December 18, 2009

Things I [Heart] About this Season



I was a bit of a Crabster yesterday, so I didn't bother writing. I have no idea what was wrong with me; nothing in particular had happened, it was just one of those days. I want to say that I'm much better today. Doesn't take much, does it?

This time of year, I think we could all blame the occasional, random, bad mood on the complete overload of activity and emotional stress we are hit with, from Halloween until New Years.

No, I'm not acting like this because I'm on my period. Or because your son has 15 missing assignments and what am I supposed to do, ground him for the entire Christmas break? I'm not cranky because we just had to fix the furnace - out of the blue - for $350, or because Glee isn't on TV again until April.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm a little edgy because there are 4 million people on the only road in our town, and all I want to do is go the 1/2 mile distance to the grocery store. Or because, when I get there, the same 4 million people have somehow beat me and have all managed to get in line before me.

Whatever it is, I'm over it. Oh and thank God! because nobody likes a cranky me.

And, since I'm feeling so peppy, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite "This Time of the Year" things with you.

~~My white sweater~~

It's ugly and too big and not flattering in any way at all, but it is sooooooo toasty and cuddly and like wearing a blanket all the time.

~~Eggnog Lattes~~

I'm sure I've already sung their praises. Still. Yum.

~~Taking the long way through the neighborhood at night~~

I live at the end of my street, so I usually turn off the main road at the first turn and miss everything going on beyond me. But these days I take the second turn, and every time I come around the corner, the spectacular display of Christmas lights on every single house, in every single yard, from one end of my street to the other, never ceases to surprise and delight me.

~~Christmas cards with family pictures ~~

I'm a big fan of sending a picture, and I'm all about the unique and funny cards too. My favorite this year comes from new friends. It's a picture of their two teenaged kids, in full camo, kneeling over a massive dead buck. (Which, I am assuming, they killed, since their Dad has a garage full of commercial fridges and freezers for storing that sort of thing.) John's comment: "Nothing says 'Christmas' like two kids standing over a dead reindeer."

Merry Christmas from the Mc Donalds!

December 15, 2009


This morning on my favorite radio show, The Bob Rivers Show, the guys were talking about Christopher Monfort's arraignment - he's the one who killed Seattle Police Officer, Tim Brenton, on Halloween night. Bob mentioned that the prosecutors now have thirty days to decide whether or not to pursue the death penalty.

I love Spike O'Neil, Bob's sidekick, for his reponse:

"So what will they do with the other 29 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes?"

RIP, Tim.

December 14, 2009

Our Last Believer

Last night, John and I were talking about whether or not Jack still believes in Santa. He'll be 12 in February; I'm thinking he figured it out some time ago, but he has never asked a single question of us. I think he's in denial, which is totally fine with us.

See, John's ex-wife was a Jehovah's Witness, so they didn't celebrate Christmas for 17 years or something like that. Our first Christmas together was completely magical for me - Matt was only three, so it was like having two kids for the holiday! Ever since then, Christmas has been huge around our house. Between John and Casey, who was brought up as JW, it's pretty insane. We do the crazy light thing in the yard. We decorate every room with Christmas decor. J does the tree all by himself, then spends many nights sitting in the dark, with just the tree lights on, having his "Christmas Moments". And every year, we say we're going to "cut back" on the gifts. Yeah, right. Not even an option.

I don't have any particular attachment to Christmas, any moreso than any other holiday, so I'm totally good with him taking over. And I still get a kick out of how much fun he has. He wanders around the house whistling and singing Christmas songs and I love that. So we're a little sad that, after this year, Jack's probably going to go public with the Not Believing. He'll be our last Believer ... until the grandkids come along ... and I'll be able to post my own pictures like this one, of my friend Lacretia's daughter. I just melted when I saw it.
This is the Spirit of Christmas!
Text Color
Kylee Goetz
photographed by Krista Loeffler @

December 13, 2009


John and I love the weather reports around here this time of year. Being the native upstate New Yorker that he is, and me having lived a spell in Boston, we get a kick out of the level of excitement reached in western Washington when the prospect of snow arrives. Our favorite on-site reporter, Jim Forman, of the super bright yellow jacket you couldn't miss in a blizzard, gets out there somewhere in downtown Seattle and has up-to-the-minute Storm Watch '09 ('08, '07, '06 - they're all the same) highlights. The camera will close in on his hand, scooping (hardly) this wet, sort of fake kind of snow off the sidewalk, and he'll be saying stuff like: "You can see here, that this snow is wet. Wet and cold."

I think it's hilarious that a possible one inch drop makes the news at all, let alone becomes the top Reporting Live, Breaking News story.
Here is my driveway, right this minute. This warrants a StormWatch '09 news feed. School Closure Alerts and all.

Here is a picture of Boston.

That's a StormWatch.

But I'll tell you what, it makes for entertaining tv. Obviously, since I just spent 10 minutes making fun of it.

Oh, and by the way, I secretly love Jim Forman. And his jacket. It's the exact same one I have.

December 11, 2009

Bragging...a Little...

Hmmmm...once upon a time, I thought published authors were like movie stars, like Julia Roberts - totally untouchable. I thought no one could get near them, except at a book signing, after waiting hours in line to breathe in their divine presence. I hoped that someday, if I never became one myself, I might have the privilege of knowing one, even if only barely.

Well, I'm here to tell you that dreams do come true. (Oh, sure, I had lunch with Ann Rule, sort of. But that's taking some liberty, claiming her as a friend. To say the least.) You already know about my first Famous Author Friend, Kim Derting, of The Body Finder fame, who also writes the sassy The Road to Publication blog. And, (sorry Kim) I must let the secret out that famous authors aren't really untouchable. At least not if you get to them before they're published. They're really pretty normal. PJs and bed head at the bus stop normal. Did I tell you about the cami on the door handle? Seriously normal.

And now, I get to add to my list! My friend and neighbor, Susan, has graciously allowed me to partially own her mom, too! I met Vera Martignetti after she read a blog post I wrote about her granddaughter earlier this year. She was visiting from out of town and stopped by my house to thank me for my kind words. I learned that she was also a writer, working on a book. At the time, I had no idea she would be topping my FAF list so soon, and there she was, right in my driveway, totally touchable!

I got an email from Susan the other day, letting us know that her mom's book is finally here! And, as an aspiring author, I am proud and honored to be able to share this with you.

Susan writes:

During the first year after my dad died, my mom wrote many emails to the entire family. At first, these notes were a way for her to reassure us that she was fine. But over time, these emails included observations, tasks, funny stories, and sad ones too about life after losing her husband of 47 years. With that wealth of data, Mom wrote a very irreverent, funny, and helpful book about coping with becoming a widow. (The chair and remote on the cover were my dad’s.)

Description ~

In The Widow Business, Vera Martignetti shares the intimate experience of coping with the loss of her husband of forty-seven years, and how she learned to take control of the practical and immediate concerns of daily life alone. Martignetti's sense of humor is evident in this always thoughtful but often irreverently funny book as she leads you through her experience of being a first-year widow. He died. Now what? This widow’s survival guide answers the inescapable question.

About the Author ~

Vera Martignetti was born in New York City, raised in Jersey City, and lived the last thirty-five years of her life in Tucson, where she was a businesswoman for ten years before retiring. She has four children and six grandchildren. Although she has written about her family for her family for many years, this is her first book to be published. An essay entitled ''One Minute You’re a Wife. The Next, a Widow" won the Best Non-Fiction Contest in OASIS Journal 2008. At seventy-one, Vera’s maxim for staying young is Clairol, sunscreen, exercise, and attitude.

