Deck the halls with Buddy Holly

I'm completely over Christmas, especially in conjunction with the US Postal Service Mafia. I spend holidays alone, or with my son, and easily spend over $100 to send gifts to loved ones in other parts of the country, where they open the crap, without me. My dad & I agreed that we've had enough of the so-called holiday spirit, rushing around, and last minute, guaranteed-to-get-there-on-time shipping fees. This Summer, we're meeting in Vermont, or somewhere equally random, to spend "Christmas" in July in a different state drinking beer together. Fa la la la la.


75 and sunny

Of course I got lost looking for the mall in Montgomery.
Would you expect anything less?


Finger prick

The last place someone like me (a rage-filled, man-hating shrew) needed to be was the town piss-scented police station, but there I was, getting my fingerprints taken for the third time this year because the powers that be at the Department of Defense judged me unworthy of current security status, and I have a new job and have to go through the rigamarole again, don't you know.

I was minding my own business, paying my fee, as some crackhead detoxed down the hall ("I need a bologna sandwich, fuck, that's all!") and a woman sobbed in the chair next to me.

He: you should have known better. What were you thinking? If I hadn't gotten there...

She: I'm so sorry, I know, I love you, I..I....(her words trailed off into snot-muffled sobs so I couldn't tell exactly what else she was saying, plus I was trying very hard not to eavesdrop. As if).

He: well, I guess you didn't try hard enough, and I can't even touch you because I'll contaminate the evidence and what were you thinking?

The man continued to nag and berate his too-young-looking girlfriend until the receptionist finally butted in, "Shut the hell up and stop discussing the case. Can't you just show a little compassion? Jeez."

Joy to the World.


Solo Etoh

I have this rule against drinking alone. Screw my stupid rules.

Blah, blah, oink: my new job is sort of a diagonal move up - I'm overseeing much of my old responsibilities, even though I work for a different company. At first, I tried being laid back - "Oh, hey, when you get the chance, this needs to be done". My ex-boss, though, seems to be caught up in semantics: "this scope of work says it will affect a few machines, but 4 is more than a few. What you're asking is labor intensive and we won't be able to do it."

Uh-huh, uh-huh, I hear what you're saying, but...DO IT ANYWAY!! My jugular has been bulging and twitching for 48 hours and for all the time we've spent disagreeing, the damn work could already have been done. I'm frustrated, annoyed, pissed off and wondering if men like to fight, just for the sake of fighting!


Practical magic

My sister, best friend & I stayed the night in a hotel in Tallahassee before her xanax-filled flight back to Milwaukee. I had been lost in this city in the past, and was not surprised in the least when it took a little longer to find the hotel.* I hadn't planned on booking the room for the wrong night, but eventually we were able to take the blue padded elevator to our room.

*For some inexplicable reason, I dragged both of them into the gas station with me to ask for directions because I have a limited capacity for remembering more than two turns. We would be in San Francisco if we had to rely on either of their direction skills, though. Ehem.

At some point during the evening, we realized we had 3/4 of a powerful, mystical force with our fire (Leo), air (Gemini) and water (Scorpio) signs and drunk-dialed many in our quest to find an earth sign. Our bartender stepped forward, but after she charged $26 for a buttery nipple (ONE DRINK!), we kicked her ass to the curb.

I am feeling relieved and elated that my sister thinks so highly of my best friend, who "exceeded her expectations" because we have many backpacking and drinking adventures planned in the future, once we add her best friend to the mix.

Next on our list: Chicago 2007. Evacuate now.


B & E

Every morning, including weekends, I stop by my old place of employment to feed the feral cats before going into my new office. On Saturday, when I tried to get in, I noticed my key was missing. Not wasting one impulsive second, I called my ex-boss.

Me, indignant and slightly foamy: What? You couldn't just ask for my key back? You had to be sneaky and take it behind my back? You don't trust me enough to have access...

Him: What?

Me: I know I wasn't supposed to have it, and that's not the point...the cats should suffer because I no longer work there?

Him: What key?

Me: MY key!

Him: I thought your key broke?

Me: I said it broke, thinking you understood, so I could keep it in order to let myself in during the weekends to feed the cats, but someone took it off my ring last week!

Him: Of course I trust you and would never take your key. It bothers me that someone else did, and didn't turn it in to me, since I'm responsible for the warehouse, but I'll get to the bottom of this and give you another one, don't worry.

Me: Okay, fine. Thanks.

It has occured to me that the more you act like a raving lunatic, the more people do what you want.



Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

- Christina Rossetti


I'm not sure how I lost an entire month, but, yep, I did. I'm blaming the new job. Or on too much company. Or the fact that my sister and I are regulars at our favorite bar (finally!) because the bouncers don't make us pay cover and the bartender doesn't ask what we're drinking (yes!). How proud my parents must be.

On my last day at the OLD job, my boss surprised me with a 4-leaf clover front license plate. He took a photo of my tattoo to a screenprinter in an attempt to duplicate my Q, which was a wonderful gesture, but as far as hanging out in the parking lot showing strangers my matching tattoo and car...eh, not so much.

All my co-workers gave me a sappy sentimental card filled with "it's been wonderful working with you" and "I hope you take over the world", but Jessica? Wrote "See ya", followed by her initials. Can you feel the love?

Someone once told me I would never find a man as long as I lived in Alabama, which is some sort of back-handed compliment, I suppose, because I'm too independent and intelligent-ish (I'm assuming). Turns out there are great men in Alabama, but only temporarily visiting.

I decided to bake pumpkin bread to take to my ex-stepmother's house for Thanksgiving dinner, but used baking powder instead of baking soda and burned all unrisen four mini loaves instead. Frazzled, but remembering a new recipe for apple-cranberry pie I wanted to try, I peeled some apples and attempted project #2. The oven timer must have gone off some time during my shower, as the crust and crumbly top goodness were burnt to a crisp by the time I checked on the damn thing. I arrived at her house with two bottles of wine and a grocery bag with canned goods - mushroom soup, green beans and French onion pieces.

My son & I had driven separately because I had to drive to the airport in Tallahassee to pick up my best friend that evening, and he would go back home afterwards. While showing off his car and stereo, he somehow managed to lock his keys inside the car. My sister agreed to drive him back to our house, but he grabbed the wrong key ring and had to call a locksmith in the end.

My friend Holly has missed her last three flights, but this time she was only delayed while they waited for a crew member. We spent five wonderful days catching up, which I'll write about...by the end of December, anyway, I'm sure.



This year I'll be sending Patrick out to the yard to attract a giant turkey to his head, so the feasting can begin...

Happy Thanksgiving!


Insomnia and the spotless mind

Joel: Is there any risk of brain damage?

Howard: Well, technically speaking, the operation is brain damage, but on a par with a night of heavy drinking. Nothing you'll miss.

Not that I keep a running list of favorite top 10 movies in my head, but if I did, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind would be holding steady at the #7 slot. The premise is fascinating: erase a person and all associated events from your memory.

If you received a card in the mail that stated you had been erased from someone's memory and not to contact them, would you? Just to mess with them? Would you be destined to meet again? Will I ever stop obsessing about this movie?


Where's my magic 8 ball?

After putting in my two week's notice, I discovered I would lose 48 hours (!!) of PTO, personal time off, without monetary compensation. My boss refused to let me take the time off because I needed to train my replacement, so we compromised - I pissed and moaned, and he agreed to let me have Friday off.

The big question for today, then: margaritas or beer for lunch?


Limited access

I don't know which one of us was more surprised this morning when, after fumbling and digging through my purse, I handed the guard at the gate a Victoria's Secret "Free Panties" Card instead of my ID card.

What kind of encore follows that?

In the queue

My sister and I share an unusual (morbid?) habit of saving the most recent voicemails from people we care about, in case something horrible should happen and we never hear from them again.

Currently, from our dad: "Just wondered if you had daylight saving's down there. We're really enjoying ours up here. Talk to ya' later."

From me, in the parking lot of a bar, playing undercover agent/matchmaker last weekend: "Yeah. You know the guy with that baby*? Well, he said that when he dates girls your age (24-25), they tend to get freaked out because he has a baby, and he asked if you would. I told him I didn't think so, but on second thought, I bet you would, so maybe you could sneak out to the parking lot and let me know so...god, I'm drunk. Nevermind."

*that baby is the one we saw on a Razr phone that a stranger had left on our table, not an actual baby in the bar. Everyone knows you can't take your kids to the bar until they're at least ten, unless a few of their cousins and/or pinball machines are there, or that would just be weird.



Casting call for "Jackass"

My son: Have you ever had a habanero pepper before? I ate an entire one at work tonight - it was orange so I thought it wouldn't be as hot as a jalepeno. You know how your leg falls asleep? That happened to my entire body, my face turned white, and my ears literally felt pressurized for at least fifteen minutes.

Me: Let me guess - this was for money?

He: Yep. $3.00.

