...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.

Friday, October 30, 2009

and now for something completely different

I've spent part of this week wondering what I could come back here and write about, and while there's a bunch of random nouns and verbs languishing in my drafts, I honestly couldn't think of anything I felt like pulling together into a cohesive thought after going through these past seven days. In light of that, I'm going to serve up this post potluck-style. Please, I beg you, enjoy some of the Jell-O with shredded carrots and raisins so I don't have to bring it home.


First, and really, the only important thing here, my thanks to all of you for your notes and condolences for the loss of my friend Shawn. It meant a great deal to me to receive them, especially those who told me they got a true sense of the type of man he was because I finished that post feeling that I'd failed to do so. Shawn was such a vast personality there's really no way I could contain him in words. That aspect of him also explains why his memorial was a two-hour event where more than 800 of us were filled with so much laughter, boisterous singing, and celebrating.

So I thank you. Very, very much.


Tonight is trick-or-treat night in our community. I bought two huge bags of miniature Butterfinger candy bars three weeks ago, then promptly hid them so I'd stay out of them. Last night, sadly, I found them. When I did, I stood over them and considered the cute little children and annoyingly uncostumed teenagers who would be coming to my door seeking sugary sustenance and tried to talk myself out of opening them. The bags of candy, that is. I would not intentionally rip into an annoyingly uncostumed teenagers, although in my mind, I could see pulling a Freddy Krueger on one or two who've darkened my door over the years.

Anyway, screw that, I said, and I opened them. At first I ate two. An hour later, I ate two more. By 8 p.m., I was telling myself stupid knock-knock jokes so I could justify the nearly empty bag resting on my chest like a sleeping baby. Today, in the harsh light of morning guilt, I must now decide if I want to go shopping and buy more candy, or just keep the porch light off and hide away from the goblins in the night.


Considering how damn cold it is outside, I may stay home and just spend the day chopping up the solid chocolate rabbit my youngest son got last Easter to hand out to the kids. Yes, that damn thing is still in my house. Unopened. For more than seven months.

And you said I didn't have any will power, Butterfingers!


Speaking of my youngest son, last night, I heard him telling his brother the punchline of his trick-or-treat joke and then roaring with laughter. Want to hear it? Well, I wish I could tell you, but so far, he's not been able to tell me without suffering from a serious case of the guffaws, so all I can tell you is the punchline. Ready? Brace yourselves:

Alice Pooper!

(He gets his comedy stylings from me)


Which explains why I was laughing like the 14 year old boy who resides inside me while driving home from QuikTrip Wednesday afternoon with the free hot dog and pop I scored with a coupon because I'd pulled my hot dog bun out of a draw labeled "Warm Buns."

Except now, when I share that story with you all, it's really not that funny. Weird.


Which is also odd, because when I placed my delicious free hot dog and pop on the counter and whipped out my coupon and handed it to the kid behind the counter, he totally gave me the "Heh, heh, heh" chuckle and said "Have fun with your free hot dog now!" and at first I was all, "And what are you implying, my good man?!" but then I sort of laughed and muttered something about warm buns, and I don't know. I guess you had to be there.


Which is also odd because I thought that you all were always there anyway! I thought you lived in my mind!


Warm buns.


So just over a week ago, I colored my reddish-hair an incredibly WHOA!! TOO DARK SHADE OF BROWN!!! I have a name for this shade, which was deemed "Warm Mocha" on the box, but because I like to give off an air of sophistication (despite the fun I can have with a free hot dog), I are not tell you what I I renamed it. Suffice to say it involves a bodily function.

I thought this would be a glamorous new look for me (before the name change) and people would be captivated by my mysterious ways, so far, that has not been the case. Eight days later and my husband STILL HAS NOT NOTICED!!! See that profile picture up there to your left? See that red hair? It's brown now. Trust me. It's a noticeable change. Also? I want the red back now.


If I had to make excuses for my Tool Man, I would say he's not noticed because he was gone for more than three days after I changed the color, and then when he returned, he declared himself a zombie and has been fighting the zombie infection for the past week. After a week of hearing him attempt to hoist a lung through his nasal cavity and having flashes of what it will be like to live with him when he's the same age as my father-in-law, I'm ready for this zombie virus to be out of his system. I am trying desperately not to lose my sympathy, but at this point, it's hanging by the tendon where his arm once was.


