Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Certain Sense of Decorum

My dear husband had a plan today:  to take me to the fort to get my military ID.  Though he said it was so I have access to his military benefits, I think there's a more evil plan afoot:  this means that now I can go to the commissary without him.  As in, grocery shopping.

Homey don't play dat.

Every time we go to the commissary, I have a bunch of retired military guys asking me where inane things are, like apples.  Or cereal.  Or hamburger.  It usually happens 2-3 times during ever trip.  So yeah, I'm not anxious to go alone.  I will say, the service there is wonderful, the selection is great, and it's not crowded, as opposed to Kroger, where I only go when I have a death wish.  What is it with that chain, that every one of their stores is filled with frantic people who fly around, even in mid-July, like there's two feet of snow coming and the fridge is empty?  But I digress.  Grocery shopping is just too close to cooking for me, so I try to stay away from it whenever possible.

So, my Marine woke me up at 5:30am to go to the fort, proclaming his fact that if we didn't get there by 7:05, all of the parking spaces would be gone.  I promptly went back to sleep for 20 minutes.  By this time, he was threatening to throw a trash can at me, a la basic training, so I got up.

I hate morning.

So we jumped in the car and took off.  I was quite proud of the fact that I had remembered all of the documents that I needed, in order to officially be the officer's wife.  We got there, and lo and behold, there were plenty of parking spaces.  Jim made a point of saying that we needed to register the car with security, since we were visitors.  I said "do you know your license plate number?"  He just looked at me and shook my head.  I turned around and looked, then realized DUH, he gets a special plate with his rank on it.

I'm not good at this officer's wife thing yet.

So we went in, grabbed a number, and waited.  One of the clerks busied himself with asking what people needed.  I'm pretty sure he did this as some sort of sadistic gesture, because he asked, and then when the person would walk toward him, explaining why they were there, he backed off and said "oh, I'm not waiting on people.  I just need to know why you're here."  Really?  Pretty soon, one of the clerks called out "THREE," and ;the lady next to me went up to her counter.  The first guy, obviously a rocket scientist, said "I think you'll be next."  I'm not sure if he said that because a) we were the only ones left in the waiting area by that point or b) Jim was obviously holding the number FOUR.  Rocket scientist, I tell you.  His mother must be SO proud.

When they called our number and made it up to the counter, we found that amongst all the flotsam and jetsam, it also had stacks of laminated random cartoons like Bizarro and Dilbert.  I sat there reading them, thoroughly amused, and probably laughing way too loudly at a few of them.  I read a couple of them to Jim, who did not seem amused.  Pretty soon, the girl told me to sign my name (Jim leaned over and said "sign the right name, dear"), then go stand over by the curtain so she could get my picture.  She asked how I liked their Walmart curtain, which was a gray and white stripey-abstract print.  She went into a long discussion about how they had sent her to Wal-Mart to buy a background for the pictures because, as her compadre loudly announced "the white wall made the black people blacker and the white people whiter."  Well.  Isn't that special?  She settled on gray, which apparently doesn't do anything for anyone, because when I got my ID, it looks like a faded tintype, so you can barely make out the picture.  Oh well, it's good enough for government cheese, I guess.

Jim announced this afternoon that since I am now an officer's wife, I must act with a certain sense of decorum.  I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I'm pretty sure that it does not involve inappropriately loud laughter, and the cartoons on the counter were some kind of test.  If that's the case, I failed miserably.  If it requires much more of that, then I'm in trouble.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Are You Sure? Well..............

We went shopping at the commisary yesterday.  Jim loves to browse, so this takes some time. Add to this the fact that he's cutting down on salt, and it definitely put him off his normal game.  So there we were, in the dairy aisle, with him looking muddled.  I asked what he was doing, and he said he felt like he was forgetting something.  Got to the checkout line, and he still felt it, but couldn't remember what it was he was supposed to be getting.  So here's how the conversation went this afternoon, after a conversation on how to cook our standing rib roast for Easter dinner.

