Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nobody is humble anymore...except my Dad

This is my Dad, at his retirement party.  If you haven't deduced from the photo, yet, he likes food and fishing... and according to his boss, Becky, Miller Lite.

You know, there has been a lot of celebration lately with Tebow and all, and let me tell you, I am not impressed.

You know what does impress me, though, is 45 years of service to ONE company.  That's right.  You heard me.  My dad, Pat, or as I recently learned, his boss calls Patty, is retiring after FORTY-FIVE years of service to Ford Motor Company.  He is my HERO and if you knew him, or know him, he would be and is one of yours, too.  I am assuming your Dad, might eclipse him, even though your Dad probably has a cluttered resume with many line items under the heading EXPERIENCE.

I am swelling with pride for my Dad today, because they threw him a party at work to celebrate his service, and more importantly, his LOYALTY to Ford Motor Company.  No one really talks about loyalty anymore, and no one, if they do mention it, uses it in terms of their career or their companies.

I can only hope that Ford Motor Company will acknowledge the fact that a 65-year-old man raised two children and paid off a mortgage that in the beginning he thought that he could not afford, to send his children to better schools, which prepared them for college. So that they, in turn, could make even better lives for themselves, and clutter up their resumes.

One of my favorite memories of my Dad is the speech he gave at my rehearsal dinner.  Pat is a simple man, not in the sense that he is simple-minded, just that he is a man of few words, that actually thinks before he speaks, and when he does speak there is thought behind it.

Those are separate entities, you see, thinking and then speaking, and having thought about what you are saying before you say it.  The difference is, that it takes an intelligent person to think before they speak, but it takes a measured person to give thought to what they say.  Do you see the difference?  Wait.  Don't speak.  Just think about it for a while and then revisit it again, and then SPEAK.  That is Pat Schell.  He is not hasty.  He does not wait for you to finish your sentence, just so he can get a word in. 

You can deliver an entire soliloquy while he looks at you and then offers you something to drink and eat, and then maybe even an hour or maybe even say, a day later, he will give you his opinion.  But, if he does, it will be clouded with phrases like, "Hey, I may not know what I am talking about" or " you may want to just consider this" which is so gracious, it seems like it is simultaneously apologetic, but if you listen (which I didn't until I left for college, I'll be honest - I mean, what could this man possibly know, that would enlighten someone at the ripe old age of 18?) then there is real truth, that can only be obtained by experience and observation.

Do you know anyone like this?  I know a few, but my favorite is my Dad, and he is primarily the reason that I am who I am.  Don't get mad, Mom, my sense of humor and my style, in general, comes directly from you (unless you catch me early in the morning dropping my kids off at school in Brad's black socks, my pajama pants and a sweatshirt), but the sensible part of me, my conscience, comes from YOU, Dad, and although I do not always let that side of me SHINE, it is what drives me as a parent, which I strive to make the best part of myself.

I make mistakes, just like you made them, sometimes, Dad, because we are both human, but the essence of you, is ingrained in me and it is something that I really like about myself.  I think that I am real, Dad, because you are real.  You are always yourself.  I always know what I am going to get, and that is such a comforting thing for a child, and as an adult.

The speech you gave at my rehearsal dinner was the best speech I have ever heard, bar none, not because it was about me, or that it contained fancy language, or was delivered with bravado, but because it was eloquent.  It is not on video. The only documentation I have is my memory, so I can only paraphrase.

You talked about how you were mowing the lawn the day of my wedding, because it was going to rain, and that is what practical people do, when their grass is long and they have shit to do later, and it is going to rain.  You didn't say  the word shit, I know.  He's not a redneck, y'all.  That part I got from my cousins from Carrollton.

You continued that, as you were mowing the lawn, ( I need to reiterate) on my wedding day, you kept seeing still lifes of me growing up - the day I was born, coaching me at first base in softball, graduating high school (the girl next to me was 9 months pregnant, you and I had a good laugh about that later), leaving me in my dorm room my Freshman year in college, graduating college, and then my face when I got off the plane from Colorado to get married in Louisville that week.

You said that I always did what I set my mind to do, and that I was always successful, and you were proud of me for that.  You told everyone how glad you were to have Brad as part of our family, and you meant it...because you always mean it, and that is why your speech was so moving.

