Friday, April 27, 2012

Attack of the Rabid Chamois!

I was just being my usual snarky self and updated my Facebook Status the other day after another incredulous meeting of the minds... one of our staff meetings where we discuss upcoming projects and then sit in stoic silence while getting belittled and abused by higher ups. I usually don't cry, because crying does not seem to present a I'm A Very Capable Professional image, but the meanness and curtness of some of the commentary can cut to the core. And so, I vented to my trustworthy friend, Facebook:

This day could be infinitely better if it was wrapped in bacon. Or if certain people were suddenly attacked by a pack of rabid chamois. And by chamois, I mean the goatlike antelope of mountainous regions of Europe, not the porous leather that is favored for its gentle, non-abrasive composition and absorption properties.

And then the heavens opened up and glory shone all around!

An illustrated facebook status?!  Huzzah!

How freaking awesome is that? My artistically witty friend sketched my status into a picture!
And it made me snort out loud. And laugh for a long time. And I haven't stopped. And I have it printed off and hung up by my desk. And I have shown every person who has come in to my office because it's that awesome.
And so this is my bestest idea ever. I'm going to have her illustrate a bunch of my status updates and then I'm going to put them together like some sort of mentally unstable Gary Larson calendar set.
Other possibilities from random status posts:
The toddler dumped half a bottle of baby powder all over the items in our grocery cart. The bananas now smell like baby butts.
Kind of wishing there was a Coco Puffs with a side of buttered toast drive-thru.

Just took the toddler with me to pick up a few items from Walgreens. The term "wrestling a greased pig" comes to mind....

I asked Big V, "if the government required you to learn a new skill, and gave you the time and money to learn it, what would you learn?" He thought about it, then answered, "Shuffleboard."

In preparation of today's epic snowstorm, I decided not to shave my legs. #extralayerofwarmth

I might have to call into work because I feel stabby. "Excuse me, I was wondering if you could help --" "DON'T MAKE ME CUT YOU! "

At the Christmas program Big V kept pointing out the nativity giraffes to the toddler. Because his Jesus was born under the watchful eye of an 18' cud chewing mammal.

Best. Audience. Ever! I want to wrap them up and bring them to every performance. But I won't. Because I could get charged with kidnapping.

Creepy Cleaner Guy just stood next to me watching me brew a Keurig. Six inches next to me. Longest brew time ever.

Time to bust out the duct tape: something's gotta keep this kid's pajamas & diaper on for entire night... Mama's tired of peeking in and seeing nakedness and an untamed "sprinkler."

Entered purgatory. Also known as US Cellular. Or The Never Ending Waiting Room.

Just brushed my teeth with a tube of antifungal cream. No chance of athlete's foot on these gums!

My daughter told me she put my name on the prayer board at school. "Aw! That's so sweet! For what?" "For your celiac and hemmorhoids."

Want to feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Eat a squirrel.

Even more creepy than Uber Creepy Cleaning Guy? Silent Stealthy Judge Dude who I literally bumped into... like he couldn't see me bending down to get my can of soda off the bottom shelf of the fridge? Back off, Robe Man!

There is not nearly enough alcohol to drink in this house between now and bedtime. Who delivers?

"Yes? Hello? I have a dangerous tree. It's dropping acorns on my deck and I'm afraid I'm going to twist my ankle. It's a very dangerous situation." [love. my. job.]

A bed sharing class ought to be required before marriage.

You'd think locating a large metal kangaroo would be easier.

I'm totally thinking I can work a Hairless Cat into our office budget.

Tonight I'm going to Zumba and following up with a Pi-Yo class. Or else I might just eat this big bag of cheese puffs. I'll let you know...

The teen just informed me she can fit five Tic Tac's in her belly button...

I don't know what disturbs me more... J-Lo's voice or Marc's mustache.

Half hour early to a two hour long gymnastics practice and dude next to me smells like rotting armadillo.

I'm answering my office phone with a British accent so you think I have an assistant. Because all assistants have a British accent, right? Or was that assailants?

So, just feel free to start sketching away, Becca! I've been on Facebook for years so this is just a small sampling. There are plenty more! (You know, in case you were worried you'd run out of reasons to ignore your family and housekeeping duties.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Squirrels in the Attic

I've been suffering from self-induced lack of sleep lately because I've been rehearsing for a show... it's called Squirrels in the Attic (written by Pat Lawrence, author of Jarred Into Being) and is described as follows:

Lindsay Spencer, a free spirited, single woman in her late twenties, returns to her parents' apartment after she's in an auto accident which her father, Charles, feels guilty of causing. Charles dotes on his only daughter, but her mother, Florence, is a more realistic critic of her daughter's shortcomings. Florence, who is loving, but ordered, lofty, and patronizing, is dismayed to learn that her husband has invited Lindsay to live with them while she recuperates from the auto accident. When Florence learns that Lindsay's boyfriend, Claude (an aspiring comedian), is also moving in with them, she is furious. Florence gives Charles an ultimatum: either he un-invites them or Florence is leaving him - for good! The sidesplitting conflicts of lifestyles, living arrangements, and Florence's “secret life” not only bring about a greater understanding between mother and daughter, but also lead to a hilarious conclusion.

I play Lindsay.

We open tomorrow. I mean, technically we have a preview audience tonight but I've been told it will more than likely be a group of high school students lured there by the promise of extra credit points. I can't wait to play pretend amongst the bright glow of cell phone screens....

So now comes the time where I convince you why you should spend $10 on a ticket and watch this awesome show. (Other than the obvious to see me, of course.) Here are the reasons I came up with:

You can check out our nuts!
No. For real. This cast is a bunch of nuts. Some bigger than others.

