May 19, 2009

Say "Yes!"

Last week, Rob and I watched "Yes Man" with Jim Carrey. My opinion on the movie: it was okay. Not his best work (for my money, nothing beats "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") but not his worst. The message of the movie, however, blew. me. AWAY. Seriously! It made me think of all the times I've turned down going out or doing something for no good reason. Maybe it was too late in the evening for me. Or I just thought it wasn't for me. I wouldn't fit in.

How are you supposed to experience life if you keep saying no? I'm almost 30 years old and I haven't had a girls night out YEAH. That long. Eight years. So I have a new policy: if it's not illegal and there's no good reason to say no, I'm saying yes. I've even said yes to myself. Two weeks ago, I was watching "The Biggest Loser." All season, I've been in awe of these people. This was, by far, the heaviest set of contestants TBL has ever seen. I said to myself, "This is ridiculous. There are women on there bigger than you, in worse shape than you with less hope than you. What is stopping you? You've got a lot of weight to lose and you always seem to have an excuse. No more excuses! The changes start now!"

So I started with just walking. About three miles, I'd say. I threw in a few jogging spurts, about 30 seconds each. That was two weeks ago. Now I do a 3-4 mile route 4-5 days a week, and in that, I run 1-minute spurts 8-10 times throughout it and I'm gaining every day. My pants are already loose and I'm not stretching out t-shirts when I put them on anymore! I'm low-carbing it now and I'm down to only a couple of diet sodas a day, the rest is water. I feel great!

I'm aiming to run a 5k. I don't know if it'll be late this fall or early next spring but either way, I'm going to do it. And my mom? The woman who, despite all my desperate efforts, never thought I did good enough on anything? I want her ass standing at the finish line to watch her daughter - the one who didn't take enough interest in the piano, the one who didn't try hard enough in college, the one who had that hare-brained idea to move to California where only evil is born, the one who apparently doesn't know fuck-all about her own children and their needs - cross the line, 100 pounds lighter and a whole lot healthier.

She doesn't believe I can do it and I'm well aware of her disdain for my conventional methods of weight loss every time I mention what I've done that day. Instead of saying, "Well that's really great!" or "I'm really proud of you," all she can say is, "Keep it up" and "Cut back on what you eat and you'll lose even more." It's been this way my whole life. It's no wonder I have self-esteem issues and I'm constantly convinced it's not worth trying since I'll probably be no good at it anyway.


I'll show her.

May 5, 2009

On taming the male species...

We were driving home from Pittsburgh - yet again - yesterday and a Faith Hill song came on the radio. "Mississippi Girl," I believe it was. Anyway, Rob got all indignant for a minute and yelled at Faith (via the radio, of course) for sucking the soul out of Tim McGraw. You see, when Tim McGraw first showed up on the country music scene, this is what we were introduced to:

He's no Hank Williams but he's a country boy.

Now, this is what we get:

Meh. He's been neutered. Demasculated. He wears tight-fitting turtleneck sweaters with cowboy hats and still calls himself country.

In line with the "neutering" thought, Rob has decided that once I am gainfully employed with benefits and all, he'll undergo the snip-snip. We know we're done having kids, we're ready to sit back and watch them grow up. No more sleepless nights, no more bottles, no more teeny-tiny diapers.

Now, to tie those two thoughts together: we were talking about how Faith neutered Tim when they married. Rob says, "You kind of have to though. If men were left to be as wild as they always were, they'd never get around. They'd be pissing in the hamper and lighting the couch on fire."

I suppose it's one of those stories you have to be there for in order to understand why I got a serious case of the giggles over that. But surely you've cracked a smile?

He's right, too. Men need women in their lives in order to prevent chaos from ruling the world. We keep them calm, centered even. They don't need to be in the rut, sparring for the Alpha Male position; they already won a female. And they ensure that we don't...well...let's put it this way: we're not involved in the rut either. *wink*

April 23, 2009

Finally, someone who understands...

I first read Dorothy Allison as a freshman in college. My Interpreting Literature professor, Dr. Covey, had "Bastard Out of Carolina" on his syllabus. I'd never heard of her prior to this class, but it was one of the first books we read that semester and I literally could not put that book down. It took me two days to finish it because every spare moment I had I devoted to losing myself in the story.

Then, in 2005, I discovered "Cavedweller." You'll note that my Blogger address includes that moniker. I so loved this book, too. This woman is an unbelievable storyteller. Until today, however, I had no idea she had other literature. I thought she was just kind of a flash in the pan. Nope. My next read will be "Trash." Check out her bibliography:

She Who. A novel, forthcoming (Penguin Putnam)

Trash, A Collection of Short Stories, 2002, Plume.

Cavedweller. Dutton, 1998.

Two or Three Things I know for Sure. Dutton, Fall, 1995.

Skin—Talking about Sex, Class & Literature. Firebrand Books, 1994. A collection of narrative essays.

Bastard out of Carolina, Dutton, 1992. A finalist for the National Book Award, a selection of the B. Dalton Discovery program, and winner of both the Ferro Grumley and Bay Area Book Reviewers Awards for fiction, Bastard Out of Carolina has been translated into more than a dozen languages and published in more than a dozen countries. In 1995, it was made into a movie directed by Angelica Huston and premiered on Showtime.

The Women Who Hate Me, Poetry 1980-1990. A chapbook. Firebrand Books, Ithaca, New York, 1991.

Trash, Short Stories by Dorothy Allison, Firebrand Books, Ithaca, NY, 1988.

The Women Who Hate Me, Poems by Dorothy Allison, Long Haul Press, 1983

I was so excited to learn how much more of hers there is to read. Yay! Anyway, this page, found on her website, speaks volumes about where I'm at in life right now.