The man of few words is not the man who has the smallest vocabulary.  It is is the man who thinks about what he is going to say well before he says it, and then maybe thinks about it again.

I need to tell you that I did not think that my Dad would even make a speech at my rehearsal dinner, let alone the speech he gave.  So, now it is my turn to give the speech and I have thought about, and thought about, and this is what I want to say, you know, here, in my blog, which you don't know how to click on.

Well, maybe in your retirement, you can become more computer savvy, and reach beyond just emailing your picks for fantasy football, or posting on someone's wall on Facebook (yes, Pat Schell has a Facebook page, feel FREE to friend him, y'all, he's the one holding the fish in his profile pic from none other than Louisville, Kentucky) where he always starts, "Hey, so and so, this is Pat Schell," even though his name and picture are clearly evident next to his post, and then says something really thoughtful or nice.

I love you, Dad.  And this time, it is ME that is swelling with pride.  Last night, I was the one with still lifes running through my brain.  I thought of you taking me to the convenient store after softball practice to get (you) a tallboy Falls City beer and (me), a pack of Gatorade gum and a coke.

I recalled how you would make me go with you after work to "play nine holes" and bribed me with driving the golf cart.

I would feed you basketballs at our Swim Club at night, because you used to play basketball at Bellarmine College, and it was still in your blood.

I thought about how you would always greet every boy who came to the house to pick me up with a firm handshake and a "Hello, Son." and  then beckon him into our living room while you stared at him and asked him the details of the night he had planned.

I remembered the time you knocked on my bedroom door and told me not to see the guy who was calling from college, when I was in high school, because "guys away at college, who date high school girls, are only interested in ONE thing."  I dismissed this at the time, and snuck around for a while, but on some level, you permeated my sensible side, because he never got past first base, I swear.  He's my Facebook friend, Dad, I can prove it.

Anyway, I just want to leave you with a couple of quotes that I live by, that were the genius of my father's brain. 

"You can never trust someone who talks for a living... you know, a bullshitter....never trust a bullshitter... he makes money off of what he says, and not what he does."  CLASSIC

"Nothing good ever comes of losing your cool.  You may FEEL like you've won the argument because of what you have said, but no one ever listens to someone who has become emotional, because when you lose your cool, they only pay attention to HOW you are saying something, rather than what you have actually said."

"Sometimes you just have to fight it out.  It has just gotten to that point, where there needs to be a resolution."

I love you, Dad, and if you never learn how to access my blog, it just feels good to know that I have told the World how much I love you and how much you have contributed to my life and the lives I have created, and am surrounded with, as well.

Happy Retirement.  I am so looking forward to spending your Golden Years with you.  My loyalty lies with you and it is no longer your duty to be humble anymore.

Let's celebrate what an amazing career your have had.  I can't WAIT to see you next weekend!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

White People Soup, with a lime

Charles Barkley hosted Saturday Night Live last weekend and there was this hilarious skit called, "White People Problems" which was so honest, you just HAD to be embarrassed if you were watching and you are white.

Fast forward.  My neighbor and I, we'll just call her Sarah, because that is her name, were discussing how funny it was, as she dished out her "free range chicken" noodle soup to share with me because Mills had been puking her guts out and that made me hungry.

The next day, I reciprocated with MY organic vegetable soup with grain fed beef (I shit you not) that was featured in a mid aisle freezer at the Giant Eagle Supasto'.

She responded with this text, "Great vegetable soup!  Maybe we should go into business."

My turn:  "Made with grain fed beef and organic veggies.  We should call our business White People Soup."

Sarah:  "Were the cows allowed to romp and play in the stockyard, I hope."

Me:  "Right up until their last breath.  I think the farmer gave them individual going away parties."

Not only do I think the part about the free range chickens is hilarious, but I also totally responded to the part where Barkley asked the guy if he stopped listening and he admitted that he had, in fact, stopped listening to the white people and their stupid problems.  I do that ALL THE TIME.

We all tune out as part of parenthood, but I have been tuning out adult conversations, when I am in the midst of said conversation, since high school.  It really is an acquired skill.  My brain absorbs what is being said to me and I am able to respond, but in terms of really intellectually reacting to the other person, well, that usually comes much later, and then I write a post about it.