I raised my eyebrow at him, giving him a little "I'm-so-glad-I'm-not-a-boy" look.

He: ...in quarters.


Sisterly advice

Next time you mouthe words about the lead singer of a band, make sure his sister isn't deaf and he can't read lips...


Yo. Yo.

In two weeks...I'll start my new job!

My negotiating skills? Suck. Auto dealers, salesmen, real estate agents and flea market vendors love me because I never try to get the price down. If it seems fair, I pay it. Last time another company took over our contract and I was offered a smaller salary than expected, I cried and decided to quit because 'counter offer' was a foreign concept.

This time? I asked for 25% more money than I currently make, never realistically expecting them to offer it. They did. And when the woman from HR explained some of the benefits package, I asked if vacation time was negotiable, to which she replied "sure" and added another week. Just like that. She probably pays too much for new cars, too, I'll bet. Suckah!

In two weeks....Crunchy Black's blood will have to be sent again to the lab for FIV (the equivalent of hiv in humans). The results were questionable, so he'll have to be fed separately and sequestered as much as possible while waiting for a retest. There are multiple scenarios, but I'm trying not to obsess until I know something concrete. Who am I kidding?


Don't call me Bubba

I have, apparently, wiggled my way into the professional good ole boy network of southern Alabama.

I had just started my current job when some sort of incident involving a vacuum pump device, a faulty hose, and a few gallons of oil took place. On me. I had showered that morning, but it turned into a really bad hair, with lots of advice from co-workers on the best way to get oil out of clothes. Dawn dishwashing detergent is not the magic elixir they claim, by the way.

I couldn't go home (which was my plan A) because Sam, a computer/environmental scientist/geek from Louisiana, arrived to install a new program and help me learn it that day. We became fast friends, though he later told me the image of me covered in oil was one he'd always remember.

His company is hiring a few people on my base, and, since he's helping in the hiring process, asked me to send my resume so he could write a job description using MY skills and certifications. I asked if he wanted my height, weight, and a photo to attach to eliminate the prospect of someone else applying.

His human resource department started the background check on me this week, and when my current company found out I was leaving, chaos ensued. Who knew I was such a hot commodity? I've always been tragically underpaid in this field, but it appears we're about to have an all out bidding war...for ME!*

*I'm almost afraid to post this entry, in case I somehow jinx myself and both companies wind up saying, "Nah, you can have her."


Money order

Last night, I talked to my sister, who asked if I had received anything in the mail from Tony (our dad), because he mentioned that he was sending something for both of us.

I replied, "Yep, a check for $6,000."

"NO WAY!", she said. "How crazy! Six thousand dollars? I can make my car payment, and..."

[She just makes it too easy to mess with her].


Quarantine: do not enter

5/06 - 10/22/06

While it's not my intention to start an online cat obituary log (catobitog?), I have to mention the frail, sweet, one-eyed Bowie, who entered my life, and heart, this summer. She was the runt of my foster cats, surviving every possible illness and recent death of her brother, with an adorable one-eyed sense of sweetness.

When my sister's boyfriend offered to take Bowie in July, I lied and said she had an appointment the following week, so he couldn't have her (I believe I might have some sort of underlying pathological issue. Or two).

My personal veterinarian (ha!) has no clue what's causing the quick, successive deaths of my cats, but sent a blood sample for full screening when I showed up with Crunchy Black (always fun at the office, when they call us in and I mumble, "my son named him" as we walk back to pet photo-covered walls). He told me he'd like to perform an autopsy on the next one to die, which made for a rather awkward silence. I told him the previous two had died on the weekend, wouldn't rigor mortis set in during that length of time? He told me, gently, that I could wrap the body in a plastic bag and put it in my freezer until Monday, when I could bring in the body.

What does one say to that? I feel like I'm stuck in a morbidly bad b-movie written by Stephen King.


Solve for z

(x - y) / 2 = z

x = age, in years, of old, decrepit crone with the failing liver;
y = age, in years, of her college party-girl sister;
z = number of times x will vomit after a night on the town trying to keep up with y


Highways and byways

My ex- starts his new job today with training in Orlando (I'm letting my emotions fester for a while before I talk about that), so he had our son for the weekend, then flew him back to Tallahassee for me to get Sunday night. Post-party pick-up mom.

Most of my life, people have told me to slow down when driving, but my son? Nagged the entire way because I was only going 80. He missed his car and could not possibly wait another minute for the reunion, even going so far as to tell me that he could claim youthful offender and his car insurance could cover it if I got a speeding ticket (which I pay, incidentally).

