Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Miracles

We picked the StepSon up at around 2 PM today for our holiday familiness. Because I am a Stepmother (definition: perpetually looking for ways to make children everywhere unhappy), I delayed most of the gift exchanging until after dinner so that StepSon would have to actually interact with us for a few hours before disappearing with his iTunes gift card to figure out what to spend it on. It was a risky maneuver - sometimes, it would probably be better for all of our relationships if we spent our family time in separate rooms. With a large house between us. And maybe a small country. But today, the Christmas spirit seemed to have taken hold of the teenage psyche and made wonderful miracles happen. Sure, he disappeared once an hour to call the girlfriend he hasn't seen in HALF A LIFETIME (translation: four days). And he ate all of the candy from his stocking before dinner. But then, after dinner when we exchanged presents, I realized I had only been punishing myself with the whole "let's spend time together first" rule. Because this Stepson of mine - who I will probably want to strangle at least twice in the next 72 hours - this wonderful teenager showed just how much he actually pays attention to me. Me, the Chief Torturer of his young and angst-ridden life. HE BOUGHT ME A BARRY MANILOW CD. It gets better. He bought me a CHRISTMAS Barry Manilow CD that I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW EXISTED. Of course now, as he and his dad play darts on his new electronic board, he's regretting the decision a little. I think I'm the only one enjoying the fact that Barry is louder than the annoying voice coming out of the dart board. Honestly, I love this CD just as much because I can't believe that he's paid enough attention to me over the years to know how much I would love it. And when he told me that he had seen a commercial for the CD and known I would love it, I may or may not have momentarily considered bursting into tears and throwing my arms around him. Instead, I did the next best thing that I could think of. I fed him dessert.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

This is Christmas

This is one of the best Christmas stories I've read. This guy really is Santa. I want to be him when I grow up. With a smaller stomach. And less facial hair.
Terry Franz has been known as the Car Santa for more than a decade. Twelve years ago, he gave away six cars to people in need. This year, with the help of donations from local businesses, Franz has given away more than 300 cars in Kansas and Missouri. KMBC's Jana Corrie talked with one of the recipients, Connie Hanson, who said the car will change her life. "I don't have to walk to work in the snow anymore. It was getting really cold there for a while," Hanson said. Hanson has been living at Hope House, which is a shelter for abused women. She said the money she was saving for a car can now go to getting a place of her own. "It's one more step past the cycle, past the abuse. He can't take this from me," Hanson said. Corrie reported that the families who get a car also receive gas cards, car maintenance for a year and car seats for children. "I'm excited, just really excited," recipient Natasha Berned said. Berned said she now has a way to take her sick daughter to the doctor. "It's a miracle, it just couldn't have been better timing," Berned said. Franz said he feels good knowing that he gets to change the lives of hundreds of people every year. "I get the greatest job in the world," Franz said.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

He should have quit while he was ahead

My incredibly sweet and wonderfully thoughtful husband took his life in his hands and woke me this morning with a "Happy Anniversary" and a strand of black pearls. The black pearls are what kept me from killing him. Take a look: http://www.szul.com/products/36944/All-Natural-Black-Freshwater-Round-Pearl-Necklace-Strand-14K-White-Gold.html So, I get to work and look it up and find out that the traditional stone for 3rd anniversaries - at least according to the jewelry sellers up there in that link - is pearl. And I think "Awww…how sweet & romantic of him!" Then we had the following email exchange: Me: Oh my goodness! Did you know that the stone for 3rd anniversary's is Pearls? The Professor: Hopefully I’ll remember. Me: Remember what? Today is our 3rd anniversary. You got me pearls. YOU ALREADY TOOK CARE OF IT.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Email conversations with my boss about people of genius

Boss: This person is brilliant: link to ebay auction Me: Oh my God. I can only dream of this kind of genius. I WANT TO BE THIS PERSON IN MY NEXT LIFE.

Finally, I rate higher than my sister on Important Stuff

Your Score: Anne Elliot

64% romance, 52% sauciness, 51% etiquette, 60% intelligence

You're sensible and pragmatic, but also deeply romantic. You've got people-smarts and book smarts, and a fierce inner strength: behind that pleasant facade is a backbone of steel. That's why the Jane Austen heroine you most resemble is Anne Elliot, Austen's most well-rounded and mature heroine. You know your own mind, listen to the deepest yearnings of your heart, and know how to soothe others' ruffled feathers. You keep everything on budget and make sure no one feels left out. You see through the little flaws and foibles of those around you, knowing your friends and family sometimes better than they know themselves. And your wide range of interests---literature, music, travel---makes you an enchanting conversationalist. Luckily for your beau, once you give your heart, it's given forever. May he endeavor to deserve you. Ideal matches: Captain Wentworth, Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon, Mr. Bingley Guaranteed heartbreak: Edmund Bertram, John Thorpe, Mr. Collins Not worthy of your affections: Frank Churchill, Henry Tilney, George Wickham

Link: The Jane Austen heroine Test written by SarahKath on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Help Me Solve a Very Important Question

We got Sultan at the Humane Society 3 years ago this month. He's ... an interestingly neurotic sort. I could go on for days. He refuses to eat out of a metal bowl. He prefers to get his drinking water from the toilet. He does not know how to relax. He knows that someone out there is just waiting for him to put his guard down so they can steal his favorite toy. Except for the toilet thing, he is the perfect companion for The Professor. But none of that solves the problem at hand. My vet, when I first brought Sultan to him, convinced me that we had found a pure bred Bengal at the pound. Here's a picture of one from catcraze.com: But then, about every other time we go to the vet, he asks "How's my favorite Ocicat doing?" An example of an Ocicat from the CFA website: In the grand scheme of things, what kind of cat he is really doesn't matter. He'll be my overly-crazy, desperately-in-need-of-Prozac cat for the rest of his life. But this is the kind of thing I can spend entirely too much of my time trying to figure out by looking at picture after picture of cats online. Which inevitably leads to me looking at pictures of kittens. Which makes me want one. Luckily, I am a smart woman, and I realize that there is only room for either The Professor or a 3rd cat in the house. While the cat would eat a lot less, it wouldn't pay the mortgage for me. And I am a practical woman, as well. So, what do you think: Bengal or Ocicat?

Monday, December 03, 2007

I might have to sleep in the kitchen tonight

If only to stare in wonder at this: Look! Do you see the ice maker? An Ice Maker! I have finally entered the 21st century, my friends.

Pearls of Wisdom from My Niece

"Dad doesn't eat healthy.
Sometimes he eats those popsicles.
They're sugary.
That's why he can't be strong like the Power Rangers"

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Starting the decorating

I went outside to put lights around the house this afternoon. I got The Professor to put down the papers he was swearing at grading and drag our big ole' wooden ladder outside. Then I had to remind him that he had to HOLD IT STILL every time I looked at it, because this ladder was probably built around the time the Titanic sank. And I'm beginning to thing that the humidity here in the south might do something to wooden ladders after almost 100 years. Anyway, after I had brought the lights, the little clippy things that hold the lights onto the gutters, The Professor and his ladder outside, we got underway. It went something like this:
  1. I showed him where I wanted the ladder for the ceremonial Hanging Of The First Section Of Christmas Lights.
  2. He glanced at it and told me it wouldn't work, because in case I hadn't noticed, there's a HUGE rose bush in the way.
  3. I pouted and said "But that's where I want to start!"
  4. He got the rose clippers and started hacking on my rose bush.
  5. I got a perverse satisfaction every time my roses stabbed him with their lethal thorns.
  6. He positioned the ladder.
  7. I climbed up and attempted to hang the ceremonial First Section Of Christmas Lights.
  8. I decided I didn't feel like hanging Christmas lights on the house this year.
Yes, my lovelies, I am the reason that The Professor hyperventilates if he does not have a case of beer in the house at all times. Anyway, I decided that I should put lights on something. So I put them on the tree in my front yard. Which has never been a particularly lovely tree, but it's the only one that came with the house. I don't know what it is, other than perpetually half dead. But it has some branches - kind of - that will hold lights. And I convinced myself that in the dark, it would still look pretty. So I made The Professor drag the ladder over to the tree in the front yard while I hung lights. This is what a lot of love and a little beer gets me:

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Not So Short librarian Rant Before My Head Explodes

