Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's New, It's Improved, It's the Size of Texas

I have a bizarre fixation with feminine hygiene products. There. I admitted it. It's not that I can't wait to try something new, improved, and exciting. It's more like my fixation comes from the entertainment value of these *new* *improved* *triple the protection" products.

A lot of the time, these new products lead me to disbelief. One great example is the tampon commercial a few years ago. A boy and girl are on a boat. The boat springs a leak. The girl reaches for a tampon. C'mon now. I don't want to give much thought to the woman who uses a product that can stop up a rowboat. I don't want to picture the woman who uses the super-duper-ulitmate anything. The commercial was wrong. I don't think I like the implication that my parts and workings need products designed for flood control. It offends me.

I was not thrilled with the introduction of "wings." Again, I don't appreciate that they are implying that I can't keep my stuff under control and that I need this added protection. This added protection, the time I was more or less forced to try it out, did little more than stick to my inner thigh instead of my drawers. Then you add the ones with wings that are about half the length of a football field, it leaves me wondering what the hell? I'm a short girl. I don't need protection that reaches from my belly button to my butt crack.

Not so surprising, I'm pretty sure when my obsession started. It was 4th grade when we watched that, "You're becoming a woman movie." We got the standard issue booklet. "Growing Up and Liking It." It's right here, the floral cover and all.

There was an order form in the back of the booklet for a "starter kit." Not only did I have to have one, but I talked my dad into ordering me two so I'd be extra prepared for my first day of womanhood. When the kit arrived, I don't know how many times I looked over the different types of maxi and mini-pads. I anticipated my first period like a fat kid looks forward to a trip to Hershey, PA. I knew exactly what I would use and when. I was well-versed, and practically had the book memorized over what I was about to experience.

And, then it happened. Let me tell you what. There was nothing magical about it. I don't know what all the hoopla was about, because quite frankly, there was nothing fun or special about it. Sure, I'd later be able to be a mother, blah blah blah, but I had better things to do with my time.

I hadn't been one of those womanly sorts long when the introduction of the thin-type thingies came on the market. This excited me. No longer did I walk around feeling like I had a crib mattress between my legs. The thinner, the better, in my estimation.

Then came the "incident." We were vacationing as a family at an amusement park. We camped across the lake. Turned loose to go to the park, I went with my step-sister. The younger kids went as a pack. We walked around. Rode some rides. We made a stop in the bathroom.

A woman tapped my step-sister on the shoulder. "Excuse me," she started. "Do you know you're menstruating and have blood on the back of your shorts?"

To which she replied, "Huh?"

The woman repeated herself.

My step-sister repeated herself.

"Menstruating. Your period," I offered.

Well, sure enough. Off we went on the shuttle boat to take us back to the campground where a conversation about feminine protection ensued with my step-mom. Thin pads would be banned from our home. "I just don't know how anyone wears them without leaking through. They aren't good. We're going back to the thick ones. We'll get wings. We'll get the biggest ones we can find. There will be no leaking in our house unless it's the roof!"

Okay, I embellished that a little. BUT, not by much.

I went on to spend 1/4 of my monthly allowance on my feminine protection needs because there was no way I was using what was left in the bathroom for everyone's convienience. This also left me with the fixation on just how big these products can get and the women who use them.

Not only did I have a new answer, but also an example. I got this in the mail as a freebie.

Now, if you'll notice that's my hand I'm holding it in. I have big hands for a girl. This baby is also folded into thirds. It's some sort of Kotex overnight, extra-long, winged beast.

The closest I can come to figuring out when this might come in handy is directly following the birth of triplets. I showed it my husband, expressing my disbelief. It was like I'd found a leprechaun in the bathroom, or something equally unbelievable. He didn't get it.

I asked him, "Suppose what you could do with this if you didn't use it as intended? I bet you could stop a sucking chest wound with it."

He only gave me this blank stare, and mumbled something about not knowing nothing about these kinds of things and he could live a very full life not knowing nothing about these kinds of things.

This made me think. In high school, for filler and entertainment, we made these lists for the newspaper. My favorite was "101 Uses for Leftover Turkey." The best response was, "Put the carcus on your head and scare old people."

I wonder if there are 101 uses for an oversized maxi-pad....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Because I have learned to bite my tongue in certain situations....

...I'll share the story here.

I'm taking an Eng Comp class online. I'm not enjoying anything about this class. It's the thorn in my side. And while I thought that Gov't and Algebra would be my downfalls, it turns out, it might be this class. I have As in all classes going into week five. English Comp is my lowest grade right now.

The first part of the assignment this week was to post thoughts on peer reviews, and talk about the times we've had to offer constructive criticism. To summarize, I wrote it wasn't something we did in high school, that I'd read other writers' stuff, and that I never lasted long in the local writer's group because you could write down the contents of a can of Alpo, and everyone would tell you that it was fantastic writing. It was several paragraphs detailing these situations. I also mentioned substitute teaching a writing workshop class.

The same week, we had to upload the rough draft of our first assignment for peer review. I didn't like this much, and it pained me to upload something I knew that wasn't complete. (I did get some great responses that said I completed the assignment with little to fix. I knew what needed to be added, but for the sake of rough, I let it go.)

The next part of the assignment was to read the thoughts on peer review and reply to three. Reply. Comment. There was nothing about giving constructive criticism on the discussion board posting.

I'm probably going to hell for posting this, but it's one of those things that you have to see to believe.

I got this response from a classmate. This is the part that made me raise an eyebrow, and not the whole thing:

" I think that you might have had comas in some of the wrong places. I could be wrong though and you right. I do know that some of your wording in your sentences are too bunched together, as in it doesn't sound right. I think you might need to watch your words and focus on your words. Although, I need to as well. "

I took the high road and posted a mature response about unsolicited criticism, whether constructive or otherwise, and how I failed to see where it was part of the assignment to critique the discussion board post. I noted that I was thick-skinned, but what if someone read that and was struggling with the class? I added that unsolicited advice can be destructive.

What I really wanted to say was this:

"It's unfortunate that I have "comas" in the wrong places. Next time, I'll be sure to have one in the hospital. It's probably what keeps me from having that much needed focus and the ability to watch my words. "

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Let's Add Glossolalia to the Readin', 'Rriting, and 'Rithmetic

Over-freakin'-whelmed. Not just overwhelmed, but over-freakin'-whelmed. I wouldn't be surprised if I start speaking in tongues any minute now. Let me dazzle you with some Glossolalia. Or let me "Bedazzle" you, as suggested by a friend.

This is day four of this back to school adventure that I'm fondly referring to as, "She always said it would happen, but finally, she's lost her mind." The rest of my books arrived yesterday. I have a sneaking suspicion they toured greater Indiana before being dropped off at my doorstep. See? Even my books get to go farther than a one-county radius.

I had mixed emotions upon their arrival. I told the FedEx guy that he might be my hero because I really, really needed to get to work, but next semester, I couldn't promise that I might want to throw rocks at him. He thanked me for the warning. I told him he might want to run up to the steps, toss the package from a safe distance, and make a run for it. He didn't seem surprised because he lamented he's used to that kind of welcome.

Yesterday, I spent two hours in the first review section of the Basic Algebra book. This was only the review. This didn't count toward anything required for the first class session. This was for my benefit. Who knew Algebra could be so consuming and entertaining that I would suddenly look at the clock and realize it was almost time to leave for my Microcomputer class?

And, if that wasn't an experience in itself. I walked into the WorkOne building where the class is held. A woman, who seemingly worked there, looked around and asked a few of us, "What class are you here for?"

We answered Microcomputers. "Oh," she replied, "I'm not sure where they are having the computer class, but English and Math are back there."

Finally, someone with more gumption than I got up and didn't return. I looked at the guy sitting next to me and noted she must have found the class. I walked into the room, full of computers. Yes, I know. Quite a shock to me that a computer class would be held in a room full of computers. Why, the novelty of it.

I looked around, and surprisingly, I wasn't the oldest one in the class. There were a few youngins'. The next thing I noticed was the temperature of the room. It wasn't so much that I noticed as the sweat began trickling in places ladies shouldn't sweat in public. It had to have been 120 degrees. Either that, or I was in the midst of a hotflash. I haven't ruled that out.

As it turns out with this class, you're there to read the book and use the computer to do each assignment. It has been confirmed from an earlier post where I thought perhaps that I might need some reading glasses that it's a definite. Nothing like sitting in a sweaty heap with a bunch of other sweaty heaps while you're squinting and glistening.

I finished the first part of the assignment. Several women pleaded that a door or something be opened, and the professor insisted just as soon as the sun went down, we'd no longer be baking in that sunroom that doubled as a computer lab, and we'd cool off. He joked, "Who is bringing the ice next time?" I'd bypassed the point that even seeing someone fall out of their chair would not have amused me.

Just as soon as I get a copy of MSOffice 2007, I only have to return to the class long enough to hand in the assignments, as he doesn't lecture. I think he's only there to be sure nobody is surfing porn or opening a door for ventiliation, anyway.

