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

Advertisements

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/

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. 😉

Adventures In Wonderland Wednesday, Aug 24 2011 


Early in the summer when I was focused on the bunnies and birds and new little creatures around me, I caught my rabbit Roger digging a hole in the flower beds below me. I also caught video, of course (which I’ll post later), and it got me thinking about this crazy summer. All I could think of was Alice in Wonderland and her strange little adventures following the rabbit. I did not PUBLISH the analogies that were scampering through my brain at the time partly because I wasn’t fully confident yet that people weren’t going to make all the same drug references that many see in the book and think I was on drugs myself after leaving my husband, house and seemingly normal happy life behind. I also thought I’d let this summer play itself out and see if my adventures or life calmed down for me. Um… not really, but I took notes so here it goes!

I’ve thought of myself as similar to Alice these last few months. I was well raised and taught to be polite. Sometimes my naivety can be seen as childlike and often times my adventures and sense of humor are immature. The bunnies I discovered early in the summer seem to be taking shelter from the heat or simply moved on when some jackhole cleared the land behind my fence. I mean, didn’t someone KNOW that Snow White herself was sitting up in this little castle writing about her adventures with the critters? I have my pictures and I have my notes however so my mind is open to the other things around me now. New characters are being introduced every day and some of them are as wacky and entertaining as the ones in Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or the movies that have since followed. I’ve referred to this summer as starting a new chapter, and with school back in session I feel like we are on to the next.

I’ve tried my best to really find myself this summer, and at times I’ve simply quit looking to find what WAS there and simply see what’s BECOMING. You know how they say when you quit looking for something is when you are most likely to find it? Well, it’s something I remind myself often. When I need courage or strength, I look deep down to find it but discovering new things about myself sometimes takes quiet self observation and that’s usually found on the balcony over coffee or my vanity table/writing desk. Simply sitting down and answering questions from some of those self-help workbooks that aim to get your life, career and finances in order don’t always come easy for me because they stress me out a little. Actually, they stress me out a LOT. When quiet doesn’t exactly come easily around here, that’s when I learn about others especially the kids. I’ve learned more by listening to them than I have talking AT them. I can almost guarandamntee you that I don’t really learn a lot in the midst of the chaos WHILE it’s happening, but I do my best to jot something down here or there throughout the day thinking that an interesting thought or idea may sprout from what we did or did NOT do well. I hope my little baby boos have learned from me too, but only they will be able to tell you that and perhaps not until they are adults. Maybe some of the things they get angry about now that are too difficult or inappropriate to discuss with them will make sense to them later. Maybe they won’t. Maybe all that they will learn from this summer is that not everything can be explained when the same experiences between two different people produce two vastly different perceptions. That’s a lesson itself, isn’t it?

Chapter 1. Down the Rabbit Hole

Alice fell into her hole. I jumped! I went headfirst not merely out of curiosity because that would be irresponsible as a parent to make life changing moves and pull the kids down with me through the twists and turns of some knucker hole. The only thing I knew for sure was that one day a switch in me flipped and the reality I thought I’d been living was realized to be a fantasy. One day while driving down the road, I finally saw my life clearly and knew I was not going to be able to lie to myself anymore. There’s a strong difference I guess between the fictional character Alice and the new real-life me in that I left the fantasy behind. My hole led to a new reality. There was no certainty about the future and there certainly was no money. What I did have was a little apartment leased on borrowed money and a PLAN to spend my summer enjoying the kids because the big changes would affect them, and I wanted to take care of them as I did my best to take care of myself. I also knew that I may never get the chance to stay home with them part-time or full-time again, and I wanted to cherish that time. Of COURSE I knew they’d be fine going to after-school care if a new work schedule left me unable to spend all of our time outside of school together, but you know how you never TRULY appreciate something until it’s gone or you no longer have the daily luxuries you perhaps take for granted? Well, I went into this summer with the kids knowing that it may be my last. (I mean HOME with them – not last as in DEAD – though there were times we could have killed each other I guess.)

