Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just Plain Old Good Looking

Do you know what good looking is?

The visceral kind of hotness where a married woman asks herself if merely looking at pictures of Mr. Good Looking is cheating.

Or the kind of smokin' where every theater seat in the house should come equipped with an oxygen mask that drops down like the ones in airplanes because whenever Mr. Good Looking pops up on screen you gasp uncontrollably and scream at the same time?

Come to Sprocket Ink and see what the best looking man who ever lived is up to. (How is that even knowable? -- who cares)

Monday, January 30, 2012

One Of The First

2008 was a mentally challenging, tough year for me. So many times during that year I felt alone in my situation, and most of my concerns kept me feeling isolated and on the fringe from those around me, those without the issues I was facing.

When I first found out about blogs four years ago, I stayed up weeks straight, skipping around, following those home from other blogs, based on a certain kindness or gentleness I felt they had to their words. I've always been drawn to the ones who respond to others with tenderness and empathy.

In my initial posts last week, I traced back how I came across the blogs I followed for the two years before I began my own site. I met a wonderful lover of life blogger, Ellen Seidman, of Love That Max, through a Top Mommy Blogs voting contest. These lists compiled of bloggers to vote for is a great way to find blogs outside of the ones you read; like the Top Mommy voting with Babble and Circle of Moms -- you can find them grouped according to your likes and click in and out or stay and stay.

I found Ellen through TheBump, where she was eventually awarded the Best Special Needs Blog Award. She is currently a finalist for Best Parenting Blog at Nickelodeon Parents Connect.

With Ellen's blog, I had found another place where I could sit and rest and breathe deep. Ellen writes of her life with Max, her beautiful son, who had a stroke at birth. She doesn't paint a rosy picture, the colors she sometimes uses are the grey and the dark blue of the moods a parent feels when they know their child, and parenting a child with special needs, will not be like the world of the rest of your mommy friends.

Her posts have a way of making you want to pack up your house and move half way across the country to be closer to her. She has that tone, of hugging you with the most basic emotion we crave: belonging.

I emailed Ellen to let her know how her writing was keeping me going through a very dark winter. She emailed back and as sincere as her public writings were, her private communication went beyond any kindness I had come across during that time in my life.

Her son, Max, had some crazy love for the color purple. Not an ordinary preference for the color purple, Max took it to the limit. Ellen would buy him purple shoes, purple cupcake frosting, purple sugar sprinkles. He loved it all.

While reading her posts one morning, my kids and I had the greatest idea: we knew an author in town, Barb Joose, who wrote a book, "The Color Purple." We asked Barb Joose if she would sign a copy for Max, the purple loving boy. She generously did, and we wrapped the book -- in purple paper -- and mailed it off to Max. We expected nothing more than to make a little boy smile. What Ellen gave us back made our spirits soar.

She made a post out of our gift.

I wish Ellen could have seen the faces we had that morning when we clicked on to her site and saw our gift wrapped package, with her photos of Max each step of the way unwrapping his gift from us. I get a lump in my throat when I think of how she snapped photos of Max tearing into the paper and posting them up for all to see.

This is the kind of woman Ellen is. I did finally get to meet her at BlogHer and I wanted to pick her up and swing her around; for her kindness and because she is so tiny and adorable in person. But I've learned that I can scare people who don't know me very well. But I know she saw my beaming face.

I say tongue in cheek that my only regret in knowing Ellen is is that she encouraged me to start a blog, and then my visits to her site slipped in their pole position when I became too busy working on my own posts. But she did, she encouraged me to start a blog, and I did, and it changed my life.

Ellen, I love you, and I thank you for the way you fostered the connections you did with me, and for so many others, at a time when we need someone like you so very much in our lives.

Please click over and meet Ellen's son, Max. His fantastic smile lights up her site banner. He is an amazing little boy. 


**This blogger was one of the handful so implicit in my making it through the winters and the seasonal depression they bring, before I began my own blog in 2010 and became a part of this incredible online community. During this month, I'll be highlighting the bloggers I call "The Great Depression Slayers of 2010." To the crucial ones I clung to before I began blogging, the ones that pulled me through, I thank you.
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Found: Rihanna's Hopeless Place


I think I found it.

I pieced together the clues hidden in Rihanna's megahit and know where her hopeless place is.

I reveal it today, at the always awesome AimingLow.

Have a wonderful weekend!
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Year Was 2010 B.B. (Before Blogging)

I've been posting this month about the value and the anchor that blogging is in my life. If you've ever clicked over to my About Page, I tell you about four or five times how blogging saved my life. This isn't hyberbole. I feel so very fortunate to have a computer, to have google searched the Top Bloggers of 2008 that were featured in a Time magazine I picked up four years ago, and to be writing this post today because of blogging.

