...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

but then my homework was never quite like this

I like to think I'm one of those people who could be called a 'life long learner.' Always interested in new things. Nodding my head in agreement and hoping you won't ask me questions before I can get away if you're telling me something I simply can't grasp. Not confusing me with your wacky code talk. Soaking in knowledge from the Discovery Channel (lesson - dirty men are hot!) and Glamour magazine (lesson - everyone really can look great in the right shade of red lipstick), I simply drink in knowledge with an unquenchable thirst.

That approach would be messy and kind of slurpy.

This same insatiable curiosity is also akin to the way I approach sex (What's that? Where's the 'mommy blogger' you ask? Tied up in the corner). However, as I tried to achieve a delicate balance of sex and learning Monday evening, I realized I'm something of a teacher. If you're the least bit interested, check out my lesson plans:

  • Time Management & Organization - Technically not a class, but a good student knows you have to be proficient to succeed. To that end, I gave myself 1/1/2 hours to get ready for work Monday night. This included showering, putting on make up and finishing up. Incorporating stellar time management skills, minus dressing, I was done in 40 minutes. With that in mind, I thought, "Hey, girl! What do you want to do with this extra time?" Answers A,B,C and D were "Have sex!" Woo-hoo!

  • Math - Girl A finishes her shower and work prep with 50 minutes to spare. Eliminating 10 minutes for making a sandwich to take to work because she'll be skipping dinner with her family if all goes as planned, and figuring the average duration of sex Girl A has with Husband B can fall between 37 and 75 minutes, minus 8 minutes of random foreplay and 3.24 minutes to work out any kinks, how much time does Girl A have to bust one out before going to work?

  • Economics - Today, class, we'll be covering the most basic concepts of our market economy - supply and demand. Because it's not often I'm down for a pre-work roll, I was harboring a supply just slightly above fair market value. So I needed to see if the demand for it was there. Thus I stepped, naked, out of the bedroom, into the hall, and called down the staircase to my husband.

  • Speech - In the hall, doing little to cover up, I practiced a variety of inflections to attract my husband's attention. Sexy? Always (even if it's not part of the speech curriculum). Earnest? Good. Demanding? Needs work. Curious? Very good! Even better as I began to wonder what was taking him so long to respond.

  • Anatomy - Before we start, class, please welcome our newest student - my oldest son's neighborhood friend! Unbeknownest to me until he bounded up to our kitchen, landed at the bottom of our staircase and turned his gaze up to me, we had company! As our eyes briefly locked and I exclaimed something profound like "OH! OH!! HEY!" I became the naked woman hereafter hoping to be known in the teacher's lounge as Mrs. "Please Jesus, don't let that kid have seen my boobs! And Dear God! Not that, either!" Good times.

  • Fire Alarm - Or maybe it was the random screams of a thousand terrified moments flooding my brain as I realized what had just happened. Taking cover behind the locked door of my oldest son's bedroom, crouched down low to the floor, all I know was the voices were trying to consume me as I whispered affirmations. Kind of like my high school science teacher did right before having a nervous breakdown. But minus the nudity and boob talk, which I still clearly was sporting.

You'd probably think that would be the end of the school day around here. Ha! You'd be wrong! My husband finally arrived to give me the all clear, and a quick check of the clock showed 25 minutes still available to the point of the day's lesson. So I offered him a quick review and suggested he pay attention to the next block of subjects:

  • Government - What can your governing body offer my governing body that helps both governing bodies achieve a favorable and peaceful outcome? Weapons? No time. Peace accords? Whisper them in my ear and we'll see how times plays out.

  • Art - The naked body is truly the world's best artistic canvas. Or something. I'm not really poetic like that. But I trust you all know what I mean and will have no trouble with the test.

  • English/Literature - You want an example of how unpoetic I am? So much so that I'm not even sure 'unpoetic' is a valid word. But rather than dwell on that, please review the following and then prepare a paper for me by Friday outlining the fundamental flaws in the following - "Jack and Jill went up the hill to bust a little tail."

  • Biology - Finally! My favorite class! After all that effort, the time to get up close and personal in the study of organisms or groups of organisms has arrived! After a brief review of economics (would there be bartering involved in this exchange?) and government (who would jockey for ultimate control?), pencils were sharpened and overheads prepared for note taking. Or something like that. Irregardless, this class was the one to pay attention in. Participation was 80 percent of the final grade.

What's good about my approach to learning is I'm clearly not hard nosed. It's all about just taking in the lessons where and when I can (like in that 15 minutes we had left for the actual sex). And I flash boob, so I figure that maybe keeps a few people in the back row attentive. Not the least of whom I assume is my neighbor kid, considering how he looked at me yesterday morning when he stopped by prior to going to his actual school.

Now, if no one has any questions, study up. First test on Friday. Or not. I may be busy after all. Time management is so very important.


Monday, August 27, 2007

the gauntlet's dropped, starbucks

Oh, I'm on to you, you money grubbing, addiction feeding coffee pimp!

You see that over there? No. Jesus, Starbucks*. Look up. Then over to your left.

That over there is me. What am I doing over there, you ask? Good question.

I'm kicking your ass!

What's that? Oh, very nice, Starbucks. Really classy! You want me to repeat that?

Then come closer.

Kicking. Your. Ass.

No more will you make me feel used and unappreciated when I want a frappuccino. Nope. I'm through with you. I can make this baby in my kitchen at a fraction of the cost.

Hell, I can make about a year's worth of these in my kitchen for what it would cost me to drive to one of your many, many locations in my area and get all proper and snooty sounding when I ask for a venti. Assuming I use my very loose grip on math and don't cry when I work out the cost per ounce via a clever and yet still terribly perplexing story problem. Whatever.

So it was nice, Starbucks. Clearly, I had mad love for you. Told you all the time. Even when you didn't ask. I licked your whipped cream and toyed with your pretty green straws.

But no more.

