Home Alone

Mr. Demonic and his “boy” (I call him the other “b” word most of the time) are over on the West Coast of the state on a mission. They are moving a classroom from one store location to another one in the same mall.

This calls for an overnight stay. This is because the West Coast is a long drive away. They could come home, but it would be after midnight by the time they get back into town.

I have no problem being home alone. In fact, I rather enjoy the unencumbrance.

For one thing, I can do what I want, when I want. Like eat junk food. I had junk food for dinner, and it was sinfully awful. I will not divulge which form of junk I consumed, just know that my cholesteral is probably peaking even as I type.

For another thing, I can lay out my craft work. Take over the entire living room. I did this, until my fingers got numb. My fingers don’t take long to be numbed.

I can play my etudes on the violin. If Mr. D is home, I can only play melodies. Etudes are studies and they are not supposed to sound harmonius. No, they are supposed to confound your brain and your fingers at the same time, contain more flats than sharps, and sound like the cries from Hell. In fact, they are hellish for the first couple of weeks until I figure out when to shift and what the notes are. In the meantime, it sounds like a cat in heat.

I took the opportunity of Mr. D’s absence at work to get caught up on some other projects. I worked on some computer designed brochures, business cards and the like that I had been putting off for weeks.

I worked out a little too. I work out very little, because working out is boring. I can only take fifteen minutes of it. I cannot work out when Mr. D is around because his workout machine is next to mine. He likes to watch golf or the news, and I like music. He also sweats like a pig. I work up a mild sweat. Sweating like a pig I save for mowing the lawn in 100% humidity.

When Mr. D is gone, I can work on my writing. Thus, my presence here in the dark tapping at the keys. I’m about one third of the way finished with my YA novel. I am working slowly compared to some, but compared to myself only a year ago, I’m on freakin’ fire!

I haven’t heard from Mr. D. I think he took his friend to the casino. Good for them.

I think I will get a glass of wine and go to bed early. I’m entirely wiped out from my loneliness.

Mr. Demonic Gives Up the Ghost

Actually, Mr. Demonic’s car finally breathed its last, and it’s about freaking time.

When last we left Mr. D, he was nursing along a very old Malibu with over 250,000 miles on it. It’s a car that’s seen a lot of action, first with a multitude of teenagers who invariably aim straight for curbs.

At 80,000 miles, he coopted the car and started driving it himself. At that point, it was still a reasonably nice ride. Leather seats, nice stereo. Luckily he took off the stickers and the dual brake. Such items are a dead giveaway as to the perilous nature of the operator.

Fast forward a hundred thousand miles, four years and several pots of coffee later: the car is beginning to show its age. It shakes, it shimmies, and the worst part of all, it smells like rotting caffeine. Hint: you don’t want to set your purse on the floor.

Nonetheless, Mr. D decides to take it on numerous cross country journeys. He motors to the Twin Cities, to Kansas City, and to Nashville, in addition to driving it back and forth across our Rust Belt state several times a week. I held my breath every time he backed the car out of the driveway.

This was two years ago.

After that, it was a matter of principle. It was pride. It was a matter of tenacity. Plus, he’s a tightwad. Mix all of these wonderful characteristics together and you have a person taking his driving life into his own hands. He wasn’t going to get rid of the car until it died and he was darned ready to give up the car. He was going to see clear to the end of the relationship.

Three months ago, as the odometer edged nearer to the 250K mark, Mr. D’s Malibu began to run even rougher than before. It smelled of burning fluids. I was afraid to get in it to go for a quick run to the grocery store. Then he started to run out of gas on a regular basis. Like three or four times a week.

For those who know Mr. D, he has run out of gas with amazing regularity. He times it so that just as the last fumes are circulating through the engine, he rolls right up to a gas pump. It’s something of a joke. On those other unlucky occasions when he’s stranded, he calls other people to come and get him out of his fix. That’s because even though I’m the wife, I think it’s ridiculous in the modern age to run out of gas. Gas stations are like fast food joints, there’s one on every street corner.

I ran out of gas once. I was on southbound I-35 north of Minneapolis. I was 20. It was 1976.

