Sums up our last 2 years… A ROLLER COASTER. Thursday, May 30 2013 


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“Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

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Jobs And Cancer Monday, Oct 17 2011 


It’s been two and a half weeks since my last post. I have been BUSY! For the first time in more than ten years, I found myself wading through the job pool and actually interviewing for full-time positions. I am a single mom now with the added responsibility of paying my own bills and covering my own health insurance. The last couple of weeks have brought to mind scenes from Working Girl and 9-5. I’ve referred to myself more than a few times here as the real-life Snow White with my bunnies and birds and little animal friends, so how could I NOT be reminded of that scene where Violet, dressed as Snow White, poisons the boss’s coffee and catapults him out the window while she and her co-workers giggle at theoretical ways to get rid of the “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”

http://youtu.be/L19GOqAeT6Q

I interviewed for two very different positions. The first was the MONEY job which would have come complete with a shiny new laptop, cell phone and expense account. It was in outside sales in the hospitality industry and while I’m sure this would have afforded me the opportunity to get a sharp new wardrobe, the stress levels probably balanced out the pay scale. This was one of those positions that in order to even score an interview, I had to complete a 30-minute online “personality survey” that asked my opinion about various workplace issues:

  • Drugs in the workplace –  “I think people who use drugs should all be locked away in jail.” True or False
  • Sexual harrassment – “It’s OK to tell someone they’re hot and give back rubs at work.” True or False
  • Anger management – “I find it hard while at work to keep from punching someone’s lights out.” True or False
  • Company theft – “It’s OK to take things from the office because it makes up for my teeny tiny paycheck” True or False

The day of the second phone interview with the VP of Sales/Marketing, my children were home from school due to a teacher in-service, and I prepared them with strict instructions to stay in a bedroom with the door closed and not bother me unless there was a bloody emergency. I’m not British either so the emergency would require ACTUAL blood for me to be interrupted. The call came an hour ahead of schedule since the interviewer and I were in different time zones, so I quickly ushered the kids into a bedroom and LOCKED myself into my own room with my laptop and cell phone. I did my very best to sound professional while still wearing my pajamas, and when the first knock at my door came, I shut myself into my closet and sat atop a pile of dirty clothes while describing how I often work best under pressure. The conversation flowed well and while opportunity was knocking professionally speaking, the literal knocking at my bedroom grew exceedingly louder… and then stopped. Ms. VP was busy explaining to me a typical day and the ins and outs of the industry in which she felt I could be very successful when she finally stopped and addressed the commotion that had resumed outside of BOTH closed doors. I finally came clean about sitting atop the dirty garments in my not-so-sound-proof closet and emerged to find THIS!

The ever-so-clever kindergartener had shown his resourcefulness by retrieving a screw driver (the mechanical kind – not a drink for me which I undoubtedly needed at this point) and simply removed my doorknob – the first obstacle between him and a solution to his pressing problem. The emergency at hand? He needed to get to the store and buy a birthday present for his friend. At that moment, while I processed the facts that I had mixed up days thereby missing the party AND was living through what I thought must be the interview from HELL, Ms. VP busted out laughing and confirmed that I INDEED worked well under pressure. She admitted that she had been home-based for years and that while her kids were now grown, she had NEVER had an experience where a child had removed a doorknob to break into a room. I guess it endeared me to her, and she then explained the process of hiring and that she was lining up the third, fourth and fifth interviews in rapid succession for the next week.

While the morning’s events re-played through my mind, I re-grouped, re-focused and changed gears for my second interview of the day. The second position couldn’t have been more different from the first. While it involved a lot of responsibility with what was expected to be very little pay, the advantages were abundant. As this was my second interview for the position, I was hoping for an offer. I dropped the kids off at my grandmother’s house just blocks from the job location and set off with the self-talk that if this didn’t work out, then surely something else would come along that would be just as perfect of a match. A minute into the interview, “Mr. Heart” (as opposed to the evil Mr. Hart played by Dabney Coleman in 9-5) was offering me the position and explaining why he thought I was right for the job. He couldn’t offer the kind of money that most other companies could so he had been hoping for someone with the right qualifications that could see also the intrinsic benefits available to anyone with a personal interest in the position. As it turns out, I had both the qualifications and a personal interest in the position. Allow me to back-track for a  minute and explain…

Five months ago, my life changed. While driving down the road and listening to an Adele CD (yeah, I know, I’m THAT person that still buys ACTUAL CD’s!) a song hit me. Maybe the music and the lyrics that accompanied it actually exploded over me. There hasn’t been a way that I can accurately describe what happened to me that day other than to say I woke up. Instantaneously something hit me and I knew, FELT and could actually SEE that my marriage was over. I couldn’t see through the tears enough to drive though so I pulled into the first parking lot available. That parking lot “happened” somehow to be the parking lot of the church where I grew up attending mass every Sunday, where I went to school for eight years, where I still attend fairly regularly and now send my kids to school. The image that popped into my head was one of a picture a friend had given me several years ago.

This picture was taken the day after Hurricane Rita passed through the area and left destruction and devastation in her wake. It is a statue that stands on the church grounds and has symbolized for me such a feeling a peace and calm when chaos is present. Years later, as my world seemed to be in such total chaos and the remnants of my marriage lay around me like the broken limbs of the beautiful trees that had once stood and seemed so strong, I had found myself sitting in my car all alone at the scene of my favorite photograph. It meant something to me that I know another person will never fully be able to comprehend. That’s OK though. What hit me in the parking lot was that while I have been about to embark on a new solo journey, I was not entirely alone. There’s just no way that I ended up in THAT parking lot at THAT time on THAT day by coincidence. It was the middle of the day on a Thursday afternoon and the parking lot was packed while I sat along the perimeter with my engine running (both literally and figuratively) and crying. I saw people I knew that day walking out to their cars and hid under the dash-board so I wouldn’t look like a crazy cuckoo bird should someone spy me crying and feel the need to check on me. All I could think – though I never actually checked it out – was that someone must have died. Perhaps there was a funeral going on inside while someone else had just come to life in the parking lot. I thought about the picture and what had become of my marriage but KNEW that peace would come eventually and somehow I would be able to take care of myself and kids.

Flash forward five months to present day. That second job that offered little money yet countless intangible benefits opened HERE on THIS campus. I’ve only worked part-time for the last ten years and only while the kids are in school. They’ve never had to go to after-school care because I’ve always been the one to drop them off, pick them up, offer the snacks and complete the homework yet there just wasn’t an option for me to receive the healthcare benefits I was going to need without going full-time. I was offered the position and allowed time to consider the offer and respond within a few days. I didn’t need a few days. I accepted the offer and kinda shook my head at how surprising life can be. In just five months, my life both fell apart and came together in that parking lot. In just one week I’ll be earning what I need to pay my bills and have the necessary health insurance while my children learn and grow on these same grounds where my sisters and I attended both church and school. Life is cyclical and can be awe-inspiring when you look across at how far you’ve come. My days will get busier in the weeks to come but also more rewarding. I may not be the most pious of all the congregation and haven’t spent every morning or even every Sunday kneeling in the pews like perhaps others think I should. My church is all around me though and once again God has provided me with what I need. It’ll be even funnier now though to leave my office at the church and relax with a nice hot bubble bath and wear my red shower cap with the devil horns while locked in a bathroom with the tool-box to keep the kids from removing the door knob. I know better now, and when you know better you DO better.

