Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Invisible Woman

I'm old enough to remember when the 70's sit-com, "Soap," was in it's original run. One of the characters, Burt, has a mild psychotic breakdown and believes he can make himself invisible.

I believe I can do the same. Problem is, I have no control over when this happens.

For example, last night The Husband fell asleep on the couch fairly early in the evening. I took this opportunity to go upstairs to hang some prints I received as a Christmas gift in our tiny bathroom. Not more than five minutes after I went upstairs, he came up and asked what I was doing. Not only did I go into detail about what I was about to do, I had the prints laid out on the bed in formation and was holding a hammer. He then proceeded into the tiny bathroom and spent the next 20 minutes cleaning his teeth. I stood in the bedroom with my mouth open and hammer in hand for the same 20 minutes.

This bathroom is really tiny. It's not even a full bath, and is considered, what I believe, a bath-and-three-quarters. One could pretty much sit on the toilet and wash one's hands in the sink or stand at the sink brushing one's teeth, and lean over and shave one's legs in the shower. I've pretty much done both of these activities. So hanging the prints while he was in the bathroom was pretty much out of the questions.

When he finally came out, I went in and started hammering nails. He poked his head in: "What are you doing?"


I said, "Hanging up these prints LIKE I TOLD YOU TWENTY MINUTES AGO I WAS GOING TO DO."

I can come up with no other explanation for this, other than the fact I was indeed invisible when he first came upstairs, and therefore, he could neither see nor hear my detailed explanation.

This happens to me all the time. Especially with my kids.

I can give them extremely detailed instructions on upcoming events, or tasks I ask them to do, sometimes even written and with illustrations, and after I've completely gone Joan Crawford-Mommie Dearest on them, will look at me as though it were the first time they were receiving any kind of instructions.

I've also been left behind many times in my life, because people just forgot I was there. Most memorably, I was locked in at the bookstore where I worked, after closing, even though it was REQUIRED that all employees sign out at the end of the day.

The manager just forgot about me, and apparently my name on the roster was also invisible.

Now if I could only harness this super-power at will I could probably rule the world.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"The Gretch Who Stole Christmas"

OK, I totally stole the title from The Daily Show, but it's just plain awesome.

What compelled me to write my previous post, was the kerfuffle that Faux News reporter Gretchen Carlson made about a parade in Tulsa, Oklahoma, my hometown. Basically, she had her panties in a wad because the annual holiday parade held there did not use the word "Christmas" in its title.

When the parade started years ago, it was called the P.S.O. Parade of Lights. It was sponsored by P.S.O., the electric company based in Tulsa. I'm not sure when it started, but it must have been after I moved away, because I don't remember ever going to it. My understanding that it was modeled after Disney's Electric Light Parade, or something like that. Anyway, after a few years, P.S.O. dropped its sponsorship, and it was taken over by my favorite Irish Pub,McNellie's. (sidebar - the sweet potato fries there are heaven on earth.) After they took over, the name was changed to Holiday Parade of Lights.

Not really earth shattering news. But for Gretchen Carlson, who was apparently having a slow news day, it was the end of the world as we know it. If you watch the video, my favorite part is the incredulous look on the guy's face as she's grilling him. And the video is just another reason I heart Jon Stewart and all the writers of The Daily Show, or as I call it, The News.

As an atheist, one would think that I'd be all for using the politically correct "Holiday" instead of "Christmas." The truth is, I don't really give a rat's ass.

I actually LOVE Christmas. I worked for about a decade as a visual merchandiser (basically a department store decorator) and we VMs spent about four months of the year planning, prepping, installing and removing Christmas decorations. As a result of my time doing that, I go pretty big on putting up the decorations at home. At one point, I had about 15 Rubbermaid totes filled with Christmas decorations. I have winnowed them down to about 9 now, but still love getting them out every year. Feels like seeing old friends when I drag them out. My mother is big on Hallmark ornaments, and thanks to her, we own about 150 of them. I used to put up at least three trees, but have downsized to the regular tree and the Barbie tree. Yep. We have a Barbie tree. This year, it is bright holographic pink tinsel, with lights, silver balls and bows. I think we're up to around forty Barbies on it.

I'm so anal retentive about how my Christmas trees are lit, that I spent the better part of three hours when we set the tree up a few weeks ago, removing a burned out strand of lights and replacing it. (another sidebar - this is a pre-lit tree, and when I finally got the strand off, found it was three strands of lights, joined at each end by male plugs. I don't think the Underwriter's Laboratory approved of this.)

I also love making out the list of presents I'm going to get for everyone, shopping for said presents, and my favorite thing, wrapping them.

So even though we celebrate Christmas at our house, it's a non-secular holiday, and we make it about spending time together and making traditions. We always do Christmas morning at our house, big dinner, a movie, then drive around and look at Christmas lights. It's not about a religious holiday, it's about a FEELING. FEELING grateful, happy and concerned for others.

So when people like Gretch make a big deal over what they feel is politically correct, here's what I'd like them to know:

Get a fucking life.

If anyone should feel that their rights are being violated by wishing someone "Merry Christmas," "Happy Holidays," "Happy Hanukkah," "Joyful Solstice," "Happy Kwanzaa," or "Happy Festivus," it should be the atheists. Maybe it's my Southern/Midwestern upbringing, but when someone wishes me a holiday greeting, I feel that they're just feeling happy, being friendly and using good manners. I have no problems saying it back either. Any friendly exchange amongst the human race is a good thing.

So, Gretchen Carlson, and the rest of you self-righteous so-called Christians, instead of worrying about what other people are saying, you should focus more on the message you are sending.

WWJD, indeed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

When I was in the fourth grade, my favorite library book was D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths. This was the book I checked out over and over again and never got tired of.

It didn’t take me long to figure out the similarities between Greek myths and Bible stories. Noah’s Ark? It’s in there. Virgin births? A bunch of those. Parents sacrificing their children? Got that, too.

I was not an exceptionally bright child so it seems like it was just common sense that allowed me to draw these parallels, and ask questions:
• “Weren’t the Greeks around before the Christians?”
• “Weren’t these stories around before the Bible was written?”
• “How come these stories are the same?”

Captain Obvious strikes again.

My family attended the Episcopal Church, which really wasn’t too “churchy” back then. We basically went to services (Episcopalian aerobics: stand up, sit down, kneel), Sunday school and I was a member of the EYC. I was confirmed, but never attended a Bible study class and was one of the first of the female acolytes in our parish. For me, church wasn’t a huge deal as far as religious education was concerned; it was more for socializing and they had an awesome bazaar every year. So it probably wasn’t that much of a reach that I made the parallels between the stories.

I stopped attending church after high school and made an attempt when The Big One was about four to go back. I found a church I liked, but it soon became clear that this particular church was intent on becoming a mega-church, and was going full court press to make that happen, no matter what. I finally left after I received a letter from a group of “like-minded members” urging me to vote for a fellow member who was running for office (um, illegal much?) and when the church voted itself out of the Episcopal Church because an openly gay man was appointed a bishop. Plus, The Big One kept begging to not go, and I really sensed something weird was going on with that, since she was very complacent when she was little.

So I went looking for something to fill that spiritual hole.

Here’s what I learned:

Organized religion is a crock.

Even as a kid I figured out that mankind created its gods to fill in for the unknown. Once the human race learned that lightning is caused by electrically charged ice and moisture particles, the notion that it was Zeus throwing them off Mount Olympus was abandoned. As science was expanded, superstitions disappeared.

My theory is that “God” is x, the unknown. For what we cannot yet explain through science, “God” is used as the fill-in. There is so much that is unknown to mankind, and progress is painfully slow. I’ll feel we’ll eventually catch up, but it will probably take about 10,000 years.

I’ve had people argue with me that they have proof of God in that when they pray, God answers their prayers. My response is that everything contains energy, and since so little is known about how energy can really be moved, wouldn’t it stand to reason that when a person is directing their energy in a particular manner, it disrupts and moves other energy, so that there is a change. They usually look at me like I’m a nut at this point, but if they are allowed to believe that there is an invisible man who lives in the sky who is in control of everything, I’m allowed to believe that energy can be moved. When they say they always feel better after praying, my answer is: “Of course you do. You’ve released that energy from your body and your body can physically feel that.” Again, the crazy lady looks.

I finally came out as a full-fledged atheist a couple of years ago, after seeing Julia Sweeny’s monologue “Letting Go of God.” She was able to articulate what I could not, I immediately had an “ah-ha!” moment and realized it was really okay to be an atheist and still be a good person, and in an instant, let go of that part of my psyche.

Here’s the really weird part: almost immediately I started experiencing major positive life changing events.
• The Big One’s academic team won their state title and a place at the national competition in Washington DC.
• Out of the blue, a friend was able to procure gratis lodging for us for the trip
• I received a job offer when I had not been looking for new employment, with a substantial bump in salary
• I met my future husband
• Because of the salary raise, I was able to refinance and get The Ex off the deed for my house
• I had several unexpected windfalls of over $1,000 each

All these things happened within the first three months of my coming out. I am positive that they happened because I had let go of beliefs that were not working for me, and that made space for things that would work for me to come in.

