Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dear Postmaster General John E. Potter

The above is a screen shot from your very convenient track and confirm page. Everything was going along swimmingly with this package, (which is a Christmas gift my Mom ordered for my seven year-old daughter, who is on the brink of discovering the truth about Santa) until somehow, some fuck-up thought the state on the package read OK rather than OH and sent it off deep into the wrong direction.

So, I called 1-800-ASK-USPS for help because you said "We're here to help." In truth, no one was there to help. I went through a wild goose chase of menu options, none of which were "talk to a customer support representative." I gave up and sent an email through your "Contact Us" link only to be told that a postal service worker would contact me in one to two business days. One to two business days will probably translate to Monday...three days AFTER Christmas.

I called my local post office and finally did talk to a person, Marilyn. She was friendly enough and thought I nailed it right on the head with my OK/OH theory. I asked her if there were any way we could expedite the package, even pay extra. She said no since they have no idea where the package is until it checks in again, which, really? I mean, seriously? You all don't know? So, seeing as how it took 5 days to travel the wrong direction, I'm sure it will take at least that to get back. Which translates to Monday...three days AFTER Christmas.

So here's my theory: The package will arrive in time for Orthodox Christmas and We'll get a call from your representatives around Easter. We'll get no apology and the box will be crushed and have stamps from FL, PA, OK, OBX, NS, TGIF's and USSR (having gone back in time before hitting our doorstep).

The worst part about this is that, yeah, it kind of sucks that my daughter won't get her impossible-to-find anomatronic hamster toy and habitrail for Christmas (Occidental), but at no time did I get an apology for the mistake. I got: Your item was misrouted by the shipper. The error has been corrected and every effort is being made to deliver it as soon as possible. How much extra would it have cost to add "We apologize" at the end of that statement? Why didn't Marilyn apologize to me. Why didn't she have the power to find the package, find a plane and get that thing on there? Oh, yeah...I forgot: you're with the government.

Don't get me wrong; I support the government. Hell, I'm a liberal and I'm all for big government. And I understand you may have had to lay people off and you don't have anyone to man the phones. And it's the want some time off too. Fine. Then don't then lead me to expect I'll get service by using a friendly 1-800-Ask-USPS number. Don't give me a shipping window that, while a generous estimate for UPS, would be considered wildly creative wishful thinking by postal workers. And don't mislead me into thinking that the post office cares any more than it did 25 years ago. If you're not going to be a stickler for details, let us know the truth. Change your motto from "Connecting People and Business" to "Using the shotgun effect to deliver mail and trusting that eventually we'll sort it all out."

You'd think that since mail volume fell some by some 28 billion pieces this year, you'd have time to look at an address and put packages on the proper trucks. Or would it just be easier for Ohio to change it's name to Ziox, in order to avoid further confusion. Perhaps you've cut employee's vision care so they can't afford glasses and therefore cannot distinguish between a "k" and an "h." Whatever the reason, I'd call this a fail on the level of urban legend.

Let's just hope Santa bails your ass out on this one.

Flannery Alden

Update: My Mom received a phone call from an apologetic and patronizing woman. She said she was sorry but the package wouldn't arrive until Saturday. She also kept saying that "Parcel Post is 3rd class mail" and we should have shipped it some other way. Now, my Mom is totally bummed. Thanks, John, for ruining Christmas.

My Christmas To-Do List

Hello my little sugar plums! I hope you all are ready for whatever kind of Christmas you want most:

  • All the bells and whistles with lots of presents

  • A spiritual and inspiring day to celebrate life in mid-winter

  • A sky-clad dance around the burning yule log

  • A long sob and a tall Long Island ice tea

I'm gearing up for a special event myself; I'm hosting my Dad's side of the family for Christmas. On Sunday, I'll have 13 people in my little house. It's been a bit of a logistical struggle. My house isn't exactly palatial. I actually don't have a dining room, so having a meal has proven to be a bit of tricky business.

But Doc's been a real trooper and the kids have started to help out too. Last weekend we got the basement, kitchen and living room standing tall. Last night we got Riley's room spiffed up and we got started in Lucy's room and our room. Lucy has been a big help since she is willing to give up most of her toys to charity. We actually had to go through her box and put stuff back! Riley is very sentimental and reluctant to part with much of anything. To clear her clutter, we'll be bagging it up and putting it in the basement so she can still get to it if she wants.

So, what we do we have left to do before Sunday?

  • Finish cleaning our room

  • Finish cleaning Lucy's room

  • Clean front bathroom

  • Clean back bathroom

  • Magic-erase the walls (just to take the crayon off of it, not remove the walls entirely)

  • Go grocery shopping

  • bake cookies

  • prepare large batch of mac and chees for the vegetarians

  • Do a final number-puzzle shuffle to maximize room in the kitchen

  • Set up a table in the basement for people to eat at (the basement is finished so they won't be eating in a cave...ooh...maybe I should get some candles to warm it up down there!)

Everything else can be done on the day of the party, such as preparing the roast and if I'm feeling lucky the Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna Roll-ups with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce. Doc thninks we'll be spending Christmas day cleaning, but I think we'll be fine. We got a lot done yesterday and I think I can knock out the bedrooms and the bathrooms tonight.

The rest is gravy.

Anyhoo...We're busy and happy and everyone seems to be playing on the same team. It's not too cold out and January still doesn't seem like a reality yet. But when winter finally does heft herself up and plop down on our heads, we'll find a way to remember that spring is just around the corner. Until then, we can enjoy our de-clutterfied home, play with our toys and laugh our heads off.

Merry Christmas to you. Hugs and kisses!



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Do you remember that one time we did that thing?

Yeah, back in the day...It was you and me and that one girl who used to wear the stripey hat? She would never take that thing off...what the hell was her name? Anyway, we we were headed to that one place by the deal behind the place that used to be a Red Barn and we saw those dudes. They were hanging out near the back of that other place across the street. Remember? They were drinking green slurpees and spitting at us.

Anyway, I ran into one of them the other day and he was all like "Ahh!" and I was all "Shut up!" and we laughed and laughed. Then we went out and got some of those hot drinks at that coffee shop near the back of the school off of what used to be Route 62. While we were there they were playing that song by that chick and he got all weepy. And I was like "Aw," and he was like, "I know, right?" And then we laughed until we spit coffee at each other.

After we cleaned up we were walking past the video store that used to be a movie theater and we were remembering the time we all saw that one movie with that guy in it before he was married to that one actress but after he married the other one. That was before the spitting, of course...we were just kids. But we were laughing at how dumb that movie was and I told him you and I still hung out and he was all "No way!" and I was like "Duh!" and we almost got hit by a car when we tried to cross that street over by the green house that burned down.

Anyway, he wanted me to tell you "Hi."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mysteries of the Universe: Walk-In Beer Coolers

Did you ever walk into one of those self-serve beer coolers in a convenience store? Bell Stores has them, I believe, among others. Well, on the rare occaision that I buy alcohol, I usually grab it on the way somewhere from a convenience store. I usually pull up in the parking lot and head into the store. Often, there are coolers of beer that you open up and select a six pack from and go merrily on your way. But sometimes, there are coolers that you must walk into. I'll be just fine, strolling along, everything's normal. Then I realize I've got to rescue my beer from a frozen tundra. So I open the door to the walk-in cooler, step inside, breath in once and suddenly...
I have to pee. And it's an emergency. No longer do I have the leisure to compare prices or choose what beer has the most appealing label. I have to grab some Budweiser and haul ass outta there. Usually, I'll need to set the beer down and get me to a lavatory. It's very inconvenient.
Does this ever happen to you? I mean, what the hell, right?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Aveatque Vale: Midnight Kitty

I'm sure you've probably already heard from Doc that our kitty, Midnight, was struck by a car sometime Tuesday night and died, we are sure, instantly. Those who have met us know that I wasn't crazy about this old cat. We adopted her as an adult cat in 1999 from a wealthy family. I remember going to the door of their HUGE house and waiting for the lady of the house gather up Midnight's gear while her many priviliged children stared at me.