For me, walking two miles to a gas station that one time cured me. My gas gauge never goes below 1/4.

Mr. D’s car appeared to suffer from a malfunctioning catalytic converter, which was replaced. Twice. However, he still continued to run out of gas. This is because the gas gauge hasn’t worked in six months, and with the catalytic converter gone awry, his miles per gallon fluctuated. Wildly. Most of the time he was getting right around ten miles to the gallon. Or less.

Cash for Clunkers came in the news, and I told Mr. D (no, I begged. I implored. I nagged.) please, oh please, could you maybe see fit to get a new car? Something with a working gas gauge maybe?

He was resistant to my idea. He still had hope. (!) He wanted to see the odometer hit 300K.

Last week, his car bit the proverbial dust. Mr. D called around and learned that since the car was titled in the business name, he couldn’t take advantage of the Cash for Clunkers program. (What? Businesses don’t have clunkers?)

But it’s over for good, so let’s get out a requiem, or a pitcher of margaritas. He cleaned out the car over the weekend. I’m embarrassed to say we’ve pulled up to valet parking at ritzy restaurants in that sad ride.

He’s not sure what the next car will be. It’s the end of summer and they all come back to roost, so he’ll choose one out of the fleet and probably drive it until it drops.

Mr. Demonic Buys a Craftsman Circular Saw

One thing that is going on in our house is urban renewal. We cannot sell our house, because in our Tundra town and in this financial environment, a buyer would turn their nose up at our house and snap up a foreclosed 6-bedroom mansion for less than $250,000. No joke. We are among the unfortunate empty nesters who have a four-bedroom house for two people and no way to unload it to downsize.

There’s nothing wrong with this scenario, of course. I happen to love our house. Every night when I go to bed, I look out through our wall of windows to oak trees and stars. My bedroom is like a hotel room, and my bathroom is to die for.

Before the economy really headed south last year (and that is literally as well as figuratively), Mr. Demonic started upon a plan of home improvements. At the time we were flush, so we spent a summer of enduring painters and carpenters. Last winter, we completed the gutting of the bathroom in the old, 1927 part of the house, complete with Jacuzzi tub and granite. It was probably overkill in a room that’s only 6’x6′ (or maybe smaller) but hey, at least now it’s not peacock blue from floor to ceiling.

This year is a different story. This year, we barely have enough money to make the mortgage. True, Mr. D put us on an aggressive mortgage schedule, 15 years, and he pays extra on the months when he can. We could have cushioned ourselves with a 30-year, but Mr. D thinks we won’t be around in 30 years. (He’s right.)

Around Christmas time, we decided to redo Ms. MiniD’s old room. She had pasted all sorts of memorabilia on the walls, which were an unsavory green. Think frog poop. She also spilled fingernail polish remover on the hardwood floors we had redone before moving in. It was a mess.

I picked a more calming sage green, and Mr. D set about painting. He was also going to put in crown moulding to match the rest of the house.

A little back story: Mr. D is a fuss budget when it comes to home repair. If it’s not 100% perfect, he’s not happy. When my oldest was just a fetus, Mr. D set about to redo a room and make it a nursery. I kid you not when I say that the room and the baby came at about the same time. Mr. D was redoing wood trim, and every time something came out less than perfect, he chopped up the wood, threw it in the fireplace and took a trip to Home Depot for more. It took two whole months to wallpaper one wall.

Mr. D is handy, but not really. He’s self-schooled and tries very hard, but if he can afford it, would rather pay a professional. That’s because they can complete the task in less time.

Last week, Mr. D went to Sears. People who know us know he’s in the store all the time. He returned with a huge box. It was a circular saw. A HUGE circular saw. He informed me it was to cut the crown moulding, because his tiny little miter box couldn’t do the intricate angle.

Today, I helped Mr. D hold long strips of wood while he cut them, right in the bedroom. My first impression: Mr. D isn’t very safety conscious. He works with his mug of coffee right on the saw and with no goggles or gloves. My second impression: a circular saw makes a lot of noise and sawdust, sawdust that gets tracked throughout the house by people, cats and dogs.

He had to cut each piece three or four times. That’s because it had to be perfect.

I prayed Mr. D wouldn’t slip and cut himself. I don’t do blood very well.

