Saturday, January 30, 2010


"Some kids enter the world smoking a cigar and barking out orders!"

I read that in a book about 16 years ago. I can't remember the book or the author but it had something to do with raising a strong-willed child. I read quite a few books on that subject matter that year and for years after that. See, I had a strong-willed child - my first born. I found out I was pregnant about 1 hour after conception and immediately started wearing maternity clothes. 7 weeks into the pregnancy, my placenta partially detached and remained in that state for about 5 weeks. That was the first run-in I had with this child. Being pregnant for so long left me with little to do but eat. I gained 85 pounds and had legs and ankles the size of a giant cedar.

After about 40 months of gestation, he refused to enter the world in the typical manner and nurses had to twist and pull and I had to contort my body into all kinds of crazy assed positions. After 3 days of some ridiculous labor, he entered the world - smoking a cigar and barking out orders. He weighed only 5 1/2 pounds and my mom was certain he had shrunken head syndrome. But he was healthy and all was good. I sent the doctor back in to look for the other 80 pounds, but he swore I was not harboring any baby elephants and assured me the weight would come off.

We took him home and loved him - he was perfect! Except for that crying. And crying. And crying. And when he wasn't crying, he was eating. He didn't sleep. Refused to sleep. He wanted to eat and when he was done eating he wanted to cry. He couldn't have a normal bowel movement, instead he had a blow out EVERY time - which resulted in a full bath multiple times a day - for all of us and a shitload of laundry. Hell, one time we were holding him on the hood of the car (NO it was not moving) and he shit all over the car - ALL OVER THE CAR. At 3 months, we had to buy 12 oz bottles because 10 oz of formula every 3 hours wasn't enough for him. He got teeth when he was 3 months old and I had him eating Happy Meals at 4 months. And he cried.

At 4 months, he could sit up and it was then that he decided he would also pull himself up and attempt to stand. Not quite yet having the right control over his muscles, he feel frequently. I couldn't take him anywhere buy daycare during that time because he looked like we had beat the crap out of him on a daily basis. At 5 months he could cruise around furniture, so we were certain he would be an early walker. But he wasn't. Instead, he cried. We would hold a toy out for him and coax him to take those steps alone and he would stand there and cry. And cry. And cry some more. A few days after his 1st birthday he finally took those steps and cried with every one of them as he moved toward me.

And he never slept - did I mention that? When he was 2, he had mastered the art of manipulating me and we began what would become the epic battle of the wills. He could cry and throw a tantrum for hours upon end - seriously - 8 hours was the longest one I remember. He wouldn't stay in time-out, so I would have to put myself in time-out to avoid the urge to kill him. As I sat on the bathroom floor, bawling and praying for my horrible thoughts to leave my head, he stood outside the bathroom door - kicking it and hitting it and crying. I'd tell him to do something - he'd do the opposite. I tried reverse psychology on him, he was on to my game and still refused to comply with my pleas.

When he was 3, his dad took his training wheels off his bike at his request, and set out to teach his son to ride a bike. He was full of fatherly excitement and anticipation. He stood next to him and explained how to balance the bike and gave him a some other unnecessary instructions. The cigar-smoking, order-barking child demanded, "Let Go NOW" - and when his dad let go, that kid rode off on his bike - with no training wheels and no assistance at the age of 3. His dad's ego was obviously deflated.

We battled over everything. I bought things and put them in the house, he wrote his name on them with permanent marker. I bought a new car, he wrote his name in black marker on the seat where he sat. He wrote his name on the cabinet doors, the furnace registers, the light switches - it was ALL HIS. I'd wash his mouth out with soap, he'd tell me he loved the taste of soap and would ask for more. I'd put Tabasco on his tongue instead, he'd grab the bottle and chug it. I'd spank him and he'd laugh. I swore to God that if I beat him to a bloody pulp, that on his last dying breath he would get the last word in.

I never gave up on him - I was determined to stay with him and figure him out. He was a complete enigma to me. I read all those books on how to deal with him. I cried to everyone I knew - looking for advice. I hauled him in and out of therapy for a while. "He's broken! Fix him!" I'd follow the guidance step by step and word for word and get the exact opposite results. He was smarter than me. That was the problem. But I still stayed with him, loving him, trying to understand him and fix him and arguing with him every single day of our lives.

When he was a sophomore in high school, I suggested he take Debate. He looked at me like I was a moron and asked, "Why?" I don't know son - you seem to like to argue - I think you could be a good debater. He took it - but as usual, not wanting to admit that I might be right - he claimed he hated it and wasn't good at it. He's 17 now and I still don't understand him - but I love him and I stand next to him and support him. We don't argue every hour of every day anymore, but that's likely because I've just thrown in the towel. When we do argue, it's as ugly and loud as it always was. But then we hug and profess our love for one another.

The other day he walked in and announced, "I think I'll be a Lawyer"

At last - he made sense to me.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The REAL value of a Good Wardrobe

I wasn't quite 30 yet. I had two young children, one of whom was just 3 months old. I was married to the first husband, we'd just bought our first home and I'd just started a new job - Company B. I've mentioned Company A, I've mentioned Company B - there was actually another job in between those two - but I'll figure out how to reference that job if I ever think of anything interesting to say about it.

Back to Company B. Like I said, I wasn't quite 30 yet, I'd been with (crap - already faced with the dilemma) Company R for a few years, but it was a temporary placement with a government agency - part of the epic Savings & Loan bailout of the late 80's/early 90's. Your children or grandchildren will likely read about it one day in their US History books - which is the SOLE reason I ever pursued a placement with Company R to begin with - to be a part of history! Anyway - Back to Company B. Company R was dissolving and we were all going to lose our jobs, so the hunt was on. I found an ad in the newspaper (of all places - do they even make those anymore?) - it seemed a tad over my head and experience level - but I'd always been a master bullshitter and the gubment had put me through these incredibly amazing outplacement classes in which I learned how to delve into my inner skill set and polished my ability to translate that skill set into something desirable and marketable. So I set my mind out to GET THAT JOB!!! I still have the resume I used for that effort - and hell, to this day, I'm impressed with myself when I read it! Obviously, upon receiving my resume, they called and begged me to come in for an interview.

