...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 31, 2008

ouija think was gonna happen?

While in the icy death grip of a weekend spent watching horror movies and guzzling Bartles and James wine coolers (my favorite movie - The Evil Dead/my favorite flavor - B&J's Classic Original), my college friends and I decided it would be awesome to tempt fate with a Ouija board.

Whether it was an actual interest in speaking with spirits or just the spirits that had been flowing through us, the idea - inspired by a scene in the Exorcist where Regan shows her mother the fun that can be had chit chatting with the devil through a Ouija board just before that pesky possession business - grew the more we drank. Before the evening morphed into a new day, a board, made by the fine folks at Parker Brothers, had been procured, and the six of us huddled around it, ready to have either a really great laugh or - dun, dun, DUN - unlock the gates of Hell.

"Is anyone here with us today?" we asked, stifling giggles and clouding the room with lots of shushing sounds. "If anyone is here with us today, please let us meet you."

Seconds later, the message indicator flew to the word 'yes' at the board's upper lefthand corner, and the six of us were welcoming CeCe, the spirit of a 13-year-old girl, into our circle. How sad, I remember thinking just before peppering CeCe with very important questions, such as who I would marry and how many kids I'd have. CeCe dutifully spelled out the name of my college boyfriend and swore I'd have eight children with him. She could have then told me I'd sacrifice every one of those children at the altar of some demonic beast and I'd not have cared because I was so thrilled at the prospect of marrying my college love.

The Ouija board - and CeCe - came out almost every time my friends and I got together. She was always very polite, sometimes quite playful, and, every once in awhile, downright bitchy. Kind of like my friends and I were when our periods were in sync. After an evening of play in my room, I'd tucked the board deep within my closet and shut the door. Several hours later, my roommate and I were awakened in the middle of the night by a loud crash. Flicking on the lights, we saw my closet doors thrown open and the Ouija board laying in the middle of the floor between our beds.


Several seconds of silence led to nervous giggling which then resulted in us dashing out the door and away from our evil room for the remainder of the night. From then on, I was done with the Ouija board, but if I were to dabble with it today I'd like to tell CeCe that I DID NOT marry my college boyfriend (long story), nor did I have eight children (so it goes without saying I didn't sacrifice any of them to some demonic beast)(but two kids I had might want to watch their backs)(just kidding).

I'd also rethink where I'd go shopping for a Ouija board. My friends and I picked mine up at Easters Grocery Store in Missouri. Because shopping for your occult needs makes a great deal of sense at a place bearing the word Christians use to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

(...and rimshot!) Thanks folks! That's it for me tonight! You've been a fantastic crowd! I'll be back next week! Happy Halloween, y'all!

(Hey, Backpacking Dad! The Exorcist is on Bravo at 1:30 p.m. Central Friday. #WTMD?)

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'gonna dress you up in my love'

Despite recent evidence to the contrary, I truly am not a very creative person. What you might call creative I'd argue is actually perfectionism. Sweet, irritating, incredibly out of control perfectionism.

As a result of this lack of creativity, and ironically, despite the perfectionism, my children have never had homemade Halloween costumes to wear on their quests for delicious chocolaty treasures for their father and me. It's not as though I've never wanted to make a costume for my kids. Every autumn, I browse the Internet and flip the pages of FamilyFun magazine, marveling at what you can do with a couple giant cardboard boxes, dryer vent tubing, and a can of spray paint. Then, when I'm done marveling, I go downstairs and pull out the costumes I bought on clearance at Target the year before. What I lack in creativity I make up for in frugality.

As I'm wont to do in most areas of my life, I blame my lack of costume creativity on my Mom. Each Halloween, with visions of princesses dancing in our heads, my sister and I would turn to face the mirror to see how our Mom had worked her fairy godmother magic upon us, only to find ourselves sporting ashen beards, dark circles under our eyes, and various scars.

"Down on our luck hobos AGAIN!?" we'd cry, and Mom would smile.

One year, thinking I'd caught her in a weak moment, Mom agreed to let me wear an old bridesmaid dress she had hanging in her closet. Caught up in the excitement of the idea, she soon had plans for me to wear one of her old wigs and to do my make up with beautiful eyes and a tiny mole dabbed on my cheek. I was thrilled at the prospect of shocking my neighbors into giving me extra candy when they opened their doors to find me standing there, beautiful and quite non-hoboesque. That night, wig on and dress stuffed, Mom sat me down to complete my look. Twenty minutes later, I turned to face the mirror and realized that the powder I thought she was using to set my face was actually an ashen five o'clock shadow that had been enhanced by the addition of a garish scars.

"Down on my luck hobo bridesmaid?" I asked. Mom just smiled at our reflections in the mirror. I couldn't smile, what with the sad hobo eyes all. Also, I feared that if I actually smiled, she'd grab my face and attempt to blacken my front teeth with her eyeliner pencil.

I gave up trick or treating shortly after that, and didn't don a costume again until my freshman year of college, when I went to a Halloween party with my fellow yearbook staff (ain't no party like a yearbook staff party! Hey! Ho!). Out from under my Mom's hobo thumb, I reveled in my opportunity to finally take control of my costume choices, which were (a) hobo or (b) condom.

I went as a condom.

Except actually, I went as a penis wearing a condom.

Because, unlike a hobo, which I'd seen before, I thought it would be oh, so hilarious to dress up like something I'd not yet gotten up close and personal with yet at that point in life. Good thing most hobos and most penises are bearded, so I had that part of the costume down.

Clad in a pink sweater and pink tights (heh), I assembled my costume by tugging a giant, clear garbage bag over my head, rolling up the ends a bit and declaring myself dressed for my pleasure. What I failed to do was poke any holes in my costume for airflow (because who wants a holey condom, right?), so I was a rather sweaty condom-clad penis by the time we got to the party. Nothing says 'Hey, you're pretty damn smart!' like putting a giant plastic bag over your head and then laughing so hard you nearly pass out from the lack of oxygen.

There are photos of me in this costume. I'd show you, but, well, I'm pretty sure I don't want the first glimpse some of you of me to be dressed as a giant, condom-clad penis. Because I'm not kidding about the giant part. Having enjoyed the vast array of goods available at the student cafeteria during the first few weeks of college I'd pudged up a bit my freshman year, and the resulting pounds added some weight to the argument some have that girth is better than length.

The condom costume was my last foray into homemade costumes. It's because of that ridiculous rubber get-up that my kids must pay the price because I firmly believe the lack of air I got that night under that plastic bag killed what few creative brain cells I had.

However, the way I see it, thanks to a lack of condoms, I have two kids, and those two kids are going to go out in their clearance-priced costumes tomorrow night and they're going to set me up nicely with the Fun Size snacks, because, come Halloween, I'm totally a fan of girth.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

'...that is what I do, hey, baby'

“Really?” my friend asked, her voice incredulous. “You really miss him when he’s not home?”

“Of course I miss my husband when he’s not home,” I responded. “I don’t understand why you’d think I wouldn’t.”

My friend paused, and it was during that brief moment that I was reminded why she’d be skeptical of my admission. “I’d be willing to bet that the man you sleep with and have tagged as ‘your poor, misunderstood boyfriend’ has a wife at home who misses him when he’s not with her, too,” I said.