I got Midnight in the car and she curled up shivering at my feet as we made the 45 minute drive home. She was scared at our house and she tried to hide in small places, which was tricky because she was HUGE too. Fortunately, she had a bell on her collar at that time and we could usually find her. One day, while we were at work, she got behind the dryer. I couldn't find her, but Doc did. He tipped the dryer towards him and she hopped up on it, then up on his shoulders. Ever since then, Doc has been her favorite.

Don't get me wrong, she could be nice to me if I were feeling sick. She'd snuggle up on my side or back and keep me warm. She was especially fond of me when I was pregnant. But once I had Riley and then Lucy, she and I didn't see eye to eye. I became averse to her and she to me. Every now and then, she'd attack me for no good reason. She'd just be walking past and something in her little kitty brain would just SNAP and she'd jump for my head.

But since the kids are no longer babies, she and I developed a kind of detant. Since I'm the first one up in the mornings, she would make sure I was up at least 10 minutes before the alarm went off. I'd feed her and let her out and go about my day. She'd greet me in the driveway sometimes when I got home or she'd look up and nod "hey" to me if she were in the house. She returned to snuggling with me on my puny days and we grudgingly pressed on together.

Originally, Midnight was an indoor cat, but when we got her, we lived in the country. She was itching to get out and see it all. She'd stay close to the house and was content to sleep near the bird feeders. But eventually, she'd get brave and she started crossing the street to head up the forested hill. We worried about her crossing the street. It was not a busy street, but when someone came down that road, they flew. But she survied and never got hurt.

We eventually moved to a town house in the suburbs, where Midnight didn't get to go out. We tried putting a harness on her, but she would just melt to the floor. It was very strange. She would not stand up if you put a leash on her.

Eventually we came to our current house, which has a great big back yard but is on a busy street. We've been here almost four years and all that time, Midnight has gone outside. One time she left and didn't come home for three days. But other than that, she's stuck close to home and never ventured to the front yard...that we know of.

Sadly, she must have found her bravery or curiousity drove her to try to get to the other side of the street. Adventure lured her and she took the bait. Only to be struck down on the street.

I was punched with a fistful of grief in the gut when I saw her remains. She's been a part of our family for 11 years or so and the girls have never known life without her. We've fed her, cleaned up after her, pet her, endured her moods, and tripped over her in the middle of the night. I blamed noises in the house on her rather than get scared by creaks I couldn't rightly explain. But I will miss that old girl.

Hail and fairwell, Midnight. We'll miss your imperious presence and your warmth on days we feel puny.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What the What? Living Out Loud

And I'll taste every moment and living out loud
I know this is the time; this is the time to be
More than a name or face in the crowd
I know this is the time; this is the time of my life
The time of my life

--David Cook's "Winner's single" from American Idol

I listen to the local top 40 radio station in the mornings while getting ready and heading to work. It's not too obnoxious and I get to hear the weather report pretty regularly. Some of the songs they play are all right, but it seems like they have a repertoire of about 25 tunes. And they play the crap out of Time of My Life. And when I hear the line about "living out loud" I cringe and regret that I can't un-hear it.

First of all, the line "I'll taste every moment and living out loud" doesn't even make sense nor is it a shining example of good grammar. But I forgive grammar issues in songs because it's more about rhythm and meter and sometimes you've just got to fudge it.


When I hear the phrase "living out loud" I instantly picture the scene from the movie of the same name where Holly Hunter is high on Ecstasy and sniffing Danny Davito in an elevator. So then I can't unsee that for a while.

It starts a train of thought about what the hell "living out loud" even means. I suspect it's some sort of antiwallflowerianism brought about by a mid-life crisis. At least that's what I think that movie is about. And certainly, David Cook might be nearing his mid-life crisis point so it nearly fits (if you squint). At least the person who wrote that little gem of a song was likely to have decided to ditch the pocket protector to grab the tiger by the tail and ride!

Call me old-fashioned, but I'm not sure I want to be around people who are living out loud. I mean, good for you and all for the breakthrough and what not, but I'm unlikely to be swept away with you on your tiger ride. Please don't be offended if I'm not overwhelmed by the new awareness you have. And don't ask me to join you at the top of the water tower to proclaim, well, pretty much anything. I'm really not good with heights or proclamations; both give me vertigo.

But I am happy for you. Just keep it down, ok?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Don't Cross The Street In The Middle (x5) Of The Block

Yesterday, I was driving to the funeral home for calling hours for a relative of a relative. I was heading down west on West Tuscawrawas (West Tusc, if you want to sound like a local) and I glanced over to the eastbound lanes. I couldn't believe it when I saw a pick-up truck snag a pedestrian, throw him to the ground and continue driving. License plate number, I thought, and I quickly focused in on the truck's plates and tried to memorize the characters. I got the first two letters and all of the numbers on the plate.

My stomach turned over as I then saw next vehicle, a green minivan, honk and go around the downed man. I turned into the Mr. Hero parking lot and dashed inside. I needed to get paper and pencil to jot down the licnese before I forgot it. They were already on the phone to 911...

"A man just got hit by a car on Tusc in front of the Mr. Hero..."


And then she turned to me, "Was he dead?"

"No," I said, shivering. I had seen him moving as people began to gather around his injured body, half on the curb and half in the street.

She reported this to the ambulance as I finished writing down the license and description of the truck. I went back outside and pulled my car into a parking spot rather than leaving it in the middle of the parking lot. I got out and stood about 50 feet away from the poor guy; other samaratans were trying to keep him still until the ambulance arrived.

In the meantime, his friend from across the street came over. She was very upset to see him. He was crossing the street to buy her a pack of cigarettes. She was barefoot and distraught when she learned that the truck who hit him continued on it's merry way but she was somewhat relieved that I had grabbed most of the license plate number.

Once he was safely in the ambulance, the police arrived and an officer started questioning the witnesses. As is always the case, our stories differed. One lady had witnessed the hit and run from behind and couldn't swear it was the truck or the minivan that hit him. I defiinately saw the truck hit him, but I thought the truck had a cap and she said that it didn't have a cap, but was full of junk in the back. Neither of us could describe the driver. The officer gave us clip boards, pens and statements to complete and sign.

I stood on the sidewalk next to Tusc trying to capture everything I remembered. Once I paused to look down and think and I realized I was standing right where he had been struck. I saw a pool of blood and a bloody handprint on the street two feet away from me. I looked away, suddenly recalling the last time I had seen a pedestrian struck by a vehicle.

I finished my statement, handed it over to the officer in charge and he sent me on my way. To get another close look at our mortality and the fragility of life at a service for my cousin's husband's grandfather, Pap. Before I went into the funeral home, I paused to call Doc and tell him what happened and that once the calling hours were over, I was coming home and never leaving the house again.

Needless to say, this was not a typical Sunday for me. I am usually gathered around the tiki with the neighbors, while our kids gad about in the leaves and we enjoy the last warm days of autumn, standing in it's long light and shadows. But yesterday, I stepped on a rake, which knocked me on the head and let loose chaos in my mind and in my heart. I could barely continue without imagining the pedestrians near the road getting knocked about like rag dolls. I also couldn't get out of my mind the fact that the people attending the calling hours were more inclined to talk about their own problems rather than remember the dearly departed and his impact on their lives.

It made me think about my cousin, who's lost so many people in her life and how many Memory Boards she's had to put together over the years. I thought of how, even though she had a total hysterectomy three weeks ago, she still pulled on a dress and pantyhose and heels to show up for the family. And how she'd had to sit down (at my insistence), take some medicine and rest, since hugging aggravated her abdomen a great deal. I parked myself next to her, blocked the huggers, and shooed off anyone who looked like they might upset her in any way. I sat there for an hour and a half, observing, serving and trying not to concentrate on the violence I had recently witnessed, but being reminded when I'd happen to glance over at Pap's embalmed self.

When asked, I said, I was fine, never better. I listened to the family stories that trickled in, the detailing of other people's recent surgery, the pat offers of sympathy and respect. Finally, when the calling hours were over, Pap's siblings and cousins, all elderly, gathered around his open casket and knelt or stood to say the Lord's Prayer. It was moving if surreal, against the back drop of the casual others who stood around talking about the mundane.

It's unlocked something for me. I'm feeling the pain of the loss of those who have walked on and I don't think I've fully begun to deal with. Even for those who have been gone 15 years or more. Some of those folks were old and it was reasonable and not unexpected to see them pass. Others were too soon, too sudden. Still, I couldn't grieve. I would be sad for passing moments but I didn't feel the gulf of our separation. I'd dream about them and still feel connected.