My job search over the past couple of weeks happened to coincide with the death of Steve Jobs and the dying struggle an old friend of mine is having from cancer as well. It’s heart wrenching to hear updates from the family of a 39-year-old man and his last days as he struggles with fear and pain but mostly the unknown. He will leave behind a daughter nearly the same age as mine, so I am especially grateful that this new chapter for me keeps her close. I’m appreciative of all the time I have with my children and sometimes when you have less time, you make that time more valuable. Acceptance and peace eventually comes for most but as humans, I think the unknown future may be often the toughest thing to accept. I know this though: my last few weeks have focused on jobs and cancer. It’s only fitting to close with the words of a man named Steve Jobs who left this world after having fought cancer himself.

Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me. – Wikiquote, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal (Summer 1993).

We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it. – Fortune

Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. – Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address

We ALL Deserve A Break Today Sunday, Sep 25 2011 


Yesterday while walking through the park and around the lake, I had another one of those episodes where somehow just putting in my ear buds and grooving to my raunchy yet oddly motivating booty music seemed to put me in my own little world. It’s really a bizarre character flaw and not nearly as cool as when the Potter kids throw on their invisibility cloak, though it works in a similar fashion. The loud thumping in my ears somehow hinders proper brain function and makes me think I’m invisible to the lowly peons around me. It happens at the gym all the time. Well, not that I’m actually AT the gym all the time. I just mean that when I AM there, it’s likely to happen and thoughts fly out of my mouth aloud. I know this happens because I’ve gotten weird looks from people right after they’ve gotten in my way and I’ve thought to “myself” how annoying they are. Barring the possibility that they are actual mind readers, it’s highly likely that irritated sighs and sounds escape from my mouth. My sister thinks I’m crazy. I think it’s funny. I need the music to keep me going anyway so there isn’t much of a choice and alone with my private thoughts (hell, maybe not so private if my thoughts become vocalized) I sometimes make sense of things in today’s hectic life.

As on any beautiful weekend day, the park was packed. There were hippies playing frisbee, couples sitting in the shade and on park benches, old men sitting along the seawall in their folding chairs with their fishing poles, boats launching, family reunions under the pavilions, and birthday parties. This Saturday night in addition to the flock of seagulls, there was a wedding party and groups of high school kids each with its own set of paparazzi taking pictures in front of the fountain all dolled up in their fancy gowns. So I ran. I ran so far away. I ran all night and day. I couldn’t get away. (Well, maybe I walked, but if I said that then you wouldn’t get the whole Flock of Seagulls song reference would you??) I didn’t want my picture snapped sans makeup in my funky sweat gear and ball cap photobombing all the beautiful people and becoming immortalized in family albums for years to come. I remember thinking when I saw the children’s birthday parties how I often wish my social set here would occasionally take things back to a simpler time when kiddie parties were simply cake and ice cream with pin the tail on the donkey.

Nowadays, things seem to be so much more complicated often resulting in unnecessary stress and expense. There are petting zoos and princess themes with teams of divas that show up at your house like Extreme Home Makeover to transform your daily “drab” inferior interior into a party fit for a queen but most importantly… the other parents. Look, I love those parties and the truth is, many people ENJOY throwing those kinds of parties so I don’t want to sound like one of the bitter people who simply can’t keep up and feels they must. I do think though that for the parents out there who feel discouraged and max out the credit cards trying to be the ultimate hosts and hostesses, maybe they should take a step back and think about what really matters and what it is their own children would really be comfortable with having. True, my own little ones attend these parties and want the equivalent, but perhaps they just haven’t been to enough of the simple ones where all they need is a bathing suit and sprinkler. Here’s what’s gone through MY mind when considering these options when money’s been tight:

  • Maybe my kid will feel like he’s the poor kid on the block – like the one who’s mama actually MAKES him where a homemade superhero costume on Halloween while Flash Gordon over there has real working light up stuff that shoots lasers or something at the big kids who get in his way of the candy. (GREAT! Now I’ve got Halloween anxiety which is quickly approaching after talking about my birthday party anxiety. 😦 )
  • Maybe if I don’t provide enough food for all the little children AND their parents, people will starve and kids will start asking their parents, “Where’s the pizza, Mama?” right in front of me so that I have to run and call Papa John like that was really the plan all along and give him my credit card so nobody passes out or worse… TALKS ABOUT ME!
  • Maybe if I go the cheap route and do it at home none of the kids will come. See, maybe their parents are kinda shy – or even bitchy – and feel uncomfortable having to sit on my couch with a bunch of other parents until all the cake has been eaten and the presents have been opened. That’s just awkward for some people and I TOTALLY get it. Maybe for them, sitting around on the backyard patio with all the properly coiffed mamas feels like high school all over again wondering which lunch table to sit at.
  • Maybe I need to casually walk my kid to and from class every morning and every afternoon instead of carpool line and chit-chat with the parents so that the new ones get to know me and think I’m friendly and won’t avoid the party because they don’t know any of the other parents.
  • Maybe some of these people can’t afford the barrage of parties every weekend and the presents that accompany them. I don’t want to make them feel like they HAVE to go, but I really WANT them to go just so my own kid doesn’t get disappointed that so-and-so from class isn’t there. (Don’t even get me STARTED now on the expense of birthday party presents every weekend when you’re trying to mask the fact that you’re flat broke at this particular stage in your life but are trying to please your own kids by allowing them to attend and the birthday kids by not disappointing them)

I remember last year when a friend of mine went through a similar dilemma. She was on a strict budget with three little ones and was pregnant with her fourth while her husband was serving overseas. These moms get my applause on a daily basis but ESPECIALLY when trying to throw together a birthday party all by themselves. I couldn’t remember all of the details this morning so I asked her about it. She actually had to ask WHICH party “disaster” I was referring to from this year. Was it the one where she stopped to pick up pizza and ice cream making her late for the party and arrived home with the only key to find the guests waiting in the front yard in the middle of January in COLORADO? Or was it the other one that she posted about on Facebook where hardly any kids showed? Damn! I felt bad for her, but I remember TONS of people commenting on her status and fessing up to trying to keep up with other PARENTS when what really mattered was the CHILDREN. She did a great job and her little man was happy which was really all that mattered. This is what she posted when she felt discouraged and all of  the festivities were complete:

Threw the world’s lamest birthday party this afternoon. But the guest of honor was happy so it wasn’t a total flop. My house was a mess. I took a nap instead of making cupcakes. (Luckily there were enough gluten-free ones that my friend brought for her son with Celiac to go around for all the kids.) We sang him happy birthday but there were no candles to blow out. He probably set the world record for speed-opening of gifts – all 6 in under 75(?) seconds. Then he played his new Wii games while ignoring all his guests.

I woke this morning to another old friend’s pictures from her son’s birthday party on Facebook. SHUT UP!!! I had no idea they still have birthday parties at McDonald’s. Are you KIDDING ME?!?! It looked like she had a few close friends for her son’s 5th birthday party and all those sweet little booboos wear wearing party hats and big ‘ol smiles. Not a grimace was to be found (and I DID look for that big purple blob. What IS he anyway??) I had a couple of birthday parties at Mickey D’s myself and lots of my friends did too. I have memories of the that chocolate cake with Ronald on top and the whipped icing with sprinkles. I still remember hand clapping to the all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun song. Who did NOT climb to the top of that big hamburger jail that used to be on all of the playgrounds and bounce on those spring-loaded Fry Guy things on Mayor McCheese’s turf? That was before Chuck E Cheese came into the picture and when the only THEME your party had to have was for the plates and napkins. I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite because I LOVE a good theme party, but I’ve caught myself sinking enough money into these themes to where I’d have sworn Hamburglar came along and wiped out my checking account. This year we simply couldn’t swing the super fancy party favors that are a gift themselves to every tiny party goer so I took the kids down to Party City with instructions to get some little things to fill the plastic goody bags. After roaming the aisles and perusing the party picks, we finally found the Cars 2 display and the sales clerk asked me if we needed any help. Leave it to my kid to smile and say, “No thanks! We’re buying a bunch of cheap stuff made in China to put in the goody bags!” CRAP!! I was mortified but crap is what we bought and none of the kids OR parents seemed to mind when we handed them out. In fact, I think I’m super lucky. We got strong armed into having the festivities at the roller rink but I seriously doubt any of those other parents would have said a word if we’d blown up balloons and thrown streamers around at the park. My own anxiety about these kinds of things gets to me, but I’m thinking that I’m not alone. Retro is in, and if any of the other sometimes-anxious-overly-eager-to-please-their-child-and-live-up-to-the-standards-set-by-today’s-world folks wanna give it a try, cop a squat at the local park and don’t feel inferior to the folks with the back-yard carnivals at their McMansions. I promise you’ll see others doing the same, and don’t we ALL deserve a break today?

