Monday, January 31, 2011

The Freak Comes Out at Night (and morning and midday, and sometimes on weekends)

My dear sweet mother is a bit of a high energy, high maintenance freak. Oh, I know what you’re thinking – it’s not nice to call your own mother a freak. Well, she is and she is well aware of her freakish nature. There are several examples that prove her freakiness, I will simply offer up one now. And I put serious money on the fact that after reading this simple snapshot in time, you too will be whispering at your computer screen, “Oh my, total freak.”

Pants and I have planned a trip to Mexico. I won’t give exact dates here just in case one of you blog followers plan to use it against us and burglarize our house. It really doesn’t matter anyhow. You can take that fussy TV in the living room, and I don’t care too much for my pearl set, even though it was a gift from Pants. No harm no foul. We have insurance and I need the cash.

September. That's all you need to know. That's when we are going and that’s 10 months away. We have already reserved the house. The rest of the arrangements we must make can wait. Right? Pants, Yack and I already have passports from previous travel. How much prep time do we have with finding good airline tickets and transportation to and from the house? An infinite amount of time, in my mind.

That's not how my mother sees it. We're behind the curve ball, by her estimation.

I don’t rightly know how to narrate what has transpired over the last week, I guess the best way is to just copy and paste the email exchanges below, and do my best to paraphrase our conversations on the phone.

January 18h, 7:45 a.m. my phone rings. It's my mother.

Mom: "Hi Honey, I figure you’re driving to work. Do you have a minute?"

Me: "Yes, unless this has to do with our trip to Mexico... in September."

Mom: "Don’t be an idiot. Of course it is. Now, I have talked to your brother and he hasn’t decided to fly with us. Have you decided to fly with us out of Oakland? Because if so, we can help with Yack on the plane. I know he will get antsy and having his grandparents there could be helpful. I am only offering. No obligation. But I have a great travel agent who is looking up tickets for us now. Would you like her to look up tickets for you too? So, we can all fly out together?"

Me: "Sure. Bye."

Mom: "Okay, I am on it and I will let you know if I hear from your brother."

We hang up.

I get to work at 8:20. The following email is already in my inbox:

From: Mom
To: BrownNose
Sent: Tuesday, January 18th

Get your passports in order. I'm on a roll.
I'll keep you posted. You can decide if the airfares I get are ones you approve. Or, you can decide to reserve your own. I'll keep forwarding info to you. See emails below...
Love you,

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: travel agent
To: Mom
Sent: Tuesday, January 18th
Subject: Re: air travel

HI Cathie... This sounds fun. I will check prices and get back to you by Thursday at the latest.
Thanks for letting me help with this.

From: Mom
To: Travel agent
Sent Tuesday January 18th

Travel Agent,
I don't know if it makes any difference, but Tom and I are seniors.

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Mom
To: Travel agent
Sent: Tuesday, January 18th Subject: air travel
Hi Travel Agent,
For Christmas, our daughter, Amy, and her husband reserved a house in Mexico for a family get-away.
I'm excited about it. I told Amy that I'd look into airfare for the family. We would all be leaving from Oakland or SF, whichever works out and arriving in Mexico.
Airfare would be for Amy's family (2 adults and a 3 year old), Jim's family (2 adults and 2 toddlers over 2 years old) and Tom and me. That's airline reservations for 9. I'm hoping to find a decent fare if I start looking now. What do you think? I'm happy to come in and chat with you. I assume, since there are little kids flying, we would want insurance.

Thanks. I look forward to working with you on this.

So, perhaps my mother is a little overzealous when it comes to making plans. I get it. She’s excited. Whatever, let’s move on.

Phone rings on January 19th
Mom: "Hi Honey, did you get my email about the travel to Mexico?"

Me: "Yes I did. Sounds great if we all fly out together. I am super busy at work. Let me talk to Pants and get back to you."

Mom: "Okay, but for the record, I am not a freak for working on this so soon. I know what you’re thinking."

This email came in a few days later that was sent to the entire family:

Mom: "Below is the email from my travel agent. She wants to book them now (see below), but she needs the following in on each person. She believes this is the cheapest we can get. I know that if we buy insurance, which I strongly recommend, one child of each family might be able to fly free. She's checking into that.

What's cool is that the flight is non-stop, which is great for the kids.
Let me know if you want me to move ahead. Also, make sure I have the date of birth and names as they are on the passports for each person.

Same afternoon phone call:

Mom: "Hi Honey, did you get my email?"

Me: "Which one? The one about our Mexico trip 10 months from now?"

Mom: "Cut it out. I am just trying to be helpful."

Me: "Yes, go ahead and set up our flights. I will email you our information. Does it have to be done like, soon?"

Mom: "Of course, we are getting the best possible rates."

The next day I receive the following email from my mother:

“By the way, you are welcome to work directly with the travel agent. Her information is below. Or, you can use your own travel agent. It's no problem.”

I read too much into this email and interpreted it as a passive aggressive approach to my not being immediately pouncing on this once in a lifetime air travel opportunity.