For instance, I was at a "All White Woman Gift Exchange" this past Christmas, where a guest turned to me and said (verbatim):

"Hey, whasss your name?"  she was sitting in the middle of a sectional couch, and I was seated on the corner ledge watching the other "crackas" open their gifts in numerical order.  The white women around her started to giggle and cackle, and they all chimed, "her name's Johnna" and then she said, "Oh, whatever, okay, Jo-Hanna, go get me a drink," as she stretched out her arm toward me with her empty cracka ass cracka antique Christmas glass as she shook it a little to demonstrate to me that there was only ice left at the bottom.

"I'm sorry, what?"

"Go, get me a drank, Jo-hanna, su-um citrisy."  She is slurring and tinkling her ice, again.

"So you want a lemon or a lime and what else?"

"I wanna vodka, citrusssy drink, with jus' a little bitta soda or whatever."

"Well, whaddaya want?  A lemon or a lime?" I ask.

"I dun care..jus' somthin' citrussy," she was dismissing me now, with a wave of her hand, as her posse looked on.

So, what I am saying here, is that I am actively engaged in a conversation with her, but I am not processing ANY of it.  I am robot-like, a humanoid, if you will.

So, I go into the kitchen, which has like a picture window without the window that looks out into the living area where "citrussy" is comfortably seated.

I mix a hefty dose of vodka with a splash of soda, and then I spy a bowl of limes in the far corner of the countertop, wedged next to the refrigerator.  I half-heartedly look for a sharp knife and then I decide to put the lime, in it's entirety, including the scan tron sticker in the drink, that I have made her.

I walk around the picture window, in front of her, in the middle of the sectional, and I hand her the drink with a smile.

I honestly cannot remember if she thanked me or not, I was so full of anticipation.  No one was involved in this but me.  No one knew a thing. I walked back into the kitchen and started to talk to a friend of mine.

The friend left to do something and I was alone and suddenly "citrussy" was upon me on the opposite side of the picture window without the glass.  She is holding the beautifully whole lime in her palm, with her arm fully extended, like they have as part of the opening of The Real Housewives.  In Atlanta, it is the peach, in New York, it is the get the idea.

"Who tol' you ta put thissss lime inmydrank?" she half hissed, half slurred.  There IS a difference, you know.

"No one did."

"I SAID, who tol' you ta put thisssssss inmydrank, dammit?"

"And I said,"  I repeated, "No one did. I did it of my own accord."

She winds it up behind her right shoulder and threatens, "I should throw thisss at you. I should throw it really hard for wha' you did."

"Go ahead." I say, cool as a cucumber, and I was, because, again, my brain is not attached to my body, that always comes later.

"I'm really gonna do it.  Are you ready, Jo-hanna?"

"Ready as I'll ever be."  Da' bitch is no more that five feet away from me, preparing to throw a lime at my head, through a picture window with no glass, and I have no feeling at all.

She rears back and throws it as hard as she can and I catch it with one hand, with out skipping a beat and somewhere inside me I thank my Dad for coaching me at softball for ten years.  A huge smile spreads across my face, and I turn around to see if anyone saw, and they didn't, of course, and then I turn back around and Citrussy is gone.

To this day, only Citrussy and I know what truly happened that night, only it is really just me, because I am fairly sure Citrussy was smack dab in the middle of a black out.  It doesn't matter, though, because it was a huge victory for me.  Usually when I am the protagonist, I am the butt of the joke, but because I am a "slow processor," I was able to keep my cool in a rather stressful social situation.

Hmmm.....I wonder if Charles Barkley would have classified that previous scenario as a "White People Problem"?  Well, if Citrussy would have popped a cap in my ass, instead of throwing a lime at me in the middle of a white lady gift exchange, it might have been a little more relatable to the outside world.

My advice today is to embrace retarded social processing, you can win out in the end.  It is worth the many job interviews that were a complete disaster, to be able to relay this success story to all of you. 

Oh, and make yourself some White People Soup, this winter.  It is fabulous. Make sure it is gluten free, though, or you will die a thousand deaths, crackas.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My favorite dranks

Today's post is about what sustains me during the winter, dranks and candles.