“That’s different,” she responded, as expected, interrupting me as I tried to say, once again, that it’s not at all different before filing my opinions on the above-mentioned matter away for another time. “You’ve been with your husband for so long now. What could there possibly be to miss when you’re not together.”

Perhaps it will come off as sappy or far too perfect to admit I was able to tick off a list of things about my Tool Man that I miss when he’s away – and believe me, he’s away a lot. However, I was able to do just that. The role he plays in this long-running show we have going on goes a bit dark when we’re not together. The man is my partner in crime, so to speak. If I’m the one casing the joint and fine-tuning the heist, he’s the one making sure the get-away car is fully operational. They may be separate jobs, but they bring about one shared payday, and requires the two of us to be in synch. After fourteen years of marriage, I think we’re pretty much in synch. We certainly don’t have a perfect marriage, and personally, I don’t want one that is, and while we’re completely capable of functioning alone, things seem to work better when we work together.

Especially when it comes to pretend bank heists, but, you know, whatever. It applies to other areas, too.

Remember when I said that each night we go to bed together, we fall asleep holding hands? That’s totally the truth. Sure, when he’s gone, I always feel like an explorer who’s charted new land when I jump into bed, land in the middle, and then spread each limb to the four corners, effectively staking my claim to territory I feel is rightfully mine. But it never fails to feel a bit 'off,' so when he's home, I allow Tool Man to annex his bit of pillow-topped property. Sure, I might complain and dip a leg over his property line, but damn if he’s not typically a good neighbor. The kind you want to hold hands with, which, if that’s the kind of neighborhood you live in, wow, I want to move there.

Granted, his snoring can be so loud and annoying sometimes that, were the bed an actual neighborhood and not just a metaphor for our relationship, I’d call the cops every night to complain about the ruckus going on next door, but I digress...

When he’s gone, I miss the person who can help me with our boys, whether that means with an especially taxing math assignment as part of our eldest’s homework, or because he can take over marveling at our youngest’s latest magic trick when, after spending 40 minutes gasping in shock and delight at each “Abracadabra!!” , I’ve still not seen my chosen card emerge from the deck as promised and I now have to turn my attention elsewhere to keep our household moving along smoothly. I miss the person who I willingly sacrifice space on the DVR to record “House” so he can record a show he prefers to watch (btw, thank you, TV Network Gods, for putting shows online, seriously). I miss the person I know will protect me if necessary. He’s the same person who will bring home a coffee for me without asking if I wanted one, just because he wanted to do that for me. I miss watching him interact with our sons, and, heaven help him (or me), I miss watching this 40-year-old man try to figure out how to do different loads of laundry without asking me a million questions, yet still be the Jedi Master when it comes to getting the stains out of my shirts after I’ve spilled a bite of whatever we’ve had for dinner that night upon them (which, it should be noted, happens damn near every night, so this fact alone should really be at the top of my list).

In case you were wondering, I just asked Tool Man what he misses about me when we’re apart. At the top of his list? “Having you around so I spell words correctly,” he said. First thing. Seriously. I’ll give him that. The dude is a horrific speller who probably married me more for my sexy journalism degree than that thing I can do with my ::edited:: (thanks to my sexy journalism degree!). Now, raise your hand if you can tell me who the more romantic one in this relationship is. You. In the back row. Care to take a guess? That’s right. Me. I am. Oh, but wait! Tool Man’s not done yet! “I also miss how you always want to kiss me.” Well, well, well. Interesting. This is totally true, btw, and, for the record, I just got up and gave him a giant kiss square on the mouth for that response. So, to all of you who were waiting for the option of “You AND Tool Man” before raising your hand, I’ll give you credit also. Oh, just a second. Tool Man’s not done yet! I bet this one is going to be fantastic! Let’s listen, shall we? “I also miss all the chances I have to aggravate you. I can’t help it. I LIVE to aggravate you!” OK, well, looks like I’m back to just giving those of you who answered “You” that point. The rest of you, please get out your notebooks and write a two page essay titled “Ways Tool Man Can Bring the Thunder” and leave them on my desk by tomorrow.

To be fair to my friend, she’s never had the kind of solid marital relationship that I and our other friends enjoy. Her former husband cheated on her their entire marriage, and now, after years of lamenting how she fears being alone forever, she’s convinced herself that it’s OK to be the ‘other woman’ in a situation (because no matter how she decorates it, it’s not a relationship) that, I won’t lie, I pray to fail. She grew up with an aunt and uncle who served as her mother and father because her own mother couldn’t care to miss her, and her father was never known. She has two daughters she does miss when they’re gone, and I suppose that’s sort of the same as missing a spouse, but not really, for they serve a far, far different role. I wish she could feel what it’s like to be part of a relationship where the other person truly is your equal and who has your back. Aggravating as he can be (and believe me, I don’t doubt for one minute that he truly does live to make me crazy), I miss my Tool Man when he’s not around, even after all the time we've spent together.

Also, I’d totally let him be the one to pull off the heist while I drove the getaway car. Why? I’m a faster (albeit safer) driver who doesn’t floor the breaks at every red light like some kissable aggravating man I know. And Tool Man? Tool Man is nothing if not a stickler for details, which is just another thing about him that I miss when he’s not around.

So is that really so odd?


Friday, October 24, 2008

working my witchcraft. it make sense. just read.

If you and I were to ever meet in real life (because I'd call it 'real life' and not 'RL' due to my personal creed to use Internet abbreviations and emoticons sparingly), I imagine a couple things would cross your mind. First, you'd probably be stunned by how truly kick ass I am. Seriously. I'm not bragging, but I feel I should tell you that some people I know in real life have referred to me as, and I quote, "cool." Oh, sure, when we first met, I'd probably come across as ragingly shy and I'd be very quiet, but right about the time you were starting to think I must be some kind of bitch or something, I'd totally start talking and then never shut up and, "Whoa! Hold up! Is that my phone? Because I think my mom may be trying get ahold of me and I should probably get that!" you'd be saying, in some feeble attempt to get away from me, but, whoops, sorry! By then I'd be totally into you and follow you around like a puppy.

So that's the first thing you'd notice. The second thing you'd notice is how I tend to go off on tangents out of nowhere, and you'd have to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention from all the talking I'd be doing and ask, "So. This tangent thing? Does that count as the second thing in the whole couple of things about you I'd notice?" and I'd have to respond, "No. Crap. Seriously, what were we talking about anyway?" Then it would hit me. The second thing, which is now actually the third thing, that you'd notice about me if we were to meet in real life is that I'm absolutely NOT a crafty person. I don't enjoy crafts. In fact, I like only two thinks that contain the word craft or a derivative of such:

I'd also probably be inclined to include Craftsmen tools to that list, too, but that's not the Major Tool Company for whom my Tool Man works, and if he were to find out, he'd totally put the screws to me.
Which, of course, wouldn't be that bad...

See!? I just caught myself before I went off on a super sexy tangent!

