Monday, November 30, 2009
1. I have discovered why a pre-lit Christmas tree is a bad idea. I bought my pre-lit tree several years ago and was so proud of myself for outsmarting the Christmas Lights Demon. This year he got his revenge. Now that my pre-lit tree is getting on in years, one section of it is not, in fact, pre-lit. Have you ever tried to find and replace one tiny bulb on a pre-lit tree? It ain't easy. *I* should have been pre-lit before tackling it. I finally gave up and just added a couple of strands of lights, thereby defeating the purpose of the pre-lit tree entirely.
2. Why is it that the people who live in the most run-down, ramshackle, falling-apart houses feel the need to invest in the tackiest, most over-the-top outdoor Christmas decorations? If your house looks so bad that people generally assume it's uninhabited and/or condemned, do not draw attention to it with lights that flash on and off in time to bad Christmas music by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Perhaps your money would be better spent on vinyl siding.
3. I am not enjoying parenthood right now. Someone PLEASE tell me it gets better when she's no longer two.
4. I did most of my Christmas shopping on Amazon on Friday, which beat the hell out of fighting crowds of rednecks at my local Wal-Mart. Since then, I have received seven different email messages from Amazon, informing me that portions of my order have been shipped. Every time I get one, it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. If Santa doesn't use the interwebz, he should.
5. Speaking of Wal-Mart, I realized late in the day on Saturday that I needed to make a trip there. I decided against it, however, because I had not had a shower. Normally this would not be a deterrent, as my local Wal-Mart is not known for its high-brow clientele. So what stopped me, you ask? My fear of ending up on this website: People of Wal-Mart. Some of my Twitter friends assured me I would be safe as long as I kept an eye out for people with camera phones. And remembered to wear a bra. My other greatest fear? Watching the news one day when they're doing a story about obesity, and realizing I am the owner of the anonymous jiggly ass they have chosen to showcase.
6. On Thanksgiving day we were joined by my aunt and cousins. Cousin #1 recently got out of jail. At one point I looked around the table and realized we were 25 percent felons.
7. Facebook and its recommendations have finally gone too far. This week it suggested I join a group called "Chubby Singles." A friend of mine who is a year or two older than me tells me it will soon get better -- a Facebook ad regularly asks her if she is "tired of being over 40 and single." WTF? As I sit on the sofa late at night, bathed in the warm glow of my computer monitor, I am already painfully aware that I have no social life. I do not need to have this pointed out to me by the cyberspace gods.
8. Last week I managed to screw up a frozen pizza. By the time I was done with it, it could best be described as a pizza carcass. Remind me again -- whose idea was it to let me have a child?
9. Last night, my two-year-old niece looked at Ellie and said "You don't got a daddy." This is not something that has ever been discussed in front of her, and she's never asked about it. I guess she just looked around the dinner table and did the math.
10. Some days, the best thing about my job is that my chair spins. Today, being the first day back after a four-day weekend, is one of those days.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
This year, Anissa Mayhew is on my mind and I'm wondering how her family will endure Thanksgiving. They're being reminded of the fragility of life, too -- and how it can turn on a dime.
The last six years or so have been pretty tumultuous for my family. We've been through a lot of things no one thinks they'll ever have to face -- tragedies that are not in any way part of the normal course of life. One of the side effects of this is that I've found I'm no longer very sympathetic when people go through things that ARE normal: illness, divorce, the death of a relative. Those are things that happen to many, if not most, people, and while I can agree that they suck, I have a hard time mustering up a lot of concern. I find myself wanting to compare tragedies: "Oh yeah? Well, MY family lost everything that was important to us when my dad went to prison."
But sometimes I encounter a story -- like Anissa's -- that reminds me we DIDN'T lose everything. Yes, Dad went to prison and we lost a huge chunk of our lives. But he's home now, we've repaired our lives, and we're all still together. Dad is employed and enjoying his grandchildren. We're healthy, we have a roof over our heads, and our children are well. So, while I wouldn't wish the last six years on anyone, and I wouldn't go through it again for any amount of money, the fact is that we're doing just fine.
This Thanksgiving, Anissa's family is NOT doing just fine. They may never be just fine again. Everything changed for them in an instant.
So this weekend, when you're thinking of all you're thankful for -- or all that you wish could be different -- take a dose of perspective. No matter how bleak things may seem in your life, there are people out there dealing with worse things. People who need your prayers and positive thoughts more than you need theirs.
You know the funny thing about the Mayhews? I get the feeling they're the kind of people who will find plenty to be thankful for, even in the midst of their tragedy. So why is it so many of us spend our time looking for things to complain about?
Below is a piece that has run in Dear Abby's column many times. It remains one of my favorite expressions of Thanksgiving. I hope you'll think about it -- and about the Mayhew family -- as you're enjoying your holiday.