My plan was to keep this post of nothing brief. Last night, while scrounging around on my nightstand for something to read (because I'd left Ace of Cakes: Inside the World of Charm City Cakes downstairs)(damn but I love that show, btw. Tool Man and I are going to go see Anthony Bourdain - swoon! - next week, but just this week, I learned Duff and Mary Alice are going to be here next month for another event and I am down with getting my culinary on, so now I'm working on Tool Man to get tickets for that), I landed on my copy of Not Quite What I Was Planning, a collection of six-word memoirs I've shared my love of (in a far, far better post than this). I love this book for the amazing way the contributors allowed brevity to say so much. I wonder what that's like. I can't even make a brief paragraph.


Oh, wait! Yes, I can!

Warm buns.


Anyway, back to what I was getting to when I attempted to be brief. Have you been reading Polite Fictions? What? Did you just say "Yes, master"? Good. Very good, indeed, because there's some awesome new contributors up in that tangled web and to paraphrase my good friend Sir Mix-A-Lot, they are down to get the fiction on. Please, click the link. Get caught up. Remark "Geeeeeyawww, that's a damn long entry!!" when you read my turn at the knife from last week, and then marvel at the thunder everyone else has been bringing. Then be thankful you are not privy to the depravity that ensues when the emails start flying between us.


I guess that's about it. It's Friday, which means no one is probably around to read this post anyway. I read yours on Friday, though. No guilt or anything. I'm just saying...

Before I go get ready for the day, let me say thank you all one more time from the bottom of my heart, which hurts something awful because it's resting atop a 10 pound, 12 ounce Butterfinger baby at the moment.

Thank you.


Alice Pooper!!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

well done, my friend. well done...

My friend Shawn is boisterous. When I’ve described him as such, he’s thrown a sturdy arm around my shoulders, tugged me in close, and said, “Just tell ‘em the truth. I’m loud!” It’s the truth. Shawn is loud. Like sirens sounding, cymbals crashing, and bombs exploding, all at the same time. He doesn’t quietly enter a room and take a seat in the corner, hoping to melt into the shadows. He kicks in the door, throws open his arms, tosses back his head, and trumpets his arrival.

The trouble with describing Shawn simply as loud, however, is that it’s not quite a powerful enough adjective. Everything about him is emphatic and rambunctious. His personality is powerful. His laughter is booming. His curiosity is intense. His faith in God is immense. His compassion is emphatic. His love is encompassing. Nothing about him is minute. Shawn is a crescendo.

My dear friend is the very definition of ‘larger than life,’ but on Tuesday afternoon, I’ll be attending his funeral.

I learned last Thursday Shawn died when another friend phoned at one of those early morning hours that compels you to say "What's happened?" rather than "Hello” when you answer. Grief rushed through me so quickly I had to hand the phone to my husband so the news could be repeated to him. My tears, instant and fierce, left me gasping for air and incapable of speaking, although I think my hope was that if I didn't have to say the words out loud, they wouldn't be true. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. One of my very best friends, someone I was honored to know for more than 10 years, was dead at 44 of a heart attack.

Shawn and I met at church. Curious and searching, he’d been invited to worship at the same church my husband and I had recently started attending for much the same reason. Less than a year later, Shawn and his wife, my husband and I, and a handful of other couples gathered around a dining room table, filled with ideas and eagerness to plant a new church. I was still a very new Christian, and so was Shawn, but his passion for learning and serving was contagious. The light that shined in his eyes and fueled his heart was forever intense, and it spilled into the community. He was never invasive, but if your heart was burdened, you knew after meeting Shawn that there was someone praying for you. He knew I’ve not been a particularly happy person for the last several months, and on a recent Sunday morning, during worship, I looked across the gym where we hold church and saw him staring in my direction. He was stabbing the air with his index finger, and I casually glanced behind me to see whose attention he was trying to capture. After several more covert glances, I realized he was pointing at me. When he had my attention, he shaped his fingers into a heart, held them to his chest, and smiled. The gesture, simple and pure, made me cry. The last time we spoke, he asked me if there was anything he could do to be of help to me. That's the essence of who Shawn was.