(p.s. I can only take so much Kraftwerk, btw)

(p.p. s. You'll note that 'btw' is really one of the few Internet abbreviations I have a love affair with)

So, back to the crafts. People, in my cache of craft items, I've had the same four bottles of paint and three different colors of glitter for FOUR YEARS! Additionally, there are hundreds of wooden popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes which, I've little doubt, come alive at night and weep (especially those googly eyes!) because they're so rarely used. My kids just aren't crafty kids. Well, I take that back. They sort of are, but because I'm not, they tend to do that kind of thing with their Grandma M., and that explains why, in my bedroom, I have a red sand pail that's filled with cat litter, a Styrofoam paper plate colored the shade of dirt atop the cat litter, and plastic yard ornaments shaped like tulips sticking out from that. Oh, and with a foam art penguin face dressed in a stocking cap and scarf decorating the side of the pail, because this is nothing if not a multi-seasonal craft item.

(btw - what's the statute of limitations on keeping craft projects? Because seriously, that penguin face is creeping me the hell out.)

So, when and if we meet in real life, I quite imagine the first (or third) thing you'll say is, "Wow. You really aren't crafty, are you?" I suggest you say that quickly in the brief time where I'm quiet and just before the tangents start, because as soon as you say it, I'm going to remind you of this post! Because keep reading!

Last night, my youngest son and I were the only people home. Having exhausted all of the books he was interested in reading and thwarting his goal of watching Zack and Cody (thank you, hot glue gun!), I suggested we make a craft! My son's head nearly exploded at the idea! "But you're not a crafty mom, Mama!" he cried. "I know! But I'd do anything for you!" I cried back. "And besides, I have these bags of candy corn and mallowcreme pumpkins that, if we don't do something with them, I'll just sit around and eat and then when and if I ever meet any of these glorious Internet people, the first thing they're going to notice about me is what a fat ass I have!"

We decided to make haunted gingerbread houses. I know! My kid nearly hyperventilated as we tore up the kitchen in search of all our supplies. Alas, no gingerbread, so we resorted to graham crackers. Cut to several hours later. Want to see what we made?

Pretty flippin' awesome, aren't they! And get this - that's all free form, my friends! Check out that awesome attention to detail. Ghosts and giant spiders and bugs?! Awesome! You'll notice that a portion of my roof fell off. That's just ambiance, my friends. Also, I modeled my haunted graham cracker house after my neighbors, the Frat Boys Who May Or May Not Be Cooking Meth Next Door, whose house is driving down the property values of on my cul-de-sac faster than the tanking economy. However, now I must resist the urge to eat the candy corn shingles that are resting sadly upon the construction paper grass.

My kid is, to say the least, pretty thrilled with the work we did. I'll admit that I kind of got into it, too. Today, however? My living room smells like the inside of Wonka's factory. The blend of frosting and sugary candy has created a sweet, sweet cocktail that is burning my nose. Sadly, though I wish it would, I'm sure this won't curb my hot, hot love for frosting.

Don't look for me to get all wacky and start making hand-print turkeys and cornucopias out of rolled up newspapers for Thanksgiving, though. At best, I'm a tri-annual crafter. I'm also in a little bit of mourning because, OMG, I freakin' love Brachs pumpkin mellowcremes, and I didn't want to be sad seeing them glued to construction paper, but it kind of happened. However, yeah! We can still totally skip over that part of the conversation when the topic of my ass comes up!


So, my kid and I? We listened to this last night while doing our craft project. What? Oh, ha ha! Very funny! Unlike the time I bought the Jonas Brothers' cds for me and me alone, I did actually buy this for my 6-year-old, with whom I'll also probably be going on a date with to see the movie this weekend. The good thing is it's a pretty quick cd. The other thing? I think I'm already kind of addicted to this song:

Damn you, Zac Efron and your mesmerizing eyes. Damn you straight to my heart, where the three of us - you, me, and Joe Jonas - can live together forever in my super sweet smelling, candy-coated graham cracker house.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

'i know this much is true...'

  • It's virtually impossible not to sing along to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Try not to. I dare you. Before you realize it, you're four minutes in and are singing about Beelzebub. Yep. See what I mean? I'd be all, "Ha ha. Too late. You're time has come," and you'd be all, "Curses! I MUST sing this!" This song is the perfect remedy for when you don't have eight and a half minutes to commit to Meat Loaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Light (though, if you don't, I really have to ask, what in the world are you doing that is so damn important?). I believe science will one day prove my theory.
  • It's also hard not to sing along to this song, too. Even if you're a good girl and play this version.
  • I am easily distracted. I just spent more than 20 minutes singing along to all the above mentioned songs. There may also have been some dancing. Who am I kidding? There's always dancing.
  • All that dancing has made me quite hungry. Cinnamon toast has become my latest obsession.
  • Zac Ephron is trying to hypnotize me with his piercing eyes. Good effort, Zac, but trying like this might be better.
  • The real reason my kids don't have school on Friday is because High School Musical 3 opens that day, and they'll need to be there. Because I love them and will take them. Seriously. Not because of Zac Ephron hypnotized me (Though, seriously, click through those photos. Does that sound like a kissing noise? If it does, I may need to fight some little girl for a seat closer to the screen).
  • You shouldn't worry about me, though. I'm still very much a Joe girl. Or woman, if you insist on getting technical about it.
  • Always Home and Uncool is trying to make me have a raging crush on him, but he needs to know that he doesn't have to work that hard (but it's cute!)
  • I will never, ever understand The Price Is Right. Ever. I'm serious.
  • I'm still incapable of watching a horror movie while home alone at night. Damn you, irrational fear of Big Foot and what you've done to me!
  • Robot Chicken is the tits, still.
  • Life would be so kick ass if we periodically broke out into perfectly choreographed song and dance routines. At the very least, it would keep my friends from looking at me uncomfortably when I do this now.
  • I've been remiss in my use of haiku lately.
  • I'll tell myself all day that I will sit in my narcolepsy chair and read one of these books, but I'll probably spend this rainy day doing laundry, picking up, baking, and clearing off my DVR.
  • Someone needs to give me a Cliff Notes version of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, because I am kind of irritating my Tool Man when I pause the DVR and ask for clarification on whether we're now in the future or the past. Trust me. I've seen all the movies. Many times. I'm just easily confused. Killer robots are wacky, yo!
  • Also, the above truth has nothing to do with what might be the real truth, which is I spend most of the T:SCC waiting for Brian Austin Green to show up onscreen.
  • I seriously want to be Kelly Ripa.
  • I do not watch as much television as this post would have you believe.
  • This kind of post is what keeps me from reading any of the above mentioned books and writing haikus.

I have cinnamon toast to go eat and some Queen to sing along with now. Feel free to share that which you believe to be true with me. Or, you know, write me a haiku. Whatever.


Monday, October 20, 2008

say my age, bitch!

"Just how old do you think I am?" I asked the seven-year-old perched on my lap. The little girl, with whom I'd just hula-hooped for several exhausting minutes (I'm talking several, people! My hips don't lie), had a knowledgeable discussion about American Girl dolls, and chosen our favorite Jonas Brother (I 'heart' you, Joe). She leaned back, scanned my face, even tapped her finger upon her pursed lips as she pondered my question.

"I think you're 20," she quickly answered.

And just like that, in the span of four words, I had a daughter! "Tell you're mommy you're coming home with me. You can keep your first name so as not to be confused, but we'll have to change your last name. We'll celebrate by going shopping for Barbies and painting our fingernails. I think you'll be very happy with my family," I cried.