All is well. We both emerged from the room unscathed.

I Know He Says He’s Working On It…

I know he says he’s working on it, but I can’t wait to for the news to come hot off the press. I have a busy day scheduled and only so much time allotted for playing on the internet.

Therefore, I will dive right in and give you all the Reader’s Digest condensed version of How I Met My Husband, even though I might have blogged about it before. I’m way too lazy to search through and find it. So here goes…

How I Met My Husband… by Pandemonic

It was late one night toward the end of fall. October 29, 1983, to be exact. I was working the late shift at a federal agency.

All of a sudden, a bunch of new recruits came on the workroom floor, perhaps ten or twelve. I gave them the once-over. As I spent most of my time at work, the dating pool was very shallow and drying up by the minute.

A couple of younger guys looked like possible prospects. One was attractive and blond. I try to stay away from blond men (I don’t know why, so don’t ask). He wasn’t very tall, but still, rather good looking. The other was tall, dark and handsome. Roman nose. Nice features. Beautiful dark brown hair. And he was TALL. (Since I am short, I tend to go for tall guys. Go figure.)

A supervisor told the two guys to work with me. HOT DIGGEDITY DOG! The blond guy was aloof. He looked forlorn being up at 11 p.m. at night, and terribly out of place. The tall guy was talking to the short blond dude. That’s what happened in this particular facility. People who started working together tended to band together, and there was no clique jumping.

Of course, I didn’t believe in enforcement of the classes, especially when it came to the dating pool. I was known to clique-jump whenever. So I started talking to Tall, Dark and Handsome. Not just there, but in the break room too. (Horrors! That was really in bad form!)

It took about a month, but I asked Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome (Mr. Demonic) out to dinner at my place. And, as they say, the rest is history.

**Wait a minute. I do think I posted this before… Perhaps I should blog about how I got him to ask me to marry him…

Silly Employee Musings

For some reason, our line of work attracts the weirdest people.

Most of our employees are teachers who are doing this parttime to make extra money. During my long exposure to those in academia, I have found several traits common among most of them.

For one thing, teachers often give birth to teachers. They also marry teachers. This makes sense, since that’s their world. They probably meet members of the opposite (or same, what do I know?) sex at work, date and then marry.

However, it’s really confusing for me, especially around payroll time. We have two Boones, two Gilberts, two Gregorys, two Stouts, two Smiths. And of course, at one point we had four Demonics.

We have also attracted an assortment of other characters.

My favorite weird employee is Mr. Tang. That’s his real name. He’s Chinese, and he’s crazy Chinese. He yells in English as I would imagine him yelling to his wife in Chinese. When I get on the phone with him, I yell back, with an accent. “MEEEESTER TAAAAANG!” Mr. Tang brings us donuts every so often, but I just smell them and let the rest of the office eat them.

A2 is another case. She’s still 15, but looks older. There was something about her when I hired her, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Last week, I found out why she looks familiar. She is half Japanese, but you wouldn’t know it since she has a punk haircut and she’s blond. Her Facebook page sports several strange photos of her and her girlfriend posing inside of a front-loading dryer.

We also employ several people who have no business teaching anyone how to do anything. They are mean, short tempered and lack customer service and care. However, I’m pretty sure those people could also not get a job elsewhere. The ability to teach well is precisely why I don’t teach. I’m a screamer, and I know it. I’m thinking Mr. D feels a kinship with some of these people, or they have other somewhat redeeming qualities, like showing up to work on time. I don’t know. If it were my dynasty, I would have ordered the heads off those guys long ago.

There are also several employees who must think we are stupid. These are the ones who run away with money and think we won’t notice, or short the kids from time and think no one will complain. It’s hard to find an honest person in this day and age. In fact, I often make the rounds and visit class rooms unannounced to see what the hell is going on. That’s the fun part of my job, reconnaissance missions. Most of my employees have never met me, so it’s easy to do.

A lot of our employees have no inkling of proper manners. Case in point, last Christmas, we had an open house with food and drink. One guy, known for his stash of snacks, came in and slurped down several shrimp in a matter of seconds, hanging them high above his head before inhaling them whole. After that, I couldn’t eat a thing.

