Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The Silly Stuff:
*Nothing screams ‘redneck’ like a misspelled racist tattoo. ~ Cuthbert
*I finished the dead puppy book. Final puppy casualty count totaled 6. ~ Me, after reading Of Mice and Men
*Is that the screen door nipple? ~ Mia
*Raisin Bran kinda does make you wanna sing. ~ Cuthbert
*Just a tip – if you’re ever in a dream where you feel like you gotta pee, don’t pee. Believe me. ~ Jonathon
*It’s nothing special…. but it does make me look like a lesbian. ~ Velma
*It’s not a dictatorship, it’s a cookout. ~ Me
*Don’t you wish you had a good ‘drug your friend’ story? ~ Cuthbert
*Control-Alt-Repress ~ Not sure where this one originated, but it sure came in handy with all those 10-cent abominable words!
*Well, I don’t necessarily decorate in rainbows. ~ J
*I’m sure giraffe dicks aren’t, like, negligible. ~ Cuthbert
*Do you want me to eat pussy for Jesus? ~ Kenny, on the top ten reasons it’s stupid for Christians to be mad that he’s gay.
*The flush toilet, more than any single invention, has ‘civilized’ us in a way that religion and law could never accomplish. ~ Thomas Lynch; The Undertaking
*It’s like a little bunny rabbit munching on some lettuce, only it’s a little Jonathon munching on some Sudafed. ~ Me
*He usually does that when I throw things at him that are on fire ~ Cuthbert
*Silly man, penguins don’t have legs – they have feet! ~ Annette
*A man approached us – slightly older than me, with a complexion that said, ‘I like vodka’. ~ Douglas Coupland; Eleanor Rigby
*Do I wanna, like, fuck them with razors? Yeah. Not motivated in love, by the way ~ Cuthbert
*I didn’t know whooping cough was an STD. ~ Me
The Serious Stuff
*I had no idea what to say. So I listened, which is often the best idea. ~ Douglas Coupland; Microserfs
*Now I am virtually possessionless. Having nothing feels liberating. ~ Douglas Coupland; Microserfs
*It’s a cure he doesn’t understand, so he refuses to admit it’s a cure ~ Kurt Vonnegut; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
*And there are others who call it virtue when their vices grow lazy~ Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
*Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. ~ Stephen King; On Writing
*The meaning of life is connected, inextricably, to the meaning of death; mourning is romance in reverse, and if you love, you grieve, and there are no exceptions – only those who do it well and those who don’t. ~ Thomas Lynch; The Undertaking
*Perhaps the tendency, manifest in many of today’s mega-churches, to entertain rather than inspire, to wow rather than worship, proceeds from the intelligence, gained generations back, that the big top needed for the tent revival and the three-ring circus was one and the same. ~ Thomas Lynch; The Undertaking
*I don’t mind feeling sad. It’s a feeling – J
*You don’t have to sit outside in the dark.
If, however, you want to look at the stars,
You will find darkness is required.
The stars neither require it nor demand it.
~ Annie Dillard
From Shane Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution:
*… we vote every day by how we live, what we buy, and who we pledge allegiance to…
*The church is a place where we can stand up and say we are wretched, and everyone will nod and agree and remind us that we are also beautiful. One thing I’ve learned from believers and from activists alike is that community can be built around a common self-righteousness or around a common brokenness. Both are magnetic. People are drawn toward folks who have it all together, or look like they do. People are also drawn toward folks who know they don’t have it all together and are not willing to fake it.
*Fall in love with a group of people who are marginalized and suffering, and then you won’t have to worry about which cause you need to protest. Then the issues will choose you.
*What’s crazy is a matter of perspective. After all, what is crazier: one person owning the same amount of money as the combined economies of 23 countries, or suggesting that if we shared there would be enough for everyone?
It's been a pretty good year for us, wouldn't you say? I look forward to discovering more with you in 2009!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
So, for those of you who don’t know, I live in the marvelous city of Fort Wayne, Indiana. You may or may not know that said marvelous city has been the victim of a pretty horrific ice storm recently, and that something like 110,000 people were out of power for awhile.
Now only 17,000 are out of power. This seems pretty damn good – unless you are one of the extremely unlucky 17,000.
Somehow, even though I live only 2 miles from downtown in a densely populated residential neighborhood, I have been overlooked and have not had power at my house since Friday morning. For the record, it is now mid-day on Tuesday.
Most people have been fairly sympathetic, but a few act like I am over-reacting to the problem of not having power at my house. If you think I am over-reacting, feel free to repeat the following day after day after day and see how much fun you think it is:
*Look across the street and realize that neighbors across the street never lost power at all. Not for even an hour. Curse them and call them show-offs because they have the nerve to turn on their Christmas lights.
*Hang out at house until it gets too dark to see and too cold to function. Pack up whatever you can find to wear, knowing you will have to wash it once you get somewhere because your washer hasn’t worked all day and you were planning to do laundry that day. Water your half-dead Christmas Tree before you leave, only to find that it has finally begun drinking water and now that you’re not going to be there, it’s going to need watered more.
*Sit around parents’ house with crazy dad whose very presence stresses you out. Remember, you don’t have anything to do because all your stuff is at your house. Your options are to watch TV, bake something, or sit curled up facing the corner, rocking and murmuring meaningless phrases incessantly to yourself.
*Travel to your very cold house to check on the water pipes. Do this at least twice a day to make sure that nothing has burst and that nothing has frozen and backed up, leaving a large lake in the middle of your newly renovated home. Each time you arrive home and do not find a large lake, unclench your fists and realize how tense you were just waiting for disaster. As you leave the house, resume being stressed about the pipe situation in order to get a nice stress build up for your next house-checking trip.
*Ponder the irony that it can simultaneously be cold enough for your water pipes to freeze but warm enough that you have lost all of your perishable food items. Mourn the girl scout cookie ice cream you just bought as you dump the melted, frothy contents into a garbage can while wearing gloves and a scarf.
*Travel to your house to let the dog out three times a day. When the house sits at 35 degrees, convince your parents you have to bring every one of your pets over as you have no desire to learn the freezing point for small animals. Tend to the scratch on your face left by the cat who didn’t want to get in the cat carrier. Then haul them all over to your parents’ house in one vehicle, cats meowing the whole way there and dog stepping in the litter box and tracking cat litter all over the back seat. Once you have arrived at your parents’ house, realize that they have no fence and you will now have to put a leash on your dog and walk her every time she has to go potty. Also, realize that it sucks to repeatedly walk a dog in -1 degree weather.
*Listen to stupid people (read: people who have had power all this time) tell you how it’s not really that bad and it could be worse as they open their refrigerators, pull perishable food items out, microwave them, and sit down at the kitchen table to read the paper by their very electric kitchen lights in their nice clean clothes that they dried in their electric dryers. Comment to yourself out loud that it is not possible for god to exist – if he did, he would not have made people so freakin’ stupid.
Then, as an added bonus, do all this stuff 9 months pregnant when you can barely fit into the car to make your trips, and walking the dog on the ice makes you wonder if you will fall and go into labor or not.
It sucks. If you think I’m being a wuss, you live with it and see how you like it.
Probably most frustrating to me are the repeated newspaper articles and news stories praising the wonderful power company for getting so much service restored. Seems pretty amazing, doesn’t it? As long as you’re one of the 85% who have been restored, I’m sure it is. It sucks pretty bad for the rest of us right now.
Obviously, I’m irritated by this whole thing. I mean, come on, it’s ICE, people. ICE. It is not nuclear holocaust. It is not the Armageddon. It is not WWIII. It’s ICE. Seriously, oh sad little power company of Fort Wayne, if you can’t handle a little ice, what the hell are you doing in the power business, anyways?
As an added bonus, D’s car started randomly spewing oil yesterday and had to be taken into the shop. On the little form you fill out at the key drop, I wrote “sudden, severe oil leak”. Hopefully that gives them enough to go on. My parents were kind enough to loan D their truck.,.,., only to find out this morning that one of the tires is flat. Apparently, it is just not our week.
I was feeling hopeful that things would start getting turned around, but at this point I have adjusted my expectations and fully believe I will probably have power at some point mid-2009. It would be nearly impossible not to meet that expectation, so hopefully this will keep me from getting more and more irritated. I am trying to just get by although I think another couple of days without any time away from people is going to wear on me. If I seem cranky, it’s because I am – I am not a people person. My poor kitties are also having a bit of trouble adjusting as my parents don’t want them all over the house and have closed a good deal of their doors. Curious kitties + closed doors = whiney kitties. This is all fine and dandy, unless my dad gets up at 3 am, leaves his bedroom door wide open, and goes downstairs just as I happen to leave the bathroom and witness this all. As you may have guessed, wide open door to a previously forbidden room = kitties running in at the speed of light. Just last night I learned a fun new game called chase 2 kitties around your sleeping mother’s bed while attempting not to wake her up.
It’s actually a fairly fun game, compared to most of my other options.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
As Christmas drew closer this year, we went back out to hunt down a new Christmas tree last weekend. Somehow, this always turns out to be an ordeal. This year was no different.
