Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Princess Procrastination

Welcome to Thanksgiving Eve....also known as "WHAT THE CRAP Wednesday" in..."what the crap did I do with my grocery list? Has anyone seen an index card with manic, unreadable scribble?", "where the crap is all of my table linen?" "what that crap is that stain all over my table linen?", "what the crap do you think you're doing? There's no time for football! Here, take this Scrubbin' Bubbles and go deal with the bathroom. I don't know what you did in there, but fix it." That sort of "what the crap." And....I'm sitting here blogging about it. It's essentially the same mentality as yesterday. Somewhere in my head, there is a belief that while my to-do list is long, the eve before a holiday is actually more than 24 hours. It's something like 36. So, while I should have been cleaning toilets and grocery shopping yesterday, I was actually making pretty, shiny necklaces for my store and watching a CNBC behind-the-scenes special about Coca-Cola. There is plenty of time. And now it's almost 9 am on the day before Thanksgiving. My entire family will be here in 27 hours for slow-cooked ribs (that have yet to be purchased), homemade ice cream (that has yet to be churned) and good clean fun at a good clean house (that has yet to be de-furred). AGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH!!!!!!!

I am off to attack the day, armed with Pledge, 3 rolls of paper towels and a husband who thinks he will be "working from home" instead of "working on the home." Today's marathon is brought to you by Sam's Club French Roast, which is now coursing through my veins, and the tiniest bit of Kahlua (to keep the OCD at bay - especially the variety that taunts me with cobwebs at the top of 9 foot ceilings and a dirty garage floor). I have about as much time to blog right now as you all have to read it. So, please enjoy this picture of me at the gym the day after Thanksgiving last year. As they say, a second on the lips, a lifetime on the hip...bones. See you on the other side!

Monday, November 23, 2009

$h!t Fire

We live miraculously close to a new commercial development, complete with a Kroger (score!), a Party Store (YIPEE) and a Hobby Lobby (Triple YIPEE with smoke trailing from the Mastercard). You can also slum it greasy-style at a McDonald's, a Bob Evans, and a Cracker Barrel (for those of you residing in the north, Cracker Barrel is the single most influential reason to pack your wares and migrate south of the Ohio River Valley). This development was established several years after my husband built the house and a couple years after I became Mrs. Crazy Cat Lady and moved in. Now that they are planning to construct a Sam's Club less than 5 miles away, I'm certain my husband wakes up every morning and gives himself a high-five over the strategic location of our home. Most of the development is complete, save for a few stores in the strip mall that stand vacant, thus proving that "economical recovery" has not yet reached Lexington. Builders have now started a $200,000+ neighborhood in the rear of this development, joining our neighborhood with the business sector. (We get to be the crotchety folk that spit sunflower seeds and rant about how we were here first). The best part? I now have a backroad to Kroger, Hobby Lobby, Liquor R Us, Panera, S&S Tire, and the best little bistro this side of the city. I do not have to go out on Nicholasville Road to get there. I understand that you may not fully grasp the gravity of this statement so let me say 4 things that may enlighten you:

1. Nicholasville (which is at the other end of Nicholasville Road) is often referred to as "Nich Vegas"...for good reason.
2. Nicholasville Road joins Nich Vegas to Lexington. It is cheap to live in Nich Vegas and work in Lexington. And it's only about 5 miles away, as the crow flies (I can't believe I just said "as the crow flies"....but since I's sort of in a holler).
3. We also live about 2 miles from the only traditional mall in the city (we now have Hamburg, which is one of those shopping centers...clogged with parking lots and separate store entrances and people who think a stop sign is an unsolvable geometry problem).
4. And it's Christmas (sort of)

So, how do you solve a problem like Nicholasville Road? You use the back entrance that Santa delivered because you were extra good this year!

It is embarrassingly easy to unconsciously FLY down this back road. Not a stop sign or speed bump the entire way...until they parked a sheriff's car in front of the model home. The first time I saw it, I slammed my brakes on so hard I just knew Soccer Mom in the mini behind me would be picking convertible leather out of her grill for weeks. But as the police in this area tend to do, it was abandoned by anyone with law-enforcing capability. And so it has been for over a month. I do tap my brakes as I drive by, just in case, but even that has been unnecessary.