(For anyone interested: Check out this article from retrojunk.com I found when I started looking for picture. THIS will take you back!!) http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/4432/

The Tales of Mother (and the) Goose Wednesday, Sep 21 2011 


I often think, speak, and write in analogies. It’s just the way I am, and it helps me to make sense of things around me especially when life gets a little chaotic. The other morning while sipping coffee on the balcony, a tiny little hummingbird flew up to me, hovered about five feet in front of me for about 15 seconds and then flew away. We looked at each other and for once I did not attempt to take a picture for fear of scaring off the little creature. I was Quick Draw McGraw on the symbolism according to Google however and posted my discovery on Facebook to share:

A hummingbird just flew up to me on the balcony & stared at me for about 15 seconds so I googled symbolism: timeless joy and the Nectar of Life. It’s a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible and will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances. Right On!! Today is MY day, suckas!!

I’ve never seen hummingbirds near my new little castle, and it’s not like I was wearing a big red hummingbird feeder costume to entice some new little creature into my blogging realm. As I continued my research and delved into all things hummingbird related, I also discovered that the sprite little creatures also represent perseverance. Have you ever realized that unlike other birds who can just glide and coast through the air, the hummingbird must constantly beat its little wings to stay aloft? That’s like people too, isn’t it? For some people, at certain times, things just seem to come easy to them allowing them to coast through life while others must swiftly and continuously flutter their wings to keep from falling. Somewhere in my reading, I found some theories that spoke to me that morning and talked about savoring the Nectar of Life. These tiny birds are constantly beating their wings, but they are also capable of hovering in place in order to take their time and savor their nectar. Their ability to fly backwards can show us how we may all be able to look back on our past in order to learn from it yet not hover and dwell on it forever. I’ve never seen a hummingbird ONLY fly backwards! I want to be like a hummingbird!! And if I were ever to get a tattoo, it would be a hummingbird. (But I won’t. Because I don’t like needles. Or permanent body art that could sag and morph with an aging body. And because I’d be embarrassed if 30 years from now someone looked at my sweet little misshapen bird and mistook it for a vulture once everything stretched out and spread.) That hummingbird was a MESSENGER bird and my Google app said so!!

I carried on with my day and headed into The Shop with an extra spring in my step despite the dreary weather and Monday blahs that float about and seem to hover over so many people. I call our store, “The Shop” because that’s simply what we’ve called the beauty and cosmetic business for 50 years now, but I like to think of it as The Family Dynasty and since I run a lot of the daily business that makes me The Empress. All the women on Mama’s side of the family have worked there at one time or another – my grandmother, mother, aunt, cousins, sisters – and drama is the norm as in the televsion version of Dynasty. As I was covering some of the menial duties that should really fall onto servants and perhaps some day will, Mama scurried into the store with her OWN bird tale from that morning. She was visibly shaken and her feathers were all in a ruffle as she recounted what had happened to her while walking along the seawall that morning.

It seems somewhere along her route, Mama encountered a flock of geese. Assuming they were harmless and that she herself appeared friendly and non-threatening to all of God’s creatures, she continued along the walking path and approached their ground. THAT’S when all hell broke loose. According to Mama, the birds began squawking and the flock of furious feathered fowl chased her! Mama got flustered and sped up to no avail. Apparently there was a ringleader in the bunch and as it closed the gap between the group and Mama, she quickly responded like any modern-day woman would and threatened it with the pepper spray attached to her key chain. By threaten, I mean she screamed because it was doubtful that the goose would have been worldly enough to simply catch a glimpse of her unsnapping the spray and been all like, “WHOA!!! We picked the WRONG mama to screw with! This wild-eyed crazy bitch is armed with SPRAY! And that’ll burn my eyes and throat sumpin’ FIERCE! This goose is COOKED!” No. Uh-uh. Holding out the menacing mace in a threatening manner and screaming at it to move did NOT work on the flock, and unfortunately Mama couldn’t get the little twisty nozzle to twist open. God help her because the curious fisherman watching the spectacle most certainly did NOT. She did her best to racewalk like an Olympian with full on hip swinging and arm pumping and managed to escape the menacing bunch and seek shelter in her car with the doors LOCKED I’m sure for added protection. This is the point in the story that Mama came to the conclusion that the foul ringleader was RABID. She watched it fly out onto the lake after the group retreated and feels pretty confident that its feathers were all astray like a MAD goose’s feathers would be. “Oh. Dear. God,” thought Mama when she next realized what was happening; the other geese had TURNED on the ringleader and were trying to peck it to death. There is no way Mama could be wrong about this either because she saw it happen with her own two eyes and surmised that the other geese had realized the rabid nature of their leader and turned on it. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” thought Mama and smugly watched its evil demise as she rounded the corner to retreat to her own side of the lake.

I relayed the account of the attack to my friends on Facebook and even posted a couple of pictures of Mama telling her bird tale as a follow-up post to MY morning encounter with MY bird. The whole bit was ridiculous really and had turned into a farce of sorts as people made their suggestions as to what they thought was the significance of our separate encounters. One friend pondered that perhaps my messenger bird had been sent to warn me of Mom’s impending attack. Maybe. Could be. Who knows. I didn’t throw out all the crumbs of information to my own flock of Facebook followers at the time though.

What many people don’t know is that my mother is an amputee. Just a few years after my father died suddenly, Mama was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. In layman’s terms, a cancer of the sweat gland in the heel of her foot caused her to lose a portion of her leg below the knee. She rarely limps, never opted for any handicapped type parking permit, and people who meet her or even see her walk have no idea that she has this disability. She wears pants and long skirts and boasts a collection of cute little Mary Jane shoes that work for her and keep her in step with the fashion forward set for the most part. What she cannot do – and really has no desire to do – is run… EXCEPT when she’s been chased by a rabid goose. When she was telling us about her real life re-enactment of The Birds, she said that when her pepper spray failed to flip open, she quickly had to think of another option should she not be able to out pace the flock. Never one to just simply sit back and take things as they come, Mama devised a plan whereby if 1 or more geese were to get within brain or eye pecking distance, she would use what the good Lord had given her…. and beat hell out of the birds using her artificial leg as a club. Better not mess with THIS Mother, Goose!!!! I wonder what the by standing fisherman would have done if THAT scenario had actually played out?!