With that first click onto a Top Blogger Blog in 2008, I stepped through a portal that took me into a level of friendship, companionship, support, and was three fourths of the reason I was able to make it through what would happen to me two years later, what I have come to call The Great Depression of 2010.

I had read blogs for about two years before I decided to begin my own in 2010. In those two years of visiting the few blogs I came to depend on, I had no idea how many thousands more existed. My online world then was limited to a few emails for school and work purposes, and my handful of blogs that really became my contact with someone I felt a connection with.

Details aren't important, but there were many stressors in my life in 2008. I know I was able to survive the depression that grew out of the anxiety and panic that had been showing their punky faces on a daily basis because of the early blogs I had found. No one person should be expected to carry the burden of another, and with that same reasoning, no one blog/blogger should be all things I needed. I had the humor bloggers I followed that kept me from forgetting how to laugh, and there were the important balancing ones for me: the blogs that understood the overwhelming emotions I was enduring at the time. They were in the same space as I was then, and were working their way through and lighting the path ahead for me. They let me believe light existed on the road ahead. They took me along as they searched for happiness, new states of mind, survival. These bloggers became the Never Surrender! heroes of mine.

From one of the humor blogger sites I followed in these Pre Blogging Days, I found a blogger that became my solid wall to lean on with the road we shared. I followed a blogger home, Britt Reints, because of the comments she'd leave there; she spoke with truth, as well as with grace.

One post of hers (read it, it's fabulous) in particular, had me visiting her words again and again over the long winter. It was about how very difficult, exhausting, all encompassing it was to learn to survive with depression...but, still, even with all that energy expended, she would never quit. She'd keep on going, no matter how empty her tank felt.

I found my strength on her site, which is now called In Pursuit of Happiness, because there is something about not being judged, not being told to just take a happy pill, not being reminded how people have it worse than you, that makes you decide to take up your own shield and spear and blow your conch, charging into battle.

Britt, for all that you've done for me and so many others, over the years, I thank you.

You are one of my Great Depression Slayers of 2010.


 Thank you, Britt. I love you.

Big P.S.: please read Britt's About Page. You'll be blown away by her sincerity and determination.

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**This blogger was one of the handful so implicit in my making it through the winters and the seasonal depression they bring, before I began my own blog in 2010 and became a part of this incredible online community. During this month, I'll be highlighting the bloggers I call "The Great Depression Slayers of 2010." To the crucial ones I clung to before I began blogging, the ones that pulled me through, I thank you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Ruins of Us

I used to sit at my Colombian grandmother's knee when I was little, while she combed my hair. She would dip her small grey comb into a glass of warm water, and then run it through my dark curls. As she smoothed my hair, she'd tell me stories. I would run to her as soon as I saw her reach for the blue glass to fill with water. In her soft voice, she'd tell me about her childhood, the small village where she came from, what life was like in South America so very long ago. Good stories about being four years old when she saw the brilliant fireworks in the night sky celebrating the turn of the century as gold coins were tossed out to the people at midnight by her small village's mayor. I could hear the clink of the coins hitting the ground as she spoke.

I'm still the same way. As much time as I spend online, I still read, every night, before I go to sleep. I escape into good stories. Good stories are my time away in another place, where I always come back changed.

I have found just such a Good Story, and I'm giving away not just a copy, but a signed copy by the author.

Keija Parssinen is the author of The Ruins of Us, a book riveting enough to keep me awake two nights to finish it; trying to fall asleep in the middle of it was useless. This is Keija's first novel, and I can barely believe it's a debut. The Ruins of Us is a story set in Saudi Arabia with characters so rich they become flesh and blood real.

This is a GOOD story. A story about an American woman, married and living the isolated life that can come from living in another country, who's had to learn to live with things; which doesn't mean they've become easier to live with. It's a story about excuses being given as reasons. A tale of a marriage, children, her children; and powerlessly watching them learn everything they know and believe come from their father's culture.

It's a story about a woman who one day looks at the last thing she has left in her life, her children, and the pain of seeing them as if they're someone else's; scarcely able to recognize a shred of herself in them anymore.

I was swept away in hand over mouth emotion as I read these pages.

Keija masterfully balances subtlety with aching transparency in her characters, making this book an important and powerful read that will leave you changed, as I was. I came away with a new understanding of something I once quickly judged.

Keija romantically spent the first twelve years of her life in Saudi Arabia, an experience that no doubt resulted in the beauty of this book. Her website will tell you everything you need to know about this woman who writes like a dream. You can follow her on twitter @KeijaParssinen and like her on FaceBook Keija Parssinen.

I will be using random.org to pick a winner for a signed copy of The Ruins of Us. *Just leave a comment to enter. *Tweets would be appreciated*

Congratulations, Keija, your book is an exquisite delight for a lover of good story tellers. I felt like I was back at my grandmother's knee. Thank you.