But...I don't they're all close and I'm missing them. And I want them here. I also want things I know I can't have, like seeing what my children would look like as little old ladies. But most of all, I want you to cross the street carefully and pass that message on. We take so much for granted, but there's so much random violence out there. Why take the chance and shave 2 minutes off your trip only to end up forever in a wheelchair? Think about it, won't you?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What I Hate About Facebook

Before Facebook, I had an idea about my generation (X, that is). Publically, I abhorred the idea that we were being "labeled." But in my heart I kind of dug the label. Because what is X if not something unquantifiable? It's pretty cool.

But then I joined Facebook and hooked up with a bunch of ghosts from the past, namely Friendwhores who happened to go to my high school. I'm an old softy from way back and I found I couldn't resist someone who wanted to be my friend, even someone who for all intents and purposes was a complete stranger to me.

Well, today, I unfriended someone for the first time. This asshat, let me call him "Brent," would fall into the "complete stranger" category. And his status updates would alternate between the very banal to Howard Stern-lite type remarks. For example, one day he would say, "I have to stop treating my body like an amusement park." Then next day: "Happiness is mostly a byproduct of doing what makes us feel fulfilled."

In fact that last remark is what finally gave me the courage to jettison him from my Friends list. If I wanted to hear that kind of bullshit pablum, I'd go hang out at the flea market and read the appliqued sweatshirts or country-style wooden signs. Also, the amusement park remark was not even clever enough to be entertaining. it was too obvious.

These type of status updates beg the questions: Where is the profundity? Where is the irony? On Blogger, that's where.

I guess I blame blogging for having my expectations set too high. Bloggers of a certain age are so much more like what I imagine my generation is like. And having run into so many like minded bloggers who started off as strangers for the most part, I was given over to the assumption that most people my age who are online are exactly the type of people I'd point to and say: there's a fellow Gen-X-er! Sadly, many of the people who find themselves in my graduating class are cheesy and outwardly wholesome-sounding and don't represent themselves well as cynical, frustrated, unmotivated slackers I expected them to be.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Old Stomping Ground

I've been in Cleveland for the week for work...pretty much holed up in the hotel/conference center. But tonight the gang and I went out to eat in my old neighborhood with my former co-worker, M. We had a great meal, laughed and rolled our way out to the car. We all piled into Buttercup's SUV and trooped off to Trader Joe's for supplies.

Getting to Trader Joe's meant driving almost past our old house. It really stirred up bittersweetness. Lucy was a baby in that house but we were so isolated. No close friends or family and a house that was sucking the life and money out of us. It was a very tough time emotionally for me for many reasons.

But still...I drive by and recall the sunny Saturday afternoons when the orthodox folks clad in black travelled on foot to Temple past our window. I remember my elderly neighbors' wild flower garden. I had a great little car and we could walk to about any store we needed to go to.

But mostly, it kind of sucked.

And driving past there opened a wound in my heart. Here I am on the road again, yet near some place I once called home. And I don't have Doc or Riley or Lucy with me. It was a pang and a longing. And some pretty deep sadness. We'd really been through the shit there.

I got back to the hotel and logged into Facebook so that I could dive into my photos of the kids and Doc and soak them up until someone picked up the phone at home.

Poor Doc...all hemmed up with a cold and donuts everywhere at work. The kids are pooped...Grandma is pooped. We're all strung out and discombobulated.

But tomorrow, I'll land back in my nest in my cozy home with near my family and friends. I really want to soak it up to, because, in a way, we've really emerged from a tunnel in into that far-distant light. Sure, we may still be essentially broke. But we've got everything we didn't have in Cleveland: good friends, good neighbors, family close by, jobs we like if not love, kids in school and thriving. And I can't remember the last time I felt depressed.

Maybe the force is finally with me...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Is Blogging Going the Way of the 78?

Do you feel nostalgic when you sit down to post something to your blog? I'm starting to. I'm remembering the hey-day, for me anyway, when there was a certain vibrancy to it. But now, it feels like thumbing through the card catalog: It feels like a task, an obstacle to getting to information and feedback. Especially after Facebook came into my life.

I've thought about not blogging. Didn't work. I tried to set goals for myself so that I would write/comment more often. I began to feel that, even though I don't have cable and I still don't have time to catch up with my catalog of favorite shows, how the hell can I blog?

Maybe now's not the time in my life. When I'm at work...I'm working. When I'm at home, I'm with the kids. When the kids are in bed, I'm on Facebook or listening to the DVD commentaries for the Simpsons or Futurama...or, if I'm lucky, a new Father Ted from Netflix (thank you Dr. Monkey Muck for showing us the light!).

I just don't have the opportunity...since shiny Facebook came along. What's better than "Liking" something there? It shows I stopped by and that I care. Because of it and it's simplicity, I'm closer to far-flung relatives, both physically far flung and genealogically far flung, than I've ever been in my life. I'm playing D&D (thanks Frank Sirmarco!), I'm farming, I have a fishtank, I have an appartment! I'm catching up with people I knew and barely knew in high school. I know my co-workers better and like them for it.

It's bizzare and intoxicating. It's Hi-fi, digital, THX communication.


It's somehow lacks the authenticity. The groove has been melded into a sleek metallic grapevine. While useful and somehow easier to deal with, it can't compare to the comfort and ease I get while sliding your blog off the shelf and cranking up the Victorola to revisit your latest post, which is two weeks old. There's something in the quality there...

So, I think I'm going to do what my Dad would do. I'm keeping my collection and I'm still adding to this old blog. I'm going to stop by and visit, even if I have nothing to say. Because if I got rid of them, I'd lose the original would be like tossing the old 78 that captured my Grandpa's performance (in drag, mind you) of his interpretation of Mae West singing.

Come up and see me some time, sailor. Landerhaven Ho!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bleurg! Post ER Droops

Last night, Lucy was trying to keep up with Riley on the trampoline. The were doing running somersaults and Lucy landed on her head funny. She was inconsolable, though she was able to move her arms and legs, so I knew she was somewhat ok. I moved her into the house. Every time she needed to turn her head, her forehead would rumple and fear dissolved into her eyes.

I was pretty sure she was ok, but I couldn't console her. I managed to get some ibuprofen in her, but I was scared. So, I called my parents and the urged me to call 911. And I did. The fire station is like a half a block from our house and they were there in no time flat. They got her neck in a brace and loaded her onto the ambulance. We headed over to the hospital "nice and easy," which meant no sirens or lights.

In the mean time, my parents had shown up and were looking after Riley. A mom convention had spontaneously started on the front lawn as my neighbors gathered to see if they could help or at least find out what was going on.

Needless to say, Lucy is fine, if a bit sore. We spent about 3 hours at the ER where Lucy proceeded to charm the pants off of everyone she met. With her neck secured, she was no longer in pain and perked up quite a bit. When we got home, my parents doted on her for a while and headed on their way home.

Lucy and I sat up for a bit until I convinced her to lay down in bed with me. We watched the Simpsons as I waited for her little eyes to slip shut. We finally conked out, exhausted.

So, I'm dragging booty today. But It's a good baby is fine.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I just had lunch next to the most obnoxious dozen people! Not only did they all talk loudly and smugly, but they talked about boring shit. Ugh! They all appeared to be co-workers because they had that sort of comraderie one finds in a machine shop. I'm sure they were in manufacturing because of their swagger and their work talk was technical.

The worst, though, was the adnoidal woman of a certain age who went on ad nauseum about how nice and "womanly" it was to have lunch with just women. Imagine! They only talked about sales and it was so relaxing! No one mentioned construction, or, one presumes, math. They just were girly!

She also went on at length about a trial she was on the jury for, which I won't burden you with. I was ready to impale myself on my drinking straw by the end of my meal when she started talking about someone's birthday at the table and whom did that man secretly want to spank ::winkwink::.

Needless to say, I read 1.5 pages of my book...8 times. Next time, I will trust my instincts and go ahead and ask for a different table before I even sit down.