April 21, 2009

So I may get a job after all...

So I took the test yesterday down in Pittsburgh. First of all, let me say that I LOVE downtown Pittsburgh. I've never really been there, save for one two-block walk from a parking garage to the Mellon Arena for a hockey game in college. Rob dropped me off at the Pennsylvania State Office Building on Liberty Avenue at about 12:40 p.m. yesterday and I felt at home. This is where I need to be. LOVED IT.

Anyway, I made my way up to the 15th floor of a building so old, I'm sure I saw pillbox hats, a-line skirts and heard the click-clack of a mechanical typewriter behind a door with an opaque glass window. I walked into the office marked "Civil Service Examinations" and got sent through another door into the quietest room ever. The test proctor (that term always makes me giggle, the 14-year-old kid in me rearing its head) sent me over to a computer after giving me instructions on how to take the typing test. I managed to finish that with a score of 78 words per minute with only 6 errors.

The next section was a 135-question multiple choice test that scored me on comprehension, basic arithmetic, alphabetic and numeric filing, checking for spelling and grammatical errors or inconsistencies, and office etiquette. They give you 2.5 hours to finish it. I finished it in 45 minutes. I raised my hand (because that's the quiet way - and the only way - to get the proctor to come see you) and she came over and said, "I can't believe you're already done!"

That made me nervous. It's one of those situations where you finish a test so quickly you figure there are only two possible outcomes: a) You blew it. No chance in hell you did well. b) You kicked some serious ass. But I tried to shrug off the worries and went outside to call Rob to come pick me up. Want some free advice about Pittsburgh? Take the T. Much more convenient and much cheaper.

We had left the kids at my mother-in-law's for the afternoon so, despite the rain, we went down to South Side and poked around a couple of used book stores. We grabbed some onion rings and a big Diet Coke at Burger King and went back up to get the kids.

This morning, I checked my score. With civil service tests, your score ranks you among all the other people who've tested for that position. The results show you how many people are ahead of you on the list, how many are equal, and how many did worse. I got a 91. I had no idea what that meant until I clicked on each of the positions I tested for and there were four, apparently: Clerk Typist I, Clerk Typist II, Clerk Typist I (local government) and Clerk Typist II (local government). I applied for employment in five counties: Erie, Crawford, Butler, Allegheny and Washington. Here's how I did:

Allegheny County:
Fifteen people did better than me, nine were equal to me, and 334 did worse than me. YAY!

Butler, Crawford, and Erie Counties:
Roughly five people did better than me, a couple were equal and about 150 did worse.

Washington County:
NOBODY did better than me, one was equal, and about 100 were worse. YAY!

So now I sit and wait. Stay tuned for next week's update, when I test on the 27th for Income Maintenance Caseworker. I'll have the details on the 28th of how I did.

April 16, 2009

Time Marches On

So I'm still unemployed. Big news of the day, eh? I've e-mailed or snail-mailed about another dozen resumes in the last week, three going out tomorrow to Sarris, First National Bank of Pennsylvania, and to Duquesne University. I really hope something turns up. I don't think we can make it on two part-time incomes and live in the greater Pittsburgh areas.

I officially became a Pennsylvania resident today. I'm trying to contain my excitement. I thought I'd be okay with relinquishing my California residency...but it sucks a little bit. If things had gone like we'd originally planned - if Rob's work had been steady and he'd gotten steady increases in pay - we could have done really well. I know it's all said and done and that it just didn't work out but if you've never had to start over at nearly 30 years old, you don't know just how much it can suck. But the nice lady at the DMV in Meadville punched a hole in my pretty, yellow license and the nice old man (who, oddly enough, worked with Rob six years ago at AutoZone) handed me my temporary license with my god-awful picture on it. Same license number I had six years ago, same address. Meh.

Also, can someone explain to me how our country was so blind as to believe Barack Obama could be good for our country? This man is out of control. Oh, but he's not a socialist. Nope. Not a chance. MEH.

I'm feeling very cynical today. Do I have any readers who live in or near Pittsburgh? Do you know of anyone hiring? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

And a big, belated congratulations to Kate, my college roommate and one of my bestest friends, who gave birth to a baby girl last week, Kelsey Jo. YAY!

April 6, 2009

Stipulations and such

So apparently, when you sign a contract, you actually have to hold up your end of the bargain. For example: you ask a company to allow you to run their ads on your blog. They say, "Sure! Even though your blog is small and hardly noteworthy, you get maybe four hits per week, you can run ads through us and you'll get a hearty percentage of the hit value." I'm stunned; I was under the impression that only big, important blogs - even ones who take a walk on the controversial side and suffer the loss of readership for their efforts - got to run ads on their site.

So anyway, one of the stipulations was that I had to update at least once weekly or they'd pull my ad code. My last post was March 25th. Whoopsie!

I will, from now on, attempt to update at least weekly, if not more often. The thing is, where before I was living in an 850 ft² apartment, I'm now living in a big-ass house (relatively speaking) where kids can roam freely. My hands are full. Thus, I have little time to sit and focus on a blog. So to both BlogHer and my faithful three readers, I apologize for not blogging as often as I contractually should.

So what's happening here? Rob flew out to California this past Thursday to buy a pick-up truck and haul our stuff back to Pennsylvania. He found a 1989 Ford F-150 and rented a small U-Haul trailer; he and his brother are loading everything up as I type and are departing in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. Yay! After that, we'll officially become Pennsylvania residents again. Oy. Unnerving, really, especially since I'm still unemployed and didn't get that job at the high school.