Chapter 2. The Pool of Tears

We have a pool here, and we’ve had a lot of tears however I can definitively say that I have not gotten swept away by the current. My current is strong but will not be defined by my past and crying while treading water won’t get me any farther on to future adventures. Why swim upstream?Dry the tears and it’s easier to keep your head above water and swim. Besides, pools are for fun and the kids have definitely had their fill here with tan lines to prove it.

Chapter 3. The Caucus Race and a Long Tale

In Alice’s Adventures, this is the chapter where Alice meets many other animals and birds that have been swept away in the pool of tears and when they reach the riverbank, they decide to race around in a circle with no clear finish line as suggested by the mouse, in order to get dry. Um… no thanks! I’m out of that rat race. I TOTALLY dig all the little real life animal friends I have found here, but I’ve also met and talked with women this summer that want to commiserate. They’ve found themselves alone for one reason or another and want to drown our sorrows over drinks or grow decidedly bitter together because misery loves company. Isn’t that the same as just running in circles? I’ve TOTALLY bitched, don’t get me wrong, but it’s usually to my family because I’ve found that bitches feed off each other and just walk away fatter and madder. Good for Tweedledee & Tweedledum if they choose to do that. I’m happy to not feel so alone when we find something in common, but it’s just not my desire to sit around and bitch or convince people to stand on my side of the river bank and throw stones at the other side. Sitting on the other side is the man who was once my teammate in every way, and we still have to carry these kids together to the finish line.

Chapter 4. The Rabbit Sends a Little Bill

Alice grows, gets stones thrown at her which turn into cakes, eats them and shrinks. Hmmm… I ate cake this summer, and I PROMISE you I DID NOT SHRINK. I mean, I wish that when people hurled stones at you via insults or unwarranted criticisms they turned into little cakes because that would certainly be turning a negative into a positive, but for God’s sake don’t eat the damn cakes! Real life does not always coincide with fantasy here. Again this is an instance though where the Alice character and my own diverge. You know the bottles in the beginning that Alice drinks that say “drink me” and she shrinks? Yeah well I’ve done that too and the Skinny Girl Margaritas & Skinny Girl Sangria do NOT make you skinny. And the more you drink, the more likely you are to eat that box of goldfish that you bought for the kids and the “that’s one snack they like that I don’t so I’ll be SMART and buy those knowing I won’t eat them!” strategy fails. Eating AND drinking makes you grow bigger in REAL LIFE so don’t even try to be Alice.

Chapter 5. Advice From a Caterpillar

OK. This was always my favorite part in the movie because the caterpillar looks so cool and groovy smoking the big hookah, but just DAYS after spotting the rabbit digging its hole in the garden, I KID YOU NOT, I spied some women at the pool smoking a HOOKAH!! They frequently grilled their dinner at the pool and spent hours out there letting the kids play while they cooked, visited, and smoked. I kept thinking how exotic and very cool they seemed and how this just wasn’t something that we would have seen everyday back at the neighborhood pool. I REALLY wanted to go up and see if they had any advice to offer me, you know, because I was sort of having an identity crisis similar to Alice’s and I pictured them asking me very wisely, “Who are YOU?” like the caterpillar. I didn’t do that though because I thought I’d feel a little like one of the nerds from Dazed and Confused asking about their cool bong. As the summer progressed, I decided whatever advice they may give me may not be sound because the kids pointed out one of the moms one day driving the kids through the parking lot to the pool on TOP of the car. My kids pointed out how unsafe that was (SMART KIDS!) and so next time they ask me what those ladies are smoking in that thing I may just say, “DRUGS!! Drugs cause people to make poor decisions like riding on TOP of a car instead of IN it!” Don’t judge me for this either. It was totally cool, but when I have to think of an explanation for reckless behavior then NOTHING is off-limits. My kids are young and impressionable, and I think it’ll work like that egg in the frying pan commercial did for my generation.