We arrived home (finally!), and he took his poor car with cat-prints on the hood out for a spin. Just like a neglected girlfriend, she paid him back for his weekend getaway, stranding him on the side of the road about ten minutes from our house.

My son, who knows next to nothing about cars, had the hood open, peering inside, as I pulled up.

"It sounds electronical, don't you think?"

Rule #1: if you know nothing about cars, make up words.


Yes, we're going to a party party...

For birthdays during my obsessive, all-things-Beatles phase (which later evolved into one of all-things-George Harrison), my dad would take me shopping at Harmony House, where I would select the perfect album and we would try to answer the age old question: Beatles vs. Rolling Stones. We shared this interest in music, so browsing together was like being in a candy factory with a chocoholic.

I don't recall a special tradition for his birthday, which is today, though I do remember buying many ties and candles over the years. 2003 stands out for the best surprise, when my mom & I painted his kitchen while he was at work.

For something different, I thought it might be nice if complete strangers on the internet could wish him a good one... (GO!)

You say it's your birthday
Well it's my birthday too--yeah
You say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

"I called you and it went straight to voicemail." Yep.

My cell phone, which is also my home phone, has been dead since Wednesday and I'm in no rush to recharge it.

I get like this sometimes, when I'm not able to articulate thoughts, let alone share them with others. It seems much easier to turn inward and avoid people (I wonder if this is what autistic feels like.) If brains are prisons, mine is solitary confinement.

My dad struggles with this, as well, although I always found it a quirky and endearing trait in him. He drove three hours to his neice's wedding reception a few years ago, because he knew he should be there, but he couldn't tolerate the crowd (which was mostly family). He entered the front door, marched though the entire hall, then exited out the back door and returned home. Odd, now, that I should so completely understand.

My ex- used to say to me, "You're going to grow up just like your dad* - alone in a cabin in the woods somewhere, drinking beer."

And? What's so wrong with that?

*he recently got married, moved out of the woods, and switched to whiskey (just kidding).


Addison was here.

Parents with many kids always say they love them equally, though perhaps in different ways, but I don't buy it. Of my ten cats, Crackhead Kennedy and four month old Addison have always been more affectionate, and consequently gained exalted favorite" status.

Addison was lethargic Saturday, but I didn't really notice...he's a cat. Around midnight he started wailing, and when I got closer I could hear his shallow, pained breathing. His eyes were open, staring blankly and I knew there was nothing I could do. He continued having convulsions and crying loudly, as I helplessly held him. The other cats gathered around, equally confused and concerned.

I laid down on the floor beside him, holding his head tenderly in one hand, and petting him with the other, as he passed away. He still twitched, so I kept holding and petting for probably another half hour. To stop would mean giving up, I suppose, and I was clinging to some desperate hope that he would be alright. He wasn't.

I wrapped him tenderly in one of my favorite, softest hand towels and placed him in an empty box, with a lavender rose from my garden and a catnip toy mouse. My son dug the hole next to the pink Camilla bush that's starting to bloom, and we buried him together.

His brother has spent the past two days wandering around the house, crying. I'm equally as subtle, walking around with my puffy eyelids and sobbing whenever I think of him.

The most frightening part is that his death is eerily similar to whatever-still-undiagnosed disease ended Jock's five kittens lives. Another of my cats has similar symptoms and I'm scared to death I'll lose them all.

Addison used to sit on my laptop keyboard when I left for a moment, surprising me with gibberish, pop-up windows and odd searches. This one's for you, sweetie. MMMDHGEHEKLJK. Rest in Peace.


How does my week suck? Let me count the ways.

I have no toilet. Wait, I have a toilet, but it's sitting in the middle of my bathroom floor, leaving a dark, gaping hole to sewer hell. While I wondered where wads of toilet paper went, I didn't really need to know.

Cold-blooded by nature, I have my air conditioner set at 76 (cold-blooded, cheap, whatever). My son gets home from work, turns the thermostat down to 72 degrees, goes to bed, then turns the heat up to 80 degrees in the morning. I believe hotflashes are actually caused by teenage boys.

I took back my rental car (and driver, ha), paid my deductible ($300) and picked up my car. It looks...less than perfect. Oh, it's not that bad, as long as you're Jolly Green Giant tall and don't look closely at the piece under the rear bumper hanging lower than everything else. After driving to the gas station on fumes today, I discovered what else isn't fixed: the push-button gas tank opening. Technology's great - except when IT DOESN'T WORK!

