Cell-Phone Funny

I hate getting a new cell phone. I think I'd rather buy a new car than a new cell phone, and if you know me you know that going to a car dealership is my definition of hell. But at least the car salesmen are upfront about their dishonesty. You know they're out to make as much money as they can.

But the cell phone companies? They are all sorts of duplicitous. You need a PhD in finance and/or math to figure out exactly why it's costing you $13,227.92 per month for the family plan with free texting AND the phone is on sale, too! (How is that a sale? And what do people do when the phone isn't on sale?)

But you can't run around forever with the same phone you've had since 1992. It gets a little bit embarrassing. Plus, it eventually stops working right, and you are forced into the T-Mobile store, stomach in knots, fingernails digging into your palms, heart palpitating. Throw in a bored six-year-old and it's a recipe for torture.

That is where I found myself three or four weeks ago: in the cellphone section of hell. During our two-hour-long figure-out-the-cell-phone experience, Kaleb entertained himself by playing with the display cell phones. Once we finally figured out what to do (buy the phone at Costco like I'd originally said; the other hellacious part of this experience is that husbands never learn how to actually listen to their wives), I gathered Kaleb up from where he'd been pushing display-phone buttons.

And then I blinked.

Because every. single. display phone (even the fancy, complicated smart phones) had a photo of Kaleb. As its wallpaper.

But the story doesn't end there. This morning, Kendell's sister sent us a text:

So. Nicole and I are at the mall. We stop in at the T-Mobile store to look at phones, and we find this picture as the wallpaper for one of the phones.

Yep, you guessed it. Kaleb's picture is still on at least one of the display phones.

And I've laughed about it all morning!

hey there, handsome

For as long as I can remember, Kaleb has not let me call him handsome. I don't know why, but he hates that word. Even though he is handsome!

Kaleb stud muffin 

Last night, after books and prayers, I was talking to him about his day, and we had this conversation:

"How was school?" I asked.

"It was great! Oh! I forgot to tell you somethin."

"What's that?"

"Know how I don't like you to call me handsome? Well, I learned some words today that mean the same thing!"

"OK, what words?"

"Well, when I am lookin good and cute and you want to call me handsome, my friend River told me some better words. She said I am a stud muffin. So you can call me that instead of handsome."

Snarky as a Shield: A Story

"Listen," she said, first thing after I'd answered the phone in my calm, quiet librarian voice. "You listen. I want something. Something about Franklin D. Roosevelt. The D. stands for Delano in case you can't find it."

I took a deep breath. Reference encounters that start out with a bossy voice and an insult are rarely my favorite. "OK," I said. "What kind of book do you want about FDR? A biography? Or something about his role in history?"

"Did I ever say 'book,' Honey?" she shot back. "I am 92 years old. I don't want any book. I don't have time nor eyes for books. I want a movie. Something I can watch, you know?"

92?  I thought. You sound like you're 32 and the boss of the world. Glad she wasn't asking for a movie about something obscure, I knew I could find what she needed. We have several movies with FDR in them. "Do you want a DVD or a VHS?" I asked as I sorted the possibilities.

And that moment was the one she lost her inner trenchant cat. "I don't understand that question," she said. Said softly, her voice changing into an old woman's. A 92-year-old woman who was a child in the roaring twenties, when radios, hair dryers, and movies with sound were the new technologies. For an instant I thought about how baffling the world might be to her, and wondered how it might be when am 92.

"Well, what kind of machine do you watch movies on?" I asked. "A VHS machine? or a DVD machine?"

"I don't know," she said. "Whatever my grandson set up for me. I just put the thing in and push the buttons and then I can watch movies on my TV."

"What shape is the thing you put in your machine? Is it round, flat, and shiny? Or is it a black rectangle?"

"Oh. Why didn't you say it like that in the first place?" she asked, vitriol back. "I have both of those machines, but the round shiny one isn't working so well."

