Thursday, December 30, 2010


The phone rings and, since I am smack dab in the middle of something, I know it must be my mom.  Why she never calls when I am sitting down relaxing is something I have yet to figure out.  Oh, wait, I know, I rarely sit down and relax, so the odds of her calling during one of those rare occasions are pretty much slim to none.  And don’t think I don’t know what you’re thinking:  You know, Jane, if she called you when you were relaxing you would be on here complaining:  Sheesh, why does my mom always call the second I finally get a moment to myself to sit and relax?  Whatever…so here’s The Reno Story.

Ring, ring, ring.


Jane.  (There’s that question/statement thing again.)

Hi, mom.

Jane, I’m worried about Robert. 

(Robert is my 25-year-old nephew who has the misfortune of having my sister for a mother.  I know that’s a horrible, horrible, horrible thing to say, but the God’s honest truth is that my sister falls into the “Oh my gosh, that person should never have had children” category.  I think, in her most honest moments, she would agree with me, but since we rarely speak this is mere speculation.  Thankfully, she only had the one child, and thankfully - and miraculously - despite a small bout of trouble in his teen years, he has turned out okay.  And by okay, I mean he is gainfully employed, has no kids of his own - at least none that we know of - and, best of all, he lives in a different state than his mother - smart kid.)

Oh, no, what happened to Robert?

Well, I’m worried about him because he’s living in Reno now.

Umm, okay, then what happened to him in Reno?

Well, he’s in Reno now and murder is legal in Reno.

(Times like this break my heart.  It pains me to think about her just sitting around all day long dreaming up things to worry about.)

Mom, murder is not legal in Reno.

Yes, it is, and I’m worried about Robert. 

Mom, really, I’m pretty sure murder is not legal in Reno.

Well, those people in Reno go around killing themselves all the time and I just know murder is legal there and I’m worried about Robert.

Mom, this is The United States of America, for crying out loud.  Murder is not legal in Reno.  In fact, murder is not legal ANYWHERE!

Are you sure, Jane, because there’s a lot of murder in Reno?

(Where does she hear this stuff?)
Now here’s the part of the conversation I call, “The lie that pleases everyone.”

No mom, really, I just read an article about Reno and it said Reno is a very safe place to live.  It’s great, really it is.

Really, Jane?  Oh wow, that is great to hear.  I was so worried.

Yep, mom, he’s as safe as can be.  Snug as a bug, truly!

Great, Jane, I feel so much better now.  Bye now.  Love you.

Bye, mom.  Love you, too.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Grease Fire

There really is nothing good about having a crazy mom, except, maybe one thing:  You can just simply call her crazy and you don’t have to worry one bit about being PC about it.  Technically she is schizophrenic, but really, who wants to use that word?  It’s ugly, it’s long, and it’s hard to spell.  Mentally ill is another term, but again, why use two words, when one will suffice?  I have tiptoed around her “mental illness” most of my life, feeling enough shame and embarrassment for 10 people and 10 lifetimes, but not anymore.  I have simply, and finally, decided to accept it, see the humor in it, and call it what it is, which is crazy, with a capital C.  For example, I’m guessing normal moms don’t call their daughters at on Sunday mornings to warn them about grease fires.  Nope.  Only the crazy moms do that.  Before I get to the “Grease Fire Story", let me back up a bit since this is my first official blog post. 

I am an elementary school teacher.  For some reason mentioning this to non-teachers always elicits the following response:  “Man, you teachers have great hours.”  Technically speaking, I guess that’s true in that the hours we actually get paid for are great.  Let’s be very clear however, the hours that we actually work are not so great.  Case in point, I usually arrive at work at , I work through lunch and the recesses for which I do not have yard duty, and while I do leave by most days, I take at least an hour’s worth of work home.  So, I get paid for about 7 hours a day, but I actually work 10-11 hours a day.  Once you factor in the work I do on weekends, I average about 20 unpaid hours a week.  What’s my point you ask?  Well, my point is that I look forward to being able to catch up on my sleep on the weekends.  I look forward to no 5:00am alarms, no rushing around, no getting to work in the dark, no putting out kid fires all day long, no bells ruling my bladder, and no endless stream of questions and interruptions.  Just pure, blissful, quiet sleep.

Until the Sunday morning before Thanksgiving this year when my phone rang at .  Some people joke that they can tell their parent’s, spouse’s, friend’s, etc., ring from others (and no, I am not referring to ring tones).  In a way I can too, except that the way I know it’s my mom calling is that it’s ALWAYS at the most inopportune time.  Seriously, ALWAYS!  Just in the door with arms full of groceries and the phone is ringing?  It’s her.  Been sitting for a while and get up to go to the bathroom?  The phone rings mid-stream and of course it’s her.  At that critical point in cooking when the dinner can be great or a total bust and the phone rings?  It’s her.  Sunday morning, , and the phone rings?  Yep, it’s her, not a single doubt about it.  I swear to God she can see me and calls at these times on purpose just to mess with me. 

So, , Sunday morning, phone ringing. I pick it up and hear the tell tale “Jane.” She has this way of saying it as both a question and a statement. 

Yes, mom.

Jane, I’m worried about you cooking and starting a grease fire.

Um, mom, I’m actually in bed right now so there’s no need to worry about me cooking anything.

Oh no, Jane, did I wake you up?

Yes, mom, it is in the morning on a Sunday, after all.  I was, in fact, sleeping.

(She doesn’t skip a beat, or, for that matter, offer an apology; she simply continues.)

Oh, well, are you going to be doing any cooking today because I’m really worried about these grease fires.  They can spread very quickly, you know?

Well mom, yes, I will be doing some cooking today, but I am over 40 years old and I have never started a grease fire before, nor have I ever even come close, so I’m pretty sure I’m okay. 

Gosh, I’m really worried though, are you sure you need to cook today?

Mom, I have a husband and kids, it’s the last weekend day before Thanksgiving.  Of course I am going to cook today.  I’ll be fine. 

Well, if you’re sure you’ll be okay, but I’m just so worried about it. These grease fires, you know, they just take off and there’s no stopping them.  (Talk about things taking off and not being able to stop them!)

(Seeing this is going nowhere and wanting to at least get a little more rest – no way sleep is possible at this point – I did what I often resort to doing with her.  Yes, I lied.)

Okay, mom, I won’t do any cooking today.

Great, Jane, thanks so much.  Bye now.  Love you.

Love you too, mom. 

And so it goes…