And then, maybe, the girl cried, too. Maybe. I mean, I don't blame her if she wanted to. Her mom is pretty cool, even if she doesn't know who any of the Jonas Brothers are. Also, my seven-year-old sweet talking pseudo-daughter is lucky she's a Nick girl, that's all I'm saying.

Here's where you could be all, "Geez, FADKOG, touchy about your age much?" and then I would laugh in your face, demurely, of course, and respond, "Oh, not at all! I totally pimped how I was turning 40 last fall, which reminds me. There's only about four weeks until my 41st birthday, so commence shopping NOW!"

But when you were asking, I might have had my fingers crossed behind my back. Just a little bit, because apparently, on days when I think I don't look so bad, apparently I do. Consider this exchange I had with my first customer - a very elderly lady - last week on a day I was feeling pretty happy, confidant, rocking some great hair, and pretty much ready to kick ass.

Me - "Hi. Can I help you find something special today?"

Elderly lady - "Oh, I'm looking for a book for my grandson. He's 11, and enjoys animal stories."

Me - "Well, here are a few great choices. My son, who is also 11, really enjoys this book."

Elderly lady - "You're son, you say?"

Me - "Yes, my son. He's also 11, and enjoys most books that involve animals or sports."

(For the record, this is not entirely true. Getting my son to read is like getting a captured terrorist to spill secrets, and sometimes waterboarding may be involved, because I am willing to lie if it means I can provide the best in customer service.)

(OK, I'm kidding about the waterboarding thing; however, I have had to go Jack Bauer on him a time or two to even get him to read a flippin' "Captain Underpants" book, but anyway, back to the story...)

Elderly lady - "Well, this one doesn't look too bad."

Me - "Oh! Wait! "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH"! I loved this book when I was your grandson's age! I remember my fifth grade teacher reading this to my class. I still love this book today!"

Elderly lady, looking at the cover while listening to me explain the basis for the story - "So you really love this story, huh?"

Me - "It's a great story about friendship and remaining loyal..."

Elderly lady, interrupting, looking at me, who is not as elderly as elderly lady is - "And it's been around for a long time, you say?"

Me, good humored because it had started as a great day - "Um...well...when I read it, we had to wait for the pterodactyls to finish etching out the story on stone tablets that they then flew down with, one at a time, so it did take a long time for me to get through it."

Elderly lady, oblivious to my awesome sense of humor, tested and honed over 40 years (which, btw, is just four years older than "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH") - "I guess I'll take it. Thank you for your help today."

Me - "And thank you for making me feel really old today!"

Except she was already halfway to the checkout by the time I got that out. Because I'd fallen and hurt my hip, told some pesky kids to get off my lawn, and complained about that loud devil music coming from the ear buds of a man, who was probably at least 24, who had walked by me. And last night? Last night I ate dinner at 4 p.m., and was in bed for the day by 11 p.m.!

Because even imaginary 20 year olds need their rest.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

i'd give my panties to a geek for a chance at free stuff

So the other day, Backpacking Dad (perhaps you've seen his name tossed around here a time or sixty-eight kabillion) threw open the gates of awesome like some kind of golden-skinned gladiator prepared to battle a two-headed mythical beast and used his blog as a call to arms among his fellow bloggers, asking them to write a post on a subject of his choosing.

But not just any subject. No. That would be far too easy. This puppet master of the blogosphere (who, without knowing it, just made me use the word 'blogosphere,' which? blech!) sat casually at his perch, stroking the hairs of his magical, Leonardo DiCaprio-like goatee, and decreed, "Go forth, my minions, and masterfully pen a post about which character from either "The Breakfast Club" or "Sixteen Candles" you most relate to. Go! Now! Do! If your words impress me mightily, I will bestow upon you magical notebooks bearing the cover art of said movies, bound atop ivory white sheets of paper! Paper upon which you can then send me stalker letters to be tucked inside envelopes that may also, perhaps, contain clippings of your hair or other such tokens of your affections, and then which are sealed with ruby red lip prints where you've kissed them in great SWAKy delight."

Or something like that. When I read his post again, he apparently changed the wording a bit, so it read more like this: "Between NOW and 11:59pm on Thursday simply write a blog post describing in great, painful, humorous, depressing, sexy, angry, or emo detail which character from either The Breakfast Club or Sixteen Candles most resembles you. Leave a comment below with a link to your blog post, and on Friday, by fiat most arbitrary, I will declare the winners."

Those of you who've been with me for any length of time are probably thinking what I'm thinking, which is, "Oh, FADKOG, you have got this bitch locked up tighter than an Amish virgin! You're a freakin' John Hughes robot, yo!" Well, guess what? Apparently there are other people out there in the blogosphere (blech!) who think they, too, are all about the magic that is John Hughes and his masterful work (which, I'll maintain until my dying day, does not include "Weird Science," no matter what you do to convince me otherwise, so chill!). So I thought, "Huh. Looks like there could be some solid competition to this thing," and then I contacted Backpacking Dad and offered to send him a video of me applying my blush pink lipstick using just the power of my kick ass rack, but he stammered something about how that was cheating, and also questioned why I didn't offer to do that before he opened this effort up to the rest of his readers, and I was all, "Well, your loss, I guess," but then I was all, "Dammit! Now I have to write a post! I have to totally allow Backpacking Dad be a total pimp about this and bow to his rules! Dammit!"

So I thought I'd go totally off the grid and do a post about how I'm totally like Principal Dick("Excuse me. Richard.") Vernon from "The Breakfast Club," because I have two sons and routinely find myself telling one of them, "Don't mess with the bull, young man. You'll get the horns," but Principal Vernon really isn't the core of who I am.

I also thought I'd share why I think I'm the bastard child of Allison Reynolds and Brian Johnson from the same movie, but I've done that before here, and a little bit more here. Honestly, the anatomy of ...for a different kind of girl is riddled with the Breakfast Club quote bullets fired at it during sporadic drive bys. So, in order to meet the rules as mandated by Backpacking Dad, I'm going to tell you why I closely relate with Farmer Ted in "Sixteen Candles" ("Who's he?" you ask? "That's me," I say. "Who are you?" you wonder. "I'm him," I answer. "Oh. OK," you concede.)

Here's why I am Farmer Ted:
  • Like him, I, too, have never bagged a babe.
  • Fresh breath is also the priority of my life.
  • I'm an awkward geek whose voice cracks from time to time.
  • I don't have five grand.
  • I'm an award-winning journalist who knows that, in order to get great answers, you have to ask great questions ("Just answer me one question."). Some of the best ones include: "How's it going?" and "So, what's your story? You got a guy or...?"
  • Because I work in a bookstore, when my friends phone me up at inopportune times and ask me what's going on, I think it's hilarious to respond, "You wanna know what happened? Buy the book!"
But that's not all! Remember that post when I asked, "What have I done for you lately?" Well, I can see that question being something of a mantra for Farmer Ted, too. Farmer Ted is a giver ("Do you know how many times a week I go without lunch because some bitch borrows my lunch money? Y'know, any halfway decent girl can rob me blind, because I'm too torqued up to say no."). Like him, I'm a total nerd who's willing to do just about anything, including things I'm ill-equipped to do ("Jake! I don't have a car! Jake! I don't have a license!) to win you over or show you a good time. Need cheering up? Allow me to serenade you. Care to join me in a spastic dance devoid of all rhythm? No? Well, don't mind me over here as I flail my arms around.