  • “Wiki” does NOT AND HAS NOT EVER equaled “Wikipedia.” Yes, Wikipedia is ONE EXAMPLE of a wiki. The two terms are not interchangeable. Anyone who spends so much of their lives online while claiming to be a tech-guru (as certain people who shall remain unmentioned) should know this. Because when you say “oh, we have a wiki” and I get excited about it, and then you show me an entry on Wikipedia and I discover that you’re a raving idiot…then I will start calling all of our computers Dells, even though the majority of them are HPs. I know that’ll drive you crazy.
  • @ = AT. This is why it is called the “AT SIGN”. Look it up. On Wikipedia, if you must. Here, I'll do the librarian part and link you. CLICK HERE. But do NOT tell me – repeatedly – that I need to stop “using it incorrectly” because you’re reading it like it means something else (about? Approximately? How in the world did you make that jump?). I’m using it correctly. You’re reading it incorrectly. And these are my notes. Take your own next time. And how do you read email addresses, anyway? IdiotAPPROXIMATELY Gmail DOT Com?
  • Those signs on the front of the printers that say you need to go to the reference desk and get a card to print something? Totally not fake. You have to A) Go to the reference desk and B) get a card. And the lovely person there will even help you. Wandering around the halls – that you passed not only the reference desk but also the circulation desk and at least 3 employees to get to – and poking your head in various doors (some of which aren’t even library offices – hence the reason they say AU TV on them) asking where the printer cards are makes you look like…well, like you’re an idiot. And judging from the rank insignia on your uniform, you should be able to figure this out by now.
  • The fact that the staff association (which I am blessedly NOT in charge of any more) has changed the “Christmas Party” to the “Holiday Party” is not a cause for a major breakdown. It's almost not even worthy of a conversation. No one is trying to tell you that you can’t love the baby Jesus or hang up your holly. There's a really simple explanation: One of the staff officers isn’t Christian. She’s Hindu. And although you might have six heart attacks at the thought of working with a non-Christian, you’re going to have to get over that. And I am now mad at myself that I didn’t think of this last year when I was in charge of this ordeal, because we have a couple more non-Christians on staff, and I never stopped to consider that they don’t celebrate Christmas either, but they sure come to the parties and participate and help out. So now I’m going to go rant at myself for a while.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Boring Myself To Tears

Favorite Link of the Day: How to make a duct-tape miniskirt Now that we're all in a good mindset, I thought I'd bore you with some views of my drive home. If you'd like to freak out and think I took these while travelling 70 miles an hour, be my guest. I only wish it were true. Unfortunately, I was stuck in a traffic accident on my way home from work today. And, because I just KNEW that someone out there was dying for a view of my daily drive, I pulled out the camera that I discovered in my purse while I was looking for a checkbook to balance. You're welcome. First up an almost-picture of downtown: Then, we moved about 1.2 miles, and this is the view to the east: Then, we moved another 1.45 miles, and here's a view to the west: And then, 5 minutes later, we started moving. This is straight ahead at the sky in front of me. I love how different this blue is than the ones above:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's My Birthday, Dammit!

Note: The title of the post was the drinking game of the weekend, requiring all in attendence to take a drink whenever the fateful words were uttered. Andrea and I are lucky enough to share a birthday. I was lucky enough to have her remind me - at constant intervals - that I am two AND A HALF hours older. The time: Friday, 8 AM The scene: My house, 7 hours before my girls arrive for the Weekend Birthday Extravaganza Me, to The Professor: "Damn it! It's not enough that I've been cramping for days! Now I can hardly breathe and I'm running a fever! Is it too early to start drinking?" The time: 12:15 PM, 2 hours before arrival The scene: Me cooking and frantically trying to remember if the cats have puked up their breakfast in a noticeable location. Me, to my sis on IM: "You know, I should probably slow down on either the Day-Quil or the caffeine." Sis: "Or have more of both." The time: 3:30 PM The Scene: The Professor and Friend complete a {very sweaty} two mile run and return to the house minutes after The Girls arrive. The Best Friend is due any moment. Me to everyone: "I need a drink." Friday afternoon and evening passed in a wonderful haze of alcohol, laughter, insults and a constant refrain of "Holy Crap, we've known each other for SEVENTEEN YEARS!" followed quickly by A's vodka-infused chorus of "It's my birthday, dammit!" followed by more alcohol, followed by...well, you get the idea. After ten years of hints, pleading, begging, failed attempts and outright bartering, The Best Friend came through with a homemade ice cream cake that makes me wonder why I'm known as The One Who Cooks. Who knew that it would go so well with beer? The Time: 10 AM, Saturday morning The Scene: Breakfast on my back patio, an hour and a half after we've all roused ourselves; we're starting a marathon of card playing. Me, to The Professor: "The OJ and the champagne are in the fridge. We need Mimosas. Now. It's my birthday, dammit!" The Time: 3 PM, Saturday afternoon The Scene: after The Best Friend joins us, we went shopping for a few hours. In the end - after a visit to the liquor store, no less - I insisted on visiting The Scariest Grocery Store in Shelby County to do some bargain wine shopping and labelled it as a "cultural experience". And it's my birthday, dammit. The Result: Four of us ended up spending about $150 on wine, because the prices were too good to resist. Please note that the only reason that only four out of five of us bought wine is because Number Five has an unnatural preference for vodka in all it's odd forms. Including grape flavored. Which is unnatural, but I love her anyway. Even though she is two AND A HALF hours younger. Pictures speak louder than words. The Time: 6 PM, Saturday evening The Scene: My dining room table Activity: I try to excuse my homemade "set your mouth on fire taco seasoning " as an excuse to get through the bucket of margaritas. So that we can start drinking all the other alcohol we bought during the day. The Time: 10 AM, Sunday morning The Scene: My dining room table The atmosphere: Quiet. Very Quiet. Final Tally:
  • Only one of us got vomitously sick from the weekend's indulgences. I'm happy to report that it wasn't me;
  • Several people in the county - who thankfully don't know my name - think that I run around with a pack of alcoholics;
  • I have a huge chunk of ice cream cake in my freezer that reminds me every time I look that The Best Friend does care about my birthday wishes, even if it took her a decade to fulfill the ONE REQUEST I've ever made of her;
  • The realization that because I have friends like these and a husband willing to put up with an entire weekend of female craziness...I'm a very lucky woman.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Weather

I wish I had a camera/microphone to capture the complete craziness of the lightening and thunder! The weather has gone crazy in the last 30 minutes. The satellite's gone out, and the weather display outside is completely crazy. Of course, I'm outside. Sitting on my somewhat-sheltered back porch where I can see everything. I should really be in bed. But the lightening is so active that I'd never get to sleep....so I might as well stay up and watch it, right? I'm going to hate myself in the morning.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ready for my close up, Mr De Mille

So the big 3-0 is getting closer, day by day. And let me tell you, if I could turn 30 every year, I totally would. I’m getting awesome presents from The Professor.

I got to go see Phantom with my mom and my sister.

This Friday three girls that I met – get ready girls – almost 17 years ago!!! are coming in town for the weekend. We have matured. Slightly. And yesterday, The Best Friend totally spoiled me rotten with a whole day just for the two of us. She took me shopping, and I am now the proud owner of the sexiest black shirt I have ever owned. That might not mean much to you, but let me tell you something…that’s pretty freaking sexy.

Also, I have a new skirt! And a new shirt that manages to display the fact that I have both boobs and a waist, instead of very large borders that go all the way down my body in a non-curvy way.

We spent some therapeutic time in Victoria's Secret, which ended with two absolutely necessary items of clothing. God bless that credit card. And VS free gifts.

I got to go to lunch and have Adult Beverages at NOON! And then, things got really wild. She took me to get my hair done. And I promptly had about 2 inches cut off and got it layered and…holy cow, you’d think I was the first person in the history of the human race to get their hair cut I was so excited.

Then somehow, ten minutes later, I was sitting in a chair in a different salon (all the way across the street from the first) and .. oh the horror… There was a woman spreading hot wax on my face. Which she quickly attached a cotton strip to and then RIPPED OFF OF MY HEAD. Apparently, women do this to parts of their body all the time. Some of those parts make me cringe in fear. I’m stopping with my eyebrows.

