Thursday, May 26, 2011

Not enough tears

Sometimes things happen in this life that I do not understand.  I just found out that a very dear friend of ours from college, who only puts happiness and love out into the World, has suffered a terrible tragedy.  They lost their two-year-old in an accident, and my heart is aching for them. 

I just cannot bring myself to post some nonsense about some insignificant experience in my life today.  If you are a parent, there is no greater pain in this life.  I can only pray that they somehow come to terms with this, at some point, because they both deserve to be happy.

Hug the people you love today, and hold them close, because everything can change in an instant.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The United States of Tara and Celebrity Crushes

I LOVE the show "United States of Tara".  For those of you who do not have Showtime - you should get it - if for nothing else, for this show.  It is so EFFING good.  There are so many elements I like about it, I am going to give them categories.  The premise, the cast, and my crush.

First, and foremost, I love the premise.  I like the idea of a woman with many personalities that are not ambiguous, but defined.  The whole thing is ingenious, as far as I am concerned.

Who doesn't compartmentalize themselves in one way or another?  I used to be more compartmentalized, but since I turned 40, something changed in me, where I basically let one of my personalities take over - the one that likes to make jokes and goof off all the time.  It is my inner teenager, in a sense.

In United States of Tara, she has "alters" which are personalities that present themselves whenever the need arises for them to "act out".  Buck is her inner redneck male personality, and he is one of my favorites.  If Tara ever feels threatened, Buck emerges, and "takes care" of the situation for her.

She has a "perfect mother" alter named Alice, and when she has to plan a baby shower or something, Alice surfaces and saves the day. I feel like Alice sometimes when my children have birthday parties. 

"T" is Tara's teenage alter, and is by far my favorite.  She wears her hair in a ponytail on the side, like a roller skating Queen, and her g-string is always displayed a good four inches above her pants.  It is usually some understated color like lime green, or bright fushia.

Since I turned forty, I am my teenage version of myself - let's just call her "J".  "J" likes to have a good time, and she shirks almost all responsibility in lieu of what feels good - whether it is writing her blog, instead of doing the laundry, or going to a yard sale instead of pulling weeds.  "J" is not as wild as "T", she's just more open about who she really is, and less apologetic if she reveals more about herself than people are really used to.  In essence, "J" doesn't give as much of a shit about what people think about her as she used to, and it is very freeing. 

So, when you see "J" out at a restaurant, and she is wearing her straw pillbox hat, she just HAD to have at the Springfield Flea Market, give her a thumbs up and then you can roll your eyes to your friends once your back is turned to her.  Only know that "J" may not be the "best" version of your friend, Johnna, but you can always count on her to be the most fun.  Indeed!

I must also commend the entire cast of United States of Tara.  Her sister and kids are hilarious.  The family is uber dysfunctional, yet works on other levels.  The show seems very honest and not contrived.  It is one of those ensemble performances, that just works, and is believable, despite the far fetched concept.  You end up rooting for the family, instead of judging them.  They are just like everyone else, just doing the best they can under the circumstances - and that appeals to me.

Finally, I have to address John Corbett, who is the father in the drama. If you aren't familiar with his real name, he is also Aidan, on Sex and the City.  He is my number one celebrity crush.  I love how he just loves Tara, despite all of her hang ups, but is not a puss.  He's a man, but they have a good interpersonal relationship.

Did you know John Corbett has been with Bo Derek for like, FOREVER.  She is like 15 years older than he is and they live on this gigantic horse farm in California.  I like how laid back he seems in real life.  I saw an interview with him on YouTube, during the first season of Tara and he was talking about how he thought that after Sex and the City, that he would just kind of do supporting roles in movies for the rest of his life and then Tara came along, and it was the perfect scenario and environment for him.  He said that he would never do network television, again.  Interesting.  See, this is the type of shit "J" does instead of cleaning out her closet.

Anyway, catch up with United States of Tara, as it is currently in it's third season.   There's Alice at Hallie's fifth birthday party she threw for Hallie's whole class in her backyard.  It was a "Scooby Doo" theme, and she met the children and their confused parents as "Daphne".  Yea, "J" doesn't roll that way.  Eva will be lucky if she gets a candle on a store bought cupcake.  That is, if "J" even remembers her birthday!

P.S.  Doesn't that hair color just illuminate my skin tone?  Okay, EWWWW!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Zac Brown, Take 2

Brad and I have gone to four Zac Brown concerts in two years.  That, to me, is a lot.  The third time we went to see Zac, our friends, the Whybrews, went with us, to Cleveland, to see them.  We, then, got to go to Apple Valley, for the next night, but that is a whole other post.  It was our end of the summer extravaganza, where we eat, drink, and be merry, just adults, all weekend.  It always delivers.

Anyway, the concert is at Blossom, near Cleveland, and I am a sucker for an outdoor concert.  I miss Polaris so much, that I am still bringing it up three years after it has closed, and I don't even live in Westerville.  It was one of my favorite things about Columbus, and it is gone, and I AM SICK ABOUT IT STILL.

In college, Brad and I would go to Riverbend, in Cincinnati, quite a bit.  We met there in the summers, when we were dating, because it was halfway between Louisville and Columbus.  I saw Eric Clapton there twice, The Dave Matthews Band, and Neil Young, and countless others.  When we lived in Boulder, Brad and I saw a lot of bands at Red Rocks - CSN & Y had to be the highlight, as they played with the Denver Orchestra.

We saw Sting at Churchill Downs, a few years ago, and it was amazing.  It was funny, because prime seats for a horse race, just simply suck for a concert.  We were in a box, under cover on a beautiful summer night, crammed in with a bunch of people we didn't know, and it was miserable.  We had purchased the tickets off of the internet, and we were totally displeased.  We were directed to a customer relations booth, set up in the Paddock, when we complained, and were promptly given awesome floor seats.  It was UNDENIABLY the best customer service I have ever received!  I will pull that scam again this summer, fo sho!

At Polaris, I have seen John Mayer, Coldplay, James Taylor, the Dixie Chicks, I could go on and on and on.  For having three children in the last decade, I made TIME for outdoor concerts.  It just fills your Soul!

Quite frankly, I have had seats on the floor, and seats on the grass.  I love bringing in a blanket and hanging out with all the other people, while you listen to music and watch the sunset.

Zac Brown is playing at Nationwide, and it will be great, but I relished seeing him at Blossom.  It was a beautiful night, and we were staying in town, and we took a cab to the concert.  We had brought a cooler and a blanket, and the cabbie dropped us off in this field, and we started to tailgate.

What happened next, my friend, Paul, described as a "one, two punch that none of us was prepared for."

Okay.  I will try my best to describe what happened next, and try not to leave out any details.  A  pickup truck pulls in beside us, with one of those tops on, and everyone jumps out like there is a fire inside.  A scantily clad woman jumps out the back, and starts freaking out about how her sandal strap just broke, and she has no other shoes to wear, and that WE must help her fix them.  She proceeds to lay on the ground, with her feet up in the air, and summons Paul over to help her figure out a solution.

Paul awkwardly walks over and stands over her, with her feet in the air, and tries to help her refasten her strap.  It is fruitless.  She has on these Gladiator sandals, and she is trying to criss cross the strings under the sole of her shoe, with her feet up in the air, and Paul is standing over her, like a lineman about to get into position, before a play.  His arms are outstretched and his feet are apart and he keeps looking down at her, and then at us.  It was hilarious.

Simultaneously, her boyfriend is searching around in the truck, looking for alternatives for her to wear and as of yet, he has only come up with dirty, grass stained high tops that, apparently, his brother uses for landscaping.   

"I ain't wearing those, Kooter!" she screams as she lays of her back. To be fair, his name was not "Kooter", but it might as well have been.  She is also wearing an impossibly short, cut off jean mini skirt, I might add. 

So Kooter approaches Brad, Kim and I, and Paul defects and comes over to our circle.

"I don't know what I'm gonna do with her," he laments, "I mean, look at her!  She's laying there,  showin' everybody her  puss*hole, just to fix her shoes!" He snickers and then gets a look over his face, I can only describe as Catholic guilt.  "Oh, I'm sorry.  I shouldn't have said puss*hole,"  he looks at me, "I guess that wasn't, how you say, polite."

(Note: Now, for those older readers, like my parents and my in-laws, you replace the * with a Y.)

I mean, I wasn't wearing a school marm outfit, but I wasn't lying on the ground with my legs spread, either.

 "Oh, no problem, I love puss*holes.  As a matter of fact, I have one."  I look at Brad.  He looks at me.  He laughs nervously.  I grew up in Kentucky.  Messing with rednecks is a pastime of mine.