Like Farmer Ted, I am also an excellent confidante, and I will not dick you. I won't go blabbing to your crush that you have the hots for them unless I'm confidant, in the end, you'll end up together. If that involves asking if I can borrow your panties for 10 minutes, I'll totally do it. Don't think I won't. Not if it means true love! And isn't that what we all want? Even that is at the heart of what makes Farmer Ted tick.

So here's how I see the end of this post. Backpacking Dad and I are sitting atop a table, gazing adoringly at the other as the Thompson Twin's "If You Were Here" swells in the background.a

"Thanks for making all your adoring fans fight so hard for a shot at a really cool notebook," I'd say.

"Thanks for writing such a bitchin' post in an attempt to win one, and for videotaping yourself putting on lipstick with just the use of your most excellent cleavage. Because you're still going to do that, right? Even though I told you that you probably shouldn't? You didn't think I was serious, right?" he'd respond.

"Thanks for calling my cleavage most excellent. We can talk about that videotape later," I'd say.

"Happy you wrote a post, FADKOG. Make a wish," he'd say.

"It already came true! You chose mine as one of the winners!" I'd answer.

...and the scene fades to black, and I commence with my first official stalker letter.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

'a fool could see just how much i adore you...'

Last Sunday night, my Tool Man and I capped off the weekend at our small group gathering. As you might remember from last week, we're in the midst of a sermon series about strengthening marriages and personal relationships, and last week's topic was how we persevere during difficult times.

(btw - this week's "That's what she said!" moment came courtesy of my friend Tim, who, while sharing what his wife does to appreciate him, cheered, "I don't know what it is she's doing, but she sure knows how to rub me the right way!" It wasn't exactly as great as last week's smoked meat delight, but still! Cha-ching! Thanks for that deposit in the Bank of Awesome! Earlier in the day, Seth, my inner 14 year old boy, had been all, "But I wanna go to the mall and hang out with my friends tonight, man! Don't make me go to small group! Let me swallow this bitter pill with a chug offa that whine, dude," but as soon as Tim shared his respects, Seth totally tapped my shoulder and was all, "You're freakin' awesome, Old Lady I Live In!" and I was all, "As if you didn't already know that, Seth," and then we did this little finger wiggle high 5 thing we always end up messing up.)

As the couples around us chattered about never going to bed angry, talking openly about problems, and not holding grudges, I leaned over Tool Man, patted his knee, and whispered, "Isn't it great we've been married all this time and have never had an argument, dear?"

"Sure," my sweet talkin' man said.

"'Sure'? What do you mean 'Sure'?! Dude! We have NEVER had an argument!" I responded. If you'd seen me, you'd have totally said my gritted teeth looked like a smile.

"Honey," Tool Man whispered. "You're right. We've never had an argument."

"Oooh! Give Momma some more of that good, good stuff!" I whispered back

"You're right. You're always right," Tool Man replied.

"That's what I'm talkin' 'bout. That's what I like to hear!" I quietly cheered. "Also? Trust I'm never going to refer to myself as 'Momma' ever again."

"Good," Tool Man said. "And you realize, right, that we have had arguments in our marriage, don't you?"

"When? Tell me one time we've argued," I said.

It was Tool Man's turn to pat my knee. "Well, what about right now?"

"This? This is more of a discussion," I said.

"Exactly. This is how we argue. Two passive-aggressive people, just hanging out, having a little discussion, maybe getting some dinner," he said.

"You're right. You're not always right, but in this case, you're right," I said.

"Damn right, Momma," he said.

I'm sure there are some who would say arguing is good for a couple, that it can be a necessary tool in a relationship for partners to get to know each other better. I won't deny that there have been times I've tried to goad Tool Man into a cage match, but today's our 14th wedding anniversary, and if that's the reward for not arguing, then I'll take it. The dude is pretty damn awesome. Want to know why? OK, I'll tell you:
  • For putting up with the porn sounds I made while watching him clean out our garage!
  • For dancing with me in said garage once we could see the floor again. Club mix, yo!
  • Except it turned into a slow dance, with the garage door open and the cul-de-sac to see, which was awesome!
  • For giving me a kid who will run to the bus stop with me humming the Indiana Jones theme.
  • For always being my big strong man and squeezing my tuna. My can of tuna. Dude, seriously.
  • For the compassion he has for others, including our friends and the random old school celebrity.
  • For routinely taking bets on how many bites of my dinner I'll be able to take before spilling food down my chest (For the record, the average is eight).
  • For initiating me into the wacker club.

Most of all, I dig my Tool Man for standing with me, and often holding me up, during the last few years, the ones that absolutely qualify as the hardest of our marriage simply by proxy of what was going on in our lives at the time. There were countless opportunities to argue during that time, and never once did he step into that arena, and for that, there's not enough in the world I could give him to repay him.

Every night Tool Man and I have gotten into bed together (including those before we were married, but shhhh....), we've fallen asleep holding the other's hand. I'm not going to lie. That habit makes it a little hard for me to read before drifting off, and probably is to blame for the stacks of books I'm slowly working my way through, but you know what? If someone like Tool Man is going to put up with someone like me for 14 years, I'll hold his hand. I'm not going to argue with the man.

I'm also seriously never going to refer to myself as 'Momma' ever, ever again.


Monday, October 13, 2008

you realize if I played by my rules, I'd be cleaning out kids' rooms right now?

This post is in honor of Caitlin at iMommy, who's looking forward to the arrival of a new baby into her family. Several of her blogging friends (The Big Piece of Cake, Is Any Mommy Out There?, Eat, Play, Love, Insta-Mom, Issas Crazy World, Marinka, and Psych Mamma) are also posting in honor of Caitlin today as part of a virtual baby shower to share our parenting advice. After reading this rather long-winded, typically wordy post I've laced with random bits of "awww" and sprinkles of "that's so sweet," I hope you'll take a moment after commenting (if you wish to here) and visit Caitlin's blog and offer your own advice or even just your well wishes.

Last Tuesday afternoon, armed with garbage bags and a wavering sense of determination, I stood in the hallway outside the boys' bedrooms and viewed the carnage that littered their hovels. Stuffed animals loitered shamelessly with action figures. Clothes I couldn't recall either victim wearing earlier in the week laid tangled among the other cast-offs. Books were dumped on the floor just inches short of their shelves. Under my nose, a distinct yet utterly untraceable funk that can only be labeled "boy" mingled. I closed my eyes and counted to 10. Ten came to pass and still I stood there, eyes still closed, hope - never really there in the first place - fading.

"This is ridiculous. OK. I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go," I muttered, channeling my best Cameron Frye from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

But I didn't go. I stood there a second or two longer, thinking about how a day spent clearing out these two crime scenes - slash - bedrooms wouldn't be fun. How it wouldn't include lunch at a fancy restaurant with the Sausage King of Chicago, or singing a Beatle's song in a spontaneous parade through my house. In fact, like Cameron fighting the plan, I may have hopped up and down in a mix of anger and frustration. Mostly frustration.