Last week, I was making a mad 5:30 pm dash to Kroger for the milk I forgot to buy at Sam's just an hour earlier when I spotted something...odd. It was still odd when I returned. Something was on fire in front of the model home, behind the sheriff's car. So, I drove down the cul-de-sac to get a closer view. Definitely fire. Definitely smelly. But I had no idea what it was. I've seen my fair share of furniture on fire (at some point in college, after consuming a trash can of hooch, it suddenly seems like a fine idea to drag the couch out to the street and set it aflame), so it kind of looked like a La-Z-Boy...but I couldn't be sure. My cell was on the charger at home. All I could do was send positive thoughts to 911. At this point, the 100 or so other housewives that use the same back entrance to Kroger were noticing. Surely someone else has a cell with them and has called it in. Surely. I thought about calling the sheriff's department when I got home, but since we're on the county line, I didn't know which office I should call and sometimes they get annoyed when you try to be all helpful and stuff. The next day I was headed back to Kroger and looked over to see if the house and car had burned down in a fiery pit of neglect. Nope. And in the same spot where the fire had been just the evening before...was a brand new, shiny green replace the scorched one. And that's what a port-o-pot looks like when it's burned almost to the ground. Explains the smell. I have no idea how it happened, I guess it was not deemed newsworthy. But I do envision some of the construction workers standing around with Bic lighters and burritos, saying "hey, watch THIS! I can light my farts on fire!"

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Getting Inked

Most aspects of my mother's body are completely virginal...say, for example her hair, which she has allowed to go naturally gray, and her skin, which I'm pretty sure has never seen any unnatural sun (UV rays on the beaches of South Carolina, however, are a completely different story). She has her ears pierced once and does not even bother to polish her toes (this lends itself to the theory that my mother is actually the milkman's child as she's the only woman in our family who does not own a stockpile of OPI nail polish). So, when she declared, over tortellini and breadsticks, that she, too, wanted to get inked in memory of Shep, I almost choked. Y'know that whole manner of joking where the person says something and then follows it up with "oh, I'm just kidding..."? Yeah, Mom doesn't do that. I knew she was serious. "I want a blue butterfly and "Shep" written underneath," she proclaimed. And then there was silence. A needle was going to repeatedly inject ink into my mother's virginal flesh, leaving behind a permanent reminder of this day. Permanent. Forever. Perhaps fading over time, but everlasting nonetheless. My first 3 thoughts were:

1. This will ruin her chances of ever being in the CIA since I've heard agents can't have distinguishable markings of any kind.
2. If she were to commit a crime in a sleeveless shirt, she would be captured for sure.
3. If she were to die in a beheading, at least I would be able to identify her body.
(for those of you who don't know my mother, please note that I can say with almost 100% certainty that none of these thoughts ever crossed my mother's mind. It is only in my twisted brain that these ideas materialize).

So, we agreed to set the date and go from there. It took us 2 months to find a Friday afternoon that would gel with both of our calendars. (We thought about going the Friday afternoon of The Brain Ball, but I knew I wanted my tattoo on my wrist. Having received 2 other tattoos, I also knew that when finished, they place this hospital-grade bandage on the tattoo, which must remain in place for a full 24 hours. Do you know what happens when you show up at a brain injury association benefit with a hospital-grade bandage on your wrist? I don't know either, but I'm sure it involves a very nice jacket with buckles and straps and a bumpy ride in a vehicle with flashing lights.) We decided on yesterday. Nothing doing this weekend that involved short sleeves or swimming.

On my way to Tattoo Charlie's (which I will totally support in print, although I'm not receiving any kickbacks for my love), Mom called.
Me, answering with "it's entirely too late to back out now."
"Well, I'm still in Frankfort."
"You're in Frankfort?? Mom, I'm 10 minutes away!"
"I just can't get my nerve up."
Hysterical giggling. "Just kidding, I'm here...should I go on in and start looking?" (And for those of you playing at home, that is the first time she's has ever done that whole "I'm just kidding" thing. What timing that woman has.)

Mom quickly found a blue butterfly that she liked. I had the drawing from the back of Shep's program which...shhh!!!...I found on Microsoft's Publisher program under "clip art > borders." As Charlotta said, "a pretty tattoo is a pretty doesn't matter where it came from." Amen, sister. So, here are the photos from The Inking of Mom and Daughter. I can honestly say that getting a tattoo on the inside of the wrist hurts like hell...but not as badly as labor, I now know.

She may, to the casual observer, look really, really happy. That is nervousness at its best. Been there, done that, know it like a brother.

This is the temp tattoo that goes on first to make sure everything is centered and the customer is happy with what is about to become irreversible. Crossing the point of no return, we like to call it.

Happy perspiration. The endorphins kick in, skin starts to being in a sweatlodge, but with less chance of death. Unfortunately, I was experiencing the same thing when she came to show me the finished product, so there is not a picture of the completed tattoo. But we'll get that today...after being bandaged for the full 24 hours (they only say that about 15 times on the post-care informational flyer).

Toes jammed together, hand gripping leg, red-faced...that is the look of a happy girl...or the look of a girl in extreme pain as the thin skin of the wrist is needled to numbness.

Mom said she wanted to take another picture...and this time, I should look less miserable.