To get over the wax experience (The BF will be gloating forever that I admitted it actually didn’t hurt that much), we went back to her place and split a bottle of Pinot. I may have come home to a missing husband and a smelly litter box…but sometimes, that’s just the price you have to pay for looking good

Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's that time of year

They won't make a peep for the next five months. As long as we give them their gas fix.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Cleansing Tuesday Morning Rant, Using the Word “Maybe” One Too Many Times

The crazies all got up early this morning. Too early, apparently. I don’t know if it has something to do with the time change, the moon cycle or if our low water supply has been tainted by the terrorists. Whatever it was, they were all on my stretch of highway, and something was definitely wrong on the interstate this morning. Maybe the commuter population of my state has been taken over by aliens. MAYBE THEY ALL NEED DRIVERS ED. This includes the cops. In a pair of high-tech cop cars. I’m pretty sure they were racing up and down the interstate. First south-bound, then they crossed the median to the north-bound lanes. Then they crossed back to the southbound and passed me AGAIN. Maybe one of them lost something important and thought that driving 80+ miles an hour would make it more visible? MAYBE THEY’RE INSANE. I hate SUVs. I can’t see around them. I can’t see what’s behind them when they’re behind me. And I really hate it when get in my car and discover that I have one on either side of me. And then, as I inch out of my space – because I can’t freaking see around the 10 foot SUV (that is really only necessary if you A) have 10 children – and in that case, buy some condoms, B) are carting around dead bodies that need to be concealed, or C) YOU WANT TO ANNOY ME) – anyway, as I try to back out, a car goes whizzing through the parking lot. And you know what? If I get hit, I’m pretty sure it would somehow be my fault. This parking lot dilemma happens more and more, and every time I get frustrated. It’s not safe to drive a car anymore? Maybe I should buy an SUV just so I can park where I want? MAYBE I’LL JUST RANT A LITTLE MORE. And then finally, I’m at work. I have my coffee. I go out to the public PCs to do a quick check of my credit card. And, once again, Capital One’s new, shiny, “you-asked-for-it-so-look-what-we-did-to-make-our-website-pretty” interface isn’t working. In the past week, this has happened to me 3 or 4 times. I can’t make a payment. I can’t even find out my balance. Maybe they have people working on it. MAYBE THEY SHOULD TRY THESE THINGS OUT? Hmm. Maybe I’m one of the crazies who got up too early this morning.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Unoriginal Thoughts on Semi-Parenthood

Stepson went to a college football game a couple of hours away today. After the game, he went to a friend's house to meet up with a group and hang out and watch yet another football game. Besides the fact that I don't quite understand the need to watch all this football... For the first time in this roller coaster ride titled "Step Mother-Hood", he has a curfew. I was caught a little unaware. Holy hell, I'm setting a curfew? He's never needed one before. I'd stay up til 3 AM every night if given the chance. How in the world did I get in this position? His girlfriend is there, of course. It's still 2 hours before curfew. His best friend is responsible for getting him home. I'm thinking about all of this a little bit more than I anticipated. Who's there? How many adults are present? What's the ratio of teenagers to adults? The time changes tonight. Exactly what time is he supposed to be home again? I'm very lucky. I have a very responsible and worry-wart type of stepson. But.... He's 16. Out with friends. They all have their drivers licenses. Now, I remember very well the kind of completely innocent fun I had at that age. I'm really not the worrying type. He has good judgement for a 16 year old. It's that "for a 16 year old" part that has me thinking twice. The transition from worrying about his every move to trying to worry only about those moves that I have direct influence on...it's a little disconcerting. I am LOVING watching him grow into an adult. Into someone that can have a conversation that ranges beyond "What's for dinner?". And I love knowing that he's out there making the wonderful memories that I have of being 16 with no worries. So why am I sitting here wondering what he's doing? He's becoming his own person. And that means not sharing every little detail of his life. I'm going to miss those details. And I'm going to be sitting on the couch with a stopwatch in about one hour and 45 minutes.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Another One Bites The Dust

We watch a lot of nonfiction TV here in Chez Barone. With the Professor having a life in History academics and me loving anything having to do with nature or nerdy facts, Jeopardy, The History Channel and National Geographic have a prominent place in our nightly line up. And that's not even counting the biographies that are constantly playing a soundtrack to our lives. Nature shows are much more my type of TV than The Professor's. But he finally watched an entire episode of Meerkat Manor for the first time about a month ago. And he LOVES it. Considering it has nothing to do with Elizabeth I or some kind of random fact like when stirrups were first used (they always get this wrong in the movies, which drives him crazy. "Stirrups weren't around until at least the 7th century! These writers know nothing!"), it's been amazing to watch him grow attached to these fuzzy little animals. Tonight I'm sitting outside, in my usual place with my usual glass of wine, when he comes to the door. He looks destraught. "Mozart's DEAD!" I didn't know this was news. He seemed a little more upset than I thought necessary. I mean, didn't the movie Amadeus kinda make that public knowledge awhile ago? "Um...What?" I eloquently asked. "Mozart. She's...dead." Now I was worried. I mean, Mozart was a little fruity, but he was definitely male. "Honey, Mozart's been gone for a while." Didn't Monty Python cover that in Decomposing Composers? "No! On Meerkat Manor! Mozart died, and her mate was coming, and the jackels got her, and..." Needless to say, much comfort was needed. He has now sworn off all animal shows unless they focus on reptiles or spiders, since he doesn't mind them being killed off in massive numbers.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I've fooled you into reading what I write? Check THIS out

I can barely amuse you for the length of time it takes you to read a paragraph. By the time you get to the bottom of the screen, you probably debate with yourself if it’s worth scrolling down any further. But all of your diligence and loyalty – there were 13 of you the last time I checked - is going to pay off. Because I have a sister. And she’s an actual, honest-to-goodness writer. One who actively tries to avoid sentence fragments and comma splices. Which, as you can tell, I do not. So. Go to my sister’s blog – Ember Case. Check out what yummy goodness she has for you today. It’s free. It’s a book. It’s HOT. What the hell are you still doing here? GO NOW. (PS – and I know you haven’t clicked over yet, so you’d better get busy on that mouse – if you want the good stuff – And I’m talking the REALLY good stuff, the stuff you don’t want your mom to know you read - just wait til January when Ember’s book comes out. Thank god Ember already told Mom all about it. Hi Mom.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Therapy. I need Therapy.

The Professor has all these job functions that I get to go to. Mostly with faculty that I actually took classes from in college. I mingle, I drink the free booze, I be as amusing as only I can be, I laugh, I try not to tell stories that begin with “that reminds me of the time I came to your class after downing a few of the $1 PBR specials at the pizza place”, and – thank god – I leave as soon as it is socially feasible. I’m witty, graceful and much younger than anyone else in the room. The alcohol helps. Especially with the witty. But every single time he comes home and says “Hey! Dr X is having a get-together” or “the department Christmas party is coming up”, or even “Dr Mostly Nice Guy wants to meet us for a drink”, I get this cold feeling deep in my stomach. It’s like he just told me that his parents are coming. To live with us. Until they die. I coach myself through it every time. It goes something like this: “They’ve never actually called you the Whore of Babylon to your face. They’re not going to start tonight. Besides, they like the Professor. So obviously they have good taste. And they seem to like the stuff you cook. At least they eat all of it. So what if you have NOTHING to discuss with any of them? So what if The Professor is the youngest of his crowd because the rest of them are all RETIRED? You like hanging out with your parents, and these people are the same age. Well, they drink more than your parents. And they did a few more drugs when they were younger. But those topics aren’t socially acceptable. Note to self: marijuana usage on campus in the mid-70’s is only considered polite conversation if you’re talking to Dr Laid-Back, alone where no one else can hear you. And if you’re talking to Dr Laid-Back alone, then they’ll all think you’re hitting on him, because you’re 30+ years younger than they are, and you’ll be wearing your black hooker boots, you KNOW you’re going to end up in the black boots because they make you more confident. But all they’ll know is that you’re having some kind of private conversation with *gasp* another man RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR HUSBAND and they’ll probably think you’re being somewhat of a tramp and call you the Whore of Babylon. “They’ve never actually called you the Whore of Babylon to your face…” The thing is, these are really nice people. All of them. But any time I have to go mingle with a group of people that I’m not good friends with, I tense up. The thought of going to a conference or work shop alone is almost paralyzing. But I do go, because I convince myself that it’s good for me. I still remember one time when I switched schools as a teenager, I got myself through the first day with this mantra: “Cool, Calm, Confident. If you believe it, they’ll believe it.” What kind of crap is that? We were all 16 year olds. Otherwise known as The Most Horrible Creatures on Earth.
So this post is my pre-get-together therapy. Tomorrow night, I go to mingle with The Professor’s lunch crowd for a couple of hours. It won’t be bad. A couple of them are only 20 years older than I am. One of them will REALLY like the boots. But only because he’ll want to steal them. And we aren’t anywhere near close enough to share these boots.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Because I only seem to be talking about music this week

