Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Still Alive

I’m still alive, in case anyone was wondering. But hot damn, it’s been crazy around here. Two weeks ago, on Thursday, I got called into a meeting and told that we needed to design, plan, implement, run subjects for, analyze and report a study, to be completed the following Friday. Umm…okay? Let the crazy begin. I had already scheduled Monday off as a shopping day and I couldn’t change it, since I had not bought one single gift yet (I was rocking the procrastination this year, although in my defense, it was less procrastination and more broke-and-waiting-for-my-bonus-ation), so I worked like crazy on Friday writing protocols and questionnaires and recruitment ads and I left a shitload of prep work to my colleagues for Monday. Monday was a long, exhausting day which didn’t include nearly enough chocolate and/or wine. Then back to work on Tuesday when the crazy-assed subjects started showing up early and didn’t quit all day. Then off to my work holiday dinner and another late night. Then back in the office early and working late and like crazy all week long. But we totally rock and got that shit done.


Saturday, I still had some shopping to finish, so I loaded up the kids and headed out to the nightmare that is the mall on the Saturday before Christmas. What I thought would be a quick trip ended up being an all day marathon of one of my least favorite activities: Shopping with Kids. We ended up making a last stop at Burlington on the way home, where I discovered The World’s Biggest Asshole of a Sales Associate.

First off, she was slow. Reeeeeaaaalllllyyyyy sloooooooooow. I stood there contemplating changing lines, but I talked myself out of it, because you know how that goes – changes lines then that one is slow. So I watched (no exaggeration) two and three and six people go through the other lines while she was still checking out the ONE woman in front of me. Then, I had a gift in my cart for each kid that I managed to keep them from seeing. So when I got to checkout, I told the boy to take his sister and wait in the chairs a little way away so she wouldn’t see (he knew about hers but not his). As TWBASA was taking forever to take things off hangers and prep them for ringing up, she picked up the shirt I had for the boy. She was waving it around and holding it up, so I grabbed another shirt and held it up like I was looking at it to block his view. And I told her that I was trying to hide it from him because it was a surprise. She finally set it back down and picked up the next item. Instead of ringing them as she went, however, she was just “prepping” them to ring.

So she picks up the short again and instead of just ringing it, she holds it up in the air, is waving it around again, and actually turns around and faces the chairs where the kids are sitting, all the while holding the damned shirt up high in the air. I don’t know if she was intentionally being a dick or what but I wanted to punch her in her stupid face.

Then she moves on to the next shirt, and can’t find the price tag:

TWBASA: This doesn’t have a tag.
Me: It doesn’t? I am sure it did when I put it in the cart.
TWBASA: Well it doesn’t.
Me: Um…so…
TWBASA: There’s no tag.
Me: Well, OK?? But…
Me: Well, then I guess you will have to call for a price check.
TWBASA: Hmmph!!

Then I find the tag sitting on the counter, where she must have knocked it of in all the “prepping” and I show it to her:

TWBASA: I don’t know if that is the right tag.
Me: It is – look, same brand, same size, see?
TWBASA: hat might not be the right tag.
Me: Well, OK, I am pretty sure it is, but…

She hmmph-ed again, but used the tag.

Five minutes and two items later, she picks up a book that is also missing a tag. This one, I know had a tag when I put it in the cart, because the girl picked it out to buy with her own money and I checked the price:

TWBASA: This doesn’t have a tag.
Me: Oh.
TWBASA: It. Doesn’t. Have. A. Tag.
Me: Well, it had one, but I guess it fell off like the shirt.
TWBASA: It doesn’t have one now.
Me: Well, I guess we’ll have to get a price check on it, then, won’t we?
TWBASA: Where did you get it?
Me: In the books.
TWBASA: You mean Baby Depot?
Me: I don’t know what department it is – the kids toys and books.
TWBASA: I don’t know what that is.
Me: The toy section. Where there are toys. And giant bookcases. Filled with books.
TWBASA: Is that Baby Depot?
Me: I don’t know.
TWBASA: Well, what department is it then?
Me: I don’t know. Because I! Don’t! Work! Here!
TWBASA: Hmmph.

I had to get a manager to come over and take care of it. Thank god there was one nearby, because the police might have been involved and you’d all be reading in the paper about the stabbing in Burlington.


I pulled the girl’s Christmas dress out of the bag last night only to discover that they left the ink tag on it. And now I have to drive back into the jaws of hell to get it removed. And I can’t find the receipt. Awesome.


And speaking of awesome, my friend Hedge got a Christmas card from a neighbor. This neighbor barely speaks to her any other time and basically thinks she is too good for her neighbors. As soon as Hedge saw the return address, she thought, what the hell? But it all became clear when she opened it and inside the Christmas card was a bookmark advertising a new book. A book written by the woman’s mother. And self published. And it is so unbelievably awful awesome, I had to share it with you. Apparently, it is the first in a trilogy and sure to be a swashbuckling bestseller. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Captain S1ick:

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday 5: Keeping it Positive

1. What’s your favorite thing about the shoes you’re wearing (or the shoes you were most recently wearing)?

It just so happens that I am wearing my favorite shoes, ever, and I love them for so many reasons. I guess my favorite would be that they make me taller. I love big ol’ platform shoes, especially since many jeans companies recently decided that “average” is three inches taller than they used to. Seriously – I have talked to people in a couple of stores about their jeans and last year, they all added inches to average ;length jeans. Not to petite or tall, just to average. And since the petite were too short to begin with, I can’t wear those. And the average that were just right are now way too long. So the only way I can wear them is to either a) with regular shoes, which frays the hem because it drags on the ground (and also I look like a jackass), b) have them hemmed, which looks like hot ass, or c) wear tranny shoes. C it is!

2. What’s your favorite thing about the people you work with (or the people you go to school with)?

I’m quite lucky – I work with awesome people (mostly). I truly like my coworkers. It’s hard to say there is one thing I like the most, because we are all different. I’d have to say that because of the type of work we do, everyone here is smart. This means there is always interesting conversation. And most everyone has a similar sense of humor. But also – they are fun and kind and caring and silly and generous and dependable and helpful and generally a bunch of good folk.

3. What’s your favorite thing about the climate where you live?

The changing seasons. We get four very distinct seasons here and I love it. I especially love the beautiful falls. And I love having lots of snow in the winter (so get cracking, Mother Nature!). Don’t get me wrong – there are times I complain about the heat of summer or the cold of winter, but if I moved north or south and didn’t have those, I would miss it.

4. What’s your favorite thing about Friday?

Is this a trick question? Because, duh!

5. What’s your favorite thing about the year coming to an end?

Hmm…I don’t know if I have a favorite thing. I guess I’d have to say that it’s that I love the Christmas season. Otherwise, one year is like the next. In fact, the end of the year is also a reminder that I am getting older my parents are getting older, my kids are growing up. I don’t like that part so much.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

WTF, Highlights?

I am currently running a big project at work and putting in extra time, so I have had no time to update. However, I am making time to share this total awesomeness with you. You're welcome.

Remember Highlights magazine? They always had it in the doctor;s office and you;d spend that waiting time doing mazes and spotting differences and wondering what the hell was up with Goofus and Gallant. And of course there were the hidden pictures. Those were awesome.

And they still are (or at least they are to those of us with sick, sick minds):

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Photo Meme

I was tagged by her last week on this photo meme. Of course being slow, I am just getting around to getting it done. Anyway, you go to your 6th picture folder and pick your 6th picture. Then tag 5 others. Of course, although I like to be tagged, I hate tagging other people for stuff (I always feel like the weird, loser girl), so instead, I will eat a sandwich. That's almost the same thing, right?

Anyway, I give you:

The girl had some seriously crazy-ass hair in those days. When I first saw this photo, I was immediately reminded of a more famous photo, so I did a side-by-side compare. And I had to share it with you as well:

And because I feel a little guilty, I have to prove that she wasn't always looking like a drunk criminal has-been actor, I have to show otherwise. Because she often looked like this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

But she made up for it when she looked like this:


Also - this is for redpenmama:

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We Have Our Winners!

OK, so I did my drawing early this morning, but I am just getting around to posting about it.