Did I mention it's snowing today? Yeah. It's April and it's snowing. Up to a FOOT by Wednesday morning. I miss California.

March 25, 2009

"My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot." ~Ashleigh Brilliant

We've had a lot going on lately and yet nothing's really transpired. Well...that's not entirely true. I did go on another interview last week. This time, in a curious turn of events, it was for a local job. What's more, it's my aunt's job at the high school I attended. She's been there for 35 years and is retiring in June. She says 90 people applied for her job. Out of them, 10 were interviewed. So we'll see.

The kids are adjusting to life here kinda-sorta well. Bubba's doing great. His speech is exploding and he understands so much. You can't slip anything past this kid! Beth is riding the rollercoaster of "I'm still in a new environment AND I'm four years old. Wheeeee!" She still talks about going "home" and how she just wants "to get out of here." We have to keep explaining to her that, for now, this is home. It breaks my heart. Quite frankly, I like calling this domicile "home" about as much as I like raw onions. For those of you who know me, you know nothing makes me gag as much as tasting a raw onion.

Living in my mom's house has been, to say the very least, trying. She's lived alone for the last six years and has become accustomed to her solitary life. Then we come straggling in with our two small children and their toys, wreaking havoc on her simple, quiet home. We're up at 7:00 a.m. every day, there are Cheerios, Kix, and occasional cookie crumbs strewn about her floor, and dinner is a three-ring circus. We're cooking with seasonings and flavors she's never cooked with and she informed me that she's eaten more vegetables since we arrived then she's eaten in the last year.

With all that comes her belief (or, at least, what I suspect is her belief) that since I'm "home," I need to be led around and parented like the child she must think I am. She's meddling in my job search, brow beating me into working at that damn Cracker Barrel and trying to make me feel bad for not wanting to work into the evening. They only want to hire a prep cook for the afternoon/evening shift. My availability clearly states that I want to be home by 6:00 p.m. I want to eat dinner and bathe my kids and be there for bedtime. That's extremely important to me. Mom doesn't get that. She seems to think that this is the Best Job on Earth and that I should kiss the toes of the manager who's planning on calling me to try and convince me to work in the evenings. Good luck with that.

I really hope something comes along soon so we can move the hell out of this house. I don't care where it is. I need my own space back and my kids need to be free to have fun and yell. THEY'RE KIDS! Let them be kids!

And then there's the nebby, gossipy canary about town who's telling people I'm some oppressed housewife with no opinions and no chutzpah. I've got an idea of who it is and frankly, I'm not surprised. Conneautville is the very definition of Small Town, U.S.A., and what better to talk about than the person who moved out of this town a beer-loving, wildly independent party girl and came back a calm, settled wife and mom who appreciates the art of compromise and doesn't feel the constant need to be a hard-nosed, stand-offish bitch who keeps everyone at bay to avoid getting hurt. I went through a very rough five-year period before I met my husband. I lost my dad, my grandparents, an aunt and an uncle. I had two different boyfriends cheat on me with good friends of mine. I had friendships fall apart. By the time I met Rob, I had lost a lot of respect for myself and was sick and tired of getting hurt.

But when he came into my life and stayed, didn't hurt my feelings or make threats of leaving, and showed me that it was okay to let people in and that he wasn't there to use me, and most importantly that nothing was going to shake his love for me, I softened. I calmed down. I trusted him. And what people didn't bear witness to over the last six years was the metamorphasis I went through. I started seeing life differently, especially after having children. My values changed, my opinions changed, and I wanted different things out of life. I guess some people write that off as a character flaw and are bent on sharing the news with everyone.

Maybe all that city livin' in California did me some good. It taught me to mind my own business. It also taught me to stand up for me and mine. My politics may have changed, and I may not be as wild and crazy as I used to be, but I'm a whole lot stronger now than I ever was. So if the gossip hound reads this, pass this along, too: I don't need anyone's approval to be happy. I absolutely love my life and that's all you need to know.

March 14, 2009

Now I'm a bi-monthly poster...

I'll be surprised if anybody reads this. Seriously, I will. I do still love writing, and I miss blogging, but the days just run away from me like hungry cheetahs after a wildebeest. I wake up, feed the kids, feed myself, feed my husband, and then he does schoolwork in the morning, we usually have somewhere to go in the afternoon, and then there's dinner, baths, and bedtime. I usually squeeze in 15-20 minutes between baths and "Jeopardy," but that's not enough time to check and reply to my emails, breeze through Facebook and MySpace (both of which, in my world, are only slightly more active than this blog), and see if there are any jobs to be applied for on Craigslist.

In other news, and in case the previous sentence didn't give it away, I'm still unemployed. I went on two interviews for the same job last week. First was with a staffing agency who was doing the legwork for a small company in Bridgeville. My interview was at 10:00 a.m., where I basically just filled out an application and W-4's, told the lady who was handling my case that I could start immediately, and had her tell me that if I didn't hear from them by Friday to call them and see what was going on. Four hours later, she calls me and asks if I can do an interview with the company the next morning. Clearly, I impressed somebody. So we hauled our cookies back down to Bridgeville Wednesday morning, left the kids at my mother-in-law's, and went to the interview. I thought it went well, the girl interviewing me seemed friendly and the company is a perfect fit for me. I have no idea how soon she'd be calling, though, if she wanted to hire me so I'm sitting on pins and needles here. I assumed by Friday but maybe that's too soon?

As a result of the joblessness, we're still at my mom's. I think it goes without saying that this situation SUCKS. She's 70, she's used to being alone, and she's definitely not used to having small children underfoot. Small children who, part in parcel, come with small toys and small bits of food. Oh, and loud voices. She spends her time at home yelling at them to stop running, stop jumping, stop yelling, stop touching anything that isn't a toy (and some things that are toys), and either belittling our parenting or completely disregarding it, as though we're the babies in this situation. We have got to get out of here.