Now I'm in such a bad mood, nothing but a ton of comments on this post will make me feel better.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Whimsy

I've been a bad blogger. I have no excuses. But I do have a list of words I love:

  • Cloying
  • Redundant
  • Pedestrian
  • Visualization
  • Instantiation
  • Redolent
  • Clipped
  • Far-fetched
  • Adnoidal
  • Flee
  • Alacrity

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Canoe Trip: On the Homefront

While Doc was on his canoe trip a couple of weeks ago, I got to spend a few evenings at tiki. One night, Wednesday, which is traditionally tiki night, I got to hang out with my neighbor dudes and one of my coworkers. And what did we talk about? Cable wiring, in particular, RGB, HD, the value of having multiple boxes. At one point, I was like, "Seriously? This is what you talk about at tiki?" No one answered me, of course, because they were all in the throes of a heated debate over who was right on a job site issue. Three of the guys were working together to expand the patio of a local bar. Markus had said he didn't want to talk shop at tiki but one of the other guys persisted. I think they were looking to my other neighbor, Jerry the Cable Guy, to add his opinion and resolve the matter.

I have no idea if it was settled or not since I was bored out of my mind...and I'd had a couple of beers. So, at the first breath in the conversation, I said, "Peace out" and headed home. What a bummer. But I understand work issues, particularly political ones, can be the source of endless debate and conversation for those directly involved. Since I wasn't involved and the subject matter wasn't sexy enough for my taste, I couldn't be compelled to stay. I did try to hang in there, though and learn something. But beer on top of a full day's work triumphed and led me to bed.

It was a much different experience the following Saturday, after we got home. I had slipped over to the Tiki for a quick break and found Frank there alone. He gave me a beer, as he is wont to do and started a conversation. We ended up talking about relativity, which was a trip as it was a concept he was unfamiliar with and he kept trying to grok my meaning. We were both the worse for the beer and I found myself struggling to explain while he struggled to understand. This was more the type of conversation I was looking for. I think I might have helped him create a new wrinkle in his brain.
However, things turned ugly after a while, since he started to complain about the actions the government (he's not a fan) are taking to set up universal heath care. He's very upset that they are trying to spend money they don't have, since they robbed social security to pay for the war and other pet projects. He was very vocal in his outrage, so much so that I found myself listening more intently. People who yell don't scare me anymore and I believe they are yelling so they can be heard. So rather than fight back, I try to set aside my interior monologue and just listen.
I'm somewhat of a fan of government. I appreciate the protection it provides and I believe that, people being people, there will always be some foolishness involved. So I don't sweat the red tape, the bureaucracy, the inherent unfairness of the fact that the government can over extend itself financially, but I get busted for $39.50 if I overdraft my checking accont by seventy-nine cents. But after Frank's outcries, I'm starting to smart a little bit more from the unfairness.
I'm not sure what Frank hoped to get out of that conversation. Perhaps some catharsis. Perhaps some action. But here's a guy who's self-employed and a host of problems stemming from money (just like most of us have) and he's mad as hell and doesn't want to take it anymore. People are so wrapped up in their own financial maelstorms that they can't or won't look at the source...the butterfly flapping it's wings. And will killing the butterfly fix it? This is where Frank and I disagree. But there must be some middle ground, right?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Shaping up and shipping out

I'm turning this lurching barge of a life around and transforming it into a lithe sailboat that is complex yet fine tuned. One might say I'm trading in the African Queen for the True Love. I'm tired of getting caught up short on things. I hate clanging a wrench on the steam engine of my life to get it running. I'd rather do a series of graceful movements to make smooth transitions over placid bodies of water. I don't want to drag this thing through the swamps encountering leeches, slugs and all manner insects. Especially now, with two kids in school (gasp), I need to stay on top of things. And I'd like to do it with some panache.

Here's a list of what I've done so far:

  • Organized the kitchen cupboards
  • Removed the excess layer of crappy toys from the girls rooms
  • Set up a "cozy corner" in their bedrooms so they have a spot to read
  • Organized Riley's armoir...I ran out of time to do Lucy's drawers and closet yesterday
  • Rearranged furniture
  • Adopted a stern tone and voiced my expectations clearly and resolutely
  • Cancelled the cable (just internet and netflix. It's good for you...)

Doc and I are the baby and the only child respectively in our familes and let's just say that we've both experienced some discipline issues in the past. To put it plainly, we procrastinate. Well, not anymore. Now, it is my plan to get the work out of the way before goofing off. It's just like my Mom told me it should be. And I hope to have all hands on deck for this. I'm sure it's going to take more than a whistle to make it happen; we are all so daggone independent. But I think the benefits of teamwork will reveal themselves in this endeavor.

Mom was right of course. I'm happier when I leave the house and it's standing tall, rather than dashing off and coming home to one mess or another. Also, it feels good to have everything ready in advance. I'm hoping the feeling is addictive...and contagious. I'm also more open to others when I know I don't have anything hanging over my head. I want to be a better friend, daughter, mother, wife...

Wish me luck and bon voyage that I can trade my clunker in for style, grace and peace.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

If Doc's Huck Finning It, I'm Tom Sawyering It

snow 2-18-07 (3)

Recently, my friend and colleague, Valerie, posted the above picture on Facebook and asked if anybody wanted the furniture. I happened to catch the notice first and jumped on it with both feet. So as of Sunday, my family left and this furniture arrived. Well, my Dad and I went to get it. Of course, there is far less snow on it now.

Over all, the furniture is in decent shape. It's a bit weather-beaten and it might need some reinforcement, but, then again, who doesn't need a bit of TLC? So, my project for the week has been to beautify this wonderful Adirondack furniture.

Monday night:
  • Went to Home Depot and bought sea foam green stain, indoor/outdoor paint, brushes, etc.
  • Began to stain the furniture.
  • My mind wandered as I spread stain and listened to the crows and locusts. I was glad to be able to do this project uninterrupted with no one giving me advice or taking it over
  • My neighbor Wally walked over and took the brush from my hand and showed me how I ought to do it
  • I finished the stain, the 50% chance of thunderstorms falling in my favor
  • I walked over to the Tiki and had one beer on an empty stomach
  • I staggered home and hit the hay with some Murder, She Wrote

Tuesday night:

  • I grabbed a bite to eat on the way home
  • I goofed off on the computer for too long
  • I began painting the decorations on the furniture, whose stain looks lovely (I can't take a picture; Doc has the camera)
  • I completed the design on one of the love seats and nearly completed the other, but ran out of light
  • I had one beer, hit the hay with some Newhart

Tonight I plan on going straight home and finishing my designs while it's still light out. I also want to paint a quote or aphorism on the cross-pieces of the love seats. Something short and sweet. I was thinking maybe "Tempis Fugit," but I'm not completely sold. What do you think?

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Canoe Trip

So Doc is about to whisk himself and the kids off to the country and I'll be a virtual bachelorette for five days. Of course I'll be working for four of those days, but I'll have my evenings free to spend as I wish. I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do with myself. Here are some of the things I'm considering:

  • Organizing the junk drawer
  • Painting the living room
  • Getting the kids' clothes ready for school
  • Finishing my novel
  • Squandering every night sipping mojitos in the swamp

Got any other ideas?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Celebrites Who Have Appeared In My Dreams: Greg Kinnear and Beckeye

It was night and all the neighborhood kids were running around like the Lost Boys. Everything was a mess and I went into the house. Greg Kinnear, our handy man, was dressed in painters clothes and came into the kitchen wiping his hands. His sleeve seemed a bit lumpy.
"Hand it over," I said. Greg had been stealing from us regularly, but he wasn't very good at it. He pulled out a bottle filled with glowing beads (much like those in Bejewelled).
"Hey," said Lucy, "That's the engine from your space ship, Mommy!"
I took it and set it on the counter, about to fire Greg.
"I wanted to tell you," he said, "There's a motorcycle gang out front and their causing trouble."
"Ok," I said, "I'll handle this and you and I will talk later."
I grabbed some bottles of water and headed out to the porch. I wondered why so many people were wandering around my house when I saw Beckeye standing in my neighbor's front yard. She was wearing a purple, taffeta, June Cleaver number. Her hair was pulled back in a fetching pony tail and she was running a mimeograph machine. Pink flyers for a party were flying off the machine and heading toward the street where people were grabbing them and heading for our house. She waved at me as she continued to crank.
I handed the bottles over to the gang, who looked like they just stepped out of Thunderdome. They were a rowdy bunch. They were having difficulties opening the bottles and I spent an inordinate amount of time telling them the bottlecaps were left-hand thread and they'd have to turn them the other direction.
A ghost floated over me and I could feel the hair on my head stand straight up on end.
Then I woke up.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Documentary Film of the Day - Blind spot: Hitler's Secretary