Anyway, first up is Brisingr:

(I have no idea why the "random.org" didn't show up in that image)

And the winner is... I am a Tornado!

Next up is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

And the winner is... Bethtastic!

Finally, we have Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince:

And the winner is... juliloquy!

I also did a random drawing for which book would have the Cheesecake Factory gift card inside, but I am not telling you which one it is. I like surprises, so you'll have to wait until you get your books to find out. it's like the geeky book cheesecake lottery!

Ladies, please email me your mailing addresses so I can get these out to you!

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Music

Don't forget - my geeky giveaway is still going on!

Things I've learned from listening to the All Christmas Music All the Time channel:

- When it comes to the standards, the originals are almost always the best. No on can rock around the Christmas Tree like Brenda Lee, Gene Autry is the only one I want to hear sing Rudolph, and no matter what an asshole he purportedly was, Bing Crosby simply IS White Christmas.

- Occasionally, though, the remakes are better. Willie Nelson made Pretty Paper.

- There are so many, many ways to fuck up Silent Night.

- To wit: Christine Aguilera has a set of pipes, but someone needs to explain to her that "peace" does not have 17 syllables.

- I don't like my Christmas songs to be fucked with very much. Jazz them up, rock them out, whatever, but don't fuck with the basic song in ways that make them un-sing-along-able. And Christmas songs are made for singing along.

- Medleys suck. While we're on the topic of singing along, it sucks when you're just about to rock out the second verse of O Come All Ye Faithful, and suddenly you're in the Little Town of Bethlehem and thinking, "Did I just black out?"

- Hard Candy Christmas is seriously underrated.

- So is Fum, Fum Fum.

- With a few exceptions, the awesomeness of the 80s did not carry over into Christmas Music.

- Even at Christmas, the entire concept of John Tesh makes me want to vomit.

- Suzy snowflake is what second graders sing in music class. It does not belong on the radio. Ever.

- Merry Christmas from the Family sounds more like my family every year.

- No matter how much eggnog* I drink, I still think Bruce Springsteen sucks. Santa Claus is coming to town sounds like something your chain-smoking drunk uncle forgot the words to. (*OK, rum and coke. But in a festive holiday glass.)

- Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy makes me nervous when the girl is listening. Because I'm crazy and I don't have enough ridiculous shit to worry about.

- Synthesizers + Christmas music = Baby Jesus Crying

- Please - no more barking damned dogs (though when I was a kid, they had a version of it with laughing and it was infectious).

- Vince Guaraldi? Genius. So pretty and nostalgic.

- And on the Peanuts topic, Snoopy's Christmas is pretty cool, too.

- And of course all the Grinch music. I mean, anytime one can work "three decker toadstool and sauerkraut sandwich with arsenic sauce" into a song - I'm in.

- You can't go wrong with Dominick the Donkey.

- Embarrassingly enough, I'm still a sucker for the chipmunks.

- Madonna is no Eartha Kitt. Neither are the rest of the skanks who have tried, and failed, to do Santa Baby justice.

- Who the fuck wants a hippopotamus for Christmas? What, are they on crack? Hippos kill motherfuckers! You do not want a hippo!

- Angels among us isn't really a Christmas song, but I love it anyway.

- I really HATE the songs about poor little street urchins who are starving and Jesus disguised as a homeless person and God help me, if I hear Christmas shoes one more time, I'm going to hunt down the person who wrote it and run them down with my sleigh. Then beat them with those fucking shoes. Just in case they meet Jesus tonight.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Calling All Geeks: Completely Geeky - Though Dated - Giveaway. Plus Cheesecake!

OK, so I’m jumping on the giveaway bandwagon, but in the interest of full disclosure while you may get something free from me, you will be helping me by getting rid of some clutter in my life.

A few months ago, I pre-ordered Brisingr (yes, I am that much of a geek). When it was delivered, there were two boxes addressed to me. One had Brisingr and the other had three books: Brisingr, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I immediately called the company and they basically did not care. I asked them if they wanted to know whose name and invoice number was on the slip in the box (no) because I figured they would want to get this person his order ASAP, since he clearly is a big geek like me and pre-ordered his geek book and most likely would be waiting for it.

Are you sure you don’t want the info? (no). What to do with the books (don’t care). Don't you even want my name? (no). But what about…? (no) Well then shouldn’t I…? (no) But don’t you think…? (don’t! care!)

After about 10 minutes of this, I insisted that they send me return shipping and they agreed. Weeks passed, no label. I called back. They’d send it. More weeks. More nothing. It’s now been 2 months and I no longer give a shit. Surely, my poor fellow geek has long since complained and received his order. And since the company doesn’t seem to care, then I am making the executive geek decision to pass long this little windfall to a fellow geek (albeit one who has somehow missed a couple of books that everyone has already read).

So, have you been dying to read any of these books, but haven’t had the chance? Have you borrowed them from the library, but would love to own them? Do you have kids that have just started reading the Harry Potter series and haven’t gotten to numbers five and six yet? Are you wondering what the hell Brisingr is all about and just how much of a geeky teenage boy is Gina, anyway? Then this is the contest for you.

The Harry Potter books are nice paperbacks and Brisingr (the third and latest book in the Inheritance no-longer-a-Trilogy. Or if you have no idea what Inheritance Trilogy means: blah blah geekity geek dragons geeker elves geeky blah geek dwarves geekatron blah blah swordfights)

All you need to do is leave me a comment and tell me which book you want. You can name one two or all three, and I’ll do a drawing for each.

And for a little incentive, I’m going to randomly choose one of the books to slide a $25 gift certificate to The Cheesecake Factory in. But I won’t tell which book – you’ll have to wait until you get yours to find out. It's a big, geeky, cheesecake lottery! And if there is only one person out there as geeky as me, then baby, it’s your lucky day, since you can win more than one!

I’ll keep it open until Tuesday evening, so I can get to the post office Wednesday when I am out of the office.

Oh, and also? I keep typing "Harry Pooter" Hee.

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Friday Five: Childhood Indulgences

1. When did you last have a mid-day nap?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh wait. You’re serious? Really? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! OK, let’s see. I’d say probably sometime in1996 when I was pregnant with my first child.

2. When did you last have milk and cookies?

I can’t even remember. I have had cookies very recently, but the milk not so much. I actually like milk, but never really drink it. And I don’t care for milk and cookies. I like milk, I like cookies, but together – blech. And don’t even get me started on the heinous practice of dunking. Gag!

3. When did you last have a bubble bath?

Two weeks ago – it was the last real bath I took before that hugely expensive asshole motherfucker of a water heater died for good. Fucker.

4. When did you last jump on the furniture?

I jumped on the bed in the hotel in Disney out of sheer excitement.

5. When did you last play in the mud?

Does falling in the mud count? If so – about a month ago. Otherwise – I have never been much of a mud girl. Dirt, maybe, but not mud.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Friday? Five

Yeah, yeah, it's Sunday, not Friday. But I had lots of things to do, like eat leftovers and decorate and drink heavily, so I'm a little late. Sue me.

Friday Five: Over

1. What’s a profession you believe to be overpaid?

Without a doubt, professional athletes. Don’t get me wrong – I like sports. I watch sports. I go to sporting events. But holy hell am I sick to death of the whole damned lot (minus a few) of rich fucking crybabies. These men (yeah, sexist, I know, but let’s face it, it’s men making the big buck), well actually, boys in most cases are doing what millions of other boys would give their left nut to do and getting highly paid to do it. And the fuckers are beating up (or killing) their women, driving drunk, taking drugs, cheating on their wives, shooting their dumbass selves, getting in fights in bars, and just being generally despicable. And a good many of them can no more use even passable grammar than they can perform surgery.

I know it makes me sound old (which I am), but it’s hard to compare these guys with the athletes of the 60s and 70s who were in the sport for the love of the game, who had to educate themselves so they could be something after retirement other than a retired overpaid athlete. The ones who are actual surgeons. And motivational speakers and business owners and community leaders and state delegates and engineers and real estate developers and stockbrokers and authors and investment bankers .

