Sunday, December 14, 2008

At the Carwash...

There are unspeakable atrocities of terror that infiltrate our society on a daily basis: the plunging economy, the moral deprivation, the fact that you can still rent "Showgirls" at Family Video... Terror, it seems, finds the most minute cracks in our moral fiber and slowly leaks in, kind of like that Gorilla Spit foam we used last winter, along with six rolls of duct tape to weatherproof our house.
But I have seen terror, complete and utter terror, terror with no escape, terror with no relief, terror with no hope for deliverance...okay maybe it wasn't that dramatic, but it was pretty darn scary because on Thursday I got trapped in a carwash.
I've never trusted automatic carwashes. I'm an old-school kind of girl and kind of claustrophobic, so the idea of driving into a small dark cave where superpowered streams of water are going to be fired at me behind a thin veil of glass and steel causes me just a slight bit of unrest. Besides, when you drive in there's all that clanging and crashing and you're never really sure whether or not you are in the right place or with the next bypass of the ginormous water gun you might possibly have the top or side of your car ripped off in a tragic automotive hygiene mishap.
Nevertheless, Thursday it was beyond my control. A couple of trips down mud roads causing zero visibility out of all my windows except for the windshield and the fact that I was wearing work clothes led me to the LaserWash.
It started out fine. I pulled in until the light blinked and told me to stop. The ginormous water guns began powering up and gave me a presoak. It was during the soap cycle that I noticed a strange grinding noise within the confines of my carwash cave. It sounded like Fran Drescher with a head cold caught in a vice. I tried to ignore it, but I immediately knew that something was amiss and I had seen enough disaster movies to know that something horrible was imminent. Flashes of The Poseidon Adventure, Titanic, and the first installment of DieHard flashed through my mind. I tried to breathe deeply in an attempt to calm myself, unfortunately the carwash was one of those that has the automatic door on one end thus cutting the ventilation factor to next to nothing and breathing deeply resulted in what I still believe might be a slight case of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The grating groaning sound continued to get worse through the soaping and the high powered rinse. At this point I was paralyzed by fear and a little high from the exhaust fumes. This was not the way I wanted to go out...crushed to death by a ginormous water gun and/or suffocated by carbon monoxide fumes from own car. I thought about backing out, but there was a line of people behind me and I didn't think my Dodge Caliber could pull off a Gravedigger and drive right over the top of them.
It was the triple foam that brought about the beginning of the end. I always enjoy the triple foam. It's like mousse for my car and I imagine my car kind of feels like she's at a spa when the triple foam kicks in. I was enjoying the kaleidoscope of colors gently wafting down my windows, getting kind of used to the exhaust fumes pushing me to a really happy place when there was a loud bang and everything, except the foam, stopped. Then this alarm, reminiscent of the Sci-Fi "intruder alert" alarm starts going off. At this point there is a mounting pile of triple foam on the hood of my car, my ears are starting to hurt from the alarm and I'm pretty sure there is a talking lavender unicorn in the passenger seat thanks to the exhaust fumes. I'm afraid to open my door and run, I can't drive through because the huge ginormous water gun is in front of me and the door is down, and I can't make it over the hood of the car behind me to pull off my Sunday, Sunday, Sunday monster truck moves. So I did what any educated, claustrophobic mother would do. I asked the lavender unicorn what she thought I should do, but she was busy talking on the phone to her agent... so I started honking my horn on the off beat of the alarm sound. It took me a couple of times to get it right but once I got it going it worked out pretty well.
By this time there was a Mt. Everest of triple foam on my hood, I'm in a state of panic, the alarm/horn alternating rhythm, although entertaining is obviously not working, and the lavender unicorn has just worked out a deal to be the next Bond girl. This is when the car wash attendant came running into the bay. He looked about as qualified to fix the situation as I felt and I felt pretty darn confident when he began patting himself down either looking for a gun to shoot the possessed monster that was holding me hostage and attempting to kill my car by way of triple foam asphyxiation or he was looking for a cell phone to call someone who knew how to fix the thing. I wondered what would happen if we had to wait for someone to come and help us...eventually my car would be completely submerged in triple foam which I was pretty sure couldn't be good for the paint job and would probably really push the lavender unicorn over the edge...
The triple foam would then spread to the parking lot and eventually the street stopping traffic. It would follow the main traffic byways and veins and eventually would take over the world. It would be like a horrific M. Night Shyamalan movie...only without the Academy Award nomination.
And then, it was over. The attendant had jiggled a hose or tweaked a wire and it was moving and working. The lavender unicorn informed me that she might possibly seek legal action against me, the ginormous water gun stopped sounding like the Nanny with a head cold and the high powered rinse did away with the mountain range of triple foam. The garage door lifted and the sun came shining into the windshield of my car causing the lavender unicorn to explode into five million tiny shards of glitter...It was beautiful.
I reflected on my brush with death, once I came into my full mind again after driving about 10 miles down the interstate with my windows open. Suddenly the sky seemed bluer, the air, fresher, and I had a sudden zest for life. I was going to start giving back more, I was going to appreciate my friends and their diversity. I was going to live more of life because I had just met death, head on, in the LaserWash.
And with my new resolve and my VERY clean car I rolled up my window an struck out with new determination that would last until I turned my heater on and blobs of triple foam shot out all over me and the interior of my car...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Things We Leave Behind...

I cleaned out the closet last week, both literally and metaphorically speaking. Boxes full of old poems and love letters I never had the nerve to send, odds and ends from banquets and movies, pop tabs, the key to my first apartment, a conglomeration of my life dropped carefully into shoe boxes and scribbled down in journals. I sat in the closet, enjoying the peace and quiet and ran my hands over the random items and enjoyed the joy and the sadness that came with remembering a time when love was unrequited, friendship was practically effortless and the measure of importance was on a scale of whether or not I was willing to spend the money to have something laminated or had the concern to put it in a ziplock baggie.
Then came a great cloud over my heart as I realized I had moved on from what now seems like frivolity but back then was so huge and magnanimous I could take the smallest, most insignificant object and turn it into a treasure simply because it reminded me of someone else, had been written on by a hand that I desperately wanted to hold or had been in the presence of myself and someone else on what was probably no extraordinary evening for them, but for me it was just one breath away from perfection.
I'm not that girl anymore, that desperate poet, that romantic idiot who believed that love was found in one-sided suffering. I believe that when in love, both people should suffer...just ask my husband! Call it growing up, call it self-actualization, call it whatever you like...the fact of the matter is that as precious as those treasures were to me when they were collected, they are twice as precious now because they are proof that at some point I was innocent, gullible, naive and a packrat and I really truly believed in an idealistic, romantic form of love.
I do not believe in that type of love anymore. I sat in the closet trying to figure out what to throw out and what to keep and I realized that I can't throw any of it out; I need every one of those little treasures. I can't leave them behind. I can't leave that part of myself behind.
We are a figure it out, fix it, file it away and forget it society that can't seem to accomplish any of those things. We spend hours on the couch trying to figure out why we are the way we are, more hours trying to fix it. We watch Oprah and Dr. Phil hoping that they will tell us something that is going to flip the switch and shed light on all of the darkness we carry around within ourselves. We don't just carry our baggage, we build outfits around it, we allow it to grow into our very substance, we allow it to shape who we become. We leave the wrong things behind when we finally give in and "move on."
But we don't ever move on, not really. See, really moving on, as I have learned over the past couple of weeks, means holding out love to the person who has caused you pain. We leave people, we get angry at people, we shut people out of our lives and we put on the brave face or the righteous indignation face and strut around like we have done something when in fact all we have done is cauterized the nerve endings that lead from us to that person.
My father has never been in my life. I have used the absence of my father as a means to explain away my faults, my shortcomings, my irresponsible streaks. I have used the absence of my father to get things, get out of things and get to things. And in all my bravado and callous stupidity, I have bragged about moving on when all I had done was plant plastic flowers in the pit of crap I was standing in.
But I am moving on...I really am. I received an e-mail from my father recently sent through the Facebook account of my half sister who I have been communicating with for about a year. I can tell you that when I opened up the message and saw who it was from I had two incredibly polar impulses at the same time: overwhelming excitement that made me want to attack a Christmas tree and overwhelming guilt. Here was my excuse for bad behavior, my living breathing crutch and he was reaching out to me. All of my prolific poetry and deep thoughts about his absence began to smell like the manure they always had been.
Some people would say that to truly move on I will have to ignore those e-mails. Some will marvel at his nerve. I marvel at his courage. I'm moving on by clawing my way up out of the crap pit using those plastic flowers as my footholds. I'm moving on by inviting him into my life and hoping beyond all hope that he reciprocates. I'm moving on because I've finally realized, 37 years into this game that I was not the thing he left behind. I'm moving on not because it's the noble thing to do or because it's what Jesus would do. Jesus would have never let it get that far and I don't think the Son of God would spend a lifetime in a crap pit decorated with plastic daffodils. I'm moving on because I have an empty shoebox with my father's name on it and I am ready, so ready, to start filling it up with all of the little treasures that we will share. I'm moving on because deep down, underneath it all, a little bit of the girl in the closet is still coursing through my plasma.
And so, in this moving on, I will leave things behind and I will not look back at them with regret. In this moving on, I will abandon the crutch that was my father's absence and embrace the blessing of his presence. I will discard the baggage that gave me an excuse and embrace the relationship that will bring about reason. I will leave those things behind and become defined not by what I never was, but by who I will be...the daughter of a good man.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Step Away From the Spray Cheese!