Be amazed by riveting stage direction!
Will it be a big plop? A loud plop? Will the plop be
big enough for the people in the back row to see?

Find out if these actors killed me
for posting this photo to Facebook!
 They didn't. But they wanted to.
They're probably just waiting until we close. 

Meet my horny boyfriend!
He's only 18 in real life. I'm 38...
and currently feeling incredibly old. And cellulitey.

See what our house looks like!
This was during rehearsal when all we had was a couch
surrounded by a bunch of crap taking up space on stage.
Will there be walls? Will there be additional furniture?
Or will you have to squint and pretend it's a home?

See if I finally get breasts!
There was a box labeled 'breasts and suit stuff' in the costume room...
will my costume include either? 

See if I've improved!
This is from the front page of the script.
It includes my name. Which is pretty awesome.

This show was originally produced for the very, very first time, back in 2007 and for some reason I was fortunate enough to land the role of Lindsay Spencer. It was a freaking awesome role. 

I usually get cast in the smaller comedic roles... which I love, don't get me wrong; I believe those are the roles that are the most fun and add the spice and flavor to plays and I know my strength is in comedic timing, which comes naturally to me - and that means it doesn't feel like work. When I landed the role as Lindsay I was nervous. At this point I'd only been cast as the lead twice before (and surprisingly, one was in a musical; luckily my big solo number was redirected as an emotional instrumental). 

My point is, being a lead is stressful for me: the roles have way more depth, way more responsibility, and way more lines. As a character actor you can away with so much -- especially the funny roles. It's easy for me to play the self-deprecating role; it's much harder for me to play the vulnerable, emotionally exposed role. But I rocked it back in 2007. The whole cast was freaking awesome and to this day I love them all to pieces. 

Fast forward five years and here comes this show again... finding its way to the Elizabeth Reinholz Theater, home of the Beloit Civic Theatre in Beloit, Wisconsin. Which, by the way, I had no idea existed. I knew about the auditions for quite a while, and really wrestled with whether or not I would give it a go. I had just come off another holiday show - three years in a row of every weekend from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I was tired, burnt out, and I had just learned how to knit. There were scarves to be made!

Also, I wasn't as young as I used to be. I felt old and frumpy and scatter-brained. How would I ever learn all those lines again? I had already done this role, why do it again? I had a two year old. I had a cat. I had ... excuses.

But I went. And was cast. And the show is not at all like we did it the first time and the role is not at all like I did it the first time and that's the awesomeness of theatre - it's never the same thing twice. The whole show was approached by the director from a completely different direction and it was all so new. Even though I had stood on a stage with those same exact words once before - every single word was different. And the show is freaking awesome. Just as freaking awesome as the first time, but in a completely different way.

And so here I am. Here we are. Weeks of rehearsals filled with stage direction like just stick your head in her hole and I want you sitting on tits on a bull. (Would you be scared if I told you it makes perfect sense to us?) Weeks filled with fond memories and funny inside jokes with my amazingly talented castmates and a jackass who would not stop insulting me until I finally cried like a little baby (there is always one) ... weeks of Starbucks and gluten-filled treats that I couldn't eat and anxiety and stress and lack of sleep and laughter and trying to remember that stupid line (why can't I get that freaking line?) ... and now we're here.

We're all here.

Waiting for you.

Beloit Civic Theatre
1225 Fourth St. Beloit, WI 53511
April 26, 27, 28, May 3, 4, 5 at 7:30 p.m.
April 28 and May 5 at 3 p.m.

Adults $10.00
Seniors (60 and over) $8.00
Students $8.00

Box Office hours:
Reservations are taken during the weeks of performance only, and maybe made by calling the theater Box Office at (608) 362-1595 or at reservations. Box Office phone is open from noon to 5:00 pm (Monday - Thursday) and from 6:30 - 7:20 (Thurs - Sat). If you call outside of regular phone hours, you may leave a message on the answering machine and we will return your call.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Finger Condoms Are In The Van.

Big V made sure I knew that he had cleaned up the living room without having been told. Personally, I thought that was a given, since I had left the house in spotless condition. Well, in a mostly spotless condition anyway. The point is that of course he should have cleaned it up. The puzzle pieces weren't all over the floor when I left. However, when I returned, there they were. I walked into the living room that used to be clean and saw that it no longer was.

And then I sighed.

One of those long, drawn out, overly dramatic passive sighs that obviously means look, you asshole, I spent all freaking day cleaning this beast of a house with not one ounce of help from you, and then I went out and braved the freaking public in a gosh darn grocery store - and you know how much I detest grocery stores - what with their menopausal temperature zones and their wobbly cart issues, not to mention the idiots that park their cart smack dab in the center of the aisle so no one can get by, just so you could have a gallon of chocolate marshmallow ice cream at the ready, and I come home to this crap?

And then I walked out of the room and secretly hatched my Running Away To A Tropical Place Far, Far Away While Magically Losing Twenty Pounds So I Also Look Fabulous In A Swimsuit plan while putting away the groceries.

Apparently, I gave Big V enough time to decipher aforementioned long, drawn out, overly dramatic passive sigh because 20 minutes later I walked into a picked up living room.

And by picked up I mean he just scooped up the puzzle pieces and tossed them in a pile in the corner on the shelf next to the puzzle box which must have been very, very difficult to open, because otherwise it would have been opened and the pieces placed inside.

But I just walked past the living room and down into the basement where I spent the better part of my relaxing evening doing laundry, which included untangling every single article of clothing that man owns before tossing them into the washing machine while he laid on the couch and Cletus took a nap.

When I finally emerged from the bowels of our home with freshly laundered socks and underwear, I mentioned to the almost-sleeping Big V that I was going to run to the hardware store and finally get some fluorescent light bulbs for the garage, since 5 years without lights was starting to get on my nerves.