So that's about it with us. How've you been?

February 28, 2009

Am I seriously down to once a week?

Oy. My apologies to whomever still reads my blog. I've been busier than a one-armed paper-hanger lately. We've either been driving back and forth to Pittsburgh or I've been plastered to the computer trying to find a job. Initially, I wanted to find a job in Pittsburgh. Now, I just want to find a job anywhere...Pittsburgh, Erie, Cranberry, Meadville. All up and down the western side of Pennsylvania, I'm open to suggestions. I've got about a dozen resumès/applications out, most of which were sent yesterday. I've even sent unsolicited resumès to the Meadville Tribune and the Post-Gazette. I need work.

In other news, my children have run amok. Nay, not "children," I mean to say "child." Beth has gone completely wild. It's almost as if she's never known any rules in her short four years on this earth. I'm trying to attribute it to the move, with her being out of sorts and confused and whatnot, but I think it's more to do with her being four. Do all four-year-olds suddenly develop a need to push you at every turn? To challenge every rule? To drive you to the brink of insanity and laryngitis? Oh. My. God.

February 20, 2009

Ah, sweet DSL.

Windstream finally showed up (a day late) and installed our DSL. Seriously folks, do they really need someone to do that? They don't let you do it yourself, apparently, they have to do it. It's all very Big Brother. They don't use a software installation CD - like AT&T did in California - so that it's easy peasy. No, no. The lady hooks up the modem and then opens Internet Explorer, types in Windstream's URL and does it for you through their website. I don't much care for the process but I wanted my internets back too bad to object. Besides, the woman doing our installation was an alumni from my high school so we had a nice little chat about people we both knew. She's eight years my senior so the connections were few, but it was a nice chat.

So find a job. We're very confused about what we want to do from here. Do we stay in this charming little podunk town and live a simple life (which is, ultimately, what we kind of want) and work jobs we really don't care for...or do we try to make a go out of Pittsburgh? And if we go with Pittsburgh, do we find a place to live first and then hope like hell I find work really quick? History shows that living on unemployment income alone while looking for work doesn't pan out too well. Or do we try to find me a job first and then scramble like mad and hope to hell we find someone willing to rent to us within a week or two?

Very confusing. Very. Thoughts?

February 15, 2009

Welcome back, Mr. Kotter.

So I'm sitting here in what's now my mom's office. It was first my bedroom, then my playroom, then it was a piano room for a while (even though we kept calling it the toy room), and after we moved out, it was mom's office. Don't get confused: she doesn't actually need an office. But it's where she keeps all her papers and stuff.

We've hooked up our desktop PC and it's all less-than-conveniently shoved on to one corner of the desk, tower parallel to the monitor, sitting directly behind it, printer perched on top of the tower. We're using dial-up until the Windstream people come and install the DSL on Wednesday. I told mom to tell whomever she spoke with that I was capable of installing a DSL modem but apparently she either didn't or they ignored her. So we signed up for free Netzero until they get here. Bah. Dial-up is so. friggin. SLOW.

My travels were as smooth and easy as can be expected. All of my flights left on time. Southwest is exceptionally punctual. We left within five minutes of our scheduled take-off with both of my flights. My only complaint? I wish I could have flown alone. I understand I couldn't leave both kids with my husband and take the easy way out and that the intent of the generous ticket purchase was to alleviate the mind-numbing terror of driving for three days with a young toddler...but it would have been so relaxing to be without the inherent worry for a child all day. Not to mention the inevitable tears and frustration that goes with being stuck in a carseat all day, the pressure that builds up in his little ears despite incessant binky suckage, being too excited to eat, the hassle of security, and the whiplash he must have after the pilot hit the brakes in our 737 in Pittsburgh. The poor kid was conked out right through our descent but snapped to (quite literally) when they hit the brakes.

All in all, though, I couldn't complain. Our night with family was pleasant and, thankfully, peaceful. The minute I laid him down he stopped squirming and passed out within ten minutes. We drove up to my mom's work the next morning and had lunch, then mom and I hit the grocery store and drove "home" to Conneautville. The next morning, we met my mom's friends for lunch at the little diner in town. Rob says, when I told him what we were going to do, "You're taking my son to a hen fest?" Indeed, I was.

Everyone I've run into has said, "Welcome back!" or, even weirder, "Welcome home." It's crazy. I know it should feel like home but I still feel like an outsider. I've been gone for almost six years. Should it feel like home? "Home" for me has been in California since 2003. I can tell you it feels good to be here. I feel normal again. In California, I was a little too redneck and a little too...countrified. I'm polite to people, I'll say "Hi!" to complete strangers, I say "please" and "thank you." I hold doors open for people and expect the same from others. Rarely, if ever, did I experience that in California. Also, it seemed like no one was ever happy out there. Back here, I don't know, it seems people enjoy life a lot more. And I dig that.

So, I guess "Welcome home" maybe isn't so ill-fitting.

February 4, 2009

A Few Things

I've been slacking lately, I know, but I have my reasons. First of all, I have absolutely nothing to blog about. Scratch that. I have absolutely nothing to blog about that I am willing to write about until we're back in Pennsylvania. My kids haven't done anything truly noteworthy, aside from learning a few new words which, thankfully, isn't uncommon with the younger one. With Beth, between her 2nd and 3rd birthday, every new word was a celebration.