"What'd she just say?" he didn't wait for an answer. Brad is shifting his weight from one foot to the other, like I have seen him do 1000 times before, indicating anxiety.  "Did you just say puss*hole?  That's funny."  Brad relaxes.  "C'mon honey, we gotta GO!"  She gives up and slides the high tops on, while hopping around, and they trod off toward the ampitheater.  As you can well imagine, we worked the word "puss*hole" into conversations as often as we could the whole next day and night at Apple Valley.  PRICELESS.

This, of course, with the perfect weather, and the incredible music, the sun setting behind the stage, and overpriced draft beers, was, easily,  my favorite moment of the night.  I hope that my experience, Thursday, is half that, and I will be happy.  I am going with Brad, and two of his buddies, and we are standing in the "Georgia Pit" next to the stage.  Brad informed me that we have to get there at 6.  We will secure our places for about 3 hours until the band comes on.  That's the way 41-year-olds do it!  Holla!

Scalp a ticket to Zac Brown this Thursday, or if you live in Bangladesh, like one of my readers, download their new album on Itunes.  If you have trouble, contact me and I will send you a CD.  FUR RE-AL!

I asked my friend, Kim, to send me pics from the Blossom concert.  When I got them, I was conflicted because one picture, I looked good in, and the other SHE looked good in.  Also, the picture of all of us was the picture Kim looked better in, so she would KNOW if I just picked the other one.  I put them both in, because I would look like an puss*hole, otherwise.   See how I worked that in?  It's easy!  Try it!  Also a recommendation for today.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fireflies and Fairytales and Wine

I recently went to my friend, Amber Kuehn's shop, Fireflies and Fairytales, that is closing its doors.  I haven't been able to get her out of my mind, since.  It takes such courage to start your own business and make a dream a reality, and then it takes intense stamina, to keep it going day after day.

Amber, I just wanted to congratulate you on a great run for 81/2 years.  You were the "go to" store for me when I had postpartum spending disorder, and I needed couture shoes for my newborn.  I've picked up the cutest clothes my kids own from your shop, and if I were ever in a hurry (which is always) to get to a birthday party and I forgot to get a gift, you were my girl.  Your store is where I would go when I needed something "special" and I just wanted you to know that - that your store is special, and that you should be proud of yourself.

I have said it before and I will say it, again, small business is what makes this country great.  So now let's turn our attentions toward The Wine Bistro controversy in Arlington.  Now, without knowing the issues (say you are the reader from Singapore) and just knowing me, which side do you think I'm on?  YOU'RE RIGHT, Mr. Hajimoto, the WINE side.

The controversy is that (and this is all second hand from Brad, because I only read the Arlington News for the arrests and the Estate Sales) the new Wine Bistro bought that property with the understanding that their patrons could park on the residential streets perpendicular to their business. There used to be signs that restricted parking  in that area, that were taken down to be steam cleaned or something (money well spent - use a hose) and they were never put back up.

Like most controversies, there are at least two sides, and the neighbors who are having to put up with the traffic and parking are infuriated.  Brad read me some of the comments, though, and one neighbor said that her children could not play in her driveway because people were always turning around in it to get parking spaces.  I don't know about you, but even before I had kids, I did not use driveways that kids were playing in to turn around.  My point is, that if you stick to a valid argument, like that it would be difficult to sell your house if you are close to a business that uses your street as a parking lot, then I hear you.  When you start spouting off nonsense like that, I am deaf to you.

Okay, my position is, and I am usually the least political person you will ever meet, (until I got old, that is) is that either the City of Arlington should side with The Wine Bistro, or they should provide some sort of parking alternative for them.  Brad and I have lived in a few neighborhood areas of big cities, and if you want Columbus to be great, which involves attracting new businesses and people to the city, then you need to make this city attractive to both.  In order to do that, you must embrace CHANGE.

Look, I love the Rusty Bucket, and the Red Door, but I do not want them to be the only two alternatives in town.  Oh, don't forget the MCL Cafeteria - of which I am a frequent flyer, but on a Friday or Saturday night out, I want to go someplace else, I'll be honest.  The change I am talking about is to live in an area where parking might be a little bit of a hassle, in order to live someplace interesting and fun.

Until last football season, I have had to endure wall to wall parking along my road, from early morning on Saturdays to late into the night.  They have reduced parking on Saturdays to just one side of the street, which helps, but I just DEAL, because I am fortunate enough to live near the stadium, and this just happens to be a part of the culture here.

If you make Arlington attractive, businesses and residents, will want to move here, which will pump money into the city, which will trickle down to raising housing prices, which will put money into your pocket when you go to sell your house and move to Mt. Vernon to get away from the hustle and bustle.  But, until then, if you just deny small businesses the opportunity to make it here, they will go elsewhere in Columbus, and make THOSE neighborhoods interesting and attractive.

So, that being said, Brad and I were discussing this in our basement over a bottle of wine, a muted Sports program and the songs on my Ipod.  I was explaining how badly I felt for Amber and how I will be very sad one day when I write my last post of spewing bullshit for all to decipher.

Brad looks at me very seriously and says, "I understand where you would draw a parallel between the two of you, because you are both doing something that you love,"  he continued (wait for it) "but one significant difference is that SHE has been making money for the last 8 years."


Alright, so I have a plan.  I have had really good feedback and I understand that I have regular readers, even daily, in some cases!  So, here is what I am offering you.  For the low, low, low price of $9.99 a month, I will provide you with the same side-splitting, prophetic bullshit, that I have been delivering for JUST $9.99!  And, if you act NOW, I will throw in FOUR free valet parking vouchers for the wine bistro in which you park at my house and I take you to their restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night.  Now, you have to walk back to my house to retrieve your car, because I cannot expect to stay sober enough on the weekends to drive to get you at 10 or 11 at night.  So this is a ONE WAY valet, but whatever, right? IT"S FREE, BEAATTCHES!

Also, I can only take cash and my office will be located at the baby pool at the Swim & Racquet Club.  Please just hug me and slip the cash into my "darling" cover up pocket, without making a scene.

I thought of putting a Paypal button on my blog, but then I will have to pay Upper Arlington taxes and we can't have that, can we?

My recommendation is two fold - go to Amber's store, Fireflies and Fairytales in Upper Arlington and help her liquidate her inventory.  It was 35% off on everything when I went there.  Also, frequent The Wine Bistro, as often as you can, to show them that we do, in fact, welcome small businesses here in Arlington, and we do embrace change. 

Photo courtesy of my brother-in-law, Fletch - without his knowledge or consent, natch.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Spelling Bee

My daughter, Mills, decided to enter a Spelling Bee.  She is in first grade, and she is a pretty good speller, because, Hallie, her older sister taught her to read.  Hallie has that "teacher gene" from Brad's side, and she thought it would be fun to invent "Book Club" when Mills was like 3. 

I swear to God, Hallie taught Mills to read. She would do flash cards and give homework, and have tests - the whole SHEBANG. It seems really sweet on the outside looking in, but in reality, I delegated part of Mills' child rearing to her older sister. I am not proud of that, but it is what it is, right?  As far as I am concerned, I am just giving Hallie future teacher street cred.  I am not, in any way, copping to the fact that I am a lousy Mother, okay?

The other day, I actually witnessed this conversation between Hallie and Mills in which Hallie scolded Mills,

"You have GOT to start bookclub with Eva!  You are way behind!"

Mills replied, "I tried to, a long time ago, but she just said, 'No Mills.  I don't want to learn how to read from YOU."  Classic Eva.  I guess I am going to have to step up this time.

This all took place because Eva, my four-year-old, pointed to a picture of a cow, while they were playing school, and yelled, "Dog!"  She loves messing with the two of them, because they are so anal.  She is Brad, made over.  

So,  I asked both the older girls if they were interested in doing the "Bee" when the flier comes home, and of course, Hallie concedes, and Mills jumps at the chance to do anything that will draw attention to her.  In Mills' eyes, there is never enough attention for her.  She is the type that always keeps score and the World revolves around her.  That is not to say that she does not have one of the biggest hearts I have ever encountered.  (The girl insists on kissing me full on the mouth, before bed every night.) Her heart is always in the right place, it is just lags behind her head that is filled with self-centeredness.  She is just one of those kids that you constantly have to REMIND them how good they have it, and that there are other beings in the universe besides her.