2. Who’s a musician you believe to be overrated?

This is a hard one, because at first, ten jillion names come to mind, but I realized that in most cases, it’s probably not that they are overrated, but that I just don’t appreciate their musical styles. So I had to narrow it down to those whose style of music I like, but just not them. Even doing that is hard – I have never cared for the Stones or Springsteen, but I don’t know if I can really say they are overrated, because I can appreciate their contributions to the musical world. And really, I think I just don’t care for them. Maybe Lucinda Williams – mr b loves her and I like some of her stuff, but after a while, it all sounds like the same bitching and moaning to me. Like she wants to be Neil Young but can’t quite pull it off.

3. What in your life could stand to be overhauled?

I couldn’t even begin to narrow it down. My house, my schedule, my weight, my closets, my physical fitness, my relationship with my husband, my wardrobe, my patience level. You name it, I need help with it.

What’s something interesting you recently overheard?

Cellphone conversation heard in line at w@l-mart: “I’m sick of your shit. You ain’t no kind of baby-daddy. You ain’t brought me no money like you said, but you damn sure got money to give that whore Sheila. Fuck you. This baby is five months old and you seen him three times. And now I gotta buy more fucking diapers. I don’t even have no money for no fucking weed. Fuck You! Yeah, I heard that before. Fuck you. Well, maybe this baby ain’t actually had to educate themselves ain’t even yours, asshole!”

5. Who is the most overextended person you know?

Do we mean time-wise? My friend Hedge. I lament being overextended, but then I realize that she is doing the same thing with the full-time job and the kids and the activities and the husband (sorry hedge – I mean “youth-ruiner”) and the house and the dog and so on, except that she’s doing it with one more kid than I have. Plus, one is a teenaged girl and another has a chronic illness.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

I Don't Bake

I went to the Burgh Moms cookie exchange on Saturday, and let me tell you, I spent at least 5 days beforehand bitching and moaning about baking cookies. I told anyone who would listen that I was going because I love the Burgh Moms (and there was even a Burgh Dad), and I just wanted to socialize. I didn’t care about cookies, because I! Hate! Baking!

I am a good cook. A really good cook. But I am a non-recipe cook. I like to throw things together and experiment with new dishes. The upside is that I have come up with some really great meals. One downside is that when people ask me for the recipe, I have none. Now, if you are also a non-recipe cook, I can probably give you an idea of how to make it and you can either duplicate it or improve on it. But if you need a recipe, I am not the girl for you. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have had this conversation with someone who liked a dish I made:

Friend: How much *insert ingredient* do I need?

Me: I don't know. Some.

Friend: Well, what about the *insert ingredient*?

Me: Whatever it takes.

Friend: How many pounds of *meat/fish/pasta* do you use?

Me: As much as you want.

Friend (getting frustrated): What temperature?

Me: Oh, 350. Or 375. Or 400, whatever.

Friend (totally disgusted): How long do you cook it?

Me: Until it’s done.

It’s not too hard to see that the other downfall of this sort of cooking philosophy is that Gina + Baking = smoke, nasty-ass cookies, throwing of spatulas, second degree burns, tears and oreos. But I sucked it up and made cookies for the cookie swap, hoping that they would only be mildly bad and that I would get home and out of everyone’s scorn distance before anyone discovered just how bad a baker I am. So imagine my surprise when some folks actually liked them and wanted the recipe. I still think they are either 1) having some sort of sugar-induced hysteria or 2) smoking crack, but whatever.

So here is where I fess up that these are the least fancy cookies ever. Seriously. All they are is a basic sugar cookie, plus Gina’s own special brand of I Can’t Control My Compulsion To Dick Around With This Perfectly Good Recipe And See How Badly I Can Screw It Up. Basically, you use your favorite sugar cookie recipe. I don’t have a favorite, so I just grabbed a random one online (I made sure to choose one without milk or cream, since I was afraid of adding lemon to dairy).

First, whip up the sugar cookie dough. Then add (any one or combination of) a few drops of lemon juice, some powdered lemon (true lemon) and some lemon zest. Then mix in some dried sweetened cranberries. Roll into little balls and bake at 350 degrees for about 11 minutes. Normally, with sugar cookies, you would want them a little pale, with just a teeny bit of golden brown on the edge, but taste tests (me, shoving them in my maw) showed that with the lemon flavor they tasted better when I let them brown a little more to get crispier.

OK, now be very careful to pay attention to these precise instructions:

How much lemon juice/zest/powdered lemon? Some. Whatever. To taste (if you’re afraid of raw cookie dough, then I can’t help you. I suck in many ways.) Also – don’t use artificial lemon extract. It’s wrong.

How many cranberries? Lots.

What size balls to roll? Ummm…a little bigger than a superball. Were you not listening when I said I don’t measure????

And that, my friends, is it. Lemon cranberry cookies. I personally like them, but then I am not a big chocolate, nutty, coconutty kind of girl. I tend to like fruity stuff, so these are perfect for me. I also love pie. And pie gives you a little more leeway, so I can actually practice my crazy kitchen witchcraft on pies.

Now, if I could just get the recipe for the concord grape ricotta tart I had at Casbah last week, I’d be a happy woman. Well, I’d be pleased. I’d be happy after I suckered one of you into baking it for me.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seven Things

I was tagged by Amy last week for the seven random things meme, and I am just getting around to it now. I suck. But in my defense, it has been birthday party central around here. Between vacation, my work trip, both kids’ birthdays with parties for their friends, a get-together for my SIL’s birthday, and a big family party at my house for both kids, I am wiped out. Also, if you don’t already read Amy’s blog, you need to get over there right now and check out the photos of her son in his Charlie Brown costume, because that is some serious cute right there.

1. In the morning when I am getting ready for work, I must have the news on. And only the news. If I am in the bathroom fixing my hair and mr b turns something else on, it makes me crazy. I don’t know why, but the sound of anything but the news makes me insane. Especially if it’s a movie. If I hear movie dialogue at 5:45 am, I want to stab someone.

2. I hate getting my teeth cleaned. I mean, I like having clean teeth, but the feeling of that nasty little rubber brush thing on my teeth makes me crazy. It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me (except for the fact that nails on a chalkboard don't bother me in the least, but you know what I mean). The mere thought of it makes my mouth water (not like mmm…chocolate mouth-watering, but like before you puke mouth-watering) and my hair stand on end. Also in this category is the sliding of a tie or scarf across my collar. **shiver**

3. If I am at your house and have to use the bathroom, there is a good chance I will peek behind your shower curtain. Not because I am nebby (the ‘burghers know what that means), and not because I give a shit if you cleaned it. No – I will look because He may be hiding there. You know – Him. He who hides in showers and kills women on the toilet. What? You’ve never heard of him? Well, he’s there, and now I may have just saved your life. You’re welcome. Oh. And he’s also in the woods, so only go camping in large groups. It helps your odds.

4. I have a knit Steelers hat from the 70’s that I still pull out and wear sometimes. It’s a big black and gold rooster, for some reason. I have no idea what a rooster has to do with football, other than the fact that it has Steelers written on it. But it was the 70’s and everybody was high. I call it Cockhead.

5. I am mourning the loss of my personality. I used to be funny and interesting. Or maybe I never was, but I thought I was. Either way, I don’t feel funny or interesting or fun or spontaneous at all anymore. Instead, I feel tired and boring and unattractive and uninteresting and uninterested. Maybe I need medication, because it’s a fucking depressing feeling, to not feel like you are the same person you were when you liked yourself.

6. I have certain “types” when it comes to men and most don’t fall into the traditionally handsome mold. I mean, I love me some Clooney, but I also really go for somewhat big noses, pornstaches (think Tom Selleck, Sam Elliot, Kix Brooks), and hippie guys. In the traditionally handsome group, I go for dark skinned men. Note that mr b is fair, blond, normal-nosed, and not a hippie. Weird. Oh – and personality-wise, I have always had a tendency to be attracted to smartasses and douchebags. That always worked out really well for me (again, mr b not included, though he can be a pain in the ass sometimes).

