Monday, October 25, 2010

This Is Ridiculous

The public expects certain abilities from people with a college degree. I’m actually competent at many of these, including having a job, driving without hitting things, subsistence-level cooking, and buying my own laundry detergent. I even have a few bonus advanced skills, such as baking cakes and correctly using semicolons.

It’s the abilities generally expected of the average four-year-old that elude me. Stuff like drinking out of open containers.

Back in the mid ’00s, before we learned that hard plastics will kill us all, I carried a one-quart Nalgene water bottle with me everywhere and drank an amount of water that would drown most marine plants. Hydration is great and all that, but my bottle had a four-inch opening, and as far as coordination was concerned, I might as well have stuck my head in a stock tank.

Raising that bottle to my mouth was like trying to drink from a bucket on horseback at sea in a hurricane. With seizures.

I routinely ended up with drool-like rivulets cascading onto my clothing, particularly if I was preparing to look trustworthy and professional.

Since then I’ve replaced my Nalgene with a series of stainless steel bottles whose neck sizes ranged down to one inch, including one with a straw, and I still manage to spill all over myself at least twice a day. Plus, life events keep requiring me to drink out of cups and glasses containing things like red wine or Great Bluedini Kool-Aid, for which “just let it dry out” is not a viable solution.

I need to either gain more muscle control or invest in a cut-glass sippy cup.

UPDATE: I poured both tea and water down my face while writing this. I’m starting to understand why my parents didn’t like to let me have purple grape juice as a child.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Odometer, Part II

Remember how last month I was weirdly obsessed with my car's odometer? I kept getting close to seeing awesome numbers like 0987654, missing them by tenths of a mile, and feeling devastated way out of proportion to the actual magnitude of my tribulations.

Well, guess what? I suddenly realized that life is bigger than seven plastic wheels, conquered my need to control pointless minutiae, stopped talking to my car, forgot about palindromes, and haven't looked at the odometer since except to check when I'm next due for an oil change.

Just kidding. That's silly.

What I did instead was realize that even if I did catch sight of a magic number, it would only last a second or two before disappearing forever, and then I would have no purpose in life but to wait for the next one. I needed a way to immortalize these perfect events, so that I could remember forever the day I saw 1234321.

So I started driving everywhere with my camera in my purse, just in case a really cool number came up. It's a good thing I did, because this weekend the digits rolled past 099980, and I switched into Heightened State of Alert mode. After a few more miles, the effort of watching all the dials while simultaneously not crashing into anything became too taxing, and I had to take drastic steps.

It only took fifteen or thirty loops of an empty church parking lot to pull everything together, and just look at the reward for my dedication:

What could be more glorious, you ask? Only THIS:

Now I can start a photo album! One day when I'm old, my descendants will gather eagerly to see pictures of the day Great Grandma's car reached 101010.1 miles, 222.2 of them since the last tank of gas. Then I'll turn the page and show that piece of gum I stepped on that looked just like a question mark, the light through my kitchen window reaching exactly as far as the dishwasher, and the bag of M&Ms with the same number of every color. Finally, I'll regale them with the story of how I learned to rotate my socks to wear all the toes evenly, and they'll head home to bed, exhausted by all the excitement.

Either that or I'll put on slide shows for my 47 cats and ask myself questions in their voices.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

More Visual Aids

My office needed some more signs this week, so I drew these for the ladies’ room.

On the wall, they appear in a Choose Your Own Adventure format that I cannot recreate with my nonexistent web design skills, so you’re stuck with the more Goofus and Gallant layout below.

Also, the little rectangles on everyone’s shoulders are their nametags, with the yellow circle standing in for my organization’s actual logo.

Option 1:

Option 2:

I had these panels spread across my desk when they were spotted by a gentleman in his late 80s who volunteers at my office. He glanced at the one that proclaims, “I like filth!” and asked, “What format do you prefer—books, films, pictures?”

While I looked horrorstruck, he said, “I’ve never had an opening like that in my life!” and went on about his business.

Monday, October 4, 2010

This Isn't What It Looks Like

You know how sometimes your nose itches in a totally non-booger-related way? It’s still socially unacceptable to scratch it, though, so you have to resort to subterfuge to prove you’re not some kind of rogue snot bandit.

You’re touring an art museum, surrounded by sophisticated people in decorative scarves, when suddenly you feel the itch. At first you try to get your nose to scratch itself by wiggling your face like a rabbit on coke, but it doesn’t help. This itch means business.

Gradually you move to the edge of the group, hoping for a little privacy. Meanwhile, your nose feels like it’s been used to collect dandelion fluff and wool sweaters.

Ever so casually, you raise a hand to your face, aiming for a dignified and thoughtful pose.

Finally, you dive in with all five fingernails—oh, the sweet relief! Then you try to disguise the episode by scratching something more demure, like your neck, as if your hand was headed there all along and just got confused.

It’s terrible because you’re not actually doing anything wrong—noses itch sometimes, just like elbows. But for all the sympathy you get from bystanders, you might as well be smearing mucus on the walls.

I have a similar problem at work, where my desk is in the front lobby. My office chair is pretty comfortable, but it is also rather vocal. It doesn’t speak in metallic squeaks or clunks, preferring a more human, earthy vocabulary

Of course, the chair doesn’t make noise all the time. It only chimes in when I have just said something like, “Hello, Mr. Chairman of the Board. Let me get an envelope for that thousand-dollar check.”

At least I can take comfort in the knowledge that others have suffered the same phenomenon.

The other socially stigmatizing problem I encounter is needing to fish irritants out of my eyes at inopportune moments. My eyes are basically big vacuum cleaners for sand and hairs, which usually arrive just in time to be mistaken for emotional leakage.

It’s okay at a wedding or something, since you can get extra points for being moved to tears by all the joy. In many situations, though, I would rather not be seen continually wiping my streaming eyes.