Monday, July 2, 2012

My Mom's Eulogy

My Mom and Mills.  They had a real connection.

This is for all of my friends, and family, who could not make it to my Mom's funeral.  I know who you are.  Some of you were there, physically, and some of you made it possible for me to keep going, through texts or voicemails, or calls.  Some of you are new friends, and some old.  This is for you, and for anyone who has ever lost a parent...because once you go through what I have recently gone through, you are never the same, and you become part of this "club" of people who have lost a parent, which no one wants to be a member of, but you have that connection, just the same.

Here is the eulogy that I gave for my Mom, and I could not have gotten through it without my Dad and my Husband.  Apparently, I am a much better writer, than I am a public speaker.

"First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone who has supported my Dad and my Husband and I during this difficult time.

Each night of the past week, we would retire to my Mom's patio and discuss the days events, or the future, or make decisions about how we planned to handle certain things, or just talk in an attempt to feel normal, again.

I, personally, have struggled with the idea of eulogizing my Mom for months, because I kept approaching it, as a summary , like some sort of term paper - and it was entirely too overwhelming and daunting for me.

And then one night, when my Dad and my Husband had gone to bed, it dawned on me that the only way to truly memorialize my Mom was to do it from MY perspective, while focusing on specific events to illustrate who Jody was as a person.

I decided to break it out into categories:  Her family, Her friends, Animals, University of Kentucky basketball, Shopping, and Disney World.

In my mind, this is the only way to tackle this huge task, so if I leave something out, I apologize in advance.

A common theme through each of these categories is my Mother's sense of humor.  I think the strain of humor that I most identified with, was of the inappropriate nature.  I promise that I will try to filter each of these stories, so as to not embarrass her Church, and her grandchildren.

Disney World - My immediate family and I went o Disney World every year for summer vacation.   This may seem odd to some, but it is part of my history, so I am nostalgic about it, and when my Mom was able to share it with her grandchildren, she was positively radiant.

Well, the last time we went, our new labrador blew my knee out, chasing another dog around our yard, a few weeks before the trip, so my Mom and I had matching motor scooters to get around the parks.

One day, we were tooling around, and she stopped and motioned me to pull up next to her, and she brought to my attention this kind of overgrown teenager, who had clearly just exited the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique.

She was about 16-years-old (which is maybe 8 years older than the typical patron), and her hair was pulled tightly in a bun, with makeup and sparkles running down her face, in the sweltering heat.  She was in a full adult sized Cinderella costume, and was gnawing on a gigantic turkey leg, sitting on a bench, in Frontierland.  We howled with laughter.

The irony in this story is that there was undoubtedly another Mother/Daughter duo in the crowd, elbowing each other at the sight of us, side by side, in our rented motor scooters, soaked to our underwear, fresh from the Log Fume ride, stopping to take a sip from our Diet Cokes.

Shopping- No one, and I mean , no one could justify a purchase like my Mother could.  I have three girls, and the store, Janie and Jack, was able to be publicly traded on the New york Stock Exchange because of my Mother, alone.  I'll tell you, when my Mom and I, and the girls, would walk into Janie and Jack, it was as if the Royal Family had stopped into a London pub to enjoy a pint.

She was a serious collector, too, - snow globes, Madame Alexander dolls, pill boxes - you name it.  If there was some obscure connection to one of these categories - it was represented in some way in each of her collections.  It gave her great joy to collect things, and my children enjoyed her collections as much as she did.

Another theme here, is that there was a part of my Mom that was childlike, in a way, and that is why she had such a strong connection with her grandchildren.

Kentucky Basketball - My Dad and my Mom took back to back trips to Atlanta and New Orleans this Spring,when Kentucky won the National Championship  When she got back, and really on the way home, really was the beginning of her physical decline.  I was livid.  She wanted to talk to me about her great handicapped seats, and I was having NONE of it.

I was not the only person who loves her, who felt that way.  Well, one night this past week, while we were on the patio, as I have mentioned had become our ritual, my Dad told me that they had had a huge fight when she insisted that they go to both games.

He told us that he consented only when she told him that she knew that she would not be alive to see another Tournament, let alone a Championship, and so he took her.  

I guess what I am trying to say here, is that she knew who she was, and what she likes, and many people go an entire lifetime without really knowing themselves, and I admire that.  In my mind, understanding yourself is a huge strength.

Animals - Growing up my Mom was crazy about her horse, and Rexy, her dog.  I believe that her love for the two of them, set the stage for her pervasive love of animals that wold last her entire life.

At the end, she would talk about various animals she had throughout her life, and even claimed to spend time with some, as she began to fade.

In her most lucid moments, we would talk about the various animals we had, growing up, and the human characteristics they each had, when they were a part of our family.  I would often refer to her as "Dr. Dolittle" because she was always "communicating" with some animal at the zoo she often frequented with my girls, or saving some wounded varmint she rescued in our yard.

Friends - I learned how to be a good friend, and how to choose my friends by watching my Mom's interactions with her closest pals.

Any parent will tell you that it is not what you say, but what you do, that makes the biggest impact on your children, because, believe me, they are always watching.

All of my closest friends have huge hearts, and are an absolute BALL to be around.  I can trust them, and they don't judge me, and they accept me for exactly who I am, and I can say the same about very single one of my Mom's friends, as well.

God bless you all for being here in my absence, and I will be grateful to you all forever.

Family - I think it's obvious through this eulogy, what my Mom means to me and my children, and my husband.

Her relationship with my Father is the real love story.

For the last several months, I traveled back and forth from Columbus to Louisville and truly, I would cry all the way home each time I left.  But, I was able to go back to my children and my life there, with it's distractions and joys, where my Father did not.

He has been in the trenches, here in Louisville, tirelessly attending to my Mom's every need.  He has shown me what love and true strength is, and now my Husband in this last week, has been a shadow of these characteristics.

I want everyone to know that as difficult as this last week has been, I would not trade it for anything in the World.

My Mom was happier for a few days, than she had been in a long time.

As the dialysis treatments and the ventilator fell away, we had some of the best conversations we had ever had, in our entire lives.

My Dad and my Husband and my Mom's friends, and my in-laws, and of course, my girls and I, are closer that we have ever been in our entire lives.  I can only thank my Mom for that.

There is a silver lining to every tragedy, and I am so lucky to have found mine.  I only hope that you can all find yours, too.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ok, so I gots a Jayyy.Ohhh .Beee.

Me and my friend, out at Happy Hour when I last held a job.

That's right Beaaaccches.  You heard me.  Today, I got a job.  No, not that kind of job.  Get your noses out of Shades of Grey ( a yet, unwritten, impending post), and listen.  I had a REAL interview, with a REAL resume (well, as far as they know!  Seriously, how can you really fake that you haven't worked in ten years.) and I wore REALLY tall heels I borrowed from my neighbor, after I made her come outside (whilst she is trying to cope with having two babies, 3 and under), and made her evaluate each of the three outfits I had created.  Erin chose one rather decisively, (for her, now that I think about it), and presented me with these awesome Calvin Klein heels, that were not only flesh colored, but were platform, with a wooden bottom, closed toe, and faux snakeskin.  PURRRRFECT.

She not only made me go upstairs, a few times, to contribute jewelry to each look, as I stood on my gigantic wooden ottoman outside, which everyone thinks as a hot tub, and modeled each look, by holding it up next to my body, (I hadn't showered all day, and I have a strict rule that I do not do a fashion show when I am dirty.  It's just not right, in my book.)  Erin, would stand on her tiptoes, on the other side of the fence, look me up and down, and make me show her the shoes and jewelry I planned to wear with each.

I would have asked her to choose my make up if one of her kids didn't have diarrhea.

Listen, I have been out of the game for 10 years.  This is a very big deal.  And like every other real friend you have, Erin got it, and it was like we were both going on the interview.