So I gave her a list of call numbers for VHS movies about FDR. Now I have a story to tell about the sweet (deep down, she was sweet) old woman who didn't know her media type. It's a funny story, but it's also vaguely sad. How much the world has changed! Even just since I was born. It makes me wonder, really: what will the world be like in another fifty years? Where will technology take us? How will we live? I hope I will be able to keep up with progress and change, and not let myself get intimidated. I also hope that, when I am 92, someone will help me decipher technology. Even if I do hold up snarkiness as a shield against bafflement.

Movie-Star Doppelganger

I'm not a star-struck kind of person. People like the Kardashians or Paris Hilton baffle me—I can't figure out why they are famous. But I'm not really enamoured of movie stars, either. There are some I admire, of course. But I also don't think they're any more fabulous than the rest of us. (I am sort of star-struck by several authors, but that's a different post.)

When I was in college, one of my professors started the semester by having us answer a survey—random, slightly-quirky questions that would help him get to know us better. One of the questions was "what movie star do you most look like?" I remember that question because it stumped me...I don't think I look like any movie star. I turned to the person behind me and asked her for a suggestion. She thought for a good long while. "I don't remember her name, but she was in that one movie? About the two girls who were friends and met on the beach? When they were kids? And they grow up in the movie? And then at the end the one you look like dies?"

I'm still glad she didn't think I look like Bette Midler.

Ever since that day in class, when I've bumped against a similar question (like, in, say, a meme), I've stuck with that same answer: I guess if I have to pick a movie star I look like, it would be Barbara Hershey. She's my standard movie-star doppelganger.

Yesterday at work, I was helping an older patron find a magazine. When we finally located it, she thanked me and started to walk away. Then she turned back around and said, "I've been thinking this whole time you've been helping me that you look just like a movie star!"

"Oh, that's nice of you to say," I replied, that Barbara-Hershey thing coming to mind.

"I didn't say anything till now, though, because I couldn't quite remember who it was. But just now I finally did!"

"Well, don't keep me in suspense!" I teased her. "Who do you think I look like?" I completely expected her to say Barbara Hershey. (Or, if she was a blogger, maybe she'd say Lucy, whom I think I also sort-of look like.)

"Oh, I'm sure you've heard this before! You look just like. . . Annette Bening!"

Seriously? Nope, I've never heard that before. Never even thought that before! In fact, I had to google some pictures of her just to make sure I had the right image in my head. It made me laugh.

Because I really, really don't look like a movie star, be it Annette or Barbara or even Mary Elizabeth (Mastrantonio, who's the only other dark-haired actress I could think of off the top of my head).

But I am curious: who's your movie doppelganger?

Memorial Day in 20 Minutes or Less

I cannot say we have established any firm Memorial Day traditions. Sometimes we go the traditional route—flowers at graves and a family barbeque. Sometimes we act like it's just another day, but with slightly better sales. Today's Memorial Day falls into the former, and I feel compelled to blog about it before tomorrow. Since tomorrow will be here in 21 minutes, I shall try to be succinct. Here is our Memorial Day in a nutshell:

  • Kaleb woke me up WAY TOO EARLY. I wanted to sleep in, but he had other ideas (namely, breakfast). Then Kendell clued me in that our festivities were starting at 11:00, and suddenly I was up and going. Going as quickly as I could.
  • Nathan, Kaleb and I ran to the store. Shopping list: refried beans, sour cream, avocados, red onion, olives, powdered sugar, whipping cream, butter. Can you guess what my barbeque assignments were?
  • We rushed home to make sheet cake (the Pioneer Woman version) and seven layer dip. (Did you get it right?) Somewhere close to the end of rushed cooking/baking, Haley finished straightening her hair and came upstairs to help.
  • While all this frenzy happened, Kendell and Jake mowed the lawn and cut out all my bleeding hearts, which were damaged in last week's storm.
  • We drove out to the military cemetery north of here, to visit Kendell's Uncle Buffalo's grave. (When I explained to Kaleb where we were going, he said "Mom, I really need to dig him up." "WHY?" I asked. "Because I just want to know for once if he really is a buffalo or if he's a guy." Then I explained the concept of nicknames a little bit better.) Missed the exit, took a detour through Lehi Farm Country. Can you guess which one of us was cursing and annoyed?
  • Finally made it to the cemetery, which was crowded because one of our senators was there making a speech. He was just leaving when we arrived; I felt lucky to miss his speech but still get to hear the bagpipes.
  • While sitting at Buff's gravesite, Kaleb kept pointing at a little person who had walked by. I explained to him that the man still had feelings and not to make him feel bad. Then he asked Haley, "How did that little person get born anyway?" and she explained "Well, he had a mutation in his genes." Kaleb thought for a moment, nodded his head, and said "he does have little jeans."
  • After a few minutes at the cemetery, we drove back home (managing to get caught in all the lovely traffic) to pick up the food and a few more flowers (not many from my bedraggled garden). I managed to drop the container of left-over guacamole, which exploded upon impact with the kitchen floor and splattered everywhere. Sigh.
  • Next we went to my grandparents' graves. I do not do this enough. Kendell wasn't sure it was worth the time/effort (he would have skipped the other cemetery, too, if I hadn't pushed), but I still miss them so much. We didn't have time to stay very long but I did feel that little flash of connection. Grandma and Grandpa both would have loved my gorgeous black-blue iris!
  • Then we were off to Kendell's parents for lunch. I ate way too much, and complained with my sister-in-law about parenting teenagers, and then had some more cake.
  • Because of my father-in-law's recent cancer diagnosis , Kendell has been helping them begin to clean out their outbuildings (a few barn-ish shed) so they can sell their house and move closer to us and to his sister. Kent, especially, is resisting this process. He doesn't like to see his possessions thrown away, even though they are things he doesn't need or are simply worn out. It's difficult to watch, and after the arguing and the passive-aggressive machinations were past, he was simply sitting on a lawn chair, defeated. I leaned down, hugged him, and told him I love him. I've never told him that before, and I felt simultaneously ashamed of myself for waiting so long and proud that I had conquered my discomfort at saying the words.

Probably that last was the reason I really wanted to blog tonight. As there are only four minutes left, I'm going to leave it here. How was your Memorial Day?

Funny, Kendell-Style

One thing I have learned as a runner—specifically as a person who runs on suburban roads as opposed to backwood trails—is that witnesses to your exercise are rarely afraid to say whatever they are thinking. Well, "say" might not be the right word. "Yell as they speed away so that the insult is smeared across a half block or so" is more appropriate. I've had several strange and/or insulting comments shouted at me during runs. Most common: "You'd better keep on running" or some variation. Most memorable: something about boobs. Hmmmmm.

So here's Kendell. Because of his hips he cannot run; the result is lots of time spent inside a gym or on backwood trails. But he rides his bike whenever he can. Strike that—he rides my bike, because it's the bike that almost everyone can ride so it's the bike we leave down, out of the garage rafters, most of the time.  Tonight, he took a quick bike ride over to a friend's house, and noticed a couple out in their yard, cutting up their fallen branches. (My yard isn't the only one that's looking a little ragged this week.) And he overhears a fragment of their conversation, which goes a little bit like this:

"Hey, honey! Have you ever seen a homosexual dude riding a bicycle?"

Ummmmm. Hello? Have you ever met my husband? He's tall. He's muscular. He had that strong Scandinavian build. He is many things, but the epitome of a gay man?* Not so much.

He's also not shy. Usually when someone shouts something rude at me when I'm running, I do what they suggest: I keep on running. If they're not too far down the street I'll wave at them (with all my fingers, not just one). I shrug my shoulders and take home a story. But that would not be how Kendell operates. Not at all.

So he turned his bike around. And instead of letting the couple have it, he chatted them up about their tree. He asked how their evening was going, and about their dog. He met their gaze and kept them squirming with embarrassment, and then he finished his bike ride.

And I would give up chocolate if it meant I could travel back in time and watch the subtle, Kendell-style tossdown in person.

*Please note: I don't think I am suggesting that their is just one stereotypical "gay man" appearance. I just...gah, the thought of someone looking at Kendell, even riding a women's bike, and thinking "gay" is about the funniest thing ever.