In honor of Some Guy's Hiatus and in celebration of his 15 millionth post, I thought I'd steal one of his ideas. So here's my Documentary of the day:

Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary
Doc recently bought a book from the library bookstore called Never Coming to a Theater Near You, which we kept in the john and would read (since we couldn't read Some Guy's Blog on the toilet). There's a large section of the book dedicated to documentary film, which ordinarly makes my eyes roll back into my head and I'm not well again until I watch a few episodes of the Golden Girls or "Idol Gives Back." But one happened to catch my eye: the eponymous Blind Spot.
The review was so compelling, I went to the library, found it the dvd in the catalog and had it sent from the main library to my little local branch. Now Doc and I are movie buffs from way back, but in the past, oh, seven years or so, we seem to have lost the habit. More often, we'll get DVD's of TV shows, pop one in and pass out after the opening credits. But we were both so jazzed about this particular documentary that I was hoping it would be something we could watch together. Of course, the subject matter is perfect for a romantic night at home...
The movie was due back at the library yesterday, so I was determined to watch it. We put the movie on at about 11:00 p.m. and it was in German. Totally. No subtitles. So, I searched the menu, added English subtitles and we were off and running.
This movie is basically a film of Traudl Junge, one of Hitler's secretary who was stationed at his bunker, speaking directly to an interviewer about her experience from the time she was hired until Hitler's final days and her escape. There are some cut away scenes where she is watching footage of herself talking and she interjects with a correction, more detail, or a restatement of her feelings in hindsight. But that's it. No music. No narration.
It's remarkable. And creepy. It's very personal and she gives quite an insight to what kind of person Hitler was and how he could be a nice guy even if he was killing a bunch of innocent people. She was obviously struggling to relate her experience while history and hindsight lurked over her shoulder.
As Chris might say, "I highly recommend it." And to quote him again: "Documentaries have exposed me to so many new and interesting things. Like one of the women in the video says, documentaries 'have the power to make you empathize with things you never really knew you could empathize with.'" If there ever was a documentary to make you empathize with things you never really knew you could empathize with...this one is it.
Congratulations, Some Guy on your 15,000,000th post! Cheers and Gesundheit!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Let's Separate the Message Rockers from the Real Rockers

Are you ready to rumble? I heard the song "Sober" by Pink this morning on the radio and I found myself getting pissed off. Don't get me wrong; I don't have anything against her, like some other musicians I could name coughJohnMayercough. I appreciate her swagger and her semi-aggressive stance. I like her anti-airhead campaign; it sends a good message to young women and girls that may not have heard that it's a bad idea to be an alcoholic or a slut, but it's ok to have a good time.
And that's also a problem.
Message Rock rubs me the wrong way. I really don't want to take my cues from message rockers. Even if their message is a good idea. This is probably why I can't even open the door to the room full of Christian Rock. Rock and Roll is not the place for self help or spiritual development. It's supposed to be primal and emotional. Or devil-may-care rebelliousness. If there is a message, it should be buried or backmasked. Am I alone in all of this? Let's look at some samples. Please let me know what you think.

Message Rocker v. Real Rocker

Lyric Smackdown


Pink’s Sober


Amy Winehouse’s Rehab

No pain inside, you’re like perfection…But how do I feel this good sober?

I don’t ever wanna drink again
I just, ooh, I just need a friend
I’m not gonna spend ten weeksHave everyone think I’m on the mend

The question is, do addicts really want to know how to feel this good sober? No. I don’t think so, though I’m open to information to the contrary.

In my personal experience, I’ve actually heard alcoholics say: “I don’t want to drink.” It’s not about feeling good; it’s about not wanting to fuck things up further and believing that not being drunk is the first step.

Judgment: Sober is bullshit and throws in the towel at the mere sight of Rehab.

Green Day’s American Idiot


CCR’s Fortunate Son

Well maybe I'm the faggot America.I'm not a part of a redneck agenda.Now everybody do the propaganda.And sing along to the age of paranoia

Some folks are born made to wave the flag,Ooh, they’re red, white and blue.And when the band plays hail to the chief,Ooh, they point the cannon at you, lord,

I think these two are saying the same thing; however, I appreciate the directness of CCR. I think that Green Day is being too abstract here. It’s not personal enough, damn it. Stop tossing off half-baked imagery.

Judgement: CCR by a nose.

Lee Greenwood’s Proud to be an American


Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA

And I gladly stand up,next to you and defend her [America] still today.‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,God bless the USA.

Come back home [from Viet Nam] to the refineryHiring man says "Son if it was up to me"I go down to see the V.A. manHe said "Son don't you understand"

I don’t have to tell you that Greenwood’s song is a pile of sugar-coated pablum pops for the masses. I’ve probably told you this before.

For instance, one can’t gladly stand up and literally defend her and still be honest. I mean, Are we talking about defending her at the water cooler or in Afghanistan? Because I’d gladly defend her at the water cooler but I’d have to say I wouldn’t be so happy about the prospect of tromping through the Hindu Kush mountains to defend her.

In my opinion, People probably have similar reactions to her as Bruce Springsteen’s protagonists do to a country that keeps closing doors on them until they have no choices or opportunities anymore.

Judgement: Shut it, Lee Greenberg; life is not a parade down Main Street. Bruce Springsteen wins by a mile.

Nickelback’s Rock Star


Dr. Hook’s Cover of the Rolling Stone

‘cause we all just want to be big rock stars
And live in hilltop houses driving 15 cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We’ll all stay skinny ‘cause we just won’t eat

We got a lot of little teenage blue eyed groupies
Who do anything we sayWe got a genuine Indian Guru
Who's teaching us a better way
We got all the friends that money can buy
So we never have to be alone
And we keep getting richer but we can't get our picture
On the cover of the rollin stone

Nickelback are basically lying here. They are claiming that WE all want to be rock stars. Well, maybe we don’t, Nickelback; but sadly, you already are. So why are you patronizing us pretending to want what you already have? Is this supposed to build kinship for with your fan base? Or is this supposed to be ironic? If so, nice work, Alanis.

Now Dr. Hook’s take on the celebrity experience is funny. And true. It’s honest and it doesn’t try to pander to the fans. It’s art not propaganda.

Judgement: Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show by a TKO.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bitchin' Camaro Vermont Style

I've landed in Vermont and this is the view out of my window. Don't get me wrong, I'm in one of the best places I've ever stayed at:

  • Kitchenette
  • King Sized Bed
  • Two TV's
  • Leather furniture
  • A chair with wheels and a wood floor to roll it on


Sadly, though, I'm sitting here working, watching a Friends Christmas episode. Ah well...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What we have here is a failure to communicate

I don't know, my frequency modulations must not be squelching properly. I can't seem to convey very simple thoughts in a way that others can understand today. It's not a full moon...the weather is clear...I'm still speaking English...I got a decent night's sleep last night.

What the heck is wrong with me?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Things You Don't Hear Much Anymore

  • Nobody move! I dropped my contact lens!

  • Mind if I smoke, Doctor?

  • Can you please adjust the TV antenna?

  • Hold the record by the edges!

  • Honey, where'd you put the Jarts?

  • I just got my Edsel back from the service station...

  • AM Radio plays the best music!

  • I've never seen this episode of the Brady Bunch!

  • Leaded or regular?

  • Ok, kids, hop in the back of the truck!

  • Ginger, would you please get me the Peterson file and a cup of coffee? Thanks, doll!

  • I went to New York City and paid three dollars for a hamburger, can you believe it?!?

  • I've got to hurry or I'll miss my trolly!

  • Welcome to Sears, Mr. and Mrs. Jones...for newlyweds like you, I recommend this handsome twin bed set.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Things To Do When You're Sleep Deprived

  • Recite tongue twisters

  • Stare thoughtfully at your calendar and try to replicate REM condtions with your eyes open

  • Play a guessing game with yourself: "Who's real and who's a hallucination?" or "Did that happen or did I dream it"

  • Take a typing test, save scores as a baseline so when you've had a good night's sleep, you can take the test again and win a "Most Improved" award

  • Hone your old man/woman face by pursing your lips and frowning

  • Really try to listen, you'll be surprisd at how much you miss!