Today, and days after today when I feel like absorbing way too much sugar and chocolaty goodness disguised as some veiled hint of coffee, I will just sashay into my kitchen, and ask myself "What would you like, beautiful?"

I'll respond, "Oh, my, how sweet of you! Wow! Now I know why I like coming here all the time."

And then I'll probably get a little irritated because I imagine a line will start forming behind me, what with other people wanting one of these delicious, cheap and "tastes EXACTLY like Starbucks!!" frappucchinos that I can whip up, so I'll say, "Seriously. I don't got all day here. Beautiful. Cute, yada, yada. Whattaya want?"

So I'll blush and then whisper I want a large (large, I say, not a venti!) frappuccino, all while wondering if I did something wrong and would it be OK if I came back to this kitchen tomorrow? Should I maybe wait to see if that very nice but sometimes easily irritated girl isn't there?

When I've given myself my order, I'll then thank me. Then I'll make it, dollop it, squirt it, stick my straw in it, and suck it down.

In a completely non-sexual way. I mean, honestly! What kinda girl do you take me for?

Sure, you had me at the very first taste,Starbucks. It's stunning how quickly those caffeine addictions take hold. Oh, sure, I know that a frappuccino isn't laden with caffeine, but baby, you brought the good stuff every time. And I told you. Every time. How much I loved you. How I craved you. You knew I did, even without asking, but I spilled. You did that to me, Starbucks.

I know. I know we talked about how we were committed. The only one for each other. You forgave me when I admitted that Caribou Coffee flashed it's good stuff at me a couple times. "We all have our weaknesses," you said. "But you know who whips your froth and gets you all steamed." True. Very true. For me, it always came back to you. You're like magic, Starbucks. I may never understand.

But no more! Although I know I'm gonna dwell on the fact that the chick in my kitchen making these tasty knock-off frappuccinos for me called me beautiful (but I won't think of her that way, you know what way I'm sayin'? Yeah, I know you'd like that, Starbucks), the time has come for us to wean ourselves of the other.

So thank you, Starbucks. Thanks for the love and for giving me things I sometimes didn't even realize I wanted (That strawberry frappuccino? Baby, you were so right about that!). I can take my own silly cravings into my own hands now. I do that a lot anyway.

Unless, of course, I'm at work and you lean over and whisper in my ear something about how bad I want one and "Hey, beautiful girl, that 50 percent discount would so rock hard up in there, what with all that pretty coin you're saving making knock-offs in your kitchen and all." Then, yes, alas, I'll probably cave.

'Cause you know me, Starbucks. Apparently I'm easy, and I'm so yours when you do that to me.

But still. I'm calling you out, and warning you, fair and square. I have a mean little kick. Especially when I'm hopped up on your sugar, sugar.

And, um, well...Panera over there has been eye humping me for a couple of months, and you know....sometimes we're fickle.

* I realize it's not an ad for a delicious Starbucks frappuccino, but seriously, it was worth it just to include. Glen! Glen, Glen, Glen!


Thursday, August 23, 2007

1 day down, 179 to go

Following a morning that included

  • my youngest son sleeping in for the first time in three months
  • a questionable return of The Doodlebops to our brief morning viewing pleasure
  • a lengthy 'first day of school' photo session
  • the neighbor kid apparently making my house his morning respite for a half hour before school AND before I was even freakin' dressed yet
  • watching the stupid bus driver zoom right past our house as we walked this brand new kindergartner to the stop
  • said bus driver giving us lip when we informed him of his erroneous ways upon arriving at school
  • a brief look on my baby's face that seemed to say "oh, the hell you think you're leaving me here with all these people, woman!"
  • watching him grasping hands with his little buddy and getting over that look hella fast
  • wondering if I'd have to provide some fake medical assistance to the mother I thought was going to go into hysterics as she left her kindergartner
  • a moment or 10 when my eyes leaked when I turned to my husband and said, "Well, those five years weren't actually supposed to go by quite that quickly..."
  • informing me he hadn't peed all day (my brand new kindergartner, not my husband) when he returned home

the first day of kindergarten went off without any hitches.

Of course, as we walked back to the house from the corner where the bus dropped him off and bantered about the day, he informed me he wasn't going to go back today. But he was smirking, so we're good.

Which is fantastic for me, really, because about an hour in to my new quiet house, I stood on the steps, surveying my royal post and I may have, you know, let out a little Braveheart "freedom" cry.

And that's cool. 'Cause I look freakin' hot in blue makeup.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

into infinity...

Last night, after a day filled with all the activities a child can pack into the last day of summer vacation, I sat across the kitchen counter from my five year old son and just took him in. When he settled on his stool and turned his sweaty red cheeks in my direction, I fell - as I always do - madly in love with him again.

"You know you're a kindergartner tomorrow, right?" I asked, reiterating what we've been talking to him about all summer. I asked more as a means of preparing myself for this reality than actually calming the nerves of this gorgeous boy who needs no more encouragement from us to be ready for this leap. He smiled, gave me the most perfect "my mom taught me this" eye roll and said "Yep."

"Yep," as in "I know I'm going to be a kindergartner and I don't know why you feel it necessary to keep telling me that, and furthermore, why do you look like you're going to cry every time you say it? Can't you see that's just madness, silly woman?"

He's so ready for this phase of his life. No more holding him completely back. No more allowing my unnecessary fear to shadow his growth. Today, I will walk my son to the corner, ask for a kiss and be happy to settle for a hug, and put him on a bus that will take him to his first day of kindergarten. Then, as the bus starts to pull away, I'll dash to the mini, race to the school, and be there to watch him disembark, find his teacher (who is also experiencing her first day as a kindergarten teacher), then his best little buddy (bets on who he searches out first!), and then settle in.

I've little doubt he'll settle in. He's no stranger to this school environment. Two years of preschool and an older brother who's guided the halls for him in the past quite nearly sets the stage for my youngest to be named student body president of the place by week's end. I'd so not put it past him! This boy is a showman. A pure entertainer. A master storyteller. I quite honestly wish I knew where he got these traits from, for if I could, I'd buy all of them and figure out how to make them work for me.