My boss just came over and told me about a conversation he had with a coworker, J. J: So I'm going to Kansas City for a conference. Boss: Oh yeah? J: Yeah. You know. {singing} Everything's up to date in Kansas City. Although that's really a song from Oklahoma!. At this point, I can't stop myself from interrupting my boss and I start singing "They've gone about as fur as they can go!" And my boss rolls his eyes and cuts me off before I'm even properly warmed up. "Will you let me finish? Because I told her that if I ever wanted to hear anything from Oklahoma! I was pretty sure you could sing me the whole damn thing."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Life is all about how many different ways you can embarrass yourself

For the past several weeks the weather has been gorgeous. We haven’t had our AC on for a while, which is my favorite part of fall. I wish I had more windows, just so I could open them. It annoys me that there’s an entire side of my living room/dining room and kitchen that have walls to other rooms instead of windows for me to open. I also love fall because I love to cook with the windows open. I don’t know exactly why open windows with a nice breeze makes me want to go get messy and all sweaty over a hot oven when for the first time in MONTHS I could go outside and actually breathe without melting. But it does. And I do. And when I cook, I love to have music on. There’s something soothing about singing along with the absolute best Sarah Brightman album while I’m stirring up a pot of risotto. That duet with Andre Bocelli…well, I may not always sound as ethereal as she does, but it’s all so I can practice my vocal range. And when you’re making bread, the absolute best soundtrack is Aerosmith’s The Big Ones. Rag Doll has the best beat for kneading. And of course, the fact that I sound nothing like Steven Tyler only means that I have to turn the music up louder so that I can’t hear myself as much. Baking anything that requires multiple steps and concentration? I like to go with some stuff with really good harmonies so that I can kind of flit in and out of the music as I please. One thing I seemed to forget in my excitement over the fall cooking season? My neighbors. To be specific, the next door neighbors in my little garden home neighborhood who happen to be extremely close by. If we wanted, we could talk through our windows. As long as one of them was by their toilet and I was at my kitchen sink. Also? Apparently I’m not the only one who opens their windows this time of year. It does seem that I’m the only one in the neighborhood who listens to Sarah Brightman, Aerosmith, John Denver, and Peter, Paul and Mary – in that order – on a Saturday afternoon. I guess it goes without saying that I’m also the only one who was singing along?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Soundtracks to Life

Last week I went to see Phantom of the Opera (for the - FIFTH! time). It's probably my favorite show EVER. Seeing it again with my mom made it even more special, because I know how much she loves the shear musicality of the experience. I've been in a Broadway mood ever since. Tonight I'm listening to Les Mis. I don't know what it is about these lines. Maybe it's the fact that I've studied this part of history. Maybe it's just the emotion that comes through in the writing. But even though it's not my favorite show, I've always thought these are most powerful lines I've ever heard put to music: Tomorrow we'll discover what our God in heaven has in store. One more dawn. One More Day. One. Day. More.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

It's what the in-crowd does

I had a couple thousand dollars worth of car work done this week. So what did I do to make myself feel better? I went shopping on Amazon. I blame it ALL on my sister, since she found it and sent me the link. It was on sale for $25 with free shipping. She knew I wouldn't be able to resist. I love being blameless in my shopping habits! So, instead of buying Christmas presents this week, I bought myself.... I am too cool for words. I mean, all the popular people can their own food. If there were meters for determining how hip you are, a canning set would spike you up to the top. I'm sure Angelina cans in her spare time. And then sends the food to Africa. Which makes her only SLIGHTLY cooler than I am. Which is why she has Brad and I don't. Not that I want Brad. I'm holding out for George. Or Pierce. Until then, I should go find something to feed The Professor. I don't want to lose him just yet.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Who needs Thanksgiving anyway?

I case you were unaware, today is Oct 20. For those of us who keep track of such things, this translates into two months and 5 days til Christmas. I have 10 nieces and nephews to buy presents for. I'm up to purchasing for number 8. And I know what I'm getting for the rest, it's just a matter of getting it. God bless Amazon. Wal-Mart is trying to convince me that I should be purchasing new ornaments and wreaths. I've heard at least two local radio stations playing Christmas music. I've received 3 catalogs in the mail with all their Christmas glory on the front page. Can I PLEASE celebrate Halloween first? I haven't purchased a pumpkin yet! I haven't even thought about candy for the 5,000+ kids that descend on our neighborhood. I DO NOT want to hear Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. And I'm already getting so sick of Christmas that I'm thinking of not putting up a tree. God knows I have enough other decorations to more than cover my home and 2 others. But there is one thing from the Christmas season that I wish would last all year long. It's even good enough to make me agree that the radio stations can play Christmas music if I can get it any time I want. After all, I pretty much only listen to NPR. So those other stations can do whatever the hell they want, if I can get this: I've been through a Pumpkin Spice and one Gingerbread already. This is my second. Big Sis told me she went to crazy and got sick of the flavored stuff. So I made myself take half and half all week, saving the good stuff for the weekend. This is my equivalent of crack-cocaine. I would probably shoot this stuff like heroin if I weren't deathly afraid of needles. Although that would completely defeat the purpose, because it's the taste I'm going for. Hell. I'm going to go drink another cup of coffee and work on my metaphors.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

When the Moon is in the Seventh House and the wind blows East by slightly Northeast, miracles happen

StepSon just asked if we could play "Family Trivial Pursuit" tonight. Let's rephrase this so that you can grasp the whole meaning: My 16 year old stepson just asked to spend time together as a family in a way that guarantees actual interaction. First the drivers license. The dates. Now this. Oh my god, he's growing up. I'm going to store this memory up and give him a free pass the next time he leaves the toothpaste open and dripping on the sink.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Maturity Required

There are certain things that I have learned in my years on this planet. Chocolate is the work of a benevolent god. Wine is what the ancient ones meant by "ambrosia". 4 inch heels add an exponential amount of sexiness to my legs. Math - especially in the incarnation of tax forms - are the work of the devil. But, unfortunately, there are also things that I have not yet mastered. More than that, they are things that I think should have been on my "list of things I could competently handle before I moved out on my own." Things like shaving without getting out of the shower and wondering A) how the vampire hid from me in that very small space, and B) if I am a failure as a woman for not being able to shave without blood as an end result. Things like being able to watch The Hunt For Red October - which is not in any way a horror movie - without getting so claustrophobic that for DAYS my husband needs rope to keep him on the bed because I am clinging to him in case our house spontaneously morphs into a sinking submarine while I am being less than vigilant due to the need for sleep. /sigh Maybe these are abilities that occur during the fourth decade of life?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Frustration: A few definitions in the order that they invaded my world this morning

knowing as you pull out of your driveway that even though rush hour is an hour away, so is your place of employment, and you are on a collision course;

the sound that your thermos makes as you drink the last of your FULL POT of coffee a mere hour and a half after getting to work;

Knowing that you won't get any more caffeine til you get home;

Realizing that you won't be home for another TEN hours;

Listening to your boss pour more of HIS coffee into HIS coffee cup because this morning HE didn't become a caffeine-whore who couldn't get the liquid in her body fast enough;

Realizing that in addition to the fact that you basically just said "whore" to your mother, the pronouns in your last sentence were probably more confusing to every one else in the world than they were to you;

finding out that your StepSon, who was diagnosed with pleurisy four days ago, is right at this moment at the doctor because his temperature spiked up and his symptoms haven't gone away - and then realizing that you will be the very last person to know ANYthing about the situation and you just have to pray that information is sent down the pipeline faster than usual.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Masters of My Universe