Chapter 6. Pig and Pepper

Chapter 6 in Alice’s story is where they introduce The Cheshire Cat – intelligent, mischievous, funny and perplexing with a large smug grin. That’s my son! He’s the living breathing version of the character. So far this summer, he has accidentally spray painted a wall, clogged up a couple of sinks and toilets, attempted to ram passersby with his remote control cars and jet, and frequently hides from us though is easily found by the glow of his Cars 2 light up tennis shoes and night vision goggles. He’s even got the grin!

Chapter 7. A Mad Tea Party

Yep! Been there done THAT this summer! I met some old high school friends in New Orleans this summer for a “Fancy Dinner Party.” I did not know some of them well in high school, but have most certainly determined them to be MAD in a lovely, hilarious, endearing way. Ladies and gents donned fabulous threads and feathered boas while sporting fancy Ivy League sounding names. I was Donatella – as in VERSACE – and cursed every poor lad that thought my name was derived from The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We sipped cocktails and even mingled with the commoners strolling down Esplanade Avenue. I proved myself to be young again by parading through the French Quarter until FOUR in the MORNING with a tiara on my head. WOOHOO!! I can still party with the best of them, and I consider that a jewel in my crown for Miss um… Erica?!?!

Chapter 8. The Queen’s Croquet Ground

We’ve tried all SORTS of games this summer! The kids have loved playing cards and bocce ball back at the house with their dad and from what I hear, chaos has erupted that would rival the scene in the Disney movie. Remember my sweet girl’s Summer Art Camp where she made The Queen Bee, Tetris pieces, board games, and playing cards? Well I can tell you that many times my little Queen Bee has called for the head of her brother, the Cheshire Cat, but he usually managed to escape with a handful of Monopoly money and a mischievous grin.

There were some characters from the story Alice in Wonderland that were eliminated from the movie versions so I won’t carry on with the chapter references anymore. I’m really more familiar with the movie versions now anyway thanks to the kids (even the creepy Tim Burton version with Johhny Depp) Here’s where I think I’ve ended up though now that the chapter, Summertime 2011, has come to a close: I’ve grown in some ways, shrunk in others (YAY!), experienced the highs and lows that come with any new journey and adventure, and I’ve managed to keep my head above water and be excited about what the future holds. I’ve been put through some trials and judged too, but as Alice says in the story everyone grows and that just can’t be helped. I guess I’m not really very quiet about it either so people can come after me like the guards that set off after Alice, but you know what? I can follow suit and call them out as mere cards that can easily be played or change hands with whatever way the wind blows. I’ll bet you that I can take the cards that I’ve been dealt and produce a winning hand at some point too. I just won’t hold up a house made out of them.

The End.

Second To Nun & Flying Monday, Aug 22 2011 


Yep! It’s Monday. Not just ANY Monday though; today is the first full week back to school for the kids and back to work for me. I’ve really missed the routine. Summertime’s great, but as the days go by and the heat really starts to kick in all of us tend to get a little grumpy. The kids and I were no exception. I slacked on the Post A Day blogging challenge because I started to feel a little bit like one of those crazed writers you picture with their hair all a mess and hygiene falling to the way side. No matter what time I tried to sit down and write, the kids needed me for something. Usually, what was needed was attention and throwing out the, “Please give Mama a little private time to write her blog” began to morph into, “The next person that comes into my room to whine had better be able to show me blood or they’re punished and I’m not kidding!” Not so good, huh? That probably wouldn’t win me parent of the year or anything, but more importantly I wasn’t getting any points from the little ones that matter. I kept thinking to myself that I’d made a PLAN. That PLAN was to blog every day and get some writing under my belt so that once the school year started, I could perhaps venture into the professional writing world and start bringing in some peanuts to feed the circus animals because the part-time gig at the family beauty dynasty simply isn’t going to cut it. Maybe I’d even get a book deal and impress the kids with their own laptops and a car that didn’t have tape holding up the little black rubbery thingy by the door. See, I made the MISTAKE of checking out some other bloggers one day and realized that they have professional experience in the publishing world with literary backgrounds from top-notch universities and have their resumes posted on their blogs for free-lance writing jobs. My PLAN was to show that while I don’t have literary degrees under my belt, I can churn out daily posts with the best of them from my ancient little laptop at my make-up table. Disappointment and guilt kicked in as the days between blog posts stretched sometimes into a week. It’s crazy to sit back and realize that you’ve actually let yourself feel guilty about not sticking to a PLAN that you devised yourself and has no dire consequences if it fails, isn’t it? Actually, the crazy part is feeling guilty while the SANE part is recognizing it I guess. I think part of my problem is still that I want EVERYTHING I do to be great. I mean, I don’t actually think that’s the case, because one look around this little apartment will tell you that I simply can’t keep up with the artistic creative geniuses that rule the roost here with all of their “projects” and the scraps of paper and snippets of pipe cleaners lying around are evidence enough that I’m either terribly inept at instilling discipline into the little artists or sorely lacking the energy and motivation necessary to follow them around with a waste receptacle. Heh heh! I’m actually really good at NOT doing either though. There ya go!