It's red, it's bleeding, and it appears to have been done in black ink...but that's the finished product. When it heals, it should have a lovely blue appearance. And as always with my tattoos, it's larger than I envisioned...but if you want to have the detail, you have to make the sacrifice. If I ever go back into employment in the corporate world, I will have to start wearing those watches with the over-sized faces, all circa 1990 and whatnot. I may actually still have the one I wore in high school....somewhere...

I would like to say thank you to Charlotta and Mom's artist (whose name I did not catch, even though he wanted me to tag him on Facebook). You all rocked socks and we will definitely be back (and by we, I mean me and Neal...this is still considered "deviant behavior" for Mom-the-Psychologist so I wouldn't expect to see her back anytime soon). But thanks to Mom for walking me through labor, although I hadn't had a single childbirth class, and for putting needle to skin in memory of it all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

T-15 hours and 30 minutes

Tomorrow is the big day...Tattoo Day. Mom and I are going to get inked in memory of Shep. Oh precious boy, I hope you appreciate this because your grandmother is going to pay cash money for pain by needle. I promise lots of pictures tomorrow night, though. ;)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Christmas is the New Thanksgiving

Like so many others in blogger-land, I am sort of confused by all of the light-stringing, radio-caroling, bell-ringing that is going on right now. Our local "soft rock" radio station (yes the one with John Tesh and Delilah - who is a white woman...who knew??) is playing all Christmas, all the time...or Mixmas as they have dubbed it. Clever, yes...appropriate timing, no. I am almost certain that not more than 3 weeks ago I was donning angel wings and a halo while Neal was strutting his stuff in a devil suit. And yet, here I am...under the influence of my surroundings and itching to find my tree stand. But oddly, I have not consumed the requisite 4500 calories to get from Halloween to Christmas. missing...Oh WAIT...we as a nation have completely bypassed Thanksgiving...y'know, that pesky holiday in late November when we have to spend time with our families but don't actually get any gifts to make it worth our while? It is usually the time of year when a news story pops up about a family in Hazard who tried to deep-fry their turkey in the basement so they wouldn't miss the game....thus causing them to miss the well as their eyebrows and occasionally a couple of limbs. Although last year, while we were celebrating at my aunt's in Evansville, there was a family who accidentally hit a deer on the road...which was then donated to the soup kitchen for dinner. Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra...oops, there I go again...skipping straight over turkey day.

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. It will be at our house (and by "our house" I mean mine and my husband's...I feel so grown up) and I have much to be thankful for (a husband not living in a tent in the desert, for starters). I don't actually like turkey so I'm looking forward to the ribs that will be simmering in some good ole' Kentucky BBQ sauce all day, as well as the Derby pie that I picked up at Sam's Club this afternoon. Derby pie: pecan pie with chocolate chips...AKA a slice of chocolatey, nutty, gooey goodness. (And God bless Kentucky - you can buy Derby pie all year Sam's, at Kroger, at Liquor Barn. It's so much better than me trying to bake). And going against every fake-fir-tree-instinct I have right now, I'm going to maintain my autumn/fall/sort-of-still Halloween decor for the big day. What I want to do is pull the tree down from the top shelf in the garage and with it every box that contains anything red or green and bathe my house in Christmas cheer. But I'm going to resist in an effort to celebrate every holiday in its own right. There will be plenty of time for Bing Crosby and Soldier Santa standing guard on the mantle. The cats will still get a full 4 (and probably closer to 6) weeks to bat incredibly fragile Christmas ornaments around the house until they wedge under the fridge or shatter into a million unrecognizable pieces. (I will also get 4-6 weeks of cleaning up fake-fir-tree-kitty-vomit. No reason to start that any earlier than it has to be).

So, buy a box of wine, fire up the turkey fryer, and eat whipped topping straight out of the's time for Thanksgiving. There is plenty of time for Christmas when you're standing in line in front of Target at 3:30 AM Friday morning, freezing cold and wishing Starbucks would open. For now we should be focusing on cranberries shaped like a Del Monte can and the love of our family, straight up...sans ribbons and bows.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Grooming: Not Just For Bathrooms Anymore

I would LOVE to say that this was an isolated incident. I would LOVE to not be writing this post because the very idea of what I have to say is alarming (and actually really gross). But alas, I have three specific examples and according to the rule of 3, I am obligated to say something.

So....imagine my horror when BFF texts me one day to say that the guy behind her is brushing his teeth...IN HIS CAR. Aside from the obvious questions of "is that safe?" and "where does one spit when brushing one's teeth in the car?"...I must also wonder where he is going that his breath has to be that minty fresh. Although I'm sure the dentist appreciates Colgate over Coffeemate, I think he would consider brushing and driving to be a bit...excessive. Besides, he has a bathroom with a sink and running water specifically for these purposes. And think about it, if you were to wreck while brushing your teeth, would you really want that headline in the Lexington Herald? (And it would be because in these parts, that would be considered news-worthy enough to run in print and on Twitter).