As the only woman in a house full of males (even the dogs are packin' testosterone) you get used to certain things that you, as a young, doe-eyed dreamer and proud owner of the Barbie dream house high rise where Ken and Barbie had separate sleeping quarters, never imagined you could get used to. The occasional late-night, sleepy-eyed trip to the bathroom that culminates in a butt baptism and frantic flailing to save yourself from falling ALL the way into the toilet, the nervous giggling and silent prayers for safety as everyone enthusiastically votes for Taco Bell AFTER the movie, the thousands of dollars of Saran Wrap I used to protect the walls, cabinets and every other surface of the house as Kyser was celebrating his freedom from diapers and went through a strange singing and swinging phase, these are the things that NO little girl dreams of. But they are the certainties of being in a home full of boys...I wouldn't have it any other way.

And I never cease to be amazed by the things that evidentally simply come naturally to the male of the species. At only six years of age, Kyser does that rearranging thing, if you know what I mean and I think that you do... I once asked James what was up with that and he said that, like any other high precision tool, sometimes that geographic area requires some fine tuning. I often wonder if perhaps Kyser has seen his father do the relocation maneuver and that is why he does it, so I asked all the "girl/mom" questions: 1. do you have to go to the bathroom? 2. does it hurt? 3. does it itch? 4. did you put Hot Wheels down your underpants again? He simply looked at me and said "I'm just making sure it's still there."

Perhaps it was never so obvious, this difference between the gentler sex and those other guys, as it was tonight. As we did a turbo lap through the local Wal-Mart we came upon a display of Ritz Crackers and canned cheese, the kind that comes out of a nozzle - kind of like edible Silly String. Kyser was fascinated. He just kept looking at the can, trying to figure out how to get the lid off. I hadn't had squeeze cheese as we called it in college, since college. I had a roommate that loved the stuff and we would sit in the second floor lounge pretending to do homework watching "Pretty Woman" over and over again while squirting our mouths full of squeeze cheese and then shoving a cracker in as a chaser. I stumbled down memory lane long enough for Kyser to figure out how to get the can open and was brought crashing back to reality by a glob of squeeze cheese landing in my hair. Kyser had discovered the secret of the squeeze to get to the cheese and had blown the little nozzle clean of the inevitable hard crusty wick and had showered the display with sharp cheddar. About half of the cheese was out of the can and I was desperately using the last 10 wet naps I had in my purse to clean up the remnants of Fromage Fest '08.

My conscious would not let me put back the remaining 1/2 can of squeeze cheese and so I threw it in the cart, fully intending to leave it in the car or better yet toss it in the trash can on the way out of Wal-Mart.

But I got distracted...they were giving away free samples of those shower cap looking things you use to put over your leftovers and Kyser had gotten his head stuck in one and I had to use my car key to cut him an airhole until I could stop laughing long enough to get his head out of the Reynold's Ready Wrap or whatever. He kept sitting on the scale part at the self-checkout and I kept getting the red light special blinky thing happening.

So we finally get home and I headed to the kitchen with one of the bags. It wasn't long until I heard a low hissing sound from the living room and it was then that I remembered the squeeze cheese. I stuck my head around the corner to see Kyser laying under the Christmas tree with the squeeze cheese resting on his chest. Every now and then he would pick up the bottle, open his mouth and expell cheese until he was satsified. I watched him do this a couple of times then he got up and approached the dog, our beautiful, white, old dog Zeus.

There are defining moments of motherhood when you know that no amount of nurturing and training and love is going to give your child the platform to leap into the vast gap that is anything contraintuitive. I realized this as I watched my son do shots of squeeze cheese while watching that show Dirty Jobs. Standing in the doorway of the kitchen watching him cock his head the same way his father did, as if mesmerized by the television, taking drags off the squeeze cheese, every now and then patting his pants, just to make sure it was still there I suppose, and occasionally paint a squeeze cheese smile on Zeus' face and giggle as Zeus desperately tried to lick it all off and come back for more, a gesture which thrilled and delighted my little man and made me want to yonk like a spoiled sorority girl.

But soon enough the squeeze cheese lost its umph and pooped out. It was fun for about 10 minutes to tell Kyser he just needed to shake it, but then he figured out that it was simply kaput and gave up on it. Gone but not forgotten, our weekly trip to the grocery store resulted in two cans of squeeze cheese hidden somewhere he nor his father will ever find it: the cleaning supplies.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

LOST - and there ain't no sexy Italians around...