*I received no compensation for this post. Keija is The Flying Chalupa/Tarja's sister and Tarja had asked me to review her sister's debut novel. I did, and when I finished it, I was so sad that it was over.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Truly True On Why Heidi's Walking

If you, like me, were left mouth opened agape at the news of Heidi walking down the runway of her house, leaving Seal behind, I think I may have pieced together the sad reason for it all.

If only Seal would just tell her...

My post up today, at Sprocket Ink...where news meets snark daily.

Hope to see you there.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What It Was Like Pre-Blogging

I remember when I first found out about blogs. I had heard and read the term "blogs" on public radio and on Sunday morning news shows. I knew it was a word that meant weblogs, but I wondered, with all the weirdies in the world, who and what and why would someone would go on line and make their life a public diary?

That's what I actually believed about blogs.

But then, about four years ago, on the magazine rack at the grocery store, I saw a copy of Time with the headline, Year's Top Blogs. I took it home and read the lead article. I was surprised at the excerpts from the featured websites. The words I saw from these award winning blogs weren't personal diaries; I read about food, crafting, home life, not just introspection and personal drama. I googled each site mentioned, and loved what I found.

I had never read a blog before. There was all kinds of writing, and funny, funny blogs. And it was like people talking to you, not at you. To a woman who had always felt left out and a tad lonely (alright...a lot lonely) in a small town, it was like finally finding the keys to the right club. I would rush the kids to school in the morning, and hurry back home to get on line. I had people to check up on...my people! It was incredible to me that this portal to another world existed, and I knew nothing about it.

One top blogger named, in particular, was so charming and down to earth; self effacing in an endearing way. Her simple words framed around heart rendering photos that she had taught herself to take. She loved to cook, stay home with her children, and though she was voted as a TOP BLOG her writing retained an intimate, welcoming style. And the website itself, visually, like entering a storybook.

Here's something about me: I'm always late to the party. I also am from a sit-on-the-fringe-and-watch type of mentality. I'd smile at this top blogger's daily anecdotes, and noticed that at the end of each entry, readers of her stories (at the time I didn't know they were called *posts*) would leave a talk back. I would see *comments*, and then a number before that. In her case 12,512 "comments." I wished I could leave a comment too.

I say wish because I THOUGHT YOU HAD TO HAVE A BLOG TO COMMENT.

So, and I don't care that you know this about me....blogging has all The Truth Shall Set You Free to my ego; titter away, and then come back to the story.

I had to tell this blogger about the joy she gave me every morning; it didn't feel right to keep it to myself, when someone impacts your life this way. So, I emailed her. To thank her for picking up my mood during the long Wisconsin winter, how she made me laugh and helped me to feel like I belonged to a small town with really nice smiling people in it. I told her I wish I had a blog so I could comment. Then I signed my email, Love, me.

She emailed back about what an ingenious way to get a reply back and HAHAHAHAHA about needing a blog to comment.  I didn't have the heart to tell her no HAHAHAHAHAHA was intended.

And thus, an encouraging, loving, nurturing online relationship was begun -- true, one sided, my view, on my part, in my reality. But, it comes down to this: I felt it. It didn't matter that we never actually talked, emailed, or did any back and forth: it felt like we did. Just from my visits to her blog. I had a friend I could check in with every winter morning.

This blogger was one of the handful so implicit in my making it through the winters and the seasonal depression they bring, before I began my own blog; before I had become a true part of this incredible online community.

So, this post's for you, Pdub, and all the mental good you do for me-- and thousands of others -- each morning when we log on to your site, The Pioneer Woman.

Thank you, Ree, for the years of smiles, happy tears, wistful sighs, good eats, and some hot cowboy action thrown in here and there.

Photo Source
I ask you, what else in the world do you need on a cold Wisconsin morning?


*During this month, I'll be highlighting the bloggers I call "The Great Depression Slayers of 2010." To the crucial ones I clung to before I began blogging, the ones that pulled me through, I thank you.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day Late, Dollar Short, As Usual

Wanted to post this on Friday, but my wonderful children were home, so we played all day (codespeak for layed around, watched movies, ate chips and drank root beer...it was aweSOME)--

The woman who made the video below is someone I was fortunate enough to meet online over two years ago. She, along with some other unbelievably talented women that I'll be highlighting this month, pulled me out of a T-shirt inscription worthy I SURVIVED THE DEPRESSION OF 2012 depression.

A few minutes with Daphne Brogdon of coolmom.com every morning during that dark January of 2010, and I'd be guaranteed to smile -- albeit it through tears -- but there would be a smile. They say when you start to laugh again, you know you're getting better.

She made me laugh every time with her videos. Her anything to make you laugh videos.

This is her latest, and really, they're all this good. "Muffalicious" by Daphne Brogdon of coolmom.com.

Daphne, thanks for helping me to start laughing sooner.

