Monday, August 18, 2014

Better Is Good ...

My baby has been sick.  And it scared me.

Vertigo is common ... and I am logical enough to realize that not everyone who experiences vertigo is having a stroke.  But still ...

Stoney wasn't feeling well Saturday evening ... so after Baby Bird's birthday party and a little grocery shopping, I headed home around eight.  I'm comfortable around him ... but sometimes it's nice to just be left alone when you feel like crap.  And so I hugged him, gathered my stuff, and headed back to the North Side.

Sunday morning, I got a text around eight a.m.  That was the first sign.  Stoney never texts me early in the morning on the weekends.  He always lets me sleep as long as possible.  I was already awake ... just laying in bed reading a book ... but his text tone surprised me.

He'd been up most of the night with vertigo ... and asked if I could get him some Dramamine and a special pillow.  I was worried about him.  Terribly worried.

My stroke started with vertigo ... and ended with eight days in the ICU.  Well, it ended with a lot worse than that ... but anyway ...

I digress ...

I jumped out of bed, got dressed and headed to the store.  When I went to the house and he described everything, it was a little less scary.  He'd already been looking up symptoms ... and it really did sound like inner issues.  Especially considering he was alright laying on his right side ... it was only his left ear that was making everything spin out of control.

So I hung out with him ... stayed in the living room and read my book while he napped off and on ... checked on him while he slept ... because knowing it's probably inner ear is not knowing it's inner ear.   I asked him to smile ... raise his arms ... do the little tests that the nurses made me do.  And he smiled that smile I love ... and that made me feel a little better still.

He saw the doctor today ... and he should be better in a day or two.  It's just one of those things. He's better ... and better isn't perfect ... but better is good.

Everything you are
Falls from the sky like a star
Everything you are
Whatever ever you want

Goo Goo Dolls - Dizzy

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Return of the Mack ...

YAY!  I have returned!

Okay ... so everyone who has ever read a blog post on here knows that I have an issue with procrastination.  I can have a project mapped out ... to the point I know that x number of items must be completed x number of days per week ... and every day I will find myself adjusting that formula.

I decided I wanted to make a throw for our friend's daughter's first birthday last Saturday.  I saw a neat pattern about a month ago ... and knew I had plenty of time to crochet the individual flowers and then put everything together.  But, as usual, I found myself moving that line ...

"If I skip tonight, I'll just have to do two extra flowers tomorrow."

"Okay, so I haven't done anything in three days ...
that just means I'll work a little harder this weekend."

It ... is ... ridonkulous.

It was so bad that last Monday, I realized how horribly I had botched this up.  I was so far behind that I was considering texting Stoney and calling an audible.  There was no stuffed animal or toy at Toys R' Us that was too expensive ... finishing this was simply not possible.

But I made a deal with myself.   Work hard ... as hard as you can ... and if, by Friday, you know you can't get it done ... then tell Stoney and you can shop Friday night.

And with that, I started crocheting flowers.  Flower after flower after flower after flower.  I got off work and I crocheted until ten or eleven.  I woke up and crocheted a flower before work.  Slowly but surely ... I was getting there.  I didn't go over to Stoney's to visit ... I didn't even go to his house on Friday night.  The finish line was in sight, and I knew  could make it.

As usual, I wasn't finished until the last possible second.  Friday night I stitched the last flowers together ... and whipped a basic, one-layered border around the edge.  The perfectionist in me is not happy.  I could've made a border with leaves .... I could've done something really impressive.  But ... sometimes we have to make do with what we have.  And I have no one to blame by myself.

Here's the almost finished product ... right before I put the border around the edge.

I'd like to tell you I've learned my lesson.  I'd like to tell you that I won't procrastinate or dawdle next time.  But there's just something wrong with me ... and there always has been.  When I was working on art projects ... even back in school ... I would say, "I work best under pressure."  And it's true?  I suppose?  I did paint some amazing things ... I made gifts ... I did all these great things at the last minute.  But only because I don't have the discipline to just get it done when I should.

And so ... the party went wonderfully and another project is behind us.  Now ... if I could just get that afghan done that I started for College One's wedding ... two years ago ...

Return of the mack
It is
Return of the mack
Come on
Return of the mack
Oh, my god
You know that I'll be back
Here I am

Mark Morrison - Return of the Mack

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pet Peeves - Work Edition - Volume 63 ...

If you work in an office and watch Mad Men, it's hard not to be struck by the difference in culture from today's offices to those in the 50's and 60's. 

I got my very first job in 1987 ... two weeks after graduating high school.  I was working in a word processing department for a local bank.   Ten hours a day ... four days a week.  Skirts were required ... as were pantyhose and attractive shoes.  

I'd been working there less than a month when the order came down from above ... no one was allowed to smoke at their desk.  People were livid.  I remember seeing herds of people loitering by the back door ... large, sand-filled ashtrays full of cigarette butts.

Attitudes were so different back then.  It's hard to put into words.  There were no such thing as sexual harassment laws.  It was common to have older vice presidents and loan officers hitting on the staff.  I remember terribly inappropriate things being said to one of my co-workers.  She was having a hard day once ... and an elderly executive named Matt walked into the room to ask about the status of a job.  She was snappish with him.  His response?  "Someone's bitchy today.  You need something warm against your belly."

I remember going to her later ... urging her to tell someone ... talk to our supervisor ... complain to human resources ... something.   She had been upset and teary eyed all day ... but she shrugged it off and said, "He was just joking.  Let it go."  I was seventeen ... just a kid.  She was in her late 20's ... a single mom with two kids and a drinking problem.  She didn't have the luxury of complaining.  She couldn't take that kind of risk.

The world is a different place now.  There are no full ashtrays laying around on desks.  People in my office wear jeans and flip flops.  There's certainly no unwanted sexual innuendos over the coffee maker.  My only complaint? 

Headphones are a universal sign that someone a) is working hard and b) wants to be left alone.  One of my co-workers does not respect the headphones.  It is maddening.  She continuously interrupts to make stupid, asinine comments ... even when I say something passive aggressive like, "Sorry, what was that?  I was so busy working on this rush order that I wasn't paying attention ..."

In the big scheme of things, being interrupted is much better than having to work ten hour days while wearing pantyhose and dealing with trolls who enjoy hitting on girls their granddaughter's age. 

But ... still ... I can't lie ... it make my eye twitch ...

I Don't Care What You Talkin'
'Bout Baby
I Don't Care What You Say
Don't You Come Walkin'
Beggin' Back Mama
I Don't Care Anyway

Michael Jackson - Leave Me Alone

Monday, August 11, 2014

RIP Robin Williams ...

I spent my teenage years in a small town ... with nothing for entertainment but three bars, two churches, and a video store.  K and I rented every movie in that store twice.  Good movies ... bad movies ... horror ... drama ... comedy.

Some of my best memories are of weekends when we stayed up all night watching early stand up videos of Robin Williams.   It was after Mork and Mindy ... before Dead Poet's Society.   He was manic ... obviously high ... and hilarious.

As I grew up, Robin Williams dried out ... and mellowed out.  I loved him in Birdcage.  To this day, I can't help stopping when I flip by that movie.  He and Nathan Lane were an amazing couple ... playing off each other perfectly.

So tonight when I stopped by Monty's to pick up a sandwich on the way home, I was shocked when Mom said, "Did you hear Robin Williams committed suicide?"  Of course I thought she was wrong.  It was another Internet rumor ... a sick Internet rumor ... it had to be.

But it wasn't.

I can't say it feels like a member of my family died ... because it doesn't.  And if I'm honest, there were quiet a few things on his resume that I didn't care for ... including his latest sitcom, The Crazy Ones.  But it still resonates with me.  It's so sad that someone who brought so much joy to so many people didn't feel that same joy.