Today is Thanksgiving Day, so take a few minutes to reflect upon all the things for which you are thankful.
How's your health? Not so good? Well, thank God you've lived this long. A lot of people haven't.
You're hurting? Thousands -- maybe millions -- are hurting even more. (Have you ever visited a veterans hospital? Or a rehabilitation clinic for crippled children?)
If you awakened this morning and were able to hear the birds sing, use your vocal cords to utter human sounds, walk to the breakfast table on two good legs, and read the newspaper with two good eyes, praise the Lord! A lot of people couldn't.
How's your pocketbook? Thin? Well, most of the world is a lot poorer. No pensions. No welfare. No food stamps. No Social Security. In fact, one-third of the people in the world will go to bed hungry tonight.
Are you lonely? The way to have a friend is to be one. If nobody calls you, pick up the phone and call someone.
Are you concerned about your country's future? Hooray! Our system has been saved by such concern. Your country may not be a rose garden, but neither is it a patch of weeds.
Freedom rings! Look and listen. You can still worship at the church of your choice, cast a secret ballot, and even criticize your government without fearing a knock on the head or a knock on the door at midnight. And if you want to live under a different system, you are free to go. There are no walls or fences -- nothing to keep you here.
As a final thought, I'll repeat my Thanksgiving prayer; perhaps you will want to use it at your table today:
O heavenly Father:
We thank thee for food and remember the hungry.
We thank thee for health and remember the sick.
We thank thee for friends and remember the friendless.
We thank thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir us to service,
That thy gifts to us may be used for others. Amen.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and may God bless you and yours. -- LOVE, ABBY
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
a) is sick of hearing them.
b) can quote them in her sleep.
c) generally ignores them.
d) will someday say to her kids, "My mom used to say . . ."
For instance, I often say "No, ma'am, we are NOT going to act that way," which sounds like such a mom thing to say, doesn't it? I'm also big on "Use your big-girl voice," "Do what Mama says," "Listen to me," and "Do you want to sit in time-out?" Which is, of course, a monumentally stupid question, but for some reason I ask it on a daily basis. And don't forget the ever-popular "No, no. Don't touch."
When she's whining for something she can't have, I've also been known to say "You know what Mick Jagger says," which is code for "You can't always get what you want." I'm sure the kid is thinking "I dunno who this Mick Jagger is, but he's ruining all my fun."
Something else I say often is "Do you hear me?" This invariably gets a vigorous nod, even though I know half the time Ellie hasn't heard a word I've said. And even though I don't generally spank her, I do sometimes swat her on the butt to get her attention if necessary. This has led to another popular phrase, which is "If you (fill in the blank), I'm going to spank your butt." Which she ignores, because she KNOWS it ain't gonna happen.
So last night Ellie was in the bathtub, and decided to wash her own hair. She actually did a pretty good job, and even managed to rinse it herself. When she was finished, she was quite proud of her handiwork. I reached out to wipe some water off her forehead, at which point she looked at me, pointed her little finger in my direction, and said:
"Mama. No touch hair. I pank butt. A-hee me?"
Yeah, kid. I hear you. Loud and clear. *sigh*
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
That's when I saw the message from Emily.
Our friend Anissa Mayhew had a stroke on Tuesday afternoon and is in ICU in an Atlanta hospital.
Anissa is 35 years old, and this is her second stroke in four years. She has three small children, the youngest of whom is a cancer survivor of just one year. This is a family that has already been through enough for one lifetime.
After reading that news, suddenly my blog post seemed pretty stupid and insignificant. So did a lot of other things I've been worrying about lately.
So I'm not going to blog about the silly topic I had in mind. Instead I'm going to reprint one of my favorite posts from Anissa's blog, and ask you all to keep her and her family in your thoughts today.
Hang in there, Anissa.
Rice and Buttons
by Anissa Mayhew
Published June 2, 2009
I’ll bet you’re thinking there’s some exquisite inside joke in that title.
And there probably is.
But that’s not what this post is about.
This is about the most infuriating bowl of rice I’ve ever encountered.
I’ve mentioned before that I had a stroke in July 2005. The months that followed were filled with physical therapy.
Lift these weights.
Walk those stairs.
Balance this ball.
Touch the target.
Stand on one foot.
Ride a bicycle.
Write your ABC’s. <—yeah, that was actually one of the exercises and I sucked at it. If blogs had to be handwritten, I can guarantee you I wouldn’t be writing this one right now.
And at the end of every session I faced down the bowl of rice.
An enormous bowl of uncooked rice would become my greatest nemesis.
It was full of small random objects….paper clips, rubber bands, safety pins, dimes, marbles, and buttons…lots and lots of buttons of all sizes and textures.
