Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Royal Wedding

I was always interested in Lady Di, and I even managed to see her exhibit at the Met, but I mostly just felt sorry for her.  I loved the footage of her children running into her arms and she single-handedly made it okay for people to hold babies with AIDS.  She was groundbreaking and tragic, at the same time.  Quite a mix.

Brad and I were on vacation with some friends at their condo in South Carolina, when Diana was killed in a car accident.  We were all riveted, sitting around the television, not crying, but stunned, and all of the sudden out of nowhere, Brad's friend drops to the ground and says, "You guys mind if I work out?"

He was serious, and to my amazement he began doing push ups right in the middle of the family room next to the coffee table, at one point even clapping his hands in between.  We were at their condo and I was a lot younger, so I just sat there shifting my eyes back and forth between the television and him bobbing up and down, counting, while I tried not to laugh.  I finally stole a glance at his wife, and this I remember, she took a long drink of her fruity drink and rolled her eyes.  I guess this was a regular thing.

I mean, it was not a studio.  It was a three bedroom condo so there was room to "work out" in a lot of places, especially outside.  Or hey, how 'bout the workout room at the end of the complex?  They have t.v.'s.  Anyway, when I am reminded of Diana's death, like the wedding yesterday, I immediately go to that memory and it has become a regular party trick of mine.

"You guys mind if I work out?" I will say as I turn my back to the bar, and do tricep push ups.  "No, go ahead, continue talking," I will say as I switch up my routine.  Try it.  It is a real crowd pleaser.

Okay.  Back to the Wedding.  Let's break it down into the following categories:  The dress, the hats, Beatrice and Eugenie, David Beckham, Prince Harry, and finally, Brides and their fathers.

OK, I loved the dress. There was much speculation about if she would wear a tiara or not.  I loved the makeup and the hair and the tiara and the dress and I thought she achieved the perfect balance between modern and retro.  That being said, next to Catherine, Pippa was the best dressed person in the wedding party.  I taped it on several different stations to get many perspectives and tidbits of info from the commentators and someone said that in the UK that they call Pippa, The Most Eligible Middleton.  It is hard to pull off satin that is cut in a silhouette like that and she looked flawless.

I am from Kentucky and I love the pomp and circumstance of anything, especially any event that celebrates hats.  I hate the fact that Kate, or Catherine, brought into vogue the facinator and now people are taking it to that next level, where they are trading in chic for ridiculous.  Victoria Beckham walked the line with this.  I think she crossed it.  I realize that couture is not synonymous with realistic, but how in the hell do you eat your breakfast with that shit all in your field of view.  It is like the floaters in my eyes that float in the vitreous matter in my eyeballs, that make me crazy when I am tired or in the bright sun.  Why in the hell would you ever wear something that bounces around in front of you like that?  I am reminded of that fish in Nemo that chases around that lightening bug or whatever.  Bigger and more ridiculous is not high fashion, it is just something that you will cringe at twenty years from now, while your kids snicker beside you.  Ask my dad sometime about his baby blue leisure suit or my mom about her one-piece, black pantsuit that zipped up the front like a onesie, she wore to see Elvis in concert.  Oh, and it had a belt and was trimmed in yellow stitching.  Sooooo great.

Beatrice and Euguenia (pronounced U-geen-ya), OK EWWWW.  Let's review, ladies.  Your mother was just in a grainy video in which she chain-smoked, and drank two bottles of wine as she negotiated selling out her ex-husband, YOUR FATHER.  You are invited to one of the biggest social events in the United Kingdom's history.  Your mother is not, because all she does is try and outdo herself with humiliating situation after humiliating situation.  Now would be a good time to put on a shift dress with a nice jacket and cute heels - not a time to let your FREAK FLAG fly.  Listen, I have three girls and I have learned very early on, to pick my battles when it comes to dressing them. As long as it is clean, and not sexy, then you are good.  But on Easter and Christmas, you worship at the alter of Janie and Jack, sistas - because you live in MY house.

You just know that their Dad, Prince Edward,  came to pick them up  in his carriage, he was all like "Jesus Christ, you guys look like Anastasia and Drizella, goin' to the ball!  Can't you dumb it down a bit?"  

David Beckham is just hot, 'nuf said. 

Moving on.  The children were well behaved, especially Prince Harry.  He is so cute. He snuck a peak at Catherine as she walked down the aisle, and no doubt said something like, "Here comes the freedom drain," or something like that.  I loved that he rode with all of the kids in a carriage after the wedding.  His brother HAD to make that happen as payback for all those bald jokes he makes to the media.  He is very ornery and I respond to that.  He may be my favorite Royal.

Finally, I was very surprised to find myself crying as Catherine's father prepared to walk her down the aisle.  She took a deep breath as she took everything in and he looked as if all of the blood had suddenly drained out of his face to his heels.  That moment is very vivid to me, when I recall my own wedding.  I played softball growing up and my dad always coached me and we have always had a very easy, close relationship.  When we were standing at the end of the aisle, he sized it up and said, "That's not that bad.  We'll be done in about one minute.  Just remember to walk slow.  It's just like softball.  You just step up to the plate..."

"Dad, PLEASE!  No softball analogies.  I just need to focus."

"Allrrriiigggghht.  Alright.  Now, don't go getting upset.  It's okay.  I'll be right here."  At that moment I realized he was trying to calm himself, not me.  That is why I welled up, then, and when I watched the Royal Wedding.

That moment, as a woman, when your Dad walks you down the aisle is symbolic, and meaningful, and steeped in tradition.  Some people are into it, and some people are not.  I am.  For as liberal-minded as I can sometimes be, I am very tradition-oriented.  I don't really know what that says about me, but I guess it is just yet another of my "blog realizations".  Weeeeeee.

Listen, some haters say that it is frivolous and pointless to get all wrapped up in some celebrity wedding, when there are so many important things to be focusing on, especially when it is happening across the pond.  I totally disagree.  I equate getting excited about Kate and Wills' wedding, with the escape you experience when you go to see a matinee.  You want an escape from everything else, a bit of fantasy, and that is healthy.  You need to take a break and indulge your inner prince or princess once in a while.  That is my recommendation to you this weekend.  Put on a tiara or offer your wife your hand as she steps out of your SUV.  Now, do you guys mind if I workout here?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Gardiner with the smart mouth

Brad hired "The Weed Man" and a landscaping company in April, to do our yard this year, which is unprecedented.  Usually, we go buy bag upon bag of mulch from Walmart, I do all the weeding, and clearance (weeds, leaves, dead petals, etc.) and then the mulch sits there for several weeks until someone offers to help us spread it or Brad hires some kid down the street.  We buy enough bags from a neighbor's kid, that is raising money for lacrosse, to maybe fill 1/4 of our beds - every year.  Brad lures the kid in, with the promise of "spreading the mulch together" and then he retreats to the basement after about an hour and has the kid finish the rest.  We have actually had Brad's seventy-year-old parents help us spread mulch, our laziness and procrastination is so out of control.

I expected this year to be the same.  The only difference being that "the weed man" shows up a few times and spreads seed with this impossibly gigantic and efficient wheelbarrow thing that takes all of 5 minutes and then he leaves his "Weed Man" bill in a deceptively bright yellow plastic door hanger thingy when he leaves.

"Did anyone come today?" Brad asks for the hundreth time in the past two weeks.

"Who was supposed to come?  I say with a mouth full of food while I stand and eat my dinner at the kitchen counter while everyone else sits.

"The landscaper or the Weed Man,"  he continues, "They were both supposed to come today."

"Oh, the Weed Man came today, but he was really late.  Go figure."

"Did you pick up the dog poop?  How long did he stay?  What did he do?  Did you talk to him?"

He was here about five minutes.  I told him to watch out for the dog poop.  He said, 'No problem'.  He left a bill and that was it." I said, getting bored of this line of questioning.  The Weed Man was not hours late.  He was days late.  I wasn't going to push the issue.  We both know why he was hired.  He was smart enough to call himself "The Weed Man" and it made us laugh, so we hired him.  I passed an old woman squatting down in someone's yard on my way to Barrington pick up today, her name was "The Weed Lady," and wondered if that was his mother.  Is that weird?

"What else happened?"  my husband was insistent.

"Well, he asked me to come in the back of his van while I signed his paperwork and he forced me to  take a hit off his joint, because he said it was in our contract.  What else was supposed to happen?" 

"What time was it?  Are you serious?"  Brad is used to this kind of bullshit from me, but I think in the recesses of his mind he thinks, "Well, you never know with her." so he asks stupid questions like that and I cannot resist a straight man.

So, after many days of Brad threatening to have a landscaper there, and unending "phone calls on the way to work" my favorite, the landscaper shows up today.  I had run about a thousand errands with Eva in the pouring down rain and then we treated each other to Marshalls in Grandview for lunch, he is parked outside the side of my house when I come back from dropping her off from preschool.  I introduce myself, go inside, take a shower, turn off my phone, and then promptly take a nap.

In my defense, it is "Playdate Wednesday" where I promise each of my kids that they may have a friend over after school, so I am mentally and physically preparing myself.

I wake up.  Put a load of laundry in, pick up the kitchen and the downstairs and head outside to pretend like I have been "working" at my supposed "from home" part time job, as far as they were concerned.  Here is the one-two punch conversation I have with "Chris," the landscaper.

"Wow!  The yard looks great.  I can't believe the work you have done."  I remember that Brad had called earlier and told me to tell them what I wanted done to the yard and a quick survey reveals that they are about halfway done.  Oops.  "Hey, would you mind trying to get that small treestump out, and removing all of that ivy and haphazard ground cover here?  If you can't.  That's fine.  It's just that everything is growing so unevenly here (it is about a four square foot area in the corner of our bed near the driveway.) There was a tree here, but it died so I cut it down, but I couldn't get the stump out.  I bought sunflower seeds today with my youngest daughter and I thought we could do a sunflower garden here.  If you could just remove everything and till the soil, that would be great."