My subordinate has consistently been showing up for work late, leaving early, and taking longer lunches (which everyone knows is behaviour reserved for supervisors). I rationally and calmly sat him down to discuss his attendance after he arrived half an hour late this morning. Okay, I probably used sarcasm to make my point, but he flipped out on me, swearing and yelling about how much he hated his "motherfucking job". He's never said a word before now, preferring the strategy of keeping his anger and frustration bottled up so it could fester. I only wanted to talk about the situation, but ended up writing him up because he acted so inappropriately (and hurt my feelings. This is why I don't WANT people under me. Stop venting at me!)

Because of specifics in our contract, our employer is required to pay us the average wage for the corresponding job title in our Alabama region. Not only was my employee completely out of line, but I had to reward him with a $2/hour pay hike at the end of the day because his had changed.


Emergency landing

How about this. Let’s exchange obligatory, impersonal “I’m-fine-how-are-you? Is-it-hot-enough-for-you?” half a paragraph email every six months and call it a day. And I'll be taking my boring cat and flower photos with me, HA!

Another one bites the dust, hey hey. Another one bites the dust.


(Beyond the) Pale green Athena

Other people drive inanimate objects on the highways and byways. Cars. Trucks. Motorcycles. I am transported by a pronoun worthy pale-green goddess -- the first vehicle I ever bought myself, without the assistance of a cheap, bad-ass negotiating spouse.

I took her to the body shop and was told she needs a little work on her rear end (hey, it happens). $5000 and three weeks is the estimation, then she should be back to bouncing quarters and cracking walnuts (if only we could get a car/owner package deal).

My auto insurance will pay the car rental for thirty days, so I handed over my driver's license to the woman at the customer service desk, who asked if all the information was correct.

"Well, no..." I said, "that's my married name there, which I'm not. And the address was three moves ago."

"Not a problem...except that your driver's license expired in July. I can't rent this car to you."

Well, of course not (to quote an old Steve Martin act, it's all about the timing. Ti-MING).

She told me that their employee Tim would drive me home to get my relevant paperwork (name change, divorce decree), then to the courthouse to get my license. Tim is retired from the Navy, saw combat in Vietnam, and grew up in this area so I got the full tour: the house he grew up in, the creek he fished in, and all the schools in the area. I'm going to suggest to my insurance company that they cover the rental and driver for the next three weeks.


Who's driving?

Travis Bickle: The days go on and on... they don't end. All my life needed was a sense of someplace to go. I don't believe that one should devote his life to morbid self-attention, I believe that one should become a person like other people.



The judge asked, "What do you plead?"

I said, "Insanity, your honour. Who in their right mind would park in the passing lane?"
- Stephen Wright

Same location (near my old house) on the same road (84-E), with the same weather (crappy late afternoon rain storm) as last year when the Bronco flipped over the median. Welcome to my déjà vu.

Not much on my mind, other than hypocrites and puritanical sensibilities, as I cruised along, hoping I wouldn't be too late for my dentist appointment. I played with my sunglass a bit, unable to decide if the clouds looked better darker. Lighter. Darker. Lighter. I noticed the car in front of me stopping suddenly, and quickly pressed down my own brake pedal as hard as I could. The anti-lock brakes worked like a charm as I skipped along the wet pavement, stopping approximately one inch from the car in front of me. PHEW!

My relief, however, was short-lived, as I glanced in my rear-view mirror and noticed the truck behind me, a Ford Ranger, was not having such an easy, stop-on-a-dime time with her brakes. She collided into my back end, pushing me into the car in front of me. Then again, with a jolt of the car forward and back, as another truck hit HER from behind. Domino Dancing in a six-cylinder.

The officer on a Harley eventually arrived, and we drove under the canopy at the Shell gas station so he wouldn't get wet (think Eric Estrada...plus 80 pounds). No one was hurt, fortunately, so he took the reports, while we joked and laughed and talked about how crazy hydroplaning was. I told them next time I was in a four car pile-up, I wanted to be at the front, in a truck, because my car was the vehicle that sustained the most damage.

What struck me most was that there didn't seem to be any anger or flying accusations. I don't know how the police report will read or fingers will be pointed, or if it really matters, but the woman that hit me apologized profusely. Repeatedly.

I'm from a no-fault insurance state (Michigan) so it's relatively simple: my insurance pays my damage, yours pays for you. Here? I'm not exactly sure how it works, and it all seemed to be rather hush-hush when I talked to my insurance agent on the phone, "Oh, I can't legally tell you who will pay the deductible, or if it falls under the collision portion of the policy."

This was the first accident I've had in over twenty years, so now I feel like I'm in a fancy restraurant with lots of people, waiting to see who picks up the bill.


