Minutiae

My son and I are sitting in the waiting area of the local medical lab. We are sitting as close to each other as possible and not touching the armrests. We should be wearing cough masks over our faces.

Not because we might cough.

Because the other patients in this crowded room might.

Most of these folks are here to get blood drawn. There is always a line for that.

We are here for the radiology department, a place where appointments are made in order to have patients seen in a timely fashion.

Ha.

We were told “15 minutes”.

These are medical minutes, which vary significantly from all other minutes.

Let me explain.

Vacation minutes have approximately 30 seconds in them.

Work minutes have 90.

Texan minutes run around 2 to 1 with football minutes at least 3 to 1. If a football game has 10 minutes left in the game, you can estimate sitting there with a leg cramp for about another 45.

This is to accommodate all the TV commercials and to encourage live fans to buy another beer.

Apparently, New York minutes are the fastest known, possibly holding a mere 10 seconds. You don’t want to blink in New York.

Dental minutes vary depending on your services. An hour cleaning will last about an hour, but a root canal has the potential to carry you into next week.

Medical minutes vary even more, but always in an expanding direction.

Sitting in a waiting room is about 2 to 1. “The doctor will be in in just a moment” means “He’s taking a call from his wife, he’ll get here when she stops talking”.

“The nurse will be right in with your shots” translates, “When she finds the right hypodermic, the bandages, the smiley face stickers, and waits an additional 10 minutes for you to work up a powerful fear sweat or a sufficiently crying child”.

Having you actual blood drawn can last for days. Never watch. Breathe deep.

Think vacation minute thoughts.

Our particular medical minutes this day lasted only “15 minutes” at a time but went on for an hour.

When directly confronted with this wrinkle in time, the receptionist stated that “once a patient has been checked in, he may not leave the building” but instead of just saying so up front, they wanted each and every patient to feel that their medical care was just around the corner.

It was.

We just couldn’t get there from here.

Father Time ticks on…

Gambling for Guests

A homemaker is a gambler.

She gambles every time she makes something new for the family dinner.

She gambles on whether Hubby will throw a fit over her new short hair cut.

She gambles on whether the car will run out of gas before she runs out of errands.

So it’s only natural that when she has incoming house guests, she invites Lady Luck to join her in the linen closet for a game of bluff.

Four of a Kind would be lovely but Two Pair are all I can realistically ask for.

The gamble is finding the right combination of sizes, colors, and pieces that will go onto the correct configuration of beds.

Simultaneously.

Our large family has no shortage of beds. The girls have twin beds with rolling trundles that pop out when needed and the boys have twin beds that can combine into a king size, and we have a queen size bed that just sort of moves around between rooms.

I really don’t know how that happened.

But she lives here too.

Depending on who our guests are, I may need to take my game up a notch, as the kids donate their rooms for the occasion.

The girls have bedding that is coordinated but comes with an array of unique pillows, stuffed animals, college blankets, clip-on headboard lamps, a couple of candy bar wrappers in the duvet and possibly some pocket change under the mattress.

One daughter always makes her bed. One daughter never makes her bed.

The boys share a room that is completely stripped of toys, trophies, or trinkets. Instead, their room with two beds and two nightstands has a central sacrificial burial mound where a week’s worth of laundry (clean and dirty) mingle with sports equipment, gym bags, school papers, shoes, cell phone chargers, backpacks, and empty gatorade bottles.

When I tell them to clean up they use a skip loader and put it all into the closet.

None of them will use a top sheet, so the fitted sheets get worn to rags and the tops are brand spanking new. The quilts are somewhere in the middle.

My linen closet takes a good beating but we manage to make it work.

I reach in and pull out a king top and a queen bottom. Okay, double or nothing. I grab another blue sheet and two twins and a pillow sham fall out.

I decided to toss all of my dice at once, gut the shelves, and look for the Royal Flush.

I lined up the kings and kept a set in yellow. I hunted down all of the queens. Only the brown set stayed. Because only the brown set had all the pieces. I discovered I had twin bedding for a dozen beds, but only if those beds needed a random top sheet or pillow case. So I stacked matched four piece sets for six twins, tossing out the kickers.

I had to find a blanket and quilt to each set. By now I was surrounded with linens.

Let’s see…two twins equals a king….