Jim:  "Oh THAT'S what I forgot yesterday!  Remember, I said I forgot something!  That's what I forgot?"
Me: "What?"
Jim: "Butter!  Remember, I said I forgot something when we were in the dairy aisle?  I forgot butter.  We got margarine, but we're out of butter."
Me:  "Are you sure?"
Jim: "Yes, I'm sure.  And I forgot to get it. I knew I was forgetting something.  It was butter."
Me: "Are you sure?  Because I didn't think we were out."
Jim: "Yes, I'm sure.  We're out."
Me: "Are you sure?"
Jim:  "YES.  I am SURE. Quit asking if I'm sure, because I'm sure. We are out of butter.  I don't know why you keep asking me that, when you knew that I forgot something while we were there.  It was butter.  Yes, I'm SURE we are out."

::long pause::

Jim: "Well, dammit, you'd better go see, because now I'm not sure."

By now, I couldn't stop laughing, because the whole thing was so funny, so I opened the fridge, but couldn't answer him, because I was laughing so hard.  For the record, I was equally sure that we had some butter, but me not being the cook around here, I don't know what we have and what we don't most days, because he's the master chef.  But I also stand corrected, because I found that we were, indeed, out of butter.

Jim: " See, this is what drives me crazy about you.  You ask me five times if I'm sure, when I'm already sure, and then I'm not sure because you keep asking if I'm sure.  It drives me crazy."  ::long pause:  ::laughs::  "I just love you."

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Good news.  I got my new Social Security card.  I not only got it, but after staring at it for four days, I signed it.  And this time, I even signed it correctly.  Miracles really do happen.

This entire Social Security card thing has been a learning experience.  Here's what I learned:  the Social Security Administration office is a happenin' place where people meet up.  I know this.  I've been there twice now.  The experience was the same both time, and it goes like this:  I walk in.  I get a ticket by using the kiosk.  I sit down.  I kill some time reading emails and checking Facebook on my phone.  And I eavesdrop, just a little.

Mainly I eavesdrop because the Social Security Administration office is full of old people, a good amount of whom are hard of hearing.  It's also apparent that the closer you get to retirement, the less you get out, but once you get to the Social Security office, you will run into someone you know.  And when you do, the conversation will go something like this:

"Oh hey, Bud, how are you?  I haven't seen you in forever."
"Oh hey.  I'm good."
"I heard that your brother died."
"Yep, he died last month.  His (heart/kidneys/liver/insert organ of choice) failed after he had a (stroke/heart attack/transplant/insert medical event of choice).  He had just moved to (Florida/Texas/Arizona/insert warm weather location of choice).  He was only there for a (week/month/year/insert timeframe of choice) and now he's gone."
"Oh wow, that's terrible.  At least you look great.  I am retiring next month.  How about you?"
"Well, I'm going to retire, but I'm also working at (Walmart/Bob Evans/McDonald's/insert menial job of your choice)."
"That's great.  Hey, I gotta go.  Call me and we'll go (hunting/shopping/to church/insert recreational event of choice), ok?"
"Yeah, that sounds great.  See you later."

As soon as the buddy leaves, his friend will pipe up with "wow, I haven't seen him in years.  He looks terrible."  True story.  Every. Time.

As for me, I hope to not have to go to the Social Security office again anytime soon.  If I do, the little old men there are going to start thinking I'm stalking them.

Friday, April 04, 2014

When You're Gettin Married In The Morning..........

When I got married the first time, we didn't do any premarital counselling.  Perhaps it's because my dad was performing the ceremony, so that would be weird, but we didn't have to do any.  Well, I take that back,  we did get counselled on one thing: the "nuptual" kiss.

My dad had, at that point, done a lot of weddings, and had probably seen just about everything, though ministers, like nurses, never claim to have actually seen everything.  There's always something out there to surprise us.  Heck, he even did a funeral once where the gravedigger fell into the grave, causing a rather pregnant pause, followed by a firm "I'm OK" to filter up from the depths.  So yeah, stuff happens.