You'll love this, and when you click over to her site, you'll be lucky enough to see all her work.





*During this month, I'll be highlighting the bloggers I call "The Great Depression Slayers of 2010." To the crucial ones I clung to before I began blogging, the ones that pulled me through, I thank you.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

This Might Give A Lesser Man A Stroke


My husband is a neat man. Organized in a way that you'd wonder a few things about him if it weren't for the fact that he has bits of normal here and there. Like occasionally leaving an empty coffee cup near the TV. But only when he gets interrupted from his morning's routine. Something unexpected happens, like a phone ringing, and yeah, a coffee mug may get left on a table. But it's a momentous occasion, and the kids will point and screech in surprise Dad! you left the coffee mug on the table! Mom! Dad left the coffee mug on the table! Meanwhile, Mom has left coffee cups on the stove, on the island, in the microwave, on the toilet tank, and that's before 10 a.m.

To him, there is only one way to load a dishwasher: efficiently. He feels that if you take note, and commit to memory the exact pattern of plate and glass and pot placement, you will get the most bang out of your dishwashing cycle. Why waste time and brain cells loading the dishwasher a different way every night, just follow the pattern, large to small, glasses on top...and stand back and enjoy the joys of your linear plate lip line up. He'll tell me, You can't just stick bowls with cups and plates and glasses and hope it all fits. The care of this dishwasher loading, well, thank goodness I'm not the jealous type because there is a questionable appliance relationship here. *not questionable if you ask him, questionable if you ask me*

When the kids and I do the laundry, we let him take care of his own. Our clothes finds their way off the floor and into drawers. He takes his socks and underwear, and performs advanced origami folds on them that would win him a 4-H blue ribbon. His dress socks are rolled differently than the athletic socks. Which he keeps apart from the socks he wears only for snow shoveling...which need to be kept separate from the socks he wears only for working in the yard. My teen son comes home from school, sees me, and peeks under my pants leg, Mom. Really? My socks again? I tell him they're the most comfortable.

He keeps his pajamas folded and at the edge of the bathroom counter. I will confess here that many times during the month, if my day's clothes are of the comfortable type? They will assume the magical role of tada becoming pajamas at the stroke of midnight.

He feels you should stop and fill up at the closest gas station when you see your car's dashboard signal you're low on gas. Attributable quote: Saying you're a little out of gas is like saying you're a little bit pregnant. I convinced him to take his car instead of the minivan to pick up the boys from swimming tonight because we're on empty, and I was going to get gas later tonight, but then it got too late, and then it got to be almost below zero outside, and for sure I will fill up first thing tomorrow morning.

The evening routine in our house ends with him polishing his shoes for the next day, and placing them side by side with shoe trees inside. (I think I kicked my boots off in the laundry room tonight, I can't remember, I hope so. I'll look tomorrow...)

He likes his shirts medium starched, for his slippers to be kept upstairs in the bathroom where he changes after work so he can step out of his shoes and straight into them, and he likes to open the mail before he sits down to eat. And the night always starts out on a better note if I remembered to bring the mail in.

It surprises me every time I flip the garbage disposal switch instead of the light switch. When he sees me jump, he shakes his head. It's always going to be the one on the right.

He loves order and routine, it makes him happy, he finds it soothing after being gone all day.

And while I'm in the midst of the January Crabs, the kind where just the sound of him clearing his throat makes me want to hurl a handful of Luden's at him, I stop and remind myself of how he likes his world. And how it's not, because of me, and I think, A lesser man would've had an aneurysm by now. 

 
Photo Credit

Monday, January 16, 2012

What In The World and Are Those Caterpillars?



I have long suspected that there is something different, something special and unusual, about what draws a person to become a blogger.

That's my opinion and my opinions are just that ... my opinions. And who am I but a lady who stays home with her kids and yet, I say, bloggers are off the beaten path. They search for something else, something more ... there's not enough for them in one world, they need another one. They search for community, opportunity, a bigger place to play than that of their own backyard.

Some day, just give yourself 30 minutes, blindly blog hop, and you will come across indescribable varieties of posts. Artists, photographers, foodies, poets, home decor, knitting, memoirists, aspiring authors, tech mamas, humorists, collectors, product reviews, cat lovers, social do-gooders.

And the ones like me: just looking for others that came from the same planet.

Too many times to count, throughout my days, I have wished to be in a village of bloggers like me: those whose mother spaceship ricocheted off course and crash landed here eons ago. I have days where I just want to be among my kind. Where I know no matter what shenanigans I pull, you will all get it. No questions asked, just nodding acceptance. I imagine that's what this village would be like, a land of  instant understanding, no explanation required.

Too many times in my day, I long to walk out into that village, like tonight.

I've told you before about my seasonal depression. I've come up with all sorts of mini-weapons in my arsenal to fend off that snarling black dog. One of my not so secret weapons is tiny little self-improvement projects. (Please don't get ahead of me here.)