I call her:

Me: "Hello there, Mother. We will work through you to work with the Travel Agent. Sounds great. I will email you all of our passport information."

Mom: "Well, I just didn’t want to put any pressure on you. I just want to get the best possible rates for all of us."

Me: "Okay, see you next weekend. (for a family visit)

Then I received this email the following day:

“OK, then please supply me with the information that the travel agent needs and I quote, " I also will need everyone's first, middle and last name as is on the passport, and their birthdates to make a reservation"

A reply-all from my brother:

“I haven't even thought about this. This sounds awesome, but let me digest it a bit. I know now is the time to jump on it, I just haven't had a spare moment to really process this.”

Why not, Jim? Why haven’t you thought about it? Time is a ticking. We only have 10 MONTHS TO DECIDE. You are so lagging on your duties as a participant on this trip!

Instant reply all response from my mother:

“I'm glad you called tonight so that I can explain the "quickness" of this reservation. Of course, for us old folks, it's about price and nonstop status. Tom and I have made reservations already. We even have our seat assignments. So, that's how compulsive I am. I know how busy you are, so whatever you decide, I understand. I love all of you.”

The next day, we all received this email from my mother:

Please confirm the spelling of your name, and I'll send this to Debby in the morning. Tom and I have already paid for and received our tickets! I will ask Debbie for insurance also, so that you can get your tickets refunded if there is a medical emergency. We paid $68 on two tickets, so yours should be a little more than that.”

I then received the following phone call:

Mom: "So when you come down this weekend, bring a check and your passports. Our travel agent will need copies of them. You can either mail it in or we can drop it by on Saturday. Or if you want to leave it with me, I can take it as well."

Me: "Alright, mom, just email me what you want me to do. Are we really talking about our trip in September? Reminder, it’s 10 FRIGGING MONTHS AWAY."

Mom: "Don’t be an idiot. You’ll thank me for this someday."

Me: "Yeah, 10 months from now, but don’t expect a thank you until then. I am already tired of planning for this trip."

Mom: "Well that’s funny, because I seem to be doing all of the work here."

The next day, I received the following email from my mother:

“If you want to can send your check in the amount of $____ (made out to travel agent). She is issuing tickets today.”

Followed by this email:

“I will print this for you.” (Attached was our travel insurance information)

Do I have to remind my readers that this trip is 10 months away? Okay, just so we are clear.

I then received this email the next day:

“Thanks” (this was a forwarded email by her travel agent to her indicating that she received my passport information).

This past weekend, I brought the passports so my mother could scan them and give copies to the travel agent. I also brought a check, of which she promptly made a copy and put into an already paper stuffed folder labeled, “Brown’s Mexico trip”. There she had our insurance information, medical documents, copies of our passports.

I asked if we really needed to bring the passports yet, that the travel agent probably wants to have copies of them while we are traveling, just in case.

Her response: “Well of course, but if we don’t do it now, when are we going to do it?”

She was right. I plan not to see her again until our trip (I will go insane if I do) so coordinating could prove to be difficult.

As I was leaving after a stressful weekend of planning (“I hope your brother takes advantage of these ticket prices and that I hear from him soon"), I advised my mother that she could not utter the “M” word, as in Mexico until at least April. Think she adhered to that rule?

This is the email I received when I returned home:

“I picked up your tickets. The travel agent suggested that you take Yack's birth certificate, along with passports, due to your last names being different. Your brother and sister in law are going, and I reserved seats next to all of ours. Oh Boy. This is going to be fun.”

I then received the following email 12 hours later. In the subject line, she wrote Freaky Grandma. At least she was now coming to terms with the fact that she was starting to become Looney Tunes.

“You should probably let Yack's Dr. know that he's traveling to Mexico. He will be able to prescribe vaccinations and drugs that Yack might need.”

I replied, “Just as long as you admit you have a problem. That's the first step. Hey, I have an idea. Why don't YOU let Yack's doc know. Her name is Dr MacNeil and I have no idea what her phone # is. How about them apples?"

Her response: You are an idiot. Yack's doc won't talk to me unless you sign a consent. It's kinda like his school, releasing him to me. By the way, I want to bring Pops up to see his school. We'll do that in a month or two.
I travel with Imodium D for diarrhea. I don't know if kids can take that. I was the ONLY person on my Russia trips who didn't get sick. So, f'mudders to you.”

The next day I received the following email:

"Honey, your dad and I signed up for Spanish class. It's everyday on Thursdays. We are going to be fluent before you know it."

I wonder how she is going to take it when I tell her that we are cancelling our trip due to the unrest in Mexico. I think I will let this one go for awhile just to drive her further into the depths of looneyville. Let's see how far we can take this, shall we? Up for the ride?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Being Sick Totally Sucks

Now that Yack is school bound, I seem to be acquiring the germs of every kid bacteria that manages to stick to his clothes, shoes, hands. As often as he brings home his cute Jackson Pollack art work, I happen to come in contact with some greenish gooey substance and within hours fall ill, which either makes me miss work, miss my workouts (egads, not the workouts) or miss being ever present for my family. Boo on being sick.