Frustrated? As a mom? Shocking, isn't it? Well come a little closer so I can let you in on a little secret...

Sometimes I get incredibly frustrated being a mom. I have days where hearing the word "Mom" - whether from my kids, a stranger's kid, or even the television - puts me on edge. Makes me want to run screaming out the door, down my street, and straight into some child-free paradise. Except the screaming part would remind me of my kids, and then I'd get all frustrated again, and see? Hello, vicious cycle.

Perhaps I'm not alone in this thought. I hope not. I hope I'm not the only one who wakes up some days and wonders how they're going to face the same routine, put together the same peanut butter sandwiches, repeat the same set of rules that were in place yesterday, but seem to have evaporated from smaller minds during slumber. Wash, rinse, repeat. If I am, I should obviously look into making an appointment with a qualified specialist. But first let me figure out how I'm going to juggle the laundry, get one kid to sports practice, and arrange childcare for the other.

Yes, being a mother is frustrating. Staring at the cavernous mess my two boys had created in their rooms (Did that pile of clothes just breath? Is something alive in there?), I was struck by the thought that the only reason I'd want to go in and dig out that day was the hope that my excavating would turn up a human resource office to which I could submit my letter of resignation on the whole motherhood gig.

"What's that?" I'd say when the HR director tried to stop me from quitting. "You say I'm too valued a member of this team to just quit? Ha! Oh, that's rich, HR director. In fact, that's far richer than I'll ever be! Is there value in washing the same underwear and socks every week? Are the heavy sighs of complaint I hear when I put a homemade meal down in front of my children my reward? Are the riches in the missing reading glasses someone else must now be wearing because they so-called "mysteriously disappeared" from my oldest's backpack on his way to school? If so, then I should have quit this job sooner!"

Those are the moments that (sometimes) make me wish I could forget I was someone's Mom.

Last Tuesday night, with the boys' bedrooms still in manic disarray, I sat on the couch. Quiet. In the dark. Alone. "This is good," I thought, closing my eyes to really take in the peaceful moment. When I opened them a few minutes later, my oldest son had quietly come into the room and sat down beside me. Close, but not too close, according to 11-year-old boy standards. My youngest son, 6, stood in front of me. I'd remarked the other day how he's becoming so big that it's hard to lift him, but there he stood in front of me, and before I knew it, I held my arms out in front of me and was asking him to climb onto my lap. Often this boy's own set of standards causes him to shoo away the hugs, but on this evening, he willingly entered the half circle my arms were creating, climbed atop my lap and settled in. In seconds, he was nesting his head under my chin, allowing me to smell the fruit-scented remains of the shampoo earlier used to wash away that distinct yet utterly untraceable "boy" funk. His hands, still small and with the last glimpses of the knuckle dimples I'll mourn when completely gone, rested upon my shoulders.

The three of us just sat there. Quietly. In the dark. I could feel my youngest son's body relaxing into mine, and soon after heard the faint sound of a "pop" as his lips - typically moving rapidly and always with the need to tell me Very Important Things - opened slightly as the final indicator that he'd sunk into deeper sleep. "This is great," I thought, once again closing my eyes to really take in the moment.

And I really did want to take it in. I wanted to sit there forever with these two boys who mess up my world, forever request peanut butter sandwiches, who can't seem to remember even the smallest thing from one day to the next. Yes, I get frustrated being a mom. Yes, there are days when I (sometimes) wish I could forget I was one. The dirty rooms, the sporadic whining that feels like it goes on forever, the complaints about my meatloaf? They're always going to be there. The moments like the one I got to have with my boys last Tuesday night (and, truly, so many other times) though? They're the ones that won't always be, and they're the ones that make it easy for me to remember why I'm happy to be a mother. So, remember those. Hold onto them. Forget about the messy rooms and hold onto your children as often as possible. They are, in essense, the Sausage Kings of Chicago.

Which, come to think of it, could finally explain that distinct, but utterly untraceable funk...


Friday, October 10, 2008

she never mentions the word addiction in certain company

In what may be a shocking confession to some of you, I attend church every Sunday.

(um, OK, God was just all "ahem...", and gave me a look like my Mom used to when I would go for seconds at dinner, all guilt and tear-inducing, so let me strike that "every Sunday" part and amend it to "...pretty much every Sunday, even when I'm running really late, and my Tool Man and the boys are all 'Yeah, we'll just meet you there.'")

Sometimes I get a little too wrapped up in the shiny things around me when I'm at church and I'm not always paying close attention to the sermon. This fact is quite evident here, a highly recommended post about the seduction methods employed by chickens that I jotted down while (finger quotes) listening to (finger quotes) a sermon based on the story of Daniel.

Anyway, for the past couple of weeks, we've been discussing ways to strengthen our marriages and relationships as part of a new sermon series, and each Sunday, we leave with a set of questions for us to discuss in our small groups. I've actually been paying attention in this series, and have left church eager to pin Tool Man down.

To discuss the questions for couples.

(Oh, God, I know! I am hilarious! All praise to you, Big G!)


Last Sunday we were at our small group meeting. This rag tag bunch is comprised of four other couples, a single man I'm trying hard to love like Jesus would but who really just annoys me right now, and our pastor and his wife. We were winding down the discussion when we reached the question "What's one thing your spouse could do for you to make this the best year ever?"

Tool Man, not a big Talker O' The Feelings, abstained from answering. Annoying Dude chuckled and begged off responding since he has no wife (hint: be less annoying, Annoying Dude). Others in the room gave standard answers.

Then my pastor spoke up.

"I've told Mary (shockingly, not her real name, but very Biblical) here that if she really wants to make it a great year for me, she should learn how to smoke meat," he said.

And while I'm sure it was purely innocent, Seth, the 14-year-old boy who lives inside me, reared his red-headed mug up, nudged me, and was all, "Heh. Smoke his meat. Heh." And then he burst out laughing. And so did I. And it was really cool. Except that no one else laughed. And that made me laugh more. Even when Tool Man patted me on the knee and that pat turned into him digging his fingers into my flesh, trying to get me to stop.

It'll come as no surprise that I was perhaps included in prayers at the end of the evening.

God is awesome, y'all.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

what have I done for YOU lately?

Hurdling the stairs, my oldest son met me at the top to pass the baton - the cordless phone - off to me. "It's Matt's mom," he said, semi-breathless from the gazelle-like leaps he'd taken from the basement to the second floor. "She wants to talk to you."

Eyeing both the phone and my son suspiciously, I quickly flipped the Rolodex in my brain through the list of people he's friends with and who, at least by proxy, I should also know. Nowhere in that tally was there a "Matt" or a "Matt's mom." Knowing it's never safe to go into a fight or a phone call unprepared, I clamped my thumb over the phone's tiny mouthpiece, and asked my son who Matt's mom is. "It's his mom!" he answered. Big help that one, but he's scrappy, so I'll keep him around for future throw downs with strangers. Then I turned my attention to the stranger on the other end of the phone. With my curious "Hello?", Matt's mom was off.