My favorite signature drink to serve at parties and small gatherings, is three equal parts vodka, cranberry and soda with cranberries and lime, as a garnish.  Look at how I dressed it up.  I am getting so good at merchandising my blog.

My favorite drink when I go out is Woodford Bourbon and ginger ale with a lime.  It is also good with cherries.  I usually take a little hiatus from bourbon each Kentucky Derby, because I tend to overindulge and just the sight of a Woodford bottle makes me want to hurl.

I have overcome my weakness, though, and I am back in the saddle.  I have actually TOURED the Woodford distillery in Lexington.  That is how much I love it.  When we were there, the guide said that it should never be mixed with anything but water, and even THAT is considered TABOO in the small batch bourbon industry.

But, like I am prone to do, I am going against the grain, defying the masses, and I enjoy my bourbon with ginger ale and a lime. 

When I was recently home in Louisville, they have all these great kiosks in the mall near our home.  Well, Maker's Mark had this booth and they had these gel candles that looked and smelled EXACTLY like my drink and I was going to buy one, but my kids were right there and it seemed a little excessive.

Then, Hallie turned to me and goes, "So what are you going to do, drink your drink and light your candle that looks like your drink, and just sit there?"

To which I replied, "No, of course not, I am going to light it during the day, when I cannot HAVE my favorite drink."

Again, Hallie, the voice of reason, who possesses more clarity than anyone else in the house says, "OOOOOHHHH, so then you can smell what you want, when you can't have it," which made me feel totally weird inside, so I abruptly turned on my heels and left.

I have to tell you, though, I have since thought about that candle, a lot.  I just kept coming back to that episode of Family Ties, when Tom Hanks, the Uncle, comes to visit, and he is up in the middle of the night drinking vanilla in the pantry or whatever because he is a recovering alcoholic and there was no liquor in the house  (see video below).

I mean, can you imagine? No, not an alcoholic Uncle drinking your condiments, Silly. (Been there.  Done that.) Having no liquor in the house?  That is why the alcoholic gel candle scares me so much.  I don't trust myself.  I guess I am afraid of the possibility that if I run out of bourbon some Friday or Saturday night (or Sunday thru Thursday, for that matter) that  I might eat my gel candle.  I am just not sure where I stand on the issue of alcoholic candles. It is a slippery slope, my friends - a slippery slope, indeed.  

Moving on.  My favorite wine group right now is of the Malbec Variety.  For me, it is part of the food pyramid.  This is a red wine blend that comes primarily from Argentina.  My favorite label is Colores del Sol, for the money, that is.  You can find it at Huffman's for around $11.00.  I have seen it as high a $15.00, though.  While researching Malbecs, I found one called Juana del Sol, which roughly translates to "Johnna of the Sun" - yes, I am bilingual, too.  (That is, if watching Dora the Explorer for a decade, qualifies you as such.)   I must try that one.  It has a 90 rating from Wine Spectator and was around $11.00, too.  Let me know if any of you have tried it. Or if my two readers from Argentina, happen to be the manufacturers of Johnna of the Sun, I would be interested in doing a free infomercial.

And while we are on the subject, (referring to pic above), I have become positively obsessed with dressing up my liquor bottles.  It really is fun for the whole family!

Now, I shot two videos, both of which were complete disasters.  The first one demonstrates the creativity a fully dressed liquor bottle can spark, with poor video quality; and the second one is a clearer video, that showcases the beauty of each actual outfit.  Luckily, BOTH videos are clearly representative of my youngest, Eva's, easy demeanor.   I am including them both, as I do not have a third one, because the neighbor kid deemed the entire exercise "inappropriate."  Little spoil sport.

No worries, though.  I contacted her legal guardian, who is a "cool Mom," like me, and she was totally down with me videoing her foster paycheck, I mean daughter, for my blog. 

My favorite beer has been, and always will be Amstel Light.  My friend, Alissa, in our twenties, proclaimed that for some reason "you can drink as many Amstel Lights as you want and you will never be hungover."  I think that goes against Science, but for the most part if you stick to Amstel, you eat, you drink a glass of water in between each beer, and you take a handful of Aleve before you go to bed, you do not, in fact, have a hangover.  Fine print:  side effects include bloating, fatty liver, damaged kidneys, blood in the stool, and cotton mouth.