Anyway, Mills is my middle child, and she decides to do this Spelling Bee.  It is the first year they have allowed 1st - 3rd graders to participate.  They have a preliminary Spelling Bee with all of the 1st - 3rd graders, and then if you make it through 5 rounds of spelling words, you can continue on to the next Spelling Bee with the 4th and 5th graders.  This is a recipe for disaster.

So it is the night before the Bee, and I download the word list so that Mills can practice.  She is obsessed, of course.  I help her for a couple of hours, and then I let Hallie take over, natch. But still,with every ounce of my being, SHE HAS GOT TO MAKE THAT CUT.  I do not mean that in a controlling, child-obsesssive, acheivement driven, living through your child, kind of way.  I swear.  I am just envisioning what my late afternoon and night are going to hold, and possibly my weekend, if she misspells a word, and it is not pretty, my friends.

The more she studies and I quiz her (or Hallie quizzes her, let's be real) the more anxious I get.  Brad is even getting in on the action, adding to my misery, by imagining scenarios in which Mills fails.  By the end of the night, I am beside myself.

The next morning Brad and I are, again, discussing how bad it is gonna be when she misses a word.

"Wish I could be there," he deadpans, "but I have a meeting."


I tell Mills that she cannot cry if she gets out, that it is a school function and she needs to keep her dignity.  She asks me what "dignity" means and all I can picture is Martin Luther King, Jr.,  and I cannot figure out a way to articulate "dignity" because I am tired, so I decide on the words "shit together".  Just kidding.  But I did think it.  I ended up just saying, "Just don't cry.  Now go to bed."  And that's the truth. 

In true Mills fashion, she countered, "Oh, I get it.  I shouldn't cry because then the judges will feel bad."  That girl has been watching too much American Idol with J.Lo crying every five seconds.  I mean, sometimes they just SUCK, Jenny from the Block, stop promoting your new album.  I feel like that chic is always thinking three steps ahead, you know?

I digress.  So we are at the Spelling Bee, and even though I told Mills a thousand times to just go to the Gym, that I would meet her after carpool, the first words she utters to me are "you're late."

It's useless to plead my case in the middle of the auditorium in front of multiple stands of Moms.  At this point, I just want to start holding my breath until she misses her first word.  Brad is texting me furiously, "What's happening?"  and "Did she get out yet?"  To him it is all one big dodge ball tournament. Seriously, we were both on pins and needles.

Thank God, one of my best friends and her husband were sitting near me.  She totally got it because she knows Mills.

I made friends with the other Moms around me, too, who were equally nervous.  At one point, we were pointing out our children and I recognized one Mother's child, because "she was the one who did the back bend when she got her word right."  These were Moms I could totally relate to.  I felt better.

Well, to make a long story short, Mills somehow managed to make the cut.  This was partially due to the good graces of the judges who awarded her words like, "Boy, Better, and Other".  I wonder if it had to do with that threatening email I sent?  One will never know, I guess, and I don't think I want to.  Let's just say that my budget is blown for June, you dig?    Everybody has a price, mi amigos.  No matter where you live.  Geez, I hope my check clears. Okay, I am just joking, in case someone reads this and it ruins Mills' shot at the title.

So, anyway, my recommendation to you today is to get the new IPad 2.  That is what I downloaded Mills' practice words on.  Her Mimi and Grandpa Kennie bought it for them as an "out of the blue" gift.  It is amazing.  It will save me this summer.  That thing is so sleek, I am embarrassed to keep talking about it, because I am not worthy of owning one.  So, if it is in your budget - invest.  At the very least it will save your marriage.  Word.

Here is the outfit we came up with for the Spelling Bee. Do you think it's too much?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I enjoy a mispronunciation more than anything.  Some people can't get enough of watching people fall Others might enjoy a good vomit caught on tape.  My secret pleasure is the mispronunciation of the English word.

Just like in a good "fall" story, if the person calls attention to themselves before falling, then the fall to the bystander becomes that much more enjoyable.  For instance, when I was in Middle School (a term which floods me with the feeling of self-consciousness to this day), I was walking into the most daunting place in my world at that time - the cafeteria.  I walked in, saw a friend of mine across the ugly linoleum checkered floor, seated at a table.  I then waved and yelled "Hi" to her as my the toe of my shoe caught the metal limb under a chair and down I went.  It was a slow motion event in my mind where the atmosphere around you becomes very clear but muffled, and I specifically remember the girl I was waving to, cupping her hand to the side of her face as she mouthed the words "OH MY GOD", and turning away from me.

The roar of the cafeteria was deafening after that and I picked myself off of the floor and proceeded to the back to the snaking lunch line.  In retrospect, maybe I don't appreciate a good "fall", per say, because I am too close to it - it is too painful for me .  I tend to empathize with the" fallee", rather than revel in their misery.

So, just to be clear, a made-up word like "fallee" is NOT the same as a MISPRONOUNCED word, or nonpronunciationment.  The reason why this post even came to me was that I was just at a CVS and a woman with Sharon Stone spikey hair and lipstick on that was too dark for her (it was also a little messy, clearly indicating CRAZY) butted the line I was standing in, and said, "Is it okay if I ask a question?"

She immediately had the attention of the entire line which was about six deep and then she followed with "Could you tell me where you keep the vanilla envelopes?"
My knee jerk, mispronunciation siren went off and I burst into laughter and then the slow motion that followed as I turned around to see if anyone else caught it, reflected a line of irritated faces and puzzlement.

So I got in my car after paying for my cold meds (code for Prozac and diet pills, natch) and created this post in my mind, complete with recovered memories of mispronunciation throughout my life.

My husband uses the word MAAZUR for measure.  That's just irritating now, though.  Another family member of mine, says HYDRANGELA instead of Hydrangea.  I tend to get "hydrangelas every Spring for my dining room table and I have several "hydrangela plants in my yard.

  I have said to her, "Hey look at my HYD-RANGE-AS.  I got such a great price on my HYD-RANGE-AS.  My HYD-RANGE-AS were only $14.00."thinking she will finally mimic my enunciation of the word.

"Oh, I love hydrangelas.  They are my favorite, too."  I am defeated.

My best friend, Alissa, shares in my love for the misspoken word, as well.  We were able to see the movie, "I Love You, Man" together where they do a whole rif on mispronunciations throughout the film.  We made a game that weekend to work as many of them into normal conversation as we could and then we would just be in stitches.  There is just nothing like an inside joke with your best friend during a girls' weekend.

"Congradulationes,"we would say to each other when we got a good deal on a pair of jeans or something. 

"YOU are a giineous!" one of us would exclaim, when the other would figure out how much to tip or  find the appropriate route to da' Loehmann's downtown.

The beauty of my affliction is that you can hear something second hand, and it is still as funny.  Think about it, if someone tells you about someone falling, it doesn't hold a candle to seeing the actual fall on YouTube. I guess, technically YouTube is second hand, but you know what I mean.

For instance, I have  a friend who tells the story of a girl she knows who had just gotten engaged and she was excitedly showing all of her friends her new engagement ring.  She described it was "platunium" over and over again, as in "My fiance was vacillating between white gold and platunium, but then he settled on platunium because it sets off the "bagwettes" so nicely. "  Cracks me up.  Again, the calling attention to yourself first, makes all the difference.

The Tzagournis' (pronounced "Tag Norris" for those not in the know) took us to Scioto Country Club last summer for it's infamous Friday Night Happy Hour.  Cindy and I were having white wine and one of us pronounced it "sardonnaay" by accident and we were giggling about it and using it as often as we could.  George and Brad came to the pool after playing golf, and Brad asked if he could get us another drink.

Without missing a beat, Cindy goes, "We'll take two Sardonnays, please" and we fell into laughter all over again.

So Brad apparently went up to the bar, none the wiser, and orders our drinks.  He then comes back and tells us that they don't have the drink we ordered. "The bartender didn't know what a Sardonnay

So Brad returns to the bar with his tail between his legs and explains that we really wanted two CHARDONNAYS.

The bartender then responds, "Well, of she's pronouncing it that way, then maybe she shouldn't have any more."

Oh, it is interesting to note, that I once set my purse on fire at another Scioto event, but that is another post.

My recommendation to you today is to always look out for a good nonpronounciationment.  There is nothing funnier, especially if you can use it in your everyday life, or even teach it to your children.  There are few free pleasures in life and my friends, this is definitely one of them.

Only, please, please, please, if you run across a good one, do me a solid - email, text me, or comment on this post.  It will make my day.

