Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Uncool under pressure

If you are in a jam, a pickle, a whatever....don't call me. K? I'm not being mean, I'm being HELPFUL. This is because I am extremely uncool when it comes to stressful situations. Geo likes to/has to remind me to calm down, relax, stop freaking out, put down the scissors or let go of my blankie and get out from under the comforter when something nuts is happening.

So you can imagine how uncool I was on Monday when my car battery died. It had been sluggish for awhile but I chalked it up to the cold, forgetting that it has been powering my car for SEVEN YEARS. Still, I knew I was pushing my luck when I drove it to work on Monday morning, so as soon as I got to my desk, I made an immediate appointment to get the battery replaced that afternoon.

At like 2:45, I walk out to my car and turn the key: nothing. I swear loudly at the car: nothing. I apologize for the swearing, promising to be better to the car: nothing. I was out of answers.

I texted and called Geo at his grown-up job repeatedly and when he answered, he was obnoxiously calm. "Okay, you're fine. Relax. Can you have someone jump it? Do you just want it towed to the car place?"


Needless to say, he doesn’t LOVE talking to me when I’m in this state, and I certainly don’t blame him. But after some reassurance from him, I got my car jumped and it started up.

This wasn’t good enough to calm my nerves. I asked the guy who jumped it how long the battery would last. Could he just reassure me that I would make it the 3.3 miles to Firestone? He shrugged and said, “Probably. I mean, I don’t see why not.”

Not helpful.

So I turned off the heat, the radio and made a mental note not to use my blinkers (I don’t know what batteries power and what they don’t) and headed off to Firestone. I was a headcase the whole way there. Some choice words I spoke out loud in my silent car included “Come on, baby. Come on. You can do it. If I can run a mile without stopping surely you could keep going. I’ve never said a bad word about you, Subaru. You OWE me this. Clear eyes, full heart, car.”

On the way there, my phone — providing me the directions — ALSO died. I couldn’t charge it in the car because again, I didn’t know if it would drain the battery. So I tried to remember the directions I had looked up earlier and found myself on this road with 1,000 cars, 12,000 driveways into multiple strip malls and a dangerous hesitancy to hit the brakes.

Finally, after turning around 8 or 11 times, I saw the Firestone sign. I pulled up to a garage and slowly drove in circles in the parking lot. I gingerly rolled down my window an inch and started yelling at a gentle man who I’d learn was named Herb, “I CAN’T STOP OR MY CAR WILL DIE! I HAVE A 3:00 APPOINTMENT TO REPLACE MY BATTERY! WHERE DO I GO?! WHAT DO I DO!?”

There were several problems with this scene. One: I think I would have been fine stopping my car and talking to Herb like a human. Two: Even if my car HAD died, I was in a place more than equipped to handle such an incident. 

Three: It was the wrong place. It was another battery/tire/auto place next to Firestone that I just drove into out of sheer panic. I had no appointment, Herb had no warning that this nightmare was about to befall him. Only, I didn’t even realize it was the wrong place until about 15 minutes into my wait when I noticed nothing around me said Firestone…except the sign about three storefronts further down the road I saw through the window.

But like the hero that he no doubt is, Herb replaced my battery and I could drive home in peace. Except my tire pressure light is still on, and so’s my Brake light. But that’s a panic for another day, I guess.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


I have no idea what humidifiers do. I don't: I'm not a scientist. But I just bought one because I feel like it was an important tool missing in my life.

I am PRETTY SURE humidifiers put humid back into air after the soggy grossness of summer has passed and the stale bummerness of winter has set in. And even though summer humidity make my eyelids sweat and my hair frizzy for days, winter humidity is evidently essential to just making me stop having dry skin and clogged up facial holes.

So, I go buy a humidifier because I have a cold and have been mad stuffed up these days and Geo is getting pretty annoyed with being woken up by the earthquake-y breathing of his lovely bride every night.

I have several problems with the humidifying industry. (Who doesn't!? Hot button issue, amiright!?)

