October 31, 2008

The Friday Chronicles

It's been a long damn week. The Eagle has been here for eight days now and although I'm still happy to be spending time with her, her overt opinions are driving me a bit nuts. I know she doesn't agree with a lot of our decisions and that she desperately wants us to move back to Pennsylvania. But does that mean she has to proverbially beat me in the head with a two-by-four of it?


Our car is falling apart. Sitting at a railroad crossing today, my temperature gauge started climbing alarmingly quickly. Luckily, we were already on our way to meet my husband at work and I had him check it out. He threw some water in the radiator and coolant reservoir and then he checked all the other fluids. The prognosis: We need to change the oil and filter, flush the cooling system and start fresh, figure out why the brake fluid is low (which involves taking the brakes apart to see if there's a leak), and change the transmission fluid. All this in addition to the two new front tires we need to replace the ones that are warped and balding. Anybody have a few hundred bucks falling out of their ass? Send it our way.


I'm pretty sure I'm being haunted. Haunted by a friendly spirit, but haunted nonetheless. I've talked about this before, so this is an addendum. The other night, I was trying to rock Bubba back to sleep in his room and was getting really frustrated because he just would not calm down. Out of nowhere, I felt a hand on my back and it stayed with me for probably 10 seconds or so, swaying with me. I tried shifting a little bit to see if maybe my shirt was just sitting on my back - right between my shoulder blades - but it wasn't. I suspect my dad or aunt Joann, just offering me a little extra support.


I'm pretty sure I've gained 10 pounds this week. My mom has a sweet tooth and a need to spoil her grandchildren...and me. We've had ice cream, cookies, brownies, candy and potato chips (not sweet, but definitely junk food) all in the last week. How much of this do I normally buy? Ice cream, maaaaybe once a week. I keep a cup on the kitchen counter and I put my spare change in there. Once I have $7.00 or $8.00 saved up, I'll go buy two pints of ice cream. It's the Ice Cream Fund. Like I need one.


Evidently, I need to leave my comfort zone. With my weekly writing assignment, I generally pick the topic that recalls a memory. I love my memories, I cherish them. I pride myself on having a great long-term memory and I embrace any and all opportunities to remember something from years ago. However, there are those who feel I need to step up my game and try a writing prompt that I'm less okay with. We'll see.


My son's first birthday party is tomorrow and I have to admit, I'm excited. For as much as I bitch about my in-laws and all their annoying attributes, I like family get-togethers and love focusing on my kids. My son has turned one and he's absolutely amazing. Happy birthday, little man!

Fresh out of the oven...

Four months old...

Eight months old...

Three days ago...

October 30, 2008

My Weekly Writing Assignment

This week's assignment is as follows:

The Prompts:

1.) Write from the point of view of a glass at the edge of the table.

2.) Describe a typical day during your Jr. High years.

3.) Why do you write?

4.) When I'm around too much negativity I...

5.) You've been hired as a writer for "Late Show with David Letterman." Your first assignment is to come up with a witty, nonpolitical Top Ten list for him to read on air.


A Typical Day in April of 1993, Spring of my 7th Grade Year

I wake up at 7:00 a.m. because I had to be on the bus at 7:45 a.m. Yes, I only gave myself 45 minutes. For some reason, it took me a lot less time to get ready back then. Maybe it's because I didn't have kids OR a giant purse. Hm. Anyway, I got my shower and headed back upstairs, turned on the 1"-barrel curling iron and got dressed. I was probably wearing a pair of straight-leg jeans that were docked, a dark green turtleneck bodysuit (you remember them - just like a baby's onesie but a lot bigger and more chic, ha ha) and an oversized white cardigan sweater. Then I did my hair: I pulled it back into a slick ponytail and doused my bangs with hairspray. I wrapped the top half of them around the curling iron, rolled it back, and held it for a few seconds and released. Curled the other half of them down. Then I properly feathered the top half and re-sprayed, just for insurance purposes. Don't need flat bangs by lunch!

I grabbed my backpack, skipped breakfast completely because I wasn't hungry and I didn't have time anyways because I'd redone my bangs four times just to achieve the proper height and proportion. Ran out to the corner and hopped on the bus just as it came up the sidestreet to pick up me and Kim, my neighbor and good friend who was two years my senior.

My school day, though littered with eight classes and a lunch period (this was in the days before block scheduling and different classes in different semesters; we had eight periods a day, same classes all school year long), was spent SOCIALIZING. Seriously folks, for every ounce of nerd in me existed an ounce of wanting to be liked. I was a joiner. That year, I'd participated in junior high basketball, junior high intramural volleyball, marching band, concert band and concert choir. Okay, I only lasted about six weeks into basketball. Evidently, you need to be in the know as far as rules of the game and how the game is played in order to not be last-ditch, gotta-be-fair-and-let-them-have-court-time third string. Hm.

I wrote notes. I now half-heartedly and somewhat sheepishly refer to myself as a writer when in close company - in other words, in front of people who won't laugh at that idea - and I earned a degree in it, so my note-writing obsession was probably just a little hint of what was to come. I used to save my notes. Up through the end of college, I kept an old Utz Pretzel jar in my closet with a batch of notes from grades 7-12. I finally trashed them when I met my husband. Fire hazard, anyone?

I chased boys, although I went about it in completely the wrong way. I thought my best way in was to be a friend first. This failed in multiple ways, but none that I was aware of until I was much older. To begin with, once you're a friend, it very rarely transpires to anything more, especially with teenage boys. And then you end up being the girl the guy goes to when he's have problems with the girl he actually likes, and that girl isn't you. Then you feel like crap for weeks. Finally, I realized that the whole "friend" thing was an easy way out for the guy: he didn't have to tell me what he really thought about me. I'm thinking those things varied: you're not interesting, you have a bad attitude (actually heard this once), you're fat, blah blah blah. Stupid boys.

Boy-chasing was actually a full-time extracurricular among my friends and I. Isn't it that way for most 13-year-olds? Now I can look back and laugh about it, but I was an overly open book about my crushes and all it brought me was humiliation. Ugh. When people ask if I could go back to high school and do it all over...HELL NO! It was awful enough the first time, I'm not that much of a masochist to want to relive it.

Finally, at the end of a day full of note-taking, note-writing, and crush-obsessing, I'd go home, crank out the homework uber-fast and then get on the phone to talk to all my friends about the day's events. There are two things I do well now: write and talk. It was no different at 13.

October 29, 2008

And so we've turned the corner...

...in mom's visit, that is. The niceties are more or less done and now it's back to the way we were five and a half years ago when Rob and I still lived with her. We're butting heads. She's refusing to accept that I'm now a mother and am perfectly capable of raising and disciplining my own children and is constantly trying to overrule me with my own kids. At least once an hour, I find myself saying, "Mom, stop. I've got this."

Last night, things reached kind of a head. It started with a disagreement about MyCoke Rewards. She's of the opinion that Coca-Cola is discriminating against people who don't own a computer because you can only do MyCoke Rewards online. "What about those of us who don't want a computer or can't afford one?" she asks. I say, "Well, if you choose not to buy a computer, then it's your choice to not have online contests available to you in your home. What's to stop you from walking two small-town-sized blocks to the library? I'm sure the librarian would be happy to show you how to go to the website and enter teh codes. Same goes for those who can't afford a computer."

Her response? "Well, it's still not fair. What if I don't want to go to the library?"

Oh. My. God. "Then it's your loss." She says, "They should have a 1-800 number to call and enter codes." I say, "Then how would you see all the rewards?" She says, "Well, they could print them on the inside of the box." I say, "There are, like, thousands of rewards and contests. That's an impossibility." She says, "Well, they need to figure something out. It's discriminatory."

I nearly choked on my tongue I was trying so hard not to push it. Then there was the argument about a story we saw on the news. Reader's Digest version: an older woman's house went into foreclosure in February, she was ordered to be out by the end of August. August came, she left, and then repeatedly broke back into her home. Her reason? She didn't know what else to do. Finally, yesterday, police broke down her door and arrested her because she refused to leave.

Mom's take: That poor lady. So sad.

My take: Well, that sucks for her but she had six months to figure out what to do and where to go. I'm sure her mortgage-lenders could have pointed her in the right direction and if they didn't, she could have talked to the local housing authority or homeless shelters. They all have resources for people in her position. What stopped her?

Mom's response to that: A bunch of huffing and puffing about how old the woman was, how she maybe didn't know who to talk to, how upsetting it must have been.

My response to mom: In six months, she couldn't find one person to point her in the right direction? I'm sorry she's in this situation but it's her fault she didn't do something to secure a landing place in the six months they gave her.

Mom's response to me: I'm sorry to hear you say that and I'm sorry to see you thinking that way.

[Big, deep, calming breath and a slow count to ten to stop me from flipping my lid.]