7. Last year, I joined NaNoWriMo and failed miserably. I only got about 6000 words written. I started off on such a roll, with what I thought was a good idea for a novel. I still do, but once I lost the drive, that was it. I occasionally get it out and peck at it for a while, but I can’t seem to make any progress. I do believe that someday I will finish it, but I don’t know when.

Well, now I am supposed to tag seven more people, but it seems that everyoine I read has already done this, so if you haven’t., consider yourself tagged. And also, Jackie (aka Maria), I am officially tagging you because you haven’t written in forever and I miss you. Get on it!

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Thursday, November 13, 2008


I got this from Uncle Crappy. Basically, you get a letter and then list 10 things that start with that letter that you love. I had a hard time with it, so I modified it from things I love to things that are significant to me somehow. Happily, he didn’t assign me an X or Q, so here goes: W

1. Westminster College: This was my first college. I spent so much time looking at brochures and visiting campuses before deciding where to go. I knew I wanted to go somewhere with a campus – not in the middle of a city. I wanted a school with a good science program. I wanted someplace scenic. I wanted someplace that wasn’t all the way across the country, but not so close that my parent would be likely to drop in unexpectedly. I had it narrowed down to a couple of schools, but WC offered me an academic scholarship and my mind was made up. I loved it there.

It was everything I wanted – scenic, lots of things to do outdoors, a great biology & science program, with state of the art labs and equipment. It had a different type of semester system, with a J-term, which ran all of January, where you took one class that was either a trip, or an all-day hands on type thing. One year I took the physics of flight and learned to fly a plane. Awesome.

What my parents didn’t expect of this sleepy little Amish-town school was that it was party central. My first day of orientation, on my way to amoeba tag or giant twister or some other such nonsense, I met a long haired boy who said, “This is stupid, wanna get high instead?” And that, my friends was the beginning of the end. I lasted two years, had the very best and very worst times of my life, and eventually had to go. I don’t regret a minute of my time there and regret every minute of my time there. I have a whole, weird, unfinished feeling about the place that fills me with nostalgia.

2. Walt Disney World: Everyone who knows me knows I am a total freak for Disney. Not really Disney in general, but Walt Disney World. I’ve been lucky enough to visit a lot of different places in my life, and there are a lot more I’d still like to visit. But when it comes down to it – WDW is my favorite. Don’t get me wrong – comparing WDW to exotic locations like comparing apples to oranges and I can’t really say I’d rather go to WDW than say, Costa Rica or Tuscany or Hawaii, but overall – WDW is my favorite. As soon as I drive onto the property, I am happy. I love being completely immersed and away from the outside world. I want to go back right now.

3. Waterbury CT: This is the first Dead show I owned. 09/23/72. My friend Dave had about eleventy million taped shows and I wanted all of them. I bought a bunch of cassettes and told him to get taping. He had an extra copy of this one, so I got it right away and listened to it approximately twenty-thousand times before my roommate begged me to stop. It has quite a few of my favorite songs, which probably shows that I’m a Jerry girl. Though I had the hots for Bobby for years.

4. Water: I love to be in water. Pools, hot tubs, bathtubs, lakes, oceans – whatever. I am a much happier person in water. It soothes away my stress and worry and aches and pains. I can remember learning to swim at my aunt;s country club in Florida – in thse days, the prevailing method was to throw you in and basically wait for you to sink or swim. I can still see the 6ft sign going up and down in fro nof my face as I nearly drowned. But in the ended, I swam. And never stopped since. I was a diver with the swim team all through high school and part of college and I never minded showing up at 5:30 am for practice, because it meant I got to be in the water.

We had a pool for a couple of years and I was in it constantly. When we had to get rid of it to make room for the addition, I cried. I still maintain that someday we will get another. In fact, as soon as I win the powerball, I will be getting a convertible indoor/outdoor pool, so I can be in it all year long (I don’t know if there is such a thing, but with my hundreds of millions, I will make it happen). And it will have an attached Jacuzzi, so I can easily move from one to the other. And I may need to spring for scuba gear so I can escape underwater for long periods of time.

5. Wilderness: I’m a Civil War buff and this was the first battlefield I visited. We were on our way to The Battle of the Wilderness in Spotsylvania, Virginia was fought near the end of the Civil War – in May of 1864. It was the first battle in the Overland Campaign – the bloodiest campaign in American history and the beginning of the end of the Civil War. Lt General James Longstreet was wounded by his own men here. Almost 30,000 men, both Union and Confederate, were killed in this battle. Afterwards, a two week long battle picked up near the Spotsylvania courthouse. On the morning of May 12th, at a bend in the trenches, the close contact fighting got so bloody that the dead were stacked 5 deep and had to be moved to make room for the living. It was the longest sustained hand-to-hand fight of the entire war. At one point, the fighting was so intense that a 22-inch oak tree was shot clean through by musket fire. The stump is on display at the Smithsonian

6. White Nights: Most of you are younger than me and probably don’t remember Jim Jones and the tragedy in Jonestown, Guyana. I was 10 years old at the time and this was by far the scariest thing I had ever seen or heard. I simply did not understand the concept of suicide and it scared me shitless. Jim Jones was a crazy cult leader. He founded the People’s Temple in 1955. He started out as a champion for desegregation, but by the mid 1960s began to get a little crazy, believing that nuclear war was coming soon. In the early to mid 1970s he had gone pretty much batshit, and built a sanctuary – his socialist paradise – in Guyana, naming it after himself.

By the late 70s, accusations of physical, emotional ands sexual abuse began to emerge from former Temple members and U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan led a fact-finding mission to Guyana, along with a cameraman, reporters and relatives of temple members. After Ryan was attacked by a temple member with a knife, the group left, along with some defectors. But as they were boarding their plane at a nearby airstrip, Jones’ “guard” pulled up and started shooting. At the same time, one of the defectors pulled a gun and shot those who had already boarded the plane. Five people were killed and more were wounded.

Later that day, Jones led his followers in a mass suicide, serving them Kool-Aid laced with cyanide. 909 people died. 276 of them were children. Jones himself died of a gunshot wound to the head – it is unsure whether it was self-inflicted or if he instructed someone else to carry it out. There was an audio recording of the mass suicide which was played on the news and to this day, I can still hear his voice saying “mother, mother, mother please.” Just thinking about it gives me chills and brings tears to my eyes.

After the tragedy former Temple members said that mass suicide was often discussed, and even simulated, on a regular basis. On one such episode, members drank liquid that Jones told them was poison, apparently to test them. They called these trial runs “White Nights.”

7. Walt Whitman:

Beat! beat! drums! - blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows - through doors - burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom quiet - no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums - so shrill you bugles blow.

Beat! beat! drums! - blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities - over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? No sleepers must sleep in those beds,
No bargainers' bargains by day - no brokers or speculators – would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums - you bugles wilder blow.

Beat! beat! drums! - blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley - stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid - mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child's voice be heard, nor the mother's entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums - so loud you bugles blow.

8. Tammy Wynette/Doc Watson: The first album and last (so far) albums I have bought.

In the 70s, I saw a TV ad for a Tammy Wynette album and I really wanted it. I think I liked it because I could spell d-i-v-o-r-c-e. I’m not sure I really even know what divorce was exactly, but I liked that I could spell it. I told me dad I wanted to spend my birthday money on it. He ordered it and I waited impatiently until it arrived in the mail. I still have it.

About a week ago, I bought Doc & Merle Watson’s Black Mountain Rag. One of these years, I’m gonna make it to Merlefest.

9. W: Here I am, eight years later, still wondering how this blathering idiot got to be president. Well, at least he made us all feel smart while he was fucking up the economy, the environment, education, and dicking around with innocent lives all over the world. Thanks for that, Dumbya.

10. Whine/Wine: What my kids do/How I deal with it.

you want to play? Let me know and I'll hook you up with a letter (not X or Q, I promise)

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Five

Friday Five: Middles

1. What usually marks the middle of your day?

Lunch. I eat a late lunch on workdays, so the afternoon seems shorter and quitting time comes more quickly.

2. From whom (or to whom) was your most recent middle-of-the-night phone call?

That would be a call (or calls) to my husband made by me and my sisters-in-law from a party. Also known as drunk dialing. He is still pissed.