It's just sad ...

Everyone can see we're together
As we walk on by
And we fly just like birds of a feather
I won't tell no lie
All of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We're giving love in a family dose

Sister Sledge - We Are Family

Sunday, August 10, 2014

You Sunk My Battleship!

What a weekend!  It was relaxing ... but busy.  So busy.  Saturday, Stoney's parents were coming down for a cookout.  So we spent Friday night just doing some light cleaning ... baking some birthday cupcakes since Momma Stoney's birthday is this week ... nothing terribly taxing but still ...

Saturday we woke up ... I ran the vacuum while Stoney prepped the ribs ... I lit a few candles and made the bed while he moved the kitchen table and took out the garbage.  We had a nice lunch and a great visit.  Stoney got them to watch the first episode of Breaking Bad ... and although they claimed to not be fond of it, they texted today and they're already up to episode four.  So ... success!

Saturday night, we cleaned out his pantry.  Well, that's a lie.  HE cleaned out his pantry ... and I basically was just a helper elf.  I moved things here and there ... ran a couple things downstairs ... tried to be helpful and stay out of his way at the same time.

Here's the hitch in my giddiup ...

Last night ... I can't speak for Stoney ... but I didn't sleep good.  I woke up at least four times to go to the bathroom.  I had leg cramps and took some potassium at one point.  Around midnight, I woke up with a terrible headache and took a couple Tylenol.  I was cold so I brought an extra blanket to bed ... and finally at some point in the dead of night, I was so exhausted that after I went to the bathroom, I fell into the guest bed and passed out.  No pillow ... no blanket ... just layed there snoring.

This morning Stoney went shopping while I slept ... then we both went back out after I woke up.   He made butter pecan bread ... which is so damned good ... and I took a nap.

What I'm trying to say is that we moved and moved and moved.  Other than watching a few episodes of Parks and Rec on Netflix last night, it really was a busy weekend.   We did play Battleship this afternoon ... but he beat me ... so ... there's that.  I'm tired ... but my 90 minute nap helped.  Meanwhile, Stoney is completely wiped.

This week is going to be rough ... my co-worker is gone again tomorrow ... and at some point this week, I have to go in for blood work ... and it has to be fasting this time.   Oh, did I mention I have to finish that crochet baby blanket this week?

So ... it was nice to have a couple fun days ... in preparation for a week of drudge.   We worked ... but working isn't so bad when you're with someone you love.

Mr. Jones and me tell each other fairy tales
Stare at the beautiful women
"She's looking at you.
Ah, no, no, she's looking at me."
Smiling in the bright lights
Coming through in stereo
When everybody loves you
You can never be lonely

Counting Crows - Mr. Jones

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Tonight's Drama ...

Isn't it weird how something that was unheard of ten or fifteen years ago is now one of life's necessities?

Something has been weird with my phone for the last day or so.  I would get text messages ... but every so often I would hear my iPod touch ding inside my work bag ... with no corresponding ding on my iPhone.  Why did it take me this long to look into it? 

It seemed a little odd tonight.  I got a text from Stoney, who was having an issues installing a new lock in his house.  I wrote him ... but he didn't text me back.  That's okay ... we both get busy sometimes.  But fifteen or twenty minutes later, I noticed that I was hearing dings ... but they were coming from my work bag.  I dug my iPod out ... and sure enough, he'd texted me several times ... but nothing was coming through on my phone.

I rebooted it ... I messed with the settings ... nothing.  I texted Stoney ... it came back undeliverable.  He was sending texts that were going through to my iPod ... but nothing on the phone.  I texted the girls ... nothing went through.  I was in a panic.

And now we're back to square one.  Ten or fifteen years ago, this didn't even exist.  Now, when my phone stops texting, I am in full panic mode.  I've taught my mom to text.  Everyone texts.  This is just how we talk now.  I feel cut off ... and I call AT&T.

It was a problem with the iMessage server.  She showed me how to reset my connection to the server ... and just like that, everything was fine.  I feel stupid for worrying ... and I even apologized to the tech for calling about something so silly. 

She told me people call all the time ... in a panic because their cell phones are the way their boss gets in touch with them ... or they're waiting on a call from the hospital ... or their kids to get done at a game. Cell phones aren't just toys anymore ... gadgets to play with in a doctor's waiting room.  They're our direct link to friends and families and employers.  

Thank God mine is working now ... guess I can go back and finish that Bubble Witch level ...

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Bed or Bathroom ...

Well, hell.

Yesterday my stomach was doing that groaning/rumbling thing.  I ignored it ... because ... what else are you going to do?   I slept poorly ... tossing and turning ... getting up several times.  But by six a.m., I was up for good.  I took Imodium around seven thirty.  It helped ... and I went to work.

But after an hour, I sat there ... just miserable.  Imodium stops the immediate problem ... but it doesn't stop the cramps and the rolling.   So I hung on until eleven ... and asked if I could go home.

Tomorrow we're throwing an impromptu wedding shower for a co-worker who is getting married on Saturday ... and I am not only responsible for a crock pot full of taco meat but I'm also responsible for picking up a breakfast pizza because my boss dropped the ball.  So what I'm saying?  Unless I am admitted to the hospital tonight, I will be at work tomorrow.

I slept all afternoon.  I didn't even turn my television on until seven o'clock.  I haven't crocheted.  I haven't packed or sorted or organized.  I would feel like a complete failure ... but I have cooked the taco meet ... and I've watched two episodes of Orange is the New Black.

Some days we have to set the bar really low.  And for the record ... I could really  use a juice pouch right about now.

The animals, the animals
Trapped, trapped, trapped 'till the cage is full
The cage is full
The sun is out, the day is new
And everyone is waiting, waiting on you
And you've got time
And you've got time

Regina Spektor - You've Got Time

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Water, Water, and More Water

On Thursday or Friday, I noticed the twinge.   It wasn't terribly painful ... but it was consistent.  I tried drinking more water ... I stayed home and crocheted while I rested on Saturday.  But this morning, when we went to a movie, the twinge was back.  It was hard to concentrate ... I adjusted ... sitting forward to stretch.

I need to drink more water ... and I am trying.  I guess if things don't improve, I'll call the nephrologist on Monday or Tuesday and ask to drop off a sample at the lab.  It only worries me because of the time I had to get IV antibiotics.  I really don't have the time to spend at the infusion center ... what with my teammate gone the latter part of this week.

Next weekend, Stoney's family is coming down for a BBQ ... so I have one week to bounce back, to work on crocheting the blanket, and to finish Orange is the New Black.  It's alright.  What's our keyword for this week?

Water.  Lots and lots of water.

Don't go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to
I know that you're gonna have it your way or nothing at all
But I think you're moving too fast

TLC - Waterfalls

Saturday, August 02, 2014

But It's a Good Weird ...

I love my family.  I guess everyone does.  But my family tree resembles less of a maple or a spruce ... and more like a walnut.  It looks alright from afar ... but when you get close, you can't help noticing the nuts everywhere.

I guess I should take it as a compliment that my family feels so comfortable around Stoney that they'll say anything in front of him.  One of the first times he came to dinner, they told him they'd rather have a sister in a whorehouse than a brother who's a Cowboys fan.  Cause we're classy like that.   Last night wasn't any better or worse ... it was just ... typical.

We sat at the end of the table ... directly across from my uncle who's mind is slipping.  He likes to tell rambling stories about trains ... trains he's ridden on ... mountains they go across.  It hurts my brain to listen very long.  Meanwhile, my favorite aunt sat next to him and badgered Stoney about giving me a ring.  