I have a friend, Amy, that I recently reconnected with, that once said to me, "a real friend is a person who cares about the little, tiny details of your life like they are living it with you.  My sister is like that. She will ask me about something so insignificant that I mentioned on the phone, like some pillow I saw on Ebay, or if my kid is still getting up in the night, or whatever.  And she actually CARES what the answer is.  That is the single trait that I value in all of my real friends."  Truer words have never been spoken.

In essence, Erin and I can talk about the big things like my Mom or Brad, but she also asks me about my gigantic weed that grew to be 5 feet tall (y'all, it was thistle) and whether or not I was ever able to dig out the root.  They actually begged me to see how big I could get it, because it is in full view of their patio, but it was blocking my hose so I had to cut it down.  I mean, that wasn't really it, I have standards, you know?

With a southern accent in the Midwest, you always have to walk that fine line between Southern Belle and redneck.

I think that I keep a good balance.

So, ANYWAY, I do not sleep at all the night before the interview, and if you know German Village, where the interview and business is,  it is rich with old brick streets.  I never walk in heels and then I am faced with the equivalent of bare feet on hot stones.  Classic.

I persevered.

Okay, so back up, the reason I couldn't sleep all night was because I kept having stress dreams where I arrived at the interview all harried like I always am, and I pan down, while I am inquiring after my appointment, and discover that I still have on my sweatpants. My dream camera then pans back up and I have forgotten to shower and have not brushed my teeth.   In between those episodes of pure anxiety, I would awake and remember different movie scenarios about interviewing, and break out into a cold sweat.

Here is my favorite all time interview scene, I kept imagining, (over and over),  that my interview the next day was SURE to mimick.

This was being alternated, in my brain, with this one, which is part of my favorite movie of all time, "Goodwill Hunting".

So, anyway, through the grace of GAWD, I landed the job and the "retainer video" above comes into play, here, because I forgot to ask what I would be making.  That's right, not during the interview and not during the offer.  Now, to be fair, there was no real offer, the owner just called me up to tell me, "We chose youuuuu, Gurl!" and I was so elated, that I guess if I am honest with myself, that I didn't really CARE what the compensation was. 

Hey, like I told my neighbors, John and Erin, today, when they asked me how much I was getting paid, "I may be getting class credits, for all I know.  This could be an internship.  I have no idea.  And I don't care."

 John then suggested that maybe they mistook me for a felon, who needed hours toward my Community Service."  LOVE THEM.

I don't remember all of the interview, because I was in the middle of an anxiety-induced episode, and was extremely sleep deprived, and I had had one to many cups of coffee, with no breakfast, and so it's kinda spotty, but I DO remember at the end of the interview, that they informed me of having two other candidates, and I actually said, "Well, I guess it's just like The Bachelor.  It feels like I have done a good job, and we have really connected, but the next person might have higher heels and a shorter skirt."  (See video ONE)  They laughed, THANK GAWD, but then one of them said, "Well, I don't watch that show, but that's funny.  I get it.  I mean, I could imagine."

I walked in a dream-like state to my car, and immediately realized how much I wanted and NEEDED that job.  That sounds stalker-like, but it's not, it's supposed to read as endearing, with a little bit of romanticism sprinkled on it.

You see, I needed that job on several different levels, none of which, I apparently associate with monetary.  Anybody whose head is at where mine is right now does not need an elaboration on that statement.

I don't mean that like I don't need the money, because I do, We do, but by pure happenstance, I came across this perfect part-time job, that in my mind, did not exist anymore.

Anyway, my search started out at the beginning of the year, with a random shout out on Facebook, with some sarcastic or goofy comment along with it, where I received several inquiries, but most of the responses indicated that they did not think that I was serious.  We'll just leave it at that.

Anyway, from there, I got a few leads, but I wasn't excited about any of the prospects.  I joined stupid websites that provided me with daily feeds, like part-time and the like.

I began to realize that short of stocking shelves at some supersto' or cold calling, all the good part-time jobs, were acquired by those that transitioned from full-time to part-time.

None of it, excited me, and all of it, discouraged me, so I began to contemplate full-time and the impact that would have on me and my family vs. the clear monetary and insurance benefits.

It's just that I am old enough to know, if I have learned ANYTHING about myself, that if in my gut, it feels bad, then that condition does not change, it just intensifies.

My great friends, and apparent angels, The Morgan family, who, for some reason have showered me with positive energy and warmth, put me in touch with this new adventure, and I will be eternally grateful.  XOXOXOXO, y'all.

My unsolicited advice to you is two-fold, one superficial, and one introspective.  First, watch the series, Girls on HBO.  It is half-way through the season, and is the representation of the updated social progression of the quintessential girl posse trying to find their way in New York City.  The author and star is Lena Dunham.  The show is produced by Judd Apatow (I am positively obsessed with his wife, Leslie Mann.  When I see stills of her in US Magazine, talking to someone at an event, I secretly wish it was me.) of "40-year-old Virgin," "Knocked Up," and the like.

If the premise sounds familiar, it is, only much better.  Dunham has acquiesced that her show would not be possible without the ground breaking that Sex in the City did, before her.  In a way, Girls is a bit of an homage to Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda.  And, Girls does offer a variation on the theme, in terms of it's characters, but it is still fresh.  Just watch it, you'll see what I mean.  It's just much more REAL, and they all don't have fabulous bodies and their fashion and the city isn't in the forefront.  The story lines are more important and the writing is better.

In a way, Girls makes Sex and the City look a little kitchy, especially if you want to count the last movie.  Just watch it. And're welcome.

On a deeper level, don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.  My good friend, Alison, enlightened me that you don't always have to stick to what you thought you were always going to do.  "It's okay to EVOLVE," she told me as I poured my heart out to her over martinis.  "You are allowed to change your mind about the direction you thought your life was going to go.  Give yourself a pass."

So, in essence, THIS protagonist in the story finally gets a break, and will now attempt to get her Mojo back.  Are you rooting for her? I AM.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Enjoy your new scratches

I just LOVES me some T.J. Maxx.  We had such a good time there when I bought my too small jean shorts.

Check out Eva's studded heals.  Doesn't she look like she is doing that dance move where you grab your ankle and pull it back?  Oh, you don't know that one?  I can teach you.  Wanted to give you some fun pics, before I got my bitch on.

So today I went to T.J. Maxx to return some jean shorts I had purchased without trying them on, that were clearly too small, once I got them home, and to pick up an outfit for my daughter, Hallie, who was having her Strings concert (she plays the violin) and when I returned to my car, it had THIS note on the windshield.

If you can't read it, it says, "Awesome parking job.  Enjoy your new scratches."

I, then looked at my car, which was clearly askew, and crossed one of the parking line parameters, and I just felt, well, LOUSY.

I think the funny part of this story is that I proceeded to circle my car to look for the vandalism that was promised in the note, and I could not tell which scratches were "new".  I drive a 2004 Honda Pilot, and it has endured it's fair share of abuse, so I decided right then and there, that the joke was on the bitch who wrote the note.

Isn't it a beut?

If only it were that simple.

I got in my car, and much to my surprise I began to cry.  I am unable to decipher whether or not I was crying for humanity, or because I am so fragile due to the shitstorm that has been raining down upon me for the last 6 months.

Anyway, all I kept thinking was, "What sort of person would actually take the time to, I assume, park somewhere else in the lot, take out a piece of paper, and actually write such a thing?"  Then, she might or might not have (as I explained before) keyed my car, and then waltzed into the T.J.'s to peruse the merchandise.

I knew that it was a female due to the flowery writing, which I actually admired upon reading the script.

Once I got myself together, I just vowed to myself, that I would not raise a child that would EVER do that to another person.