3. On what social, political, economic, or moral issue are you in the middle of the road?

Gun control. I grew up in a hunting family (though I could never hunt myself). I enjoy shooting sports (like target, skeet & trap shooting). But I can’t understand why there are people out there who actually believe that a waiting period is a bad thing, that unregulated gun shows are a good thing, and why anyone needs an automatic weapon.

4. How likely are you to give someone your middle finger?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Have you met me? And speaking of – I’m with this guy: Fuck you Proposition 8!!

5. When were you last caught in the middle of a disagreement that really had nothing to do with you?

Hmmm…I don’t know. I’m not sure whether to be happy that I avoided that drama or concerned that the drama has all involved me.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Will Be Saying Fuck a Lot Today

I want to talk about how happy I am this morning, about how proud I am of the decision we as a country made. I want to talk about the screams of delight and tears of joy. I really do. But it will have to wait because I am so pissed off right now that I am physically ill. I came home to a letter last night that sucked any joy I would have had right the hell out of me. Even after sleeping on it, I am still so angry I can’t even concentrate.

You see, it seems that my son’s “truancy” has warranted our being referred to a social services agency. Notice “truancy” is in quotes. We took him out of school for one week to go on vacation. A family trip, in our school district, is considered an excused absence. He went to school his first day back with his huge stack of completed homework. He made up all the tests. He has all As and Bs. This is bullshit!

I need to post the letter so you can truly understand my fury. First – the agency is an outside group called Try Again Homes, Inc. OK – “Try Again Homes”???? That sounds a little too much like CYS to me. They have two mottoes on their letterhead: “Giving Families New Direction” and Serving Children, Strengthening Families, and Building Lives.” WTF???

I checked out their website and they are all about “families at risk” and “families in need” and “families poised to have a child removed from their care” and adoption and foster children. This is motherfucking CYS/Social Services with a prettier name. Again, WTF?? WHAT!!! THE!!! FUCK?!?!?

The letter states:

Dear Mr. & Mrs. B:

I am an Educational Advocate from Try-Again Homes Inc. Our agency is collaborating with the Asshole School District in a Truancy Intervention Prevention Program. Frequent Truancy often leads to poor grades, grade level failure, and ultimately dropping out of school. The goal of our TIPP Program is to help prevent truancy and provide assistance to families and students, if needed, to identify and overcome the obstacles that may be interfering with the student’s ability to complete their basic education. The collaboration with the schools may also extend to other community agencies and resources when it is determined that the student and family could benefit from their special services.

The Boy has been referred to our agency because he has been absent for 6 days during this school year, of which 2 are illegal. It is important we meet with you to discuss this matter. A parent conference is set for Thursday, November 13th at 12:00 pm (noon)

If you have any questions or concerns, please call me at 724-eat-shit. Also, please call and confirm the appointment date and time.

Do I have any concerns? You think??


1. The fact that he missed 5 days and not 6!
2. The fact that they were excused, according to both the school policy on absences and the student handbook!
3. The fact that it makes no sense that they would claim that some of them are excused and some are not – they were all for the same thing!
4. The fact that they should be aware that they are excused, given that I sent letter to the principal and every teacher weeks in advance!
5. The fact that the school had him carry a form, around to every teacher to be signed off on!
6. The fact that every single year he has had near perfect attendance and two years, he had PERFECT ATTENDANCE!
7. The fact that he is so OBVIOUSLY not a child at risk – he went back to school after vacation with his huge stack of homework done, he gets good grades, he’s well liked by his teachers, he participates in extracurricular activates – the boy plays multiple instruments in the band, for fucks sake – does this sound like a child at risk to you??!!!!!
8. The fact that it’s hilarious to me that we are suddenly a family at risk, because we took our FAMILY on a FAMILY VACATION!!!!!!!
9. The fact that if this school DOES NOT HAVE ITS SHIT TOGETHER and has the incorrect number of days absent, and has incorrectly designated them as illegal!!
10. The fact that two days – although incorrect – is worthy of bringing in an outside agency!!
12. The fact that if the school would spend even a fraction of them time they spend on those goddamned PSSAs on a little fucking QUALITY CONTROL, this would not be a problem!! If they had taken even one FUCKING MINUTE to check their FUCKING FACTS before they referred us to A FUCKING AGENCY, this would be all for naught!!!!

Yeah – I’ve got a few concerns.

I immediately called the agency and left a voicemail. I realize that my beef is with the school, who did the referring, but I am a little ticked about the agency making me an appointment and assuming I’d be available, so I left a VM letting them know that I would most certainly NOT be meeting with them. I called the school this morning, but the principal was unavailable (surprise). I will be giving her one more call and then I am going to the superintendent. Or maybe I’ll just go to him anyway. If they don’t fix this shit immediately, it will be a huge mistake. Our school has had some negative publicity in the past and I imagine that they don’t want any more.



I spoke with the woman from the agency and she was very nice. She said that as soon as she got my message she looked at his records and could immediately see that it was his vacation and she couldn't understand why he was referred. She said that she gets frustrated because this happens a lot and she ends up with (rightfully) irate parents calling her. She is upset that the school isn't doing a better job. She made me feel a million times better when she said that we don't have to meet and she doesn't have to look into his attendance any further. She did say that she will be going to the school this week to discuss this with them. Yay. Because seriously - if she was able to spend 5 minutes looking at his records and figuring it the fuck out, why can't the school? Oh -and that extra day? It was an excused absence for a scouting trip. The thing is? He didn't go on that trip! He was in school!! SO he could have ditched school (or god forbid, been abducted) and no one would have known) Fuckers.



OMG, I hate the school principal!!

I called earlier this morning ans she wasn't available,. this didn't surprise me because at the beginning of the year, I had to call her a couple of times because his schedule was screwed up and each time, she was not available and instead passed messages through the secretary.

So I didn't want to leave a message this morning, but said I would call back. the secretary asked why I was calling and I told her briefly of the situation. I called back a couple of hours later (after I had spoken to the agency) and when the secretary answered, i identified myself and asked if the principal was available. She said sure and put me on hold. And then she came back a couple of minutes later and said that Mrs. Bitchbagcuntface wanted her to tell me that it was not her job and that I needed to talk to the assistant principal because it was his job, bt he is out until Monday.

In case you missed that - she said it was NOT HER JOB!!!

Well, my tax dollars say it IS her job! I understand that attendance issues may fall under the assistant principal's job duties, but since he is the assistant and she is the principal, that makes it her fucking job!!! Especially given that I have an actual problem that needs to be addressed (she had no idea whether I spoke to the agency yet or not), and because the asst principal was out for the rest of the fucking week.

Fucking Bitch!!

I am planning on getting in touch with the superintendent now, because this is unacceptable - both the complete failure of the attendance system and - especially - the behavior of this principal. I think I may have to email, though, because I know my weaknesses and my big one is my temper and potty mouth (what the fuck of it?). So I am afraid to call for fear of going all crazy and undoing any good I might accomplish otherwise. So I need to calm down, gather my thoughts and draft an email. The problem is that I am so frustrated I can't calm down and think straight. So all you smart, eloquent folks out there, feel free to give me some advice on what to write. If I'm left to my own devices, there may be a few too many fucks, dickheads, motherfuckers, assholes and even a cunt or two.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

The Good Uncle

My mom called me a little while ago to tell me that my uncle is dying. He’s not really my uncle – not anymore. He married my Aunt Twin when I was just a baby, but they haven’t been married for many, many years. But he was there throughout my childhood, so regardless of blood relations and divorces, he has always been Uncle Paul, and I have always loved him.

He was an awesome uncle. The kind that is silly and fun. Always joking, rarely serious. Quick to stick up for you when you’re fighting mom for a later bedtime, or one more cookie. Generous with his money and his love. And he had lots of famous friends, which was pretty cool. Although, looking back, some of the closest of these friends - in retrospect – said something about him, I guess. I won’t mention their names, but I can say that they might possibly rhyme with Feet Blows and Weevil Believel. Back then, though, this stuff was all the makings of a Good Uncle. Good Uncles don’t always make good husbands, though. Mr. Good Time isn’t generally Mr. Responsible.