STOP TRYING TO BLAME EVERYONE EXCEPT WHO'S ACTUALLY TO BLAME! It's not Coca-Cola's fault you don't have a computer and it's not their responsibility to ensure your participation in their online rewards program. It's not the police department's fault, nor is it her lender's fault, that the old lady in Oakland couldn't contact the local housing authority during her six-month grace period and that she was dumb enough to keep breaking and entering a house that was no longer hers. She was trespassing and she deserved to be arrested.

RAWR! I feel a little better. Thanks for asking. In other news, I decided to shut my yap - for a change - and graciously allow my stepmother-in-law to bring the pizzas. Can't hurt, right? Mom and I are making homemade mac 'n cheese with cornbread tonight. I haven't had homemade mac 'n cheese in YEARS. Yay!

Oh, and my son has a new word. He can say "cookie."

And that's all the news in Darcieland.

October 28, 2008

Apparently, I'm just not capable.

Of planning and hosting a one-year-old's birthday party, that is. Originally, what Rob and I planned was cake and ice cream at 2 p.m., our place. Grandparents and immediate cousins invited, that's it, that's all. Nothing fancy, nothing big, and nothing costly. We haven't been exactly flush with money lately but we want to throw our son his first birthday party. We can swing cake, ice cream and some soda.

So I email the west-coast grandparents to let them know the details. Here's a copy-n-paste from her - my stepmother-in-law's - response:

"...Yeppums, we will be there!! Is there a little Cesar's nearby to your place w/the $5 pizza's?? If so we can buy a couple (3 or 4) there for Saturday afternoon as a contribution to the feed I think, or we can pick some up in [their town] & warm them up in [our town]. And maybe [brother-in-law] can bring something too like a few liter bottles of soda, diet & regular (probably less than $10), then [my mom's] help would maybe be less needed that way since she's already paid for an airline ticket to come visit. Maybe she could buy some chips or something, or salad to go along with the Pizza?? Something cheap & easy...prebagged salad of course!..."

Let me preface my rant with this: I appreciate generosity. I do. And I appreciate the gesture.

But what you all don't know is that she always does this. She can't let someone else control a party she's attending. For every one of Beth's birthday parties, she couldn't let me run the show. For her first birthday, we were going to cake and ice cream, with some chips and dip and soda, in the mid-afternoon. Simple. The kid was one, there were no other kids at the party. What does she do? She nabs up two pans of wannabe Chinese food leftovers from one of their church thingies and whips up a green salad.

For Beth's second birthday, we were going to do the same thing. They insisted on bringing extra chips and soda. For her third birthday, we went all out. Chicken, pizza, chips, dips, cake, ice cream, beer, soda, etc. Good times! What does she do? Brews a pot of coffee and throws her homemade salsa out on the counter. She just can't relinquish total control! She has to have her hand in everything. Fucking irritating!!!

So this year, I announce cake and ice cream because again, the kid's only one and the only other child in attendence will be our three-year-old who only cares about the cake. And what you see in the italicized paragraph is her reaction. I don't know of a tactful way to say, "Stop trying to control and design my kids' birthday parties! Their our kids! Just come, enjoy the company, and eat some cake. Then go home. This isn't your party to throw!"


I just don't understand her need to do this. After watching her control family gathering after birthday party after family gathering after holiday...you'd think I'd be used to it. Why can't she respect what we've decided and just leave it at that? Does anyone have any insight to this phenomenon or how to approach her about it?

October 27, 2008

A Year Ago Today...

Let's see...what was I doing one year ago today? I was running errands. We were living in a town about 45 miles from where we were running all our errands but since I was due - to give birth to my son - any day and the hospital I was delivering it was in the vicinity, we figured it was safe enough. Around noon, we stopped at Hell-Mart Wal-Mart and I noticed things felt a little different. I mentioned it in passing to my husband but brushed it off as wishful thinking.

Then, for lunch we went to China Cook - a fanTAStic Chinese take-out place in Hayward. Because I was a gestational diabetic, I had to go with egg foo yong and a medium hot & sour soup. I love hot & sour soup. I was trying all the old wives' tales to induce labor: sex, castor oil (Yes, I really did try it. Nothing happened. NOTHING.), rides on bumpy roads, walking, and spicy food, which is what landed me at the hot & sour soup. Two nights before, I'd had the Prego Pizza from Skipolini's. I had high hopes...but nothing had happened.

We got home around 4 p.m. and I made dinner which, if memory serves, was kielbasa. I started feeling contractions around that time. By 7 p.m. they were pretty bad, so I took a shower and called the hospital. We took off around 8 p.m. and I endured a hellish ride to the hospital. It only took about half an hour but it felt like three hours because we were on 580 west, possibly the bumpiest, crappiest road in the east bay. We got to the hospital around 9 p.m.

They checked me in and put me on Skid Row in the observation room - just click on "Observation Room" to the right - to make sure I was truly in labor. Yeah, I KNOW. I can barely stand up, I'm hollering for an epidural, but they need to be sure I'm in labor. 'Kay.

Turns out, I was about 7 centimeters. Transition time. They had me in the L&D room - just click on "Birthing Suite" - within minutes and I was going through an awfully quick labor. Despite my begging and pleading for an epidural, the nurse anesthetist took her sweet-ass time, asking me the same series of questions at least three times, and finally tried to administer it when I was NINE CENTIMETERS. Who waits that long?

The epi never took and about five minutes later, I started pushing. I was in horrible, shiver-inducing pain. Most of the pain centered around my left hip and lower back. Terrible. At 12:10 a.m. on October 28, eight short hours after my contractions began, my son was born. I posted this today because I spent the 27th in labor. Seemed fitting. Just after midnight tonight, I'll tiptoe into my son's room and stroke his hair and cheek and whisper "Happy birthday, Budda-Boy."

That's right: Budda-Boy. My nickname for him.

The day before I went into labor.

October 24, 2008

The Friday Chronicles

Well, it's been a busy week and not a lot has transpired, save for the organization and disinfection of my home and a trip to San Francisco International Airport whence I picked up The Eagle. With that said, only two weeks into my new "tradition" of posting The Friday Chronicles, I'm going to thieve this idea from Mimi because it sounds like fun. I love reminiscing!

So my crushes from, we'll say, 1992 - I turned 13 that year - were, in no particular order...

Tommy Puett! What? You don't remember him? He was Becca's boyfriend - before Jesse came along - on the TV show "Life Goes On." HOT. At least he was in the very early '90s.

Yeah, I'll admit it. I was a fan of Jeremy Miller, who played Ben Seaver on "Growing Pains." And not only was I a fan, I was a member of his fan club. Oh yeah, it was bad. Ha ha.

Bret Michaels baby! I searched and searched for the same poster I had on my bedroom wall, but apparently nobody felt like posting it online. He was the bad boy in my would-be man harem.

Mmm. Actually, all the guys in 90210 were yummy, but I drooled extra hard for this guy. Ever seen "8 seconds?" You should. I have a thing for guys in cowboy hats. My husband owns two. *wink*

So tell me. Who were your crushes when you were 13?

October 23, 2008

The Eagle Has Landed

She's here and so far, so good. No comments about my weight, our financial stupidity, or any decisions we've made, save for a few remarks on how she can't believe - and for which she gives us credit - we've stuck out California for over five years.

We did some shopping, got Chinese take-out, and have vegged all night watching TV. We'll see how tomorrow goes.

October 22, 2008

I've been tagged!

By Jennifer, an awesome Okalahoman whose points of view I regularly agree with.

So I've fulfilled Rule #1. Rule #2 might prove to be a bit difficult since I just posted a blog containing 100 random facts about myself, but I'll give it a whirl.

1. I've never seen the Star Wars trilogy. Ever. I'm okay with that; they just don't interest me and I make no apologies.

2. Seaweed freaks me out. Not the kind they wrap California rolls in. I'm talking about that brownish-yellow bulbous stalk-type things you see wash up on the beaches. EW. It looks slimy, like tentacles. I won't go near it. I can't really explain why. It just freaks me out.

3. You know how I'm afraid to drive in the snow? I took my driver's exam in the snow. My three-point turn? Yeah, it was a five-point turn because the local plow-trucks only plowed the lanes. They didn't plow the berms. I passed, by the way.

4. I like my toast barely toasted. Most people prefer to hear a *crunch* when they bite into their toast. Not me. By the time I get the butter on it, I want it to more or less melt in my mouth.

5. I make lists all the time. Then I ignore them. I don't know what it is; I like to feel organized but I don't actually like to be organized.

6. I'm fascinated with disspelling the myth of Christianity. Some feel differently, but I read The Da Vinci Code and have watched those shows on The History Channel ad nauseam. I'm also fascinated with secret societies - past and present - and all the mysteries in history.