  • Think about Pitfall for the Atari 2600 and try to remeber how to get over those ponds

  • Talk in a southern accent (if you're already southern, try a midwestern accent)

  • See if you can pass a roadside sobriety test


Thursday, July 09, 2009

I'm a Sheep Dog

No, that's not my photo snapped at the latest "Furry" convention. Actually that photo has been doctored with my face on a sheep dogs body. (I know! It's amaizing how real that looks!) As a rule, I don't dress up as a Sheep Dog. But I am of their ilk. I'm a herder. I know I've mentioned this before in passing, but I wanted to get into more detail to see if any of you are herders too. Or am I just abnormal.

My tendancy is to be in constant contact with my loved ones. I'd prefer that we all be in the same room, if we are all home. If one of us is gone, I need to hear from that person, usually if he or she is going to be late. I'd really like a call when anyone is about to head home so that I know when to expect him or her and I don't have to watch out the window and worry that he/she is dead in a ditch.

I suppose I can dispense with the vaguries of him/her...I'm talking about Doc here. He's more of a cat. His philosophy is "If the phone doesn't ring, it's me." If I don't hear from him, I should assume all is well. Which is kind of a logical leap for this pup, because I also wouldn't hear from him if he were dead. So, really? Not helpful for herding purposes. There's also a matter of our different interpretations of what "I'll be back in about 20 minutes" means (See this post, #3 for more information).

I know he hates the phone and would rather never have to use one. And in general, we're an awesome team; I have no complaints. For example, when we cook in the kitchen, we communicate almost completely implicitly; no words are necessary. I aspire to this level of communication with the people in my life and I'm lucky to have it. But it would be nice, for me, if he would just call on his way out the door from work to let me know he'll be home soon and to check to see if we need anything. Or let me know if he was going to be late or off on walk-about.

But that's an old saw and really off the point.

I was talking about me.

My herding instincts really come out at night. It's very difficult for me to be the first one to go to bed. I really can't settle down until I know that everyone is home, safe and out like a light. This is tricky for me and Doc, him being a night owl and working afternoons and me also being a night owl but on the early shift. I want to stay up with him, but it ruins me for the next day.

Last night, however, I had to go to bed first, even before the girls. I had the world's worst stomach ache, complete with cramps and chills. I hadn't slept well the night before and I was just worn out. I slugged down some Pepto and reluctantly headed off to bed. I should have been comforted. I had the bed to myself, I had the heated mattress pad turned up to ward off the chills, I popped in a Bob Newhart Show DVD, but I had this feeling of fear/emptiness.

Everyone was still up. My herd could drift while I'm in here. What if Lucy sleep-walked again? What if Riley runs away? What if Doc scarpered off to the back yard for a whiz and slipped and fell and cracked his head open?

Stop it, I told myself. Just enjoy sprawling out and drifting off. I did, eventually. Then at about 4 a.m. I woke up, still alone. I experienced a sheep dog frisson of fear. I got up and wandered through the house, eventually discovering the girls on the couch and Doc sleeping on they chair with his legs out on the ottoman. I thought about waking him up and dragging him back to bed. And then I thought better of it. They were fine. They were herded. I could go back to bed.

Still...what if...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Three Minute Posts: John Cleese Loves To Teach

I'm not sure if you're aware of this or not, but John Cleese from Monty Python fame has a long list of training videos on his resume, including "Meetings, Bloody Meetings." I've seen a few of them here and there, but they are prohibitively expensive. The last time I looked MBM was close to 800 smackeroos. Ah, now I see it's almost a cool grand.

The other day, I was cruising Netflix's Watch Instantly list and found two more teaching videos: "Wine for the Confused" and "The Human Face." The former is probably more overtly instructive while the latter is more of a documentary. If you ever want to do any training, I recommend watching "Wine for the Confused" to see a great facilitator in action. He knows how to probe for deeper responses and he also knows how to sum things up. There's also a good blend of humor and instruction combined with good transitions. I'd say it's a master class in Training and Development. Hmmm...maybe I should share it with my team at work...

Check it out if you get the chance.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

WebMD Symptom Checker Sucks

I've been having severe headaches this week. Yesterday, it came complete with light sensitivity and nausea. Today, it's just the headache and light sensitivity. I hope I was able to stave it off with some Ibuprofen.

But I went to WebMD to see if there might be something going on I ought to have checked out or if this was just a stress related thing. What's first on the list of possible problems I have?

A brain aneurysm.

I suppose that's better than a tumor...

Perhaps I just can't decide whether I'm more torn up over Ed MacMahon's death or Jon and Kate's divorce.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What John Mayer Knows About Parenting Could Barely Dampen a Doily

Father's Day is always pretty low key around here. For the past three Father's Days, Doc, the only father on his team, has been scheduled for work on Father's Day. Which mildly sucks. I mean, we can always use the dough, but it would be nice to have him around on a day that honors him and what he is to his family.

There's been a bit of talk lately around here about the importance of fathers to daughters, that leaves John Mayer in the dust. We've decided that daughters need to know that they are beautiful, special , accepted. They need to know what a good man looks like. They need to be able to smell a rat and cross the street to stay away from them.

One thing I've learned that I hope to gift my daughter with is the knowledge is that when you're facing something you rather not, a Cornish Horn-Tailed dragon, an audit, or court, for example. You need to do the right thing, keep your head, pray and do your best to not freak out. It's hard. It hurts. It's scary. But as old Bill Cosby once said, "Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it." I've done this myself and it works. It's a way to love something hateful.

I can't pinpoint how I learned to do this, but I'm glad I did. I know my Dad did't tell me directly; he preferred to let me find my own way and offered his opinion only when asked. But his faith in me and his love showed me how to be strong and true. Sure I'm scared. But I just conjure up Captain Kirk or Hawkeye Pierce (another Captain, by the way) or some other larger than life model of bravery whom I wouldn't have know without my Dad's influence.

He pointed me in the direction of many things that give me strength:

  • Star Trek
  • Rock and Roll
  • MASH
  • Classic Cars
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Attention to Detail
  • Puns

And, Doc...the influence he has he uses well. He laid down "Rule Number One: Do No Harm." I like this rule very much. We've even started using it around the neighborhood (and not just with the kids). But kids respect it. It's simple. It covers a lot of ground. This will help the girls make HUGE life decisions in the future. It's an inspirational parenting tool and a stroke of genius.

Doc also takes his time. He explains stuff. He shows the kids stuff I don't know how to do. With my good looks and his know-how, they are going to be unstoppable!

Another bit of Doc's wisdom that we haven't shared with the kids yet (though Riley is reading this over my so the jig is up) is the idea of giving someone "A Pass." Imagine this. You're Doc's friend, right? You've been friends for a while. You've had a good time, shared some laughs. Then you goofed it up. Royally. You apologize to him and he looks you straight in the eyes and swings in close. "You. Get a pass." And he means it. I've never gotten a pass and then had the record of it thrown up in my face. This will also be of great service to the girs. It's unwise to harbor ill will to the people who are closest to you.

All in all, my girls are really lucky to have two wonderful gentlemen they can look up to and measure other people by. Pop and Daddy are the tops, so hopefully the girls will look for people like them to form their circles of friends. If that came true, baby, then I'll be on top of the world.

And I'm pretty lucky too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Riley Blogs!

Riley Laughs

You've asked for it...she's done it.
If you comment, please be nice and use good language...or I'LL THUMP YOU!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Let's Record!

Lucy Sings

Birthday Party Rant

Betty and I usally spend our birthdays whooping it up and painting the town red. This year is no different, in that we'll be spending our birthdays together, but we haven't quite figured out how we're going to whoop it up.

I know Genn6 will be joining us. And the Cap'n and Doc, of course. We've got the players we're just looking for a playground. But frankly, we're getting older. We're tired. We're sore. We're wore out from the day to day grind.