But Mr. Good Time he was. They had a beautiful house in Florida – it was big and exquisitely decorated - for the 70’s that is. I was in love with that house. Every room had a different color scheme or theme. Each had it’s own bathroom, which was unheard of (to me at least) in those days. The bathrooms were two rooms and Aunt Twin always had these soap sculptures on display in the outer room. I adored those things – they were beautiful and they smelled so good. We spent much of the summer there every year and I probably spent 10% of that time just taking in all the beautiful things she had there. The formal living room with the fur couch. The Florida room with the black patent leather couches and red hanging lamps. The bullfight statue that I used to imitate with my best friend Tracy and almost broke my nose. I still have the scar and the chipped bone.

I remember the kitchen with it’s mushroom theme and the state of the art appliances. My room was my favorite, because it was mine of course. It was crazy psychedelic blue and green, with twin beds (a novelty to me, since I had a big bed at home). There was white modern furniture including corner table that one bed slid halfway under when not in use. And there was a stereo built into it. God, I loved that room. My second favorite room was my Aunt Cee’s. She was a teen during those times and she got the super psychedelic room, with the black and silver wallpaper and the black furry bedspread and the groovy wire-sculpture hanging lamp and the white tree with hidden colored lights. I know it all sounds crazy and tacky now, but this was the 70’s – trust me – it was AWESOME.

He had a great mind – he was a businessman. He invented and marketed an exercise device that was very successful. His brother was a very famous NFL player and he himself was in the NFL for a while, so he had lots of connections to athletes that he used in his ads. He was clever, too, and had some funny, smart, and sometimes risqué advertising campaigns, which contributed to his success. But he liked to spend and party and gamble and live the high life. He made tons, but spent more. He had a wandering eye,. Hard for a wife to take when she is already 15 years his junior, I imagine. When I was about 11 or 12, Aunt Twin and Uncle Paul moved back to PA. I didn’t know why at the time, but I guess they were struggling both financially and emotionally. I didn’t know any of this until years later, so when they split up, I was devastated.

I cried and cried at the thought of losing my favorite uncle. The one that took me to get ice cream even though I didn’t finish my dinner. The one who would pose for photos wearing big, silly hats and glasses. The one that bought me presents just from him. the one that could always make me laugh, no matter what. I knew that no matter what happened between them, he would always be my uncle.

I was wrong.

I didn’t see him for years after they split. By the time I was an older teen, there were a few brief sightings and (I think) a graduation card. I sent him Christmas cards over the years, but never heard anything in return. I invited him to my wedding and never even got a response. If it were anyone else, I would have said, fuck him; he’s an asshole. But not with Uncle Paul. Even after years of no contact and rejection, I still loved him and missed him. After the boy was born, I sent him a card and letter, telling him about his new “great-nephew” and telling him how I felt – that I still loved him, that he was still my favorite uncle. He didn’t respond.

I never tried again, but I caught news of him occasionally through Aunt Twin, who got her news through the grapevine. Occasionally – as and recently as this summer – I would google him to see if there was something – anything – out there. Sometimes there was, and recently I even saw a photo. I was struck by how old he looked, since in my mind he is still big strong Uncle Paul.

Apparently, Aunt Twin talked to his brother recently – what prompted it, I don’t know – and found out that he is dying of cancer. I guess the brother passed on her love and this morning he called her. He was very kind, telling her how sorry he was. He said that his good time friends always told him what a mistake he made with her, and that he knows it. Even though he’s happy now, he still has regrets.

And then he asked how his favorite niece was.

He said how he missed me and how he wished he had stayed in touch. He said he was so moved when he got my letter, and that he regrets never replying. That he loves me. I shouldn’t care, but I do. I shouldn’t grieve him, but I will. I shouldn’t be crying, but I am. I’ve missed him for years, and now I am going to miss him more.

I love you, Uncle Paul.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008


I’m still all discombobulated from all the traveling and I’m having a hard time concentrating on coming up with something to say, so in honor of Halloween, let’s talk about random scary stuff.

I was a teenager when the Michael/Jason/Freddy movies were in their heyday and I loved them. The scarier and gorier the better. Sure – they scared me in the sense that I would jump or hide my face, but I didn’t take that fear home with me. Now, I don’t’ love them as much. I’m not scared, exactly, I’m just not interested. I still like the psychological thrillers, but I can live without the gore.

When I was a kid, though, there were a few movies that scared me shitless. They used to show scary movies on Sunday afternoons and one week, my mom was out and my dad was outside working in the yard. I was watching TV and a movie called Let’s Scare Jessica To Death came on. It was a stupid, low budget, very bad movie, but I was little and it scared me shitless. To this day, every time I make dinner and see raw meat, I can hear the whispers of “It’s blood, Jessica.”

The other movie that creeped me the fuck out was Magic. Dude – that movie was freaky. To this day, I can’t stand ventriloquist dummies. Shortly after I saw this movie, I stayed over at a friends house and her mother was a big antique collector, so their house was all full of strange things. And after we went to bed, I had to get up and go to the bathroom. And as I walked through the house, I glanced at a rocking chair by the window and in the moonlight, there was a fucking evil, murderous dummy. Freaked me out so bad, I woke the whole house up.

The scary movies I loved and still do were The Shining, Alien(s), The Thing, and The Omen.

Haunted Houses:
The first haunted house I visited was actually set up inside a mall. My aunt and her friend took me and the friend’s kids (my friend Milo and his brother Fatso). Milo and I were big scaredy cats and lost our minds. My aunt had to threaten the people working in it to leave us alone and let us get out, since we were choking her in terror. Fatso, however, who was probably about 6 at the time, was trying to karate chop every werewolf and vampire he saw. As a teen, I loved them, though. I went to every haunted house and hayride I could find. They were scary, but exciting. And it didn’t hurt to go with a boy – it gave you a reason to hang on. But now, as an adult, I have no interest whatsoever in haunted houses (other than the Disney version, which is not scary). I’m not scared, exactly, but I am a reactor and if someone jumps out at me, I am afraid I will either jump out of my skin and have a heart attack, piss my pants, or lose it and punch the monster (or perhaps the person I am with) in the face.

When I was little, Scooby-Doo used to scare me. I’d wake up early when my parents were still in bed and go downstairs and watch. And then I’d hide under the covers until someone else woke up.

When I was pregnant with the boy, I was a big X-Files fan and the episode Home came on and I had to leave the room. It probably wasn’t scary to the normal person, but to a crazy, hormonal pregnant woman? OMG. I had nightmares.

One time, Tee and I were getting ready to go out and I had just gotten out of the shower. I went to get dressed and as I reached into a drawer to get some underwear, I discovered that sleeping nestled among my unmentionables, was a bat. A freaky, squeaky, smelly, infested-with-god-knows-what, disgusting bat. I had a heart attack, died, came back to life, had a another heart attack, then called my grandfather. He came down and put on gloves and pulled piece by piece of lacy lingerie out of the drawer, looking completely freaked out and like he was going to throw up, then grabbed the bat like it was a fuzzy little no big deal kitty or something and chased Tee and I around the house with it for a while. Good times.

Scary Stories:
When I was little, the older neighbor boys used to like to scare me and their little sister with creepy stories. Eventually, my mom had to call their mom about it because I couldn’t sleep. It was the Mary Worth one that did me in. To this day, I prefer not to have a mirror in the room I sleep in. Mirrors by day are fine, but by night, they still creep me out a little.

Scary places:
As a teen, the place to go to scare yourself shitless was Quaker Cemetery. Even in the daylight, there was something very eerie about it. There were lots of stories about strange things happenings. As soon as you would walk through the gates you get a strange, scary feeling. One time, a friend and I were there and heard what sounded like a girl or woman crying. We got the hell out and I have never been back.

Ghostly encounters:
I’ve only had one paranormal encounter and it wasn’t really scary. It was the week after my great-grandma (Nana) died. Nana was in her late 80s when she died. She had a bad hip, so she used to come down the stairs one at a time. The house was old and the stairs were creaky. When she would come down, there would be a long, then short creak for each step she descended. The dog would come halfway down and then wait, then go the rest of the way and wait. Once she got down the stairs, he would trot to her chair, wait until she sat, then sit on her feet.

