The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Flashback Friday!

Well, the Flashback Friday! I was working on last week...the one that I assured you would be here this week...with all new punched up funny...well, it's not. I'm still working on it. I found a little funny, but I'm not back to full strength yet. Your patience will be deeply appreciated. I'll bring a note from my mother, or something.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share one of the many anecdotes of working as the personal assistant to a multi-millionaire. I'm hoping this one is a little more grin-worthy (or at least head scratch-worthy).

I suppose I should start by saying that, several years ago, I was hired to be the executive assistant to the president of a very large firm here in River City. Within four months after I was hired, the president (who was also the sole owner) sold the company to a much bigger national conglomerate (oh, the headaches we had to endure regarding anti-trust regulations), and he planned to retire.

Needless to say, I was concerned. It was more like, "Great. I just got hired and now my job is going to be eliminated!", and, well, I was kicking my own ass for taking the position in the first place. But, what can you do at that point? Luckily (I thought at the time), my boss took me aside and offered me a position as his personal assistant to handle his personal affairs after the sale of the company. Since I had no other offers out there, and it sounded at least remotely interesting, I opted to give it a try. Heh. I say it like I had a choice.

The job was often a very surreal mixture of activities. And, though my fiance' will grit his teeth at the reference, my sister used to call me 'Elaine' to my boss' 'Mr. Pitt' in a Seinfeld reference that some may get. And, honestly, while I wasn't out shopping for socks, there were days when I was doing things like calling the manufacturer of Kashi cereal looking for a local distributor of Go Lean cereal, which, if you ask me, looks a whole lot like catfood kibble. But, hey, when you're rich you can eat hamster food if you want. And you can pay someone to find a local source for it, too.

I also helped keep his jet crew paid and on 24 hour standby, as well as maintaining records for his plane. I kept his staff at three houses (here in River City, one in Boca Raton and one in Jackson Hole, Wyoming) going. I kept his calendar and most importantly, his checkbooks. And that last part was tough, because he REALLY liked to spend money. His monthly American Express bill was more than some people make in a year.

He had asked me to keep him on a budget, so that he could, basically, live off of the interest his money was making without touching the principal. To do so meant that he had to restrict himself to the paltry sum of $125,000 per month. You wouldn't think it was the impossible dream, would you? I mean, when I think of what I could do with $125,000 each month, especially if I had everyone living on catfood cereal, sheesh... Anyway, that was, without a doubt, the most difficult aspect of my job. The end of the month would come and he'd have some trip he wanted to take or some something he had to have and he wouldn't have any money left and couldn't POSSIBLY wait a week. $125,000 A MONTH!

As usual, though, I have, too easily, found a tangent.

The story I wanted to share, today, was one from when he first sold the company. His family had owned the building that housed the business for generations. It had originally been home to an old meat packing company and had some pretty interesting features (not the least of which were the 'kill rooms' in the basement...where I never went voluntarily...just the thought of all the swine ghosts down there was enough to keep me out). The main operations (of the newly sold business) had been confined to the first floor of the two story building, and the second floor had never been used other than as a (sometime) storage area. Though it hadn't seen action in that capacity for years.

The sale of the company had not included the sale of the building, and, as he planned to do a great deal of traveling, leaving me behind to 'handle things', he decided to renovate the second floor, or at least part of it, to provide for some offices for us. I wish I had access to the before and after photos to show you, but I don't. Having worked in construction for years prior to taking that job, I had no problem keeping him apprised of the status of construction, and had actually greatly looked forward to being involved in it.

However, he, himself, had no intention of working there until the entire space was finished. It sounded like a grand plan, only I wasn't sure where SuperGirlfriend would factor into this equation. I quickly learned. I would be working in the middle of the construction zone. The crew partitioned me off with giant sheets of clear plastic. I could see and hear all the construction noise (which was great when you're on the phone, by the way), but they kept all the dust out. Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Well, it was supposed to keep the dust out.

Not one time did I ever look out my plastic walls and see anything like this. Not once. I was FAR more likely to see this. Or this. Or even this.

The first day I used my "new office" was interesting. My desk, chair, a file cabinet, my computer and phone all tucked neatly inside this giant plastic ziplock baggie. I became the girl in the plastic bubble or the goldfish in the bowl or...the pumpkin in the bag. You may select your own visual here.

Just outside the standard grade plastic walls were carpenters tearing out walls and jackhammerers jackhammering floors and all of them were yelling things back and forth to each other, often in Spanish. All the while, I'm on the phone, trying to make hotel reservations (or any number of other things I had to do) when the noise level was akin to being in the stands on Superbowl Sunday. And all the desk clerk can hear is Al Michaels yelling 'TOUCHDOWN! TOUCHDOWN! TOUCHDOWN'. So, I think, "I'll just wait until they take a lunch break to make my phone calls. I'll work on something else in the meantime."

So, I pull out some bills and start working on accounts payables and, after wiping the dust off of it, I'm trying to use the calculator and it's so loud on the other side of the virtually non-existent wall that it's maddening, and I can't even concentrate on basic math. I just want to tell them all to GO HOME.

Okay, fine. FINE. I've got a letter to type. That should be something I can coast on. No. The demolition man hit something in a wall and the next thing I knew...mid-letter...a lovely sparkly fireworks show and then the power was gone. I'm in the dark in my plastic bag, and I'm starting to hyperventilate. Get me paper, Man, not plastic!

None of that takes into account the crashes either. Plastic walls are not terribly resistant to falling ladders, broom handles, or even drywall finishers when they trip on something, while on their stilts, and fall on your desk. Which is a little like that scene in ANIMAL HOUSE where the kid is looking at a Playboy magazine, and a girl dressed as a bunny is catapaulted through his bedroom window. "Thank you!," he intones as he looks skyward. Only in this situation, the drywall guy was not some Patrick Swayze type, and let's assume he falls in the middle of some project you're trying to work on and hits your soft drink spilling it all over your keyboard and papers, raising a dusty mushroom cloud that has temporarily blinded you and you weren't fantasizing about ANY of it. Yeah, more like that.

This kind of thing went on DAILY for about six months. The noise got better over the course of the project. Though, once the auditory assault abated, the olfactory assault wasn't far behind. I was forced to endure all kinds of toxic fumes from wood stain to paint to carpet glue to the aroma of food as the the Mexican laborers literally had a tortilla maker and a hot pad set up right outside my bubble/bowl and cooked their lunch there every day.

My over-sized baggie was relocated three times over the course of the renovation work. Every time it was an ordeal. Electrical outlets had to be specially strung for me. Lighting was never right. Getting the plastic walls anchored. My boss would check in with me, every day or two, to make sure I hadn't suffocated, and that he had enough money for that Grecian urn he'd seen, or the hair implants he'd been coveting, but he never stopped in to see me. We had a runner who would shuttle checks (that needed his signature) and other paperwork back and forth.

There were aspects of the job, at least at that point, that were the stuff of dreams. I mean, hey, never seeing your boss for months is pretty sweet. The dust (which was only ever moderately delayed, as opposed to stopped, in it's pursuit of my desk, my chair, my file cabinet, my floor, the inside AND outside of my plastic bag, my phone, my calculator and every piece of paper on my desk) and the unbearable noise and the overwhelming smells were difficult to withstand. I suppose that's the way with most jobs. Good parts and bad. Just that this was a rather unusual job and the highs and lows were rather unusual as well.

The offices were fabulous once they were completed, with granite window sills and lavish wood work and seriously upscale furnishings like crotch wood conference tables and projection televisions in the conference room and remote control window blinds, a custom made granite table for the kitchen area along with a sub-zero fridge and...oh, I could just go on and on. It was fabulous. And it was mine. All mine. The entire thing was made for just the two of us. And he was gone most of the time. (My boss was...probably still is...a snowbird, preferring to be at his Boca home from October through March. Our construction schedule had started in June, and so he had already flown south when the work was complete.)

It was an experience, though. And it came with all kinds of great ready made gags/jokes for being...wrapped in plastic, or in an oxygen tent, or ready for safe sex.


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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Temper, Temper

I've been pretty busy at work this week. At our staff meeting on Monday morning, my boss advised me and Lexus that we were the only people in the office not to have requested next Monday (July 3rd) off. Consequently, he offered us a deal. Make up the time we will miss by not working on Monday, anytime this week or next, and they'll just close the office.

Consequently, I've been working through lunch and staying a little late. It's done wonders towards getting me caught up. Oddly, though, as I catch something up, someone is right behind me with another pile. Didn't see THAT one coming, did you?

Anyway, I'm up to my hiney in shop drawings right now. Shop drawings that will probably be the focus of most of my day tomorrow. If you are not familiar (and if you don't work in the industry you'd have no reason to be), they are basically submittals that contractors send to the architect on a job for each item and the architect makes sure that the item conforms to the plans and design he had laid out originally. There are certain codes that have to be met and color selections to be made, etc., etc., etc. It's a tedious task to go through all of this stuff. But, it's part of the deal.