The Little One is at that age where she’s adamant there is no Santa Claus. At first, I said “Are you sure? Because that’s something you don’t want to mess around with.” The other night I told her, “You know, if I don’t expect you to believe in God, I shouldn’t expect you to believe in Santa. They’re both just make-believe.” I got no argument from her and we agreed to still pretend some of the presents are from Santa.

The thing is, I think I lead a better life now that I’m not constrained by some pre-determined dogma. I’m more open to listening to both sides of a story, and more open to new ideas in general. My kids have always been kind to others, and for me, that’s one of the best qualities they can have.

And they’re doing that without the benefit of an invisible man in the sky.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I had a follow up visit today with The Big One's guidance counselor regarding her Individualized Education Program.

It went really well, and the nice thing about this meeting was that The Big One got to sit in with me, the guidance counselor and one of her teachers. We reviewed her grades, and reviewed her planned "Course of Action," that is, what her schedule would be, semester by semester for the next three and a half years.

Things have certainly changed since I was in high school, as back then, I was doing well to know what my next scheduled class would be, much less one I'd have in the future. But she seems to be doing well, and doesn't seem stressed out by the extra work.

However, once again, it was brought to my attention by education professionals that my daughter is "too quiet." Not that's she's shy, or too introverted, just "too quiet." This characteristic was deemed questionable by said education professionals when I appealed to get qualified for the gifted program. The teacher that sat in on the meeting again mentioned this, and this time, I was glad my daughter was there as I questioned this opinion.

"Look, if she had the opposite personality trait, we be here discussing what meds to get her on. 'Being quiet' is not a personality or intelligence deficiency. It's really OKAY to be quiet." They agreed, and decided rather than expressing herself verbally, perhaps she could do it in writing or individually with her teachers.

Finally. And I'm glad The Big One saw me do that in front the authority figures, so she'll have proof that at least on one occasion, I had her back.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Heard the News Today, Oh Boy

I am terrible about remembering things with numbers such as phone numbers or dates. However, there are a few dates I will always remember:

October 3, 1897, my grandmother's birthday
November 2, 1979, the day my BFF and I got our braces off
April 18, 2009, first date with The Husband
The birth dates of both my children
July 5, 2010, wedding anniversary
January 28, 1986, the Challenger exploded
December 9, 1980, the day I found out John Lennon had been murdered

As I mentioned before, I've been a Beatles fan since the ninth grade. In December 1980, I was a high school junior. I got up on December 9, 1980, got in the shower, dried off and got dressed, and then my dad stopped me in the hall.

"There's been an assassination, honey."

Those were his exact words. I can still hear them. His choice of the word "assassination" is what still rings in my ears thirty years later.

I first, of course, thought he meant the president, who at that time, was Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan had just been elected, and would have an attempt made on his life 69 days into his presidency.

Then he said, "It was John Lennon."

I remember I had to lean against the wall to avoid falling over. I know the expression "felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach" may be bandied about, but that's exactly how I felt. I started sobbing and my dad held onto me.

I immediately called one of my best friends, High School Mel (whose gift of an awesome "Happy Christmas from John and Yoko" t-shirt I still have, 30 years later). She had heard the news the night before. Back in those days, we were not allowed to call our friends after 9:00 PM, so she'd had a rough night.

I got to school and stumbled into home room. French with Mme. Sanchez. I remember that a senior named David came in after me, we made eye contact and we both knew what each of us was thinking. I can still hear him plop down into his desk behind me and let out a little groan. The rest of the day was a blur within a fog.

As the details about his murder came out, I felt the same feelings of waste as I'm sure millions of others did.

I could go on about the senselessness of his murder, the state of mental health care in America, gun control laws and whether or not Yoko really broke up the Beatles, but it still wouldn't bring back a man who truly and earnestly wanted to make the world a better place and wanted nothing but peace.

I don't believe in Zimmerman,
I don't believe in Beatles,
I just believe in me,
Yoko and me.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Putting the Fun in Dysfunctional

So for Thanksgiving being the first major blended family get-together, I have to give thanks for how smoothly it went.

Seriously, we were practically the freakin’ Brady Bunch. That is if the Brady Bunch consumed copious amounts of narcotics and alcohol.

For about the past 10 years, I’ve always taken the girls back to my parents’ home for Thanksgiving. Even when I was married to The Ex, he maybe only joined us on one occasion, due to his work/gambling schedule, so we had a pretty set routine: Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house or my brother and sister-in-laws, a movie Thanksgiving evening, up on Black Friday (not crazy early, though) for breakfast and shopping with The Big One, and catching up with my school friends who happened to be in town that year. I had some concerns about disrupting this routine, since The Husband’s HUGE family has a big get-together every year, and I wanted them to participate in that, but knew it would be kind of a drag for them. The Husband had even voiced his concern, since he has personal experience in attending the step-family events, and wanted to be sure they were comfortable with the idea.

We compromised by agreeing to have lunch at my brother and sister-in-law’s place (M & M), and dessert at The Husband’s family gathering. According to The Husband, the food usually sucked at these gatherings, and M & M can cook up a storm, so it was really a win-win compromise.

So lunch at M & M’s was great. We got to see the Baby Cousins, Thing One, Thing Two and Surprise, and M’s brother and sister. The food, of course, was amazing as M & M always do a fantastic spread. We were entertained by all the Baby Cousins, especially when Surprise down-dog crawled over to the refrigerator, opened it, and pulled out a bottle of wine.

And at only 17 months of age! My kind of girl.

We hefted ourselves over to the in-laws and ate some more and got to know the fam. The Husband’s father comes from a family of about 5 or 6 kids (sorry, I can’t keep EVERYONE inventoried) and I was close to one of his uncles and his wife when I was in high school. The last time I saw them was on my 25th birthday, so it had been a couple of decades and change since then. When I mentioned that my 25th birthday was the last time I’d seen him, Uncle C said, “So it’s only been three weeks?”

I heart Uncle C.

Back then, they had a two year old who is no longer two, who I have gotten to know through FaceBook, and was really looking forward to meeting her, her sister and one particular cousin.

I was not disappointed in any way. These girls are the shit.

I would like to say they reminded me of me when I was their age, but no way was I ever as cool. They are the cool girls I wanted to be.

Anyway, I had a great time talking and getting to know everyone. There were maybe 25-30 people there, and I missed out on some introductions, but it will probably take me years to sort everyone out anyway. Another one of the out-laws, who’s been married to this family for 25+ years, said it took her at least 5 years to get everyone straight. And she lives in a much closer proximity than I.

The Girls did okay with the new in-laws. The Big One found a friend in one of Cool Cousin T’s daughter, who’s a couple of years younger and played with CCT’s three-year old. The Little One was feeling especially contrary, so she mostly sulked. I told her, “Next time, bring a book.” I know this was an intimidating situation, but she wasn’t even trying. I think she acts that way, just to get my attention.

After the grown-ups left, the host decided to have a cousin party. I don’t know when I was moved into the “grown-ups” category, as no one informed me, but The Husband and I were granted a reprieve, since we were borderline.

There is a reason I don’t party like I did when I was in my twenties: I am no longer in my twenties.

Anyway, it was fun just watching everyone cut loose. And I suppose there had to be one sober person there, just in case. Never thought I’d live to see the day where that person would be me. I used to be on the guest list at the Starck Club, dammit. But I digress.

We spent the rest of the weekend keeping to our usual Thanksgiving weekend activities: shopping, eating and meeting up with old friends from school. I spent way too much and ate way too much (see post below) but had a pretty stress free weekend.

The following weekend The Husband went to his much-anticipated Civil War re-enactment with BFF’s Husband. Since The Ex has gone from seeing the girls every day after school to about once a month, and was able to come visit that weekend. And since The Ex has to beg, borrow or steal lodging, it was decided he'd crash on the downstairs sofa.

Can you say "awkward"?

Actually, it wasn't the first time we've done this, just the first time The Husband would be gone. But I figure I'll take the high road, because it really is important that the girls spend time with their dad. Well, at least for The Little One, as The Big One has a social calendar even Paris Hilton would envy, and was gone most of the weekend. He did take them shopping and ice skating, so YAY for Quality Time.

So we all survived the first blended family holiday, and everyone came out okay on the other end. I met some new friends, got some great gifts and ate until I was fat enough to bake.

It could have been worse.
I’ve been mostly sick for the past week with some scrumpdillicious strep/flu/virus thing, and I’ve spent the better part of the last week on the couch.

I’m not one to spend a lot of time just lolling about on the couch, watching TV or whatever. Between working several jobs, going to school, raising kids, etc., I generally don’t just SIT and watch TV. Oh, it’s always on, but I’m always doing something at the same time such as making meals, ironing, putting away laundry, you know.

So I had some time to catch up on my infomercials and also the big, fat Sunday pre-Christmas-shopping-frenzy newspaper circulars.

Here’s what I learned:

Most of the products manufactured and marketed to Americans are designed to encourage laziness.

Seriously, it doesn’t stop with the Snuggie. There was a product in an ad for a bedside laptop desk. It’s a little desk that slides in between your mattress and box springs so a person can use their laptop in bed. I thought that’s what a lap was for. There’s the Roomba, created so a person doesn’t have to get out the vacuum cleaner and spend 5 minutes vacuuming a room. Just let the little Roomba skitter around all day. I have days where getting out the vacuum cleaner counts as my upper body workout. There’s the EasyChop. I have one of those, but I call it a knife. And the product that is my particular pet peeve, the Kindle. I have one of those too, but I call it a LIBRARY.