"Hi! I'm Matt's mom. I'm having surgery on my shoulder on Thursday and Matt needs a place to stay after school that afternoon, and since he sometimes plays with your son, I figured it would be OK for Matt to come over....more talking, more talking, lots of talking, you think I write a lot but my written words are nothing compared to her spoken ones, talking, talking, talking...."

Before I could even process what was happening, I slipped into a hypnotic state administered by her words, and I SAID YES! Let me repeat that. I SAID YES! Had this woman I don't know with a son I'm not sure I've ever really met asked me to also cluck like a chicken, I would have, because I was officially under her spell.

"Fantastic!" she crowed. "My surgery is scheduled for noon downtown, so I figure we'll get home sometime after 7 p.m., and then at some point Matt's dad (whom I've also never met, btw), will come over and get him. Sometimes Matt rides his bike to school, so I'm not sure what we'll do about that. Maybe he can drop his bike off at home and walk the rest of the way with your son, and then he can stay there until, like I said 7 or so...lots more talking here, (seriously, she never took a breath, so afraid, perhaps, that I'd come to my senses, but no, no, that never fully happened and instead, I may have asked if she needed her house cleaned or her groceries purchased before her surgery, but I'm not sure. I'll find out Thursday)...so he'll have to eat a snack, oh, and dinner. He'll need dinner. I'll assume you can take care of that. Oh, and he'll need to take his meds at 4:30 p.m., on the dot..."

Don't think the ironic fact I was bent over the end of my bed while on the phone with Matt's mom was lost on me because I was taking it hardcore from this woman. On and on she went, driving home her needs and what she'd have me do for her, and over and over again I kept saying yes. Twenty minutes in, close to asking her if I could donate my shoulder to her (even though I don't think medical science has, to date, perfected this surgery; however, I'm a bit behind on my Discovery Health channel viewing, so I could be wrong), I started to feel dirty about what was happening. However, I was incapable of stopping it, because by then, I was afraid of hurting her feelings.

Why? Because I'm a people pleaser, and Matt's mom was pushing every one of my people pleaser buttons. They're right there next to the ones marked "first born's need for approval.'" They're the reason I'll stay up late baking for the PTO, volunteer to run games at a school carnival, sit any form of animal, and agree to marry you. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm a raging pushover! I'll say yes to anything - anything - because I want you to like me. To quote the great Bryan Adams, everything I do, I do it for you. Even if I didn't realize I wanted to do it for you, but you sounded a little desperate, put out, and/or demanding when you asked, so of course I'll do it anyway. For you. BECAUSE YOU MUST LIKE ME!!

I ALWAYS agree to requests made of me. Granted, not all of them get an automatic "yes." Some might take awhile. Just ask my Tool Man, who spent more than a decade of our marriage requesting one particular thing from me before I acquiesced , proving that Tool Man is (A) persistent, (B) patient, and (C) a little bit obsessed, and that I am (D) a pleaser.

Need an additional example of how far I'll go to make you happy? Look below. Rather than face the demon and tell it it can't come in today, I'll willingly cower in a corner of my kitchen and hide until the demon goes away. Yeah. I'm a grown up. And yeah, I'll go that far.

Several more minutes into Matt's mom's rambling request - "They're going to put a tube in my shoulder to administer pain medication for several hours. Matt can be a bit of a handful. Have you ever had surgery, yada, yada, yada..." - I briefly came out of my stupor. "Did you say Thursday? Oh, well, Tool Man and I have plans for that night. See, our anniversary is in about a week, and well, Thursday night we have tickets for something I've been really looking forward to, and I was able to get Tool Man to say yes to going. Well, not so much say yes as it was more just resigning himself to the fact I was going to get tickets anyway, so, see, this is kind of a special night, and we'll need to probably leave our house around 5:30 p.m., to get downtown, and we've arranged childcare for our kids, so..."

I figured matching my chatter with Matt's mom's would prompt her to pause, retract her request, thank me for offering, then wishing me a great night out with my husband. Alas, that didn't happen. Instead, she muttered something about my sitter (OK, it's just my dad, but still, it's one more person in the mix who doesn't know Matt or Matt's mom) watching her son, too, and calling Matt's uncle to see if he'd be able to pick Matt up from my house when he got off work around 5:30 p.m.

"Matt's not going to like that one bit, but I guess you've given me no other choice," she said.

Wha?! I didn't give her any choice? Um, I agreed to watch her son, even though I'll be getting ready to go out that evening. Even though I barely know either of them OR Matt's uncle.

And even though I was still saying "yes" to everything.


So yes. Yes, yes, yes. Matt will be here after school Thursday, and in the meantime, if you have anything you need and want me to do it for you, just push me over and let me know. I'm here for you. And Matt's mom.

And sometimes Tool Man, but it depends on what he's asking for.


Monday, October 06, 2008

'hide away folk family, or else someone's gonna get ya'

"Do you hear that?" my oldest son asked, scrambling for the remote to snuff out the deep twang of Hannah Montana filling the living room during the boys' post-school ritual. I stopped in my tracks and cocked my head slightly to the left to listen for what had garnered the boy's attention. In doing so, I noted the hint of fear that whipped across his face.

"I don't hear a thing," I responded, hoping my poor hearing would wipe away his concern. Too late. By then, my youngest son added his own voice to the mounting fear his older brother had already started climbing. "Mommy! No!! Make it stop!!" he begged, his words slipping out in an anguish that, if it could take shape, would've emerged from his mouth covered in a gooey slime that rivaled the slick coat of evil Carol Ann returned to her family covered in in
Poltergeist. Over his pleading words, I heard the first hint of a scream that was filled with both multiple syllables and urgency. I looked at the boys, and our similar appearances grew even more so with a matching trio of fearful eyes.

"THAT! Do you hear that?! HE'S IS YELLING HIS NAME!!!" my oldest son cried, pointing to his brother. "HE'S YELLING HIS NAME, AND HE'S GETTING CLOSER!!!"

"Oh my God!!! WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!!" I screamed. To understand why, you must know the prologue:

My youngest son, a first grader, has a classmate, K, who walks past our house every afternoon en route from school. When the pair discovered this coincidence, my son began rushing in the front door, tearing out the back, and waiting for his classmate to appear so he could wave to him. What started out as a casual "See you tomorrow!" toss off and a couple minutes of playful wrestling between pals quickly morphed into a series of emotional reunions only two people who've not seen each other for 15 minutes could fully appreciate. By the third day of this routine, K was announcing his impeding arrival by screaming my son's name at three second intervals beginning at least eight blocks from our house. This is roughly three blocks less than the distance between the elementary school and our house.

Sadly, the screaming doesn't stop upon arrival, as every word that comes out of his mouth does so with urgency and gusto. Also, it's really not so much an arrival anymore as it is a settling in for impromptu playdates I'm ill equipped to deal with. Every minute that ticks off the clock includes me asking K if perhaps it's time he head home. "Won't your Mom be worried about you?" I ask, only to be responded to with incoherent screams I believe contain the words "GAHHHHHH!!" and "What an excellent day for an exorcism!"