"Well, that'll take a stump grinder that I don't have, and we have already mulched around the ivy, but sure, all I have is time.  No problem."

Did I hear him right?  I am still a little foggy from my nap.

"Hey, I've got an idea," he smiles, "why don't I come to your place of work and ask you to do something on your time that is not in my contract?"

Jesus Christ.  I was hearing him right.  "Well, I gotta go to school to pick up my kids.  Prepare yourself."  I am trying to smile at him and decipher the verbal attack that is being brought upon me.  "Okay, well, do what you can.  I guess you talked it all out with my husband when you quoted him.  I take a big swig of Diet Coke and pull out of the driveway.

What in the f**k?  I am reeling, while I embark on picking up 7 children.  Whatever.  I decide.

I take the all the kids to DQ because there is nothing in the pantry and I like to get the snack out of the way first.  It is a nightmare, but it is useless to go into the details.  You can imagine.  Seven orders at DQ.   

I pull back into the driveway and release the kids from the back of my hatchback, like a pack of Navy Seal Paratroupers with Vera Bradley parachutes.  "Get ready for this, " I say a little too loudly as they exit out the back with Dilly Bars and slushies teetering in their little hands.

"Wow.  The beds are looking great." I say, again, activating my "people pleasing mechanism" that is powered by guilt fuel.  "Hey you wanna Dilly bar?"

"I don't eat sweets."

"ALLLLRIIIGGGHHTTTY then.  Think your partner wants one?"  I turn to his comrade that is a dead ringer for a Hell's Angel and is 5000 times nicer than him.  He graciously takes a Dilly bar.  "Can I get you anything else?  I have Diet Coke and bottled water in the fridge in the garage."

"No.  Unlike you, I come prepared."  He then goes on to explain how our Lacrosse mulch is not as good as his mulch and that he is going to use it in the backyard while he tries to avoid "the mine field" back there.  It takes me a couple of "huh's" because Playdate Wednesday is starting to heat up, before I realize that he is talking about Scarlett's poop.  "Oh, I just picked it up Sunday.  But I guess that's the thing about living things, if you feed them, then they continue to relieve themselves.  I'll go pick it up so you can continue with your work." My people pleasing mechanism is in overdrive.

"Don't bother.  I think I've already stepped in all of them...On second thought, go ahead, it'll give you something to DO."

 OK. There is only so much apologizing one can do to her landscaper for taking a nap in the middle of the day. (Internally, I am thinking.  How does he know?  I must have had those telltale linen lines on my face, again. Damn!) Anyway, I am DONE.  I shoot him "the look", go pick up the poop, and push each of the seven girls successively, on the swing for the next hour, while they fight and complain about how long each person's turn is, and who goes next.  I am herding them like sheep while I exchange pleasantries with the neighbors when they walk by and shake their heads, the international symbol for "you are crazy, woman". 

"Wow, you really have your hands full,"  Chris has started to feel sorry for me, I guess.  He proceeds to tell me how he is proposing to his girlfriend at Christmas, and she wants to start a family shortly after that. He is suddenly all wine and roses, playing Ike Turner to my Tina Turner after an abusive episode.  

"Well, you should bring her by and show her this sometime, and that will encourage her to keep taking that birth control pill." I am usually not that easily won over, but why put energy into holding a grudge against your landscaper for throwing you some sarcasm, right?  Life is too short. 

I mean, it's not like I am holding on to the experience and blogging about it the next day, or anything, right?  Chris and his judgemental stereotyping of me, are a thing of the past, as far as I am concerned.  He is coming back this afternoon, though, and I am going to be ON MY GAME.  I've got activities the girls are in, and I plan to be fully showered and dressed in an adult-like outfit (no sweats), and a face full o' make up.  Hell, I may even accessorize.  I am going to show him what Modern Day Wonder Woman looks like.

Ok.  Let's be real.  I will be lucky if I get a shower in after my workout today.  The reality is that he will probably ring the doorbell only to discover my puffy linen lined face, again.  Or better yet, he will be trimming bushes outside and discover me sitting on the couch in my robe, with my hand in a Cheetos bag, while I watch my stories. (At least they are of the HBO and Showtime variety.)

Anyway, the yard looks great and Chris was really reasonable compared to past landscaper escapades.  You do not have to tell him what to do, and I advise that you do not, or you will get an ear full of biting cynicism.  Contact me if you want his number.  The pic above is the outstanding job he did.  I should have taken a picture of it before, and put up comparison photos, but I was takin' a nap.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My house in the Spring

I love my house in the Spring.  The people before us were nice enough to invest in a shitload of landscaping, and I guess maintained the lawn like it was their job.  A lot of people feel that way. Unfortunately for our neighbors, we don't.  I love our blooming trees and bushes and porch, but most of all, I value the natural exhaust system the open windows provide in my outdated kitchen.  That emeffer heats up like a boiler room, three seasons a year.  I look forward to the Spring, like Scarlett, my dog, looks forward to the "treat sandwiches" my four-year-old makes her.  I live with a lot of shit other people would have fixed ages ago, instead of say, doing their basement, and it would be even more rural around here, if my father-in-law didn't care so much about appearances, and our overall quality of life.

We bought this house with the intention of renovating it in "stages", but now it seems all we do is put out little fires everywhere because our charming, outdated "cottage like" home is falling apart around us.  I don't mind it that much, because I see the house as a reflection of myself, and I am kind of a mess, but in a refreshing way, I hope.  If "refreshing" is the new synonym for "lazy," I mean.

Our favorite way of coping with any of these small interferences with our daily lives, is with the "bandaid approach."  We figure out, along with my father-in-law, Ken, what will cost the least amount of money, and use up the maximum amount of Ken's time. The man is a SAINT.  I call him, before I call Brad, if anything goes wrong with the house.  He is the anti-Brad, in terms of superheroes that are handy.  He keeps a running tab of all of the things he buys for the house, and then presents us with the bill, if we ever are stupid enough to disclose a windfall we recently had, like a tax refund, or an inheritance.

One of my favorite stories about Ken is when we first moved into this house, and I went to the annual Christmas "progressive party" that year.  (Don't worry, haters, I don't mean Democratic, I mean a party that involves several houses on our street.) I usually have to go alone to this, because Brad tends to travel at least two weeks out of December every year. It is great, because it is yet another opportunity for me to make an ass of myself, without anyone there to reel me in.  The bonus is, that there is not anyone there the next morning to recant my behavior in the morning, either, so it is one of those yin-yang experiences in life.  

Anyway, I am brand spankin' new to the neighborhood, and a neighbor walks up to me and introduces himself.

"Wow!  Your husband is really handy.  I mean, he is ALWAYS working on that house."

"I'm sorry, What did you just say?"  I was trying to absorb what he was talking about.

"I said, your husband, it must be really great to have him around the house.  I mean, he is always up on ladders, cleaning out gutters and mulching.  Has he been painting the house, too?  I thought I saw him painting the other day."  He has started to raise his voice as if I have a visible hearing device, or something.

"You must be mistaking me for someone else,"  I am miffed.  I am also buzzed.

"You live on the corner, right?  The house with the black lab?"

"Yea," my wheels are beginning to turn.  I nearly spit out my drink, "Oh, my GAWD.  Do you mean, Ken, my father-in-law?"  I burst out laughing.  The neighbor's face is turning red, but I don't care.  It's his own damn fault for being presumptuous. "You must think I have quite the Sugar Daddy!  I have two young kids, TOO!  Hilarious."  For once, I was not the one who had to live something down on my street for all of eternity.  Yea for me.   (Side note:  He has since moved away.  I am not nearly that brave.)  

I see my house a metaphor for my aging body and face.  There are certain things I do to maintain myself, but not too much, because I do not want the hassle, and don't want to make the time - and there is always the money.  The finished basement represents my regular pedicures and my died blond hair.  I am not psychotic about this maintenance, but I go fairly regularly, just like I keep the basement up for the most part.

The deck is maintained like I maintain my body.  I work out regularly, but eat what I think tastes good, and my body reflects this philosophy.  Basically, overall, the backyard and deck look alright, as long as you don't look too closely.   I have to weed the landscaping and bring in my cushions when it rains, but sometimes I let things go and say "F**k it."  I, sometimes, even leave the cushions out when it storms. (I used to be so meticulous about bringing them in, even going so far as to ask the neighbors and babysitters to do it for me, when I was not home.)  I relate this to how I used to always have to have lipstick and lip liner on when I was younger, and now I feel "put together" if I have on tinted lip balm and mascara.  I tend to just get desensitized to it all - meaning the maintenance of my backyard and body.  I think, in general, my face matches my body.  They have aged equally.  The cushions are starting to fade and the pillows aren't as perky as they used to be.  I guess it's because they breastfed three children.  Wait, am I talking about my pillows still?  I am confused. 

Okay, for what it is worth, I love the Nars highlighter. It is the best "beauty secret" I have.  I have it in three colors.  If you notice on, for instance, the Academy Awards, the stars literally slather their faces with highlighter.  Even the dudes.  (Ryan Seacrest is a HUGE violator, natch.)  I use it pretty sparingly.  I can vouch for the colors "Orgasm" for blush; "Luxor", if you are a decendent of "Injuns" like myself, and have a lot of red pigment in your skin; and finally, "Copacabana" for when you have a tan or you are olive-skinned.  I swipe it under the eyes when I am feeling unrested, which is most of the time, and I use it on my eyelids if I am in a hurry to go out, which is almost ALL of the time, in lieu of eyeshadow.  You are instructed by the impossibly young and hip saleslady to use a brush to apply it, but I find swiping it on and rubbing it in, in the best light you can conjure up, to work the best.  It is yet another of my "bandaid" fixes for my aging face.  Try it out.