7. I've never had a pedicure. I've always wanted one, but I'm never sure of whether a salon has a good reputation or not and I'm afraid I'll step into one that hasn't exactly received rave reviews from the health board. Plus, I'm never willing to plop down money for something like that on me.

Okaaaay...Rule #3.

I tag:

Amy, because she's a sucker for things like this.

Diana, because she's my best friend and if she doesn't do it, I'll dedicate a post to all her shenanigans.

Valeta, because she's barefoot and pregnant and longs to do survey-type things.

Mimi, because she gave me an award a while back and since I don't currently have any awards to give out, I'll give her blog fodder.

Denise, because, like Amy (and myself), she's a sucker for things like this.

Mr. Lady, because she's awesome and knows it would mean the world to me. *wink*

Erin, because I love the name of her blog - and also don't really get it - and because she needs another reason to avoid her email replies.

And, like Jennifer, I'm not following Rule #4. I want to see if any of these knuckleheads read my blog.

Ballot Cattle!

Please watch this video and visit his website and his YouTube videos. He makes innumerable fantastic points and needs to be heard. And please pass along this video!

A Game of Scrabble

As always, I'm doing my homework. I've always been kind of a nerd in that respect. I do my homework. Unless it's Joe McCarren's Traditional Grammar class, in which case I'll never do it, skip five classes (it was a night class, once a week, you'd think I could have been bothered, but it was a total snoozefest), and pull an A. *shrug*

Other than that, I do my homework when it's assigned. Here were this week's prompts:

1. Complete the sentence "I'd walk a mile for a ________." and continue writing about it.

2. Describe in detail a person who leaves no stone unturned.

3. When out to lunch with co-workers, you bump into a close friend who refers to you by a nickname. Because of its unusualness, the nickname catches the interest of one of your co-workers who asks for the story behind it. Start your story with, "This may come as a surprise, but ... " and end it with, "And that's how I got the nickname (fill in the blank)."

4. Write about an intense game of Scrabble that takes an ugly turn for the worse.


So, for the not-too-swift of you who didn't read the title of today's post, I'm writing about Scrabble. Unfortunately, I can't say it takes an ugly turn. It was intense, in that it was intensely funny, at least to a bunch of 15- and 16-year-olds.

It's 1995. Possibly early 1996. It was my sophomore year of high school, I can be sure of that. I'm sitting in my Spanish II class with, among others, Amanda, Eric, Lisa, Jeff, and Jeremy. We had a student teacher at that point, I don't remember her last name but I think her first name was Kristen. One day, as an activity to engage us in Spanish speaking, she set us up to play Scrabble but we had to use Spanish words only. As you can imagine, that got old really fast, especially since she wasn't really paying attention. I think she just wanted an easy day.

So we take a notion to start spelling out dirty words. In English. We're hysterical, practically falling out of our seats with laughter (one might say we were LOLing), and arguing over which words are acceptable. I think that's a trend in any Scrabble game. My mother-in-law actually has the Scrabble Dictionary to end such disputes.

Anyway, Kristen notices the ruckus and comes over to see what's so funny. (As an aside, this girl was one of those timid, mousy types who feigned naiveté but you knew was a much more fun girl when the school day was over.) She took one look at our board, gasped, and we delightedly watched her face turn all kinds of red. "No no no no NO!" she squeaked out, and although she was trying to insist that we start the game over and get those obscene words off the board, you could see her stifling laughter. Who wouldn't laugh at the sight of "BOOBS" and "HUMP" on a Scrabble board?

Admittedly, again, no ugly turn for the worse. But it did take a turn and it was intense. I hope Mama Kat accepts this for my assignment!

October 21, 2008

100 Random Facts About Me

You know, in case you have an extra few minutes you won't mind never getting back.

1. I'm addicted to Diet Coke.

2. I took 10 years of piano lessons.

3. I took 7 years of guitar lessons.

4. Between the ages of 12 and 16, I learned how to play the clarinet (and all its lower-toned counterparts), the saxaphone (and its lower-toned counterparts), and the trombone. Loved the trombone.

5. I love to sing. Most don't love to hear me sing.

6. I love, love, LOVE to dance. I'm not trained or anything, I just love gettin' down wit' my bad self.

7. The first movie I saw in the theater was "Follow That Bird."

8. The first time I saw "E.T." I ran out of the room crying when it was thought that E.T. died. I had to be coaxed back in by my mom with reassurance that E.T. did not, in fact, die.

9. I was born on September 10, 1979 at 6:58 a.m.

10. My dad played my birth time, 6:58, as his Daily Lotto numbers for a full 16 years.

11. I hate feet. All feet. They freak me out. Except baby feet, I love baby feet.

12. I get a headache if I go for more than 24 hours without showering. You laugh, but my head hurts if my hair's too dirty.

13. I suffered from pretty bad migraines before I had my first child. They went away with my pregnancy with her. Since having my son, they've come back.

14. When I was little, I wanted to be a pediatrician. Then I discovered that science was my 2nd worst subject in school.

15. Math ran the slot of "Worst Subject in School."

16. My senior year of high school, I opted out of pre-calculous to take Art III. I never took Arts I or II.

17. I was born and raised Catholic.

18. I left the Catholic church when I was 18 and started attending the Church of Christ.

19. I abandoned all Christianity and became an Agnostic when I was 20.

20. My dad passed away on August 20, 1996, just three weeks shy of my 17th birthday.

21. My uncle, his brother, passed away on August 19, 1995, one year and one day earlier, of the same exact form of cancer.

22. I love reading Dr. Seuss to my kids.

23. I love cold weather.

24. I kill every plant I attempt to keep. I even killed a cactus.

25. I wore braces from 1992 through 1994. It closed the gap between my two front teeth. I was horrible about wearing my retainer and now, 15 years later, the gap is back. Damn.

26. I love carmelized and sauteed onions. I HATE raw onions.

27. I'm a Republican but I support gay marriage and think the Right's defense of and reasons for banning it are absurd.

28. I started off college majoring in psychology. Switched to English during my sophomore year.

29. The older I get, the darker my natural hair color gets.

30. I wish I was more girly.

31. I spent 10 days in London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland when I was a freshman in college.

32. I absolutely love the Pacific coastline. Beats the pants off the Atlantic coastline.

33. My first CD ever was Bryan Adams "Waking Up the Neighbours."

34. I got it with my first CD player, built into a JVC boombox, for Christmas in 1993.

35. I can't wear cheap jewelry, it causes my skin to break into an itchy rash.

36. I'm very prissy. I hate getting dirty.

37. On the right day, I'll make a total ass out of myself in public for the sake of a laugh.

38. I sing in grocery stores. Pretty loudly.

39. I was a pack-a-day smoker for five years. Marlboro Lights, mostly.

40. I graduated high school in a class of 83 people.

41. I love music, all decades, almost all genres.

42. I consider very little rap to be music. I prefer old-school rap, like, pre-2000.

43. "Drops of Jupiter" always makes me smile. It reminds me of the lazy, drunk summer before I met my husband.

44. My eyes are hazel, but change color depending on what I'm wearing or if I'm crying.

45. I have allergy problems almost year-round.

46. I was a high school cheerleader.

47. I love watching reruns of '90s TV shows. "Roseanne," "Home Improvement," and "Friends," mostly.

48. I never really liked "Seinfeld." Blasphemy, I know.

49. I've never ridden a public bus. The Happy Bus doesn't count.

50. I slammed the middle finger on my right hand in my dad's truck door when I was seven. The nail hasn't grown right since.

51. I've lived in the Bay Area for 5.5 years. Thursday will be the first time I've driven over a trans-bay bridge by myself. My husband always does the driving!

52. I adore sad songs, especially sad country songs. Ever hear Vern Gosdin's "Chiseled in Stone" or George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today?" You should. That is, if you're in the mood to be sad.

53. I have four little, girly tattoos, all flash art. I want to get a huge back piece done, or possibly something on my arm.

54. I was the choir accompanist for four years in high school.

55. I have a fantastic long-term memory. My short-term memory sucks.

56. I wish I'd grown up in the 40s and 50s. So idyllic and simple.

57. I miss smoking.

58. I hope to someday furnish my house with Pottery Barn furniture. Ha ha. Better start playing the lottery, huh?

59. I have no patience for stupid people. Seriously. They fry my brain.

60. I hate wine. I can't stand the taste of it. Give me a beer!

61. I gnash my teeth when people confuse "redneck" with "white trash." THEY'RE NOT THE SAME!!!

62. When I was younger, I worshipped the sun.

63. I'm a obsessive shampoo & conditioner tryer. I still haven't found the perfect combination for my hair. I'm open to suggestions.

64. I can't go into animal shelters unless I know for sure I'm taking an animal home with me. Otherwise, I'll spend the day feeling guilty and crying.