For starters, after last year’s serious lack of trees at the tree farm we had been accustomed to using, D, Velma, myself, and my mother all thought it would be a good idea if we found somewhere else to buy our trees. However, since my dad is seemingly incapable of buying anything except the very cheapest he can find of whatever he is seeking out, this wasn’t going to be an option. No way were we going to be able to get him to give up his $7 Bargain Christmas Tree. And so we headed back out to the same Christmas tree farm.
Luckily, this year there was no orange prison jumpsuit involved. Dad appeared fairly normal in his snowsuit, and I donned 3 layers of clothing to keep out the cold. Typical Christmas tree hunting things, as I’m sure you can reason. However, when we arrived at the Christmas tree farm, we were confronted with a very large sign which read:
This sign was hung up beyond the locked gates which were clearly meant to keep us out of the Christmas tree farm. Behind the locked gates and covering every inch of ground near the “BUSINESS CLOSED” sign and out through the remaining trees were giant dead plants and overgrown grass, making it clear that no one had mowed the property or bothered to take care of the plants for some time – possibly since last year’s expedition.
So, as you probably guessed if you know my father, we went around the gate, drove over all the dead plants, and promptly got out of our vehicles to inspect what trees were left.
Like I said, this is my dad we’re talking about.
D, Velma, myself, and my mother attempted to protest. First of all, I really didn’t want to get booked on a charge of tree theft. I can see it now – the officers shouting through the bullhorn, ‘Drop that tree, lady, before someone gets hurt!’ and my huge pregnant self waddling up the hill anyways, tree in tow, daring them to a standoff. D also thought it likely that the land had been sold and we weren’t even stealing from who we thought we were stealing from. Tree theft is just not our thing, apparently.
However, as usual, wonder dad had a solution. Apparently he knows the people who own the tree farm (if they still own it, anyways) and he said he would go drop off money to their house for the trees. I still wasn’t feeling spectacular about this (I mean, really, how well does he know the people if he didn't know the tree farm was closed?), but at this point felt fairy trapped and coerced. Always a good feeling concerning one’s Christmas tree, don’t you think?
So we all stood there and looked at the Christmas trees, trying to decide if there was one worth stealing- er, I mean, buying. Here’s where the second problem comes in: all the trees looked half dead to me. Every tree there had random spots of brown needles hanging off of them, leading me to believe that perhaps the trees weren’t overly healthy. This concerns me a great deal as I’m really not down with placing a giant fire hazard inside of my home for the sake of saving money on Christmas decorating.
I voiced this concern.
My dad started picking the brown needles off the nearby trees in an attempt to make them look completely green.
I was not fooled by this tactic, but apparently D was. While my back was turned, he and my dad somehow managed to not only pick out a tree for my house, but to cut it down and start dragging it away as well. I’m not really sure how I managed to miss this, but I somehow became the proud owner of a half-dead, possibly stolen Christmas tree before I even knew what was happening.
At this point Velma had located a tree that actually looked like it might not be dead. Possibly. I mean, it was hard to tell at this point. I figured, what the hell, and walked over to it with her to inspect it. I mean, at this point I figured I’d done too much damage already to turn around and walk away. Cleverly, Velma claimed she didn’t need a Christmas tree this year, but this one would be great for mom and dad.
Why didn’t I think of that?
They cut down the new tree and hauled it off, and that was pretty much the end of the story. We didn’t get arrested for theft or tree smuggling, and as far as I know my dad is paying the people he knows $14 for our two sad little trees. I suspect they may give him a discount if they have any idea what state the trees were in.
We put our tree up the next day, cutting off the very bottom of the stump so that the tree could drink, just like I have been taught to do. That was on Sunday. It is now Tuesday. I have only watered the tree twice. Twice. Now, anybody who has ever cut down their own tree knows this is not normal. Normally, you have to water the tree right away, and then it runs out of water within a few hours and you have to water it again. Then you have to water it each morning and each evening to make sure it has enough. I have watered this tree twice – and neither time was it anywhere close to being out of water. It simply isn’t drinking much. To me, this is an indication that the tree is probably either half dead or, possibly, 3/4 dead. Hey, maybe it’s more like 9/10 dead. Who knows? We still haven’t put lights on it yet, so there’s a chance we may try to redeem ourselves with another choice. I guess we’ll see how things look by this weekend.
On the upside, none of the needles look brown to me. But then again, D could just be picking them off.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Anyway, unless you know me in real life, you probably have no idea about my plans for work once this whole ‘having a baby’ thing goes down. Here’s my brilliant plan:
*I will take the measley 12 weeks of FMLA guaranteed to me by our sad little government. (seriously, we’re like the only developed country in the world with that little time off for our kids – what does that say about what we really value?) I will take this time unpaid as said sad little government doesn’t require our employers to pay anything during maternity leave and virtually no companies have stepped up to the plate to demonstrate that they really do care about the state of families in the U.S. (interestingly enough, my employer claims to be a “Christian” “family centered” agency. Explain that, please.)
*I will return to work part time at the end of March. I will do this work mostly from home, hopefully only going into the office about 4 hours a week.
*If I decide that really sucks, I’ll quit.
How can I do this? you ask. It’s quite simple, actually. Luckily, my chosen profession is writing. My immediate supervisor sees no reason why I have to come into the office each and every day to do what I can do from bed with a laptop in hand. My immediate supervisor also sees no good reason to start all over with someone new who doesn’t know the ins and outs of the agency, the local philanthropy circuit, or, quite possibly, basic English grammar. You’d be amazed how difficult it seems to be for most people to write in readable English. Therefore, she has deemed that I can job share provided that I will remain the lead writer and deal with most of the big stuff.
Not a bad gig if you ask me.
Now, aside from being asked how I got so lucky as to be working part time from home (and believe me, I do realize how lucky this is in our current economy), I’ve also been asked how it is that I can just up and quit if it really sucks. That is also quite simple. You see, my dear husband and I have worked our butts off to make sure we don’t have excess debt or living expenses that can’t be controlled with his salary. My salary, should I remain on the ‘part-time from home’ schedule, will be used entirely to make principle payments on my husband’s school loans and our mortgage. D assures me that if I work 20 hours a week all of this can be paid off in 5 years. This is sheer bribery on his part, as I can’t even fathom how completely thrilled I would be to be relieved of the burden of a mortgage yet still have somewhere to live.
It was still a bit of a difficult decision to make as I really don’t want to work with little children to take care of. However, being relieved of the mortgage makes it seem worth it to me. Now, paying for cable or new sweaters or just being able to buy a bunch of crap would definitely NOT be worth it, so if this weren’t the arrangement, you can bet my happy butt would have already quit (I am getting quite tired, to be fair, and my hips don’t seem to work properly anymore) and wouldn’t be going back to the workforce until my youngest was in school. D has been forewarned of this already and knows that if I don’t see my entire check going into principle payments I will quit before he can even say, “Can I keep cable?” Sorry, I refuse to work so we can have a bunch of stupid crap. There is a little baby depending on me who is worth way more than stupid crap.
Most of the people I know have been quite supportive of this and have said nice things to me like, “Oh, that’s wonderful, you’ll be so glad to have that time with the baby,” and so on and so forth. However, there have been a few who have simply looked at me and said, “Lucky! I could never work just part time/quit if I wanted to/etc! Do you know how lucky you are?” while they glare at me as though I’m the most spoiled princess they’ve ever run across who just insists on primping herself in front of them for the sake of vanity.
The next person to do this is going to get punched in the face.
Was it ‘lucky’ that I went to school for 7 years while working full time so as to avoid student loans while still having somewhere to live and being able to get a diploma that would get me a decent job? Was it ‘lucky’ that I drove that stupid purple car even after it was totaled, bought back from the insurance company, patched up, and totaled yet again? Was it ‘lucky’ that I lived in an apartment that didn’t even have a bedroom so that I could still afford to put money in savings, even though I was technically living at the poverty line and qualified for the housing assistance program that I worked for? Was it ‘lucky’ that when I really, really, really wanted that hoodie (or those shoes, or those earrings, etc), I waited until I got some money for Christmas before I went out and bought it? Was it ‘lucky’ that I never put anything on a credit card that I couldn’t pay off at the end of the month? Is it ‘luck’ that I have never made a large purchase (aside from my house) that I couldn’t pay off within a year? It is ‘luck’ that I just now bought the furniture I have been saving for since I was 20? It is ‘luck’ that we bought a house for 1/3 of the loan amount we actually qualified for?
That is not luck. That is me making good financial decisions. Did they suck? Yep, they sure did. Especially the part about working full time and going to school at the same time. That sucked. It sucked for a very long time, actually. And the part about qualifying for federal housing assistance based on my sad little salary, yet limiting my spending enough to be able to save money - yep, that sucked. There were a lot of Dollar Store toiletries and Good Will sweaters at my house for awhile there.