My husband started his first semester ever of college on January 20th. He's doing alright, he learned how to navigate online courses fairly easily and with very little help from me. I have been helping him type the papers because he needs some help with punctuation but otherwise, he's been on his own. But with him studying during the day, I have to watch the kids and that doesn't leave me much time for blogging. See, while we're here at my in-law's place, we have to stay on top of what the kids are doing. We've childproofed the necessary stuff: outlets have covers, stairs are gated, all the doors have child locks on them. But there are certain things, like picture frames, glass decor, and certain cabinets that aren't locked and have to more or less be monitored at all times. I hate blogging in pieces so I try to wait until I can tap one out in a single sitting. It almost never happens here. I think I'm averaging two blogs a week, which compared to my previous five-a-week isn't much. I'm pretty sure I've lost a majority of my readership because of it. I hope that once I'm back in Pennsylvania and we can manage our time better that I can get back up on the horse and blog daily.

I must admit, I'm a bit nervewracked about the trip. My end of things is more or less husband's, on the other hand, is going to be a bit hairy. Money's going to be extremely tight and there's no telling whether they'll be able to stop for the night at any point. This really worries me because Rob's the only driver. I'm not worried about Beth or the cat, they'll be fine; but he wants to stop and sleep in a Walmart parking lot or a rest area and terrifies me. I realize that with such a tight budget, he'll have to do what he has to do to make it across the country without wrecking the car. I guess I just don't want to know about it. I've told him I just want to see them arrive safe and sound. I don't want to hear any plans; just leave on the 10th and try to be in Pennsylvania by the 13th.

I'm down to three days left here, I depart on the 10th. I'm supposed to have lunch tomorrow with a friend - and this lunch, by the by, is our first meeting; we've only chatted online thus far - and then I gotta get down to the nitty-gritty packing. I have to do all our laundry, pack all our bags, and determine what goes with and what can sit in storage until the first week of June. YIKES. I think I'm most remorseful about coughing up $94.00 a month for the stupid storage unit.

So, my friends, I'll be back next week. On the very good chance I won't get to blog again until next week, I leave you with this: I'll be in town on the 11th, have a birthday party on the 14th, but beyond that, we're free. We'll be broke, but we're available! I know all of you will be beating down our door to see us (ha ha) so all inquiries should be directed through my mom's phone number.

January 29, 2009

Turn the Page

Most people will be watching the Superbowl this weekend. Those of us who are die-hard fans for either the Arizona Cardinals or the PITTSBURGH STEELERS will be watching avidly, cheering and jeering for about four hours. Some will look at the statistics and choose a team to root on based on who has the best defense, the better quarterback, or maybe someone like Fast Willie Parker or Troy Polamalu who's just everywhere. I'm just sayin'.

I'll be right alongside my husband and brother-in-law cheering the Steelers on. But we have a very important event around here that will transpire the day prior to the big game. A smart, funny, and whimsical little girl is turning four.

Her Yaya (pronounced yeah-yeah) will be taking Beth, Bubba, myself, her daughters and two other grandsons out to lunch at McDonald's where we'll also have cupcakes. Then we'll spend the afternoon at the house until the guys get back from the midday golf outing - originally meant to be an afternoon with my husband and his dad, sort of a final father-son outing, but it turned into my husband tagging along as my father-in-law goes golfing with his stepson-in-law and some other guy we don't know. Whatever. After they get back, we'll have the real cake and open presents.

I just can't believe four years have passed since I had my first baby. Is she really turning four? How is that possible? I was looking at old pictures when we were packing up the old place, just a couple of weeks ago, and when she was born we still didn't have a digital camera, so all her baby pictures are actually in photo albums. There's one picture of her sleeping on my chest, just a wee newborn, all curled up, mouth hanging open, and looking like the coziest baby on earth. Now, if I stretch her out to lay her head on my chest, it's like hugging a German Shepherd. She's huge in comparison to four years ago.

Her hair is thick and gorgeous and hangs down to the middle of her back. When she was three months old, all her baby hair fell out and she looked like an 80-year-old man. Her eyes were so dark when she was born, they were almost purple. Now she's big ol' doe eyes that shine a caramel-coffee color. She has really fair skin with a rosy glow and a smile that lights up a room. She's overcome a speech delay, having barely said three words by the time she was two. Now we can't pay her to be quiet. She's become such an integral and vibrant part of our life that we can't imagine life without her.

So in case I get wrapped up in something else tomorrow, forget to blog, or decide to hack out a Friday Chronicles post, happy birthday, Beth. You're an awesome little girl who's going to take over the world someday. We love you.

January 25, 2009

Because Denise was bored...and so am I...

(TAG! YOU ARE IT! Copy and post this on your blog ASAP!) What is this?

Well, you’re supposed to bold the things you’ve done so readers
can find out how you've led an awesome life so far.

Here's what I have done in bold...

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland [okay, Disney World]
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

January 24, 2009

A Benign Post

I have blog guilt. I haven't produced a quality blog post in weeks. Every day, I swear up and down that I'm going to carve out half an hour to blog...and then every day, I find out I have absolutely nothing to write about. Things are very humdrum here. We've been driving back and forth to the old 'hood to handle college-related things for Rob but that aside, nothin'.

We've thrown a few more bricks into place regarding our migration back east. I've obtained the kids' birth certificates, finally. It only took me nearly four years to get Beth's and a full year to get Bubba's. This is no fault of the county (although I believe it's a bunch of bull that we have to pay to get the birth certificates, to the tune of $19.00 each). No, no, it's all me. I was just too lazy. We never needed them until now.