First: What's with all the babies on your boxes, humidifier companies? Are babies the only ones who suffer from dusty houses, allergies and dehydration due to drinking too much?! I call that discrimination, people. Babies pretty much breathed blood and umbilical cord juice for like such a long time (right?!)...dust is not their biggest enemy.

Second: I don't know how to put water with electricity and then relax for seven hours. Last night, I filled up my "newmidifier" (patent pending) with a gallon of water and drifted off to sleep thinking about the promises of "cool mist" and whatnot. I woke up roughly 40 times because I didn't know if the "mist" was going to somehow fall onto the cord plugged into the wall and start a fire. Water+plugs=No one's sleeping tonight.

Third: How much is a gallon of water mist? Is that enough to make my bedroom floor crumble down into the living room under the weight of a flooded room? How does the water get into the air? Isn't it just going to fall on the ground? (Just in case this happened, I literally covered our wood floors in our bedroom with towels.)

Long story still long, nothing happened. Like, nothing. I still have a cold; my floors are still dry; nothing started on fire. So, again, I'm not sure what humidifiers do.  At this point, I think they just make people panic and listen to a not-quite-silent whir while reminiscing about the days of frizzy hair and sweaty backs. Either way, Humidifier, you've done nothing for my cold. Jerk.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bad hair (and body and nails) day

It took roughly 3 months, but I finally made a hair appointment to add some aubergine tones (that's a thing) to my hair. I know what you're thinking: "But Pharon, is that enough time to think through such a DRASTIC decision?!" and I know you're being sarcastic, but trust me: It still felt like I made the decision on a whim. Especially because my normal hair girl was unavailable so I had to go with a sub. So yeah, I'm scared.

But guys? Salons are not my friends. They aren't. Some of my worst decisions have been made in a salon.

I suppose it started, as all bad appearance-based decisions do, in high school. I was a fresh-faced Sophomore attending my first formal dance. My parents had allowed me to go get the much-coveted "up do" at a fancy Edina salon. I told the 80-year-old stylist I wanted to look "classy. Mature, even." I walked out of there with this:

That right there is a giant French twist with some suuuuper classy face-framing spiral curls. I looked like an adolescent Giada Di Laurentiis. I'm surprised I didn't fall over more, considering the massive size of my head and my pre-beer 90-pound body. I don't know math, but I know that physics and gravity were working against me.

After that came several other no nos: the misguided blonde phase, the time I cried and kicked a pedicurist who had the gall to touch my feet, the regrettable hair-stripping incident when I sat under a hot dryer with green goo slipping down my face as it got rid of my gothic-black dye.

OH! And there was the time when, as a full-fledged adult, I went to a spa for a body polish. That's where they lay you down in a dimly-light room while a lady in a white coat turns on calming music, slips some lavender oil between her hands and then roughly sloughs off all the dead skin from your body. I was such a nerd that I got in the salon's shower with my underwear on because I was paranoid someone would walk in on me rinsing the top 3 layers of my skin off and be like "HAVE SOME DECENCY, WOMAN!"

I'm just not cool when it comes to pampering. I am too antsy; too talkative; too nervous; too self-conscious. I don't say, "No, Ethel, that French twist is insane," or "So how do I shower?" I'm like a middle-aged fedora-wearing gamer. No social skills or awareness.

Also? Can we talk about salon politics?! I never feel worse than when I make an appointment with someone other than my main stylist; it's like being caught at a speed-dating event by the person you're married to. Then, like, you SEE your stylist and she smiles at you and is super cool, but deep down, you're thinking, "I'm a traitor and the next time I see her, she has every right to 'accidentally' chop off all my hair." That on top of the pressure of doing tipping math in my head is enough to keep me away from the salon for 9-12 months.

Oh, and is there ANYTHING worse than chatting during a hair-drying phase? You have to literally YELL over the sound (lest you be rude and just stay silent) and then they turn the dryer off and it becomes crystal clear that you have been screaming about your weird rash thing for 10 minutes.