But guess what. I did it anyways. Why? you ask. Because I knew that if I ever did get married and decide to have children I did not want debt to be in the way of me staying home with them. When D and I got engaged and decided to buy our house, not only was I debt free, but I had enough sitting in savings to be able to pay a nice chunk of our closing costs, inspector fees, etc. While D wasn’t quite so frugal, he soon stepped up to the plate and got a second job to pay off the debt he had accumulated. Did that suck? Yep, it sure did. He didn’t like working 2 jobs and I didn’t like having him gone that much. But he did it anyways. Now we’re down to his school loan and the mortgage.
I am sick of people talking to me like I somehow just ‘got lucky’ in the lottery of life and will now be able to either pay off my mortgage or stay home with my baby if I so choose. First of all, to call that lucky is a huge joke – let’s face it, real luck would involve never having to deal with a mortgage in the first place. I don’t think I’m ever going to be that well off in this lifetime. But secondly, what D and I have accomplished has not been luck – it has been us working our asses off to make sure we would be financially secure when the time came to raise a family. No, we don’t have as big of a house as we would like in as nice of a neighborhood as we would like. No, we don’t have as nice of cars as we would like. D has only gotten to have cable for about a year, and that’s getting cut off next month (you may have already figured that I couldn’t care less about having cable, so that’s no sacrifice to me, but poor D…). Our home repairs have been largely self-done and we don’t get a lot of new, fancy clothes or expensive gadgets. But you know what – that’s okay. We have what we really need and we spend our money on things that are really important to us.
Financial security is attainable…. but quite honestly, it sucks getting there – unless, of course, you really are ‘lucky’ and someone has left you an enormous inheritance or your parents paid for you to go to that fancy school and you just so happened to be skilled in a field that pays high dollars, or…. you get the picture. I’m never going to be good at the jobs that pay a lot of money. If I ever do make a lot from my writing, well, that will probably be luck. For most of us, we’re just not that lucky. It sucks. I bitch about it a lot, but you know what? I actually do something about it too. I adjust my standards. I delay gratification. I work that second job for awhile (yep, I had a second job too, now that we’re on the topic). I clip coupons and wear slippers instead of turning up the thermostat.
So if you’re one of those girls who looks at me with a sneer while thinking, ‘that lucky bitch!’ just stop for a minute and think about the choices you have made. Then think about what luck really is. I’m betting neither one of us has it.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
My good friend Mabel reported to me this week that there is a lady who volunteers at her workplace who voted for Mr. McCain based on one sole issue. *sigh* However, upon Mr. Obama's election, this sweet little voter decided that instead of being mad about it, she ought to remember to pray for the president elect, because she believes she's supposed to pray for our leaders in power. Kind of a nice thought, if you ask me.
Wanna know how she's going to remember to pray for Obama every day?
Oh, come on, you know you want to know.
She went to Wal-Mart, bought a black goldfish, brought it home, and named it Obama.
Obama, the black goldfish.
She told Mabel that if her goldfish dies she will keep buying new black goldfish and naming them Obama so that every day when she has to feed Obama she will also remember to pray for Obama.
That might be the most politically incorrect idea I have ever heard, but I have to give her credit; it is fairly clever.
So there's my bit of redemption for the Christian church today. Keep up the good (if slightly wonky) work.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I'm writing today to tell you that I'm thinking of taking on some sort of writing project again. I'm not sure exactly what it's going to look like, except that it will be something in journal form that lets me tell a fictional story that might, coincidentally, have a lot in common with my not-so-fictional life. I wrote the first little bit and I thought I would share for some feedback and just to give you a sneak peak into my little writing world. Also, I can't think of anything else to write today. So, I guess this is what you're stuck with.
Excerpt #1 from To Uona (a work in progress)
August 13, 2009
Today is the first day of the rest of my life. At least, that’s what they tell me. Who is they? you ask.. Who isn’t it? We’ve got the Hallmark card company and the Chicken Soup for the Soul books and all the sappy music you can handle to let you know that today is the day that really counts – the day you can pick yourself up and choose the direction of your life and make something out of your future. In May there will be a whole new slew of inspirational T-shirts and tailor made songs for the graduating class of 2010, telling them it’s the first day of their rest of their lives. My class got a song called something stupid like, “Don’t Forget to Wear Sunscreen”. I can’t remember the name for sure, but my whole body tenses up each May when I hear it on the radio and I think about the difference between what it was we all thought we were supposed to have become and where we all stand right now.
Telling us that today is the first day of the rest of our lives is just like telling us we can do anything we want, so long as we put our minds to it. It’s total shit, of course. I could no more pick myself up and decide to be a pilot than my cat could pick himself up and decide to make himself a seeing-eye dog. I’m a writer. I was born a writer and I’ve spent my life as a writer and I’m still a writer and I’m going to die a writer. It is what it is. Oh, I guess theoretically I could go to flying school and learn to be a pilot and take all the tests I need and get all my certifications – I could even make a living flying a plane…. but I’d still never really be a pilot. I’d still always be a writer.
Besides, it’s not like this first day of the rest of my life cancels out the last 27 years. They want me to believe that today I can choose the direction of my life because they want me to step up and be something better than I’ve ever been, but the truth is that I’ve been choosing the direction of my life since I was roughly 12 years old.
This is one of the great lies of my generation. I can never really be a pilot and my cat can never be a seeing-eye dog. My friend Cuthbert can never be straight; believe me, he tried. No wonder our generation is so fucked up. We grew up with all these ambitions about everything we could be only to realize once we hit 23 that we were already everything we ever had the capacity for. Maybe that’s why it feels like, at 28, most of my peers have given up. Me, I’m just happy that I know I’m a writer. It isn’t glamorous and I’m not famous and very few people really care what I have to say, but I know what I am. I know where I fit and I have the sense to stay there and grow rather than run around the world trying to find the part of myself that was in there all the time, burning myself out more and more as the years go on wondering why I never became anything great while completely ignoring the fact that there was never anything in me the masses would consider great in the first place.
Today I turned 28. Cuthbert bought me this journal because Curthbert knows that very little makes me as happy as a journal with a plain cover I can doodle macabre messages on and college-ruled lines inside. Like I said, I’m a writer. I think Cuthbert would’ve gotten me some nice pens too, except that he knows the only pens I really like are the ones the United Way gives away each year when they come to my office and ask for a donation. I have no idea where they order those from, but I’d give to their annual campaign just to get my hands on the pens they hand out with their donation forms. As it is, I just steal them off my co-workers’ desks. Again, I’m a writer. I can’t afford to give to their campaign.
You, dear Uona, were named this evening after several rounds of Irish Mist on the rocks and half a pack of clove cigarettes. Consider yourself honored; you have been named after a song from one of my most beloved bands. Homeless J has a song about a woman named Uona that their lead singer met in Jerusalem one day. According to said lead singer, the rest of the people he was traveling with wanted to go to a Hard Rock Café. This seemed remotely stupid to him as he can go to the Hard Rock Café any old time here in the States, so he hung out outside and met a woman named Uona. Then he wrote a song about it, slapped it into an album, and bam! I was inspired. You shall be henceforth be known as Uona if for no other reason than I want to remember never to trade experiences of the unknown for safe familiarity. It’s so easy to walk into the Hard Rock Cafés of the world, Uona, without even realizing that you’ve walked by something more interesting on your way in. America does that to us, I guess. Wal-Marts and strip malls make it so we never have a change of landscape, no matter where we go. No wonder Mr. Lead Singer’s friends were uncomfortable hanging out outside.
Tonight I’m sitting outside on the small landing that separates my back door from the stairs of the fire escape on my apartment building. From the fifth floor here I can see all the way downtown. In the summer, when we have our annual fireworks display at the end of our annual summer festival (read: excuse to indulge in junk food and cheap knick knacks) I can see the fireworks from the fire escape. No one else seems to come out and sit on their fire escapes, so it serves as the only quiet little space of the world I can indulge in outside. I’m fairly certain it wasn’t designed as a writer’s hangout, but as long as no one minds I’m claiming it as my own.
My cat Sam is sitting at the screen door looking out at me like he always does when I sit out here. I don’t know why I’m so much more interesting when I’m outside, but apparently I am. If I were inside and writing away, Sam would do what any normal cat does – ignore the hell out of me and scrounge for whatever morsels of people food he can find. Funny little cat he is.
I guess this is my moment of truth, Uona. You see, tomorrow morning will be Sunday morning and my grand plan is to drag myself out of bed at a reasonable hour and drive to the nearest church for services. I haven’t been in three years for reasons I don’t have the time or the energy to explain tonight. Perhaps I’ll dig deeper if the church experiment goes well tomorrow. I’m scared out of my mind yet at the same time strangely exhilarated. I can’t tell you exactly why I need to go to church tomorrow. I don’t understand myself and I suspect that even if I did, that understanding would be too vague to put into words. I just know that I need to go. I’ve been too long without a God and I feel lost. It’s funny how most of the people I know see God as this omni-present traffic officer, waiting for you to screw up so He can dole out Hail Marys or write your sentence to hell, and yet most of us still need something to reach out to in the middle of the night that can chase the monsters back into our closets and tuck us back into bed. I don’t know what God really is, or if He exists, or what it means if He doesn’t. I just know I need something, Uona, and I don’t know where else to go to get it.