That's when Big V perked up like a dog dropping a dead chipmunk at your feet and chirped, "I have light bulbs! They're in the garage! All I have to do is put them in."

And that's when I discovered that for the past 5 years, while I've been groping my way across a darkened garage, four brand-new, not yet out of the box light bulbs sat on a shelf gathering dust.

As most women might imagine, this newly discovered information started World War III in our household.

I gave a long and lengthy detailed account of my frustrations being ever so careful not to forget a thing.

Big V listened to me rant without taking a single breath (me, not him; he was breathing just fine) for approximately twelve minutes before he said, "Well, if it was that important for you to have lights in the garage you should have just told me. How was I supposed to know?"

And that led me to explain for another twelve minutes about how I shouldn't have to tell him; that he should want to provide the most important woman in his life with lights. He should want me to be safe. Because how bad would he feel if some murderous stranger was hiding in our garage just waiting for the overhead door to close so that he could kill me? And then Big V suggested that maybe I should keep my vehicular lights on while I entered the garage and if I did, in fact, see some strange guy standing there with a hatchet perhaps I ought not to open my car doors and get out.

I hate when he's logical.


Then I read late into the night a most awesome book called Let's Pretend This Never Happened by the WAY too talented Jenny, The Bloggess. (And if you're one of the last three people on earth who have never heard of her check her out this instant. Don't even bother continuing on with my drivel.) And then I  fell asleep on the couch... which is code for absence makes the heart grow fonder and also so help me Jesus, if you had even thought about brushing up against me during the night I probably would have killed you so it's a good thing I love you enough to not want to end up spending the rest of my life sharing a prison cell with a Lizzie Borden wannabe. 

Then the next day, after I had found out Big V had spent $169.97 on fast food lunches for himself so far this month and after I sent a text that started out with Holy Wasting Shitloads of Money on Fast Food, Batman! - (totally true and accurate accounting, people. And that's just what he spent on himself. At McDonald's. And Burger King. And on gas station burritos. And the month isn't even over yet.) - which totally explains the state of our finances as well as his constant complaints about how "it feels like there are knives in my stomach" -- I came home to this note on my incredibly messy kitchen counter:

"Dishes will be done first thing after work tomorrow -
finger bleeding & rubber finger condoms are in van."

It should be noted that the dishes have not yet been done.

And there are still no lights in our garage.

And that finger condoms come in a one size fits all.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tag! You're Beautiful: 40 Notes for 40 Years

My sister, Shannon, is turning 40 years old today, which is a pretty big deal, mostly because it's a reminder that she's still older than me. Anyway, I was wondering if you could help me with a little Birthday Surprise I'd like to organize for her.... read on.
If I were to describe Shannon it would be like this: she loves post-it notes, Sharpies, and all things positive. Including chocolate, but mostly she loves positive sayings and quotes and inspirational ways to encourage one another.

Shannon truly believes in the power of the positive word. She believes that while we're naturally our worst critics we also have this amazing unlimited ability to raise others up to heights they never imagined - just by giving positive support with very simple words.

Shannon learned to clog because she thought it was an interesting dance form. If I were to be completely honest, at the time I thought she was insane. I mean, c'mon - clogging? What the heck are you going to do with that skill?

Then she started Walworth County Cloggers - a dance group humbly starting in the basement of my parent's house. She wholeheartedly believed that GIRLS ROCK. It was and is her hope and desire to instill courage and strength, kindness and empathy, support and teamwork in each and every one of her dancers. It is her goal to show each dancer how truly beautiful and important they are --- to the team, to their families, to themselves. And she expects each one of her dancers to continue that show of kindness and support and positivity in everything they do; school, work, fun.

In her "other job" - the one that comes after taking care of three small children while helping her husband run their dairy farm and organizing everything there is to do with a dance studio - Shannon counsels foster care children and their families. She's a huge proponent in It Takes A Village To Raise A Child, and has proven so in ways that would take far too long to explain in this measly post. Spend ten minutes with Shannon and you'll be taking in countless foster children and adopting your own platoon... because she'll show you how you don't have to do it alone. That with support, anything can be accomplished.

Shannon's Facebook wall is devoted to encouraging sayings and links to positive stories. (Unlike mine, which is devoted to various forms of complaint smothered in snarkasm and swear words.) It's her own personal testament that LIFE IS GOOD.

And so....

Here's where I need your help:

Today, in honor of my sister's 40th birthday, I'd like YOU to Tag The Town -- tag it beautiful. Tag it positive. Tag it uplifting! Check out the website Operation Beautiful  - maybe you've heard of it. It's described as "leaving positive messages on the mirrors of public restrooms - at work, at the gym, at the grocery store." Things like:

"You are beautiful!"

"You are amazing just the way you are!"

"You are important!"

"YOU are perfect just the way you are!"

Things like that. Be creative!!

FIRST leave a positive note or message -- be it a post-it note on the bathroom stall at Target, or a sidewalk chalk message outside your house. Maybe you want to leave a card to a stranger on their windshield. (My goal is 40 notes for 40 years... so I really, really need your help with this.)

THEN take a picture of your positive note! Don't be shy - include yourself in the photo if you're comfortable!

THEN go to the Walworth County Cloggers Facebook page  and "like" their page so you can upload the photo of your message to their page and share it with everyone. (Make sure you tell Shannon Happy Birthday.)

The power of positive encouragement shouldn't start and stop with one group of people. It should be shared over and over and over again. It should grow and blossom and get bigger and bigger and be shared over and over and over again. And then set on repeat. So that the goodness just keeps on keepin' on.