So anyway, here I am, heading into the firing squad with a dream of aubergine hair and no actual knowledge about how to tell a perfect stranger what I want. You can't just be like "here's a picture" because then they'll be like, "Okay, well this is Selena Gomez. And you...do not have Selena Gomez's hair. Or complexion. Or any other feature even SORT of resembling Selena Gomez. Also, you're old."

Then there's the risk that your version of aubergine is someone else's version of cherry, or that "subtle-yet-noticeable" to you is not the same as it is to someone who isn't paying $200 for hair paint. Really it's all just a big coin flip at this point, and that makes me scared. Which is weird because I can't even DO my hair...or my makeup...or put an outfit together, so you'd think I just don't really care. But I DO care. And it's not like I'm going to speak up...I'll walk out of there gushing about my Bozo hair done up in a French twist like a Kardashian gushing about lip injections.

I guess we'll see what happens. Chances are, the change will only be noticeable to me; on the other hand, I could also wind up looking like someone who works at Hot Topic. Oh well, at least I'll know what to do with my underwear this time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

If you give a mouse a paper towel...

My fear of mice is well documented. There are few things -- and zero creatures -- that frighten me more than mice. People tell me I'm silly. But to those people, I say: SHUT UP. People I know are afraid of snakes or getting fat or the dark and I don't make fun of THEM (to their faces).

Anyway, here we are. Right at prime mice-decide-to-invade-everyones-homes-because-they-are-dicks season. It's getting colder, and these disgusting vermin are all "Well, time to enjoy a nice cozy home without paying ANY RENT." They spill in through holes the size of dimes and then have a zillion disgusting babies and it's the WORST.

So okay. It's that time of year which means I am on CONSTANT alert. I've all but stopped doing laundry in our basement; I've spent more time cleaning than I have Netflixing (nah, that's impossible). I've sent Geo to the hardware store multiple times to buy more and more mousetraps. I've had our landlord move this pile of wood away from our house because that is a known haven for the heinous creatures. I wake up every day with one mission: watch out for mice.

So far, I've been successful.

Then last week, I realized how foolish I had been. I have a punching bag in our garage and I go out there to work out in between rounds of carb- and wine-loading. I had been so busy congratulating myself for taking 45 minutes out of my laying around time to work out that I never considered what a hellish environment I was in.

Picture this: a cold, detached garage full of "stuff" that's warmer than outside: blankets, cars, cardboard boxes, garbage I can't be bothered to put in the bin and instead throw on the the ground.

So okay, one day last week, I was out there working out. I have wireless earbuds so I can have vulgar, violent music drive me through my workout without destroying the precious childhoods of my neighbor's kids, but on this day, an earbud fell out and it was immediately clear to me that I was in a very quiet room. Then the lights shut off after like 15 minutes and I realized how dark it was in there. I went to turn the light back on and I saw it: not a mouse, but EVIDENCE OF A MOUSE.

It was a paper towel roll sitting on a shelf, chewed through and surrounded in mouse poop. I immediately called off the rest of my workout, ran inside and tearfully crafted a text to Geo that said "I'm sorry, I know I'm a baby, but there are mice in the garage and I need you to buy all the poison that exists in the world."

I avoided the garage for like a week...only going in when it was absolutely necessary to get my car. I would open the garage, wait outside and remote-start my car to give the disgusting creatures the time to run out of the garage and/or interior of my car. Most times, I just parked on the street.

However, I have a wedding and a trip to Cali coming up, and the Rochester weight I put on won't seem to go away on its own, no matter HOW many times I eat salad BEFORE a plate of ranch noodles, so I had to get back out to the garage.

I went in there today, averted my eyes from every nook and cranny to avoid seeing anything I wasn't prepared to handle, punched louder, breathed louder, and basically scream-sang along to all my music. I was panicking the whole time. At one point, the light shut off and I just kept going in the semi-dark because I couldn't handle seeing that paper towel roll again. It was the worst workout of my life; but considering how much I sweat and panicked, it probably was the best one as well.