The English Composition class I'm taking makes me scratch my head. Then when I scratch my head, I start thinking about a friend who's kids had head lice. Anytime I think about head lice, which I don't do on purpose, I scratch my head. Then I imagine I can feel something crawling in my scalp. So, really, it's best that I don't use the phrase "scratch my head" because it only distracts me.

Anyway, it's a touchy-feely textbook approach to writing. Personally, I haven't had my hands on anything so "gay" since I touched the Indian from the Village People. I know that sounds offensive, but I've never viewed writing as being all "puppies, kittens, unicorns, and rainbows." The book implies that one only needs to put words into a journal, and voila, they are a writer! It goes on to say you don't have to be published, paid, or even write a bestseller to be a writer. Whew, I'm so relieved to know that.

The government class will be the thorn in my side for the next four months. I don't know squat about politics. I memorized what I had to in order to pass high school government. Discussion of politics serves as a means for my husband to tell me that I'm tree-hugging Liberal. But, as it turns out, I lean more towards being a Libertarian.

But, on the brighter side of this mania that I'm knee-deep in, there are a few good points. One being that I'm finally getting that education and maybe one of these days, I'll amount to something. Another is that much like when I worked last fall, I feel like I have a greater purpose these days. Also, when I'm busy and the pistons are firing mentally, writing becomes easier. I actually love having things that I must do that serve as some sort of structure.

Now, so long as I don't start speaking in tongues, I'll be good to go.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Introduction to Back to School...or Just Listen to Me Cry

I can't believe it's been nearly two months since I last popped in here to rant, rave, lament, or enlighten. Okay, so that last one might be a stretch. But, time flies when you're in the midst of losing your mind due to summer vacation.

As I've said for years, the summer went by way too fast...but, there were some really, really long days. This school year finds me the parent of a high school sophomore and a freshman in college. It also finds me a freshman in college myself.

Yes, that's right. I decided, against my better judgement, that it was time for me to get an education. "School starts in two months," "School starts in one month," "School starts in two weeks," has becomes "School starts TODAY."

Three of my classes - Intro to Gov't, Basic Algebra, and English Comp - are online classes. The fourth is Microcomputers, which I'm taking nearby at a satellite office for the community college.

Yesterday, I got a few introductory emails. One of which was the Pol 101 class. Since I had my book, and an outline of the first assignment, I decided I'd start reading. There are a couple observations I made when I opened the textbook and began reading:

1. I'm going to need some reading glasses, I suspect. I don't recall the print being so small in the last textbook that I had my hands on. 26 pages in this book was equivalent to 60 pages in a novel, and not nearly as entertaining.

2. I don't know beans from applesauce about politics or the government. I mean, I know a thing or two, but my knowledge or desire to know about things political ranks right up there with my desire to give birth again.

3. My husband might not be a whole lot of help to me for this class. I called him into the bedroom to ask a question. He stood outside the door when I said, "I got a question." He looked at me and said, "O'bama. He's the president. First name, Barack." The second time I asked a question, he walked to the door and said, "That's Princess Pelosi. The Speaker of the House. Be sure to call her that. That'll get you some extra credit."

4. I know full well where my kids were coming from when they'd hide under the dining room table during homework time crying, "I can't do it. I don't get it. I don't understand. You're confusing me. I'm never going to school again. I hate this!"

I seriously don't know where to start. I'm doing my best to figure out how to organize and keep track of what is due when, and what kind of schedule I need to keep in order to get everything accomplished on a timely basis. Part of me wants to think that the online route might not have been the best decision this first semester, but here I am, and with enrollment up 30%, there are no other options but to continue the courseload for which I'm signed up.

Strangely enough, the class that scares me the most is the English Comp class. I looked over the syllabus. In three weeks, I have to write some sort of Explanatory paper. I have to interview someone who is in the field that I want to go into. Wait...they expect me to know what I want to do? I haven't even made up my mind. While I'm leaning towards Psychology, I haven't fully decided. The idea is to do something I might enjoy while also earning a bit of cash in the process.

I was also shocked that rough drafts are to be saved on your hard drive, available to be uploaded to the Professor if requested. Rough drafts? I haven't written a rough draft, even of a column, for at least 8 years. But, I keep telling myself, it's one short semester, and I can likely pull this off even though I only have a vague memory of quoting resources and researching to write a paper.

Interestingly, it wasn't hard to see the "personality" of the teacher in each of those emails about the classes. I'd go so far to say that one of them doesn't enjoy his job or his life very much. Another seems quite personable and eager to teach. The third, I'm guessing, enjoys the powertrip associated with dealing out grades, which I'd guess never are higher than a B+ just based on the principle of it all.

I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm terrified about getting good grades and being able to handle the responsibilities of a family and schoolwork. Though, I do know that plenty of people do it on a daily basis and even manage to hold down a full-time job while going back to school. I keep reminding myself that in four years, I'll be 44 regardless of whether I pursue a degree or not.

Today, I'm crossing my fingers that the rest of my books arrive. If not, I guess it's me and democracy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Run, Run Away

About a million years ago, I graduated high school. I turned my tassel with the class of 1987 after crossing the stage and receiving my diploma, my passport to the rest of my life. While I said I wouldn't cry, I did. I cried because I was excited. I cried because I realized a chapter of my life finished, the big world outside the halls of my small school awaited. I knew I'd miss my friends. My emotions were mixed.

I'd changed my mind about a bazillion times about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Briefly, the desire to be a pom-pom girl was my goal. Okay, so I was seven years old, and pom-poms were hard to come by. If I were a cheerleader by profession, I'd get pom-poms because my parents, and even Santa, weren't budging on my request.

Then through the years, I thought about being a lawyer. I seemed to have a natural talent for debate and quick rebuttal. When I announced this career choice, my dad looked a bit overwhelmed over the prospect of many years of schooling.

I decided, well, if finances are an issue, I'll be a beautician. That idea was nixed by my Dad and his wife at the time. "You're too smart to cut hair," they told me.

Back to the drawing board. For a couple months, I entertained the idea of being an interior decorator. It looked like a fun job. I didn't know squat about color schemes, but what the heck. I could give it a go.

One silly idea led to another, and I finally settled on Journalism. I took my SAT and submitted college applications. When my school of choice, Indiana University, accepted me with no problem, I could not have been happier.

You see, I had this idea that the farther away I went, the better off I would be. My teen years were comprised of having my confidence and self-esteem whittled down by the step-mom my dad was married to. She was a horrible woman, but that story is best saved for another time.

I'd never been away from home, save the week I spent at a Journalism camp at a college 45 minutes from home. Even then, a boy from my school was there at the same time. Indiana University was 3 1/2 hours away, and really the farthest away I could go without paying for a private college. I was running away under the guise of going to college.

Two weeks before I left for college, my step-mom cornered me and said, "I hope you have the money to pay because we aren't." Well, that was an interesting turn of events. Not surprising, but interesting. For four years, I stayed captive in that home (I use that term lightly) because of the promise of an education. "If you move in with your mom, we aren't paying. If you stay here, get good grades, you can go to college."

I'd been deceived. It was a blow that knocked the air right out of me. I didn't know what to do.

Financial aid was out because I didn't qualify for anything but a $400 grant. No government loans because the family contribution was everything but that $400. I borrowed a couple thousand from my grandma, which was only enough to pay for the first semester. For all intents and purposes, I was screwed. Royally.

Essentially, I accepted my defeat before I ever left for I.U. My step-mom managed to cause me distress from 200 miles away. When I didn't receive my weekly spending money of $20 that Dad had allotted me, she'd say she sent it and I was lying. I tried finding a part-time job on or off campus, but since I had no job experience (thanks to constant sabotage in earlier years by the step-mom), I wasn't even called for an interview. I didn't even have money for shampoo or soap, much less to hang out with anyone in my dorm.

I felt helpless. I was terribly homesick. It didn't help that the girl next door to me smoked pot in her room on an almost nightly basis. The smoke wafted through the phone box we shared. "Shh," she'd say through the box. "Don't tell, please." Of course, I wouldn't tell, and in fact, I had no clue what the smell of burning tires was until my roommate clued me in when she stuck her head between the rooms and inhaled deeply hoping to catch a "contact buzz."

My roommate, she was a darling girl, I must say. She and her best friend would come in at about 2 on most mornings, drunk and laughing. I was a little less than amused when she'd fall out of her top bunk and attempt to crawl into bed with me on the lower bunk. I had classes every day at 8 a.m. It made for a long day with little sleep.

I couldn't handle another week of it, so I dropped out at six weeks. I was miserable, overwhelmed, defeated, and just wanted to go home. Though, I had no real home to go home to. In the meantime, all of my things had been deposited into a closet and I didn't have a room anymore at my dad's house.

I went to my mom's, got a job, got an apartment, and the rest is history.

Maybe I could have figured something out. Maybe I could have found help if I would have known who to turn to for it. It wasn't like I had the internet at my fingertips to surf to see what my options were. I didn't know the options. I didn't know where to turn for the answers. I tucked tail and ran for the hills.

After 22 years, I've decided once again it's time to give this college thing a go. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was terrified. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Though, I'm going to focus on the general education classes that I'd have to take despite my choice of a major.