Friday, November 14, 2008
"Priest: No communion for Obama supporters"
Hell of a headline, wouldn't you agree?
Apparently, "a South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him 'constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil.'"
"The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote."
You can read the article here.
I think my favorite part of the article is the declaration that supporting Barak Obama 'constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil'. Ummmm, ok. So does that mean, for example, that if I support the Catholic Church I've cooperated with intrinsic evil as well? I mean, there are those priests who molested little kids, right? That seems like pretty intrinsic evil to me. And there was that whole Inquisition thing, right? That wasn't exactly flowers and butterflies and rainbows. And then there was.... oh, wait, we're supposed to forgive the church for not being perfect and stick with it anyways. At least, that's what I've been told. But Barak Obama - eh, screw 'em. He's intrinsic evil. Nevermind the fact that my other viable option had no problem letting soldiers continue to die. Soldiers' lives apparently don't hold as much value as those of the unborn. Nevermind that my other viable option wanted to tax my medical insurance to somehow make my insurance better (yea, if you figure that one out, let me know).
Or maybe my favorite part was the part that says parishoners are 'putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.' What ever happened to that whole 'whoever believes and is baptized' spiel? So, if you do penance, you're still in. If you don't, and you take communion too early....... well, your soul will burn in the fiery flames of the inferno for all eternity. I'm sorry, but that sounds just plain stupid to me. If there is a god out there and he is so strung up on all of us performing some exact task in some exact order that we don't even have real directions on that he is going to send us into a fiery pit upon our deaths for screwing it up.... well, that's a pretty lame god, if you ask me.
I've lost unborn babies and I know that they are precious. I believe strongly that abortion is a sucky thing and I wish it didn't exist in our society. But you know what? I don't believe that Barak Obama is intrinsic evil. I also believe that we're fighting a war we don't have business being a part of anymore. I've lost classmates to battle and I've cried for them and dreamed about them and I've cursed our government for sending them away in the first place. I think we should get the hell out of there. But I don't believe that John McCain is intrinsic evil. I hate the way this priest is sending the message that if you don't agree with whatever stance he's taken, you don't agree with god and therefore you're risking your eternal soul. Maybe god is pissed on behalf of the soldiers we've lost, too. Who knows?
I'm not trying to make a political statement with this blog. Whoever you voted for - I'm cool with it, so long as you sat down and looked at the candidates and made a decision based on what you believe. For those who jumped up and voted for McCain for no other reason than that your church told you to, shame on you. For those of you who voted based on one single issue without looking at the rest of the picture, shame on you. And I mean that for both sides. If all you looked at was abortion, shame on you. If all you looked for was support of gay marriage, shame on you. Neither candidate was perfect. I couldn't get behind everything McCain said. I couldn't get behind everything Obama said. At this point in my life I've figured out that I'm never going to agree 100% with any certain political party, so I made a choice based on what I could agree with and what I felt would bring the best possible situation to our country. Maybe I made the right choice, maybe I made the wrong choice. But I thought it out and I made the best choice I could, and I'm okay with that.
What blows my mind is that there are Christians out there that aren't okay with that to the extent they would threaten me with eternal damnation if I didn't do things just their way. It reminds me of a quote from Douglas Coupland's Hey Nostradamus!:
"Jason's father, Reg, always said, 'Love what God loves and hate
what God hates,' but more often than not I had the impression that he really
meant, 'Love what Reg loves and hate what Reg hates.' "
Quite apropo, don't you think?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
If you are a pregnant chick in the state of Indiana, I would like to encourage you to contact Donor Services of Indiana and inquire about their cord blood / cord / placenta donation program. I spoke with the agency earlier today and the long and short of it is this: I can donate the cord and placenta when my baby comes and the cord blood and stem stells they can harvest will be used to help people in need.
Not a bad gig, if I do say so myself. Of course, I didn't have any major plans for my cord or placenta anyways so this doesn't seem a huge inconvenience for me. If you were planning on Placenta Patte you might not want to go this route.
According to the guy I talked to on the phone my cord blood and stem cells can help people recover from cancer, provide transplant material for people's eyes who've had chemical burns, and all sorts of other nice humanitarian things. All I have to do is fill out of bunch of paperwork, show up at the hospital, and give birth, the latter of which I was planning to do anyways.
Contact for Donor Services of Indiana is:
At least think about it, ok? Somebody out there could surely use your help - and hey! - you didn't want that nasty old placenta anyways, did you?
Friday, November 7, 2008
Once upon a time I was going to college and working at Kohl’s. For those who don’t know, Kohl’s is just a typical department store, kind of like Sears but without all the large appliances and machinery. Sadly, my assignment at Kohl’s was to ring customers up at the register. Ringing customers up at the cash register is the single most boring, mind-numbing job assignment possible at a department store but it turns out that only about a quarter of the entire population is smart enough to handle this task so this is where I was sent. I don’t know what’s so complicated about scanning a bar code and swiping a credit card, but only the best and brightest are assigned this job at my local Kohl’s. Come to think of it, this raises serious questions for me about the nature of ‘self-scan’ checkouts at the grocery, but I suppose that is another topic for another day.
A typical day at the Kohl’s checkout looked like this:
- Stand around for a good hour with nothing to do once the store has opened
- Ring up one customer
- Stand around for another hour with nothing to do.
- Call housewares and see if they need any towels folded
- Fold towels for an hour
- Ring up 6 customers who come in on their lunch hour
- Straighten every rack of shirts within eyesight of your register
- Stand around some more
- Claw out eyes with own fingernails to keep insanity at bay
- Stand around
- Bang head on countertop 8 times
- Ring up customer who looks slightly alarmed at the sight of you and avoids eye contact
- Give an audible sigh of relief when your replacement clocks in 15 minutes late and finally makes it over to your register
Needless to say, this was not the ideal career choice for a girl such as myself who does crazy things like reading Dostoyevski for fun. I’m not trying to make this a brag post, but geez! I swear I could feel myself getting stupider each and every day as I made my way to my checkout counter.
As the holidays approached each year this routine would change. There would be less and less standing around and more and more ringing up customers. This was a blessing and a curse: I no longer had to bang my head on the counter out of sheer boredom, but I did have to make lively conversation with every person who came through my lane, which basically sucked the life out of me. Really, I don’t care what kind of pj’s you got to go with your slippers or which candle scent your husband likes the best. I. DON’T. CARE. And pretending to care about such mundane crap for 8 hours a day is enough to leave one nearly comatose. Believe me.
So this one day I’m ringing up customers one by one as the holidays draw closer. It was a fairly busy Saturday afternoon in December if that tells you anything – not the sort of day where you have a lot of time to deal with drama if you’re in the retail business. So I’m standing at my register and this middle aged lady comes up to me and leans in real close like she’s going to tell me a secret or she has to say something that embarrasses her. This alarms me in and of itself as I don’t know who the hell the lady is and I’m already worn out from pretending to care about 700 strangers who are all cranky from Christmas shopping. However, I put on my happy face and pretend like I am deeply interested in what she has to say. She leans forward further and whispers to me:
“There’s a naked man in your men’s department!”
Me: Excuse me?
Lady: (whispering) A naked man! (points over to men’s department)
Me: A naked man?
Lady: (nods seriously and points to men’s department)
Me: OK, I’ll take care of it.
Now, whatever possessed me to believe I could take of a naked man running amok in a Kohl’s store eludes me at the moment. I just know that a middle aged women had just declared to me that there was a naked man in my store and I was going to have to do something about it. I did the first two things I could think of: I called the store manager and I called security. Both came running to my register to confirm that I’d just said what they thought I’d just said: that there was a naked man running wild in our store.
We soon had a witch hunt on our hands. Every employee in my Kohl’s store was on the lookout for the naked man that was allegedly creeping around our men’s department, completely exposed for all to see. Being stuck at my post at the cash register, I wasn’t able to help with the hunt, so various employees simply wandered over to me at 5 minute intervals, giving me updates:
“…no one’s seen him yet…”
“… I hope he stayed out of the kids department…”
“… I wonder where his clothes are...”
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Let me take a moment to note that for as much as everyone claimed they didn’t want to see the naked man, every single person working in that store was in hot, persistent pursuit of him. I’m guessing this was the result of the same primal instinct that makes us slow down and gawk at car accidents.
After 20 minutes the witch hunt (aka, the naked man hunt) was called off and the suspect was apprehended by an innocent, 40-ish, fairly fragile Men’s Department employee named Margot. Apparently, the naked man who’d caused all of this fuss was actually…
you are not going to believe this….
A naked mannequin.
I sent my entire Kohl’s store out to hunt down a naked mannequin on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of the busiest season of the year.