Seasonal depression strikes fast with a punch that's hard, deep; and it doesn't wait for it to be an opportune time for you. It doesn't wait until you're under a warm, snuggly blanket at home, resting in front of a crackling fire, surrounded by those you love, and who love you.  Seasonal depression descends upon you when it decides to. By throwing its 500-pound weight straight at your head. It knocks you out with the swooping force of surprise and with a grip so tight you feel like you're trying to swallow a hard boiled egg. With no glass of water.

In my case, that foul spirit swept down on me yesterday, suffocating me with its impenetrable dark cloak, as I unsuspectingly grocery shopped for my family. My plan was to make a wonderful winter's day meal, and I couldn't wait to get back home and get started.

KA-POW ZING and HAHAHAHAHAHA, guess who wants to visit you?

Right in the middle of the cereal aisle. BAM. This wicked beast waited until I was happy and smiling to myself like an idiot, and then it came chomping down on my vulnerable grinning head. I was in Aisle #4, the cereal aisle, reaching for a box of Cheerios, and at that precise moment, the supermarket Muzak piped in with Wayne Newton's Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast.

Within seconds of hearing the lyrics Daddy, don't you walk so fast My darlin' cried Daddy, don't you walk so fast Daddy, slow down some 'cause you're makin' me run Oh, daddy, don't you walk so fast my entire field of vision was reduced to a blurry mess. And the free association that went on with that song?? Ho my god. My free association is the kind that prohibits me from EVER doing ANY kind of Stream of Consciousness post. 


With your well being in mind, I shall limit your exposure to only 20 seconds worth, but here it is:


What I listen to in my head all day:

Oh! It's that song...Daddy don't you walk so fast!
This song is killing me
I remember when they were so little.
How could they be teenagers all ready?
If only I knew then what I know now ...
I'd play Go Fish with them every dang time they asked
I can't believe I don't have babies anymore
What will I do when Alec is gone
I don't know if I can handle it
They used to love Cheerios.
And Cheerios necklaces.
And it was their favorite snack.
Xavier used to feed Cheerios to his talkingmatron Barney doll
In the high chair
And then he'd reach over and offer him apple juice from his sippy cup
Hold it together, woman
You gotta make it out of this store
You're in this aisle alone right now 
but you know any minute a cart's going to come around the corner
Oh sweet jesus I have to call my husband
No I can do this
No I can't - It's pretty bad
Quick. Snap out of it Snap out of it
Oh my gosh, LOOK!
Froot Loops too
Oh, they used to LOVE Froot Loops necklaces ...
How did it all go by so fast
::hic hic sputter hic hic::

You can't convince me seasonal depression isn't in kahoots with Muzak. 

One of the ways I fight back with that ugly monster SAD who takes advantage of a good, clean living woman like me, is to come up with a form of self-improvement. I treat myself to a new nail polish color, a new lipstick. If it's a particularly bad SAD episode -- it's all out with a new facial exfoliator.

I pushed my cart out of the hysteria inducing Aisle #4 cereal aisle and raced through as safely as I could until I reached my land of milk and honey, Aisle #7, Health and Beauty. I let out a big, deep breath.

As I took my time rolling out lipstick tubes and deciding which would be the color Prozac, my eyes fell upon the shelf on the other side of the aisle. They were promising youthful younger better faster over there.

I slid my shopping cart one section over. It was the hair-dye section. And there was a glorious smirking siren on the box cover beckoning me to come, join her hither, in the land of the avocado and coconut oil sheenness of it all. Ooooh ... she was good.

I picked up the box and put it on top of the Cheerios. Mama had big plans for tonight.

After I was home, groceries unpacked, dinner made, family watching the football game on TV, I took my rectangular sunshine in a box upstairs. Now, my hair color is fine ... it's my eyebrows that I really want to take back to their dark, youthful, lush days. [Exhibit A]

Ladies and Gentlemen: Eyebrow Exhibit A

Yes, I applied Midnight Raven #039 to my eyebrows.


Photo Credit

I know the box says Keep away from eyes.

But there was some Heavy Duty Major League SAD going on.

As my wonderful son, who sat through the ten minute brush-on process with me said in sincere hopes of providing comfort, "it doesn't look as bad in real life as it does in the mirror, Mom."
 
Yeah, Still - I sure could use a village of bloggers right now.
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Oh Taming Insanity

I am as old as the trees, and it's not a bad thing. There's a certain way of living I've adopted in hopes of increasing the odds of not meeting my demise in a less than desirable manner.

It is my pleasure and joy to be sharing those secrets at Taming Insanity's today. I'm speaking to KLZ in her love language -- the Don't Let This Happen To You way of talking.

Because I love the girl, and I'm a softie for a vulnerable mother of a new baby.