If you are lucky, sometimes Nordy's or Sephora offers it in a trio package, with three smaller versions.  Let me know how it turns out.  But, listen, I will be sorely disappointed if you beeeaaacchhhes slather it all over your faces and I have to endure your impossibly highlighted faces at Barrington pick up.  Use it sparingly.  I beg you.  We do not live in LA.  I don't care what Cindy Tzagournis says.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What is my legacy?

Growing up my parents' best friends were Barry and Diane.  This is definitely where I honed my skills for bullshitting and drinking caffeine for hours.  My favorite thing to do, unless you substitute wine for the caffeine.

We were over there so much (the two families) that almost all of my childhood memories revolve around the Goodalls.  Diane Goodall is one of the funniest people I have ever met.  Her son, Barry, my brother, Pat, and I spent our entire childhoods together.

Barry and I keep in touch when I am in Louisville when I frequent Mr. G's, and we laugh constantly remembering the shit our parents would do when we were little.  He was older, and luckily, he has a great memory, and he is definitely one of those AWESOME people that you know as an adult, from your past, that begins almost every paragraph with "Remember when" and then the stories that follow make you laugh so hard they bring tears to your eyes. There are many revelations, for me, because I was younger, as well.

To hear my mother tell it, I was a clingy child and I would sit on her lap while Diane and she talked about collecting "dalls" - of the Madame Alexander variety.  They were obsessed, and they would drag me to flea markets in search of the rare ones in "mint condition".  Ebay has changed the way the "dall world" operates, now. "The Jodster," her unfortunate Ebay handle, is a force to be reckoned with in the Dall World.  She sells the craziest stuff to the most unbalanced people.  She showed me this Madame Alexander paper doll that is a convenient size for a dall to play with (creepy).

"I mean, do you believe people even buy this stuff?"  She held up the tiny paper doll, and looked at me condescendingly.

I replied, "Mom, YOU bought it first.  Do you recognize that?"

"Oh, I hadn't thought about it that way," she frowned as she swung around on her swiveling computer chair to face her screen, again.

Oh, LAWD. I had a neighbor once say that she felt sorry for women who did not have girls, because then they would never know what was wrong with them.  Agreed.  For instance, the girls and I were talking about how they loved our house, yesterday.  It thought it was so sweet, and then Hallie goes, "I just wish it were cleaner."  Nice. 

Anyway, Diane, my mom, and I would spend hours perusing The Fairgrounds while they wheeled and dealed, and bullshitted and smoked cigarettes.  There was no "smoke free home" alternative at that time.

That HAD to be when I developed my love for Tag Sales, Estate Sales and Yard Sales. Brad and I moved around a lot when we were first married, and literally rented for the first 7 years of our union (Ha!).  He often worked long hours at whatever job we had moved to a city for, and I would meticulously scour the local papers for Estate Sales and yard sales in affluent areas. 

I would take my dog, Elaine, my best friend, to each and every house each Saturday. More than anything, I just wanted to own my own home and have permanency.  I decided I would just buy things to fill my fantasy house, and fix them up, while I waited.  This seemed like a good idea until we moved, and then I would be stuck with all this junk I bought and painted, that I either had to get rid of, or fit in some UHaul.

You are who and where you come from, and I find that it is not until later, when I reflect on why I am, the way I am (interests, flaws, social skills, mother, hygiene)  you are, no matter how much you think you have evolved, forever a product of your environment.

I almost think that you are the most creative when you are poor, because you have to imagine what some "find" you are interested in, could be, with your inspiration.  Even if it is terrible, I sure would like to revisit the 70's console I painted white with yellow diamonds on the doors. It housed our "stereo system" which was a boom box with a CD player on the top.  One regret, because we moved around a lot, and I have a penchant for purging when we would make a move, is that I do not have those things that I first bought and painted to make them presentable in whatever apartment or house we were renting at the time.

One of my loftier projects was in the duplex we rented in Denver.  I would go to paint stores and buy paint that had been returned and paint whatever I felt needed "color".  If you are from the South, color in decorating is a must.  There was this kind of porch in the back of the house that was probably as big as an  5x8 area rug, at best.  I painted the entire thing blue, even the ceiling, and then striped the floors blue and green.  I scrambled together enough money for four navy wicker chairs with matching pillows at a Pier One sale, and Brad and I hung out there all the time.  There were small screened in windows and we would force guests to sit facing us, about a foot away, and we practically knocked knees with them while we drank Colorado micro brews.

I remember our landlord coming over, after the fact, when we were getting ready to move AGAIN, and I proudly showed him my porch.  I had ripped up the linoleum floor and painted the sub floor.  No, no primer needed, thanks.  Not in the budget!  I was inspired!

He was miffed.  He couldn't imagine how, and mostly WHY, I would do something like that.  I just needed to CREATE, man.  I also painted just the cabinet doors of the kitchen a nice yellow color I found at a yard sale.  He seemed fascinated by that, as well.  But, my focal point were the doors of the duplex.  I had painted each of them a different color of the rainbow, door frame and all, baby.  Now that he had to appreciate.

He was cool, though, he didn't take our deposit or anything.  Maybe it's because when we dropped off a check each month to his house, and we pulled into the driveway, we would have to pass a 10 foot lacquered bear that had been carved out of a tree stump.  You see, he understood what it was like to need to be artistic, and in my mind, that freakin' bear was proof!

I guess my point to all this, and what I have realized by writing this blog, is that your interests and your passions are instilled in you, or become important to you, at a very young age. Then the older you get, and the more your life changes, those passions and interests morph according to our availability to those skills.

For instance, I have always loved to write.  I have written at different times throughout my life, but I have never really been secure enough to write what I know - which are my memories and observations.  I was always wasting my time on fictional short stories that I thought would be interesting to my audience, and it seemed false and forced when I would go back and read it, and it was. 

My daughter, Hallie, likes to write.  She writes all day long.  She is not a sportster, but she isn't the least bit self-conscious about it.  I really admire that.  It makes me wonder what I do with her, (or in my case, was forced to do with my Mom and her friends) that she will pick up on and make a part of her, like I did, with the flea markets.  I have to be honest, though, to this day, Madame Alexander dolls just turn my stomach.  With any luck, Hallie will feel that way about blogging some day.

What is my legacy to my daughters and the people I love?  Is it painting?  Writing?  My twisted sense of humor?  My laziness?  It is an interesting question to ponder and unfortunately, but one that you can control.

My recommendation today is to reach back and pick up something you liked to do when you were young or poor, or both, I guess.  If you are rich, I guess then just hire someone to do what you used to like hiring someone to do for you.  I don't know.  I've never really been rich.  I am CREATIVE, remember?

Hallie took this picture of herself for her "autobiography" project.  Almost all of her pictures are what she calls "James Durbinish".  She included the one of me with dreadlocks and a rainbow beanie, and one of her poor grandmother with her fake tattoo sleeve on. When I told her that people might not understand what all that means in both her project and my blog, she said, "I don't care if people don't understand it."  LOVE HER!!!! I think I just answered my own question about what my child is taking away from me.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Housewife Confessional

Saturday Night Live: White Like Me
Excerpt   (05:24)

Alright.  Let's discuss in depth the Giant Eagle Marketplace. (Normally, I do a recommendation at the end of a post, but this time I am going to do an ENTIRE post on the recommendation.  No editor or publisher, remember?  It's all about freestylin' here.)  Anyway, I am obsessed with it and they must know this, because I keep having these ridiculously overly pleasant experiences EVERY TIME I go there.  Okay, let's begin with the swag.  Like the second time I went there, I was perusing the coffee section and I was on my third dixie cup with real cream and expensive uncut sugar or whatever and the lady behind the u-shaped counter with all of the impossibly decorative bean jars, just up and gave me a pound of whatever it was I was bogarting, put a sticker on it, and mumbled something about customer appreciation.  No kidding.  The cynical part of me thought she might be setting me up, and I half expected someone to stop me in the checkout line, on suspicion of shoplifting.  But everything went smooth as a baby's bottom.

Cut to next visit with my youngest daughter, Eva.  Eva is four and she is the last one left at home.  Every night she wants to know, "What are we doing tomorrow?" and then I have to promise her some act of kindness on my part, or a special trip to someplace that can double as an errand.  Luckily, one of the things she likes to do is hit up the buffet at The Giant Eagle Marketplace.

So, after my workout, conveniently on the way home, Eva and I stop at about 10:45 for lunch there.  This is what they did for us.  Eva likes rice, but she did not want any of the vegetables they offer at the wok station or whatever so they walked over with her to the cold bar (filled with cold veggies, ya dig?) let her pick out whatever she wanted, and then stirfried it all up for her with this delicious sauce.  And here is the clincher, they charged us $1.00 for it.  Magically, they stuck one of those customer appreciation stickers on her carry out container and I was positively giddy!

You see, that is where you can get in trouble with the cold and hot bars with your kids.  They load up with everything they can find that weighs more than it's nutritional value and then your bill at the register is more than if you had dined out with a waitress, and cloth napkins and everything.  It was explained to me at an early age, that you get the dressing on the side because it weighs down the salad and they charge you more.  I tried to explain this to my kids, but unlike me as a child, THEY don't listen.  Anyway, here is what I do when we are all eating.

First, I go purchase one of those wine tasting cards.  IMPERATIVE if you are trying to get through a meal with my family and sharing ANYTHING.  They all get waters and I talk up the value of that because The Giant Eagle Supasto" has that awesome "rabbit poop"-shaped ice that they love.  I get a large soup and three small bowls.  I get one stirfry meal and one salad bar, Ranch on the side, natch.  They provide extra containers  at the beverage and utensil station, AFTER you purchase, which I appreciate so I don't seem as hard up as I am. 