Apparently, one of the things that can happen is that the bride and groom linger a bit too long at the "you may kiss the bride" booth.  My father was rather clear on it, saying something to the effect of "it doesn't have to be a peck, but don't get carried away.  It's a nuptual kiss."  I've sometimes wondered if he said this to everyone, or if it was a fatherly boundary being set by a man who was getting ready to marry off his youngest child.  In either event, I listened.

The other thing he said was for me to hang onto my veil when we blew out the unity candles, because there apparently was some kind of a fire hazard involved.  Whether or not he actually saw a bride self immolate, I have no idea, but he was concerned.  I haven't watched the video in years, but I do believe that you can see him take a small lunge toward me when he realizes that I completely ignored his advice and was, in fact, briefly in danger of becoming The Human Torch.  Oh well, it was the heat of the moment (no pun intended), and I survived.  The marriage, not so much.

So this time around, a dear friend of ours performed the ceremony.  As I mentioned, it was intended as a private affair, so there was no pressure.  No pressure, that is, till he said that he pretty much insists that everyone he marries take a premarital test, and then have some counselling before the wedding.  Oh dear.  No, Jill and Michael had just taken their test a few weeks before, and she was sure that they had "failed."  I had been assuring her that you can't really "fail" a premarital test, but she, The Voice Of Doom, was sure that they had failed.  She didn't say what was on the test, and since neither Jim or I had ever done counselling before, we went into it blind.

Let me tell you, some of those questions were HARD.  It was one of those "rate this from 1-5, with 1 being strongly disagree, and 5 being strongly agree" tests.  I hate when they say that, because you just KNOW that there are going to be questions that require an asterisk.  But there is no asterisk (reminder to self:  tell the story of the greatest April Fool's joke I ever did), so you just have to commit.  I guess that's why it's a premarital test -- they must want you to commit -- but I cheated and was asking one of my friends "how would you answer this" on Facebook while I was testing.

Take, for example, the statement "I believe I know everything about my future spouse."  Well honey, I was married long enough to know that you NEVER EVER know everything -- and frequently you know NOTHING -- about your spouse.  But I paused, worried about what it means to answer with a disagreement to this question.  Would that mean we aren't compatible?  That he has secrets?  That we haven't been together long enough?  That he won't fold the towels right?  Oops, forget that last one.  Well, I really grappled with that question, finally asking my friend - who has been married for thirty years, and has known her husband even longer -- what she thought about that question.  She stated rather matter of factly that even she learns new things about her husband from time to time.  I calmed down and finished.

Jim took his test a couple of days later, and then the fretting began.  By now, I was calm and knew it was gonna be fine -- though some counselling topics could get weird when doing it with a close friend.  Jim worried that we had failed.  Oye vay, I'm surrounded by voices of doom.  He finally had me text the pastor, who replied that we had done fine.  "What does THAT mean," Jim asked.  He dialed the phone, and jumped right in, asking how we had done.

Well, it turned out that we had done well.  As in, we showed more compatibility than almost anyone the pastor had ever married.  This is no small accomplishment, since he's been a pastor for over fifty years.  Even he sounded surprised.  I'm not sure why that is, but it is what it is:  we always knew from day one that it was right.  (Yes, I have a story about that too, but it will wait for another day.) We ended up doing our counselling the day before the wedding, and found out that we had no areas for improvement, and even scored 100% match on several areas.  We had, indeed, done well.  It led, nonetheless, to some interesting discussions on that day.  We found that we had just misread a couple of questions,  and would have done even better had we read them correctly, but it didn't matter -- interesting discussions were had, as well as some laughs.  The wedding was ON.  We planned to have a brunch together before the wedding.  Yes, if you plan your wedding right, the minister and his wife will feed you before the wedding.