So a week or so after she died, I was in her house alone. I was feeling very sad, since I took her death really hard. Suddenly, I got cold, for no reason. It wasn’t particularly cold out side, but I felt a draft. I grabbed a blanket and laid down on the couch. A second later, the dog (who had been upstairs) came halfway down and stopped. I got a little weirded out, but nothing like when I heard the creaking. CREEEAAAAK CREAK. CREEEAAAAK CREAK. Every single hair stood on end and I felt paralyzed. I swear, I didn’t breathe the entire time. There were enough creaks to account for half the steps, then the dog came down the rest of the stairs. More creaks. Finally, the dog ran in to the living room and waited beside Nana’s chair. And suddenly I didn’t feel scared anymore. I felt comforted. Then, about 30 seconds later, he sat down at the foot of the chair, like he was sitting on her feet. And then it was just over. I didn’t feel cold or scared, but I felt really tired ad went to sleep. I never told anyone about it for years, because I was afraid they would think I was crazy.

What Scares Me Now:
Spiders. Typical mom fears. Paying bills. Michael Jackson. Heights (not really heights, exactly, but the fear that I will lose my mind and hurl myself over the edge of the height. Because I am crazy.) The Burger King. Sarah Palin.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

I Hate It When Vacation Is Over

Dudes! I am having such a hard time writing anything after being away. I’m having a hard time doing anything, really. Especially if it involves cleaning, laundry, unpacking, cooking, working or eating healthy. I’m rocking the lay around and drink beer stuff, though. I am having a serious case of VacationCanNotPossiblyBeOverAlready.

So, you know how when you visit someone that just got back from vacation and they tell you all about it and show you photos and bore you to tears. Yeah, well. . .sorry.

I’m pleased to report that I am now on a huge streak of two vacation without punching anyone the face. That’s always good, right. Though, I guess it would have given me something interesting to talk about, no? If it helps, I wanted to punch people in the face.

Like the guy who tried to blatantly cut in line while the girl and I were waiting to ride the Haunted Mansion. He sort of wandered up and stood next to us. I thought he was looking at the line, or the building or the sign or something and then I heard one of the daughters say “Dad - I think the line is back there.” And jackass dad says, “No – we’re fine! We’re waiting, see?” Oh, Hell no. Of course I spoke up and said, “If you’re waiting for Haunted Mansion, you can wait back at the end of the line.” He got pissed and started to say something, but his embarrassed family pulled him away.

And speaking of line jumpers, it really pisses me off when one or two people wait in line and then when they get close, the other 12 people in their party come barging to catch up. That pisses me off. I can understand how an elderly person might have a hard time standing or that a young child might have to take a bathroom break in a long line, but 14 Brazilians in their 20’s? Not so much. For some reason, it always was the Brazilians. I can only assume that in Brazil, they have a far different definition of line etiquette.

And then there was the asshole in Epcot, who started mocking me for some reason. NO, seriously – he was mocking me! As in, repeating what I was saying in a weird, childish, mocking voice. He was the one I wanted to punch the most, but I really didn’t want my photos to include one of me being escorted out of the park, so I refrained.

All in all, it was a great time. Of course, I love Disney so I always have a great time there. But we had a lot of fun, the girl rode some “big” rides now that she’s a little taller, we ate some awesome food, walked eleventy bajillion miles, went to the Halloween party, did some swimming, got knocked down by a giant 6-foot wall of water at Typhoon Lagoon and just generally enjoyed ourselves. Yay.


After a week of vacation recovery, we had Scabs’ Annual Halloween Bash. This is my favorite party every year. This year, there was no one dressed as anyone else in attendance (we’ve all been too busy to plan it this year), but we still had fun. The girl and I wore our Disney costumes, the boy wore some goofy mask (he’s that age now) and mr b left his costume in the car because he’s a big loser. There were political costumes of course – aimed at driving my conservative SIL batty, because that’s always fun. But Weenie had the best costume – she was Lucy from the candy factory episode. She is all kids of awesome.

Oh, also – my head actually caught on fire at one point in the night. It was about 2:00 am and I was highly flammable. I put myself out while everyone else looked stupid.


Oh - and Thursday morning, we leave for Awesome Company's Annual Long Weekend of Drunken Debauchery, Massages and One Long Boring Meeting. As always, I am looking forward to it, because the debauchery and massages more than make up for the meeting. This year, we're headed back to my favorite of all our retreat locations. The only bad part is that I now have to find something to wear. I hate that part. If I could wear jammies the whole time, it would be the most awesome work week ever.

Anyway - some photos:

We are SO the Griswolds sometimes...

Her favorite princess:

Getting ready for her princess makeover - she loved every minute of it:

Her fairy godmother in training, getting her ready:

She told me she felt special - like a princess:

Contrary to how they act half the time, they love each other...

What a cute smile! The boy's not bad, either!

Cutest. Jedi. Ever.

Dancing in the parade - the girl's got moves:

The Whispering Canyon Cafe is a fun restaurant - the boy especially loved the Coke as big as his head:


Oh yes, I did. Just call me Ho White:

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Project President

Here's my idea for all future presidential speeches and debates: There will be trapdoors beneath the candidates and as soon as someone says "nuke-you-ler," they will immediately drop out of sight. And then Heidi Klum will say "You're out!"

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Can't Wait!

The whole month of September, Burgh Baby’s Mom has been generously donating all her ad revenue to the Flight 93 Memorial Fund. She decided to end the month on a (really) high note by having an awesome contest. Go check it out. Since ad revenue is determined by page views, all that she is asking in return is that you click around and help raise some money for a good cause. It’s the last day, so warm up your clicking finger and go crazy. Maybe you’ll win a cool prize in the meantime.


So, it’s four day until we leave for vacation and in typical pre-vacation fashion, I am freaking! out! I have a million things to do and no time to do them. Work has been crazy lately and between scouts, swimming lessons, drum lessons, karate and gymnastics I can’t quite seem to muster up enough energy in my “free time” to start packing. I have managed to go shopping for essentials like sunscreen and toothpaste, though. But strangely, I have a new shower curtain, rug, bathroom accessories, some cute shorts, a candle, clothes for the kids, clothes for mr b, four chocolate covered marshmallows (OK, I had those), a princess costume, beer, a picture frame, and 600 read pages of Brisingr. But no sunscreen or toothpaste. Vacation Planning: FAIL.

Although I did get a new lip balm and since it has SPF, I’m counting it as a huge vacation planning success.

I have a feeling I am going to be up to the wee hours these next few days getting ready. I have something going on every evening through Thursday, so the only time I will have to pack will be around eleven or so. OK – I could actually do it between 8:00 and 11:00, which would be more reasonable, but the new falls shows are on and I’m not insane. Well, yes I am. I’m insane and addicted to TV. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. Well, maybe a little ashamed. But we’re all friends here, right? RIGHT??

Of course when I am at work and can’t possibly do anything vacation-related, I can’t concentrate because my head is too full of anticipation and All! Disney! All! The Time!! I get all OCD-girl and start running through the lists of things I still have to do and then I get all stressed out and I’m like Work? What work? And then I drift off to daydreams of monorails and Mickey bars.

Friday, I will be going to bed at approximately 7:00, since I have to wake up at 2:30 am to get ready. Because my only options for a direct flight was either Dawn: Buttcrack of or sometime in the late afternoon which would be a huge waste of the day. And forget connecting flights. They’re a waste of precious Disney time and a terrifying spin on the roulette wheel of Will The Preschooler Lose Her Mind On The Plane. So no. Dark Thirty it is.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Runaround Sue

I met Tammy in 1st grade and we hit it off immediately. We lived in a small neighborhood with it’s own elementary school and everyone walked. Some days I would walk home for lunch and Tammy would go with me. Other times, she’d come over after school to play. We were inseparable back then – if you saw one of us, the other was sure to be nearby. We giggled and talked and sent notes to boys – the “Do you like me? Check yes/no/maybe” variety. Sometimes we had to sit on opposites sides of the room so we couldn’t chatter away during class, but it never really stopped us. We learned the sign language alphabet and kept on talking, albeit silently.