Check out the link above of "Sheea Lebuff's" nonpronunciationment.  I forgot to mention that mispronunciations are even funnier if the person is trying to appear more educated than he is.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The "Vintage" Limo

Okay.  Brad is obsessed with The Zac Brown Band.  He used to be obsessed with the Grateful Dead in high school and college, and now since Jerry's death, he has decided to turn his attentions toward Zac Brown.  We have seen them three times in two years and we are about to see them, again, this Memorial Day Weekend, in Columbus.  Brad is a member of the "Zamily," which embarrasses me to say out loud, and is a kind of Zac Brown fan club, that, as far as we know, enables us to be eligible for special privileges, if he wears his "Zamily" badge to the concert.  Okay, before you make judgements, let me tell you how Brad got to this place. 

Honestly, the first Zac Brown concert we went to was a total surprise. It was about two and a half years ago, and they were just about to be a big deal, but at this point, they had not won any Grammy's, and they did not possess any titles like, "Best New Band" or "Best New Album" or Country Band of the Century or whatever.   I had never even heard of them, and our friends, the Whybrews, invited us to the concert.  It was the first time I had ever been to a concert, not knowing one lyric of a song the band that I was about to go see, was going to sing.

I mean, Brad and I do that all of the time, with movies, but this was a whole different ballgame.  We love to go and see a movie that we have not heard one thing about, for instance, if we like the actors in it, or the plot seems interesting or whatever.  It is the unknown that is exciting, but going to listen to live music, seemed to me, like a whole different story.  To top it all off, we had amazing 2nd row seats, which just heightened the experience, as I had never before been that close to a band before.  But let me back up.

The Whybrews' and our 15 year wedding anniversaries were a few weeks apart.  We decided to celebrate them together by going out to dinner and a concert.  It was just one of those nights that was perfect.  The meal was awesome, the band was a delightful surprise and everything was just right in the universe, you know?  Wait, let me back up again.

So, we are waiting for the Whybrews to arrive from Westerville, and all of the sudden this white limo comes around the corner and I say, "Oh, there must be a dance tonight or something."  because we are surrounded on three sides by teenagers.  The limo then stops in front of our house and Paul Whybrew, who is a tall man, is sitting on the door, hanging out of the opened window (there was no "sunroof" option when this limo was built, maybe T-tops, but this one didn't have them) and puts his arms up in the air and yells, "Happy Anniversary, Underwoods!" 

Brad and I, our children, and mostly our babysitter, who up until that point considered us really lame, were stunned with delight. The whole neighborhood started to gather around. I felt like royalty.  The best part, though, is that upon further inspection, the limo was obviously part of a line of limos that they put out in 1985.

There was a string of lights illuminating the periphery of the limo, that I recognized to be put on by some sort of silly putty substance that were partially burned out.  In the description of the limo on their website, this is referred to as "fiber optic lighting".  Classic.  They are the same lights, encased in plastic that people use to decorate their docks at Apple Valley Lake.

Paul explained to us that he wanted to surprise us with a limo, but when he was comparison shopping on the internet, all of the other limo companies were very expensive, and then at the bottom of the list was this one, many hundreds of dollars cheaper - in a class all by itself - and for good reason.  Looking back, I think it was a little more than a cab would have cost, if we had taken individual cabs, that is. 

On the way to the concert, we asked if "Debbie", our driver,  could hook up Kim's ipod so Brad and I could familiarize ourselves with The Zac Brown Band's latest album.  It was then explained to us that there was no mechanism IN the limo that would enable an ipod to work, but that we could listen to the radio and that she would try and find a station that was playing Zac Brown, but that she had never heard of them before, so "it might be hard to find."  She continued, "Hey, I could just put it on SCAN, and then you can tell me if you hear one of his songs."

No thanks.  That might be a little distracting, and right now we just wanted to enjoy our drinks and admire the dingy cranberry velour interior for a while, as we gaze out the windows that might as well be tinted, they are so filthy.   "Well, you were smart to bring your own cooler, because we don't provide alcohol, as a rule.  Oh, you're welcome to DRINK it, though."  There was also a telephone in the back that was straight out of Gordon Gekko's limo. We debated at length whether or not the outdated phone reached the outside world or just Debbie, up front.  Debbie informed us that it was just a direct line to her, which was moot, because the barrier window between the front and the back was on the fritz, so Debbie was an active part of our conversation from the start. 

Now, let's turn our attentions to Debbie.  Debbie was a pleasant gal from Kentucky, who explained to me the dynamics of buying generic cigarettes in Kentucky versus Ohio, with great fervor and gesticulations, during a bathroom stop.  During this exchange, I noticed that Debbie looked as if she had been a beaver in another life as her two front teeth had an upside down "U" shape cut into them, in which a medium sized stick could have easily fit right into.  I lost interest in what she was saying, and could only focus on her "beaver-like" appearance which I finally decided was a result of Methamphetamines. I had seen this "look" before when I was a social worker, and it took me a while to bring it up from my memory, but once I figured it all out, I was extremely pleased with myself.  Now this is what it is like to be inside my mind, people.  It is not pretty.

Anyway, even though the concert was amazing, and our seats were incredible, and we ate at Lindy's at the bar, and we spent the entire night congratulating each other on what good friends we were.  But, as usual, my favorite part was the in-between, or the subtext of the evening, if you will.  Debbie and her limo stole the show, as far as I am concerned.

The name of the limo company we used was Ohio Limo.  Check them out and be sure to ask for Debbie.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fashion Consciousness

On Friday night,  I went to a Columbus Academy for Art and Design (CCAD) fundraiser that included a fashion show and drinks.  It was set up in two tents, one tent that housed the actual fashion show, and another tent that was for VIP's.  A "general admission" ticket was $125 and a VIP ticket was $350.  If you purchased a VIP ticket, then you were seated around the runway, and I think maybe you received unlimited champagne or something, and if you were General Admission, you got two drink tickets and had to stand.  There was a cocktail reception afterward with a "white couch" VIP area.  Generals paid for their tickets, and VIP's sat on the couches and drank free ones.  Hor d'oeuvres were also provided. 

There were a few people in the front row and throughout the party, that were wearing sunglasses.  This is inside the tent with very dim lighting.  I think this originally was started during New York Fashion Week, and say Milan fashion shows, because the celebrities found the flashbulbs from the international media, to be too blinding to enjoy the fashion show.  It also probably hid their bloodshot eyes and dialated pupils.  I mean, let's be real.

Anyway, I found the people with sunglasses on, to be profoundly hilarious, as this was a SCHOOL fashion show in COLUMBUS, OHIO.  Everytime I see a young girl making an ass out of herself, I think of my three daughters and what their future might hold, and I cringe.  I also make a mental note to sit them down and tell them to never, under any circumstances, should they wear sunglasses indoors, even if they are intensely marvelous, which all three of them are destined to be.  This will be during my "always wear underwear" talk, that will no doubt culminate into my "keep your knees together and your mind on Jesus" speech.

Anyway, I have been to two fashion shows in my entire life, and the other one was the "Project Runway" fashion show in Chicago.  We got the hook up from my best friend, Alissa's, sister-in-law, "Jen" who worked in Macys' promotions department at the time.  I was pregnant with my final child, Eva, and this experience is forever a part of my memory of Eva's pregnancy.

I was HUGE pregnant, not far along, mind you, just HUGE, and I put on my best maternity dress I had to borrow from someone else, and high heeled boots and did my best to "act like I've been there before," as Brad likes to say.  Jen (my girl crush) hooked us up with front row seats, and backstage passes to meet some of the designers, and none other than Tim Gunn.

Upon meeting the illustrious Tim Gunn, Alissa gushed and fell all over herself, and asked all these questions about each season, like he was her best gay friend.  He then looked at my very pregnant body and said, "Looks like you've been busy."  LOVE IT.  He then introduced us to one of the designers as "two ladies from Iowa."  All of the midwestern states may as well be Iowa, in his mind, and rightly so, because he is FABULOUS.

So, we sit down and there is all of this media from Chicago, and then the impossible happened.  The fashion editor from the Chicago Tribune, looked over at me and fervently waved as if I was a very big deal.  She obviously was mistaking me for someone else, probably Heidi Klum, and after looking behind me to see who she was really waving at and discovering it was ME, I did my best "I am better than you blow off wave" as to keep up appearances.  Alissa leaned in, because it was getting packed in there and it was difficult to hear, and says in my ear, "We'll have a good laugh about that one later."

I don't know if any of you are fans of  Project Runway, but it is a reality show in which budding  designers are given specific challenges, in which they have to complete an outfit or "look" in a very short period of time.  Some of the winning looks were on display at the event, and let me tell you up close they were a hot mess.  Being a fan of the show, it was so fun to see some of the contestants and their work we had devoted a significant amount of our lives to, (this not only includes watching the show, but discussing it at length over the phone) "in the flesh," as they say.