65. I have no hobbies. How sad is that?

66. Celebrities I can't stand: Rosie O'Donnell, Paris Hilton, and Oprah Winfrey. See tomorrow's blog to find out why.

67. Every time I get address labels from St. Jude's, I feel guilty as hell for using them when I can't afford to donate money.

68. I love riding beach cruisers in beach towns. I've actually only done this once, in Cape May, New Jersey, but it was fantastic!

69. I used to have seven piercings in my left ear and six in my right ear. Now I'm down to one in each lobe and I rarely wear earrings in them.

70. I keep a change cup on my kitchen counter and when I have about $7.00, I buy hubby and I a pint of ice cream. Bad idea, healthwise? Yep. Tasty? You betcha.

71. I'm the nosiest person you'll ever meet. I'll ask intrusive questions, I'll snoop, I'll spy...and I'm pretty damn stealthy about it too. I know it's rude, but I can't help it, I need to be in the know.

72. For all my talk about how strained my relationship with my mom is, I'm scared to death of her dying. I don't want to be parentless and I sometimes get angry that she had me so late in life that I'll be losing my mom when I'm in my 30s.

73. I hate speaking in front of large crowds. Thankfully, I haven't had to do this since college. I clam up, I stutter, I turn nine shades of red, and I have enormous brain farts.

74. I had the typical, small-town life growing up and I wish I could make my husband see that our kids would benefit from that kind of life.

75. I miss seeing the colors of the fall in the northeast. It's just not the same out here.

76. I love traveling. I wish I could do it more often.

77. I'm not afraid to create a scene if there's been an injustice. It's only happened a few times but on all those occasions, I was loud.

78. I'm very curious about Big Brother. Not the TV show. You know. The Eye in the Sky. The Man. I would kill to be a fly on the wall in certain rooms of the CIA.

79. I kind of want to be a Mythtern. You know, work with the Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel. How fun would that be?

80. I have a small obsession with office supplies. I can't go into a Staples, Office Max, or even the office supply aisle at Wal-Mart without getting a high off the reams of paper and ballpoint pens.

81. One of my guilty pleasures: "reality" shows on MTV marketed towards teens and college students. "Parental Control" and "Next" are among them.

82. I really enjoy taking pictures. I'm not particularly good at it but I love capturing faces.

83. I don't like ice with my fountain drinks. Two reasons: It waters down the soda and if I'm paying $1.50+ for a drink, I'm getting my money's worth. No sense using up cup space with ice.

84. I secretly, in a non-malicious way, wish that one of our fish would die. It's the Moor in the tank, and since day one he's had a swim bladder problem, and all he does is float around, upside down, at the top of the water. I don't have the heart to flush a living fish, but it's annoying to see him taking up space, sucking in oxygen that would better serve the more lively fish.

85. I love TV. It's such an easy escape. For a few hours every night, my mind catches a break from all the stress and worry in my life and I watch a few dramas, some comedy, and some real-life stuff that make me laugh. I love laughter and I feel you can never have too much laughter in your life.

86. I always pictured myself working in some city high-rise, living in a shoebox apartment in some major metropolis, eating Chinese take-out every night.

87. My kids are the best decisions I ever made. They're beautiful, smart and funny and they are truly the lights of my life.

88. I'm a grammar and spelling snob. I even joined the Facebook group: "I judge you when you use poor grammar." I also get annoyed when people misuse words they obviously don't understand.

89. Margarine seriously disturbs me. Anything that's supposed to resemble butter should melt after two minutes in any microwave. Margarine won't. That, or my microwave has a fundamental opposition towards margarine. Oh, and I don't normally buy margarine. I prefer real butter. Sometimes, though, the budget only allows margarine.

90. I'm one of those abides-by-every-traffic-law-known-to-man people. I annoy myself sometimes.

91. I do a crossword puzzle every day. We get two newspapers and I do the crosswords in both of them, sometimes the Word Jumble, and the Asimov Test. Rob does the Sudoku.

92. My wedding rings are yellow gold. I wish we'd gone with platinum.

93. I wish we didn't have a checking account. But then we'd have to remember to pay all our bills and chances are because we pay all but one bill online and chances are, we'd forget.

94. I can recite the script, in sync with the movie (it has to be playing) "Dirty Dancing." Same can be said, more or less, for "Office Space."

95. I love board games, especially Monopoly. The problem is, I always lose, and I'm a pretty sore loser.

96. I bowl and play pool best when I've been drinking.

97. I believe, 100%, in spirits and the afterlife. I've spoken to them in dreams and believe that they're around us all the time and "communicating" to us in other non-verbal ways.

98. When I was really little, two of my older cousins told me that if they stuck a piece of paper in our grandma's 8-track player that the world would blow up. I believed them. I ran out to the driveway and hid behind my grandparent's station wagon.

99. Said cousins labeled me the Queen of England, I think because of my penchant for always getting them in trouble. I was the youngest (in the geographic area; we had two younger cousins in New York) and I got teased a lot and tricked into a lot of things and so I did a lot of ratting out. Heh.

100. I played softball and volleyball in elementary school and junior high. I was pretty good at both but I quit both when I was 15 - figured I wasn't good enough for high school level sports - and I always wish I'd tried.

October 20, 2008

Welcome to my meltdown.

Stage 1: My weekend.

Saturday was intended to be the day we steam-cleaned the carpets. The original plan was to clean them right after breakfast and then go out grocery shopping and errand running the rest of the day to allow time for it to dry. What did we end up doing? Jack shit in the morning and an hour on the phone with AT&T's tech support trying to figure out why we can't establish an internet connection. Said phone call took me on a snoozefest journey of "ipconfig" on the DOS screen and switching cable ends to trying to find our LAN and it dropped us off at "Yeah, your ethernet card is fried." So we shuffled off to Fry's to buy a new one. Then we went to Hell-Mart Wal-Mart to get a few other things. Then we bought our anniversary dinner on the way home (Chinese take-out, we're classy, folks) and called it a day. So much for the carpet.

Sunday, we finally did clean the carpet. Right after breakfast. Husband picked up, I ran the cleaner. You might be saying, "Should he be doing this?" No. Why? He'll do a slapdash job. He's into getting un-fun things done as quickly as possible so he can watch the 49ers game efficiency and he wouldn't get the edges as meticulously as I would and he certainly wouldn't take that extra sweep over the wet stuff to suck up just a little bit more. So I run it and I'm happy about it. As for the results, well, I can't complain. I didn't pretreat with stain remover so all I was able to do was lift all the nasty dirt and pet dander and hopefully alleviate some of our allergy troubles for a few months, but that's fine by me. We don't exactly host dinner parties up here.

Then it was off to the grocery store where we threw a bunch of stuff into the cart, leaving me to have to go shopping again tomorrow because, again, he wanted to get home in time for the game. Admittedly, I'm not sure if he was trying to see the 49ers or the Raiders. I don't really pay attention. You see, if the Steelers aren't on, he'll try to watch the 49ers (he wants them to win) and the Raiders (he desperately, vehemently, savagely wants them to lose).

So what happens over the next 12 hours? My daughter drops the can of Diet Coke she's taking to my husband - it's closed and she's carrying it with both hands, she's such a good kid - and it slips out of her hands, hits the floor, and explodes. Okay, it didn't exactly explode, but it definitely sprung a leak and fizzed all over my fresh carpet. Grr.

This morning? The cat yaks up his breakfast on it. RAWRRRRRR. Why did I bother cleaning the carpet again?

Stage 2: The Eagle lands on Thursday. A bi-product of a 1950s childhood, raising little ones in the 1960s, divorcing and remarrying in the 1970s, being a working mom through the 80s and 90s, and still working through her late 60s and into her 70s because it's all she knows and wants to do. This woman has seen a lot and yet seen nothing. She's lived in western Pennsylvania for the majority of her life, save for about 15 years in south Florida. She's seen the Civil Rights movement, the Hippie movement, the modern feminist movement, and five wars. However, she watched it all go by while carving out her life in a once-booming-but-now-very-quiet little town and decided that that town was all she'd ever want or need. Occasionally, she'd say, "I've always wanted to see [insert far-off location here]. Oh well. Someday." But that day would never come and I think, after a while, it made her really bitter. So when Rob and I moved out here she made up her mind, I believe, that any place other than her hometown was just plain awful and completely uninhabitable.

Now that you have all that background information, you understand a little better why I'm a bit apprehensive about her visit. She knows I miss living back east. What she doesn't get, though, is that I don't mind it out here either. Were I to have to pick between the two, I'd pick Pennsylvania, but for now I'm content to live here. She takes that little grain of knowledge though and she browbeats me for the entire duration of her stay. This browbeating kinda makes me want to stay here a little more, that petulant teenager in me rearing its ugly head, simply out of spite.