The book would make a great Christmas gift! It is available on Barnes & Noble’s website for $9.32 where you can even read the first few pages. It is also available on
Congratulations, Vera!

December 10, 2009

Tiger, If You're Listening....

I don't want to be negative in the month of Christmas cheer and all, but I really have to get this Tiger Woods thing out of my head. Just for a minute, because, if you're like me, you are as completely sick and tired of hearing about him as you are of hearing about that stupid couple who crashed the White House party.

But this is Tiger we're talking about. In the beginning, I was simply heartbroken, and hopeful that it might all be an awful, ugly lie, when it was just Slut Girl #1. But before we could say, "Oh, Tiger, not you!" the Ho Girl Count had multiplied beyond any hope he might have had for redemption.

I always loved him. I thought he was a true role model for kids, even if he was kind of a control freak, and a little manic with all that drive and motivation. Still, he made me believe in athletes again, after I had to make my son take his Kobe Bryant poster off his wall, after Michael Vick, after Tonya Harding. (Ok, she doesn't really count. We knew she was psycho from the start.) I really, really wanted him to be the real thing. But alas, Tiger turned out not to be the Charles Ingalls of sports, after all.

But my problem now isn't about his infidelity at all. I'm past that, already crushed beyond repair. My new issue is accountability. This morning, as we were watching the Today Show, John says, "Oh, God, please don't tell me they're going to say he's a sex addict." And within seconds, I swear, those very words came across the airwaves.

I will buy into a lot of addiction. I believe that some things eat you up and own you. I've seen crack addicts and I believe in that kind of evil. But no matter how much the media wants to sell it, I can't buy sex addiction. Which is beside the point, because it's not the label I'm struggling with. It's the excuse. The cleanse-all: "It's not my fault, I couldn't help it, it was out of my control." It's the excuse I'm afraid they're going to use - Tiger and his handlers - for this behavior that dates back to the beginning of time and, up until lately, has simply been attributed to Shitty Ass Judgement.

Please, Tiger. Don't be that guy, on top of everything else.

If there is one shred of dignity you might have left, here it is: Own this.

December 9, 2009

My Lovely Wednesday Dinner

Usually, on Wednesdays, Jack's buddy Elijah comes over after school and stays with us through dinner. After that, I take them to football practice, then drop him off at home. Elijah's mom is a single mom who adopted him from a foster family when he was a toddler. I am always amazed at her strength and commitment to this kid, and I try to help her out, give her a break, whenever I can. The fact that he and Jack get along better than I've ever seen two kids get along, doesn't hurt.

Anyway, I had to share this Wednesdays with Elijah story. Come dinner time, I ask the boys to set the table and pour the milk. Usually, as I'm sure it is in your house, this request is met with either a) grouchy resistance and whining or b) selective hearing. But this night, I was pleasantly surprised.

Elijah told me that he had learned how to set the table in Young Living Class (we used to call it Home Ec). First of all, what boy will tell you that he learned anything in YL? That would mean he was paying attention at some point, which would be so totally uncool to admit. But no, Elijah practically pushes Jack out of the way to get the placemats, telling him he'll show him how it's done.

Not one to be outdone (and not currently enrolled in YL but secretly wishing he were), Jack pushes back and they wrestle to get the supplies. I leave the room and the commotion, figuring that, one way or another, the necessities will make their way to the table eventually. I don't want to get hurt in the process.

When I was summoned to return, this is what I found:

In case you were wondering, chivalry is not dead.

December 8, 2009


I'm sure by now, even if you're one of my reader friends who lives far away from me, you've heard about the tragedy we faced here in western Washington just after Thanksgiving. Four of our local police officers were shot and killed, while working in a coffee shop in the city of Lakewood, just 20 miles from my house. The story is tragic for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it was a random shooting, execution-style. Not a month earlier, the same sort of shooting occured in Seattle, where a police officer was killed in his patrol car.

The killer was apprehended and killed, in a confrontation with another officer, just days later. That's good and bad, I suppose. He's off the streets, but there will never be any closure for the families of the fallen officers. He will have had the last word, forever. That makes me overwhelmingly sad. I can't begin to imagine the sorrow and loss their families and friends are enduring right now, and will continue to struggle with for years to come. There is nothing that will ever make this right, but there may be a smal bit of comfort in knowing that they gave their lives in honor, protecting others, being selfless and brave. That is far more than I will ever be able to claim for myself.

I am the wife of a Firefighter and former Reserve Police Officer, so this is close to home for my family and me. My husband, John, proudly wore his Class A uniform this morning, as he's done far too often this past year, and joined thousands of his colleagues in the funeral procession that will honor these officers today. They will join thousands more, their families, and members of the public in the Tacoma Dome, because that's the only place big enough to hold all the people who want to show their respect and honor the fallen. And it's still not big enough. Our streets are lined already with people standing along the roadsides, all the way along the procession, in the freezing cold. There are kids and elderly people, business people who have taken the day off to bow their heads.

I didn't know any of these officers, but I do know what they did, every day, on my behalf. I am proud to live in the community they served and to have been given the gift of safety and security, simply because they did their jobs.

Even if you're not here, if you're out in Maine, or Arkansas, or Connecticut, I'm willing to bet you know police officers or firefighters who make you proud. Take a minute, right now, to tell them how much you appreciate the service they give. Believe me, today is one of those day that a simple "thank you" will mean more than you know.

In tribute...

Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar publicly identified the four slain police officers after an extensive and very difficult notification process. “All four of our slain officers had been with this department since it started five years ago. Sergeant Mark Renninger and Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, and Greg Richards were police veterans when they started and all have been outstanding professionals. This is a very difficult time for our families and our officers. The families will have many challenges ahead of them and we ask that their privacy be respected. Please keep our families and Lakewood Police in your prayers.”

Sergeant Mark Renninger, age 39 with thirteen years of law enforcement experience. He is survived by a wife and three children.

Officer Ronald Owens, age 37 with twelve years of law enforcement experience. He is survived by a former wife and a

Officer Tina Griswold, age 40 with fourteen years of law enforcement experience. She is survived by her husband and two children.

Officer Greg Richards, age 42 with eight years of law enforcement experience. He is survived by a wife and three children.

December 2, 2009

Oh, I hate that! I started writing yesterday in the morning, then got sidetracked. By the time I remembered that I had never actually published my post, it was too late to use my brain that much, so I left it until today.

LMAO this morning (yesterday morning) while reading this post written by Eva at Wrestling with Retirement. I follow her blog because she's totally hilarious (and posts some of the funniest cartoons I've ever seen) but today (yesterday) she pretty much killed me. She wrote about Victoria's Secret and her new idea for a better business. All I have to say about Big Bootie Boutique is Amen, sister!

Mind you, I am a former VS shopper (you thought I was going to say model, didn't you?) myself . Well, not totally former. I still love all the stuff, it just doesn't look that good on me anymore. Ok, not that I ever, ever, ever, even kind of, sort of, remotely looked like Heidi Klum, (I'm only 5'2") but there was a time (I sadly reflect) that I didn't completely crucify a lace thong and matching demi push up bra.

These days, though, not so much. I'm aware that I'm not really the same size I used to be, and that's definitely fixable. Still, I'm not so sure I could lose all this weight and be a true VS girl again. I'm just not the same shape anymore. Things aren't where they used to be. You can only push 45-year old boobs up so far with mere underwire and gel padding. (Not to mention, the bra weighs as much as my winter parka; nothing like that to make you feel even fatter.)