My brother sat next to her ... talking about various things he was preaching on.  The only thing worse in this world than a reformed smoker is punk who grows up to find Jesus.   I should appreciate his conversion.  He's a much better person now than he was back then.  The difference is that back then you couldn't trust him.   He did drugs ... he cheated on his wife ... make that wives ... constantly ... but he was real.  This new preacher man facade feels just like that ... a facade.  It's a mask he's wearing now because it's what's convenient.  He can't be the cool, hip, young guy ... so now he's the deep, God-fearing man.  It's just another in face in a cabinet full he's collected over the years.

Further down the table, my other uncle had drank a little too much and he was in full entertainment mode.  He's fun to be around when he's like that ... and let me assure you I know how wrong that statement is.  And I'd like to say I'm sorry ... but I'm not.  It's true.   I'm just sorry we couldn't have sat closer to him last night.

At the end of the night, as we were leaving, my brother pulled me aside and quietly told me to call my Mom.  One of my cousins from up north called about some drama going on with that branch of the family tree ... and so I walked to the car ... utterly exhausted.   Before I left his house last night, I said, "Thanks for putting up with all that stuff and going with me tonight ..." and Stoney said, "It was fun ... I like family night."

It's probably a lie.  And if it is a lie?  It's a happy lie.  It made me feel better ... and I'll take it.

Everyone can see we're together
As we walk on by
And and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won't tell no lie
All of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We're giving love in a family dose

Sister Sledge - We Are Family

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

You Live You Learn, Alanis ...

Sometimes I think that, despite my best intentions, I'm really not a good person.

This morning, J sent me an e-mail that was full happiness over the fact that Stitcher made him dinner last night ... meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and sliced tomatoes with mozzarella.  He was practically floating ... describing watching her cook ... peeling potatoes for her ... feeling lost because someone else was cooking for him.

It made me sad.  Not just, "Awwww, that's sweet."  I actually got teary reading it.

I remember K telling me every we talked or texted about J fixing something for dinner ... he was making barbeque chicken or spaghetti or something.  And it hit me hard that there he was ... having someone take care of him for a change.  Of course he was beside himself with happiness ... even over something as questionable as meatloaf.

I sat there working ... thinking all these deep thoughts ... and decided to tell him about it.

I wrote him this long e-mail ... telling him about being sad ... but only because of the contrast between the way his life was versus the way his life is now.  I told him that K was always sad that she couldn't take some of the burden off of him ... and that she would be happy to know he found someone who wants to take care of him for a change.

It was much deeper and much more wordy that anything I usually send him.  I told him that I wasn't comparing our lives ... because his path had been much harder than mine ... but that I understood.  I explained that for fifteen years, I was the one who did all the cooking.  If anyone grilled, it was me ... when the trash needed taking out, I had to do it ... if anything broke, be it the refrigerator or the car, it was up to me to fix it.  So now it makes me so happy to see Stoney grilling for us ... or have him patching a wall ... or taking the trash out.  

I shared a little bit of myself with J ... which is something I don't do.  And what did I get?

I'm not sure if he even read my message at all.  I'm not sure if he bothered to get past the first sentence to be quite honest.

The entire reply was a spooge fest ... "she said I love you ... I said I love you too ... she said she's never going to date anyone else ... we've started a notebook with all the places we're going to travel ... we sat at the park and stared into each other's eyes ..."

Sigh ...

I didn't expect him to make it about me ... although I think this post sounds that way.  But I was trying to connect to him ... to tell him I understood.   And it all went over his head.   And now ... I regret being nice at all.  Which is why ... I am not a nice person.

We are supposed to do acts of kindness with no expectation of a return on that kindness ... and because of that expectation, I was disappointed.  That's what I get ...

You live you learn
You love you learn
You cry you learn
You lose you learn
You bleed you learn
You scream you learn

Alanis Morissette - You Learn

Monday, July 28, 2014

Us ... on Saturday Night ...

(a visual representation of
us on Saturday night)

So here's my whiny, bitchy crab fest from this weekend.

Friday night ... I did not sleep well.   Other than getting to cuddle with Stoney, it was just not awesome.  I got up four times ... and between those four times I would lay there ... not being able to go back to sleep.  The frustrating thing is that there comes a point of no return.  There comes a point when you think, "I could take some Tylenol PM, but it's already one a.m."  

If you don't have any plans, you can say fuck it ... and knock yourself out.  You'll wake up at noon on Saturday ... but who cares?  

If you have plans?  Buckle up ... the next day is gonna be rough.

So ... I was awake when Stoney woke up around six.  By six thirty we were up and making bacon/sausage wraps for the charity scrapbooking/craft day.   I planned on being at the event about eight a.m. ... but I totally overshot it.  I was tired.  I was achy.  I didn't want to eat any bacon/sausage wraps ... so that right there tells you that all was not right in the world of ThirtyWhat.  

I ended up leaving the event early.  I was too tired to be social ... too tired to be creative ... too tired to be of any use to anyone.  So I went back to Stoney's and eventually texted everyone to tell them I wasn't feeling well and that we wouldn't be joining everyone for dinner.

Oh, the carping that ensued.  They gave Stoney hell ten ways to Sunday for not coming. 

Thing is neither one of us wanted to go.  Our reservation was late ... it was stormy ... he'd already had a late lunch with some other friends ... and, by God, occasionally you ought to be able to simply say, "I'd rather not."

The word from the grapevine today is that dinner that night was subdued ... because "it was late and everyone was tired."  What?  Really??  You don't say? After a twelve hour long day, everyone was too tired for a fun night out?  Color me shocked!

Meanwhile, our Saturday night was spent with me yoga pants ... a dinner of delicious BLTs with extra B ... playing musical catch phrase ... and ending with me taking a long, long, hot shower.   I'm sorry we were the voice of reason in a sea of temporary insanity ... but common.  I don't expect a whole lot ... but work with us, people!

And it's too late, baby, now it's too late
Though we really did try to make it
Something inside has died and I can't hide
And I just can't fake it

Carole King - It's Too Late

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Night Special ...

So today ... I hit a wall. 

Aw, fuck it.  I'm tired. 

I'm going to bed.

Night, all.

I hear the secrets that you keep
When you're talking in your sleep
I hear the secrets that you keep
When you're talking in your sleep

The Romantics - Talking In Your Sleep

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday's Post - 24 Hours Later ...

As I told you earlier this week, we met First Wife and J for dinner the other night ... so that we might all meet the future Mrs. J.   And, believe it or not, I don't have anything snarky to say.  I know ... shocking.

Stitcher is nice.  She was quiet ... but most of us are when meeting new people.  I've apparently met her before.  We both belong to a local charity and she said she remembers meeting me at some point.  I don't remember her ... which, I assure you, is not an indictment of her.  I'm a delightful combination ... someone who is both forgetful and terribly unaware of her surroundings.  I swear at some point I'm going to look up and find myself in Narnia and have no idea how I got there.

Anyhow, Stitcher seems to be a nice enough woman.  My only criticism of her ... or rather of them as a couple ... is their insistence on spending every spare moment together.  Everyone's had a relationship like that ... but we usually burn that shit off early in life.  At some point in your evolution from teenager to adult, you develop the ability to be okay with your own thoughts ... and spending time alone isn't a punishment.

Okay, let's take a step back.  Maybe that sounded harsh ... and I don't want to come across as criticizing just for the sake of criticism.  What I'm trying to say ... is that I worry about him.  I worry that the pattern is less about him wanting to spend all his time with her ... and more about him wanting to spend time with anyone as long as he doesn't have to spend a single moment alone.

