Friday, July 23, 2010

Get Your Schnitz Outta My Ear

In an effort to drum up new readers, today's blog post will feature some of the Greatest Women in the State. They could up their title coverage to Greatest Women in the World if they ever bothered to read this blog; but let's not go there. I'm still not over the trauma of learning they'd rather have real relationships with real people rather than read my blog.

The only exception is Sue. Sue reads my blog. But, let's be honest. That's because she stays home with her two small children every single blessed day and the weather hasn't been condusive to outdoor playdates, so she can't have real relationships with real people. She can only be a mom. So, to escape that hard truth she can either read my blog or drink large quantities of wine. Perhaps she does both. But the most important detail is that she actually reads my blog. That's why I love her. I also love her because she's my cousin. But mostly because she reads my blog. (Even if she is drunk when she reads it.)

This is Sue. Sue is the size of my left thigh. But I won't hold the fact that I can never take advantage of borrowing her wardrobe against her. (I don't want to lose readership.) She makes homemade soup and allows her children to use glitter and glue inside the house. She also lets them use play dough. For this reason alone I consider her my personal hero.

This is Beth. Beth is the most confident, positive person I know. She is who she is and makes no qualms about it. Beth will say grace before a meal in a public restaurant. She also travels with a fart machine which she will gladly use at any moment (like when someone's husband calls). Beth goes on dates with her husband. I like that about her. She also takes her kids out to search for toads after a rainstorm. I think it's pretty obvious that is something I will never do.

This is Margaret. Margaret comes from one of those ginormous families that talk and laugh and eat really great food. She makes the best tiramisu on the face of the planet. Seriously. Just writing that added 5 pounds to my thighs. Margaret has the most gracious, giving heart but I'm not sure she knows it. She will do the most amazing, selfless things ever and truly just believes it's no big deal. The world would be such a better place if we were all a little more like Margaret. She also drinks wine. And I like me my wine drinkin' friends!

This is Jane and Jill. Jane has the same birthday as me. Normally I'd be upset and pout because I had to share my special day (middle child syndrome) but I don't mind sharing with Jane because she happens to be one of the coolest people I've ever met. She never stops laughing. Ever. Jane gave her husband a Speedo as a gift (and he wears it). This alone explains why Jane is the bomb. She is also incredibly athletic and will do things like wake up at 5am and walk 47 miles because she wanted to and not because anyone put a gun to her head and forced her. I tried walking next to her once and she almost gave me a heart attack because that woman doesn't walk; she runs. And that's not fair to do that to a sloth-like creature such as myself.

Jill is like Southern Hospitality sprinkled with Wisconsin Raucous. She says things like testicles and snatch, which is okay  because she taught sex ed. (Although I don't believe snatch is the official term.) I don't like to stand next to Jill because she looks like she stepped out of a magazine and never has anything out of place. Ever. She is always perfectly coiffed and styled all. the. time. The really upsetting part about this is she doesn't even try. Jill tells great stories. Really great stories. The kind that leave you wiping tears they're so funny. Everyone should have a friend like that.

This is Kelly. Kelly has the most amazing hair on the planet. People pay thousands of dollars a year in the hopes to get close to achieving hair like hers and she just wakes up with it. Kelly is also incredibly insightful and wise, and super fun and has this great laugh that makes you want to be part of who she is. She told a story that actually included the sentence, "Sir, please get your schnitz outta my ear!" I still haven't recovered.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

25 Things You Didn't Care To Know About Me.

This was written a while ago, but still rings true today.

1. I don’t trust dogs. We had the nicest, gentlest dog in the entire world – and then he ripped a kid’s face off. Yes, off. I don’t trust dogs and I internally panic when I see people bury their faces anywhere near a dog’s teeth. (7/22/10: I can add that my little niece was bit yesterday by the nicest, gentlest dog in the entire world. That dog was nice and gentle, but it still had teeth.)

2. Our dog’s name was Collie. It was a border collie. My brother was an idiot.

3. My brother disappeared when he was 4. (This was the same brother that insisted our collie’s name was Collie.) There was a search party and a lot of fear. I know how easy it is for kids to vanish into thin air and I am petrified it could happen to mine.

4. The first penis I saw belonged to my grandfather (my dad’s father). It was unintentional as he was sitting on a chair at an outdoor get-together and that’s when men’s shorts were a little too short for those choosing not to wear underwear. I was ten and horrified. But I pointed it out to my sister anyway.