I think I’m just going to change up my plan. Just a tweak. Just a tad. Saying it “out loud” on the world wide web may help motivate me to see through to my goals, but the big change will be reminding myself not to get burdened by the guilt of not accomplishing something the way it was PLANNED. I’m in charge now. ME. MOI. And I’m not going to replace the negative criticism that I used to get from others with self doubts and flogging on my own. Self flogging for lack of blogging?? That’s bananas!! I guess when you get used to hearing things a certain way, your brain steps in to perpetuate a habit. I’m VOWING to break the HABIT! If I’m not going to break it, since the standards I’ve set for myself have typically been higher than what others require, then I’m at least going to wear that habit high and proud on my head and use to catch some wind and fly like that nun. Yeah, Baby! That’s going to be me now – The Flying Nun! I’m still going to pursue the writing. It’s something I enjoy. I’m also reinstating the fitness goal to get back to the gym at least three times per week and make it a habit though my motivational songs would make the ladies of the cloth blush. That’s OK. The Flying Nun is second to none and cut from a different cloth – one that takes Eminem at high volumes to keep from throwing in the towel. I just don’t think that’s going to send anyone to Hell either especially since I’m not teaching it to my kids or playing it in church. Organ music just wouldn’t get me moving, you know?

I think I could totally pull this off! Replace the crown and catch some air with this cool new headgear?

Novice Nun & Novice Writer? TOTALLY the same.

Bravo to ME & MY Reality! Wednesday, Aug 10 2011 


It’s been basically 2 1/2 months since I have watched cable TV. If you had told me that I’d have gone this long without my Bravo, E! or reality TV fix, I’d have called you all Pretty Little Liars. For most of the last decade, both daytime and evening television have revolved around kid shows with the only time available to watch my own shows being late-night. Even that only came in the last few years when we discovered the wonders of the DVR. As the kids grew, I graduated from Baby Einstein to Playhouse Disney and Noggin. PBS Kids taught me how to craft, like I really cared, but none of that was anything I’d ever sit and watch on my own. Actually, maybe I lie… I’ve TOTALLY caught myself doing something in a room with the TV on for background noise and looking up to see what kind of trouble Zack & Cody get themselves into next. Pathetic! This isn’t quite “The Suite Life” but it is sweet and the apartment transition has been eased by the antics of those Disney twins since the kids see & relate to how similar apartment living can be to hotel living without a big yard separating us from neighboring houses. It’s so social here! (Zero room service here though and I’m pretty sure the kids have tried. Bummer!)