I always wonder about people that get lost in the wilderness. You know about every three months or so you turn on the television and sure enough, someone somewhere went out wandering around in the wilderness and got lost. Why doesn't someone pull these people aside and let them know that you don't go wandering off into 500 miles of unfamiliar territory armed with a compass and a collapsible shower? It seems to me these are the kind of people that would know not to do that, you know the kind of people who buy their hiking boots at special hiking boot specialty stores and who know how to find magnetic north with a paper clip and a wooden match. I always wondered what it would be like to be completely have no idea where you were, how you got there, and how you were going to get out. I always wondered about the fear and the loneliness, the desperation, the horror. I always wondered, until tonight.
Tonight I found out.
It started about dusk. My last appointment for the day, about an hour from home on a blacktop, nothing out of the ordinary. Driving this time of year always makes me a little nervous. Normally, I would worry about deer, but this time of year, driving through the dark Missouri night I worry about the drunk out-of-towners dancing around the campfires with a can of Milwaukee's Best in one hand and a high-powered rifle in the other, drenched in deer pee, firing off random rounds to prove his manhood to the locals.
My handy-dandy GPS was on, I had a Route 44 Diet Dr. Pepper, I was listening to the 80's radio station, I was safe as a kitten...until I hit Route RB. I've grown up in Missouri, lived here all my life, learned to drive on blacktops and gravel. I've driven on CC, JJ, BB, ZZ and a couple of times I've driven on PP, but never two different letters at the same time. I should have known trouble was coming when I saw the little yellow sign: Pavement Ends.
I looked to Gladys, because that's what I call my GPS, and her little yellow arrows were pointing me in the direction of the ending pavement. Then I heard Gladys' soothing, synthesized voice: continue on the current route. And so I did. And the pavement didn't end. When something ends, there is a closure, a finality, a diminishing somehow. This pavement didn't end. This pavement disappeared and spread out before me is a winding, tree-lined single lane gravel trail. If I was a skinny blonde with big breasts, this would have been the point where the guy with the chainsaw steps out of the woods, climbs on top of my car, cuts the roof off and pulls me out by my weave.
But Gladys said I went.
Two miles...three miles...the road was getting narrower, the trees were getting closer to my car and that's when I heard it. Shots fired! I slammed on my brakes and did what any rational, educated woman would do. I turned down the radio and rolled down the windows to determine which direction it was coming from. That way I could determine whether I was going to die from a gunshot would to the forehead, the temple, or the back of the head...Another shot, and another. I decided my best course of action was to hit the deck. I looked to Gladys for guidance, contemplated risking a bullet wound to pull her down off the windshield into safety, decided she could risk it and hunkered down in the driver's seat.
This lasted for about 30 seconds. After all, I had someplace to be. But the thought of being shot in the head, well, it didn't set well. As luck would have it, my son had left his Speed Racer Sound Effects helmet in the car. I crawled into the backseat and located the helmet which was made of a thick, white plastic and was heavy enough that when my son put it on his neck muscles soon gave way and he had to rest his head on the back of the seat. Of course, sometimes he would just fall I figured it had to have some sort of protective attributes so I snagged the helmet, put it on and headed off, eighties music blaring, ducking down looking at the road through the curve of the steering and the top of the instrument panel wearing the Speed Race Sound Effects helmet.
Now while the helmet provided me with some comfort in the knowledge that my brain was protected in some capacity, there was a problem. It was a sound effects helmet. As long as I held my head stone still, I was fine. But if I turned my head to the right it sounded like cars were speeding past me on my left. If I turned my head to the left it sounded like cars were speeding past me on my right. Every now and then I could hear the crowd cheering me on and Trixie would tell me to "Go, Speed, Go!"
Perhaps it was Trixie's fault. Perhaps it was the Route 44 Diet Dr. Pepper. Perhaps it IS a bladder control problem. Perhaps it's a fact of life for me that I shall never be spared any embarassment as long as I live. There, in the middle of nature, as I lay in wait to hear dueling banjoes and catch a glimpse of a young Ned Beatty streaking in front of my car in his tightie whities, I had to pee. It wasn't just tapping at the door, it was carrying itself across the threshold. It was a full on urination situation requiring judiciary urinary intervention.
I'm a country girl and I always carry toilet paper, wipes, and Tootsie Roll Pops in my car because my Mama taught me right. It was just the thought of stopping there in the middle of the woods where I was sure they shot portions of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, pulling down my fabulous dressy shorts, my tights and my undies in the 33 degree darkness and leaving my scent on Turkey Ridge Road.
I stopped the car and looked at Gladys for suggestions, but she was no longer talking to me following my decision to use her as a human shield, me being the human and she being the shield. I will not give you the gory details, I will just say this: I don't care if you're in Montana, Oregon or Washington in thousands of miles of unchartered wilderness and terrain without a compass or a can opener; you have NEVER been lost until you are attempting to hold your clothing out of way so that you can pee by the light of your own headlights in 33 degree weather in the middle of nowhere wearing a Speed Racer Sound Effects helmet.
Meanwhile, back in the car, I could now rest easy. Music up loud enough to drown out the sound of Trixie and Chim Chim cheering me on, empty bladder, somewhere in Mid-Missouri on Turkey Ridge Road. That was when Gladys went black. It's not like she didn't warn me. "Satellite signal unavailable" Gladys said and then went blank.
"Gladys? Gladys? I'm sorry about the whole bullet thing...Gladys, don't leave me. Gladys...Gladys...Gladys no, no, no, no, no...." And then she was gone. No cell phone signal. No Gladys. No idea where I was... I let the Speed Racer helmet pull me head forward to bang on the steering wheel.
"M'am?" It was a male voice and for a moment I thought it was either Speed Racer or God. I jumped and screamed as I looked up to see the covered face of a deer hunter. I put my window down a little. "Can I help you?" we said to each other at the same time.
"Are you lost?" he asked me.
"Yup, I am completely lost. I have no idea how I got here, no idea how to get out of here and frankly I have no idea where I want to go when I do get out of here."
He laughed for just a moment and pointed straight ahead of my car. "Go around this corner and up the hill turn to the left and I-70 is right there."
I barely understood the directions because I was nodding so hard the Speed Racer helmet was cheering me on nonstop. I pulled ahead and about half a mile down the road, Gladys started talking to me again. I pulled onto I-70 and with the whizzing headlights allowed myself to enjoy the Speed Racer Sound Effects helmet and made myself a promise. If I ever get home, the first thing I'm going to do is nail my feet to the floor.

Friday, November 7, 2008

My Son, My S-elf

There are a plethora of genetic defects that I could have passed on to my son. For example, I have the longest earlobes in the free world; I can actually bend them up and stick them in my ears and they stay there. My mom once got them caught in my pigtails. I spent an entire summer in therapy after a traumatic Bible school experiencing involving my participation in a skit acted out during the old VBS standard "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" Thank goodness, so far, Kyser's earlobes seem to be of relatively normal size. Then there is the issue of my chin. There is no delicate or politically correct terminology to describe the horror that fate, destiny, genetics and God visited on my chin so I'm just going to put it out there: my chin looks like a butt...seriously. So "Butthead" to me is not a derogatory phrase, it's simply a way to get my attention for pictures...

These two things, along with my short, fat fingers, my freakishly wide Ubangi warrior nose, my chipmunk cheeks, which come in handy when traveling for extra storage, and my frighteningly long tongue caused me some concern when I discovered there was going to be a condensed soup version of my husband and my self.

But Kyser escaped with relative normalcy...literally.

It wasn't until the Thanksgiving after his third birthday that I began to notice. At first, we just dismissed it. Not wanting to see the signs, James ignored it. But that Thanksgiving night, after supper and our traditional habit of sitting around and complaining about how full we were until we had enough room for dessert it happened. We were all in the kitchen, except for Kyser. And when we went into the living room we found him standing in the middle of the floor with about 500 multicolored Christmas lights wrapped around his various appendages and torso. He didn't apologize, he didn't look like he expected to get in trouble. He looked up at me with those big blue eyes shining and handed me the cord and said those three little words that were the beginning of the end: "Plug me in."

Kyser is a Christmas nerd. He comes by it honestly. By age two, he knew all the words to "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch." That was the year our dog, Zeus, nearly escaped having pencils glued to his head when we weren't watching...antlers like Max. That was the year Kyser learned some of the words to Jingle Bells...which he began singing in July...and usually in Wal-Mart.

It was the next year, the year he decorated himself, that we discovered the movie "Elf". That was the year Kyser attacked a Christmas tree at Walmart in a futile attempt to put a star on the top of it. He also started requesting maple syrup on everything he ate and got trapped in a revolving door in Columbia.

Tonight we put up a Christmas tree in Kyser's room. His reasoning is that the light from the tree will help make his room warmer. But he doesn't have to explain to me. I come from a long line of premature decorators. I was fine with putting up that little Shrek green three foot fiber optic tree. He wouldn't let me put ornaments on it yet because he just wants to look at it for awhile while its "naked". Then we're going to turn it into a race car and candy tree. But for now, Ky is content to look upon the tree naked...

I often wonder why I feel called upon to start thinking about Christmas after the Fourth of July. Could it be outside marketing pressure? Could it be greed? It could be, but it isn't... It's genuine Christmas nerdology. We didn't have much when I was a kid, but we always felt rich around rich as poor folks could I guess. There were always people in and out of our house, someone was always cooking something and my grandfather, who was a pastor, would take me with him in that old green Dodge Dart Swinger with a huge cooler in the back full of foil covered plates of cookies and candy and full-on Christmas dinners and we would take them to people's homes. It would be so cold in that old car that the vinyl seats were as hard as a church bench, and the smell of all the goodies didn't make it any easier. But Grampa always snuck along a huge thermos of real hot chocolate (the kind that didn't come in a pouch and had no water in it) and peppermint drops to ease the pain of charity. Growing up in a small town, watching Santa Claus come to town on the firetruck, riding my bike uptown to watch them put the Christmas decorations up, I realize that though there were years when our Christmas tree was not sitting atop a huge pile of presents, I never felt like I was missing out.