My favorite reality show right now is on the DIY Network and it is called "Family Under Construction".  It is about a family who buys a crack house in Minneapolis and fixes it up.  It holds my attention because the Dad is in the film business or something (and he posseses that jen a se quois that people like him always have) and the Mom is really pretty, but relatively normal, and so are the kids.  She is also fabulous and always wears these off the shoulder shirts, which fascinate me, as well.  Check it out and let me know if it is as addictive to you, as it is to me.

Pic above is of the CCAD fashion show.  Sooooo great.  Hey Mills, you might want to cover up a bit.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Killer Vacuum

I have been looking for the perfect vacuum cleaner all of my life. I once had a cleaning lady quit because she said I had too much dog hair, and it was clogging up her vacuum.  I have become convinced that old vacuums work better than new ones.  That is not to say that I have not watched the entire length of the Dyson vacuum infomercial in awe.  

So my best friend did a bunch of research, and then I heeded the results, and we came up with the Royale, as the best choice in antiquated sweepers.  I, then, scoured Craig's List for one, and had Brad take me to their house for a looksee.  We were going to a pumpkin patch festival or something family oriented like that, that gives me hives, (as it never turns out the way you had imagined) and luckily, the vendor of the vacuum was right in the neighborhood.

So, here is the problem that I find with Craig's List transactions such as this.  You go to a complete stranger's house, they demonstrate (in my case) or show you the product, and then you have this awkward moment, where if you don't want it, then you have to somehow leave without (in this case) getting beaten up.

We have all three kids in the car, in what appears to be a low income neighborhood, near our goal destination requiring forced family fun.  I go up to the door, by myself, and a huge woman answers the door with a cigarrette hanging out of her mouth, and introduces me to her partner, another gigantic woman.  I realize at this point that I am buying the vacuum, whether it turns on or not.  The performance of the appliance is irrelevant.

"We'll go out here,"  she grunts as she leads me through what appears to be a replica of the basement in Silence of the Lambs.

"It puts the lotion on it's skin or else it gets the hose again, " I hear over and over in my head. 

The woman leads me out to what appears to be her "ciggie porch" with empty crumpled beer cans strewn all over it, accompanied by overflowing ashtrays.  For the first time in many decades I want my Mommy.

"We'll do this here." she says almost inaudibly.  I look down and suddenly notice that I am wearing something really girly and red, which I am sure will remind her of Little Red Riding Hood.  I could not have been a bigger target, if I had been hunting with Dick Cheney.

"This is an awesome sweeper.  My girlfriend and I use it to clean up construction sites.  We're just selling off some of our stuff because we are moving to start a new life." She then plugs in the vacuum, dumps one of the ashtrays on the floor and proceeds to vacuum it up.  It does not pick up all of the cigarettes.  I don't care.  All I can think about are my babies.

"Perfect.  I'll take it.  How much again?"  I take out my checkbook.

"Cash only," Life Partner says behind me.  I swivel around.

I am fumbling with my purse.  I drop it on the floor.  I find all the cash I had taken out for the Pumpkin Festival.  I hand it to her.  It is ten dollars more than asking price.  I tell her that is okay.  She can keep the change.  I pick up the enormous industrial vacuum cleaner that doesn't work properly because it has been picking up screws and broken glass all of it's life, and awkwardly run with it as fast as I can through her scary house and out the front door.

I mash it between my baby girls that I thought I would never see again, and tell Brad to  "get the hell out of here!"

"How much did you pay for that thing?" he asks, with that look he always has on his face whenever I buy something, even if it is for domestic chores.

"I don't wanna talk about it. Let's just enjoy the day."  The sweeper sat in my garage until we threw it out a year later.  I could have mowed the lawn with that thing, or swept it, at least.  I ended up getting an old Electrolux at a yard sale, not long after that.  It has worked like a charm, and I just got it serviced at Goodale Pro Hardware.  My only problem is, that I don't know where I am going to get the vacuum cleaner bags to fit it, once I run out, because the vacuum is over 15 years old.

I guess I'll go on Craig's List. That seemed to work out beautifully before.  

I am positively obsessed with Goodale Pro Hardware.  I love locally owned small businesses.  I think they are what make this country great.   Instead of increasing their prices to be competitive, Goodale  Pro Hardware is so reasonable.  They offer a lot of services, too.  They have this handy man in the back that will try and fix anything.  He serviced my Electrolux for $15.00!  I just recently brought him my broken 10-year-old copper fountain, and he is working on that as we speak.  They will service your lawn mower, sharpen knives, repair screens, rent lawn equipment - you name it.  Maybe this is what ALL hardware stores do, but it seems to me everytime I go into a Lowe's or a Home Depot, if I have a question about something in their store, they end up either passing me off to someone else, or they talk to me about everything BUT what I want to know.

When I go into Goodale Pro Hardware, the best thing about them is their customer service, which I am big on.  I have spoken with the girl working the desk several times.  She helps her uncle out at Springfield Extravaganza.  I have never been there, and she was explaining to me where to go and what to do, and not to buy from the front venders before I peruse the ones in the back, because the front venders price their stuff higher because they paid a premium for their spot. I guess some people find what they are looking for in the front, and then leave.

When I wanted to purchase concrete paint for this fabulous bird bath I purchased for Mother's Day, she directed me to two different kinds of spray paint and then instructed me to buy the cheaper one, because it was better.  I mean, if I had gone to Lowe's I would be hard pressed to find someone that could point me to the proper aisle, let alone advise me to buy the least expensive paint. 

I like the store so much I bought a t-shirt, because I like their logo, too.  Try it out and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gossip Girl

My friend just told me about this book that is coming out, that is entirely fiction, and the characters are based on real people (housewives, no less) in Upper Arlington.  Apparently, there is a book signing soon at Scioto, and the fish are jumping.  If this concept sounds vaguely familiar to you, you might have read The Help by Katheryne Stockett.  It is one of my all time favorite books.  The big difference being that this book, supposedly, is written from the prospective of another housewife, not "the help" of the housewives. 

As I was pondering the concept of the book, it raised a lot of issues with me.  For one, isn't the book just gossip, or payback for mistreatment of the protagonist?  Is it just me, or doesn't this reek of Wisteria Lane?  In The Help, it was very clear who the victim was, and who the aggressor was, because of society's standards at the time, and the culture that surrounded it.  But, if you are a housewife in a suburban neighborhood, you are going to come across crazy people, and mistreatment of people, and of course, people who feel justified in doing both, I suppose, if there really are two sides to everything, right?  It becomes about the perspective of the side you are on, really.  And that is why The Help worked, and I am not sure if this book will.  I have not read it, yet.  I will let you know.  Right now I just want to discuss the nature of the book, I guess.

On the flip side, this book will sell like wildfire around Arlington, at least, because people are afraid they are in there, and the disconnect between how they want to be perceived, versus the person they actually are, will be exposed.  SUPPOSEDLY, that is.  I mean, is it slander, if it is true?

Brad and I recently were having a conversation about the power of Facebook and how weird it was that he knew before I did, that my best friend let her daughter and her friends toilet paper (or TP) the inside of her house during her Birthday slumber party because it was raining outside.  This was all because Alissa posted it on Facebook, and he saw it before I did.  The funny thing is, that he probably would have never even known about this, (unless I brought it up) let alone seen a picture before I did!  Isn't that fascinating?

So we started fantasizing about how funny it would be if people posted their REAL status updates on Facebook, rather than the status updates of the way they choose to be perceived.  In a way, for adults, I see Facebook as a way for people to put their own "spin" on their lives.  It is a Public Relations vehicle, really.  What if we all got real, and we posted what was really going on in our lives.  Here are some examples Brad and I came up with.

(1)I don't know how I am going to pay my mortgage this month.  I am living way beyond my means.

(So then if you press Like, are you saying that you are living beyond your means as well, or are you just congratulating the person for being genuine?)

(2)  I just put my kid in time out and forgot about him.  He was in his room for an HOUR. LOL.

(3) I wish my wife would stop spending all my money.  I mean, it would be one thing if the house were clean...

(4) I just took my daughter's Ritalin and I am getting so much done!

and finally

(5)I was so hung over this morning and then my boss came in and wanted to do my review.  Yikes!