“I’ll see your sheet and raise you a bed skirt.”

It was then that I decided to raise the stakes even higher. When your son hits 6’2” and his feet are hanging off the end of his bed, you have to get what they call a twin “long”.

That or buy him nice ski socks.

I had a hot tip on some sheet sets at a discount warehouse, so I went to investigate. I found a lovely 500 thread count Egyptian cotton set marked down by 70%. It’s pink and yellow, but it’s new and it all matches. Maybe it’s a long shot, but no one needs to know if he’s sleeping on flowery sheets, right?

No? Fine. Scratch that.

I shuffled the deck and found one with tiny green seashells. Score!

Turns out, twin “long”s aren’t the popular size, but for us they’re the ace in the hole.

Oh. You’re coming over for the weekend? Suite!

We put jokers on the couch.

 

Emergency Exit

In the event of holiday airplane trips this season, please take the following notes:

I’m sitting behind the row of seats that are attached to the safety exit over the wing. Smart fliers know this row has an extra pinch of leg room, so it’s a popular choice.

But no one has to pass the safety regulations in order to sit there.

You know the routine.

As the plane taxis to the runway, stewardesses go over the safety procedures in case of an airplane emergency.

Just the thought of having one ensures my complete and avid attention.

They speak rapidly so they can themselves be buckled into the plane before take-off, which is imminent.

A yellow life vest goes rapidly on and off.  They show you how to blow into the red tube if it fails to inflate by itself. An airplane emergency would have me hyperventilating; so I guess I could do that.

They claim that the vest is under my seat, but don’t want me to reach under there and pull it out unless we crash.

I’m really going out on a limb, believing them.

This is how the Titanic began its voyage.

They demonstrate the oxygen mask – yours first, your neighbors second – in case we lose air pressure in the cabin.

Question:

Can I use mine if the kid next to me breaks into his beef jerky?

I watch as they ask the folks sitting in the emergency exit rows if they understand the procedures and they all nod, including the guy wearing large earphones that are pumping heavy metal into his cranium.

The stewardess seems satisfied and goes to strap on her parachute and a seatbelt.

I, on the other hand, have pulled out the cute little crisis card from the seat pocket and read it intently as the aircraft makes a hard U-turn and picks up speed.  My super hero cape is already waving in the breeze, and I plan to be that guy on Survivor who doesn’t get voted off the island we’re about to crash land on.

There are three pages of emergency procedure cartoons to study.

If I can lift 50 pounds, I’m in. Well, my suitcase can’t weigh over 50 pounds by regulation and I would throw my back out trying to hoist it. But you have to factor in adrenaline, which boosts me into the “lift 100 pounds” category for about 10 minutes.

Which is all I’ll need to remove the passenger sitting next to the emergency door right now.

Because we can all see that he’ll be useless when the time comes.

Whoops, here’s one I hadn’t thought of. I can’t open the exit door if there is fire, water, or debris outside of it. What? They expect me to look out the window first? What can possibly be worse outside of a crashed plane than what is going on inside of a crashed plane?

The last man out is a rotten egg, and no one is getting near the other exits, as they are also being stampeded by frantic super heroes.

Er, concerned passengers.

Oh no. That door’s going down and we can jettison out on the inflatable raft, which obviously doubles as a shield. Look at this picture. It’s supposed to be in a box on the ceiling.

I look up. I look back. Nope. Phooey. No raft then.

Stupid Titanic.

What’s this? We have a slide!  Yes!

Yank open the door, activate the inflatable slide, don our personal flotation devices, and…calmly orderly politely… belly-slide down the bouncy pinball machine.

Points for style.

The word “expeditiously” is used numerous times on this card. I take that to mean “as fast as you can caper”. It probably looks something like what mobs do at the end of a ballgame in the stadium.

No one is getting out of that parking lot no matter how fast you caper.

It says here that you can’t have vision issues, in case your contact lens pops out. You can’t have hearing issues, so the passenger’s screaming can motivate you to caper faster…no, wait, so you can follow the stewardesses screamed instructions across the smoky cabin. You have to know English. Even if the stewardess is going to scream in Portuguese. You can’t be traveling with pets or kids or medical issues that will distract you from the task at hand.

Basically, you must be Superman. Federal regulations insist.