We both loved to read, even at such an early age, and we could often be found in the school library, both of us engrossed in books, not talking to each other (it was the only time we were silent), but even then, a bond was evident.

The first time I ever got in trouble in school, Tammy was there. It was in first grade and we were outside at recess, standing by one of the big gray metal doors and talking about books or boys or sleepover parties. We noticed that some kids had carved their names in the paint of the door, and we thought it would be a great idea to do the same. We found a pop-top nearby (remember those?) and got started. Of course, carving our names wasn’t enough. We wanted to really make a statement. That statement? “Gina and Tammy love Donny Osmond.” We got as far as Gina and Tammy love Donny before the principal, Mrs. Carson caught us. We had to go to her office and get a lecture about damaging property, but nothing worse – we were still young enough not to know better. When she caught us, though, a boy named Donny was standing nearby and she naturally assumed that he was involved. I can remember sitting in her office, Tammy and I as cool as cucumbers and Donny crying hysterically. For some reason, he was wearing a big sombrero edged in little red pom-poms and I can remember Tammy and I looking at each other and trying not to laugh as those pom-poms shook while he cried.

We were two peas in a pod, and looking back, I am sometimes surprised that I wasn’t jealous of Tammy. She was the one that all the boys wanted and all the girls wanted to be. She was tiny and blond and cute. We used to play Wizard of Oz at recess and Tammy always got to be Dorothy. She was always picked first for things. She was loved. But I never felt like second fiddle with Tammy – we were too close for that.

As we got older, Tammy kept her title of The Cute One. She was a princess without the attitude. She was the first to get boobs, the first to get her period, the first to have a boyfriend. She educated the rest of us in all things womanly. While she often had the boys attention, she never wanted it all for herself. She was always making matches, diverting some boy’s attention from her to one of her friends. She truly wanted everyone to be happy.

She was there for most of the milestones of my life. She fixed me up with my first boyfriend. She gave me advice on my first kiss. She covered for me when I needed her to. As we got older, we stayed close and our interests stayed the same. We still loved to read and constantly traded books. We wrote bad poetry and cried on each other’s shoulder. On my 13th birthday, she bought me my fist diary and I still remember how much I loved it. It wasn’t anything I ever thought I wanted, but it was one of the best gifts I ever got. She knew me.

In high school we drifted a bit. We stayed friends, but not best friends. We started hanging out with slightly different crowds. She was a cheerleader. I was a majorette. Her new best friend was a Mean Girl type and sometimes Tammy got caught up in that. But mainly, we stayed pretty close.

We had times when things got between us. The biggest was that she was Eric’s prom date. She was one of the girls that believed the worst of me. Actually, she never really accused me of anything, like some others did, but she never defended me either. Or even asked my side. It took me a whole to forgive that, but forgive her I did. I started to realize that even thought Tammy seemed to be the It Girl, she was just as insecure and wounded as the rest of us, if not more. As we got older, I realized that her life was different than mine in ways you don’t see when you are a child.

The other big thing that came between us was a boy. I started dating Bill during our senior year. Bill and Tammy were very good friends. It didn’t’ bother me, though – one of my own best friends, Milo, was a boy. What did bother me was that Tammy seemed territorial about Bill. And she seemed to want to rub their friendship in my face. Her locker was exactly opposite of mine – they were back to back. I couldn’t see her, but I could hear her. And she knew it. So she was always saying, “Biiiiilllll this” and “Biiiiillll that.” Her mother did some sewing and she fixed Bill’s jacket. And Tammy waited until Bill was scheduled to be out of school for a wrestling match and she wore it! Bill was actually pretty mad at her for that. Not that she wore it, but what she was implying. He always made it clear to me that they were just friends, and I believed him. I had no reason not to – if we weren’t in school, or at sporting events, or sleeping, we were together. There was no opportunity. And also – I truly trusted him, and he trusted me. It was then that I started feeling a little sorry for Tammy. I knew that her insecurities were driving her behavior, but it still hurt that someone I was once so close to was trying to hurt me. Of course, we still hadn’t totally recovered from the Eric thing, so I’m sure that didn’t help either.

It was a while before we really got past it. We were still nice to each other, we talked and laughed and danced and partied, but it wasn’t the same until the following year. I was home from college and so was Milo, so I went to his house for the evening. It turned into an impromptu party and Tammy showed up. After we had a few beers and got to talking, we realized how stupid it was to throw away a friendship like ours and we made up for real. I didn’t see her much, since I was away, but when I came home, we usually ended up together at some point.

After I left partyschool and moved home for a semester, I saw Tammy regularly. She and my friends Tee and Amos and I used to go out every weekend. Even after I moved to the city, I used to come home often and we’d all hit the clubs. It was around this time that something about Tammy started to change. She wasn’t the happy-go-lucky girl we always knew. She became very quiet, and seemed depressed. She didn’t smile much and she sighed a lot. She lost the sparkle in her eye. She always seemed distracted. Her movements became slow.

We all wondered what was going on and worried about her constantly. We didn’t know if there was something secret going on in her life that made her so depressed. When we asked, she claimed everything was normal and she was fine.

After a while, her parents took her to a psychiatrist and she ended up on anti-depressants. We kept waiting for them to kick in, but they never did. We kept worrying and she kept insisting she was fine. But she wasn’t fine. She was very much not fine. It turned out that Tammy had a brain tumor and that was the reason for her behavior change.

It was unfathomable to us. Sure – people get cancer, people get brain tumors, but not the people you know. Not the people you love. Not beautiful, sparkling, happy girls in their early twenties. Not Tammy.

We couldn’t believe it and we didn’t know how to deal with it. We didn’t know what to do or what to say. At first, I think we all acted like nothing was wrong, but it was Tammy who changed that. She knew that we could not continue normally because things weren’t normal. She introduced us to the big, nasty, son-of-a-bitch of an elephant in the room and only then were we able to be as normal as we were going to get.

We still got together and went out to eat and went dancing – Tammy always liked oldies and we’d be the youngest ones in the room. But in between, there were surgeries and radiation and chemotherapy. We laughed about our lives and jobs and stupid guys. And Tammy helped us laugh at cancer and wigs and turbans. When I went to visit her in the hospital after an only somewhat successful surgery, it was Tammy who made me feel better and not vice versa. But once she got me past the initial shock of what I was seeing, and once she made me realize that it was OK to feel like I did and OK that I could do nothing, she helped me realize that I could help – by telling her stories and dirty jokes and making fun of the nurses and making vaguely pornographic balloon animals from latex gloves.

It was shortly after that surgery that it became clear that there was little else to be done for Tammy. Part of the tumor was inoperable and no amount of chemo or radiation would help it. There were some fundraisers to help pay for some new experimental and herbal type treatments, but it was around this time that Tammy started talking about dying. No one knew what to say or how to react, but we all realized that she was dealing with things the best she could. In the beginning, we all played the “think positive, you’ll get better” game, but eventually we just listened to her and watched her get more fragile and then called each other afterwards and cried.

Tammy’s last birthday was September 23rd, 1991. She was twenty-three.

There was a big birthday party that year – a rented hall, food, cake, gifts and a DJ. So many people came and Tammy was thrilled. The atmosphere was a happy one, but it was almost a desperate happiness. We all knew deep down that we were celebrating more than just her birthday that night – we were celebrating her life. We were happy and sad and confused and angry. But mostly we were happy because Tammy was happy. The DJ played lots of oldies for Tammy and we danced the night away. The very last dance I shared with Tammy was to the song Runaround Sue. To this day when I hear that song, my heart breaks a little. But every September 23rd, I listen to it nonetheless, to remember that night, all of us spinning each other around the dance floor, everyone laughing while, for the couple of minutes while that song played, we forgot what was coming.

It came not long after that night. It came too soon. Years and years too soon. And even though we were prepared for it, we weren’t ready. You’re never ready.

Happy 40th Birthday, Tammy. I hope you’re dancing…

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