Monday, October 31, 2011

The Young Auditorium presents Dailey & Vincent! Who? Don't worry, I had no idea either.


I called my Dad up and asked if he wanted to go on a date with me to see the bluegrass group Dailey & Vincent at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater's Young Auditorium... he instinctively screamed out No! and then mumbled something about not trusting me alone out in public.

Which is ironic, because I stopped going out with him alone in public back in 1995 when he picked me up from the airport. Two and a half hours into our 45 minute drive home I realized he was (1) lost on these ridiculous back roads he insisted on taking and (2) driving off his drunk. We got home about 4 hours after he picked me up. Again, the airport is 45 minutes from our house. Who doesn't trust whom, Dad?

So, I asked my Mom to go with me. Because she's not that good at coming up with excuses on short notice. And also, growing up she had these long playing records of various folk singers, gospel singers, bluegrass bands -- no Elvis or The Beatles, mind you, but music was always in the top half of what we were doing -- so I figured she would enjoy it. (We also had a mean Roy Orbison 8-track in our conversion van, along with Crystal Gayle. We were totally cool.)

 
Apparently there was a buffet.
Food and bluegrass?
That's a score right there, people!


While we waited my Mom ignored me while she sent text messages back and forth to her favorite daughter, which ironically is not me, but rather my sister. But she won't be the favorite for long because I'm pretty sure my dad tried calling Shannon to tell her he was experiencing signs of a stroke or oleander poisoning or that he chopped his arm off accidently with a chainsaw and my sister was all nonchalant texting my Mom, "hey, Dad called me but now the phone just keeps ringing when I try to call him back. Maybe it was just a drunk dial." If he's dying, Shannon... if he's dying.... Which reminds me; I don't think anyone has checked.

Please turn off all electronic devises.
And you, back there in the striped shirt -
stop taking pictures!
At first, I was afraid we were way too close to the stage. Let me be clear: I don't think there is such a thing as a bad seat at the Young Auditorium ... I just prefer to see everything on stage in a wide panoramic view because I'm afraid I'd miss something. Also I don't like it when I accidently get spit on, which is what happened one time when I sat in the first row at a local high school performance of Pirates of Penzance. Let me tell you, by the end of this performance I couldn't get close enough.

I know little about bluegrass.  Truth be told, I had never even heard of Dailey & Vincent. In fact, I've only attended one other bluegrass show in my life but I figured I live so close to this amazing auditorium that continues to offer the most fantastic introductions to different cultures, venues and genres... so why not try? You know? Just go see what it's all about.

I am so glad I did.

Here is what I learned:

1) Contrary to what it might look like, Phil Collins is not the bass player.

Case in point:


2) The guy with the lowest voice also had the nicest hair. I know this because they kept picking on him for his hair. And also because he sang. In a very low voice. Deep. Like vibrating through your spine deep.

Case in point:


3) You can make fun of anyone about anything so long as you end with a blessing of their heart. (They do this in Tennessee.) As in: "She's as ugly as a mud-fence, bless her heart." See, if you don't bless their heart then all you've done is insult them, which is not cool, just mean. Personally, I think it works much better with an accent. For this reason I think I've been cheated out of the depths of my sarcasm because I'm not southern or British. No accent means I have to tow the line and watch what I say.

4) These boys are FUNNY! I mean, rolling around in your seat, stamping your feet, making you have to pee but you don't want to because you're afraid you'll miss something funny. Every word out of their mouths was humorous. And witty. And kind of sarcastic and snarky which of course made me want to kidnap them all and force them to attend my Funny People Only Bonfire. For this reason alone I believe everyone needs to check out their tour schedule and go see them because everybody benefits from laughter. They genuinely have fun on stage - and off....
Case in point: (seriously, the laughing will KILL you!)


5) These boys can PLAY! Ok. I admit it was kind of upsetting to learn that two of the five haven't hit puberty yet... but they make up for their baby doll looks with some intense mad fiddling & banjo skills. Also, I'm pretty sure it had nothing at all to do with the fact that I'm almost 40 and not even close to touring the country...