So while, truly, I'm not worried about how he'll do, I do hope that his father and I have given him all he needs to be ready for the world. I know we're not done teaching him, but the scope of his learning is now broader, and while I'm happy for that, sometimes the idea of releasing our role completely is hard. I want to think this will be a heartbreaking day for all of us, but honestly, I believe my husband and I will be the only ones feeling our hearts tighten as this boy who's charmed us from moment one turns away from us and begins this amazing new adventure.

He won't realize it, but I bet he'll find it freeing. Despite play dates and preschool and weekends with grandma, this little boy has been my constant companion for five years. As I free him, I'm not so sure I'll feel the same way (perhaps by Friday, though, when the reality sets in and I think of all that I can do now!).

The world has some pretty wonderful qualities. I hope we've shown him many of them. I know he's shown me many I'd forgotten, even in the midst of whatever frustration a child can bring about. And they can. I know. But now I'm trusting him with someone else, for longer stretches and with varying influences. I wish his teacher as much luck and patience as I wish all the kids in her charge these next 180 days.
During our conversation last night, we talked about how my son will ride the bus to and from school, where he'll stash his backpack and what he'll be doing during the entire day away from home. We bantered about the fun things he'll be doing and the amazing things he'll be learning. How he'll make new friends, have to always remember to listen to his teacher, and oh, yes, enjoy those three daily recesses. Every topic I brought up, he'd grow brighter and more excited. Eager. Ready. And, I think, reassuring. Truly, these conversations we've been having are more for me, I think, as I let yet another finger slip on the ever loosening grasp I have on this beautiful boy. He knows it, too.
He's so ready.

Me? I probably am, too, but I'm willing to admit I'd selfishly like to hold onto that last slipping finger of his childhood a little bit longer. Ultimately, I have to let go completely so my hands are free to applaud him. He's a showman, afterall, and I anticipate a wealth of rewards and successes he'll wish to share.

Monday, August 20, 2007

lipstick cherry all over the lens as she's falling

One of the reasons I've eschewed the celebrity lifestyle that's so prevalent here in the suburbs is I'm not a huge fan of the paparazzi wanting to take my photo all the time. I regularly run errands minus undergarments and have been known to have veiled substance abuse issues (if I go more than an hour or two without a Diet Mountain Dew, trust me, the sweating and shakes does not a great picture make, yet that's when those scoundrels always seem to catch me). Because of these issues, and because I do so wish to be just like the normal every day folk in my neighborhood, it's best I not tempt the hordes of snap happy photogs who hang out around the grocery store and elementary school parking lot, screaming my name and waiting for me to emerge in a braless, muttering mess.

Cut and dry, I hate having my picture taken. I'm sure I'm the only one who feels like this (that bold 'only' is the only way to pull off sarcasm here, babies), and clearly explains the crumbling disinterest people have in flickr.

However, we live in a digital world (thus concludes our history lesson on the 21st century!). As such, I do, on occasion, find myself face to lens with a camera. Well, mostly face to lens. My feet have gotten more face time here than my face ever has. They're always butting in. Speaking of butts, the answer is no. No, there are no pictures of it floating out there to find. You could ask and I'd get all giggly and stuff, and maybe consider it for you and all, but no. No butt shots.

Ok. Maybe one. But I deleted it. I did!

Despite my apparent aversion to self portraits, I often have a camera with me when I'm out. Mostly to capture archival opportunities when my children do something cute or embarrassing. Not so much when I do something along the same lines (but wow, now that I think about it, that butt shot was hella cute, what with the blue and yellow striped boycuts...). I cringe thinking of the photos documenting a series of poor choices in hairstyling over the years that are in my mom's possession. My hope is my children have my image burned into their brains now (and that I'm smiling and all happy and "Nice Mom" and not "Bitch shoulda went to bed a lot earlier Evil Mom") when they remember me upon my departure from this earthly soil. If not, they can browse the buffet o' hairstyles photos and question whether it was a good choice for me to rock the pigtails as an 8 year old and again in my 30s (the answer, btw, is oh hell yes!).

Of course, I blame the fact (aka - credit) that I'm the one whipping the camera out for whatever looks worthy of preservation for why you're not going to see me in very many photographs. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "By not stepping in front of the camera, your ideology clearly goes against your whole point of capturing that which is interesting and cute for all posterity."

You're so right. So, so right. And so very sweet. Thank you.

So why do I not jump all crazy in front of the camera? Simple. I don't know what to do once there. Act nonchalant? Bust a demure smile with a hint of my raging mane draped wistfully over my right eye (a shot that looks kick ass, I should say, in the event there is one like that out there. Just sayin')? Look directly at whoever is taking a photo and bore into them with the raging power of my flirty eyes? Stick my tongue out? It's a conundrum every time someone yanks out the Kodak and tells me to smile! If we're together and I see you with a camera, I pretend not to notice. I'm deaf if you tell me to look at you and your obvious camera eye. I'm not hiding anything. I just think there are more interesting things to take a picture of. Like my bleeding hand or whatnot.

Oh, ok. And sometimes my boobs. Sometimes my boobs do make for interesting photos. A couple of times there've been photos of my breasts taken. By accident. When I may have slipped and accidentally on purpose ended up with the lens RIGHT THERE, telling them to smile and work it for me. And like when I maybe plopped them out so a little cell phone photo session could take place in my kitchen during the middle of the night, thus alerting my husband it was I who was calling him and not one of the other ladies who may have shown their boobs to him. Let me just say, my boobs always hit their mark and never ever come out of some bar after hours, looking wasted and slurring their words, thus ensuring an Us Weekly cover. Besides, they have me as their publicist and my clients are very discerning.

My butt, however, is an entirely different story.

"Deleted it." Ha! My ass...

note: it's the uncensored version, 'cause that's how I roll in my "John Taylor wants to do me" fantasy world.