Shawn and I shared a mutual love of 80s music and outrageous comedies. “Our friendship was built on Madonna and the Messiah!” he’d say. “Where would we be without prayer and The Princess Bride?” I’d ask. Our phone calls often involved him serenading me with a song we both loved (far too many to count based on the number of mix CDs he created for me), or reciting a scene or six from one of our favorite movies before our outrageous laughter forced me to beg for mercy. Sometimes after such fits, Shawn would have to hang up and then call back a few minutes later because he’d forgotten the point of his original call. Last Tuesday, I called to tell him IFC was airing Monty Python and the Holy Grail later that evening, and we immediately unleashed as King Arthur and the Black Knight ("Look, you stupid bastard, you've got no arms left!" "Yes I have!" "Look!" "It's just a flesh wound."). I watched the movie this weekend and it felt very quiet among the pieces of my broken heart.

I realize none of you know my friend Shawn, although if one or two of you did, I'd not be surprised. It might be a cliché, but the man never knew a stranger. Once, a group of six of us went out to dinner, and between the salads and the entrees, we had to push three additional tables together and add eight more chairs to our intimate setting because Shawn knew – or just knew of – half the people in the restaurant. When I first got to know him, I selfishly wished to be his sole best friend, but there's a reason why his funeral will be held at a church that seats more than 800 people. Shawn would say he was a black hole that sucked us all in, but the truth is, he was a bright sun the rest of us orbited around.

My heart has been raw and so very heavy since I learned of Shawn’s death. I can’t stop thinking of his wife and two sons and the awesome love they shared. I feel cheated of more time with him here. Walking into church today and not having his voice be the first thing I heard was jolting. I’m profoundly sad, and moved to tears at the slightest thought, but a faith I credit him for bolstering means I know my friend wouldn’t want me, or anyone else who loves him, to feel so sad for long. I know he wouldn’t have chosen to leave his family, but he’s happy and healed where he is now, and I firmly believe he kicked open the gates and cheered his arrival.

And secretly, I hope by now he’s gotten God to join in on a Python riff (“Every time I try to talk to someone, it’s ‘sorry this’ and ‘forgive me that’ and ‘I’m not worthy…’”). I'd expect nothing less.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

but they're too busy reading to put anybody down

In addition to finding clever ways to display 187 copies of the first book in the eternally popular (somewhere) Boxcar Children series or the 49 copies (because 48 didn't seem like quite enough) of Handy Manny's Motorcycle Adventure, the majority of my days at the book store involve connecting shoppers with the perfect book for their young readers.

I routinely scan my department for shoppers who appear dazed (and occasionally injured - sorry about those books falling off the top shelf and onto your head today, lady. Sometimes, if you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk. Then he's going to punch you in the face)(Oh, don't worry! The moose had a muffin, so it had the strength to knock the lady out of the way with it's mighty rack). Typically, helping shoppers involves fielding a lot of questions. "He's 8 years old and he doesn't read. What would he like?" or "I have to buy a book for my grandson, who I never see. Do you think he'd like books about the Civil War?" Occasionally, the shopper comes prepared with a detailed set of requirements. "She likes fantasy books, but we don't want her reading Harry Potter, or anything with dragons, witches, fairies, unicorns, castles, mermaids, goblins, sprites, pixies, glowing orbs capable of casting spells or anything else like that. What do you recommend?" As a matter of fact, yes. How do you feel about teenage vampires?

It sounds like a tough job, doesn't it? Oh, sure, I imagine it's not as tough as piloting fighter jets, performing brain surgery, brokering world peace, forecasting the weather, or preparing a meal my children will eat without suspecting sabotage, but as you can see, it does present some routine challenges. However, that doesn't mean you should feel like you can't handle it. Let me run you through a little training exercise I developed after helping a woman who journeyed into the children's department this afternoon. To make this experience extra fun, let's roll play, shall we? I'll play the role of 'Me,' and if you wish, you can play the part of the woman. Ready? Let's go!

Me: Hi! It looks like you have a rather long list of items you're looking for. Can I be of any help to you today?