Please hop over and congratulate KLZ on baby boy #2, and outsmart the lifeline on your palm at the same time.

Thank you!!

Taming Insanity
Click here to learn How to Stay Alive

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Friday, January 13, 2012

The One That Got Away




The other day, in a place where I spend entirely too much time *twitter* someone tweeted this out:
Remember that girlfriend that made you do crazy things? Yeah. I miss her.

I tweeted back:
Thanks for making me laugh. Yes. I do. Both. Remember and miss.

The sane and the stable are wonderful; they have their place in the world, and I appreciate the calm and peace they bring. But, oh, a good push you to the brink cray cray girlfriend is someone I wish once in everyone's lifetime.

I was lucky enough to be with one of the craziest girlfriends possible throughout high school, into my days of college, and her days spent as a newly working girl. I met Susie on my first day of high school, during study hall, at an all girl private school. She was a sophomore, I was a freshman. She sat in an empty spot next to me and held her left hand out. "It's my engagement ring," she said to the table. I heard a voice call her liar and tell her that was probably her mother's ring. "Jealous," she said to the air. I remember thinking how first of all, I'd be too scared to take my mother's diamond ring to school; and second, she looked like a girl who could have an engagement ring.

The school was divided into two types: the good girls who were sent there because their parents wanted to keep them good and that meant away from finding out about boys, drugs, and all the in between; and the bad girls who were sent there for almost the same reason: to keep them away from what they had found out about boys, drugs, and all the in between. I was a good girl.

I used to wonder why she plucked me out of the crowd, I was always the girl in the background. That an older girl would take an interest in a frosh was intoxicating to me.

She took my world to a whole other level. I would watch her, listen to her, go anywhere she wanted me to. And laugh. Laugh until my triple layer mascaraed eyelashes would get stuck together from the tears pouring out of my eyes. The more I'd bend over convulsing with laughter, holding my aching side and begging her to stop, the more outrageous she'd become. She performed it all: flawless impersonations of our teachers, ruthless imitations of the current jerk boyfriend, and dead on perfect skank mimics of the tramp that got the bartender we both wanted.

She wasn't the only person in my social circle back then, there were some level headed people peeking in from time to time. Occasionally, one of these dwellers in groundedness would take me aside and ask, What in the world are you doing with her? She's just too much.

Ah, no, she's not too much. I think she's fabulous.

Friday nights would come and she'd drive over to get me, a B-52's cassette playing in the boom box that sat between us in her father's rusty pale yellow Cadillac, and we'd head for the freeway. Black Pat Benatar blazers on, boxy and to our thighs, lips painted matte red, our bangs held six inches straight up in the air with Paul Mitchell hair shellac; our first stop would be the dance clubs.  Two girls on fire with youth, no responsibilities, and a case of Friday night paychecks.

We were glamorous. She made me glamorous.

She was pretty, tall, thin, big eyed and pale. She had hair so dark it might as well have been black and a side profile that I wished was mine. She had more freckles than I'd ever seen on anyone in my life and could slam screwdrivers like a 300 pound meat packer. When she laughed, she sounded like she was five years old.

I can begin to tell you a story about how, at the end of the night, she'd always forget her car's parking brake was on until we'd be driving and the smell of smoke would hit us, she'd open her mouth and out flew the profanity, Sh*t. Damn farkin POS parking brake is GD farkin on again. She swore like a sailor, and my mother, who, by no surprise, was already not a fan of our friendship -- always knew when I had been with her too much, my salty speech giving me away. She thought nothing of spending our last twenty on shrimp cocktail at 2 a.m.

We would slip into our weekend as soon as she punched out on the time clock, and I rushed out of my biology lab. Friday night, when she'd pick me up outside of my campus housing; I could hear her coming down the over parked one way street in front of my shared apartment, boom box blowing the Caddy's doors off with The Scorpion's The Zoo. I'd be standing out in front waiting for her; when she'd see me, she'd start to slow down, but never really stop. She'd lean over and creak the heavy door open and I'd slide in, slamming the fifty pound door behind me with both hands. I'd be with her from then until the sun rose Monday morning. One pre-dawn Monday after dropping me off at 5 a.m., she drove straight to work, parked the Cadillac in the lot there, lay down across the front seat and slept for one hour before starting her job at 7 a.m. I dragged my tired butt across campus to physics class at 7:30, all the while thanking god I had five days in between to rest up before the next time.

For every story I begin to tell about her, there are tens more waiting to be told.

My husband is not a loud laugher. I know when he's having a good time because I see his shoulders shake up and down and his mouth opens up in a quick surprise O, while his eyebrows arch up.

Every story that has ever made my husband's shoulders shake up and down, begins with Did I tell you about the time me and Susie ...

By the end of our twenties, she had married and had children, I had been accepted to graduate school. We went on to live our lives.