Anyway, because of the boredom that sets in when I'm in serious shop drawing slog, I have no problem when something new comes along. Today, the selections have been typing a quick letter for one of the guys, filling out some forms for a new client, writing snarky email to a contractor, a few things like that. When one of my bosses asked me to deliver a copy of a legal agreement that I had finished typing this morning (early) to an office a couple blocks from here, given the sunny weather, I was all over it. Well, I bemoaned the shop drawings being delayed, yet again, for something else. But, inside I giggled and giggled.

While en route, I was enjoying watching the cars and people in the area. When I got to the second corner and was waiting for traffic to ebb a little before crossing the street, a youngish black girl (I'm going to guess 22, maybe 24) walked up talking on a cellphone and pushing an umbrella stroller with a tiny baby in it. I couldn't see the baby well because she'd put a lightweight (receiving) blanket over the baby's head. (I'd imagine it was to keep the sun off the baby as much as possible.) The baby was very unhappy and was squalling pretty loudly.

The baby was very tiny and if I were to guess an age (though my perception has become quite skewed since my last teeny tiny girl), I'd say that he/she was maybe 6 months old, at the most. As we were waiting there together for the traffic light to change, I was watching the cars. She was obviously engrossed in a conversation and...well...the baby wasn't in a position to be very converational either.

All of a sudden, she snatched the blanket off the baby's head and got right in his/her face and yelled "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT? HUH? I MEAN IT. WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT?" The light had just changed and I was already walking across the street. At first, I thought maybe she was talking to me. I didn't know why she'd say that to me, but I certainly couldn't imagine why she'd talk that way to a baby. So, it had to be me, right? But when I turned around, she had the blanket in one hand and was bent over just berating this infant for interrupting her call and annoying her with the squalling.


I've said this elsewhere before. I can understand what will get you to that point. I can understand how parents can get so fed up that they want to hurt their children. I can. I don't condone it. Not by any means. But I understand it. That said, get some help. Get some happy pills. Get some counselling. Get some help that allows you a break when you need it. Get something or someone that will keep you from doing this to your innocent child. And get it quickly.

When you aren't getting much sleep, and you are dealing with the stress of a baby who cries alot ([Kid 2] had colic and was a handful), and life hands you any of the many other selections of problems it can, you can only take so much. And when you are ready to blow, you will blow all over the closest person who will let you. Your own immaturity is only going to further complicate things. And when you are emotional you don't always stop to think about how your actions are going to affect someone else. Especially someone else who can't fight back.

I sincerely doubt that the girl expected her tiny baby to respond to her Vic Mackey interrogation style, but it didn't stop her from trying it. And it sure ruined my shop drawing vacation.

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Meme-ing Along The Highway

Next, as it has been a while and I found this MEME on a random blog surf yesterday, I wanted to share. I thought I had written down the site where I saw it (I sooooo hate not giving any credit for the misappropriation of stuff like this. It's just so rude.), but I can't find it. If I do, I'll come back and insert it. Cross my heart. In the meantime, try not to think poorly of me.

[Late Breaking News Update!: I found it! I found it! I procured the MEME below from I want a Cookie! Favorite thing about her blog is she has has a little "St. Liberata" picture there protecting her from "unwanted suitors and burdensome husbands". It cracks me up. But, below that very picture is a little "wish list" of sorts, that I also find pretty funny. It looks like this:

"I want a raise.
I want to go home.
I want sex.
I want a cookie."

That pretty much says it all.]


5 Items in My Fridge

1) A little salad dressing. I said a little and I mean a little. You shouldn't listen to the ramblings of other people who don't even use the stuff. It's not like I have some kind of problem here. Really. I mean it.

2) Milk (and even though there was nearly two gallons of it in there at dinnertime last night, it will all be gone by sundown today).

3) The expired yogurt in the back that my kids keep PROMISING me they'll eat when I buy it and then it sits in the fridge until it expires. If I did this same meme 2 months from now, I'd be listing this same exasperating thing again. I'm such a sucker for this ploy!

4) Snowcone syrup in three different flavors. My kids have been getting my new snowcone machine out and using it everyday and the syrups are showing signs of the nearly constant use.

5) Pepperoni cheese imported (via my aunt and uncle) from a Wegman's grocery store in Rochester. My middle daughter fell in love with it...but she's kinda over it now.

5 Items in My Closet

1) A very slutty pink top that I wore on the plane when I flew down to get Highlander and bring him back up here. I'm pretty sure it helped talk him into the plan. He was unable to resist. Heh.

2) A giant tub full of crafting items (paint, feathers, silk flowers, ribbon, glue sticks, etc.). Every once in a while I get them out and look at the stuff in the big blue tub.

3) A pair of short black boots that my oldest daughter is CONSTANTLY borrowing from me. I foolishly thought it would be cool to wear the same size shoes as both my teens. The reality is that it means they borrow my stuff all the time, rather than me borrowing theirs.

4) Jimmy Hoffa. Well, maybe not Hoffa, but there's stuff in the back that I can't identify.

5) Many, Many ungifted Christmas presents that I lost before gifting them and now they await regifting elsewhere. Consider this your warning. And don't complain about the powder blue slippers when you open them.

5 Items in My Car

::sniff:: my I miss my car...

When I get it back, it should still have these five items inside:

1) Sugar-free mints. Gotta. Have. 'Em.

2) The passenger side rear-view mirror. It's in the trunk. It got clipped off when I hit that cop car, but I'm gonna get it reinstalled...someday.

3) Highlander's sandals that he got for Father's Day. I was going to return them (they're one size too big), but as they were in the trunk when I dropped the car off, I forgot and left them there and haven't been able to return them. Which has been aggravating.

4) A Lion King cd that I have listened to FAR too many times. It previously belonged to my older two and they loved it. [Kid 3] is following in those footsteps. Worse, I know all the words and sing along. But I can go weeks, years actually, without listening to it. I can quit any time I want to.

5) One driver's side floor mat that keeps curling up on the right side and driving me batty.

5 Items in My Purse

1) A ticket for two free games of Putt Putt golf. You never know when you'll need something like that.

2) My sunglasses. Wow. Go figure. Usually they're long lost by this point in the summer.

3) A master key to 'Hell'. Heh.

4) A gazillion appointment reminder cards for me and the kids to various doctors and therapists. I never remember to take them out of there once we've been.

5) A couple Sudafeds. They are my drug of choice. During allergy season, nothing keeps me clear like Sudafeds. And not the new formula ones. I like the ones they make you show your id and sign your name to get. That's right. The hard stuff.

Okay, gang. Have a little fun in the sun today. Or...if it's still raining in your neighborhood, stay inside and play.

As for me, I've got another post on simmer, but it probably won't be around for a day or so. Hey, three this morning ought to keep you outta my hair for a little while anyway!

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Feeling Random (in a Random Kind of Way)

Though I'm still basking in the glow of so many warm congratulatory wishes (both here and at Highlander's blog), I had some stuff I wanted to share. It had gotten a little backed up. Sorry. Hopefully, you'll enjoy some of these links.

This 40 Things about Superman that you didn't know may here, given the expertise of several of my regular readers, but with the upcoming movie, etc., I thought I'd share it. Test your skills, boys (and girls)!

And, while you're jonesing for it, here's the new trailer for the Spiderman 3 flick not set to come out for almost a year!

I'm not sure if you caught this Matt Lauer interview with a man trying to cancel his AOL account and dealing with the same things that I (and everyone I know who has done it) encountered. It's destined to be a classic.

How long can you keep claiming to be 29? Well, now you might have to do it for hundreds of years. A Cambridge University geneticist claims that the average life expectancy is increasing rapidly, but is getting ready to go into hyperdrive. The first person to live to 1000 years old may be 60 now.

Short and sweet, but that's all I've got for you on these right now. Class dismissed!

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JANE! Stop This Crazy Thing!!!

Recently, Highlander and I were watching the extra features on his Season One DVD collection of "Hill Street Blues". I'd love to say that I don't remember the show (not because of the content, but because of the timeline) prior to him getting this set, but that would be a fallacy, and I'm not a liar and I have no use for that particular ilk. And while I'm in my advanced youth (a term Highlander likes to use), I much prefer the maturity and wisdom I have gained and would not willingly choose to go back to those days.

But, I digress.

Veronica Hamel, who was the very sexy and very saucy Joyce Davenport on "Hill Street Blues", looked considerably worse for wear some twenty years later. All the guys I knew (back in the day) drooled in truly Pavlovian fashion whenever her name was uttered. As I remembered that, I kept hearing Ann Reinking belting out "Everything old is new again" from ALL THAT JAZZ in my head. Except, in my head, it was "Everything new is old again".

