crowded post office, and when I finally reached the window, the postal worker took my license and disappeared for--and I am not exaggerating here--35 minutes while I checked my watch, shifted my weight from foot to foot, sighed deeply, and experienced chest pains. I couldn't leave, because my driver's license had been confiscated, so I was forced to wait while the gentleman next to me mailing several international packages to some far flung place like Zimbabwe struck up a conversation about cooking with the only other person working in the post office. I did not get my package, but I did overhear a recipe for some kind of exotic stew--vindaloo, perhaps? Now that is some undoubtedly tasty, useful information. After all that looking, Rashanda (real name) told me she had no idea where my package was, and in truth, didn't know where else to look. She took my phone number and promised to call when it was located--you believe that, right? I left irate and empty handed.

This prompted a volley of emails back and forth with the unfortunate boutique owner who finally accepted defeat and gave me a refund on my doomed purchase. I accepted the fact that I would never don a pair of snowflake print leggings. And then, in February, the bygone leggings arrived...along with an envelope from the postal service requesting 42 cents in additional postage. I gave it to them entirely in pennies, along with a note thanking them for their prompt delivery.

Last month, we got a notification that Clint had certified mail which required a signature. He signed the back of the card, beside the "X" that indicated "sign here and we will bring you your mail," and waited. A week later, nothing. Ten days later, we got another lovely fluorescent card notifying us of that the last delivery attempt had been made. According to the postal system, they had repeatedly attempted to obtain a signature but were unable. I guess that signed card we put in the mailbox on the form they gave us didn't count? Clint ventured out to the neighborhood post office again and, this time, actually got his letter. Good thing it wasn't urgent, since someone could have etched it on stone tablets in less time than it took for him to receive it.

You know the saying the third time's a charm? We shall see. I ordered makeup from a friend of mine. Yesterday, I put a check for her in my mailbox and told her to just drop the makeup off any time. I noticed last night that the check was gone, but the makeup wasn't there. Guess what? The mail carrier somehow mistook a box with just my name written on it--no postage--for outgoing mail. So now the post office must have my under makeup primer. Only I have called four times today and no one is answering the phone. How efficient! How convenient! I left a note in the mailbox explaining the situation, but I'm not holding out much hope. I'm trying not to worry too much, since the primer that is supposed to reduce the appearance of fine lines on my face is now MIA.

I heard Jerry Seinfeld on the Tonight Show a few weeks ago talking about the postal service. I laughed at him saying it's amazing that a business model built on pennies, licking stamps, and postal workers walking around in mock Scout uniforms covered in meaningless patches doesn't work. Only now, instead of laughing, I am starting to really understand the true meaning of going postal. I'm still holding out hope that my makeup may somehow find its way back to me, but in the meantime, if you need to send me anything, just say the word and I'll come get it in person. No matter where you live, it will still be faster than dealing with the mail.

And clearly, the mail situation has gotten out of control....

Monday, May 5, 2014

You Make My Dreams

Someone stop me before I sing Private Eyes again. No wait, don't. I am still thoroughly enjoying myself from the Hall and Oates concert Clint and I went to last night.

To be fair, a few years ago, I saw a picture of a college friend and his wife at a Hall and Oates concert in Maryland. Why in the world did they go to that, I laughed? Do Hall and Oates even have any songs I would recognize? So I looked up the Very Best of Hall and Oates album on Amazon. And it kind of blew my mind. Every single song was great. Don't believe me? Here is a list of some of what was played last night at the concert here in Charlotte:

Sara Smile
She's Gone
Out of Touch
Rich Girl
I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)
Say It Isn't So
Kiss On My List
You Make My Dreams
Private Eyes

Are you singing yet? That's what I thought. Concerts like theirs are fun because you don't have to spend any time enduring those obscure songs that only the artists and super fans recognize. When they came out and opened up with Maneater, I knew we were in business.

When we made the plans to go, I was a little worried since the concert was on Sunday night. As a happy housewife, I don't give much thought to staying out late on school nights; however, one of us does get up bright and early at sunrise o'clock every day to head into the office, and I didn't want to keep Clint out past his bedtime. It turns out, I needed not worry. You see, Hall and Oates (and most of their concert goers) are not exactly spring chickens any more. They started the show at 7:45, and by 9:15 they were leaving the stage so we could all get home and go to bed. If that seems short, it was--but packed with great music. It was like they cut out all the filler and just gave an express concert.

The people watching was also excellent. As I mentioned, it was not exactly a young crowd, which was actually really enjoyable. When we went to see Dave Matthews last year, we had to put up with a lot of less-than-polite people, smoking (cigarettes and otherwise), and the smell of patchouli oil wafting through the air. At the amphitheater for Hall and Oates, we sat with people our parents' and grandparents' ages and watched them dance in their seats, cardigans, khakis, and all.

As we made our way for the exit (and home before the ten o'clock news), we found these two and had to get a picture:

How often do you get to have your picture made with Hall and Oates? It was the perfect way to cap off our very fun Sunday night. Been there, done that, bought a t-shirt, and still got a full night's sleep. Kind of gives new meaning to "you make my dreams come true."