A Time to Kill

For 17 years, I was a serial hamster killer. It wasn't an intentional thing; I think it's entirely possible I was cursed by my crazy grandmother who had a penchant for channeling George Washington and/or The Prince of Darkness. No, not Ozzy, you stoner. The other one. No matter the why: if you were a hamster and you ended up in my house it was not a question of if, but rather when, you'd end up getting stuck in the wall for a few weeks/getting dropped one too many times/being thrown across the room when you crawled across my neck in the middle of the night/sliding down the heating duct and roasting like Chirstmas dinner/chewing your own leg off to escape us. I could go on. Dozens of hamsters died on my watch. 

When I grew older and they wouldn't sell me rodents anymore, I moved on to Cookie Carnage. I can bake the most insanely complicated holiday Yule Logs and the most delicate thank-god-you're-lactose-tolerant cheesecakes, but when it comes to cookies, I may as well have had a machete and a hockey mask. The cookies I baked for birthday parties were rock hard and the ones I baked for Santa disintegrated on the cookie sheet - and those are just the drop cookies. Rolled cookies? HAHAHAHAHAHA. Grown men have wept at my cookies. Children have run, crying for their mothers. 

Then I got a cell phone. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. The very first day I got my very first cell phone, I dropped it in a toilet in Aurora, Colorado. Since then, I have gruesomely murdered at least two dozen cell phones. I left my first pink Motorola X on the hood of my car in Denver, CO, trying to put groceries in the trunk. I dropped my second one in False Creek, Vancouver, BC, trying to take pictures of my now sister-in-law's dragon boats. The trail of broken phones, dropped and shattered while getting into cars and getting out of cars, walking down the street, or just standing there doing nothing at all, spans much of the southwest of the USA, and several scenic locations along the West Coast.  

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For a brief time in Arizona, I tried my hand at Handbag Homicide, but the sight of the one and only Gucci bag I will ever own flattened by a 30 minute onslaught of oncoming traffic was enough to scare me straight. 

I've never been much of a watch person. When I was younger, I had a calculator watch. I loved that watch. I wanted to shave my fingertips down to sharp, pointy stubs so that my watch and I would have the most symbiotic relationship possible. The cool kids who threw really good punches in grade 4 didn't love my watch as much as I did, however, so I retired it and instead imagined myself entirely too cool to be tethered to the constraints of something as arbitrary as, like, time. Unfortunately, the constraints of time directly correlate to the constraints of payday, so I probably couldn't have afforded a watch anyway.

When I was older, I didn't ever wear a watch because watches only do one thing, and I was a young mother of two small boys. You had to serve at least two simultaneous functions in my life for me to even acknowledge you existed. 

AT&T (@ATT) sent Jim and me Pebble watches to try out and we spent the first few weeks texting each other ridiculously love notes to and from our wrists, as we do. It was lovely and is still - as far as I am concerned - the single best thing about having a smartwatch. No matter what meeting he is in, or how stuck in airport security he is, I know he will get the 8,502th sappy romantic emoticon I've sent him this week. These things matter. 

But second-best to more-efficiently harassing some cute guy I met online is the fact that this watch is actually saving me from Mobile Murder. I was walked though San Francisco a few weeks ago, on my way to a client meeting and waiting for another client to call me before my next meeting. I was in high heels on cobblestone, chugging a coffee, rushing from one meeting to the next, hanging on to my phone so I'd feel it ring and not miss the call I was waiting for. My laptop bag was throwing me off-balance, and what it wasn't doing, the cobblestone was. I almost dropped my phone three times before I remembered that my watch would vibrate when the call came in. I didn't have to flail about Union Square, scaring the tourists, tempting fate. I could tuck my phone safely in my bag and not miss a thing. So many helpless phones could have been spared, had the Pebble only been invented 10 years previous.

The ability to reach someone via their wrist is completely underrated. I can't tell you how many times I have called and called and called and called my 14 year old but have gotten no answer because he left his phone in bed or by the toilet or outside in the driveway for me to run over when I get home. I pay $50 a month to a phone provider for the privilege of never getting through to this kid.

So his dad and I bought him a Pebble, too. 

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Jim wrote about a bunch of other Pebble features that we both really love, like being able to check a text at the movies and not worried about getting shot, or being able to screen phone calls discreetly, or convincing the kids their dear old great grandmother has possessed their television set. It also has a great fitness/running app in it that works with your phone to notify you of your progress during a run and then shows the map of your path after, and it even pings you later with encouragement to do better the next time. I know this because I've used it exactly once. If you want, I can tell you how long it takes before it gives up on you. 

I was switching out the watchfaces every week or so, but I've landed on a steady rotation of Calculus and Fuzzy. They're everything I've ever wanted from a watch - something to show my geek streak, and something to let me keep pretending like I am too cool to care what time it is.

Of course I tried to kill this thing, because we are who we are, after all. I took it in the shower, but it turns out, you can totally shower with it on or bath your kid with it on or wash the dishes with it on or sit in the hot tub with it on. 

So I don't know what I'm going to kill next. I've gone from living creatures to baked goods to personal technology. Maybe there is no next; maybe I'm a changed person. I can bake a decent cookie now, I have a watch I really love wearing, and I haven't broken a phone in months. Maybe it's time to start gardening or something.

Tools for Efficient Winning

My mother always joked that we had eight dishwashers in our house. In fact, we had four children and an in-sink-erator. We grew up in the hood, where no one I knew at all ever had a dishwasher. I once knew someone who had a kitchen sink hand held sprayer, and I remember standing at their sink for hours making lush, soft tufts of bubbles. I still do it today, actually. I am easily amused, shut up. 

