A Triad of Short Stories.

Thank You: Private Eye.

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I received a thank you note in the mail last week.

It was addressed to “Mrs. Callahan” and was signed “Mrs. [insert last name I’d never heard before here.]”

It was a rather generically written thank you card for a wedding gift that I did not remember giving. In fact, I recalled very few wedding presents I’d bought in the past year – we’ve journeyed past that state of being to baby presents. Which means that the only stage of life left is funeral flowers.

But this note. This puzzling note. I found it odd that she signed her name with no first name, indicating that she wasn’t sure who I was and she wasn’t sure that I was sure who she was.

Which would hint at the conclusion that I knew the groom, not the bride, but I knew no one of that name.

My first assumption was that she got a wedding gift from another Mrs. Callahan that she didn’t know, but still felt compelled to write a thank you note, so she looked up Callahan, threw a dart at my name, and sent me the thanks.

It made sense to me that I was never the intended recipient, as I didn’t believe I’d given the gift. But….I’m not listed in any directories. So I should never be The Default Mrs. Callahan.

Perhaps her wedding was so long ago that I had already forgotten her. But that sounds more like something someone in the Funeral Flowers stage of life would do.

The idea of me resting on my laurels with such a lack of closure was impossible.

So I began my usual internet stalking.

First, the return address on the outside of the envelope – searching that gave me the groom’s full name – I’d never heard of him.

Second. Facebook. He had no Facebook account. Not very helpful for stalkers, but not a bad plan for life.

Third. I searched for his marriage license in a vain attempt to locate the Bride’s first name. Couldn’t find it. Unusual….maybe they got married in the Bahamas.

Fourth. Broad Google Searches with a variety of terms. I gathered a bit more information on him and his relatives from the 1700s, but nothing helpful.

Fifth. LinkedIn. I completely ignore my LinkedIn account but it can be an extraordinarily helpful stalking tool.

He was there! And his profile picture showed him lovingly snuggled up to his new wife.

I enlarged the photo. Studied it. She looked slightly familiar. I had a hunch of someone she might be – who was someone to which I could have sent a wedding present.

I Googled his full name with her potential first name.

BINGO.

She was, indeed, someone I knew. And so I was, indeed, the present giver.

And it only took an hour of searching to accept it.

 

 

Hair Do You Like Me Now

It all started with Pillow Talk.

Doesn’t everything?

”Hey, dear. How do you think I’d look with black hair? Exceptionally pale, modern and edgy, glamorous, or freaky goth?”

“Um…I don’t know?”

“Well what do you THINK…? Because black hair does vastly different things to different people.”

“Seriously. I have no idea. Surely there’s an app for that.”

“Maybe I should wait until summer when I have a tan…”

Then, the next day, I saw that one of you ladies, Fi, had posted about the very app I needed:The ModiFace Hair Color App.

Yes, this was what my life lacked!

I started with this picture….

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And gave it a whirl.

I actually liked myself with virtual black hair – no trace of goth…possibly a tiny bit glamorous.

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The other black option seemed to give me white streaks. Which is fair.

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Then I moved on.

Let’s try red! My hair will NEVER hold a titch* of red hair color. So I might as well have it while I can.

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Okay. Maybe softer.

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Not bad…Not bad.

I was on a roll. Why not go blond while I’m at it?

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Or not. Wow.

Definitely not.

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But PINK. I’ve always wanted Pink! Pink I could do.

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Maybe just a little more…

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YES. I was made for pink.

I put them all in a grid and sent them to Chris – since he wasn’t helpful without pictures, maybe he could be helpful WITH pictures.

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Then again, still not helpful.

* Titch is a word that Ali made up but continually insists is a real word that she heard on television. She uses it often and awesomely. Usage examples:

“I don’t have a titch of candy left!!”

“I could use just a titch more apple juice, please.”

“Noah!! Scoot over a titch!!”

I expect you all to be using titch by week end.

 

Moist of my Own.

Remember Moist, Birmingham’s mysterious and disgustingly named graffiti artist?

Well guess what.

He has an Etsy shop* now. Isn’t that just adorable?

…Because Etsy was just getting too full of smock and needed someone selling graffiti prints and…Bloody Razor Vial Necklaces??

Okay that’s just disgusting, Moist.

But still.

His lettering is fabulous. And I needed a memento from my thrilling interview opportunity. So I ordered my very own Moist Placard.

When my package arrived, I excitedly looked at the return address – after all, I don’t know Moist’s real name, even after stalking him a bit – just for my own curiosity.

I liked his choice.

Moist Mailing

And I liked his packaging style,

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The placard was wrapped in what appeared to be vintage Birmingham paperwork, and my invoice was hand-printed on an old “Material Requisitions” form. He also included a few Moist Tags….I haven’t quite decided what to do with those yet but I should definitely wear one as my nametag at the next Homeschool Moms meeting.