Friday, August 17, 2007

every day, in every way...

This weekend, my oldest son turns 10. It is unfathomable to me that I'm saying this about a a child who was my first shaky attempt at parenting. I thought I knew all there was to know about being a mother before they actually handed this gorgeous creature to me and told me I now would be put to the test. However, in these 10 years, I've learned that I'm rather clueless.

I'm especially clueless when this very inquisitive boy spends so much of his days peppering me with questions about everything from bugs to basketball, from the planets to playing an instrument. He craves wrapping his mind around how ice cream can bring about a brain freeze ("If you were to somehow wrap your throat in cotton while eating ice cream, would it stop your brain from hurting?") to why it can be sunny outside and yet still be raining.

Everything fascinates him. If you have information about the Titanic, he'll be your best friend. If you're able to key him in with a killer lay up technique, prepare to spend the weekend in our driveway shooting baskets. Bonus points if you can arrange a way for him to drop out of fifth grade and go pro. My son, borne from parents who have the combined ability of two people better suited for the deep end of the bench, has developed into a truly amazing athlete. For several seasons now, our Saturdays are spent in a school gymnasium, watching him grow as an individual and as a team player. When he steals a ball and makes a basket, my already full heart swells to the point I fear it bursting all over and I want to rush out and hug him. I refrain, of course, so as not to embarrass him. But I know he knows this about me, for he'll turn to us after his success, pump his fist in the air and then be off. That moment is ours. His grace is astounding.

Ten years ago, I'd hold this boy in the crook of my arm, his tiny bottom rested in my palm, and we'd sit there for hours and stare at one another. I was mesmerized by him. I never wanted to let him go, not even when the tears I didn't even realize were coming from me would land in a splatter on his little cheek. I knew I'd never have the opportunity to have these first experiences with him again, so I wanted them locked away in my heart. Today, I couldn't lift him if I tried. He nearly bumps into my chin when he stands near me, and trying to coerce a hug or kiss out of him is a game he likes to play, complete with a smirk. Instead, we've worked out a secret handshake. But when he thinks he's getting away with just that, I'll move in for a quick peck on the cheek. He tends to dramatically wipe them off, but he's always smirking.

This boy is fearless, a trait I never fail to be astounded by. Last year, he had to give his first presentation before his class. Not wanting my own insecurities to crowd any he may be feeling, I simply encouraged him to practice his speech with me, and told him that if it made him nervous, I wouldn't attend the teacher's invitation to stop by class on the day he was to speak. He assured me heartily that I should be there. When his name was called, I watched this boy - all skinny arms and legs - pop out of his seat, step confidently to the front of the room, look out at his classmates and then speak. Loudly. Clearly. Never once referring to his notes. Better than anything we'd practiced at home. Again, not wanting to embarrass him, I refrained from having my heart burst across his classroom, but he caught my 'thumbs up' and later let me hug him (in front of people, even!) before leaving. At that moment, I wanted that feeling of confidence in life that I could see he had.

My son is compassionate and caring. He wants you to be happy, and will do whatever he must to assure it. He so wants to know everything, even when the learning process challenges him to the point of frustration. We're alike in these traits. When I tell him that, he sits up and wants to know what it was like for me as a kid. And he listens when I tell him. Really listens. These charming features of his personality are going to be huge draws as he gets older and starts to look at girls as more than just someone to ride bikes with. In fact, he's already starting to attract little nests of giggly girls who swarm around him when we go swimming. I'm bracing for the reality that in a couple of years, every time the telephone rings, it won't always be for me or my husband.

My son is rather delighted to now be officially in the 'double digit' age bracket. The way I see it, though, is how the numbers that come up and push him closer to being independent of us are now in the single digits. When I bombarded people with my own questions about being a parent before his arrival, they told me it would go by quickly, but I sat there and would hold him and thought it was impossible.

Now I tell people the same thing when asked what it's like to be a parent. It'll go by fast. One day you're holding this beautiful baby and it seems like time has stopped, and next thing you know, you're looking square in the eyes of your child as they suddenly trip into you, all gangly and growing up.

Sometimes that's the only question I have an honest answer for.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

things I've been pondering until less veiled posts appear

  • You think those two, lesser known members of Poison are all "Whoo! Thank God our lives are perfect here in the shadows!" when they tune into Rock of Love with Bret Michaels every Sunday night on VI1? Rikki Rockett, I suggest you keep your nose clean, mister. Bobby Dall? Couldn't hurt you, either, to follow Rikki's lead. Oh, I'm sure you want action tonight, satisfaction, alright. But just take a look at those female impersonators on Bret's show, then think again.

  • However, trust me, if Rikki or Bobby (or, for that matter, Ronny, Bobby, Ricky and Mike - cool it now!) had their own veiled reality show on television right now, I'd be watching it. You ever think about me on Sundays? You do? Sigh. That is so hot! Tell me what I'm doing when you think of me. Yeah? Oh, you know I do that! But when I'm done doing that, I'm on the couch, remote in hand, blasting through the above mentioned Rock of Love, Scott Baio is 45 and Single and then The Two Coreys and Gene Simmons' Family Jewels. Oh, I know they are lame, and I was never a Scott Baio or Gene Simmons fan, but seriously! I am a fish. Just reel me in. I judge myself harshly enough. Please don't feel it necessary to then add to my shame. Unless you think of me doing unspeakable things while doing so. But then, really, if that's the case, eww! Unless it's you. You would be ok, dammit.
  • When I'm in the kitchen, I'm dangerous. Like Maverick in Top Gun, baby! "You're a real cowboy," I'll say to myself. Then I'm all "What's your problem, Girl?" Seeing how I'm gonna play, I then fire back, "You're everyone's problem. That's because every time you go up in the kitchen, you're unsafe. I don't like you because you're dangerous." Oh, game on, other me! Game on! So I'll get in my face a bit and yell, "That's right! Girl...girl. I am dangerous" I am this way after dumping a half cup of molton hot melted brown sugar and butter on my palm dumping monkey bread out of its baking mold last week. Nothing fun about melted sugar on your hand. Like that's not gonna stick. This kitchen trauma follows on the heels of the great "Brownie Frosting Massacre of June 2007" as evidenced in the accompanying photo. Frosting is an evil bitch sometimes. Holds a grudge when you just want to eat it straight from the can and not slather it all over baked goods. Consider this my warning to you.