Case in point:



After the show... I stalked them. Which is what I normally do. Mostly because I was hoping to stuff them all in my car and bring them home to show all my friends.
He has no idea I'm right behind him.
I think I can take him!
Christian Davis, ladies and gentlemen!
This is me trying to be cool with that fact that his hair is way better than mine. And also, he can sing. Which is something I can't do. Unless you count that time I sang as Mrs. Hannigan in a review at the local theatre. But let's be honest... she's a drunk and isn't supposed to sing well. I sneer and sway really good so it was a perfect role for me.

Jeff Parker, ladies and gentlemen!
My mom took the photos of me and the members of the group. When it came time to take Jeff Parker's photo she kept saying it was blurry and had to take another one. This happened about 47 times. I told Jeff Parker my mom was drunk which I thought this was incredibly hysterical because my Mom has never drank a day in her life... I should have said my mom's just drunk, bless her heart.... because Karma decided I had insulted her and punished me by way of destroying my beloved Kate Spade bag you see in the photo. (I shed actual tears.)
Joe Dean, Jr and the amazing fiddle player from LA whose name escapes me. 
These two aren't even quarter of a century years old yet. I cannot even begin to wrap my head around where they're going to be in just 5 or 10 years. Or what kind of mark they'll put on the world. It makes me think I ought to probably put forth more effort. In anything. 

I think it's pretty obvious from the above photos that I failed to actually meet Jamie Dailey or Darrin Vincent of Dailey & Vincent. I'm thinking that's because by then word of my plan to kidnap them for my Funny People Only Bonfire had leaked out and frightened them off. That's okay. In today's social media driven world I can easily stalk them via their website, facebook, twitter or myspace. Also, they totally posted their tour schedule publicly, so now I know when and where to buy tickets to their next show.

Who wants to join me? I promise to remind you to go to the bathroom before the show so you don't miss anything.

Also, I should clarify that the videos were not taken by me, but rather snagged off YouTube - so you can find the band there, too. I just didn't want the Young Auditorium to think that I didn't listen and I annoyed people by taking video throughout the performance. Because I didn't. Except I was annoyed by the gentleman sitting above my left shoulder because he kept talking. A lot. Even during the 9/11 tribute which I thought was wrong. But that's just me.

Commitment Factor: The House that Haunts a City

It's Halloween; are you giving it your all?
This home has become a local tourist attraction...
they go all out
and no two years are ever the same...

Enter at your own risk:












Needless to say, this is a house that we drive by daily, in awe, but we do not walk up to, at night, during trick or treat hours... because they will scare the snot out of you.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Celiac: After the sob induced diagnosis.

Okay. So I didn't really sob after finding out I had Celiac Disease, but I did shed a tear for this amazing cheese herb bread that I had just discovered and now will no longer be able to enjoy. Such is life. I can't enjoy my Size 2 jeans or my used-to-be perfect 20/20 vision either. You just move on.

Afraid I would be existing solely on eggs and water for the next 50 years I contacted my cousin, Kelly. She's one of those women that can do anything life throws at her and she does it well. With a Martha Stewart style. Each of her three children has a special - and different - dietary need. Trust me when I say she knows her way around a Gluten Free kitchen.

And Kelly took me shopping. We spend hours wandering around Walmart alternating between seriously discussing ingredient labels and laughing so hard I was going to pee. We even ran into my sister, which is an incredibly dangerous situation - but her husband pulled her out before we could consider margaritas in the canned veggie aisle.

At Kelly's advice, here's what I did:

I LABELED!

I had this box of old dot matrix printer labels... I had even joked about the box awhile ago on Facebook. What on earth would I do with 5,000 old labels?

As soon as I was home from shopping I sorted out the gluten free items and slapped a label on them. This makes it SO much easier when cooking (or munching) because I can quickly see if the product is gluten free or not.

I SORTED!
 I made a dedicated area in the pantry for my GF items and through the filled with evil wheat products on their own shelf. I'll have to admit that this is working sort of okay. My family is lazy and tends to throw things back in a general vicinity; they could care less if wheat products are near GF items. That being said, it makes the individual labeling that much more necessary - and appreciated.

MY FIRST MEAL!
 Okay, yeah, it's eggs... just what I had feared... but this bacon was naturally gluten free and I never pass up a chance to eat bacon. I once had a boyfriend show up at more door with a 2lb package of bacon. It meant more to me than flowers. Anyway, it was morning. So I had breakfast.