Stage 3: Mom is that proverbial Suzy Homemaker. Her carpets were always clean, her table and countertops always wiped down, her plants watered and healthy, and her furniture without blemishes. You rarely saw any of my crap laying around because she was on my ass to put it away when I was done with it. She kept her lampshades dust-free, her picture frames all matching and perfectly arranged, and it always smelled of roast beef, some sort of casserole, or fresh laundry in her house. You know the type. They make the rest of us look bad. Real bad.

I'm attempting to clean the HELL out of my apartment to eliminate as much criticism as possible. I only have about 850 square feet to attack before Thursday morning but it's making me a bit panicky. I still have to mop the kitchen and bathroom, put a dent in our laundry pile, take down the "Condemned by Health Department" sign hanging on our bathroom door and disinfect it from top to bottom, and then attempt to clean the kid's room in the ten minutes before we leave for the airport so that it resembles something close to neat. If I do it any sooner than that, it'll look like a cyclone hit it before I walk out the bedroom door. Oh, and I need to dust everydamnthing. All before about 10:30 a.m. Thursday morning. The Eagle lands at 11:35 a.m. I have to haul a preschooler and a toddler strapped into a stroller through SFO and then keep them entertained until the Eagle gets off her plane and through the terminal. God help me if her flight's delayed.

So, welcome to my meltdown. This is Day One.

October 17, 2008

The Friday Chronicles

I'm [somewhat un-]officially starting The Friday Chronicles. In it, I'll jot down all the things/thoughts/funnies that happened during the week that may or may not have made it into my posts from the past week. Enjoy.


- Ah, Joe the Plumber. The media wasted no time, did they? They lapped that up like barn cats in the milkhouse. The guy was just outside, playing with his kid, when Obama came sauntering up the street, politicking old-school. Joe seized the moment and asked Obama a question that forced him to tell the truth (oh, where are your campaign advisors when you need them, huh, Barack?): he will raise taxes and he wants to "spread the wealth." Mm-hmm. On to my next point...

- I'm light-headed and considering slamming my head in a drawer.

- *rendering myself unconscious* *twitching*

- Jesus Tapdancing Christ. There's a Socalism activist group alive and well in the United States? And Barack Obama signed a contract with them in 1996 when he first ran for a seat in the Illinois state senate.

- Enough with Obama. We all know I'm a moderate Conservative and that I vehemently oppose Barack Obama. If I'd had to choose between the lesser of the two evils, Hillary would have been easier to accept.

- You'll note that I said I'm a moderate Conservative. Why "moderate?" Because Prop 8 is going to be on my California ballot next month and I'll be connecting the little arrow - I vote by absentee ballot, no standing in lines for hours for me, thanks, and yes, I'm okay with not getting the "I voted!" sticker - that says, "No." It's the one point my husband and I are at odds on. We can't discuss it, really. We both get mad.

- I had a really nice day today. My kids and I went to Hell-Mart Wal-Mart, got the carpt & upholstry cleaner for our Hoover Steamvac, I jammed out to music all the way there and all the way back, and when Rob came home early due to lack of work - shocker, I know - we reminisced our seven years together. Our 6th anniversary is Sunday and we're just in a really good place. Yay!


Have a nice weekend, folks!

October 16, 2008


My Weekly Writing Assignment

Time for my weekly writing assignment.

I chose Prompt #2: "I wish someone told me..."


I wish someone told me..."

...that childhood is fleeting. Enjoy it. Savor it. Remember it and all its inherent joys. Like Kenny Chesney sang, "...you're six years old and you take a nap; wake up and you're twenty-five..." It goes like that. [snap your fingers, please]

...that when placed in the hands of a shopaholic college student with a penchant for American Eagle clothing, buying shit she doesn't need at Walmart, and Marlboros, a credit card is a bad, bad, bad idea. Don't sign up for credit cards just because you get a free t-shirt!!!

...to give college more of an effort. You're smart and you could do really well if you'd just try.

...to demand healthier food as a teenager. Don't assume that you have to eat what your mom makes just because she does the shopping. And learn how to say no to sweets!

...to start exercising at a young age. Start a running program! You started one right before your senior year of high school. It lasted all of one day because your first route was out Thatcher Road. Hills Galore. Not a good route for your first day out! Talk about discouraging.

...that when your college opens the new rec center, USE IT. Go work out! Join an intramural volleyball team. Try the rock-climbing wall. Don't be afraid to use the free weights just because there's a gaggle of football lineman using them too.

...to ask more questions about your family history. Talk to grandma, grandpap, your great aunts, start a family tree. Now you know next to nothing and it's extremely disappointing!

...to be okay with who you are as a whole, not just certain aspects. And don't bury other aspects because you fear scrutiny, abandonment, or rejection. Those that do any of those three things weren't meant to be there in the first place.

...be nicer to your dad when he gets sick. Yes, you're a teenager being forced to grow up faster than you think you should, and yes, it sucks to watch your dad slowly wither away. But he's suffering too, in ways you can't even begin to imagine. Not just physically, between chemo and radiation and all their side effects, but emotionally. He knows that someday - sooner than he'd ever planned - he's going to be leaving you and your mom alone. He struggles with the knowledge that you and your mom are having to take care of him. He prays for God to take him as soon as possible so he can "stop being a burden" on you. A burden?????? He's your dad. He'd never be a burden. Remember all of that when you heave a big sigh of indignation when he asks you to make him a cup of tea or to help him up the stairs. When he asks you to drive him to outpatient chemo, don't pitch a fit because you wanted to go to your friend's house. Help him. And hug him more often. Please make sure you have no regrets when it comes to your parents.

October 15, 2008


No, not the TV show. The last 24 hours of my life. Why do you care? Oh, who are we kidding, you don't. You thought I was going to talk about it's impending Season 6 premier in five weeks. Or maybe you thought I'd talk about Keifer Sutherland. No such luck.

In the last 24 hours, I've received a phone call from New York City, my husband's been given word of promotion, and my interest in science has once again been piqued. Allow me to elaborate.

My phone rang around 11:00 a.m. yesterday; I was just setting my son to feed him his lunch. I looked at the number on the caller ID, didn't recognize it, and therefore didn't answer it. The answering machine picks up and this perky voice says, "Hi Darcie, this is Mandie from the Rachael Ray Show..." and that's all I heard because I immediately knew what she was calling about. This past Friday, I emailed the RR Show in response to this. In short: Email their show if you need a new wardrobe but don't have the dough to achieve that goal on your own.

So I immediately called her back and we spoke for a few minutes; I had to answer a few questions about what kind of wardrobe I needed, why I needed it, etc. Basically I had to plead my case. Then she asked me to email her three or four full-body pictures of myself.

Um. I don't have any.

Well, that's not entirely true, I had a few, including one I up and snapped about two minutes after the phone call ended. I then sent a head shot so she wouldn't think I was too frumpy. I looked frumpy as HELL in all but one of those pictures. She emailed back and said she would let me know via email or phone if I was chosen for that particular show and if I wasn't, they'd hold on to my information for future episodes. Holy crap! If they called and told me they were flying my ass to NYC and putting me up for a night or two so I could BE ON NATIONAL TV and then get to go SHOPPING...well, I just might pee my pants.

Then again, I might pee my pants at the scariness and unfamiliarity of all that. I've not flown since April 2001. Pre-9/11. Even after seven years of no air terrorism, I'm still leery. Read this for some laughs about that. I've never been to NYC alone. Scratch that. I've never been to NYC. I really doubt the show would fly me and my crew out to the east coast. I'd probably be going solo. Finally, and most importantly, I've never been on TV. Not really, anyway. My mom and I were on Erie, PA, news for my hometown's flood in 1996. The Lt. Gov. - then Mark Schweiker - visited our house. That doesn't exactly rank anywhere near Rachael Ray.

So that's that.

Then my husband comes home, gets changed, eats dinner, waits until "Jeopardy" is starting (two hours after his arrival home) and says, "Oh, by the way, I heard from both [service manager's name here] and [head road mechanic's name here] that in two weeks, I'll be on the road."

"What does that mean?" you ask?

It means, we think a raise, a company van, and better hours. That is to say, 40 hours per week, just as it should be. To quote Shannon, "Squeeeeee!" More money, less gas money out of our pockets, and full paychecks? Cover me in oil and call me Slick. But we'll see if any of that actually manifests.

And for my interest in science. Fringe science, that is. I freakin' LOVE this show! It's very reminiscient of The X-Files, but with more action, much more humor, and a tad less secrecy. I love the repartee between Peter and Dr. Bishop, the creepy Agent Broyles, and all the scary-yet-intriguing cases they deal with. I was horrible with all science classes in high school, from 7th grade Physical Science to Chem II and Physics, I scraped by. As a friend's mom once put it, I'm "...the artsy-fartsy type." But this show makes me want to go back to college and major in everything scientific. Fascinating, I tell you!

October 14, 2008

Holy Giveaways, Batman! Er, Batgirl.