All the people from my youth are "geezing up on me". And it's not even that I mind so much that I'm getting older. Sure, my hair is a little grayer. My skin isn't quite as taut. (Okay, I'm getting off this 'old lady' train of thought RIGHT NOW!) It's just that when I look at ME in the mirror, I don't so much see my youth fading as this body getting older.

When I see Deborah Harry on the grammy's and have difficulty recognizing her until the music starts. Well, that's a thing. She's supposed to stay a certain way in my memories. Frankly, I'd be willing to bet that a few guys jump on this bandwagon.

All of the icons from my youth...from music and movies and tv...are aging, or worse DYING, and they are certainly making me feel old, but they are, more importantly, tainting my cherished memories. They are supposed to stay young. They are supposed to stay as they were. The way that I remember them.

Certainly, I still can remember what 'Vinny Barbarino' looked like, even though I see the face that John Travolta now wears. Some part of me wants to insist that it's not the same person. That it just couldn't be. The John Travolta I remember was much younger.

Watching Richard Dreyfuss age in MR HOLLAND'S OPUS wasn't bad for me. I knew it was Hollywood magic. But in real life, it was much worse. Have you SEEN him lately? What happened to Roy Neary from CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND? I'll tell you what happened to him. He turned into an old, old man on me. And that's just not right!

Like Lucy Pevensie and Huck Finn and Alice Liddell and Sara Crewe and...and Peter Pan, for God's sake, I like all of my fictional characters to stay young forever. And these actors are just defiantly refusing to cooperate here.

Let me tell you how bad this stuff gets. As Highlander and I were watching an episode of HILL STREET BLUES the other night, Faye Furillo brought Frank a 40th birthday cake to the squad room. Highlander sighed, "I'm older than Frank Furillo." See. See what this stuff does?

A former employer had a home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. As did his younger brother. Said younger brother resided there on a full-time basis, and was friends with a number of the locals. Including Harrison Ford. During a stay in Wyoming, said former employer and his brother had occasion to have Mr. Ford over for dinner. Accompanying him was Calista Flockhart. My former employer's nephew, during dinner, as the next course was being served, asked Miss Flockhart if she had enjoyed the soup. When she told the pre-teen fellow that she did, he asked if her grandfather had enjoyed it, too. True story. A zing for Harrison, but it kinda hit me on the bounce back. Worse, though, is the fact that Hans Solo is NOT supposed to be an old guy.

It'd be easier if they all went to the Island of SuperGirlfriend's Mis-fit Memories (aka Neverland) and didn't keep showing up flaunting how they are no longer the aspiring youngsters that they were when I was an aspiring youngster.

Where will it end??? Who's next??? Bobby Sherman? Susan Dey? I don't like it. I don't like it one damned bit!

I'm not saying we need to set up some kind of "Carousel" scenario, but there's bound to be an answer...isn't there?

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

This Story Has A Happy Ending

Once upon a time I was a divorced mother of three. Now, I didn't say a desperate and divorced mother of three, or a pitiful and depressed mother of three, mostly because none of those descriptions would be apt. I won't go as far as saying I was happy, because I wasn't. But I knew that I had to do what I had done and that my girls and I would be all right. Just as I believed that, I knew that it wasn't necessary for me to be in a committed relationship ever again.

A divorced co-worker had explained to me that she had boyfriends, but that while she enjoyed being with them, she didn't want them in her house. At least not any longer than a sleepover now and then. When I first got divorced, that sounded like the most wondrous plan I'd ever heard.

Today, I did something I thought I'd never do again. Not that I didn't think the opportunity might not present itself again, just that I honestly believed I wouldn't go for it if it did. In fact, when the opportunity first presented itself, many months ago, I fought it pretty hard. I'm like that sometimes.

Once again, I am officially engaged. This is the second time in my life that I have promised myself to another person. I deeply hope that the wisdom and maturity I have gained at this point in my life will make it the right decision this time.

Highlander has been better to me and for me than I ever imagined could be possible. And while I'd presume that many people who are in love say things like that, I know that in our particular case, the statement is true. Arrogant, I guess, to put it that way, but it's something I see with my own eyes every day... and it's something that others see and tell me of every day, as well.

When I was first divorced, I felt so many emotions. The last few years of my marriage had been painful and difficult. Not constantly, but with more and more frequency and with more and more intensity. And all of that ate away at my self-worth.

My ex had made it pretty clear that my expectations for being treated in what I considered to be a fair and reasonable manner were unusually high. The disrespect heaped on me started making me believe that it might be impossible to ever find someone with whom I could share the rest of my life or be happy. Sad, but I decided I'd rather be alone than be with someone who treated me that way. And, after all, at least I had my girls.

And so, I had pretty well resigned myself to not ever getting married, or engaged, ever again. And I was okay with it.

Highlander has made me rethink (among other things) how I felt about that decision. He has exceeded any, and every, expectation I could have ever imagined in ways I hadn't even considered and with an enthusiasm that is completely infectious. More than that, he has made me believe that I can be happy and that I, for whatever crazy reason, DESERVE to be treated well. Very well.

When we started talking about the next level in our relationship, I was scared. Not because I have doubts about him, but because I have doubts about me. I still have that little part inside me that says I don't deserve to be happy. That I don't merit the respect. That I want more than I should get. And that if I take it, something will go badly, badly wrong. But he has quelled those fears.

Even when we went to the jewelry store for the first time and talked about what we wanted to get, I was afraid to be too excited. Some piece of it felt like I didn't deserve this. I was happy. And I wanted this. But it didn't seem real somehow.

Not today. Today, the man I love...the man with whom I intend to spend the rest of my life...the man who will tell you that he considers it "his pleasure and his privilege" to treat me like a queen (including waiting on me hand and foot, giving me backrubs on spec, foot massages without even being asked, and sending me the most romantic little notes you could ever imagine every day) slid an engagement ring on my finger. And all of those scared little voices that have been telling me how inadequate I am for the last several years...well, they shut right the fuck up.

I'm happy. And my girls are happy. And Highlander is happy. And the rest...well, the rest is just stuff.

My apologies for the quality, but I'm attaching a picture of my ring. It's a 3/4 carat pink (my favorite color) diamond in a simple solitaire white gold setting. And it's beautiful. I absolutely adore it. The ring is a slight twist on the traditional, but, then again, so are we. Any sane person would have had a manicure before getting an engagement ring, but I just haven't had the time and definitely not the money.

Dinner out tonight with the entire family to celebrate was delightful. Sometimes, the dream-like quality of the whole situation is overwhelming. Realizing that it's real, over and over again, is some precious gift. Affirmation that someone truly loves me that much. That I deserve to be shown that much respect. As Highlander says, this is the "happily ever after" part of our lives.

You know what? It really is.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Word of the Day

Just a note. I probably should have mentioned it on my previous post. Wish me well as I have a doctor appointment this afternoon to run some blood tests. Though I'll probably have to see a sphygmomanometer while I'm there, too, Nate - LOL!

And Mike Norton...wherever you are...I hope your week had a successful conclusion! We could both use a relaxing weekend. In fact, relaxing weekends all around, Barkeep!

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Flashback Friday!

I can't find the funny. There. I said it. Oh, I looked high and low (for Miss Water Buffalo...sorry...the brain damage, you know), but I just couldn't get my hands around it. And I really, really tried. I went to funny websites and laughed and laughed. But when I sat down to write. Well, it just sat there, too.

I had a really sad story about my dad, that I thought about sharing (since we just had Father's Day), but, well, I didn't WANT to do a sad story this week. I wanted to do a funny story. I had what I thought would work, but when I started writing it...well...the funny just wouldn't come.

My intention is to work on that one a little more for next week. In the meantime, you're stuck with the following SuperGirlfriend photo montage Flashback Friday! I've included a few captions, but I'm hopeful that all you comedians/comediennes out there will help me find the funny. Your suggestions are not only welcomed, they are encouraged. Let the mockery begin!

"That's right. You're the next Shirley Temple. Casting agents will be calling aaaaany minute now."


(btw, that's me running)

Part is off center. Blemish on chin. Shirt is bunched up in front. For God's sake, there's RICK RACK trim on my dress. Another stellar school picture day.::sigh::

"My uncle Hugh says that sitting like this when I'm a big girl will get me all the boys...or at least a photo spread in his magazine."

"Maybe if I distract them with this off-the- shoulder thing, I can snatch that present before anyone is the wiser."

Nice hat... ::snicker::... ::snort::.... ::guffaw::


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Thursday, June 22, 2006


I like bubbles.

I like the way they look and smell. I like the way they float so freely anywhere and everywhere. I like the way that bubbles try to keep the air in, while keep- ing the air out.

Why are bubbles so much fun? Why does it give us joy to blow air into soap and watch as our creations float...and then pop? Why are we instantly transcended to youthful innocence when we see bubbles?

Even watching someone else enjoy bubbles is fun. They have the ability to make you smile when you didn't know you had one in there.

So, when I found some pictures of bubbles today, and they started making me feel a little upbeat, I thought I'd share. I know a few of you could use a smile right now.