All of these products are slightly genius in that they have created a demand that wasn’t there. In all fairness, I can see using most of them if you’re elderly or infirm, but I’ve yet to see someone Betty White’s age shilling a Roomba.

I’ve been blessed by genetics, in that I’m 5’10” and have pretty much been on the average/lean side of the height and weight charts my whole life. I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve pretty much eaten crap my whole adult life and remained basically the same size.

Until the last few months.

I have gained almost 10 pounds since I got married. My eating habits have stayed mostly the same, except we have been eating more red meat. It was generally situational that we didn’t eat that much red meat before, because I simple couldn’t afford it. Now I guess with two incomes, I’ve felt the need to splurge.

I am totally paying for that now.

When I sit, my belly now flops over onto my lap. I’ve never had a flat stomach to begin with, but this is just ridiculous. I can feel the back fat creeping up into my armpits when I get into the car. My energy is low and I feel just bloated and awful. I get out of breath when I climb the stairs. I seriously don’t know how clinically obese people stay alive as long as they do. I’m only carrying around 10 extra pounds, and I’m miserable.

I’ve also totally slacked off on walking the dog. I used to walk her faithfully almost every day, but now find excuse after excuse not to walk her, which is unhealthy for both of us.

So, for the first time in my life, am going to have to DIET or at least make better choices.

This could get ugly.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fun with Pre-Menopause

I’ve had trouble with short term memory for the last few years. It really kicked in around the time The Ex moved out and has been snowballing since. It started as small things, like not remembering dates and appointments, forgetting to pay bills, and just having a hard time keeping everyone where and when they needed to be. I was at The Big One’s Field Day when she was in the fifth grade, and a woman came over and spoke to me, with specificity, about her. I chatted with her for a good two to three minutes and made small talk.

I had no idea who she was.

I asked another mom who she was, thinking she was another parent. Turned out, she was The Big One’s teacher.

This was a woman who I talked to face-to-face a couple of times a month when I volunteered in the classroom.

Absolutely no recognition.

That shook me up a bit.

My mother chalked it up to the fact I was working several jobs and juggling that with kids and school, and said I just had too much information to process and retain. I started writing everything down and carrying a calendar with me at all times. A few months later, I was diagnosed with ADD and started taking medication.

Say what you will about ADD being over-diagnosed, but the meds are awesome. I lost 17 pounds in 3 months. That alone was worth the diagnosis. And my memory and concentration improved somewhat.

But it seems lately that the memory is failing again. I thought it was I’d gotten lazy about calendaring, but last week I was driving to one of my part-time gigs and drove to the wrong venue, even though I was aware it was at another.

When I finally got to the correct venue, I was lamenting the memory loss situation to one of my co-workers. She said she did the same thing. Her diagnosis? “Pre-menopause.”

What? I’m too young!!! Besides I still get my period, complete with cramps I had like a teenager, have no hot flashes or night sweats, and have no mood swings.

OK, scratch that last one.

So I did what medical experts like Jenny McCarthy do – I googled it.

I think my co-worker may be right about this one.

So I found the name of a supplement that I thought might help, wrote it down on a sticky note, and put it in my purse.

The Big One and I headed to the Whole Foods and I started digging in my purse for the note.

I couldn’t find it anywhere.

I knew the supplement began with an “M” so I looked through all the “M” supplements.

Here’s what I learned: The Whole Foods has a boat load of supplements, beginning with ALL the letters of the alphabet.

I gave up on looking for the elusive “M” supplement and picked up some black cohosh, which also came recommended, and we headed to the checkout.

When we got there, I remembered I’d left my wallet on the console of the car. EVEN AFTER I had reminded myself to pick it up BEFORE we went into the store. So I went back to the car, got my wallet and lo, and behold, there was the sticky note.

That I had put in my wallet so I wouldn’t forget it.

Back to the supplements to search for “macafem.” We didn’t find it, so we went back to the check out.

As we were leaving the store, The Big One asked what the supplements were for, and I told her.

She said, “You should probably buy more.”

Just wait. Paybacks are hell.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Practicing What I Preach

This morning there was a text and voice mail from my Cool Friend Mel on my cell, which I'd left in the car overnight. She gives The Little One a ride home from school every day and both messages basically said, "Sorry about yesterday, my daughter was sick and I forgot to call you. Hope The Little One found a ride home okay."

I looked in the backseat. The Little One was there, ready for school, so she obviously got home somehow yesterday.

"Honey, was Little Bit (CFM's daughter) at school yesterday?"

"Well, I waited for her where her mom picks us up, and I saw some of her other friends and they said she wasn't in school."

"So how did you get home?"

"Um, I was really tired, I don't remember."


"Well, I walked."

I am totally fine with this. She had a problem, and found a solution herself. Actually very proud of her resourcefulness.

However, I am not fine with two little hiccupy things. One, that she felt she couldn't tell me she'd walked home, and two, SHE DIDN'T CALL.

I did the whole politically correct mom thing, "I'm very proud of you for figuring out a way home by yourself, but next time, CALL FIRST."

Apparently, The Big One had already given her the CALL FIRST speech, so it's all good.

Little Bit is sick again today, so The Little One had the option of me finding a ride home for her or walking home alone again.

She chose to walk home, but will CALL when she arrives at the house.

This is a big deal for both of us, really. She's wanted to walk alone to school for a long time, but I resisted. Not because I was concerned she'd be snatched off the street by a crazed pedophile, but because I honestly didn't think she'd know the route to walk. I guess she had been paying attention all those times I walked her to school.

I probably should give her a little more credit in the brains department then.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Let's Do the Time Warp Again

So like most of our fellow Gleeks, The Big One and I were really excited about this week's episode, Rocky Horror Glee Show. I, of course, have seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show dozens of times, AT THE THEATER to get the true experience. The Husband has the DVD and I let The Big One watch it. Apparently, she ended up watching it several times, because when the Glee episode rolled around, she knew most of the songs.

I took The Big One, Genius Girl and a nice young man from their class, The Crush, up north to the Screenland to watch the episode on their movie screen. The Screenland is an awesome old theater that has been restored and they started showing Glee live, for free, every Tuesday.

I'd never been in that part of town, so naturally, I got lost trying to find the theater, but we actually got there in time. I was very impressed with the venue, but Screenland, next time you advertise an event like this, please be familiar with the audio visual equipment, so that the viewing does not start 14 minutes late, because the tech cannot figure out which channel is airing the show. Just a suggestion.

Anyway, we all enjoyed the show, and Becky, the cheerleader with Down's, got the biggest laugh of the night with the line, "Give me chocolate or I'll cut you."

So on the way back, since Genius Girl and The Crush have not seen the movie, The Big One and I started explaining it to them. I acted out several parts, sang a few songs, interjected with a few of the audience shout outs, then turned around to see Genius Girl recording all of it on her phone.

It has not yet shown up on her FaceBook page, but it's only a matter of time.

The Big One had planned a party for Halloween, and wanted to show the film. I, obviously, had no problem with that, but felt I should get permission from the other parents, since it is rated R. I posted this question on my FaceBook status, "Is 14-15 too young?" and was surprised that most people said, no, but get the other parents' permission.

I guess Kansas is not the conservative wasteland I sometimes make it out to be. Or my friends are just really cool parents.

Anyway, the whole idea was to share something with The Big One that I had experienced. Yes, it is an R rated movie, and yes, there is lots of sex, and yes, there is a lot of cussing and vulgarity, but I am honestly more offended by the storyline on Glee that the cheerleader got pregnant by her boyfriend's best friend, because she didn't use protection, then told her boyfriend that she got pregnant because they were making out in a hot tub, he ejaculated, his little sperms swam up her vagina in the water, and found her egg.


These kids have been getting AIDS education since the fourth grade, and they didn't use protection? And in the age of Google, it never occurred to the boyfriend to check out her story?

However, this is a show whose show choir seems to have an unlimited budget and can learn a new showstopper every week, so I guess I should just roll with it.

I downloaded the script with the audience shout outs, and after reviewing it, realized either I'm really old, or it's changed a lot in the last 30 years. I don't remember it having nearly as much cussing as it did, and some of the shout outs were just cussing for the sake of cussing.

Oh, I yelled out, "Asshole" and "Slut" back in the day, but NOT the f-bomb. Not like the script I found anyway. Which was kind of a let down, because the comments I remember making were clever and funny. I found a few of those left, but maybe I have selective memory or it was just my wild, reckless youth.

So I plan on taking The Big One to a midnight showing in the next year or two. I'd love to see it with her, but that's something she should experience without her old mom hanging around. After all, it's one of those things that she'll have her own memories of, not mine.

"To sing and dance once more to your dark refrains! To take that...step to the right!"

"But it's the pelvic thrust!"

"On our world, we'll do the Time Warp AGAIN!"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Take THAT, Smug-Stay-at-Home-Moms-Who-Criticize-Me-Behind-My-Back!

From Time Magazine, comes an article that according to 50 years of research, kids of working mothers turn out okay.