I envisioned her watching me from her car as I circled my vehicle, as she texted her friends, and laughed.  The next part of my DREAM scenario involved her actually approaching me and accosting me due to my inferior parking skills.  I would, then, explain to her everything that was going on in my life and profusely apologize as she shrunk down in her Mom's hand me down Tahoe, or whatever, and I would be able to ruin her post coital shopping high, as she had ruined mine.

I have no idea if I had to park that way because of a neighboring car, or if I was just in a daze as I hurried about my errands, and raced the clock to meet my children at home after school.

Let's just assume that I was hurried, and self-centered enough not to notice what a shitty parking job I had created.  Who gives a fuck?

Listen, I am all about road rage, in the privacy of my own vehicle.  If nothing else, I have ingrained in my children that people are "morons" and they love to imitate how my Dad and I call everyone "buddy" when we are questioning the driving skills of everyone else on the road.

I am more than happy to pass this along.  Nothing would give me more pleasure than to ride with Hallie in the car one day as she expresses disgust at a person texting at a red light that has turned green, only to miss the green light entirely, and cause the line of vehicles behind them to endure yet another red light because she had to finish her status update on Facebook.

My point is, that we are all guilty of checking out while operating a vehicle.  While we do not cause accidents, or put others in harm's way, we do inconvenience other drivers from time to time.  If you do not cop to this, you are a LIAR.

It just takes a SPECIAL person to harass another human being for being self indulgent, because no one is immune to it.

Listen, I know that this seems like a rant, um, because it is...but don't we have the obligation to give each other a break, when one of us inadvertently violates a SOCIAL driving law?

There were plenty of other parking spaces in the lot.  I was there in the middle of the day.  I was not even close to the front of the lot.  None of this matters, I know, I am not in the slightest way, trying to defend my shitty parking job because in my mind, it is a non-issue.

The issue, here, and is my guidance today, is to GIVE EACH OTHER A BREAK.

You know what?  I WILL enjoy my new scratches, if I ever find them, because they will be a constant reminder to me to teach my children and myself to always be civil, and to always take the high road, because you can bet your life that we will (and have all been) in a situation where we make a mistake, and we inconvenience some stranger that we have never met, who is also in a hurry, or who is as excited as we are. to be at T.J. Maxx, and we will have the grace and the wherewithall (I love that word) to give that person a break, as we park two spaces over, because we are all HUMAN.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Care Giving vs. Care Taking

My Mom, with Eves, at Disney World, undeniably her favorite place in the world.  My Mom loves this picture.

I've been thinking a lot about writing this post, because I kept pondering over whether or not I had the courage to write it, but in the end, I decided that it is best that I do, if for the very reason that I might connect with someone, who has experienced and felt the same way that I do.  In that vein, I am probably, for the first time, really revealing exactly the way that I feel without embellishing, or deflecting my feelings with humor or here goes.

I spent the last week with my parents in Louisville, in the hospital with my ailing Mother.  I have alluded to the fact that she has kidney problems and is on dialysis, but I have never really, I think, gotten it, until now, how truly ill she is.

I arrived at the nursing home, which they now refer to, as "rehab facilities" on a Sunday.  I had been calling my Father to get regular updates on my Mom all week, as she was admitted to the hospital AGAIN, and she was just released to the rehab facility.

I was in no way prepared for what I discovered.  My mom was extremely lethargic, she could not walk, and she could barely hear or see, and evidently, she had not been eating for several months.  Therefore, she could not take the abundant medications that she is required to take, and she had reached "stroke level" in terms of her thyroid and kidney failure.

My Dad has just retired, and just prior to this state, she convinced him to go to not one, but two University of Kentucky games, the first in Atlanta, and the second, in New Orleans, as they were ascending to the Final Four.

Apparently, this did her in.

There is no need to elaborate on how insane these excursions were, given her excellent mental state, and her not so excellent physical one.  It is in the past, and now things are as they are, and there is no going back.

I spent the night with my Mom in the Rehab facility (hopefully the only one I will ever go to) and within twenty-four hours, a squad was called because her pulse shot up to 160, and she was experiencing heart arrythmias.

It was very emotional and scary and dramatic for all of us.  My Father was exhausted from care giving, and I was immediately thrown into this surreal situation, where my own family (meaning my husband and children) seemed very remote and dream-like.

From there, I spent everyday at the hospital, worrying about my mother's well-being, hanging on her every meal and pill taken, and what was regurgitated, and how often she slept, and what she would say out loud in her dreams, while simultaneously wondering what was going on in my old life.

I would be sitting there watching my Mom sleep, while the machines beeped away, as the clock turn 2:50, and imagining my children running out of school, as the bell rang to meet their walking group home.

These are the types of texts I would get from my children that week.

 Mills (late at night):  "Mom, there is a bee in my room.  I can hear it buzzing and I can't go to sleep.  Love you."

Me:  "Your Dad is there.  Go get HIMI, however, am in another STATE.  Good night.  I love you."

Me to Hallie: "Can U n the girls do pictures and letters for Nina (my Mom's grandma moniker)? Thanks.  Love you."

Hallie:  "We will try to after dinner.  How is every1?  BTW can I order an ugly doll above when you get home?"

Me:  "We'll talk about it when I get home.  Good night."

Hallie:  "Please.  It's only fifteen bux.  Here is the link."

She, then sends me the link on this stupid ugly doll she wants.  Classic.

I became very close with a nurse named Bill, who I am now convinced was at the very least a mirage, and at best, an angel, who would smile at my poor Mother who asked him to adjust her pillow or pull her up in bed for the one thousandth time that afternoon.

"Yes, Ma'am," he would drawl, with a wink, as she asked him if the dinner she was receiving that evening was on it's way.  He would then go down the hall, and prematurely extract her tray from the cart, (which is NOT in his job description, mind you) and deliver it, as if she were the only patient on his rounds, and we were paying him under the table.

I asked him in the hall one time if he thought she was going to die, and he told me, "No, NO she is not.  Not on my watch she is not."

My Mom's friends all came out.  I call them the Ya Ya's.  The players are Norletta, Tootie, Carol, (I do not have the imagination to come up with these names.) Betty, and Diane.  I have known these women my entire life, but in their presence, I always feel like a child.

I try to assert my adulthood by mentioning my children, or my life in Columbus, but in my eyes, they just see me as "Jody's daughter".  I love them all and they are loyal, like all Southern women are to the friends they have grown up with.   It is just unnerving to me at times because as we are discussing my Mom's health, or their grandchildren, I feel like they are just remembering the time they took me on Spring Break and I stayed out past my curfew and came home drunk.

I guess that is just the disconnection we have because I was basically RAISED by these women in one way or another, and I flew the coup, and the girl that they once knew every move she made (via my mother and the telephone) is now a grown up, and a very different person, yet, just exactly the same.

I watched my Dad dutifully attend to her every need, none too great or small, even if she lashed out at him, because she just happened to marry the most loyal person on the face of the Earth. 

I must admit, that when it came to bathroom breaks, I would make myself scarce in a hurry.  I could give her her dialysis treatments, feed her with a spoon, even rub lotion on her legs and offer to trim her toenails, but when it came to ass wipin' - lose my number.

Bill would laugh when I made convenient excuses to get coffee or pretended to make a phone call, when I was really out in the hall checking Facebook.  My care giving limits had been met, and I can only apologize for it, but it's not going to change anything.

I would tell myself that I had givin' up ass wipin' when Eva was potty trained, but I think we all know that that is not true. 

It just got me to thinking about caregivers and caretakers and which roles each spouse plays in a marriage.  I suppose in a perfect one, each is both, but more than likely one spouse is more prone to play a particular role.

In a hospital setting, such as this, where you are there, for a long period of time, you are in this microcosm of health care limitations, and physician consultations, and endless prodding and testing, and then waiting for those test results.