I walked in with my brand-new suit - the navy/forest green suit with a military style jacket - you know - a straight collar type of jacket - I had on my 4" $100 black pumps and I marched right into that interview and kicked its ass. I was good! I knew all the answers. I was intelligent, I was composed, I was mature - I was smooth as buttah! I felt on top of the world after that interview. As I walked out of the interviewer's office, I passed the long wall of offices where the other executives held their post. They were ALL men. They all looked up over their newspapers, magazines or computer screens and watched as I walked by. It seemed intimidating to me - that culture of staunch, conservative men but I made a mental note.

When they called me back for a second interview (which I knew they would), I wore a different suit. A conservative navy suit, with a belted jacket, that when cinched just right would give the illusion that I actually had some curves; and a long straight, fitted skirt, with a slit up the left leg clear up to there. See, I'd catalogued that mental note about those men, sitting in their offices all poised and ready to show off their importance and I, being from the smarter gender, knew exactly how to get them where I wanted them. They hired me on the spot that day. For a long time after that, my mom and I would joke - about that suit - namely the skirt. I mean, I was smart, I had the brains to do the job, I just needed to get those men to realize that. So I played on all my assets that day - wouldn't you?

On the first day I reported to work, I was introduced to my "staff". There I stood, in a room full of women, some of whom had been there since the building was erected, in all my under thirtyness and was introduced as their new boss. Hmmm - the didn't look all too happy. They glared at me. I'd worn "the skirt" again and I knew immediately my game wasn't going to fly with them. After introducing me, my boss turned and walked away, leaving me to the wolves. And as soon the wolves knew for certain he was out of range, they moved in on me. "Where did you work before? Do you have kids? Did you go to college? How many kids do you have? You don't look like you just had a baby 3 months ago. Have you ever worked at a company like Company B before?" They really gave it to me. For the next three days they gave it to me. Testing me every step of the way - taking advantage of my naivety and vulnerability. They, being stronger in numbers than me alone, were quickly overpowering me.

That night, I went home and I cried. I bawled actually. Questioning what I was doing, what had I done? I was in over my head obviously. Perhaps I'd over-embellished that resume. Perhaps I shouldn't have stretched the truth until it was only held by one thread of honesty. And after I bawled and beat myself up and had duly convinced myself I was a complete dumbass and loser, I dried my tears. I stood up, I walked into my room to prepare my clothes for the next day and when the first husband asked me what I was doing, I answered him. "I am getting ready for work tomorrow. I'm going in there and I'm taking charge. This is MY job, I f'n earned it, I deserve it and I can do. I will not let those mean bitches ruin this opportunity."

And so I did. And I did eventually win them over because they figured out that I could either be their greatest ally or their worst nightmare. I didn't take their shit. But I did get them everything they had ever wanted for their department - by wearing the right clothes and getting those fools in the fancy offices along the long wall to eat out of the palm of my hand - all through the power of a well thought-out wardrobe. And they came to know that if I showed up in the "yummy" dress, they were about to get new chairs!

Don't be reading into anything here and thinking that I had clandestine affairs with these foolish men - I would never prostitute myself out for chairs or carpet or decent desks. It wasn't necessary anyway. Think of me as you want - I don't care - But it is when I first learned the power of a smart woman!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Change Brings Hope

2005 - What an amazing year. It was a year filled with change, taking new paths and it was absolutely laden with hope.

Early that year, my husband and I had determined we were going to sell our doll house and move to some place a tad bigger - you know, a place that could hold knick knacks and furniture other than what we had stolen from Daughter #1's Barbie mansion. It was time. The doll house was the first house I ever owned. I bought it with the first husband and had been there 10 years, which was 7 years longer than I initially planned. But things change, husbands move on down the road, you get busy trying to fight off the great financial debacle of singledom and next thing you know - you're in the same place 10 years later. Anyway, we set out to find the perfect place and found it! It had POTENTIAL!!! Just a few thousand dollars and some elbow grease and this place would be in tip top shape - POTENTIAL!!! We felt alive! We were filled with promise and hope and we went for it!

About the same time we moved into our forever on our last nerves and threatening to suck the life out of me house, my then-boss was fired. It happens. Ya know when you continually run people down, show obvious outward signs of senility and then start cookin' the books, your ass is gonna get canned. I was appointed to run the company and I while I was scared out of my mind, I was full of hope, promise and I had potential!

My son came back to live with me after being on a 3 or 4 year (I lost count or I've forgotten - I could figure it out, but I don't feel like doin' any figgerin' at the moment) hiatus with his dad. We assured him that with a few bucks and some elbow grease - this house had POTENTIAL! He didn't get on board with the idea and was pretty sure it would never happen. (He's such a pessimist - or maybe he was the only one who was seeing reality as it was).

That was also the year the "Dream Team" came to work at Company X. They were different than the other employees we'd grown accustomed to - they donned crisp white shirts and perfectly creased pants, they had tanned faces and white teeth. I'm not sayin' we had a staff of uglies, I'm just sayin' these folk were prettier than most. They rolled into town in pretty cars and big ol' fat rolodexes - bringing hope and promise - to sell the shit out of the products we offered to the names in their rolodexes and save the company from our otherwise certain demise.

The flagship product built and sold by Company X was also undergoing a major overhaul and gettin' a spiffy new look - people would buy it because it looked GOOD and pretty people were selling it to them.