Mama left the store shortly after her tale and returned with a brand new purple can of mace. She was a little disheartened to learn from the clerk at the police supply store that the spray may not turn a goose into a quivering heap like it would for a HUMAN attacker since geese are not capable of inhaling the fumes in quite the same way that a boogeyman would. That’s OK. Mom is up to the challenge. She will aim directly at the offenders eyes taking especially careful aim if a predator is of the non-human variety. I will not be surprised if I pull around to the back of the house and find her practicing her shot in the wood pile while properly choreographing her ninja-like moves and KAY-YA noises in preparation for her next encounter. She will NOT stop walking the seawall because of geese nor will she let the mockingbird types keep her down.

I warned the kids that night to stay away from Mimi’s new purple can and that it will burn their eyes like fire if they even get anywhere near it which means that I have also relayed the two vastly different bird encounters of that day to them as well. Sometimes, kids say things that really help you to see things in a whole new light and shock you with their simplistic wisdom. As we talked about what I had Googled relating to hummingbirds and Mama’s big adventure, my daughter made a pretty insightful analogy. She recently auditioned for the lead roles in The Little Mermaid and drew a couple of parallels. She won’t be playing her dream role of Ariel, but she WILL get to play a mermaid and isn’t that like the “miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances” as I had copied to my Facebook status that morning?? And HEY!! What about how the three of us installed our very own wireless modem and wireless printer ALL BY OURSELVES without calling anyone to help us?!! That is a HUGE accomplishment and people would never have thought we’d be able to do THAT if they’d seen the two-hour long drama that preceded it.

Really, it wasn’t until late that night while sitting on the balcony and listening to the frogs that I was able to recall the events of the day and put them into perspective. Tons of analogies flew straight into my brain while I pondered what I’d observed and learned from the day. I think I’m fortunate. In fact, I think I’m incredibly fortunate, and I’m also very grateful. I think life’s circumstances can vary so much from year to year but your outlook on life is what can make or break you. Sometimes that outlook is learned from the families we were born into or the people we choose to fly with. I think we can even learn valuable lessons from people with whom we choose NOT to associate. The geese in Mama’s story were the aggressors, and I know plenty of those types, but I also remember what my dad used to tell me about geese that relates to how we are as a family. Daddy taught me that geese fly in V formation. The lead bird at the point of the formation has a tough position. His job is tiring while the geese that follow benefit from the upwash of his position allowing them to reduce air resistance and better glide. The birds take turns leading the formation to reduce fatigue, and I guess that’s also how the birds in this family flock fly as well. We stick together, keep each other in our sights, and take over the tough exhausting positions when it’s our turn. We’ll squawk and honk at you too if you hang back and try to coast on our efforts for too long though so everyone has to toe the line.

Birds of a feather flock together.

There’s always more to every story, and there’s more to mine that not everyone knows as well. Just as Mama had a very rare type of cancer, I too was diagnosed and overcame cancer. Mine was an extremely rare cancer of the eye that was diagnosed when I was 6 and resulted in me losing my left eye. Not all mother-daughter-duos battle the odds and get brand-spankin’-new body parts custom-made for them either do they? It’s another way that we are unique. Mom’s cancer and recovery occurred while she was an adult so she had to adjust to new ways of doing every-day things and living while mine is just something that I grew up adjusting to so I can’t tell you that I’ve ever known anything different. I suppose people could look at both situations and make their own determination about which situation would be worse, but again I think it’s all about perspective. I sat through a law class one time in college when the professor used an example to illustrate personal damages in a way that stunned me. He was a wonderful teacher who had NO CLUE about my personal circumstances and neither did the rest of the class. He proposed a scenario whereby we had just gotten into a class fight and someone lost an eye from a hurled piece of chalk and the class was challenged to discuss all the damages and reparations that could possibly result from being left with a life long disability. Assumptions were thrown out and even tasteless jokes only because they had NO idea that I lived with the “disability” they were describing. At nineteen, with my whole life ahead of me, I silently sat and listened to people describe what my life SHOULD have been like; freakish looking, would never be found attractive therefore limited ability to date, marry and have kids. One guy actually suggested that he would rather die and no amount of damages could be awarded to appease him. Certainly anyone without any depth perception could never compete in sports and some of these kids did and would have a limited set of skills that would hinder future jobs and earning potential. It was pretty grim and the jokes weren’t really funny, but after Dad did his best to console me that afternoon my perception changed and more depth was added to my character. I decided that I was pretty lucky to have the positive outlook and family support with which I had been blessed. Those poor little shits must not have come from a family that teaches you that when rabid geese attack, don’t lay down and die just because you can’t run!! Pull off your custom-made state-of-the-art artificial leg and BEAT THE FIRE OUT OF ‘EM!!!

I think that hummingbird WAS a messenger. It’s appearance set the tone for that Monday – a day that is sometimes easy to just coast mindlessly through while wishing for the far off weekend. I started my day actively looking for what it was that God must have meant for me to see. I have no way of knowing what I was supposed to have learned, but maybe I didn’t even HAVE to learn anything. Maybe the point was just to recognize the joy in the little things in my life right now. They are everywhere and most anything can bring on an appreciative grin or even belly busting laugh if I look at it right. I know that philosophy isn’t always easily maintained, so I’m going to do my best to be like the hummingbird and persevere while savoring the nectar. There’s ALWAYS some there and I just have to remember to look for it.

Dinner & The Dynasty Wednesday, Sep 14 2011 


Sometimes I’m still a little intrigued by how amusing people seem to find my family because it’s only been in recent years that I’ve recognized how funny these people can be in a neurotic kind of way. Last night we went to dinner at my grandmother’s house. We call her Bebe, the moniker she was given when I was but a wee little one and tried to call her by her first name. In my family, the women don’t mind aging however they do not like to LOOK or sound like they are aging, and Bebe sounded more appealing than Maw Maw or Granny. Last weekend, Bebe called me on my cell phone to invite me and the kids over to dinner. I was out-of-town with my sisters at the time, and got weird looks when I said she had called to formally invite me to dinner. See, this just isn’t something my grandmother does. She’s always cooking and never minds us stopping over, but an INVITATION?? DAYS in advance?? The last time she “invited” me over for food was to offer me a chocolate cake. She had not actually made the cake for me or the kids or HERSELF for that matter, but we were the lucky recipients of her most recent awkward encounter.

It’s no secret that when I get myself into a pickle, I’m likely to say something very awkward or at least get myself into a bigger bind simply by opening my mouth. This is a hereditary trait handed down by the women in my family like a secret family recipe – one for disaster. One day, my grandmother’s neighbor came over to visit. Not feeling very neighborly that day, Bebe tried to politely excuse herself by suggesting to the woman that she had a very busy day and needed to get on with her errands. The sweet neighbor did not pick up on the cues my Bebe was throwing and asked what kind of errands and activities were on her 82-year-old schedule. Quick on her feet, Bebe said the first thing that came to her mind and LIED….

“Well, I……. have to BAKE A CAKE!”

“Oh,” replied Nancy Neighbor, “I don’t have anything to do today, so I’ll just keep you company while you bake!” (SMILE)

“Well, um, I have to go to the store though because I don’t have everything here but thank you anyway.” (EVEN BIGGER SMILE)

“Great! I need to go too so we can go together!” (I WIN, YOU LOSE VICTORY SMILE)

And the two women headed off to the store. Bebe didn’t actually NEED anything there, mind you and had already been early that morning so she perused the produce and flitted through the frozen goods picking up a few interesting looking items along the way and headed to the checkout.

“My goodness!! exclaimed Nancy Neighbor. You almost forgot your cake ingredients! It’s a good thing I came with you or you wouldn’t have gotten the very things you came to buy!”

“Oh, um, well, SHOOT! You’re right! Let me find the cake aisle.”