(sidebar - Did you notice how nice I am? How costumer-focused? Yeah. Me, too. So, why do you think I only got a quarter raise at my review three weeks ago?)

(Take 2!)(or, as we say in the book biz, Chapter 2!)

Me: Hi! It looks like you have a rather long list of items you're looking for. Can I be of any help to you today?

Woman: Oh, that would be lovely! I'm looking for a variety of books to build the children's library at my church and I need books for all ages.

Me: I'd be glad to suggest some great titles! Follow me! I'll show you!

(seriously, friends. a quarter.)

Cut to the part where you see me showing the grateful shopper a variety of books, primarily those with recognizable, time-honored titles such as I'll Love You Forever, Hop on Pop, Guess How Much I Love You, Goodnight, Moon, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Olivia, etc.

Woman: These all seems like great choices! You've been tremendously helpful! What other books would you recommend?

Me: Well, my children were big fans of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom when they were younger. I really think you must include that book in your collection.

Woman: Perfect! Anything else?

Me: Yes! You absolutely MUST get Good Night, Gorilla! Children LOVE this story."

Woman: What's it about?

Me: It's a very cute story about a zoo keeper, his wife, and a mischievous little gorilla and what happens when the gorilla steals away with the zoo keeper's keys.

Woman: Oh. Hmmm. Well....I'm not sure...

Me: Is it the stealing you're worried about? Don't give it a second thought!

Woman: No, it's not that...

Me (thinking): Please don't make me say something about the gorilla crawling into bed with the zoo keeper's wife, please don't make me say...

Woman: Well, it's just that I have to be courteous and think of the members of our congregation who are vegetarians...

Me: ::blink blink::

Woman: ::blink blink::

Me: Um...

Woman: I just really don't want to offend those who choose not to eat meat.

Me: Well, I can assure you, the zookeeper doesn't fillet the gorilla and toss him on the grill after marinating him overnight in a delicious balsamic reduction.

(in maintaining your good customer service skills, say the preceding with a smile that you enhance with a lighthearted chuckle)

(plus, p.s., where do your congregants eat where things like gorilla or hyena are on the menu? Be thee not confused between 'Good night, deer' and 'good night, dear,' my children.)

Woman: So...any other suggestions?

Of course I had suggestions for her.

The Carrot Seed

There you go. Everyone's happy, and that, friends, is good customer service. Here's a quarter, I think you're ready! Can you fill my shift Thursday?


We currently have 170 paperback copies of Where The Wild Things Are in the store. Today, while suggesting books to another shopper, I placed a copy of the book in her hand and raved about what a great book it would be to share with her child, who was running around the place and was definitely not young. "Oh, that story would be far too long for him!" she responded.

The book is 10 sentences long. If it was a video game, the kid would probably play it for hours.


I try to read at least one book a week. Sometimes it takes a bit longer. Sadly, I've spent more than a month trying to get through The Time Traveler's Wife. I tend to be one who tries to finish what I start, but I'm to the point where I wish I was the one who could flit through the time and get this beast done. I also wish I could let go of my irritation about the author's love affair with commas. There are way too many misplaced commas in this story.


Do you need something fun to read? After Whit wrote about the Skulduggery Pleasant series at Dadcentric, I was all, "Oh, I must read those!" However, need I remind you my raise was just a quarter an hour? Yeah, so as a result, I am not buying them, but I am listening to them. Well, I'm listening to the first one, and strongly suggest you do, too. Sure, they're found in the young reader's section of your favorite bookstore, but they make a fun adult read, too.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes, there's vampires in the book, but thankfully, they're not glowing and angst-ridden.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

we are golden

I went shopping earlier this week, hoping to find a card to give my husband. Today is our 15th wedding anniversary. Fifteen years ago this afternoon, my father flung the sanctuary doors open, revealing me to friends, family, and my soon-to-be husband, and even now, when I think about the way he looked at me in that moment, I tear up.