Change. Hope. Promise. A better life was on its way and I was ready to embrace it and call it my own. BRING IT ON!!!

We rolled up our sleeves and set out to get this house full of potential into perfect shape. We had no furniture, no TV and no cable for 7 months. During that time, we labored, with love, over this house - scrubbing, peeling, painting, building.... day in and day out - we toiled. I went to work at 7 a.m. every day, running the company I had come to love and which had become a part of me. I worked there until 6 p.m., then came home and joined my family in another 6 hours of manual labor. We played hard too during that time. Making our way in our new town, making new friends, making a new life. Laughing hard every day and sleeping only when it seemed absolutely necessary. For 7 long months we labored and moved forward - still seeing the hope. Still feeling the promise. Still living the dream.

In November of that year, 1/3 of the way through our list of planned projects for the house, the money ran out. I was losing my mind trying to run this company that clearly could not be run. The product spiffying project was moving at a backwards pace. The dream team refused to sell the unspiffy legacy product to anyone in their rolodex. We were slapped with the truth and reality of what it means to raise a teenager for the first time. And dammit - we were TIRED. Exhausted. SPENT - physically and emotionally.

We did what any other logical thinking people would do in this situation - I embarked down the path of hiring myself a boss - someone who wanted to deal with the crap every day. And I found one and hired him - a boss that had broader shoulders, bigger balls and a lower voice and who's ego was fed by the bullshit. Then, my husband and I went out and bought a big screen TV, some reclining leather furniture, called the cable company and got connected to 689 stations and we sat down to watch TV.

Eventually the dream team was fired. And now we're raising two teenagers.

I look around this house full of potential to piss me off on a daily basis - it's still only 1/3 of the way done, the money tree has not produced any fruit in nearly 5 years, and I wonder.... where is the dream team now? I wonder where they are? I wonder where they work? I wonder if, hired again, today, what with the product now being all spiffy and such - would they produce different results? I wonder what would have happened if we hadn't bought that TV and sat down to watch it? I wonder what this house would be today if we'd turn off that TV we sat down to watch back then? I wonder.....

I miss the feelings I had in 2005 - hope - promise - full of dreams. Some days I wake up and think - "how the hell did I get here?" or "Who's life is this, anyway?" For 2010, I made but one resolution - stop dreaming big and start facing the day to day reality - THIS is our life - LIVE IT and LOVE IT! I've started making small lists of things to accomplish each week. The small lists are all things that eventually make up the larger list that we haven't seem to accomplish. It seems less overwhelming. Cheaper. Possible. I feel it again - hope - promise - potential!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Can You Drive a Vacuum to School?

Grandma A was an immaculate housekeeper. I'll tell you more about that later, but it's important for you to know that so that you understand my inane desire to also keep an immaculate home. I spent quite a bit of time with her in my younger days, learning the ropes, gettin' the scoop, and seein' how it was done. I try very hard to take what I learned and apply it - but I find it boring, cumbersome and a complete waste of time. To remove the monotony of the necessary evil, I have grown to believe that if I posses the perfect supplies and equipment - the job will be easier - more enjoyable - and hell, if I'm lucky maybe it will take care of itself!!!

And so that is the background to the story I'm about to share with you. Truth be told - I have a thing for vacuum cleaners. Having had to run one every day of my life until I was 18, you'd think I would have grown to despise them - but I don't. I'm addicted to them. About 10 years ago, I bought myself a shop vac for my birthday. It was small enough for me to maneuver and yet powerful enough to suck the bugs out of the window sill in a way that mesmerized me. I was so awed by its power that I cleaned my entire house that day - with my shop vac. There wasn't a piece of dirt that could escape my new found power. A few years later, I got a new husband and he had a BIGGER shop vac - a MAN SIZED shop vac. Said it could hold 55 gallons of shit and dirt. So, being limited on space, he threw my woman-sized shop vac to the curb and replaced in its assigned seat in the garage, the MAN VAC. Well it was just too big for me to even move, let alone actually use in a meaningful way. I had no choice but to stop cleaning.

A few years later, we moved into a new house, and I immediately announced that I would be buying myself a Dyson. I had done all my research on these machines, staying up late at night, watching the info-mercials and gettin' educated on them. I knew them inside and out and I'd seen on TV just how well they worked. I was sold! Now, never mind that the new house has a built in vacuum system (I don't understand how to work it, it looks complicated, what, with it's miles of hoses and odd holes in the wall and then there's that whole where does the shit even go aspect - I refuse to use it). I bought the Dyson. The purple Dyson - special made for pet hair pick up. I loved my Dyson - every person that came to my house to visit, I would drag that Dyson out of its assigned seat, plug it in and instruct them, "Try it - seriously - you've never seen anything quite like it! It's the most amazing machine I've ever owned - worth every penny I paid for it!" Every week my house would be vacuumed by another unsuspecting guest. It was GREAT and I was a GENIUS!

Two years ago, while swillin' back some whiskey on a Sunday (that's how we do it here at Crazyville), the doorbell rang. It was two punks with a slew of facial piercings between them and they wanted to vacuum my floors with their Kirby. Ummm... SURE! Come on in suckers! I had just hosted a family gathering and the floors needed a good cleaning, so knock yourself out and get busy! They cleaned and cleaned the floors - vacuuming and vacuuming - stopping every 15 seconds or so to put a new black felt dirt catcher where the bag would normally go. And each time they paused to change their black felt dirt catcher, they called my name "Ma'am?" WTF do they want NOW? I'm drinking. I'm busy. They're supposed to be CLEANING up this dump. So I'd plod into the room where they were and plaster a smile on face and say, "yes?" "Look at this dirt we collected!" YAY! Zippy for you! You collected dirt - DUH! I told you the place was a tad messy, hence the reason you're in here to begin with. Punks.