Of course, I’m not exempt from stereotype either. Many employees, having only spoken to me over the phone, think I am blond and a lot taller than I really am. I must exude a certain amount of silliness and a tad bit of airheadedness myself. I know some of them think I’m a bitch.

Then they meet me and see a short, partially Asian woman.

It must drive them nuts! 🙂

Mr. Demonic’s “Blond” Hair

Hopefully, this will be a short post, but you never know. Sometimes, just as I do when I get together with good friends, I run on and on. When I chat so long that my butt gets a cramp, you know I’m having a good time.

Today, I would like to mention my other half, Mr. Demonic.

I met Mr. D at our place of employment, almost 25 years ago. I think I mentioned that in a previous blog post, but I’m way too lazy (and busy) today to look it up. (I’ve been on WP for almost a year, and my posts are many – almost unmanageable.) The first thing that struck me about my husband was that he was very good looking. No, really. He is extremely handsome. I imagined at the time that he was too handsome for me to catch, however, at the time I didn’t realize that he thought I was very good looking, too. Many people (my husband and my internet boyfriend among them) think I suffer from poor body image. I like to think I’m realistic.

Either way, I caught him, and I’m not throwing him back.

But back to Mr. D. He used to have a magnificent head of hair, dark brown, very thick, not wavy, but it would go where he told it to. Contrast that with my locks, thin, straight, and it’s unruly, much like my teenage daughter. It doesn’t matter how much “product” I put in mine, in thirty minutes time, it ends up straight. I used to go the permanent wave route. That was the only way I could obtain some semblance of body. I’m way too lazy (and cheap) these days to subject myself to routine chemical treatments to make my hair bouncy. Mr. D buys one small bottle of hair goo, and it lasts six months. He just puts a little in every morning, and still looks like a hunk by bed time.

Over time, though, Mr. D’s hair has changed. He’s aging. We all are. Mr. D’s head started sporting gray hairs at the tender age of 33. Ms. MiniD wasn’t even born yet. My father, who is 24 years older than the two of us, remarked at the time that Mr. D should go to the drug store and by some hair coloring for men. Grecian Formula. My father, who is now 76, didn’t have much gray then and still has very little gray hair.

Perhaps it is the stress of owning your own business that has contributed to Mr. D’s gray hair. It is something to ponder. His PhD college professor brother is six years older, and while the top of his head is thinning, he doesn’t really sport a lot of gray hair. Of course, he has a cushy job where he only teaches two days a week and has tenure and a retirement plan. Mr. D works seven days a week. Mr. D’s sister, who was a year older, was a blond Scandinavian with a full head of hair (well, until chemotherapy, that is) until she passed away last year.

Mr. D’s father ended up a bald guy. Since Mr. D favors his father in many ways, height, body style, they way they carry themselves, etc., I am most certain that in ten years or so, Mr. D will end up a bald man too. That’s quite all right with me.

However, aging and turning gray has not set well with my husband. For the last several years, Mr. D has proclaimed that his hair is turning “blond.” He is claiming that since his sister was a natural blond, the blond gene was surely going to rear its ugly head and claim him as a victim. It would only be a matter of time. So this is his theory.

At present time, Mr. D’s temples are beyond gray. They are decidedly silver. The rest of his head is more salt than pepper.

(Now, I should interject here that I used to color my own hair on a regular basis. It was not to cover gray hair, but was back when I liked being a red-head. However, I am part Asian, and no one has manufactured a hair dye that can change my hair to Lucille Ball’s shade of red. Or a certain Tigereye I know. I have since stopped coloring, and even though I am nine months older than Mr. D, have only a few strands of gray. It must make him very angry.)

The other day, Mr. D got his haircut, came into work and announced that his barber managed to cut all of his gray hair out and so now he is blond. Of course, this results in rolled eyes and stifled laughter among the office staff.

I imagine he will stop talking about being blond when he is completely bald.

Group Jumping as a Husband Snagging Option

Mr. Vanity Press writes such thought provoking posts, it often causes me to fill up with ideas for my own. Such is the case with this one.