Case Study #2: On my way to Frankfort last week, I looked up in the rear view mirror to see a man cleaning his ears while sitting at a stoplight. And I don't mean a finger stuck in the ear and giving it a gentle twist (although that, too, kind of grosses me out...but everyone gets an itch every now and then). I'm talking Q-tip in hand and making ear-cleaning look like an Olympic sport. Oh Bob, it looks like he's slowing down for the turns, but wait! He is picking up speed as he plunges all the way in. The stamina! The grace! Wax doesn't stand a chance against this defensive line! So, to that man let me say: I am not sure Q-tips are the answer for you. I am not sure how you manage to clean your ears without bleeding from them for a week...but may I suggest a nice ear-candling? You can choose from several relaxing scents, like lavender and sandalwood...and it's generally much safer and more effective than whatever assault you were launching on your unsuspecting tympanic membrane.

Case Study #3 While sitting at the stoplight to turn into my neighborhood, I looked into the rear view mirror only to see a man shaving. OK, no it was not a straight razor a la Barber of Seville, but...odd nonetheless. It was late afternoon and he was turning into a large in Why yes, Steve...I shave on my way home. It really puts a smile on the Mrs's face. Baby-butt-smooth every afternoon. You should really give it a go. I don't get it. Is 5 o'clock shadow such a problem that it must be confronted and addressed on Nicholasville Road?

As I was discussing this with my mother recently, she confessed to flossing her teeth in the car. This completely stumped me because flossing typically involves both hands, leaving nothing available for that whole 10 and 2 thing. She quickly added that she only did it at stoplights. She has since, however, resigned herself to toothpicks...easy to handle with 2 fingers and can be used for firewood later. I have to make a stand on this issue and I ask that you stand with me....Friends don't let friends groom and drive. It's unsafe, it's inefficient, and it disgusts the person in front of you.

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's Not Me Monday

And back off...where I am, I still have 2 hours until it's technically Tuesday. So, better late than never, yes?

  • I absolutely did not drink 1/2 flask of bourbon, some sort of blue alcohol served in a shot glass made of ice, a red-hot martini, 2 vodka and cranberries and a bottle of wine at The Brain Ball on Friday night. That would be a cry for help, a reason for a hand-delivered invitation to the next meeting (and not to Gamblers' Anonymous). And that would be a violation of my most stringent not mix brown and blue and red and clear and pink. You see it all over again.
  • I did not hug some random woman at The Brain Ball for saying to me "y'know, Army wives are the true heroes." That would be a) awkward and b) a denial of my husband's service to this country. And I am just a humble wife who merely loves her husband and her country...I seek no external gratification - especially for keeping a house running, 2 cars and a motorcycle operational, the bills paid, the pergola from crashing in through the living room windows...oh wait...sorry...
  • I absolutely did not take pictures of the egg-disks that the Hampton Inn attempts to pawn off on its unsuspecting guests while they are still in an alcohol/sleep fog. And I certainly did not take those pictures to post later, complete with a theory on how an egg goes from perfectly recognizable to....that.
  • On Sunday, I did not hit the side of the garage with Colonel Ketchup's front right quarter panel. That would prove that my driving has not actually improved since the last time I hit the side of a garage, 13 years ago. I use my mirrors and now realize that the speed limit is not merely a friendly suggestion to maximize your fuel economy. So, it would be unexplainable that I could peel (by friction) the rubber from the garage and subsequently transfer it to my beautiful Mustang...further more it is inconceivable that this act would be committed with such ferocity as to leave a dent the size of my hand in the same spot. And I would never try to pull the dent out with a toilet plunger - that only works in the movies and My Name is Earl. Besides, I would only do that with a brand new plunger, I would never get desperate and grab the one that my husband used. Ick.
  • When I woke up in the middle of night and got out of bed to get the water I had been trying to replace with espresso and bourbon, I did not eat 2 chocolate cookies just because they were sitting in plain site. That would completely contradict my strict diet plan to get back to an acceptable weight per my Gap jeans. Plus, if I had done that, being so dental-conscious, I would have flossed, brushed and rinsed again before heading back to bed. I drank my water and climbed back into bed, bypassing the bathroom all together. Therefore, I could not have participated in any cookie monster behavior at say, 2:30 this morning.
  • I did not skip my workout Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday due to lack of time, lack of hydration, lack of desire and lack of motivation to leave the bed (yes, in that order). That would contradict my strict exercise plan to get back to an acceptable....blah, blah, blah.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What Lipitor Can't Fix