This routine went on for quite some time, and the longer they cleaned, the more I indulged in my whiskeyfied refreshment and oddly, I became increasingly impressed with the amount of dirt they were collecting and how amazing this sleek, shiny, classy Kirby seemed to be. "Hey that thing works pretty good!" "Would you like to buy one?" "Uh that'd be a BIG NEGATORY!" "Would you like us to show you how it cleans curtains?" "Absofrickinlutely! My curtains are in dire need of a good cleaning!" So off they went - cleaning the curtains and off I went to get a refill.

"Ma'am?" WTF? WHAT NOW? Certainly they haven't cleaned ALL the curtains in this house. Sure enough they had and you should have SEEN the filth that they collected off of them. "Would you like us to clean your furniture?" "Well, I'd say you better if the place is this damned dirty!" So they did. Then they showed me ALL the pieces it came with - there was the basic machine, a different container for steam cleaning, a sundry of hoses for different purposes, more attachments than I've ever seen in my life and then they told me.... "It has a transmission." A TRANSMISSION? Seriously? So it's like a REAL machine?! For a mere $2,500 it could be mine. Were they kidding? $2,500 for a vacuum? No thanks! I have a Dyson. Oh wait - let's get out your Dyson and compare it side by side to this stallion. So we did - and my God - it picked up dirt the Dyson left behind. I was mortified. I loved my Dyson. Loved it.

For $2,000 it could be mine. I wasn't convinced so I had them steam clean the carpet on the stairs to prove to me that the steam cleaner worked. It appeared to work like a dream - the carpet was spotless. It was amazing! (never mind I already own a very nice Hoover carpet steamer) For $1,800 it could be mine! Still not convinced, I instructed them to clean the kitchen floors - I wanted to see how it performed on hard surfaces and I left them to their cleaning as I went to grab a whiskey for dessert. WHOA! Lookit the kitchen - it looked GREAT! For $1,200 it could be MINE! I went to my husband - looking for him to lay down the law, put his foot down, tell me NO, you know - play bad cop. I could tell I was already smitten with this Cadillac vacuum and had fallen under its spell. I pulled him aside and explained to him all that it could do and how amazing it was, then I broke the news about the cost but buffered the sting by ending with, "but I've always wanted one." He looked me square in the eye and said, "Woman! If you have always wanted one of those then you should HAVE one - I say GET IT!"

A few hours later after signing the paperwork with our bloody fingers and having darned near finished off half a gallon of whiskey - THAR SHE WAS! Our new vacuum. All sleek and contemporary with her silver/grey bag with a geometric design - all shiny and lovely and she came with all her own tools and parts. My husband and I looked at it and admired it- we looked at each other and we giggled, then we embraced and kissed each other - so proud - our new vacuum - she's a beauty!! We did it honey! We bought a Kirby! I've always wanted one! Thank you! You're the BEST husband EVER!!!

The next morning, we plodded down the stairs in our hung over way, and as we entered the kitchen THAR SHE WAS - we stopped dead in our tracks - - WTF? Oh Christ - we bought that damned Kirby - I'd forgotten. Shit. We looked at it with disgust. We looked at each other with disgust. How could this have happened? Why didn't you tell me no? All day we sat on the couch, watching TV with that "thing" sitting there staring back at us - all the while we refused to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Later that evening, our then 15 year old came home and said, "What's that?" We both looked at him and at the same time said, "It's your new car!"


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Got Pens?

I've been with company X for about 13 years now. Maybe it's 12, nobody really knows. Once a month, I go through the personnel records and send a company-wide e-mail thanking employees with hire date anniversaries in that month. This kind, simple act results in a domino effect across the company for about half an hour, with everyone hitting the "reply all" button thanking and congratulating those who are celebrating their anniversary. It's the only recognition of service we offer. There are no pens, paper weights, silver swans or crystal vases, just a series of e-mails. Some months there is no e-mail. It's not because I forgot, it's just because no one was hired in that month - EVER. Well, okay maybe there was someone at one time who was hired in that empty month, but they're no longer employed there and so a thank you for their service really isn't necessary.

I've tackled this 5 minute task every month now for about 7 years. So, assuming that 10 months out of every year there is an anniversary, that's 70 e-mails that I've initiated celebrating and thanking people for their dedication and hard work in helping to making our company a success. No one has ever once asked when my anniversary is. No one has ever once inquired about the date, the year, the month, or the number of years. I know, sad and pathetic, right? Wah!!! Poor me. Poor, poor me. Hell, at my last job, I got a fancy ass writing pen after 2 years of service.

I ran across that pen the other day, along with an etched name plate I received from yet another previous job. They were stored in boxes along with other personal items I'd brought home from those offices upon my departure. I've seen the boxes before, but for some reason I had never been able to go through them and sort the items or dispose of them. Instead, they remained sealed and labeled, "Personal items from Company A" and "Personal Items from Company B"

I went through them this time, though. And when I ran across the luxurious velvet box containing the fancy pen, my heart skipped a beat. "My PEN! I got this from Company B in recognition of two years of service!" I called out to anyone in the house willing to listen, "LOOK AT THE PEN I GOT FROM COMPANY B - THEY LOVED ME!!" I carefully set it aside. I might actually use that pen, I thought. Maybe I'll take it to work with me Monday and when someone notices it and asks about it, I'll tell them I got it from Company B after only TWO years of service - lay a little guilt trip on 'em you know?