And the two of them headed across the store, but not even Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines could get my grandmother out of this sticky mess before she battered the situation any further. Feeling flustered, she bought a chocolate cake mix with white frosting forgetting that they don’t even LIKE chocolate cake and returned to pay for this calamity. When they arrived home, Bebe offered her thanks and farewells only to be rebuffed by the suggestion that while neighborly Nancy had nothing better to do, she’d be happy to visit while Bebe BAKED. It was around 3 o’clock that I received the phone call while sitting in the carpool line asking if I wanted any cake and we headed over after school. When she tried to send me home with the ENTIRE cake, I knew something was fishy and Bebe copped to her wasted day of baking and chatting, neither of which she had intended to do. Oh, well! So she hadn’t really baked that cake for us, but the fact that she called us as first in line beneficiaries was a compliment.

Sooooooo, anyone can see how when I received the formal invite for dinner, my sisters and I thought something was amiss. Like ALL the women in my family, Bebe never does anything the easy way. She’ll swim upstream fighting the current until the fishiness is uncovered. Turns out PawPaw Jack hit the booze one night and got a hankering to visit with people and invited them over the next week for dinner. Mom got the invitation directly from the horse’s mouth, and Bebe followed up with mine as an afterthought. I’m not even offended by the fact that she invited all of us because they felt obligated after drunk dialing dinner invitations. Free meal! What did she serve?? SALMON, of course. And it was delicious, of course. And the dinner conversation got decidedly OFF course as the evening progressed.

Somewhere over dinner, mom was scolded for never saying “God Bless You” when her husband sneezes. See, he’s a little superstitious and it turns out that his feelings were a little hurt by Mom not recognizing what could be the beginning of a deadly virus or something I’m sure. Mom, always on the defense, offered up examples of how incredibly considerate she is and that choking or not BREATHING would warrant a response from her however a simple sneeze would not. How dare anyone think she is insensitive. She is after all the person who ran to the aid of an employee when she passed out in the store one day. Nevermind that Mama panicked and immediately gave mouth to mouth after checking for a pulse while my grandmother scurried to call 911. Or that she realized later that the GUM she had been chewing at the time could not be accounted for later. We are all certain that the sweet little model that had been working for her appreciated the FUSCHIA lipstick stains all over her face too. After all, she probably learned to start EATING so that she would never pass out in mom’s presence again.

We talked over dinner about computers and cell phones and how technology today just makes everything more complicated. My grandmother does indeed have a cell phone however she does not know how to use it. My cue to call her back is receiving a voice mail with her in the background saying something the likes of, “Well, crap! I don’t know how to work this stupid thing. I can’t even hear her talking. Just forget it. I’ll call her later.” I even programmed the thing for her with Mama’s number as well as my own so she only has to push one button but it turns out her fingers are too small. She has petite fingers she says that hinder her cell phone capabilities while PawPaw Jack has very large fingers forcing him to carry a pencil with an erasure when he has the cell phone. All the talk about keyboards and smart phones REALLY started to push MY buttons when they asked which kind of iPhone I would recommend so they could have one like mine. Dear God PLEASE don’t let them get an iPhone, and Steve Jobs PLEASE forgive me for saying it was a piece of junk so that they would not.

We ended the evening at the dinner table by taking a family picture with my daughter’s 3DS. If I can ever figure out how to transfer that picture to my blog (and only if everyone’s hair looks nice and faces don’t look fat) you’d see a group of four generations – quirky yet happy and grateful to have each other. You might also see my daughter standing in front with the same smile she shares with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother (though it won’t be obvious because the older two generation’s jaws hit the floor when the youngest took the pic via voice command… priceless!) She wrote across the top of the picture, My Family Dinner, in rainbow letters so I hope this means we make her proud.

Cajun Mermaid Ballad Friday, Sep 9 2011 


I live in a state that ranks first in a lot of areas, mainly the undesirable ones. We have high poverty, illiteracy and obesity yet our culture is one that embraces the traditions of fun, family, food and revelry so everyone knows how to pass a good time. There are still areas where Cajun French is spoken  and not just back in the swamps. I’ve often heard old timers in public using it as a sort of secret language that allows them to express their heritage and keep outsiders from eavesdropping. The language and dialect are like music to my ears and in my mind I can almost hear those old accordions and fiddles playing the ballads of a time long ago.

I grew up fishing and crabbing the waters around here on the weekends with my family so this past weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity to take the kids out and make our own memories. Tropical Storm Lee had just passed through and left sunshine and cooler temperatures so Mother Nature seemed to be calling us to the Cajun Riviera. I guess my upcoming birthday was also on my mind and the idea of reliving my youth and the nostalgia such a trip would provide sounded enticing. On a whim, we grabbed our towels, binoculars and bucket for collecting shells and headed for the coast. Against my better judgement, I also phoned my mom just to let her know where we would be heading for the day and received a barrage of nervous chatter about my clunker of a car, bridges and AAA Emergency Road Services. I assured her that we would be fine and would indeed call if something happened. I also promised to stay in the car if we broke down and not sit on the side of the road like alligator bait.

Louisiana is known as The Sportman’s Paradise and the Creole Nature Trail is refered to as Louisiana’s Outback. I remembered visiting the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge as a kid and thought my own little ones would enjoy walking out to the wooden lookouts and spotting all of the beautiful flora and fauna native to our area. A day spent exploring and appreciating in the great outdoors was set to provide the refuge I needed from the TV, internet, and irritating video games the kids are obsessed with. In the spirit of full disclosure, we do not all live off the land like what you see on The History Channel’s Swamp People though the folks around here do not need subtitles to understand what’s being said like the rest of the country does. I’ve been to bars around here that are indeed only accessible by boat like The Prop Stop – home of The Worm Bucket – but that’s the exception to the rule and girls like me typically like to go out without the windblown hair and eau de swampwater smell.

As we cruised south with our windows cracked, I tried to spot gators sunning themselves near the road, but I had no help from the backseat. I could hear the reason why; that damn Mario and his friends, Luigi, Peach and Toad has joined us for this journey. I resisted the urge to throw the shiny little hand-held devices through the open windows and into the marsh and simply drove a little faster to our destination. The kids were excited and ready to see the alligators… UNTIL the youngest realized that we were indeed in the wild and that any alligators present would not be contained in cages.

It appears HE was the one disturbed and determined NOT to be food for the gators

We spotted several tourists but not a single alligator much to our disappointment, so we headed for the refuge our car, picked up steam and headed towards The Gulf of Mexico. A few minutes later we arrived and drove straight out onto the sand. We kicked off our shoes and grabbed the bucket  for the shells and bread for the birds and THANKFULLY the Nintendo DSs stayed behind as well. The water isn’t blue here and the sand isn’t white, but my kids love it and I reminded them of how lucky we are to live so close to the coast; Not just ANYBODY can go look for alligators and wade in the waves on merely a whim! I watched as the kids enthusiastically gathered shells of every size and color though what we took was merely a drop in the bucket. They soon realized that they couldn’t take EVERY cool shell and became more selective with their treasures. I promised them that we would keep some of the shells in a bowl at the apartment just like the one I left back at the house for them to enjoy with their dad. Hot damn! I even think I’ll let the little artists use HOT GLUE and create picture frames to display memories from this impromptu coastal excursion. There are plenty of smiling shots to choose from, but perhaps the biggest grin was from Sis when she explained to Bubba about all the sea life that had probably peed in the exact same where he had chosen to soak.