I'm in a battle with my laptop....or more accurately, with the amount of memory on my laptop. We've had skirmishes for years...but then cooler heads (or really, just one...that of my husband) would step in to mediate. I would begrudgingly agree to move all of my pictures and most of my music to an external hard drive, even though that presents a colossal inconvenience to me (more often than not I do use my laptop as DJ Mixmaster in hotel showers and as a digital picture frame when being all crafty and inspired). But hey, what's a little sacrifice when the end result is peace and unity? I want to join hands with my laptop and sing Christmas carols...I want to laugh together over truly funny forwarded emails (I have almost trained everyone in my circle to stop sending me crap like "pass this on to your closest 400 friends or your cat will be hit by a semi in exactly 26 minutes")...I want to have, dare I say, a relationship with my laptop that does not involve curse words or showing it who's Number 1 while it flashes me error messages. Why can't we just get along? I would expect more respect from such a mature machine. I could very easily put it down and replace it with a faster, less Microsoft-y version (yes, Apple...your commercials are finally wearing me down. They make me giggle with understanding while the PC commercials just make me feel like a loser for not being able to create a professional-quality photo book in 20 minutes...especially when the girl says "I'm 4 and I'm a PC"). I could have a laptop that springs alive at the touch of a button, just waiting for instruction. But instead, I am patient with your flipping hour-glass, the crawl at which you update...for I know you're old and need more time. And generally, I become nostalgic for all things antique..I crave Tony Bennett and everyday hats on women. I get misty-eyed when I see an avocado-colored fridge or an airstream camper. But seeing an ancient item and relying on it are 2 totally different things. I would not try to make a phone call from a cell phone in a brief case, nor would I expect to get very far in a Pinto. So, at some point, Captain Compaq and I will have to part ways. But if we could just cling to each other in an "I'll never let go, Jack" embrace until some money starts rolling in, I would be grateful. Otherwise, I will have to revert to - gasp - a desktop which will revoke my membership to the Cool Girls' Club and make it generally much more difficult to work from my bed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Random Thoughts for a Thursday

Yesterday was our Saturday. Neal got to go play Army while I was cook/maid/furniture mover/FRG leader/jewelry designer extraordinaire all weekend. We totally missed out on the average person's Saturday/Sunday rest and relaxation. So, yesterday we laid in bed until noon drinking coffee and watching Dexter (which I love and that scares me a little). And hey, he's a veteran and I'm a veteran's wife/daughter/granddaughter (not all to the same person for those of you who just had that thought) it's kind of like my day, too. The list of things to accomplish yesterday included: replacing all of the hinges in the house as we make the transition from 1991 brass to 2009 brushed nickel, laying mulch in the front garden, trying a sample color of Tuscan clay on the kitchen walls, and building a website for Daisy & Elm, LLC that neither crashes nor blocks non-Microsoft visitors. Of that list, the only thing we got accomplished was watching Dexter...yes, oh wise one...that was not on the list. I try not to psychologically flog myself for enjoying these days...for walking past the clean clothes stacked on the floor and leaning over the sink full of dishes with little regard to what actually needs to be done about it. Our house is generally clean, smells more like fresh linen and less like cat litter, and there is usually food in the fridge, so if I lay in bed until noon one day, who's to notice? Except that I don't get the daily things blogging and showering. So, here are some random thoughts that I've stored up for just such an occasion:

1. Something long-awaited arrived in the mail this week. No, it was not the winter White House Black Market catalog, nor was it a check from Publisher's Clearinghouse...this massage therapy license!! Almost exactly 1 year and 8 months after I applied for it. And approximately 5 months after I began my sabbatical from massage therapy. That means, I started and ended (temporarily) a career before the official documentation ever got here. That has to be a new personal best. Now, to re-assure all of the rule-followers who read this, I did have a license number and have had since before I started practicing professionally because, I too, am an avid rule-follower. But I didn't have the pretty piece of paper with Kentucky's seal to back it up. And even though I harassed the holy living hell out of the gentleman at the KY Board of Licensure, he failed to ever follow through with my request. I understand a backlog...but seriously. And state workers wonder how they got the reputation that they now have. It's a mystery...

2. Apparently, when sung, Queen of Hearts sounds AMAZINGLY like Queen of Farts. Yes, I'm 10...but if that didn't at least make you smile a little, then you've lost all childlike quality and that makes Peter Pan sad.

3. Come to find out, after reading an article in the New York Times, I share my birthday with the Ft. Hood shooter. While people will not forever link September 8th with a murderer (as people do with my unfortunate friend whose birthday falls on 9/11), it still bothers me. It's a good thing I don't believe in astrology and numbers and all of that...oh wait...I do get pretty Hooah, Hooah about being a Virgo. Yeah, strike that. I'm bothered.