We went on and on, as you can imagine. Perception versus Reality is one of my favorite subjects.  What do you want people's perception of you to be?  Do you want to be perceived as smart? fit? funny? perfect? nice? humble? rich?involved?  Whatever you put out there on Facebook is what you want people to perceive about you, whether you realize it or not, but I assume most of you have.  When I ask myself this question, I think the perception I try to put out there is that I am harried and disorganized so that people's expectations of me are low and then they are pleasantly surprised if I pull something off.  I also believe that my perception mirrors my reality.  I am disorganized and harried.  I always have been and I assume I always will be.  So, I've got that going for me, which is nice.  I think you just get into trouble when your appearance doesn't match your true self.   And maybe that is what the women in this town allegedly portrayed in the book I mentioned above might be worried about.  Only time will tell, I guess.

My recommendation to you is to read The Help by Katheryne Stockett, if you haven't already.  It is a wonderful book and I used the expression "Oh Law" for a month. I need to pick that back up.  I miss it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Aminal Kingdom Part II

Alright we left off where Brad and I should have gone home after the Derby was over and we had money in our pocket, but instead we decided to stay.  We called home to congratulate Mills, who already knew she had won, and it was burning a hole in her pocket already.  Brad stifled any dreams of going to Target and promptly told her that her winnings were to add to her college fund.  Mills, being the Drama Queen that she is, interpreted this as not having enough money to go to college in the first place, unless she had won the Derby, and immediately turned the moment into this hysterical nightmare where her Dad had to get back on the phone and explain that she was going to get to go to college, with or without her Derby winnings.  Classic.  Brad goes and gets another beer.  Honestly, if that man were to have one more ounce of estrogen in his life, his head would explode.

So we ask the girls who their pick is on the next race, and we ignore them all and win it, using my superior betting skills, where I use the name and the color of the racing silks to determine the winner.  We are elated.  We quickly lose the last race and then we realize we are on our own and have no ride home.  We decide to "wait out" the traffic by going to a bar.  There are people everywhere.  We don't even make it to a bar when we discover a house party with a live band and the dance floor is their driveway.  Peeeerrrrrrfffffeeeecccct.  We dance for several hours and make many friends.  No, not the kind of friends you make for life, just the kind of friends you make for the night.  It is by far, my favorite part of the day. 

At some point we decide we are hungry and Brad goes to get us a cab.  Now this is where it gets random.  I look up, mid-interpretive Sweet Home Alabama dance, and he is holding open a door to a dark sedan.  He is waving me over and yelling my name.  I get in.  I am in the back seat of a car owned by an African American couple who I soon learn, "decided to help some folks out by giving them rides around town."  I roll with it.  I have no choice.  Brad decides we are going to Porcini's (Rick Pitino's restaurant where he fornicated on one of the tables and was extorted for it, for all of you basketball enthusiasts).  The couple drive us around town for 45 minutes.  It was not intentional, as there was no meter running, they just couldn't get their GPS to work. 

Finally, we arrive at Porcini's. 

Brad says, "Thanks.  How much do we owe you?"

The lady says, "Umm, that'll be $60."

I say, "What?  That was a twenty dollar cab ride!"  The lady and man look at each other and give each other that look like "are we going to get away with this?" as they shrug their shoulders. 

Brad gives them the money.

"Oh, wait," the lady stops me as I worm my way out of her car.  "Here is our number for when you need a ride home."  I mean, are you serious?

I crumple the number up in my hand and say, "I think we'll just take a cab ride home from here.  It will be a lot cheaper.  Thanks."

The next day, Brad and I determine we got off pretty easy considering we could have been held at gun point and been cleaned out completely. 

So, the door to Porcini's is extremely heavy.  It makes a creaking sound, too, so the people at the bar who are perpendicular to the front entrance turn to look each time the door is opened.  The hostess stand is just to the right of the small foyer beyond the door.

Here is what happened next.  I open the heavy door, and everyone at the bar turns to look. Brad steps on the sole of my flip flop.  I lurch forward and bite it right there in the middle of the foyer in front of everyone.  My purse actually slides and hits the bottom of the hostess stand.  The young hostesses and several people from the bar rush over to help me up and see if I am okay.  One of the patrons say to me, "Wow.  That was a perfect Pete Rose."  and starts laughing.  So does Brad.  Classic. 

The rest of the night was not as exciting.  We ordered food and then decided to take a cab waiting outside.  We took the food to go and came home and went to bed. 

I will be honest, I usually embellish these blogs to make them funnier or more interesting but in this case I left a lot out because it is not suitable for family viewing.  Just kidding.  In reality, the night is a little "patchy". 

My recommendation to you is to have a random night every once in a while, just to keep your marriage interesting.  Stick to public transportation or use licensed companies for getting around town, though. 

Or I guess another, more interesting recommendation, would be for you and your loved one to wait outside of a busy nightlife district and pick up random couples and drive them to their next location.  When they ask you "how much?"  charge them double what the cost of a cab would be.  That might be fun, too, and you will make a little money on the side.  It's up to you.  You have two different scenarios here.  I guess it just depends on how hard up for cash you are. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Aminal Kingdom

It is tradition that each of our children pick a horse in the Derby and then Brad and I bet $10 on it to win once we get inside.  Mills picked "Aminal Kingdom".  That is NOT one of my many typos, it is the way she pronounces the word, "animal".  I have not corrected it, because it is the last remaining mispronounced word from her "Speech Therapy" days and I guess in some way, I just want to keep her little.  Luckily, Eva, my four-year-old, has picked up on this, so I have a few more years (and probably will get to invest in more speech therapy) to enjoy it.

Anyway, I like that "Aminal Kingdom" won the Derby, because it is a clear metaphor for what the Derby is actually like.  People are hopped up on cheap bourbon and the prospect of winning money, which triggers testosterone, apparently, and the women preen around on their sky high stilleto heels and wedges in all of the colors of the Rainbow.  I imagine it is a little like Africa, only the "aminals" do not wear gigantic hats and seersucker and aren't quite as drunk.

It is no secret that the reason Churchill Downs has people walking around with trays of alcoholic drinks every five seconds is because it affects the decision-making ability of its patrons, and therefore their inhibitions, when it comes to who they bet on, and how much they bet.  Unfortunately, the alcohol also affects the other decisions they make throughout the day, as well.  This is something they do not advertise during Derby Week, and that no one talks about, until now, of course.

Okay.  So my Dad drops Brad and I off in front of a van at the Ford Truck Plant where he works.  The deal was that Johnson Controls, a supplier for Ford, was going to host us for the day.  This included seats, drinks and food, and (my favorite) the promise of a random adventure - and it did not disappoint.   

I may have to do a three part series, because I want to do the day justice and it turned out to be a long one.  We'll see how it goes.  So my Dad, assuming that the woman standing next to the van was Tho's (his supplier contact) wife and begins regurgitating the story he had rehearsed about why Brad is going in his place to Derby.  My Dad went on and on about how he wasn't feeling well and that he may come back later, and that he would just buy his own ticket, Blah, Blah, Double Blah.  The woman turns to him after the monologue, and says I have no idea what you are talking about.  I am also a "client," and well, I hope you feel better," as she is backs away.  Tho has not even shown up yet.

So for an hour, we stand around the van, and engage in awkward, sober, conversation as we get to know the people we are about to embark on our adventure with.  Everyone was LOVELY.  The person in charge of hosting us, Jimmy, brought his adorable son, Robbie, who was also a stand up comedian.  Jenny, the woman my Dad made an ass of himself to, was so sweet and fun and we were instant friends.  Tho brought his wife and four-year-old daughter, who were equally adorable. 

Then, there was Kenny.  He is the one in the crowd that was out until the wee hours the night before and you can just tell that that first drink is going to put him right back where he was six hours before.  I can only speak for myself, but I was looking more forward to his first drink, more than my own, and that is saying a lot.

Kenny is hilarious, right from the start.  Brad instantly gravitates toward him, as Ken is apparently channeling the personality of one of Brad's best friends.  Now if you do not know Brad, he has a very dry sense of humor, and he just LOVES being around outgoing people who's main goal is to have a good time.  Hummmmmm, who does that sound like?

Everywhere I turned, Jimmy was offering to buy me a drink or a meal or asking if I needed anything.  I felt self-conscious, but his son explained to me that this was Jimmy's job - " a glorified bitch".  Anyway, Kenny sucks down his first Mint Julip in record time.  He is badgering Jimmy to buy him another before we have even bet our first race.  He does disappearing acts throughout the day where there is much talk of "Where's Kenny?" and "I hope Kenny's okay.".