We tossed bread to the seagulls and named one of them Scuttle after the bird in The Little Mermaid. I watched lovingly as my daughter sculpted a mermaid in the sand and shells as she sang songs. She seemed to be channeling some inspiration. She had a milestone of her own approaching; auditions for the musical, The Little Mermaid, were just days away and MY little mermaid had gathered the courage and confidence to audition with all of the older girls for a singing speaking part. Though she’s the youngest of the cast, she chose to audition for the two lead parts because as she has explained to people who’ve inquired, “How would I EVER get my dream role if I don’t even TRY?!” The pride I feel when I see and hear her make such simple yet profound statements makes my heart jump out of my chest and flip and roll like the waves that tumble ashore. That’s MY girl, and I’ll be the lunatic fan in the audience that claps and cheers for her with whatever lines she utters.

The Little Mermaid

As the sun set, we set back out for home and a bite to eat. Much to my son’s dismay, I bypassed the fast food for some sit-down seafood, and he declared that he would SEE the food but not EAT it. Someday he’ll appreciate it though, and the smell will bring him back to a time when we went scavenging for shells on sand. He claims to appreciate what we have here but that doesn’t mean he wants to eat alligator OR be eaten BY an alligator so I let him get his “cajun” chicken strips and promised to cross the street and let him see the alligators that were fenced into a special CONFINED habitat. After all of the lecturing I had done throughout the day on appreciating our natural resources and native species of animals, plants and birds, a stranger came to us and helped put it all into perspective. While searching for the alligators behind the safety of the chain link fence, a nice tourist from out-of-state kindly pointed out the baby gator floating amid the algae. He quipped about how odd it must be for the alligator to smell the fried seafood wafting across the road yet it smelled so delicious that he and his family may just wander into Steamboat Bill’s for a bite. He explained that they had just driven past the beautiful old homes along the lakefront and how fortunate those people were to live there. His family had stopped here and checked out the area on their way back onto the interstate. I don’t think he just HAPPENED to stop there though after driving around the lake and the home where I was raised. Something brought that man to exactly where we were at exactly the right time so that my children could hear from someone who had just discovered the treasures of our area.

In other areas of the world, they don’t have the same sounds and smells and sights that we have here. I want to see these places and experience their cultures and appreciate their differences, but this is where I want to ultimately be. New people, places & things are exciting and valuable, but they don’t whisk me back to simpler times when my Sunday nights were spent sunburned and smelling of saltwater while complaining about Monday morning school. This place and this land makes me proud just as my children do even if we aren’t always on the “right” lists. It’s a place to be cherished and preserved, and visiting here should be on everyone’s Bucket List but I don’t have to tell that to anyone around here. I’d just be singing another old Cajun ballad to the choir.

Kickin’ Up Storms & Puttin’ Out Fires Friday, Sep 2 2011 


I didn’t sleep much last night. It’s my own fault though I guess. Actually, it may be my mom’s fault! See, there’s a storm brewing out in the Gulf of Mexico. When this happens, I can always hear my mom’s voice inside my head telling me EXACTLY what I should be doing to prepare. It’s gotten to where I no longer need her present to hear the nagging. There’s anxiety coursing ALL through my veins thanks to my maternal side, and when the weather vanes outside start spinning when the wind kicks up, EVERYTHING kicks up a notch. While pondering whether or not to race out and stock up on Spaghetti O’s and boxed wine for the inclement weather and possible power outage, I realized all of the things that I am used to having back at the house but do NOT have here at the apartment. THAT’S when I remembered the fire escape ladder that my mom purchased for us when we moved into the big two-story house, and I retrieved it when I picked up the kids last night from Dinner with Dad. The shitstorm that came from that was one for the record books. Hmmmm, hurricane preparations with Mom, or Fire Safety Lesson with the kids… I guess I’ll take the latter.

Mom, why do we need a ladder?

It’s just in case there were ever an emergency where we would need to climb out of the window.

The WINDOW?!?! What kind of emergency?

(This is when I remembered that fire phobia he “outgrew.”) Um, you know, just in case the doors didn’t work and we needed to get to our car.

You mean a FIRE don’t you! The box has a picture of a family with their house on fire.

Well, technically that could happen, but it can really be used for any type of emergency and it’s best to have emergency supplies on hand like how we keep candles and flashlights ready for hurricane season.

Why do you think we are going to have a fire?

I DON’T

Then why did you buy it?

I didn’t. Mimi bought it.

Why does she think we are going to have a fire?

She doesn’t. I mean, she KNOWS that we are NOT, but she always worries about everything anyway so she felt better buying this for us back at the house.

Then why did we bring it to the apartment?

Because we live HERE now and so I thought we’d keep it here.

But Daddy’s back at the house and now he doesn’t have anything to escape with. (eyeing me suspiciously like I’m an evil arsonist)

Daddy is like a Boy Scout and he has everything he needs there. He’s totally fine, I PROMISE.

So we’re going to attach it to the window?

No. It stays in its box unless we ever have to use it. I’m going to put it in Sissy’s closet because it’s right next to her window and that window sticks out the farthest. (Smile) So you don’t even have to look at it.

WHAT?!?!?! You are keeping it in HER room?! Why does she get to be saved???!!!

STOP. Nothing’s going to happen, but if there WERE some kind of emergency then we all go to her window and climb out. Period.

Her foot is probably going to get in my way and make me fall down the ladder and get a bodycast again!!!

(Long story short version: Yes, he DID have to wear a body cast for a couple of months when he was 2, but EXACTLY how he tumbled down the stairs isn’t TOTALLY clear. Everybody knows he tripped over Sissy’s foot, but there is no proof it was intentional and doesn’t matter anyway because she was SO WAY SORRY and TOTALLY freaked out that he broke a bone. Won’t EVER happen again. EVER. We’re paranoid people now and in a way like never before. There! Full disclosure.)

You’re not going to fall and you won’t get a body cast because we have a LADDER! (Sigh) Just follow her down and we’ll walk to the parking lot or something.

WHAT!?@!!? SHE gets to go FIRST??? That’s not FAIR!

Fine. If you want to go first, then you can go first. We’ll have our plan now like when you practice fire drills at school.

So you want to climb out now?

NOOOO!!! (God the neighbors would REALLY think we’re weird then. And I’m not going to the hospital with a broken bone on any of us from a PRACTICE RUN. Real deal only.)

Well, who’s going next you or Sissy?

Well, Sissy I guess. That is if ANY of us were able to quit fighting over what’s fair and what’s not fair. That’s why it’s best to decide now otherwise I’m thinking Daddy is the lucky one here. He just has to jump. I would have to convince two screaming kids that my escape route was FAIR before anyone even slung a leg of the ledge!

Well then we’d all die if nobody went, huh.

Nobody’s going to DIE! Go take your bath. (I’m going straight to the burning gallows of Hell for even planting this seed in my child’s head. Actually… TOTALLY my mom’s fault here again. SHE bought the ladder and SHE’S the one that threw that neurotic gene down my tree but never claims it and doesn’t know how any of us can be such ANXIOUS people. She’s like the cute little kitten that gets stuck in the tree and then claims to have been able to climb down herself if mass hysteria were to break out and the fire brigade sent to rescue her… after all she’d be the only cat on the block with her own LADDER!!)

10 Minutes Later… (Scene: Bathtub)

Is it fireproof, Mom?

What?

The ladder. because I’m not going to go down it first if it’s just going to catch fire or something.

The ladder is METAL, and we will never have to use it because there will NEVER be a fire.

So concrete catches fire easily then?

HUH?!?

The stairs. They must be going to catch fire even though they’re made of concrete otherwise we wouldn’t need the ladder and have to go out Sissy’s window.

Seriously. Just forget about the ladder. if there were an emergency, that’s the only time you’d even remember it.