We bought the trailer hitch this past week, a Class III, meaning we can tow up to 3,500 pounds. I think Rob's installing it next week. I called Southwest to ensure I would be able to get a priority boarding pass because of having an infant with me. As long as I have the above-mentioned birth certificate, I'll be in Group A. I also got this fantastic contraption, the Travelmate, which will be an enormous help in the airport when I have Bubba in his convertible carseat. I didn't buy it brand-new, I bought it used from a woman in Union City. It's an older model, it's only supposed to fit Britax carseats, and I have a Cosco, but Rob's handy and can make it work. He started to explain to me what he was going to do to make it work, but as soon I heard, "What I'll do is..." my eyes glazed over and my ears powered down.

It's also a good feeling to know you're wanted back where you came from. My cousin invited us to her daughter's first birthday party the weekend after we get in, my college roommate is inviting me to her baby shower in March, and an old friend offered to help us get settled. My best friend is driving up shortly after we arrive so we can meet each other's kids and get caught up; nearly six years is a long time to be separated from your best friend.

I'm really excited and I'm glad things are finally coming together. Anybody else back east want to get together?

January 21, 2009

Like sands through the hourglass...

Wow, time's rolling by slowly. We're now T minus 20 days till lift-off and I'm pretty sure if time passed any slower it'd be going in reverse. It's not that things are terrible at my in-law's; if anything they're going better than they did last time. It's just that we're dealing with so. much. crap. these days that most days it feels like my head is swimming with things to do, numbers, and dates. It seems as though we can't catch a friggin' break (save for the massive amount of generosity coming to fruition on February 10th) and there's a roadblock at every pass. It's been this way since November and frankly, I'm not sure how much more I can take! I try to laugh it off. I've always held the opinion that you have to laugh at life, otherwise you'll drive yourself crazy. Lately, however, it's been a real stretch to find the laughter. When will things turn the corner?

In everyday news, my son's speech is picking up like moss on a rolling stone. He's recently added: tree, milk, cereal, ya-ya, Coke, cycle and jacket. Alright, he's actually saying: tee, gul, reh-ree, ya-ya, goke, gye-kul, and gah-ket. But they're his words and we know what they mean! My daughter has suddenly developed a HUGE attitude problem. Hands on hips, shrieking, wrinkling up her nose, making strange noises with her throat...ugh. I tell her daily that I'm trading her in at the Used Kids Store for a less-bratty model. I love that munchkin to death but man alive! She's in for a few years of butting heads with mommy and daddy if she keeps it up.

Rob started his first semester of college yesterday. He's very busy doing homework and posting to online discussions. I'm really very proud of him; he's embracing this whole college thing and trying to figure it all out on his own. It's going to be a rocky first semester what with the move and all, but I'm sure he'll survive. I'm actually a tad jealous. I loved college...and my notebooks. I have a self-professed obsession with office supplies: paper, binders, folders, pens, pencils, staplers, paperclips. I could spend a whole day in Staples. Now my husband has a brand-spanking-new Five Star Notebook just begging me to jot down notes in it. Rawr.

So we're off to the lower east bay again today. We have to buy Rob's books for the semester - provided the college released his funding - and hit up our storage unit to organize and make room for the toolbox. Good times.

January 18, 2009

Phase One, Complete.

So we're at my in-law's now. To be honest, the last time I blogged, I was in a bit of a fog, so I can't remember if I told you all this or not, but someone we know (who's asked to remain nameless) was kind enough to purchase two plane tickets so that Bubba and I can fly back to PA while Rob and Beth drive back with the Tracker, bike-on-trailer, and some of our crap. So we actually have an arrival date for all of you who are keeping track and would like to *ahem* be in Conneautville the weekend after we get back. Bubba and I are flying in on February 10th and will be up in Conneautville on the 11th. Rob and Beth will be rolling in probably on Friday the thirteenth. Bwa-ha-ha.

The 11th-13th will probably be spent just recouperating from the trip and unpacking, getting settled, doing some grocery shopping, stuff like that. So if I run into you around town, yay! If not, feel free to stop by my mom's place, we'll be there. We'll eventually be doing a run down to Pittsburgh to let my mother-in-law meet her grandson (if you recall, I was eight months pregnant with him the last time she saw us), so if you're in da 'Burgh, let me know and we'll try to work out a visit.

So who else is excited about the game today? GO STEELERS! I'm actually not a huge football nut but I do get excited about Steelers games, especially when they're vying for the AFC Championship. By the time most of you read this, the verdict will be in, but for now, I'm excited. We bought our play-off food for this afternoon/evening, we have a bigger-than-our-TV widescreen to watch the game on and we are, to bring up an old chestnut, geeked.

I should go. Things to do, things to do. Happy Playoff Day, folks!

January 15, 2009

Life is a cement trampoline.

So we're emptying out our apartment and throwing bags upon bags of stuff in the dumpster. Throwing out things that were really just cluttering up our life, taking up space, collecting dust...but it's really very hard to get rid of things that, in one way or another, were a part of everyday life. It's even harder to work up the strength to climb our outdoor steps another time to gather another load of garbage. I'm so damn tired, my limbs doth protest a lot.

Anyway, we're nearing the end of the clean-out. I have to finish up with the kids' room, the bathroom and hall closets, and then attack the kitchen. I think I'm going to round-file most of the kitchen; I'm keeping our glasses and Pyrex pans, and a few of the kids' cups. The rest is kind of junk at this point and it's not worth boxing up and saving. I really just want this to be done and to move on to the next phase of this "adventure."

What's on my mind now, to be honest, is our return to western Pennsylvania. I'm excited about it, I'm hoping we're able to finally live the life we've always wanted: friends and family to hang out with, things to do that won't cost a small fortune, football games we actually give a damn about, fishing, and overall a happier and less stressful existence. But I'm worried about reintroducing myself to a social life again.