Not that I've quit trying; don't get me wrong. I haven't resorted to granny panties (although sometimes I look at them longingly, the way we look at flannel sweats with penguins on them, not because we want to create an oufit, but because we can't imagine anything more comfortable on the planet.) But I'm still married - someone still gives a shit what my underwear looks like. And quite frankly, the minute I do try on the white/beige/nude cotton number, I feel twice as unsexy as I did just standing there naked. And at this point, I'll take all the sexy I can get, within reason.

[ Reason, FYI for all you VS catalog-reading husbands and boyfriends, does not include anything with bows on the butt, anything missing fabric over the midriff or other *ahem* parts, or anything that has rhinestones or other "precious simulated gems" sewn into it. The next time something like that catches your eye, stop. Do not hold up the picture to your wife/girlfriend and say "You would look so good in this!" That is not a real compliment. It doesn't incite a graceful, "Why thanks, baby!" I am more likely to look at you like you have two heads and say, "Dude. Really." Proof, I believe, that sex for men is not directly related to sexy. ]

Today, I have to add a little something to my thoughts on VS. After getting sidetracked from blogging, I went shopping for brown pants with my friend Kim. That was a bust, since we went after lunch and who in her right mind thinks that's a good idea? All pants shopping should be done first thing in the morning, following a night where nothing was eaten after 6pm. But I have a party tonight, and I have this sweater I love...I needed the pants.
Or not.

After I tried on the ridiculously out-of-my-box, bright red, stretchy, totally fitted dress that for some unknown reason called my name from the discount rack, I gave up on the pants. I was obsessed with the dress. Which is really weird, if you know me at all. I'm not a dress person. I have calves that indicate I may have won Strongest Man in the World trophies at some point in the past. NO, they're not muscular, I didn't mean that. They're just huge. Enormously huge. Freakishly huge. I hate dresses.

But I bought it, the kickass red dress. In addition, I bought a full-body armor contraption that promises to corral my body into the dress (and hopefully, keep it there for the duration of the evening). This is not something you can buy at Victoria's Secret, I'm pretty sure. It makes simple granny panties the sexiest lingerie ever. I'm not brave enough to post the pictures Kim was taking of me in the dressing room, as she wet herself laughing, but let's just say if Teletubbies were still around, I'd audition to be the new one. The Beige Teletubby.

Tonight is the dinner that called for this dress and its accompanying bumps&lumps control unit. And I'm not so sure now, here at home, if I'm up for all that work.

Maybe I'll just wear my new sweater with black pants and hope no one notices.

December 1, 2009

Post-It Note Tuesday

Sorry I missed it last week. I would have posted:

But I'm better this week:

November 30, 2009

Hibernation's Over, Guys, Let's Get Outta Here!

Just in case you thought I was lying about the small village of Christmas Yard Art that lives in my garage. Look, Santa's having a good stretch after a long year hanging upside down from the rafters.

All I Want for Christmas is a Stone Tablet and A Chisel

For once, I'm not going to apologize for being gone for awhile, since it wasn't my fault. I mean, it was technically my fault, that part about pouring my cup of coffee on the keyboard last week. That was the technical problem. But I went right out and bought a new keyboard and replaced the whole operation (at a bargain price, I might add), so the blame for being off the computer for the rest of the week was technically off me.

Said new operation didn't work. The first time. Or the second time. Or the third time, which involved a little alcohol, of course. (Could anyone blame me? By my third visit to Office Depot, I was pretty sure I was going to get a nametag.) But to no avail; I was trying to be all Take Care of the Problem and Don't Whine Ask Hub Nicely to Do It for Me, and what ended up happening?

When John had cussed at worked on the computer for quite some time, then eventually gone down to Office Depot himself and bought an entirely different operation (which is not to say that I bought the wrong one, oh no, nuh-uh) it finally started working again. Well, mostly. Up until I wanted to print something. That was all effed up too, which really has nothing to do with a drowning keyboard, but it was simultaneous, so I figured...never mind what I figured.

Don't even get me started on those stupid "connections". Why can't there just be one cord, for the whole thing? Plug in, turn on. How hard would that be? The fact that you have to plug in like 15 things, no less in all the right plug holes (technical term) is absurd.

I'm back. Didn'tcha miss me?

November 22, 2009

I Can't Help It

So we're sitting in Applebees the other night, John, the Jackster and me. Jack's new desire for a cell phone started to rear its ugly head at some point, and he started asking questions about buying his own phone. When he got the information that he would also have to buy the two-year calling plan, and that you had to be 18 to sign that contract, he got a little stumped.

And here is why I shouldn't be allowed to have life-question conversations with my kids. I just want to make sure my kids are informed, but I always seem to cross over from enough information to answer the question to way more information than they need, leading to more questions I cannot possibly answer.

J: "Why do you have to be 18?"

Me: "You just do. Like you have to be 18 to do most stuff."

J: "Why?"

Me: "Oh, I don't know. Someone randomly picked 18, after a bunch of psychological testing or something, to be the age that you can do stuff."

J: "Like what?"

Me: "Like sign a contract. Or vote." Should have stopped right here. "Or join the army," or here "buy a house," or even here "get married."

J: "You have to be 18 to get married?"

Me: "Well, do...." could have stopped here "unless your parents say it's ok to get married earlier."

J: "So basically your parents can tell you who to marry even if you don't like her?"

Me: "No, not like that. But let's say you're 16 or 17, and you think you're really in love, and you want to get married." Stop the train "The law says you can't, but if your mom and dad say it's ok, then they sign something and the law lets you."

J: "Why?"

Me: "Well, because when you're that young, sometimes you don't make the best decisions." Full speed ahead "You tend to get all caught up and think you're really, really in love, but most marriages don't last when they start at 17."

J: "Oh. When do they start to last?"

Too late.

John raises his eyebrows and looks at me, all smug and smart and shit.
"Yeah, honey. What age do they start to last?"

This is Husband of the Year, all Mr. Supportive alright.

November 20, 2009

I Remember

Well, I suppose learning to make a festive, seasonal wreath was one way to avoid thinking about the upcoming holiday's downside. It's not the shopping, the crowds, the money, the stress, or anything I used to freak about. I can deal with all of that pretty well these days, but I'm not dealing too well with the fact that Matt won't be here.

This picture was taken about this time last year, right around the time everything was going to hell. It's funny, but it's not how I remember him best. This is what I remember, when I let myself go there:

I remember when he used to smile, a real smile, not that snide, too-cool-4-u smile I came to hate. I remember when his hair wasn't green and his nails weren't painted black, when he loved Legos and still slept with Barney on his bed. I remember when he made me laugh so hard I cried, when I couldn't believe how smart and witty he had become. Talking about the places we wanted to visit someday, trips we planned to take together.

I remember when the hair coloring was fun and funny. When he and Casey and I would go shopping at Hot Topic and we would put together outfits for him, thinking "Oh, this Emo thing is weird, but it's so much better than the non-fashion he followed before."

I remember when I could talk to him. When I still had some connection, however volatile or tenuous it might have been, with this boy, my first born child. By the time he left, I hardly knew him and I even had a hard time remembering the boy he used to be. But here it is, almost Christmas again, and my memory is recovering a little. Some memories are warm and make me smile, some just about kill me with longing and regret and sadness and hope.

This will be the first Christmas I have not spent with my son. I know, there are millions of parents who will be away from their kids this holiday season, and I don't ever mean to discount the emptiness in the heart of every soldier who won't be home this year. I don't mean to minimize the pain of any parent who has had to bury a child, or who will divide time this season between home and a children's hospital. Without a doubt, I thank God that my son is alive and well, and that I know where he is. It could be so much worse.