The next morning, we got up and started getting ready.  My phone dinged a text notification, and I went to check it. It was from the minister, who said, and I quote:

"This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Do you have any white wine with you?"

Gotta love that man.  We took the Riesling we had with us, had a nice little wedding, a wee dram o' Scotch, and it was all over.  As in, no nuptual kiss.  He never told Jim to kiss his bride.  I'm not sure if he forgot or, more likely, that since we were using a new template of the ceremony that didn't have him pronounce us as husband and wife (WE did, in the vows), that perhaps the nuptual kiss was left out too.

My dad would be proud.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Some Things Are Just Plain Hard

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was engaged.  She (kind of) jokingly said to her fiance that he should take HER name when they got married.  Her name was, after all, easier for people to pronounce.  And it didn't consist of a part of a female cow's anatomy.  The fiance stared at her silently.  She pled her case -- again (kind of) jokingly, they laughed about the idea and moved on.

Three days later, the fiance came to her and said, quite seriously and totally out of the blue, "I just want you to know that if you don't want to take my name, then we aren't going to get married.  A man waits his whole life to give his name to a woman, and if my name's not good enough for you, then we aren't getting married."  Whoa, Dude.  JOKING.  (Kind of.)  She took his name, forever banishing their children to a life of harassment about dairy cows and women's reproductive organs.

Over time, she found that the name was somewhat useful.  When you have a name that starts with M, you always have to figure out what line you get in, or where in the seating chart you are, or where to look on the list of names up on the wall, because you're smack in the middle.  But when your last name starts with U, it's all pretty simple -- you're always at the end.  Your film (back in the day) or your prescriptions are easy to find, because there aren't many things in the U bin.  Having a U name can be rather useful, she found.

That girl was me, and I eventually made piece with the name.  The kids, except the Bratty Gurl, basically did, after putting up with the harassment from time to time.  It fit well into our life of Utter Chaos, so it was ok.  And the Bratty Gurl would get married one day and lose the name that she hates so much.

Fast forward to the part where I divorced his lying, cheating ass.  I thought seriously of taking back the maiden name but didn't, because Bratty was so anxious to change HER name that the only way to chill her out was to say "hey, NO ONE gets to change their name till I do."  She agreed, and I didn't change my name.  Moms have a way of winning, always.  It's a gift that is delivered before the first placenta, I think.

And so it was, that after a heartfelt New Year's Eve proposal a couple of years ago, and many settings and changings of dates, we took the plunge last month and got married in a private, very personal ceremony in Florida, complete with Scottish tartan, a quiach, and some Scotch whiskey, to boot.  It was lovely and simple and perfect.  We had a great honeymoon, full of relaxation, margaritas, sand, and not a care in the world.  And then everything got complicated.

Men will never understand what a pain in the butt it is to change your name.  Jim was really sweet in asking if I was going to change it at all, or if I perhaps wanted to go back to my maiden name.  I asked him -- as I've asked a number of male friends over the years -- if a man does indeed live his whole life waiting to give a woman his name, because the thought intrigued me.  He, like every other man I have ever asked, looked at me crazy and said an emphatic "NO.  Why would it matter?"  Just as I thought.  But I told him that I planned to take his name, which seemed to please him, nonetheless.  Plus, the commonality of his name means going into the Witness Protection Program is all that much easier, should the need ever arise.

And so it was that I found myself in Anderson, Indiana last week, clutching all the documentation proving my names over the course of the past half century or so.  I spoke with a very nice gentleman who told me that my new card would appear in about 2 weeks, and I set out to wait.  You know, you can't change anything till that Social Security card arrives. It's very annoying, because in the meantime, what IS your name?  Everyone congratulates you with one name, but you sign everything with the old name.  It's all a bit confusing.
Lucky for me that the new card arrived on Friday, a mere five days after I applied for it.  Yippee!  Me being me, and last week being as nutty as it was (cleaning up from the great flood, unpacking from the trip, painting the closet where the flood started, and work was off the chain busy, so little sleep was had), I opened the envelope and then put it aside to deal with it later.  When I went into my office, I decided to go ahead and scan it for Human Resources, then just sat and looked at it.  Lack of sleep meant my rheumatoid arthritis was pretty bad, and my hands were extremely painful.  And cold.  And stiff.  Last week was chilly, and my hands are always really cold when the temperature dips.  So the card just sat there next to me while I started my workday.