Or if not a smile, maybe your own personal you-sized bubble to help you drift in the wind, free of life's little entanglements, for a while. Consider this a subliminal suggestion.

Stop and smell the roses. Listen to your heartbeat. Blow a bubble (and I don't mean Michael Jackson's simian friend, either) instead of blowing smoke.

Enjoy each moment that you can. Life is entirely too short. And while you can't live in a bubble, sometimes a little momentary escape is enough to get you by.

Or, you can read this and laugh your ass off like I did. Thanks Spider Girl for passing along the link. I needed that! See. You're all in a better mood already!

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Let's, for a moment, pretend that I'm an Iraqi national. I'm not. And, for the record, I'm happy with that, too. But, for the sake of argument, let's say I'm not happy. Let's say I'm an Iraqi and I'm angry with the U.S. Not terribly difficult to imagine an Iraqi national angry with the U.S., is it? Good.

Recent world events have stifled my ability to express my discontent in my usual manner. The very people that anger me have invaded my homeland. Their presence not only furthers my ill-temper, but it complicates my day to day living. My ability to work is inhibited, which makes it difficult for me to provide for my family. My inability to feed or clothe or shelter my family makes me feel more desperate, and certainly it's not difficult for me to direct those feelings at someone with whom I am already angry. The solace I once sought at my local place of worship is now impinged due to restrictions levied by the invading armies.

So, we've got one hot Iraqi. (In a completely asexual way, of course.) Actually, I think it would be relatively easy to factor in the applicable multipliers and have many, many more than one. In fact, I think our reality is exactly that. For now, though, we've just got the one.

If he'd only wear a big scarlet "A" (for angry), we could isolate him and be done with it. But that hardly seems realistic. Does it? It makes more sense that he'd, given his cultural mores, keep his feelings to himself and take action appropriate in his eyes, when the opportunity presented itself.

Sure, sure, we all think we're smarter than the Iraqi's, but we are giving them SOME credit, aren't we?

So, bear all that in mind, and then listen to OUR plan. We send our sons and fathers and brothers to Iraq. We demoralize and humiliate the Iraqi's. We cripple their government. We descecrate things holy to them. We regulate them until their very existence is barren and desperate.

And then, we pick out a few dozen of them, train them to fight and arm them with American weapons. So they can control other Iraqi's, of course.

"Who wants to patrol with newly indoctrinated soldiers Kahlil and Ahmed tonight? No raised hands, huh? Any nominations? Well, I guess it's you Jones. You're single, right?"

Our military commanders, in their ever infinite wisdom, send these armed nationals (and I don't care how much screening they think they've done, these people have some history being crafty) out on patrol with unlucky American soldiers. Shockingly, American soldiers are getting shot and killed.

Gee, it seems like someone should have seen that coming. Bad enough to piss them off. Is it really necessary to give them loaded guns and American 'targets', too? This crosses lines WAY into 'stupid' territory. Don't you think?

Every day I wonder what will be the thing that stops this madness. And every day, I'm shown that we'll move the boundaries when and where we need them, and we'll be just as whimsical with human lives as we wanna be. Perhaps I am the stupid one, clinging to the hope that our leaders might wake up and actually start working towards saving human lives, instead of continuing to lead the sacrificial lambs to those whose dream it is to be butchers. I'm like that, though. I want to believe in people, that they will do "the right thing". No matter how many times I'm proven wrong.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Links A'Plenty

Here's some stuff to keep you all surfing safely away from the SG drama-fest. Tighten your safety straps, though. I'm all over the place today!

Sci-Fi Science is a site that explores the true science behind science fiction. Written by scientists, they look at the serious side and then they have a more fun section as well.

While we're on sci-fi, here's the obligatory "one for Tony Collett". A Yoda backpack!

The photo of the rare tree octopus lured me right into this site. Believe it or not, I'd never even heard of these animals. Simply amazing.

The Worldwide Blessing Generator takes a multi-denominational approach to blessing you. Everytime you load the site, you are supposed to get a new blessing. Here's what mine said today:

May Wisdom and Happiness compete to see which can do you the greatest favor,
and you will display a heart of boundless love for all creation.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Share and accept.

These guys are making an effort to honor the victims of 9/11 on September 11, 2006. All 2996 of them. This is not an effort to point fingers or talk about the tragedy itself. It is an opportunity to talk about the individuals themselves. I happen to think that's worthwhile. If you're interested in participating, let them know and they will send you a name and put you on their list.

We have TONS of old broken pc's sitting around our office. When I saw this site, I was boggled...I mean it, all the great ideas. My favorite, hands down, was the hamster cage. (Curse you Blogger for not letting me post pictures!!)

I had to chuckle, just a little, when I saw news today of Nestle' buying Jenny Craig. Talk about shutting up the detractors. Of course, Nestle' isn't just chocolate, but I think most of us make that association. Juxtaposed with the Jenny Craig Weight-Loss System, it just makes some odd bed-fellows. And they're not even in the beltway.

While I'd have LOVED to have posted a few pics on this entry, Blogger is being a huge doodyhead and won't let me. Consequently, you get nuthin' in that department!

Lastly, I want to send some late 'Happy Father's Day' wishes to ALL the dads out there, but particularly Mike Norton (who could use a little love this week) and Mark Gibson (who is crazy enough to be actually considering a road trip to River City in a few weeks). My girls had a few special surprises for Highlander when they got back from their dad's last night. I don't think he was expecting anything, but they're sweet kids and they love him.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Flashback Friday!

Happy Friday, y'all! Anyone up for a little flashback? I hope so. This week's selection was a collaborative effort, and I had a lot of fun working on it with my writing partner.

The entry, which is about [Kid 2], is one I've been mulling over in my head for some time. She's asked me, for the last couple weeks in fact, if I were going to do my Flashback Friday! about her. I told her I was planning to do it this week.

Though she (I'm pretty sure) meant no insult to my story-telling abilities, advised me that there were parts of the Flashback that I wouldn't know. (I didn't get into the whole thing about how it would be impossible for me not to know parts of my own Flashback...another discussion for another day...I was having fun with her.) She, further, felt that she should write them. I was in no position to argue. Mostly, because I wasn't sure I even understood the situation fully myself.

Consequently, there are sections of this week's Flashback Friday! that happened completely outside of my realm of knowledge. Truly a feat amongst men. Without further ado, here we are, Supergirlfriend and [Kid 2] with this week's Flashback Friday!

[Kid 2] says...

I guess it started out with a regular fun-filled day of the second grade. Nothing special. I was bored and it was almost time for me to go home (Mom interjects with a note - my two oldest kids attended the "before and after school" program which allowed them to have child care, on the school grounds, each day.), so what else should I do to pass the time but something I wasn't supposed to do (okay, Mom wants to interject here, but thinks better of it...use your imaginations). Like playing 'hair salon'. Keep in mind I was eight at the time ( says "like THAT makes a difference...sorry...keep reading).

Then it hit me (sorta literally...sorry Mom again), I was specifically told several times that past week "not to get my hair wet". (Mom note - a few of the girls had been wetting their hair in the bathroom sink or water fountain, mine included...apparently, this day was one of those.) So I panicked!

I asked my friend for some help. Her idea was to fling my head back and forth (presumably to help dry the hair, not to restart the brain). I tried it and I brought my head down, full force, on the edge of a metal table.


It hurt for like five minutes. I remember the teachers thinking I had gotten a nose bleed...which made no sense because blood was flowing over my eyes. Teachers are retards sometimes. (Mom hopes she won't be chastised for expressing a potentially unqualified assessment of the teaching profession.) I remember looking into the bathroom mirror at school and seeing all of the blood. It scared me badly!

The next thing I knew, I was laying on a hospital bed with blue paper over my face, being sewn back together.

***Okay, that's [Kid 2]'s recollection of the events. Here's how it was for me.

SuperGirlfriend says...

I was heading to my kids' school to pick them up after I got off from work on what had been a pretty uneventful day. Ha. Was that about to change! It was about 5:40 when I got there, and as I pulled into the parking lot, I saw an ambulance at the front door of the school. Like most mothers, I'd assume, I felt a knot start forming in my stomach.

Parking the car as quickly as I could, I was fast-walking to the front of the school, mumbling as I walked "Please don't let it be one of mine. Please don't let it be one of mine." over and over again. But the whole time, my brain kept reminding me that I had two in there and so the odds against me were doubled to start.

Approximately 10 feet from the front door, I saw two men helping walk a child out to the ambulance. I could only see their backs, but I recognized the clothes on the child. A wave of nausea hit me fast and hard. This was going to be a bad one.

I called out to her and the men stopped as she turned around. I couldn't have recognized her from the front. I couldn't have known it was my own child. There was a sheet of blood covering the entire front of her body. From the top of her head to the bottom of her shoes. Soaked through in blood.