Anyway, while I have yet to see an actual MOUSE, the fact that they are DEFINITELY interested in living in our space has been enough to make me crazy. And now they have a taste for our sweet, sweet paper towels...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Why your Christmas lights (might) suck

I LOVE the holidays, you guys. Mostly, I love looking at decorations that go up everywhere. And even though I'm not a HUGE seasonal decorator inside my home, I do have have a few Christmas-y knick knacks I display around my empty wine bottles, dirty socks and Lean Cuisine boxes.

But one of my favorite things to do this time of year is to put up Christmas lights. Holiday lights. Hanukkah lights. Whatever. LIGHTS! I love them. They are THE accessory of the season. The problem is that way too many people are ruining everything by putting up the worst lights ever. Listen, if you're going to do something to draw attention to your house, those of us who have to look at it get to judge. Here are some of the worst offenders.

Mismatched lights: When you get ready to go out for dinner, you don't put on delicate pearl earrings, an enormous turquoise bedazzled bracelet on one hand and some plastic green cuff on the other, then pile on 16 different-colored friendship necklaces. But that's exactly what it looks like when people put up stupid mismatched lights. A multicolored bush with a single blue tree and white icicle lights on your windows? If those houses could talk, they'd be screaming "the people the people the people!" (what up, Sally Field in that movie where she's skitzophrenic!) Pick a color, a theme, ANYTHING and go with it.

Haphazard lights: No one is MAKING you put up lights. You're not a teenager doing dishes, which means you don't have to $hit all over the job you're doing to try and prove a point. If you are going to go through the effort of putting lights up, put them up right. Don't just throw a string in a tree and call it a day. Putting lights on your actual house? Do it symmetrically and securely. Take an extra 30 minutes and have some pride in yourself and your home, for God's sake!

Nonsense lights: I have a neighbor who put up the most random lights I've ever seen. There's a strand of white hanging down on one side, then they curl over the other side, outlining a window. From the center of the house, a giant green strand juts out in front of the house and (in white lights) winds around a tree trunk in the middle of their yard. What. The. Eff. Do better, neighbors.

Partially-working/partially-flashing lights: Test your lights, people! If they aren't all working, don't put them up. If a strand burns out, put your big kid pants on, buy some new (matching) lights, and switch them out. And if you insist on having seizure-inducing flashing lights, have some respect and make sure the flash for a reason. If one chunk is flashing but none of the others are flashing, you could be inviting aliens to come invade us via morse code. Do you WANT to be responsible for an alien apocalypse?!

So that wraps it up. Don't do any of those things or I'll come over and cut the power to your whole house. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ew de Toilet

Being married is, for the most part, very very fun. I get to hang out with one of my favorite people on the planet pretty much every day. I love it.

But guys? It's also kind of hard sometimes. For a few months now, Geo and I have been locked in a battle that we cannot see eye-to-eye on, and recently I had the same debate with three men who all agreed with my beloved. I feel close enough to you guys that I want to share our marital dispute in the hopes that you'll take MY side: It's the toilet seat. He suddenly decided that it's cool to leave it up; I have tearfully pleaded with him that it is in fact, NOT COOL.

Quick note: I am limiting my argument to #1 because that's what people do most often. Also because otherwise: gross.

Here's his argument, which I'm sure many men will agree with. He states, and I quote, "If we have to put the seat down, it's more work for men. We have to pull the seat up and then put it back down again. Women just have to put it down if we leave it up."

Yeah. His argument is that it's more work.

Here is my two-pronged counter argument: 1) Girls have to do more work to pee anyway and 2) There are only repercussions for GIRLS when the toilet seat is in the wrong position.

1) Men, as far as I understand it, have to lift a seat, pee, lower the seat, flush and then go back to earning 15% more than women. Women, on the other hand, have to nearly disrobe, turn around, sit down, get some toilet paper, perform the proper wiping procedure or risk some medical consequences, stand up, pull pants up, turn around, flush and then stand in front of the mirror dissecting the imperfections of our faces while washing out hands.

Do we REALLY need to add another step to that process? No.