I'll not feign confidence and say I know I can do this. I don't expect it to be easy. Like I was at 18, I'm certainly in need of some guidance and good advice. There's little solace in being told, "If I can do it, you can do it," by those my age who have returned to school. When I glance over classes and descriptions, reading what is expected of the student, I want to run away, forget all about it, and look for a really good excuse like, "I'm too old for this."

The "too old" excuse is the best I can come up with right now. I've used the "the kids are young" and "I don't think I can get financial aid." Well, as it turns out, the kids are no longer young. My oldest will be attending the same college as I. I was able to get a chunk of financial aid in a government loan because I'm a displaced worker after being laid off.

I know I'm not too old. So, now, it's up to me to decide I can and will do this, even though I don't have the slightest clue what I'm getting myself into. No excuses. No running away. Not this time.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Facebooking 101

I recently had a chance to catch up with an old friend via a phone call. We'd ran into each other again on Facebook, and I was so happy to talk to him. We got to talking about Facebook, and the things that drive us nuts.

He told me about a time he'd been deleted by a friend. It was rather a humorous story. His main offense was that he posted a quiz result. This offended a friend of his, and she zapped him like a bug. Over a Facebook quiz! As if they're accurate. Most are probably written by some bored 13 year old girl and her gaggle of friends. Check the grammar and spelling in the results sometime. See? It's not like a team of scientists and psychologists have carefully constructed the quizzes and when they say you're crazy, you damn well better listen.

It's just a Facebook quiz.

Really, I had to laugh because I, too, have deleted people who weren't close friends per se because they annoyed me. Probably those who know me best would pose the question right now, "What doesn't annoy you?" Good question, but there are things that bother me about these social networking sites.

I had a Myspace account for a good long while, and the thing that struck me the most about it is that Myspace could make adults carry-on like they were 14 years old. "You moved me from your top four friends, so I moved you out of my top friends." "Why aren't I your top friend anymore?"

I saw, and was involved, in my fairshare of Myspace wars. I finally deleted it after reaching the conclusion that Facebook didn't cultivate a playground mentality. At least not with the notion that one has the ability to tell the world who they like best on their friend list. And don't even think about randomizing your friends because that'll likely strike a nerve with the person who used to be your number three. I have to say, I don't miss Myspace at all.

That's not to say that Facebook doesn't bring its own set of annoyances. I've gotten the distinct impression that the biggest Facebook crime involves the status update. I'm not the only one who feel like I don't need a play-by-play of your trip to work. I've seen others lament that after 15 status updates in one hour's time, they've clicked the "X" beside someone's name.

This would be one example:

7:42 - I'm off to work. I'm running late.

7:45 - Stuck in traffic, running even more late for work.

7:48 - I was nearly t-boned at the stoplight. (I can't imagine why if you're sending updates and not paying attention while driving.)

7:51 - I'm going to need to have my brakes checked soon. I will do that after work.

7:59 - I'm running into work from the parking lot so I won't be late.

8:01 - I just dumped a hot cup of coffee in my lap. I think I have third degree burns on unmentionable parts. I'm off to the ER.

Really, I could have waited to read something like, "I was running late for work, got stuck in traffic, nearly died when I was t-boned, and now, after spilling coffee in my lap, I'm going to the ER because I see blisters on my hoo-hah."

It seems the status update is there to inform, enlighten, entertain, maybe offer a public service announcement. Perhaps, they are a good way to start a rousing conversation with your peers. I'm partial to the witty, sarcastic, and sometimes even cryptic updates.

I'm not partial, however, to the ones that turn into church sermons.

I don't know, maybe I'm missing something here, and God has decided to use the forum that is Facebook to preach to the masses. The pulpit, perhaps, has been replaced by a keyboard. I don't begrudge anyone their faith. I'm happy you have faith in something. That's a-okay with me. I know plenty of people who go to church on Sunday and for whatever reason don't make every other status update about thanking Jesus.

I understand if you want to add a little update after nearly being t-boned that you are thanking God that you were not. I'm only slightly disturbed by the fact that you don't have anything else to say unless you're collecting the jewels to throw at the feet of God when you witness in the end. Again, more power to you if you love church. But the thing is, if I want a sermon, I'll go to or to an actual church...that's the building with the steeple, right?

Another status update that annoys me is the "gloom and doom, whining, my life sucks" posting. It's like catching an ongoing episode of "Hee-Haw," with a loop of the whole "if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all."

I'm sorry if you're life sucks. Sometimes, mine sucks, too. I'd hope if someone thought Debbie Downer had taken over my keyboard, they'd give me a head's up about it.

I remember back in my chatroom days, there was one chick who didn't go into the chatroom unless she had something to complain about. She couldn't help but take pride in letting everyone know that her life was far worse than anyone else's. I think in one month, her dog died, her teenage daughter got pregnant, she had to have a boil lanced, she found out she had chronic fatigue syndrome, her ulcer was acting up, she lost her favorite ring, and she had a hangnail.

One other type of person I don't get is the "friend collector." They are sort of like "soul collector," but not quite all burning in hell for an eternity. I once received a friend request from someone who was a year or so behind me in high school. I don't recall really ever having a conversation with the person. That might have mattered when we roamed the halls of education. But now, I don't care if I never uttered a peep to you back in the day. If you're funny, nice, and somehow enrich my life, I'll happily add you.

That is if you actually talk to me. When I clicked add, and went to this person's page, I realized she'd added every person listed under our high school. I guess there was a race I wasn't aware of to see how many people from one institution you could add. The concept was very strange to me. Was there an award for having the most friends that I didn't know about?

I know there's a Facebook option to hide the person's feed on the main page. I've done that. I've hid people who rub my mind sore and make me want to tell them to shut up. It's funny, though, that I would be friends with the person to begin with. I don't necessarily want to hurt someone's feelings by deleting them. I also don't want to to reach the point that I've had all I can stand, and I can't take it no more, and I'm wishing I could reach through the monitor and strangle them.

Sure, I hid them, but I still knew they were there. Like a glutton for punishment, I would occasionally click on the option to show hidden posts. Finally, I had to do some weeding because the temptation was too great.

Yeah, Facebook is a great way to stay in touch, squander some time, and seek out some long as you don't annoy your friends and acquaintances to the point of someone clicking the "X."

Motherhood Might Be Deadly

(A friend on Facebook suggested we stop focusing on the bad things that can kill us like cancer, heart problems, environmental hazards, and take a look at the fact our children might do us in...I concur. This is an older column.)

I always had this sneaking suspicion that my children were trying to kill me.  There have been plenty of incidents in my nearly 16 years of parenting to back up this theory, too. In retrospect, they’ve been at it all along.

The first inkling was pregnancy and childbirth.  The nausea and heartburn, plus over 24 hours of natural childbirth (compounded with back labor, and my friend Pitocin to speed things along the second time), was enough to make me wish for the relief that death would bring. I wasn’t sure I would survive bringing them into this world. That should have been the first clue.

Then they started doing things like playing in the dog's water, creating a small lake on the kitchen floor, to see if they could mangle, dismember, spindle, and mutilate me when I careened across the floor.  They’ve spilled shampoo in the bathtub that left me slipping and taking down the shower curtain when I grabbed something to hold onto.

There was the assault by a toddler with a frozen 2 1/2 lb. chocolate Easter bunny that left a bruise on my shoulder that turned every color of a jellybean before it dissipated. I've had my feet ran over, and skin peeled from my heels with shopping carts to the point that I've hobbled out of the grocery when they were just trying to help me out by pushing the cart. 

Speaking of feet, I've had a broken toe from being stomped.  The last time my youngest stepped on my toe, which felt more like he was prying off my toenail with a pair of vice grips, it was suggested I give up wearing flip-flops and wear "real" shoes. 
I've been hit in the head by footballs, baseballs, matchbox cars, shoes (while I was driving, nonetheless), and dirty underwear.  I've been ran into by a child on a four-wheeler.  I've gone for the ride of my life in a go-kart being driven by a child.

Every time I open the freezer after one of them has rummaged around looking for something to eat, which is no less than 17 times a day, I have to be ready to duck or catch things.  It reminds a bit of my high school days when my locker got stacked.  I was seeing stars one day after being attacked by a very large package of frozen chicken breasts.  A rump roast has also assaulted me.

I've had bruises, burns, knots, and scratches.  That's only the physical stuff, too.  They've taken years off my life, no doubt, and caused all sorts of mental anguish worrying about them.  I guess it could be considered physical, too, because undoubtedly the white hairs that continue to crop up are probably caused from excessive worry and concern. 

It's a mission they continue to this very day.  The proof being when I opened the fridge this morning, and before I could even react, a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce took flight.  An uncapped bottle, might I add.  The moment couldn't have been choreographed better if special effects were used. 

The bottle landed on the top of my foot, the impact causing hot sauce to shoot geyser-like, which landed on my face and in my eye.  Oh, and down my leg and all over my foot, too.  Let me share a fact that most probably would never give much thought sauce, eyeballs, and contact lenses do not mix.  Also, skin that is allowed to have prolonged contact with hot sauce (say five minutes or so while one is madly flushing her eye with water and cleaning off a contact) tends to get a little inflamed and red.  A bit reminiscent of a chemical burn. 