  • I think I might be a comma whore. I figure this beats some of the alternatives out there for me.

  • How can you be one thing one week and something so utterly different the next?

  • The new store manager? BORING. BORING. BORING. Doesn't talk. I hope my ex work hubs is suffering. I am. I miss double entendre. I miss hanging out. This having to actually work to earn my slightly higher than minimum wage pay is not what I signed on for!

  • "Irony" - a one-act play staring me and my children, staged every day around 2 p.m. central time. House lights go up on a me in my bedroom. Noises abound as the sound of doors opening and closing release a haunting cacophony of agony. I sigh, then hunch my shoulders together and draws in a great, resounding gulp of air. Then - scene: Yelling from upstairs in my bedroom to my boys in the lower level of the house to please stop slamming doors. Except I may not have said please. And they can't hear me yelling, what with all the slamming.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

only time will tell if you can break the spell

So let's say we've reached the second act of my movie and the soundtrack has really started to pick up. You know that point in a film where the characters look at each other and wonder what the hell they're doing? Or maybe one of them does. Hell, I don't know. I just like watching.

That's like 94 percent of what life feels like sometimes. At least from where my character stands. For grins, I imagine I'd be standing in the middle of a busy road while cars (not even honking or anything!) would whiz by me. Taking off some place. I look stellar, by the way. Everything just so.

Then you hear this creep in:

As the song nears the end, you're going to think a variety of things. First - wow, videos in the 90s were so very high concept when they didn't just involve some "live" performance shot. Second - did our protagonist have that same short, short haircut? Yes. I did. I thought it looked good. Then I saw pictures of myself. Why no one spoke up is beyond me. I try not to hold it against them to this day. Third - I tried the smokey black eye make up stuff a few times. I just looked like a crack whore on a three day shake down.

But back to the film. The faintest little smile would erupt on my lips as the music faded out and the cars whizzed by.

Second "by the way: moment - I love the word "erupt". Can't tell you why. Just do.

So with that smile, my character turns around, looks for a break in the traffic, and then dashes off to the safety of the sidewalk. At that point, she doesn't know she'd do it again, though. But the audience does. She's weak, that protagonist. That "never again" part would mean the movie ends with no resolution, after all.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

all perfect light and promises

In the event that my life ever requires a soundtrack, I think this song pretty much sums it up for me of late. As the music starts, that would be me looking at the camera, shaking my head, muttering "It'll soon be over."

Then I'd probably dance. Because why not? Nothing better to do!


Monday, August 13, 2007

you give me just a taste so I want more

Excluding frogs, Fred Flintstone and Fantasy Island, I love many things - both nouns and verbs - that start with the letter F. At this time of year, when fair season kicks in, my favorite F fantasies fixate on funnel cake.

Greasy, hot, twisted (greasy), powder-sugar coated (greasy), funnel cake. Freakin' heaven on a plate, baby! I indulge once a year at our state fair, and last Friday was to be my day to feast!

Through years of research, I've found it best if you don't just shoot your load immediately and dive into a funnel cake all willy-nilly. Nope. The way I see it, and the way I do it, is as follows:

Earn it.

Make it's doughy goodness yours only after you've endured the heartbreak and the hardship that comes in a relationship with something so saddled with calories and decadence, because you just now your heart's going to break the moment your lips touch the powdered sugar.

That was how I was able to step up to the state fair vendor with an open heart and my pride cast aside. Maybe drooling a little in anticipation. Just a little. I'm not a funnel cake slut, after all. I'm a respectable junk food eater. To earn this treat, I did the following:
  • Gave 14 hours of hardcore family togetherness with my mom, sister, two nieces, my two sons and the nearly 97,000 other diehards who wanted to be around us.
  • Basked in the sweet aroma that 97,000 people produce when Mother Nature decides to go all bad ass and kick the temps into the high 90s and a heat index in the low 100s. Note to the dude in the FFA shirt wafting down the grandstand - just because you work with livestock doesn't mean you have to smell like you just rolled around in the pasture, my friend.
  • Cringed at the distinct possibility my four year old niece would drop a treasure in the back of my mini when, 30 minutes outside the fairground gates, in a crunch of cars and nowhere to go, she started wailing with the desperate need to use the bathroom. For not one, but two reasons, if you catch my drift.
  • Stared in wonder at a pair of finely pierced man boobs. God bless you, Grandpa, and your A cups for having the guts to try and carry that look off.
  • Ascertained that the mohawk has taken the reigns over mullets as the go to hairstyle in the midwest. Finally! The young and the old were totally rocking that look. By mid-afternoon, I was messing with my kids' heads, trying to figure out how they'd look with the killer stripe.
  • Stood aghast as I watched a film of the calving process. I found it, honestly, terrifying. The look on my face, the one kind of like this, clearly indicates I'm a suburbs kinda gurl. Cows are for gettin' in my belly after being cut into delicious steaks and hamburgers. I don't need to know how they come to be.
  • However, my sons apparently do, for I found myself busting out "the talk" with them while we rested on a park bench outside the agriculture building. Seeing nature in all its infinite glory will apparently make a young man's fancy turn to science and biology. "So, babies come out of your stomach?" my oldest asked "Well, um, not necessarily." "So, where do they come out of?" my youngest asked. "Oh, hmm. Well, sometimes they come out of where you potty," I replied, giving them as much technical detail as feasibly possible in my quest to always tell them the truth, and "potty" seems like a pretty scientific word to me. Alas, my attempt at teaching was met with uproarious laughter. "Say that again!" my youngest begged. Stupid me, I did. Five or six times. Nothing like a child's laughter to make your heart sing and remember why you birth those calves in the first place.
  • Made upwards of 590 stops for temporary tattoos to cover every visible body part four children could find. Shockingly, though, in comparison? Only five bathroom breaks.
  • Spent 30 minutes wading through an ocean of people to make it from the middle of the fairgrounds to the other side to hear an ABBA tribute band. Hell yeah, my babies! If you change your mind, I'm the first in line! Do not mock me. Also, do not mock the tribute band members, committed to their shiny jumpsuits and dutch boy hair. Well, ok, I may have, just a bit, when I turned to my sister and said, "Do you think there is pride in their voices when someone asks them 'What do you do for a living?' and they are forced to admit they sing "Chiqitita" three shows daily at state fairs across the country?" Sue me. It was 13 hours into the fair for me by then.