So, just to wrap this all up, the other day, like ten days after Christmas, Brad hands me this "gift" wrapped in a plastic bag.  (We are BIG on pomp and circumstance in our house!)

He hands it to me and says, "Here is another Christmas present.  I left it at your parents' house."

Mills squeals and runs over to me and proudly proclaims that "IIIIIII picked it out, Mom. Dad bought it, but KNOW that IIIII picked it out, OKAY?"

I carefully unwrap the meticulous CVS plastic bag wrapping to reveal my beloved alcoholic bourbon gel candle with gel ice cubes protruding from the top and tiny bubbles within, that looked as if they were actually bubbling up to the surface!  It was BEE-U-TI-FUL.  I took a big whiff. I wanted to lick it but my entire family had now gathered around.

"OOOOHHHHH,  the Mommy drink candle!  I LUUUUVVVVV ITTTTT," I cooed.  I grabbed the nearest lighter and lit the wick.  I, then, looked up to find my family gathered all around me, smiling with their faces newly illuminated.

I drew in a deep breath through my nose and looked upward toward my cracked ceilings.  "Gawd bless us, Everyone!"

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Learned Helplessness vs. Learned Psychosis

Aren't they purrrrfect?  Volunteering was THEIR idea, natch.

I was working out with my friend, Cindy (, yesterday, and we were discussing that Tiger Mom, which she is convinced is a good thing, or whatever, and then the subject turned to our children and the issue of "learned helplessness."  The concept basically describes a person who is so coddled that they are incapable of taking care of themselves.  Well, I immediately became defensive, because it hit a nerve with me.

People, I AM CREATING THREE CHILDREN WHO ARE KNEE DEEP IN LEARNED HELPLESSNESS.  They call my name at least seven thousand times a day.  The second they come home from school, they drop their shit and become laser focused on making me their bitch.  I do EVERYTHING for those little ho's.  It is exhausting and I have done it to myself.  SO, one of my New Year's Resolutions is to make them more self-sufficient.  It is the biggest gift I can give them.  They are not little anymore, and they need to start taking on more responsibility for themselves.

Now, in their defense, I do not have to get on them about doing their homework, or battle them about anything to do with school, so that is a huge relief, but I am realizing that, that may be do to their respect for their teacher and HER expectations, not MINE.

I give in a TON.  If my child presents a decent case, I usually cave.  Along with learned helplessness, I have actively fostered their art of manipulation.  They are very good at making me feel guilty, especially Hallie, because somewhere along the way, they must have learned that I was raised Catholic, so it was a slam dunk for them to use that as a negotiation tool.

I guess I just don't want to be one of those Moms that "freaks out" on them all the time, but I must say that when I am at my wit's end, and I do "lose it," it is effective.  They snap right in line, and do exactly what is expected of them, which then in turn, helps ME to develop "learned psychosis"

This is Pavlov's Dogs, peeps. If a certain repetitive behavior elicits a desired response, then, that behavior becomes learned.  This works both ways, people.  "Learned psychosis" is the original psychological concept behind the statement, "You are making me crazy."  It is their fault.  Gawd, what a relief.  I feel so much better now.

Look, I am not a perfect Mom - far from it, really.  I have never really been into perfection or the projection of perfection, so these are just issues I think about and struggle with.  The most important job a person will ever have is to be a parent (if they choose that path), and it is extremely daunting, if you allow yourself to really analyze the type of person you are shaping, and even more overwhelming to examine why you parent the way you do.

Now, I firmly believe that children are who they are, in terms of their dispositions and general personality traits, at birth.  Of course, traumatic events can shape that personality in early childhood, but I am just using the example of a child with a run of the mill upbringing, by parents who love them.

I was raised by parents who made me responsible, but most of my life's lessons were learned by trial and error, or experience.  I was raised to participate in chores and general household duties, and it taught me to take care of myself.  You just did what you had to do or it would not get done.

I think this is due to the fact that my parents both worked.  Last night, Brad and I watched the movie, "I Don't Know How She Does It," which is clearly written from the "working Mom's" point of view.  It is all but derogatory toward stay at home Mom's, and portrays them as perfection obsessed, workout-aholics, who judge working mothers for their store bought bake sale contributions, and disheveled hair, among many other things.  The film tries to balance out this stereotype by presenting scenarios in which the working Mom's children make them feel guilty for missing out on important events and family moments and putting themselves first.