My favorite sentence: "The children of single moms who work tend to do better than those who don't."

Suck it, haters.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Black Hawk Down

I have prided myself on being a “slacker mom,” that is to say, my parenting style leans toward letting my kids figure out things for themselves, rather than me doing it for them. To some, this comes off as lazy or bad parenting, but both my girls are doing well, despite having me for a mother and their primary caregiver. I have days where if we all make it alive to bedtime, that’s a good day. But they are both smart girls who show much compassion, so I can’t have fucked them up that much.

I’ve met my share of Helicopter Parents and thought things would get better as the kids got older.

I was mistaken.

I was really looking forward to The Big One being in marching band and being a “Band Parent.” I thought there would be a camaraderie among the parents and was looking forward to making new friends. After only three encounters with the group, I’ve come to the conclusion that Band Parent may not be a good fit for me, as I don’t own a helicopter.

I have maintained for years that the biggest bitches in the world convene at PTA and Sunday School. Apparently, I need to add band boosters to that.

And I mean “bitches” in the nicest possible way.

I am well aware that organizations such as these only thrive because of their volunteers and I truly appreciate the work that the volunteers do. Less shit I have to deal with. And I am well aware of the 20/80 rule: that 20% of any volunteer organization does 80% of the work.

There’s a good reason for that. The 80% that doesn't work can’t stand the 20% that do.

I’m not putting down stay-at-home moms. I was one for nearly 10 years and staying at home with my kids was way more challenging than working full time. Most of the mothers I know who consider themselves full time stay-at-home moms also work part-time outside the home. However, there are few who have truly not worked in the real world in years and have completely immersed themselves in their children’s lives. Therefore, they must have complete control of anything that comes into their children’s lives.

At the first meeting, I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of committees and volunteers required to run said committees. It was micromanaging at a level I’ve never experienced. There were so many committees, I wondered if the parents were expected to do the actual marching and playing of instruments, so the kids would not have to. There is a committee to load the instruments and equipment into the trucks for performances, then another committee that provides pickup trucks to transport the unloaded equipment if the equipment truck has to park far away from the venue. My first thought was “Seriously? They’re actually asking these middle-aged men to do all this heavy lifting, when there are plenty of able-bodied teenagers to do it?” Yes. That’s exactly what they were asking. In all fairness, this might be a liability issue, but I doubt it. There are several committees that cover fundraising, and their various sub-committees. I GET that organizations like this run on fundraising, but do we really need a committee to manage just cakes and pies for a supper fundraiser?

The band marched in a local parade a few weeks ago. The parade route was about a half mile from the school and on our way to park the car for the event, we passed the drill team, walking from the school to the parade start location. When we were waiting for the parade to start, I ran into a couple of the band moms and I mentioned I'd just seen the drill team walking over, and expected the band would follow. "They just got on the buses," one mom informed me. "They're taking buses?" I said, "It's like 6 blocks away!" Band Mom retorted, "Well, they have to load up all that equipment."

Um, seeing how there was no special equipment needed for a parade like the drum majors' platforms, would "all that equipment" be the instruments they would be marching with in the parade?

That would be a YES.

No wonder childhood obesity is such a problem in America.

The most incredible committee that was listed at that first meeting had the vague heading of “Water.” Yes. There is a Water Committee. The Water Committee makes sure that at the games and events, there is water available for when the band comes off the field. When it was explained, my first thought was, “Are the kids not allowed to take a water bottle with them and leave it at their seats?” Apparently they can, but I suppose that would require they think for themselves and have to remember to bring the water bottles, and, goddess forbid, they should have to think or do for themselves.

My friend, Genius Girls’ Mom, thought this would be really simple and something she could do, so she volunteered. When we got to the first game, we found GGM frantically running up and down the stands, executing Water Girl duty. She had been given no instruction on exactly how Water Girl’s duties were to be performed, but she had just been given a dressing down as to how she was failing miserably at them by the former Water Girl. I jumped in and tried to help her fill the seemingly endless plastic cups of water and place them in their official band trays. She was given four coolers of water, but we exhausted those in about 10 minutes and went in search of refills. We lugged two coolers down to the concession stand, only to find we could not fit them under the faucet. Plan B: we took the lids off so the ice would melt more quickly and started filling the cups from that. By that time, Former Water Girl came over in a huff and informed GGM that there was a HOSE in the concession stand, specifically for the purpose of refilling the coolers, snatched up a cooler and took it to be refilled, and reiterated that GGM was doing it WRONG.

Yeah. GGM might have wanted that information BEFORE she started.

Then, just to make the situation ironic I suppose, it started to pour rain. The next day, GGM’s status on FaceBook read: “I was filling cups of water, and then I filled cups of water, and later I filled cups of water. And then it rained and we dumped out all the cups of water.”

I heart GGM.

During this whole escapade, I kept saying, “Why don’t they just bring their own damn water bottles?” Here’s where my friend Irony, pops in again. They WERE given water bottles prior to coming to the game, and I could see them clearly, in the stands, at their seats, and most were still full.

A few years ago, a similar thing happened to me. When I kicked out The Ex, I relied upon the kindness of strangers to the degree that my girls and I may have ended up homeless without them. Because at one point I was working one full time job and several part time gigs, I had very little time and energy to volunteer. When The Big One was in sixth grade, an opportunity to volunteer arose that was a good fit for me. I would be able to volunteer my morning off to run a weekly bake sale. This was actually pretty easy. I just had to send out reminders to parents for donations, set up a table, set out the Twinkies and sell junk food. I was happy to be finally able to give something back for a change. For the first couple of months, I averaged about $100 a bake sale. Pretty good for selling Ding Dongs at 25 cents each within two hours.

Then the Former Bake Sale Coordinator noticed that it was only myself and another mom manning the bake sales, and that this is NOT how they had been run when SHE was running the bake sale. I came in one morning at my usual time, about 20 minutes before the sale start time, to find Former Bake Sale Coordinator, setting things up and swearing under her breath, “I have been here for FORTY minutes, waiting for some help. You have not contacted any vendors to make donations and I have been doing all the work by myself.” Um, I didn’t know I was SUPPOSED to contact any vendors for donations, and had had plenty of inventory without doing so, seeing how I’d never run out of junk food to sell, and it only takes about 10 minutes to open a few boxes of Twinkies and set them on a table. She then proceeded to call other people to come up to the school, because she was desperate for help. Four volunteers appeared out of nowhere. Keep in mind, we are manning a six foot table. With me, the regular volunteer, Former Bake Sale Coordinator and her four minions, we were seven, squeezed in around this table.

I’m sitting there the whole time thinking I could really find a better use for my time, since we had so many idle hands, and this was my ONLY day off, and seriously thought about sneaking out, but knew I’d have to deal with the wrath of the Former Bake Sale Coordinator. A couple more sales commandeered by the Former Bake Sale Coordinator later, I withdrew my services, claiming they were “not a good fit for me at this time.” Again, here comes my old friend, Irony; we made as much at my sales as we did at the Former Bake Sale Coordinator’s sales.

I really felt like I’d been gypped out of an opportunity to give back, simply for the reason I was not doing something a Helicopter Parent would have, and I have a feeling GGM feels the same. It’s as if the HP has to control everything, not just their kids, because they have no other outlet for their energy. Which really sucks for everyone, because it causes so much tension within an organization whose intentions really are good.

I ended up volunteering to alter uniforms for the band, which went really well. The Coordinator of the Uniform Committee is really cool, laid back and gets things done without being an obnoxious control freak or micromanaging something that doesn’t need it. GGM withdrew her services as Water Girl, citing the “this is not a good fit for me at this time” excuse.

I got a mass email the other day, asking for a new head of water duties, and volunteers for its committee. At the last game, there were four volunteers, filling cup after cup of water and delivering it to each band member. All the while, their water bottles waited for them on their seats.

I’ll continue to volunteer when I can, and do what I am able to enrich The Big One’s experience with this organization, but will hold myself at arm’s length from becoming too meshed within the group, because I can already tell there are endless possibilities for backbiting within the troops, and for the simple reason that I really don’t need a helicopter, and neither do my kids.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Only in America

When we were driving back from the wedding in July, we passed this charming retail outlet near Moran, Kansas. We tried to get a photo of their sign on the way down for the ill-fated camp reunion, but it was gone, so I pulled this online.


Their slogan? "Liquor in the front, master bait in the rear."


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So The Husband and I went to a reunion over the weekend. It was at the camp where we met 30 years ago and where we got married over the summer. This same group had a reunion a couple of years ago, and The Husband went and had a great experience. He described the weekend as very laid back and they spent most of the time just hanging out and relaxing. I was looking forward to a weekend of hanging out, drinking beer, staying up late, sleeping in and reading a book.

That was not the plan for this reunion.

The first night was great. The guests arrived and we just sat around and laughed at old photos and each other.

There was a "group seminar" planned for the next morning and afternoon, or as I now refer to it, "The Nine Circles of Hell."

I knew I was in trouble when I walked in the room and there was a laptop and movie screen set up. I equate the phrase "Power Point Presentation" with waterboarding. Fortunately, it was a film and that spent up about an hour and a half of the seminar.