Sultan likes to be the center of attention by spreading out on the floor in front of the TV and stretching all over the place. Usually in a completely graceless way that involves being on his back with his legs spread. I think he might have worked in a brothel in a previous life. Lucius likes to sleep. And he knows if he does it in a place we walk by often (on the way from the couch to the beer, and vice versa), we will be unable to stop our fingers from petting his fluffiness. And he is illegally fluffy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Now looking for wrinkles and liver spots

Let’s get the main fact out there in front: I turn 30 in a couple of months. My best friend faced this important milestone with slightly more dread than she felt when she ran out of alcohol and went to the liquor store only to realize that she had to parallel park in a stick shift to get to said alcohol, but that this time I was nowhere near close enough for her to call me and make me come do it for her. When one of my sisters turned 30, I called and left her a compassionate message on her answering machine something along the lines of “ha-ha-ha-ha-ha you’re turning 30 and staying home with your gajillion kids and I’m only turning 20 and I’m going out drinking and dancing and partying with young good looking men all night ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!” The next year when my other sister turned 30, I had been 21 for about two weeks. In other words, in order to recover from the massive hangover, I was going out drinking and dancing and partying with good looking men all night long. Translation: I just now realized that I probably never wished her a Happy Birthday that year. I’m sure I dedicated at least a drink and maybe even a close dance with a good looking man to her. Not that dance with that Really Hot Guy that one night that was so awesome- I don’t want to think of her then – but maybe that other dance a few weeks later with the Not-So-Hot Guy who slobbered on my neck right before I kneed him. Somehow, that seems like a more appropriate time to think of that sister. ANYway, now it’s my turn. And I’ve been pretty good with the whole thing. 30, 20, 40 – I’ll always have sisters that are older and brothers that are younger. But now Fate’s trying to make me regret my decision to never care about my age. I FOUND A GRAY HAIR THIS MONTH. Now, to be fair, I’ve been dying my hair for about 10 years, so it’s more than likely that the gray has been there for some time. My mom and sisters both had gray hair at my age. But they were crazy enough to have children. I wasn’t. Therefore, I do NOT deserve gray hair. Luckily, Clairol’s Natural Instincts can still beat the ass out of the gray hairs on my head, as it proved when I rushed my next dye job. This is not living in denial. It’s called being a woman. Still, it could be worse. My husband now has gray hairs on his chest. If I degenerate that far and sprout gray hairs on my chest, just load my Oxygen canister with some good dope and put me in a diaper. Because life will not be worth living. And as if the Deadly Showdown taking place on my head wasn’t enough, Stepson went and got his driver’s license this week. Someone decided he’s allowed to take control of a car. I’m convinced that if the driving examiner had to live with 16 year olds and see the decisions they make on a day-to-day basis, then no one under the age of 25 would be able to operate anything more complicated than a toaster oven. And not one of those fancy ones with the bagel settings either. Still, Stepson is a very careful driver. To keep myself from having nightmares, I tell myself that surely – surely – he will not make stupid teenage decisions, that he has benefited from the close proximity he’s had to my wisdom for the past several years. And that maybe this will somehow spill over into the rest of his life and he will finally understand that it’s NEVER acceptable to eat ice cream over my favorite chenille throw?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's like I live in a show on Animal Planet. Also, proof that I'm not a good photographer.

Thursday night, I went outside for my daily dose of watching the birds do their thing in the backyard. They refuse to eat the stale bread crumbs that I throw out for them. Those slowly deteriorate until they've melted into the ground. The suet cake that I hung for them in April showed no sign of being reduced in size until it halfway melted in our August heatwave. I don't know what they're eating, but they LOVE anything that I haven't touched. I've thought about a bird house, but - besides the fact that it would be tainted by me, and therefore unusable to them - one of my neighbors has three outdoor cats, one of which prowls around our house like we're his vacation destination of choice, and somehow I think luring the birds to his vacation spot would just be cruel. He's a beautiful Siamese, and he likes to walk around the outside of our house, causing my two indoor cats to run frantically from window to window, determined to howl the house down if necessary in order to protect it from this threat. The Siamese will occasionally jump our privacy fence and walk around our backyard, probably just to show our cats that he's the boss of the neighborhood and his person loves him enough to let him roam free and be king of the jungle, while their person is obviously a heartless idiot who only keeps them around for her own amusement. The funny moment came when the Siamese jumped over our fence, and found a full grown German Shepherd unexpectedly napping about 20 feet away. And then ran, in full berserk mode, screeching the entire time, straight back up the fence and over the top. I laughed so hard that I may or may not have peed in my pants a little. Anyway, Thursday night I went outside and got my own surprise... He was sitting on the window sill when I went out, but I had to run back and get the camera. The flash scared him more than a little, and he jumped around the corner to hide in our drain spout: Because - as the Siamese established above - I am mean and heartless, I kept taking his picture with a flash in a vain attempt to get a better picture of him. For some unknown reason, this caused him to try to hide even more, and I was only able to get a shot of his butt as he disappeared: I named him Prince. I already have my own personal prince, so I didn't do anything like kiss him. But it'd be nice if he stuck around in case I ever needed a spare. I thought calling him Prince might make him feel important. Some people might call that bribery. I call it prudence. So,the next time you think I don't lead an exciting life, just remember - I practically live in the jungle here in my little garden spot of Alabama. Any day now I could go outside and meet a lion. I just hope he waits for me to blog about him before he eats me for lunch.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bag of Crap!

There's this website called Woot! And they do this thing where they sell Bags of Crap. Yes, Bags of Crap. And if you're really lucky and waiting for it, you can get one before their servers crash. Because their servers always crash. Two weeks ago, I got lucky. I was able to order a bag of crap with three items. This means that I get one bag of some type, with at least three random things in it. It could be a letter telling me I got a 32" HDTV. It could be an empty bag of cheetos. Or anything in between. My Bag of Crap arrived today: I got: A red and black back pack; a Dancing Monkey Woot! Tshirt; a Bluetooth hands-free car kit (which may or may not have all the pieces included - I got the manual, but the pieces weren't in a box, they were just all thrown around; 2 face masks, one of which is messed up on the side and neither of which has string to tie them on with. For my first bag of crap, I'm pretty happy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ode to The Produce Stand Man

Note: I lied. There is no ode anywhere in this post. I just like the way the title sounded, and I'm not really a poet. But if you happen to write one, please let me know.

Back in May, I noticed a new structure in the local mud-pit beside my favorite cheap gas station (descriptively named the "Alabama Pit Stop"). The gas station itself is a piece of wonder - it's built from wood that looks like it might have originally been planks of the Mayflower, the owner speaks English in a perfumed haze that drugs you enough to make you think you understand it, and his car is always parked RIGHT IN FRONT of the door, blocking the best spots. But he's got the cheapest gas. And more shiny knick-knacks than you want to look at, except that you can't help it because they're all piled up with the energy pills by the register. And for a while, he had a gambling operation going on inside. He had one of those machines that you drop coins into and hope they land just right on the shelf that goes back and forth so that money will fall off of it. I live in such a hotbed of excitement that I saw lines form for this machine at least twice. And the lines only had about 2 people in them. But still - that's half the population of this side of town. The machine disappeared about 8 months ago, and a new rack of Zippo lighters appeared.

Anyway, back in May, some elderly farmer-type rolled a produce stand into a corner of the parking-lot/mud-slide and opened for business. He had watermelons, tomatoes and apples in May. Which I didn't question, because they tasted awesome - and they were only a 1/2 mile from my house. At the time, the nearest farmer's market was about 40 minutes away. The best friend thought it a little odd, but I assured myself - and her - that he must have a greenhouse somewhere, because now! I had fresh produce on my way home from work! And I started to make plans. Apple pies! Tomato sauce! Watermelon pickles! There was just one problem...

Produce Stand Man was hardly ever open. I get home from work anywhere between 4 and 7 PM, and I only saw him at his stand about once every week. On Saturdays, he was there all day. Well, he was inside the stand. He was usually asleep. The very first time I visited was on a Saturday, around 2 PM. He was asleep. I stood and looked over everything for a minute, but all I really wanted was a basket of tomatoes. I cleared my throat, but the sound of his fan must have covered that. I didn't REALLY want to wake him. He's a farmer, so he must be up before dawn every day, busting his butt to get me the fresh stuff, right? After looking at The Professor waiting in the car a couple of times, I slipped the $2 for the basket of tomatoes underneath his arm so it wouldn't blow away and then hopped back in the car.