Blindfolded, I fished in the bowl to find all the non-rice objects.
With my left hand I could find and identify each and every one.
With my right hand, I could not.
The damage to my brain and my right side left me unable to feel the differences in textures or sizes or temperatures of the objects with my fingertips.
After weeks of walking away from the bowl in tears, I started to see progress. I was teaching my brain to recognize the shape and FINALLY I could feel the physical manifestations of my greatest frustration.
Over and over again my right hand would pass through the rice and I would start to pull out the paper clips and marbles…the rubber bands and the dimes…the large buttons…but NEVER the small buttons.
I KNEW my fingers were brushing over the buttons.
The therapist told me when I was nearing them and I would try so hard to MAKE my hands feel the buttons. Just once I wanted to run my fingers over the buttons and feel the elation of my nerves telling my brain it was there.
They never did.
My stupid broken brain.
I prayed that God would please help me heal, help me be able to be a mother again, to be a wife, to let me have another chance.
I was slowly regaining strength, I could finally walk a decent distance, I stopped mentally checking out during the day…but the rice bowl continued to elude me.
Peyton was a baby at the time and I could only hold her for short periods of time before she became too heavy for me to feel safe carrying.
You could tell when I was tired at the end of the day from the way my right foot would start to drag a bit and I shuffled through the house.
I would stare at my signature on a check and realize that I didn’t know that handwriting anymore.
I would look at something or someone and know in my heart that I knew the word, the name, I KNEW what it was, I had said it a thousand times before…but I couldn’t make the word form and come out of my mouth…I cried more than once at not being able to force my own children’s names to come out.
None of that bothered me the way the rice bowl did.
I would actually have nightmares about that rice bowl. I was drowning in it. My kids being in the rice bowl and I couldn’t feel them to get them out. The rice bowl became the epitome of everything that was wrong with me.
I would love to tell you that I overcame it and had this awesome Rocky moment where I triumphantly pulled a button from the bowl on my last day of PT…but I didn’t.
It beat me.
I never did feel the buttons.
And I had to accept that I would probably never find a button in a bowl of rice.
I recently felt this urge to just see if I could do it. Just wanted to know if there had been any improvement. So, I bought a huge bag of rice. I purchased a package of small white buttons, identical to the ones that haunted my dreams all those years ago.
I sat blindfolded in my kitchen and went to work with the bowl.
I didn’t find even one of the twelve buttons in the bowl.
Not ONE. DAMN. BUTTON.
You know what?
I didn’t care. I sat there and laughed at myself for worrying about whether I could feel a button in a bowl of rice.
I didn’t plan to have any career that required me to do it.
I really haven’t been in one situation since PT that I felt “OMG, I need to get a button out of the rice! WHAT will I do?”
It just didn’t matter anymore.
Because if there’s one thing the past years have taught me…recovering from a stroke, having a child diagnosed with cancer, chasing a dream, being a family apart for seventeen months…true strength doesn’t come from the body.
It comes from faith, soul, heart and love.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Accompanied by Mama, in nasal head-cold voice.
And if you don't have Snacktime, the Barenaked Ladies' CD for kids, you should get it. Even if you don't have kids.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Skydiving? Has the potential to end very badly.
Hot air balloon ride? Too Wizard of Oz.
Expensive vacation? Too . . . well, expensive.
Flying lessons? No thanks.
Mid-life crisis car? I can't afford a mid-life crisis, much less a car.
Tattoo? Hmmm. Now THAT has possibilities.
So, like an idiot, I mentioned on Facebook that I was thinking of getting a tattoo. The comments came pouring in -- at last count, 30 of them.
Bill: Oddly enough, I work with a guy who looks like Tattoo, but I don't know if he does parties.
Susie: Are you considering a conventional artist or prison art? Perhaps a nice tramp stamp?
Mindy: They're like potato chips. You can't have just one.
Danielle: Feels like a slippery "white trash" slope to me . . .
Barry: My wife has a tramp stamp of a horse. All it does is make me feel inadequate.
Emily: As long as it doesn't say "Dr. Wonderful," it's fine with me.
But my favorite suggestion was this one, from my friend Melanie, who happens to share my birthday. She, unfortunately, will NOT be 40 in February.
Have I mentioned that my friends are smart-asses?
So that got me to thinking about bad tattoos. I don't know yet what sort of art I might get, or even if I'll get a tattoo at all. But I know I will NOT be getting anything that involves turning my belly button into a monkey's orifice.
Here are some others I think I've decided against:
I give you . . . the Pac Man butt crack.
I love my friends, but I have no intention of tattooing their faces on my ass.