Of course, we always have to go upstairs, because my children enjoy watching me balance anything for long periods of time.  From there, you split everything up on four individual containers and soup bowls.  (Notice here, I just say four, here.  Brad would never endure this shit and he would make me crazy if I forced him to.)  If you are my children, you also make sure to make three individual bathroom trips, where I ask all of them on each visit, if anyone else has to go and the remaining two always say "no".  When you get back from one of the trips, one-fourth of your place is gone, no, not a section, but picked at, as if a raven flew in and pecked at your plate for a while. ( Enter solo wine tasting option.)  Finally, if everyone eats everything, you treat them to the sweets section for a free sample afterwards.  That is how it is done, my friends.  Boom.

Ok, now my final insane customer service experience was so great that I actually called the Giant Eagle Headquarters to sing "Erik"'s praises.  When was the last time you did that, if ever?  I haven't been on time for my children's annual medical appointments since they were five, and I am calling a customer service hotline.  Insanity.

Anyway, I am in the checkout line and they have all this cool shit that makes your life "just a little bit easier".  It is their "patent pending" aisle, if you will.  Well, they have these things that clip onto your pots and pans that have a hook to hold your spoon and I am gabbing away to Erik about them like he is my best friend and we are in the middle of a Sex and the City episode having brunch.

"You know what are REALLY great,"  he confides, "are those Rachel Ray spoons that have an upside down "U" on the shaft."  We both giggle at the word "shaft".

"Oh, really," I say as Eva "helps" me remove things from the cart, that are filled with liquid and are too heavy for her.

Before, I know what is happening, "Erik" gets on the bat phone and is saying something about "customer service" again and he asks me what is my favorite color.

I yell out "GREEN!" a little too loudly, anticipating yet another fabulous customer service moment.

This girl comes out of nowhere and hands him a set of TWO spoons, one is a ladel, with Rachel Rays picture on the packaging.

"This is a $22 value,"  Erik winks at me,"just for you.  Let me know how you like it...or better yet, you can let my management know by calling this number."

I thanked him profusely, and called his management on the way home, because if I didn't, it would leave my brain by the time I put the first item from he grocery into my fridge.  For once, "chatty" paid off for me.  Go figure.  All those years of my Dad telling me to be quiet and now I am getting something FREE for talking.  Free is something my Dad covets more than anything.  The irony.  I couldn't WAIT to tell him.

"No, kiddin'," he says at the other end of the line.  "That's great, hon.  I'll get your mother."  The dialogue in print does not do the conversation justice.  My Dad hung up that phone and was "proud" of me, I just know it!"

OK. confession time.  I get the prepared meals at The Giant Eagle Supasto' for Holidays.  There I said it.  My first AA Meeting was not that hard.  (joke, GAWD!) They are yummy, and reasonable and you just have to heat them up.  They are GOURMET, too - I have had Prime Rib for Christmas Eve and Lamb for Easter, beeeeaaaaccchhhees!  I am hooked and you should be, too.  Consider me your drug dealer, of sorts, only I am selling Supasto's, instead of dime bags.  I think they should have the "special events" counter at the end of a long dark hall in the back of the store, accented only by dirty, sometimes broken lightbulbs.  The way people hide things in this town, they would do a lot more business if they were more discreet.

Ok. when I think of the spoon scene above, I can't help but think of that skit where Eddie Murphy cosmetically transforms himself into a white person, only to discover that white people give each other things that should cost money.  Check out the link above.  I know I reference SNL too much, but I don't care.  I have been watching it since it's inception.  Yes, innappropriate, again, I know.  What did you expect?  I didn't get this way by watching "Leave it to Beaver".  He He He....Beaver.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Don't try and sell your house if you live next door to me

About two years ago, the people who lived in the house next door to us, decided to retire and move to their other house, permanently, in North Carolina.  They were professors at OSU and had no children and their yard was always immaculate - a perfect match to live next door to my family.  NOT.  They were gone half of the year in the winter, so they did not have to endure our antics year round, so at least, that was a blessing.  For them, I mean.

One time I was yelling at the kids through our screen door outside cause I was watching my stories and they were being too loud and I was all like, "Be quiet!  I can't hear my story and Raven is finally gonna find out who his illegitimate sister is!"  It was his girlfriend, natch.

"Git offa that doghouse!  I SAID GIT OFF A THAT DOGHOUSE."  I think Mills was three.  She was on the roof of the doghouse watching our other neighbor sunbathe.  "Oh, forgit it!  Just come in and I'll put your show on.  I SAID GIT IN THIS HOUSE!"  I peek out the sliding screen doors and my neighbor has his head peeking over the fence and he goes, "Do you mean me?"  I was mortified.  Oh well, whattaya gonna do, right?  This is life.

Anyway, they decide to sell their house and my middle daughter, Mills, was in preschool and her best friend was a boy whose sister was best friends with my eldest daughter, Hallie.  They basically met by carpool and his mom and I orchestrated their friendship to conform to our needs, like you do, so we put them in classes together so it would be easier for US.  Don't act like you haven't done the same thing.  They are like clay in preschool.  You are in control and you are a fool if you don't exercise it.

I will not use "Jamie's" name because he is a minor.  OOPS.  But they are having an open house next door and there are about a dozen people going through it, at the time.  Mills and "Jamie" are having a play date and they are playing outside in the backyard by the hammock in the far left corner of the backyard, which is in full view of the neighbor's windows.

If you are unfamiliar with Arlington, the suburb where we live (Uruguay follower), the houses are jutted up next to each other, and you can see directly into the houses next to you through your windows.  At least in our part, anyway.  No sprawling lawns here, people.

You have all the privacy that brownstones in a big city have, without the anonymity that a big city offers.  The yards are all fenced in, which I think everyone appreciates, but then that just gives the illusion of privacy, even though no one really has any, because from the top floor of any house you can peer three backyards down and see what everyone is up to.

ANYWAY, "James", we'll call him that, at least, and Mills are in the back corner of the yard and I come out to the deck, to bring them their gourmet peanut butter and jelly and juice box lunch before school.  I do afternoon.  I am one of THOSE moms.  You know, the lazy ones.

Okay, here is what I find.  James' pants are down to his ankles, revealing his ultra cool Superman underoos (do they make those anymore) or whatever, and Mills is lifting up her skirt and beginning to pull down her leggings.  Yea.  I don't care how hot it is, my girls are always climbing and swinging and stuff and I am super conscious about them not revealing their underwear when they wear skirts. And now THIS!  You have got to be kidding me.

Needless to say, I FREAK OUT.  I say everything that any child psychologist would tell you NOT to say in that situation.  If you are a frequent reader, like my closest friends, you KNOW that I REACT and then intellectualize.  Not my finest trait, but whatever.

"What in the SAM HELL (Yes, I am channeling my father, again.  It happens in the weirdest of situations.) is going on here!

"James," immediately points to Mills and screams, "It was HER idea!" as he scrambles to pull his pants up.  Typical male.  

Oh, I said awful things.  Like, for example, "your privates are going to fall off" and "I am calling your mother RIGHT NOW to tell her what you are doing!"  Or how 'bout "you are both doing a DIRTY, DIRTY thing!"  That was my encore after I went back inside to try and compose myself.

It was BAD.  I mean, really bad, but like always, the worst part, and with me, there is ALWAYS a worst part (yet to come) is in the middle of my dysfunctional tirade, I look up at the house next door that they are hopelessly trying to sell that day and I spy at least three, yea, I counted them THREE, couples in separate windows of their house, watching the ENTIRE episode.  Humiliation at it's finest.

Of course, I calmed down and told James' mom later in the day, within earshot of Mills of course, so she could relive it all, in the preschool parking lot.  We HOWLED with laughter.  I am grateful, that she has a good sense of humor about the psychological damage I injected in her child, in his formative years.

Well, they DID sell their house, despite my sabotaging techniques, to a lovely couple who I adore.  I have told them this story, though, and they were not there that day of the Open House.  It's probably best that way.  It's best to just surprise them about what degenerates they have moved next door to. 

My recommendation to you, today, is to GET LOST if your neighbors are having an Open House and have definitive plans for their future.  Oh, and I guess my second recommendation to you is not to lose your cool when your far to young to know what is going on, children, decide to do some healthy experimenting in your backyard.  Oh, and finally, if you can help it, get surround sound on your back deck or patio area, to drown out your constant ranting and raving at your children, when you are trying to enjoy your stories.  Hope this helps.  I have always tried to lead by example here.  Only, you don't follow my example, you do the opposite.

Oh, by the way, I've instituted "Playdate Wednesdays" this Spring, where each of my three kids have someone over after school. I am nothing, if not, efficient.  PLEASE do not get into altercations as you wait in line for your lottery number.  I am just trying to keep this Neighborhood CLEAN, know what I'm sayin"?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My mom thinks you're CHEAP

So we are all out to dinner, taking advantage of the Kids Eat Free and HH Bloody Mary's on Sunday at The Old Bag of Nails in Grandview.  I say, "Hey, guys, how was it having Grandpa Kennie babysit you guys today while Mommy and Mimi went to Lowe's? Did he talk to you or was he just painting and listening to his Talk Radio shows?"

This may seem like a "weird" (thanks Pat for the spelling.  Love it when you and Mom read my blog and correct my spelling errors.  What's next Dad providing videos?) thing to say, but my father-in-law, Grandpa Kennie was painting the interior of his great room and he agreed to watch the kids so I could check some stuff out at Lowe's and bring along my mother-in-law because she gives really good advice on remodeling and decorating and stuff.

My oldest daughter, Hallie, turns to me and says, "Yea, I told Grandpa Kennie that you think he is CHEAP, and they all start giggling in unison.  Perrrrrffffeeeecccctttt.  Can anyone say "damage control"?