When I got to the box labeled "Company A", I immediately saw the beautiful etched name plate - solid glass - so pretty - I felt so important, so special, so grown-up when I got that name plate as a gift from Company A that year. I sat in a cubicle in a rat maze in an office that did not have public access. I never understood the reasoning for the name plate - there were only 5 of us - I'm pretty sure we all knew each other's names, although that one bitch never did act like she liked me, so she probably never knew my name and relied on that name plate to identify me. My fingers traced the etching of my name which was written in cursive, the transition from one letter to the other was smooth and flawless. The only gap in the etching was between the first and last name, and as my finger slid across the smooth glass to the first letter of the last name, it hit me, "hell, that's not even my last name anymore!" And with that - I tossed that fancy schmancy etched name plate right into the garbage box. Then, without another thought, I grabbed that fat gold-plated pen that I'd gotten from Company B and I threw it in the box with the name plate. Then I grabbed both of the larger boxes containing all my other "personal" possessions from those jobs and threw them in the trash pile as well. Gone were the expired Tylenol, echinecea tablets, moldy coffee mugs, business cards, clumpy oatmeal packets, ragged tampons, and all the other little treasures I'd harbored all these years.

And then it hit me - I love certain aspects of my job. I love the luxuries that it affords myself and my family. I love that I've been there since the Ice Age and have reached that point in my tenure where I earn more vacation than can be used in a year and still stay on top of my duties. I love that I'm trusted and valued and can pretty much come and go as I please, because at the end of the day, everyone knows I will get my job done. But mainly, I was thankful they didn't give out service awards, I mean, there are only so many pens a gal can use in a day, right?

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm just that damned interesting

I had no idea I was so fascinating. I had no idea me, on the computer, was so fascinating. No idea that me, sitting in an empty room staring at a wall while curled up in the fetal position was so interesting. But I am interesting on many many different levels.... to my family, anyway.

We have a formal living room, I felt it was a necessity when we bought a new house - "I need a formal living room." So I got one. It's lovely and spotless 99% of the time. Likely because it's never used, but frankly, that's beside the point. Growing up, we had a formal living room. I called it the "Avon Lady" room, because the only time the room was ever used (to my knowledge, or maybe that was the only time I was ever allowed in it?) was when the Avon Lady came calling. Sometimes I go into that lovely, clean and quiet room and suck my thumb. But the quiet doesn't typically last long - very soon, they're looking for me. My predators...they're after me and since I've escaped their immediate sight, they begin their hunt. "MOM!" I can follow the sound of their footsteps from my bunker. They start in the obvious rooms - the kitchen, the laundry room, the family room. As they enter each room, I hear them yell, "MOM!" As if, if I were in one of those rooms, I had perhaps shrunk to the size of a microbe and they couldn't see me - so they call for me to come forth like some paranormal being they're hoping will appear suddenly. Next, they open the garage door, certain I must be out there smoking, "MOM!" Again, with the shouting of my name.

I hear the door to the garage slam and hear their footsteps again - they're coming closer and closer down the hall, approaching my refuge, "MOM!" I don't answer. I refuse to answer because at this point it's funny to me. Funny that I can be within 20' of them and they cannot find me. As I hear their footsteps coming nearer, I think, "you're getting warmer, warmer, very warm....." but then their lead-laden feet hit the carpet on the steps and they continue their trek on another floor, "MOM!" Now I laugh quietly to myself, "Ah! so warm, and now so cold - I'm right the frick here!!" Quickly, they run into one of their siblings with whom they were sparring 20 minutes prior, "Have you seen Mommy?" And the other one has not so they join forces - this mother, OUR mother, she's missing and must be found now! So the shouts continue through the house, traversing the route already traveled by the solo hunter, now being traveled two by two - "MOM!" There have been times they've given up or found something or someone more interesting, which is a tad disheartening to me - like a childhood game of hide and seek and your seeker forgot you were a hider and leaves you there in your perfect hiding spot to die. (This never personally happened to me, but I did leave a few hiders behind in my day. I feel guilty and hopefully they've been found. I know it's mean, but they were annoying - I'm just sayin' is all). But most of the time I just laugh to myself at the fact they honestly could not find me - because I'm in the forgotten room. Eventually,though they will locate my husband and tell him the horror story of how I'm missing and they cannot find my anywhere and they've looked everywhere. I hold my breath as I hear my husband walking toward the forgotten room, he spots me and just smiles. Then the predators move in for their attack - "What are you doing in here mommy? Didn't you hear us calling you?" They sit, stare at me for a few minutes and then they're off. I guess me sucking my thumb in the forgotten room isn't that fascinating. Although every time they spot me in there - they also sit. As if they're trying to figure out MY fascination with this room - the room with no TV, no phone, no computer. They haven't figured it out yet.

But ME, ON THE COMPUTER? THAT is fascinating. I've run 3 of them off while typing this entry, 1 of them twice. The instant I sit at the computer, like stink on shit, I have an audience standing 2" from me and hovering over my head, my shoulder, wedged under my left arm between my torso and the keyboard, to get their eyes right in front of the screen and blocking my view. "What are you doing? What are you typing? Can I play Disney? Can I get on my Facebook? Is that a new computer? Where'd you get it? Can I have it? Can I use it? Is it ours to keep? Why don't you want me to read that? I know how to blog too, as a matter of fact, I knew how before you did. I don't know why you're hiding that, I'm not an idiot I can search for it you know." Look people - it's NOT about privacy of the blog. I will happily hand you the link. It's not about privacy of what I post on my Facebook - you're my friends on Facebook, remember? I don't have a secret lover, a cyber-friend or any other clandestine relationships on the world wide web. I'm not doing anything terribly interesting, intelligent or exciting over here. I'm just talking smack on you.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Red Wine

I'm going to drink this entire bottle of red wine:

Even if it kills me. You probably already noticed that it's already missing some from the bottle. That was NOT my doing. This is a bottle that was opened and partially enjoyed by guests at my Christmas dinner. I had NO idea that alcohol could be stored, not even over night. To think that all these years, I've stayed up late drinking all the booze in the house before I could turn in the for the night because I didn't want it to go to waste. All the times I've gotten escorted out of the bar at "closing time" as I argued that there was still booze left behind the bar and we couldn't possibly leave. Who knew? It's likely that exact same misperception that started my lifelong disdain of red wine.