My plan was to save up a little money once I got back to work to buy another digital box, the time killing boob tube recorder, and watch my guilty pleasures again once the kids went to bed. Maybe I don’t really need that box though! Back at the house, that’s what I did nearly EVERY SINGLE NIGHT; I caught up on my shows and would watch all the reality I could handle after everyone was asleep because sometimes the sensationalized reality made my own look better. Shocker!!! Most of the reality on TV while entertaining is pretty negative too. We still watch it though, don’t we, like flies on the wall and talk about the “characters” and the big hot messes that embarrass themselves on TV while preparing their tell-it-all books and spin-off shows. The Real Housewives are tons of fun to watch and have fabulous lives and friends yet inevitably drama ensues when friends call each other Moose and Hefer and pull each others hair out. (God!!! If you didn’t see THAT one you missed out!) Here’s my deal now though: My reality is pretty freaking entertaining ifIdosaysomyself!! At the end of each day now, I make an effort to replay my own day’s episodes of calm, hilarity, drama, TLC & occasional hair pulling violence from the kids. I like to sit on the balcony, listen to the crickets & frogs, and take down notes from the day. I’ve learned some lessons this summer:

  • I’m a Survivor dammit. I’ll outwit, outplay and outlast. I already knew that, but I remember thinking on May 21st – the day the wackjobs said world was “supposed” to end – that nothing is ever really a catastrophic as it seems. I had somehow thought my precious little world would end if I didn’t follow the big house/white picket fence/2.2 kids & a dog route that I had somehow believed provided security in every way. Life goes on and I’d rather be in control of my own strategy in this game. My “perfect” world didn’t end the week after that when I left either just because other people had predicted it would. Wackjobs… all of ’em!
  • My sisters and I have more fun together than the Kardashians and have never gotten arrested for ANYTHING. EVER. YET.
  • I’ll never be a Top Chef, but I can manage to cook with less supplies & gadgets than before. Good knives are important!! I wish, “Please pack your knives and leave” had been running through my head when I packed up and left.
  • I can still cook my own outstanding version of The Soup but I’m glad Joel McHale doesn’t have any clips from THAT meltdown.
  • There are enough inherited OCD traits contained in these 1100 square feet for episodes of Flipping Out every day yet my sense of humor is back so it’s usually easier to handle in spite of the close quarters.
  • I don’t need Million Dollar Decorators to make my kids happy with their rooms. We’ve conquered THAT issue with tape, thumbtacks, posters & candy wrappers. I would’ve been embarrassed for my friends to think I had such poor taste or discipline to have decorated my HOUSE that way. Who CARES!! My kids think their rooms are fancy and EXACTLY how they want them to be.
  • This little apartment looks like a giant art closet, and as my friend reminded me the other day, Tim Gunn would be proud of the way we Make It Work now!

YES! That is a Skittles wrapper taped to the wall because he likes Skittles. That switchplate is also made from a video game cover. Who needs a decorator??

  • I’ve laid low on the social scene I guess partly because the kids are out of school but also because I don’t need or want any drama. I’m stepping back when the drama ensues because I’m just at a point where I don’t have the energy to work very hard at maintaining friendships. I have FABULOUS friends but I’m learning to set better boundaries in order to keep them. Besides, our fairly solitary summer has let me feel a little more independent from EVERYONE without worrying who’s gonna check me, Boo?
  • Crabs are super delicious! I guess that’s not really a deep philosophical observation, but I love Deadliest Catch and I’ve eaten more this summer from our waters than any other. Totally shallow – both me AND the crabs!
  • America’s most DEFINITELY Got Talent! I LOVE the crazies on the stage, I REALLY do, but the three of us have taken some time to actually WRITE DOWN both the serious and crazy talents we recognize in each other. We entertain each other as well, and some day my little ones are going to venture out into the big wide world and share their talents that have been developed and nurtured. I do my best (though admittedly fail at times) to prepare them for the world stage. I can TOTALLY see an E! True Hollywood Story in the future.
  • MY reality CAN be better than scripted reality! Andy Cohen can keep me up to date once a week with the 411 from what I’ve missed on the tube while I pay attention to what goes on around ME. I don’t want to miss things as they happen LIVE especially with my kiddos. Sometimes it’s fun to sit back and just Watch What Happens LIVE.
  • We’re more a Modern Family than we ever were before. We can all be funny and wacky and dramatic and neurotic. We’re not going to be like Leave It To Beaver though; we never were and it’s exhausting trying to be something that you just simply aren’t. I guess the Christmas card will look a little different, but surely it won’t mean any less. My life is often like a soap opera, but I think I can manage to keep the drama in perspective. After all, my name is ERICA and I can do it for All My Children. 🙂