And so tonight, in our house with no heat because the furnace broke...AGAIN, with a pot of camper's stew cooking in the crock pot and the prospect of a family campout in the living room because it is the warmest and best insulated room in our house, Kyser and I will decorate his naked tree with old, wooden ornaments. You see, we were going to go out and buy new ones but as we were going through the Christmas decorations Kyser and I happened upon a box of little wooden toy ornaments that my family acquired when I was about five. "Mama, mama, mama," he held the box up and shook it to get my attention. "I love these, they are beautiful...can we put them on my naked tree?"
I opened the box and there were the little snowmen and the little toy soldiers and the little rocking horses with their black circle dot eyes and their peeling paint and I thought about all the nights my brother and I would lay under the Christmas tree with all and look up through the branches and my brother would try to tell me how to cross my eyes to make it look like all the lights were moving and about how I would always get a headache trying. And one night my brother had a sneezing fit and shook some of the ornaments loose and I got pelted in the head by the little wooden snowman and it left a mark.
"Please Mama? I promise I won't stick them up my nose again. And I won't put them in the toilet to see if they float. Don't cry Mama, I'm not going break them. I'll be nice with them."
He comes by it naturally, even the nose and the toilet things were familiar to me. And I wasn't crying because I was afraid he was going to flush my wooden gingerbread man down the toilet. I was crying because I was so proud and so happy that the little nut didn't fall far from the Christmas tree.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Beauty in Ugly

Today I saw many things.
I saw my six year old attempt to figure out what tomorrow is all about.
I stood in a crowd of 15,000 people who know what tomorrow is all about.
I heard words come out of the mouths of babes who are confused about what tomorrow is all about.
Today I saw many things...and they brought me to one revelation.
First, my six year old son was full of questions when I picked him up from school. "We had an election in our classroom, Mama, and I voted." He informed me he voted for the one with the M and the girl who is a mom that has a baby. Then he asked me this question: Are all ticks girls?
"All ticks are girls, aren't they?" He asked again.
"I don't understand what you're saying."
"We learned about ticks today in school. All day long we talked about ticks and they were girl ticks."
"I'm very confused, Kyser, please explain to me what you're talking about."
He sighed. "We talked about ticks named Paula all day..."
I said it to myself slowly...ticks...Paula....Paula....ticks..."
He learned about politics. Girl bugs.
He then proceeded to ask me if politics meant fighting. He asked me if one was the good guy and one was the bad guy and if they were going to fight. He asked me if either candidate had any kids.
These were the things that mattered to him, once he found out he wasn't going to have to have a cage match with a female bloodsucker.
I thought about how I had spent the day. My friend Caryn and I went to Jefferson City to hear Sarah Palin speak. Mothers and fathers, children, teenagers, senior citizens, all races and persuasions packed around the steps of the Missouri state capitol to hear a historic address. I heard over 15,000 voices join together to sing our national anthem. I heard a young girl say she felt like she had to be there because this was a historical election. I felt my breath catch in my throat when an elderly gentleman standing close to us wearing a VFW pen replied "every election should be historic." He should know...somewhere along the line he put himself in harm's way so I could attend the event, so that tomorrow I can go cast my vote without putting myself in harm's way.
After the rally I came home and went to pick up Kyser at school where I found some very vocal first graders in the hall waiting for their bus. They were talking about who they had voted for in the mock election. Two of the boys were asking another little boy who he voted for. He wouldn't tell them and then one of the boys said "You better vote for Barack Obama because if you don't that means you are a racist and if you're a racist we ain't gonna play with you anymore."
I saw many things today.
And now I see. I really do see. I see that ours is a generation that doesn't understand how valuable our freedom is because we have never been challenged. I see that we take for granted so many things. I see that our lives and our ideals are not our own but they belong to our children as well, whether we are indoctrinating them or simply living our lives without examining ourselves. I see passion diluted with ignorance and I see ignorance enflamed with anger. I see patriotism and stupidity. I see hands out and I see hands raised.
I see many things now and they lead me to only one conclusion:
America is a beautiful place. It's beautiful because it is made up of people like my son and like those little boys and like Sarah Palin. It's beautiful because of thousands of people standing in line to catch a glimpse of history in the making. It's beautiful because it is flawed and it is flawed because it is comprised of human beings.
Tomorrow I will exercise my right to have a say in what happens to my country, a country that my grandfather fought for in WWII, a country that may disappoint me at times, frustrate me on a regular basis, and forget that I exist because I'm "rural."
I never knew that I was a patriot. I never knew that I understood deep down what a sacrifice getting here was. I never knew until I was just a face in the crowd like I was today. I never knew until I was called upon to explain the basic principles of America to my child. I never knew until I took it personally, not as a white person or a person of color but as an American, when someone implied that selecting a leader for our nation was something that required only as little consideration as the pigment of someone's skin.
Today I saw many things and I learned one: I am a patriot and I will continue to share my heart with America no matter who may be standing beside her and guiding her for the next four years.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Man's best friend

Zeus is our firstborn. We acquired the half German Shepherd, half Husky puppy three years before we got married. Zeus has been with us through the good times and the bad and even though he is approaching 12 years of age, which is 84 to you and me, he still has a lot of puppy in him. Unfortunately, the puppy in him was the neighbor's LossaPoo or Cockaopso - I warned them!!
Zeus has suffered immeasurable amounts of humiliation at the hands of myself when I went through a phase where I wanted to do a calendar of dogs dressed up as historical figures and I put a tiara, clip-on rhinestone earrings and a fur stole on Zeus and took his picture as the reigning queen of England and at the hands of my son. Zeus has been Floamed, ridden like a horse, forced to be the bad guy, been made to lay still and be the mountains when Kyser needed terrain to run his Hot Wheels over, and once Zeus was colored green when Kyser found my stash of Sharpies.
Kyser so wants Zeus to be his buddy. But as Zeus ages, he doesn't want to have anything to do with anything that moves that fast, makes that much noise, and has the potential to cause as much destruction as Kyser. Kyser has come up with a solution to this problem and that solution has a first name that's O-s-c-a-r and a second name that's M-a-y-e-r. You've heard the old joke about a child being so ugly you have to tie a pork chop around his neck to get the dog to play with him? Kyser has figured out how to get the same results with a hot dog.
It took me a while to catch on. I noticed that Zeus was spending an awful lot of time in Kyser's bedroom and in all honesty, it warmed the cockles of my heart. Kyser had watched "Ol' Yeller" with his Papa over the summer and I would hear his sweet little voice singing the theme song to Zeus in his bedroom and there was no snarling or biting from Zeus or Kyser for that matter, so I just chocked it up to the innate ability of dogs to realize when a child has reached a certain psychological threshold of maturity.
It was a crisp Saturday morning when I finally figured it out. We were planning a weiner roast that night and I had stocked up on weiners earlier in the week. I opened the refrigerator to get some milk for my Major Crisp (the generic version of Captain Crunch) when I noticed a distinct lack of weiners. It was then that I heard the sweet refrain from Kyser's room..."Yeller, come back Yeller..." Then I heard the trademark gnashing of teeth that means Zeus has gotten ahold of people food and is too excited to actually chew.
I peeked around the corner to see Kyser reaching into one of his toy drawers and pulling out a hot dog. Zeus sat obediently waiting with those strings of drool hanging precariously close to a basket of clean laundry. Kyser got out the hot dog and asked Zeus a question: Zeus, am I your best friend?
Then Kyser took that hot dog and moved it up and down in sweeping gestures so that it looked like Zeus was nodding yes to the question Kyser had just asked.
Several things went through my head at that point: Where did Kyser get the idea to do that? How many hot dogs has Kyser given to the Zeus? Is it just hot dogs? Has Kyser ever been bitten? Could this explain the recent onset of noxious gas that had been plaguing Zeus and causing us to have to sleep with the windows open even in the cold weather? But the number one question, the question that really hit me upside the head was this: How long had those hot dogs been in that drawer?
I cleared my throat and Zeus immediately laid down with his ears pinned to the top of his head. So did Kyser. He looked at me and then looked at the hot dog in his hand and didn't say anything. I could see the wheels turning in his mind. I could see him trying to figure out how to get out of the current predicament he found himself in. "Hey Mom! Didn't see you there." Kyser was trying to be matter of fact, even though he still had the hot dog in his hand and Zeus was following its every movement. He stood looking at me, smiling and it was just too much for Zeus. He raised up, reached gingerly over to the hot dog with his white snout and in one swift smooth movement slid it out of Kyser's hand and devoured it in one gulp. "Did you know Zeus really like hot dogs?"
Turns out, Kyser had his own little All-You-Can-Eat Buffet happening in his room. He showed me where he kept the ham, the oreos, the cheese slices and the crackers. After we rounded up all the food and sprayed everything down with Lysol and bleach water, I explained to Kyser that maybe we shouldn't keep feeding Zeus under the table, so to speak. He really didn't understand why, and I explained to him that we had to make sure Zeus understood that he had to eat his food. Kyser didn't think this was fair.
But today, he found out the hard way. After receiving a huge bag of his favorite candy for Halloween from his great aunts, he was really looking forward to coming home from school today and having a piece. However, when we got home we discovered that Zeus had helped himself while we were gone. He had eaten an entire bag of Reese's Peanut Butter cups. The wrappers were scattered throughout the house, but most of them were in Kyser's bedroom, where Zeus was used to being treated. Zeus' white face was covered with chocolate splotches and there were candy wrappers stuck to his feet.
"Zeus!" Kyser admonished. "How could you do this? How could you?" Kyser was in shock that he had been so brutally rebuffed by man's best friend. Zeus just looked at him and walked to the refrigerator and sat down, his eyes full of expectaion. Kyser wandered into his bedroom and I could hear him sniffling so I went in there.
"Mom, did I ruin Zeus?" I assured him that he didn't. He paused for a moment and then crossed his arms in disgust. "Zeus was never my friend. He was just using me for your groceries."
Lesson learned.