However, after the film is when things started to go south for me. At satellite-re-entering-the-atmosphere speed.

Yeah. Nothing I like more than sitting in a room of relative strangers discussing my feelings.

Did I mention that this was a christian church camp? Did I mention that I'm an atheist? Pretty much dredged up all those buried emotions I always had while at camp as a kid, because I never felt like I quite fit in.

Can you say "full-on panic attack" boys and girls?

About halfway through the afternoon session, my anxiety level had elevated to the point I was having to physically force myself to stay in my seat. I must have excused myself a half a dozen times to use the restroom, just so I could get out of that room.

My body knew better than my mind where I needed to be.

I swear, if the speaker had mentioned any role playing exercises, I would have stabbed every last person in that room in the neck with a ball point pen.

In hindsight, I should have excused myself about halfway through the first session. But, I didn't want to be rude and the woman who had put the weekend together had worked really hard to make everything come together and the guest speaker came all that way to make his presentation and I knew The Husband really wanted me to be there and...

Anyway, when it was FINALLY over, and AFTER we had a meeting to discuss the evening and next morning's activities, all I wanted to do was go off by myself and be alone, so I could breathe through the anxiety and make myself well. By that time, my body was just one raw nerve and I was physically exhausted.

For a place that's supposed to be a retreat, there are precious few places where one can be alone.

I went back to our room, and The Husband interpreted this to mean I wanted to fool around. He eventually left, and I tried to sleep, but then people started knocking on the door, wanting to know what I was doing.

It's really hard to make people understand that when I say I really just want to be alone for a while, they take that to mean that I really want as many people around me as possible, and that all those people need to ask me lots of questions, and make lots of noise.

I went outside and found a bench about 40 yards away from the building and sat down with a book. Whenever I'm cycling through a panic/anxiety attack, I need to focus my energy on something else, like a book or TV, so that it can run its course and I can calm myself.

I ended up moving to FOUR different out of the way spots to find a quiet corner to myself, because, as I foolishly thought, sitting way off in the woods by yourself is never interpreted as an invitation to a PAR-TAY.

So when I got to the fourth bench, who should come strolling straight toward me, my ex-roommate. The ex-roommate who, for most of our relationship has had nothing to offer me but criticism and disapproval.

I should back up as a sidebar, since I'm spilling. About 12 years ago, The Ex-Roommate informed me that homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of the lord, and therefore I should not be friends with anyone who happened to be gay and stop all contact with my gay friends. I told her we should just agree to disagree, because I wasn't going to stop loving people, just because she told me to. She also sent me an email a few years ago, urging me to boycott the film "The Golden Compass" because it was written by an atheist. Actually, that would have only encouraged me to see it, because did I mention, I'm an ATHEIST?

This incident really opened my eyes to the relationship I had with her. Over the next several years, I began to see that the only role I had in her life was someone she could criticize and disapprove of. I felt like her personal emotional trash can. I had reached a point in my life where I finally figured out that I don't have to keep toxic people in my life, so I deleted her from my psyche.

I had managed to get through the previous 24 hours in the same space as her with our only contact as a handshake, but her timing could not have been worse. Since that was the fourth move I'd made to be ALONE, I knew I was almost to the point of no return, where I knew I would lose any control of my emotions or body.

So when I saw her walking straight toward me, I slammed my book shut, looked straight at her with a grunt of disgust, stood up, walked right past her and toward my room.

I know it was cruel and mean. However, had she tried to engage me in conversation at that point of the anxiety/panic attack cycle, I most likely would have called her a self-righteous cunt and suggested she could go fuck herself.

I think I make the better choice.

So that pretty much sent me over the edge, and I had to spend the remainder of the weekend holed up in my room. However, this did not mean I got to be alone, because, again, people took that as an invitation to knock on my door, time and time again,until the wee hours of the morning, to see what I was doing. And I learned that apparently my parents were the only parents in the ENTIRE world who taught their children to be quiet while walking in hotel halls, and not slam the doors, because SOMEONE MIGHT BE TRYING TO SLEEP. Or work through a panic/anxiety attack.

I have to give credit to The Husband though. He has not yet had the viewing pleasure of one of my anxiety/panic attacks, but he knew exactly what to do. He was quiet, left me alone, and the next morning got me an ice cold Dr. Pepper, and got me out of there as quickly as possible, without any human contact.

The minute we got on the highway , I finally started to breathe.

You know, there's a reason people go thirty years without seeing one another.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

So The Big One started high school last week, so I guess I'm supposed to post about how sad I am that my baby is growing up, and how fast the time has gone and how I only have so little precious time left with her.

All of the above is true, but being the slacker mom I am, I am more excited for her than I've ever been in my life.

She and her friends are in that really awkward stage where they need you, but don't want you. Although, when we did tour the school and do the walk-thru of her schedule, she did ask that I go with her.

She's in the marching band and I am soooooooo excited about that. Really. Actually not being sarcastic. I can't wait to see her in her over-sized polyester uniform and oatmeal box hat. I know she's going to be making friends she'll experience so much with and keep all her life.

Living vicariously, much?

Friday, August 13, 2010

More Fun with Crack and Coke Math

My future husband, President Obama, signed the aforementioned Fairness in Sentencing Act of 2010 on August 3rd.

The day AFTER our defendant was sentenced.

However, it would not have helped our guy, as the new law is not retroactive and the amount of drugs for which he was responsible was so huge that even with the 18:1 ratio, it would not have helped. I had to do another crazy algebraic formula, but it was a waste of time. However, we did get a very nice offer from the prosecution, so that reduced his sentence to a third of what he should have got.

Again, it was a huge amount of crack, so I think we did pretty well for our guy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

So The Big One says she's invited to a sleepover at Emily's* house and they're going swimming the next day and can she go?

I say sure.

We get to Emily's house and I ask Emily's dad "When do I pick her up?"

He says, "Six o'clock. Tomorrow."

"You mean 24 hours from now? For real?"

Turns out, the swimming was not at the local pool, like I assumed, but at someone's house that's about a 20 minute drive away.

Apparently, I have to learn to ask a few more questions in dealing with a high schooler.

*Collective noun for all The Big One's friends.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Nerd Love

My BFF since the 4th grade and her husband came for a visit last weekend. We don’t see each other much, but we are fortunate in that we can always pick up where we left off and that’s why we’ve been BFFs since we were 10. She and her husband were college sweethearts and will be married 24 years this December. And they still genuinely LIKE each other.

The BFF’s Husband is a big history buff, so we made visits to the National World War 1 Museum and the Harry Truman Library. The Husband and I had our first date there and our first kiss on the tower. Romantic, I know. I really do love the WW1 museum and find it very impressive and well-thought out as far as educating its visitors. The Truman Library is also worth a visit.

The Husband and the BFF’s Husband are also really into Civil War history. When I say “really” I mean that The Husband is writing a book about a specific battle and The BFF’s Husband is a re-enactor. My BFF and her family drove from Oklahoma to Gettysburg for a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg several years ago, and it happened to fall on her youngest son’s birthday. When asked what he wanted to do the following year, he stated, “I don’t want no Civil War Birf-day.” She really loves this man.

So last weekend, I was grateful that the stars had happened to aligned when my BFF and I had chosen our spouses. I truly believe that some people are just meant to find each other, and my belief was affirmed with these two. They were in Civil War Nerd heaven.

The Husband got really excited when The BFF’s Husband invited him to participate in his re-enactment group. Snippets from their conversation: “I have a widget and an extra doohickey you could borrow for your uniform,” and “We re-enact the Battle of Some Famous Landmark at the end of September.” The Husband got REALLY excited when he found out there is an actual store in the metro area that supplies re-enactor gear. Guess where we’re going this weekend?

Re-enacting has actually been a life-long dream of his, so I have no problem acquiescing to this. Just as long for every dollar he spends for this hobby, he saves one for our trip to London with The Big One’s high school marching band.

Marching Nerds. I know. But I’ll at least get a trip to London out of it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Office

My current means of support is working as a paralegal/legal assistant/receptionist. I fell into this after running into an acquaintance I used to work out with, who was also a single mom, and was working as a paralegal and thought I'd like it. I figured, “Hey, why not?” and enrolled in the paralegal program at my local junior college. Keep in mind, I chose my college based on its school colors.

So I finished school, while working one full time job and at least 3 part time jobs, and found my first paralegal position immediately after I completed the program. I’m on my third job in two and a half years, after being laid off of one job and ran screaming from the boss of another, so I guess all the hype about always being able to find a paralegal job is true. I’ve been at this office for little over a year, and while it’s not perfect, it’ll do pig, it’ll do.

My current employer’s focus of practice is employment law. Pretty basic stuff. Most of the cases follow a usual pattern and I spend a lot of time making templates and proofreading. I deal with a lot of misplaced apostrophes. So I usually know what to expect.

Yesterday, however, was an exception.

The firm took a CJA case before I was hired. Without going into too many details, our defendant was involved in a HUGE drug conspiracy, involving a HUGE amount of crack. He was due to be sentenced over a year ago, and it fell to me to write his Sentencing Memorandum. The Sentencing Memorandum is basically a document submitted to the court that contains the arguments as to why your guy should get time off or have his sentence reduced. Because his sentencing was delayed for over a year, I had a lot of time to educate myself in drug sentencing.