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…)

My Friend GEOFF Friday, Jul 22 2011 


It’s Summertime. And a few weeks ago I signed up for a Post A Day challenge that encourages writers to post every day about what inspires them. For the uninspired, the nice people at wordpress.com even provide a question, sentence, or topic designed to spark some thoughts or musings on a random daily topic. While I think that’s nice, I’ve rarely if ever done things the easy way while accepting help from others. It’s a total character flaw, I know. Believe me, I have PLENTY to say EVERY day. It’s just that sitting down at the computer with time to myself isn’t easy to come by during the summer, and IF that were to happen I’m afraid not all of my sentences would be coherent. I don’t want to write about what everyone else is writing about, but I guess that’s OK since I’ve missed a few daily posts. I keep waiting for a BIG RED X to pop up on my screen lately when I hit the publish button like I’m a contestant on a game show that’s going to get kicked off for non-compliance. Question for today:

People are too dependent on technology: agree or disagree

Answer: ABSO-FREAKIN’-LUTELY!!!!!

Today, I had the bright idea to head out to the book store and let go of a few precious dollars all in the name of Good Educational Old Fashioned Fun! G.E.O.F.F. was supposed to be my friend. GEOFF was supposed to provide for good kid-friendly face-to-face interaction that Wii are too often missing in today’s world. GEOFF dropped the ball and cost me a fortune therefore GEOFF sucks! I dropped forty bucks on a modern-day Monopoly board game that the kids agreed to play with me ONLY because Mario and Luigi were on the cover. Let me please point out that I did NOT know that the game was supposed to be worth its weight in gold until I arrived at the register and the smart-looking-Harry-Potter-Fan cashier requested $68 for two paper-back books and a family board game. I’m pretty sure when the marketing genius behind THAT endeavor presented his idea FOR the board TO the board, we were all called SUCKERS and the fat cat toy execs had a few laughs and cigars at our expense. At least I thought, I won’t walk in on another conversation like THIS again like I did this morning with the Wii:

No, Sis! PLEASE!!! MOM, Sis is trying to make me kill myself!!

But I’m doing it to help all of us. Why can’t you see that??

You think you’ll get farther without me?

Of course! I keep telling you that {eye roll}

Fine. I’ll do it then. I’ll kill myself, but next time you have to be the one to do it, OK?

Fine. Whatever.

Seriously. This can’t be good. It certainly can’t be healthy. I guess the teamwork they were discussing by having one player fall on the virtual sword in order to keep the other player alive in the game WAS a plus though, right?? Perhaps a board game with ZERO technological stimuli would be really beneficial, and we could stare into each other’s game face rather than blankly at a television screen like zombies of the 21st century. Oh, yeah!! It’s ON like Donky KONG! I’ll take my roll with the dice on this one.

We played the board gamed, and the kids got bored but not before money was embezzled, names were called and screaming ensued. GEOFF let me down, and you know who I think was behind it?? MARIO. And LUIGI. My kids have learned to expect immmediate gratification and when things don’t go well, there’s always a reset button, right? Wrong! Not in this real version of the game of Life. Maybe that’s the game I’ll try next and they’ll listen to my words of wisdom. And if that doesn’t work, I’m bringing GEOFF outside with scooters and a fishing pole and he’s going to prove how fun he can be among the sweat, mosquitoes and mud I’ve been trying to avoid. It will be good and educational! It’ll be old-fashioned fun at its finest! Wish me luck.