In my defense, the middle aged lady really did tell me there was a naked man on the loose. Also in my defense, I did think to repeat back to her what she’d said to confirm it. It’s not like she just said ‘mannequin’ and I somehow failed to catch the ‘-equin’ part. Luckily, my store manager had a pretty good sense of humor and instead of firing me, only laughed heartily every time he saw me for the next 2 months.
Even more luckily, they don’t make those mannequins anatomically correct.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Some of you may have gathered from my previous postings here that I once worked for the local Housing Authority in the city where I live, providing rental subsidies to families in need. Unfortunately, this profession didn’t work out for me for a variety of reasons and there is no way in hell I will ever work in social services ever again. Ever. It could be the most dire economy in all of history and the only possible way for me to earn a living could be to work in social services and I would choose instead to construct a little box hut down the alley and burn pine needles picked out of people’s yards for heat before I would go back into social services. It was that bad.
I am normally one of the most pathetically soft-hearted people you will ever meet. I’m one of those people who can’t set mouse traps because I’d feel guilty if I caused some poor little mouse to feel pain. I see mice in our garage and I actually tell them to please stay in the garage because I think a kitty would get them if they went in the house and I’d rather they didn’t get hurt. I don’t know if they understand or not, but I figure it can’t hurt.
Naturally this transfers over to people. Well, it used to…. before the Housing Authority. I used to see families with food stamps and get myself all worked up and upset that anybody had to suffer. Hence, I ended up in social services in the first place – I wanted to make a difference and help people get on their feet and make the world a better place… yada yada, bullshit, bullshit. Whatever. That was all before the Housing Authority. Now I see families using food stamps and if they are not elderly or obviously handicapped my immediate thought is, ‘Hey, get a job dumbass.’ Not terribly sympathetic, I’m afraid, but sadly my experience in social services taught me that the vast majority of people who need help from the government need assistance only because they have made shitty choices. After hearing for years and years about how everybody’s only one paycheck away from foreclosure, and so many families ‘just need help getting on their feet’, I spent 3 years at the Housing Authority looking for these proverbial families who were just down on their luck. I didn’t find many. Most of what I found were young people who made crappy choices that were being paid for with cash out of my paycheck. It was quite depressing.
But that’s a story for another day.
My job at the Housing Authority consisted of managing the waiting list and bringing people off of the waiting list and onto the program. As you can imagine this was quite depressing as my entire caseload lacked basic shelter and I constantly had homeless people calling me to either cry on the phone or scream at me. Like I said, I’m never, ever, ever going back to social services. Ever.
Now the housing program is not an entitlement program. This means that you can be denied assistance for a variety of reasons, including the contents of your criminal history report. Hence our story today….
Now the Housing Authority isn’t terribly picky about the little things like traffic violations, but they sure don’t want to use government funds (read: money from your paycheck) to house people with violent criminal histories, past sex offenses, past welfare fraud, or a history of dealing drugs. I’m pretty okay with this – after all, I haven’t committed any violent crimes, sex offenses, welfare fraud, or drug deals and nobody’s paying my rent.
Part of my job at the Housing Authority was to send out for criminal histories for clients on the waiting list and then send them rejection notices if I saw any one of those crimes. Here comes the fun part: anyone who is rejected from the program has the right to request a hearing to plead their case. So if a client requested a hearing I had to grant them one, and then set up a meeting with a hearing officer who would hear their case and decide whether or not to override my rejection.
Let me tell you, nothing is quite a fun as sitting in a little room across a flimsy table from an arsonist/rapist who is already pissed off at you because you sent him a rejection notice.
Did I mention I’m never going back into social services again?
Hearings resulted in a variety of interesting stories including one lady who offered to lift up her shirt to show us where somebody ‘bit her on the breast’ to prove her battery charge wasn’t unprovoked and another who came into her hearing claiming that we were only rejecting her because ‘her babies were prettier than ours’ and ‘we were jealous’.
Anyways, I’m here today to tell you one of my hearing stories. I call this one The Great Biscuit Caper of 2003. I hope you enjoy…
Once upon a time a very young Housing Authority employee named H had to send one of her clients (we’ll call him Fred) a rejection notice because he had been convicted of and served 10 years for dealing cocaine. Fred, not realizing that there’s pretty much nothing you can do to overturn a drug deal you have served hard time for, requested a hearing. Upon receiving his hearing request, H did a series of things in this order:
1) rolled her eyes
2) sighed loudly
3) yelled, “Hey, Lisey and M, check out this guy who thinks he can get his cocaine dealing rejection overturned!”
4) accepted Lisey & M’s sympathies
5) set up the hearing
The day of the hearing arrived. Fred made it to the Housing Authority on time and was brought into the hearing room with H and her hearing officer. All appeared to be going well – the hearing officer explained the purpose of the hearing and Fred nodded that universal nod that indicates understanding and acceptance of the situation and we moved right along. While we didn’t have a stenographer, this is my best guess at what followed:
Hearing Officer (HO): So, Fred, what’s the story? Looks like you served time for dealing cocaine.
Fred: Well, ah, no, I didn’t have no cocaine.
HO: You served 10 years. Are you telling me a jury put you away for 10 years but you didn’t have any cocaine?
Fred: I didn’t have no cocaine. Was them cops, them had it out for me!
HO: You were convicted of dealing cocaine. How is that possible if you didn’t have any cocaine on you?
Fred: I didn’t do no dealing. They got me on possession.
HO: Your police record states that you did time for dealing cocaine.
HO: So, were you dealing or did you have possession?
Fred: I didn’t have no cocaine.
(HO & H look at each other very confused - after all, most clients who have done time know for certain what they were convicted of)
HO: Ok, Fred, what happened?
Here’s where it gets good….
Fred: Well, I was out one day an I got hungry, so I went over to the McDonald’s and got me a biscuit.
H: A biscuit?!? (thinking, what the hell? What does a biscuit have to do with anything?)
Fred: I got me a biscuit. I was eatin’ me my biscuit and walking ‘round and you know, I wasn’t hungry no mo’, so I went an stuck my biscuit in my pocket (taps breast pocket with his right hand).
Fred: And then there was these cops, see, an they stopped me an they took my biscuit outta my pocket and then they was saying it was cocaine, see?
HO: The cops said your biscuit was cocaine?
HO: So, were you trying to sell this biscuit to someone? Because I’m not sure where the dealing charge comes in.
Fred: I didn’t have no cocaine. I had me a biscuit.
This went on for approximately 15 minutes before the hearing officer realized that the only information she was going to get out of Fred was a steady cry of ‘I didn’t have no cocaine’ and a story about a damn biscuit. Needless to say, his rejection wasn’t overturned.
This is why I can never work in social services again, people. Seriously, you claim you had a biscuit that the cops mistook for cocaine? And then a jury of your peers also mistook the biscuit for cocaine? And what’s up with the dealing charges for a biscuit? Can you imagine dealing biscuits on the black market?
Setting: dark alley, late at night, steam rises up from the manhole covers in the street up ahead
A tall, lanky figure in a trench coat walks up to a shorter man huddling in the cold, heating his hands with the warmth of his breath
Trench coat man: Hey, man, you lookin for sumpthin?
Cold man: You got the package?
TCM: I got it right here, bro (opens his trench coat to reveal biscuit after biscuit after biscuit lining the inside of the coat)
Cold man: (transfixed by the site, reaches forward) Oh, man…
TCM: Not so fast. (closes his trench coat and wraps it around himself tightly) You got to give me sumpthin first…
Cold man: (reaches inside his jacket and pulls out an envelope. Looks suspiciously around for passers by before quickly handing it to TCM). Now?
TCM: (looks around suspiciously) Ok, man (opens coat and pulls out biscuit. Closes coat quickly, hands biscuit to cold man, and walks away without looking back)
Cold man: (cups biscuit in his hand and looks at it as though it is its own secret world. looks around suspiciously again and wanders off in the opposite direction of TCM)
Like I said, this is why I can never work in social services again. Look at what I just wrote – do I or do I not sound like a crazy person? Case and point.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
You know what? I get it. Abortion sucks. I'd really rather no one had one. It would be awesome if a movement was successful in not only eradicating abortion, but eradicating the circumstances that lead young women to this decision. I'm one of those crazy people who think abortion is as much a symptom of a greater problem as it is a problem in and of itself. I won't go into my rant about abortion protesters here, but let it just suffice to say that for as much as the hardcore pro-lifers I know (all church people, by the way) want those babies to be born, they sure don't want to be the ones who have to take care of the babies (or the moms) once they're here. Another topic for another day, I suppose, along with my rant about how the church doesn't like liberals or their social programs too much yet Christians don't provide for the poor like the Bible commands them to, etc, etc, etc. It is doubtful that the church is going to make me happy about much of anything at this point. Let's just leave it at that.
Yesterday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
I did not see one sign, anywhere.
So, apparently if you abort your baby a terrible thing has occurred and you've robbed a little soul of its chance to make a difference in the world and it is a terrible tragedy.... but if you lose a baby to miscarriage or stillbirth or SIDS (or a freakishly placed ectopic pregnancy).... eh, *shoulder shrug*, you'll get over it.