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I opened up my placard, which was signed on the back (and pre-drilled for hanging)…

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And then turned it over to see my very own bit of Moist.

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It was the most fabulous moist thing I’d ever held in my hands.

The entire package was Birmingham perfection.

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And, naturally, I hung it in my bathroom.

Moist Placard

Because where else are you going to hang a sign that says Moist?

* No representation is made that the content of his Etsy Shop is or will be G-Rated at any or all time periods. Browse at your own risk.

 

Why I Will Henceforth Dehydrate Myself in Public.

Not Recommended Reading

Caution: This story is so humiliating that I didn’t even tell it to my husband for several days. And it took me all of a month to come back and read it and decide whether I’d cringe too much to share it here.

(I will, for the record, but alas. I am a blogger. And I have a duty to overshare.)

(But fortunately for you, you have no such duty to read. So turn off your computer now before it’s too late.)


I’ve been sick. A lot. Sickness tends to wear at you in many ways, and those ways are sometimes in conflict with one another, creating unsavory circumstances.

This story is a cautionary tale about one of those situations.

I was on my next-to-last day of antibiotics and worse than ever. My cough had kept me up half the night for the past four nights, I was an emotional wreck, and fearful that my lungs were completely full of pneumonia and I was going to die at any moment.

I had called my Mother that morning crying, because that’s what I do best when I haven’t slept in four days. And she, being the good mother that she is, was already making me homemade Chicken Soup, offered to keep my kids so I could return to the doctor, and visited every avenue of potential cough suppressants.

“You know what? I think I still have some of your Grandmother’s cough pearls…I need to check. She used to take these pearl thingies that worked WONDERFULLY. I’ll find them. I wonder if they’re still any good…?”

My Grandmother died SEVEN YEARS AGO.

I think I’ll pass. But thanks, Mom.

So I dropped my kids off at my parent’s and left before Mom could find her moldy drug stash, went to the doctor, discovered that I was not dying of pneumonia, and then went to the drug store to get my new prescriptions – prescriptions which, perhaps, my life depended upon.

I was careful not to breathe the air at the doctor’s office or in the pharmacy because I’d found out the day before that in addition to Dysautonomia, I have a seriously compromised immune system, so I would continue to catch every bug that floated along my path until they could decide on a treatment plan.

Must avoid all paths.

As I waited to pick up my prescriptions, I found myself in an extreme dire need of visiting the little girl’s room.

Stupid Dysautonomia water intake requirements.

I followed a giant, serious-looking, radio-chattering policeman down the restroom hall. Where I discovered that the bathroom available was one. And it was co-ed.

So I was going to have to wait.

I did a jig in the hallway, fearing how long that wait might be depending on the nature of his business inside. I tried not to listen to his radio chatter through the door.

Fortunately, he emerged quickly, so we crossed paths (me holding my breath in case of germs) and I went in.

And this is the point in the story where my lapse in judgment occurred.

I sat.

I’ll admit it. I’m a public restroom sitter. Despite the fact that it’s unsavory to think about and one of my friends ruined me forever by forcing me to consider all of the butt-to-butt contact one does with other people by sitting on toilet seats, I will never be coordinated enough to be a squatter. And an uncoordinated squatter can lead to a significantly high amount of bathroom injuries…and therefore germs.

So I sat. And I was in such a Red Alert State of Need that I forgot to look or wipe the seat first.

And as fate would have it, that law enforcement officer had not been enforcing his own aim.

That horrible feeling of warm moisture crept over my being. Very moist moisture. Dank moisture even.

If you’ve never experienced the sensation of a stranger’s urine making contact with your backside, then God Bless You. Because you are Fortunate above all others.

I, however, was overcome with horror. I jumped up and panicked. What does one do in this situation?

The first thing I did was look at the floor around the toilet. It was quite soggy also, confirming my fears that this wasn’t just a case of a self-moistening toilet seat.

(They exist, guys.)

I repeated the mantra of my nurse friend.

Urine is sterile.

Urine is sterile.

Urine is sterile.

But my head did not buy it, because my compromised immune system was performing a death wail over the top of my chant.

I waddled over to the sink, where the soap dispenser bladder was out of its container and lying in a puddle of pink soap in what looked like a cleanliness murder scene, and there were no paper towels, pre-moistened wipes, blow-torches, or other items that would have been helpful to me in that moment.

So I waddled further, over to my purse, frantically digging around, and finally finding my hand sanitizer.

And I emptied that bottle onto my hands. And slathered my butt cheeks. Both at once.

Wax on, wax off.

Sanitize on, sanitize off.

I doused my hands and arms with the remaining droplets in the bottle and then scraped soap out of the leaky bladder and washed them again with searing hot water.Then I washed my arms. And my hands again. Then once more, my hands.