I didn't have a dishwasher in my a home I lived in until my first son was six months old, in 1998. I regarded it with suspicious eyes, and used it as a really large built-in drying rack, and occasionally to sterilize bottles (but I always felt guilty about that.) In my mind, if you couldn't feel what you were scraping off, it wasn't getting scraped off properly, and until AI was perfected you weren't going to catch *me* using one of *those things*. 

And then I had another kid. It's scientifically proven fact that all sense of justness and moral integrity a person ever had is pushed out with placenta #2. 

But now my kids are older, and I live in a rental house with a really old dishwasher in the middle of a place where water doesn't naturally occur, and so I have a bit more time and a lot more motivation to hand wash my dishes again. Plus, I have a sink sprayer. 

So I've been hand-washing my dishes exclusively for the past year, and it's surprising how quickly you forget about a dishwasher once you stop using it. It's also astonishing how fewer glasses your kids will use in the course of a day if they know they have to hand-wash them at night.  

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The only problem with it is that this was my dish rack. I had paid exactly $2 for it at a yard sale or something. That's not actually  a photo of my dish rack; I was going to take one, but there's internet judgement and then there is asking for internet judgement. It was gross, that's all I'm saying. 

I have two teenage boys and a daughter. We fill that dishrack in 17 seconds. It wasn't fun.  

I kept using my dishwasher as a built-in dishrack, but then I'd forget the dishes were in there and then totally freak out of my kids for losing all of the [expletive expletive] side plates and spoons, and they'd get all afraid of the side-plates-and-spoons-gremlin who was clearly coming at night and framing them, so something had to be done. 

Something like this.  

I first saw it when I visiting simplehuman HQ a few months back. (Because I'm an ambassador. #disclosure I drooled for a while, then set out to get me wunnadoes. I mean, really, they have a separate wine rack *and* a separate knife block. They completely get me/my inability to unload a dishrack. 

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But I didn't have to get one because see mysterious floating finger in the picture? That is Mr SimpleHuman himself and he MAILED ME ONE. I swear, I love it more than I love hand sprayer bubbles - and I think we've established how much I love those.

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And we want to send you something, too. Because presents are nice, and life should be simple, and your trash can should totally match your dish rack. Or is that earrings and chonies? Either way, my fellow ambassadors and I want to give you whatever simplehuman product you you find the most innovative or efficient or just plain crazysexycool. Whether you are into apocalypse/puppy-proof bulk food containers, or soap pumps that squirt soap out faster than your dirty kids can dodge it, or paper towel dispensers that give great hugs, or a laundry basket that makes you like laundry again, we (and simplehuman) got yo back. 

Go poke around the simplehuman site and let me know in the comments which item would rock your world, and you'll be entered to win it. If you want extra entries, you can tweet about it to, just be sure to @simplehuman and me (@mrlady) so we see it! You can enter on each of our sites (click the links above to visit Clay, Kristen, Sarah, and Tim's posts.) We'll choose winners randomly, so you don't even have to be clever or anything. You can just say WANT and a link. 

Happy exploring, and good luck!

 Updated: Congrats to Casey who loves disgraces and wins a dishrack!

Mmm Mmm Mmm, For the Smell of It

Way back in the 1900's, my family had splurged on a pizza. (This was a re-heally big deal for us.) The pizza came, a big, greasy, Philly- which- is- close- to- New- York style beast, and in the middle of it was that dollhouse table thing they started using in the 80s' (which are only 67 years away, have fun with that one tonight) that keeps the cardboard box from sinking into the middle of the pizza. This was in no way remarkable except that instead of calling it a dollhouse table thing, they called it a pietrod. 

I fell in love with that pietrod right there on the spot, partly because I am dyslexic but no one knew it and that word felt right in my head the way no other word ever had before, but mostly because it introduced me to the radical notion that the words I was so reliant on for stability and sanity were simply a bi-product of complacency, that language itself was being created as it dripped from our lips and fingertips - and that I could, if I really thought hard about everything I knew about words without breathing or blinking or anything, break almost any rule and do anything I wanted it to.

Pretty powerful stuff for a kid growing up at the bottom of a patriarchal cult. That was my Frankenstein moment, the moment we all have that pivots us and changes everything to come after it. I think it may have been a Domino's pizza.  I also think this guy totally gets what I'm talking about. 

Photo and epic level of obsession credit: http://brndnwdy.wordpress.com

Photo and epic level of obsession credit: http://brndnwdy.wordpress.com

[Domino's isn't paying me to write this, but Clorox is. Beating Jim at disclosure statements is hard, but I'm giving it my best shot. ] 

I just like to make up words, making up words is my favorite. In fact, I think my last site had a category called Is Too a Word.  However, aside from the few cute kid-words my then-babies made up, I have been hard-pressed to find new word as witty, necessary, and just plain perfect as pietrod.   

Until this.  

I know, right?  I have a few words in the Clorox Icktionary, and I was going to add some more, but really, I think it's over. Shoop just dropped the mic and gangsta-stomped offstage. Next time your kids come in from playing outside, you can do a Shoop-check. If you smell something at a restaurant, you can check the carpet around you for Shoop stains. If you go on a horrible date, you can tell them they make you wanna shoop, shoop ba-doop, shoop ba-doop, shoop ba-doop ba-doop ba-doop at the end of the date and mean it.

Shoop is the perfect word, and it gives me the same tingle in my both my Broca and Wernicke that I did when I was a kid getting my mind blown by some marketing copy taped to a cardboard box surrounding an extra-large heart attack with pepperoni.  It makes me want to play with words again, to see what I have missed because I've been too lazy to look for it.  

It also reminds me that I need to mop my floors in the worst kind of way. Bygones.

What's your favorite not-word-but-should-be? Tell me in the comments, and if it has something to do with ickiness (most of the best ones do, really) you should totally submit it to Clorox's Icktionary at www.icktionary.com