SITS, a.k.a. The Secret is in the Sauce, is a fantastic little blog that helps out us little bloggers. Every day, they have a featured blogger. If you sign up at their site, eventually you'll be the featured blogger. For that day, that one fantastical day, you'll get tons of hits and comment love. I figure it's worth it!

And today, they're doing a blogathon and having a giveaway every hour!!! Please go visit them, sign up for their giveaway, sign up every hour! Wheeeeeee!

Didn't realize I had to gab about five blogs I love...so here I go.

Laughing With Spoons I love Denise's blog. She's wife to a fireman, mom to a beautiful little girl, and she writes from her heart. She also saw NKOTB last week, so she will forever rock as far as I'm concerned.

Inside the McMind Amy's new to the blogging world but she's a good writer. Hey, she has a career writing. She's got a dry, dry wit and a giant smear touch of pessimism, but she's a good read.

Rachel Lucas She's a die-hard Republican, and an unapologetic one, and I admire her for her in-your-face demeanor. She's informative and funny and although I know she won't be for everybody, the idea here is to write about blogs we love, and I love her blog.

Slick He's offensive. Often. And he's a he, not a common denominator among most of us bloggers. But he's also very funny and if you can handle manspeak and outright crudeness, then you'll enjoy his blog!

The Burgh Blog I just found this blog and love it to pieces. I'm not originally from Pittsburgh but I've spent time there and went to college nearby. My husband and I spent a lot of time there when we lived in Pennsylvania, it's carved out a little place in my heart, and it's good to get a touch of home.

You should have to take a test before you vote.

It should test your knowledge of the candidates. Basic stuff: where they stand on the issues, their running mates, etc. Why?

THIS is why:

October 13, 2008

When Mommies Attack...

I'm pretty sure I've earned the Bad Mommy of the Year Award today. Well, between Saturday night and this morning, anyway.

Saturday night, I'm standing up in the living room, holding the small one and rocking him. Beth's behind me, hanging around my ankles for no good reason, and I think she was trying to tickle my feet. I kept asking her to stop. I moved away from her. She stuck to my legs like frickin' glue. I asked her, again, to stop. She didn't. So I tried to kick her hands away, you know, with those quick little shuffles of the feet similar to scraping something stuck to the bottom of your sock. The good news: I got her to stop tickling my feet. The very, very bad news: my heel nailed her in the chin.


I felt so damn bad. She didn't bite her lip or anything, it just surprised the hell out of her and I'm sure it had to hurt. I think it mostly just hurt her feelings that mommy kicked her. It broke my heart. What kind of mom kicks her daughter???

Fast-forward to this morning. I'm sitting on the floor, playing with Bubba. He and I are dancing (and by "dancing," I mean I'm holding his hands, doing a little mock-swing dance with him) and Beth's behind me playfully pushing me. As I lean forward with Bubba, she's pushing me. I feared I would head-butt Bubba, so I asked her to please stop pushing me. She wouldn't stop. I asked again, a bit more urgently, to stop. Still no stopping. I whipped my upper torso around to look at her and demand that she stop, and to explain why she had to stop, and BAM! Elbow to the cheek.


I just can't win. This time it's actually bruised. I cried for a half an hour over this. Who does this? Who has such misfortune? I'm one of those get-down-on-the-floor-with-her-kids, play-like-there's-no-tomorrow, live-to-hear-my-kids-laugh moms. Do things like this happen to moms like me, or worse yet, to happy-go-lucky, gives-one-hundred-and-ten-percent little girls?

Again, with Murphy's Law, it touches every aspect of my life. If things can go wrong, they will. Just give it time.


October 11, 2008

So you can use too much body butter...

Who knew?

Oh get your mind out of the gutter.

I'm talking about this stuff. My mom bought it for me last year from her store and I fell in love with it. Used it on my legs every time I shaved, which, being pregnant, was maybe once every 10 days. Fabulous stuff.

Eventually, I was using it on my arms, hands and feet. You can't have too much of a good thing, right?


After my shower this evening, I ran upstairs to grab my sweatpants. I saw it sitting on a shelf; I had more or less forgotton about it since we moved last October. Hm. "I know it smells yummy. I'm using it." As I was putting some on my legs, my daughter took notice and wanted to help me. "Help" in Beth's World is using two fingertips to help me rub it in to my skin. So I let her. Hey, I take help whenever and wherever for whatever reason. I do not discriminate.

This turned into, "Mommy, I put the lotion on your arms?" I'd already done my arms, so I told her, "Why don't you put it on my back? It hasn't seen moisturization in years."

This pleased her. For 20 minutes, she put what felt like gobs of this stuff on my back. Then my shoulders. Then my hands. My face. My arms. My neck. If it was exposed, it got body butter. Oy.

Finally, I called it quits. My husband left the computer at that point and joined us over on the couch. He informed me that the smell of "that shit" was really strong; strong to the point of making him nauseous. I noticed that I was a bit nauseous too. I decided to take a shower to start fresh. As I stood up, I realized it was more than nausea...and I nearly tossed my cookies right then and there.

Moral of the story: Don't let your three-year-old handle your moisturizing needs.

And as an aside to Fruit Frappé Pink Grapefruit Tangelo company: Please put warnings on your products that if used in mass quantity, the smell will induce vomiting. Please.

October 10, 2008

"I have my faults, but changing my tune is not one of them." ~ Samuel Beckett

My final thoughts before the weekend...

...I want everyone to read this article. Yes, I know it's written by a conservative and it's on NRO's website, a right-wing news site. But it makes some very valid points and maybe food for thought?

...Yesterday, Rob asked his boss to lay him off. His boss's response? To offer to put him on the road, part-time, when there was no work in the shop. Pfft. We'll see if that ever happens. His boss is known for empty promises.

...Two weeks from now, mom will have been here for nearly 24 hours. If I'm able to post here on the 24th, you'll know I'll survive the nearly two-week visit.

...I've found very little to smile about this past week, save for my children. The Office, last night, made me truly smile again. I almost fell off the couch laughing when Michael went in for the hug with Jim and knocked him over. And with that thought comes this worthwhile tangent:
= Directly after that scene, before the intro to the show, Rob paused it. He turns to me and says, "I want to tell you something. I really want to thank you for bringing laughter back into my life." I was a bit taken aback: he's been a funny, easy-going, jovial guy the whole seven years I've known him. To sum it up, he told me that before he met me, he didn't laugh a lot, at least not as animatedly as he does now. He said when he was a kid, he laughed all the time and they were those big belly laughs; he said he'd laugh his ass off at everything. After his parents split up, and his mom moved him and his brother across the country, he became very serious and hardly ever laughed at anything. Then he met me, and it's like he found his laughter again. I think that's the best compliment I've ever been given.

...I'm so glad the weather's finally cooling down. If you know anything about California's climate, there are two: summer and winter. Summer is in the 80s or warmer (lately it's more like 90s and warmer) and consistently cloudless with unending sunshine. Winter is always cloudy and in the 60s or lower, sometimes accompanied by rain. I prefer winter. I love my jeans and sweatshirts.

...I can't believe that in two and a half weeks, my baby will be ONE. My last baby EVER. *sniffle*

October 9, 2008

Writing Prompt #2: A memory attached to a holiday

If there's one thing I am, without question, it's indecisive. I can't decide where I want to live (although as of late, it's less and less California), what to make for dinner, which pair of jeans to wear, or which memory I'd like to talk about. So with that in mind, I'll be telling you about a memory related to all the major holidays in my world.

New Year's Eve & Day: It's 2000. My friends and I braved a winter storm coming off of Lake Erie to drive up to Erie for a party our friend was hosting at his college apartment. Needless to say, we were there for the evening, which worked out well because by 11 p.m., the majority of us had drank our weight in alcohol. Some time after midnight, and after watching a guy I knew hit relentlessly on a girl I didn't know but felt sorry for because he was kind of a tool, I found myself to be ten feet tall and bulletproof, so to speak. I stood up, stumbled a little, marched up to him and punched him directly in the eye. I don't remember if he swung back or whatever, I was too drunk and after that, people pryed me off of him and shortly thereafter, he was told to leave. Sucker. I was told the next morning that everyone was happy I did that, they were looking for an excuse to kick him out all night.

Memorial Day: I honestly don't have any big memories tied to this day. I know my daughter was conceived sometime around Memorial Day, but that's all I've got! I can tell you that it's a holiday I strongly revere due to its significance.

Fourth of July: It's 2002. I'd been at work all day and was really excited about going to the fireworks that night. I had a new pair of jeans, a new shirt, my hair had survived eight hours in a hat and Rob was waiting outside with a Diet Coke, a fresh pack of smokes and the car running. We drove to the east side of Conneaut Lake and parked right where Route 18 splits off into 618. We saw all of about seven minutes of fireworks and about 10,000 mosquitoes. I spent my fifteen minutes there swatting at mosquitoes and not enjoying the seven minutes of crappy fireworks.