Shannon truly believes that the world would be a better place if we took more time to focus on saying things that are kind and uplifting; as pessimistic as I tend to be, I do believe her. Imagine if your kind words today fell into the lap of someone feeling really alone or unneeded. Who knows, maybe the answer to bullying is this simple... changing our focus to a few heartfelt, authentic encouraging words... It can't hurt to try, right?

Happy 40th Birthday, Shannon. May your goal of covering the world with positivity be met today... and last forever...


...making life awesome...

Posted on the bulletin board at the local library.

by the vending machine at the gymnastics studio

From the poster to my sister: "Thank you for being a big insperation in my life
and always making my day brighter!
You have changed many people's lives with all that you do!"
True that!

From the poster: "For the amazing woman that taught me
how to clog when I was only 7!"

an inspirational message to the school kids who walk
this sidewalk in Wauwatosa every day

Life IS beautiful because YOU'RE here!
Never doubt that for one single second.
This one touches my heart...  
These were posted on a porta-potty. Seriously awesome.
"You are amazing! Thank you for teaching our kids!"
I bet they don't expect THIS today!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Secret to Getting Some is Doing the Laundry. (Yep, it's that easy.)

Four loads of laundry sat waiting for me on the living room couch. Already washed, already dried, yet someone needed to fold them. And that person would be me.

At this point in the evening I was exhausted and completely overwhelmed. We'd been going nonstop for the last couple weeks -- work, more work, school projects, doctor appointments, surgery, a puking cat, a car that leaks oil, the orthodontist, taxes, rehearsals, performances --- not to mention trying to keep up on the everyday things, like eating, showering, laundry, dishes, and making sure teeth got brushed before bedtime.

I wanted to cry. My back hurt. My head hurt. I just wanted to fall into bed and sleep for days..... but these clothes weren't going to fold themselves and if I waited too long I'd be forced to iron. (Who am I kidding? Everyone knows I'd just toss them back in the wash for a do-over.)

I picked up the first of three million trillion stupid articles of clothing.

"Oh. You're home!" In walked Big V.


"I thought I heard you, I was just watching this really good episode of CSI in the bedroom."

Jerk, I thought. You could have folded at least two of these loads while watching TV. I hope your neck gets a crick in it from watching TV in bed. I kept folding.

"So..... are you coming to bed soon?"

"Not until all these clothes are folded."

"Oh. Well, uh, you know.... you've been gone a lot lately and it's, uh, been... uh, awhile... you know."

I kept folding.

He sat down on the chair opposite me.

"So, when you're done folding.... do you think.... then.... uh..... we could.... uh...."

What is it about guys? It used to be they had to work at it, you know. Buy a plethora of fruity alcoholic drinks and dance for a couple hours, at the very least. Or massage our feet, our back. Now it's just another item on a long list of things To Do. I'm almost 40. You know what turns me on? Coming home to a clean house. Having the litter box already emptied and the dishes put away and laundry folded. Lightening my load - that turns me on!

"Yes, V. When I get done folding the mountain of clothes that is piled up before me, then I promise to take a few moments to evaluate whether or not I have enough energy to entertain you."

.... and then he sat and stared at me while I proceeded to fold clothes .....

Now, I don't know about you, but it took every ounce of energy not to kick him in his teeth. Which I totally could have because remember, he was sitting down and I was still standing. I wouldn't have even needed to stretch or anything.

Cripes! Think of the money you're saving now that you're no longer plying me with drinks! The Wooing Factor is at an all-time low: you don't even have to get dressed up. No more picking me up at a specified time - you don't even have to open a door! Scrub the bathroom, wipe down the kitchen counters and I'm tearing your clothes off - it really is that simple!

I decided to come at it from a different angle:

"Hey, when you were younger, and you had to cut the lawn before you went to your friend's house to play, would you have rather just been left alone to cut the lawn, have people sit and stare at you while you were cutting the lawn, or have people help you cut the lawn so you could get done faster?"

He stared up at me. "I never had to cut the lawn. My dad did it."

grrrr.... Come on, guys! That picture of the man vacuuming labeled 'Women's Porn' is actually not that far off the mark at all. Try it! It really does works! When I see you making a concerted effort to help me out and take some of the burden off my back, you get "rewarded." I realize you might not think mopping the kitchen floor is a priority, but it's hard to feel sexy when my foot keeps getting stuck in strawberry jam. To me, a clean, sparkling floor is the equivalent of slipping on a brand new silk dress. A clean house is sexy.  

I folded a few more articles of clothing.

"Alright," I tried again. "Let's say you were at basketball practice and you got in trouble for something and the coach made you run laps. That would suck, right?"

"Well, yeah." He picked up the cat and started petting it.

"Well, let's say that all the other people on your team just sat and stared at you while you were running. Lap after lap.... they just sat there....  and stared.... at you.... doing all that work.... by yourself....."


"Oh. You're talking about the laundry, aren't you?"


And to my amazement Big V stood up and started folding with me!

Then, "so... when we're finished with this, we're gonna - you know...."

Monday, April 16, 2012

The One in Which I Explain The Rules For Telling a Girl She's Got Something in Her Teeth

Once, when I was young and cute and slim enough to wear cute, frilly frocks, I went out on a date with a really cute guy. I felt really mature and adult-like because we were going to lunch. And only really mature people went to lunch. Therefore, I was mature. And also smoking hot in my cute little outfit with my toes nicely painted and the right amount of sun-kissed glow to my skin.

And lunch was fabulous. We went to Big Apple Bagels (which, looking back on things wasn't as grown-up and mature as I originally thought). The point is, he was funny and charming and I was cute and witty and we sat talking and laughing, me flirting in ridiculous proportions, long after we finished our food. Then I excused myself to go to the bathroom (because I've always had a small bladder).