And at the 13th hour mark, I got my funnel cake! Sweet success! Greasy fingers, powdery sugar goodness at my grip...

Until four kids looked at me like I just delivered them the keys to the chocolate factory. When I told them to bugger off, they then proceeded to maul me, zombie style, until before I knew it, they had eaten the entire funnel cake and I got none! Not one bite!

That, of course, prompted me to mutter one of those F words I sometimes dig.

Yep. Fernando!

Damn if I don't also love a good ABBA tribute band...


Thursday, August 09, 2007

the cultural divide

I live in the middle. In the middle, we do things half way.
Those of us here in the middle may want a big concert by a big name band or artist. Instead, we get a man who performs song parodies based loosely on the musical stylings of said big name bands or artists.
We dare not dream to be so very hoity-toity in the middle. Encouraged not to look to the bright and shining beauty of either side. "Do not hold your breath for chart toppers, middle! Who do you think you are, anyway?" This is the lesson we are taught from a very early age here in the middle.
A few questions:
  1. Are you jealous? When you saw this were you like all "Dang it! Why does the middle always get the good stuff?! What did I ever do to the middle to make it be so mean to me? Frickin' frackin' middle...."
  2. If I told you I've actually seen Weird Al in concert before, would you be even more jealous? Or would you simply feel sorry for me? What if I told you I had seen him twice? Would it make any difference if I tried to buy my way out of that admission by telling you he was the opening act?
  3. Haven't we reached a point in Weird Al's long career that it would be considered fine to drop the quotation marks around "Weird Al," thereby losing the connotation that "Weird Al" is really a nickname and for the most part, when he walks down the street or goes to the bank or shops for porn downtown, people rarely if ever actually just call him Al. You know he's just Weird Al all the time. Probably just signs his checks W.A. Yankovic.
  4. Do you think I'm embarrased to admit that I've paid money for a concert bill that included Weird Al? Honestly? I mean, knowing what you know about me?
  5. What's that? You need to know who Weird Al opened for when I saw him in concert twice (both times in the middle, btw!)? Does it really matter? Really? Ok. It was the Monkees.

I suppose I should say that I am not a Weird Al hater. Don't be getting all up on me in comments, saying I don't appreciate the fine art of musical parody. Trust me. I have nothing but respect for a man who can turn Lola into Yoda. But just once, I'd like my middle of the road life to really host a concert that would be worth dropping money on. Oh sure, we're getting the Who soon. But seriously, you have to admit, knowing that has to give you some indication of my cultural wasteland. You fancy people on both coasts get it all! Cripes, we probably won't even get the Van Halen tour with David Lee Roth. Which, honestly, does anyone really want that?

Of course, Weird Al shout out the Who's My Generation on his Polkas On 45, so basically, this allows me to save my money and avoid both shows. Because I'm freakin' entrenched in the middle, and there's little chance I'm ever busting out.

Unless you feel bad for me in my cultural dust bowl and wish to break me free. If so, you can look for me near Spatula City.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

if it wasn't him, I certainly cried out to him a lot

I may be mistaken, but I think I dated this dude in college.

Except back then, he didn't go by "the Christ." I called him Jeff. When he was being especially petulant, I broke out the Jeffrey. Apparently, I could've gotten away with calling him JC.

I always had to tilt my head to the left a lot when JC and I'd make out in the back of my kick ass '78 Pontiac Grand Prix (or "the Poncho," as he liked to call it), because he was always wearing a seed corn cap. He liked to hang with the "aggies" and fancied himself a man of the land more than a man of the people.

JC plied me with liquor when I turned 21. He wasn't lying - but then, I suppose, he NEVER lies - when he said those Long Island Ice Teas were the shit! After a couple rounds of those, it wasn't long before he leaned in and whispered something about wanting to sleep with me.

Oh, but I didn't give it up to him that easy. No sir. I made him get down on his knees and pray for it. Well, that's what I like to think he was doing, anyway. By the time I let him have that little prize, let's just say JC was coveting it.

I kept JC from bumping off a liquor store once. Good times. Given his lineage, you'd think that whole "stealing" thing wouldn't have been a thought in his cute little head. Hmmm.

JC and I talked about getting married a lot. We were so close to doing it, too. Then he got all weird and started preaching to me about having to work all the time, needing to provide for me. Hardly ever getting a day off. "I mean, honey, I really want a new pick up next year," he said. "Whatever, dude," I remember replying. "I mean, everybody needs a day off sometime, right? Geez..."

We broke up shortly after that. I caught him looking at other chicks. Not cool, JC. Not cool. Oh, I still hear from him from time to time. Usually about once a week. The dude can truly pontificate, so after awhile, I have to interrupt him and tell him I always appreciate when he has a kind word to share with me. Then I try to make him blush by reminding him about that one time, when we were parked by the lake and he asked me if I wanted to see how he fished. I just thought it was a line...


Monday, August 06, 2007

cha cha now y'all

When my husband and I got married 134 years ago, we had a pretty simple affair. Afternoon wedding complete with a minister who knew nothing about us, vows, kissing, and my friend singing a truly horrific interpretation of "Have I Told You Lately".