But dammit. The kids will be at my parents and I'm going to be irresponsible! I think I might have wine and liquor. I might wear a mini skirt at my advanced age. I'm going to take some wooden nickels and make sure my nose is NOT clean. I will welcome Greeks bearing gifts and I will suspect nothing. I'll count my chickens prior to hatching because all my eggs will be in one basket. I'm not going to walk on the sunny side of the street and I will not avoid talking to strangers. I'll put the cart in front of the horse and cry over the resulting spilt milk. I will leap not look. I plan on wasting nine by not stitching in time and I will serve up my revenge piping hot. I will practice moderation in NO things. I will watch the pot 'til it boils and it will boil. I'm going to be sorry instead of safe. I'll make my bed, but I won't lie in it. I will prove that youth is wasted on the aged.

In short: I want to have my cake and eat it too.

And at the suggestion of my pals, I will also:

  • Skyler's Dad said...I think you should burn the candle at both ends!
  • Cid said... While you're at it you should make hay while the sun shines and do someting really bad when it sets. Have fun!
  • The back in action Frank Sirmarco said...Mow your lawn in the dark. That usually freaks the neighbors out.
  • BeckEye said... I'll do a few cartwheels down 10th Avenue for you when I get off work.
  • Bubs said...And if you have to do any measuring, only measure once. You can always cut twice.

So, in conclusion, party people, If you're in the area, stop by Saturday night. There will be cartwheels.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I Guess I Should Have Seen This Coming

So, Mel Gibson is reproducing...AGAIN. This time it's with his new girlfriend, let's call her "Chump." This new information really draws all the strings together for me on this divorce. This is why his long suffering wife finally agreed to the divorce, I'm thinking. There's nothing quite as clear and final and undeniable as: I'm having an affair AND a love child.

It's funny. When you're first married, you think: This is forever! Yay! Then when the honeymoon's over and you hit your first rough patches, you think: This is forever...we can do it. But then you have some kids, hit some rough patches and maybe go broke in the process. Then you maybe think: Hey, who's that hot piece of ass over there? And run off. Or Maybe you think: This is forever and I made a committment and we're going to make it through this. Or maybe one of you says the former and one of you says the latter.

And maybe layered over that is this whole mantle of holiness that one of you, the former, has cloaked yourself in. You've made "authentic" movies about what it means to be a patriot, a freedom fighter, a martyr. But you're human, right? Maybe you just needed a roll in the hay with someone new for a change. There's no harm in that, if you don't get caught, you might think. But being human, your emotions got entangled and you trip yourself up. And now you're in a right mess and there's a baby involved.

And, being a Hollywood icon/leading man, you'll pick yourself up, dust yourself off and walk away unscathed. People will cut you a break. You may go on talk shows where people thoughtfully say, "huh," as you describe the problems in your marriage, your struggles and strife. They may even tear up over your ordeal, your battles with alcoholism/assholery. Then they'll coo over your new baby and snip/snap Bob's your uncle, you receive a lifetime achievment award and go to your new child's middle school graduation all in the same year.

But what if you're the latter? Sure, you're sitting on the pile of money that the State of California has awarded you. And you are enjoying your grandchildren in your golden years. But it kind of feels like failure. Where's my lifetime achievement award?, you might ask the universe. All you've gotten is invitations to Lifetime Movie pitch meetings to tell "your side of the story." Maybe you're thinking how unfair it all is, when you've tried to hold your family together only to watch your marriage fall away like so many Christmas tree pine needles.

I can almost imagine the day they had the conversation that started, "Honey, I'm having a baby with the other woman." The former, just trying to get through the moment. The latter having all suspicions confirmed. "Fine you can have the divorce" finally seeps from lips that once had a determined set, from a person who never dreamed that they would utter such defeat.

Then again, maybe the latter is the winner here. Afterall, she will get to see all of her children grow up. She gets to go through early middle age unecnumbered and independently wealthy. Maybe it is her turn to cry "Freedom!" and savor the time that is her own.

But what am I trying to say about this, you might ask. Good question, I'll say as I look off into the distance. Nothing, really. It's not a gender issue, so much. Though good luck having a baby after 50 as a woman. It is all Mel Gibson's fault, I'm thinking, as usual. More than anything, it's just the human condition. And sometimes, no matter how hard you try to honor your commitments, things just don't work out.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Chicago Dreams and Tiaras

So, I had this dream that I was going to Chicago to meet up with Bubs and the gang. I was driving around the city trying to find the place we were to meet. I had Doc in the car with me and we found ourselves on top of a tall building. We weren't sure what to do, so we looked around at the other cars. They were ramping off the buildings and landing on the streets below, no harm done. So I hit the gas and we were airborne. We landed with a thud and turned the corner to find our destination.

It was a white plantation style house, straight out of Atlanta. I knew then that Beth must also be joining us and I worried that I might not have packed a tiara. Doc said, "Don't worry, Darlin'; I'm sure they sell those in there."

Well, needless to say, I did finally make it to Chicago to meet with Bubs and Ms. Bubs and the lovely Nora. Sadly, there was no driving off buildings, nor was there any Beth or tiaras. But it was wonderful none the less.

We had agreed to meet up at the famous Hala Kahiki Tiki Bar and I arrived first. I let them know that I'd be there in a black sweater and my hair would be standing on end due to the high humidity. I found a place to park and grabbed the swag Doc had sent along with me, which included several Vampirella comic books, a Starlog magazine from back in the day and a few other comics. As I made my way through the door, I could smell the stale cigarette smoke which lingered even though the place was probably now smoke free for several years. I headed into the bar and tried to get the attention of the waitress.

"Are you selling something?" she asked, noting the books I was carrying.

"No, I'm meeting friends," I said.

She gave me a table and an eight page menu of drinks to entertain me until the Bubs's arrived. I flipped through the menu and watched the door as I wondered how this would go. So far, I have met Chris, from Some Guy's Blog, Coaster Punchman and Poor George, Beckeye, and Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein and I shouldn't be concerned as these have been delightful encounters, to be sure.

And it was.

Let me tell you, these are some of the sweetest, funniest, warmest people I have ever met. We chatted as we sipped our tropical drinks and watched the place fill up. Nora joined us and was as delightful as could be. After a while, we decided it was time to eat and made our way over to Gene's and Jude's for some of Chicago's famous hot dogs. Though, according to Ms. Bubs, they weren't the most authentic ones, since they lacked celery salt and some other key ingredients. But they were the bomb.

We headed back and said our goodbye's to Nora, who had school the next day. This time we were seated by a window that overlooked the atrium at the tiki bar. There were flowers and plants and a pond with a fountain, all dramatically lit by the thunderstorm. We chatted some more and had another drink. The waitress took our picture and then we decided to call it a night.

We parted company with promises to meet again. I told them to keep Groundhog's Day open. I also vowed to find a way to get Doc out to see this amazing place and meet these lovely people.

If you ever get the opportunity to meet fellow bloggers, I say this: Do. It is always a joy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

There's Nothing Quite Like Getting Felt Up at the Airport

Well, I made it to Chicago, I'm glad to say. I even got here on the right day, which is an accomplishment to be sure. I'll be working tomorrow and Wednesday and flying out Thursday morning, which is a much more humane schedule than I took on my last trip to Tenessee. By the time my return planed landed I was weepy with exhaustion. This time, though, I'll have time to collect myself before heading home.

And what better way to collect oneself than to be in the company of long-time blogger buddies, Bubs, Johnny Yen, Grant Miller and possibly Splotchy? I'll be meeting up with them and any other Chibloggers that can make their way to the famed Hala Kahiki Tiki bar on Wednesday. I'm totally stoked! I'm also bummed that Doc can't be here. But hopefully, he'll be so jealous, we'll have to plan another trip out here together in the very near future.

I'll let you know how it goes and I promise to take lots of pictures. But for now, I'm taking my exhausted, travel-weary self to bed with a trashy novel. I realize it's only 6:30 p.m. central time, but I don't care. I'm butt tired. And those of us who watch Murder She Wrote know the value of an early bird special and an early bed time.