And when I checked myself in the mirror I realized I had a ginormous-sized black seed stuck in between my teeth in probably the most obvious and unattractive location ever.

And I was horrified. Not because I had a seed stuck in my teeth. Hell, that happens to everyone. But because I just sat there for the past twenty minutes flashing said seed right in the face of someone who continually chose not to tell me. Needless to say, I never went out with him again, even though he drove a convertible. Because if a guy can't be upfront about something stuck in your teeth, how is he ever going to handle the big stuff?

Now, I know someone is going to say he probably just didn't know how to tell you and I call bullshit. Because most guys I know have absolutely no filter whatsoever and can enter a funeral luncheon full of your mourning family and yell out, "it smells like rotten feet in here!" Trust me; they know how to say there's something wrong with another person, they just don't know when or how to say it in a socially acceptable manner.

So, in an effort to help along my fellow man, I'm willing to share with you this little cheat sheet. (Feel free to take it out on all your dates.)

(A) Is it permanent? (i.e., giant mole, birthmark, scar, bald patch) If yes, keep your mouth shut. It's not like she can do anything about it anyway. You say something now, the poor girl is going to start crying hysterically and will tell all her friends. Thanks to today's social media, you'll be blacklisted from the female market in approximately 28.7 seconds from at least six different counties. If it's not permanent (i.e., long black chin hair, booger, eye crusties, something stuck in between teeth), then move to (B).

(B) Can something be done about it RIGHT NOW? If yes, go ahead and politely mention it. Say something quiet and to the side, like, I'm sorry, but you have something on your nose. Do not say: "OH GROSS! THAT'S FREAKING DISGUSTING! YOU'VE GOT THIS GIANT RUBBERY PIECE OF SNOT HANGING OUT YOUR NOSE HOLE!"

However - and this is where it gets tricky - let's say it is something that can be easily remedied, however she doesn't have the tools to fix it right now. I'm thinking of that long black chin hair; what good is it to point it out moments before you go hiking with nary a tweezer for plucking? Just shut your pie hole until you get home. And then - and this is super important - pretend you just noticed it, just this very second. Do not tell the poor soul that you noticed three hours ago but knew she couldn't do anything about it, so you decided to be a swell guy and not say anything because you didn't want to upset her. Because you will upset her. Trust me. You'll come out looking like a schmuck. Because if you saw it, then surely someone else did, too, and you're the jerk who didn't say anything.

Follow this advice my friend, and you'll be okay. Unless you don't pay for lunch. Then you're just some cheap jerk that doesn't deserve a second date. (You ask her out on a date - you pay. When you start going out more often you can split the bill or she can treat you. But you never, ever ask a girl on a date and then not pay. I'll be covering those rules at a later date.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

... a lifetime is not enough for music

Sometimes I see an event advertised and I think to myself Self, I'm not exactly sure what this is all about, but for some reason I think it'd be a great idea if we went and checked it out! Which I take as some sort of a Diving Intervention thing. Which can easily be confused with a The Devil Made Me Do It thing, as in heyyy! I've got this bottle of Tequila Rose and I think it'd be a great idea if we played Up and Down the River with it! One leaves you refreshed and invigorated; the other leaves you heaving in a bucket until 3:30 the following afternoon, not caring at all about the crusted mess at the end of you hair.

So when I saw The Rose Ensemble was going to be at Young Auditorium in Whitewater, Wisconsin, I totally didn't know what they were, what they did, or what it was all about.... but something told me I had to check it out.

I think it was this statement that sold me: "The Rose Ensemble reawakens the ancient with vocal music that stirs the emotions, challenges the mind, and lifts the spirit." Well, now. If that's not something that spurns interest...

Holy Shitake! Who knew I loved late 1800 Shaker settlement music?! And I'm not even kidding.

Look, I know nothing about singing. Nothing at all. But I know when my spine trembles from the deep, rich sound of a man's voice that reaches into the depths of my soul. I know that man can sing.

I know when an unassuming woman opens her mouth and lets out the songs of angels and the room starts to glitter and shine. I know that woman can sing.

I know when a fiddle mourns and a guitar prances and I know when a man playing a bass forgets he's on stage with hundreds of people staring at him. I know I'm witnessing something so beautiful I can hardly swallow down a breath.

The songs came from their CD called And Glory Shone Around which is described as "a tapestry of early American spiritual songs, ballads and dances." And what a rich tapestry it was! There was original Shaker music from 1893 (Give Good Gifts) and a Traditional Scottish Gaelic Milling Song (Seinn O-Oran Luaidh) and the song that WILL be played at my funeral which was listed in the program as Niel Gow's Lament on the Death of his 2nd Wife.

But it wasn't all slow, sad songs. There was a song from during the temperance movement called King Alcohol. Had us all cracking up!

I would definitely go see them again. In fact, I haven't stopped talking about them since I saw them and only wish they had more samples on their website.

I realized that I'm (1) jealous I have no musical talent like this amazing group of people and (2) was totally put on this planet to appreciate amazing musical talent. And then I wondered why on earth I don't go out and check out more events that I know nothing about. I see things advertised on posters at the local coffee shop, in the paper, splashed across Facebook - and it looks interesting, unique, fun -- and I want to go, but then something holds me back. Fear, I suppose.

I will feel out of place, like an intruder. A few weeks ago the church down the street from us held a benefit dinner, and the menu sounded tasty. The logical side of me said, "good food at reasonable prices, they'll raise money and you won't have to do dishes!" But the scared, insecure part of me said, "you're going to walk in and they're going to take one look at you and know you're not Baptist!"

What do I bring? Do I bring money? How much? Can I come late? Or is there an actual start time? Are kids allowed? Or will I seem like a perv if I show up without any kids? And do I need to shave?