Still, I miss him terribly.

November 19, 2009

Fruits of My Labor

So here it is. My fall wreath.
I'm proud, actually. If you only knew how not crafty I have been all my life. Unlike my kindergarten friend Karlynn, (with the uber-perfect curled pigtails) whose artwork was always displayed in the halls and whom I am absolutely certain grew up to be a professional scrapbooker, I was the kid who was eating the paste instead of working with it. Which could explain many things about my adult life, aside from being creatively challenged.
P.S. John, now our front door is pretty.

November 17, 2009

Husband of the Year

I'm making a fall wreath for my front door today. Yeah, I'm a little late, and I likely won't finish it until the turkey's in the oven next Thursday; the day after that I will take it down and replace it with the Christmas wreath. This leads my husband to wonder why I need bother? Why don't I just leave the door blank -- Our front door is pretty, isn't it? he asks.

Well, no, honey, not so much. It's empty. It's just sitting there all bare and season-less (who knows what time of year it is if I don't have the right wreath up, for God's sake?)

I have to send a little love out to the hub, at this point. He didn't understand about the wreath at all. He didn't care about the wreath at all. He had no intention of ever giving a crap, in any way, about any wreath, anywhere. And yet...

Sunday afternoon, he went craft shopping with me. We're not rolling in money, and I'm pretty sure the last thing on earth he wants to spend it on is fake leaves, (especially since he's a little touchy about the mountains of real leaves covering his front yard). But he did. I won't even tell you what I he blew on stuff that I will cover my little wreath with. But at every turn, every time I would place some must-have wreath adornement in the basket, he would just smile and keep on pushing that little non-manly basket around.

Most likely, with my haul, I could make a wreath for everyone on my block, but how was I to know what I would need? I've never done this before. Now I have extra fake leaves to place cutely on the table at dinner next week, and little plastic (totally real looking) pears and apples with which to fill a bowl on the coffee table. Of course, he doesn't get this either.

But I bet he will, pretty soon. See, after the craft store aventure, he took the Estrogen Train to a whole new destination. We came home and he watched Dirty Dancing with me, for no reason at all.

Like I wasn't going to put out, after he navigated all that glitter and ribbon.

Dirty Dancing? Hon - ey!

Here, go crazy with this Sears Tool Catalog. You've earned it.

Post-it Note Tuesday

November 14, 2009

It's Starting....

Yep, this picture was taken today, November 14th. And yes, that is a wreath you see, between my husband and his Trusty Assistant. Indeed, those little colored round things are lights.

Christmas lights. Here we go.

We're not the first house to get our lights up this year, but we're the first DIYers to do it. (Woah, did I just say "we"? I am so sorry. There is no "we" involved in the Exterior Holiday Decorating of this house. I am occasionally required to view from a distance and determine if something is straight. Other than that, I must admit, I do absolutely nothing in that department.) Other people have paid professionals to crawl around the roof before today, but after twelve years of this, I'm pretty sure John's got the "pros", hands down.

I know what you're thinking...Wazzup with the lights before Thanksgiving?? For one thing, the Pacific Northwest is not a tropical area, if you have never been here. By this time of the year, we have lots of rain and ice and sometimes even snow. So if we get a dry weekend, with temps over the low 30's, we take advantage of the gift and get the bling on the house, albeit a little early. You would too, I believe, if you had known the pleasure of stringing slippery, wet lights across an even slipperyer roof, with icy rain pouring down the back of your neck (ask John).

And secondly, even if the weather were lovely, it's not a small project. It's kind of a two-weekend deal anymore. Used to be, back when all we had were a couple of cardboard boxes of C9 ceramic light strings in the garage, John could knock those babies out in an afternoon. But those days are gone, ever since some show-off put up icicle lights. I think that's how it began, all those years ago, although it's a fuzzy memory. And then, some guy put a lit-up deer in his yard. I mean, that kind of makes the C9s, look a little lame, doesn't it? We didn't used to be competitive people, but you gotta stay with the speed of traffic or you're going to get run over.

You should see our garage now. Well, you could see it, the original walls and all, if it weren't lined with shelving that now houses the two dozen labeled plastic bins, neatly filled with the Christmas decor. You could see the ceiling too, if it weren't for the deer and the polar bear and the sleigh and the massive Santa and the garland and the 6' wide wreath that hang upside down from the rafters for the other 10 months of the year. And if you think that's bad, let me be clear: we're not even close to being The Best House on the Block.

We do it big, here in Sky Island, or we don't do it at all. We make the news sometimes; we have a steady stream of Looky-Loos for hours, every single night, the entire month of December. We have something for everyone - from the beautifully elegant to the over-the-top musically synchronized light shows, we've got it all. Not until after Thanksgiving, though, are we allowed to turn any of this on. We have scruples, for God's sake! How tacky would that be? Christmas lights before Thanksgiving. Please.

You want to know what the best part is? The thing I look forward to every year, with never dwindling anticipation, is when we bundle up the kids, way past bedtime on a school night, and walk down our spectacular street, oohing and aahing, as if we don't look at it every night. It makes all the prep work and rainy installs and the quadrupled electric bill totally worth it.

It may be my favorite night of the year, here. After Halloween. Or maybe the night we all stumble down the street, sans kids, at our Annual Twelve Drinks of Christmas party.... but wait.

That's another story.

November 9, 2009

Seeking Smell Good Job

Crikey! Someone didn't take her meds yesterday! The kid's ok and that's all that really matters. In the end, all of this will work itself out, right?

But a little retail therapy didn't hurt today. I was wandering around Nordstrom with Karma, half-thinking that I might be able to work there, regardless of the fact that I have no retail experience and I really suck at folding shirts. It's just so darn nice in there; who wouldn't want to go there every day? No one ever comes home from a grueling day at the MAC makeup counter smelling like french fry oil, I'm sure of it. And those little black aprons are totally cute "uniforms".

But then I got to thinking about how I'm really not a pretty girlie girl, when it comes down to it. I have to work at getting all dressed up and making my hair perfect. I'd have to do that every day. Hmmmm. I used to throw on a fleece vest and a pair of worn-out clogs for my old job (oh, yeah, and pants too); it might be a little stressful to have to be all jewelled and hairsprayed and such. And I'd probably have to wear lipliner, which, I swear, is the most bizarre thing ever invented and I would just have to put my foot down on that.

This is probably part of the reason I'm still unemployed. I'm a little picky. I don't like teenagers, so I can't use my college degree. I don't like smelling bad, so I can't do fast food. And since good, old fashioned Chapstick trumps all the gloss and goo in my entire purse, I can't work at Nordies.
I should have jumped on the Fish Feeder when I had the chance.

November 8, 2009's the trouble with being a control freak...

...just when you think it's all in line, you realize that, in the grand scheme of things, you really have no control at all.

There I am, puttering around my ordered garden, raking up [messy] leaves and pulling up [ugly] dead plants, and I get a phone call from my neighbor/friend, the one who keeps an eye on my kid since he moved out. (Read this first if you're relatively new here, and the related link for a better understanding.) Candy is my oldest friend here, and we've been through a lot together. Her son, Conner, and my son, Matt, are close friends, so Matt still hangs out there. This is how I see him, and how I know that he's ok. He never comes over here, or even looks this way, even though he can be over there for hours, even days at a time. Candy kind of takes care of him where his completely irresponsible father doesn't, since he's "not interested in parenting" (direct quote out of his mouth).