I don't know what happened to the lid to the hot sauce.  No idea, but when I can see again, I might look for it.  For now, it remains a mystery, much like why my children have the urge to off their mother.  Maybe next year for Mother's Day, I'll ask for some goggles, steel-toed boots, knee and shin guards, and a helmet. 


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Year of the Mikes

There must have been a secret alliance of boys named Mike who set out to pick on girls named Kelly in first grade. Every time I turned around, one of them was poking, pushing, or shoving me. By the end of first grade, they were everywhere taunting me. I didn’t want them near me on the playground or in line; it became obvious they enjoyed annoying me.

It all started on the playground. I was minding my own business when I felt a swift push on my back that nearly sent me flying out of the swing. A boy named Mike Brown delivered the shove. He sported a skin graft on his cheek from being burned on an iron, and if it hadn’t been for that element of intrigue, I doubt I would have noticed him at all before that day.

On a swing, I was happy to keep my feet near the ground. I had no desire to go high and less desire to have some boy push me. Mike pushed mightily, making me scream like a banshee. When I told him to stop, he only pushed harder.

“Miss Reinhart,” I yelled, “Mike is pussssshing meeeee.”

Obviously, she mistook my screams of “Oh God please help me, he’s going to kill me,” to be those of a child who was elated at having such a great friend.

“Well,” she yelled from across the playground from where the teachers stood when they were on duty, “Isn’t that nice of him?”

It wasn’t nice. It wasn’t nice at all. I screamed some more at her, and waved one arm while I held on like crazy with the other, and she smiled and waved back at me.

It was hopeless, I thought as I tightened my grip and expected death when I did a loopty-loop over the top bar of the swingset. I knew he enjoyed every minute of me screaming like a girl. I wanted to get off that swing and knock his block off. Better yet, I wanted to grab a hold of that graft and rip it right off his face. With tears in my eyes, as the teacher raised her hand to let us know recess time was over, the swing came to stop.

“Next recess it’s my turn for you to push me,” he said.

It wasn’t going to happen in my estimation. I hadn’t asked for a “turn,” especially from not some stinky ole boy.

“You have to,” he told me.

“Oh no, I don’t. I didn’t ask YOU to push ME,” I muttered while we waited in line to enter the school, boys on the right, and girls on the left.

“Yes, you do. I’m telling if you don’t. I pushed you, so you’ve got to push me.”

I was going to push him alright. I had never been overtaken by the urge to punch somebody who I was not related to at that moment. Sure, I’d slugged my brother a good one, but never anyone else.

Then something happened that night. For some reason, he got to spend the night with the teacher. His mom was sick, or in jail. I didn’t know, and I didn’t really care too much about the specifics.

Instead, I wondered if she made him learn at her house. Did she have a huge teddy bear like the one that set in our classroom in the corner that we used during story time? Did she read him a bedtime story? The teacher certainly was one of the best grown-up readers I’d ever heard.
I was envious. I wanted something to happen to me. I wanted my chance to spend the night at the teacher’s house. I wondered what she would make me for dinner. Maybe she would invite me over on a whim to spend the night since she’d let Mike.

He bragged incessantly the next day about staying with the teacher. She had even packed him a lunch to eat the next day. I wasn’t allowed to pack, which made it sting even more.

Every time I turned around, there was a Mike just ready to cause me stress. Typically if you shared a name with another classmate, you were referred to by your name and the first initial of your last name. Like Kathy R. and Kathy L. There was a small glitch with this because both of Mikes had last names that started with B.

Mike Brown and Mike Bay, they were called. It worked well with me because they deserved to get the last name if I had any business with them. They both took great pleasure in tormenting me to near tears.

While Mike Brown stuck to the playground, Mike Bay took over while we were in line or in the classroom.

He would knock over all the other kids just to get behind me in line. Since we weren’t allowed to tattletale on those who butted in line, I was stuck.

Standing behind me, he would pull my hair and pinch me. When I would turn around telling him to stop, he would quote the TV commercial for garbage bags, “Don’t get mad, get glad!”

He would cackle like it was the funniest thing he ever heard. It wasn’t funny, and it only made me madder. I was anything but “glad” when he crept up behind me. I wanted to kick him in the shin.

I told the teacher, “Mike won’t stop touching my hair.”

He lied. He lied like the stinky dog that he was.

He said, “Her butterfly was falling out. I put it back.”

“What a nice boy you are. Kelly, thank him for fixing your barrette.”

I was going to thank him all right, and I hoped he’d be glad that when somebody the urge overtook me to kick him in the shin and not in the boy parts.

Put Him in the P

Bobbie was a rough and tough girl who was in Special Ed. She didn’t mind being called retarded, either. In fact, I think she was happy with the attention that it garnered her. If the Special Ed class had a president, it was Bobbie. She didn't have groupies so much as she had unwilling draftees in her army. She scared me.

You could always hear Bobbie coming. She had a leg brace, and that foot was fitted with a specially made shoe that was attached to the brace. One of her legs was longer then the other, so when she walked it sounded like a herd of cattle moving in. She was also capable of stealth-mode, which I never really figured out.

If that wasn’t enough to announce that she was coming, she breathed loudly, and oftentimes slurped large amounts of slobber. I don’t know how old she was, and we often speculated that she had to be as old as the teachers.

And boy, was she ever mean and bossy. I guess when you had physical maladies working against you, you had to find a way to stand out in the crowd.

She terrified me something fierce, and it wasn’t because she was handicap and a little mentally off. She scared me because she didn’t hesitate to manhandle us younger kids, and I’m not so sure the teachers weren’t a little scared of her, too. Heck, she was almost as big and bossy as they were, and not nearly as nice.

Part of the time it was hard to understand what she was saying, and she preyed on the weakest of the herd. If you didn’t run fast enough, she’d grab you and pull you to the stage area in the gymnasium. Once in Bobbie’s clutches, you had to do her bidding. Employed by her, it was useless to try to get a teacher’s attention. They let her do what she wanted.

Usually her was request was to go get a boy, a certain boy, and bring him to her. I don’t know what she planned on doing with them, but I think she secretly enjoyed making us all come close to peeing our pants. Of course, boys were rascally, quick and sly, and to catch one meant getting the help of your friends.

One day, Bobbie got me. I couldn’t understand for nothing when she told me to go get Brad and put him in the pee. She reminded me of a cartoon pirate when she spoke. She was only missing a parrot and an eye patch. It would have been the perfect Halloween costume for her.

“Put him in the pee?” I asked. “What pee?”

“Put ‘em in da pee,” she slurred grabbing me harder by the arm. The teachers were just a few feet away, engrossed in talking about Ash Wednesday like it was something naughty.

“What pee?” Boy, I was getting nervous because her grip was like death on my arm.

“The P in the gym. The P over there,” she sputtered.

Except it didn’t sound like this at all. She rattled and sort of choked on her own spit, and she didn’t furnish towels with her showers.

She grabbed me by the neck of my dress, and did her Hunchback of Notre Dame walk over to the center of the gym. She pulled my collar tighter in her clutch until I thought I’d pass out from lack of getting air.

“I said, put him in the P,” and she pointed to the center of the gym floor. She didn’t mean pee, but the P in the PG, which stood for Poplar Grove. Not the G. Not in the middle of the P and the G, but she wanted Brad put precisely in the P. I got it, and it had nothing to do with toilets.

I had my orders. As luck would have it, recess had just started, so I would have to do as she wished. It never occurred to me that I might run away from her. And besides that, she might have been in Special Ed, but she didn’t forget when someone didn’t do what she wanted. She’d get me at the next recess.

Of course, I needed help. Some friends I had because they all suddenly remembered they had to play four square telling me they couldn’t help me. I was on my own. They were going to let me risk potential death on my own.

I scanned the gym, and I knew younger kids wouldn’t be of much help. Brad was tall for a boy, and I think he spent his time out of school just practicing running. He moved like lightning. Maybe this was something that Bobbie found intriguing about him. It could have been his red hair. I don’t know what it was, but she had set her sights on him in the P.

I did the only thing that made me think I stood a chance of living to make it home that day. I found a couple of other girls from the Special Ed class to help me out. If I was going to be bossed around, I was going to do some bossing myself.

“Bobbie wants you in the P,” I told Brad the first time the other girls caught him.

“What pee?” he asked, crinkling up his freckled nose.

“Not that kind of pee. The P in the PG.”

He ran off. Obviously, he wasn’t going to cooperate. The way I saw it, if would step into the P, my job would be complete, and I’d be off the hook. He probably had seen Bobbie in action enough to know things wouldn’t go smoothly for him. If Bobbie was rough with the girls, her special affinity for boys really made her true colors come out.

We still had fifteen minutes of recess left, and I stood on the G waiting for Brad to get tired. Those Special Ed girls didn’t show any signs of slowing down. Occasionally, when they ran past me, I’d attempt to snatch him. Bobbie watched from the sidelines, and after losing patience, she came at us, doing a near gallop, which was always the gait of her choice.

“I shed put’em in da peeh,” she crooned. By this point I guess she’d forgotten it was I who had gotten her assignment, and for this I was grateful.