The thing is, every time I've gone out on a limb and went someplace I knew nothing about it's always been okay. In fact, it's always turned out more than okay. I usually end up chiding myself for even considering chickening out and not going. Think about what you would have missed? And I've always learned something. Always. I experienced something I wouldn't have known about otherwise. I come back appreciating people a little more. I come back with a better understanding of the world I live in. And I come back with the knowledge that there is so very, very much to learn in our world, and I best get busy finding out everything that's out there because life is short - and I just cannot imagine living an entire life and not bearing withness to the truly remarkable gifts

Might I suggest, if you're wanting to experience new things, that you check out your local theatre as a first (and must) stop. And if you're around Whitewater, Wisconsin you simply must experience everything Young Auditorium has to offer - because it will blow your mind. And if you're nervous about going alone, give me a call, I'll be happy to join you. Just be warned, I probably won't shave my legs for you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lesson Learned: Sometimes it makes sense just to order jeans online.

Because Cletus has a hard time hearing, the doc suggested throwing some tubes in his ears in the hopes it might improve things. So, I did what any Mama Bear Loving Her Cub would do and cursed while setting the freaking alarm for five o'clock in the morning. They claim they schedule surgeries by age which is a load of crap because everyone knows moms of youngins get no sleep whatsoever and it's hard enough to get out the door before the minister starts church service. If they scheduled things correctly they'd be scheduling the little kids for just after nap time which totally increases the odds Mommy takes a shower.

I was bound and determined to be a Good Mom when it came to this surgery. Considering I'm the one who has never owned an actual diaper bag, never has water on hand during a hot day at the park - oh, who am I kidding. I steer clear of public parks. Have you met some of the nut job mothers that hang out there? Anyway, my point is, I'm never organized or prepared. But this time, THIS time, I would be someone people would turn to and say good job, Mom. Good job, indeed.

And so I packed a backpack with diapers and wipes and a change of clothes. I tossed in a clean sip cup (and by clean I mean I opened it and saw day old Apple juice, which meant no curdling milk, and swiped it under the water in the faucet until the acidic smell of apples dissipated into a pleasant aroma reminiscent of warm apple pie) and a favorite book. Then - and I'm really proud about this because it required forethought and planning - I lined a small container with a plastic bag (in case there was vomiting in the car) and put that in the car along with a towel, additional plastic bags, and a giant sized Ziploc bag just in case I needed to stash the barf someplace while I waited for traffic to die down long enough for me to toss it out the window, if need be.

*I'm kidding. I would never throw any trash out the car window. It's illegal and gross and I'm deathly afraid littering will get so bad the government will someday mandate every citizen serve two weeks cleaning up the sides of roadways and call it our Civic Duty - much like they do with Jury Duty. And I doubt I could get out of Trash Pickup Duty by saying  just by looking at a piece of trash you can tell if it's guilty or not.

**Also, I don't personally know if you can actually get out of Jury Duty by saying you can physically recognize guilt. Go ahead and try it if you want, but don't get mad at me if it doesn't work.

Anyway, I was prepared. Just not prepared enough to actually wake up at 5:00 in the morning. How do you people do it? I scooped Cletus up and strapped him into the car seat, and proceeded to listen to him whine and fuss and complain that he wanted something to eat and drink and eat and drink and eat and drink for the entire 45 minute car ride. Yay for early morning bonding with a starving toddler!

But all was forgotten when I saw him in that tiny little hospital gown laying on that big bed... allowing me to finally go to the bathroom because apparently you just can't leave up and leave your 2-year old hanging out in Outpatient Cubicle #20 by themselves while you go off in search for the loo.

Luckily, I've been blessed with the ability to urinate fast because the skilled doctor can fillet those miniature ears so quickly the kid was returned in seven minutes. The poor, groggy kid could barely keep his head up to enjoy his ice cream. (Which reminds me, hello?! Chocolate ice cream around all those white blankets? What were they thinking?!)

Aren't those bunnies the cutest thing ever?
A group of volunteers make them for every kid having surgery!
YAY for Volunteers!
 The cute nurses came in every few minutes and checked the kid's vitals, smiled, patted his head, and gave Mommy the talk about how the effects of being put under can make a child wobbly and unstable. I had to promise to carry him all the way out to my car and not let him walk on his own. Although it was tempting...

As soon as I strapped him in he looked up at me with his tired eyes and said Mama, nap now.

Cutest. Thing. Ever!

And I smiled as I started the engine.

And then I thought about how I was in the city. And Cletus does need new pants - the kind with the adjustable waistband which they just don't seem to stock at our local WalMart. And there is an Old Navy nearby. And it is so gosh darn difficult to take time off of work without going through an intense 4-hour interrogation. And it would only take a few minutes....

And then, kind of without me knowing it, my car just happened to turn left instead of right.

But by the time we pulled into the parking lot the slightly irritable side effect was kicking in. Big Time.

But it would only take a few minutes. It's not like it's that difficult to pick out a couple size 3T jeans and be on our merry way. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? [People call this foreshadowing.]

See, what happened was Old Navy didn't open for another half hour. And so then I had a choice to make: take this as a sign from God that I should do the ethical thing and drive my drug induced hazy son home and put him to bed, or carry him next door to the super-sized craft store, that apparently opens at 9am on a weekday (which, seems to me, to be a normal store opening hour).

But then the kid didn't want to sit in the little seat; he wanted to sit in the body of the cart, and frankly, I didn't want to listen to him whine for another 30 minutes so I let him. And then I proceeded to cheerfully point out beautiful things meant only to distract him: look at these scissors! Wow! Those are BIG scissors! Oh! Look! Fake flowers! I love the red ones! Can you find the RED flowers?

But the kid kept yelling go home, Mama! and so finally I just ignored him.