MY SECOND MEAL!
 Gluten Free Chili. Which is made exactly the way I have made it in the past. Honestly. There was no change to this whatsoever. I did find that I have to watch the labels... not all kidney beans are made equal. Some are made in a plant where there could be traces of wheat found in their products (mostly the cheaper beans). So, I just made sure I got the cans that said gluten free right on the label. Easy peasy.

Please also note this picture serves as double duty:  Can you spot the utensil I would never eat with?

If you answered the plastic handled spoon then you are correct! Mostly because I hate the feel of the metal portion of the spoon. It's too thin. I don't know how to explain it other than my nerves are exploding with sensory overload when I use that spoon. It took me about twelve minutes to find the proper spoon. And then I was able to fully enjoy my gluten free chili experience.

MY THIRD MEAL!
I made ranch chicken for dinner. Normally I would side it with egg noodles slathered in butter but since noodles are out I went for a gluten free brown rice which Big V likes. For me it's meh. The other change was the coating for the chicken. See, this is a lazy person's recipe: melt a stick of butter in the microwave. Stir in one packet of (dry) Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. Dip the chicken in the ranch/butter concoction. Now, take a sleeve of Ritz crackers and crush them. Dredge the chicken through the crushed carackers and throw in a casserole dish. Bake at 350-degrees for 30-45 minutes. Enjoy!

But, no crackers meant no breading. Or so I thought! You know what works just as well? Smashed up Rice Chex Mix! Holla! Also, my family would tell you they preferred the Rice Chex because it was crispier than the Ritz crackers. Would you look at that? I just improved my baking skills!


The next awesome thing that happened? THIS HAPPENED! Pete Novak from Novak's Restaurant felt pity on me and brought me a Gluten Free Goody Basket filled with things to try. Seriously - I thought I won the lottery!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Gluten free products are expensive and not knowing what would taste decent felt like too much of a risk. (I'm not gonna lie; I've heard horror stories about GF breads.)

In my humble opinion:

The Udi's Chocolate Chip Cookies? Totally worth it. They won't replace the real thing, but it's a dang good replacement.

The Udi's Pizza Crust? I couldn't even tell the difference between that crust and Jack's frozen pizza. Also, I had made a homemade pizza which scored me some major points with the family. One pizza was just sauce and cheese for the boring kids in the family. The other pizza I made included pepperoni and pepper jack cheese. (It's all about the cheese, people!) I didn't tell my family the crust was gluten free until after they ate. They had no idea and told me to make them again. Holla, again!

The Udi's bread? Um. I can't lie. It's not the bread of my past. My glorious, fabulous, soft, gooey bread of my past. No, this is harder. Crumblier. Ickier. BUT -- the trick is to toast it. I've had a couple bacon sandwiches on toast and have been very pleased. I think I'll be okay. (To be fair, I only tried the bread plain with butter. It might be better with awesome sandwich meat and lettuce and tomatoes to distract my picky taste buds.)

I've gotten LOTS of advice and offer for help and my sweet, sweet neighbor dropped off a couple books which I have studied and xerox copied and need to return... and I appreciate every single bit of advice. Every recipe. Every word of encouragement. Every "don't worry; it'll take a while to get used to it."

I still haven't even attacked everyone who's offered to help me.... like Jessica over at Lunch at 11:30 - who I totally am planning on stealing all of Holly's awesome GF recipes from (it's a known fact Jessica is the diva of the relationship and totally makes Holly do everything... like cook and risk her life changing the dryer vent) ... but every time I go to say something to Jess she posts another positively soda snorting from your nose humorous blog and I get all sidetracked.

I know I have a lot to learn. The other day I found myself sitting at my desk facing the realization I hadn't brought a lunch and had no idea how to navigate the world of take out. I sat gnawing on a pencil hoping the roughage would fill me up. It did not.

Overall, though, I'd say this isn't the worst thing to have happen to me. Allowing my sister to cut my hair right before picture day when she was clearly not a licensed beautician was probably the worst thing. That and my decision to wear thick purple plastic framed glasses throughout my formative middle school years.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Adventures in Texting with the Teen: Wherein it is painfully obvious she is the product of my own doing.

