Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I want to be alone...

Not in the Greta Garbo way. I don’t want to live alone, cut off from society, holed up in my apartment with an inappropriate number of cats until a neighbor reports a “funny smell” emitting from my under my door. I just want to go to the bathroom, alone. Don’t worry, you can keep reading; this will not a) turn into gross bathroom humor or b) take an ugly turn into “too much information” territory.

I know mothers have complained about this for years. The second the bathroom door closes there’s a little one on the other side asking “what are you doing in there?” I don’t have children, but I do have a husband and a couple of dogs, and I always seem to have company when I try to “get away”.

I’m sure many of you have read about dogs’ belief in a secret door in the bathroom; you know the one that you might escape out of if they don’t follow you in and keep an eye on you while you’re doing your business? My dogs fully subscribe to this belief, as they do to the notion of multitasking. If the door is closed, they’ll scratch at it to get in to ensure that I don’t escape.

If the door is open (yeah, like you’ve never done that!), they’ll come in and visit and paw at me to be petted. I mean, after all, I’m just sitting there! I could be scratching them behind the ears. Total wasted opportunity to multitask.

The biggest problem lately has been my husband. I’m pretty sure he knows there’s no secret door in the bathroom, but he seems to have some sort of sixth sense about my being in there and sets about trying to find me in the house. Rarely do I not hear my name called out, followed by “where are you?” You’d think that an “I’m in the bathroom” would elicit the desired response of leaving me alone until I emerge. You’d be wrong.

You see, my husband often complains that I don’t pay attention when he talks to me. That’s not entirely true; I mostly pay attention, but he likes to talk (me less so), and sometimes his stories are long, and I find myself taking little mental trips, or multitasking in other ways like watching television, scanning a magazine, answering an email, etc. An hour later I’ll ask him a question and he’ll look at me with amazement and say “I just told you that an hour ago! You never listen to me!” Oops.

So my husband has cottoned on to the fact that when I’m in the bathroom, he has my full and undivided attention. No email, no TV (OK, sometimes there’s reading, but he can’t tell because the door’s closed), and he makes the most of it by engaging in some of our most important conversations where he really needs me “with him”, and not on a little mind vacation.

I have to be honest with you, this is not exactly how I pictured my marriage working; budget and family discussions through a bathroom door, but he seems to be happy with the results, so who am I to question? Our biggest problem now is the dogs cut the line in front of my husband, he’s thinking of installing a little ticket machine outside the bathroom door, with numbers like at the deli counter. First come, first served.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Too Much Information

I’m back. I’d like to tell you that I’ve been on a fantastic, extended vacation but that would be a lie; I’ve just been busy with life. I’m sure you can all relate. But wait no more, here’s my latest rambling on yet another completely picayune topic.

I’m a firm – wait a minute, that’s not really accurate – I’m a VERY firm believer in that there’s a lot out there that you’re just better off not knowing. What brought this to mind was a headline that flashed across my computer screen this week: Mobile Phones 18 Times Dirtier Than Toilet Handles. Really? Really? Did I need to know this? I’ll never look at my cell phone the same way again.

“Too Much Information”, also known as “TMI” for short, is everywhere. The straight information sort, like the cell phone / toilet seat article above are often studies carried out by people with seemingly way too much time on their hands. Who thinks this stuff up?

"Hey Joe, let's take a cell phone, and a toilet handle, and count the germs on each."

“Great idea Hal, that would be awesome!”

My husband has completely embraced online banking as it has allowed him to check in on our investments nearly every day, but especially on bad market days (I still haven’t figured out the masochistic nature of that one). No more waiting for quarterly statements, we can find out today how much money we lost in the market. I’ll hear a groan come from the office, he’ll stumble out and start to say “guess how much…”, and I’ll quickly blurt out “I don’t want to know”. I do not need to know how much money we lost in the market as it only conjures up a picture of myself driving down the road slipping $20 bills out an open window.

The bad news ilk of “too much information” is often the teaser stories on your local news. You know the ones that grab your attention and they finally get to in the last 3 minutes of the broadcast.

“How your refrigerator might be killing you, tonight at 11.”

“You’ll never want to eat cheese again after what we tell you tonight at 6”.

I’ve gotta be honest with you – I’m OK not knowing how my fridge might be killing me - and I LIKE cheese, I really like it. I don’t want to know something that might make me want to question or change my relationship with cheese.

Probably the most popular use of “TMI” is the visual sort. You see something that you cannot believe and wish you had never seen, and you can help but mutter “too much information” under your breath. This typically refers to exposed body parts on people whom would have been better served keeping those parts under wraps. There’s the woman with the large puppies (dogs actually) barely contained within her tank top who passed on wearing a bra because she thought that the straps would look tacky. The overweight man who still has a 34” waist under his beer belly; his pants ride so low that his butt-crack is on permanent display. And my personal favorite, those who believe that Lycra really is a miracle fabric. TMI!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Carrot or Stick?

Warning, small children should leave the room; adult content will be discussed.

A few years ago I just didn’t understand texting. Why would you take the time to tap out a message to someone’s cell phone when you can just call him or her on the very same device? Then one day I needed to get a message to a coworker that was in a meeting. I knew he wouldn’t take a call during the meeting, but I guessed that he would be able to glance at a message. Mission accomplished, and just like that I was on board with texting.

Maybe it’s because I work in technology that I discovered numerous scenarios where texting was the preferred method of communication, this however did not carry over to my personal life. A few friends have recently started to text now that so many devices like the Blackberry and the iPhone have full QWERTY keyboards, but there’s precious few who can, and will, type via triple-tapping (using a standard phone numeric pad to select letters, for example – you have to tap the #2 key 3 times to get a “c” – hence “triple tapping”) on a standard phone.

My husband was firmly in the camp of “it’s a cell phone, not a cell typewriter. Call me.” This frustrated me to no end. When I traveled internationally it was really expensive to make a phone call, so we were relegated to email for a week to 10 days at a time. I wanted to feel like I was talking to him, and text messages – because of their immediacy – do a pretty job of mimicking a conversation.

No matter how hard I tried, my husband had absolutely no interest in learning how to text message. He was fine with our email communication; that was enough technology for him. It’s probably worth mentioning here that my husband can be a bit technology-adverse about some things. For example, he doesn’t like updating his software; he declines every update offered. He’d still be on Windows 95 if he could. He also holds a pretty serious suspicion that it’s the anti-virus companies themselves that fund the hackers, thereby ensuring the success of their business model.

Then one day I got a bright idea; what was needed here was a carrot – some motivation - and because he’s a man, well I think you all know where I’m going with this. The following text message was sent to his cell phone:

“If you can figure out how to read this, there’ll be something in it for you tonight. If you can figure out how to reply to it, you’ll get bonus points.”

I thought this was perfect. I would say nothing and wait until that evening to see if he had figured out how to access the inbox on his phone and read the message. He would have to claim his prize; I wasn’t going to make it easy on him. Less than 10 minutes after I sent the message my phone chirped with a notification, the message read:

“How many bonus points and when can I use them?”

A carrot was the right call; we’ve been texting each other ever since.