Here’s what I learned: The Reagan administration sucked.

During the big “Just Say No” campaign and the “war on drugs” during the eighties, the Reagan administration passed laws that had to be intentionally racist. Sentencing statutes were passed that had the effect of giving crack offenders the same jail sentence as someone who possessed 100 times the same amount of coke. The irony of this is that crack does not exist without coke. It’s made from coke. There are no chemical differences. The difference is that crack was perceived as a “black” drug and cocaine, a “white” drug. This resulted in sentences that were way too long for most offenders, which later led to overcrowding, etc. I won’t go into how the breakdown of the prison system, look it up.

I also learned that I would use algebra in ways I never imagined.

When I went back to school, I had to take algebra, because as an art major, I was not required to set foot in a math class, and had no math on my college transcript. I actually didn’t hate taking it, and it turned out, that the instructor was the father of one of The Big One’s classmates. Lucky I took this class though, because I had no idea how much math was involved in drug dealing.

The sentencing laws basically work like this: Marijuana is used for the starting point of all other drugs. So x amount of pot is worth x amount of meth or heroin or crack or coke, etc. Sentencing is based on the amount of the drugs involved. So I had to convert the amount of crack to its pot equivalent. Then I had to convert it from ounces to grams. Then I had to figure out its coke equivalent at a 100:1 ratio. Basically, I was trying to get the amount of drugs down as far as I could to benefit our defendant.

I also learned that there were a couple of bills and case law in place that agreed that the disparity in sentencing was racially motivated and went around and around and around researching all that. On the day I finally submitted my document to the court, Congress passed the Fairness in Sentencing Act of 2010, which, when signed by the President, change the ratio from 100:1 to 18:1. Hopefully, this will be to the benefit of our client.

Anyway, the funny part was when I was trying to do the math to convert the amounts to an 18:1 ratio. Lot of good that algebra class did me. “So if the original amount was 4.5 kilos of crack, what would that be in coke with the 18:1 ratio?” Ended up that we called Kathy with a K’s math-whiz daughter, and she gave me some formula. Just give me the answer, I don’t know how to remember to solve for x. So we figured it out and hopefully it will matter come the sentencing next week.

I do actually feel bad for our guy, even though it was a HUGE amount of crack. Weighed about as much as a six-month old baby.

We also had an interesting client meeting. Again, I can’t divulge much, but I learned that exotic dancers have to pay the house to work each shift, pay for their music, have to sell a certain number of drinks per shift, have to tip out the house for each dance, have to have a license from the city and are fined for infractions.

Not my typical workday.

Monday, July 26, 2010

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

When I was in the ninth grade, our research project was to write a 10 page biography of a public figure and present an oral report. My friend, Mary, was a huge Beatles fan and had a treasure trove of resources, so being the slacker I am, picked Paul McCartney, because she had the most information on him. Keep in mind, this was DECADES before the “internet,” so to do any kind of research, one had to go to a facility called a “library,” go to the “card catalogue,” and look up information in “books.” Mary received a hefty allowance at the time, about $20 a week, which in the late 70’s was a fortune, so she had enough disposable income to have amassed quite a library. Little did I know that before I finished this project, I would be in love.

I fell hard for the Beatles and Paul. Knew every song and bit of trivia I could find. I can still list dates of birth for all Beatles without Googling them. I started my own collection of albums, magazines, books and assorted memorabilia. For Christmas one year, my friend Mel gave me a t-shirt with the legend “War is Over, If You Want It” on the front, and “Happy Christmas from John and Yoko” on the back. I still have it, and on a good day, it still fits. I didn’t have all the albums, but most of them, and some were collector’s items. Like the copy of the white album (I know, actual title was “The Beatles”) pressed on white vinyl and I still had the inserts from that and Sgt. Pepper in tact. I carried on this love affair all through jr. high, high school, college and beyond.

In 1990, my dream of seeing Paul McCartney live finally happened. He played in Dallas, at Texas Stadium. This was really back in the day, when if you wanted concert tickets, you had to actually go to the ticket agency and stand in line all night, or phone in until you reached an operator to order your tickets. My Boyfriend at the time, who later became The Ex, lived in Dallas and I lived in Tulsa. The minute the tickets went on sale, we both started dialing. And I mean dialing, as I lived with my parents at the time and they only had dial-faced telephones. I dialed so many times, I ended up with a black ring around my dialing finger. It took a couple of hours, but I finally got through and ordered the tickets, even though the pickings were pretty slim by then.

We get to Texas Stadium, and our seats are literally behind the stage, on the top row of Texas Stadium. I could actually reach up and touch the dome. Fortunately, this was one of the first shows where the jumbo-tron screens were used, so we could see a little something. Mostly I just caught a glimpse of his hand when he would swing his guitar out at a certain angle. It was somewhat of a letdown, after waiting for so many years.

I may have mentioned, one of the most hurtful things The Ex did was hock my Beatles albums. I had taken such good care of them, saved all the posters and inserts and they represented so much of my growing up. It was such a personal thing he stole from me and I literally got physically sick when I made this discovery. Even if I had been able to track down my property, I was so broke, I wouldn’t have had the funds to get them back. I know rationally, they were just “things,” but that was a new low, even for him. So for years after this happened, whenever I’d hear a Beatles song, it would bring all that back up again, and I’d get pissed all over again. So he hocked much more than just the physical albums.

Last Christmas, The Husband got me the complete Beatles collection on CD. I listened to every one of them, and because he was so sweet in his reason for giving them to me, I could listen and not get angry. And man, I missed my boys.

I forgot how good every song was. I listened to songs I had not heard in decades. I was surprised at how good “Magical Mystery Tour” was. I was inspired to have Genius Girl sing “All You Need is Love” at our wedding. I got my Beatles back.

The Husband and I had breakfast over Memorial Day weekend with an old camp friend we had not seen in 28 years. Punk Paul LOVES his live music. He’s had several FB posts reviewing shows he’s seen over the last year or so, and when we were talking about the Fleetwood Mac show, I said I’d regretted not seeing them when they came to town, because it was just so expensive. I made the spot decision to not let finances get in my way the next time an act rolled into KC that I’d always wanted to see. Life’s too short and life’s too long, I reasoned.

So not more than two weeks later, it was announced that Sir Paul would be making an appearance in KC.

Tickets went on sale online on a Monday morning at 10 AM. I had created my account with Ticketmaster and was logged on at 9:59.

I was an online ticket buying virgin, so my co-worker, Kathy with a K, walked me through it. She also revived me when I saw the ticket price. Seriously, I’m going to have to sell a kidney to recover the cost. She also held my hand while I had technical difficulties because of the panic attack I was experiencing while trying to decide whether or not to commit my children’s college funds while the Ticketmaster stopwatch was counting down. But she bitch-slapped me into it, which is why I heart her.

So Saturday night was the big night. I was experiencing some anxiety because of the expense and the crowd. Have I mentioned I have trouble in crowds? Yeah. Not crazy trouble, but enough to skewer rational thinking. Our seats were smack dab in the center of the row, which added to that because I kept worrying I’d have to go to the bathroom which would have caused everyone in the row to stand up to let me by.

But once the lights went down and the first note was struck, I forgot all about that. Because, after all, it WAS Paul McCartney. LIVE.

I’m not qualified to write a concert review, but can relate my experience. The whole damn thing was just surreal. For over 30 years, the only pictures I have in my head of Paul McCartney performing were from movies, television or what I could see on the jumbo-tron at Texas Stadium. But he was LIVE. Paul-effing-McCartney. Live in the same room as me. And 14,999 other people. I’m still trying to process it. And I could see all of him, not just a hand. LIVE.

So I have no regrets about the expense. Totally worth it. I really have the Beatles back now. And I did not lose that part of my growing up; it was just sleeping for a while.

Setlist, so I don't forget: Venus and Mars/Rock Show; Jet; All My Loving; Letting Go; Drive My Car; Highway; Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady; The Long and Winding Road; Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five; Let 'Em In; My Love; I've Just Seen A Face; And I Love Her; Blackbird; Here Today; Dance Tonight; Mrs. Vanderbilt; Eleanor Rigby; Something; Sing the Changes; Band on the Run; Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da; Back in the USSR; I Got A Feeling; Paperback Writer; A Day In The Life/Give Peace A Chance; Let It Be; Live and Let Die; Hey Jude. Encores: Day Tripper; Lady Madonna; Get Back; Yesterday, Helter Skelter, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)/The End.

Friday, July 23, 2010

This was what I saw when I went outside at work yesterday:
Never in a million years.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I am officially married.

We set off on July 2 at the ass crack of dawn, because my fear was we’d get to the county courthouse to get the license and they’d be closed because of the holiday. All the girls (The Big One, The Little One, Genius Girl and The Neurotic Dog) were great travelers, and no threats were made toward the general vicinity of the backseat.

We got to the courthouse by 12:30 and began the paperwork process. The first question the clerk asked was, “How did you meet?” I looked at my boyfriend and thought, “Do they need that information?” It turns out, the clerk just liked to keep a running tab on that for her own personal information. I guess when you’re a civil servant, you have to have some kind of hobby. She noticed we had two different state licenses, and asked if we’d met on the Internet, and since she’s started keeping track, in 1999 I believe, she’d had 124 couples. That’s a pretty high number, considering it’s the Tulsa County Courthouse. Anyway, we explained the story and she seemed pleased and decided to count us in her tally. We got the license and celebrated with coneys from Coney-Islander.