We didn't go for the big reception following the ceremony because, quite honestly, we are a quiet breed of people. We don't dig the fancy. We aren't super comfortable taking in the admiration of family members we've never met before.

Instead, our plan was to get married, chow on kick ass Italian creme wedding cake, make nice with the guests, and then bust it to the Cheddar's Casual Cafe for some Americanized version of ethnic cuisine (MMMM! Baked spasanga! That's Italian, right? Remember - not a fancy people). Upon completion of that, we booked ourselves in as officially married folks at the Embassy Suites (which was unlike the previous non-covenant time when we just booked a room) and commenced with the actual important part of the day. You know what I'm sayin'.

Clearly, our day didn't include a dance where my husband and I were compelled to get up and wobble like flaky zombies to the romantic strains of My Love, and honestly, it's for that reason I believe we've been able to sustain our marriage for 134 years.

However, I will admit a fascination for wedding dances. I can't completely understand why I'm compelled by them. Perhaps it's the hypnotic temptation of an open bar on wedding guests who suddenly fancy themselves hot shit on the dance floor because they've enjoyed your free keg and have watched three episodes of "Dancing With The Stars". Eighteen cups of Bud Light are bound to make anyone think they can get up there and swing dance when the DJ blows out a little Cherry Poppin' Daddies.

Actually, I think the credit for my wedding dance fascination does rest with the DJ. A bad DJ and your night is a bust. A good DJ and your party goes all night. Screw the deposit on the Masonic Lodge, baby! You came to get your groove on, Grandma! Get out there when that musical master puts on some Pussycat Dolls. You know you want to! Everyone loves seeing their mom lip synching to Buttons (including me, who can probably officially die now).

Then there is the mediocre DJ. Perhaps they are a friend of a friend of the groom's college roommate and you're basically tossing him a bone because you've nearly tapped out your reception budget on that open bar. A mediocre DJ is basically the person you pay at the end of the night for giving the kids at the reception the opportunity to run off the wedding cake high on the dance floor by flipping their pretty dresses up over their head. All while the adults stand around the side, waiting for the first guests to leave so they can then make their exits.

It was mediocre DJ I got to experience this weekend when I attended my cousin's wedding. I knew they weren't getting their monies worth when he approached his mic like a virgin on prom night. Slow, a little shaky, a trace hint of nerves in his voice. Strain your ears, friends, to hear him, because you're so going to want to be clued in when he tells you it's time to kick things up before clicking "play" on the Grease Mega Mix (Seriously! OK. I mean, I did get excited about that!).

"And now we're going to take it back a few years," he whispered after that and cued Glenn Miller. Crickets were the only thing moving on the dance floor. A couple tumbleweeds blew through. It was quite a party. Thinking that would be a cue to bring us back to at least the last 10 years, I waited anxiously for whatever opportunity might arise for me to get on the dance floor. I was rewarded with the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Umm. OK. My sister and I glanced at each other, rolled our eyes, then raised our glasses. "To good times and funeral music," we toasted.

The bravery of one older couple who humored the DJ and stayed on the dance floor while he cued in "Stray Cat Strut" after Brian Setzer's solo work gave him a bit of confidence. Thus, the patented DJ banter began!

"OK, everyone! We're here to celebrate! That's what this is! That's what a party is! A party is a celebration! Whose ready to celebrate with a little Kool and the Gang? Kool and the Gang wants you to celebrate and so do I! Let's all have a good time!"

That was when my four year old niece decided to take the D's advice and started dancing with the pole at the side of the dance floor. A few pictures later (because it's key to capture the embarrassing moments of your children in this digital age) we figured it was time to join her when, yes "We Are Family" was the next song selection.

"They picked these songs, you know," my sister said as we screamed over the dulcet tones of Ice, Ice Baby and the drunken karaoke sing along from one of the bridesmaids.

"If that's the case, then remind me to go slip the groom a twenty during the dollar dance for having the good foresight to be sure Baby Got Back was on the play list," I replied, then went for another beer when, yes, My Love came on. My own love, you might ask? He was still seated at the table, eyes closed, probably praying for an end. So of course he wasn't going to dance with me when The Cha Cha Slide came on. Along with mediocre DJ singing along! Courage had reached him!

"This is why I didn't have a DJ and dance at my wedding," I yelled to my sister as we corraled our kids off the dance floor when Butterfly Kisses came up next. Even four year olds don't want to slow dance, after all.

But secretly, given my fascination with wedding dances and DJ, I seriously was considering dusting off my college social dance class lessons and doing the swing when the Cherry Poppin' Daddies made their return to the set. But I'd only had three glasses of Bud Light at that point, and I think I'm the kind of girl who requires a shot of something harder to bust the dancing out beyond the living room.

No matter how many times you tell me this is a celebration. And you will tell me. You will tell me that a lot. Because that is what a mediocre DJ does best. Right before he then plays the Macarena. Bet me.


Friday, August 03, 2007

slowly taking over the world...

If I was married to this man, I'd kindly ask him to take his sperm of magic and get off of me. Good lord. Cripes, if I was one of the 16 previous kids in this family, I'd kick out a Brady Bunch style family conference and sit the folks down for a friendly chat. "Yeah, Pops? Moms? That noise we keep hearing in your room every nine months? Enough! It's gross."

While I have enjoyed being pregnant, being pregnant the equivalent of 10 years of my life would not be cool. Seriously. At some point, I'd want to rock the "I'm not a mom" jeans again. Or a stylish jumper set.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

'cards with the 'tards. who could beat a night of cards, chips, dips and dorks?'

You know how sometimes you're just digging around, hoping to find treasures, but all you're coming up with is stuff that makes you question what you're doing? When you've waded through drama and tears and someone's leftovers?