If I could have run away, I might have. I was frozen there. Not knowing what to do, but knowing that this was more than I could handle.

As a mini "flashback within a flashback", this same child fell a week before her first birthday and caught the corner of an end table in the center of her forehead. I was holding a damp cloth on it and applying pressure, and still the blood was spurting a stream through the cloth AND my fingers. I was terrified and she ended that day by getting her first stitches. Well, one stitch anyway.

Now fast-forward back up to 7 1/2 years later. This was worse than that.

She looked at me and said "I'm okay, Mom." My kids (especially this one)...always trying to help me.

The paramedics told me that they were taking her to the closest hospital open to trauma, which was WAY on the other side of town and not a particularly good hospital. I told them I didn't want her to go there. They advised me that they couldn't 'legally' take her anywhere else, but that if I, her legal guardian, took her to any emergency room, she would not be refused entry. (Think "ER" and the phrase "closed to trauma".)

Consequently, I loaded her into my car with the intention of going to the closest hospital to get her treated. The school principal asked me where I was going to take her and if there was anything he could do. I asked him to contact my husband and tell him he needed to come to school and pick up my oldest daughter. I talked to my oldest daughter briefly and told her that her dad was on the way to get her and that I'd see her at the hospital. And then, I left.

It was difficult for me to look at the huge gash in my daughter's head. I kept feeling faint and I didn't want to pass out.

The ER nurse took us to a suture room and cleaned up her face so that I could see my pretty girl again. But, I could also, more clearly see the damage she'd done. There was a three inch long horizontal tear at her hairline...and it was all the way to her skull.

When she'd been at that same hospital as a (nearly) one year old, I'd had to wait in the waiting area, as they strapped her down and stitched her little head. She was screaming and I couldn't go in there. I just couldn't.

I assured her, this time, that I wouldn't leave the room. I wouldn't abandon her. She wasn't crying. In fact, she hadn't at all that I knew of. Of all my children, she is the bravest and the most pain-tolerant. Not that I'd want something like this to have happened to any of them, but if it had to, this was the one who would handle it best.

She asked me what would happen. I explained that she'd need a shot to numb it. I remember her saying, "Okay. It couldn't hurt more than the cut." To which I replied, "The shot will be IN the cut." Her face took on a "you have GOT to be kidding" look and I hated to have to try to explain how they needed to numb the area to be stitched.

I wanted to talk to her and help her feel safe, but I was having an increasingly difficult time looking at her to talk to her. I sat by her bed and held her hand and when the nurse came in, I told her about my daughter's anxiety at getting a shot in the wound. The nurse explained that they had a 'numbing gel' that may work, but that it was a pretty big wound and that there might not be any way around getting the shot.

[Kid 2] implored me with her eyes to at least try the gel option first. And so they did. And we waited. And we waited. But it wasn't doing the job to sufficiently numb the area. So, with some regret, we finally had to go for the shot. I couldn't watch. Not at all. In fact, thinking about it as I write this makes me want to be sick.

Some point very shortly after the shot, a nurse advised me that my (now ex) husband was in the waiting room. I told [Kid 2] that I'd be right back and I went to tell him what was going on.

"It's bad.", I whispered to him, "It's a big cut and there's alot of blood." He asked what he should do and I told him to call my parents (who lived nearby) and ask them to come stay in the waiting room with [Kid 1], so that he could come back in the room with me and [Kid 2]. And so, he did.

Once he was finally back there with us, I asked him take my place sitting by her bed and holding her hand. I went to the foot of the bed and, in some bizarre Twister-sounding scenario (that I knew she'd be unable to see), I sat on the floor and put my right hand on her right leg and my head between my knees. It helped, but not as much as I'd have liked.

The thing that amazed me most about the entire situation was how calm she was. How incredibly brave. How much she was concerned about MY well-being while she was sitting there with her damned head cracked open!

And so, they stitched her up, and told us to make an appointment with her pediatrician in ten days to have the stitches removed (which we later found out was entirely too long) and we collected up our other youngun' and headed home.

For those in the know (or if you don't, here's a laundry tip), it took me about six large bottles of hydrogen peroxide to get all of the blood out of her shirt, jeans, socks and shoes. But it all came out. The smell was sickening as it did, but the shirt had only been worn twice at that point, and I had to make the effort.

We're lucky that her scar (and it's a doozie) is at her hairline. With [Kid 2]'s permission, I've included a photo of it here.

When she was younger, I always kept her in styles with bangs. As she's gotten older she's abandoned that wisdom. Teenagers...what can you do? Currently, she's wearing a side part that sweeps across her forehead, but even if she parts it in the middle, it's not as obvious to strangers as it is to us.

Every time I see it, without exception, I'm taken back to the raw panic I felt as I was heading to the front door of that school, pleading for it not to be my kid and the dread and fear growing inside of me. It's a feeling I will never be able to forget. Just as I'll never be able to forget the feeling when she turned around and I saw how bad it was for the first time.

Ironically, I've seen her showing off the scar to kids in the neighborhood, and because she's far more the tomboy kid, the accompanying "AWEsome" that comes from the boys as she racks up more 'cool points'.

That's my girl!


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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Riddle Me This...

If you take this

what do you get?

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Short and Sweet

Two things from last night that I wanted to share. The snippets from my life are so sweet right now. Well, most of them anyway. Check this out.


[Kid 2] and [Kid 3] accompanied me to pick Highlander up from work last night. [Kid 3] likes to go hide by the front door and "surprise" him when he comes out. Shrieking and leaping and generally making him feel like she's excited to see him. In the few moments that she was laying in wait, [Kid 2] and I had the following conversation.

[Kid 2]: Highlander is pretty happy isn't he.

Me: Well, I know he had a pretty rough day at work today, but if you mean with his life overall, yeah, I think so.

[Kid 2]: He never thought he'd have this, did he?

Me: No, [Kid 2], he didn't.

[Kid 2]: It's just feels really good to be part of giving him that. That something that he never thought he'd ever have. I really like thinking I'm part of making him so happy.

Me: Yeah, I know what you mean. It is nice, isn't it?

[Kid 2]: I'm really glad we found him, Mom. And I'm glad he found us.

Me: Me, too, Sweetie.

[Kid 2]: Do you think he ever knew how good a parent he could be?

Me: No. In fact, he used to waste time arguing with me about it. I told him I thought he'd be fabulous at it.

[Kid 2]: He really does a good job, Mom. He really makes me happy.

Me: I'm glad. He makes me pretty happy, too.

I have wonderful kids.

The confirmation just keeps on coming. And it feels so good!


In the car, on the way home, [Kid 3] was begging me to take her to the park once we'd gotten home. I explained to her that it was getting too late to go to the park...what with baths, etc. Highlander suggested that maybe he and I could eat our dinner on the porch while she played in the front yard. Which is what we did.

We had barely finished dinner, when [Kid 1] and [Kid 2] came out on the porch and said they'd prepared "dessert" for us. They know he and I are both counting our calories pretty religiously, and, as they'd never done anything like this before, it was a little curious...but very cute. [Kid 1] offered to stay outside with [Kid 3]. [Kid 2] was hitting the showers.

Highlander and I walked into the darkened kitchen to find two candles lit on the table and two low-fat, sugar free pudding cups with two spoons awaiting us. Silly, yes. But the gesture was incredibly sweet. We just smiled and looked at each other.

Life is pretty good, folks. Pretty good, indeed. And it's filled to brimming with love.

Our house, is a very, very, very fine house...

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Empathy. It's Not Just For Women Any More.

Attempt #2. I posted something on this yesterday and found that I was wandering so much that the focus was completely lost. I've done a little work on it and wanted to stick it back up here. Thanks for your patience. And, if you read yesterday's version...well, I've (obviously) cleared my head and I'm feeling muuuuuch better now.

Here’s a startling admission. I’m pretty heterosexual. If you’re shocked, appalled or feeling woozie, you should probably skip the rest of this and go sit down and put your head between your knees. Like most of my posts, it’s gonna do nothing but go downhill from here.

Without revealing any intimate details about anyone with whom I’ve had the pleasure (a discretion line my ex has felt entirely comfortable crossing…on his blog no less…despite his assurances to me to the contrary), I really like men. But I don’t mean that in a completely sexual way either.

That said, let me say that I've met a few men who could have used a little help in the empathy department. Maybe more than a few. To be fair, I've met a few women who were lacking there as well. I'm fully aware that bad character is not the exclusive domain of the penis-enhanced members of our tribe.

Further, I’m fully aware that men and women are entirely different beasts. More than that, I am fully aware that men and women approach most things from entirely different directions. Consequently, it makes the whole “coupling” thing tricky and complicated. Often, unnecessarily so.

It was suggested to me recently that men get a "pass" on certain things. Things like childbirth, sewing, cleaning toilets, empathy...stuff like that. Okay, you had me up to the last one. I'm kidding, of course. Men TOTALLY have to clean toilets.