Sidebar: I would absolutely kill myself with a veg-o-matic if I had to work in a civil servant workspace. Everything in the Tulsa courthouse was putty beige, and the equipment was ancient. Everything looked so grimy, too. I’d want to paint it all bright yellow or something. The DMV here is the same way. Our tax dollars at work.

The rest of the weekend was great. The Big One, Genius Girl and I went to the Tulsa Flea Market on Saturday morning, then got pedis. I think it was the first time for both girls and two weeks later, my toes still look cute. My mother was generous to provide the food for the reception, so we made a trip to Sam’s and boyfriend picked up the gorgeous cake.

We headed for camp on Sunday, and the festivities began. My concern was that there would be no kids The Big One’s age, and that was my reasoning for taking her BFF, Genius Girl. I was completely wrong. There were many high school and college age kids, and pre-school kids, but only two The Little One’s age, and they were boys, so we had some clingy-ness issues, but she warmed up after the square dancing after the wedding.

There was a threat of rain in the forecast, but we couldn’t have ordered better weather. The ceremony was scheduled for 7:00 PM, and in July in Oklahoma, it can still be brutally hot, but it was just warm enough. We had a few guests come in; mostly old friends and family. One special guest and his wife who drove up from Dallas and another, (who happened to be the first girl BF slept with) drove over from Arkansas. My BGF and his boyfriend gifted us the most beautiful flowers and I had planned the wedding d├ęcor around those.

When we got to the altar, the rector whispered at me, “Are you OK?” and I just blurted out, “Everything is just so pretty!” because it was. The light was perfect and the flowers on the altar popped out against the green and blue of the woods. The ceremony went off without a hitch. My brother did a reading from Song of Solomon and Genius Girl sang “All You Need is Love.” We had a cake-and-punch reception at the camp’s lodge covered porch, and campers and guests could eat or square dance.

I’m normally very anal about details when it comes to things like this, but I really just let go of that. In fact, about 4 hours before the ceremony, I was sitting at the pool with one of the campers, and her sister, (old friends from camp, and the sister happens to be The Husband’s aunt by marriage) and the sister asked if she’d like her to play a song at the end and if I had any preferences. I said, no, and made the comment that this was the most half-assed thing I'd ever done. I told her just pick what you like, and she and some of the other campers ended up singing a forgotten favorite of mine, Harry Chapin’s “Circle.” Which really turned out to be the perfect song.

It was really great to be able to enjoy every minute of it, and not have to worry about if the right spoons were out or if there was enough ice. Every wedding should be so easy.

My father has some pre-Alzheimer’s/dementia symptoms, but is still independent. He just gets very agitated and uncomfortable when he is out of his usual comfort zone. We had just walked up the hill from the chapel to the lodge’s porch, and he was at my elbow, wanting a piece of cake. I know this was a casual wedding, but I thought that was something traditionally done later during the reception. But we went ahead and cut the cake, with my dad at my elbow with a plate in his hand, practically wanting the first piece. The Husband and I managed to get in the traditional photo of us eating the cake, then I served my dad the second piece. I didn’t think much of it at the time, just thought dad was REALLY hungry for cake or something. Turns out, Mom told him they could leave as soon as the cake was served.

I wonder if there are any studies linking Alzheimer’s with autism.

Dad did have an interesting story for us, though. I inherited a pin from my grandmother that had belonged to her mother-in-law. My grandfather’s mother had died when he was about nine, and she was a Belt. I remember my grandmother wearing the pin to church and funerals, and it has become a tradition in our family for the granddaughters and great-granddaughters to wear it at their weddings. It’s a very beautiful and a one-of-a-kind piece, but no one really knows how my great-grandmother came to be in possession of it, other than my grandmother’s explanation, “She was a Belt, and they had money.” I had pinned it on to the streamers in my bouquet for the ceremony. Dad came up to us immediately after the ceremony, and launched into a story about how his father had given it to his mother. Apparently, my grandfather went to live with his uncle John (his father’s brother), after his father died when he was a teenager. Uncle John was low on scruples and somehow took possession of it. When my grandfather married my grandmother, he paid a visit to Uncle John, and flat out told Uncle John he wanted the pin and was not leaving without it, even if it meant he had to kill Uncle John for it. I don’t recall any family stories of my grandfather doing jail time for murder, so he must have made a peaceful retrieval. It's also an interesting story how I came to inherit the pin in the first place, and not the oldest granddaughter, but I'll save that for another time.

We all returned safely, and The Husband started his new job the day after we got back, so everything worked out as it was supposed to.

Anyway, everyone got cake and a good time was had by all.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's the Story...

I am getting married on July 5.

After my divorce, it took me a long time to realize that even though we'd been together for over 18 years, my ex and I had an unusual marriage. Even without the albatross of his gambling addiction, we had a disconnected relationship from the very beginning. I always preferred to think of it as autonomous, but the truth was, we were two single people in a marriage. We spent very little time together, and to the best of my recollection, the time we did manage to spend together was limited in quality. We were two solitary people living in the same house. Spread this out over 18 years, and it would warp anyone's view on marriage.

Because of my financial situation, at one point I was working one full-time job, two part-time jobs, running my website home business and taking 6 hours of classes. This was the average for about two and a half years, which made it impossible for me to even think about dating, even if I did happen to meet anyone.

From about the fourth grade until I graduated high school, I attended church camp. (Shocking, I know, as I am now an active non-theist.) I truly was a great experience, as it was one of the few places where you were surrounded by peers, but felt little or no peer pressure. At least that's the way I felt. The camp had a wonderful, amazing counselor, "George," who was a schoolteacher, and worked at the camp during the summer, and eventually became its director. She retired two years ago, and married for the first time. When she got married, it got me to thinking about all those I knew back in the day, so I started a FaceBook page for the camp's alumni.

Little did I know what FaceBook had in store for me.

Through the magic of FaceBook, I reconnected with who is now The Boyfriend. We knew each other slightly back then. He's a year younger than me, which when you're 14 and 15 is a big difference. About 15 months ago, we met up in my hometown with some other friends, and a few weeks later he asked me out. I actually was so confused by this, that I thought he thought I still lived in my hometown, but he understood that I lived four hours away.

So long story short, after a year of driving back and forth for visits and job interviews, he moved here for good last weekend. We had already set a date for July 5th, and were pretty much jumping off the bridge on the chance he'd find a job. Thanks in part to a friend of mine, he was offered a job two days before he'd planned to move here and will start three days after the wedding. The girls have adjusted beautifully to these changes and I feel as if we've jumped the major hurdles already. At least I hope so.

We're getting married at the camp, during its Family Camp session, by a priest we knew from our camp days. The Big One, The Little One and The Big One's BFF, Genius Girl, and The Boyfriend's son are all coming with us, and we're hoping to keep it as simple as possible, with the ceremony during the evening Eucharist and square dancing to follow. (We're NOT squaredancers, that happened to be the planned camp activity for the evening.) My BGF is providing the flowers and we've got a cute polka-dot cake ordered. Several friends from camp are planning on coming, as well as family. And if all goes well, Genius Girl will be singing "All You Need is Love," a la "Love Actually." (Which due to copyright laws, I could not link, but just rent the damn movie.) My plans have been somewhat half-assed, but only because I REALLY don't want a lot of muss and fuss.

I feel very lucky to have this second chance. I have many, many hang-ups about living with someone else, since I've essentially lived as a single person since I was 22, but am committed to breathing through them and accepting this gift.

I love you, soon-to-be Husband.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The disaster in the Gulf just gets more and more ridiculous every day.

The president of BP decides he needs a break and decides to go yachting. And now Larry King is hosting a telethon for clean up efforts.

The Nature Conservatory has set up a fund for cleaning up the mess. I'm sure their intentions are good, and I don't begrudge them that at all. The thing is, why are donations being solicited by anyone in the first place?

BP is 100% liable for this mess and they should be the responsible party for cleaning up 100% of the mess. They are a multi-billion dollar corporation whose negligent actions led to this in the first place. I'm sure they have insurance in place to cover this, however, it is evident that their first priority is to their stockholders, not those directly affected by their mistakes.

T. Boone Pickens is making more sense every day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Part III

So after breaking up with the self-checkouts, Map Quest and The Today Show, I am breaking up with Wal-Mart.

This story appeared on my FaceBook feed today. I haven't had the chance to research the complaint, but I'm pretty certain the allegations are true. After all, this is the company who put out a 26-page memo regarding its "benefits strategy," that encouraged turnover so that Wal-Mart would not have to pay long-term benefits to its employees. Wal-Mart has a long history of violating employees' rights that I'm sure would have Sam Walton spinning in his grave.

I work for a law firm that specializes in employees' rights. I have learned in the short time I've worked here, there is no such thing as employees' rights. And with the economy going the way it is, employers are taking that to full advantage.

So I'll be shopping at Target from now on.