Rewind. The kids and I are in the car following Brad in Grandpa Kennie and Mimi's car to the airport after having to go all the way to the north edges of Westerville to retrieve Brad's car from the night before.  We then had to drive back to Arlington (an easy hour, roundtrip), pick up my in-laws' car and got to the airport, where we are to deposit the car in the parking lot of the airport hotel there.  The kids were bitching and fighting with each other in the back.  I had already fed them and they had their electronic devices, but they had grown bored and had started to try and annoy me - a mechanism they have honed and perfected from their father.

So, I'll be honest, I was bitching up a storm, ALOUD, which I don't really do, but I couldn't get my best friend on the phone so I was having the conversation I should have been having with another adult, with my three children (ages 9, 7, and 4).  Inappropriate, I know.

"Why are we going to the airport again?" they asked (and was answered) for the third time each.

"I TOLD you, remember, five seconds ago when your sister, (who is literally butted up against her, because of all of those irritating car seat laws) asked me the exact same question?"

"Oh, I didn't hear you because I was texting on my ITouch.  Now...what?"

"Grandpa Kennie does not like to pay for parking or a cab ride to and from the airport so we have to leave his car in the parking lot for when he flies home so he does not spend any money."

"Why doesn't he want to pay for a cab ride?" she innocently asks.

OK.  I'll bite, I think. Here it comes, the annoyance had built up inside of me and it was bubbling over, "I'll tell you why he doesn't want to pay for a cab ride.  He doesn't want to pay for a cab ride because he does not want to spend thirty dollars more to take a cab home after his two week cruise to the West Indies or whatever because in his mind, he believes that that is why he is able to afford the vacation in the first place - by cutting corners elsewhere!"  I am really worked up now.  "SO therefore, your Dad and I (it takes two, see?) am required to not only retreive his car at the airport, the day he leaves for a trip, but also, return that car at the end of one of his trips, when he comes home!"

"Where is Dad?" my four-year-old, Eva, asks.

"I told you two times ago that he is in Grandpa Kennie's car in front of us so that we may drop off his car!"

"Oh." she says to me in the rear view with those big brown eyes.  "Is Mimi with Daddy?"

Oh my God, I am going to kill myself.  This line of requestioning has gone on for 45 minutes.

"Wait...Mom..." Hallie's wheels are finally turning, "why doesn't Grandpa Kennie just leave his car at the airport hotel for the entire trip and then we wouldn't be involved at all?"

"Grandpa Kennie, heard, in one of his men's only coffee meetings of one of his friends getting his car towed in an Airport Hotel parking lot, so now WE have to endure this routine.  I mean, I could've driven to freakin' Louisville by now, for as long as I have been in this car..."

"Wait...Mom," Hallie's signature beginning of every sentence she utters to me, "How much does a cab cost to get to his house from the airport?"

"A lot less than his month long cruise he just went on!"

"So what?  He just spent all of his money and he doesn't have anymore for a cab?  Is that it?"  She is obviously imagining poor Grandpa Kennie in his Hawaiian shirt pulling both of his pockets out on the tarmac of the Columbus Airport, (Yes, he takes the shuttle, too!) only to make little bunny ears with the insides of his pockets - like that character on Monopoly.

"No, Hallie, because he is CHEAP and he does not want to SPEND the money!"  Oh, shit I had taken it too far.  I reeled it back in.  "Listen, Grandpa Kennie takes us to the airport and picks us up on every trip we have taken.  I am not being fair.  I am just tired of being in the car and answering all these questions.  Now this is in house talkIn House Talk is our family code for not telling outsiders what goes on inside our house.

We finally pull into the Airport Hotel parking lot.  "Come to think of it - I could take care of this with one phone call to a towing company and we would never have to do this again,"  I say as I hold up the my phone.   "Who wants to make the call?"  All three kids raise their hands, even Eva.  Priceless.

The damage was done, though, and apparently Hallie has reached the age where she has decided that "in house talk" does not apply to her anymore.  I am sure we will all have a good long chat about this conversation at Apple Valley Lake this weekend where Grandpa Kennie and Mimi and Hallie and Brad and Mills and Eva and I will all be holed up together for three straight days.  This is my attempt at preemptive damage control.  I'll let you know if it works.

SO, fast forward, we're at the Old Bag and I explain to Hallie what "taking something out of context" can do to a familial relationship and she starts crying and runs to the bathroom.  Good times.

Anyway, Grandpa Kennie if you are reading this, which I am sure you are, because I am going to send it to you.  I want to apologize for calling you CHEAP in front of the kids.  I love you and I think I speak for all of us when I say that we just wish you had never gotten your hands on that book "The Millionaire Next Door."  Now watch this shit go VIRAL throughout the Underwood Family.  Weeeeeee.

So my advice to you, today, is not to fuss with cabs and parking fees when you are going away on a trip.  Park at an Airport Hotel, leave your car there, and then call your family members repeatedly on the separate legs of your trip to make sure they have retrieved your car.  I know a very nice man who does this and it works like a charm for him.  Oh, and don't forget to take the shuttle!

P.S. Love the girl in the background wearing red.  Is she crying or sweating.  I'm gonna go with sweating.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Pregnancy Test commercial that NEVER was, or was it?

 My mom just cleaned something out to store more of the insane stuff she collects on Ebay, and she came across some of my Advertising work that I had done in my Creative class in college.  This was supposed to be the "fun class" in advertising, but instead of the instructor being some hip, agency burnout from Chicago, he was this unbelievably outdated Monolith of a man who used references that they use on Mad Men as examples of Ad Campaigns.  "I remember this brill cream ad that was just spectacular!" he would drone on.  I wanted to kill myself.  What a disappointment.  He played favorites, like every teacher at UK did, and surprise, surprise, I was not one of them.

We were often given really inane projects and mine were always far fetched and inappropriate so I always received a "B" or "C", accompanied by comments like, "Don't really see what you are driving at" and "Who is your target audience, here?".  My "tongue-in-cheek" off-color humor was not welcome in the conservative University of Kentucky Advertising atmosphere.

In the packet of stuff that my mom found were story boards of ad campaigns.  These were not done on a computer, they were hand drawn by me and the copy underneath each frame was written out.  Who is the Monolith now, I ask you?  Anyway, I remember vividly the project we were assigned to do, and it was to decide an entire ad campaign around a commercial.  Mine was for a home pregnancy test, natch.

My commercial began as a young father is carrying a laundry basket with two small children in diapers tugging on his pants leg and the other running wildly throughout the house.

Cut to the wife/mother anxiously smoking cigarettes and visibly nervous and then you hear a timer go off in the distance.  The husband/dad drops the basket and the woman stabs out her cig and they both rush into the bathroom where the pregnancy test clearly shows no line in the window.  Cut to the "unexpectant" father  (since apparently "we" get pregnant now) as he makes a large "v" in the air with his fists and shouts, "Yes!"

Cut to pregnancy test package with copy superimposed over the still.  E.P.T home pregnancy test, so easy your husband can do it."  I then, hand drew billboards accompanying media in the campaign and the art is of a man's ass and he has a Blank home pregnancy test sticking out of his jean's pocket.  "C work.  Don't really understand the message."  is scrawled at the bottom of my billboard, by the first man to ever write an advertisement. 

Now, we were required to make a presentation in front of the class, complete with storyboards and product shots.  Mind you, most of the other presentations consisted of Tide detergent or McDonald's new value meal, which were heralded by my ancient teacher for their "uniqueness and cutting edge creativity".  Apparently introducing a new and improved Tide was pushing the envelope in his book.

So, I decided to bring my boom box with me and I recorded a mix tape to accompany each of the scenes in my commercial.  I wanted the audience to feel the stress that a young, overwhelmed couple were experiencing in that cramped apartment, as they anxiously awaited the consequences of that fateful night, when they foolishly decided to open that second bottle of red wine.  

I remember practicing in front of my sorority sisters and they all LOVED it.  I think the music was the magic touch, FOR SURE.  So I finish my presentation to the class, all nervous excitement and expectations, and all I saw before me, were twenty or so wide eyeballs and crickets chirping outside the dingy windows.  I had bombed.  The teacher said, "That was very interesting, Johanna, (no one can ever get my name right).  You may be seated now.  Don't forget your, ahem, music."  The class snickered. 

Ok, so to my credit, Saturday Night Live did a similar, albeit, funnier parody, of a home pregnancy test, many years later.  It is attached above.  I consider SNL the gold standard for commercial parodies.  Wrong genre, wrong audience.  Story of my life...until NOW, of course!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bettin' the Ponies

Turbulent Descent - The Beaumont Gr 1Keeneland's Spring Meet is going on right now.  For a weekend trip, or just an overnight trip, you can't beat it.  Lexington and it's horse farms are beautiful this time of year.  There are a lot of cool little local places you can go, and if you are a gambler, this is the place for you.

I feel like Keeneland is the only place you can really win, and win big.  I feel this way, because I think it is fixed.  Brad and I took a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class together our Senior year, with the very intention of cutting Fridays and hitailing it to Keeneland.  I can't tell you how many times I would get a tip from someone who worked there on their smoke break, that was a long shot and won big.

Now Brad and I never put down any real money in college, mostly because we didn't have any.  But, if you can get a hundred dollar win off of a two dollar exacta box bet, that is HUGE in college.  We would be all, "Forget O'Charley'!.  We're going to A La Lucie's beeeaches!" (A la Lucie's is this GREAT expensive cozy atmosphere filled restaurant).