That 'because they are guys' they are somehow exempt from consequences of their actions just doesn't work for me, though. I'm as guilty as the next chick of making the jokes that guys can't pick out drapes or don't know fashion rules, and maybe I'm completely naive here, but I don't think sensitivity is in that same ballpark. I don't think that 'that's how men are' works for me when someone's callous behavior and complete lack of remorse results in pain to another human being.

Mother's teach their daughters to develop their empathy, but do they teach it to their sons? Should they? Women everywhere are screaming "Yes, Yes, YES!!" Loud bitches, aren't they?

Teaching men to empathize with others, not just to feel for oneself, but to feel with and for others is not the impossible dream, folks. And, believe it or not, some mothers have already started this. (Special thanks here to Highlander's mum! You were ahead of your time, Carmazer!) If we don't break this cycle, are we willing to live with the consequences? Do we want our daughters to?

Taking the feelings and motivations and concerns of another human being into account before acting yourself is certainly an advanced skill level. One I'd like to see far more of in politics and the insurance industry, for sure. But it is not a gender-biased skill. Men have the capacity to be tender and compassionate. It's whether they choose to pursue the option or whether they opt to act in their own best interest without regard for others that separates the...well...good men from the bad men, I guess.

If anyone (man or woman) allows themself to be treated poorly, that's a shame. If they do it because they believe that's the best they can hope for, as gender differences have limitations, well, that's unenlightened, at best. I'm here to tell you, folks, it's a fallacy to believe that 'he's a guy' is some catch-all excuse for bad behavior.

It's simply an excuse.

Nothing more.

Empathy is generally learned in childhood, as the personality is formed. A trait of that kind should be a lifelong thing. If one never had it as a child, can one learn it as an adult? Or, if one had it as a child and discarded it, can it be regained? Or, if it's possible, how in the world do you set about reconfiguring who you are? I wish I had all the answers. I just don't.

For far too many years, I believed that the elusive sensitive man was like the Yeti. I'd heard tales, but had never seen one. As I've gotten older, I've been priviledged to have seen the real deal. So, I'm here to tell you, there are male members of our species who have empathy. Several of them. You can ditch the whole "men are just like that" sexist mentality and find a specimen of your own. They congregate in herds and can be found no where near a shoe store.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Suction Cups, Tea Cups, Dixie Cups, C-Cups

My older girls used to play soccer. They played in an all girls league for years. Finally, they were of an age where they were the matrons on the squad and decided they'd had enough. While each had their own particular strong points to bring to the team, neither had a professional future in the game. My youngest has had no interest in pursuing it at all. Perhaps, if they wore tutus and played music WHILE the soccer was in play...but, other than that, no.

All of that is to say that I've had some minor soccer background. Being a soccer mom counts, right? But the World Cup is not my cup of tea. (Hey, I watched the Super Bowl. I've met my sports quota for the year.)

Everywhere I look this morning, it is becoming clearer and clearer that I am alone here. The poli-blogs here and here, and here all have a little something to share, but even self-proclaimed "non-watcher of sports" Mike Norton has a little something to share. Can the apocalypse be far behind?

There's a test to see if you'd win the World Cup (though it seems like something more...), a World Cup Death Watch and even sex and religion get their turn on the field.

When my own kids were running up and down the field, I didn't get it. I thought it was great that they were getting the exercise and meeting some kids their own ages, but if it hadn't been my kids out there, I'd have had no interest in soccer whatsoever. World Cup, or not, I feel as indifferent about this soccer as I did that soccer.

I'm sure it's a matter of my own personal taste shortcomings, as there are significant numbers who would, most assuredly, find my choices here to be flawed. I have no difficulty appreciating the work that these athletes have put into preparing for this competition, don't get me wrong. It's just that I find creative and intellectual pursuits to be, for me anyway, more of an attention grabber.

Sure, there are some hotties, but even the “old” guys are like ten years younger than me. That just makes me sad.

Still, it's better than turning on the tv and seeing that no charges will be brought against Karl Rove. I guess that's something, huh? Though it's no sphygmomanometer, is it, Nate?

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Monday, June 12, 2006

And I Don't Pay No Luxury Tax, Either...

In case I haven't made it clear previously, I'm living in the lap of luxury. I mean it. The very lap. I know of what I speak, because one of my former jobs was as a personal assistant to a multi-millionaire (she says with a totally deadpan face). But I'll talk more of that another time.

After working in my mother's yard yesterday, I found that my lower back, but more particularly my hips and knees, were registering some significant complaints and urging me to check my driver's license for a birthdate. "Hey!," my right knee intoned, "You ain't 22 anymore, Chickie!". I was in no position to quibble as I hobbled through the rest of my Sunday.

I had so many other domestic duties around the apartment that I was hardly in a position to sit down and rest it. Besides, every time I stopped for any period of time, I'd stiffen up like crazy, making it that much harder to manage when I did have to move again.

[Kid's 1 and 2] were doing chores without being asked...getting laundry from the dryer downstairs...taking out trash. But there always seems to be something else that needs to be done, doesn't there?

A hot bath. A hot bath. Crazy people kept urging me towards it with promises of the curative powers of a hot bath. Periodically, when Highlander's had a particularly difficult day, or is achy, I've been known to run him a hot bath, turn out the bathroom lights, light many tiny votive candles and let him take a relaxing soak. But, I'm a mom. You know what I mean? Moms don't have the time for such luxurious sidetracking. Somewhere, there's a kid with a snotty nose or a tricky laundry stain that NEEDS US NOW!!

They wore me down,though, after about 6 hours of that "You'll feel so much better, Honey." stuff. Not until they got [Kid 3] involved though. "Psst...[Kid 3], go beg your mom to cooperate. She'll listen to you."

Not much of a tub soaker kinda gal, I suppose I just didn't see the point. But, I'd made a significant dent in the workload and they just wouldn't let up with it. So, I agreed. "Yeah, sure, I'll take a bath." They deserve so much better than me. They really do.

Highlander and [Kid 3] started the tub filling with hot water and Highlander started lighting all the candles. "Do you want bubbles, Mommy?," I heard from down the hall. "Sure, why not. If you're gonna do it, let's go all the way." After a quick discussion on bubble product selection, my bath had been drawn and I was summoned to the dim room.

Everyone stood around as I disrobed, which was kind of weird. Yeah, they've all seen me naked before (which could explain the mental health status quo around there), but it felt like some kind of sacrifice preparation scene from a movie. Everyone standing around in the dark as the sacrificial virgin (yeah, okay, whatever) is disrobed. If they'd been chanting, I would have bolted. But they weren't, so I eased into the tub and Highlander slipped the spongy bath pillow behind my shoulders and head and it felt pretty damned good. It really did. I soon forgot all about the sacrifice thing.

My attendants offered me reading material, but it was too dark in the room to read, and I really was enjoying the candlelight. Ever attentive and always adorable [Kid 3] said, "I can read you a book, Mommy. Would you like that?" "But, of course. Read me a book."

Wow, this bath had reading attendants and everything. I should have been doing this years ago! I'm telling you, if you can work this deal, you should really do it.

And so, she came back and sat on her little stool and regaled me with tales of BARBIE AND THE MAGIC OF PEGASUS. Not a tome I'd have selected myself, but she read every word to me. And sitting in that darkened room, soaking in the warm sudsy water, watching as my six year old read to me...well, I couldn't help but feel very, very good about alot of things.

When she'd finished she asked me what else she could do for me, and I suggested she find another book to read to me. Obviously finding that to be an excellent suggestion, she sprinted to her room for another literary classic. A Disney Princess book that had a magical wand with it. As you pass the wand over various pictures, it makes music. "Here, Mommy, I'll play music for you instead of reading. Is that okay?" "Sure, Baby. Play the music for me."

She pulled her stool over to the tub edge so that I could see the pictures with her. I know. I know. But she really is that adorable. And the concert for one began.

Shortly, Highlander came back to check on us. "I think I'm about ready to get out.," I told him. "You haven't been in there very long., " he replied. "I know, but I'm ready to get out." I start feeling guilty if I take too much for myself. And then it loses the enjoyment. He reached out his hand and I stepped from the tub. And the two of them dried me off with soft, fluffy towels. [Kid 3] taking the low spots (as she's short) and Highlander...well...taking the rest.

So, utterly spoiled, I slipped into some pj's and lounged on my bed. The two of them came and cuddled me, asking if I needed anything else. "Nope, not another thing in the world."

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Taking The Good With The Bad

As the adage goes, into every life a little rain must fall, but even as it does it helps the flowers grow. And so, we all take the bad, with the good, and work through the "sad" because we know there will be more "happy". Oh how philosophical I am today.

Not much time for a post today, but wanted to mention a few things going on in my world right now...good and bad.


Good Thing...My girls came back from their week with their dad today. The house erupted in chaos almost immediately. Not bad chaos. Just the normalcy of having three kids running around. Honestly, it's bliss. They are just babbling with stories of their friends and plans for the week and shopping they've done since I last saw them. This is the stuff I live for.