Before he met her, it was obvious that he was developing an aversion to being alone ... as if there was a problem if he wasn't at someone's house ... or doing an activity of some sort ... every single night.   He's met someone who apparently shares his aversion.  And while on one hand that's good ... on the other hand ... it's not entirely healthy.

I've talked him about it the situation ... asked him to talk to a counselor ... or a grief therapist ... something.  I loved my friend with all my heart ... but she was confined to a wheelchair.  She needed assistance to dress and to bathe.  She was getting worse ... she was struggling to feed herself.  At one point, she had me lift her hand to her face so she could scratch her nose.  The road they were traveling was not an easy one.

So he's gone from a lifestyle of having someone who depended on him twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred sixty four days a year ... to total, absolute freedom.  Some people would embrace that freedom ... and, in some ways, he has ... to the extent of alienating almost all of his friends and family.  But at the core, I think he's just trying desperately to get back to the place where another human being is with him all the time.  It's like he has post traumatic stress disorder ... only with a ridiculous amount of disposable income.

So ... if love really is finding someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours ... then maybe these two crazy kids have fallen into mutual weirdness.  Only time will tell ...

Oh, crazy
For thinking that my love could hold you
I'm crazy for trying
And crazy for crying
And I'm crazy for loving you

Patsy Cline - Crazy

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Putting My Ducks In a Row ...

It's weird ... how something small can ... inspire you.

Stoney and I have talked about me moving in with him for awhile.  Nothing sudden or immediate ... no one was pushing anybody ... it was just one of those, "Someday when this happens ..." kind of things ... a happy idea that we'd throw out there now and then.

The underlying problem has always been my house.  I own a house.  So does he.  My house is larger ... but isn't in a great part of town ... and is so much older and needs so much more work.  There's a thousand things I love about his house.  The washer and dryer is on the main floor ... there's a deck .... there's a two car garageBut what I love about it most ... he's there.

So ... for the last few months I've been making feeble attempts to get this house ready to sell.  The problem is that there was so much to do ... so much to clean ... so much to pitch ... that I was completely overwhelmed.  I've been saying I was going to get a dumpster and empty the basement out for a year and a half now ... if that gives you an idea of the kind of procrastination I'm talking about.

But last night, my contractor delivered the new front door and new storm door.  They're in the dining room ... just to keep them out of the way until he installs them in a couple weeks.  Seeing that beautiful new door propped against my wall lit a fire under me ... and I am inspired.

Tonight I've cleaned out the foyer ... straightened up the living room ... and started working on the spare room.   Yesterday I went outside and pulled a bunch of weeds and cut down a few huge weeds that were growing by the porch ... I swept the front porch. 

There is a lot to do ... but seeing things look nicer have given me a little hope.  I need to pack my grandmother's china and start organizing things I know I'll want to keep ...  but you know what?  I'm working for something special now.

Oh but workin' too hard can give you a heart attack
You oughta know by now
Who needs a house out in Hackensack?
Is that all you get for your money?

And it seems such a waste of time
If that's what it's all about
Mama, if that's movin' up then I'm movin' out.

Billy Joel - Moving Out

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Boy, That Must Hurt ...

When I was nineteen years old ... before I discovered the rapture of alcohol ... before I discovered the bliss of weed ... I discovered the joys of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

K and I went to our first midnight showing of Rocky at the Legacy Theatre.  Of course, back in those days, it wasn't known as the Legacy Theatre.  It was just ... "The Theatre."   We bought a study guide and rented a VHS copy to prepared ourselves.  K bought the soundtrack and we listened to it in the car and sang along.  We got a list of props and went shopping. 

Finally, the night came.  We walked in quietly and sat in the back row ... trying to be inconspicuous.

Bad, bad idea.

A friend in mine in the theater community spotted us ... and came running over with a group of ushers waving flashlights and chanting, "Virgins! Virgins! Virgins!"   They had us stand up and made examples of us.  It was mortifying.  It was horrifying.  It was so ... much ... fun!

We shouted and we threw toast and we sang.  By the time the show was over, it was around two a.m.  My friend came over and told us that the performers and crew were going to Denny's ... and we were invited.   The restaurant was full of outcasts and misfits and outsiders.  They were subversive ... and for that one night ... we were part of their tribe. 

It was ... amazing.

I don't think we made it home until around five a.m. ... yawning with exhaustion ... shaking handfuls of glitter out of our hair and our shoes and our bras.  And thus ... a tradition was born.

K and I went every year ... and time passed.  Eventually the legacy theater stopped showing Rocky ... and we went to other venues.  We grew up.  We got older.  But Rocky never did.   Maybe that's the draw in these sort of things.  Year after year, we get further away from from that nineteen year old kid we once were.  But going Rocky brings it all back.  And for just a little while ... you feel like that teenager again.  You feel like one of the cool kids.

K kept going ... even after I stopped.  She got her husband to go ... and their friends.  They went every year.  I wish I would've been there to go with them ... but at least I got to go that last year.

A whole big group of us went that night.  Stoney went with ... but he was there as K&J's friend.  We weren't together yet (although I wouldn't have minded if we had been).  But he wasn't into me ... and heck, K was still trying desperately to hook him up with someone else at that point.  In any case, he was good sport and let them draw a big V on his forehead since it was his first time at Rocky.  He even let us take a picture of him with Frank at the end of the night.

It was a good feeling to be back.  It was a good night.

But ... the world keeps turning.  Things change.  Good things ... Stoney and I did become a couple.  Bad things ... we lost K.

J sent me an enthusiastic e-mail today ... full of exclamation points and caps ... telling me that tickets for Rocky were going to go on sale ... and even though K couldn't be there ... she would WANT us to go.

Would she?  Probably.  But I don't care.  Because when I go, I'm not this ThirtyWhat ... I'm the nineteen year old ThirtyWhat.  I'm the ThirtyWhat that went with K.   That show wasn't about me ... and it sure as hell wasn't about J.  That show was about K ... and how much she loved it ... even when she was stuck in a wheelchair and couldn't dance the Time Warp anymore.

And who knows?  Maybe I'll want to go again some day?  But that day isn't today.

In the velvet darkness
Of the blackest night
Burning bright
There's a guiding star
No matter what or who you are

Rocky Horror - There's a Light

Monday, July 21, 2014

Performance Anxiety ...

So ... tomorrow is the big day.  Tomorrow we meet the next future Mrs. J.  

We're going to Osaka with First Wife to meet J's newest girlfriend .. and J is, to put it lightly, beside himself.

Everything I know of her, I've gotten second hand through J.   If you listen to him, they sound like a couple of sixteen year old's who decided to go steady after passing notes in second hour American History.

He has declared his undying love after only two weeks ... she, likewise, has declared he will be "the last man she ever dates."   It's hard not to look at this situation and hear the faintest whisper of, "red flaaaaaag!"   But since they're both wanting to shift from zero to sixty ... I guess the bottom line is ...

How's it hurting?

I talked with Mom about it tonight ... and her opinion is very blunt.  "His first marriage was hard ... for better or worse, she's gone.  He deserves some happiness ... he should just go for it.  Get married.  You and Stoney just go up to the court house with them, stand up with them, and get it over with."

She's right ... he deserves happiness.  And I don't have any bad feelings about anything ... just nerves over meeting her.  I hope she's nice ... and I hope I like her.  For him ... because for some reason he's really fixated on me liking her.

And here is the secret. 

If I don't?  I'm going to lie.  I'm going to smile ... I'm going to tell him that she's wonderful ... and I'm going to let it all go. 

K was my friend ... and she's gone.  What J does or doesn't do at this point has no effect on her ... and it has no effect on me. 

I love Stoney ... and as long as he loves me?  It's all good.