He then would show back up, more hammered than ever, put his arm around you and tell you about his trip to the Infield by himself where he met some very nice people he will not remember in the morning.  He then tells you he loves you and that he is glad that you are married to your spouse.  If you are divorced, he asks the date of the final paper signing and congratulates you on that.  He is just HAPPY FOR YOU, no matter what your stage in life is - and that is a beautiful thing.

So I tell Jenny that I want to show her the Derby race up close.  I do this every year and I love to show people who have never been to the Derby before, what it sounds like when the team of Thoroughbreds rounds the third turn and thunder past you.  The dirt is being kicked up and the jockeys are poised on top of their horses, and it is just an amazing sight to behold.  Again, I do this EVERY year.  A lot of people do this every year.  That is why it is twenty deep at the railing at post time.

So we get up front and the couple on the rail who own the seats tell us that they don't mind if we stand on them to see the race.  We are all excited and I am telling Jenny what to expect and all of the sudden a drunk guy right behind us starts badgering us.  He is pissed that we are standing on the seats in front of him and I explain that we were invited to stand there.  He doesn't care.  We take our enormous hats off.  He keeps at us.  He tries to get security who laugh in his face.  He will not let up.  His wife starts apologizing for him.  Jenny offers for him to stand where we are.  We separate to allow him room and he shoves me as he steps up on the seat.  I tell him to keep his hands off of me and I am shaking now and I step down behind the railing as tears start to stream down my face.  I just wanted to show her what it was like to watch the Derby up close.  I felt disappointed and humiliated and mostly drunk. That would explain crying at a major sporting event.  I mean, let's be real, I would not have done that if I had been drinking ice tea all day.

So the race is over and Jenny explains to me that she had a great time and that she works in Truck plants for a living and that dealing with raging assholes are part of her job everyday.  I feel better.  The Johnson Control guys (including Jimmy) discover me crying and rally to my defense.  I know in my heart that if I point out the douchebag that put his hands on me, he will we pulverized in about 5 minutes.

Brad finds me and tells me not to worry about it that "Aminal Kingdom" just won the Derby and we are RICH, RICH, RICH!  The Johnson Control guys invite us to eat at Morton's with them, all expenses paid, natch, and we decline so we can stay for the last two races, which is another custom.  We exchange "thank you's" and pleasantries and business cards, and the last thing I glimpse is Jimmy with his enormous hand around Kenny's neck to stabilize him as they file out into the crowd and head to the Steak House.

Well, hindsight is twenty/twenty as they say, and even though I had a great time the rest of the night, we should have gone home right then.  But we didn' be continued.

Pic above was when Kenny grabbed my hat and put it on.  Couldn't have described him better than this picture does, if I tried.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Derby Surprise

My Dad called me today with the biggest news.  My mom lost her annual Derby tickets, finally, she has been missing the deadline and hanging on by a thread for a few years now.  It's funny.  The way it works is that you have to write in, that's right, I said write in each year to receive your tickets.  Then, they decided to make you pay licensing fees and a bunch of other bullshit to keep your tickets and then finally my mom became obsessed with selling stuff on Ebay and went on dialysis and good ol' Churchill Downs fell by the wayside.  My Aunt and Uncle still have their tickets, though, as she is a regular at the track, which is Churchill's target audience, so she was gracious enough to let Brad and I use hers this year.

Let me back up.  I have not finished telling you what a "traditional" Derby entails for Brad and I.  We usually go to the track around the third race.  Because we are cool, you see, and we do not want to appear too anxious.  Truth be told, we are a little foggy from going to Mr. G's the night before and my parents' enable us to sleep in and it is wonderful.

So on the way to the track, we pick up our box lunches at Heitzman's we ordered the day before, and then get all the makings for mimosas and a six pack of Tallboys - every year, like clockwork.  We park in this yard that is about as far away from our seats as you can get while still being right across from the track.  We might want to revisit that one day, but whatever, we know the people and it always makes for good stories.  I am in so good with the residents there that they allow me to use their bathroom which I usually share with one of their cats, while it goes to the bathroom in its litter box, in tandem with me. 

So we tailgate a little and then one of us usually does something like drop our phone in our beer (me, one year, him the next) and that is what signals to us that it is time to go into the track.  We hand our keys to the semi-strangers we see once a year so they can move our car as other people who have parked in their yard, come out of the Derby.  I know this seems weird to you, but it is one of those situations where you just have to trust people.

Another thing you need to realize is that Churchill Downs, (the part they don't show you, natch), is surrounded by ghetto.  It is one of the poorest areas of the city.  The people around there count on their proximity to Churchill Downs on Oaks and Derby Day, as a major source of income.  Therefore, they would only be hurting themselves if they stole from you, but people from out of town just see a Redneck in a wife beater with a cig hanging out of his mouth, ask you for the keys to your car as he takes your $50 for parking.  Valid observation, but this is the situation you are in, and you have to just roll with it, while you unplug your GPS and place it in your wife's clutch.

Now, it is interesting to note that last year, Brad and I broke from tradition, and he hired a driver off of Craig's List.  It was awesome.  He picked us up at my parents' house (My mom kept pretending to cry in case she never saw me again.  I mean, that woman!) and deposited us right at the appropriate gate nearest to our seats.  At the end of the day, he picked us up a little ways from the track, so as to avoid all of the traffic, and we were safely home in no time.

My childhood friend, Barry, rents his house out, cooks all meals, and provides transportation along with really good Derby tickets for the entire weekend for $18,000  for 6 people on Ebay. He is literally at your beck and call.  Brad and I were sitting at Mr. G's bar with him the night before Derby and one of the girls staying at his house called him on his cell phone because she needed a pack of cigarettes.  Brad and I were rolling.  But, I guess at $18,000, who really gets the last laugh?

So we go into the track, oh, vital tip, bring flip flops for walking to and from the track and for inclement weather - oh and if your feet hurt and you have had enough Mint Juleps that you don't care anymore.  I usually make it to the Derby and then I am done.  I also pack cash, hand sanitizer (which becomes like crack cocaine to those around you) and mints.

So, once in the track, we go immediately to the first window inside, and bet whatever race is next.  The rule is that you cannot get a Mint Julep, until you win a race.  This first bet sets the tone for the entire day, in my mind.  I think that first race determines whether you are going to lose or win for the day, therefore, knowing this, Brad wheels every horse in the race with the favorite, giving us the best shot at being "winners" for the day, and my greatest chance at getting my first Mint Julep.  That's right.  That's MY man.  We usually lose $10 on the race, while still managing to WIN that race and I am stirring my bourbon surrounded by crushed ice and a mint sprig in no time.

So my Dad calls last night and tells me that a supplier at work has offered him two tickets to the Derby with transportation and all of the free food and drinks you can handle.  Apparently, there is 3rd Floor Clubhouse access and the makings of a great adventure!  There is some sort of tent and all we have to do is show up at the Ford plant at 9am Derby morning.

My Dad tells him that I have three kids and that I probably can't make it that early (subtext I will be tired from Mr. G's the night before - I mean, that man KNOWS me).  The supplier says he will bring him the tickets for us on Thursday, after his trip to "DEE-troit" - my Dad's pronunciation, LOVE IT. 

"Dad, Oh My God, just tell him that we will be there at 9!  He is providing us with everything!  The least we can do is show up.  We'll take it easy the night before, I swear."

"Um hum."  This is my Dad's version of the word "bullshit".  My kids even imitate him doing it when they tell him they have a tummy ache in the morning and the only thing that will soothe it is a bowl of Oreos.

Oh!  And I almost forgot...the supplier dude is Japanese!  Yea!  I just loves me some Japanese!  So, SURPRISE BRAD.  We are about to embark on yet another Derby together!  This one seems ripe for many inside jokes and material for this blog.

Although, with our luck, we'll probably end up on a blanket in the infield, eating cold fried chicken with hooch stains around our mouths.  Been there.  Done that.  In high school AND college.  It's gotta be just as fun at 41!

This entire week's recommendation is to go to The Derby at least once in your lifetime.  Put it on your bucket list NOW people!  I'll give you Barry's number for next year!

Hat is from Cheesecake Boutique on Lane Avenue.  Wore it last year and my dress this year is from there.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama Bin Laden

I was going to do a week of Derby posts, but I feel that I have to address the execution of Bin Laden, first.  I think everyone could tell you what they were doing when that first plane hit the towers on September 11th.  I was one week away from having my first baby, sitting in my robe, riveted.  I know it happened well into the morning, but I was very pregnant and not too motivated to walk around and discuss the benefits of Claritin to a bunch of bored doctors for the 100th time. 