I think what I am driving at here,  is that neither group has achieved perfection, and neither group ever will, because everybody knows that perfection is a myth, among the other unattainable things Mothers strive for in life, like consistent hygiene and pseudointellectualism (a word I made up, get it?).  

Mills.  Love it.
Here is my advice to you today.  Analyze your parenting style, but don't obsess over it.  Working Moms: don't assume that stay at home Moms just sit around and eat bon bons all day and should pick up your slack.  Stay at home Moms:  Just because you spend more time BEING a Mom, doesn't necessarily make you a BETTER mom.  Stop judging each other.  Negativity just breeds negativity.  It is wasted energy.  If you have peace with you lifestyle, then you don't care what other people are doing. 

Everybody knows that a person who judges another person is only trying to make themselves feel better about the choices they have made in life.  And finally, everybody needs to give themselves a break.  We are all doing the best that we can with the tools we've got.  
Mills and Hallie imitating me in "freak out" mode.  Niiiiccccceee.

We all carry with us our individual idiosyncrasies and baggage which influence our parenting and coping skills.  We are all equally enhancing our children's lives and screwing them up.  Listen, I have three daughters, the odds are against me, in terms of having lifelong close relationships with all of them.  It is a goal of mine, though, no matter how unrealistic it may seem.  The reality is that they will all be close and make fun of me behind my back about how irritating I am.  I guess I'll take that.  I am nothing if not a proponent of compromise.

Monday, January 2, 2012

You can find love in the nightclub

Okay.  I know that I said that I was going to do 25 Christmas posts, but as usual, my life got away from me and YOU ALL had to suffer.  Hilarious.  How you were able to power through the holidays, without my effusive bullshitting, is beyond my comprehension.

Anyway.  Moving on.  So, this is day 17 of my children being out of school and I have a gazillion things to do, namely take down all of my Christmas decorations, which I curse myself each year because I insist on using real garland throughout my entire first floor.  It looks and smells great, but the take down is a total nightmare.  It breaks my vacuum every single year and I step on random needles on my floor for several months.  I tell myself it is for the children.  It is important to them to have authentic garland, and it enhances their quality of life.  Gawd, I am good person.  I am just so selfless I could take a nap.

Around doors to "TVroom" as Eva calls it.
around chandelier
All around Tvroom.  Total mess.  At least, I had the presence of mind not to put it on Scarlett's crate.
How much is too much?

So, because my kids were off of school for so long, I used the opportunity to travel a lot.  I wish that I had one of those blogs where I jetted off to Park City, but I don't because I don't have one of those LIVES where I jet off to Park City.  Instead, my family went to visit my family in Louisville, Kentucky, and then the day after Christmas, my two older girls and I went to visit my best friend, Alissa, and her three girls for a week. (Eves stayed back with my Mom and Dad to make their lives miserable for a little while.)

Looks can be deceiving.

Alissa is my absolute bestie in the whole world and I read my blog aloud to her on several occasions because (wait for it) she does not read it on a regular basis.  Gasp.  I know.  In her defense, I do not POST on a regular basis, so we are even, I guess.  Still, that bitch is on Facebook more than Mark Zuckerburg, so how she could NOT read my blog should be extremely offensive, but I don't care.  Really, I don't, and that is NOT the impetus for this post, where I intend to make HER and her family the subject.  I guess another very real possibility for her absence in my "Follower group," is that she gets to hear live audio of my bullshit on a daily basis.

I digress.  Hallie, Mills and I drive 5 1/2 hours to Indiana and the night we get there, Alissa's Mom and Step dad, Jerry, (They are from "Wiscaanson", so it is pronounced "Jeeeaaiiirryyy" or "Jeeair") were there.  Jerry is 70 years old and HILARIOUS.  But, not nearly as funny as Alissa.  So, Alissa and I go with Jerry to this pizza place to pick up a pizza, and we stayed and he came back to pick us up.  I know, we are over forty and Alissa's "Dad" is dropping us off and picking us up, and we are experiencing NO SHAME.