Also, I should note that although most couples I know have a very equal relationship regarding men and women doing housework, women, I have found, are more likely to CLEAN the toilet. I certainly get that honor in our house. Though, it should also be noted that after 2 years of cleaning toilets twice a day in the toddler room of a day care where I used to work, I really don't mind it. In fact, I prefer to do it myself so I KNOW it's clean. But at the end of the day? It's work.

Point: me.

2) There are zero consequences if a seat is down for men. They don't accidentally pee all over the bathroom or something if the seat is down. If a seat is UP, women run the risk of FALLING IN THE TOILET. It's happened to my friends and I fear it's only a matter of time before it happens to me.

The simple answer, which I have unsuccessfully proposed, is for everyone to put the seat and the cover down all the time. Also, this protects particles from inside the toilet from being released into the air. (It's not scientific, but it's the idea of it...) It's a very progressive and feministic approach: equal work for men and women.

What do you guys think? Do I win? I win, don't I?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

One Broke Show

I'm going to teach a math class today. Or, at least, math as I understand it. And that is in relation to TV.

Tonight I stumbled on the worst show in the history of TV and to prove how bad it is, I'm actually going to use a calculator and try to access that lonely, forgotten part of my brain that once knew basic addition. That's how much I need you to understand how bad this show is.

That show is 2 Broke Girls and it made me want to pull my teeth out one-by-one.  (Look at me, using numbers in casual conversation!) I happened to catch the last 5 or 10 minutes of the show and was so completely disgusted I watched the next episode to prove my point. The things I do for you guys...

The premise is, not surprisingly, very simple. Two girls, one formerly rich and the other formerly a drug-addicted prostitute or something, work at a disgusting diner that appears to serve Russian food and cheesecake. The drug girl can bake cupcakes so they, being super broke, borrow money and open a cupcake shop.

Whatever. Not the worst premise for a show.

But let's check the numbers.

That is a tally of how many lines were said in the episode I cringe-ingly watched. It's 242 lines. The tallies on the left are lines that were followed by a laugh track; the tallies on the right are lines without laugh track. And let it be known that I was VERY generous with the data in the latter category: I counted "Yeah," as a full line more than a couple times.

SO! Here's what I discovered. The Max character (drug girl) had 76 laugh-track lines, 23 non-laugh-track lines. The other girl (I never caught her name) had a more appropriate ratio of 37 to 54. The random other characters enjoyed more punchlines than straight lines with a ratio of 32 to 20. In all, there were 145 laugh-track lines and 97 non-laugh track lines.

These numbers tell a few stories, the first of which is that I need to get a life. But additionally, it tells us that by my math, which is almost assuredly wrong but still illustrative of my point, the show uses a laugh track on 149.48 percent of the lines spoken in the show. (Wait, yup that's definitely wrong, I've been thoroughly informed. Whatever. I don't care. The point is that's a LOT more laugh-track lines than normal lines.) 

It also tell us that the non-comedic plot-moving lines make up just 40 percent of the entire show. Even I can see that that is ridiculously low. If this math was a plot line in 2 Broke Girls, there'd be a laugh track kicking in, punctuated by one of the 76 one-liners from the Max character about her mother being an abusive crackhead or performing undesirable sexual acts in exchange for a half-eaten Kit Kat or something.

Further, I should note, not once did I laugh or get surprised by a joke. It was like the sitcom version of the joke "Why did the chicken cross the road?" Every weak pun, casual reference to needle-injected drugs and generic connection between food and sex wasn't just obvious, it was....tedious. The dialogue was so bad it'd almost be funny if it weren't just so depressing.

So, class, what have we learned? We have learned that 2 Broke Girls shouldn't have had more than 2 shows on the air and that the writers on that show are getting paid 149.98 percent too much money. (They should be asked to pay back their salary plus another 50 percent to get their shoddy work on network TV.)

Listen, clearly I'm no mathematician. I'm fine with that. I'm not going to go around asking people to pay me money to write out equations and then force them to applaud my work because that would be ridiculous. If only the writers of 2 Broke Girls had the same scruples.

Pharon Square Rating: 242 Punches to My Face