Oh, and about the title of this post: I did get felt up on the top half on the way through security. Apparently because my fleece sweatshirt was deemed "bulky" and might possibly be hiding incendiary devices. Lucky me.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Eye Way Robbery

Well, gang, I've got to get glasses, which is no surprise since I can no longer distinguish the dates on pennies and trying to untangle a necklace is an all day affair. Also, work is a challenge what with all the supercomputing I do. So, last fall, I bit the bullet and signed up for vision care. The enrollment period was in October and coverage was effective in December. I waited and waited and waited for my card to appear. Eventually it say a week ago. So I made my appointment and a week later, I set off to have my eyes examined.

I don't know about you, but I LOVE getting my eyes examined. I've always had fine vision (except in college when I was experiencing the same issues I have now for the same basic reasons). So I get to sit in the dark and answer tons of questions I totally know the answer too, all while having my head in some super-sci-fi contraption. I have trouble governing my glee.

This last time was no different. I was really enjoying the exam. That is, until the doc went into his hard sell. I want to test you for cateracts (!) and I can do that by giving you the drops and basically fucking up your day or you can pay $35 and I can use my new toy to take a picture of your retina.

I told him I wasn't prepared to do either today and he said he'd set me up for an appointment when I pick up my glasses. I couldn't think of a way to weasel out; his sales mojo was too strong for me. So I submitted to the $35 test because I just couldn't obligate myself to one more thing. I don't have all day to waste with blurry vision and light sensitivity. In hindsight, I could have agreed to the appointment an skived off of it later. Rats! Why didn't I think of that at the time.

Once all the testing was done, he informed me that I was farsighted and that close up vision troubles occur earlier in our kind. That fact combined with my eye strain at work prompted him to give me a perscription for spectacles. He then escorted me over to the shopping area where I could pick out my new frames. He handed me off to the eyeglass sales person and bid me adieu. The glasses lady then immediately tried to sell me anti-glare lenses with all the tomfoolery of a warranty.

"I don't need that type of protection; I'll only be wearing these for work...I won't be driving or wearing them outside," I said.

"Well, it would still reduce glare..." she said, but I could see she had given up. She's obviously not the salesman her boss is.

After running through all the options, and telling her I wanted the type of frames where I pay nothing and my insurance covers it in total, which amounted to plastic lenses and plastic frames, she offered to find some frames for me. Why I couldn't walk over and look for them myself, I'll never know.

"Do you like trendy frames?" she asked.

"Sure," I replied.

She brought over eight pairs of glasses all identical but for the color. I tried them on and they were really too small for my face.

"Are there bigger frames than these?" I asked.

"You won't need bigger frames for what you're using them for," she snotted. Touche, I thought.

"Are these the only frames in my price range?"

"The only trendy ones..."

"How about the non-trendy ones?" I asked, knowing she was hiding something from me.

She sighed and gallumphed her way over to the frame ghetto where the cheapo frames were and I dogged her every step. She finally admitted that I could get any frame for $100 or less and she waved her hands in a general area of the frames that met my criteria. My eyes landed on the exact pair I wanted.

I tried them on and they were perfect. Black frames with rhinstone accents (natch). They fit my face just right.

"I like these!" I said.

"I didn't bring those over to you because I thought they were too big," she said, lamely.

Somehow, this felt like victory. That is until she told me that she'd call me when the frames were about a week.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

New Chapter!

Hey, everybody...I've added a new chapter to my novel, Don't Look Down. I haven't touched the thing in almost a year, but there you go! If you want to read it, let me know in the comments and I'll invite you. I'd just need your email address.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Springtime for Hitler and Germany

It's been a long week, ya'll. I've been working the late shift, which means I'm on my own for lunch. Also, about half our team was out for the beginning of the week. We weren't busy or anything. It was just quiet...too quiet. I'm also worried about a few friends whose bodies seem to be under invasion at the moment and victory is not necessarily a done deal. Then there's all this flu business. I tell you, it's put a real pall on the week.

But I'm not sad or depressed, really. I'm trying to keep myself occupied and focus on staying healthy myself and keeping the family healthy. This task has been made easier as I settle in each evening for another episode of the Black Adder, courtesy of Dr. Monkey Monk and his gal Sparky. Laughter is the best medicine right? The price is right, anyway.

I'm looking forward to meeting up with some of you in less than two weeks when I make my way to Chicago. I wish Doc could come with'd love him. But it'll be fun and I'm sure I'll be back to my vivacious self by then.

It's been chilly and rainy around here and I've been reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to Riley. It's a dark and kind of spooky book, what with the development of the Nearly Headless Nick character and his Deathday Party. I'm thinking this too has something to do with my general mood.

But it's Friday and if the weather clears up, I'll be able to take the new mower for a spin this weekend. In the meantime, I'll keep my chin up and think of this:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

UPDATES: Blogger Meet Ups and The Blog Card

Hey, everyone! I'm back from Tennessee, home of Monkey Central: Playground of Dr. Monkey Muck. He and his lovely gal, Sparky, hosted me for a fabulous evening of food and laughs. It's fun to meet up with blogger buddies...they're strangers, but not strangers. We know a lot about each other, just not what it's like to be in the same room together.

The Good Doctor and Sparky kept me laughing and laughed at my silly self. We learned that we are all pretty much normal too, which is a comfort. Their home was lovely and cozy. We gabbed and gabbed and drank and I got the tour of Monkey Central and and a private showing of the impressive Swag collection. I actually got to sample a monkey mint, courtesly of GKL.

I'm glad they welcomed me into their home because the could have just as easily told me to shove it. See, I thought I was flying in on Monday, which is usually the way it works for business trips around here. I had all kinds of plans lined up. I had even packed. Then I learned Monday morning that the trip was actually for Tuesday...UGH! All that angst for nothing! I then spent Monday feeling like I may have slipped into a Final Destiny situation.

But all scheduling sins were forgiven and the Trip was a huge success.

So now that the girl's birthday party is over and I made it through my conference last week and a business trip this week, I finally found the time to send off the Blog Card. I'm ashamed to admit that I've had it for over two months. But it's on it's way to the lovely Bad Tempered, Snow-Covered Zombie, Barbara. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

As you may have noticed, I have a bit of a time management problem. But take heart, we got a new riding lawn mower that has reduced our grass mowing time from 4 hours to 13 minutes, if you consider the time it takes to do donuts in the monster during your victory lap around the lawn. Othewise, it only takes 11 minutes. I hope this improves my response time.

But back to the topic of blogetherness. I'm going to be in Olympian Fields, IL May 11th and 12th and my evenings will be free. I wonder if anyone in Chicago blogs...Let me know in the comments or via email at GREENPEARL42 at yahoo dot com if you want to get together.

And in other news, my co-workers have learned of my vendetta against Mel Gibson. I came back to work today to find that scraggly-assed picture of Mel Gibson tacked to my cube wall. A certain co-worker spearheaded this escapade, let's call him Buttercup. He's been surruptitiously planting pics of MG at my desk all day. I just keep taking them down and giving them back to him. He then tapes them up on his cabinet. He's going to have quite the collection.

So all's well in the kingdom as I settle into a new summer routine, filled with good will and a spring in my step. I'm lucky the people in my life both here and out there are endlessly entertaining and wonderful. Thanks for being the you that you are.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Conversations With Riley The Bureaucrat

"Mom, I need some help cleaning my room," Riley announced, clipboard in hand.


"Yes, do you want to be the janitor?" she asked after consulting her list.

"Uh, no!" I said.

"How about doorman?"

"What else you got?"

"Librarian?" she said, "I've already got 'job-giver' filled..."

"Librarian it is," I said.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm Guessing This IS his fault...

I suppose it was inevitable. Though I'm always usually bummed out by stories of divorce, celebrity or otherwise, I find myself underwhelmed by this announcement. It's like having Yahoo news telling me: OMG! It's morning and the sun is rising! In the east!
I figured his wife must have felt that his continued assholery was simply beyond thunderdome. She knew she wouldn't be forever young and was tired of spending the year living dangerously. I imagine that she was having a heart-to-heart with Mrs. Soffel by the river about how old Mel was a maverick with a leathal weapon. She probably wanted to stick it out rather than go on a chicken run, but she needed payback for all the conspiracy theories. She was tired of feeling like a bird on a wire. So now she'll take her ransom and Gallipoli off into the sunset.
Best of luck, former Mrs. G. Enjoy your FRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEDOMMMMM!
This post is dedicated to Cormac Brown for all he started with Bad Lieutenant's Wife. Happy early birthday, CB!