Bad Thing...[Kid 3] reports that she got upset with her father over a family photo he had in his room. A picture that has been there for years. Noting that my face was no longer in the picture she had long known to be otherwise, she became rather upset. Feeling, I suppose, that her father was trying to "eliminate" me. I wish he'd just taken the photograph and put it away, rather than make the adjustment that he must have made. She indicated that after crying and talking through it, her father "fixed" the picture. I wouldn't expect that he'd keep pictures of me on display in his home, given our marital status, but certainly things like this are making it clear to his children how much animosity he has for me, which only does MORE damage. The kids try so hard to love him and give him a break. Denegrating the mother they love certainly isn't the way to better his relationship with any of them.


Good Thing - I got a cookie bouquet at work on Thursday. One of the 'Hell' spawn (okay, I like these particular people) sent them as a thank you for going above and beyond for them on a few things. Nice folks. See, believe it or not, I'm not the bitch I'm rumored to be...well...not all the time, anyway.

Bad Thing - One of the architect's at work (the one who is staunchly conservative) had a stroke over last weekend. Scary stuff, as he's in remarkably good shape. (Maybe my email to him did it.) He's doing well, and actually came in to work for a half day on Friday, but it added dramatically to my workload last week.


Good Thing - Because of having spent so much money (including nearly all of my nest egg) on lawyer fees and doctor bills, I didn't think we were going to be able to afford a vacation this year. As we went to Rochester (and Syracuse) last summer, it wasn't as if it were the end of the world, but it appears that a trip to Florida (probably in early fall) will be possible. We're still paying off some bills, but we've been able to put a little money aside for this. By the time we go, we should be in good shape. The kids are excited about it as well. We plan to stay with Highlander's mum and it will give me (and the girls) the opportunity to meet much more of his family, and them the opportunity to meet us. Hitting the beach will be a good time as well.

Bad Thing - My ex is taking the kids (along with Carmichael and hers) on a summer vacation to Washington, DC this year. [Kid 1] is refusing to go. More fall-out from the damage to his relationship with her. Very, very sad. I've urged her to think about it, as it would be a good place to visit. But, apparently, my ex didn't involve them in the planning for the trip and that has been just one more insult to compound the injury. They are leaving in about three weeks. I hope things are better by then.


Good Thing - Lunch on Friday with two girlfriends was nice. I hadn't seen them in several months and it was nice to catch up. They both had to go back to work (I LOVE my Friday afternoons), so we had to cut things entirely too short, but it was great seeing them and hearing what's going on in their worlds. And sharing some of what's going on in mine.

Bad Thing - One friend (the log-roller) has a son (her only child) who is currently on his third tour of duty in Iraq. She hasn't heard from him since Mother's Day. That is, apparently, out of character. The worry was so readily apparent on her face, that we had to completely change the subject so that she wouldn't have a break down in the restaurant.


Good Thing - Highlander and I went on a special shopping trip this morning. More news on this in a couple weeks.

Bad Thing - Another new neighbor in our building to break in. This one is an adorable young single girl who I understand is a singer in a Christian band. This isn't a really bad thing. Just, you know, we like having the building to ourselves.


Good Thing - A trip to the park to play in the sprinkling fountain was a fun excursion, with all of the children (and I'm including Highlander here) playing in the water. [Kid 3] manipulating the monkey bars as if she were truly simian. Watching the envy of the other children as my scrawny little six-year-old schooled them all.

Bad Thing - We're expecting rain later today that will last the remainder of the weekend. That means that getting my mother's yardwork done and flowerbeds planted won't likely happen tomorrow. We've had to postpone this so many times since Mother's Day. As my folks are out of town this weekend, I'd love to have it done when she gets home tomorrow evening. It would be a wonderful surprise. It just doesn't seem likely to happen. Yet again.


And because I want to end on one...

Good Thing - The love of a good man is about the best thing there is. I've been asked to think, recently, about what "makes" a good man. Whether it's material posessions (homes, cars, etc.) or some extraneous standards. Personally, I suppose that's a subjective thing. If what you have makes you a good person...and you lose it...does that mean you are no longer a good person? I don't think so. I think it has to do with who you are to begin with. Your values and morals. The love you give and choose to receive. Putting the needs (and even the wants) of others above your own. Intelligence and creativity and a soul. I'm very lucky to have found someone who fits all of that criteria. In fact...he just got back from taking one of the kids to get some job applications...and picked me up some flowers. Just because he was thinking about me. Just because he wanted to make me smile. This is my life. Every day.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Flashback Friday!

MASSIVE aggravations with Blogger yesterday have prompted me to compose this week's Flashback Friday! in MS Word (which I rarely do) and then cut and paste it in here. Not my first choice, but I suppose it's worked. It's also provided a theme. A theme of dealing with life's little frustrations.

For today's Flashback Friday!, we're gonna have to get Mr. Wells to let us borrow his famed contraption, as we're hurtling back through the cosmos to 1970. Careful of the whiplash, and beware the tie dye, crocheted ponchos, and peace signs. Heh. They're all back anyway, aren't they? In any event, here's another one from the carefree days of my youth.

Growing up, we lived midway down a street that was, I suppose, lower middle income and urban. There were Italians and Cubans living on our block, and while my parents made mental notes of such things, most all those neighbors had kids my age and their ethnicity couldn't have mattered less to me.

In those days, there were probably 25-30 kids living on our block. Most of them within 2-3 years of my age, one way or the other. Sure, there were the natural rivalries and personality clashes, but most of us got along pretty well.

Of that group, there were far more boys than girls. I found myself able to "cross over" the boundary lines fairly easily, as I both enjoyed playing Barbies and was pretty fierce at kickball. Not all the girls in our neighborhood could…or even wanted to. But, I did.

I liked climbing trees and playing ball. And, if the boys were playing war, they'd sometimes let me be a spy. My ability to sneak into enemy territory without arousing much suspicion made me a valuable asset. The other boys wouldn't give me, a girl, a second thought. It was a dangerous mistake. I'd often make it back to my base with all kinds of valuable information. Heh. I thought that was just the cat's ass.

So, when my parents asked me what I wanted for my eighth birthday, my response, without hesitation, was an STP racing jacket and a Johnny Adventure elephant gun (which I can't find anything on now, so I'm probably misremembering the name...but it doesn't seem like it). My mother nearly fainted. What kind of girl would want such things. She tried to sell me on dolls and frou frou clothes. My dad smirked just a little from behind his newspaper, as she tried, desperately to change my mind. Finally, she came to, what was in her mind, a compromise. "I'll get you the jacket, but I WILL NOT get you a toy gun. Girls DO NOT play with guns, and I won't get it for you. You had better decide on something else, or I WILL."

I wasn't trying to be obstinate. There was just nothing else that I really wanted. A couple of the cooler boys had the jackets and I thought they (the jackets) were really hip. Heh. Looking at them now, it's all sentimentality and not much else.

When we played war, the boys wouldn't loan me a gun. Clearly, I needed my own, if I were going to play. The irony there is palpable, as I've strongly discouraged my own girls from playing with guns. Not because of their gender (in fact, I've specifically avoided buying toy guns for my nephews as well, and my girls have played with Hotwheels since they've been able to walk), but because I have rather deep-seated feelings about gun control. At eight, however, I wasn't nearly as socially conscious as I am now.

Over the course of the weeks leading up to my birthday, my mother would remind me that I had better come up with something she could get me for my birthday, or I'd just be stuck getting whatever she got for me. I let her know, in fairly respectful tones, that if I couldn't have what I wanted, it didn't matter what she got. As far as I was concerned, it really didn't.

My dad never really got involved in the discourse. Watching from the sidelines, often with a hint of deviltry in his manner, as my mother and I had the verbal fencing sessions that mothers and daughters often do. It was aggravating to know that my frustration…and that of my mother…provided him a little sport. He's got a reputation for having a slightly malicious sense of humor sometimes.

Try as I might, not to be upset with the knowledge that the one thing I wanted most in the world was something that my parents wouldn't give me because of some arcane and asinine rules (unlike white shoes after Labor Day, Highlander…heh), I simply was. I wasn't being completely unpleasant about it. That wouldn't pay, as my father would never have tolerated an attitude issue of that ilk. And, so, I grumbled around and sulked a little, hoping my birthday wouldn't be ruined by some wildly inappropriate gift my mother would give me.

My special day arrived with a subdued aura enveloping it. My mother handed me a box and as I unwrapped it, I saw the red STP jacket peeking from inside. It brought a hesitant smile to my face, though I knew the next box would bring disappointment.

I couldn't have been more wrong. My father, sweetheart that he was (and is), told my mother, in no uncertain terms, that if his daughter wanted a Johnny Adventure elephant gun, by God, she'd have one. It didn't matter to him that I wanted to play guns and be a little tomboyish. And he promptly went out and bought the gun for me, himself. It was, very much, to my mother's dismay, and he had to deal with her ire for some time afterwards.