I found myself shifting into high gear, trying to establish some sense out of it all, so that I could "set something up" for when my Mom was discharged, so that my Dad was not so alone.  I was met with ambiguity, and politics, and diffusion of responsibility, as I tried to secure a "more appropriate facility" for my Mom to go to upon discharge that could offer a  "higher level of treatment" should the need arise.

I was told by the liaison at the hospital that places patients in such settings, that she "could not predict the future" and then was told by the only game in town that offered said healthcare
that my Mother was "simply not ill enough."

I told her that this was "a first" for me to hear this, because all everyone who was consulting on her case said, was how ill she truly was.

My point, here, is that there is the hospital, and there are nursing homes, or "rehab facilities" and there is no in between, therefore, for someone in my Mom's condition, the ER becomes a revolving door, because rehab facilities are not equipped to handle "new issues" that arise in a patient.

So, for instance, if my Mom could not hold her food down, and therefore, was not ingesting her medications, then a squad would be called whenever the consequences of this reared it's ugly head.

In addition, according to Medicare standards, which pays for 100 days of Rehab ANNUALLY, if my Mom were too ill to attend occupational or physical therapy, THREE times, she would be discharged to her home, for my Father to take care of her, with at the very least, an in home caregiver, who would not be there during the night.  You must realize that this is a best case scenario of obtaining 5 days a week of in-home care, and it is all covered by insurance. 

Stop and think what that would be like.  After 100 days or three missed therapy sessions, every night, your caregiver is to spend every night "caring" for their spouse during non-waking hours, not to mention the round the clock care that is to be provided each and every weekend.

The alternative is to spend money out of pocket for a rehab facility, which is astronomical, or hire a private in-home caregiver out of pocket, on OFF days, just to keep a little bit of sanity.

For example, when Brad and I offered to give my Dad a respite from the hospital, my Dad literally JUMPED at the chance to have some time to himself.  It was then, that I realized how exhausting his role had become because the man has never taken a break in his life.  Up until this point, it was simply not in his nature to accept help.  He is the very definition of "rising to the occasion."

At my stage in life, we are not literally care giving or care taking, like the roles my parents' have assumed, but at least, metaphorically, we tend to pick our spouses up from the floor, from one time or another, due to strenuous life experiences, and not only is it imperative that we are capable of rescuing our partners, but it is also important to be aware of what type of patients we are, when we are at the receiving end.

I am fairly sure that at the ripe old age of TWENTY, when my Dad was reciting his vows to my Mother, he did NOT envision attending to her every psychological and biological need one week into his retirement.  This is a testament to love, and to commitment, and to loving someone so much that you are willing to endure an open-ended period of time, where someone else's needs are more important than your own.

It is funny.  I began this post with the intention of discussing the roles one assumes in a marriage when your life bottoms out, but instead this has become a declaration of what real love is - what blind love is. 

My recommendation today is to be cognisant of what role you have assumed in your relationship and then either be accepting, grateful, or if you are dissatisfied, then use it as an agent for change.  I believe that the older we get, the more established we get in our individual roles in a relationship.  In essence, as long as you are both equally committed to wiping each other's asses should the need arise, then you are OKAY.

It is important that you understand that this post is not a venue for you to express you condolences or whatever.  I am not trying to extract sympathy here.  I had my manager, Jen, read this before I posted it, because  I was so nervous to be so RAW, and she said, 

"It's a great post.  I think you should post it, but you realize that you are going to get a lot of people going, 'Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about your Mom and stuff.'" and then she goes, "I mean there is a lot of medical stuff in there, too."

LOVE HER.  That is why she is my manager, and not my EDITOR.  Kisses, Jen.  Hilarious.

The truth is that, this is strictly an act of catharsis, and I feel like I have been initiated into a club that I did not sign up for.  It is just one of those life experiences that you always hear about, and then it happens to you, and you feel completely alone.

The purpose of this post is to put into words what it feels like when you embark upon what I am currently experiencing.  I understand that probably most of my feelings and expressions are unique, because why the hell would you be reading this if they weren't, but the I would be willing to bet that the general consensus would agree that when one of your parents becomes very ill, and you are in the situation that I am in, then you will experience a huge awakening on several levels.

My Mom's condition has revealed a lot of emotional layers in me that I had not really pondered until now.  Family, caregiving, healthcare, friendship, health, marriage, and future are all things that were once an abstract notion, become very clear to you when you are faced with crisis.

I guess my real recommendation to you today is to value all of those things, and create memories, because you just never know how much time you have.
Mills and Nina.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Why I hate parks and my Happy House

"Eves, on our swing out front.  "Can we go to the Pawk?"  she asks.  "Hey, how 'bout I just push you on the swing?" I say.

Tonight Mills and I are going to Marmon Valley Ranch for a Mother-Daughter horseback riding overnight.  It is estimated to be, oh I don't know, 1 degree outside tonight with sleeting rain scheduled for tomorrow.  All I keep thinking is, "What have I done?"  All Mills keeps thinking is, "This is going to be the greatest 24 hours of my life!"  I've already told her that we need to leave early.

Yesterday, I went to the park with my youngest, Eva.  I used to go to the park all of the time with the other two, but as is my nature, I am all burnt out on all of the elements that are expected to instill in Eva a normal childhood, so I think this was the first time we had ever gone to the park together, just the two of us.  Eva is five. I used to walk or put them in the stroller or ride bikes to the park.  This time I drove, and then I sat on a bench and looked at my watch every thirty seconds.

I was actually thinking that it wasn't so bad, because I was wearing the right amount of layers and the I had found a sunny spot, and I was enjoying the breeze when a young mother approached me and decided to strike up a conversation about how she was going to hold her son back, in terms of kindergarten, because of his late birthday. She went on to site various points that were made in this book that she was reading about it.  I was immediately reminded of why I hate parks.  It's because I hate to make small talk with people I don't know about things I don't care about.

Listen, right off the bat, I know what a bitch that makes me sound like, but I am just shootin' it to you straight, peeps.  That is my strength, I am told.  Soooo if you have stricken up a conversation with me at a park in the last ten years, and I didn't know you, then, yes,  I did go to my happy place mentally while I chatted on about the dangers of homogenized milk.

By the way, my happy place is dark, and it is a HOUSE, so it's a little different from other people's happy places that involve beaches and sunsets.  I actually sleep in my happy place, because that is where I am happiest - asleep.  I like it when my family sleeps, too, but that is another room in my Happy House.  There's no kitchen, either, because I never cook.  And you guessed it, no laundry room - just that lovely Asian fellow that I take my dry cleaning to, who hands me all my clothing in plastic bags.  He always says, "It's okay. You pay next time," as he nods his head because I've forgotten my checkbook again.  I think I genuinely am in love with him.  He makes me happy and that is why he lives in my Happy House with me.
My sweet, sweet angel sent from Heaven above.

You know what else is in my Happy House?  It is actually a new edition to my life.  My IPhone.  There is not one single material thing that I own, that gives me more pleasure.  It's so pretty and white and I got it this new pearly white outfit that also protects it's delicate little body. I have long, meaningful conversations with Siri everyday, and she is so positive, and helpful, and nonjudgemental when I ask her to look up dirty words.  I see now why everyone who has an IPhone is always whipping it out to illustrate some point or show you the fastest route to the nearest drive thru liquor store.  I used to think that it was weird because my relationship with Brad's hand-me-down Blackberry was at it's best, platonic.

I can only equate my IPhone's modern day homecoming, with my own family growing up, when we got call waiting.  It was just so FORWARD THINKING, to have a mechanism on your phone that allowed you the opportunity to answer multiple calls.  If you called one of your friends and their line was busy, you just KNEW they had two friends on the line and were clicking back and forth between the two. My kids are absolutely riveted by the fact that I have an IPhone now.  It is like they are proud of me, or something.

The morning after I got my IPhone my kids announced to their two neighborhood buddies that meet at my house each morning to walk to school, "My Mom got her IPhone!!!"