4. What I learned last weekend about moving a hoarder:
  • Wear clothes that you are willing to donate to Goodwill when it's all over
  • Use gloves that you don't mind to trash when it's all over
  • People will voluntarily live in the most absolute filth without a second thought. This will make you go home and clean your house like Monk just moved in.
  • I thought I had a deep-seeded disgust for men who repeatedly call me "sweetie", "hun", and "darlin". As it turns out, if they are willing to move awkward and unwieldy furniture so that I don't have to, I am infinitely tolerant.
  • Conversely, I have ever-lessening tolerance for men who cannot lift anything due to a bad back, knees, elbow..whatever..and choose to instead stand in the path, chain-smoke cigarettes and make inappropriate comments about how big my arms are (yes, they're big. Thanks for pointing out my struggle against The Curse of Fitted Sleeves.)
5. And to come full-circle on the whole rule-following thing...I supervised a care package assembly this week. The public was invited in to make donations and then help assemble the baggies that go in the boxes. For the sake of organization, the baggie stations are generally divided up into snacks, drink mix, personal care, and then gifts (i.e. CD's, DVD's, books, etc). My job was to direct people on how much of each item should go into the baggies and then make sure they followed directions and the baggies got sealed. What shocks me is how many people do not listen. Although I'm sure it was annoying (and perhaps even cheeky) to the ones who did listen and follow directions, I had to check every bag because there were many who thought they knew best. So, to the general public I must say: This organization has been around awhile and they have done their fair share of care packages. The founder has this down to an art and it is her 60-hour/week make sure that each soldier gets the best box possible. Please don't question her. It only makes you look like an ass. And if you can't listen and follow simple directions, then perhaps they should never have let you out of the padded room.

Now I'm off to finish preparing for tomorrow night's festivities: The Brain Injury Association of Kentucky's Brain Ball. I have created an all-Swarovski crystal necklace and earrings set, which I will sell right off of my body if someone is interested. Check or cash and it can be yours.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I'm a-fixin' to quit this book

In August, I joined a book club. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing - I had gone in to drop off one book and one CD that were appallingly overdue (and for the record, yes...I did pay $2.00 in overdue fines for Martha Stewart Cooking and Brahms' A German Requiem...both of which sat on my desk for over a month and mocked my culinary and cultural knowledge). I was on my way out the door when I saw a flyer for an "Under 40 Book Club." Well, I am under 40 and I've been looking for a little kick in the arse to read something other than chicklit and historical, why not? I had visions of intense debate, which would be stoked with wine, brandy and a gentleman in a beret. Yes, the meetings would be held in the library, but surely there was some tucked-away corner of the building specifically designed for round-table discussions featuring hipsters and alcoholics. Right? And I would never have seen this room in the 300 times I've been to this library because I have never been in a book club....until now. I was in the club. I might even smoke a pipe.

The club met at the end of September to discuss book titles. I bailed at the last minute because in the aftermath of Shep's death, the very last thing I wanted to do was sit around and bat about book titles I've never heard of with a bunch of over-anxious and brandy or no. So, I skipped it. Big mistake. Huge. The first book was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The main character, a teenage boy with autism, is charming in his own scrambled way and it was an easy read. So, fine. The meeting, however...NOT FINE. There is no tucked away corner of the Lexington Public Library where men in driving gloves and women with long cigarettes can discuss the importance of literature today next to a roaring fire. There is only the conference room, where just minutes before, a half-dozen sweaty teens were playing Wii after their book club discussion. It was not looking promising. There was no round table...nor was there a decanter or corkscrew to be found. Oy vey. I was so screwed. We were going to discuss this sober?? That never renders a good honest debate. Never. (Especially among people who have only met once...or not at all, as in my case...and must sensor their comments so as not to offend or judge).

The gentleman leading the book club began moving tables and setting up chairs, so the few of us there early (I for the free alcohol, the other 2 women to lay claim to a future husband) helped. As the crowd sauntered in, I found my chair and silently sulked. Five minutes later, a woman who looked to be about 6 months pregnant came in and sat down beside me. A minute after that, a guy in a fedora and the whole t-shirt-under-a-suit-vest-combo sat down on the other side. I was nestled between Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Awesome. It was not long into the "discussion" when Mr. Fedora began reciting passages from the book, almost verbatim...think more "soliloquy," less "general comment."). Double awesome. Toward the end of the hour, the club leader began passing out the November book selection...a book by an Appalachian author. Triple awesome and a home run for Team Anguish.

I think I have shared with you all my feelings on Jesse Stewart...or maybe that was John Muir. At any rate, I have taken great pains to avoid most Kentucky authors because they insist on writing about Appalachia. (Thank you, Barbara Kingsolver, for taking an alternate approach). I think Appalachia is at once breathtakingly beautiful and heartbreakingly sad. And I have worked earnestly to ensure that I do not let anything slip like "I seen that dog," "I done took the test," or "I'm a-fixin' to cook a mess-a-beans." And yet, this is what I'm reading...supposedly for pleasure. Clay's Quilt is set in fictional Crow County, but as I read it, all I can think is Clay or Harlan counties. And when I finish a passage, I do not feel any smarter. I have lived this life...I do not need to read about it to know what it's like. I want to read about living on the New England coast or attending the Sorbonne...not pregnant 19-year old girls and honky-tonks in the holler. I am less than 100 pages from the end, and yet...I'm not sure if I will finish. I have to reward myself for reading a chapter with reading from The Lost Symbol (which, yes, is very stereotypical Dan Brown but also quite gripping). As the pregnant bride, Dreama, decides to "quit" her cheatin', no-good husband, I may just have to quit this least, I'm a-fixin' to, anyways.