Raining cats and...broncos.

From July 8th of last year. I thought some foreshadowing might be nice before my next entry. Dammit.
Last Wednesday, storm clouds started moving in while I was at work, so I decided to leave 15 minutes early to get home and let my dog in the house. She's sensitive (read "wuss") and thunder sends her to the closet to shiver. I'm not crazy about all that dog fur on my clothes, but I didn't want her stuck outside.

I turned east on I-84, hauling ass as I'm prone to do, when the sky fell open. I was listening to Sinead O'Connor's The Lion and The Cobra cd, an old favorite from '87. She may be a bit controversial, but damn that woman can sing! I always wail along with her, covering my complete vocal range from out-of-tune to downright painful. I turned the volume up, wayyyy up.

I want your hands on me - what I want, give me
You know I wanna please you - what I wanna do to you

I'm not overly observant when it comes to other vehicles and actually drove past my ex-husband one time stranded on the side of the road. He had hit a deer and I was the only other car (sorry about your luck). This particular rainy afternoon, however, I saw a Bronco-type vehicle driving on the opposite side of the highway. Everything was in such slow motion, it seemed as though the SUV was practicing for a fire emergency: it stopped, dropped and rolled. It flipped across the grassy median, finally landing on the driver's side a few feet away from me.

You don't waste no time, do you?
You know I'm looking through you

I slammed on the brakes and pulled over to the shoulder, jumping out to make sure no one was hurt. I peeked in the windows and saw two elderly women together on the driver's seat, as if somehow they had both been driving. By this time, two other men had pulled over and were attemptimg to get the passenger side door open (which was now located on top of the vehicle) - we couldn't get it to budge. Instead, we managed to get the rear hatch door open, to make sure the women were okay (sorry for the muddy size 8 footprints on the upholstery) and waited for an ambulance to arrive.

Why you wanna tease me - I want you to come and please me

They both seemed fine, physically, just shaken as we waited for the ambulance. The driver was at least sixty years old, her passenger mother far gone into Alzheimer territory. She never said a word, didn't seem to comprehend what anyone said or where she was. Her dark eyes kept searching mine for...something, while her tiny, frail hands reached out...scratching, some sort of physical attempt to get answers. I will never, as long as I live, forget those birdlike hands and intense eyes staring up at me.

Put'em on, put'em on, put'em on me
Put'em on, put'em on, put'em on me


7% solution

Two facts about my father:
1. He rarely (as in never) goes to the doctor. Once when I was seven, during a family meeting with his 10 siblings, he turned grey and blood started squirting out of his nose from his high blood pressure. And then? I'm not sure he did more than grab a towel and tilt his head back.

2. He doesn't buy new vehicles, preferring instead to trade used trucks with his brothers when they're drinking. He did buy a Chevy Citation in 1980 that had no air conditioning, power steering, or brakes (well, it might have had brakes, but he taught me how to drive with it, and I'm quite sure I never used them).

If it's possible to have a complete personality overhaul at age 60, he has.

He recently told me he was having surgery on his neck because of a nonspecific lump that didn't cause any pain. I expressed surprise, asking if he thought of getting a second opinion. "I did. The second doctor said, 'sure enough, you have a lump on your neck. That'll be $100.' He is also taking medication for his high blood pressure and has been to the dentist twice this month.

A chronic, lifetime procrastinator, he finished several courses he needed to continue teaching - and the deadline isn't until NEXT SUMMER! He's also put up a few entries in his blog, which is a few more than ever before.

He bought a new fully loaded SUV. A bit too much for him, with it's fancy features and leather interior, but he went a little more upscale for his wife.

When I asked him if he discovered a new vitamin, he told me that he estimated marriage has made him 7% more productive because now there is a witness whenever he feels like slacking. It's quite obvious by the piles of clothes, books stuffed in every crevice and assorted mounds of potting soil that I haven't had a witness in years.


Job's kittens

[top to bottom: Addison, Chase, Bowie]

When it comes to kittens, don't ever say, "What next?!" (or "No, I coudln't possibly take another", for that matter).

It turns out Addison, one-eyed Bowie's "sister", is technically a male. When I noticed his eye getting cloudy, as in a creepy episode of X-Files, I took him to the vet, who informed me that he has a juvenile cataract and is most probably blind in his left eye. There is no link between his cataract and Bowie's corneal ulcer - different mechanism, same result - although at least he'll get to keep the visionless eye.