'Cause each night
I ask the stars up above
Why must I be a teenager in love

Dion - Teenager In Love

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Vampire Corgie Says, "Bite This"

I'd like to say I've been watching True Blood since the beginning ... but I haven't.  I was in the library one day and saw that they had the DVDs for the first season sitting there on a shelf ... and I thought, "Hmmm ... vampires?  On HBO?  Well, Sopranos was awesome so ... alright then ..."

And just like that ... I was addicted.   I was hooked ...

Sure, there was naked viking vampire sex ... but it was kitschy and funny.   The first season was awesome ... the second season was alright.  But True Blood is real life example of the law of diminishing returns.  Each season was slightly worse than the last ... and the level of suckitude just kept increasing exponentially.

Tonight's episode, like every other episode this year, was a yawn fest.  But ... two weeks in a row now ... there has been a moment where I got all misty eyed.  Maybe it's just me ... since my cousin didn't find single sentimental moment.

Last week it was seeing Terry Belfleur saying goodbye to Arlene ... telling her to stay with the kids.  Tonight was Andy Belfleur of all people.  I don't even like Andy Belfleur ... and yet and his awkward, wonderful proposal was so sweet.

True Blood has run its course ... it's time to put it out of its misery.   Sorry, Vampire Eric ... we knew this day would come.

Sad eyes, turn the other way
I don't wanna see you cry
Sad eyes, you knew there'd come a day
When we would have to say 'goodbye'

Robert John - Sad Eyes

Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Little Corner of the World ...

I'm not as creative as I once was.  I used to draw non-stop.  I painted on occasion ... first on canvas and the eventually painting gifts like a custom Winnie the Pooh toy box for a friend's baby shower ... or a tiny Teletubbies rocking chair for my godson's second birthday.

Maybe it's age?  Little by little, the muse left.  I guess maybe part of it goes to the blog now?  Although this isn't really creative as much as public therapy.  

These days, if I create anything, it's usually crocheting.   A friend on Facebook shared a flower patterned window treatment with me ... and it got me thinking.  Stoney saw the post and immediately texted me to say, "That's not going up in my house."  No no no ... it looked pretty ratchet hanging on a window ... but ... as a baby blanket?  We have a friend whose daughter turns a year old next month ... and so ...

And so I started crocheting flowers.  Today I spent the day making flower after flower ... and letting movies play in the background so I can listen and look up occasionally.

No ... it's not canvas anymore.  And I don't carry my sketchbook with me like I used to.  Heck, I don't even know where my paints are in this house.  But ... I guess every little bit helps ...

Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?

Pocahontas - Colors of the Wind

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nostalgia ...

For 23 years I worked in the same building.  I worked for the same agency, although not at the same desk.  I started out a clerk, worked my way up to a position as the director's secretary, and eventually found my way to the back of the office, first as a computer assistant and then as our LAN administrator.

Every day, I drove the same roads ... parked in the same lot.  I ate at the same lunch spots ... used the same bank branch.  Twenty three years is a long time.

My city is pretty small.  In fifteen or twenty minutes you can get from one end to the other ... from the north side to the south side ... a straight shot down 5th/6th ... from the east side to the west on Madison or Wabash.  So there's really no reason to not go anywhere.   And yet ...

After twenty three years, I work at the exact opposite side of the city.  Nothing is the same.  There's a McDonalds and a Hardees and an Arby's.  There's a Chinese restaurant.  There's a nail salon.  And I'm trying to adjust to my new surroundings ... but everything still feels so foreign.

So tonight, since I didn't have anything planned after work, I drove back to my old stomping grounds.   The minute I reached Sangamon, it hit me ... I miss this area so much.  There's a little Chinese restaurant that makes the best dumplings ... so I stopped to pick up dinner to take home.  I drove past my favorite nail salon ... and almost stopped to say hi to the owners ... even though I didn't need a pedicure.

I drove past the fairgrounds and almost turned onto the grounds.  I did take a drive through the park that I used to have lunch in ... and then I made my way back to my house on those same streets I drove for all those years.

I've only been at my current job for nine months.  I'm sure eventually that area of town will feel like home.   I'm sure eventually I won't miss my old job and my old friends so much ... right?

Big wheels keep on turning
Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs about the Southland
I miss Alabamy once again
And I think its a sin, yes

Lynyrd Skynyrd -
Sweet Home Alabama

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Better Day ...

This week at work has been stupid busy.   Supposedly summer months on my team are historically slow ... but this year has not been like years past.   Every day we've had multiple 50-state orders ... and those are the worst.   A 50-state order can take sixty to ninety minutes to complete ... meanwhile the queue is backing up and we're getting calls asking why jobs are sitting there untouched.

So I was sitting at my desk ... stressing out ... ignoring multiple e-mails and texts from J who was in the middle of an epic moonfest over his newest girl, Stitcher.  I was tired and frustrated and more than a little overwhelmed.

And then I got an e-mail from Stoney ... just a normal, "How you doing this morning?" kind of thing.  I stopped what I was going and took 60 seconds to write him back ... and then continued chipping away on the monster order I took.  Over the next half hour or so, we wrote back and forth ... snippets of peace in the middle of a virtual shit storm.

I'm not one of those squeeing girly girls ... but at one point he wrote something that was special.  I'm not gonna lie ... I was sitting there a little weepy ... trying to play it cool cause I don't want my co-workers getting all gossipy or thinking somebody died.

It's hard to trust people when you've been hurt ... and everybody's been hurt.  It's a wonder that anyone over the age of 12 trusts anyone at all.   We e-mailed ... and we talked ... and he made me feel better and special and loved.  No, the work didn't let up.   I was busy until the moment I said, "Screw it," and shut my computer off for the night.  But it was alright ... because I was still smiling. 

Thanks, Stoney ... for making my day a little better and my load it a little lighter.

And When I Go Away
I Know My Heart Can Stay With My Love
It's Understood
It's In The Hands Of My Love
And My Love Does It Good

Wings - My Love

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Friday Five for July 4th: Schwag

I've missed Friday Five for several weeks now ... and that's a shame.  Because they're great questions and are fun to answer.  So ... please excuse the tardiness ... but let's do a special July 4th Friday Five!
The Friday 5

* From Wikipedia: Promotional merchandise, promotional items, promotional products, promotional gifts, or advertising gifts, sometimes nicknamed swag or schwag, are articles of merchandise (often branded with a logo) used in marketing and communication programs. They are given away to promote a company, corporate image, brand, or event. These items are usually imprinted with a company’s name, logo or slogan, and given away at trade shows, conferences, and as part of guerrilla marketing campaigns.

1. What’s the most practically useful article of schwag you’ve ever received? - I think the schwag I've enjoyed most were the perks I received working within the State Fair.   My ID badge got me free entrance on and off the grounds at any time.  My parking pass got me a front row spot 24 hours a day seven days a week.  Other perks varied.  In the early 90's, I had a friend in the front office who gave out bundles of carnival ride tickets to a few of us.  I usually had extra parking passes to give out for one or two days of the fair.  In the last few years, I had books of admission tickets to give away.  Silly things like lanyards ... coffee mugs ... and t-shirts were pretty common.  There was knowing the secret WiFi password for the grounds.  Oh, and let us not forget the holiest of holy perks ... the use of a golf cart.

Don't misunderstand me ... working on the grounds was, for the most part, an enormous pain in the ass during the fair itself.  The traffic was a nightmare.  The visitors could, at times, be staggeringly rude.   The heat was mind numbing.  But I also met some of the nicest people on the planet ... I tried a lot of weird, new food (mostly fried) ... and I was able to use my perks to give some people a really special fair experience.  This will be the first year since 1991 that I won't be a part of the Illinois State Fair ... and I think, much to my surprise, that I'm actually going to miss it.