THE TEEN BEAN:
You remember my super-super cute super old man bus driver right? He's retiring and today's his last day... I just got sad.  :(

ME:
What the hell?

TEEN:
What do you mean what the hell?! It's SAD!!! He's the cutest old man ever. He wears button up shirts and combs his hair over and has little glasses.

ME:
Is this the poor man that watches you every morning as you race down the front steps and run toward the bus stop after he's started driving away?

TEEN:
No. We have a girl for the morning who I HATE. He's only the afternoon driver. I wanna take a picture of him to show you. He's just the cutest thing!

TEEN:
Oh jesus.... Mary's walking her dog...

ME:
TAKE A PICTURE!!!!!

TEEN:
She's not to our house yet! I will when she gets in the yard.

ME:
Good. Do a surprise attack. Like karate drop-kick ninja stuff.

TEEN:
She took a turn and didn't come by our house. Probably because you yelled at her that one time.

ME:
I didn't "yell." I just told her she was the subject of an ongoing trespassing investigation.


Yes, I realize the poor child doesn't stand a chance with me as her mother. That being said, she likes old people. That's not necessarily an endearing quality she got from me, but one she possesses nonetheless. So, there is hope for her. Probably way more than for me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Better to teach a man to fish than to watch him steal the little suckers.

Our mornings are hectic.

I expect most homes with school age children in it are hectic - some more than others. Ours is really bad. Mostly because I hate waking up and having to do things quickly. And also because I hate when people try to speak to me in the mornings before my ears are awake and ready to listen to them which doesn't happen until some where around 9:43am. So, basically, if it's before 9:43am and you're holding a conversation with me, know that I'm pretty much putting on an act and stifling my urge to tell you to shut up and leave me alone.

The one exception is my early morning phone calls to my sister on our respective drives to work. That's because she's my sister and can get away with saying things like sounds like someone needs about fourteen more hours of sleep and also I feel that I owe her because I pretty much made her mornings a hellacious experience throughout our childhood, what with the slamming doors and screaming in her face and the 45 minute showers that used up all the hot water.

Needless to say, mornings ain't my thing.

Throw in a bunch of kids that need to be at a specified area at a specified time to the mix and you're pretty much watching a really mean, violent, R-rated version of I love Lucy. Kids running this way and that; blankets being pulled from the comatose child; mismatched socks; lost school books and jackets hoping to be reclaimed.

The one exception is Dotter. Who - although she certainly does not possess a chipper morning personality - prepares the night before. This means her book bag is in its place. Her shoes are next to it. And her lunch is made.

Let's repeat that: her lunch is made.

Which made this morning's tantrum that much more enjoyable. See, Dotter doesn't like things to go off track. She doesn't like quick changes in direction and she certainly doesn't understand why others would want to purposely derail things off course.

In 2.2 seconds we went from gathering our stuff and getting out the door to screaming, tears, all out tantrum: the lunch was missing. Gone. Vanished.

Who the hell takes a kid's lunch? A lunch the kid herself made the night before? And not just steal the lunch bag on the counter with the dry items in it... we're talking the stuff in the fridge, too. All of it. Gone. Every sandwich baggie, granola bar and yogurt cup.

And if you said, "Well, I think Big V needed that lunch because he was running late this morning and obviously didn't have time to pack his own lunch so it just made sense to take Dotter's and not bother to give you a head's up about it and it's only fair that you'd end up being twenty minutes late searching for a missing lunch. scrambling to throw together another one and calming an extremely upset child" then you're right.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sometimes the way my mind works scares even me.

Today I learned I am a freak of nature because I have issues with cookware. It was the fault of Starbucks, actually, because no one would have known this about me if their line hadn't been ridiculously long this morning and I hadn't subsequently posted a picture to my Facebook account mentioning said line.