Over the past six weeks, I've sent three of my veterinarian's children to college with the following kitten maladies: ulcerated cornea, eyeball enucleation (removal) , staph infection, ringworm, fleas, worms, juvenile cataract, and assorted vaccinations.

My cousin used to tell me that she wasn't going to the casino in the future - she would just slow down when she drove by and throw money out the window. I suppose it would be littering if I threw pieces of plastic credit cards at Westgate Animal Hospital while cruising past.


Home Alone

I've come to the conclusion that fellow student, Botox woman, is completely clueless, carrying around her aging and insecurity issues to share with those around her, free of charge. She asked, all in one breath, about when my ex-husband would be back from Iraq, were we going to get remarried, was I moving to Savannah and how much longer would I be staying there, where I currently work?

Inappropriate questions don't bother me (much), so I told her things hadn't worked out with him, and I'd probably stay where I was for two more years until my son graduated high school.

"Oh my God," she said, "aren't you afraid of growing old alone?"

Whoaaaaa. What is this crap assumption that single people are somehow missing out and that one day, if I could only "find someone", my life would be complete and better? Isn't it possible to be singularly self-contained and satisfied? Why would I want to settle, just because I'm afraid of being alone?

If I had the choice, and fortunately I do, I'd rather be alone than lonely (although I wouldn't say no if some guy wanted to sign over his retirement to me). I've done my time - I'm on parole.



Bush Urges Nation To Be Quiet For A Minute While He Tries To Think
WASHINGTON, DC­—While acknowledging every American's inalienable right to free speech, the president asked citizens to "hold off on it for, say, 60 seconds.


I'm attending forty hours of not-so-interesting training this week involving the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations for Department of Defense (DoD) employees, which means my brain is slam full of acronymns AND all the things I have to get done at work will have to wait until the weekend.

An older woman from Florida with her botoxed forehead and lifted eyes, whom I haven't seen in over a year, is also attending the class. During our catching up, she said, "You've gained some weight."
"Yes, thank you for pointing that out."
"No," she said, "I just meant your face is fuller now and you look more healthy.
Uh huh.

My sister is another shoo-in for the Tactless Olympics. Before I helped her set up her blog (read: plowed through over 500 photos of her drinking with her friends for the right profile photo), she told me that her friend no longer reads my blog because it's too boring, with too many cat and flower photos.

Even if it's true, why would you tell someone that? I'll have to remember to put up some drunken, semi-naked photos to accompany several bar stories tomorrow. Or maybe I should sit on and squash her with my giant, fat ass.


Pay it forward

My dad has this game he likes to play called "I-got-in-my-car-16-hours-ago-and-now-I'm-at-your-house...SURPRISE!"

1990. He had never been to my house in Alabama, 1050 miles away, since I had only been there a few months. In between napping/eating/wondering when I'd be able to stop wearing maternity clothes, the phone rang. He told me he was on the corner at the gas station, how would he find my house from there? It was a fantastic visit, but I don't believe I've ever been more caught off guard in my life.

2006. He and his "child bride" (she's 51) were supposed to be at my house Friday afternoon. I had a detailed, Martha Stewart type, I'm-kind-of-anal list to follow to complete everything before their arrival: cut the grass, trim the hedges, mop the floors, wash sheets, grocery shop, bake pies, etc. Thursday afternoon he called to say they were going to drive straight through rather than stop in a hotel, because they were just north of Montgomery. ACK! I do love surprises, but I prefer to be freshly showered with my to-do list completed first.

Because my sister has been depressed lately, we decided we wouldn't tell her that they would be visiting. Her mother & I synchronized our watches and met at the same restaurant for dinner Friday night. She was so shocked, she didn't even hug him initially, just stood there crying from happiness. I have an interesting photo of her veins bulging when she first realized we were there and lunged forward, but I promised not to post it. It's definitely better to be the surpriser than the surprisee.


Drama Queen Central

We were all sitting around/goofing off in the office Friday morning when my boss said he'd like to start a photo journal of run-down schools standing next to elaborate churches to show how our priorities, as a society, are backwards and that religious organizations should have to pay taxes like everyone else. A co-worker chimed in that she didn't think people without children should have to pay taxes (children are our future, who cares if you birthed them? Do you really want our country run by a bunch of ignorant boobs?), though she suggested a flat tax of 10% on every purchase so illegal aliens would have to contribute to our social programs.

Belated note to self: avoid conversations about religion, politics, and especially BOTH.