2. What’s the most useless schwag you’ve ever received? - For awhile ... back in the early 90's, I had a part time job at a video rental store.  The owner would receive schwag from various movie companies ... and from time to time he'd share the items he didn't want with the employees.  We would come in to find various items stacked on his desk in the back room with a "Free to Take" sign next to them.  The items were always stupid ... like a handful of key chains from whatever new Arnold Schwarzenegger movie was coming out ... or a t-shirt from a Rodney Dangerfield movie that was size XX-small ... a size that fit no one on the staff.  The worst was a clock for some action movie ... that didn't even work.  So lame ...

3. What schwag do you receive on a regular basis, and how do you feel about it? - I don't get a lot of schwag these days.  In my last job, there was always something fun in our "prize closet" ... rain gauges or hats or garden gloves or totes ... calculators and mouse pads and tape measures.   These days I am, sadly, nearly schwagless.

4. What’s something that could reasonably be great schwag material but for some reason isn’t? - About four months ago, my current employer passed out cool little pedometers ... with the idea that all of us could get a little healthier.  Not a bad idea, in and of itself.  The problem was the way it was presented ... which was more in the vein of ... "Here, ya bunch of fat asses ... do something with yourselves!"

My pedometer is still in my desk drawer ... still unopened in the original cardboard box it came in.  I may be fat?  But I am also a woman ... and sensitive ... and, I suppose, a little stubborn.  So how about you show a little sensitivity?  Asshats ...

5. What the schwag that’s physically closest to you right now? - There is Vision Care bag two feet from me ... a "goodie bag" that came with my newest pair of prescription glasses.  There's a magnet and pen in there ... along with a little bottle of glass cleaning solution and a microfiber wipe.  I love that stuff ...

That's it ... that's the schwag report for the day!  YOLO!

Baby, baby, baby oooh
Like baby, baby, baby nooo
Like baby, baby, baby oooh
I thought you'd always be mine

Justin Beiber - Baby

Monday, July 14, 2014

Weird News/Good News ...

So ... weird news ... and good news.

I went out at lunch today to buy a few things at Walmart.  Mom wanted a cover for her new cellphone ... and I wanted to look at yarn.  Plus this morning I pulled out my favorite pair of jeans only to find a rip in them.  No, not at the very bottom ... where all my jeans are ripped.  It's the curse of being fun-sized.   I was also going to be needing a new pair of jeans ... at least one pair.

So I set off at lunch ... leaving my sweater at my desk because it was hot as balls outside.  I could just tell I was getting worn down ... the heat was getting to me ... I wasn't feeling ... right.  And when I got back to my desk, I noticed that my hands were shaking ... a lot.  I'm guessing I was overheated?  It wasn't a pleasant sensation.

By the time I left work, I wasn't shaking anymore ... but I was terribly nauseous.  I came home, called mom to tell her I was alright, and then laid on the end of the bed and took a nap.  I woke up an hour or so later when my text message chime went off.  I felt ... better?  Not 100% but better.

So ... that's my weird news.  I'm only blogging about it in the off chance I die in my sleep tonight ... someone please tell the coroner I was feeling wonky, kay?

My happy news.  Walmart didn't have my favorite jeans in my size.  I'm round and petite ... an awkward combination.   They did have my favorite type of jeans ... just one size smaller.  I stood there (profusely sweating and shaking ... take note of that, Dr. Quincy) and debated the situation.  My jeans were loose on me.  I mean my jeans are always loose on me because my kidneys hurt when I wear anything tight.  But ... they were very loose this weekend.

So ... being as how I felt like I was going to pass out if I didn't get something cold and liquid in me soon ... I picked up the smaller size and thought, "If they don't fit, I won't cry ... I'll just take them back."

I didn't try them on when I got home ... cause I felt like shit.  I didn't try them on when I woke up ... because by then I'd forgotten about them.  When I finally got up to go to the bathroom around nine, I spotted the bag on my bedroom floor. 

New jeans.  Try them?  Ugh ... it's going to be depressing and I'm going to end up sad.  Oh well, I already feel like shit ... let's do this.

They ... fit.   They fit fine.  Not hanging off me, by any means ... but just fine.

YAY ... yay for me.  Mild heat stroke aside ... this has been a relatively good day.

Now ... back to bed.  Small victories!

Good news is sweepin' cross the country
Good news is spreadin' all around
Good news is hittin' in the city
Good news has sprung up in the town

Randy Newman - Good News

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Again ...

I was doing so well ... trying to get back in the habit of writing each and every day.  Then I forgot to take my laptop with me this weekend ... and I was far too lazy to drive back over here and get it ... so ... the blog, like the cheese, stood alone.

We played trivia at a United Way charity event ... and our table won second place.  What you have to know, is that this is ... stunning.   The amount of fucking around that was going on at our table was insane ... and our second place victory is less a compliment to our playing skills ... and more a harsh statement on every other table in the room.  Common, people ... 60% of our players were half lit and throwing candy at one another for the last half of the night ... what were you people doing???

The night was fun ... and the only down side to it was that we were hosting a BBQ the next day ... so there wasn't a whole lot of recuperation time.   Luckily it didn't start until two o'clock ... so I had time to run to Walmart to pick up a few things ... Stoney did almost all of the prep work ... and we were able to unwind for a few minutes before people started showing up.

The BBQ was great!  We all ate together ... but ended up splitting up into two or three groups ... some in the kitchen ... some in the living room.  I should've been a better hostess ... but by eight o'clock I was leaning against Stoney and wishing desperately that it wasn't poor etiquette to tell everyone goodnight and go to bed with a half dozen people still in the house!

This week, I'll write about my sleep study ... I'll get caught up on the Friday Five and get back into the groove.   But tonight, it's Big Brother and True Blood ...

I feel so blessed.  I had a great weekend ... I have wonderful friends ... and I have a gentleman friend who isn't just someone I love ... he's also my favorite person.

How do I love you. well let me see
I love you like a lyric love a melody
Baby, completely wrapped up in you
How do I need you, well can't you tell
I need you like a penny needs a wishing well
Baby, completely wrapped up in you

Garth Brooks - Wrapped Up In You

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Passing The Test ...

This is the night ... the night of my sleep study.

About six weeks ago, I went to my nephrologist and complained about fatigue.  I asked her about Vitamin B shots ... something to give me a boost.  Before she would talk about treatments, she wanted to find a cause.  I left feeling frustrated.  My function is down to 23% ... isn't that enough of a cause?  Gimme the damned shots already ...

But ... after I got home, I had a conversation with Stoney.  I do snore ... sometimes worse than others ... but I do get snorky.  And over the last six weeks, we've talked about it off and on.  I'm paying attention to my sleep habits more ... when I wake up with a sore throat ... when I wake up with my mouth dry.   I'm heavy ... so losing weight would help ... but if snoring is causing issues with fatigue, there's no harm in fixing it while I work on other areas.

So ... we'll see.   I'm taking my super special pillow ... and my yoga pants ... and an ice cold bottle of water.  I'm so nervous ... I've had stomach cramps all day.  I just want to sleep ... and get this over with.

Here we are out of cigarettes
Holding hands and yawning
Look how late it gets
Two sleepy people by dawn's early light
And too much in love to say goodnight

Dean Martin - Two Sleepy People

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

My Surprise Phone Call ...

Years ago, I worked with a girl that we'll call Blondie.  When I first met her, I disliked her ... a lot.  She was loud ... and slutty ... and everything about her was drama.  But after a couple years, we got to talking and I realized she was really, really sweet.  At least when she wasn't doing body shots and dancing on the bar ... 