Then a friend of mine was all can't you just make coffee at home? and I was all I'm after the chai tea, y'all! and she was all well, can't you make THAT at home? And I was all no, because:

  • then I'd have to purchase a tea kettle. Which I think are pretty gross because they end up getting lime deposits on the bottom in the inside and you can never really get them clean.
  • Or else I would have to use a pan to boil water in because I have issues with microwaving a cup of water (don't ask; I could never explain it other than "it smells funny").
  • Then I'd have to wash the spoon I stirred with - and wash up the counter because there would probably be water spots that dripped off my spoon.
  • And then I'd have to figure out a container to put the drink into... a travel mug, if you will, which I don't own because I have issues with the cleanliness of the lids, and I also have issues with where to put the lids after they're washed, because they never fit nicely on the shelf and I also don't like putting them in drawers where people's dirty hands could possibly touch them rummaging through for something else...
  • and, well, really, it's just SO much better for my anxiety disorder if I just went through the drive-thru at Starbucks.
And then I thought about how every time I take a glass out of the cupboard I rinse it out before putting any liquid in it. (But that's because I'm afraid there might be a pincher-bug in it.)

And that reminded me about how when I go to cook something I take the pan, or cookie sheet, or casserole dish out and clean it before I use it - even though it was cleaned before it was placed in the cupboard. (But that's because I'm afraid there might be one of those paper thin body skins laying in it that was molted off a creepy worm-bug.)

And that reminded me about how I always rinse a spoon before I mix anything with it, regardless of how shiny and sparkling clean it is. (But that's because you never know what bugs are crawling around your silverware at night.)

And that reminded me about how I can't stand the fact that there are thousands of germs on the counter top so I wash that sucker down roughly 672 times a day because, people sit on that thing. Like I'm going to make a sandwich on the same surface someone's butt cheeks were pressed just moments ago. I think not. And I don't care that it wasn't actual bare butt cheeks; denim is not a suitable barrier between butts and bread, that's all I'm saying. (Also, there's no way it would be physically or emotionally possible for me to lay a piece of bread on a countertop. I need a plate. I think that was painfully obvious before it was stated, wasn't it?)

However, my obvious germaphobia seems to be restricted to cookware as the bathroom garbage has been overflowing going on six days now and I can't remember the last time I mopped behind the toilet. Not to mention, there's a spider web growing to epic proportions in the far corner of the living room that from time to time I consider sweeping down, but that would require locating a broom. Also, I think subconsciously I feel safer providing a more natural habitat for creepy crawly bugs because if they had a place to go maybe they wouldn't be hanging out in my cupboards.

Makes sense to me.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

God Bless Your Celiac

Long story short: I've been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. And now I don't know what on earth I'm allowed to eat except eggs.

I'm more of what you'd call a silent sufferer because I don't really have any symptoms, per se -- I'm tired all the time (but I blame that on the kids) and I'm usually walking around with an upset stomach (which I've always blamed on stress and anxiety).

I would have totally put my money on colon cancer but the doctor said my colon looked beautiful -- (he really needs to get out more) -- except for the internal hemorrhoids. (Yes, I'm keeping them.)
[Side note: Dotter totally added my name to the prayer list at school. "Aww! That's so sweet! For what?" "For your celiac and hemorrhoids."]

Anyway, the upper endoscopy I had Monday showed I have something called Barrett's Esophagus as well as confirmed Celiac.

I was talked to today about the importance of adhering to a strict gluten free diet and provided a Forbidden Foods list which looked like it had everything in the world printed on it. Then there was a Safe Foods list and the only thing I recognized on it was eggs.

So, I guess I'm on an egg diet.

Don't sit too close to me.

Feel free to pool your monetary resources and send me a personal chef. Or maybe just print me off a realistic and simplistic menu of things I can eat besides eggs. Please, God, let cinnamon gummy bears be on that list.

I've searched the web and dude! Everything's so technical! I just want a simple school lunch menu kind of thing to start out with. If everything's out, then what's in? To everyone in the Celiac world already, how on earth did you maneuver through this without a PhD?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Photo Recovery Miracles! How to find those pictures after you accidently deleted them.

Ever have one of those days where you can't talk because you're absolutely emotionally bankrupt? Like, let's say your daughter turned 10, which is a super huge deal - double digits, yo! And you always make a HUGE deal about Birthday Days - the day you celebrate a birthday, just Mommy & Daughter, doing fun things together because it's about the love, and not about those sticky pawed, drooling sugar-high kids you're forced to entertain and be responsible for if you were one of those mothers who hosted an actual birthday party? And you always make a HUGE deal about the fact you're building memories together and that's why you have to take 3,487 pictures and print them out in a birthday album because the Gift Of Memory Keeps On Giving!