Today is day number two of my exploding innards. I will refrain from detail here, although I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my five literal trips over the dog to get to the bathroom at 1 a.m., 1:25 a.m., 1:45 a.m.,. 2:30 a.m., 4 a.m. (woo hoo, an hour and a half of sleep) and 5 a.m. I looked a little like a drunk who'd been thrown out of a bar after being over served, not that I would know anything about what that actually looks like. I can only imagine.

The sad part about this little reoccurring mishap was that the dog didn’t move. I could have taken another route – I knew she was there, in that spot she always sleeps in. Must have been the flu playing tricks on my mind.

As the sun rose, I thought I would feel better. Couple the insomnia with my gurgling angry stomach, I realized in short order that I had to cancel every meeting I had that day, which was supposed to start at 6:30 on an airplane. I became Speedy Gonzales with the crackberry thumbs. “Sorry, can’t make it. Flu. Let’s reschedule. Will make it up to u.” (Like, somehow typing “u” as opposed to “you” would save me time to get rid of more of my insides. So glad I saved that .00002 second because I barely made it in between thumb pecks before I had to trip over the dog and head to the toilet.)

As I lay toe up in my bed that morning, my crackberry immediately started buzzing as the workday began. The buzzing is and was something I cannot simply ignore. Murphy’s law: every client crisis occurs when I can’t seem to put two words together to make a sentence. Thus, thumb typing whilst lying on one’s back makes for several grammatical and spelling errors. This is an actual email exchange from a client. I hope he didn’t think I had been drinking at 9 a.m.

Client: “Hi Amy, looks like our little project isn’t going in the direction that we anticipated. I recommend the following (blankety blank blank blank to protect the consultant-client privilege). Let me know what you think. Let’s talk later today as I am in meetings until 1 p.m.”

Me: “Wow, that totally sucks. Let me think about your stretigy and git back to u”.

That client never responded to my email. I became perplexed. I thought I was being so responsive. I did call in the afternoon and explain my virtual stupidity. He figured something was up. And true to form, I obsessed about his quandary in my flu haze all afternoon.

I then received the following email from one of my coworkers:

“Dear BrownNose - YOU ARE SICK! That means that your principle responsibility to your loved ones and your still healthy coworkers is to get better. It’s not calling (Assistant One) or (Assistant Two) 10 times a today with little requests that make you feel better about being sick. You want to feel better about being sick chug down some cough medicine and throw on a Will Ferrell movie (I like Old School). You have work related things that pop to mind…make a list and call in this afternoon after 2:00 pm, that way you get rest and I am assured to be out of the office and unable to enable you in your sick compulsion to work while sick in bed. I will not be an enabler.

Put the Blackberry and iPad down and do nothing… I know that this is a totally foreign concept to you but you deserve it and your physical self is crying out for you to turn off, tune out and do nothing.

Because when I get what you have I am going to sit in bed and chug down cold medicine and watch movies.”

So, after 24 hours of being flat on my back, and still trying to entertain my healthy Yack (playing fetch is a fun game that doesn’t require full consciousness and is all the same amusing to a three year old), I was ready to face the workday. Alas, Yack was not quite on the same page. He projectile yacked several times throughout the early morning, almost hitting me. Looking at his sad “I want my mommy” eyes, I knew I had to put away the suit, throw on puke resistant clothes and face a day of puzzles, juice and frequent trips to the bathroom.

There was just one thing I had to do.. I piled Yack into the car right after a bad bout of ralphing and figured that we were safe for a good thirty minutes. I raced into town to pick up a work-thingy that I just had to get done before the noon hour hit. As I pulled into my office parking lot, Yack yelled for me from the backseat. “Mommy, I went poo.”

The working mom’s guilt came down on me like a sledge hammer. I had to think fast. I took off his pants and threw them into the trash can in the parking lot (sorry, janitors) and raced home. While on the freeway, I started feeling a little queasy from the air and threw my head out the window, which felt quite refreshing in the 65 mile an hour wind.

At home, we managed to have a low key afternoon. We snuggled on the couch, played games, watched movies and read books. I have to be honest, it was one of the most pleasant days I have had. And after a while, I was looking forward to my healthy and vibrant husband Pants coming home and taking over as I was losing steam.

Pants called as I was having that particular thought, and informed me that he might have to go to the hospital, that a picture frame had fallen on his head at work and he was bleeding profusely from his scalp. He was taking an office poll on whether or not he should get staples. Staples? Really?

I was glad I didn’t throw in my vote by verbalizing my thoughts: “Ah, it can’t be that bad. What kind of frame was it? I think I have a stapler up in my end table next to my bed.”

Pants made the right choice by coming home and after a borderline dangerous amount of Ibuprophin, began the ritual of putting Yack to bed, and I got back on my crackberry and got some serious work done.