I don't drink red wine and I haven't since I was ummm.... younger. Instead, when beef is served and I'm offered a glass of Shiraz, Cabernet, Pinot Noir - although the names sound classy and I like the idea of being classy, I always just politely reply, "No thank you - I'll stick to my Boones Farm!" I'm just that kind of gal. Simple. And if my dad is around at the time, he laughs and laughs and says, "WHAT kiddo? Still no red wine for you? Did I ever tell you all the story about........?" Oh God help me. NOT that tired old story again! And please! My children are in the room. I was NOT 16 - I was at least 25 - do NOT tell them I was 16.

See, it really wasn't my fault - the whole red wine debacle. I was never good at geometry- I never understood it or really gave a crap about it. Why would I need to know that stuff? I will NEVER, I can assure you, EVER, need to know the length of the line opposite the angle. (And I never have to this day). But I should have paid better attention in class the day they covered VOLUME. (Hell, I'm not even sure that's the right term - but just work with me here and go with it for now). See - the deal is this: If you have a bottle of something and that bottle has 1 finger's height (now this measurement I GET) of liquid in it - and the bottle is 3" in diameter (that's the distance across - or is that half the distance across? No, half the distance is the radius I think) - anyway - back to your lesson - LISTEN UP - the important part you NEED to know is this: the 3" wide diameter with 1 finger height of liquid has LESS liquid than the bottle 7" wide diameter with 1 finger height of liquid.

Who the hell knew? Jesus. This is a pretty critical thing to understand. I wish someone had clued me in before I stood before my so-called friends and held up a bottle of red wine - 7" in diameter - with a screw cap (we only drank the BEST) and proclaimed, "I will finish this off there's just a finger left in it!!" Good lord have mercy on my soul. I drank from that bottle for at least 10 minutes trying to finish that shit off so we could get on to school that morning. But, being a gal of my word, I got 'er down.

For a bit. She came back up and visited me several times for a few days after - but I kicked her ass the first time we met so I still felt like a champion.

I want to enjoy a glass of red wine. I see people drinking it - and they seem to really enjoy it. It's a low maintenance beverage - doesn't require chilling, keeps well and by golly - it's GOOD for you! I want to drink it mainly for the health benefits. Sure, grape juice would likely have the same great benefits but what the hell fun would that be? So in 2010, I'm determined to drink that entire bottle of wine - one sip at a time. I keep it above my dryer in my laundry room. When I go to do laundry, I open the cabinet, fight the cork to release itself and I smell it. Mmmm - 2007 - that was a good year! I put it to my pursed lips - I tilt the bottle - very gently and very slowly - THERE! I got some on my lips - wait for it - wait for it - I didn't puke! Okay! Baby steps here - put the cork on and come back next week for another round. I'm determined to be cool and classy and elegant - all swirlin' my red wine around in my fancy pants red wine glass and talking about what a great year it was and smelling the bouquet by waving my hand over the top of the glass.

It may take me all year - but I WILL drink that entire bottle of wine.

The Great Cookbook Purge of 2010

I love cookbooks! I admit it - I love to thumb through them, salivating over the beautiful pictures, reading the recipes, trying to dream up new and exciting things to feed my family. Over the years, I have acquired quite a few cookbooks, yet unfortunately have very little space to store them. I also love to watch the show "Hoarders." As I watch the show, I think about the things I have amassed over the years, the things that are causing me to feel claustrophobic and I start considering what I can part with to bring order to my life and home. I thought about my cookbooks. Could I part with them? Any of them? No. I love them all. They all hold a special place in my heart - they were OFF LIMITS for purging.
But alas, when the 10th day of the new year arrived, I decided that I had an illness - the hoarding illness and to overcome it, I HAD to part with some cookbooks. So I got them all out of their assigned seat and started to, once again, pour over them.
I know - you're probably thinking "what is she talking about? That's a pathetic collection of cookbooks!" But really - it's a lot of cookbooks for the very small space in which they must reside. And their assigned seat is shared with a host of other lovely collectibles - napkin rings; cloth napkins; serving trays and bowls - all the necessary items to serve a formal plated dinner for 12 - which of course I never do - but I need those items also - just in case. As you can see, the cookbooks are sorted into piles. Sorting is important as you work on the purge. Everyone has their own way of sorting - mine goes like this: the cannot and will not part with; the never even opened or used; the never used but too interesting to make an immediate decision; the WTF is this even doing with the cookbooks; and the WTF was I thinking when I bought this. So there you see it above - the piles.

The next step in purging must be very delicately trod. It's too painful to make the immediate decision to oust a loved one from your home - so always start with the "Cannot and will not part with" - and reason with yourself. These are the ones that I cannot and will not part with:

The one on the left is a staple for everyone who dabbles in the kitchen. This one is the 2005 edition, which frankly, is NOT as good as my 1984 edition was - but it was a paperback and eventually tore in half and I lost some of the most critical pages so it had to be replaced. I use this one when I want to know how to boil an egg. I'm pretty crafty in the kitchen and pride myself on my ability to throw together a feast fit for a king, with enough to feed an army from nothing more than what I have lying around - but that egg boiling thing - is it 5 minutes on boil then rest in hot water for 15 minutes? Or is it boil the shit out of the eggs for 15 minutes? I can never remember - so I must keep Betty Crocker. (did you know she's a fictitious woman created as a marketing scheme by a large corporation? - WTF?) Anyway - the book on the right is my newest to the collection. Given to me by my texting partner and cousin, Lola. It's a beautiful book written by a woman who got her start by blogging. The recipes are neither complicated nor new to me, but the pictures and stories are heart-warming and I admit, it is the only cookbook I've ever sat down and read cover to cover in one sitting. I admire this woman who wrote this book and I admire Lola, so I cannot part with this cookbook even though I will likely never use it. (I already know how to make all that food).