Friday, November 6, 2009

No safe place

Yesterday, I went for a walk in the park with 2 new friends. As we walked, a soldier was turning a weapon onto his own brothers and sisters. And it was not in the desolate cliffs of Afghanistan or even the middle of the desert. It was on American soil, on a well-known base. It could have been Camp LeJeune or Ft. Jackson or Ft. Campbell. But it wasn't. Ft. Hood is home to the 1st Calvary Division, the 1st Army Division West, and the 13th Sustainment Command...and many families, as well as soldiers passing through. Ft. Hood's home page is evidence of a community of soldiers and families that pride themselves on hard work, strict discipline, and service to our country. Yesterday, the impossible happened.

As with all things "Army," this will affect and deeply sadden those intimately connected to the military more than civilians who think of our soldiers only at Christmas when their homesick voices ring out over the airwaves. It always hits us hardest. Whatever you feel for these soldiers and their families, we feel it 100% more. Today, I am struck with equal parts grief and fear. If it can happen in Texas, it can happen in Kentucky. It can happen at Ft. Campbell or Ft. Knox. It could've been us. I am familiar with the Soldier Readiness process. While it is most common to go through the process on your way to war, you must also out-process on your way back home, as well as when your medical updates are due. I cannot imagine the grief and anger of families who must bury their soldiers, not because their vehicle hit an IED, but because another soldier was upset about being deployed. And he lived. It's tragic and unfair. But it's also indicative of the serious attention we should be paying to PTSD. It is a deep and relentless darkness for our men and women in uniform that we should not ignore or dismiss. And yet I wonder if this will be the wake-up call that the Army needs to treat these damaged soldiers with the respect they deserve. If our government is itching to send us all to war, then it must be prepared for the consequences. PTSD is understandable, a massacre of soldiers on US soil is not.

Next weekend, Neal and I will attend the Brain Injury Association of Kentucky's annual Brain Ball ( when Mom received her invitation, I gave her 7 different types of hell about the name of their annual event...until we were driving through Tennessee where we saw a billboard for the opthamologist's annual event, the Eye Ball. Yeah crazy eye win.) BIAK has invited Adjutant General Tonini and a representative from the Wounded Warrior Program to address the attendants. In light of the recent events, I can't help but wonder how he will spin it. How will he excuse the Army's contemptuous approach to soldiers experiencing PTSD? How is he going to make this OK? I'll let you know...

I ask that if you believe in a higher power, you send up a prayer for the victims and their families. If you're Catholic, light a candle. If you don't believe in anything, then just send some positive thoughts down to Texas. And if you believe in democracy, write a letter. This did not have to happen and it sure as hell should never happen again.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

And one other thing...

Apparently I was so angry yesterday that I mowed the grass diagonally. I've always been too lazy to do it. I guess all I need was a little misdirected, blinding rage. But the yard looks all gated-community-fantastic!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Yeah, there's an app for that

I love my new iPod Touch. No, I LURVE it. I lurve it in a way that I lurved my very first a sort of carry-it-wherever-I-may-go-and-be-careful-not-to-drop-it-in-the-toilet way. I love that I just slide a fingertip (or sometimes a fingernail) across the gleaming black surface and instantly I can immerse myself in the entertaining rantings of Rachel Maddow or find the best type of fish to eat to avoid over-farming...or do really useful things like track money...and fat. When I went to the doctor yesterday, the nurse proclaimed that according to their scales, I've lost 2 lbs since labor...which would explain the 2 lbs. So, somehow I am still carrying on my 5 foot 7 frame about 20 extra pounds of Nutella, risotto, and Reese's Cup blizzard. But y'know what? There's an app for that. I've been tracking my caloric intake and burn for a little over a month. While I may not have lost any actual weight, I've gained a world of

1. If you must drink, choose bourbon and diet coke over wine. Yes, you look a lot more trailer trash (unless you drink your wine from a box and then this switch may be your ticket to that country club invitation), but it will save you almost 100 calories.
2. When at Panera, skip the croutons on the creamy tomato soup. Actually, just skip the creamy tomato soup altogether. They don't call it creamy because it must be differentiated from crunchy.
3. Life is too short to eat a 300 calorie breakfast that makes you want to gag every time you take a oatmeal, for instance...which is basically goulash with a surgeon general endorsement.
4. Soy milk sounds like a great idea. Your Levis say otherwise.
5. When in doubt, don't eat rice. If you are not working a rice paddy, chances are, you will not burn that 300 calories/cup off anytime soon.