I've never been a great fan of mass produced greeting cards meant to mark off birthdays, sympathies, or anniversaries. Often I'll stand before the colorful, typically haphazard displays, and become overwhelmed. Other times I'll read each one in a desired category, sometimes more than once, hoping to find the card to best describe what my heart wishes to say to the intended recipient. Very rarely, though, does that seem to happen. Such was the case this week. How do you wrap 15 years of marriage up succinctly in four or five lines of flowery prose when there's so much I want to say to him? I could add my own words to Hallmark's efforts, but when I've done that, I fill the pleasing white space with my charms, causing my husband to twist and turn the card in an acrobatic attempt to read my writing, while I'll have long finished reading the one handed to me moments before. The one signed simply Love, Your Husband.

My husband is a man of few words and I am a woman of many. There are countless nights I lay my head down at the end of the day and wonder why it aches before I remember that it's filled with all the things I wanted to say that day but never got - or took - the chance to, whereas my husband barely gets the words
"good night" out before plunging into a deep sleep. I see it as frustrating. He probably sees it as a gift.

This has not been the easiest year of our marriage. We've spent far more days and nights away from each other than I care to tally. For the first time in its (amazing, impressive) 15 year tenure, we raised our voices to each other, and word(s) we've never said to the other were lobbed like grenades across the length of our living room and left to lie there, waiting to see how the other might react. I'm not at all proud of that. I thank God every day the man who made me well up with tears of happiness 15 years ago today may have ducked and looked for cover, but never once ran away. I pray that he's happy I didn't either.

I can't imagine life without him, the same way I can't fathom how it is 15 years with him have sped by. When I joined him at the altar on our wedding day, I only saw
that day in my mind. I knew we'd have many together. I simply couldn't picture them in that moment. I didn't see our two amazing sons in our future, or the daughter we'll one day reunite with on another realm. I couldn't envision how we'd lift each other out of the depths of depression each of us would go through, or how we'd celebrate that which we have (thankfully, far more often than we've had to mourn for that which we do not). There's not a greeting card for that.

As I write this, my husband is downstairs with our boys, each of them skimming their game pieces across the Sorry board. The man of few words tackles the things I don't particularly care to do while I, the woman with (too) many words, spills a few. I hope he's never been sorry of any of the time we've had together during this rapid-fire 15 years. I'm not. Even though I never truly pictured our life together beyond the moment we married, I'd rush through our courtship and engagement the same way we did then to marry him again today if we were granted a do-over.

I have too many words, and the greeting cards I looked at (and ultimately left without) while on my shopping excursion didn't have the ideal ones, but in this particular moment, I can think of only single words that best convey what I feel today on our anniversary and every day after.




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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

do not go gentle into that sorta OK post

My junior year in college, I took a poetry class as part of my ever fluctuating major requirements. I thought it would be interesting to sit around with my classmates, my fellow intellectuals, my real life Dead Poets Society. When I rushed in for the first day of class, however, I found it severely lacking in Ethan Hawkes. Instead, the room was filled with other clueless classmates staring at a man at the front of the room with a head of manic ivory white hair and wearing an unironic tweed jacket so infused with the scent of cigarette smoke I wondered if it hadn't actually been woven from the leaves of the very first tobacco plant ever grown. When he introduced himself to us as Doctor, I knew we weren't going to just sit around and listen to pretty, pretty poems, but we were, in fact, going to have to write our own.

As soon as he told us that, before adding that we'd also be critiquing our works in class, I wanted to die. "Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee and my fear of poetry," I thought (except, you may note by that thought, I was already a poet and didn't know it)(heh...). Before Dr. Ivory N. Tweed was halfway through the syllabus, I was plotting the quickest route to rage, rage against the dying light at the end of the registrar's line to drop this class.

Then he told the class about the many published collections of poems he'd written about King Kong and I thought, "Oh, I am in like Flynn!" (still with the poetry, btw!) because other than the words ding and dong, what can someone rhyme with the name of a giant ape? If such a thing can be a fertile muse, then easy A, yo!

Turns out, you don't have to rhyme in poetry, friends. I learned that after turning in my first attempt, which came back with more red slashes from the good doctor than actual poorly attempted stanzas on my part. I wish I had it to include here, but if I recall correctly, I think it was about snowflakes and their fickle hearts and melting spirits. It was from that work I learned the meaning of trite, which the the professor so kindly defined for me between my verses.