Brad looked like he might pee his pants in the P. She grabbed him by the back of the neck and said what I assume was, “Boy, I shed git in that P and don’t yous moooove.”

And that’s what he did. He stood in the P, and he didn’t move because every time he did, she charged at him like a bull seeing red. There he stood for the rest of the recess while I silently prayed she would never have me put in the P.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Easily Annoyed & Aggravated

I really hate to pawn my moods off on hormones. I'm an adult. I should be able to control my urges to maim, spindle, and mutilate during various stages of the month. I don't use PMS as an excuse. It may very well be a reason I wish to rip your head off and stuff it into one of your orifices, but I don't use it as an excuse for my behavior.

(Then again, more times than not, I'm more easily annoyed than easily amused. It's part of my charm. I tend to gravitate towards people who have the same no-nonsense/anti-bullcrap approach to life. Either you "get" me or you don't.)

Who knows whether it's estrogen levels or the fact I'm overwhelmed and stressed out with this graduation stuff going on that is causing my angsty aggravation. The bottom line is keep your hands and feet inside the ride lest you lose an appendage. Do not feed the wild animal. Tread lightly. You get the idea.

Yesterday, I found myself on a cleaning roll. It doesn't happen often. It doesn't happen nearly enough. I cleaned the utility room, the oldest's sty, err bedroom, and almost had the kitchen complete (short of cleaning the fridge and mopping the floor).

With graduation this weekend, oldest child decides he has forgotten a few people he'd like to invite to his open house. I had the worst time imaginable designing and then printing these invitations. I stopped when I ran out of ink in the old printer. Yes, the old printer because the new one decided to profess a perpetual paper jam. It's a long, gruelling story ending with me staying up till 1 a.m. and threatening to make lawn art out of either printer. Or really anybody who got in my way.

So, I'm cleaning and annoyed that he suddenly wants me to do something else. I should be used to this. I am a mom, after all. Get me, take me, make's my life.

The ink cartridge printed it's last print, so I sent the child on a mission to get me an ink cartridge refill kit. I proceeded to continue cleaning the cabinet fronts. About this time, my husband came home.

"Where's the child?" he yelled out to me as soon as he came in the door. I was three rooms away. I heard him. I opted not to yell back. I cannot stand being called out to from another room. Get up off your sweet caboose and speak to me in normal tones. Though, I should be used to it by now.

"Hello?" he called out as he neared the kitchen. I don't know if he thought I'd made good on that running off to join the circus threat, but he was still using an outside voice.

"Not talking to me?" he asked.

Ugh. Of course, I was talking to him. I just wasn't yelling to him. He expressed the need for some fix-a-flat, got a hold of the kid, and went to change his clothes.

He entered the edge of the kitchen again in his work shirt, a pair of shorts, and his black, cotton socks. I stress cotton because if they'd been those nylon sort of dress socks, I'd probably be committed somewhere right now.

He just stood there. Looking at me. He put his hands in his pocket. I waited for him to say something as I scrubbed what might have been gorilla glue from a cabinet handle.

"I wouldn't come in here sock-footed," I told him, my contempt growing because he was wearing shorts and black socks. I know it was no fault of his own. He's not a fashion-conscious sort. He really doesn't know any better. He didn't set off to annoy me.

He turned around, acting as though I'd banished him to some far away land. I merely wanted him to know the floor was wet in the areas I'd been scrubbing, and wet socks send him into orbit.

I warmed up some lasagna for him, brought him his plate, and returned to finish scrubbing.

The phone rang various times. The child was asking questions about refill kits and cartridges. Twice, my husband asked, "Who was that?"

He full well knew the child was on a mission. I wasn't talking to some random stranger about HP 57 refill kits and replacement cartridges. It wasn't a poll asking what kind of printer I owned, yet he asked who it was.

Now, this isn't abnormal behavior from that man of mine who I love so much. In fact, it's typical. Most of the time, I'm able to overlook it.

Next, he asked how long the child was going to be gone. Well, let's see. Walmart is a good 20 minute drive. The child sometimes isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to electronic devices. Add the stop at the automotive store, and he was going to be gone at least one hour - if not longer.

"I'm going to have a full flat tire. If I knew he was going to be so long, I would have gone myself," my husband told me in a tone that suggested since I gave birth to the boy, it was likely somehow my doing that he wasn't home with the tire remedy.

I'd like to say my mood has improved today, but I'd be lying. My fingers are various shades of blue, red and yellow, and those colors they make when mixed. I was reminded three times in one hour that one kid has a hair cut appt. at 1:30. The phone has rang no less than ten times since 10 a.m.

"What's going on?" my husband asked, suggesting something was wrong and we were going to play 20 questions.

"Going on with what?"

"I don't know, just wondered what was going on," he said.

"Oh, nothing a little Midol, a vacation, or a fifth of something couldn't take care of," I told him.

Thoughts on Turning the Tassel

A friend of mine said to me, "I can't believe you have a child graduating from high school. How is it possible that we're that old?"

But, yes, it's true. Come Sunday, I'll be the parent of a high school graduate. This brings mixed emotions. For one, I can't believe I'm actually old enough to have an 18 year old child. That doesn't come from an "oh, hell, I'm old" sort of place. It comes from that place that makes me wonder where the years have gone. Wasn't it just the other day that I graduated high school?

I remember my first day as a freshman. I remember my first day of kindergarten. The latter of which my son informed me was downright freaky that anyone 40 years old could remember her first day of school.

It amazes me. 18 1/2 years ago, this newborn baby that was my son was flopped on my chest, and congratulations, it's a boy. I remember the first day he and I were left alone when my husband returned to work after his arrival into this world. I looked at him. He looked at me. "Okay," I said out loud, "Now what?"

It wasn't long until this nagging panic and worry overtook me, and I began to question a lot of things. What if he got sick and I didn't know what to do? Did I even have the first clue about this motherhood business? Would I know what to do and when to do it? The one thing I knew for sure was that he needed me. This realization made me worry about his first day of kindergarten long before he took his first step.

It seems like a week ago Monday that I stood outside with him waiting on the bus that first day. His backpack on his back was nearly bigger than him. I thought he might need a boost to make it up the steps of the bus. Waiting on the bus to bring him home might have been the longest day of my life.

He survived; more importantly, I survived.

Another thing the whole cap and tassel event brings forward is pride. There was never any doubt that he'd graduate. He's not a dumb boy. Prone to putting his all in things that interest him, yes. Dumber than a box of rocks, no. This being a baby, toddler, kid, and teenager - no easy feat.

I'm also proud of myself. This kid rearing thing - not an easy task, either. Letting go and letting a child grow up, even more difficult. There are times I hold my breath, wish I had a prescription for a sedative, and hope for the best.

"Look both ways before you cross the street" has been replaced with "Come to a complete stop and proceed through the intersection only after you're sure nothing is coming."

"Don't eat crayons or bugs" has become "I hope you're smart enough not to get involved in drugs or alcohol."

"Don't talk to strangers" is now "It's great to have a lot of friends and hang out with new people, but if they are doing things you know you shouldn't be doing, be a strong enough individual to remove yourself from the situation."

"Don't jump off the garage roof or run with scissors" is replaced with "Don't drive like a maniac. You don't only risk hurting yourself, but anyone in your car or on the road."

Some of the best advice I was given was not to forget what it was like to be that age. I haven't forgotten. I understand when he tells me it is a little scary. I remember being ready to take on the world. I was ready to grow up and be an adult. In retrospect, I would have heeded the advice to be in no hurry.

I don't know when a parent reaches the point they can say, "I've done what I can for you, now it's your turn to take over." I don't know if I'll ever feel that way entirely. While the apron strings are a tattered mess, thread-bare, and strained from his pulling away and my pulling back, I know that I'll always be mom whether he's 8 days, 8 or 80.

He's no longer that tiny babe that depended on me for everything, but I still look at him and ask myself, "Now what?"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Vegetable Oil, Dog Hair, and Death

For about a week, I'd been looking for the clippers. When I asked around about the whereabouts, I got the following answers:

"I think I saw them on the coffee table," my husband said. Uh, I wasn't looking for the toenail clippers.

"Last time I saw them, they were on the picnic table," the youngest replied. Nope, I wasn't looking for the hedge clippers.

"Leave me alone. I don't have them. Why are you always accusing me of taking things? They aren't in my room," the oldest ranted. Geez, I don't even think he knew which clippers I was requesting, but thanks, nonetheless.

I was looking for the hair clippers. The buzz cutters. I finally found them today while tidying up in the bedroom. I know I'm always threatening to shave my head and dye what's left pink, but I mainly wanted them for the puppy. But, it's always good to know where they are should I take myself up on that threat.

Now, I must say giving a toddler a haircut was easy in comparison. As soon as he heard them, he bolted. I got the leash, attached him, and sat on it. This caused him to flip out. I wasn't getting anywhere, obviously. However, the old dog plopped down and decided he wanted trimmed. The dog is about thirteen years old. He'd never been sheared.

Things were moving right along until the clippers seized up. I opted for vegetable oil to lubricate the blades. Worked good. I retrieved the puppy, which was none too pleased at the prospect of getting a hair cut. I said to myself, "Self, you ought put that lid on the Crisco because that dad-blasted pup is going to flip around and spill it."