This afternoon, she called in a panic to tell me that the boys had been in a car accident, that Matt had flipped his van. They were both unhurt, but Matt couldn't get ahold of his dad and he needed parental consent for a medical release from the paramedics. Since we were outside, we didn't hear the phone, so John missed the direct call and page from one of his BCs, telling him that his kid was in an accident, and I missed the call from Matt. I just happened to step inside to get some water when Candy called.

No one was hurt. That's the most important thing. But Matt wasn't calling to tell me that; he wasn't calling because he needed comforting. When I got him on the phone, I asked if he was ok. His response was, "Yeah. Here, you need to talk to this medic" and he was gone. The medic was there, on the line, obviously a guy I know, who's trying to explain to me what happened...I finally just interrupted him and told him to talk to John. Like I was listening to him, anyway.

Come to find out, The Most Perfect Dad in the Universe is actually out of town. In Chicago, to be exact. And gets better...isn't even due back until Monday. So this 17 year old kid is home alone, with a car, for how many days?

And I lost custody in court!

Then, he (idiot dad) asked Candy if Matt could stay with her until tomorrow, since he couldn't get a flight out of Chicago tonight without paying extra. Just didn't want to spend the money.

Yes, really.

I drank a glass of wine (ok, three) and took a really long, really hot shower. I tried not to slump down in my closet in the dark and cry, even though that's what I felt like.

I don't mean to bring anyone down on this Sunday evening, but this is the reason I write. I was scared for him, and for Candy and her own son's safety. I am confused as to what my role is here. Legally, I'm clear. I have no jurisdiction over any of this. Not since he and his asshole dad took me to court. Not my car, not my responsibility for the damage. However, just as a mother, aren't I supposed to give a shit?

You know that ex-boyfriend you have, the one who's different from all the other ex-boyfriends? The one you are done with and the one whose number you actually did delete from your contact list because he was such a complete d**kwad to you that you're past it? My kid is kind of like that for me. I wanted to hold on to him for so long, no matter what horrible and awful things he said and did to me. I kept forgiving, allowing and enabling, and then, one day, I was just done. Weird analogy, huh?

I'm always afraid, when I'm this *out there* with my thoughts, that you'll think I'm a terrible mom. You must wonder why I don't run across the street and grab him in my arms and tell him how glad I am that he's ok and how much I love him.

Maybe you wonder why I didn't go out to the crash site in the first place.

Or why he's across the street at a neighbor's and not here in my house.

I don't know, maybe you are, maybe you aren't. Truth is, I wish all these things were true. I can't tell you what it felt like to get the news, but not be the one to get the call.

When my son was about two, and I was newly single, I would put him to bed at night and be grateful for a bit of me-time. But he wasn't a sleeper - still isn't - and could lie awake for hours in the dark. So I would go in and curl up on the bed beside him, and I would stare into his little blue eyes. We would just lay there, staring at each other in the darkness, in a silent, unspoken contest to see who would fall asleep first. I was smarter, of course, because I would fake him out. I'd start to purposely droop my eyelids, which would cause him to ease up a little. Then I'd watch him from underneath my "closed" eyelashes, until he gave in to the sleep. We did this every night for a long, long time. I was so sad when, one night, I went in and he was already fast asleep. Our game was over, and he had moved on without me.

As I sit here now, a house and a world away from him, don't think for a minute that I wouldn't trade everything I have in this world for one of those nights - or to have been able to be there for him, today.

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” - Elizabeth Stone

P.S. For a minute, I thought I might apologize for slamming my ex-nightmare husband, for being that ex-wife, but then I thought: naaah. Today, I'm entitled.

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far...

I'm a total control freak. I've only recently earned the title, though. I haven't been this way my whole life. Oh, sure, I've always been a bossy boss, and I'm quite adept at pouting when I don't get my way. But growing up, I never had the weird OCD housecleaning obsession, or the not-wanting-help-with-anything-because-you-won't-do-it-right issue.

In the past, I was lazier than all get out. Clean my room/dorm/apartment? Why would I do that? I mean, that coffee table - made out of cement blocks and a slab of plywood - isn't going to look any better without a stack of magazines, a full ashtray, four half-full coffee cups and two empty M&M's bags on it, right? When I was married to my wrong first husband, our house was a pit. We lived in this crack-house apartment complex (that's another story) with wood paneled walls and dark brown shag carpet (and it wasn't the 70's). We had a 3' x 6' galley kitchen that had about 2 sq. ft. of counter space. We managed to put (and keep) about 10 sq. ft. of crap on that counter - which, I like to think now, was simply a subconscious attempt at hiding the almond gold formica top with cigarette burns in it.

But then I bought my first house, which is the same one I live in now, and all that changed. And morphed - beyond housecleaning and general tidying up to full-blown towel-straightening and canned food organizing, a la Sleeping with the Enemy. OK, maybe not that bad. But I might be headed that way...

I got it from my Dad, this disorder. I used to make fun of him - we all did - and his perpetual neatness. I could tell you how, as a teenager, I wasn't allowed to hang posters in my room. They were ugly; instead, over my bed, I had hammered brass wall hangings, that my Uncle Fred artistically created in his garage. I had to tape David Cassidy up inside my closet door. We didn't have a fridge covered in school pictures and report cards, because that was messy. We made our beds every single morning. We never, ever went to bed with dirty dishes in the kitchen sink.

I used to think he was a freak, but now I sort of get him. In defiance of him, my fridge is choc-full of pictures and report cards. But they're in magnetic frames and perfectly arranged. My kids' rooms are full of things they love, things they've chosen, and things that reflect their individual personalities. But I've made sure it's all neatly hung with matching thumbtacks and that all the trophies stay dusted and arranged by sport, from tall-to-short.

Lately, I've had some snide comments thrown my way about my OCD love of tidiness, and I feel a little bummed about that. I've been a slob my whole life and now, finally, I've managed to become a neatnik...and people are calling me a Control Freak. How fair is that? I've worked hard to get here! It's not easy, you know, making sure everything in the world goes my way.

Thank God my Dad will be here this week, for his annual holiday visit. He'll come in and be all kinds of impressed that our new beer fridge is not only stocked with every possible beverage choice, but that all the bottles are lined up in Type Categories on each shelf. And the best part is, he'll say something about it. He'll validate me and my craziness. He won't tell me I'm a freak, he'll say, "Who are you, and what did you do with my daughter?"

Which is probably the nicest thing he could say to me, since growing up to be my Dad hasn't been such a bad thing, after all.

Check out this awesome post about letting go of the control:

November 6, 2009

Fresh Flowers Just Aren't Enough

I'm procrastinating. Can you tell? New font. I'm sorry, Joanne. I got tired of the old font, which is related to, sort of, why I'm procrastinating this morning.

I'm having a big party tonight and the only things I have left to do are all the things I hate doing, like mopping. All the decorating and prettying up of things, I did yesterday. All day. As if I were waiting for the Cribs film crew to arrive for the episode on my place. I arranged flowers and candles and organdy table runners; I finally figured out what to do with that cool beaded thing I bought at the after-Christmas sales two years ago. I dusted and polished and rearranged stuff (didn't have the energy to move any furniture, although I've been known to completely reconfigure a living room for a dinner party.)

I can't help it; I'm obsessive about entertaining. It starts small, in my head, when I tell myself: "These are all people who've been here before and who know your house. You don't need to impress them. Just run the vacuum over the carpets and put some fresh flowers out. Done." But then I get started, and it becomes a disease.
Inside my head, while simply cleaning the bathroom:

Wow. That door is really dirty. God, I wonder what magnitude of life-threatening germs are on that door handle? I should probably Clorox Wipe it. And maybe the whole door, really, it's pretty gross. Hey! This door is white. So why do I have a cream-colored towel in here? All the other accents are olive green. Why don't I have an olive green towel in here?
...while dusting the den:

OMG, these glass doors on the curio are practically frosted, they're so dusty. I should Windex them. Maybe I'll rearrange the stuff in the curio. It's been like this for years. That stuff on the shelf is all cluttered, too. I should rearrange all those little things too. God, it's dark on this side of the room. Why is there no light over here? I should move that lamp over here...but then I won't be able to see in that corner... why aren't there two lamps in here?