5. I still beat myself up for not going to Veronica’s funeral. I was too scared to tell my mom I wanted to go.

6. I once stole a sweatshirt out of someone’s unlocked car when I was in college.

7. I joined the Army to make my mom mad. I don’t think she noticed I joined.

8. I’m too scared to go visit my grandmother. She’s 91 and I love her more than anything and I have so many letters from her so I know how she feels about me and I know all the advice she’s given me and I love her sense of humor – but I’m scared that if I allow myself to get close to her I won’t know how to grieve when she dies.

9. I think if my mother had her way we’d all be mono-expressive. Crying in our family is barely tolerated. Nor do we like emotions of any kind. Anything considered heavy, deep, or vital to the emotional well-being of a person’s soul is uncomfortable. (This explains greatly why my mom and I have a “strained relationship” since my excessive, out of control display of emotions make her run for the hills every time she sees me.)

10. I scoff at people who put the period after the exclamation mark.

11. I am actually way more intelligent than I let people know about me. For some reason I think people will hate me if they know I’m smart. I think it comes from years and years of hearing that education is overrated, so I “dummy down” a lot and then later feel ashamed that I did.

12. My proudest moment of having Shannon as my big sister was when our cousin tried drowning me in the pool and Shannon came to my rescue – and then not only took the crap my grandmother gave her, but walked home without a towel because grandma made her give it to the mean cousin who forgot hers.

13. I almost drowned my brother Patrick, but not on purpose. I tried to catch him off the pier and went to where I was standing on my tip-toes and the water was up to my chin – he jumped the same time a wave came in and went over me. I tried grabbing him but couldn’t get to him. A lifeguard pulled him out. I still feel incredibly guilty about that. I don't remember if I gave him my towel.

14. I had an audition with the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan that I never showed up for. Instead I chose to stay in an abusive relationship with a complete control freak and get knocked up.

15. I have great childhood stories – from the crazy herd of sheep trying to run us down, to my sister giving a goat a hair cut, to the bat in the house, to the food fight with the one lone pork and bean left on the ceiling, to the gravity heat registers that provided endless hours of entertainment, to sweeping out the basement floods, to my baby brother being lowered into the trunk of a huge tree to save a litter of kittens, to the crazy horse Rocket that my dad brought home… I feel bad that my kids will never have the hilarious childhood that I had.

16. My dad was showing off on a dirt bike and almost killed himself. Two boys we knew happened to be driving by and saw what had happened and helped clip my dad out from the fence… my dad walked to the house, into the bathroom, locked himself in and almost bled out. It was pretty bad. Sometimes I wonder if any of us kids would’ve ever realized we should call 911. As it was, we called my mom at work. My mom always knew what to do in every situation. I wonder if the boys that saved my dad ever knew how serious that was.

17. Once my brother got lost in a really bad blizzard-like snow storm walking to the house from the end of the driveway when the bus dropped us off. (It was a long driveway.) My sister made two of us kids drink peach schnapps to warm us up and went out in the storm to search for my brother. She was always saving us… (still does, really).

18. I was in the hospital when my Grandpa died. My sister brought me to the ER that night. Because everyone was so busy with funeral arrangements, no one visited me for four days. Or called. That was the loneliest I ever felt. My brother picked me up the night of the wake, and I was out for the weekend, but had to go back in on Monday. I still miss my Grandpa.

19. The first time I was in labor my mom brought me to the hospital. The second time I was in labor I drove myself.

20. I met Big V at Midget Wrestling.

21. I keep making excuses that prohibit me from writing on a serious level...and I can't figure out the logistics of "just do it."

22. Secretly I am very happy with how my life has turned out, but I feel like I can’t act that way because it would be setting a bad example to the young and impressionable. I don’t allow myself to feel joy and excitement when something good happens to me as a result of unconventional means. I try to play it off like it's just one more idiot decision that resulted in something I have no choice but to accept, while inside I’m overflowing with giddiness.

23. The way to cut through my heart is to tell me I’m stupid or that you knew I’d never amount to anything or that you never expected much from me. That’s some pretty hateful stuff to say to a person.

24. I hate ice cream. There. I said it. I am un-American and not normal. But I hate it. It’s disgusting. It’s icky. I don’t get what the big thrill is. I also don’t like warm fruit pies. Fruit was not meant to be warm and gooey. Fruit is meant to take off the vine and bite into. I also hate Apple Cider. The smell makes me want to vomit. That all being said, if I am served a bowl of ice cream I will eat it and not put up a fuss because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and I know how important ice cream is to the general public. I won’t ooh and ahh over it and I won’t ask for more, but you also won’t know that I’d rather be munching on cat livers.