I'm Not Sure Who's Kid He Is

So, the running joke in our family is how Kaleb is Kendell's mini-me. They have such similar temperaments, habits, and oddities. They eat the same (scarf! and it's gone!), they sleep the same (two very hot sleeping engines, which is a problem when I get stuck between them!), they snore the same (two rumbling lawn mowers). Even Kaleb's body structure is like Kendell's, only in size extra, extra small.

Sometimes it feels like the only thing I contributed to Kaleb's DNA is my eye color. Even though I can confess it sometimes comes in handy, having a mini-Kendell around, if only to hold him up as a mirror (meaning: when Kendell is particularly annoyed at something Kaleb is doing, I am wont to say "you know how you feel right now? That's how *I* feel when you do the exact same thing), I do sometimes wish he had a little bit of me in him.

Tonight disproved my Kendell-only DNA theory.

Kaleb had been sleeping for a couple of hours when I discovered him sleepwalking. Sleepwalking and talking a little bit. Sleepwalking, and talking a little bit, and trying to find the bathroom. Obviously trying to find the bathroom as his jammies were by his ankles.

OK, so, not really sleepwalking. More like sleep peepeedancing.

And while I have never been known for walking around nakey, even in a sleep walking jaunt, I have been known to sleepwalk in my day. And talk incoherently in my sleep. Over my giggles, as I helped him find the bathroom, I realized: maybe I did contribute more to my youngest's existence than brown eyes and my uterus for nine months.

It's good to be reminded he's my son, too.

I Have to Share:

(but before I do, I will also say that yes, you are right...my blog HAS been pretty lame lately. Sparse. Not very thoughtful or wise or smart. It'll get better soon.)

I had Kendell take some stuff to DI this morning. Deseret Industries is the name of the common second-hand stores in Utah, and we shorten it: "Take this basket of too-small clothes to the DI this morning!"

When Kendell told Nathan they were stopping at DI on the way to Grandma's house, Nathan said, "Oh, DI. I know what that stands for. Donation Emporium."


I will now henceforth and forevermore call it that. Even though I guess we need to work more on that spelling thing? ;)

Origin of "Backup Dude"

This morning, while I was waiting for the girl we carpool with to get in the van, I called Kendell to ever-so-gently chide him for not taking the garbage can out to the curb. (This is part of an ongoing dialog/ running joke we have: I make a pointed remark that belies my generally-feminist leanings and then he replies with proper 50's-era decorum. Usually.)

"Dude," I said (because "dude" must also be worked into the conversation), "you do realize that you failed me this morning, don't you?"

"How's that?"

"You didn't take the garbage can to the curb. It's Tuesday, remember? Garbage day? I can't be bothered to take the can to the curb. I might chip my nail polish, and it's awfully heavy. Plus, it smells funny. YOU ARE THE MAN! You're the dude. The dude should take the garbage can to the curb."

I then proceeded to tell him that yes, I had remembered to gather up all the garbages before I left (shouldn't that be his job?), yes, even the one in the laundry room (don't only wives from the 50's worry about such laundry-related items?), and that I had Jake take the garbage to the curb (mostly because I was trying, as always, not to be late).

"Oh, that's good. Jake's a boy—he can be a dude, too. In fact, he's the backup dude."

Just wanted to write that down, so I can always remember the origin of "backup dude." Because it has now joined his arsenal of nick names!

It's Always Warm There

It's snowing here. Snowing since yesterday. At least ten inches so far, although I've not yet managed to get outside to measure. Yesterday morning, it was 55 degrees and Kaleb & I spent a half hour before preschool swinging. Now there's another limb broken on our flowering plum and Kendell's grumping around about how much he hates snow and can't we move to Arizona? (Ummmm....no. Not unless they have really good psychiatric hospitals in Arizona. Perpetual summer would drive me insane.)

When he slammed the door in anti-snow frustration, Kaleb looked up. "Mom!" he said, his eyes lighting up with energy. "I know what let's do. Let's go to Aunt Suzette's house. She has a swimming pool. And it's always warm there."

Can I get a collective "aaaawwwwwwwwww, cute?" ;)