Wait. I’m not gonna jump so we’re all just gonna be hanging there til the firemen come or something because that’s too far and I’ll get hurt, right?

No, sweet boy. The ladder reaches all the way to the ground because it says so on the box. (We both SMILE at each other. 🙂 Case closed!)

What if, when I get off the ladder, I step in fire ants though??? Heh Heh!! Get it, Mom?? FIRE ants!!! I made a joke!! 🙂

HAHAHA!!! Funny boy! I’m so proud of you. You must get that from me!

But what about my stuffed animals??? I love them! We’ll have to carry all of them out with us.

Nah. The firemen would spray the whole place with water from their big hoses and that would keep stuff from burning.

Then they’d get wet and ruined.

Fine. We’ll see.

I KNOW!!! We’ll keep some backpacks by the ladder to carry all our stuff out! I’ll be the one who says, ‘EVERYONE GRAB AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!!!’

No. That’s someone else’s job. Get out of the tub.

Will the firemen say, ‘All clear!’ and then send us back for our stuff?

Yes.

I’m going to show all my friends any time I have a sleep over so they know we can climb out the window if we need to, OK?

Um… Fine. (AWESOME! Mamas are going to think I’m nuts. And if I ever catch him using it when he’s a teenager to sneak out and get a 6 pack or something, he might as well be in a bodycast because he won’t be going anywhere for a long time. Sigh.)

I’ve got the jibbers.

Don’t have the jibbers… whatever those are. It’s fine. Everyone will be safe and everyone has a job for anything unexpected so we’re TOTALLY good. Now get out of the tub. (HOORAY!! He SMILED which means he’s good and I must be good at calming his nerves then. Yay!)

I’m going to have nightmares. Can I sleep with you?

(Sigh) Fine.

HAHAHA!!!! SISSY!!!! I get to sleep with mom and you don’t!

(Sissy runs into the bathroom and starts off with, Moooooom!!! That’s not FAIR!!!!)

Dry off. Brush your teeth. Everyone get in my bed. Go to sleep.

Hey, Mom!

Whaaa-aaaa-aaaaaaa-aaat?!?!

I’ve been eating lots of fiber, SEE! I’m growing THESE!! (Points at his nipples and smiles proudly in the mirror)

Uh… I’m glad you’re eating fiber. Good. That means this conversation is over.

(I realize that he has changed the subject and this is my chance, so I sing the prayers and then threaten to kick them out of my bed if they don’t go to sleep. It’s a freakin’ SCHOOL night and I’m not going to get ANY sleep because they’re in my bed, but I feel so bad now about letting them see the ladder and ponder burning flesh that I must now deserve to be kneed in the back all night without any covers.)

Where does this kid get this from?? ‘MY MOM!!! It’s HER fault,’ I say to myself as I remember to go take my anxiety pill. As I gulp the water and feel the pill sliding down my throat, I get one of those movie-like flashback scenes where I suddenly have Deja’ Vu and realize I just took this pill while standing in this exact spot just a couple of hours ago. Am I going to overdose? Should I try and throw it up?? I throw up my hands instead and settle down to read a book. I mean, I HAVE to be awake now, right? I probably have to stay awake to make sure I don’t start getting woozy or drowsy from the double dosage… but it’s BEDTIME?!?! How will I know if it’s the medicine or just being tired??? BING! I have a margarita in the freezer that would TOTALLY calm me down, but now I’m too scared to drink it because of what it may do to me after taking two idiot pills!!! UUGH!! I think I have a stomach ache now. Finally I decide with the help of some friends on facebook that the heightened anxiety I’m experiencing will counteract the increased medication thereby cancelling out any harmful side effects and leaving a zero net effect. TA-DA!!! I’m a genius AND I’m still a good mom. The kids are sleeping soundly, and I’ll be right next to them on my 3-inch portion of the bed if they need anything. And if I don’t have what they need or an answer to some crazy question, you know what I’ll do??? I’ll call MOM and let them wake HER up. It’s all her fault anyway, and someday I’ll tell them that so they’ll be sure and blame HER and NOT me or blog about all the weird things I do on the internet or whatever it is that their generation will be doing then. Hell, I probably won’t even know what they’re talking about anyway, and I’ll just sit there oblivious like MOM does with MY blog. 😉

Crafting A Cast Monday, Aug 29 2011 


This weekend my sisters and I had a conversation. It was sort of an ongoing conversation that picked up where it left off several times because there was no clear resolution to our dilemma which was this: Who in the world is going to be capable of playing us when our life story hits the big screen? This is a conversation everyone has, right? My poor brother-in-law went from amusement to bewilderment when he realized that we were actually serious about the topic. He also wisely shut his mouth and offered no real suggestions once he realized the seriousness of the topic. One small comment or observation about which actress carried similar personality quirks or physical resemblance could lead to him being ostracized from our conversation and very likely shunned until the subject was dismissed. Worst case scenario would be that we’d cast someone awful in his part but threatening him with such an outcome didn’t seem to evoke the kind of horror that it would with the rest of us. I don’t understand that really. Is that just a gender thing or something because I think we are the normal ones here. I’ve actually known girls to get FURIOUS if you tell them they look like a certain celebrity that they do not admire or so-an-so could play them in their life story. Do guys not sit around and talk about these things??? That’s weird.

Here’s my thinking: True actresses are cast into parts based on their ability to portray a character, or real life person in this case, in a way that captures a person’s personality, mannerisms, and character traits as they are. Simply “having the look” isn’t enough to win someone an Oscar for an accurate portrayal, right? Hair can be dyed, weight lost or gained, and fashion sense can be mimicked, so why would someone be so simple-minded as to choose an actress based on their hair color and skin tone?? It’s a good thing I’ll be in charge of casting when this happens. I suggested that when the time comes, we have several actress audition for the various roles while we sit in our cute little director’s chairs with our names and titles monogrammed on the back. This TOTALLY makes sense and is a reasonable request Brother-In-Law, so why is your jaw hanging open?? Shut it!

(Disclaimer: these are merely suggestions and are subject to change at any time or with any whim though the participants in this screenplay have been cautioned to not make any rash decision especially while drinking or PMSing.)

The role of Miss um… Erica?!?! is set to be played by the one and only Julia Roberts. There. MY decision is a good one and perhaps the ONLY one not open for discussion. This is MY screenplay and therefore MY decision and it is a good one. Both Diane Keaton and Blythe Danner will audition for the role of Mom,  and Cloris Leachman gets the part of my grandmother hands down. We tossed around ideas for the two other sisters and came up with the following potential actresses for the youngest: Ann Hathaway (she looks just like her but most importantly has displayed the ability to be beautiful, quirky, naive, and a little neurotic all at once) Mila Kunis, and Natalie Portman. Middle sister was a little more difficult to cast, and Brother-In-Law smartly kept his suggestions to himself lest some unfortunate actress be deemed to have horse-like teeth or something and offend everyone at the table. He did offer one idea when the poor guy still thought the conversation was for amusement purposes only but the BACKLASH to his Shannen Doherty idea produced a FIT and evil eyes the likes of which really only Shannen herself could pull off. Um… if the shoe fits!! I’m JUST sayin’, he might have been onto something there. I’m KINDA thinking Neve Campbell or Courtney Cox for her (and not just because she makes me Scream sometimes) but right now we’re thinking of the dark hair pale skin attributes both of these carry and their ability to portray and professional working mom.