Anyway, a few years ago, Brad and I decided to relive our past for our Anniversary, and a friend of ours from college, got us tickets upstairs, which we had never been to.  Before, Brad and I always bought General Admission tickets which allowed you to be on the first and second floor, only.  The hierarchy at Keeneland is as follows:  Box seats, mostly are held by generations of families, not corporations, which, on a sunny day is spectacular.  Our friend who got us tickets always enjoys the races from the Turf Club, which I have no idea what that is, but it is very RICH.  Then, there is the upstairs dining room, which serves a buffet and has floor to ceiling windows from behind which, you may comfortably bet, eat, and watch the ponies.  This is key when the weather is rotten.

So Brad and I are invited by our friend to enjoy the upstairs with the rest of the royalty of Lexington, and it was an absolute BALL.  If you have a ticket to the upstairs, that also allows you access to this grassy knoll area on the side of the stands that bellies right up to the racetrack, but still keeps you separate from the riff raff that Brad and I, up until that day, were a member of.  It is this beautiful grassy lawn with old wrought iron tables and outside bars and it is wonderful.  Honestly, that is my favorite place to watch the races, however, I have yet to sit in a box at Keeneland, so I'll have to let you know when I am rich and famous and cannot decide whether I want a lifetime membership to the Turf Club or Box Seats which I will label "Gratuitous Guidance" on the impossibly austere brass name plate on the inside of our box.  From there, I will watch my Fillie, "ggcounselor", (my tweet handle, natch) fly past the finish line, 5 lengths ahead of all of the other horses in the race.  Let's be real, she will be dead last so I have a better story. 

I digress, Brad and I were losing most of the day of our Anniversary.  Brad is the type of gambler who enjoys the feeling of winning so much that he will "wheel" horses in a race.  For those of you who are not familiar, let me explain.  Let's say there is a favorite in the race that is almost a sure thing. Usually this horse will have shitty odds - meaning you almost lose money betting him, because everyone else is betting him too, so for instance, if his odds are 1-1, you basically just get your money back, but you have the bragging rights of saying you won.  BOORRRRIIINNNGGG.  Brad likes to take this horse with the poor odds, and pair it in an exacta, which is the first and second horses, with EACH of the horses in the race, and then BOX it, which means either horse can come in first or second and you win.  You also win more if you try and guess what two horses will come in first and second, rather than just the winner.  This is the closest thing to a sure thing, with the exception of betting the favorite to SHOW, in which you win money whether it comes in first, second, or third.  You follow?  The point of all of this rigamoroll, is that Brad is one of those people who can lose money, even when he wins because he has bet so many combinations in the race.  I find this irritating.

My philosophy is to bet a long shot (a horse that no one thinks will win, with good odds) with a favorite, and exacta box it - so either horse can come in first or second, they just have to be in the top two.  This is a four dollar bet and if it comes in, you usually win big.  I don't win everytime, but I have money for Bloody Mary's and I do not have to wait in that impossibly long ATM line I always find Brad in, with all the other desperate overbetters - not LOSERS, mind you, OVERBETTERS, get it?

So, per usual, even though we are not sitting in the Plebian section anymore, we are down to our last twenty, and we decide to buy two drinks and bet whatever else is left.  We call our alliance "the company", when we are together, but when Brad starts losing a lot and overbetting, I tend to go rogue and make him split the money, halfsies, and we become independent contractors for the rest of the day.  We had made the commitment, early on, to stay together as a company, because it was our Anniversary and in Brad's words, "the day should reflect upon our union."  Alllrrrriiiiggght.  Whatever.  I was on my second Bloody Mary, which makes me very agreeable.

So we are down to our last ten bucks and we decide to go with my one-two exacta box punch featuring a favorite and a long shot.  I might as well have had my eyes closed when I picked out the long shot, but I must have seemed like a handicapper to Brad, because he went with it.  We won three hundred and twenty bucks on that race.  Then, we turned around and did the same exacta box thing again and won $570.  It was a completed Hail Mary pass in the end zone (like the Sports reference, Brad?).

I immediately went into my mode of chatting up people I did not know and telling them my life story.  You meet the BEST characters at the track, and they appeared eager to hear about how long I had been married, and that I cut classes with Brad on Fridays, and that we were down to our last $10.  "I mean, we could go to the money machine, it was not all the money we have in our account," I went on and on, "but it sure is a good hard luck story, isn't it?"

If I am being honest with myself, this was usually met with ambivalence, or feigned interest, at best, and when I would pause to take a breath or a drink of my super tasty 7th beverage of the day, they would find an excuse to walk away.  But, whatever, right?  Because that is what you guys are for - my followers. 

I consider myself a modern day philosopher that waxes on all things bullshit.  My town square is my laptop and you are all my subjects.  My friend, manager, publicist, and agent, Jen, who was over yesterday, told me that I am everyone's "guilty pleasure". 
"Yea.  But you guys just read it.  I have to live it.  What does that say about me?"

"I don't know.  That's for you to figure out.  Now after writing for three months, WE can start making money on your blog, so I hope you are not running out of material."

No chance of that happening as long as I remain the walking, talking, breathing asshole that amuses the masses.  Right.

Whether you go to Keeneland or you are at a Derby party, bet the exacta box with a long shot and a favorite.  You win big or you lose small and that is something I can really get behind.  Worst case scenario, you have a great time and lose about sixty bucks.  Oh, and always bring enough money to the track, too.  In my mind, there is nothing more humiliating that waiting in line at the ATM at the races.  But, that's just me.  My standards are really high.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Chateau Marmont 

When a bunch of us went to LA to see OSU get whipped by USC, my friends stayed at the Chateau Marmot.  Brad and I  stayed in Venice Beach, which was equally wierd and awesome (future post) with some other couples.  Anyway, the Chateau Marmot is the coolest place on the planet.  There are all these twists and turns in the hallway, and the lighting is always dim and orange.  It sits up on this hill, off of Sunset Blvd, at the end of this winding driveway.  There are about four people in dark suits that stand outside of the unassuming front door of the hotel, with their arms folded as they ask you the nature of your business.  I guess, the Chateau is known for being an ultra private safe haven for celebrities.  On top of it's rich history, (John Belushi and Jim Morrison fame, Jessica Simpson getting busted by the Paparazzi, with her club clothes she put back on, on her walk of shame back to her car in the Chateau Parking lot after hooking up with Adam Levine), what is so cool about it, is that the decor has not changed in about 60 or so years.  The bathrooms and kitchenettes are all 40's art deco style in those impossibly hip colors, but the technology is updated with contemporary surround sound and state of the art flat screen tv's.  And you can just imagine the service.  I guess the Chateau Marmot, is also known for getting you practically anything you can dream up.  The food is awesome, too.  And the coffee rocks, natch.  But, as a mother, I kept wondering when was the last time they had their carpets cleaned.  I mean, history can be unsanitary, too.

I want to make sure that I capture the magic of this place for you, if I can.  The balconies are all stone and they overlook this heavy vegetation that is absolutely gorgeous and almost wild like.   You can see the tops of the famous bungalows that celebrities often stay in when their shit hits the fan, like when Brad pit left Jennifer Anniston and was hooking up with Angelina Jolie, he was living there for a while.

I vividly remember the GQ interview, in which the author described the bungalow and Pitt famously said, when they were both listening to a angry voicemail from his mother, "All my bitches be mad at me right now."  The W cover and photo shoot had just been published and he was in the middle of this shitstorm, so he just holed up at the Chateau for a while.  And then here I AM on a balcony overlooking a bungalow that may or may not be that famous bungalow that Brad Pitt stayed in.  It was exhilarating!  A huge starf**ker moment for me, fo sho.

So we go out to Sky Bar after "cocktailing at the Chateau", (OMG I can't believe I just wrote that, Hilarious) and this I remember vividly.  The rest of the night - not so much.  At the restaurant next to Skybar, was where we ate dinner, and there was a large table of I don't know, say 12-year-olds, having a birthday party and then a large group right next to them, who seemed to be the lucky girls' parents and their friends.  THIS is the way they do children's tween birthday parties in LA.

They were all dolled up in Junior Couture,  while they toasted each other with, I'm assuming, non-alcoholic drinks served in champagne flutes and martini glasses.  The birthday girl was wearing a tiara, no not the ones you get from Claires, like the real deal, borrowed from Harry Winston, and I figured out what was going on when all the adults got up from THEIR table to accompany the professional photographer in singing "Happy Birthday" when the five tier birthday cake, that was nicer than the one at my wedding, was delivered.  You realize, this kind of thing is EXACTLY what I live for.  LA is a whole different world.  I could do 100 posts on that weekend alone.

So, of course, we have this insane night where we club hop and all this crap and then we end up back at the Bar Marmont, at the end of the night.  It next door to the hotel, and only hotel guests, their Velcro friends (Brad and I), and "industry" people go there.  It is the coolest bar I have ever been to.  If you haven't noticed, I am big on "atmosphere" and this place was oozing with it.

My friend, we'll call him "Paula", who is a married, heterosexual male, girlfriend of mine (he's my friend, Kim's husband) and I got lost from the pack and at one point we ended up on the patio of the Chateau, that has these cool rod iron tables amongst that thick vegetation I was talking about, and and lit only by tiki torches.  I swear that I saw Isla Fischer and Sasha Baron Cohen having dinner with a group, while they smoked cigarettes and told stories.  So, Paula and I sat there for a while, waiting to be served, and admiring all the atmosphere and finally a super protective server came over and told us that we had to leave because we were in the middle of this celebrity filled private party.  COOOOOLLLLL.

We promptly leave and catch up with our friends at the Bar Marmont, next door, and as we are waiting to get our ID's check (that's right, beeeaaachhhes, I look GOOOOODDD.) Jason Segal rides up on his Vespa.  I was with my friend, Kim, and she is a bigger star hooker than I am.  She starts this stream of consciousness conversation with him, about every job he has ever had.  I asked him what he had been doing that night, and he said that he went to see his buddy Seth (Rogan, for those of you who are not in the KNOW.) do stand up at The Comedy Store.  How cool is that?  Kim and I nodded like we were regulars there and he sped off on his VESPA.  But, not before Kim got a pic of the three of us.  GO KIMMY.  See above.