In truth, I would like to exorcise this child from my house, especially since he's taken to viewing it as his own. By the second week of these visits, K was letting himself in the back door and asking for a snack faster than I could curse myself for not locking the sliding glass doors. Last week, I spied him pawing the Playstation 2, and when I alerted him to my presence in the room, he tried to convince me my son told him he could have the game system and all the games that go with it. "Hahahaha! Oh, I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to part with it," I responded, but out of the corner of my eye, I could see my youngest sending me a pleading, wordless message of hope -
"If you give it to him, he might go away..."

The worst moment, however, came when K ran inside and made a beeline for the downstairs bathroom/laundry room. He remained there for MORE THAN TWENTY MINUTES!!! The duration of that requires the use of the word 'twenty' and not simply the number, because I think it speaks volumes to the atmosphere going on in my house. There's something about this place that seems to lull kids into a false sense of security. Alas, this relaxation most typically manifests itself in their bowels, and K added his name to the growing list of those ages 12 and under who have scurried in and clogged the plumbing. I can deal with my own offspring and what they can do to a toilet. I'm not, however, super cool when someone else's heir is responsible for slowing down the game because they were compelled to bring in their second string, if you know what I'm saying. People, I have called my Tool Man home from work to come unclog the clogs caused by stray children, that's how not cool I am with it. There's an unwritten, unspoken rule that you don't do your second tour of duty at anyone's house, no matter how friendly you are. It would seem, however, kids - at least those who find themselves wandering around my split level - have yet to grasp this rule.

(p.s. - Tool Man is an awesome, amazing man because he has totally come home to plunge away the evil, even if it's the middle of the day!)

It was the bathroom experience that clinched (so to speak) the deal for me and K, and brings us back to the afternoon of fear the boys and I lived through...

Tired of the screaming, the threats of petty theft, and the need to rewash a load of laundry, we'd all been on guard when 4:15 p.m., would roll around. That guard was in full effect last week when my oldest heard the first letter of his brother's name echo off the houses eight blocks away. "What are we going to do?! What are we going to do?!" the boys yelled as K got closer.

Bracing myself, I yelled back, "We're going to do what we should have done two weeks ago!"

"Absolutely!" my oldest cheered. "We're going to hide!!"

And hide we absolutely did. It was like a scene straight from a low-rent science fiction movie. Like aliens had swooped in out of nowhere and snatched us clean away from whatever it was we'd just been doing. The television remained on, broadcasting a silenced Hannah Montana, half-eaten snacks were discarded mid-bite, and papers stirred up by our rapid vaporization fluttered in the air before slowly descending. Had we a spinning chair, it would have been emitting a squeaky soundtrack for our disappearance as it rotated in the dank, quiet air where once life thrived.

Our hiding was less than stellar. I crouched behind the kitchen cabinets, my youngest dove for the bathroom, and my oldest stretched out and tried to make himself invisible on a couch that sits right in front of a wall of windows that were open at the front of the house. No one moved or dared breath for several minutes while K beat on the glass of the sliding door. I take that back. While he rattled the door and beat on the glass, I totally whispered a silent prayer of thanks that I'd had the foresight to lock the door en route to my hiding spot.

Finally...FINALLY!!...K journeyed off, and to date, his returns to the house have been a bit more sporadic. I realize I could've used the opportunity we encountered as a means of teaching my boys how to face their problems head-on, but really, when you're scared, you'll act irrationally.

You'll also be glad you did when, afterward, you have to use the toilet and you find that it's unclogged and waiting for you.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

what's wrong with this picture?

Do you remember Highlights magazine? If you do, you probably remember the monthly 'what's wrong with this picture?' feature. Two seemingly identical pictures that would have you hunting for the toy that had been erased from the prototype picture. Maybe you'd quickly spot the way polka dots where once there had been none were added to the little girl's skirt. Perhaps there would have been an addition of a playful squirrel scurrying across a tree. Sometimes a pair of horns could be spotted emerging from the cranium of the grinning boy.

Or perhaps I liked to bastardize my copies of Highlights magazine, and if so, now you get a glimpse of why I am the way I am today.

If you never saw an old school Highlights magazine, and you're still reading this post, I'll assume you're either thinking of fun ways to talk about how old I am in the comments, but I will counter with the response that your parents must not have loved you, therefore depriving you of routine medical care and the opportunity to peruse ragged copies of Highlights while you aged in the waiting room. Sticks and stones, friends. Sticks and stones.

And now, back to the show:

See that beautiful photo of my sons up there? I took it this weekend at an area apple orchard we visited during this crazy thing we like to call "family time." If this picture appeared in Highlights, this would be the 'right' picture in the great 'what's wrong with this picture' debate. It looks very peaceful and loving, doesn't it? Kind of makes you think (and perhaps say) "I wish those kids were mine," quietly while at your desk at work (you'd say it quietly, of course, so as not to disturb or freak out your coworkers, because admit it, saying that has the potential of making you sound like a kidnapper and you don't want - nay, need - that kind of rumor going around the cubicles). If you said that kind of thing, believe me, I'd agree with you. For that brief moment when my boys turned and began walking away from me, it was the most peaceful and loving moment of our "family time" day together.

Here's what you would have seen in the other photo had I been able to capture that on film:
  • Lots of whining (and maybe some thrashing on the ground among family members who may have included me, but surely you don't think that about me) who complained about how they were any of the following: hot, hungry, tired, thirsty.
  • A Thunderdome-style battle of wills between the boys when both returned to the patch pulling wagons to cart our goods, despite the very clearly marked rule that there could be just one cart per group. In this case, my six year old was straight up Mad Max.
  • The moment just before this picture was taken when I glanced behind me, noticed the vast treeline behind the pumpkin patch, and considered making my escape while no one was looking. The only thing that stopped me is the fact that I am a straight-up suburban girl, and I figured my escape would require at least two, maybe three, days of hiding deep in the bowels of the timber before authorities gave up the search.
  • Me being just a bit pissed at the unexpressed thought that the authorities would probably search for me longer than my family.
  • A lot of pictures of the boys that are no good because their faces are squished up "from the sun burning out our eyes! Wah! Wah! Wah!"
  • A less-than-idle-sounding threat someone (I'm not saying who) made that involved shoving a gourd somewhere in another person's body where gourds shouldn't typically go.
  • Entirely too much talking about goat poop.
  • Tool Man wondering where the $2/person fee for the corn maze went in the grand scheme of things. Yes. The man is squeaky.
  • Me rethinking my previous escape idea when the boys entered the corn maze, and I eyeballed our car parked nearby and how I could be halfway home before they emerged from the field.
  • An argument over some apples. Well, it wasn't really an argument so much as it was an annoying, unnecessary discussion, and for the briefest moment, I thought it was a pity that Adam hadn't been stronger in the face of Eve's temptations with that damn piece of fruit.

There was so much more, of course, but, as would typically be the case if you were sitting in the doctor's waiting room (assuming your parents loved you and took you to the doctor, remember?!), the nurse would poke her head out and call you back to the exam room, leaving you only halfway through your search for differences in the Highlights picture (and there were always one or two finds that would stump you!). Consider me your nurse.

Here's what's right about that photo: Those two boys pictured in it? Yeah, they are pretty awesome, and our day together, with all it's little faults, was fantastic. This makes me feel peaceful and lucky.

Even if, from time to time, horns emerge from their craniums.