Halloween: Oh, the places we could go with this holiday! But we'll just go one place - Halloween of 2001. It was to be my last "I'm still a kid and I'll milk this trick-or-treating thing for all it's worth" Halloween since I was graduating from college that coming spring and was going to have to grow up. My plan was to go as a Goth Chick. The end result was a Goth Hooker. Only one of my roommates has documentation of this. I've emailed her asking for a copy. If I get one, I'll surely post it. It's hysterical.

Thanksgiving: To stay with my theme of indecisiveness, I can't pick one for Thanksgiving. It'd be any Thanksgiving my mom hosted, which were all when I was really young, probably 12 and younger. I remember dusting off the two leaves for the dining room table, getting out the good plates and silverware, all the old-school serving dishes, and the ceramic gravy boat. I remember all the smells wafting through the house: turkey, sweet potatoes, Waldorf Salad (instead of celery, mom used green seedless grapes), pumpkin & pecan & cherry & apple pies, deviled eggs, stuffing, and the list goes on.

Christmas: Hmmm. Our first Christmas together, 2001, Rob was still unemployed. No money. My mother-in-law's husband loaned Rob $20 and he bought me a MagLite because my car didn't have one. He's thoughtful like that.

I love memories. Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane, Mama Kat!

October 8, 2008

My Weekly Writing Assignment

It's that time of the week again: my weekly writing assignment from Mama Kat. Here are the prompts I've chosen for this week:

1. My 10 biggest fears [Will be doing this one today]

2. Write about a memory related to a holiday [Will be doing this one tomorrow]


    My 10 Biggest Fears

10) Driving in the snow. Don't laugh, I'm serious! I hate driving in the snow if the roads aren't plowed and de-iced. If I have to drive through fresh snow - or worse: slush - I panic. I'll have the wheel at 10 and 2, white-knuckling it all the way, arms stiff as a board, creeping along at 10 miles per hour.

9) The dark. I said don't laugh at me. I'm not afraid of the dark, per se. I can sleep in the pitch dark. What I don't like is walking into a dark room with no light source at all. I have an illogical fear of what could be lurking in the corners or at my feet. What if a very large, very crunchy bug made its way into the room and has strategically positioned itself in my path? (On the record: as I typed that last sentence, I envisioned the scenario and a got a huge case of the heebeejeebies.)

8) Fire I have only one even remotely close to personal experience with a house fire. When I was 14, my then-boyfriend's house burned down. I got there towards the end of the fire. They lost everything as far as I can remember. I remember their mom being heartbroken. I remember the chaos, the destruction and the sadness and worst of all: the smell. To this day, I never leave anything cooking if I'm leaving the apartment, I make sure all electrical appliances are turned off and that in case they aren't and I don't realize it, I make sure everything flammable is far away from the stove and toaster. A bit obsessive-compulsive? Maybe. I'm okay with that.

7) Home invasion We live in a gated apartment community. Theoretically, no one except residents should be able to get in, but I've seen people jump the gate before and I've seen people wait until residents open up the gate and they tailgate in. Now, we could shut and lock all doors and windows at night but when the unit has no air conditioning and no heat, you have to rely on the great outdoors to keep the temperature tolerable. To add fuel to my fire, our loft bedroom upstairs has two window, both of whose sills are about 12 inches from the roof. That is to say, if a person had a good ladder, could climb a tree, or lived here and left out of another apartment's bedroom, they could skitter across the roof and step into our bedroom with little to no effort. Of course, we have implements of protection in place, and aren't afraid to use them if necessary, but it still frightens the bejeezus out of me.

6) Reptiles I don't know what it is but they freak the everlovin' HELL out of me. "They" being: snakes, frogs (yes, I know they're amphibians but I still lump them into this category because they're cold, creepy, and swift), small lizards, et al. I can get within 10 feet of a frog or small lizard. But snakes? I'll pee my pants. If I see a snake at any distance that isn't in a terrarium, I hyperventilate, I start to sweat, I run in the other direction and quite literally, PANIC. Rob likes to make fun of me for it, as well as other things on this list, and that really pisses me off. I think it's only because he has no unfounded fears so he can't grasp how real they are to me.

5) Falling I'm not afraid of heights. If I'm in an enclosed environment like a plane, treehouse, skyscraper, stuff of that nature, I'm just dandy. But if I'm in a hot air balloon, at the top of a lighthouse, on a big bridge, going down a steep trail or road on foot, I freeze. I clam up. I'm like a donkey: I will. not. budge. I'll sit, but I won't move forward. I can't explain this one. I'm just afraid of falling.

4) Drowning I think this kind of ties in with falling. I did fall into a pool when I was 3 or 4, and nobody came in to rescue me, presumably because they thought I knew how to swim, and I had to pull myself out by climbing up the steps. I don't know if that's the root of it but nobody was ever able to teach me how to swim or tread water. So now I'm scared to death of any water that goes over my shoulders or has a tide. Needless to say, I've never spent an exorbitant amount of time in the ocean. In pools, I cling to the shallow end or swim a lap to the deep end, gather some air and swim back. No diving and no pool games for this girl! It's sad, really, nearly 30 years old and I can't enjoy a pool.

3) Dying This isn't to say I'm afraid to die. I have two theories on death: either I'll go from being alive in the physical world to being alive in the spirit world or everything I deny is true and I'll go to heaven. Guess that's a wait-and-see game! That aside, I'm afraid of being dead. I'm afraid of watching my husband move on - even though he swears up and down that he'll never remarry, I'm constantly insistent that if I do die, I want him to find someone to spend the rest of his life with - and of watching my children grow up without me. I'm afraid of never meeting my grandchildren. I'm afraid of not getting to grow old. I actually want to grow old with my husband and family around me, watch my hair go gray, and watch me turn into my mom, flawed and all.

2) Losing my husband He's my everything. In the seven short years we've known each other we've become inextricably part of each other and to abruptly have him gone from my life would be like ripping off an arm and telling me to go about life like I always have. I couldn't. I wouldn't know what to do with myself. Who would I share stupid jokes with? Who would I turn to when I'd had a crappy day? Who would I enjoy life's little mysteries with? What would our kids do without their daddy? How would I explain that to them? I've gone through nearly half of my life without my dad and I wouldn't wish that on anyone whose relationship with their dad was a good one.

1) Something happening to my kids I mean this in every sense. I'm afraid, first and foremost, of something happening to them: terminal illness, kidnapping, car accident, etc. Something that would be out of my control. I hate not being in control and having no say in what concerns my children. I get sick at the thought of them being harmed in any way. They are the most precious things I've ever called "mine" and I get super-paranoid about stuff like this.

I think I need a drink now. Or Valium.

October 7, 2008

Did he really just say that?

I'll be honest: I didn't watch the whole debate. I was busy bathing children, cleaning the kitchen, putting the baby to sleep, etc. I listened to as much as I could and I even sat down and watched some. Two snippets I heard, well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I was STUNNED at Obama's ignorance regarding insurance costs for children. Take the fingers out of your ears when it hits about 58seconds.

A few years ago, when Rob thought about switching jobs (and as it turns out, he's looking into that again), we researched the cost of insuring Beth until his coverage kicked in again. I fell off the chair when the first quote came back at about $300/month. The subsequent quotes were similar. Cheap?! Is he freaking kidding me? Evidently, he wouldn't know "cheap" if it slapped him upside the head.

Then there was this. Start listening at about 35 seconds in.

Now call me crazy, but didn't we intervene with the holocaust? I would swear up and down we entered World War II in 1941 and, according to all the history books, kicked a large amount of ass. But I'm just a mommy blogger, I could be wrong.

To Whom It May Concern

TO: Company My Husband Works For

FROM: His Wife

DATE: October 7, 2008

RE: The Status Quo

We need to talk about the service department at one of your Bay Area branches and more specifically, the management. You see, there are four mechanics in your shop. My husband is one of them. He's been with your company for over five years now. He's never done wrong by the company, only missed work in cases of family emergencies, personal illness, and in the last year in the name of "...there's just no work."

Now I realize that to you, this means nothing. "Oh," you say, "a day off here and there. Must be nice!" Yeah. Here and there would be one thing. In the last six months, it's been at least one day per week, sometimes more. A month ago, he had 42 hours on what should have been an 88-hour paycheck. I know that doesn't sound like a problem to you, but it was most definitely a problem for us. You see, I'm a stay-at-home mom. Yes, it's a choice, a choice we made four years ago when I was pregnant with our oldest child, Beth, who's three and a half. We've since added a boy to our family, Robby, who'll be one at the end of this month. We knew that having me stay at home would make things a bit tight. What we didn't know is that the economy would tank due to the mortgage crisis and that we'd be having to survive in the Bay Area for two weeks on one week's pay.