How about when you think you should maybe just give up the treasure hunt because you're getting nowhere and, honestly, you don't really like having your hands messy? But you tell yourself "Maybe just one more dive. I'll take one more dive into this and see what happens."

Hopefully that's the day you feel your grip hit something that feels different. You don't want to get your hopes up, so you're talking to yourself (as you're wont to do), telling yourself it's probably nothing, don't get your hopes up.

But then you pull it free. You look at it. Maybe give it a poke. And you discover that you have unearthed this really great thing! And you know that even calling it "great" doesn't seem adequate enough (oh, and that "thing," obviously, isn't the word you mean!).

That is what I have discovered in my dear friend,
Nanette (who I know knows I'm not comparing her to muck and mire!). Thank you for your kindness in the miles. We may have to alter our road trip plans (and so be it), but I'd still totally take turns dancing in the front seat with you. I'd even flash you and say "I bet you've never seen two like these before," if you promise to then say "Well, my parents do have cable."

Or we could take turns doing that!

But it will be me who keeps saying thank you.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

it's been 7 hours and 15 days. sort of. feels like it.

I got a divorce last week.

It happened almost as quickly and easily as it was for me to type those six words. No real pretense. No obvious clues. Just the end.

Perhaps you're asking yourself, "Did one of you cheat on the other? Was it those pesky irreconcilable differences that always crop up? Did you wake up one day and ask yourself 'Is this all there is?' and decided to be foolish and look for someone more passionate and scary?"

No. None of those things. I wish there'd been some of those issues, really. I think it would've made the end easier. We could've avoided each other and stormed apart. As though it were all real. Instead, I walked out the door one night last week, glanced over my shoulder, gave a last look and met silence.

Then my work husband - now officially off the clock and officially my ex - closed and locked the door and turned his back.

I learned he was leaving when another manager approached me at the start of my shift a few weeks ago, bursting to share news with me. "Have you heard?" she asked. "He's leaving. Only has a couple of weeks left."

The smile I'd been wearing? Oh, it remained. But it tightened, along with my gut, which felt like it'd been unexpectedly punched. "Leaving," I repeated. Not so much as a question, but more as a fishing expedition. I needed to reel in the why's and when's, absorb the answers, contain my sadness, and appear to be happy for him. Smiling. Smiling. Each question was gifted with perfectly plausible answers. It's time for him to move on, my friend explained. Operate under a larger revenue arm of the business. One day, she said, he'll manage his own and he must have the tenure in.

Honestly, there were tears brewing in me, the kind that made my eyes ache with a need to escape. Absolutely foolish of me. So I bit the inside of my cheek to stop them, and I smiled. Unfortunately, my brain hadn't caught up.

"He'll HATE it there!" I practically yelled. "They won't GET him! He WON'T fit in!"

My friend agreed, though I think more out of a desire to back away from the smiling crazy lady (this is becoming a common feature, btw) whose mouth was starting to bleed than in true affirmation of what I was saying. My words, of course, really meant "Who'll I hang out with? Who's going to fully appreciate an entire conversation peppered with double entendre and smirk like we're 12? Who'll truly appear eager and interested in seeing me as I come through the door at the start of my shift, encouraging me to hurry back because he has things to tell me?"

Denial, that most delicious in the stages of grief, hit pretty fast. I walked around the rest of my shift, helping customers and talking to myself. "He's not really going to go. Nothing's been formally announced," I thought. "This is all probably just silly talk." The next evening, when a different manager said to just wait and see when someone questioned her on my work husband's rumored departure, my heart skipped, and I thought how excellent I was to be right. The three years we'd spent together were not for naught. Smiles. Smiles.

It's clear why I'd think the way I did. Truly, we were perfect for each other. We knew it almost instantly when I reached across the table and shook his hand when he interviewed me for my job, and the bond only grew from there. Our part time marriage seemed solidified when, just a couple of weeks ago, he paused and turned back toward me. "Say it..." he requested. "Say it again..."

"The Dharma and Greg Initiative," I repeated. "That's what our team name will be when we dominate next year's World Series of Pop Culture on VH1!"

("We'll be unstoppable," he laughed, lifting me up and spinning me around the biographies. "No! Not just unstoppable! We'll claim that network! We'll OWN VH1!" I cried.)

Two days later, there was a note. Not specifically to me, no. How foolish. But a note taped to the break room door, alerting us all on upcoming staff changes. Three notations down, there was my divorce papers. "Wish him luck! We're sure he'll miss us all!!" it said, highlighted in pink marker.

"'Miss us all,' I'm sure," I muttered. "Me! Miss me!"

This thought despite what was turning into acceptance.

On the last closing shift we shared, neither of us worked much until after we locked the doors. Instead, we stood around and talked. Reading from a truly awful humor book of "what if" questions, he asked, "Would you rather have breasts that tuned in radio waves so you could have an instant party wherever you were, or body hair there that morphed into different shapes every 15 minutes?" I smiled, thinking no one could ever claim that our pretend love was ever mature.

"OK, here's what I think," I replied. "Body hair there. I mean, seriously? Can you imagine how much fun getting dressed or going to the bathroom would be every day? 'Hey, come look! It's shaped like a dragon fighting a knight! No wait! It's a rabbit chasing a ball!' That's your real party right there."

There was arm punches and stupid laughing that followed. That was really how we said goodbye to each other. Oh, I'll admit, for a fleeting bit of time, I thought about following him to the other store. Continuing this. But a bit of selfishness won out in the end. That store closes an hour later! There's some priorities over pretend!

So he'll find a new work wife at the other store, if he hasn't already. These types of relationships are clearly easily replaceable. I see it quite often. Though I hate it. Hate it. I fear groveling at his feet should I have to call over there to check on a customer request, and get him on the phone. Is he happy? Does he miss me? Is she good do him? Does he remember? All the questions I'd like to ask instead of if they have a copy of whatever new Nicholas Sparks books come out.

New things dim the old, I'm told. A new manager comes in this week to take my ex's place.

But I'm clearly dimmed.