Having made the decision on which ones would definitely remain a part of my household, I went on to the next pile - again - tackling the obvious:

WTF? Moving along....
Ah yes - the aftermath of the compulsive shopping decision while standing in line at the checkout counter - Lured in by the cleverness of the marketing genius who titled these little gems: EASY! FAST! ONE DISH!!! Pick it up! Read it - look at it - IMAGINE yourself being easy, fast and throwing together fabulous ONE DISH meals for your family night after night. You're and efficient woman - BUY IT! Think how IMPROVED your life will be! Sucker.....

I laughed at my gullibility when I lined these all up. They were dog-eared and had writing on many of the recipes so clearly they had been used. But what most of the notes I had added to the recipes said were something along the lines of "SUCKS!" or "NO" and many of the recipes had big X's crossing them out. Good enough. Those can go into the "can go" pile.

Moving on to the antiques in the stash. Look at them - aren't they lovely? They're VINTAGE cookbooks! I caressed their covers, I admired their yellowed pages. I wondered who had used them and if the food was actually good and if the people who ate the food enjoyed themselves while doing so. I wondered where they came from and finally decided they must have come from my dad's house and ergo these were memories of times gone by - they must stay. They're VINTAGE and full of memories and likely one day they will start talking and sharing with me the memories of my childhood.

Besides, I got a fondue pot for Christmas a few years back and how fun would it be to have a fondue dinner party? I imagined myself with bouffant hair, a flashy mini dress and knee-high boots - maybe some awesomely gaudy tights would top off the outfit - Yes. I'm keeping them - and I made a note on my things to do in 2010 - Have a fondue dinner party.

And then there were the baking cookbooks. I don't bake. I hate to bake. I despise it. I like to cook - but cooking doesn't really require a basic knowledge of science and how the ingredients react to one another once combined like baking does. But baking is so homey. It screams "domestic goddess." When I bake, I think about how my children will rave to their children and friends 20 years from now, "I loved it when I was growing up and I would walk in the door and get hit with the smell of cookies baking in the oven." Baking embodies the term "good" mother.

Those are keepers. I mean, after all, if I dispose of them - what kind of mother would I be?

Ah yes! My FIRST cookbook. How cute is it? And wait! There's an inscription on the inside cover - given to me in 1978 by my great aunt and uncle. I doubt he had much to do with the gift, I was always told he was a drunk and I don't even remember what he looked like. But I do remember my great aunt. I loved her - she was bubbly and funny and sweet and always kissed me and hugged me. I loved seeing her - with her white hair and ruby red lips that seemed to be over-drawn. Throwing away this book, would be an admonishment of her and I couldn't possibly do that - it must stay. Look at these gems:

Yes - that IS a Wild Game cookbook you see in the upper left corner. Ya never know when you might need to know how to whip up a buffet consisting of pheasant, quail, opossum or whatever other road kill you have an inkling to cook. Better keep that - you just never know what the cat will drag in. Then the pizza cookbook, there's an inscription in it also - from me, to my ex-husband - hoping he always makes delicious pizzas. Since I don't really give a shit what he makes or how it tastes any longer, that book can go. WTF are those? Children's Parties!! Super EASY Kids Crafts! Why does that gumdrop clown look so happy? I've NEVER looked that happy at a children's party. NEVER. I usually look totally pissed and stressed, except for that fake, plastered on smile. Garbage. Both of them. Then the great little collection of "recipe collection" cookbooks - purchased by or given to me over the years. If you want to know how to make "Mom's Macaroni Salad" or "Grandma's Jell-o Mold" - then these are the books for you. I think I'll part with them. I prefer pasta salad to macaroni salad and I despise anything in a gelatin mold.

Next I spotted the "recipes that come with the appliance" pile. I didn't even know I had these anymore:

Growing weary of the purging process and all the decisions I've had to make thus far, I decide to keep all of these little treasures. They're small. They don't take up much space - and besides - they CAME WITH the appliance so they probably have the BEST recipes for the appliance. I had just seen Alton Brown cook bacon in his waffle iron the night before. I was absolutely intrigued - BACON? in a WAFFLE IRON? GENIUS!! I wondered if I could also do this in my George Foreman grill - but didn't figure the recipe to do so was actually in the George Foreman booklet so I didn't even look. But I kept all of these. Ya never know when you might want to make some jell-o jigglers. Or Dolly Madison ice cream. Or Ron Popeil seared chicken. And yes - I DO have a chocolate fondue fountain. I made a note to use that for dessert at my fondue dinner party I'm going to host.
So at the end of the tedious process of sorting, thinking, taking pictures, reading recipes and laughing, here's where I ended up:

Pile on the top: Part with
Pile on the bottom: Keep
Looks like about 50/50 to me! I was pretty pleased with myself. I was able to successfully, and without shedding a tear, part with HALF of my cookbook collection! I wasn't a hoarder after all !! I had just been too lazy to ever go through my library and take inventory. Feeling totally relieved and like a complete winner, I asked my husband to please box up all the ones in the "Part With" pile and put them in the storage room in the basement. WELL, I might need them one day - I'm just sayin' is all!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Role Reversal

When I first set my mind to creating this blog in 2010, I decided I needed to get organized. I function best in an organized environment. I can't think when there is clutter in my head or in my house. The clearing of the clutter in my brain typically starts with the clearing of the physical clutter around me. As I work on removing the wordly items that causing chaos in my existence, I find that my thoughts become more clear and I start to think in terms of "lists". Well, so long as I'm not counting to myself while I work - but that's a completely different topic for a different day. Anyway, as I cleaned the house that day, I started different lists - recipes to include in the cookbook I'm writing, things I think we want/need in 2010, books to read, movies to watch and things to blog about. That was nearly a month ago and the lists continue to grow - I have even accomplished some of the things on those lists so I think I'll stick with that plan of attack on organizing the thoughts in my head.