Maybe it sounds like I'm over-reacting to a lack of signage, but the truth is this has bugged me for awhile. The very same people who would have been horrified had I had an elective abortion just looked at me and gave me a crappy cliche' when I lost babies that were very much loved and wanted. The people from my church who would've jumped at the chance to help me repent of an abortion and would've found me a support group and checked up on how I was doing months later simply squirmed in their seats and made non-commital noises and went about their lives without further inquiries or support when I lost babies I loved. Apparently, support just isn't as much fun when there's no sin to fix. Perhaps the entire church is co-dependent? A few Christian members of my community were exceptions to this rule, which doesn't surprise me at all - living in community is far different than attending church.
Tell me, why are the babies I lost so much less precious than a baby someone chose to abort? Did they have less capacity to make a difference had they been born? Were they less real? They were alive at one point and then they weren't. How is that so different?
I was thinking last night about all those signs and about the two babies we lost last year and how I still miss them and wonder what would've happened if things had turned out differently. I thought about a woman I know who had an abortion long before I was ever pregnant and how easy it was for me to love her and accept her regret and pain and be the support she needed. I thought about the support groups and free counsling that were available to her to help her heal. And then I thought about how hard it was for so many people around me to love me and accept my pain and be the support I needed. And I thought about how the only support group I could find was online and how I couldn't see a counselor who specialized in this area because she wasn't covered under my insurance.
And it occurred to me, I'd have been better off if I'd actually terminated those pregnancies myself.
Something about that seems very wrong to me.
Friday, September 19, 2008
I am now enrolled in an Aquacise class at the YMCA.
Go ahead, laugh. Get it out of your system. When you’re finished, keep reading.
Initially, I decided to enroll in a pre-natal Moms N Motion water class that the Y was hosting. As I am a member of the Y I was going to be able to take this class for free, so I figured why not? A water class wasn’t my first choice for exercise, but somewhere around 3 weeks ago I stopped being able to ride my bike due to the horrible round ligament pain (read: Satan himself stabbing me repeatedly with a jagged piece of broken glass in the muscles on the bottom of my tummy) that ensues whenever I make it to my destination. The bike also didn’t help with the random bouts of hip pain and ‘shooting down my leg from seemingly nowhere and completely disabling me’ pain that also seems to come with the pregnancy, so I decided it was time to move on. As I would prefer not to be a doughy blob of flesh when this baby pops out, it seemed I had to do something in terms of exercise, and the Y was going to let me do it for free. Besides, I reasoned, I would meet lots of other expectant moms and the rest of my friends’ eyes would no longer glaze over with constant talk of baby-ness. So I thought.
Apparently there are only two other pregnant mamas in all of downtown Fort Wayne who can spare an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Thus, the Moms N Motion class was cancelled. The nice lady at the Y called to tell me the bad news, but offered to enroll me in Aquacise. Okay, whatever, I thought.
Aquacise isn’t actually all that bad. There are, however, a few factors that make it slightly humorous to me, namely that:
1) the class consists of a bunch of little old ladies and me
2) I have to stuff my huge pregnant self into a bathing suit in order to take the class and then waddle out of the changing room and over to the pool in plain sight of anyone who happens to be walking around the lobby of the YMCA.
Now, if I had actually read the description for this class I might have seen the blurb that read, “ideal for active older adults!” and anticipated the little old ladies. And had I been more observant on my past several hundred trips to the Y I might have observed the way you can see right into the pool from the lobby. However, I am neither practical enough to read nor observant enough to figure out what’s going on with myself most times, let alone other people in the pool at the YMCA. Thus I didn’t see these enormously humorous circumstances coming.
Aside from the way I have to physically brace myself and swallow my pride every time I walk out into the pool area in my giant bathing suit, the class is going well. The little old ladies like to dote on me because I am the cute pregnant chick they all remember being so well. Little old ladies love pregnant chicks. I don’t know why, but they do. This has worked out in my favor. The instructor has also been given instructions (I presume by the nice lady who called me) to be gentle on me and make sure I don’t drown myself or put myself into labor during her class. As much as I appreciate the concern, it’s a little bit humiliating to be swimming around with a bunch of 70 year old ladies who are all paddling and using weights and jogging underwater while the instructor looks over at me – a perfectly healthy (if pregnant) 27 year old woman – and tells me not to worry about keeping up the pace if I can’t.
Instructor: Jog forward everyone…. arms beside you… let your arms scoop the water! Great job Nancy! Keep it up Georgia! (looks over at me worriedly) H, don’t worry about keeping up if you can’t. (I slow down and she looks to someone else) Wonderful job Betty!
Instructor: Ok, everyone, keep your head up and balance yourself on the noodle. Keep that back straight and those shoulders down! Squeeeeeeze those glutes! Work those abs! (looks over at me) oh, H, don’t worry about the abs.
Me: (turns bright red) I can’t feel my abs.
Instructor: I know. It’s okay. Great job Susan, keep it up!
So basically, I go to class twice a week with 12 little old ladies who look like I could break them in half with my pinky but who are totally kicking my ass at Aquacise, swimming around and around with their weights and doing lunges while I wander meekly around the pool trying not to do anything that will send either the instructor or the old ladies into panic mode believing I have gone into labor. These old ladies are swimming laps around me, I tell you.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
- When I walk into the bathroom right after my husband is done getting ready and the whole room smells like his cologne.
- Bees landing on the sunflowers I planted this summer.
- Buying a used book that is worn and marked and I can tell someone loved it very much.
- The way Dingo jumps and runs in circles and wags her tail when I come home from work.
- The first 4 measures of Rufus Wainwright's 'Hallelujah' when I recognize the song and instantly think of the people I love.
- The smell of fall.
- Finding candy I'd forgotten about.
- Feeling my baby kick.
- The smells of Black & Milds and clove cigarettes.
- Knowing the secret languages of my friendships - i.e that Lisey and M hate bouncies and knowing all of Mia's 10-cent abominable words.
- Handmade clothes and accessories.
- When my husband rubs my fat, pregnant belly.
- Chiclets out of a gumball machine.
- When gay men hold hands unashamedly in public.
- Calling an old friend and saying, 'It's me' and she knows exactly who it is.
- My Channel Surfers hoodie.
- Waking up to find my cat Zeus asleep and spooning with me with his head resting in the crook of my arm.
- Asymmetrical art.
- When I bring my husband peanut butter no-bake cookies from the grocery store and he gets really excited about it.
- Hearing homeless J on the radio.
- Every time Locke doesn't let Jack tell him what to do on LOST.
- When my sister makes me laugh really hard and my mother gives us that look that says, "Guess it must be a sister thing".
- Coins from foreign countries.
- Hearing a reference to classic literature and knowing the story it came from.
- Runts Easter Egg candies.
- Getting handwritten notes from my grandma in the mail.
- Giving away something I made by hand.
Friday, August 29, 2008
You see, I have been growing hops. Apparently, this is something of a novelty as every person who comes over to my house is greatly impressed by the hops. Now that I think of it, I'm the only person I've ever known with a hop garden. So today I decided I would tell you a little story about the creation of the hop garden, show you a few pictures, wish you a happy Labor Day, and go on about my weekend. No harm, no foul.
Once upon a time my friend J decided it would be fun to brew beer. We all heartily agreed that this was a good idea and happily sipped away at the confections that were coming out of J's house. Unfortunately, hops cost money. Apparently they're going for something like $40 a pound at the moment. J had the brilliant idea of growing hops ourselves. There was just one problem: he leaves town for months at a time due to his occupation and wasn't going to be here to plant, tend to, or harvest hops this summer. We figured this pretty much prohibited J's growing any hops as they generally have to be planted, tended to, and harvested to do anyone any good.
However, I do happen to have a little garden out back. And I do happen to like it that J brews his own beer. And I also happen to think $40 a pound is a little excessive. And so, the great hop garden was born. J ordered 2 hop roots, D constructed 2 lattice structures for the hops to grow up, and I sat around and watched all of this until it was time to plant the little guys. We've had mixed results. Unfortunately, the fuggle hop root completely bit the dust. It wasn't growing and wasn't growing and wasn't growing.... when I decided to dig it up and take a look at it, I couldn't even find the root. Sad day. However, our cascade hop root took off and has provided us with a good deal of hops. I don't have our final tally, but I'm hoping to have saved J $20 in hop fees this year. Since many people have never seen a real, live hop plant, I decided to take some pictures and show you what they look like.
The green, vine-y looking plant growing up that lattice is the hop plant. The lattice we have is 8 feet tall. From what I've read, the hops can grow 12 feet up and 25 feet out. Mine really didn't grow out, just up.
Here are the actual hop fruits/flowers. The green pinecone-looking things are what actually gets used for brewing. They are surprisingly light - not thick and heavy like pinecones would be. They're mostly made up of little tiny leaves all over. I've picked about a mixing bowl full and am drying some right now. J says that once they're dry all I have to do is freeze them and wait for him to come home.