It turned into a bit of a process.  I decided to let my hands warm up, because once you sign that card, you have to look at that signature forever.  It needs to be a good signature, not one like what you sign on the credit card machine at the grocery.  It needs to be neat and legible, and one to be proud of, not unlike how you'd write it for your kids' teacher when they send home a permission slip.  Yes, the hands needed to warm up, because when they warm up, they aren't as stiff.  Or painful.  Limber fingers make pretty handwriting.  By the by, the fingers felt better, and I decided it was time to take the plunge.  I picked out the pen.  Nope, not that one.  Got another one that flowed freely.  Tested it to make sure it was working -- I didn't want to have to trace over part of the signature and make it look tacky.  Yep, pen was working great.  I took a big breath and wrote my name.  Sat back and looked at it, thinking to myself "wow, that looks really  GOOD."

Then I realized that I had signed my old last name.

I am pretty sure that life came to a standstill for about two minutes while I regained my composure.  I mean seriously, NOW what?  I couldn't turn it in as ID to get my driver's license if it had two different names on it.  Heck, if I tried to use it at the bank, I might get up close and personal with the security guard.  All thoughts of name-changing came to a screeching halt.  All I could think was "DAMMIT."

Jim got home, and I started to tell him the story. He interrupted me midstream and said "you signed the wrong name, didn't you" before I could even finish.  He may or may not have laughed to the point of tears.  He informed me that I should've waited till he got home, cause he had wanted to have a little ceremonious signing of the card, and HE would've made sure that I didn't sign the wrong name.  ::sigh:: I mean, really.  I've been signing that name since 1987.  This name change thing is HARD.  Men just don't get it.

And so it was that the dog and I popped into the convertible, put the top down, and drove to the Social Security office again this week.  I waited.  They called my name.  The girl asked how she could help me.  I just handed her my card and yes, she burst out laughing.  Now, I don't know for certain, but I'm fairly certain that federal government employees are not supposed to laugh at people, much less people in the Social Security office.  I mean, most of the people there are either senior citizens or people on disability.  It would seem unkind, and perhaps a bit confusing to the customer, for clerks to spontaneously guffaw.  But then again, I was in Anderson -- home of the only restaurant sign that hawks "Pastries, Barbecue, and Bail Bonds."  Political correctness may not be their forte. But I digress...........

So here I am again, back to square one, waiting for the new card.  Fortunately, I had already scanned the first one before I signed it, so I was able to change my name at work -- but to add to the confusion, I can't change my nursing license yet, so I still have to use the old name when I'm working.  I walk around confused most of the time.  Hopefully, by next week, I will be able to start the name changing process in earnest, and put the old name to rest, once and for all.  And trust me, if anything happens to my dear husband sometime in the distant future, and some man tries to say that he's waited his whole life to give me his name, I'm gonna tell him where he can shove it.

Monday, March 31, 2014


Well, it was bound to happen. My dear husband has caught the tongue-twisting-brain-bending virus otherwise known as Sethanese.  He swears he hasn't always been this way, so of course, it's the baby's fault.  I feel Seth's pain, and we have bonded over the baby-of-the-family issue more than once.  I suspect, however, that Jim has been like this longer than he thinks.  He also has more in common with Seth than he thinks.