Back to the story at hand. As I mentioned, I have a list of blog entries - I've even rehearsed in my head how the entries would sound and what they would say - I've edited them in my mind, thought about where the commas belong, revised them, perfected them. So today - after a month of waiting - our internet at home was hooked up. I couldn't wait to get home to use that fast as a speeding bullet internet - to start my blog. At 3:30 p.m., my stomach full of butterflies, I anticipated the arrival of 4:30 like a child waiting to go to Disney Land for the first time. It was like I was getting ready to go on a long and exciting journey. I was giddy!!! At 4:30 sharp, I heard the quittin' time whistle. (we don't really have a quittin' time whistle at my office - but on days like today when I am ready to get the hell out of there I like to pretend we do have one and it's the same one that blows for the sheepdog on the Roadrunner cartoons - it makes leaving work all that much better). I raced home - I could already feel the keys under my fingertips - I think I might have actually drooled a little.

As I pulled in to the drive, I noticed I had a text from my daughter - needs to go to the mall to get a dress for tomorrow. I felt it at once - that sharp, but distinct jab in the gut - disappointment. I tried to convince her to wear one of my 800 dresses. None of them were "right." I tried to beg her that I really wanted to play on the internet. She didn't bite. So off to the mall we went.

I pulled out of the drive like a maniac - I was Richard Petty with road rage. Mall. I hate the mall. We drove in silence to the mall. I, feeling angry for not getting to do what I wanted, and guilty for not appreciating this time I had with her. But FAR more angry than guilty. When we got there, I tried to convince her to get something at Dillards - you know - in and out kind of store. I only have to take 15 steps in the door and I see something, buy it and I'm out! But instead, we traversed that entire wretched, horrid, miserable mall. Each store we came upon, she asked, "do you want to go in here mommy?" To which I replied, "I don't want to go in any of the stores." And she would enter and I would plop down hard on a bench outside the store and text my cousin - telling her of my misery (misery really does love company). As we trapsed from one godforsaken store to the other, I kept my arms crossed over my chest - my barrier - refusing to let any enjoyment or fun in. I hate it and I will NOT enjoy it.

My daughter continued to try to engage me into the excursion - "Do you like this dress, mommy?" YES. I like them all sweetie - you look pretty in all of them. She was on to me though and quickly accused me, "Are you just saying that so we can go home?" Yes. I am. But I lied and told her no. I pouted and frowned and stomped and was certain to walk 15' ahead of her everywhere we went. MAD. MAD. MAD. Finally - she found a dress, some shoes and the required accessories. Two hours it took us. Two hours. Two hours of my life I'll never get back. Two hours of acting like an ass in front of my daughter while she acted like the adult and did all that she could to coax me into enjoying myself. So much about this night gone wrong.

And why? Because the cheer squad is wearing dress up clothes tomorrow instead of their $650 uniforms. I call BS and I'll be sending a note off to that coach tomorrow - thanking her for ruining my perfectly planned, beautifully organized evening by inserting an unplanned trip to the mall.

Are you ready to rumble???????

Welcome! Come on in and pull up a chair - you're about to be served a heapin' helpin' of inane truths, sarcastic realisms, exaggerated facts and satirical glimpses into the life of a 40 somethin', cigarette smokin', whiskey swillin', sick of the bullshit, can't take another minute of the insanity, who the hell's life is this anyway, truth seeker.

But first, a little background before you take that first magnificent bite: In my mind, I've already been blogging for years, I've been "discovered" and published and this is round two! (or three, maybe four). In actuality, I've been prattling on for 20+ years about wanting to be a writer and never sat down and taken the time to make that dream come true. Instead, I like to bitch about it. I like to tell my friends, "I really wanted to be a writer, you know. I wanted to write funny stories about life that would make people howl and cry with laughter. But instead, I pursued a dual degree in Accounting and Economics because I couldn't figure out how to make money with a degree in English."

I don't know why I feel the need to make this confession to every sucker who signs up to be my friend or every poor sap who is involuntarily related to me. Is it that I think the writing part will make me instantly more mysterious? Creative? Complex? Or is it that I want them to know that, although blonde (ahem) and outwardly dingbat-like and admittedly going prematurely senile, that once I was smart and achieved a DUAL degree - in ACCOUNTING and ECONOMICS? I'm not sure - but I always make this confession. (Albeit typically after a few of those aforementioned swills of whiskey). Anyway - back to the story - Poor, poor me. I've cried and whined about that career decision for years. And although I long ago abandoned the application of the degrees I achieved and for which I'm still paying, I did stay in the business sector, plodding along day to day, all the while entertaining funny thoughts to myself about life, work, parenting, etc. and all the while thinking, "I should write that down - it's funny!"

So here I am. I'm taking that step - the step to end the whining and pursue my dream of jotting down and sharing all of the hilarious thoughts that run through my head on a daily basis. Be forewarned though, I see things differently than most people. Or maybe I see them the same as everyone else, but the difference is I'm not afraid to openly admit how I see things. I call bullshit when I see it (and it's abundant). If you have thin skin or can't stand to listen to people bitch, whine, gossip or be brutally honest about life - then move along because this is no place for you. If cursing sets your panties ablaze - then I suggest you also move along. Cursing is my native language and since I've already secured my first-class ticket on the hell express, I'm not concerned about it.

You can expect to hear the inane truths about parenting, my children, men, my husband, my family, myself, my home and all aspects of my life. For those of you who choose to stick around and follow me - please know - I love my children, husband, family, myself, my home and my life - I do - from the very bowels of my soul. But gosh dang it - the truth must be told!!