Monday, October 20, 2008


My sweet little angelic red head...the all-American boy...such a cherubic face...such a sweet little voice...then there is the Wal-Mart Incident of October 2008.

Other events in history could be compared:

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre

The Bay of Pigs Invasion


The Los Angeles Riots

But none will measure up in the area of sheer terror to this: The Wal-Mart Incident of October 2008.

My sweet little baby boy threw down like an American Gladiator on crack in the middle of Wal-Mart. This is the stuff that legends are made of. Clerks and cashiers of the future will be warned of this around campfires. The escaped convict with the hook, death by pop rocks and soda and the night the red-headed six year old's head rotated in the seasonal aisle of the Mexico Wal-Mart SuperCenter.

It took me by surprise. I just kind of stood there trying to wrap my mind around the fact that my child had, with the speed and eptitude of a menopausal woman, gone from normal to possessed in a matter of seconds...over a $3.50 foam sword.

Perhaps it is my life experience (translation: years and years and YEARS of being alive) that made me stop and question why he would lose his freakin' mind over a $3.50 foam sword. A $500 Betseyville purse, yes; a $600 pair of leather riding boots, yes; a 400 gigabyte iPOD, absolutely especially if it was neon green. But a foam sword? Really? No, REALLY????

I contemplated my options as my son's head was now in full-blown rotation and several elderly people were speed dialing either their priests or the police and ducking for cover from the inevitable pea soup projectile they feared might be coming their way. He was howling and crying, screaming and doing that dancy thing kids do when they throw fits - you know the one that kind of looks like a cross between the Maniac Flashdance dance and the flappy part of the Chicken Dance. I got down close to him and tried to speak softly and quietly, hoping that the peace just oozing out of my pores would glomp onto him.

Here's a thought: you know how when a chicken or a duck or a goose are getting ready to blow a gasket they get all puffy and fluff their feathers up? When they do that, you know not to get too close, much less get down in their face and talk softly. So why in the good Lord's name would you do that to a child who has teeth and a brain that functions much like the infamous OPERATION game?

By the time I got my face close enough to his to speak he was just a portable glob of snot, tears, and screamy stuff and there was no way he was going to listen to a spaceship full of shiny SpongeBob look alikes wearing Batman capes made out of chocolate, much less me. That's when I made the decision to just exit the store with what little dignity and credibility that I had. WRONG! The little darling started screaming "Help me! Oh please help me! Please don't hurt me, Mama. I'm sorry. Someone please, it's going to hurt."

There's no way to recover from that. There is nothing dignified that can be done at that point. You simply have to bite the bullet, hope that no one calls the police or the Division of Family Services, hoist that screaming, crying, sweaty, twisty glob of snot and whine over one shoulder and carry him out of the store.

And that is what I did. He screamed all the way to the car. He screamed while I put him in the car. He only stopped screaming when I hit the highway and rolled the windows down so that the brisk evening air shocked him silent for a moment. I put the windows up and didn't say anything. Then Kyser quietly said, "Wow Mom, I went crazy back there, huh? Sorry about that." That was all it took for me to start laughing. And to realize that what felt like an eternity of humiliation at the hands of someone who eats his own boogers was really just about three minutes in reality. He lost privileges for the night and got a whack on the hiney; I lost my mind for a few seconds and got a shot of whiskey after he went to bed.

And I got something else out of the whole situation and I would like to say it was something deep and profound, a life lesson as it were. But in all actuality what I learned was that sometimes despite what we all like to preach to one another and tell our parents, sometimes to give in is mightier than the foam sword.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pain and Miracles

Trying to figure this out because I can't wrap my mind around it. I cannot figure out what I did that God should smile on me with such favor.
Today I went to funeral for a baby that was born premature.
My baby was born premature.
Little Anthony was born three months premature.
My baby was born three months premature.
Little Anthony was loved and wanted.
My baby was loved and wanted.
Little Anthony didn't make it.
My baby did.
To be in a room with a casket holding a child is a horrible, horrible thing. To be in a room with a casket holding a child whose every breath was a struggle is undescribable. To look on that child and see the unbelievable resemblence to your own is a revelation that levels your heart. The same tiny nose, the same perfectly formed hands, the minute puckered lips, preemies are kind of a species within a species, physical resemblances but no two are truly alike.
When my son came three months early, it never occurred to me that he wouldn't live. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't get to hold his tired six-year-old face in my hands on a cold October night and kiss his upturned nose.
It occurred to me today, for the first time in six years.
Little Anthony was a fighter, but I believe that our God is a jealous God, and I believe that there was a sweetness in Anthony that God and heaven couldn't do without. Not that He made a mistake...I believe it's more like a parent who sends their child to summer camp, looking forward to the quiet, and then three days later finds themselves inventing reasons to bring them home.
Heaven wasn't quite the same, maybe, until Anthony went home.
Where is the justice in that for the people left on earth? But then again I wonder, where is it ever written that we are to expect justice? No, it isn't fair. Yes, it is painful. But the joy surrounding that little baby boy, who never spoke a word, never performed a deed, that joy will last forever - that joy is immortal. So is that the trade off that we need to seek out? Do we need to stop looking for the justice and just start accepting the joy, even the tiny little pieces of it that seem to come too late and are gone too soon?
I wish I knew the answer. I tried to find it all day today. I tried to find it as I watched the sun bounce off the red hair of my little miracle. I tried to find it as I watched that same sun illuminate the tears on the faces of the those who loved Little Anthony.
I didn't find it. I didn't find the justice. And I am struggling to find the joy. But the difference is that the joy will be so much easier to find than the justice.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

You know you're grown up when crabs aren't innocent...

So Kyser has been desperately begging for a pet for the last three years. We got him some fish which committed suicide. We got him a cute little fuzzy puppy that grew into Sasquatch with an anger management problem. So I did a little research on low maintenance, hard to kill pets that can withstand years without any kind of attention. Turns out, hermit crabs are relatively low-maintenance...
As luck would have it, a friend passed along to us a little Hermit Crab Habitat (I call it a Hermitat) with sand, shells and a little climbing cave. So off we went up to the pet store to seek out the hermit crab for the Hermitat.
Kyser was thrilled, of course. All he knows of pets at this point is that every time a toilet flushes a gold fish gets its wings AND the very important difference between a playful nip and a nothing-but-teeth attack!
The pet store is always fun. Puppies, guppies and yuppies, you know. And this is where for me, it got kind of dicey.
When you are a child, crabs are, well little sea creatures that walk sideways, pinch, and sing in Disney musicals. Then you grow up, read a couple of bathroom walls and pamphlets from planned parenthood and the innocence is gone. So while Kyser was fascinated by the little sea creatures, and soaked up every word the pet store lady told us, I just kept trying to keep a straight face through phrases like:
  • Crabs like to have company. They are very social.
  • You need to keep your crabs moist.
  • If you've never had crabs before I'll give you a pamphlet that will walk you through it.
  • Crabs are low maintenance and they're pretty hard to kill off. When they start smelling bad that is when you know something has gone wrong.