Otherwise, you are politely but legally requested to exchange seats with someone who qualifies.

Yeah. Right. I have never once seen Superman sitting in an airplane.

The man flies his own Friendly Skies; seating for one.

 

Taking a Breath

Once a year I hop in the car and drive away for a weekend with my girlfriends in Palm Springs.

It’s becoming a tradition that I could really get behind. It satisfies those pesky feelings that come around once in a while that whisper, “RUN. Run now. They won’t catch you. Someone else can do the dishes.”

It’s nice to turn to them and answer, “Yes, of course. It’s just that I’m so busy right now. I’ll tell you what…next May we’ll run away to a place where we will never do dishes, clean, cook, or run laundry. Ever. OK?” And then I get on with my day.

I get mixed reactions to my weekend away from the family. Hubby supports it, inasmuch as he is thinking to himself, “Self,” he thinks, “this is the weekend where I won’t do dishes, clean, cook, or run laundry! Awesome.”

The daughters are thinking, “Mom is so lucky! Why can’t I go too? I’m a girl! Please, please, please don’t leave us with three males of the species!”

The sons are thinking, “Dad’s gonna be in charge. That means hotdogs and pizza for dinner and random adventures that we will always be running late for. Awesome!”

All I am thinking on the day before I leave is, “The laundry is completely caught up, the kitchen is clean and a pre-made dinner is in the freezer. I’ve signed all the school papers and left reminders on the calendar for the weekend for everybody. I’m packed, there’s gas in the car, directions on the GPS, and every cell phone here has my number in it.”

Not that they need it.

Mine is the only one that all of them have memorized.

Never would I have attempted this in the younger years. You don’t leave diapers to chance. The kids are all old enough to forage for food in the kitchen if abandoned to their fate. No one will accidentally leave a stove burner on. At least not for long. The strange smell in the house should alert people.

Right?

This is the part where I force myself to take a mental detour into a happy place and sit there on time out for a reality check: the house will not burn down, a child will not lose a body part, no one is getting sick; everyone will be safe, fed, and happy until Mom comes home.

It’s only two days.

Palm Springs is lovely in May. Warm poolside weather, funny movies on the telly, books and magazines, maid service and restaurant meals. Sleeping in as long as you want is a treat so rare, only a mom could fully appreciate it. It’s what we do after a night of sitting in the spa, drinking margaritas, star gazing and talking the night away.

A decadent game we play once in a while is “doing nothing”: you settle down in a comfy chair with a wonderful view, and…do absolutely nothing. Except smile.

It makes us uneasy after five minutes or so, but it’s fun practice.

Our drive home includes side trips to massive shopping malls. Hunting down a good bargain gets our head back in the game, so to speak.

As soon as I pulled up to my house, the instincts kicked into full alert.

One does not simply “ease” back into reality from a vacation, however brief.

The garage door was open but no one was around.

Hm.

I walked into the house, rolling my red carry-on behind me.

I came full stop in the middle of what used to be my living room.

Couches and tables were pushed along the walls, cushions piled up in drifts. Heaps of clothing here and there suggested closets had been sick at some point. There were Legos in the potted plants. Empty cups, half empty soda bottles, plates of crumbs and a trail of skittles led to a kitchen of greasy countertops and a truly exciting refrigerator full of leftovers. Empty pizza boxes stacked in a corner. Candy spilled out of opened bags like little lava flows.

The bodies of my family were draped over furniture, trapped in suspended animation. Only their eyes moved as they followed my speechless tour around the house.

I stopped in front of the Hubby. He smiled faintly.

“Why hello!” he said, clearing his throat, “I didn’t know you were coming home so early.”

My daughter called out softly from her place on the floor, “We had so many people over here!”

“We went swimming and shopping and watched movies all night!” bragged a son from behind a couch.

“Um,” was what I managed to say.

“We’ve already been cleaning for a couple of hours,” said Hubby, sensing the direction of my thoughts, “it looks pretty good now.”

After unpacking, I rolled up my sleeves and stepped back into the fast moving rhythm of making a house a home. I knew the steps by heart.

It’s always good to be back.

And Palm Springs will be waiting for me the next time I need a breath of fresh air.

Once in a while, moms need a breath of fresh air.