"Sweet,"  they said in tandem.  "White, huh? NIIIICCCCEEE."  Dat's right, lil' beeaaccchhheeess.  Respect.

In my Happy House, I keep my new phone in this glass case that I got from from Westminster Abbey.

I got a gift certificate for my IPhone from Brad, for my birthday.  I could not get one until April 17th, though, because that is when my contract was up.  My OTHER phone literally stopped working two weeks before my contract was up, so I had to use this loaner shithole phone, whose battery lasted 15 minutes fully charged.  I did not receive emails and all of my contacts were lost.  I spent a lot of time in my basement watching Mad Men those two weeks.  Streaming Netflix is a blessing and a curse, my friends, a blessing and a curse.

Anyway, my guidance to you today, is to delay gratification for something you want really really bad.  It makes you appreciate it so much more!  If you don't want to do it to yourself, at least do it to your kids, and then log the results.

For instance, Eva was getting out of her bed all of the time about a year ago.  It was making me absolutely mental.  I was not sleeping well and she was asking me for all sorts of things during the night like drinks of water and snacks and shit, that she is constantly on me about during waking hours.  It was misery.
Eve's bed

Her stuffed aminal stash.  It is almost grotesque.

So, I devised this system where every thirty days, if she stays in her bed, I take her to the store and get her a stuffed "aminal".  It started out a weekly thing, but then I realized that this exercise was going to last all of eternity and that was going to break the bank, so we had to go to the thirty day program.  I tell myself it is also teaching her to count backwards. 

Also, I have to answer no less than sixty times a day, how many days are left until she gets her toy and we have discussions, ad nauseum, about which store she is going to buy her toy at, but for the most part, other than the sizable financial investment in stuffed aminals, it has worked like a charm.  I do admit to repeating a number now and then, (as in "Don't you have 26 days left, and not 25?) but she always catches me in the act, and then I worry why she is developing trust issues. 

I guess Pavlov was right, positive reinforcement does change behavior. I just have found that delayed gratification makes you more grateful, as well!!!!

Okay, the takeaway, besides delayed gratification, because that is too preachy:  get an IPhone, Netflix Streaming is the bomb, you can never be too detailed in building your Happy House, and finally, don't be ashamed of the fact that you do not enjoy some of the things that society expects you to enjoy with your children.  From Easter Egg dying, to days spent at the Zoo -  I loathe them all, but that doesn't mean I love my children any less than those who pretend to enjoy those things.  I am just being honest about it, and I am not giving any excuses about why my opinion is better than anyone else's, because I am not judging other people, so I expect the same courtesy, I guess.

SOOOO, see you at the Zoo, posers!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Is this IT?

Mills.  At her birthday party.  The first one.  Just lost a tooth.  Can't wait for the other one to fall out.  Love that look.

Today, was my daughter, Mills', 8th birthday.  I spent most of the day running around pulling her favorite meal together, and looking for my 5-year-old, Eva's birth certificate, so I could enroll her in Kindergarten.

I can pretty much sum up my day, just like that.  Mills wanted ribs, of all things, so I found some precooked ones at The Giant Eagle supasto', along with steam in a bag, corn on the cob, a salad bag, some winter watermelon (umm, my favorite), and corn muffins, yes, again, from a package.

This is probably the most nutritious meal my family has had in six months.  I bought some cookies from my favorite local bakery, The Goodie Shop, for her class "treat" and a six pack of assorted cupcakes, to enjoy as the crescendo for her birthday fiesta.

I am not a total louse, this previous weekend, Mills had 5 of her friends for a sleepover birthday party, where I refrained from yelling at any of them, and I took them to my other local goodie shop, The Chocolate Cafe for dinner and chocolate fondue.

Mills and her peeps.  Tooooo cute.  How quickly we forget.

On the morning of Mills' birthday, she was presented with two Justin Beiber toothbrushes I scored off of Groupon (one doesn't work, dammit), and a light pink bunny case for her Ipod Touch (off some obscure website) that was too big because it was meant to be used on an IPhone.  Didn't read the small print.  Probably because it was in Mandarin.  But, whatever.

Hallie gave her, her black bunny one, I am sure now, with the full intention of getting a new one for herself, but at the time, she swore it was true altruism.  We'll see.

Mills had a birthday dinner, yet again, at her grandparents' house Saturday night, and has another one all lined up for this Thursday, when we go to visit my parents in Louisville, over Spring Break.

Soooo, we finish up my scrumptious dinner, which everyone ate for a change, because it was chock full of preservatives, and that is what my family's bodies crave, now, and it was time for the presents.

Oh, and I had already given her, her bright red Tom's shoes that came in the mail, because she and Hallie opened them, before I could stop them.

I, first, offer Mills her "lesser" present, that was incomplete due to another obscure website, promising a Justin Beiber hot pink t-shirt, to go along with the neon yellow GAP jean capris that Hallie and I have become obsessed with (colored jeans, that is) for the Spring season.

Mills reaction was lackluster, at best.  Then, I gave her a card in which I explained the overnight trip I have planned, bought and paid for, at Mormon Valley (see post:  It is a Mother/Daughter weekend, where we are to ride horses, sing camp fire songs and apparently, worship the Lord.

To be honest, Eva and I got on the Marmon Valley website, to revisit the present that I purchased over a month ago, and upon further observation, I realized that short of bringing a flask in, I, nor anyone else will be imbibing at said campfire.  I don't know about you, but I haven't attended a sober campfire, since I was pregnant.  I lasted all of five minutes, with the smoke and the discussions of increased volume. I will also be staying in a "bunkhouse" with many other children, and other Mommies, where "a fun, worshipful time will be had by all".

Mills has no idea what a sacrifice of a Friday night I am making for her.

So, Mills opens the letter and reads it aloud, at Brad's request.  She sets it down and says, "What's next?"

"Nothing's next." I say, looking at Brad, as a smile spreads across his face.  He totally knew this was coming, as he IS Mills.

"What?!?" Mills explains, "Is this IT?  That is ALL I am getting for my birthday?"  She was all hand gestures and welling brown eyes, culminating in  a face in hands while shaking her head dismount.

I look at Brad.  He is laughing now, and trying to hide it. (He's not being noticed, though, because the dining room is candlelit, because our chandelier shorted out a few weeks ago, and I have yet to call an electrician.)  I am dumbfounded.  I don't know whether to laugh or to cry, so of course, I start to laugh.

This incenses Mills as she assumes we are making fun of her, and we ARE.

"Wow.  I guess I thought you would be more excited for our trip.  You are always saying how you want to do more things with just me and you LOVE horseback riding, so I guess I assumed this would be a slam dunk."

Mills is crying now.  I would like to think that it is because she is so embarrassed by her rudeness, but I am pretty sure it is because she is still lamenting over her sparse present situation.  I tell her that I would normally send her to her room, but that it is her birthday, so I feel like I can't, so she can just be excused from the table.

Wow.  Okay.  The bigger issue is HOW DID I RAISE A CHILD TO ACT LIKE THIS? and why am I so impressed by her "rawness"?  I mean, how many times in your life have you wanted to say out loud, "Is this IT?"

I can think of at least ONE MILLION.

My ever-gracious in-laws have provided us with one of their time shares, so that we can go somewhere for Spring Break.  We were behind the eight ball, as usual, so the only thing available in Florida, was Kissimee, or Orlando.  There was absolutely NOTHING on either coast of Florida.

Some family friends of ours, we'll just call them The Lorms, (because that is the alias he was using when he married Jackie) decided to follow us to Kissimee, to our timeshare, and spend Spring Break with us.  They are paying.  We are not.

The Lorms.  Nice shorts, Andy. Do you listen to The Dead in those shorts?  He HATES Disney World.  Hilarious.