Hops are what gives beer its bitter flavor. As you may have guessed, very bitter beers have more hops and less bitter beers have less hops. J has also informed me that some hops are used for flavor and some more for aroma. The hops that died on me were aroma hops (I think) and the ones that grew were flavor hops (again, I think - I could have gotten it mixed up). I'm going to keep picking them until frost when I plan to just cut the whole plant down and take what I can get. The plant will grow back next year (bonus!) and provide us with even more hops. Yea!
So, there it is! Your useless information station has provided you with a short little lesson on hops. Use it to impress your friends and loved ones!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Erm, who named their company BIG ASS FANS? And then who thought it would be a good idea to put the words 'hard to reach places' and 'big ass' in the same ad with pictures of giant rotating fans?
Words escape me at the moment.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Why?, you ask.
Because every single person in my husband’s family is petrified of bats, of course. What other good reason could there be for expecting a pregnant chick to hop out of bed, giving up much needed sleep time, to clumsily chase a bat around the house, hoping not smash her growing belly into anything too dangerous in her pursuit of flying rodents? That’s the only good reason I can think of.
Even her dog is afraid of bats, it appears.
I declined to help with the bat chase for the simple reason that I knew if I got up and went out long enough to hunt down rogue bats, I wouldn’t wake up for work in the morning. Gestating is hard work, people. It makes me sleepy. D told his mother to call my brother-in-law instead.
The simple problem with this is that my brother-in-law is also petrified of bats. As I was drifting off to sleep the phone rang again and D informed me that my brother-in-law was currently chasing the bats around the house wearing a plastic laundry basket over his head and waving a blanket around to capture the poor creatures. Apparently this constitutes standard bat-chasing gear. I have yet to hear the outcome of last night’s charade, though I’m sure it will be entertaining. If it’s good enough I’ll update you.
I have no idea why D and his family are so terrified of bats. I’ve tried to tell him that they’re not going to hurt him, but he remains convinced that one day a bat will swoop down from the sky, bite him on the neck, dig in with it’s little fangs far enough to produce a fair amount of gore, and fly off again with a large enough chunk of him to feed a herd of small bat-lings. D is further convinced that each and every bat that exists either 1) has rabies or 2) is a vampire bat and will turn him into the undead. Nevermind that, to date, there are ZERO reported cases of people turning into the undead after an encounter with a bat. Nevermind that bats don’t make a habit of eating human flesh. Nevermind that none of the bats I have chased out of anyone’s home (5 or 6 to date) have actually come close to even touching me. Nevermind any of that. Clearly, bats are dangerous man-eating, zombie-making machines, out for revenge on the human race. Obviously.
I’ve also tried to convince D that bats are more afraid of him that he is of them. As I witness his terror increase, I could change my mind on this one, but generally I think it would be pretty scary to be a bat trapped in a person’s house. Think about it. You wouldn’t be able to get out to your little bat family and there would be all these walls all over the place you weren’t used to so you might fly into them and there wouldn’t be any handy bat food sitting around. Not to mention that you’re trapped inside with the predator highest on the food chain. It could be downright freaky to be a bat trapped in someone’s house. I imagine that when bats fly around people’s houses and realize there are human beings present they probably think to themselves, “Oh, shit! I’ve gone and gotten trapped in a human’s house. How do I get out of here?”. When said bats start trying to find their way out and are confronted by strange creatures camouflaged with blankets and plastic laundry baskets, the “Oh, shit!” factor must intensify tenfold. After all, there is no creature in nature quite like a human with a blanket and a plastic laundry basket in tow. Mama bat never taught them how to defend themselves against that.
I actually kind of like bats. I think I read somewhere that they eat their weight in mosquitoes. I don’t know if that’s over the course of an evening or a week or the whole summer. Either way, they eat mosquitoes, so they’re okay in my book. Now I’d prefer not to have a bat colony roosting in my attic or anything, but I don’t think bats are so bad. They’re just little critters that want to fly around and eat mosquitoes and hang out with other bats and show off how they can hang upside down. I’m cool with that.
The last time D’s mom got a bat stuck in her house, I was called to the rescue. I never did find the bat and my mother-in-law spent a week hiding out downstairs with every door in the house closed for fear a giant bat would sneak up on her and attack her. The time before that, I did find the bat. It was hiding out in my mother-in-law’s bedroom, looking for a way home. My husband, his mother, his sister, and his nephew all crowded around the house outside, looking hopefully up at the bedroom window. If you’d been driving by and didn’t know better, you might have thought there was a fire somewhere in the house and everyone was waiting outside for the brave fireman to rescue a poor child who’d been trapped inside and was shouting out the window for help. Nope, no such thing. Just a bat.
D and his mother armed me as best as they could with a broom. No one offered me a plastic laundry basket or a blanket, and I didn’t think to ask for them. At the time, I didn’t know this was standard bat-hunting gear. I made my way up to mother-in-law’s room with my trusty broom, shut the door and opened the window, hoping that I could coax the bat out of the room and into the night without any chance of it escaping to another room in the house.
Unfortunately, when you turn on the light in my mother-in-law’s bedroom, the ceiling fan also comes on. This constitutes a serious bat hazard that I did not foresee. Remember me telling you how the poor bats who get trapped inside of houses have to deal with running into walls they didn’t know were there? Well, they also have to deal with the possibility that some fancy piece of gadgetry might somehow put them into a trance in which they fly around and around and around in circles beneath spinning fan blades without the power to make themselves stop. This poor little bat had been hypnotized by the shiny lights and spinning blades and just couldn’t stop. I didn’t know what to do. On one hand, I could use the broom like a baseball bat and try to whack the bat out the window on his next turn around the fan blades. This didn’t seem like a very nice option to me as I am generally against the harming of defenseless little bats. On the other hand, I couldn’t figure out how to stop the fan blade without turning out the light and I wasn’t about to hunt down the bat in the dark. In the end I had to settle for catching the bat on the end of the broom and nudging him out the window and into the night. I’m still a little traumatized by the potential damage I did to the poor little guy, but I was trying to be as gentle as possible which is hard to do when all you have to work with is a broom. On the upside, he did fly away from the scene which suggests to me that he was generally okay.
I guess next time I should ask for a laundry basket and a blanket.
Friday, August 8, 2008
It seems like it’s so hard to stay connected in our twenties and thirties as we venture off into marriages and parenthood and careers – we have condos and houses; lawns to mow and bills to pay; obligations to fill on Saturday mornings and Chinese take-out to eat in front of the television on Saturday nights because our friends are out getting their own condos and lawns and bills to deal with. It’s just a hard phase of life. I don’t know if this is something particular to my generation or if it’s the way it’s always been. I have no idea, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter. It’s the way it is now so that’s what we have to deal with.
As you may have noticed, I adore the idea of community. I think it is beautiful to see what can happen when enough people get and stay connected and start to take responsibility for each other’s well being. One of my friends brought me a Frankenstein balloon after my first miscarriage because she wanted to love me. Friends from my community helped me paint Lisey’s house and Bev’s house before they really knew either one of them as an act of love to me and to invite them into the club. We help each other move, we help each other grieve, and we help each other determine whether or not the hamburgers are cooked to an edible temperature. We grow plants for each other if, say, one of us leaves on a ship for months at a time. I have a friend who I know is lonely and I make a conscious effort to make sure s/he has a place to be when I know s/he might not otherwise. You build community and these things just happen. When you get and stay connected you start to be unable to just let your friends suffer or to let them deal with stuff on their own. You have to paint their houses and bring them Frankenstein balloons and invite them into everything you can because you can’t bear not to. That’s what community does.
So to me, throwing a party every month and trying to get/keep people connected is service because it helps them be part of a community that loves them, and I want for all of them to be loved. In my little world, sometimes service means giving away blankets; sometimes it means buying really good beer. *shrugs shoulders* I can’t justify it to you, I can just tell you that it is what my heart says to do and I believe it is good. Sometimes god blesses the open spirit and sometimes god blesses the open tap (or the open fridge, or the open grill, or the open container of Rice Krispie treats… you get the picture). Don’t get me wrong; I love to party. But more than that I love seeing a connection getting made and seeing someone learn to love or be loved.
Back to the point of this: oftentimes there will be people at my house on a weekend because I want to love them and serve them. This weekend 6 of my friends are coming to my house to serve me.
As you may have heard, my living room is in a rather sad state of disrepair. Lisey has arranged a bit of a sanding party in hopes that my plight of despair might be over relatively soon. The longer I think about my living room, the more it makes me remember how my high school English teacher made such a big deal about how the house in “The Fall of the House of Usher” was dilapidated!!! as though we’d all somehow made it to high school without knowing what dilapidated meant – he seemed to think he was talking to illiterates (and really, isn’t ‘dilapidated’ kind of a weak analogy for ‘house that ripped in half and sank into the bog’?). Anyways, equating one’s living room with something Poe wrote is generally a bad sign, and Lisey jumped right up and decided to do something about it. See what I mean about community?