...while putting away the groceries:

Hmmm. Why is there never any room in this pantry? I can't find anything in here it's so clogged up. I wish I could afford one of those custom closets. These wire shelves suck. I should put in flat wood shelves, at least. How hard would that be? Hard. Maybe I could put, like, bins or something in here. Nice bins. Colored bins! Color coordinated bins! Then I could have everything in its right place.

And that's why I have a new green towel in the bathroom, two candles transported from the back patio to the shelf in the den, and a dozen pink and green plastic bins, lined up side by side, in my pantry. Will my guests care in the slightest (or even notice) that all of this has occurred?

No. I get that. I can tell myself over and over that I'm wasting precious time, spray painting the picture frame on the side table in the living room (because the color is so hideous I can't bear to look at it another minute, even though it's been sitting there minding its own business for five years.)

Is this just me? Are the other people out there who feel the need to completely rennovate their homes just because a few people are coming over for drinks? Seriously, I'm already stressed about the fact that my barstools are broken (dangerously loose hardware, but still useable if one is careful). But I can't find any new ones I like! Not by tonight! (Notice I don't care if my kid gets killed when one of them comes flying off its frame, I'm just worried about what my girlfriends will think about my busted up kitchen furniture.) What is wrong with me?

Anyway, gotta go. I have a light fixture for the hallway I have to install. It is sooo much nicer than the brass one that's been there for twelve and a half years. Can you believe I put up with it for that long?

November 4, 2009

Career Ops

Slacking again. Sorry.

First off, let's just get the whole I Hate the Yankees thing out of the way. What a depressing game. I'm not even a true Phillies fan, but the slaughter was pretty unbearable. Aside from Cutie Patootie Jeter and Amazing Athlete Rivera, they're all so smug and annoying. Even the adorably adorable Kate Hudson doesn't make up for A-Rod's ego. In case you were wanting my opinion.

I've been actively job hunting again (kind of took a break there for a bit) and still finding no luck. I did, however, get some really good leads from Jen. She thought that my Drew Barrymore Roller Girl fascination, coupled with my superior customer service skills, made me a perfect candidate for Waitress at Sonic. Which is perfect, of course, since we have a new one in town. The thing is, I have a hard time carrying food from the kitchen to the table without making a mess; I can't imagine trying to carry it across a parking lot [in the rain] on wheels. My health insurance doesn't cover injury to pride.

And, I am very sad to see that my Favorite Job Posting of the Week has disappeared from the web, and I didn't bother to actually copy the ad for you. But it went something like this:

Fish Feeder (Part time)

I have approximately 5 fish. Come every day at 2pm and put some flakes in the bowl. Owner just doesn't like the smell of the food. They are nice fish.

Approximately 5. Maybe 4, some days 6, not entirely sure. I'm so bummed someone got the job before I could apply.

Jack is looking for a job too. He had to write his own resume tonight. It's very specific, since the job he is interested in is the part of Danny in the school musical, Grease. The drama teacher required the kids to write a resume to be considered for an audition, which I thought was a pretty cool cross-curricular exercise, even if it did take all night and there's no way on God's green earth he'll get the part, bless his little tone-deaf heart.

He can't sing to save his life. Not like he's 11 and he hasn't grown into his voice, but like he has no concept of tune whatsoever. But he loves it. More than just about anything, besides football and baseball. He sings day and night, whatever little song that pops into his head. When he was a toddler, he used to make up a song for everything he saw on the road when we were driving. Instead of pointing and saying "McDonalds!" like any non-musically inclined kid, Jack would make up a little ditty, like "I love McDonalds / They have good hamburgers / I want a hamburger nooooooooow!" (I won't put the accompanying musical score here, since it would be impossible to recreate the unique randomness of notes.) And now, all day long, I hear "It's electrifying!" and "Grease is the word, is the word, is the word", over and over again, perfecting his solo for the audition.

How can I shoot down that kind of life-long dedication now? What can I do but support him? Please, please don't tell him I told you this, but my favorite line in his resume, under Profile, is "Can sing in a low voice that doesn't make my face look weird."

Ya mean, like this?

Who has that kind of talent, really?

That's a gift.

Rock on, dude.

October 28, 2009

Women Rock!

Oh my!! I feel! Thanks everyone! I do have to wonder though, did anyone catch my attempt at humor? You all sounded so serious in your sympathy. Except Kim, of course.

I'm good, really. I'm not dying, A), and 2) if you haven't noticed by now, I have a bit of a proclivity towards drama. Oh, you did notice?

Feeling a hundred percent better today and wanted to share my afternoon, real quick like, since it's three chocolate martinis past my bedtime. It was my BBF (best boy friend)'s birthday tonight, so there was a little celebratin' going on, amidst the kickASS near-shut-out by the Phillies. But more on that later.

Today I joined some of my book club ladies and we had lunch downtown with Ann Rule. Yes, the Ted Bundy Ann Rule. Well, we didn't exactly sit at her table or anything...but after an hour or so in line, she did write "Happy Halloween" in my very own copy of Too Late To Say Goodbye. And she was so nice, and so personable. But that wasn't the real highlight of the luncheon.

It was sponsored by the Pierce County Sexual Assault Center . There was a woman who told her life story, beginning with psychological and emotional abuse by her mother, followed by sexual abuse by her grandfather, promiscuity, drugs and alcohol as a teen and a brutal rape as a college student. I was floored. I couldn't take my eyes off this 20-something woman who had lived a lifetime of horror in half the time I've been living my privileged, relatively trauma-free life.

I am inspired now to follow up on her story, to see how I might be able to get more involved. I have discovered, simply through blogging, that there are millions of women out there looking to support and be supported...we can all come together if we make the effort. I "met" a woman the other day on my blog who was facing the prospect of breast cancer in remote Montana, with no one around to share her fear. I found out today that her results came back negative and I felt like I had received the news from a good friend.

That's the power of connection and community. That's the gift of not being alone when the news comes, or when all the shit hits the fan at once. Imagine! Me sitting here all sniffly and whiny, and before I know it, I've got sympathy coming out my ears. People wanting to bring me soup AND wipe my drool.

Imagine that power when the trauma is real.

October 27, 2009

Where's the Love?

I admit it. I'm a baby when it comes to being sick. If I dig far enough into my childhood to blame my parents for this (which I'm pretty good at) I'll tell you that it's my mom's fault, mostly.

My mom was the mom who had to see blood spurting from a gaping wound with a fever and a pulse rate under 30, before we could stay home from school. A mere sniffle or upset stomach was a joke. There was no such thing as a headache; kids don't get headaches, she'd say. I'll give you a headache.

Not that she didn't love us, don't get me wrong. She just didn't believe in whining, and you had to be really, really sick not to be considered a whiner. My mom would have laughed at the Swine Flu. Oh, for Pete's sake, get a Kleenex and put your shoes on. Quichyer bitchin'.

So, you see, I was deprived of sympathy and warm mugs of chicken noodle soup, right into adulthood. (And, need I say, the ability to dodge a math test when I needed to.) And here's the thing that really sucks: I married my mother. No, you know what I mean.