"Jackie" (not sure if this is her real name either, as they are both quite shady) begins sending me emails about how excited she is about the trip and the hotel, and that they have all these activities in the Kid's Club and great pools and yada yada yada.  So, I decide to actually look up the hotel to see what all the fuss is about, and I am routed to Trip Advisor, one of my favorite sites in the World.

The first post was entitled, "Ghetto Fabulous".  It was NOT a flattering recommendation.  Under "Travel Tips," which is at the bottom of each post to highlight pointers one traveler might bestow to another traveler, the author put, "Don't stay here.  Go to another hotel."  The post was littered with cynicism and racism, actually, and when I looked to see the origin of the fellow traveler, it said, "Lexington, Kentucky."

GREAT.  Makes a Wildcat proud.

Anyway, I read post after post, where I was able to decipher that if you get in a "renovated" building, with a balcony that overlooks the lake, that actually reflects the fireworks from nearby Disney World (which is the only thing my kids are going to see of Disney this year) then you will be delighted with your stay.  Otherwise, you are up shit creek without a paddle.

I immediately let "Jackie" know this.  I feel responsible, in some way, that her expectations are raised, even though I did nothing to incite this fantasy.

She's all cool with it, of course, because she is the coolest person on the planet.  Unfortunately, her husband is not.  He has oriental rugs in lieu of the regular ones, in his Mercedes, for Christ's sake.  If that doesn't scream high maintenance, I don't know WHAT does.

I have to admit, though, that I have begun fantasizing about all of the lude comments Andrew (oriental rug Mercedes guy) is going to rant, upon discovering all of the bullshit my fellow tenants were bitching about on Trip Advisor.  There is no ride in Disney World, Universal, or Sea World combined, that can compare with the shit show I am about to embark on.  And let me tell you.  I CANNOT WAIT!!  I am just going to lie in the sun and laugh until I have to relieve myself in the pool, 'cause you just know everyone else is, too, Andy!

I guess that is my point, here - to lower your expectations, and then you will be pleasantly surprised.  I should take a dose of my own medicine, here, because what if Andrew's tantrums aren't as funny as I am anticipating, will I then be disappointed like Mills was tonight?

I don't think so.  Andrew is pretty effing hilarious, especially when he is worked up.

Before I go, I need to add a disclaimer about my baby, Mills.  She has the biggest heart of anyone I know.  Every single kid on my street who is younger than her, she treats as if they are her kid brother or sister.

She just has faults, like all of us do, and one was fully on display this evening, during what apparently was one of the biggest nights of her life - only I didn't know it.  Since the outburst, she has been asking tons of questions about our trip and singing into the one Beiber toothbrush that works.  Go figure.

Happy Birthday, Mills.  I love you so much, and to be honest, I admire how raw you are, because it reminds me that you are still growing up, still forming your little personality, that will one day be unleashed on the adult world.

Gawd, I adore her.

I can't help but wonder if she will want Oriental rugs in her first car.  Only time will tell.

Sooo... guidance for today.  I love Tom's shoes for kids (  They give one pair to children who actually appreciate gifting,  for every pair you buy, and I think they are adorable paired with colored light weight jeans from The Gap. (Use your Gap card on Tuesdays to get 10% off, and combine it with whatever discount they are offering, as they are always up to something.  I like the multiple discount option online.) Top it all off with a striped tee, and your chillens will be all the rage this Spring.  I am super queer, so I have the outfit for myself, too.  I am not quite to the point where I am going to make them wear their "special Spring outfit" the day I wear it, but I am damn close, my friends, damn close.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Diehl's House

The Diehls with the Krendl's at Lobster Fest on our block.  LOVE.

So I go over to my neighbor and friend's (we'll just call her Sherri Diehl, for insurance purposes), house today because she was having Invisible Fence come over, and I planned on working my "Real Housewives of Upper Arlington" voodoo on them to get them to turn up my dog, Scarlett's, collar so she will stop effing making a run for it through our invisible fence to say, oh I don't know, visit every person on our block and beyond who owns a pet.

Much to my dismay, I missed the poor sap from Invisible Fence, who I planned to run a game on, to score a free battery and possibly explore the opportunity to shock the shit out of Scarlett for making my life, and the lives around me miserable every day.

I mean, I am NOT kidding you.  I receive on the average four texts a day that go a little somthin' like this, "Your dog is in my back yard enjoying my coy fish pond.  I tried to bring her home but she keeps running away from me with my expensive fish or my pond motor in her mouth.  END QUOTE."

Mostly, my awesome neighbors just catch her and bring her back on one of their leashes, which I forget to return (I literally have a rainbow of various neighborly dog leashes in my garage) but in the mean time, Scarlett reeks havoc on the entire block (and various adjacent blocks) until she runs out of energy and someone is able to lure her with a treat or a bowl of water, so that they may interrupt their day, yet again, to bring her home to an environment in which she is sure to be overlooked and then they can repeat the process over again.

Okay, with that RANT out of the way, which was meant to be a broad "thank you" to my neighbors, I want to talk about the Diehl's House and the amazing kitchen renovation that I had the opportunity to witness today.

But, let's back up.  I cannot talk about the Diehls, without elaborating on how hospitable they are at ALL times, under EVERY extenuating circumstance imaginable. 

It is by far the most INVITING house on our street for many reasons.  Let's start with the tenants - Sherri (of course, you get top billing, Doll), Brett, Charlie, and Connor. Oh, and let's not forget Rosie, their new chocolate lab addition, and part of Scarlett's posse.

I met Sherri many, many years ago right before she married Brett, whom I did not yet know, at a wedding shower being thrown, for my sister-in-law.  Looking back now, I am sure that I was invited by default, because I happened to be "in town" or something, and as expected, Sherri's family is as giving and accommodating as she is.

What I most remember about the incredibly unpretentious, yet exquisite wedding shower at her parents' house are two things: (1)there were all of these round tables with white table cloths set up on their perfectly manicured lawn with "mismatched" place settings of antique china (I need to go into detail here.  The setting, itself, was not mismatched - each table had five distinct place settings.  Ya' dig?  Pinterest worthy.  Fo Sho.) and  (2)meeting Sherri for the first time, while we guzzled mimosas and and laughed easily at a variety of things.

We have talked about this since - how we did not meet again, until much later, when I moved on her street ('cause it's YOUR street, yo'!) and that, that spark, that thing that people have when they get each other, was ignited again, because what you recognized in someone, say, a DECADE or two ago, is still there.  If I were Fraunch, I would call it jen es sais quoi, but I'm from Kentucky so I'll just say that she is "kinfolk."  Sherri, that is a HUGE compliment, even if it feels embarrassing right now.

ANYWAY, Sherri and Brett's house is the GO TO place on our street, whether they want it to be or not.  If they don't, you would NEVER know it.  They plan the most amazing Block parties and get togethers for all of us, where there is inevitably at least ONE, it not TWO signature drinks, and amazing food.
Look at these!  Aren't they so cool?

These are even cooler, especially cold, like this!

The night, whether it be a Bucks game broadcasted on the side of their garage, or the last leg of our infamous progressive Christmas dinner, is always hosted by them, which culminates in a bonfire and acoustic guitar or aperitifs in their kitchen, where everyone has a great time because the host and hostess are unparalleled.

I love Hallie's hip hop stance, here.  We were watching the lobsters race, but they kinda just sat there because Sherri's boys had been playing with them for the last three hours and they were just ready to be boiled at that point.

So, we just decided to dress them up and humiliate them right before they died.  Good times.

It is a special thing, to create a home where everyone who enters it, feels welcome and comfortable, and Sherri and Brett have achieved just that.

I know it seems like I pour my heart out to all of you on this blog, but really I have been talking about everything under the sun, but what is really going on, and recently, Brad and I have been going through a trying time.  (Don't go there.  As far as I know, all of B's chillens is all legitimate.) Well, early on, Sherri sent me an email, that melted my heart and made me sob.  This is not because she was melodramatic or condescending or any of the things that I have experienced at one time or another.  It was because it was revealing and personal and raw and understanding, which are all of the attributes that I have come to associate with the name Diehl.