Both gifts were cherished and, very much like the log jam at Blogger finally giving way and the associated frustrations lifting, I was very happy to get what I had wanted and getting beyond the emotional aggravation.

I remember putting the jacket on immediately and grabbing up the gun and, quite literally, running outside to show the boys. Only to return, hours later, when the street lights came on. A very fond memory indeed.

May your weekend be light on the frustrations and bountiful with the things that bring you joy. And may the Blogger headaches be gone for ever more.


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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Unfortunate Judgement Calls Corrected While You Wait

While reading a news story the other day, it put me in mind how my ex used to take issue with his sister-in-law’s decision to get a tattoo in her forties. Saying that she was having a mid-life crisis and that he didn't think much of a woman that age (and a mother) doing something like that. Of course, he took issue with tattoos on women period, and strongly discouraged any tendencies I might have had in that area (though they were pretty much non-existent). While we don't agree on much lately, we weren't far off on how we both felt about getting tattoos. I'm happy to know that Highlander and I won't be doing the Angelina and Billy Bob matching tattoo thing, either.

Getting tattoos is often (but not always) an “impulse buy” kind of decision, I guess. Many a tale of drunken sailors could attest to that. That may be less true now than it was a decade or more ago. As a great many more "mainstream" people seem to be baring their body parts to be inked, with some forethought on the matter.

However, I have to imagine that there are still a great many morning-after regrets (to go along with more than a few hangovers) for some of these folks. And so, I had to chuckle a little as I read about a carpenter who had been recently laid off (well not about that part) and had the gumption to start his own business.

As a tattoo remover.

That’s right. What you’ve allowed someone to permanently embed (with the use of many, many needles) into your skin, he uses a belt sander to remove.

Uh huh. I said a belt sander.

Ow! Ow! Owwee!!

Personally, I think the art form can be very lovely. I’ve seen some incredible designs. Especially on the toned bodies of the twenty somethings. It’s easy for me to appreciate it.

On someone else.

I would never go as far as mocking someone for making that decision. It's your body. Have at it. Do me a favor though, and please, please, please try to spell them correctly. I mean, if you can't even spell tattoo, maybe you need to work on that first.

Something so permanent could never work for me, though. While I tend to be attached to my fashion accessories (as much as anything else in my world), I don’t think there’s anything I love enough to wear every day for the rest of my life. Again, that’s just me. People do it…happily…every day.

The effects of aging or (unanticipated) scarring are something I can’t not think about either. If I were actually ABLE to come to a decision on what I’d want to have on my body for the rest of my life (and then some), where would I want it? Somewhere unlikely to be a surgical avenue and somewhere unlikely to sag or wrinkle. I’m stumped.

Opus and I have had this discussion before. She thinks it’s a worthwhile gesture to give the gang working at the nursing home something to chuckle about. And while I can’t argue that they certainly deserve something to make their jobs a little more fun, I’d rather it wasn’t a tramp stamp sliding sideways down my ass, thank you very much! I’m happy to let all of you sign up for that duty. They can laugh at me talking to myself or a few other habits I fully intend to have well into my nineties…

A former co-worker divorced her husband over his penchant for tattoos. He’d been sneaking and spending the rent money to get them for years. Finally, when she woke up one morning to the sight of a rather large serpent on the other side of the bed (he’d had his back done and hadn’t wanted to tell her), that was the last straw.

All of that said, if, in a drunken moment of abandon, I actually DID end up with a tattoo, the thought of going to someone with a belt sander to get it removed once I’d sobered up, seems like anything BUT a good idea. Perhaps, more alcohol would be required. I'm thinking ALOT more.

Probably , just me, but it just seems like taking the mid-life crisis thing to a painfully unhealthy level to bypass the normally painful procedure of tattoo removal, by going the carpentry route. With so many other options, I’m thinking an unconventionally placed piercing hole would heal up nicely by just removing the ring. You know…when and if you changed your mind about it. It just seems so much easier all around than a tattoo.

Again, that’s just the practical nature of Supergirlfriend rearing it’s frequently unwelcome head. All part of the package. No extra charge.

I may have to check into getting a belt sander, though. We could always use a little extra money around here. And it seems like the kind of cottage industry that could really take off. Bring cash...and a little Neosporin.

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Hitting The Head On The Nail

On a recent web surf, I ran across this news story about a man who had self-inflicted injuries to his head from a nailgun. Luckily, there were no photos, (I don't do well with sirree) but it's still pretty gruesome thinking about it. At least it is to me.

Oddly, it reminded me of an incident from a previous position I had with a construction company here in River City. One of the many hats I wore at the time, was that of "safety director", and so, when an accident occurred on one of our jobsites, involving a man being shot in the head with a nailgun, it was my business.

I had assumed, because I knew the man had gone to the hospital, but had been released fairly quickly, that the nail had, perhaps, grazed his head or not gone in very deeply or something. Oh no. The hospital sent the x-rays to our office. And when I opened the envelope, I was in awe. Truly.

A 16-penny nail, is, if you don't know, a pretty good-sized nail to get shot into pretty much any part of your body, let alone your head or your chest. Actually, there's not really a size that works well in this application.

In any event, when I unsheathed that x-ray, I was shocked to see the 16-penny nail head at the back of his skull (fully embedded), almost directly centered between his eyes, and just slightly high. There was no way that brain matter wasn't engaged in this transaction. There were, if I may, TWO x-rays included. One a front view and one a side view. Neither disputing the other. I remember looking from one to the other and thinking that there was no way that this man could be ALIVE, let alone walking around functional.

I made copies of those x-rays to remind me of how sometimes, even in the face of what should have been a fatal accident, people can come through adversity. I kept them for years. Finally throwing them away just a year or so ago, when they'd become so tattered that any remote justifications I'd had, (which were primarily to mask my fascination and absolute incredulity), in keeping them didn't seem to matter any longer.

Interestingly, the story from our foreman, was that the man (a Mexican day laborer...I'll reserve comment on his immigration status as it's not relevant to the story) was reaching beneath a pair of sawhorses on which a crew was working with nailguns. A gun missed it's intended stud and instead, shot into the back of the laborer's head. At the hospital, the laborer advised police that it had been an intentional attempt on his life. The police were unable to find anyone at the jobsite that could (or would) corroborate his story. I never got the vibe, though there are some pretty seemly stories that come from this industry. I will say that he was back working, with the same crew, within a couple days, and that there were no further incidents of any kind.

I hadn't thought about that in ages...until I read that article. The advances in medical technology never cease to amaze me. That, or perhaps I'm easily amused. Sometimes, it's really hard to tell.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Just realized that I hadn't mentioned my recent follow-up appointment at my doctor's office. Nothing serious, just the regular blood pressure check. Still always cringe when he pulls out the sphygmomanometer. Imagine I probably will for the rest of my life.

But my numbers while the tiniest bit elevated, were good. Highlander and I are trying to do a little more in the exercising department, and that should help a great deal. And not only my blood pressure.

I just hate doing it. I always seem to have something else more important that needs to be done. I have to keep reminding myself that my health is pretty important, too. And, believe me, if I forget for a minute or two, I have someone reminding me...LOL!

That's all. Just wanted to bring you up to speed. Isn't sphygmomanometer a funny word?

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Why Doesn't Anybody TELL Me These Things???

Dear Complaint Department Manager:

Recently, some information has come to my attention, which might have been most beneficial had it been received in a more timely manner. Certainly, in as much as it may have affected various decision-making options. While I'm not sure to whom I should tender my complaints, I'd like to make you aware that I never got the manual. Consequently, it's no wonder that I'm in the situation I now find myself. After looking over the job requirements, it's clear that I never had a chance. Further, it's clear that future attempts, on my part, at any re-employment of this nature, though better informed, will be equally as futile.

I'd like to note that mine was NOT a same sex marriage, and therefore, should have been better supported by local, state and federal government agencies. Also, upon somewhat exhaustive research efforts, I have been unable to locate even one party, holding the position, that meets the job requirements. Is there an educational institution somewhere, perhaps Stepford, where one might become better acquainted with these behaviors? I'm not asking for myself, as I am, most assuredly, already a lost cause in this department.

Worse. According to the colorful anecdote, I'm WAY too tall to be the "perfect girlfriend" either.

Woe. Yes, woe is definitely me.

Whatever shall become of me? A society I have participated in all of my life will shun me. Strangers will cast their spittle upon me. Decent people will avert their eyes as they pass by.

Perhaps Canadians would be more socially tolerant and welcoming of my substantial shortcomings. I already like their politics. That's got to help, right? Perhaps, I shall panhandle for travelling expenses. Or is there a government-subsidized program for Unmarriable American Women Seeking Exile?

Please advise at your most earliest convenience.

One Less American Wife (circa 2005)

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