By now you’ve been regaled with the story of my first marriage. Our time together lasted just nine months, but for reasons outside of my control, it took another three years to extricate myself from the man. If you want to call him a “man,” I still think he was gay.

After the divorce, I spent ten years as a single person. This doesn’t mean I was in a monastery or anything. Quite the contrary. By that time, it was the late 1970s and early 1980s, a rather hedonistic era of the 20th Century. I attempted to log in my boyfriends in my journal, but quickly ran out of room. Plus, many of the guys were one-nighters, so I didn’t know their last names. They didn’t even rate journal space. (PUH-LEEZE! Stay with me here… it was the age of disco and pre-AIDS epidemic. Everyone was doing it.) Eventually, I was engaged to a guy who was four years younger. This, also, turned out to be a mistake, but not a huge one, since I wised up in time.

In late 1980, I fell into a job with the federal government. It paid four times what I was making before at the menial jobs I had prior to that. Within a few months, I was living large.

Now here’s where Mr. Vanity Press’ theory about affinity groups comes into play.

My employer tended to hire 30 or so people at the same time. We all stuck together, became friends, and enjoyed our mutual good fortune by partying in our off hours. The previous groups all stuck together, and the later groups were the same way. There was no group jumping, God forbid, probably because the competition for permanent jobs, once they became available, was very high.

After working there for a few years, I got the hang of the secrecy between groups and non-group jumping. At the time, I was pretty much a lemming anyway. I wanted to stay employed and continue to receive big fat paychecks for doing menial labor. I would have sway whichever way the wind blew. I don’t know why. I’m thinking in hindsight it is because I wasn’t fully formed as a person, even though I was in my mid 20s.

However, after a couple of years of forced overtime, my social life was suffering. At the time, I had been engaged (for four years) to that guy, but had no time to spend with him. We drifted apart, me to work unreasonable hours of the day and night, and he to dealing cocaine and snorting the profits up his nose. I only found out about the drug use when we went to book our “honeymoon” trip to Hawaii and the $10,000 we had in the bank was gone. Not long afterward, he was gone too.

I jumped back into the dating pool without a swimsuit. (To be frank, I had been hanging my feet in the water before I ditched fiance Number 2. I know, I know. I was a loose goose, or a fun-loving 20-something, depending on your perception.) It was rough at first. I had been out of the loop. My home was my employment, and my homeboys were my co-workers.

One day, a new group came in for orientation. I remember the day well. It was October 29, 1983. One of the guys in the group was very handsome. I thought he was a Very Cute Boy. (If you remember from my previous posts about Husband Number One, I was touched in a similar way.)

By this time, I was the social butterfly of the work room floor. It helped that my job included pushing stuff from one end of the building to the other. You meet a lot of people that way. I was already starting to transcend my affinity group.

On the other hand, my original group was closed minded. They wanted nothing to do with the new group. They were very unhelpful, especially with directing the newbies to the bathroom, the exits, and the lunch room.

One day I saw the Very Cute Boy standing in front of his work. I went over and talked to him. OK, I blatantly flirted with him. Come on! He was VERY Cute! Then, during our lunch break, I noticed him sitting alone. I sat down next to him and began a conversation. This amazed my best friend from my group. “What are you talking about?” She wanted to know. I told her I learned Very Cute Boy was a piano player. It was the aphrodisiac of the gods. That was a definite deal maker for me.

This continued for some time. I noticed that the Very Cute Boy was trying to find ways of catching my eye. He also finagled himself a job pushing stuff from one end of the floor to another, so we were two ships crossing in the night, over and over again. I wanted the Very Cute Boy to ask me out, and I thought he would, but he never did. It was becoming apparent that I was going to have to take matters into my own hands. I lobbied some of the guys in my group whether or not they would go out with a girl who asked them on a date. Half thought I was talking about THEM, the other half said no, it should not be a problem.

It took some nerve, but I finally asked the Very Cute Boy over for a home made spaghetti dinner on the rare day off.

He came over with three roses in a raging blizzard to eat spaghetti that had burned (because I was asleep from working the night shift) and said was amazing.

The Very Cute Boy is now Mr. Demonic.

The moral of the story: Group jumping is a good husband-snagging option.