Now I am not a girl who generally likes to be on the receiving end of the whole service thing. It makes me uncomfortable – I always feel like I should be doing something more or that I owe whoever helped me big time or that I’m quite pathetic for needing help in the first place. Of course I never think the people that I serve are pathetic or owe me big time or whatever else, but me? Well, that’s different. Don’t ask me why, but it is. I’m not supposed to need everyone to sand my stupid living room.
Anyway, I have been anticipating my friends coming over to help me this weekend and I realized that I don’t feel any anxiety or guilt about it whatsoever. None. I don’t feel bad for needing their help. I don’t feel bad for taking up their time. I don’t feel bad for making them work. I don’t feel bad at all. I just feel immensely grateful to be a part of a group of people who value me that much.
I think I am learning the value of being able to take as well as give. I think I am learning how to let people love me. And I think this is a good thing.
I have no idea how this happened, but I kind of like it. It is nice not to feel immense guilt every time someone wants to love you. I don’t know if it is the quiet acceptance of these people as family or the extraordinarily humbling past year that I’ve barely survived. I don’t know what it is, but it feels great. It feels freeing. It feels like I belong somewhere.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Click here for a good laugh.
Oh, and Lisey, do you still have that baby-hooker swimsuit with the pink camo???
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
For reasons unbeknowest to me, D decided this was very funny. Ok, I admit, it is kind of funny to think you'd have to lick your hands to get your face clean. It's one of the many reasons I'm glad I'm not a cat. But then D strayed out of the realm of things I can at least sort of understand and decided it would be even funnier to give it a try himself.
He stood there and licked his hands and ran them through his hair about 8 times before he decided it wasn't really working. The whole time he's making fun of poor Zeus, not even realizing that Zeus has long since ceased licking himself and is now staring at D in wonder. Even the cat didn't understand what was going on.
On the upside, he didn't sing during any of this.
Friday, July 25, 2008
So…. my husband decided last night that it would be hilarious if I referred to him on my blog as simply ‘my baby daddy’ and if we went on Maury Povich to have a paternity test done. The former I can stomach, at least for the remainder of this post, but the latter got me a little aggravated – particularly since this will be grandbaby #6 on his side of the family and our little one will be the first one born within wedlock. Oh, the irony. So while I will not be going on Maury Povich unless D permits me to dress in a too-short polka dotted halter top with a flask in my back pocket and a lit cigarette dangling from blood red lips while I listen to the audience degrade me for my terrible mothering skills (Oh, the horror! She’s a terrible mum already and she hasn’t even given birth!), I will, for the remainder of this entry, refer to D as simply, ‘my baby daddy’. Feedback is appreciated. Who knows? If it entertains you enough, I may keep it up.
Anyway, I decided this entire entry should be about my baby daddy. Why not? I didn’t have much else planned to write for you today, so I’ll try to come up with something interesting….
As many of you know, my living room is currently facing a rather sad plight. It has been (to quote Lisey) “stripped of its carpet and its furniture” and has been left to fend for itself as it attempts to re-emerge into the world as something transformed into a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, this metamorphosis is not going nearly as smoothly as the metamorphosis of, say, a butterfly. Or a moth. Whatever. My point being that butterflies and moths have god or mother nature or some other force looking out for their development while my living room has – sadly – only me. Thus, the living room shuns itself from the world in an attempt to hide the ugliness I have been wicked enough to bestow upon it.
Or rather, the ugliness my baby daddy bestowed upon it.
You see, I’m not actually the one who stripped the poor living room of its carpet. Or its furniture. Come to think of it, I’m not the one who started stripping the paint off the baseboards, either. That was my baby daddy. Let me tell you a little story about the series of events that led up to the sad plight we face today:
Once upon a time we bought a home that had the 2nd ugliest carpet in the history of the universe (next to that orange shag carpet somebody thought up circa 1974) and a lot of painted woodwork. Though H tried and tried, she simply could not fathom how this could be the highest standard of beauty for her home to live up to. And so, one day she said to the man who would become her baby daddy, “Wouldn’t the living room look lovely if we ripped up the carpet, re-stained the floor, and re-did all the woodwork?” To which her future baby daddy simply replied, “That’s a lot of work”.
Fast forward 3 years. Suddenly, H’s baby daddy starts to strip the paint from the baseboards. H is overly excited as this leads her to believe that she and baby daddy will now transform their living room into a thing of beauty.
Time passes. Fast forward 6 more months. Suddenly, H’s baby daddy randomly rips the carpet from the floor. ‘Oh, thank God!’ exclaims H, believing that she and her baby daddy will finally make some progress and their ugly duckling living room will grow into a beautiful swan!
More time passes. Fast forward 3 months. Suddenly, H’s baby daddy sells all their living room furniture to his mother. All of it. Baby daddy assures H that this will motivate them to complete their living room in a timely fashion. After 9 months of false starts, H is cautiously optimistic and hopes that their living room will one day be livable again.
More time passes. Fast forward 1 ½ months. Baby daddy has worked on the living room for a total of 2 hours. H (who is, by the way, knocked up) works diligently on the living room 3-4 nights per week. Baby daddy explains to her that he has a lot of other responsibilities to take care of. Strangely enough, H has still managed to cook, clean, do the laundry, buy the groceries, etc., etc., etc. and work on the living room. While baby daddy pays the bills, H looks longingly out the door and wonders if she will ever see living room furniture again. Then baby daddy asks for some ice cream and she sighs a big sigh and quietly curses the ugly carpet and painted baseboards that started this whole thing in the first place. That weekend, H goes to her parents’ house so she doesn’t forget what a loveseat looks like.
As you can see, the living room renovation isn’t exactly going as planned. Oddly enough, baby daddy insisted that getting rid of the living room furniture and having to put his (very large and expensive) plasma TV away would be motivation to finish the living room in a timely manner. Obviously, baby daddy was wrong. H, on the other hand, couldn’t give a shit less about the stupid plasma TV and just wants baby daddy to stop sitting around in her craft room watching Cubs games and going, “shhhhhhh” at her while she’s trying to sew.
Anyway, I’ve come to the conclusion that D simply doesn’t care about the living room as much as I do. Clearly. And so the poor living room has to rely on me – the girl who lacks the skills to draw convincing stick figures – to transform it into a thing of beauty. I know, I know – I feel sorry for the living room too. But I guess there’s nothing we can do about it at this point unless, of course, any of you out there are interior decorators.
But enough about my living room. This is supposed to be about my baby daddy, right? Hmm, what other interesting things has my baby daddy done of late?
Some of you have heard that my baby daddy sings. He sings a lot, especially on Saturday morning. But here’s the catch: he just randomly sings about whatever activity he’s participating in. He sings about folding socks. He sings about brushing his teeth. He sings about watching TV. He sings about paying the bills. He sings about hanging up his towel. He sings about eating Raisin Bran (though Cuthbert says this is forgivable, as – and I quote – ‘Raisin Bran kinda does make you wanna sing’). He sings ALL FREAKING MORNING. While he varies his tunes from time to time, his favorite thing to do is to use the tune of “Camptown Races” and just add his own words. There is a method to his madness, it appears.
This is all fine and dandy, unless, of course, you happen to live with him on Saturday mornings. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’m a horrible wife for letting the singing get to me and that if that’s the worst thing he does, I’m certainly the luckiest wife on the planet. YOU ARE ALL WRONG! If I have to listen to that horrid Camptown Races tune while my baby daddy sings, ‘this is how I fold my socks, doo da, doo da’ one more time I may run my car into a bridge embankment.
If you want to know if it’s really that bad, call Velma. She had dinner with us last night (and, incidentally, helped the poor living room with its plight) and D sang the entire time he cleaned up the kitchen. Velma is quite mild tempered, but even she asked me if he’s always like that.
In all seriousness, I have a pretty good baby daddy. However, none of the really nice, sweet stuff he does is all that funny and I’ve got to keep you entertained. Otherwise, you won’t read my blog (and then where would I be?). But now that I’ve entertained you maybe I can hold your attention long enough to tell you about some of my baby daddy’s endearing qualities, including the following:
*He has actually been inside of the JoAnn’s Fabric with me enough times to know where the buttons are located (husband of the year award, right there!)
*On that note he has actually PICKED OUT buttons for me.
*He doesn’t mind at all if I am out until 3 am dancing with a bunch of men he never met, provided that 95% of them are gay.
*I’ve never actually used our lawn mower. Or our weed eater. Never. Not once. And our lawn is pretty well groomed.
*He weeded the garden for me for weeks when I was too morning sick or tired to hold a hoe.
*He is intently focused on the bumpy thing that was once my stomach and likes to touch it at least once a day, commenting that it is cute even though I just think it is fat (serious awwwwww factor).
So you see, my baby daddy isn’t all that bad. All these endearing qualities almost make up for ‘I’m eating all the Raisin Bran, doo da, doo da’ on a Saturday morning.