In addition to this new-found knowledge, I have also deemed November the Month of Monetary Awareness. Up until this point, when I've needed to pay my credit card, I go to our joint account, transfer the necessary amount, and pay it. That is to say that I take from the joint account without ever giving. If my checking account and I were best friends, I would always be mooching cigarettes and beer and rides to the Pic-Pac. So I decided (read: my husband) that we needed to try to adhere to the budget a little better. And yes, there's an app for that, too. And it's free. So, I'm on day 4 of this month and thus far I've burned far less calories than I've taken in and...after re-decorating the master bathroom...I'm in the red for the "miscellaneous" allowance. It's going to be a long month.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mars and Venus

The last thing I want to do is sit and pontificate about the differences between men and women...and in the process drag my readers down that road with me. As we all know, there are many...from the anatomically obvious to the philosophical (both drove me absolutely mad in college. If it's not a man thinking with the little head, it's a man thinking with an alien brain). And this post is not meant to demonize men, or their thought processes, in any way. But if it flips the switch on in any man reading this, then I have done the world (and quite possibly myself) a huge favor.

Today was my last follow-up doctor's appointment with my OB-GYN. We were to go over the test results from testing done at the hospital and perhaps develop a plan for the next 3-6 months. I've been weepy for 2 days just thinking about this appointment. I, as you may have gathered, have a very vivid imagination. I have written and acted out entire scenarios in my in "I will never be able to have a baby"..."I will have to have a radical hysterectomy because something is seriously wrong with the bits and pieces"..."I am currently pregnant with triplets" (yeah, I have no idea how this one came about. I did not say it was a rational imagination, simply vivid. Great for blogging and novels, bad for marriage and general sanity). The morning came and went and the hour of information came. Or perhaps I should say non-information...AKA Square One. All of those tests that we approved? Slices of our son's heel and the poking and prodding of my placenta? All came back normal. Absolutely, positively nothing was wrong. Except that I have a memory (and on Friday, a tattoo) that says something was terribly wrong. Dr. Jackson, as compassionate and sympathetic as she is (unlike her co-worker, crazy Dr. High), could only look at me and say "I'm sorry. This is rare and we don't know anything about it. You did everything you could to prevent it. It may happen again, it may not. There is nothing to point to." And that sound that drivers on Man-O-War heard was the heart-breaking squeal of my world crashing in upon itself.

Now, to further demonstrate the differences in the 2 genders, let me say that I'm pretty sure this is what my husband heard:
"Everything looked great on the tests. All of the results came back normal. I'm not sure why it happened, but it's very rare. You should try again, as it will most likely not happen again. In fact, let me step out of the room so that you may mount your wife right on this exam table. Or, if that's too uncomfortable, I also have a couch in my office." So, while I stood in the parking lot of the doctor's office and cried about "normal" test results and uncertain outcomes, my husband was looking at me and saying "hey, no news is good news"....which I think really only applies when you're waiting to hear if someone has been executed. We should not go throwing that phrase around, expecting to be buoyed by the hopefulness of it all.

I cried all the way home. I cried while I mowed the grass. I cried while talking to my mother on the phone. I cried into my bourbon in the shower. And as hot water ran down my back, I realized that I am illogically angry with my husband. I am angry because what Dr. Jackson told me today made me sad and frustrated. Because he cannot accept that I am sad and frustrated, it is like telling me that what I am feeling is irrational...that I should welcome this news, not anticipate the worst case scenario. I think I have a right to see this "information" as frustrating. When all I want is an answer, a reason for why...I get theoretical answers, possible reasons. I want to know that I did not kill my own son. And when my husband looks at me and says, smiling, "it's all good," I want to inflict pain in a way that is not covered in the "for better or worse" part.

I know that I did not harm Shep. I know, in my heart of hearts, that I did everything I possibly could to ensure his safety and development (I mean, I gave up wine and lunch meat and sushi. And I have had more urine on my hands than aficionados of the golden shower. That is a mother's love). But at the same time, I want someone else (besides my OB-GYN and preferably my husband) to say "you did everything you could. This is frustrating news." Men are fixers. He sees tears and he wants to soothe me with his pocket of rainbows. But women just want their emotions to be accepted. Yes, this really, really really f'ing sucks. Period. End of story. No "but" or "think of it this way" just sucks. I will eventually always come around to the bright and cheery side of things, but in the parking lot of the doctor's office, I just want to hear "yes, I know. You're right."

So, take a note, men. Hammers and wrenches are for Saturday morning projects. Not everything that seems broken must be fixed. Sometimes, it's just broken.