I wish I could find the poems I wrote that semester because I don't recall a single one beyond my snowflake sonnet. However, I can recall the work of a classmate who penned the following after we were assigned a poem about something we loved:


The crowd is loud in the gym tonight
The score is tied. We have to fight.
I grab the rebound. I check the clock.
He's open for the pass. I ignore his spot.

Dribble, dribble, dribble I do
Down the court to shoot for two
The orange ball spins 'round the rim
The shot is good! We crowd goes wild!
Hooray! Hooray! We won today!

Inspiring, is it not? Oh, had Shakespeare only thought to have Romeo stop for a quick pick up game before meeting Juliet in the tomb! You'll note the author started off strong, but then seemingly shot his wad after he shot his ball, and the poem seemed to fall apart. However, the fact I can recall this from memory nearly 20 years later, and none of my own poetic attempts speaks to one's view of art, perhaps. I mean, we all know about that girl from Nantucket, do we not?

When the class finally ended, I earned a solid B for my collected works, which I imagine will one day be unearthed in my mother's basement and published upon my death from mysterious circumstances or at the hands of a former lover...OR BOTH! While I can't give you any of my former works, this post does serves as a way for me to give you the words that follow, which I found over the weekend while cleaning out the drafts folder in my email account:



growl growing up from his chest


blah, blah, blah, eye roll, blah



Apparently I wrote that back in early January. Obviously, I have titled it Untitled. I don't remember writing it or what it's supposed to be about (King Kong, perhaps? Hmmm....). It's possible that I, like many famous poets in history, was drunk, high on opium, or suffering from the effects of syphilis. I don't know. Is it a line of dialogue from a television show I was watching at the time? I suppose there's always the chance, but unlikely. I don't know what inspired it, but it's powerful, is it not? Read it aloud this time. Listen. Blah, blah, blah, eye roll, blah. That is intense. Yep.

Whatever the case, the reality is, I just wrote another long-winded post about nothing that allowed me to clean out my engorged email folders, and you all played along. Thank you and you're welcome.

(Also, feel free to share with me any awesome poetry attempts or haikus you have. Just don't be sad if they don't live up to the majesty that is Untitled. We can't all be poet laureates on our first attempt - need I remind you of Basketball?)

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Monday, October 12, 2009

hey...wanna hear a joke?

Knock knock!

(that's your cue)

(I'm not kidding about the joke!)

(do you need me to start over?)

Knock knock!

(you're saying "Who's there?" right? Good!)

Not me!

(your turn again...do we have to start this over again? no? oh, sorry. I didn't hear you.)

Not me who!


What? That was hilarious!! 'Not me who!' Cripes, that's a classic! People are going to be repeating that for decades! So long "Aren't you glad I didn't say orange!" There's a new classic knock knock joke in town!

Why aren't you laughing? Listen - 'Not me who!' Did your sense of humor stay home today? Sheesh.

Wait! Where are you going? Come back! There's more to the joke! I know. I know. Unless your a little kid who doesn't know when to stick the laugh, most knock knock jokes end right there, but there's more to mine. Ready?



Pretty please?

Come on! Just play along!

Ok, say "Not me who?"


Not me who boo hoo hoo!

Why aren't you laughing? That's a perfectly fantastic joke! Don't you get it? I'm not HERE, and you're all BOO HOO HOO. Hilarious! What are you? Dead inside?

OK, let me try this joke on you - Why did the reader click the link?

To get to my guest post over at Kat's Three Bedroom Bungalow!

HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA! Stop! Stop it now! My sides ache! I might pee my pants, and omg, seriously, I can only do that if I have a cold accompanied by a hacking cough, so STOP LAUGHING!

No, wait! What am I saying? Go visit me over the pond at Kat's place, where I share a little Halloween-related story involving devils and devilish things. Don't worry, though. It's a sweet, heart-warming tale, which is odd when you consider it features devils and perhaps evil hobos. I promise you, though, you won't end up in...INTENSIVE SCARE!!