Have you ever tried to buy two weeks worth of of groceries for a family of four (plus one extra kid for dinner four days a week) on $60.00? Are you aware of the managerial practices being used in your Bay Area shop?

Your shop foreman is playing favorites. He has his pet, G, whom he's presumably grooming to take over his job when he retires - which is hopefully sooner than later - who's been working 40+ hours per week, no questions asked. Then there's Speed Racer who tears through jobs like his ass is on fire. Sure, he gets them done in the quoted time but did you know that more than half of the time, those jobs come back or end up being a mess a road mechanic has to clean up because Speed Racer worked too fast, overlooked major things, and now it needs repaired again. This guy works every day. Finally, there's D. He's been there for 30+ years; he's more or less a fixture. He's also damn close to retirement. He works at the speed of turtles humping, puts time down on jobs that he pissed away cleaning the threads on a bolt. He works every day. Nobody ever tells these guys to call before they come into work.

But my husband has to. Why? No one knows. When he is there, the foreman treats him like the village idiot and is extremely rude to him, nay, he's an asshole. So my husband talks to your service manager. What does the service manager tell him? "File for partial unemployment. We'll get the papers ready for you." My husband asks to be put on the road, which would provide more working hours. "No. I can't." No explanation, not even an, "I'm sorry, dude, I know it's tough."

Why is it that the other guys, one of whom is intentionally slow-moving and one who moves too fast and causes costly errors, get full days and full weeks, and my husband is begging for work? Are we the only ones who see the flaw in this? We're pretty sure we are. My husband is a good, hard worker who actually cares about the quality of work he produces and takes pride in doing a good job. Yet he's the first one to get shitcanned for the day if work slows down.

And don't get me started on that Stuffed Shirt you call the General Manager.

I guess maybe I should have addressed this letter to the Service Manager. Or write another one to him...

Service Manager,
Please show some mercy and lay off my husband. He's a good man, a terrific father and in ideal working conditions, an excellent provider. Your shop is obviously overstaffed and under a bit of duress. If you can't give him the hours he deserves, lay him off so that he can get a severance package and start collecting unemployment while we decide our next move. For five years of hard work and loyalty, you at least owe him that. You clearly don't understand the mental anguish he goes through and how much strain this puts on our family and you also don't care. You've made that quite clear every time Rob tries to talk to you and you immediately start talking over him just to stop him from telling you any reasons he needs the hours. You know, like glasses to replace the ones that have been broken for three months. I bet you never noticed that he stopped wearing glasses. Or tires to replace the bald and warped ones we're driving around on? Or the bills that we're desperately trying to stay on top of?
If you want to play favorites, fine. If my husband isn't one of them, that's also fine. But have a heart and lay him off. It's a win-win, really. Please.

I won't actually send this letter to anyone. It wouldn't do any good and would probably just make more trouble for my husband. But it feels good to get it out.

October 6, 2008

Where I've Been...

To be succinct, I've been preoccupied. Somewhere between Sunday morning and this evening, things have kind of come to a head and we're having to make some pretty big decisions. So please bear with me, I'll have a new post up in the morning that may more or less help you understand where we're at right now and why I'm not up to posting tonight, even though it's only 10:13 p.m., which is usually my witching hour.

And for those who know me/us, no worries. There's nothing wrong with us or our relationship, per se, just the state of things in general. Just can't wait for my post before noon tomorrow? Email me.

October 3, 2008

Life doesn't care about your vision. You just gotta roll with it.

~ Ben's dad in "Knocked Up"

My final thoughts for the week...

...That little nugget I've titled my post with couldn't be more true. We've had an amazing amount of bullshit go down in the last couple of months and it's been very trying on us. Apparently, life doesn't care about what we want, it's got its own plan and we can suck a lemon.

..."Sid the Science Kid" is a creepy kids show on PBS. Beth loves it. I have many problems with it. None that warrant changing the channel when it comes on, but all that warrant me leaving the room when its on to avoid twitching. First of all, a five-year-old has the vocabulary and demeanor of a 12-year-old. Their features are disproportionate and their hair plain freaks me out. Teacher Suzie kinda looks like a floozie to me. Maybe I'm old school, or it's because I haven't seen any in-action teachers since 1998, but she's wearing purple Crocs, skin-tight denim capris, a long purple, form-fitting shirt and a hooped belt going around her hips. All her curves are accentuated. But the kids' hair is what bothers me the most.

...My son is growing up abnormally fast. Two months ago, he was just learning how to stand on his own. Now he's walking all over the place, standing on things to reach things on the backside of a table, and tonight, he climbed up on our couch! He can say: mama, dada, nana (banana), dut (duck), baba (bottle), bye, and a form of
"hi" that I don't think I could translate into text. He's 11 months old.

...I have a Diet Coke problem. It's all I drink. I sip on water throughout the night, if I wake up dying of thirst.

...I'm totally unprepared for the holiday season. I'm hosting a small Thanksgiving for my family of four, my brother-in-law, and possibly his girlfriend because my husband's dad and his wife are going to Las Vegas. I've never done this. I hope I can pull it off! Christmas probably isn't going to happen, and if it does, it'll be some meager, buy-and-wrap-stuff-they-need-instead-of-want gifts for the kids.

...My mom is a saint. Truly.

...Our DVD player is broken. I never realized how much we used it until we couldn't use it anymore. Now I'm sad. I want to rent movies, but who wants to watch them on a 19" LCD monitor that sits in the corner of a room? Not this girl.

...I'm very tired. I haven't slept much this week and I fear I won't sleep much the next few weeks due to my anxiety and paranoia about my mom coming to visit. My skin looks like crap and I've got enough baggage under my eyes to move to Zimbabwe.

So that about covers it. Feel free to use my comments section to complain. It'd be nice to know I'm not the only one with gripes.

October 2, 2008

"Man is by nature a political animal." ~ Aristotle

I wasn't going to blog about the Biden/Palin debate. I really wasn't. I was going to sit back and watch all the cards fall on the table, read others' blogs about the debate and who they think won, etc. But after the debate, and so much weighing on my mind about Sarah Palin and all the issues buzzing around this campaign, I just can't help myself.

First off, the debate. We all know Joe Biden is a seasoned professional at this. He knows how to politick, he knows how to sound polished, refined, and to just be a politician. No surprises from him. He took the questions in stride and answered them in a very scripted manner. What he didn't do was cite correct facts, but I'll leave that for more political-saavy bloggers like Rachel and Erin. They kick way more ass than I do in that department.

But Sarah Palin really kinda knocked my socks off. She was much more candid, much more informed than has been shown to us prior to this evening, and was quick to answer. I will admit she dodged a few questions and, although it was clearly because she knew she didn't have the meat and potatoes to answer them, I think it was a smart move on her part. As most people have said on the news reports since the debate ended, her "main street" talk, I think, has really reached people. Listening to her, I'm at ease. I feel like I could have a barbecue with her. Talk turkey. Shoot turkey. Whatever.

I can't, in my wildest imagination, conceive of any time Barack Obama and I would cross paths. He comes across as very high-and-mighty, almost king-like in his demeanor. His voice is very affected, he reminds me of a monarch addressing his subjects. And all those Kennedy-esque pictures of him and his family?! Jesus tapdancing christ. I know it's intended to remind people of the Kennedy era and of a Norman Rockwell existence, but it creeps me out.

I'll be the first to admit it: I was nervous about Sarah Palin being on my party's ticket. She was a virtual unknown until five weeks ago and all we know about her now is that she's outdoorsy, has a son in the National Guard who's now in Iraq, a pregnant unwed daughter, wears boxy jackets and rimless spectacles, and that she's evidently fodder for SNL, political cartoons, and jabs from the media. Granted, every politician who steps into the limelight - especially the giant spotlight the VP spot on the Republican ticket - is going to be subject to criticism and mockery. I don't think she's been given too fair a shake but, as I've said before, there's a bit of a bias out there.

She's had her missteps and she certainly has flaws where her candidacy is concerned. She's a bit green on foreign policy and has a small amount of experience compared to John McCain or Joe Biden. Also, I have to wonder how a woman who claims she's on McCain's side regarding our need for energy independence can make that claim in the face of being the governer of a state who does a large amount of oil drilling. Many of her supposed constituents are roughnecks who rely on the paycheck they receive doing what she hopes to abolish the need for.

But what I'm sure of is that she'll do everything she needs to in order to make this work. I'm very excited at the prospect of a McCain/Palin White House and, provided they win the election, I'm very excited about the next four years. If they don't win...well...you'll find two very pissed off conservatives living in an obscenely liberal state contemplating a migration north of the border. The Canadian border. Is there anyone up there looking to adopt some Americans if shit doesn't go the way we think it should?

Finally, does anyone else think Joe Biden looks an awful lot like Bob Barker?

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