Yes, there are sane and normal human beings in the world. And then there are the ones that Katy Perry sings about. The ones that got away.
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*I want to thank the charming Melissa Kirtley from the very versatile A Wide Line. She has bestowed upon me the highly flattering Versatile Blogger Award. I thank you, dear lady, and you've warmed my soul on this blustery January day. xo *Pssst...peeps: you need to check her out. Seriously, always an interesting post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yeah. It Hurt A Little.

Months ago, as I sat staring at the dream like photography and honey sweet posts on a blog of a young mom's rural life that I had stumbled onto, I decided to finally send this writer an email, and tell her how much I enjoyed the peek into her simple, self sustaining farm life. Many times, I would be the only commenter on her site, other times I would be one of two or three others.

I didn't say too much, I only mentioned how much I appreciated the beauty and skill of her photography along with the quaint narration of their daily life. I loved the pictures of the rusty red pick up truck they had taken to the farmer's market and brought home sunflowers that she arranged in an old milk pitcher on their vintage barnwood table.

It was all so pretty, gauze-like, and so much more delicate than my own life.

I thanked her for the simplicity of her posts, and told her I admired the peaceful and non material way she and her husband  had chosen to raise their children.

Sometimes I hear back after I send an email like this, sometimes.

Some will respond with a brief, "Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it!" and sometimes the responses back have grown into wonderful ongoing friendships.

But what I received in return to my email this time flattened me.

Stumped me about the human condition. Made me ask what has happened in someone's world that a sincere expression of gratitude for their writing and their blog, results in a reply back like this:


hey alexandra.
so can i tell you that i really don't know how to respond to this?
i started to write a long note about all my struggles as a mom and that i can totally relate to what you wrote and that i have felt the same thing when reading other mom's blogs.
then my husband came by. read over my shoulder and said your e-mail was clearly a joke. or that you mistook me for another blogger because no one reads my blog and if they did, how could they possibly feel that i'm doing everything right. (oh yeah...that's my guy! ;-)
so now i'm kind of confused. and really tired after a long, frustrating day. and i need to go grocery shopping. so i just thought i'd write back and say hi. thanks for your note. i really hope i don't make you depressed. really.
and if my husband is right and your e-mail was a joke...oh well. joke's on me. not the first time and certainly not the last i'm sure.
either way.  hope you had your fun. i'm wishing you all the best...

Socks the breath out of you, doesn't it?

I sent a reply back, apologizing, and assuring her that my admiration was authentic.

I never heard back.

I remember reading a tweet, "if you have a thin skin, 'tis best you steer clear of the internet."

'Tis best to toughen up, too, because this one...yeah, it hurt a little.
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 Photo Source

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sprocket Ink

Sprocket Ink is a site that takes on the latest news in entertainment, politics, lifestyles and technology. Throws it in a blender and serves you smoothies. They're fantastic.

Monday, January 9, 2012

An Acknowledgement To The Level of Craftiness Employed On A Daily Basis In This House

This used to frost me.

I mean, ooooh....really just frost me.

I used to get madder than a woman who's been arguing with her local library for the past three months over who's got the Disney's Prince of Egypt DVD.

It seemed that anywhere I looked in my house, there'd be the very thing that would just push me right over the edge.

The near empty Kool-Aid pitcher in the middle shelf of the refrigerator.

The two drops of apple juice left in the gallon, next to the Kool-Aid.

The trash can under the sink that was kinda full, but not full enough to spill out...yet.

Our Mr. Coffee, along side the toaster, with barely 1/4 cup of coffee left in the pot. 

Tony The Tiger smiling at me from a cereal box filled with, oh...what? Let's say FOUR frosted flakes inside.

A snack cabinet loaded with bags of Lay's, Jay's, Doritos; each one filled with a precise count of no more than seven, no less then four, chips.

The gas gauge in the car; at a level where the *pingpingping* of the cutest little gas pump ever has been lit since last Thursday -- at least.

And the soap dispensers in the bathroom....my three all answer yes when I ask them if they've washed their hands; so, are we using air as soap now because when I went to wash my hands just now the pump I saw in there hasn't seen soap in it since Jillian tried to convince me to lose 20 pounds in 30 days the day after New Year's.

But, tonight, when I opened the refrigerator door and saw the Kool-Aid pitcher sitting on the shelf with only an eighth of an inch of yellow liquid silt covering its bottom, it hit me like a bolt of lightning.

Holy cow but the forethought the four guilty parties in this house go through to NOT be the ones to have to make the fresh Kool-Aid, or empty out the apple juice and crush the container and bring a new gallon up from the basement, the piling up of the trash -- like a game of Mr. Tip It.  How there is just enough coffee in Mr. Coffee to make it look like there is still some coffee in Mr. Coffee, leaving cereal in the boxes so it sounds like there is still cereal in the boxes so they don't have to be the ones to throw out the box and take it to recycling, same MO with the bags of chips in the snack cabinet...if you shake the bag and hear something in there, then you don't have to be the one to get rid of the empty one and replace it with a new one from downstairs.  Perfectly timing out the gas longevity in the car so it juuuuust gets you home, but no one else anywhere else.