I happened to look out of our back window as we started to pull out of the parking lot. When I closed the car door, his internal alarm system must have translated the sound into a get-away car alarm, because he hopped out of the back of his stand, waving his arms around and yelling. And I immediately felt guilty for making this man think he was getting robbed. How do you say "look in the puddle of drool" under your chin before you jump to conclusions" nicely?

I showed him the money, he apologized for thinking a "lovely young thing" like me could be a criminal, and I went on my way. I would go back to visit every couple of weeks. Sometimes he was asleep. Sometimes the entire stand was full of produce with no farmer around to take the money, so I had to decide between not getting any, and trying to find somewhere to put the money for what I had taken without it getting blown across the road. Occasionally, he was actually in the stand AND awake. Sometimes he gave me a free bell pepper, or a couple of free tomatoes, or an apple.

And then all of a sudden, as I was driving home last week, I saw that his ENTIRE produce stand was gone. He took all those lovely vegetables away with him. I felt cheated. I mean, couldn't he at least have put up a "closing soon" sign so that I would now that our time together was almost over? Couldn't he have let me down easy? I'd have appreciated some semblance of an excuse. I bet he found a better mud-pit/parking-lot to deal from, and now he's selling to some other red-head. Typical man to get swayed be every redhead that crosses his path.

Or maybe he decided that being a senile narcoleptic wasn't conducive to making money from a fresh produce stand?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I still don't know if I'm married or not

Today, The Professor and I went down to the court house. The lady I spoke with on the phone the other day told me that the easiest fix to all of this would be to get married at the court house. The lady I spoke with at the court house today told me that having another wedding was impossible. Apparently, until I prove that the guy who married us wasn't capable of doing so - and then get some kind of legal paperwork to prove it - I can't get another marriage license. So she told me that she couldn't tell me anything else, that that's some mysterious state department's job. And she gave me the phone number for the state's switchboard. And then she was very upset when I asked another question. And she got rude. I wanted to tell her that I wasn't accusing HER of anything, that I was simply trying to find out what she knew. But I just thanked her and went on my way. The Professor started the car and then handed me his phone and told me to make the call. Apparently, in his well-ordered world, we would call the state, talk to someone who knew something about anything, and get an answer. And he didn't want to be driving home when we found out we'd just need to go back to the courthouse. So I called the operator. And she told me I needed to talk to the state department, and transferred me. A somewhat-rude person there told me that I needed to talk to the Attorney General's office. And transferred me. An unbelievably rude person there told me who I needed to speak with, and transferred me. I got his voice mail, which included the information that he received a lot of phone calls and answered them in the order received, but it might be a while before he could call me back. Need I even say that he hasn't called me back? Charter still hasn't fixed my cable problems. It's 8 PM. The Heat Index is over 100. I think it's time to move to the kitchen to make a little rum-and-ice drink.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

To keep myself from getting bored - and because I know all three and half of you care - let's have an update, shall we? I'm about 60 miles south of that last reading. Here's the new data.

2007.08.07 1553 UTC (That's 10:53 here)

Temperature: 93.9 F (We're just gonna go ahead and call this 94, k?)
Dew Point:
73.0 F (well, at least there's something that's not getting higher)
Relative Humidity: 51 % (I'd thank the god of humidity for this low number...but...)
Heat Index: 103.3 F (instead I'm going to thank the god of air conditioners)
Wind: calm (I'm beginning to think that the wind done gone....)

I need a Mint Julip!! Hold everything but the ice.

2007.08.07 1253 UTC (That's 7:53 AM here)

Temperature:
82.9 F (Anything above 75 before 8 AM should be against the laws of nature, and therefore impossible)
Dew Point:
73.0 F (That's not sweat! That's DEW.)
Relative Humidity: 72% (Let's not discuss the fact that by 3 PM, you'll need gills to breather outside)
Wind: calm (Could everyone step outside and blow in the direction of Alabama? Thank you)

Monday, August 06, 2007

This time, I'm definitely registering for a food dehydrator

How'd your weekend go? Mine started off with the remnants of strep throat and lots of cooking for my stepson. Then I had to help out with some motorcycle repairs. With lots of sweat. I don't do repairs, and I don't like sweat. Then last night I found out I'm probably not married. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/05/fashion/05marry.html?_r=2&ref=fashion&oref=slogin&oref=slogin Yes, Alabama was mentioned. So I'm living in sin. Going to bed seems a little naughtier than it was a week ago. I've taken to referring to the Professor as my "non-husband". He calls me his "unwedded wife". He wants to have a whole new wedding reception. I told him we aren't paying for that, and if he treats me right, I might take him out for Chinese afterwards. He wants to get re-married on our "anniversary", so that he only has one date to remember. I told him he can't ride his motorcycle until we're legally married. I do NOT want to go to court with my stepson's mom over this little roadblock on our path of sunshine and roses. We're probably going to the courthouse this week. I told him to check the dates though. He's been married in August twice before. Maybe we should wait for September?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Produce Aisle

Depending on your point of view, I'm either a mean, horrible stepmother or a wonderful, caring stepmother because I went to the grocery store to get some fresh vegetables for my stepson today. The "wonderful, caring" point of view would be because I went to buy corn and broccoli - two vegetables I hate but that my stepson will eat. The "mean, horrible" because I bought something that is healthy that I will force him to eat over the next few days. Life is all about perspective, people. So as I'm calculating the cost of fresh corn versus frozen in the produce section, two people that can only be described as a "little old cute couple" meandered in my direction. They walked around me to the onions, then as I picked up some potatoes, they circled round to the fresh bell peppers. They were adorable, arguing over what should would taste better on their grill. I was with the gentleman - give me mushrooms, heavily laced with butter, over some boring carrots any day. As I rounded a corner to decide what kind of greens to pick for my weekend salads, the lady came up to me. With absolutely no preamable, she asked how old I was. "um...29", I replied, completely at a loss as to how that would solve their mushroom/carrot dilemma. She looked down at my cart - which had a package of baby carrots and not a mushroom in sight - and said "You know, I was a redhead when I was younger." They walked away with carrots AND mushrooms. And I still have no clue whether I helped with a marital produce dispute or not.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