And then, after you enjoy your day, you tell someone else to look at your pictures but they say there's none on your camera and you're like of course there is. I took them. They've got to be there. Only when you get to the camera they're not there. Like, at all.

And then you panic and cry and feel like a total schmuck ...

But then, 'lo and behold! Someone tells you about this magical stuff called Photo Recovery Software.

And you buy it for $39.00.

And it takes all day to recover your photos. No, really. All day long the computer is whirring in the background sifting through corrupted files on your digital camera trying to save your sorry mothering butt by finding one photo - any photo - from the day's events....

And finally a little box pops up on your computer screen that says Recovery Successful! Yes, with an exclamation point!

And you rejoice!

REJOICE!!

But then you look at the bazillion recovered photos and realize (1) you have taken a ridiculous amount of photos in the past two years and (2) the birthday photos are not on here. I repeat: THE BIRTHDAY PHOTOS ARE NOT ON HERE!

And then you feel like crying. Again. Because you were so close.

So close to saving the day.

So close to making things right.

So close to salvaging something. Anything.

And your shoulders slump.

And a tension headache erupts at the base of your brain stem.

And you wonder how expensive it would be to pay an artist to make renderings of the Birthday Day.

And then you think, "huh. I wonder if there's like another folder or something those pictures could have accidently moved into."

And so you look at your camera closer.

But you don't see anything.

Except the fact that the little battery door thing isn't locked.

It's closed. But not locked.

So you open it.

And you see that cute little memory card sticking out and you think, "gosh, I'm glad I saw this! It'd be a shame if it fell out" and then you snap it into place.

And, 'lo and behold -- looky there. All those pictures you took on Birthday Day are on that little memory card after all. It was just that the stupid piece of plastic wasn't snapped into place and now you just wasted $39.00 for photo recovery software you don't need and that could have gone a long way towards printing those pictures out and putting them in an album for the kid.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

And this is EXACTLY why you should never make major decisions after conscious sedation.

I had a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy yesterday. That meant they went in both ends - but not at the same time because that might get the camera tubes all tangled up, and what a mess that would be. They went down my throat first - which is good, because since I was asleep I couldn't be certain they didn't use the same camera tube for both ends, know what I mean? Just in case they did I wanted to make sure they went through my mouth first.

I wasn't totally asleep though. More like hanging out after having way too much to drink. They call it conscious sedation. I call it my sophomore year of college. Basically I could talk, communicate and respond to verbal clues, but had to rely on others to tell me what the hell I did that I couldn't remember. I wasn't allowed to operate heavy machinery, go up or down stairs or sign any legal documents for the remainder of the day. Probably because I was going to be hungover.

First they had to numb my throat (so I wouldn't freak out and think I was choking on a tube). The nurse told me it was like that Chloraseptic® spray you use for a sore throat... then she whipped out a can of WD-40 and sprayed it in the back of my throat. Okay, so it wasn't really WD-40 but it sure as hell tasted like something you'd spray on an engine. And because I was a complete baby and gagged and coughed and sputtered the second it hit my throat they had to go in for Round 2. Which meant I was forced to taste more of that crap. Also, because I gagged and coughed and sputtered my nose, lips and face were also numb. Needless to say, I drooled. A lot.

Then the nurse said, "we're starting the sedation now" and I said "oh! I feel it! It's cold in my arm!" and the nurse said, "good, it a few minutes you'll feel -----"

And then I woke up in the recovery room, sitting up, looking at a food tray displaying a fruit danish, a glass of water and a glass of juice. That sedation worked like magic!

Before they released me to go home I had to walk a lap around the recovery room floor. Arm in arm I went with my most favorite nurse ever! and giggled as I stumbled into her and slurred this is just like college! I'm pretty sure I was her most favorite patient of the day.

On the way home I threw up all over my mom's car door. Twice.

I'm pretty sure I was not her most favorite patient of the day.

Then I went home and fell into bed. It was 11:30am. Or at least I think it was.