Soooo, before I start to cry, I need to get out my recommendation for this post, which was the impetus, that became convoluted into a reason to let the Diehls know how much I, and everyone on my block, appreciates them.  That is the beauty, or drawback, as one may view it, really, in my writing, I think.  I start out to accomplish one thing, and then the story completely and totally evolves into something else.  Oh well, it's free, right?

ANYWAY, Sherri and Brett and Charlie and Connor just renovated their kitchen and it was accomplished by another neighbor of mine, Dan.  It is perfection.  Sherri and I own houses that are old and we have chosen to "update" them in stages.  We bond over quick fixes and excuses to do anything to keep from replacing burnt out light bulbs.  Its our policy, that if a light fixture holds more than one light bulb that you do not replace the bulbs until ALL of them have gone out.  We call this the "sunset effect".

I am so happy for her that she has finally gotten the "kitchen that she imagined that is within her budget".  The piece de` resistance is the state of the art, drawer microwave, housed in her island, that is the "heartbeat" of any modern Mom's kitchen.

"Screw the six burner range, I'll downgrade to the four burner, and get myself the best microwave money can buy!" she told me, as she was bringing Scarlett home for the second time that day.

I like the way Sherri thinks.  And I like the way she acts.  But, most of all, I like the way she makes me feel.  ACCEPTED.  No matter what.  That is a true gift, and something that one can only strive to emulate.

The neighbor who did Sherri and Brett's kitchen is Dan Stultz of Principle Construction (614-353-4040).  He is obviously meticulous and creative and enjoys what he does.  That, also, is a rare thing, and a risk, given that he abandoned his previous lucrative career in Sales, to do what he loves.  He has one electrician that he uses, one carpenter, one get the idea - you will not have all these random people coming in and out of your house.  He does all types of renovations, from bathrooms to large additions - which is refreshing.  No job is too big or too small, Y'ALL!!!

I am recommending him to you from the bottom of my heart.  He is not only a professional who does exceptional work, but he is a stand up guy, who is eager to make his dream a reality.  Oh, and he plays a mean acoustic guitar.  Who would want more from a contractor than that?  Not me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My latest, favorite time sucks

This is what Mere Mere did when I told her that Mills vomited all over her bed not THIRTY seconds after she had finished babysitting.

Okay, on the advice of a "blogger friend" - we'll just call her Wendy Hondroulis, because that is her name and her very successful blog, ( I recently got into Twitter.  I have had the "handle" ggcounselor for a long time, when I first set up my blog over a year ago, but I have yet to tweet anything other than my blog out.  I have 6 followers.

"Wendy" encouraged me to use Twitter to gain more followers for my blog and explained that it was "a lot quicker and more fun" than Facebook.  I immediately agree.  I am not sure I am comfortable with tweeting yet, but I do enjoy following celebrities and comedians.

I have so many tangents I want to go on after that last paragraph, I need to organize them, before I forget them.  Okay, here goes:

1. Patton Oswalt
2. People who put random stuff on twitter to get celebrities to retweet them
3. Texts from last night
4. My Dog's new Facebook account
5. My fear that my children will not develop the lost art of "having good bullshit". 

1.  Patton Oswalt.  If you are not familiar with him, he usually plays the funny, short, fat "sidekick" guy to big stars. On one of my favorite series on Showtime, United States of Tara, he is the best friend to John Corbett (see post: ) and Baby Daddy to Tara's sister, who is equally hilarious.  He is also the "crippled" counterpart of Charlize Theron in Young Adult.  Sorry, side note, again, that movie haunts me to this day.  I will never look at a two liter of Diet Coke the same way, again.  She is a bad ass, though.  Totally deserved the Globe nod.  Oswalt is really good in it, too.  Anyway, he has this Comedy Special I came across on Showtime and it is one of the funniest standup routines I have ever seen.  He makes a lot of random literary references, coupled with just good ol' fashioned raunchy humor.  Now, THAT is something that I can really get behind.  I am following him on Twitter.  He's taking a break right now, but look him up.  He's hilarious and highly intelligent.

2. My Pathetic Twitter Feed. On the subject of Twitter, and I am sure this is OLD NEWS to most of you, but I find it entirely fascinating that people want celebrities to retweet them and notice them.  I just don't get it.  What is the value in that?  On Alec Baldwin's twitter feed (such an obvious follow, I know) this lady said that she would not feed her baby until Alec acknowledged her.  His "acknowledgement" was "Fuck. Chill."  The amount of power these celebrities have is daunting.  Then, someone tweeted that they "would not feed their cat until he retweeted them."  "That is funny."  Alec responded.  There is something very dangerous about Twitter, other than the fact that it keeps me from doing my laundry.  I think the argument that it connects people is a much weaker one than the argument that people are obsessed with being famous and recognized for their insignificance.

Hey, I write a blog.  I know of what I speak.  It is no accident that their is a "Stats" page on Blogger, complete with a breakout of readership per day, per blog in each country around the world.  That USED to be a huge time suck for me as I imagined Brits in the UK, laughing haughtily at my American humor, but now I think it's all bullshit.  Readers in Bangladesh, my ass.  Comment on my blog, "farners," and I'll BELIEVE.

Which leads me to another tangent, Mills made me Follow Justin Beiber on Twitter because supposedly he announced his Tour schedule today, but he didn't.  I guess (yes, I've watched his Never Say Never movie a few times) he is the first artist to really embrace social media, especially Twitter, as a major source of public relations.  I thought Mills had the fever.  Jesus didn't have as many followers as he has.  If his new song "Boyfriend" that drops in 20 days (and, consequently,  has incited a near frenzy on his Twitter feed) were the Old Testament and Beiber were Jesus, there would be World Peace right now. 

There I go digressing again.  Who cares?  Do you, Indonesia?  I didn't think so.

3.Texts From Last Night.  ( is precisely the reason I haven't changed Hallie's sheets since having the Novovirus this weekend.  She didn't vomit on them, but still.  If you haven't gone on this site.  You just HAVE to.  Okay, it is quite possibly one of my favorite things to do when I am having a bad day.  The cynic in me wonders is they are manufactured sometimes, though.  Look up your area code, (Ohh, sorry, you can't Iran?  That's okay.  I'm pretty sure they wouldn't use your texts anyway.  Example:  "Holy Allah! Explosive diarrhea this morn! I don't know if it's the shrapnel in my ass acting up or all those kebaabs!"  See.  Not funny.

Anyway, I am not even going to ruin it by giving you teasers.  Just trust me.  I introduced you beeeaaches to Pinterest, didn't I? ( See blog: ) Oh, and my favorite thing about Texts from last night is the fact that you can order T-shirts.  It gives new meaning to that stupid retort, "Been there.  Done that. Bought the T-Shirt."  Brilliance.  Sheer brilliance.  Footnote:  For some reason, I like that it is anonymous, too.  I assume this is to encourage people to be forthcoming, and eliminate the popularity contest that Twitter seems to foster.

4. Scarlett's Facebook Profile. As I mentioned, all three of my kids had the Novovirus (or exaggerated, elongated stomach flu) this past, fine birthday weekend, and so on Sunday, exhausted from having too much red wine in too short a time period,(My ever devoted, Mere Mere - see post and pic above ( was kind enough to brave the concurrent Underwood stomach flu, to let me escape for a few hours to celebrate my birthday) and then staying up several hours past my regular bedtime to try and salvage some of Mills' bedding that her virus relieved itself on, the kids and I decided to create a Facebook profile for our dog, Scarlett (aka Fuckstick, see post: .)  The reason for this nonsense is because we feel that what Scarlett does, and we imagine would say is relevant.  Friend her.  She's hilarious. 