Case in point:  we were walking out of our hotel last week, whilst having a discussion about something.  Jim says to me, "well, I'm very anatomic, you know."  I actually stopped in my tracks.  My mind went completely blank. All I kept thinking of was the Animatronic rides at Disney, or anatomically correct dolls, neither of which fit into the conversation.  Seth's been in college for too long now.  My interpretive powers are not as sharp as they once were. I stared at him for a minute and said "what are you talking about?" to which he responded "you know, like a cartoon character."  "Do you mean animated?" He looked at me blankly, then just walked away laughing.

I swear, I'm lucky that I end the day with any kind of brain cells at all, if you consider who I hang out with.  I wouldn't have it any other way though.  This guys are the best.  Even if they do need a few screws tightened up.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Say Cheese

I think I almost killed my boo today.  It was totally an accident, but it certainly had more than one person worried for a few minutes.

I took a trip recently and brought Jim back a few souvenirs along the way. It was a route I've taken more than once, but never stopped at any of the local haunts.  I generally meander around when I take a road trip, making stops to find antiques, sewing patterns, or whatever amuses me.  I've never stopped to get any local treats, so I made it my goal this time.  I ended up coming home with four bottles of local wines, three six packs of beer from regional microbreweries, some Mackinac taffy (HUGE hit with the spare to the throne) and some cheese from a cool cheese shop.

That was where it all went wrong.

Jim likes to have appetizers before dinner sometimes, making us trays of cheese and crackers, olives, salami, and what have you.  I thought that I'd get him some interesting cheeses as a little surprise, so I picked up some (VERY yummy) tomato basil cheddar, some mild plain cheddar, some horseradish somethingorother cheese, and one with ghost peppers in it.  Jim is always amazed at how my body protests at any kind of spiciness, especially given how much he loves spiciness.  He tells stories about how he and his Marine buddies would tempt each other with jalapenos and such, and usually owns the bragging rights, so I figured I'd punch it up a notch to the real deal.

For the unindoctrinated, the ghost pepper has been known as the hottest pepper in the world for several years.  Seth's best friend grew some in his garden at one point, and decided to try them with a couple of friends.  No one was able to keep them down.  I believe the description was, as given by his devoutly Catholic friend, that they were hotter than hell itself.  Coming from a Catholic, that means something.

I told Jim I'd bought him some treats, and put them into the fridge.  I didn't pay a lot of attention to it, and he probably didn't either, because we keep a lot of stuff like that on hand for when friends stop by, or there's a pitchin at work. So tonight, we decided to get together with friends.  He grabbed up a bunch of various types of crackers, as well as several kinds of cheese from the fridge.  He fixed them all up in a beautiful arrangement, then brought them to the table, explaining what each one was.  We all helped ourselves.

We were only a few minutes into the conversation when I heard something strange next to me.  I looked over, and realized his face was red.  VERY red.  And he was breathing hard.  Next thing you know, he was fanning himself.  Vigorously.  Then, the choking started.  Every time he thought he had his breath, he'd start again.  Once in a while, he would gasp "Oh my GOD, Lisa, what have you done to me?"  Tears running down his cheeks, he started swabbing himself with his cloth napkin.  Then he got up and grabbed paper towels.  He caught his breath, and a new wave hit.  Mary, ever the gracious hostess, asked if water would help.  He choked out "MILK," and she made for the kitchen.

He finally got the milk down, and within a few minutes, he recovered.  We sat staring at him, while he sat staring at the plate of cheese.  Silence fell over the room.  Finally, Mary said "which one did you have?"  He just pointed.  Mary reached for a different piece on another part of the plate.  Jim took a swig of beer and stared at the plate, then silently grabbed up the offenders and wrapped them into a napkin.  Fred, ever the gentleman, asked "who do you think we could give it to?  It seems a shame to throw it away."  Jim looked him straight in the eye and said "NO.  You do NOT want to inflict that on anyone.  It's.............a weapon of mass destruction."

I am now thinking of offering a government contract for  a weapon to end all wars, cure the flu, eradicate the Asian carp, manage the snake population in the Everglades, and control crying children in public areas.  I'm going to call it The Government Cheese.  Bring your own Kleenex.