And then I turned the corner and 'lo and behold - it was the yarn aisle! Holy selection, batman! Every color, every texture - I was in heaven. And then I spied the knitting needles and saw bamboo needles and rosewood needles and .... MAMA!

I had enough time to turn my head and register that I'm slightly unstable son was standing up in the body of the cart attempting to swing his leg over the back of the cart seat, which resulted in him leaning too far back and falling out of the cart.


Flat on his back. Smacking his head. Eyes shocked wide open. And not a single noise coming from his tiny body. I could not move that freaking cart out of my way fast enough.

Kids fall. Kids tumble. Kids get hurt. But this, THIS was something I never want to see ever again. He opened his mouth and I thought was going to cry but started gasping, but gasping without sound. The wind completely knocked out of him. (Which happened to me once when we were sledding and I smacked my back straight into a tree and honestly thought I was dying.)

I aged a thousand years watching that little boy in his red pajamas, with the hospital bracelet still around his ankle, wearing his dorky monkey slippers he insists on wearing every time he discovers where his Dad hid them, trying to breathe but not being able to. I cursed myself and my selfish desire to buy pants after my child was just in a hospital having surgery. Albeit a simple surgery, but a surgery nonetheless. What the hell was wrong with me? What if he was paralyzed? What if he was the small percent that dies from a head injury? How on earth would I ever live with myself?

And then he took a deep (much needed) breath and SCREAMED. Screamed like I had never heard anyone scream before. But I knew (read: was hoping) that was a good sign. I sat and rocked him and asked what hurt and he kept pointing to his hip, which made me glad it wasn't his head.

I kissed him and hugged him and said a silent blessing to God for watching over my baby and said, "See? This is why Mama tells you to sit in the cart." Because I believe in teachable moments.

And by the time the drama quieted down and it was determined he'd live we ran next door to Old Navy and picked up two pairs of jeans for $24. Because I also believe in bargains.

Note the super cool skateboard, handmade years ago by my
adorable cousin, Cassie, who used personal photos and decorated the board.
Hands down, most awesome board ever.
Even if you are skating while wearing monkey slippers.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I'm Pretty Sure I Was Punk'd, But I'm Still Waiting For The Camera Crew For Confirmation

She walked in briskly, elegantly swiping her sunglasses off her face... I would have surely caught myself in the nostril.... "I'm not sure if I'm in the right place. My husband sent me here to get a copy of our home inspection."

I felt instantly frumpy. Me in my oversized cardigan because the office temperature is impossible to regulate and well worn loafers; her in skinny jeans and expensive Coach Marlena boots. I sucked in my gut. Well, we don't really do home inspections, but we do have files for any building projects you may have done. Are you maybe looking for inspection reports from a remodel job?

"Those look delicious."

Excuse me?

*points to desk at oversized bag of Cool Ranch Doritos that I've been mowing down occasionally munching on*  "I'm dieting. Everything looks delicious when I'm dieting."

Oh. *awkward laugh while I suck in gut further* So, let's pull the file and see what's there.

"I don't want to waste your time - I'll call my husband. He'll know what I need."

And so I pull the file while she makes the call:
"Hi, it's Carol. Can I talk to Bob? ... Oh. He got paged to the hospital? .... That's right, I forgot he was on call for Roukus. Just tell him to call me."

I put the file on the table while she dials another number:
"Hi, it's Carol. I'm trying to get a hold of Bob. ... ICU? .... Well, of course they crash when he's on call. Just have him call me as soon as he can."

I open the file and start sorting through the paperwork and she dials another number:
"Hi, it's Carol. I guess Bob's in ICU; one of Roukus's patients is crashing - can you get him for me? I really need to talk to him. It's important."

I stare at her, mouth gaping open. Uh, I can just get copies of this and you can take it with you, it's no big deal....

"No, I don't want to waste your time. He said we needed something for the addition we want to put on; I want to adopt another baby, he wants a guest room. We already have five." (I wasn't sure if she meant five babies or bedrooms.)

Really, it's no big deal - (STOP DIALING THE FREAKING NUMBERS!)

"Hold on - it's Bob."..... and she puts him on speaker phone..... "Hi, honey! I'm here in Bridget's office --" (good lord, don't use my name! He has no idea who I am - besides, he's saving a life, I'm sucking engineered flavoring off my finger tips, what is wrong with you?!) " --- and I don't want to waste her time, what paperwo ---"

and this would be where Bob interjects with something that sounds awfully angry and along the lines of I'm at the hospital with --- and then she cuts him off impatiently with "I know, one of the patient's is crashing, this will just take a sec, I don't want to waste this poor woman's time."

But then I jumped in and said really loudly "I'LL JUST GIVE YOU A COPY OF THE WHOLE FILE, IT'S FINE! and she said, "did you hear that honey? She said she could give us a copy of the whole file" and then he snapped an angry that's fine and hung up.

Can you say awkward?

And also oh my god, when a doctor rushes out of the room I always assumed it was for something actually important.... like life saving treatment important, not let that frumpy girl get back to her bag of chips important. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

And THIS Would Be Why It's Important To Complete Your Homework

I remember Big V laughing - one of those real, deep, rowdy laughs - when he told me about how his mother did his homework for him. I remember tilting my head to the side (which happens to be the international sign for do you seriously think this will impress me?) and squinting my eyes (mostly because I have this awful habit of squinting my eyes so it looks like I'm pissed off all. the. time., but also because my contacts were about 3 months past their daily wash & wear expiration date).

"I'm sorry, did you just say your mom did your homework?"

"Yeah, well it's not like I had a lot...."