I woke up just before 4pm, when I heard Dotter exclaim she's in here! followed by Mom, where's your car? After a few hazy minutes trying to come to, I realized my mother and my 10-year old were attempting to explain that my car was not in the garage, nor in the driveway. That it was, in fact, gone. Missing. Stolen.

Where did I last have my car? In the garage.

Were the keys in it? Yes.

Did you leave the overhead door open? I don't think so. I don't remember how I got into the house, so maybe. Maybe I did.

Any chance Big V would have it? If he did his truck would be here.

Was anyone else here? The Teen Bean was. She brought me a Coke. Should I call the police??

Hold on. Let's talk to the [ahem... unlicensed] Bean first. See if she knows anything.

....

Teen Text:  In practice. You okay?

My Text:  Did you steal my car?

Teen Text:  Steal? Noo! I asked you and you said ok and I said thank you! And gave you a hug and left.

My Text:  I don't remember any of that. I'm all doped up; why would you ever THINK that was okay?

Teen Text:  I'm sorry you're doped on drugs but we were talking and I thought you were fine. Sorry for the miscommunication.

My Text: It's NOT a miscommunication. YOU TOOK A CAR WITHOUT A LICENSE. I don't think the police will think you're "miscommunicating."

Teen Text: oh yeah. I forgot haha but I'm a good driver and I drive all the time. I get my license in like 30 days. Sorry ma! Feel better and I looovee u! And you can trust me. I won't get in trouble.

My Text: You just did! YOU. TOOK. A. CAR. WITHOUT. A. LICENSE!

Teen Text: You told me ok.... I'm sorry... If you're that mad about it I guess I won't ever even ask you again.

My Text: It shouldn't even BE a question: YOU DON'T HAVE A LICENSE!

Teen Text:  Fine. Pasta Dinner tonight at [Jane Doe's] - can I go?

My Text: What kind of alternate universe do you live in?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Another Quality Conversation with the Teen

Our house is not pretty. In fact, it's pretty plain and boring. A single story ranch with ugly brown trim. It wasn't even brown, really. More like the color of rust. The ugly brown trim was peeling paint which made it look even worse. In fact, that's how I gave directions: we're the corner house with ugly brown trim. They always found us.

We updated the trim to a more neutral, less gaudy color and added shutters for some aesthetic appeal. (Window boxes will be next, if I can figure out where to get decent ones for under $200 a piece.) Not huge changes, I'll admit, but surely noticeable, one would think.

BEFORE

AFTER
(you cannot imagine how much I dislike
those wires on the side of the house)

Bean, you haven't said anything about the house.

What about the house?

The outside.

What about the outside?

What? Go out and look at it.  [forces teenager outside]

Yeah?

Well?

Well what?

Do you like it?

Umm.... yeah.

The color. It's a new color. That's why that guy with the big painting van was parked outside our house.

Oh. OH! Yeah, I like it. It's nice.

Thank you. What about the shutters?

Umm.... they look exactly the same.

Exactly the same as what?

As the ones we had before.

We didn't have shutters before.

We didn't have shutters?

No, we did not have shutters.

Are you sure? I swear we had shutters.

No, we did not have shutters.

Oh. Well they look nice.

You don't see a difference, do you?

Not really. But in my defense it's not like I walk around staring at the outside of people's houses all day.



* I would post a picture of the actual front of the house, except that would mean remembering to take a picture of the actual front of the house. And it's not like I walk around taking pictures of the front of people's houses all day.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How to Win a War: Stay one step ahead of the competition. Which, clearly, I am not.

Hey, Dad! Guess what? Remember how we took out that scrub brush from by the street? On the other side of the garage? By the lilac bushes? There are sunflowers growing there! The girls noticed them the other day! Can you believe it?!

Maybe someone planted them as a joke.

Who would plant sunflowers as a joke? No one plants flowers as a joke.

We used to back home. When someone left we'd plant something in their garden and wait for them to find it.

Did you plant sunflowers in my yard as a joke?

(stifles laughter) No... I'm just saying that some people would do that....


I feel like this is a good time to point out that my parent's back yard is massive. Like regulation football field massive. And it's neatly (and proudly) mowed and trimmed. With beautiful gardens bordering the yard, which is big and wide and all smooth cut grass.... like a blanket of velvet.