So the bar closes and we go back to Paula's room and I decide I can't get enough and want to stay.  Okay, here is where I praise my friends again.  Paula (Kim's husband) says I can stay in his $$$$$ a night hotel room with them and he will sleep on the couch, ON A WEEKEND GETAWAY FROM HIS KIDS IN L.A AT THE CHATEAU MARMONT.  That, my friends, is a friend.  He does not get his account serviced on his vacation when he is shelling out MAJOR cash for this insanely cool suite, so that I don't have to go back to my really nice hotel, on MY weekend getaway.  This is all because we get each other and he realizes that I am having a ball at the Chateau, and well basically, this scenario is  the "example" provided at the end of an entry for "TRUE FRIEND" in Webster's Dictionary.  He is A OK in my book because of that ONE sweeping gesture, and he always will be.

So Okay, one of the funniest things about this whole "sleepover" is that in the morning, I had to get back to my hotel, because it was Gameday, and I had to get ready to ride around in a limo for four hours (see other post).  Paula walked me down through the maze-like, low lit corridors of the Chateau (because Kim was all "walk her down, Paul, for Christ's sakes - don't make her look like a prostitute.  Thanks Kim.), to the waiting "secret service-like security guards with ear pieces in,  at the entrance.  The parking garage was just adjacent, and of course I had lost my valet ticket.

I am wearing my "party outfit" from the night before, looking like you can imagine and here is Paula, a guest at the hotel, saying goodbye to me and helping me find my car.  I am sure this is not a new scene to the security, but it had to be entertaining to them, that we were Midwesterners in our late thirties.

"What kind of car were you driving?" the impossibly professional and hip security guy said to me.

Paul and I couldn't help but survey the tricked out Range Rovers, the Mercedes, and the other insanely expensive cars parked there.

" I think it's a KIA."  I said smally, under my breath (Thanks Brad). "I don't remember WHAT my husband RENTED.  I just know it's a RENTAL, not my, you know, the car that I OWN," I recovered, NOT.

I look over and there is a Kia sport or whatever, sandwiched between a Lamborghini and a BMW sportster.  I wanted to die.

"See you later," Paula said, "I'm goin' back up to the room."

"Thanks for everything." We hugged while the security detail snickered.

They brought my KIA around and I tried to hold my head high while I slipped into the front seat.  I drove as fast as I could down the snaking driveway to Sunset Blvd.  The paparazzi  that were poised at the end of the drive, quickly put their cameras down and lit cigarettes.  I stopped at a Starbucks, rolled down all four windows, and called my best friend on my impossibly outdated cellphone.  Life was good.

I have a huge girl crush on Sophia Coppola.  It started when I saw the Virgin Suicides, the first film she directed.  Then, she followed with "Lost in Translation".  Did you know that movie was supposedly about Sophia's (Scarlett Johnson's character) short lived marriage to Spike Jonze?  Supposedly, she wrote the movie, while Jonze was making a video in Japan.  She wrote it in the famous Tokyo Park Hyatt Hotel.  LOVE IT.  I watched that movie at 4 o'clock in the morning on my portable DVD player in Tokyo, when I couldn't sleep, and it was my first time there, and it was SPOT ON.

I became interested in her, when she had a part in The Godfather III and she caught a ton of shit for her awkward sex scene with Andy Garcia, another huge crush of mine.  She SUCKED.  And coming from a family of HUGE Godfather trilogy fans, I wrote her off.  You must understand, I probably saw Godfather I and II when I was in 6th grade or maybe earlier, I can't remember.  There was no such thing as inappropriate programming, in my parents' opinion.  I am not saying that we ever watched sex scenes together when I was young, but we watched  a SHITLOAD of violence together.

"Pay attention," my Dad would say, "the Godfather sent him a message by cutting off his prized horse's head and put it in the bed with him.  Look at all that blood!"

ANYWAY,  I fell in love with Sophia Coppola with Lost in Translation and when she rocked that Marc Jacobs dress with ballet flats at the Golden Globes, before Winona Ryder even THOUGHT about getting high on vicoden and shoplifting at SAKS.  Sophia is cool as a cucumber and is probably in my top ten celebrities that I would like to hang out with.  I imagine not understanding her overschooled and worldly references, but just taking her in the entire time as I pretend to keep up with the conversation.

To be fair, I have not seen "Marie Antoinette", her big budget flop.  But, because I am GAY, I did read a ton of articles describing the shoot and the movie, but I never saw the film.  I am not a big period drama person.  I like films in real time, if I can get them.  There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part I dig a low budget, well directed, slice of life drama, OR any Will Farrell movie.  My tastes are varied and complicated.

So this Friday night, Brad and I come across Sophia Coppola's latest movie, called "Somewhere". It is set at the Chateau Marmot, and it echos that Lost in Translation feel completely.  It may be that I just loved Lost in Translation so much because I could totally relate to it, but I don't think so.  I admire how Coppola has differentiated herself from her famous father, who now makes mediocre wine.  Just think about it, it would be so daunting to be his daughter and then choose to direct. Maybe I am drawn to her new film, (on DVD and ONDEMAND, so not that new) because I have "stayed" at the Chateau Marmont.  But, my gut feeling is that she is in it for the long haul, and she is a filmmaker to watch.   I am sure that some (maybe a lot) of you will watch "Somewhere" and be bored to death, but it is totally my cup of tea, for what it's worth.

Here's the URL for The Chateau....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Creative Advertising and Egomania

When I was an undergrad, I majored in Advertising.  This came under the heading of Communications, which housed Telecommunications and Journalism.  Advertising was easily the red-headed stepchild of the group.

If you had a focus (we didn't even warrant our own major at UK) in Advertising you were required to take a Statistics/Research, a Creative, and a Presentation class to fulfill your major.

The Stats class was a research-based class that was virtually impossible.  Almost everyone got a D or an F on every test.  It was one of those classes where they used the Bell curve all of the time, rather than adjust it's curriculum to accommodate the students who were fresh out of Kentucky public schools.  To say the least, I developed a reputation in the department as an underachieving procrastinator who somehow managed to make good grades.  I managed to mess up the Bell curve on every test.  The astonishment in the classroom each time tests scores were given out was palpable.  No one, however, was more surprised than me.  I literally wrote down every word the woman said and (the night before, of course) memorized what I could retain and then put the information in response form on the impossible essay tests that Ms. Bitchy was famous for. 

Our instructor, Ms. Bitchy , was very strict.  She did not put up with any bullshit, whatsoever, and if she thought you were stupid, she would tell you directly in front of the entire class.  She walked with a limp and a cane, due to some life-threatening illness she survived when she was a child.  She neither referred to her disability, nor gave an explanation for it.  She was one of those teachers who intimidated the shit out of every student in the room, and half of the staff.

But everyone has that soft spot, and apparently, for her, it was her husband, who was also on staff in the Communications program.  I would be positively mesmerized when her husband would enter the classroom during one of her lectures for whatever reason and her entire demeanor would change.  This was a woman who was in love with her husband and it showed, in every pore of her body.

She became my mentor, of sorts, and recommended me for a prime internship at a one man Advertising Agency.  Actually, all the "star" advertising students got internships at the one major advertising firm in town, but I was lucky to get this one.  This was Lexington in the 90's, people.  Outside of the one major ad firm in town at the time, all there were, were basically "consulting firms" made up of people who had been fired from the major firm, those who were branching out on their own after college, and people like my guy, who had in his words, "carved out a niche for himself" in the industry. 

Mr. A ( I am not protecting his identity.  I can't remember his name.) was a large man with a full head of white hair and he wore impossibly "creative" suits with colored suspenders, as was the fashion of Advertising Executives at the time.  His catchy firm's name was "Creative Advertising".  He worked in a partially vacated strip mall, well actually, an office above that strip mall, that housed the DMV and a Dress Barn that continues to amaze me when it opens it's doors each morning.  He smoked cigars nonstop while he pontificated about his long career and occasionally gave me insight into what it was like to pay child support and live in a condo with a pub that offered a "community friendly atmosphere."

He required that I be at his office three days per week at 8am - a virtual death sentence to a Senior in college.  I cannot tell you how many times I would drag myself in there after a late night with my friends or Brad, reeking of draft beer and mouthwash.  I would enter his smoke filled shithole of an office and try to appear as if I was as on board with one of his mundane advertising ideas, as he was.  He considered himself a very big deal and there is nothing I enjoy more than a person who takes themselves too seriously, and genuinely regards themselves in high esteem.

He fit the bill perfectly.  He made me wear a suit, instead of my usual boyfriend ripped up jeans with a ribbon belt, which he indicated in our interview as being unprofessional "if I intended to have others view me as a serious (unpaid) assistant to him, that lit his cigars and dumped his ashtrays and endured his unending bullshit.  No prob.  I know someone in the sorority house that dresses like her mom, I thought, she will lend me her Dress Barn clearance rack ensembles.

I was stuck.  Even though I am fond of quitting anything, I was indebted to my teacher for going out on a limb to get me this internship.  I was getting college credit, and I was in it for the long haul.  I had no choice but to show up at his place three mornings a week and serve my sentence.

We finally arrive at the dealership and he slams the handle sticking out of the steering wheel in park, stabs his cigar out in the overflowing ashtray and exclaims, "We're here. Watch and learn."  I don't remember the exact schpeal of the commercial, but it went something like this, "Saturn, (bang the car with a rubber mallet) you just can't imagine the resilience." or something lame like that.  

There was a  camera man, and an impossibly sleazy actor I had helped him pick out of a folder of pictures.  (I had actually chosen someone else which he overrided  in a previous hellish internship session earlier that week) He introduces me as his assistant ("She's here learning the ropes from a pro."), and we go into the showroom that housed a brand new, candy apple red, Saturn convertible.