25. Contrary to popular belief, I can keep a secret. In fact, I can keep many. There are many, many more things that you won't know about me besides these 25.

Sheep. Or, How To Cash In On A Life Insurance Policy And Make It Look Like An Accident

I believe my childhood ultimately is what made me stronger. Let me be more specific... SURVIVING my childhood is what has made me stronger. There is a long standing belief in our family that my parents tried (unsuccessfully, as of today's date) to kill off their offspring.

Take for instance the sheep. One day my dad decided we needed sheep. Lots of them. We had no idea why. He used to do these things when we were kids - random, unexplainable things that no one understood. I used to think he was just a stereotypical eccentric artist; now I realize he more than likely had consumed one too many cans of Pabst prior to coming to that profound decision.

And so we became the proud and very sudden recipients of a herd of sheep.

They were kept in a pasture. A large pasture. Huge. With sun and shade and even a small creek emptying into a shallow pond where they could drink. A fabulous pasture where they could run and frolic and do whatever it was that sheep did together.

Periodically, though, the sheep would escape the Eden-like pasture. Us kids never actually witnessed the sheep escaping... we were simply notified by one or both parental figures yelling, "Kids! The sheep got out again!" Sure enough... we'd squint towards the furthest portion of our property and there they were in the apple orchard. A whole herd of sheep happily munching on fallen apples. That was another odd thing. Every single sheep always escaped. No one was ever left behind, and none of the sheep appeared to have been 'just arriving' in the orchard. They all looked like they had settled in quite nicely some time ago. Try as we might, we kids never found any portion of the fence line cut or bent to allow for the passage of our fat, woolly sheep. There was certainly no way the sheep could jump OVER the fence and the gate to the pasture was always chained. Yet they continued to escape.

It is our belief that our parents would sneak out to the pasture gate, encourage the sheep to walk through, and shut the gate behind them to make it appear like a master escape. They would then allow enough time to pass so that every single sheep could get as far away from the gate as possible. Assured everything was in place, they'd notify us of the break out.

"Kids! The sheep are out again!" they'd call out, crossing their fingers, hoping maybe, just maybe they would be able to cash in at least one life insurance policy. (They would never be so bold as to wish to cash in on all four at once, would they?)

We had no choice. Our roles had been cast. We were commissioned to return the herd of wool through the orchard, past the house, down across the gravel drive, past the barn, and back into the pasture.

The first step in our dangerous mission was proper footwear. Bare feet was deadly – there were potential dangers everywhere on the farm... prickers (or thistles, as some call them), gravel rocks, the occasional rusty nail. Flip-flops were also too risky as they could easily flop off leaving you barefoot. Laced shoes were required. You'd have to hurry though to get the shoes on your feet though, because although the sheep loved apples, there was always that one idiot sheep who thought it was a great idea to wander into the hay field – and if that happened we were just screwed.

So, like skilled firemen jumping into their gear the four of us quickly fashioned our shoes in double knots. (We couldn't afford any loose shoestrings.) Out to the garage we flew to claim an empty ice cream pail (those flimsy plastic gallon tubs with the thin metal handle). Most the times the handles would fall off but we had to make do.

Our secret weapon: dry dog food.

To the sheep this was some sort of drug. They couldn't get enough of it. We'd put a handful or two of the dry kernels in the plastic bucket. And, being careful not to scare them away with a fast approach, we quietly crept into the back yard towards the rows of apple trees. Closer. Closer. Until one would jerk it's head up – suddenly aware of us. Stay still! Don't scare them away. Still... still... They're all looking at us now – not sure what to do, wanting to run. Still. Don't move anything. Stay still. Wait until you feel them relax. Wait. Wait. Don't rush it... there. See that... the one who is the leader – he relaxed (though barely visible)... but we knew... it was time.

With a slight gentle twist of the wrist one of us kids would stir up the kernels of dog food. Like the sound of sand paper, they circled the bottom of the pail. He was listening – you could see it. Now another of us would twist our wrist... shhuuuk... shhuuuk... shhuuuk... easy now... easy... he took a step forward... they were all listening now... trying to place that sound... shhuuuk... shhuuuk... shh - - - OH SHIT!!!!!

Within a split second the herd thundered toward us, their only goal to get the dog food drug – which was generic crap anyways; not even the good stuff. Like bats out of hell we took off towards the gate. (You know, I've never actually understood the term "like a bat out of hell", but I'm pretty sure it clearly explains how fast we ran. But I digress.) Four skinny, scrawny kids running like mad through the property being chased by crazy dog food-fiending sheep.