Look, we’re not conceited or anything. I mean, we KNOW this whole thing may not ever get to the big screen. THAT is why we have devised a secondary list of actresses should this go straight to Lifetime. Picture Robin Tunney from The Craft and The Mentalist playing the role of Moi. I know… that’s good, right?!? We haven’t ironed out all of the backup cast here yet, but some combination of Neve Campbell, Alyssa Milano, Shannen Doherty would probably be appropriate. Hey! I’m wondering here if it is NOT a coincidence that all of these actresses have played WITCHES?!?! I’m just now realizing that and it kinda creeps me out. We’ve crafted quite entertaining lives for ourselves here but we’re TOTALLY not Wiccans. I mean, not that there’s anything WRONG with that I guess. (Dear God, please don’t let them hex me or throw out some voodo gris gris on me for offending the witch people by thinking they are creepy! I’m looking to cast a screenplay here NOT have spells cast upon me. Amen.) Oh and while I’m thinking about The Craft, do you think I will I be able to choose the caterers for craft services, because I TOTALLY want those Viva La Waffle truck guys!!!

OMG! This is EXACTLY what BOTH of my sisters look like when they are PMSing! She could play EITHER of them!

The Mouths Of Babes Friday, Aug 5 2011 


Mom

What

Guess what!

What

I’ll tell you what! Some people are allergic to things. Did you know that?

Yes

How’d you know that?

I just did

You know what else?

What

I think I’m allergic to lots of things.

No you’re not.

I think I’m allergic to vegetables and pasta and rice and meat and fish and shrimp.

No you’re not.

How do you know that??

Because you’ve eaten those things before.

No I haven’t! I don’t like them.

Well, you did before you can remember and before you decided not to like them. And just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you’re allergic.

I never ate shrimp!!

Yes you did. I gave you popcorn shrimp from the deli at WalMart to keep you quiet every time I grocery shopped. You just don’t like shrimp OR being quiet anymore.

You GAVE me SHRIMP?!?!!!! I could’ve DIED!!!

But you didn’t.

But I could’ve!

But you DIDN’T!!!

You didn’t know that when you gave it to me though!!!

Well…. But…

I can’t even believe you DID that.

Well, I gave you peanuts too and you liked them and you’re not allergic to them either. HA!

But I’m allergic to peanut butter though.

No you’re NOT!! Just because you somehow love PEANUTS but hate peanut butter & jelly sandwiches does NOT mean you are ALLERGIC to that. You just don’t LIKE it. TOTALLY different.

No it’s not.

Yes it is. I’m not arguing with you.

Mom

What

Guess what

What

I”ll tell you what. I need to find out what I’m allergic to.

Fine. When we go to WalMart, I’ll get some foods that lots of people are allergic to and you can taste each one so we can see what happens. Maybe you’ll find something new to start eating that you like.

Are you KIDDING me?!?! I saw that show where the guy’s tongue got real big because he ate cinnamon.

Then we can put cinnamon on our list.

MOM!!!! NO!!! I mean if I eat something then my tongue could get fat and you’d have to take me to the hospital.

Then how do you want to find all this out?

You said Aunt E had an allergy test. I could do that.

FINE!!! We’ll go there and they can stick a bunch of needles in you to see how you react if that’s what you want.

HUH?!?! Why do they use NEEDLES??

So they can get under the skin and see how your skin reacts. YOU are getting a little under MY skin now.

Huh? I don’t have any NEEDLES!! Who invented needles anyway?

Probably Mr. Needle and named it after himself because he was VEIN. I’m so funny!

Why?

Nevermind.

Mom

What

What does REACT mean?

It means if they poke you and if a bump comes up like a mosquito bite that itches, then BINGO! You get to be allergic to something and I’ll be very happy for you.

I’m not doing that.

Then quit talking about it.

Why?

Because you’re giving me a headache.

Are you allergic to something you think??

NO!!!

Can you be allergic to people?

I’m starting to think so.

Maybe I’m allergic to you even though I like you like when people eat a good dessert that has allergic stuff on it. How far is the hospital?

1 mile. It’s where you were born. I’ll just bring you back.

Nevermind.

(35 minutes later)

MOM!

What

Gueth Wha (Sticking out tongue to show me something)

What

Thumthing’s comin oudda my tongue (shows me the veins beneath his tongue)

You’re fine. Those are veins.

FANGS!!??!?!!!

NO, NOT FANGS!!!! You ARE starting to suck the life out of me though. Your tongue is not swollen. You just ate the same fruit you eat every day of your life. You are NOT allergic to anything INCLUDING me. Those are VEINS. They are all over your body. We all have them. Now, let me write my blog.

Fine. What are you writing about?

You being allergic to things

I’m not allergic to anything. Why do you think I’m allergic to something???

(To be continued…)

Our Town Friday, Jul 1 2011 


I woke up this morning to my very own custom-made publication. No, I have not been published YET, but it seems that my daughter has taken an interest in writing as well. In her version of the local crime blotter, the cub has taken to reporting the words and actions of her brother. I’m thinking this is NOT going to win her a Pulitzer, however a Pull-At-Her (hair) may be in store once little brother can read. The headline read, “Vampire In Town” so I’m not sure if this implied that he bit her or what, but she had been sure to clearly depict the villain in his superhero pajamas. There was a Style section, Sports section, and even an Entertainment section with movies and show times gathered from my little iPhone app. We seem to have created our own little city of sorts and every city needs a Town Crier. We have two, quite possibly three if I finally break by the end of Summer.

What got me going on this was my discovery a couple of days ago. A fight of sorts had broken out in the street, or hall, or whatever you want to call it. Sister was screaming that Brother had locked himself in his room with all of the checkers, and she could hear them clinking together as he counted his stash. That’s what I said – CHECKERS. This should NOT be cause for alarm on a normal day because she is usually TRYING to get him to stay out of her room and in his own. So WHAT was the problem? As best I could tell through the tears and high-pitched siren-like cries, Brother had stolen all of the “checkers” from the Connect Four game and was hoarding them in his room. She then explained to me that this meant she could no longer Do anything, BUY anything, or have FUN of any kind until she recovered her rightful portion of the loot. Slowly I began to understand. It seemed these two had reverted back to caveman days in more ways than one and devised a bartering system for goods and services here in Our Town. How civilized! Unexpected? Yes. Brilliant? Right on! I was so proud! This discovery meant there was hope for law and order in the Wild West after all. When one child wanted to borrow something from another, a price was set. If that price was mutually agreeable, then a deal was sealed, you checked out at the registers where checkers were exchanged and everyone was happy without calling in The Law, ME. “Now I get it! THAT’s what the little price tags posted in the bedrooms meant,” I thought. It was further explained to me that “reds” were worth $100 and “yellows” were a mere $1, and Sister had slowly accumulated ALL of the checkers. This was where I was going to have to mosey in and reclaim my town however.

I interrogated Brother for a few minutes after dismissing the complainant and found he had an understandable reason for stealing the checkers. The poor kid was literally poor. He had spent all of his checkers purchasing goodies from The Sister Store and had priced his own items in Brother’s Market unreasonably high. There was actually little demand for his supply of goods as the only thing he had become willing to sell or part with was broken pieces of toys and pictures of himself. It had become a buyer’s market and Sis wasn’t buying his wares. He also wasn’t willing to sell any of his alloted time on the Wii as he was in desperate pursuit of some special badge or title or trophy or something in his rat race with Mario. I had to feel sorry for the kid, but I couldn’t let The Village People run amuck. The was not the Y-M-C-A and boarders had to obey the law of the land. Once the situation had been explained to Sister, she took pity on the defendant and allowed him into her saloon with no hard time served. (Actually it’s really more of a Salon since she doesn’t serve the hard stuff – only Koolaid- and  Barbie Doll heads and nail polish are scattered about.) (more…)

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