So, "Jeeair" stays for a while to have and pay for our drinks and the pizza he is feeding our kids while we are out, and Alissa keeps introducing me as her Stepmother because I am sitting next to Jer and hugging on him and stuff.  The look on people's faces are priceless.  You see why we are friends now, right?
Jeeair and Alissa.  We made him stop on the way home from the bar so we could take pictures.  He wanted to show us the Christmas lights.  Love it.

The next day, we motor to Naperville, Illinois, where Alissa's cousin, Jen, is hosting a 90th birthday party for their grandfather.  We had an absolute BLAST.  The kids all got along great, and Jen, Alissa, and I did tequila shots at regular intervals.   It was not supposed to be was THAT kind of party, but we made it one - Happy Birthday, Grandpa, pass me the salt, muthafucka!

Anna.  This is at her house, not during the song.  I wouldn't put it past her, though.

So, at one point, Anna, Alissa's youngest, who is 7, announced that she wanted to sing a song for Grandpa's birthday, as she felt the need to "one up" her oldest sister, Kenna, who played "Happy Birthday" on her clarinet.

Let me set the stage.  We are all gathered around Grandpa in his easy chair.  The house is decorated like something out of Southern Living.  The fire is going, the game is put on mute.  Anna straightens up and starts to rock slowly with her big brown eyes looking a little bit up, as if to the heavens and in her sweet little airy voice begins to sing THIS song.  (I am so pissed I don't have video, but I think I was doing a tequila shot and my hands were full.)

Anna's song for Grandpa:

"Love.  Love.  Love.  You can find love anywhere.  Love is all around us.  You can find love in your house.  You can find love under a bush outside.  Love.  Love.  Love.  You can find love in the you are out with your friends.  All you have to do is look for it."

I have laughed until I cried about that moment.

During the six days I was there, we saw one movie and went out ONCE.  In between, we laid in Alissa's bed we dubbed the "crack den" and watched every single episode of Homeland in the series (  That's right BEEEAACCHHES, it garnered THREE Golden Globe nominations for best series, best actor and best actress.  I TOL' you!!!

The only other thing we did was get this reflexology massage that was totally awesome and completely bizarre.  A friend of Alissa's at the Pizza Place told us about this "introductory offer" this new place called the Five Dragons was having and that it was the best massage she had EVER gotten.  We were intrigued.  But we were even more impressed by the $29.00 price tag for an HOUR massage.

Okay.  We go there and it is in a strip mall in between Marshall's and this vitamin place.  It looks exactly like a Chinese Restaurant from the outside.  There is a man at the desk with one sole wooden tooth, protruding out the bottom of his mouth. 

He signs us in and we proceed into this communal area where people are laid out on what looks like wicker gurneys.  The place has low lighting and is immaculate.  My first impression is that I have entered a morgue. Each body is covered in sparkling white towels (all their faces are covered) and various Asians, all men, are working on them.  Some of the massages are at different points in the process, but for the most part, this army of masseuses, are working in tandem. 

I lay down and have to suppress laughter when my guy starts sticking his fingers in my ears and rotating them in a circular motion.  Alissa is right next to me, but we do not say a word to each other, because if I do, I will not be able to stop laughing and then we will be asked to leave (which is not a concept that is new to the two of us) and I really needed a massage because my back has been KILLING me.

So, anyway, there is this really overweight hairy man next to me ("What?" you say.  "An overweight hairy man in Indiana?  Noooooo.") and he keeps grunting as the tiny Asian man pounds on his back.  I am at the beginning of my massage, so I become terrified that my Asian is going to beat on me, as well.  Well, "terrified" is probably not the right word, "excited" is.

Okay, the great part about the communal reflexology massage, is that you do not remove your clothes.  They just push up your pants legs and massage over your shirt, and folks it is AMAZING.  There IS one part where you are on your back and they spread your legs and sort of get inside the "V" that they have made with your legs and beat on your butt and lower back.  Alissa and I later joked that we may or may not have had intercourse with our Asian.  We weren't sure.  It was too hard to tell.

I guess my advice to you today, other than to do tequila shots at birthday parties for your elders, is to live in the moment.  I have been working really hard on that.  I think we spend a lot of time "creating memories" and setting the stage for shit, instead of just enjoying what IS.

My second, obvious piece of advice, is to find love in the nightclub this 2012.  You know, when you are out with your friends, squeezed into your new cougarwear.