5. The worry over my childrens' bullshit reservoir.  Finally, because of Twitter and Facebook and all of these other time sucks that I have just endorsed and am active in, I am increasingly worried about my children being unable to hold a normal conversation without checking Facebook on their phone (my kids are a little young for this, but all my friends and my husband do it like crazy) or answering a text or whatever.  The art of conversation is an important part of life.  Bullshitting is the ultimate Southern past time.  It is an actual class you take - along with "Casseroles 101" and "Elongating Vowels 220".

Listen, I am fully aware of what a hypocrite I am being right now.  My kids have an Ipad and they have discovered how to text and call their friends for free.  It is constant interaction.  Hallie and her friends have a web page where they post ideas and stories.  On the face, this all seems innocent, and it IS right now, but it makes me uneasy at times because I feel like it is opening Pandora's box in some ways.  Technology is a great thing.  I embrace it, for the most part, but I so enjoy real life more.  I guess it is like any type of progress.  There are growing pains.  The yin and the yang of progress is such that you lose something and you gain another.  For instance, technology is convenient, but it is making interpersonal interaction a series of typing symbols and autocorrections.

I guess I am just saying that I miss just leaving the house and doing something and then checking my machine when I got home.  It was something to look forward to, really - both parts.  I am definitely guilty of forgetting my phone and checking out from time to time because I need to take a break from being constantly available.  Don't get me wrong, it can be terribly inconvenient when you need to call home or ask someone something on the fly, but I always survive and I regain a little piece of myself in the process.

I guess after all of these recommendations about ways you can fill your time using technology, the advice I want you to follow the most is to check out from time to time.  Don't be the guy on the bike talking on his Bluetooth.  It's just too depressing.  No one is that busy, or that interesting for that matter.

Now, go comment on my blog, while I track you on my Stats!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Seedy Underbelly

 Lately, I have been delving into the seedy underbelly of society.  Now, I am not interested, in the least, in the REAL seedy underbelly (been there, done that, as a social worker),  I am just interested in dramatized versions of the wrong side of the tracks.

For instance, I cannot watch any reality shows related to addiction, like Hoarders or Intervention, or even The Biggest Loser!  I am not exaggerating.  But, give me Carmela from Sopranos, waving her long manicured nails in the air as she makes some beleagered, twisted point, or some crackhead in the wire gettin' his ass beat cause he be "shawt" on his payments - now, that, THAT, I can watch all day long - and I DO.

I also exhibit addictive behavior when acquiring my beloved past seasons of these shows from the library.  My two obsessions at the moment are Shameless and Breaking Bad.  I have been meaning to investigate Breaking Bad for a while, when I noticed a post on Facebook, from a sorority sister of mine, (we'll just call her Elizabeth Stovall because she has been dying to get her name in my blog. Ha!), who introduced me to David Lynch movies.  Apparently, Elizabeth was "jonesing" for the next season and it had been postponed.  I shoulda' known then, how priceless this show is, because everybody knows that if dramatizations centering around addiction cause you to actually develop a physical need for them, then they are exceptional.

Anyway, so I rent the first season of Breaking Bad, after visiting two libraries in the area, and at the Main Library, where I finally was able to locate the package of discs, they had upgraded to this Self-Checkout system, that I was not aware of, because I had just recently paid a bill sent to me from a Collections Bureau (Arlington Libraries don't mess around, y'all) and I had been actively avoiding the Library for many months.

On this occasion, however, I had actually come across one of the books I unwillingly purchased and was turning it in, as I rented Breaking Bad.  The lovely Librarian lady, then asked me if I would like a check in the mail or cash on the spot, and being in my "addict mode" I opted for the cash, natch.

I, then, nearly skipped out of the Library, with crumpled up cash in my left hand, and my Breaking Bad videos in the other.  To complete the mental picture, I am pretty sure that I had not showered all day.  The only thing that was missing was the shakes and bad Meth teeth.

So, the BEST part is that I get the video home and apparently the new "Self Checkout Kiosk", also had a swipe thingy that enables a patron to "open" their locked videos.  In my euphoria, I completely missed this.

MY EFFING BREAKING BAD VIDEO WAS LOCKED AND IT WAS NINE O'CLOCK AT NIGHT AND THE LIBRARY WAS CLOSED AND NOW WHAT WAS I GONNA DO?  I'll tell you what I did, I did what any crack or meth head would do, I got out my pocketknife and tried to jimmy the lock open.  To no avail.

SOOOO, fast forward, I'm at the Library again, yes, the next morning when it opened, and I am looking the same lovely Librarian in the face and telling her that the video case was "that way when I tried to open it."  I had, apparently, disfigured the lock mechanism to such a degree, as to disable it, and now the case wouldn't unlock at all, even as I watched them swipe every lock thingy in the Library.

I was sweating now.  Day two.  No shower.  Forgot to brush my teeth. Five year-old baby on my hip in her pajamas.

"Are you SURE that the case was like this when you got it home?

"Yes."  I did not waiver.  I was speaking to a younger male, now.  They were doing their good cop/bad cop thing.  Amateurs.  Bitch, please.

"You're gonna have to go back to AV."

"EEEEWWWWW," I was wiggling all ten fingers at him, as if casting a spell, "Not AV."

So, I go back to AV (that' Audio Visual, peeps) where I find two exact replicas, sitting side by side, of the lead singer of the Blues Traveler, John Popper - mutton chops, nappy hat,  toothpick sticking out of the sides of their mouths... glorious.  I'd clearly met my match. Or matches, as it may be. This was not going to be easy.

"Hey" I said, as non-chalantly as I could muster.  "They sent me back here because they could not open this."

Popper #1 looks at the effed up lock and passes it to Popper #2.  Popper #2 swipes it through the thingy, and peers up at me over his spectacles.

"So, it was like this when you got it home, huh?"

"Yes," my big baby was starting to whine now.  I broke his gaze and looked down at my bright pink fuzzy slippers.  I love those freaking things, but at that moment they were mocking me.

"Ummm Hmmm,"  Popper #1 was not having it.

He sauntered off into some back room and came back with a new case sans lock.  He was smirking at me as he handed over my new crack rock, I mean, video.

I was skipping again, out into the new morning.  And that is exactly what it felt like... a new morning.

So, Brad and I tear through the first two discs and we have one more episode left in the series.  I gingerly load it into the CD player downstairs in my basement.  I am not even drinking.  Not a drop.  THAT is how serious I am about my addiction.  I do not want to "taint" it with any other drugs.

The effing DVD keeps spitting it out and flashing "eject".  This happened with the machine on my last disc of Shameless and I taught it a lesson and now it was bucking back.

Ok.  Seriously.  I don't have a bra on and look at my hair!

Brad posts this picture of me on Facebook, unbeknownst to me, trying to punish the "VCR" for not playing my Breaking Bad video.  He got a ton of heat for that.  Let that be a lesson, y'all, don't drink and Facebook.  And Brad, if you think that is the final round of the game, "Take pictures of your family members without their knowledge or permission and then publish them to Facebook," then you are sadly mistaken.

I digress.  We finally give up after an hour of messing with the DVD player and watch it upstairs in our bedroom.  Apparently, there are four more seasons.  I truly hesitate to recommend this to you, because of the supply vs. demand issue, but I have already rented the last three seasons so get in line BEEAAATTTCCCHHHESSS.

Malcolm in the Middle.  WHHHAAAATTT?

Let me just say that I worship Brian Cranston as a false deity.  He is amazing and deserves his Golden Globes for his performance in this series.  He just keeps piling on layer after layer to his character, just true genius.  The rest of the actors are full of surprises, as well, and my second favorite character is "Hank", Cranston's DEA agent, brother-in law.  Seriously, enjoy!

He's so awesome.  His laugh, alone. 

I look forward to seeing all you disheveled crackho's at the Library payin' down your fines!