I've made all of about three friends since moving out here. One I've never met in real life, one I've met in real life once, and one I've hung out with occasionally. Between spending the last four years immersed in raising my children and effectively removing myself from any kind of social scene since 2003, I feel like my social skills have packed up their bags and taken up residence somewhere in the recesses of my brain. I'm worried that given the opportunity to hang out with old friends and family, I'll end up sitting there like a bump on a log with little to say and what I do say will bore them to death.

I don't know, maybe I'll be fine. I've changed a lot since 2003 though, as one friend put it, I kind of act like an old lady sometimes. I'm hoping the fun me is hiding somewhere inside and I can revive her. I don't want to be the person that everyone invites to parties and get-togethers out of sympathy because once upon a time, she was fun to have around but now we just feel sorry for her awkwardness.

Bah. I worry too much. I should just be excited to see everyone again, right? You all will still love me, right? Just be patient with me. I'll come around again, I swear!

January 12, 2009

"We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance."

~ Harrison Ford

Never thought I'd be quoting Indiana Jones, but that man is mighty quippy.

So here's the rundown, without going into too much gritty detail:

1. We're moving. Yes, we're moving, and not to any other place in the Bay Area. Not even in California. Through a series of essentially uncontrollable circumstances, we're unable to even semi-comfortably stay in California. So all you East Coast folks, you know, the ones I've whined about missing? Mark your calendars, we're packing up and heading back across this chunk of earth and coming to a screeching stop in my old stomping grounds.

2. We're paring down our possessions. Our initial haul will only be bringing what we can fit in our tracker and on a little trailer that will, among other things, be hauling Rob's motorcycle. We sold the fish and their tank today to a man who wanted some easy-to-care-for pets for his kids. I got the impression that all drains would lead to the ocean and although I am an animal lover, I don't honestly care. I just didn't want to be the person to do it. It occurred to us to donate them back to the pet store but we've got too much going on to do that. He said he might do that since they were all healthy fish, so keep your fingers crossed for my daughter's fine-finned friends.

3. We're leaving sometime in early to mid-February, depending on when our tax return shows up. We need to install a hitch on our tracker and pick up the trailer, then load it and tether things. I think Rob scheduled pick-up of the trailer on February 10th, but we'll see if we have the money by then.

4. In the interim, we'll be back at my in-laws. *groan* It'll only be for a month or so, so it won't be like last time, but we know they're going to ask for money this time around. If you need to reach us between January 18th and whenever we leave the state, e-mail me and I'll get you that phone number.

5. When we get back, we're going to be at my mom's until August-ish. Rob's going to finish his semester at Chabot by taking online-only classes through May and I'm probably going to find some part-time job to save up money. We're looking to move down to Pittsburgh in August since Rob plans on enrolling at CCAC for the fall semester and I'm going to find full-time work there. So if you live in Pittsburgh and know of any jobs I'd be qualified for that pay a decent salary, please let me know!

So that's the nutshell. Any questions? E-mail me. God, this sounds like a mass e-mail, doesn't it?


I've got a lot of emotions running through me right now. I'm disappointed that our big quest of the west didn't pan out. I'm excited to be moving back to western Pennsylvania where I know my kids will attend better schools and where all my old friends have kids my kids' ages. I'm worried that it'll be just as tough there. I'm anxious as all hell about our move. Rob wants to go balls-to-the-wall and drive straight through. Practical ol' me knows this is entirely too impractical and will be fighting him tooth and nail to at least stop for one night. He and I could manage it but it would play hell on the kids and the cat. Surely he must realize that!

Rawr. Life just can't be easy, can it?

January 11, 2009

Here We Go, Baby!

January 8, 2009

The Friday Chronicles

I'm always grateful when Friday comes along. Not only is the most annoying ghost-hunting show EVER on, but it's the day I don't have to come up with a blogging topic. I can just rattle off what's happened to me in the week behind me. It's that proverbial Friday that people with a job have. You don't work quite as hard at work as you do Monday through Thursday, you know that you have a two-day break coming up, and you know that no one expects much out of you on that particular day (okay, so no one expects much out of me on any given day, but Friday is always guaranteed to be exceptionally mundane).


So let's talk about the Oakland riot that transpired last night. I know I said I'd steer clear of controversial topics until February but I can't just sidestep this giant pile of poo.

For those who aren't aware, here's one of the cell phone videos taken by BART passengers:

Now obviously, you can't hear what's being said between the kid who was shot and the cops, but it's clear there's a struggle. As you can imagine, there's a huge feeding frenzy out here, and they're trying to make it a racial thing. I can't say if it was or wasn't, only the cop who shot him can, and since he immediately resigned from the police force and has moved twice, well, I'll leave it up to you...and the 12 people I'm sure will hand down his judgment. What's stuck in my craw is this:

What good does it do to create mayhem and cause destruction? What did the business owners in the Fruitvale district have to do with that cop and Oscar Grant? Do they really think they're making a point - much less one that should be respected - by setting innocent people's cars on fire and breakout windows of businesses? Furthermore, assaulting people with news crews? They even booed their own mayor, who was trying to sympathize with them while calming them down.

I couldn't do anything except shake my head while I was watching the news last night. I understand that they're upset and angry. But what good can come of rioting?


I'm trying to get back into the swing of working out. Until we're out of here, I'm using the "spa" (what a laughable term; there's an elliptical, a treadmill, a recumbent bike, and a multi-use weight machine...nothing spa-like in the least) allllllmost daily. Okay, I went twice last week and I went today. I really killed it today though. I'm still sore. I probably overdid it. But hey, if I don't sweat, I'm not working, right?