Sunday, October 04, 2009

call me my love you can call me any day or night

Remember being a kid and living for Friday because not only did it mean another week of school was over, but also you got to catch up with the precocious Tanner family on Full House and Larry and his wacky cousin Balki on Perfect Strangers? Ah, yes, ABC's TGIF line-up was nothing short of inspired back in the day. I wouldn't know, of course, because I considered myself far too sophisticated for such fare in the late 80s. I was in college by then and into Bel Biv Devoe not Mr. Belvedere. I believe I knew one day I'd have children obsessed with Full House, so why take in more than necessary?

That doesn't mean I didn't love Fridays. I love Fridays! Who doesn't love Fridays? As I write this, it's Sunday, and we all know Sunday means two things - a new episode of Mad Men and the desire for it to be Friday. Well, I have the power to give you a little Friday as your new week starts! Please visit I Pick Pretty, where last Friday, Mel graciously profiled me in her Featured Blogger Friday post. There I give you an amuse-bouche of what I'm like. Did you just say I'm amazing? Yes, that's true. However, I don't get into that over there. Do you question my inspirations? Do you wonder what my favorite books are? Well, I'm not going to tell you here. You have to go there. See what I just did? I gave you some Friday! You're welcome!

When you're done - and that means leaving Mel a lovely comment - then please come back here and read the new post below. To those new here from I Pick Pretty, I hope you'll enjoy the comfortable surroundings, and will leave me a comment so I know you've been by.


My oldest son turned 12 a few weeks ago. It's a brave new world living with a pre-teen. Our once semi-quiet home has transformed into an incoming call center of young girls phoning to speak to my son. My sweet boy speaks politely to each girl, including the one with an extreme case of short-term memory because she neglects to remember the many times I've asked her not to call at 6:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, when I grumpily answer the phone. I'm very proud of my son's good manners. However, it's clear by his routine use of monosyllabic responses, he's oblivious to the true intent behind some of the calls these girls are making - they think he's cute, and they want him to think they're cute, too.

Here's the thing about 12 year old boys - they don't think much is cute yet. Especially girls. At least that's the case with my particular 12 year old boy, and to be perfectly honest, based on the giggly girls calling here, I'm glad to be living with the Y chromosome during this new phase of life.

I do look forward to the day when my son no longer recoils in horror when I playfully ask him if he has a girlfriend, but right now, I'm OK with him still thinking the only kind of wrestling around with another person that's interesting is the kind that happens on WWE Monday Night RAW. This opinion was cemented for me earlier in the week after spending some time on Facebook and reading the updates of a 12 year old girl who attends our church. Last Monday, she changed her status from 'single' to 'in a relationship,' and updated her page with the mysteriously dreamy line "WOW! He's SOOOOOOO amazing!!" A few of her friends didn't agree, and soon the debate raged between those who posted "Glad your (sic) so happy!!!!!" and those who thought "If u say so..." Things became so heated it forced my young friend to update her page 11 minutes later with a plea for to those who didn't understand her choice to "...except (sic) the AMAZING things about him and don't reflect on the bad!!!!"

The discourse that followed taught me a few things. First, students should spend less time trying to bone each other and more time boning up on their spelling. Second, the rampant abuse of exclamation points needs to cease. Finally, study hall is the modern day Sex and The City. "WE DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE DANG GUY!!!!!!!!!! STOP MAKING US SOUND EVIL BECUZ WE DON'T HAVE BACKGROUND INFO!!!!!!!!" exclaimed the cynical middle school Miranda Hobbes. "U need to let her have her space! She can date whoever she wants!" a young, love defies all Charlotte York soothed.

The battle waged on forever, or in this particular case of young love, just a few days. By Thursday, my young friend returned her relationship status to 'single,' and her updates became triumphant female empowerment mantras the likes of which would be the battle cries of the uninhibited Samantha Jones. "WOW!!!!! I'm SINGLE and I LUV IT!!!!!!!" she wrote ("I knew that something was wrong with him. What did I tell u? I was right AGAIN!!! I think you should start listening to me," the young Miranda jabbed back). This was followed by a long string of updates championing her love of being single and how she "...wasn't waistin' (sic)(sigh...) any more time on boys!!!!" Where once I hoped to hear Journey's Separate Ways in my head while reading her Facebook page, I was now hearing the omnipresent lyrics of Beyonce's Single Ladies. "Life is full of jerks and that is all I have left to say," she concluded.