So after practically biting through my lips to keep from smiling, we left the pet store, Kyser just beaming as he held his new little pals (Mr. Krabs and Norville). We walked out into the bright morning sunshine where Kyser proudly and loudly proclaimed at the top of his lungs:

"Mama, I can't believe you gave me crabs! Thanks so much for the crabs, Mom. These are the best crabs anyone has ever given me."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How can you tell a girl cow from a boy cow?

Okay, so when I started this blog I promised I would not be one of those people that writes about how cute their kids are all the time...I mean, why write about it when it is a concrete, beyond-reproach principle of fact, right? But I just had to share this because this is such a reflection on me. That might be good, but probably not:
So Kyser and I go to the second hand store yesterday to do some scrounging around for something fun to do something fun with. That's the best part about Saturdays, don't you think? The possibility that adventure could be right around the next corner....
So we're milling around trying to talk ourselves out of buying a salad shooter to make mud pies with and a dot matrix computer printer just because they're obsolete and we come across this Picasso cubist cow. Seriously, this cow, which has kind of a primitive farmhouse feel to it is made out of some kind of box with a slit cut in the top painted white with black splotches and it has a head that makes it look like it suffered some kind of whiplash in a serious milking accident. Kyser and I just kind of stood there for a minute looking at it and out of the blue, Kyser says: "That cow kind of gives me the creeps." I agreed and then asked him if he thought it was a girl cow or a boy cow. He looked up at me like I was as dumb as a box of rocks and said with a great degree of certainty "It's a girl cow." I asked him how he could tell. He pointed to the poor paint job on the odd little bovine and said pointing to the oddly shaped hooves: "Duh mom, she's wearing shoes."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Katie Couric is no longer cute

Those were simpler times: Matt and Katie having coffee on the couch as all of New York pressed against their back window.
Times have changed.
Katie is now a journalist.
How do we know that she is a journalist NOW as opposed to back THEN?
1) She doesn't wear regular clothes anymore...seriously, how many items of clothing can be made from one bolt of black and white pinstripe fabric? What happened to perky little sweater sets and big flower pins????
2) She's mean to EVERYBODY!!! Seriously, it's not just Sarah Palin. And I think that she wasn't mean to Sarah Palin because she's a left wing east coast snob, I think she might be jealous of Palin's good hair and makeup which looks more journalistic than her own. So far, I have not seen Sarah bustin' the frosty lipstick, unlike Katie whose lips are now officially nighttime landing strips for Southwest Airline redeyes. After the VP debate (Sarah did a great job, doggone it!) tonight, she was downright nasty to Claire McCaskill, and Claire didn't do a thing to her.
3) Her hair isn't any particular color. That's a hallmark of female newsanchors, I think. Jane Pauley didn't really have a hair color, Barbara Walters doesn't have a hair color, and now Katie doesn't either...SHE HAS MADE IT! Seriously, her hair isn't brown or blonde or's kind of taupe.
Katie Couric is a perfect example of what happens to women who scramble to play by rules they didn't write. Having been in the journalism biz for awhile, I find it humorous when women talk about getting a hardcore journalism job. "Real journalism" they call it.
Is there such a thing anymore?
I'd ask Katie Couric, but I'm afraid she'd yell at me and try to steal my pastel cardigan...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Parallel Universe

There are two worlds within this great nation of ours: the television world where, like my blogbud Farm Girl pointed out in her most recent blog, people like Horatio Crane can get away with say REALLY bad one-liners as long as they are wearing cool sunglasses and living in a metropolitan area surrounded by beaches and cabanas. And the real world, where we don't wear high heels with jogging suits and we still spell words with the vowels in them - no, I don't speak TXT MSG and I don't carry a dog in a purse. In fact, this past weekend at a family reunion I actually said the phrase "Do we have any toothpicks because I've got some barbecued coon stuck in my teeth..."
So here are some other major differences that I'd very much like to point out.
  • There are rumblings that Wal-Mart is getting a bit uppity what with the new Martha Stewart line. I know some women who are talking about organizing an official protest against having to match their gum boots to their gardening gloves.
  • Here in rural America, we don't have "Sex and the City." We have "Desperate Nookie in the Parking Lot." If you've been married for awhile you have intense arguments about what to watch on TV after the weather report.
  • Some Hollywood starlets and harlots are taking these exercise classes taught by ex-strippers that teach them how to pole dance and twirl themselves around on a steel pole using their core muscles to help reduce fat or something like that. That would never fly here and the main reason is that we are the kind of people that make do with what we have and the splinter factor is just way too painful to even consider.
  • The flea market factor. Let me explain: in metropolitan areas flea markets are campy, destination weekend trips. Here, flea markets are how we furnish entire houses, buy gifts for people we really don't like or buy gifts for people we truly love.

So are we missing out, out here in the sticks where restaurant food is limited to what can be wrapped in paper and shoved into your car through a drive thru window? Where our first thought when we hear the word "yoga" is either a probiotic dairy product or BooBoo Boy? Where we have made a verb out of the term "garage sale" as in "I'm getting up early Saturday morning to garage sale." I used to think, as I would pour over the Ikea catalog and dream of waking up to a sun-filled loft overlooking a skyscraper skyline, that yes, I was missing out on something, as undefineable and elusive as that something was. But now I know that I'm most likely completely wrong; that it's so much better to wake up to the sound of kiddos laughing as they wait for the school bus, and to look out my window and see the garden that needs weeding desperately, but instead I choose to plop down on my flea market sofa with my homemade coffee that is just plain old coffee from the coffee maker and enjoy five minutes of windchimes, dogs barking, a couple of cars passing by and laughter from the preschool playground just down the street that makes up the small town symphony in this non-metropolitan parallel universe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One More Reason to Bomb Canada...

They are just there...Canadians to the North. Do they really do anything I mean other than run to our country for decent healthcare and let us shoot movies up there and supply us with tasty bacon? Once upon a time when my tastes were questionable, I watched South Park and there was a whole song about the horrors of our friend to the north called "Blame Canada." Now, there is a reason.
A journalist, and I use that word loosely, has written a scathing diatribe aimed at Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Heather Mallick, who looks like the kind of woman who smells like earwax and wears pantyhose in the summer with sandals, has decided to stick her upturned nose where it doesn't matters of democracy. Here is what the frigid prune has written about Palin, her supporters and America in general:

In the CBC story, Mallick wrote that John McCain’s running mate “added nothing to the ticket that the Republicans didn’t already have sewn up, the white trash vote.”
She proceeded to write that the Alaska governor “has a toned-down version of the porn actress look favored by this decade’s woman, the overtreated hair, puffy lips and permanently alarmed expression.”

Mallick also blasted Alaska as Canada’s ugly stepchild.
“We love our own north to the point of covering our eyes and humming as it melts … but Alaska is different from our north,” she wrote. “We share a 1,500-mile border with a frontier state full of drunks and crazy people, of the blight that cheap-built structures bring to a glorious landscape.
“Alaska is our redneck cousin, our Yukon territory forms a blessed buffer zone, and thank God he never visits. Alaska is the end of the line.”