But the sun still shines and my car is somehow increasing its gas mileage

Last night, I had the pleasure of dealing with lots of horrible music, due to the fact that I spent an hour on hold with two separate companies. And lest you think I mean an hour all together, let me assure you that I mean an hour with company #1, then an hour with company #2. Company #2 is my cable company, and I'm sure that if they had been around in Dante's day, cable companies would have their very own cesspool in hell. Because I try to maintain an appearance of quasi-ladylike qualities (purely for my mother's sake), I'm not going to do a play by play. Last night, I actually felt the need to drink a little straight vodka before I could deal with them again. After I talked to the first person - we didn't get along so well - I was on hold for 45 minutes before I talked to the second person. The glass of wine that I forced myself to sip much more slowly than normal returned my manners. (In case you want to know why I was almost rude: The last time I talked to their customer service, I was told that when I called again - notice, they KNEW I'd have to call again - I should immediately ask to speak to a floor supervisor. This really ticked off the woman who answered the phone, and she made me go through my whole saga anyway, even though I TOLD her the instructions I'd received. Then she made me listen to their crappy music for 45 minutes. But I ended up getting a good chunk off my cable bill.) On the phone last night, I was assured that I would not have to be home today for the tech to come out. Today, the cable tech came out, but because I wasn't home, he left a note telling me I needed to reschedule. This is the second time IN A ROW that this has happened. I called back this afternoon, and spoke to a guy with a sense of humor. I made him laugh, put on a Southern Belle accent for him (only half fake) , told him he was my favorite phone rep so far (he doesn't have a lot of competition), and assured him that I would totally go out with him if we lived in the same country (well, not really). In return, he supposedly rescheduled a tech to come out tomorrow. And he cancelled the rest of my next cable bill. I almost felt like I should describe the black lacy bra I was wearing to show him that I was sincere in my appreciation, but then realized I'd have to charge him for a conversation like that. And I'm not set up as a small business. Yet. By the time I got home, my throat was swelling up to a level that - gasp! - made it uncomfortable to talk. I think all of the deep breaths and teeth clenching and holding in the rage last night infected my throat. An hour ago, I started getting the paper-thin-skin, now-I'm-chilly-now-I'm-sweating, please-dear-husband-don't-make-me-turn-down-your-love-tonight feeling that indicated a fever. Being a mature, responsible adult, I didn't move for a while. It's the closest thing to a, um, chemical experience I'm gonna have, so I figured I might as well enjoy it. Then I realized that since I clean out the litter box on a regular basis and worry about how many vegetables I eat in a day, I can no longer pretend to enjoy anything close to an illegal chemical experience. So, because I was miserable, I took my temp (it was 100.8, Mom) and then took some meds. As for how my gas mileage has increased - from 25 mpg to hovering just over and under 30 - over the past four months when it's now July in Alabama and the AC runs full blast 100% of the time...maybe that's supposed to make up for the fact that I'm acting like an adult? I guess I'd rather do that then tequila shots. But the tequila shots were fun as hell while they lasted.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I found this buried somewhere and realized that in my post-London fog, I never posted it. Because I'm so brilliant at this blogging thing that I guess I assume things will just magically appear on the page when I want them to. Oh, and here's the link to the London pics on Flickr. Our last night in London, we treated ourselves to a Medieval Banquet. The basic premise is that if you give them an obscenely ludicrous amount of money, they will give you four courses of food, a few dancing girls, some men prancing around with swords, and all-you-can-drink-beer and wine. What's not to love? It was like a family night that was tailor-made for us. First, we're going to clarify the all-you-can-drink aspect. Because if you know anything about me, you know that when I saw that printed on the ad, I pulled The Professor's American Express out of his back pocket without asking any questions such as "Honey, is it ok if I use your credit card?" Or "Exactly what kind of beer and wine are we talking about?" Or even "Does anyone else want to do this?". I'm not sure what they did to the beer. I'm not sure that the wine even had alcohol in it. The beer came out of a tap and into a pitcher that was shared by the table. The wine just kept appearing in glass jugs. The beer tasted better - and went better with the meal - so that's what I drank. Our cups were small, but I had plenty. The first pitcher was kind of flat, so we drank it quickly to get a fresh one (there were 12 of us at the table, about 4 or 5 drinking the beer). It was better - but I swear they were serving the Non-alcoholic version. Which is probably a good thing, because if I had to watch the dancing girls whirling around and around and around while I was drunk, I probably would've ended up under the table. Best lines: The only other American at the table was some guy from Way Up North (which would excuse him for his lack of manners, if I were in a charitable mood. I wasn't). When the paté was served on a trencher with some crusty bread, his only comment was: "Liverworst! I haven't had that in years! Where's the mustard?" StepSon, upon being asked why he was watching the servers so intently: "I'm pretty sure those shirts are supposed to fall off at some point." Me, to the guy sitting next to my StepSon: "Your girlfriend is drunk and puking in the bathroom and she wants to talk to you." It was a great night.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why do I still go to a Catholic Church?

This Pope is really pissing me off.
Here's the latest of his crazinesses:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article2056515.ece

Basically, he's edging back towards the old teaching that only Catholics are going to make it to heaven. Did they dig this man out of a hunk of ice frozen from the 3rd century or something?

One of my favorite quotes: "But it is fundamental to any kind of dialogue that the participants are clear about their own identity."

Translation: "Before we talk to you...you...non-Catholics we need to make sure you understand that you are ALL inferior."






Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Because you should never be too far from your iPod

I give you this, and invite you to all the bad, tasteless jokes you can think of. Because if anything ever screamed out "please make a tasteless joke about me, preferably one that inlcudes references to horrible bodily functions", this is it.
And if you just have to have one (yes, Uncle, I'm talking to you), here's the Amazon link. And I don't want to know about it.

Monday, July 09, 2007

It was the perfect suburban childhood.

Three girls, with one little brother to torment as much as possible. A mom who cooked dinner every night – and it tasted good. A dad who could fix ANYTHING. A pool in the backyard. A back deck with a couple of cats to play with. What more could we want? And then they said they were shaking things up a bit. Because, you know, in the mid-Eighties, raising four kids and sending them to Catholic schools on a single income just isn’t exciting enough. So we were told that we’d have a little brother or sister. I don’t think they found out what it was going to be beforehand. I remember my brother praying for a boy. I remember at least one of my sisters being a little grossed out at the thought of my parents having a child “at their age”. I remember almost nothing of what I thought about the whole affair. Knowing me, I had opinions, but I don’t remember consciously thinking about it. Since I was eight, and the only two things my world consisted of in the summer months were the pool and my books, I probably thought it would be something to keep my mom from telling me that I needed to clean my room (leaving me more time to re-read the Little House books for the eighteen-gazillionth time). And then…he was there. I do remember holding him in the hospital. And losing my heart. Maybe it’s not fair to my other brother and sisters – but I only really got to know them as adults, after all. But the baby…I’ve know him his whole life. He wasn’t mine at first. I had no idea what to do with him. But my sisters did. So I watched while they changed his diaper, and fed him, and played with him. And I consciously copied them. After all, if they could do it, I thought that meant I could too. Their ten year advantage meant little to me. Although I’m sure it meant a lot to my mother every time I tried to pick him up and she envisioned me dropping him on the brick fireplace. I remember him curling his fingers in his hair while he fell asleep. Or mine, if he was curled up on my shoulder. I remember the day he started fussing on the living room floor. All three of us sisters moved immediately to “the baby”. And my saintly mother lost patience and demanded that we “LEAVE THE BABY ALONE!” so that he could learn to walk. “I am NOT,” she declared, “carrying him on my hip to his first day of kindergarten!” And then four years later, he really was mine to play with. Every day. The sisters were gone. We moved away. He was “my baby”. Which was all fine and dandy with him…until I yelled that at one of his baseball games. In front of his friends. Who all watched his face turn red. I was informed later that I am NOT – repeat NOT – ever allowed to call him that in public again. Oops. It’s a few years later. He turns 21 today. I think if he’s truly exhausted, he still pulls at his hair when he’s tired. I still call him “my baby” from time to time. And God help us, he can legally do the things I did when I was 21.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

You never knew MSNBC could be so life-fullfilling

Apparently, I'm worthy of being a US Citizen. Thank you MSNBC, for asking questions that I could get 100% correct. Can I have some kind of certificate that says "Approved by MSNBC as being worthy to be a citizen of the United States of Dick & George"? Hmm...no certificate, but they did give one of those handy sets of result ranges, like the kind you see in Cosmo when you're answering questions as to the liklihood of your husband getting it on with your best friend while you're gone to visit your aging grandmother. Since I don't have an aging grandmother, Cosmo has taught me not to worry about the Professor and the best friend hooking up. Because if they did, the non-existent aging grandmother would be the least of my worries. The most of my worries would be how many bottles of cheap vodka Alabama legally allows you to buy at one time. I'm willing to bet that the legal limit is far less than it would take to erase that picture from my mind. And in case you're wondering, here's what MSNBC says about my prospects of being an American citizen: "85-100% correct: Welcome to the United States! (And, truth be told, you know more about this great land than most Americans.)" So, not only do I get to be proud of the fact that I know how many representatives we have (and no, I won't tell you - take the quiz, get it wrong, and they'll give you the answers), but I also get to say that I probably - according to MSNBC, mind you, I would never say such a boastful thing on my own - know more about this country than you do. And really, if I can't find fullfillment in the fact that MSNBC told me that I know more about something than millions of people whom I'll never meet, then I just don't know if life would be worth it any more.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

We got rain!

Precipitation Accumulation

Precipitation
Amount

0.02 inches In the 24 hours preceding Jun 27, 2007 - 07:53 AM EDT / 2007.06.27 1153 UTC


Wonder if I should start building the Ark...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Major League Sports Could Use a Fashion Advisor.