I slumped out of the bathroom to pay for my prescriptions. And in an act of absolute compulsion, bought four bottles of hand sanitizer.

If only I’d skipped the pharmacy and taken my Grandmother’s petrified pearls.

Drain Shame.

There are things that an iPhone alters about your life from which you will never escape.

Traffic light entertainment, for one. I admit it – I struggle with not picking up my iPhone at a red light. Smart phones have effectively made me forget how to simply be still.

Also? Curiosity. Every “I wonder…” I ever mutter is followed by a Google search or thorough internet stalking. Which is further followed by the exultation of curiosity satiated.

And then there’s the measurement of my attentiveness to real life served up by my battery life at the end of the day.

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If my battery life is in the mid-range by day’s end, I feel victorious. Clearly I paid attention to my kids, didn’t grab my phone at every traffic light, and engaged in real life today. Way to go, Rachel! Give yourself an extra ten minutes on Instagram.

But if it’s at 10% before the kid’s bedtime, then for shame. I should have read more books aloud and refilled more sippies. I clearly kept my Twitter feed too up-to-date and really should back off on my HauteLook shopping.

(I know. I have a problem with inner judgment. I also judge myself about my self-judginess, if that helps.)

This week, as Chris and I were preparing to dump the kids on the Grandparent’s for a few days and head off on an anniversary getaway, my self-analysis was even more ruthless than usual.

Remember…you’re not going to see your precious children for four days. You really should cuddle for five minutes longer before bed. Even if your eyeballs are about to fall out from exhaustion.

Yes he just elbowed you in the boob with all of his three-year-old might, but don’t yell in pain and startle the poor child…he’ll remember you that way while you’re gone.

And so it was the worst of weeks to also suffer from Drain Shame.

Yet every day, my phone was at 30% — by lunchtime!

Unheard of. Horrifying. I am a putrid mother.

I berated myself constantly.

What are you DOING?!? Who do you think you ARE?!? People don’t care that much about what you have to say! Pay attention to your dang kids for cryinoutloud!!

It did seem strange that my extra pre-vacation awareness was being so overshadowed by my apparent device addiction, but battery percentages don’t lie. They pierce your soul and gauge your goodness with accuracy previously only known by Mary Poppin’s tape measure.

The day we left for our trip, I carried along with me a bit more Mommy-Guilt than usual – the kids and I had suffered through a rough morning, and THAT BLASTED BATTERY PERCENTAGE was staring me down with the suspicious eyes of Maleficent and Snape’s lovechild.

I talked to the kids on the phone that night and they seemed to still love me, so I relaxed and began enjoying our trip.

The next day, Chris and I toured The Biltmore Estate, which took hours, and phone photography was highly unallowable. So except for two quickly stolen shots, I kept my phone in my purse to avoid looking suspicious (which I was.)

Yet.

When we left Biltmore, my phone battery was below 40%.

40%!

There was no way.

It was impossible.

Unless I had a gremlin in the bottom of my purse that was streaming movies while I wasn’t using my phone, my battery COULD NOT be at 40%.

I sheepishly admitted my deplorable battery life to Chris, feeling especially horrible for my now admitted problem. Surely he would judge me. He would think I was sneaking off to the bathroom to get a fix. I mean I basically believed it myself – how else could I have gotten to 40%??

He, being the not-as-constantly-self-judging-and-unhealthily-self-loathing one of of us, said, “Oh – it’s probably something to do with the iOS 7.1 update – you just did that, remember? Why don’t you Google ‘7.1 battery life issues.’ I bet you’ll find it.”

WHAAAAT? There’s a possibility that I might not be the most reprehensible person on the planet?!

NO.

I obeyed and Googled immediately, and there it was.

All. Over. The stinking. Internet. Everyone knew but me.

7.1 Kills Batteries.

7.1 Leaves Location Services On

7.1 Bugs Will Drain Your Phone

9 Ways 7.1 Will Deplete your Phone Battery

Apple really screwed up this time

I wasn’t a terrible mother!

I wasn’t a terrible wife!

It wasn’t me – it was all a lie. All a big fat Apple-Driven lie to heap guilt upon me and make me think I was an addict.

(Okay I probably am but not as bad as I thought.)

So. If you, too, have been suffering from Drain Shame, I am here to relieve your pain and guilt.

It’s not you. It’s Apple.

So go find yourself something else to feel guilty about.


Neither self-judgment based on battery life or Mommy Guilt is recommended by this blogger or her family.

Update: If you’re suffering from this same drain, go to Settings –> General –> Background App Refresh, and turn it off. It’s a new setting with 7.1 that allows all your apps to track you in the background, therefore leaving location services on continuously. It seriously helped my battery to turn this off.