He keeps demanding take after take from the sleazy local actor ( I mean, almost porn star nasty) because apparently the actor is being too gentle on the car with the sledgehammer.  He grabs the mallet out of Dirk Diggler's hand and goes, "Let me demonstrate."  He then drapes himself over the the stool, says the line, rears back the mallet and slams it into the panel of the car next to the front tire.

To the horror of the manager, and everyone else (except me, natch) the panel buckles and does not recover. He has dented the shit out of the new convertible.  A collective gasp fills the showroom, as the "major benefit" of the new Saturn vehicles apparently do not have the ability to withstand repetitive blasts from a blunt object.

Mr. A draws in a big breath as he reaches for the cigar pack in his shirt pocket and exclaims, "  That's a wrap. I guess we'll use one of the earlier takes.  Are you ready to watch the playbacks?" I would have felt for him if he weren't such a horse's ass, but in that moment I realized that there was a God, and divine intervention had obviously just taken place in the Saturn showroom.

I don't know if he had to pay for the car or what.  I never saw the commercial air, (he told me it went to other markets. Riiiiggggghhhht.)  Outside of this tidbit of information he offered up, I never inquired about the details of the account after that, and he never gave me any "pointers" as to what to do when you make a total ass of yourself.  He didn't have to.  I know from experience what you do.  You push it way deep down to that dark place that you don't want to revisit again.  That is, until someone writes a blog about you and your gigantic, misguided ego.

My advice to you today is to never take yourself too seriously because if you do, life will always come back to bite you in the ass - every time.

I've attached the video that I was secretly working on during my internship at Creative Advertising. I hope you enjoy it.

Be careful what you wish for

Scarlett, our dog, is a total nightmare.  She is a black lab and we got her a year and a half ago for Christmas, in a split second, Christmas hysteria-induced fog.  The writing was on the wall when on Christmas day, she grabbed the garland draped around this huge mirror that sits on the ground in our dining room, and pulled the entire mirror down upon her tiny paw.

Okay, to be fair, this is what was going on in my mind when we decided to get a dog.  It had been two years, since our beloved 12-year-old lab, Elaine, had died and I was missing her.  It is like when you decide you are ready to get pregnant, again, because you develop amnesia about the unsightly birthing process and the sleepless nights that follow.  You rationalize that you have "done it before" and you start subscribing to that "how bad can it be" mentality.  Well, let me tell you how bad it can be.  It can be so bad that you constantly threaten your children that you are going to take their "favorite Christmas present EVER" back to the farm about 500 times a day.  

So, Scarlett was all of about 7 pounds and she brought down a mirror that I have had for decades (prized possession from a yard sale in Dallas) that takes two adults to move from one side of the room to the other.  Her paw swelled to gigantic proportions, and not having a veterinarian yet, I was contemplating taking her to Ohio State Animal Hospital on Christmas Day - cha ching.  The money pit that we had just happily invested in, had just begun.  I decided to wait it out, when the receptionist at the hospital assured me that their holiday rates were triple their regular rates and I might as well put my house up for sale.

I cried my eyes out and was convinced that I had made a mistake because I already had three young children and what in the hell was I doing adding to my stress when Eva, my three-year-old had "just turned the corner."  This must be the feeling a person gets when he ice climbs up Mount Everest and loses an arm in the process, but then decides once he has made it, to continue on to the other side and repel down, because he needs more "excitement" in his life.

I took Scarlett to the vet, the following day, to get her next round of vaccinations and an X-ray, while the techs judged my competence and pretended to be empathetic.  This was NOTHING compared to how she would shape our lives in the coming months.

When I say that Scarlett made our lives HELL for the first year of her life, I am not exaggerating.  I would wake up each day and let her out of her crate as she terrorized my entire family by grabbing whatever was their favorite comfort mechanism and devoured it while running circles around our house.  She did this while I tried to get two children ready for school and before I could gulp down a cup of coffee every morning for six months.

We accented our wide pole fence with chicken wire, at first, to keep her in the backyard that my father-in-law was convinced should "work through the winter".  She demolished it in two weeks.  She would run into our adjacent neighbor's open garage every chance she got and steal their kids' expensive hockey gear and chew on it until I discovered her.  This was just minutes, as I had to watch her like a one-year-old who is taking his first steps.

She once got into their garage and stole my neighbor's shoes that he took off by his door to be polite to his wife, as he came home from lunch.  I had to return them covered in saliva and dirt, and when he graciously assured me that they were "old shoes anyway" by putting them back on, my middle daughter, Mills, started trying to get my attention.

"Mom....MOM!"my middle child tugged at my shirt.  I ignored her at first, as my neighbor was trying to make me feel better about ruining his shoes and I was eager for charity.  He was bending down and petting hyperactive Scarlett to demonstrate his alliance.

"Mom, come here!" she wanted me to bend over so she could tell me a secret.  "Do you think we should tell him that Scarlett's peeing on his shoes?"  I was mortified.  How much more was this guy supposed to take?  I should have named that freakin' dog "APOLOGIZE" because that is all I did for her - all day long.

Second investment - the invisible fence.  This had to be the easiest sale the woman from Invisible Fence had ever made.  No "are you running any specials" or "how do you compare yourselves with your competitors," just "I am desperate.  How much is it and what is today's date so that I can finish writing the check to you.

Now Scarlett was contained and I could let her out into the below freezing temperatures so that I could assess and repair the damage that she had done in the five minutes that she had in the house after I let her out of her crate.  It became a "what is salvageable and what is trash" scenario EVERY morning.  My kids were getting knocked down the basement stairs.  She was sharpening her razor sharp puppy teeth on my three-year-old and I was longing for the lethargic 12-year-old dog who's biggest infraction was relieving herself  in the yard and leaving dog hair all over the place.  Potty training was the least of my worries.

Not only did Scarlett ruin Christmas Eve dinner when she spewed diarrhea all over the carpet next to the Christmas tree.  (I mean there is no smell more sickening than puppy diarrhea due to ingestion of rabbit feces.) But she ruined every single rug on the main floor within a month.  And I was ON HER, even with three kids, I swear.

Texts would fly from our neighbors who witnessed Scarlett chewing on our Smith Hawken bench I scored at an estate sale in Denver or some piece of recycling she had gotten out of the garage.  Our yard was constantly filled with litter, which was sometimes packages the UPS man left on our doorstep.  The piece du resistance is when she dragged my tampon box out onto the lawn in full view of the entire dog walking population.  I know, I probably shouldn't have put it in the recycling, but I figured with three kids, people had to assume I was menstruating. 

I began complaining about Scarlett to anyone who would listen.  It was always the topic of conversation whenever Brad and I would go out.  She had ruined our lives.  Things had been so great December 22nd and before.  What had we done?  What can we do now?  The kids were attached and bewildered by her.  They wanted to love her but she was always taking it too far and hurting them.  She had no boundaries and she was the one in control.  We were pawns in her game.

One of my best friends, Kim, came over one day and she is the biggest animal lover I know.  Within minutes, she looked stricken.  She had that look that I would get, (before I had kids and was still working) when I would visit my friends with small children on my lunch break.  I could not get out of there fast enough.  

Kim goes, "I had no idea.  You had described it, but I thought you were embellishing, again.  I gotta go."Peace out.  I was an island.

"I want the one with the tennis ball," I would mimic Brad on the day that we picked out Scarlett, when she would destroy some family heirloom.  "She seems feisty."  I guess "feisty" is the new synonym for "psychotic".

The BEST part about the Invisible Fence, was that Scarlett would not come in once you called her.  What dog wants to stay out in 4 degree windchill with a sleeting rain/snow mix.  I'll tell you who - Scarlett.  I would chase her around in the freezing cold at 11 0'clock at night, cursing loudly and slipping on ice.  I was past resentment.  I was bordering on hatred.

The only way that I could get her in, is if I could catch someone walking by with a dog that she was going crazy for,  ask them to grab her collar and then I would physically fight her to bring her into the house.  This was a nightly occurrence.

One day, a friend of my daughter's was walking by, and I preemptively asked her to grab Scarlett's collar to try and bring her in before sunrise.  Scarlett had obviously grown wise to my ploy and she proceeded to drag the 8-year-old girl across the yard, stopping just short of a low brick wall.  I had to call the girl's mother, who lives down the street and luckily is a minister's wife, so she HAS to be forgiving, and apologize for the knot on her leg that her daughter suffered at my request.

I know what you are thinking.  This all has to come to some sort of head and well, it did. One of my neighbors, who had tortured herself, as well, on Christmas Day, with a new Wiemereiner, would bring her puppy down to get Psycho Scarlett tired.  I was standing with her near my front door talking about how miserable I was.  I had my Upper Arlington "mom stance" goin' on - you know, where your hand is on your hip and one leg is straight and the other is slightly bent.  Her dog is faster than Scarlett and Scarlett was falling all over herself to keep up.  Her dog, who is obviously much more expensive and better bred than mine, ran straight toward me and then swerved around my leg.  Scarlett, head down, ears pinned back, slobber swinging out of her mouth, then barreled into my knee, which took an unnatural bend backward and instantly I knew she had ruined my the rest of my year.  Not in the way that she had been ruining it, but in the way that you cannot function as a fully erect human being anymore.

My recommendation to you today is to not get a puppy for Christmas for yourself or your family - EVER.  It is one of those false memories you think you are making for your children when you are really only indulging a Christmas wish that you secretly have always wanted for yourself.  And like any fantasy, it gives way to the reality that there are many moments after that memory that are so much more memorable than wrapping up a dog on Christmas Eve.  For instance, I am reminded of Scarlett every time I try to sit Indian style because I can't do it anymore.