And the empty soap dispensers in the bathrooms.... let's just say that if that's the level of cleanliness in this house, then it was no small miracle the swine flu didn't take us out last year.

It astounds me; the cerebral gymnastics required to calculatingly measure, determine, estimate how much is not too much but just right for leaving the Kool-Aid, juice, snacks, car, trash, coffee, full enough so that no labor or replenishing is required on their part.

I noticed a trophy store on the way home from school the other day, I'll be stopping by there and placing four orders tomorrow, because such skillful levels of ingenuity just can't be left unrecognized.

Bravo, children, well done. 

Please, sir, the trophy over there? The big one? Make it out to read "First Place: To The Artful Kool-Aid Dodger."
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Friday, January 6, 2012

Life Off The Internet????

Aiming Low.

I've resolved to do it: set the bar high enough where you can just step over it.

I hope you decide to Aim Low too this year.

Like, why pay attention to the whispered rumors of LIFE existing off the internet.

Pssshaw....we gots everything we need right here.

Click on over to my Aiming Low post today and see what I think about the scuttlebutt of living life off line.

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*I'd be remiss if I didn't thank you for your clicks over to my other writings. Makes me smile when I see your comments over there.

I'm truly fortunate with the kind people I've met...I wish you a wonderful 2012.

xo

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Resolutions I Can Live With, Vol. 20

It was over twenty years ago when I finally got smart to New Year resolutions.

People agonize over them, they pin their hopes on them; eventually, some cry out in self defeat -- me, I can't wait for January 1st to bring it to my door.

January 1 -- the day that I resolve to do nothing about the things I can't do anything about.

Board the 2012 Let It Be Train with me. Life is better when you just surrender.



My 2012 List of New Year Resolutions I Can Live With:


#1.) I will accept the fact that there will be days that my hair will look like Leon Trotsky.





#2.) I will tell myself that no matter how loud and bassed up I play my Fatboy Slim, *check it out now I say FunkSoulBrother* errr..sorry* it will still always be the driver's seat of a cranberry minivan that I'm sitting in.





#3.) I will come to realize that a woman who begins to prepare dinner by 2:55 p.m. so that it is piping hot and on the table by 5:19 p.m. will never have a headstone that reads like this.





#4.) I know that people exist who wear exercise pants for exercising; I will, however, continue to wear exercise pants without exercising because of their two way stretchy fabric.







#5.) I will be realistic with my lululemon dreams and that even if lululemon promises this....


I know I will get this...






#6.) I will make the purchase of Crest WhiteStrips being fully aware that their promise of seven shades whiter will still only get my teeth this far up on their color gradation scale.







#7.)  The fact is that it doesn't matter how I see myself in my head groovin' it on the dance floor -- I must look at this picture and know that this...this is how I will always really look out there.






#8.) I need to admit to myself that I will until the day I die believe that the sole act of purchasing this DVD is enough to get me the same results as actually following along to the DVD.






#9.) I will stop stacking up books next to my bed so overdue the police are knocking at my door and quit pretending like it's them that'll be plastered on top of my face when I fall asleep at night instead of a Star magazine.






#10.) I will stop getting my hopes up on Hair Appointment Days and just be glad that someone else is washing my hair. What I say to the hairstylists vs What they hear me say to them will never be the same. And it will always be my word against theirs.



Now, deep liberating breaths, and welcome, 2012.
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 **SORRY about all the images I had to pull on this post. Got one of those scary alerts asking for photos to be removed. People: really, the age of pulling images off of Google is gone.

Take it from me. Now I understand why so many people post without pictures....used to wonder, but wonder no more.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oomancy

What do Colombians do for New Year's Eve?

Well, you know it wouldn't be something as tame as wearing plastic hats and blowing confetti filled horns.

Stop on over to FunnynotSlutty today where I share an interesting way to ring in the New Year.

Live an out of the ordinary life, through me. You're welcome.
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*HUGE Thank you and many bows done with a rolling hand to Melinda from the very funny Finding The Humor. She's brightened my New Year already by giving me The Versatile Blogger award. She also says some pretty nice things about me *blush and beam* Thank you, Melinda!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year and Wishes For the Most Ambitious Resolutions

Happy New Year to all of you, dear wonderful people.

Thank you so much for the gift of your time spent reading my posts, and leaving the funniest, most encouraging comments.

Really. I can't imagine my life without you.

Well, I can, but it would be a less richer one.

A thousand thank yous.

I send wishes for the best to all of you, in 2012.

xo

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