Thus the introduction to the amazing childhood of the Big V began. He played sports! He was great at sports! He could catch a football! He could dribble a basketball! And he could probably do many more sports-like activity with amazing skill and accuracy but since I could care less about anything that involves people hurling objects at another human being I really didn't listen!

But I did listen to the parts that involved hiding cans of beer in the ceiling tile of the boys' bathroom to be shot gunned throughout the school day and the fact that his one and only responsibility growing up was to be the best damn sports player ever to grace the halls of some off the map high school that averaged an annual enrollment of 150 students for all four grades combined.

But he was the best. (Actually, I don't have any actual documentation to back this up, it's just what he told me.)

Now, let's fast forward what feels like a gazillion years and there's Big V - who treats work like football practice, always giving 110% every second that he's there, who is completely loyal to the team (even if his boss is jacking him around in the Providing Legal Benefits department) and who also comes home just like he did in high school: dropping his crap at the door and plopping down on the couch waiting to be waited on.

(And if you think I'm kidding, there is currently a pair of work pants crumpled up in the middle of an otherwise clean and orderly entry way. Who loses their pants three seconds after they come in the door?)

So, there sits Big V, filling out necessary paperwork that he thought-assumed-hoped I would have already completed for him. But he doesn't realize that I grew up with a much different approach to life called God gave you arms and legs for a reason, now get off your lazy ass and get this shit done. Ain't nobody gonna do it for you; you can sit and stare at it all you want, it ain't going away. Or something to that effect.

"Hey!" he called from the table, where he'd been sitting the past twenty minutes, staring at the paperwork wondering why it wasn't magically filled in.
"I'm not doing it for you!" I called back from my comfy chair.

"I'm not asking you to!"

"Good! Because I won't!"

"Fine. I just have a question."


"It says, 'have you ever been bonded?' What should I put?"

"Well, have you ever been bonded?"


"Then I'd go with that."


A few minutes later:


"I'm not doing it for you!"
"I'm not asking you to!"

"Good! Because I won't!"

"Fine. I just have a question."


"It says, 'have you ever plead guilty to a crime?' What should I put?"

"Seriously?! You don't know if you've ever plead guilty to a crime?! Well, at least I don't have to worry about you doing Cletus's homework for him just so he can be eligible to play football."

It's a damn good thing he's good looking.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Case of the Missing Shirt

The shirt is a dance uniform shirt. Needed for an upcoming performance. A dance performance. That my 10-year old daughter has with an entire dance team. Thus the necessity for a matching shirt. You know, to look like a team. And so they all wear the same shirt. A special ordered shirt. That we can't find.

It started with a text: we can't find it.

Find what? the shirt.

What shirt? the shirt i need for our performance on April 14th.

Oh shit.

And so I texted back to the 10-year old daughter whose shirt was missing: look in your room. everywhere. under everything, through everything, in everything.

Half hour later, a response: we still can't find it.

Not finding it is not acceptable.

Not finding it means not performing.

Not finding it means you think you feel like crap now? Wait until you have to fess up to your instructor, who you're pretty sure hates you and will certainly hate you when she finds out you lost your shirt.

Not finding it means you'd better wipe those tears and keep looking and keep looking and keep looking until you find it or you die, whichever comes first.

And so it was that I came home and announced that together we would enter the room that looks like a landfill but is actually meant to be a bedroom and find the sucker.

We started at noon.

And by start, I mean I stood in the doorway in utter disbelief, shaking my head and thinking we are never going to find anything in this mess.

"Okay, " I said, taking control of the situation. "The first thing I want you to do is take out all the garbage and anything that should be thrown away. You can start with this bag here --- " points to Justice bag, overflowing with hangers, trash, and shoeboxes from recent shopping spree ---- "but before you throw it out, go through it; take everything out bit by bit, you never know if it somehow fell in there."

The 10-year old sighed, rolled her eyes, slumped her shoulders, sighed again, while I resisted the urge to point out that it was not I who misplaced the uniform shirt, nor was it I who made this particular room this atrocious, nor was it I who wished to spend any amount of time whatsoever attempting to locate said missing uniform shirt in said atrocious looking room. Because being the grown-up means sometimes you have to shut your trap and not state the obvious. Something about fragile egos and self-esteem.

At 3 o'clock in the afternoon we stood back and observed our surroundings. Every dresser drawer had been pulled out and sifted through. Five bags of clothes were now in the basement waiting permanent storage containers. Shoes that no longer fit were tossed. Books put back on the shelves in order of author. Electronics rested in a specially marked area. Beds and dressers were pulled out, vacuumed behind then pushed back. Thorough cleaning was an understatement. Not one square inch of this room was untouched. We had slayed the beast... and the shirt was still no where to be found.

Oh, goody. I just can't wait to let them know we lost the uniform. As if my success as a parent isn't judged enough - from one woman in particular - and yes, you are the most fantastic mother on the planet who has the most perfect children ever and by golly, I just don't understand why my daughter is still in the lower level when yours has reached such amazing levels of skill and I guess my children and I should just accept the fact we are nothing more than the mat upon which your righteous family should wipe their precious feet. (I've often wondered what it would be like if I never made a mistake ever, but then, hello! What would I write about?)

Accepting defeat I headed to the kitchen. Perhaps a pan of brownies would make me feel better. The garbage was overflowing so I might as well throw it outside before I started the chocolate munchathon. On top of the heap -- that damn Justice bag. One look at it told me the kid never bothered to go through it.


I dropped everything in the garbage can and turned around to go back inside. I needed chocolate.

She never looked inside the bag.

I sighed.

Turned around.

Went back to the bag.

Pulled out the shoebox and dumped it back into the can.

Looked at the shoebox.

Pulled the shoebox back out.

Opened the shoebox.

And took the shirt out.

Did I mention we cleaned that room for three hours? THREE HOURS?!

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...