Does this bother anyone but me? First of all, she doesn't like Sarah Palin because she's pretty? I don't think she looks like a porn star...I don't know that many porn stars, but nowhere near Sarah Palin have I ever seen a horny copier technician or a spicy pizza man ready to deliver if you know what I mean and I think that you do...
Secondly, white trash? White trash? Really? I'm no expert, but I've never seen Sarah Palin wearing a halter top over a bra; I've never seen her stuff a half-eaten fish sandwich in her purse in hopes of getting lucky at a kegger in a cornfield; I've never read any documentation concerning Palin being hauled into court because stolen vehicles were found in her front yard after the city maintenance crew had to come and mow it for her because she refused to do so. So attaching this well-educated, well-spoken and (God forbid) attractive woman to those of us who truly understand and revere white-trash culture is in many ways just an example of how far north Canada is and how out of touch with redneck livin' they have become.
Third, is anyone else sick of Sarah Palin being attacked simply because of her vagina? No one went after Bill Clinton because of his penis and thanks to Monica Lewinski and her blue dress, we all know he has one. Troopergate, porn star, puffy lips...when will it end? Are we not a more advanced society than this? I mean we are a society that does amazing things, wonderful things like open heart surgery, Habitat for Humanity and philly cheese steak Hot Pockets. Is it so far out of our grasp to show a little decorum, a little grace, a little intelligence?
And finally, like any good journalist, I'm going to introduce some facts into this story to support my point of view:
Imagine working for a company that has a little more than 300 employees and has the following statistics:
30 have been accused of spousal abuse
9 have been arrested for fraud
14 have been accused of writing bad cheques
95 have directly or indirectly bankrupted businesses
4 have done time for assault
55 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
12 have been arrested on drug related charges
4 have been arrested for shoplifting
16 are currently defendants in lawsuits
62 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year-
Can you guess which organization this is?-It is the 301 MP's in the Canadian Parliament. The same group that cranks out hundreds of new laws designed to keep Canadians safe and progressive.

Pretty interesting, eh? Sarah Palin, compared to the cream of the crop of Canadian politics, well to borrow a term from our friends to the north...she's a beaut, eh?

Blatant Snake Sex II: Revenge of the Screaming, Chunky White Chick

So for those of you who are on the edge of your seat concerning the snake orgy and the putting an end to thereof, I have little to nothing to report.
I was asked to remove myself from the sidewalk, preferably before the local preschool let out and parents started arriving to pick up their children thus forever sealing my fate as "crazy old Mrs. Williams". Now, people are saying that the snakes were a hallucination and my husband is certain that I have in fact lost my entire mind. They are saying these things because the stupid, horny little reptiles did not make an appearance today, at all. Seriously. I kept looking for them, at one point I contemplated trying to lure them out which brought me to the realization that I have no idea how to lure a snake. What does one do to LURE a snake? What makes them tick, what makes them smile, what makes them feel self-actualized and whole?
I most assuredly had one answer: BLATANT SUNNY SNAKE SEX. There was a moment when I contemplated a crime scene reconstruction that involved cooked spaghetti noodles, black paint, and fishing line. But that was way too much work and it was time for Cold Case Files...

Blatant Snake Sex

Let's talk about snake fornication. It's not something that I would normally bring up if, yesterday when I walked out of my house, I had not been confronted with a big, wiggly, writhing ball of about 12 snakes getting it on right on my front stoop! Sure, I know now that they were just run-of-the-mill garter snakes and what they were doing was perfectly natural, even acceptable if you're an extra in the cast of an Indiana Jones movie.
What I cannot deal with is the fact that THERE WERE A DOZEN SNAKES GETTIN' THEIR COOKIES RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE!. Two things: first, there were 12 of them which means there are probably, in actuality more under my house. Second, they were having blatant sunny snake sex which means there are going to be more in the future. This is a full-blown situation - we are talking about unprotected snake sex. Did I mention that they are SNAKES?!?
So I called Animal Control and explained to them my concerns which are, to reiterate: Snake fornication in front of my house and snake fornication in front of my house. They weren't as sympathetic as I had hoped. To me, this is a full-0n SWAT situation. Break out the helicopters, man the battling rams and get a sniper on my neighbors roof! They were just a bit indifferent. So I took matters into my own hands.
Armed with a folding lawn chair, a cooler full of Diet Dr. Pepper, and a fabulous pair of gum boots that are both stylish and function, I purloined my husbands automatic UZI pellet gun (15 rounds per second) I set up shop on my sidewalk with a birdseye view of The Love Shack.
Come to find out, it's against the law to shoot BB guns inside the city limits. Also, snakes are smart. I didn't see so much as a little fork tongue. It's like they knew. They KNEW that I was going to put an end to their open-air love fest and they chose to stay undercover. Also, according to the Animal Control officer who showed up on my doorstep WITHOUT backup, killing the snakes is animal cruelty and he assured me that they would soon move on to somewhere they could get ground cover and have a water supply for winter.
But I haven't given up. I know they're under there plotting, watching snake porn, getting themselves worked up into a frenzy in preparation for a little afternoon delight right in front of my Happy Harvest Scarecrows. But they don't know who they're dealing with...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Beauty for Ashes

God gives beauty for ashes. I've wondered about this verse, this truth in the Bible hundreds of times. The process of exchange and exactly what it means... We had God ashes, the charred left over remains of whatever we were convinced we could fix that ultimately blew up in our faces. Think about ashes...the left overs of our grand plans; the bitter reminders of what we intended; the truth about our selfish, concentric desire to control everything in our tiny little lives. We stand before Him, countless times, for some of us infinite times, and like children handing over a broken treasure, we raise our hands to Him, passing the ashes.
In the exchange, we get back beauty. Most of the time it's hard to see immediately. It's almost always painful getting to that point where the ash has settled and the film has been wiped clean.
But that phrase took on a whole new meaning today. A woman, a very wonderful, dynamic woman left this world. As chance would have it, her last name is Ash. Diana Ash lost her battle with cancer today. I met her once and visited with her about an hour during an interview for the magazine I used to work for. It was an article about cancer survivors. We made it half way through and I was in awe of her strength, her positive outlook, her lack of fear before she revealed to me that she was, in fact, losing her battle. She is a young woman with a loving husband and two beautiful children. She is gone.
But Diana Ash, in that short time, changed me forever. If you need a metaphor, let me offer this: Our lives are a night sky and every person that touches us becomes a star. Some of them blend with the others, some of them stand out. Diana Ash is a comet, bright, fleeting and memorable and when she shot across my sky, everything else seemed to dim for a moment because of her vibrance. But she isn't the type of person who eclipses others. She is the type of person that brings out the light and makes them shine as well. Diana Ash taught me that fear is useless and a waste of time, that it's wiser to channel your energy into finding the life in your moments, not wishing for more moments in your life.
I thought about her often over the last year, especially recently, but I didn't call her. Something told me not ot push it, to just take the miracle for what it was. And today, the world offered up a different offering for the exchange. We offered the beauty, the beauty of Diana Ash and her giving and passionate spirit. We gave the beauty...we lost Diana Ash.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Get Off Your "But"

I'd like to...but
I would...but
I thought about it...but
I kept track of how many times I used that word today. I used it to begin a rationalization of why I deserved a cinnamon melt for breakfast even though I'm diabetic. I used it to talk myself out of that same cinnamon melt. I used it to get out of a couple of obligations, to get into a couple of bonuses that I shouldn't have gotten and I used it to manipulate my husband.
Such a tiny little word with such huge ramifications. How much of my life have I lost to "buts" with no one to blame but myself?
Such a tiny little word with such a huge amount of loss attached to it. How many opportunities have I lost to my own stupid hesitations?
I talked to a woman today who found out she has breast cancer and our conversation turned to her choice of treatment and what she would ultimately decide. I couldn't help but notice the glaring absence of "but" from our conversation. There was nothing to shirk, nothing to escape, no rationalities to be made. There was concrete and there was certainty and there was no fear. Sure, there was hesitation and there was caution, but there was no fear. Not because she wasn't afraid. I'm sure she was. But there's a big difference between being afraid and living in fear. Being afraid is temporary. Living in fear is terminal. Being afraid is a reaction. Living in fear is a lifestyle.
Yes, my friend has a long road ahead of her BUT she is ready to take that journey. Yes, my friend is afraid BUT she is not living in fear. Yes, this was not in the plan BUT she is adamant about looking for the blessing. And normally I would cry for her and with her BUT this time there is no reason to cry. She has made her absolute decision and asked for her absolute grace from God. Plain and simple... no excuses... no reprieves... NO BUTS!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday's "Seriously?" Sassback - just another reason for me to flip the bird to the world at large...