I stayed in my robe all day.  We were getting voice mails from our Director telling us that it was "business as usual" and that "today is not a National Holiday."  I don't know about you, but on September 11th, I wanted to be around my family, not offices full of ungrateful medical office personnel that asked me if I had any donuts before they greeted me in the morning.

I called everyone I loved, and made sure they were safe, although at first, no one felt safe.  It felt like you could get attacked at any time - anywhere.  If you remember, there were reports of attacks and missing planes all over the country.  It was frightening.  I just sat there and watched footage of New York City and the Pentagon, and cried until I couldn't cry anymore.

They held the telethon while I was in the hospital, after I had Hallie.  That is all I watched.  That is all that was on.  It didn't matter.  That  is all I wanted to watch.  I watched people hold up pictures of their loved ones, as they described them while they wept.  I watched the recovery workers sob after work each day.  This was all right after I had brought a child into this world.  It was bittersweet, as is this assassination to me.

Brad called me on the way to work and exclaimed, "We got Bin Laden.  It happened last night and we shut the t.v. off too early when we went to bed and we missed it."  My immediate reaction was sadness and the recurring thought "too little too late."  

But, like any intense emotional reaction to something.  I had to sit on it and figure out why I was being so cynical.  Why was it that the one person on this Earth who, in my mind,  should not have had the opportunity to take a breath in a decade (longer, really) - why was his demise not satisfying to me?

I am so happy for the Military and I want Bin Laden's death to somehow bring peace to the families of the victims of the families that died on 9/11.  That being said, I did not personally feel the relief that other people were feeling.  There are several reasons why.  One, I feel like Bin Laden is one in a long line of terrorists from all over the country that hate America.  Two, there is something dissatisfying about killing someone for something that they believe will immediately ascend them into the Afterlife.  Three, I feel like there are so many other shitty things going on internally in the country right now, that Bin Laden's death is just a blip on the radar of things that we need to do to make things right again in the World. 

I participated in the 9/11 Exhibit in Washington D.C., when I visited there with my parents and Hallie.  It had a huge piece of what was left of one of the towers along with partially burned computers, various personal effects of victims, and recordings people had left on loved ones' answering machines, some victims of 9/11, some not. We spent hours there. 

In order to participate, you filled out a questionnaire with two questions.  The first question was "What were you doing on 9/11?"  And the second question was "How has this changed you?"  I was hyperventilating by the time I finished writing.  My Mom and Dad were crying too, as we watched Hallie run around the exhibit - the child I was so anxious about bringing into this World because of Osama Bin Laden. 

My answer to the second question (among many run on sentences, of course) was that "It made me a better American."  I think the thing I hate most about Bin Laden's death is that we are all forced to relive what he did to us.  He does not deserve that privilege, but we are in control of how we internalize the experience.  The way I chose to view 9/11, is not to recall how insecure or depressed or hopeless I felt at the time, but I am going to try and remember how it made me a "better American" and how it made us "United" again.  That is how we can kill him over and over again - in our attitudes and our minds - because no matter what measures we have taken to ensure that he is not immortalized or considered a marter, he will be - to a lot of people.

The picture above is of the Memorial at Ohio Stadium.  That is what I choose to remember - all of us together again.  This way, no matter what happens, this forever puts ME in the power position.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Mint Julip and the Blackout

Today is the beginning of Derby Week in Louisville, Kentucky.  The city literally shines this week and it is absolutely a blast to be living there during this time.  The energy is so great and there are a ton of parties and festivities and I just miss being there so much right now.

There are certain quintessential elements to a successful Derby.  I have talked about tradition a lot lately, and Brad and I have a few that we have perfected over the years, when it comes to Derby.  Here is how our weekend goes, every year.

First there is the ham and the potato salad.  My Dad gets a Honey Baked Ham every Derby and he makes potato salad and baked beans, and of course, a Derby pie.  There are these really good buns you can only get in Louisville at Heitzmann's Bakery, and this is also where we order our boxed lunches every year - without fail.  Anyway, my Dad's ham meal is yummy THE FIRST TIME.  This is the only meal that is offered to you, breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It is like that scene in Mommy Dearest, where she keeps serving up that same raw steak, only my Dad is not mad at you, he's just frugal and a leftover lover.  That man will forcefeed you that meal until you gag at the site of it.  Anyway, I can't eat ham anymore, and I tell him that I am observing Jewish holiday, when I go home for Derby now. 

We used to go to the Oaks, which is the day before the Derby, and is kind of a local version of Derby.  Many Louisvillians (pronounced Lul-vil-yens, my Mom can do it for you, and she will over and over again, until you want to shoot yourself) will just attend the Oaks, because the tickets are cheaper and they are just there to hang with their friends, anyway. Then, on Derby Day, they just hit the parties and stay away from the rif raf - meaning Brad and I.  Brad and I cannot do both days, both financially and physically.  He is obsessed with bettin' the ponies, and I am obsessed with Mint Juleps.

"The Company,"  (which is what Brad and I call it when we are betting together), has a rule, and that is that you can only have a Mint Julep if you win a race.  Which brings me to the Mint Julep Derby story.  Frankly, a lot of Derby stories could be labeled that, but this is the best one.

OK.  One year, Brad invites his friend to Derby without really clearing it with me.  He's all, "I invited "Dan", (we'll call him that because that is what we call him), and his girlfriend, but they'll never come.  I mean, it's three and a half hours from Columbus."

Well, there they were in my parents' half circle driveway on Derby morning.  So I don't know her at all and they do not have seats, so we stand in the Paddock the entire Derby instead of being "rude" and sitting in our seats.  It's fine.  I let it go, because whattaya gonna do and I was foggy from having gone to the Oaks the day before.

So we park, and we are walking into the Derby, (and this is important), and Gurlfriend X undoes her white halter cotton sweater top, sans bra, and asks me to tie it behind her back so as to make it into a strapless top, so she can "get some sun".  She is brown as a berry, but whatever.  I do what she asks because she is my guest.

She gets her first Mint Julep.  She tells me it is really strong.  I tell her the first one is, but then the second one tastes good and the third puts you in a blackout.  She says she does not care as she downs the first, gets a second, and on the third starts talking to me about her "ticking biological clock".  Am I in some sort of nightmare?  I want to wake up, but I can't, so I just roll with it, as I've learned to do in these situations Brad puts me in (i.e. Karaoke in Japan, random house guests, etc. - you get the idea).  So she drinks 5 Mint Juleps and then wants to take pictures.  Her voice is at a fever pitch now - a squeal, if you will. It is the end of the day and she grabs a Churchill Downs employee who has to set down her tray of drinks.  I catch an eye roll.  Don't blame her a bit.

So, the four of us get in a bunch and we are smiling for the camera, and the woman is preparing to take the picture, and then she lowers it, smiles, and looks down and bites her lip.  She composes herself, again, and then says, "Uh, honey, you may want to pull up your shirt..your tit is hanging out."

Girlfriend X yanks her makeshift halter/strapless sweater up, resumes her smile and poses for the camera again.  The day turns into night and we go out to dinner and then it is the next day and Brad and I are driving back to Columbus.

"Hey, you remember Gurlfriend X's boob falling out of her shirt when we were taking that picture?"  We both DIED laughing.  "I wonder if she remembers it today?"

Two days later, a thank you note and some photos arrive in the mail to answer our question.  On top is a photo of Gurlfriend X smiling her best smile, surrounded by the remaining three of us, who had not just exposed ourselves, with our eyes squinted closed and our mouths wide open.  We are howling with laughter as the photo is being taken.  She has no recollection or she would never have sent that photo.

Can't you imagine her thumbing through the pictures and saying aloud to her boyfriend, "Oh, this one is cute of me.  What is everyone laughing so hard at?  Oh, well, I'll just slip this in with the thank you card and put the duplicate in my "When Dan Was My Boyfriend Photo Book".

One of my favorite "mammaries", or is it memories?  My advice to you today,  is if someone tells you a drink is going to kick your ass, believe them.  I wish I had taken my own advice, when Megan, my neighbor, introduced me to the "Mind Eraser" at the last Fourth of July street party.  It would have saved me a lot of embarrassment and questions the next day, like "Really, how bad was it?" when I was reenacting the entire scene of Trading Places where Eddie Murphy has the party and gets mad at his guests because they were not respecting his stuff?"

"It would've been fine," Brad says, "if you had just stopped at the party scene.  It just went on a little too long.  Your last line should've been "It was a stone groove, my man" but it wasn't.  That's okay.  You'll never see those people again."

If you are interested in more information about The Kentucky Derby, click the link above.  Or just stay tuned.  I will be doing a series this week.