My poor husband, Mr. Strong Who Never Gets Sick. He's so not the Doting Husband. He's all about going to work with The Worst Cold Ever. Too much to do! The world might cease to spin should I stay in bed!

Good lord! All I want to do is watch back to back Roseanne reruns all day long, and for someone to make me (and bring me) soup; I want someone to check to make sure my blanket is covering my toes and that my little homemade hot pad (it's a tube sock filled with rice; aren't I brilliant?) is hot enough and positioned correctly across my shoulders. I'm trying not to whine, really, I am. I try not to make a little sad, moaning noise every few minutes when I have to reach for ANOTHER tissue. But why should I pretend I feel ok? Why should I fake it? That's just plain dishonest. And why on earth would I go to work when I feel like I'm standing on the edge of my grave? When I can barely inhale without launching into a black plague cough? (Oh, wait! I don't have a job! I wouldn't go to work if I were well!)

But there's no one here in my house who's banging down the door for the position of Wait on Mom Hand and Foot. Not even Jack, although he does try not to slam all the doors in the house while I'm trying to nap, as he runs through, yelling "Mommmmmm!! Where ARE you?"

Nope, it's just me feeling sorry for me. Me making soup for me, and me bringing it to me on the couch where I arrange my own blanket and heat up my own tube sock.

I want to be babied. Is that so much to ask?

Evidently, uh, yeah, it is.

October 23, 2009

One Year Down

Hmmm. What happened there? Two weeks I've been gone?? What kind of writer is that?! Not to mention, I had the date, October 18, scribbled on my notepad, here by my computer. It was my First Blogiversary, and I wanted to be sure not to miss it. I wanted to log in and say Yahoo! It's been a year and I'm still writing! I was even mulling around great ideas for my post for that day, having spent the past twelve months meeting some remarkable writers through blogging and being inspired beyond anything I could have imagined. Woops. I never was very good with important dates.

But my absence is due less to forgetfulness than it is to denial and avoidance. After a couple of weeks away, I realized why it was so hard to log in. I went back and read my very first entry, and I was slammed with all the reasons I came here in the first place. I hadn't really forgotten them, I had just managed to do a bang-up job of avoiding my issues as this year progressed.

A year ago, my now-17 year old son, my troubled wayward rebel, ran away from home for the first time. At first, it was just annoying. If you were with me then, you know that we were most concerned as to where he was going to plug in his flat iron, if he were on the streets. John wondered which of the Tacoma bridges was running power, and did they have mirrors too, for applying guyliner? We made a lot of jokes about it at the time, which I know was a defensive tactic for me, but we also knew where he was, which was about two blocks away at a friend's house. I wasn't worried so much as I was pissed, really. Then, before I could settle into this new [and I thought temporary] inconvenience in my life, a place from where I could still look into his eyes and see my son, it all went sideways.

What I remember most is the losing. Losing the ability to reel him back to me, to soften him enough to talk, to see beyond those angry, angry eyes. I lost his trust and I lost custody of him in court. I lost the ability to wake up in the morning and be a good mom to my other kids.

Every day, I would discover something else I couldn't do, as a mother. Some other thing I was supposed to be good at that had slipped through my fingers. I cried, I slept, I ate, ate and ate, and I drank. A lot. Then I decided that if I added drugs to that mix, things might improve. Prozac, my new best friend.

Yeah, it took the edge off all right. Numb was a whole lot better than manic, for awhile at least. It was easier to sit in court, talk to a cop, deal with the school or purge to the counselor when I couldn't really feel anything. And oh so much easier to deal with Matt; his rages and screaming and cussing at me, his hateful, mean words and the way he looked right through me as if I had never seen him before in my life.

And everyone said, oh how sad these teenagers are so rebellious, and oh we went through that with johnny, believe me it gets better. And I wanted so much to believe them, but I knew I didn't dare, because I knew that Matt's behavior wasn't normal teenage angst. And I kept trying to reach him, and help him and love him and the more I did, the harder he pulled away from me. Before I knew it, we were sitting in the police station with two officers who wanted to arrest him for assault and they left it up to me to make the final call. What kind of f**ing choice is that to give a mother?

And everyone said, oh, you did the right thing, tough love, that's what he needs. But I couldn't sleep that night because my kid was in juvie and as tough as he acted on the outside, I knew he was scared to death and all I wanted to do was go down there and rescue him. But I didn't, and then he was gone. We spent four month fighting his lunatic biological dad in court for custody and we lost.

Yes, I know where he is. I see him all the time. He hangs out across the street and with the neighbor kids sometimes, but he never comes over here. He doesn't talk to me or look at me. I know he's in school because his dad's too lazy to change the contact information and I still get it all.

It's October again and it's been about a year since my kid left. I tried to pretend it was like he went to college; I redecorated his room and tried to make light of it. I stopped taking Prozac because I hadn't felt anything in so long I thought I would slip into a coma. I'm ok with that, even though I cry all the time again. At least it's real. I cried in Target the other day, looking at Christmas cards and realizing that we weren't going to be able to take family pictures this year. It's just too awkward to explain the missing person, or not explain.

Some days I go about my normal parenting duties with Jack and Casey and I congratulate myself on being a really good mom. But some days, maybe over these past couple of weeks, I stand in the doorway of his old room and I remember all that used to be there. I imagine what it would be like if he were here again; I force all of the good memories aside so that I can justify his not being here. If I only remember the bad stuff, it will make sense to me that he’s gone.

So...having said all that...

I’d like to celebrate my one year of writing. I'm grateful to everyone who comes here and reads. Maybe you get a laugh, or learn something, or just don't feel alone in wherever your journey is taking you. It's done wonders for me, having a place to go where I can read through the lives of others and feel safe enough to write my own story. I want to celebrate this new community of writers who have so warmly welcomed me.

I just don’t feel like celebrating October, that’s all.

October 13, 2009

These are a Few of My Favorite Things....

Wednesday Late Start.

Our school district starts Wednesdays 90 minutes late. This makes Tuesday night kind of like a mini-Friday night; we can have friends over for dinner and the kids can stay up a little later. And sleep in. I think it's the greatest thing ever invented.

Cash Cab.

Every night it's on tv from 5-7, four episodes in a row. Perfect timing for cooking dinner and it makes me feel smart. I love Ben Bailey. I would love to end up in that cab someday. I wouldn't even have to win.

My Husband Does Dishes.

John has always done the dishes in our house after dinner. Unless I offer, he will get up and clear the table and completely clean the kitchen (even to my specifications!) without prompting, while I sit at the table and ramble endlessly to him, sipping my wine. I love that. I love him.

I know there are many more...just a quick share tonight.

Sleep well!

Slipping on the Big Girl Panties

Grouchy McGrouchster here. I was just checking out everyone's morning posts and getting a good laugh here and there; it sure takes the grump out of my war with technology yesterday.

My friend Kim, who is also job hunting, and who also suffers from depression, and who also hates this whole technology thing, took the brunt of my frustration since she was the only one whom I felt could truly relate. I ranted and raved on the phone to her until I felt better - ok, I didn't really feel better. At least she got it. She didn't say things like "If you'd just take a deep breath and focus, this would all be ok." Nor, as my mom would have, did she say something like "Just get off your duff* and do it! And put a smile on your face."