I recognize the McDonald's logo, but I'm not sure what the little poofs right above the butt-crack are supposed to symbolize. Especially when coupled with the McDonald's logo. I DO, however, understand the connection between McDonald's and muffin-top.
And my personal favorite: something grammatically incorrect that is tattooed on your body FOREVER.
If you have suggestions about my impending tattoo, please feel free to leave your comments below. But please do NOT suggest this. Remember what I said about orifices.
Monday, November 9, 2009
I had never looked at my key word search info before, so I was a little fearful of what I might find. Luckily, it was pretty tame. Most searches involve motherhood topics, and, not surprisingly, Doritos. I also found that Tony DiTerlizzi, one of the authors I interviewed a few weeks ago, has put a link to my interview on his site, and that several people have found me that way.
So I read down through the rest of the list, thinking "This isn't so bad -- I don't seem to be popping up on the Google searches of perverts or anything."
Then I came to "freaky male sex."
Yes, someone in India got to my site by searching "freaky male sex."
Friday, November 6, 2009
I don't think I've shared this here before, but since Dr. Wonderful and I broke up in May, he has taken to sending me flowers about once a week. No attempts at actually TALKING to me. Just expensive bouquets that arrive at my office, and that I've been giving away to random coworkers. A lottery system has now developed in my office. "Who is going to get Emilie's flowers this week?" has turned into quite the competitive sport.
For whatever reason, Dr. Wonderful has also developed a habit of calling my office and hanging up several times a week. I think it started as a way to find out if I was here before he spent his money on flowers -- he would call about once a week, I would answer, he'd hang up, and an hour later the flowers would arrive. It became an early-warning system -- I could call the next person on the list to notify her that her flowers were on the way.
(Yesterday I was out of the office and the florist truck showed up. The person who is next on the list actually went out to the receptionist's desk to see if they were for me so she could take them home in my absence.)
But gradually he's worked his way up to calling eight or ten times a week. If he doesn't reach me, he sends flowers anyway, whether I'm here or not, whether I ever answer the phone or not. I know it's him because of the wonders of caller ID and missed call lists. But he never makes any attempt to talk to me, and at this point the calls seem unrelated to the arrival of flowers. This has led me to conclude that the calls are just a chicken-shit's way of harrassing me.
Needless to say, his behavior is driving me batty, not to mention scaring me a little. The man is 43 years old -- there is no reason for him to be making hang-up calls like a 12-year-old boy. Especially when I KNOW IT'S HIM. HELLO?! Are you aware that this is the 21st century and that the hang-up call has outlived its purpose?! If you have something to say to me, call me and SAY IT. If I do not answer the phone, leave a message -- that's why God invented voice mail, for crying out loud.
I can think of two reasons, however, why he might think his methods are brilliant. First, he is unaware that I have caller ID on my office phone. When he was in the picture, I didn't. Second, he is technologically impaired. It would never occur to him that I might GET caller ID, or that I might be able to Google an unfamiliar number and identify it as his.
There's a third reason, now that I think about it. He might feel this is a good tactic BECAUSE HE IS AN IMMATURE, MENTALLY UNSTABLE IDIOT.
So anyway, thanks to caller ID, I have been sitting here watching my phone ring for the last several weeks, knowing it's him and knowing that he thinks he's found an anonymous way to piss me off. I get more annoyed every time it happens.
Last week, I had finally had enough.
My friend Beth was in my office at the time, and once again the phone rang and Dr. Wonderful's number showed up on the screen.
I told Beth, "It's him again." Then I snatched up the phone and yelled "WHAT DO YOU WANT?!"
Stunned silence on the other end of the line.
Then a click and a dial tone.
I immediately grabbed my cell phone and hit the speed dial button for his cell (Yes, he's still programmed into my phone. No, I don't know why). He had turned it off.
So I didn't get to speak my mind to him, and I didn't get to hear him explain why he's stalking me.
But he hasn't called since. And my coworkers are no longer receiving flowers that say "Love, Dr. Wonderful" on the card.
I love technology.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Some guy makes accessories out of taxidermied rodents. And apparently somebody buys them.
Exactly how much would I have to pay you to put this anywhere near your person?
Other items in the Reid Peppard Vermin Collection (that's really what it's called. Not kidding):
If rodents in your hair is not your thing, perhaps you'd be interested in this:
The website points out that this is just a small rat, and that it does not have teeth. Oh, well, that's okay then. As long as it doesn't have teeth. Thanks, I feel much better now.
This rat holds your loose change:
It's lined with black velvet. Just to give it some extra class.
The website advertises these pieces as "London caught" vermin. Is that like wild caught salmon?
I really have no words for this. I can't even get in touch with my inner snark. I'm too shocked. And completely grossed out.
If any of you are brave enough to request prices, let me know.
On second thought, don't.