We knew if we dropped a bucket it would all be in vain – the sheep would stop and eat the pieces scattered to the ground and turn back to the orchard. We needed to keep going strong - and FAST! - making sure we didn't lose the goods.

The most dangerous part was the gravel driveway. It was easy to lose your step, slide through the gravel – more than likely falling face first, which meant gravel embedded in your hands (if you were quick enough to put them in front of you) and knees. Not only that, your bucket will surely fall emptying its contents all around you, the sheep - running with way too much momentum built up wouldn't be able to stop. They'd trample you, then circle back around and stand on your little gravel-pocked body while they ate the cheap dog food that surrounded you. They wouldn't even notice you lying there. And so we knew there was only one option – DO NOT FALL.

Once you made it past the driveway it was a straight shot to the swing gate... this had to be timed perfectly... there were four of us kids... you couldn't risk losing one to the herd. (Besides, by this time in our life we were all skilled in the art of holding grudges and treating each other maliciously when called for. To allow one sibling down meant sure hell for the next week or possibly longer.)

Like professional aerial acrobats we raced to get side-by-side, shoulder to shoulder, mad hooves thundering behind us. With perfect running steps we ran... one.. two... three... and LEAPED onto the gate, our weight forcing it to swing wide open as we threw our buckets WAY out into the pasture... raining hard, dry nuggets of dog food ... our hearts racing, chests heaving, through the dust kicked up by the crazed herd racing after their drug.

The kid closest to the chain would step off the gate, slowly swing it shut, wrap the rusted metal chain around the post, securing it in place. The rest of us, exhausted, would slowly fall, one by one, from the closed gate. Turning towards the house we'd catch glimpses of mom and dad peeking through the kitchen window, the curtains quickly snapping shut. And on we'd walk... to wait until the next time the sheep got out again.

The One In Which I Hope Gypsies Steal My Oldest Daughter In The Middle Of The Night

Oh, stop judging me. It's just a title.

Albeit one full of insight and obvious frustration.

Oh, Jelly Bean. How I adore your perky little 15-year old attitude. Full of self-entitlement and anger. I, too, was once fifteen. I, too, was full of anger. More anger than you are full of because I was a middle child and you happen to be the respected first born. I had to wear hand-me-downs. Lots of them. My entire life. And my older sister was pretty. And smart. And talented. And had lots of friends. And got her very own dog named Princess for her birthday. And even though Princess only lasted three days because the thing was an idiot, the point was she got her very own dog and we lived on a farm. And don't even get me started on the whole bath time routine... the one where the First Born got to bathe in fresh, clear, hot water and I got the leftovers. Imagine bathing in someone else's exfoliated skin. You have no idea if they farted in that water and yet here I was, expected to wash my face with it. Then the tub was emptied for the two younger boys. Fresh, clear, hot water for them to splash around and fart in. As if bath time wasn't enough to send me over the edge, my older sister got a stereo as a bribe when my dad tried to get rid of the insane killer-horse named Rocket even though Rocket was "everybody's horse" and tried desperately to kill me (not her). Do you get what I'm saying? She was the only one out of four of us who made out with stereo equipment so I get anger. I lived it. Breathed it. And have allowed it to fester into the snarky wit my mother is so proud of today.

But, you. You. You are beautiful. You can do your hair in thousands of different styles that come straight off the red carpet. And you do this by yourself. In the dark. With your eyes closed. I have two styles: Down and Frizzy or Up and Frizzy. You are the first born. There are pictures as proof of you in clothes that came right off the rack - without spit up stains on them. Remember my hand me downs? They included a t-shirt with one of those pliable vinyl transfers on it of a kitten. Only it had been washed and worn so many times by my older sister it looked like the white snowstorm static of a 1970's television set. (That's not a cool shirt, in case you were wondering.) You possess a talent for dancing that is unprecedented in my world. When I dance I sort of look like I'm suffering through full body electro-shock treatments.

I guess what I'm saying is, I can't wait until you're old enough to realize how beautiful and talented and fun and smart you truly are. How you are far more beautiful than this attitude you've been handing out. It might be a long, lonely, miserable wait for me, but you're worth it. And don't mind Mommy as she opens her second bottle of wine today...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Life's Big Choices

At times I struggle with anxiety. I fill with dread at the thought that I might not be making the right choice. I question whether I'm truly living life to the fullest. My mind overloads with thoughts that I might be missing opportunities, walking by something that was truly meant to be experienced, throwing away time by fearing unchartered waters.

I'm of course talking about deciding what to eat for lunch.