Miracles & Luck Tuesday, Jul 12 2011 


It’s been about six weeks now since we moved into our little castle – long enough for us to get acclimated and learn to stand on our own feet. We passed a couple of milestones just the last couple of days. I’m not big on numbers. As a matter of fact I HATE numbers, and I am the very last person on the planet you would ever want balancing your checkbook. I’m not a big gambler either, though I live in an area where a lot is tied to the gaming industry. From what I know, there are certain combinations of numbers that are considered lucky. 7 and 11 are usually lucky numbers while 13 has always been considered unlucky. There is a wealth of information for anyone interested in the whole superstition, but the actual term for the phobia or fear of Friday the 13th is friggatriskaidekaphobia. I don’t believe in lucky or unlucky numbers but then again I’ve never won the jackpot either. I do know this though, anyone who trusts their life to dumb luck or a crap shoot is a friggan idiot. I don’t believe in luck, but I do believe in signs. And I believe in Miracles as well, ESPECIALLY when Miracles can serve as a sign. When I left six weekes ago, I really had no idea where this journey would take me, but someone once told me that life is about the journey not the destination. If I’d have known where I was going I might not have seen the signs along the way.

Anyone who was following the blog a few weeks ago will probably remember Our Little Miracle. She doesn’t know it, but I learned a lot from watching and speaking with Miracle. She was my little cheerleader, literally. I moved out on my own uncertain of what the future would bring, but I found a little Miracle next door. More than once, she brought out a pom-pom or doll to show me and never just talked about herself. She asked a LOT of questions and freely gave her own answers and advice whether we asked for it or not. One day when she and my son were having popsicles outside, the boy complained about how hot it was and that his popsicle was dripping everywhere. The girl responded matter-of-factly, “Suck it up!” He literally sucked up the melting juice, but I think she meant for him to quit his whining or take his pity party somewhere else.

On her balcony cheering me on...

Miracle told me that her favorite doll is Tiana from The Princess and The Frog. Of course it is! All the little girls, and even the boys around here love that movie. The film is set in New Orleans and just down the bayou where the characters talk like we do, though not all of us practice voodoo. The story is different from most fairy tales though, and that is exactly why I think it is so great. Fairy tales evolve over time and change their cultural relevance, and the Disney version of the tale is the one that holds the strongest meaning to me. Unlike the early versions where a princess kisses a frog who then turns into her prince and they live happily ever after, the Disney animated version shows a hard-working Tiana in control of her own destiny. It was when Tiana chose to try the easy route to fulfill her dreams by kissing the frog that she found herself lost in the swamp. I think I know a lot of girls around here my age who could relate to that! And guess what – I wouldn’t want to be the poor prince responsible for fulfilling someone else’s dreams either. That’s the kind of pressure that bubbles up and pops on the surface of a seemingly stagnant swamp. You’ve got problems and troubles like the rest of us? Well as Miracle would say, “Suck it up.” We make our own choices, and we live by the consequences. When we make a bad decision, life’s not over. Paddle yourself out of the swamp. You’re welcome to just sit there on your lily pad sulking and waiting for someone to come along and pull you out too, but I’m willing to bet my own lily white you-know-what that you’ll be waiting for a while. There are no guarantees that what comes along will be a prince, and if he is who’s to say he’ll want to carry you. Our little Miracle moved away this weekend, but miracles always come and go don’t they? I think I’m strong enough to navigate the swamps and bayous around here on my own now anyway.

Miracle with her Tiana doll from The Princess & The Frog

Yesterday was 7/11. Those are supposed to be lucky numbers, but 13 years ago on 7/11 my dad died. I wrote my first blog post, My Hail Mary, for Facebook in the wee hours of the morning of Friday the 13th, and it was good for me. Maybe the whole numbers/luck thing is backwards which would explain my backwards figures in the checkbook too where I am most certainly NOT lucky. Maybe even God forced my hand, and I’m finally taking charge of my own destiny. Either way you roll the dice, the only safe bet you have is to rely on yourself. How can anyone else count on you if you can’t even do it yourself. I hope my kids at least take that lesson from my fairy tale regardless of how it turns out, and I’ll take notes about my signs along the way for them to read and learn from later.

Walt Disney

Next Page »