A few people who were bad influences on her moved away ... and we ended up being the best of friends.  We told each other our secrets ... well, most of them.  I was the maid of honor at her wedding ... and I genuinely cried when she moved to the east coast.  We tried to stay in touch ... but it's hard.  She works umpteen hours a day ... and I was going through a hard time with my divorce ... so we just kind of grew apart.

We've wrote back and forth on Facebook for the last couple years ... and today she surprised me by saying, "I'm stuck in traffic ... why don't you call me?"  So we talked for nearly an hour.  I have missed her so much.

She wanted to know everything about Stoney ... good lord ... 75% of the call was me answering questions about him.  Come to find out, she has everything planned out in her head ... I had to tell her to slow her roll.  She's way ahead of us ... but God love her, she's enthusiastic!

I miss you, Blondie ... and I love you dearly!  But no.  Under no circumstances will there be a  princess/princess Disney thing.  Nope.  Not happening.

Hans: I mean it's crazy
Anna: What?
Hans: We finish each other's
Anna: Sandwiches
Hans: That's what I was gonna say!

Frozen - Love Is An Open Door

Monday, July 07, 2014

A Coke And a Smile Indeed ...

I'm enchanted by this whole "Share a Coke" campaign.  I saw it a week or two ago and didn't give much though to it ... until I was at a Walgreens.  I was picking up a handful of things and thought I'd get a Coke and drink it on the drive to Stoney's.  There, in the case, was a random mish-mosh of names.   Brandon - Holly - Ashley - Tyler.   Names I didn't recognize ... then I saw one I did.  It was one of Stoney's friends.  I pulled it out ... thinking it would be a laugh to take a picture of it.  And went to shut the door ... then I saw one two rows over with the name of this guy's wife.

So I bought them both ... took them to Stoney's and took a picture.  I thought that would be the end of it ... and then his friend said, "Hold on to them ..." so I did.

For the record, I ended up running to HyVee the next day to pick up a few things and bought a bottle of Coke named "Chris" ... just because I had been denied any the day before.

In any case ... fast forward to tonight.  On the way home, I decided I wanted chicken wings (again).  I stopped at County Market and was heartbroken to see no wingettes in the case ... or legs ... it was pretty much a bust.  I stopped this short of buying a whole cherry pie.  That wouldn't have ended well for anyone, let me tell you.  But I settled on a package of butterfly pork chops and a loaf of garlic bread ... and headed toward the checkout.

There, next to the salad bar, was an open bin full of bottles of Coke.  I stopped ... really hoping I'd find one with Stoney's (real) name on it.  But before I could even look, I saw a name which made me stop ... Stoney's friend who just passed.  And right next to it ... turned just slightly to the side as if to face it ... was his wife's name.

His name is fairly popular ... but her name is pretty specific.  To find them ... not only in the same bin ... but next to one another was so oddly touching.  I took them gently out, sat them on the salad bar, and took a picture to show Stoney.  I decided I needed to have them ... so I put them in my arms with the pork chops and garlic bread and headed to the checkout.

I don't know what I'll do with them.  Drink them eventually, I suppose.  I can't have a bottle of Coke for every person I've ever known.  

It's just odd ... the names I've looked for ... Stoney ... College One and her husband ... Idiot's Anonymous .... Miniature Moose ... none of those names have shown up ... although two of the three girls have fairly unique names and one is very unique.   I don't ever expect to see mine ... and if I do it will be spelled the "normal" way instead of the way mine is spelled.

I need to stop buying bottles of Coke just because there are familiar names on them.  It's a brilliant marketing plan.  I'm sure there are people all over the country saying, "Hey!  My brother's name is Tyler!" and buying an extra bottle just for that reason.  But tonight's find was special ... and for now it's a nice reminder of someone who liked to make people smile.

Wonder if your name is on a bottle at some gas station somewhere?  Coke has put out 250 of the most popular names.  If you're in the US, look for yours here ... other countries have different names, but apparently you can't bring those up from here.

Zip City it's a good thing
That they built a wall around you
Zip up to Tennessee
Or zip right down to Alabama
I got 350 heads on a 305 engine
I get ten miles to the gallon
I ain't got no good intentions

Drive By Truckers - Zip City

Sunday, July 06, 2014

A Relaxing Holiday ...

I have had a great weekend.  It started way back on Thursday ... when I was sitting at work craving garlic bread.  I whined about it to Stoney ... who went to HyVee and got a loaf of fresh garlic bread and fixin's for spaghetti.  Everything was delicious ... I mean, I think it was delicious.  I didn't eat more than a few bites of spaghetti because I was too busy eating my weight in crusty garlic bread.

Friday night I stayed at Stoney's ... because my neighborhood on 4th of July weekend is just slightly this side of insane.  The Honey Boo Boo Clan hangs out in the empty lot next to their house and lights M-80's for approximately 48 hours straight.   Wake up at two a.m.?  Fireworks.  Open the windows at 9 a.m.?  Fireworks.  It's like living next to a live shooting range.

But ... thanks to Stoney, I got to spend the weekend in his cozy home ... in a nice, peaceful neighborhood.  Yes, we heard fireworks but it was the normal 9:30 p.m. background noise that tapered off long before we fell asleep.  This year versus last year is like night and day.

I ended up staying with him from Friday until this afternoon.  A long time, I know.   I didn't want to wear out my welcome ... but I probably would've asked to stay tonight so I could watch True Blood or Leftovers with him ... but I was almost out of clean clothes ... and I was completely out of clean undies.

He's very easy to be around ... he laid down and took a nap while I watched Big Brother and peeled some potatoes ... conversely while I slept in, he was up taking care of things ... cleaning out the fish tank and such.  We watched several movies this weekend ... Lone Survivor, Anchorman 2, And The Band Played On, and Frozen ... some funny ... some serious.

It was a nice weekend ... it really, really was.  My only complaint? 

I'm greedy.  I wish I had one more day ...

Everybody spread the word
We're gonna have a celebration
All across the world
In every nation
It's time for the good times
Forget about the bad times, oh yeah
One day to come together
To release the pressure
We need a holiday

Madonna - Holiday

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Do You Wanna #$%& a Snow Man?

So ... six months after everyone else on the planet, Stoney and I watched Frozen.   No, we aren't the cheapest bastards on the planet ... although we did catch it on Starz.  It was just a matter of timing.  College One invited me to go see it in the theater with her several times ... if I remember right, one time all three girls went ... but I just couldn't find the time to go.

So anyway, fast forward ...

I love Disney animated movies.   The Little Mermaid used to be my absolute favorite ... until I burned myself out playing it hour after hour while working part time at a video store.  But Beauty and the Beast stands the test of time.  It's flawless ... a perfect movie.

Frozen was at a disadvantage going in ... because it was so over-hyped.  Everyone told me how amazing it was.  You expect that from little girls ... and women.  But straight men were gushing about how much they loved Frozen.  That's a lot to live up to.

It's weird ... there are parts of Frozen that I adore ... parts that remind me of classic Disney.   For instance ... Do You Want To Build a Snowman?   It's so adorable.   When lil' Anna sings, "Okay, bye ..." you just want to hug her and build a goddamned snowman with her!  

The song about opening the gate was fun ... I was still on board.   But then the love song?   Um ... okay?

I guess one of my problems with Frozen is that it feels ... unfinished.   Kristoff's Reindeer Are Better Than People is genuinely cute ... but it feels unfinished.  It's the beginning of a cute Disney number.   I liked Olaf ... although he didn't seem to fit?   Almost like an addition.  Like there was a conversation in a board room somewhere, "This movie is cute ... but it doesn't have a talking animal side kick."  "Well, we have the reindeer."  "He doesn't talk."  "Well ... um ... we could add a snow man?"  "Yeah!"