Look, people. I sit in a closet. Literally. They took the doors off an existing closet and 'lo and behold, I've got my own personal work space. My desk isn't even a desk. It's a computer credenza. Lay two rulers end to end and one of them is falling off. Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't trade it for the world. It's my space. In Mommy Land this space is more valued than the bathroom at home. (read: my children cannot access this space. It is mine. It's all mine!)

I sit here for hours upon hours each week wondering if anyone knows my name. I've been called every name under the sun but mine: Heather, Rachael, Brittney. I had a meeting once with an attorney. A face-to-face meeting. As in I appeared before him in person. With no costume. And yet he referred to me in correspondence as Richard. And my therapist wonders why I have identity issues.

No one really knows or understands or cares to know or understand what I do at work. Big V will ask "so, how was work today?" and there's that little pause where I ask myself if he really wants me to explain how I researched the density debate, and what I argued regarding streetscape design, or how franchises can be considered a viable option for distressed areas and how communities don't have to sell out for oversized tacky buildings but rather impose design controls through ordinances to retain neighborhood character.

I lost you at density, didn't I? Don't worry, it happens all the time.

So you understand how unbelievably important lunch is, right? It's a topic I can talk to with anyone. Everyone. Heck, we all like to eat, right? Except for those crazy health fanatics that only eat kale and Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal and work out seven days a week, but I'm not really friends with those kind of people. Not because I have anything against them, it's just hanging around them makes me feel like a sloth. Or sloth-like. Which I suppose is essentially the same thing and basically means that spending time with really healthy active people reminds me that I want to take a nap.

But, lunch. Lunch! That is the purpose of my work day! The reason I wake up in the morning. The reason I can't get my hair done on a regular basis because I choose to spend my hard earned money on food regardless of our paycheck-to-paycheck status. But I digress (for the thirtieth time in this post....).

Today I had no idea where to go. It was one of those six-year old but I don't wanna figure it out kind of things. I had stopped off at our local deli located in the only grocery store in town and stared at the case. Chicken? Nope. Not doing it for me. Pot Roast? Nah. Potato Casserole? Not sure what that all entails, but it looks kind of greasy. Nothing was jumping out at me. That is until two of the coolest people in the world jumped out at me!

"Are you here for Taco Tuesday?"  "You've gotta try Taco Tuesday!"

What the heck is Taco Tuesday?


This is Taco Tuesday:

Two big ole' tacos filled to the brim with fresh lettuce, red juicy toamatoes, lots of cheese, and my second reason for living: sour cream. On my way back to the office I worried it wouldn't be enough to fill me up... then I saw the lights from Heaven beaming down on our local Burger King sign which called out to me in big, bold, block lettering: CINNABON CHEESECAKE and I decided that God, Himself, wanted to ensure I had a successful lunch experience, so I washed those two bad boys down with this little slice of heavenly sweetness:

Thank you, Jake and Heidi,
for making sure I made the right choice today.
Life is so good.

All Together Now!

This is what's been keeping me up at night....

It's not going to help much considering he has just one tooth on the bottom.

Monday, July 19, 2010

So Close and Only Three Bra Sizes Too Small

It's no secret that I would love, Love, LOVE a job in social media. Unless you didn't know me. Then you wouldn't know that. It wouldn't necessarily be a secret, though. It'd just be unknown to you. Because I would be unknown to you. Anyway. You get my point. Hopefully.

To me, there would be no greater thrill than getting paid to face, blog, tweet, flick, space, and digg for a living. (I shortened them because I'm hip. That's right, kids. Mama is "Hip.") My witty commentary could actually earn me a paycheck and I could finally say, "Hey, Mom - remember when you told me that when I talk and talk and talk and talk I exhaust you? Well, guess what? These people PAY ME to keep on talking! How's that for irony?!" And also I wouldn't have to pretend to be working when I wasn't. I'd actually be working.

Today I saw a job posting that was just about perfect. It was a full time position in the city. (Ooh! I could take the train!) Full time is good. A commute is even better. Because I have three kids which means I don't get privacy in the bathroom but I could surely get it on a train they weren't on. Try to barge in on my now, punks! The job requirements were so up my alley.... facebook, twitter, increase traffic via social means - yes! This is something I could do! This is something I should do! This is something ----


This is something for Playboy.

Huh. Well, maybe they really are interested in hiring a flat-chested, jiggly-thighed, paunchy-bellied, dark-circles-under-the-eyes-because-I-haven't-slept-in-weeks-and-what-on-earth-is-up-with-my-hair-it-feels-like-straw woman with excellent grammar skills. Right? Right?