That may be my acquaintance's opinion of young love now, but in a thoughtful - and correctly spelled - comment, I assured her the day would come soon enough (though, honestly, at 12?!?) when she'd not think of boys as jerks. I also told her there was plenty of time to be in love. Preferably, though, that time is not between 6:30 a.m., every Monday through Wednesday.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

because he asked nicely, but mostly because he's made of awesome...

For the past two weeks, I've been listening to my youngest son restlessly attempt to sleep when not having his rest interrupted by coughing fits that make me hurt just to hear. He's exhausted. I'm exhausted. While trying to help him, I'm also attempting to fend off the first hint of a seasonal cold I knew was going to attack my immune system when I walked through a fine mist of germs upon entering the children's department at work. My Tool Man is hoping all the vitamin C tablets I'm ingesting work their magic because I may have a bit of a whining problem when I'm sick, the type that I do not doubt makes him question that whole "In sickness and in health" bit from our wedding vows.

But this is not about me and my woe is me headache today. This is about my friend Kevin of Always Home and Uncool. Last month, Kevin hatched an amazing plan to take control of the Internet, and in using the power that type of thing provides, he commanded (nay - asked) his friends and fellow bloggers if they would publish the following post today as a way to help his family in their effort to raise awareness of juvenile myositis, which is a rare autoimmune disease his daughter was diagnosed with seven years ago today. Friday is also his wife's birthday, and this effort is Kevin's gift to his beloved. Kevin is pretty awesome. I hope you'll read today in support of him and his family.


Our pediatrician admitted it early on.

The rash on our 2-year-old daughter's cheeks, joints and legs was something he'd never seen before.

The next doctor wouldn't admit to not knowing.

He rattled off the names of several skins conditions -- none of them seemingly worth his time or bedside manner -- then quickly prescribed antibiotics and showed us the door.

The third doctor admitted she didn't know much.

The biopsy of the chunk of skin she had removed from our daughter's knee showed signs of an "allergic reaction" even though we had ruled out every allergy source -- obvious and otherwise -- that we could.

The fourth doctor had barely closed the door behind her when, looking at the limp blonde cherub in my lap, she admitted she had seen this before. At least one too many times before.

She brought in a gaggle of med students. She pointed out each of the
physical symptoms in our daughter:

The rash across her face and temples resembling the silhouette of a butterfly.

The purple-brown spots and smears, called heliotrope, on her eyelids.

The reddish alligator-like skin, known as Gottron papules, covering the knuckles of her hands.

The onset of crippling muscle weakness in her legs and upper body.

She then had an assistant bring in a handful of pages photocopied from an old medical textbook. She handed them to my wife, whose birthday it happened to be that day.

This was her gift -- a diagnosis for her little girl.

That was seven years ago -- Oct. 2, 2002 -- the day our daughter was found to have
juvenile dermatomyositis, one of a family of rare autoimmune diseases that can have debilitating and even fatal consequences when not treated quickly and effectively.

Our daughter's first year with the disease consisted of surgical procedures, intravenous infusions, staph infections, pulmonary treatments and worry. Her muscles were too weak for her to walk or swallow solid food for several months. When not in the hospital, she sat on our living room couch, propped up by pillows so she wouldn't tip over, as medicine or nourishment dripped from a bag into her body.

Our daughter, Thing 1, Megan, now age 9, remembers little of that today when she dances or sings or plays soccer. All that remain with her are scars, six to be exact, and the array of pills she takes twice a day to help keep the disease at bay.

What would have happened if it took us more than two months and four doctors before we lucked into someone who could piece all the symptoms together? I don't know.

I do know that the fourth doctor, the one who brought in others to see our daughter's condition so they could easily recognize it if they ever had the misfortune to be presented with it again, was a step toward making sure other parents also never have to find out.

That, too, is my purpose today.

It is also my birthday gift to my wife, My Love, Rhonda, for all you have done these past seven years to make others aware of juvenile myositis diseases and help find a cure for them once and for all.

To read more about children and families affected by juvenile myositis diseases, visit Cure JM Foundation at

To make a tax-deductible donation toward JM research, go to
www.firstgiving.com/rhondaandkevinmckeever or www.curejm.com/team/donations.htm.