But, I didn't listen. I ended up covered in dog hair and vegetable oil. The pup is pretty oily himself, but since he got a bath last night after the youngest decided to take him to the creek, I'm leaving him alone for now. For now, though. He looks like he was attacked by a bunch of hair dressers with A.D.D. and epilepsy. My hat is off to dog groomers.

Since I'm at a loss to transition to the next subject on my mind, I'll just move right along here. The oldest, angsty son, who is graduating from high school next weekend, called me the other evening from work.

"Bill isn't doing so good," he told me.

Bill is one of the residents at the "retirement community," otherwise known as a nursing home, where he works. There's never been a shortage of Bill stories. My son has grown quite attached.

He started working in the kitchen as a dishwasher and was later promoted to a server. The residents aren't allowed to give them tips, but they do give them pieces of candy to show their appreciation. At Christmas time, Bill's wife handed my son a piece of candy and whispered, "Be sure to open that up when no one else is around." She winked at him. He opened the wrapper and there was a five dollar bill folded to resemble a Riesen candy.

Bill was all about football season, and my son shared the stories of making it to semi-state. A once center (the same position my son played), he told stories about his days of football when the helmets didn't serve much purpose for protection and football had actual laces.

My son has always spoken very fondly of Bill and his wife, both in their 90s. His voice cracked when he told me that Bill was moved to continuing care, and wasn't expected to make it through the night. One day, he seemed to be getting along just fine. The next, he was pumped with morphine and having trouble breathing.

"I'm going to go see him before I leave work," my son told me.

I didn't have to tell him he should go see him. I didn't have to instruct that it might be the last chance and the right thing to do. It was his idea, one of which that made me proud. You see, it would be a hard visit for me to make knowing that someone I cared about was slipping away to the afterlife. Especially at the age of 18. He wasn't scared. He wasn't apprehensive. He went to see the man who was like a grandpa to him.

He and another boy he works with spent one hour with Bill and his family. "I don't care what anyone says about you, you're a great guy. You're my best friend," Bill told him. The family thanked him for visiting.

"I'll come see you tomorrow," my son told him before he left the other evening.

I held my breath yesterday around 4 pm when I knew my son would be at work and clocking in. I half expected a frantic phone call letting me know that Bill had passed away. A little after 7, I got a call saying he was going to go see him.

It wasn't good news to report. Bill was slipping in and out of consciousness. The years added up, his body continued to weaken, and things were just shutting down. Even knowing this, it didn't stop my son from visiting. He didn't look for an excuse, like needing to get home. He sat with him for about a half hour. Bill's daughter, probably well into her late 60s, welcomed him into their family.

I searched for the right words to say to my son that might bring him a little comfort. The truth, which we all know, is that people get old and they die. Sometimes, people die an untimely death. It's the path that we all take. I wanted him to know it was perfectly fine to be sad knowing the inevitable is going to happen and Bill will pass away. It's a fact of life. People are born and they die. It never gets any easier, but the older you get, it becomes less of a shock.

"I guess I always thought he'd always be there in the dining room waiting on me to take his order and tell me a story," my son said.

As any parent knows, it's hard to see your children hurting. I had to choke back my own tears as I told my son what a wonderful thing to have made enough of an impact on a man in his later years to tell him that he's his best friend. What an honor to have made a difference in someone's life. Even though he doesn't have to work tonight, my son plans on stopping in to see how Bill is doing.

I'm always amazed at the compassion my son shows for others. When he announced he wanted to be a nurse, I wondered if it were an occupation that he could handle. I figured we'd see what would happen, and I certainly wouldn't discourage him. But now, I'm sure he'll do well and he'll make a fine nurse. One that will hopefully make a difference in many, many lives.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Strangest Spam Scam Yet

I got this email today. Do people actually fall for things like this?

Hello, How are you today, My name is Cabana Tammy I am a consultant gynecologist surgeon and oncologist doctor, I work for different prominent hospital, me and my husband are giving out this little puppy for free (Adoption),This little girl weighs 1.3Lbs at 9 weeks old & should be 3Lbs when full grown only. She is very friendly with children she fit in both Palms of your hands. She is AKC/CERF registered puppy .Adorable and sociable with great Personalities and very good bloodlines. She is vet-checked, up to date on shots and deforming, and is health is guaranteed. Recently checked by a licensed Vet Doctor for heart, knees, skin, correct bite, and eyes. Bottom and straight sides and tender, she is A.K.C and CERF registered and shots are given up to date. She will come along with Travel crate, AKC/CERF Registered Papers, Toys and Food and Birth Certificate, I resided in the state with my husband but after my son's death me and my husband moved to Africa due to our work and we have the puppy right here with us. TheFor free. You have to promise me that you will take good care of her as she will be a New family member, please if you are not going to take good care of the puppy, do not reply but if you are going to take good care of her kindly reply for more details about her. I await your urgent Response.Thanks.Cabana Tammy

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Random Points of Disinterest

1. "April showers bring May flowers." The May flowers damn well better be gorgeous, vibrant, and ever-blooming. Seriously, the rain can stop, or even ease up, anytime now.

2. Facebook. I thought about doing the Facebook thing where you can select five people you'd like to punch in the face. After giving it careful consideration, I think it might be easier to select five people I DON'T have the undying desire to punch right in the ole kisser.

3. The new puppy. He humps everything. A pillow. A blanket. The cat. The dog doesn't stop humping. To add to the humpfest that goes on daily in my household, the old dog (that is about 13 years old, never been neutered or humped anything in his life) has started trying to hump the puppy. This must stop before I lose what is left of my mind. The cat probably would appreciate it, too.

4. My mother-in-law passed away. On Easter Sunday, we get a knock on the door from a Deputy. My first thought was, "What did the youngest do now?" Then I thought, well, maybe they are here because the neighbors complained about me burning sticks in the backyard. When he asked for my husband, I thought oh, holy hell.

The Deputy starts by saying, "I'm sorry I've got some bad news for you."

At this point, I nearly puked on his shoes because our oldest had left about a half hour before this. I thought surely something had happened to my son. That's when we got the news that my husband's mom had died.

For whatever reason, his family couldn't wait to get home to get our phone number to call us. No. They had to call the sheriff's department so I could have the crap scared out of me. The week that followed, including a road trip to NY, was not so enjoyable. But, that's all I'll say about that.

5. People. The next person who asks me to do something for them is going to get added to the list of people I want to sucker punch. Seriously. I realize I don't "work outside the home." This doesn't mean that I sit around eating bon-bons all day, leaving an ass print on the couch cushion.

See, I do this little thing called writing. Now, yes, I do realize that I only currently have the weekly column. This doesn't necessarily mean that I don't work on other projects on occasion. I also have to run around and clean up after these three little pigs I call my two sons and husband.

Let's not forget that I'm running around trying to dissuade dogs trying to hump the cat and each other. I have plenty to keep me busy. Do no assume that I have all the time in the world to do whatever it is you want me to do for you. I'm not here to serve, contrary to poplar belief.

6. Sleep. If I don't get some soon, I see a lot of random points of disinterest I'll have to share.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tales of Sixth Grade Summoning and Such

***Warning...this could probably be offensive to some people. But, hey, the setting is a time when we weren't politically correct. There was no such thing as political correctness. The "Special Ed" class wasn't called "The Resource Room." "Retarded" was used in place of "Mentally Handicapped." ****

Sally and Jane (names changed, of course) were my best friends. They were sisters, seperated by a grade, and their mom was an elder in the little Methodist church in our small town. I was their token heathen. The child they would save. I'd gone to church when I was younger with my grandma, but generally, I didn't attend unless I'd spent the night at Sally and Jane's house.

When they said the Lord's Prayer at a meal, I'd peek at the plaque on the wall because I didn't know it. They dragged me off to retreats, complete with stories about the Rapture - with felt board stories about kids being left to roam the earth alone because they hadn't accepted Jesus. One minute they were walking down the street with their parents, and poof! The next minute no more parents as they'd ascended to heaven. That's what you got when you were a sinner and all.

All they had to do is get me to ask Jesus into my heart, and there'd be one more jewel to toss at Jesus in the end, I suppose. They were good people, and I wasn't opposed to the Biblical teachings I was absorbing. It was a small price to pay for the fun and mayhem Sally, Jane, and I had.

I spent a lot of time at their house after my parents divorced the summer after fourth grade. We'd strip the cushions off the couch to do tumbling in the living room. Sometimes, we'd take a couple rolls of caps and a hammer out to the sidewalk for a make-shift seance. "Devil, if you're here, let us know," Sally would say before striking the red paper and waiting for a bang.

She had the white cat handy to throw at anyone who might get possessed...because as she told us, the devil was afraid of white cats, so all we had to do was toss Felicia into the face of the possessed, and voila! We'd be free once again.

When we grew tired of reading teen magazines like "Tiger Beat" and "Sixteen," we'd hop on our bicycles for a ride around the neighborhood. We were out minding our own business, riding our bikes, when Betsy(name changed) saw us.