I wonder if Dad likes corn. I'm picturing three or four cornstalks sprouting up from the exact center of his manicured lawn....

Monday, October 3, 2011

How can I hate you? I hardly know you at all.

Long story short: although I did absolutely nothing in high school that was memorable or newsworthy, I still felt it important to have a class reunion. Mostly because I like cheese. And there is always cheese at reunions. I was never on Student Council. I was never an honor student. Or a popular kid. Or a cool kid. Or a pretty kid. I was just a random teenager trying to figure out my place within the High School Galaxay.

Surprise! I found out I didn't belong there. Just like all the other kids in high school -- because you're not meant to stay in high school. You're meant to grow up and mature and find yourself and stop throwing french fries at the dorky guy who walks past you on his way to get his fifth carton of chocolate milk.

I'm not sure who was relegated with the duty of reunion planning but no one did anything about it for 16 years. That's when me and this other guy joined forces and planned an impromptu gathering at our local Legion Hall. Reminiscent of our school cafeteria, it was pretty fitting.

Then we tried really, really hard to put together a decent 20 year reunion. Three of us: Me, and Tom, and Dominic. Like the three Musketeers. Except without the tights. Because no matter how much cajoling those boys would not wear the tights. That reunion would not have happened without the support and dedication of Tom and Dominic. It just wouldn't have. They deserve the biggest thanks ever.... like a bathtub sized edible arrangement. Each. Except that would suck if they were allergic to pineapple or strawberries, because then they would probably think I was trying to kill them off or something.

For months we planned, tracked people down, put our own money down for deposits, and hoped for the best. All while maintaining our full time jobs, traveling and keeping a home and family. (I had it the easiest because I was too poor to do any traveling.)

And the reunion was freaking awesome! Mostly because it had cheese!

But then.....

...the other night I received a message. And then another one from someone else.

Someone was unhappy. Very unhappy. Because they said no one invited them. And they weren't surprised because they hadn't been invited to the first one either. And so, because I did not want people thinking anyone was intentionally left out, I politely explained to both that actually I had contacted said Unhappy Person via Facebook and said Unhappy Person told me to never contact them again because we had never been friends in high school so why would they want to be friends now? (Only with much more angry voice... in fact, a lot more angry voice.)

And I got to thinking about that.

How sad if that is how they think it's supposed to be. I knew you once before but we weren't friends so therefore we can never, ever be friends.

I love Facebook because it has enabled me to reconnect with so many people I had gone to school with that I did not know. Sure, I knew their names. Maybe I also knew they were on the football team or yearbook committee but I didn't know what they thought of their father or how close they were to their grandparents or if they secretly longed to learn how to rope cattle. Now I found these same people allowing me to get a glimpse into their lives: I can see that family time is important to them by the amount of camping trips they go on each summer. I can see how witty and funny they are by their status updates. I can see that this person here loves to read, and so do I, and suddenly I'm talking about books to someone I had only spoken to that one time when I came charging into the bathroom because I was afraid I had gotten my period and ohmygawd what if it's leaking through? I'm never going to be able to show my face again! and literally knocked them over and sprained their finger. (I'm still so sorry about that.)

And I found that so many of those kids I walked the halls with were doing the same thing I was doing: just trying to figure out where we fit in.

Then, Unhappy Person contacted me...... and although I tried to apologize and explain I had only respected their wishes of not contacting them, and that the invitation had been sent to their parent's house, they insisted I was a fake. I guess because we hadn't been friends twenty years ago I'm not capable of being sincere in my apology. I know what it feels like to be left out; I'd never want anyone to feel that way over anything I was associated with. (Of course, I also wanted to point out the obvious: your friends were invited and had known about the reunion, why didn't they tell you about it?) Unhappy Person was angry. Bitter. A pissed off exterior hiding a hurting soul.

And because this person assumed I hated them, anything I said would be (and was) perceived as fake. The bottom line is, being nice to someone you dislike doesn't mean you're a fake. It just means you're mature enough to tolerate your dislike towards them.

By the way, I didn't dislike them. Not now, and not then. I couldn't. Because I don't know them at all.

The One in which I take my Father for his Covid Vaccine

I got a voicemail the other day from the hospital saying ‘since you’re the contact on record we just want you to know your Dad can get a Cov...