And here's where I'm going to get crucified by the Frozen devotees out there ... Let It Go ... sigh.  Taken separately, it's an amazing song.  It's catchy as hell ... I can't stop singing it in my head.  But it was so much more orchestrated than the rest of the numbers.  It's over the top.  It's a Broadway show stopper ... not a Disney piece.   I guess it isn't any grander than Be Our Guest ... so maybe my problem is this ...

I can't get Idina Menzel out of my head.  She is Elphaba.  She is Maureen.   I hear her voice and she is Idina Menzel.  At no point did I look at Elsa and think of Elsa as a character because all I heard was that beautiful, distinctive voice.   I'm sure people who aren't Wicked obsessed like I am won't have this issue.   But for me ... a fair-skinned, silver-blond haired queen does not fit that voice.

I'm so glad I watched it ... it's not bad.  But it wasn't the overwhelming experience I was expecting.  I was expecting another Belle.   Anna is adorable ... but she's no Belle.

Every single day,
I walk down the street
I hear people say 'baby so sweet'
Ever since puberty
Everybody stares at me
Boys girls I can't help it baby
So be kind and don't lose your mind
Just remember that I'm your baby

Rent - Take Me Baby Or Leave Me

Friday, July 04, 2014

My 4th of July Memory ...

My grandfather was  a piece of shit.   He didn't work unless it suited him ... cheated on my grandmother on a regular basis ... hell, he was in the process of leaving her for another woman when he had his last heart attack and died.  Make of that what you will.  

My grandfather was a special kind of awful.  He kept a scale in the kitchen.  If he felt you were too heavy, you would be asked to step on the scale.   He would then comment on how much you've gained ... or, if you hadn't gained, how the clothes you were wearing were unflattering.  It was a lose/lose situation, no doubt about it.

Now ... I bet you think this is a post about how a waste of carbon twisted my poor child's psyche into the damaged woman I am today.

Wrong.  I told you that story ... to tell you this story ...

One of the nicest memories I have from my childhood ... and I don't have a lot ... I suspect brain trauma at some point ... involves my grandfather.

My grandparents lived in a small town in a large farmhouse ... right on the "hard road."  Across that road, there was a business that sold fireworks around the 4th of July.  This is way back in the day ... back when stands sold everything from sparklers to raw nitroglycerin.

Every year, my grandfather would walk across the road with me and let me pick out a bag full of fireworks.   I had fountains ... roman candles ... bottle rockets with tiny parachutes that you ran to catch.   He would always tell me, "Now this is it ... this is all the fireworks we're buying." 

He was a cheap bastard ... and I had no reason to doubt him.

But most years ... late on the 4th ... he'd wander back across the hard road by himself and come back with two or three paper grocery bags CHOCK FULL of fireworks.  

Now that I'm adult, I can tell you two things about this ...

A)  He was friends with the old dude that ran the stand.  By eight or nine o'clock on the 4th, my grandfather probably got a hefty discount buying whatever was left over on the last night they were open.  As a child, I didn't realize that ... all I knew was that after all the other fireworks were gone, he would show up carrying bags of fireworks ... like a savior ... like some kind of demolition-expert Jesus.

B)  My grandfather was an alcoholic.  I don't mean finishing a twelve back of Budweiser on a good night.  I mean high ball glasses full of straight whiskey.  When he died, my grandmother snuck dozens (dozens) of empty hard liquor bottles into the trash ... bottles hidden inside other garbage ... so the trash man wouldn't see them.  As if everyone in that town didn't know what a souse he was.  Anyhow ... the point is ... by eight or nine o'clock on the 4th of July, he was probably so drunk that he didn't remember buying the extra fireworks.   Again, as a child all I knew was that he was carrying bags of fireworks ... and that his breath smelled funny.

Now ... mixing those two stories together ... the moral of this story is that fireworks can leave a good memory ... even when it involves a worthless piece of shit like my grandfather.

Fuck the law.  Drive over to Missouri and buy your kids some fireworks. 

And stay off the sauce ...

And I'd like to say, "I'm sorry"
But we lived to tell about it
And we lived to do a whole lot more
Crazy, stupid shit

Drive By Truckers - Let There Be Rock

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Breathe In Breathe Out ...

For those of you who don't have asthma and have never had to use an inhaler ... give yourself a clap on the back.  You lucky, lucky bastards.  I envy you.  I really, really do.

I've had asthma for as far back as I can remember.  One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my grandmother's kitchen counter in the middle of the night when I was three or four.  A light bulb had gone off somewhere in my developing brain and I made the connection between not breathing and dying.  It was the first time I felt panic in the middle of an asthma attack.   It wasn't the last.

For the most part, an asthma attack is almost a non-thing to me anymore ... barely a blip on the radar.  Back in grade school, doctors told us that most people "grow out of it."  In my case, that wasn't completely accurate ... but things have definitely improved for me in the breathing department. 

I have dozens of stories involving my gimpy lungs.  Thing were pretty bad when I was little.  I remember going on my first hay ride somewhere out in the country when I was six or seven with my parents ... and winding up in a tub of ice water because they didn't know if I'd make it to the hospital.   I remember my mom having to put my stuffed animals into individual plastic bags because they collected too much dust and I couldn't breath around them.

I remember when I was around fourteen or fifteen, my dad brought home these two gigantic pillows ... meant to lay on and watch television.  They looked so comfortable ... but we discovered they were filled with goose down shortly after I threw myself on top of them and and my throat closed up.  The pillows were banished to the garage.

Things were worse after we moved to the country ... too many fields ... too much pollen.  The windows and doors were never open ... either the furnace or the air conditioner were running at all times.   Autumn was hard ... the frost killed everything off and made breathing easier ... but harvest kicked too much corn dust into the air.  There was only a week or so of optimal weather ... before it got too cold to breath outside.

Everything triggered an attack ... heat ... humidity ... cold ... smoke ... dust ... pollen ... animals.  I was given syrup and shots ... and when I went to grade school I was given an inhaler to carry with me at all times.  Oh yeah ... I was not one of the cool kids in grade school.

These days, I'm a lot better ... a combination of just "growing out of it" and knowing what to avoid.  I still can't sleep with down pillows ... a fact that I find tragic.  Being around a cat is torture ... short visits aren't bad but any amount of time and my nose will close up and I'll be wheezing like a chain smoker.

No, these days ... my asthma attacks mostly come from laughing.   I'll get to laughing ... which triggers wheezing ... which invariably leads to that embarrassing circus seal barking cough.  Ugh ... it's not attractive ... and it's especially frustrating that a cough like that starts with happiness and joy.  It's frustrating to stay the least.

It's alright.  I don't panic anymore.  Fixing that smothering tightness is just a matter of taking my inhaler, knocking that wheeze down, and opening up the airways.  The problem is that the process is utterly and completely exhausting.  I'm not exaggerating.  I'm not sure if it's the coughing or the medicine or a combination of the both ... but after a spell, I just nothing more than to crawl into a ball and sleep.

So last night, I was laughing so hard I was near tears ... and everything kicked in.  I had to take four puffs off my inhaler before I could get a full breath.   I went to my house and crawled into bed ... no shower ... no ice water ... nothing.   I guess the silver lining is that I slept like a baby last night.

So ... small blessings.   I'll take the inconvenience every time ... the laughter is worth it.

Breathe, breathe in the air
Don't be afraid to care
Leave but don't leave me
Look around and chose your own ground
For long you live and high you fly
And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be

Pink Floyd - Breathe