This spot will be where I get to rant and rave...and I'll try to keep it short so in honor of the first "Seriously?" sassback, here are the top 5 things that really make me stop, cock my head, squint my eyes and say "Seriously?"
1. Have you noticed that the price of everything that might even be remotely related to anything oily or fuel-like has shot through the roof? Seriously, is it necessary to import petroleum from Saudia Arabia for Vaseline?
2. Is anyone else frightened by Magic Erasers? I think that whatever technology they used to create those things must have come from Area 51 thus proving that aliens have crash landed on this planet and we are gleaning their technology and will seriously end up blowing ourselves up.
3. I think the president of the United States should be required to have never made more in his lifetime than the national average of the working person's salary. In other words, Barack and his $4.2 millions and McCain and his x amount of houses would not be eligible, seriously. What the heck do they know about the plight of the majority of the population...and I would like to nominate Farm Girl. I smell a grass roots campaign!!!!!
4. What's with this new animated Star Wars series? I mean, seriously, it's animated, which none of them have ever been and I can't figure out if it's a sequel (what happened next), a prequel (what happened before) a requel (same story, but with more colors) or a seriously-quel (no one cares, this is just another way to bilk money from parents whose children are seriously open to creative marketing.)
5. There's a child at my son's school who is in Kindergarten and has a cell phone. He was overheard telling the teacher that his mom gave it to him so that if he was being upset by the teacher, he could call his mom. Seriously, I will lay you money on the table that kid has tried to speed dial Elmo, Handy Manny and Santa Claus. What does a five year old need with a cell phone, and even worse, what kind of parent would tell their child to call them if the teacher made them mad? Want a picture of your child in about 18 years? Two words...Casey Anthony...seriously!

That's it for today. If I offended you, please post on my page and defend your opinion, but remember, you must defend yourself within the confines of the law.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Chasing Indiana

So, the kiddo's sixth b-day is just around the corner and I promised myself that I wouldn't go overboard this year, so we're going to keep it down to about 400 guests on a yacht in the local pond. Just kidding - I got this brilliant idea for a COOL party and so now I have something new to think about all the time, use as an excuse to ignore my responsibilities and basically obsess over like a drooling psycho: the birthday party.
It's an Indiana Jones them and we're having it at the local park. The invitations, which I finally finished last night, are a take off on the Raiders of the Lost Ark poster, only it says Raiders of the Lost Park - get it? And there's a pic of kiddo dressed as Indiana Jones waving his whip and wielding his gun (all you gun haters take a deep breath, you're talking to a girl who had a gun rack on her Scooby Doo bicycle and drives a car called the CALIBER! Welcome to the rural midwest!)
So in order to get the picture, we had to get the stuff to dress him up like Indiana Jones, right? We had a hat, which he has been wearing all summer long. We had the whip, the gun, the sword and the "pouch" which is DEFINITELY not a purse because you can't put skulls and dusty stuff in a purse - you have to put them in a pouch. Truth be told it is an old leather front flap Liz Claiborne purse circa 1987 that I found at a junk store for less than a buck...but no one needs to know that my kiddo is carrying a man bag.
Thus began the scavenger hunt for tan pants, dark brown shirt and leather bomber jacket. Ask me how it went, go ahead, ask me... NOT VERY FREAKIN' WELL! I made a call to Farm Girl (because I am privileged enough to have her PERSONAL phone number) to ask if she could help out and she offered me a fringy leather coat. "It's a cowboy coat..." she explained while visions of my son's seventh birthday party, you know the one where everyone has to come dressed as one of the Village People, began slide-showing through my brain.
So we found the tan pants - two sizes too big, but we could fix that, I thought. We found the shirt and it was a girls' shirt that was about four sizes too big but I cut the bottom off of it, rolled the sleeves and it looked pretty authentic. I gave up on the jacket - too hot anyway.
We got the kiddo dressed and to the park. Halfway across the walkway to the playground (I had a vision mind you, an artistic brilliant perfect obsessed mommy vision) his pants just fall off, seriously, crumpling to his knees. Thank God the shirt was long enough to cover up ShortRound (couldn't resist).
Then kiddo saw it...the most feared and reviled of all citified vermin: the squirrel. Last summer, kiddo was attacked by a squirrel, well, not so much attacked as threatened verbally while feeding the ducks at the park: short version - kiddo had bread, ducks not interested, squirrel very interested, kiddo got bored but still had bread and tried to walk away, squirrel went into bread recon mode and chased my little guy whilst he screamed "Squirrel, help, squirrel, he's gonna eat me." Anyway, kiddo caught sight of the squirrel and it was over. He took off like a lit-up greyhound, the squirrel headed for the nearest tree, which just happened to be in the direction kiddo was running. Needless to say, kiddo panicked, pants fell down around ankles, kiddo is desperately trying to run with his pants around his ankles, finally collapsing in dramatic relief on the purple plastic slide.
It was fabulous...and we got a great picture which I will share later. But why, you ask, go to so much trouble for a sixth birthday party? Is my kiddo spoiled rotten? Yes, but with encouragement and attention. Is my kiddo a brat? Not too bad... Am I trying to keep up with the Joneses or impress people? If you ever looked behind my refrigerator you would know that impressing others is of no importance to me. Kiddo had a rough go of it, born three months premature. Every birthday is a victory as far as I'm concerned and every parent should feel that way about their child. And whether you show it with goofball birthday parties or picture snapping obsessive compulsive disorder or turning your home into a scrapbook of your family, realize that the small things that turn into huge pains for you are the huge things that turn into amazing memories for your child.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Clothes DON'T Make the Girl

As a woman of age (I'm now over 35 and that is all that needs to be said!) life has made some pretty indelible impressions on me: never spit in a well; it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all; and there is never any good reason at all to wear panty hose with open-toed shoes. Despite all that emblazoned wisdom and my seasoned life experience, I am always shocked and amazed when something shocks and amazes me. That happened yesterday as I was standing in the checkout line at the Dollar Tree. I'm a big fan of the Dollar Tree for the simple reason that I can still feel like I have some buying power even when in all actuality I am broke. However, standing behind me in the dollar store was a woman, a "mature" woman whom I can only guess was attempting to recapture her youth through the creative use of apparel. Sporting a flouncy, barely-there plaid skirt that didn't quite cover her buttcheeks, a pair of bright pink stilletto heels with hearts and kissy lips all over them and a t-shirt with the words "tell your daddy I said hi" written in pink glitter. Her hair was cut in that sleek graduated bob, was platinum on the top and dark brown underneath, her purse was no more than an armpit earring and sported pink and aqua hearts, she was wearing frosty lip gloss and glittery eye shadow and talking on her rhinestone encrusted cell phone while chomping her gum. Now how do I know that she was not some young, spirited high school or sorority girl? Two words: crow's feet only magnified by the fact that her glittery eyeshadow had seeped into the lines and crevices and was now acting as a neon sign screaming "mature woman desperate to be a teenager." And then there was the language she was using. Everytime something astonished her, which was quite often, she would say "OMG" which is text message speak for "Oh my god - an expression of disbelief."
Did I judge her? Probably...but I swear on all that is sacred that I only judged her for her own benefit. You see, that woman is of my generation - we survived the 80's and perhaps we have been scarred by it. Big hair, strange and downright ugly clothing, telephones that required cords and stationary states of being - it was nothing like these kids have it now. But looking at her reminded me of something: first of all, it is never okay for a woman over the age of 18 to wear a shirt that makes any kind of reference to her "daddy". No there are no exceptions, it's just WRONG! Second, being okay with who and what you are has become such a rarity and this woman really brought that point home to me. Attempting to fit in with a generation that she should have been attempting to lead and influence, this woman was screaming one thing to me: I am so unhappy with where I am at in my life. Did I read too much into her? Possibly, but the impression that was made I can assure you is indelible. I am all for self-expression. I am all for being who you are and even for spending most of your life discovering who you are. It's a journey worth taking even if it takes a lifetime. But trying to recapture your youth by turning yourself into a cartoon character is walking backward on the path.
I suppose what I am trying to say is this: At age 37, I realize that what I had in my youth was not a permission to be a spoiled princess or freedom to do whatever I wanted without any consequences. What I had in my youth was a freedom to explore and express myself, to break away from conformity, and an anticipation for what the future might bring for me. At age 37, recapturing my youth so much more simple that dressing like a little pop tart, it's simply a matter of regaining that anticipation for what the future may hold.