Think "Electric Company" and "Hey, you guys," bellowed out in the distance.

Oh shit, it was Betsy. Yes, we said shit because we were in sixth grade and trying our hand at cussing. Plus, it was Indiana, and there wasn't much to do besides ride our bikes, have seances, and practice swearing.

The thing about Betsy was that she was in Special Ed because she was retarded. Physically, she looked somewhat normal, though she was our age and had boobs bigger than most adults we knew. She always looked like she needed to wash her hair. She grunted and laughed a lot, which set me on edge. Sometimes, the noises she made were almost primal, which made me worry what she would do next. I feared she'd hug me; other times, I feared she'd try to kill me. Another thing about her was you couldn't shake her once she latched on for the afternoon.

When her voice rang out behind us, there were two options- run like the wind or stick around for some entertainment. We opted for the former, but would get the latter before the day was over. We cut our ride short and headed back to Sally and Jane's house.

Betsy showed up at the door about ten minutes later, sweating and sucking wind from the four block run after us. Except she didn't really show up at the door. She climbed into the bush outside their kitchen window. We looked up from our snack of cookies and milk and there she was with her face pressed against the glass. Her nose and lips contorted against the glass. We shrieked simultaneously.

Sarah, their mom, went to the door, coaxing Betsy out of the bush. With this, we groaned simultaneously. We knew she was going to invite her in. It was a given.

We watched her suck down a couple cookies and a glass of milk before retiring to the family room. Her milk mustache, complete with cookie crumbs turned my stomach. If the truth be told, she scared me more than she annoyed me.

Sally popped in a VCR tape of "Nightmare Theater" that she recorded on a Saturday night. Scary movies terrified Betsy. We knew this, but again, it was Indiana, and why not watch her cry because she didn't want to watch "The Hand." We had to be nice to her and couldn't tell her to beat it. So, in other words, we made her visit as uncomfortable as possible.

The rage at the time was cinnamon toothpicks. We'd buy them in the little cellophane packages at the drug store, but the store-bought ones lacked a certain something - probably the ability to blister your tongue while delivering the cinnamon flavor. We started making our own by buying cinnamon oil that would render you blind for a day if you happened to touch your eyes after touching a toothpick.

The longer the toothpicks were soaked, the hotter they were. Sally had a batch brewing in the kitchen window going on two days of soaking. Betsy had asked for one more, and Sally wouldn't oblige.

I was lucky to get one, too. While we were friends, she wasn't always overly nice to me, either. I'd spent an afternoon hiding in a closet one day so that Jane's friend Karen wouldn't know that I was there. Sally had given me a cup of grape kool-aid and some candy to snack on during my stay in the closet. It was a long couple hours after it hit my bladder.

One other time, they made me hide in the stairwell behind the closed door so Karen wouldn't know I was there. She didn't like to visit when I was there because she'd end up picked on. It was the pecking order, I guess. At least that time, the cupboard at the bottom of the stairs served as their pantry, so I had plenty of snacks to pass my time.

We savored our cinnamon toothpicks from a previously completed batch when Betsy announced she had to poop. She went to the bathroom, and didn't come back right away. She stood in the kitchen. Busted. Toothpicks that had been in the tiny bottle of fire were missing.

"Betsy, did you take those toothpicks?" Sally asked her.

Betsy merely shook her head no, her lips tightly pressed.

Of course, we knew she had them in her mouth. At least ten of them by best estimation.

"Besty, are you lying? Jesus doesn't like liars," Jane said.

She shook her head no again. So we waited. Betsy's eyes began to water. Drool started trickling out the corners of her mouth. Still she insisted she didn't have the toothpicks as her face turned red. It seemed like a lifetime passed as we watched for something to happen next. Finally, she spit the toothpicks out and ran for the door.

Sarah asked where she went, and we said she had to go home, which was perfectly fine with us. We gathered a few rolls of caps and headed to the sidewalk to see if we could summon Elvis Presley or my dead grandpa.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mr. Sandman? Bring me a dream...and preferably not a nightmare

I suffer, to the best of my ability to give it a name, something I like to call seasonal-can't-sleep-for-nothing syndrome. It's happened every year at the beginning of spring and again just as summer is making its way into fall since I was about 19 years old. Now that I think about it, I don't believe I was afflicted during that time I lived in AZ. Hmm.

I don't know what causes it. The only thing I do know is that it can be maddening. I lie there in bed listening to the night noises, which loosely translates into everyone snoring except for me. Even the new puppy snores. (That's an entire post of its own, so I'll save the puppy chronicles for another rant.)

Even more maddening are the thoughts that tromp around in my grey matter before I finally drift off. It's the perfect time to worry and fixate over the economy, my unemployment, my son graduating high school in May, being 40 (yet another entry for later), and trying to figure out the last name of the girl Connie in middle school who started out with one name, but was adopted by her step-dad, and then she moved away. Oh, and yeah, she was in my group in choir and we did a commercial for peanut butter as our project, and man oh man, what was her last name and whatever happened to her? And don't I have a middle school yearbook around here somewhere? Maybe I should look for that tomorrow and sneak a peek to solve that mystery. But where would it be? It might be in the trunk in the closet. I should really clean that closet. Oh, but there's so many other things I should be doing. I'm so behind on everything. And, man, this economy and recession are scaring me, and the cost of groceries are going up, and wow, so is everything else. Stupid Ethanol driving up costs for farmers to feed their livestock, so even milk is more expensive. And what is her last name?

Is it any wonder I can't sleep?

So, sometimes, I sing in my head. Everyone can be thankful for this because I couldn't carry a tune if it had a handle and was somehow affixed to my body with velcro and bungee straps. I don't know how some of these tunes get in my head, but I suspect it came about when I thought about the trunk and its contents.

Last night, it was this song.

Go ahead and listen and watch. You'll be glad you did. Really.

Okay, not so glad are you?

I didn't know that Ray Stevens sang "Along Came Jones" until I googled it this morning. I expect I heard it by "The Coasters" on one of those compilation albums that I loved so much as a child. Growing up, I had a special fondness for silly songs that told stories.

"And then he grabbed her...and then....he tied her up...and then...a train started coming...and then and then...along came Jones...." It didn't matter what else I tried thinking about, these lyrics kept cropping back up into my head.

One might think I'd dream about being tied to the railroad tracks, but I didn't. Nope. I dreamed that a girl I was friends with in high school was perming my hair. She got bored and decided to stop, leaving me with half a head of perm rollers. I started rolling myself only to discover my hair was dreadlocks and I couldn't roll it around those tiny rods.

Today, I'll shuffle through the day, hoping for some decent sleep tonight...and I just might try to solve the mystery of the girl named Connie between yawns and the undying desire to nap.

Monday, March 16, 2009

You're So Weird

"I can't wait to move out. When I leave, I'm never coming back to this house. Not even to visit. You are so WEIRD. You're overprotective. You're WEIRD," my youngest, soon-to-be 16 year old child lamented in the middle of the front yard, loud enough for half the neighborhood to hear.

He was pissed because he was up before noon on a Saturday. He was pissed that he was asked to do something besides hang out at his friend's house across the street, or sit around playing Halo and texting his girlfriend.

We may as well asked for a couple pints of blood and some vital organs when we had him outside helping to clean up the yard. After a couple months of ice and wind storms, compiled with the fact that the snow flew before the last of the leaves were raked, topped off with every piece of trash in the neighborhood manages to blow into our yard, we had some work to do.

The temps hovered around 50, the sun shined, and my son bitched.

I suppose my feelings might have been hurt by his admission that he wanted to leave and never come back. Perhaps, it should have tugged at my heart and made me sad. It didn't, though. I've been through this before with my other son. When he neared the tender age of 16, he thought I was the devil. I'm sure the only difference two years later is that he no longer "thinks" but "knows" I'm the devil.

"This your first day here?" I asked my son.

"Huh?" he replied, ever so eloquent.

"I'm weird. Are you just figuring this out?"

"Don't talk to me. You're weird," he said, and picked up the rake to continue on with leaf removal.

Seriously, though, it's taken him nearly 16 years to figure out his mother is weird? Was this a new discovery?

I would have loved to know what qualified me as weird in his eyes. I know I'm a bit left of center, off-kelter, out in left field, and don't exactly see things as others do. In fact, my drummer is prone to fits of epilepsy followed by bouts of narcolepsy. My beat is erratic or non-existant.

I watched my son rake as I sat there on the picnic table. More a man than a child these days, I fondly remembered when he thought of me in a different light, when I was mommy and not some weirdo he was forced to live with because of a random arrival into this world in a genetic game of Russian roulette. He was once a little boy who reveled in a game of peek-a-boo, laughed at my funny faces, and curled up beside me on the couch and fell asleep.

I didn't long for those days. I know this is course of motherhood. Babies become toddlers. Toddlers become pre-teens. Pre-teens transform into these monsters known as teenagers. It may be years before my "weirdness" is overlooked.

"I mean it. I'm moving out and never coming back," my son sneered just loud enough for me to hear as my husband rounded the corner of the house, his phone doubling as a mp3 player on his hip.

"We're not going to take it, no we're not going to take it, we're not going to take it anymore...." played out in the silence between my dear child and me.