Instead, Kim validated for me that having gotten up, exercised, showered and cleaned the kitchen, I was a million miles ahead of myself and it was a very good day. Wrangling with the computer was not what I needed. I needed to continue my morning feeling as though I were accomplishing things - great things, even - not feeling like a complete idiot. Thanks, Kimmie :)

But then, I was able to pull myself out of it a bit by quitting (yes, I know) at least for awhile. I walked away from it and left the house. I went grocery shopping and found super deals (I'm not a bargain hunter, per se, so this was good.) I picked up the kids and was nice to Jack (sometimes I'm not so good at that when I'm pouting.) I made a spectacular dinner that everyone liked. And I never came back in here to look at another job site. Not once.

Smart move. I shouldn't get so worked up over such little shit. Today, instead of sitting down and opening, I opened a friend's blog and caught up on her writing. Then I opened another one and another one, until I was feeling alive and friendly and supported and surrounded by good karma. A much better beginning to the day, I think, than trying to remember thirteen different passwords and log-in names. Opening up a "perfect match" job that turns out to be a Forklift Trainer, since one of my "key" words is "trainer." Dude. Forklift? My friends flip a coin to see who has to sit in the front seat when I drive a regular car.

So now I'm ready to hit it again. Thanks for bearing with me. I'll strive to be a bit less of a whiner spoiled brat beotch today.

* Duff. What a fabulous word. My mom really does use it, too.

October 12, 2009

I Miss My Highlighter

I'm starting to hate my computer. Didn't I say, about a month or so ago, that I was obsessed with it? Proof that you can have too much of a good thing.

The thing is, I spend waaaaaaaaay too much time on it, and not doing anything fun, either. I'm not blogging, or reading blogs, or shopping online or even reading and working on my web page tutorials. What I've spent most of my logged-on hours doing is looking for a job. And, for the record, I AM SICK OF IT.

I have to say right up front that I am very, very fortunate in that I'm not looking for a job because I'm about to lose my house, or I can't feed my kids. My heart and all my good energy go out to everyone who is in such a place. I just need a little extra cash to make the ends come together again, like they used to before we had a college student and three car payments and child support to pay and a kid who wants to play every sport known to man (and therefore requires registration fees and uniform costs up the wazoo.) Yes, I am so, so, so lucky that this is the only reason I need a job. Nonetheless, need, along with crazy, is relative.

So here I am, at my age, trying to navigate the job-seeking world with a pretty outdated computer, a really outdated resume and, more or less, no clear idea of what I want to be or do. Great starting point, don't you think?

I thought I was computer savvy. Evidently, I was comparing myself to my Grandpa (now deceased) who only knew how to do two things on the computer: open the email and hit "forward". I now know that, in regards to the new job hunting world, I'm not all that far ahead of him. I have no skilz whatsoever in roaming around and all of its buddies. I am not interested in paying to become a Platinum Member of anything, which, according to the every-five-minute-pop-up-ads, is going to prevent me from EVER getting hired. If I had the money to pay for this service, I wouldn't need a freakin' job, would I?

I thought my resume was ok. I never thought it was great, but it was good. Was. Key word. My resume, I found out quickly, s.u.c.k.e.d. I think I've finally got it where it might, maybe, get me am interview someday, but I'm sure it's nowhere near the shining displays of all -things-high-tech that are coming out of colleges left, right and center.

I am not looking for full time work, nor am I looking for a "career". So networking among my friends and relatives isn't really an option. I mean, I'm not going to send out a mass email asking my high school alumn if they can match me up with a good clerical/administrative/data entry position, 20 or so hours a week. I'm not a top level exec with a ton to offer. My network is only so wide.

I realize, rather abruptly, that I am a player in an entirely new (and super unfair) game. It's not like the old days, when you looked through the want-ads in your jammies on a Sunday morning, a highlighter perched above the paper, waiting to circle all the perfect opportunities awaiting you. Today, most of the jobs in the category I'm seeking are coming through these big Job Match companies; companies are outsourcing their HR and probably saving a bundle. Well, good for them, I'm sure, but for little ole' stay home moms like me, looking for something to do during the school day that doesn't involve folding clothes, working with grease or operating heavy equipment, it's a stupid idea.

Just saying.

I would never say that in an interview. If I ever get one.

But I won't give up...remember, I'm not a quitter. I just feel really inept and old and confused, especially when I'm filling out the exact same information on the exact same form but for a different company, over and over again, and then STILL attaching my resume at the end, that says the EXACT SAME THING.


And yes, I go to bed tonight grateful for all the amazing blessings in my life, and my prayers are not for me but for those who are struggling to find important and necessary work.

Gotta keep it in perspective.

October 9, 2009

No Drinking While Cooking, or How I Almost Made the Local News

Ahhh, Autum! A time for simmering a little cinnamon in the cider, cozying up with your favorite comfy throw on the couch...and maybe trying your hand at something new, yet traditional.

And I'm not talking about staining the deck. That wasn't related to autumn, really, other than the fact that since we had procrastinated all summer, it became an autumn activity. After I'd spent the entire day being Ty Pennington's assistant, I felt compelled to keep going. Like I had been sprinkled with creativity dust from the Artsy Crafty Fairy. That and I've been reading all these blogs lately, by women who make and build and do stuff that people like me buy at craft fairs. I want to be a maker, a builder, a doer.

First, though, I took a long, relaxing shower, coupled with a large glass of Old Vine Zine and the ever popular Advil/Aleve combo. By the time I was snuggled into my jams and big fuzzy slippers, I couldn't feel my back at all. I'm pretty sure I was standing up straight by then, too. Jack had been invited to a football game and Shawn was a hurtin' unit like me, so we decided against dinner together and I settled in for a quiet Me Evening. CSI was coming on, right after a Criminal Minds rerun. Dream night! I made a fairly decent chicken and risotto plate for myself, poured some more wine, and then it hit me: I should make Caramel Corn!


But I couldn't be stopped. I poured another glass of Zin and ran to my favorite cooking website, AllRecipes, to find the perfect recipe. And I had all the ingredients! You think I'm kidding, right? Foodies out there are thinking, "She's excited because she's got baking soda and brown sugar on hand?" No, silly. I had Karo syrup! Who has that hanging out in the pantry??

Fifteen minutes (and surprisingly little effort) later, I had a beautiful, golden brown concoction, spread out in my roasting pans (I had those, too!) and ready to bake for an hour.

15 minute cooking increment, #1:

Stir. Smell. Smile. Replace in oven. God, I'm good! Maybe this is my calling! Maybe I could start a business!

15 minute cooking increment, # 2:

I looked at the oven, and somehow, the temperature had been turned from 250 to 550. I'm yelling Fuck! God Damnit! at the top of my lungs (like any good housewife) up until my lungs weren't working so well, because of all the smoke. It was filling my entire downstairs so fast I had to squint to keep my eyes from burning. I was running around like crazy, opening all the windows and cranking up the fan, hoping to beat the smoke detectors, which were going to start screaming... any minute now... not. Not a sound from the built-in, failsafe fire safety system. Not that I was complaining; it's such a pain to deal with the freakin' noise when you're already asphyxiating. However: sort of ironic, no? Fire Chief's Wife Dies of Smoke Inhalation. Investigation Ongoing: Dead Batteries in Smoke Detectors?
Twenty, thirty minutes later, the smoke cleared. Not the smell, mind you, but the smoke. I closed up the house and set the pans in water to soak. I stood in the middle of the kitchen and thought, after all that, the worst part was that I didn't have any caramel corn to eat during CSI.

So what did I do? I bet you think I drove to Walmart for processed high-fructose caramel corn that's been sitting on a shelf for months. I bet you think I threw those pans in the garbage and made up a lie to tell at Thanksgiving, when they came up missing. But I didn't; not the New Me. Not the Maker-Builder-Doer Me.

I made some more.

Never, ever, call me a quitter.