Monday, June 14, 2010

My 15 Minutes of Fame

I sent the link to my post about breaking up with The Today show to Lenore of Free Range Kids. She liked it enough to post it to her blog.

I had about 65 comments, some positive, some negative and some WTF? Apparently, I need to work on my writing skills (duh, isn't that the main reason for ALL blogs?) because not everyone is as fluent in sarcasm as I am. One chided me for using the term "Neo-nazi." Hey, my ancestors were moved from their homelands in the South to Oklahoma by forced march. Don't call me insensitive regarding ethnic cleansing. I can beat you by about 100 years.

Plus, most missed out some important details:
1. The recital was OVER. I repeat OVER.
2. I was a participant in said recital, and in fact, still in costume when I came to pick up the kids when the recital was OVER.
3. I was not the only parent picking up their child at that point, because the recital was OVER.

The whole point of the article was that I was sick and tired of the sensationalism-driven stories on my morning show. First thing in the morning, I want to learn the best way to mow my lawn and how to make good icing.

And mark my words - they haven't found what happened to that little boy in Oregon yet, but I'll bet you a Coke someone in his school's administration was involved. Someone he knew.

I really love Lenore's message about looking at the facts and not always assuming that your child will be abducted if they're out of your sight for more than 2 minutes. I am, of course, careful about my girls' safety, but want them to be independent. In fact, one walked to the park on her own today to meet with some friends. I know she's smart enough to be safe on her own.

It just seems that those with the uber-levels of paranoia could be using that energy in much more productive fashions. I know, how about getting outside with their families and actually getting to know their neighbors, so they won't live in fear of them?

And did I mention, the recital was OVER?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oil Spills for Dummies

OK, I get it.

The BP mess in the Gulf is awful. I do not dispute that. It will probably take years and years to clean up the mess. I get that.

What I do not get is the fact that, according to current estimates, the oil well is spewing out about 20,000 barrels a day. America's daily oil consumption is somewhere between 20 and 21 million barrels a day.

I'm no math wizard, but even I can figure out that's about 19,980,000 MORE barrels every day than what's getting dumped into the Gulf.

Misplaced outrage, anyone?

More Neo-Nazis at the Door

The dance school where the girls and I take dance classes runs their annual recital over three nights. There are so many students, that if they did all the classes in one night, it would run until about 4 in the morning.

All three of us performed the first night, The Little One all three nights and The Little One and I last night. After my experience with the "security" at the door the first night (see post below)I had my note in hand the following evenings so that I could take my OWN daughter home with me before the performance was over.

Little did I know that I would have to have a note to get myself out.

Actually, I didn't, but may as well have.

My fellow classmates were waiting for another gal and I to go from the "holding area" (school cafeteria) to the hallway outside the backstage area so we could go onstage. We were headed down the hallway, when one of the Neo-Nazis stopped us, "If you're dancing in the show, you can't use the restroom down here."

"Um, we're not going to the restroom, we're meeting our group, RIGHT THERE." (pointing at group, clearly about 20 feet away)

"No, dancers aren't allowed down this hall."

"Well, we're meeting our group, RIGHT THERE, so we're going to have to go down this hall."

So we went down the hall.

We are so bad.

It had occurred to me that I didn't recognize any of these so-called "security" people. I've been involved with this particular dance school for over 10 years, so faces do become familiar. Besides, most of them were "older" women, so I knew they couldn't have been moms of students.

After the show last night, my class went out for well-earned drinks, and I asked my teacher about them. Turns out they are volunteers from some sorority.

Ah, that explains it. I guess the sorority mentality never leaves, no matter how old you get.

Anyway, Recital 2010 is officially over and the only hiccup was that The Big Ones costume ripped up the seat. But no one noticed except for me.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Breakin' Up is Hard to Do - Part Deux

I have watched The Today Show for over thirty years. I remember when it was hosted by Jane Pauley, her pony tail, and Tom Brokaw. I started watching it as I'd get ready for school during jr. high, through high school, college and beyond. I watch it with my girls as we get ready for school and work. It always has interesting stories and does it really get any cuter than Matt Laurer. Plus, I'm waiting for the day that NBC actually does kill Ann Curry.

But I feel it may be time to move on.

After the two lead stories were about the man who allegedly killed Natalie Holloway who is now a suspect in another murder and about a boy who disappeared while walking to his classroom in his school, it occurred to me that almost every morning, the lead story is about a child who has disappeared or been murdered.

According to the CDC, the number one cause of death in children is motor vehicle accidents. In the United States during 2005, 1,335 children ages 14 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes, and approximately 184,000 were injured. That’s an average of 4 deaths and 504 injuries each day.

Yet those 4 deaths per day are NOT the lead story on The Today Show.

Obviously, the reason is that it is not newsworthy and would not attract ratings.

The Little One performed in her dance school's recital last night. The school has a policy, that if you want to take your child home early after he or she has performed, you must have a note, signed by your child's teacher, that you are doing so. I am aware of this policy, and have complied with it every year I knew I would take my kids home early. This year, both The Big One, The Little One and I participated in the recital (more on my appearance later, if I can get video) and they were scheduled for the end of the program, so I stayed for all the performances. I went backstage to pick up my kids while the awards were being announced. As I was leaving with my girls and The Big Ones two BFFs, who stayed backstage with her during the entire show and are NOT students in this dance school, BTW, the Neo-Nazi stopped me at the door: "Where's your note?"

"I don't have one, because the recital is over."

"NO, they are still onstage, handing out awards and making announcements, you have to have your note."

"The recital is OVER."

"You cannot take them without a NOTE"

It took me a good 2-3 minutes for it to sink in how ridiculous this was. Seriously? She wasn't going to let me take my children, of whom I have LEGAL custody, home from a DANCE recital? Hmmm...wouldn't her preventing me taking them constitute kidnapping and false imprisonment?

By the time I figured this out, and was about to tell her how unreasonable she was being, several other parents came backstage to pick up their children, WITHOUT A NOTE, and were told they couldn't. So the Nazi left to see if it was OK for the parents to take their own children home, and we all left with our OWN children.

Without a note.

We are rabblerousers.

My point is, I really do appreciate the fact that the dance school is concerned for my children's well being. However, I seriously doubt if someone wanted to snatch one of mine or someone else's child, lack of a signed note would not be a deterrent. I know their argument would be "You watch the news, children get snatched every day."

Yes, children do get snatched every day. The majority being snatched by a parent or family member. Eighty-two percent, in fact, according to the Department of Justice.

The Today Show, and other news sources, are to the point where these cases are getting glorified. It feeds the misinformation of what is really dangerous to American children:

Their own parents and riding in cars. Or even worse, riding in cars with their own parents.

So, I'm breaking up with The Today Show. It may not be forever, because I do love Matt and am concerned about Ann.

But I need to start my day with reality, not sensationalism.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Three Ring Circus in My Mind

So I had to look up a case for The Cool Attorney. As I was reading through it, the name “Frankfurter” jumped at me from the page. It was preceded by the word, “Justice,” so immediately my brain had to hear, “Justice Sweet Transvestite, from Transsexual Transylvania.”

Then I thought that would be an awesome name for a drag queen, “Justice Sweet Transvestite.” She could wear judicial robes, big powdered wig, pink latex gloves, platform boots and carry a giant gavel. She could spout bon mots such as “I’m ruling for love in your favor,” “Guilty of love in the first degree,” and Here come da judge.” OK, I’m reaching with that last one, but you get the picture.

Is it any wonder I get so few things accomplished?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Redneck Mother's Day

Yesterday was Mother's Day. I was greeted with breakfast in bed, prepared by The Boyfriend, The Big One and The Little One. The best part about it was that the girls worked with The Boyfriend in its preparation, and The Big One was particularly civil toward The Boyfriend. Baby steps, baby steps.

In honor of Mother's Day, one of my FB friends from church camp posted a sing-a-long to a song we used to sing, Jerry Jeff Walker's "Redneck Mother."

"He was born in Oklahoma,
His wife's name's Betty Lou Thelma Liz
And he's not responsible for what he's doing
Cause his mother made him what he is.

And it's up against the wall Redneck Mother,
Mother, who has raised her son so well.
He's thirty-four and drinking in a honky tonk.
Just kicking hippies asses and raising hell.

Sure does like his Falstaff beer,
Likes to chase it down with that Wild Turkey liquor;
Drives a fifty-seven GMC pickup truck;
He's got a gun rack; "Goat ropers need love, too" sticker

And it's up against the wall Redneck Mother,
Mother, who has raised her son so well.
He's thirty-four and drinking in a honky tonk.
Just kicking hippies asses and raising hell.

M is for the mudflaps you give me for my pickup truck
O is for the Oil I put on my hair
T is for T-bird
H is for Haggard
E is for eggs, and
R is for REDNECK.

Up against the wall Redneck Mother,
Mother, who has raised her son so well.
He's thirty-four and drinking in a honky tonk.
Kicking hippies asses and raising hell.

He's up against the wall Redneck Mother,
Mother, who has raised her son so well.
He's thirty-four and drinking in a honky tonk.
Just kicking hippies asses and raising hell."

It wasn't until a couple of years ago, I realized this was probably not standard church camp repertoire.

I went to a kick-ass church camp.

Happy Belated Mother's Day all!