I'm not much of a sports fan. The only reason I know anything about football is because it caught my attention when the guys in black and white stripes started throwing around yellow handkerchiefs. It just didn't seem to fit their visual profile - I mean, red would have livened up that ensemble a lot more than yellow, but maybe they thought red was overdone? So I asked. And much to my chagrin, I now know something about football. Baseball has always been the easiest for me to follow. Maybe it was just exposure - it was definitely my family's sport of choice. And when I say sport of choice, I mean something that we watched or listened to with a cold drink in our collective hand. I don't mean any of us actually got out and played it with each other. We would have had to put the beer down, and that's really not going to happen with most of us. Unless there's a bottle of bourbon around somewhere. (This was all true until the anomaly that is my little brother came along. He can run in a straight line! While watching a ball somewhere! And NOT FALL DOWN.) The Professor is a Red Sox fan. I could care less. So I cheer for any team that wears red. Sometimes I'm even cheering for the right people. As long as I never cheer for the Yankees, I figure I'm safe. But the Braves fans that are on TV right now...they're not making my day. Sure, Boston's winning. 3-0. And the game's half over. But instead of booing the winning team, why don't you just encourage your own? It's no fun to sit and listen to over an hour of booing. Someone needs to tell those people over in Atlanta that when your team's losing, you've got an unshakable alibi for drinking to excess. So not only do I have to listen to these people screaming veiled obcenities, I also have to watch them waste the perfect opportunity to drink more beer than is advisable. I think I need to go shopping to get over this. Maybe I'll buy some yellow handkerchiefs.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The best friends are the ones who will go through AA with you if needed

Thursday, I dragged the best friend up to Nashville for two days of fun. J, an old - ha! I called you old! - friend from the 7th grade just bought her first house. In our world, this not only mandates a party, it means that not to have one would mean punishment. So along with T&A (I'm going to call them that from now on. It makes them seem a little less dirty than they actually are), we planned a night. Luckily, we all know the entrance fee (some form of drinkable alcohol and an empty stomach) and the rules (remember something embarrassing about everyone, and liberally call each other names). As the BF and I headed north on Thursday afternoon, our latest alcohol inventory among the five of us was about 11 bottles of wine and one bottle of vodka. With a little rationing, we could make it through til the liquor stores opened on Friday morning. But even 5 hours of homemade pizza, wine, and laughing wasn't enough when - I think simultaneously - all five of us realized that in the next year we will all turn 30. More than one of us needed a drink refill. Some of us needed more than one. We all needed a subject change, so I think we moved on to discussing men at that point. That is so much more interesting - and much less painful to make fun of - than our age. Fortunately, I remembered that I had packed my camera. Unfortunately, I didn't remember until T&A had been gone for about 10 minutes. I thought about calling them back - but that would have wasted the energy I had saved up to finish the last bottle of open wine. I was still deciding on a plan of action when my head hit the pillow. Friday had far fewer hangovers than I anticipated. Not that any of us jumped out of bed ready to sing hymns of praise to the morning sun. But we don't ever want to do that anyway, so if one of the girls had acted in such a suspicious manner, I would have known they were hiding some good pills somewhere. We all made do with coffee, silence and some inspirational viewing of HGTV for a bit, then headed out to buy the plants and supplies we needed to do J's front lawn. Three hours, two Walmarts, one Home Depot and a liquor store later, we were back at J's house. First order of business: make the Pina Coladas. We took a vote after the first batch, and decided that all future ones shall be made with Mango flavored rum. After the second batch, we issued an edict, but I was pretty convinced that the Colada part of the equation could be left out, and I'd be happy with just the mango rum. Then it was time to get down to the nitty gritty. After which we rewarded ourselves with pasta and some more wine. So the girls and I had a chance to catch up. And - I have discovered - they all read my blog! Which is why I didn't pull out any of the embarrassing stories or pictures from our teenage years. We looked at all those pictures and we all admitted the bad hair mistakes we have made, bad hair mistakes that we all remember much more fondly than some of the bad man mistakes we've also made. I don't think it was verbalized, but I'm pretty sure more than one of us would rather live with the bad perm that interupted our lives than some of those men (I am, of course, excluding the Best Friend from this statement. I'm pretty sure she'd take a bad man over bad hair any day). We all agreed that good shoes trump just about everything else in life. Except good friends. And half price wine. J's New Flowers: And J's New Rose Bush:

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Priceless dinner conversations with my stepson and The Professor Me: Dinnertime! Boys come running. SS, piling up as much food as his plate will hold: What's for dinner? Me, eyeing his plate already full of the answer: Venison roast, potatoes, carrots and green beans SS, fork halfway to his mouth: Venison is gross. Me: You've never had it, so at least taste it before you puke. SS, after a few exploratory mouthfulls: Hey! It tastes like meat! Me: My sister's finally getting a dishwasher! TP, shovelling in roast and mashed potatoes: That's nice SS, with a scandalized look on his face: Finally? How have their dishes been getting cleaned? Me: with soap, water and her hands. SS: Oh, you mean it broke and she's getting it fixed? Me: No, I mean she hasn't had a dishwasher in about 5 years*, so she's been hand-washing dishes. SS: {scandalized silence, then sputtering} But...I mean..how does she DO that? *I was wrong; she's only been without one for 3 years. But right now my stepson thinks she's some kind of super-human for washing dishes BY HAND for that long, so I don't want to ruin the illusion that she has some kind of dish-washing super powers. If I think hard enough, I can turn this into a scare tactic and use it to my advantage.

Monday, June 04, 2007

How to Ruin a Teenager's Life: A Manual

It's summer! And with that comes the joy of having my stepson. We don't get to spend a whole lot of uninterupted time with him during the school year because even on the weekends, he's busy with lacrosse practice, play practice or just the social life of a teenager. But during the summer, we actually get him for weeks at a time. The down side is that he's 16 and feeding him almost requires someone to get a second job. And...he's got the "unhappy with everything we do" syndrome that infects people of that age group. The up side? The joy that is my stepson. He doesn't find as much joy in this together time as I do, but it allows me a sustained period of time to play "Torture the Teen", one of my favorite games on this earth. According to him, these are the things that I did over the weekend to ensure that he is as miserable as possible. Because I love him that much. Feel free to use these and adapt them to your own home version of "Torture the Teen".

  • I made him eat a salad - with something more than lettuce, cheese, croutons and 5 cups of salad dressing. I put carrots and cucumbers on it. I did leave the tomatoes off of his, since I know he can't stand them. But I think the salad situation still goes on the "torture" side of our relationship and not the "love."

  • I made him speak to his grandmother on the phone when she called. I would give anything to hear my grandmother's voice again, and he yet he hates to talk to his grandparents. It must have something to do with being 16 and not 29. But these are people that pretty much worship the ground that he, their oldest grandchild, walks on. If you don't want to talk to people who literally think you aren't capable of doing anything wrong....well then, there's not much sense in having the ability to speak.

  • I wouldn't let him throw lacrosse balls against the side of the house. I have a crazy love of my windows, and for some reason the thought of him flinging a 4 inch rubber ball at full force against the side of my house makes me nervous. I suggested he bring his lacrosse net over here from his mom's so he would have something to fling the balls into, but of course that was rejected before the sentence was out of my mouth. Reasons for rejecting this perfectly good idea didn't seem necessary to him, so I don't guess I'll ever find out why. It's probably simply the fact that I suggested it, but maybe the possiblity of breaking my windows would make him feel a little better about the fact that I'm ruining his life?

  • I didn't buy soda for him (I very rarely have soda in the house anymore), so he only has water, milk, lemonade, tea or sugar-free-kool-aid-substitute to choose from when he's thirsty. I'd even let him have coffee if he wanted it. And we have hot tea. But it will ruin a meal if he doesn't get his carbonation.

  • I kept the remote control in my hands or on my lap for 4 entire hours on a Saturday evening. He didn't want to necessarily change the channel. He just wanted to feel in control. But I knew that as soon as a commercial came on, all sense of restraint would vanish and those buttons would start getting pushed. So I was a hard-ass about it.

  • I made him go to a family event - a birthday party for two of my nieces/his cousins. I get the fact that he doesn't want to interact with anyone over the age of 18 or under the age of 15 - but that doesn't mean he gets to ignore family. Or miss a chance to fill his stomach for a few hours with food that I didn't have to prepare.

And he's only been here for 48 hours! I have six more days to think of ways to singlehandedly ruin his life for the summer. Why do I have a feeling that the above things will be remembered more than the chicken Parmesan I'm making specially for him (because it's his favorite meal)? Or the fact that I drove 15 miles out of my way to get the kind of lemonade mix that he prefers over the brands they sell at Walmart? Or the clothes he'll get. But that's ok. I'll probably remember the fun I had playing "Torture the Teen" a lot longer than I'll remember making pasta anyway.