I got my daughter to voluntarily eat a prune today. You could have knocked me over with a feather.


We watched "The Dark Knight" this past week. I gotta say, I wasn't that impressed. The action was mediocre, Batman was way too vulnerable, the Batmobile died, and they kept referring to him as "...the batman..." Not just "Batman," but "the batman," as if to anonymize him. Christian Bale is, by far, the lousiest Batman to ever hit the silver screen and that gravelly voice he uses when he dons the Batman suit is just comical. What's funnier is that he even uses that voice when he's talking to Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), who knows he's simply Bruce Wayne. What? The Batsuit causes a whiskey voice? I guess I'll stick with what I'm sure of: the originals are always the best. Michael Keaton is unsurpassable.

I will allow this: Heath Ledger's take on the Joker was interesting. Not nearly as campy or polished as Jack's portrayal, and the makeup was incredibly weird, but I suppose we can chalk it up to artistic license? But he did make the character his own and he was completely unrecognizable as Heath Ledger when he was in character.


So that's about all I have for this week. I'm sorry, again, for my severe lack of blogging. I've had a lot going on and possibly a lot more to come, but when we get everything figured out, I'll have a whole lot of blog fodder for you all. Have a nice weekend!

January 7, 2009

Husbands Say the Darndest Things

A conversation between Rob and I, driving home today:

Darcie: You know what used to be so amusing?
Rob: Hm?
Darcie: When you're in elementary school, and little boys conveyed their affections for you by picking on you or chasing you around.
Rob: Yeah, and then a short time after that, it turns into, "Look at my bravado! I will climb and run..."
Darcie: "...and jump off of things!"
Rob: Yeah. You know, it's really funny because girls mature so much faster than boys. By the time you're 15 or 16, girls already have their system worked out. They know how to find a mate. Us guys, we have no idea how to even speak to those alien creatures! Very pretty. That's all we know.
Darcie: [cracking up] Alien creatures?!
Rob: Yeah. And the worst part is that we spend almost the first half of our lives trying to find and keep a woman and then even the nicest among us spend the other half treating them like crap! [And added just now: Or, at the very least, being a huge pain in their ass.]
Darcie: [still laughing] Oh're so the subject of my blog tonight!

Men are funny creatures. Rob's grandmother used to say, "I feel sorry for the girl that marries you!" I never met her in person, we only spoke on the phone a few times, but I have the feeling she was only 60% joking. Rob's a tough guy to live with sometimes. I love the man dearly, but he has a few attributes that I swear are causing me to molt.

But he does keep me laughing and he keeps my irrational, screaming and wild-eyed freak-outshissy fits to a minimum, so I'll keep him around, I suppose!

January 4, 2009

What's on my mind? Today's List...

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more puppies

1. Just when you think you're finally going to get a leg up on a situation, you get knocked down two pegs. It gets damn tiresome wearing that proverbial sandwich board that reads, "Kick me!"

2. I'm very tired. Like, curl up and sleep for days tired. I think it's a combination of my lack of sleep last night and all the stress I've been dealing with lately. My body wants and needs to shut down just to recoup.

3. We have a big decision to make very soon. It's a fish-or-cut-bait situation and it's not an easy one. There are pros and cons on both sides and honestly, I don't know which end of things we'll end up on. We're trying to act in the best interest of our kids but we don't want to act rashly and end up regretting it.

4. I put imitation crab meat in my salad for lunch. Normally, I love that stuff. Today? Too much. It's one of those situations where you ate so much of something that the mere thought of it makes you queasy.

5. At the risk of sounding like a true Californian...I. Am. FREEZING. Seriously, it's about 55ºF - 60ºF outside and all I want to do is bundle up in the warmest blanket we own. I can't get warm!

6. The state of California, well, it kind of sucks. A lot. I don't want to say why and even if you email and ask, I still won't divulge, but suffice it to say California, as a whole, sucks.

7. You know how you're not supposed to care about what people think? Yeah, well, I totally do. And if we make a decision vis-á-vis #3, I feel like all sorts of judgment will rain down on me. Judgments about things in general, the way I look now, the way things have turned out, etc. I know it's ridiculous and that I should just shut up about it, but it's on my mind.

8. I really, truly love "Friends." No matter how down and out we are, it always makes us laugh. Awesome show.

January 1, 2009

Since nobody asked, and nobody ever does...

A recap of 2008, a lá Darcie:

...Moved out of my in-law's place and into our current place a shabby-chic two-bedroom loft back down in the "real" east bay.

...Watched my husband suffer through 11 months of scant work and disappointing paychecks before getting laid off.

...Helped my husband enroll as a full-time student at Chabot College to begin his degree in mechanical engineering.

...Celebrated my little boy - and my last baby ever - turn one. Much bittersweetness transpired.

...Threw my hat back into the ring for work. I have countless resumès out (okay, about 30, according to my "sent" folders), two handfuls of applications for retail/supermarket positions, and a few classified applications at colleges. I've had three interviews - none of which panned out - and a test for a senior secretary position with the city of Hayward on the 7th.

...Found myself really caring about politics for the first time in my life. Up until this year, I just sort of skated through life, not paying any attention to Washington or even state goings-on. This year though, and especially with the election, I found a passion for it. Yes, November 4th was a disappointment for me (and many others) but it was still a monumental day and year.

...Checked my pride at the door and learned a new level of humility. Gave as much as I could through a holiday season when I didn't have much to give. Taught my daughter the value of sharing and giving when you have more than you need because there are others out there with less than you have. Found the true spirit of Christmas.

So happy new year everyone. I hope I have a better year than I did in 2008 and I hope I end it on a good note.

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