My husband paused long enough to dance in the front yard to a song that had been an anthem of our youth. I smiled - at the reminder of my own teenage angst, my husband's dancing abilities (or lack thereof), and my son's reaction. I smiled because I'm not the only weird one.

"Oh mannnn, you're both so weird. Ugh. I can't stand it. Stop dancing. Weirdo!"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Oh, Those Crazy Kids

I got an email on Monday afternoon informing me that my youngest child, the freshman, had dozed off during Math class. The teacher noted it was to be expected following the Super Bowl, but I guess he wanted to let me know my child decided to catch forty winks in his classroom.

I asked my child about it, like a good parent is supposed to do. He swears he was sitting up straight and succumbed to sleep against his will. I offered to have him tested for narcolepsy, but he suggested it was probably because he didn't have his coffee that morning.

This is true. I know he didn't because my husband questioned why there was so much cold coffee in the pot later that evening. I hadn't gotten around to emptying the pot and rinsing it out. I didn't have much coffee either because I find by the time I'm off the treadmill, I'm not in the mood for more hot nectar from the gods.

The last couple mornings, the joke has been, "Get up and get your coffee. We can't have you dozing off in math class again today."

When I woke him up this morning, I told him to get up, get showered, and get a cup of Joe. After doing so, he plopped down on the couch and proceeded to flip through the channels, stopping on one of those "Chuckie" movies. You know, the ones where the doll comes to life and goes on killing sprees.

The movies used to scare the beejesus out of the kids when they were younger. Come to think of it, I've always found them slightly unsettling, too. It's a doll, obivously, possessed by some deranged killer (if memory serves). I understand the concept, and I do realize it's just a movie, but I never really got how a doll could possess superhuman powers. My feelings towards the movie ranged from, "Oh, c'mon, how stupid," to "I'm keeping an eye on any and all dolls because you never know when one is going to be inhabited by the spirit of a killer."

I was making my morning rounds, topping off the cat food, freshening the water dish, picking up dirty clothes, and all those other things I do first thing in the morning.

The oldest child never stirs until the last possible moment. He gives himself enough time to shower, get dressed, and start his car before having to hit the road to get to school a few minutes before the bell rings.

I overheard him say to his younger brother, "Great. You're watching Chuckie? Now you're going to have nightmares when you fall asleep in math class this morning."

While I certainly don't appreciate my child falling asleep during school, I definitely appreciate wit.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Walk Like An Egyptian...or anyway you please

For an early birthday present, (I turn 40 on Sunday the 8th), my husband let me get a treadmill a few weeks ago. I ended up taking a few days off last week due to the presence of my children caused by snow days. Yes, again, I know. It's winter. It's supposed to be cold. It's supposed to snow.

The only thing I can say is that the groundhog better do whatever signifies an early spring today and the children better not be missing any more school any time soon because I can't be held accountable for my actions.

Anyway, the treadmill. My husband offered to let me get a tattoo to celebrate my 40th birthday. Tattoos have been a point of contention for a while now. He once told me that tattoos were trashy on a chick. I wanted one a lot more until they became trite. Then I sort of thought, what the hell, why not. But, I met great resistence from him.

Maybe I didn't want a tattoo so much as I didn't appreciate being told what I could or could not do with my body by my husband. Regardless, he did agree to let me get two more holes put into my right earlobe to balance it all out. Since 1987, I've sported two holes in the right and four holes in the left. I don't remember what purpose it served, but I'd never gotten around to either letting holes grow shut or getting additional ones.

Back to the treadmill. Nope, I don't suffer from any attention deficit dis...look, the cat just found a dustbunny to bat about the floor and Barbara Walters is wearing some funky necklaces on "The View"....

I realized today it's a good thing I can't afford a gym membership. It's not because I wouldn't use it, which could be a valid reason not to have one since I tend to get distracted and not follow through on things. It's not because it would take too much time to drive there, work out, drive back, etc. and so forth.

The reason is that I would make a total fool of myself, I fear.

I've always known I don't like working out with an audience. It's mainly because I like to put some music on and dance about doing various moves from workout DVDs and tapes that I've had through the years. One never knows when I'll randomly go from "Sweatin' to the Oldies" to doing a few Tae-bo moves.

The treadmill seems to be no different. The first 60 minutes or so that I'm on it, I truly focus on doing a good work-out. Since I've got stubby legs, and as a rule I don't run unless someone is chasing me with an axe or a knife, I make use of the incline button and don't often go faster than 3.8 mph which is almost speedwalking for me.

But, in those last 20 minutes, I tend to goof off a bit. I still keep the pace up, but I find myself moving my arms around to burn more calories. At one point, I realized that I had quite the "Saturday Night Fever" thing going on with my first fingers pointed and getting a walking groove on.

I try to focus on my posture and not lean forward. I realized that perhaps good form would not make my lower back ache. So, I try to remember to keep my tummy tight and my back straight. Sometimes, I'll raise my arm above my head, and curl my hand in such a way that makes it look like I'm pulling up on a string to pull myself totally standing up straight.

Yes, weird, I know. One could only imagine how weird an onlooker would think I am if I were in the middle of a public gym.

Overall, the treadmill has been quite the learning experience. The first day on it, I tried the option where you can enter your weight, how many calories you'd like to burn, and how much time you'd like to dedicate to the experience. I punched in some numbers and that baby took off at 6.5 mph. I don't think I could move that fast even if someone was coming at me with a machete.

I learned today that it's fun to try to walk like a runway model on the treadmill. However, I wouldn't suggest trying this at excessive speeds. It can be dangerous. The same goes for dislodging a wedgie. If you get one, hit the stop button before trying to dig your drawers out of your nether regions. It's a good idea to try not to look behind you, either. I turned around to check the clock on the range in the kitchen and was nearly propelled the 15' back into the room.

Yes, it's a very good thing I can't afford a gym membership. I don't think I'm up for paying for public humiliation.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Let Me Get My Spoon

Wow, time sure flies when you're in the midst of a winter mental breakdown, or a near facsimile of such. Yes, I'm aware it's been over a month since I blogged. I did, however, finish the story over on the other blog. As soon as I'm sure everyone who wanted to read has read, I'll be pulling it and starting a rewrite.

That loosely translated into, "Take your time people. I'm in no rush to get down to the nitty gritty of rewriting. So, please, read at your leisure even if it takes you six months."

Yeah, I've got to get to the rewrite and I know it's going to be a lot like work.

I can't honestly remember the last time winter was so gee, golly, darn COLD. I realize it's winter. Winter is supposed to be, well, like winter and not like spring. It's been a full-time job keeping the pipes from freezing. When it gets down to -30, things start freezing up. Like my spirit and will to get out of bed in the morning.

We've been fairly lucky thus far. Knock on wood. We had to replace the tub faucet the weekend before last. I guess you can only get about 14 years out of them when you've got hard water and old galvanized pipes as part of your plumbing. Naturally, this would happen when it's 20 below zero. No, it wouldn't happen in spring.

While in the crawlspace hole, my husband inadvertently snapped a pipe. Water proceeded to spray all over. He proceeded to yell at me to sprint to the garage to turn off the pump. Thankfully, he fixed that without too much swearing.

Then in the meantime, an element in the water heater decided to go on strike.

While my husband was on his way to get new elements, I took it upon myself to turn off the breaker to the water heater, hook up a hose to it, and turn off the water in preparation to drain it.

It drained so very, very slowly. He got impatient and decided to go ahead and take out the top element. I was standing about 5' away when I took a full blast of water to the chest. Fun times. Good times. Fun, good times.

There were no leaks and things seemed to be looking up upon completion of the water heater project. That was until we tried to coax some hot water from the kitchen sink. The cold water cooperated, but not so with the hot. It trickled much like the tub faucet had done.

Typically, in the midst of these unplanned projects, my husband gets very frustrated. Which is to say, he suggests burning the house down as a viable option to fix the problem at hand. This time, he only commented, "I hate this house. I really do."

He started clearing the cupboard beneath the sink, grumbling at my collection of coffee cans and canning jars, potting soil, and other crap that resides underneath there.

I was standing there mentally trying to collect myself because I knew this project would be no less than a hundred bucks, conservatively. It was then I noticed a big plastic spoon in the dishdrainer beside the sink.

I picked it up, eyeing the hot water handle. What could it hurt, I thought. I delivered a quick whap of the spoon to the knob. Voila! Water began to flow.

"There. I fixed it for you," I said to my husband and went to sit down after doing my part.

"You know, that's only a temporary fix. There had to be sediment in there plugging it up. It's going to happen again," he said.

He collected his tools and started putting them back into his toolbox to return to his truck. I offered him my spoon.

"Sure you don't want to put this in there? It seems to come in handy for fixing things. You know, me and my spoon. You and your toolbox. There's nothing we couldn't fix,"I told him.

Of course, this is a lot funnier to me because I'm constantly using knives as screwdrivers and my rolling pin as a hammer when I'm forced to improvise. This drives him crazy when he tries to butter some toast with a butter knife with a tip that has been used to pry something open.

At any rate, I've grown weary of winter weather. How many more days until spring?