We're both liberal, so I generally agree with him, but when my boss said he cheated on his taxes every year because everyone else did, I was stunned (and for the record, no one I know cheats on their taxes). I wasn't trying to be rude, judgemental or even snotty, but I said, "Hm. That surprises me. I thought you had more integrity than that." Try saying that if you ever want to end a conversation immediately, because it came to a screeching halt as he stomped out of the office.

I walked outside to call my sister, and was leaving a voice message as he walked past, "Mumble, mumble...integrity. Try looking in a fucking mirror!"

Since I wasn't exactly sure what he said, or if he was even talking to me, I said, "Excuse me?" but he didn't reply. He just got in his car and peeled out.

I try to be a bigger person (sometimes), I really do, but my fingers on a keyboard don't always have a filter. I decided I should email him an apology, and told him I was sorry that he felt the need to overreact, which a friend told me was arrogant and snarky - I should have just left it. Sigh. Two co-workers down, seven to go.


Wireless recruit

My son's friend graduated high school and joined the Army in June. From Basic Training in Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, during his one hour of personal time on Sunday, he called my son to see if he had any comments or photos on his MySpace. My son dutifully read the remarks for him and told him about updated profile pictures.

I sure hope they put some internet cafes in those barracks and on the war front soon...(yes, I realize I would be doing the exact same thing).


Mona Lisa Summer

One of the last photos I took of my cat Summer before she ran away/got lost/stumbled into a mole-filled heaven nine months ago alternately fascinates and gives me shivers. The background around her is crisp, while she is an ethereal beauty - glowing and planning other-worldly adventures (I'm sure it has something to do with the light or the aperture or something else technical, but that's irrelevant):

My aunt Susie is an artist - an incredibly talented, Belgian chocolate-loving personality whose work inspires those around her (and makes me crazy green with envy!). She and my mom have been best friends longer than I've been alive (they married brothers, but their friendship bond stuck even after their divorces), so she's always been a part of my life. The running joke is the time I babysat for her three kids (my cousins), but didn't pay attention as the toilet leaked and flooded their entire house with a foot of water. Hey, I was only twelve - you get what you pay for!

For my birthday this year, my mom sent a Summer portrait, painted by my Aunt Susie, who, fortunately, doesn't hold grudges:

I couldn't ask for a more wonderful gift.


Purple Haze

Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things just don't seem the same
- Jimi Hendrix



I started physical therapy for scoliosis after my pre-teen growth spurt. One of the exercises was to crouch down on all fours, then stretch out with my arms as far as possible. The therapist would say, "Keep reaching, stretch, stretch. Pretend there's a million dollars within your grasp."

My cats own the laundry room, with their water and food bowls, assorted toys and scratching goodies, but they prefer the dog's dishes. Keep reaching, stretch, stretch...


I SAID super size

As I was dragging my hungover ass to McDonald's for my MUST HAVE post-drinking lunch*, I stopped at the first window to pay/rummage through my pockets/try to remember what the hell I did with my debit card, when I heard music coming from the car in front of me. Correction: it was so loud, I actually felt the music, throbbing somewhere behind my right temple.

*filet of fish, large fries and a strawberry shake. I don't know if it's the salt, the vegetable lard or the reconstituted strawberries in fake dairy goodness that helps, but it always settles my beer stomach.

The seventeenish year old drive-thru teller nodded her head in the car's direction and told me that the driver was playing that song for her.
I said, "Aw, that's sweet, right?"
She replied, "Very. We hooked up last night, and that's our song."

Romance isn't dead, but you might have to buy a happy-meal to find it.



Each year, I'm drawn to the big, bold blooms of the hibiscus. I inevitably buy one, plant it, then say my goodbyes in the fall when the cold weather kills it.


39 and a day

Well, my birthday passed without much fanfare, drunken mishaps, or broken hips, which is probably a good thing. I went to work, then to my ex-stepmother Robbie's house for dinner (REAL southern fried chicken, aka "heart attack cleverly disguised as a breast"), shopping at Petsmart, then home in bed by 10:30. So, this is aging, huh?

The highlight was most definitely getting flowers from MY DAD TONY, who has probably never stepped foot in a flower shop, and probably only bought them accidentally because he misplaced his reading glasses and thought he was ordering a cd. They are gorgeous, and so unexpected.

They also managed to guilt my son Patrick into picking up a bouquet for me on his way home from work. Score!

Gift #3: Ed's mother will be in Savannah this weekend, so he had a friend of his fly Patrick there tonight. It was quite possibly the smallest plane I have ever seen - I'm guessing he'll have to hang his feet out the window.


Hip Hip...

How did my 9 feline anarchists celebrate/protest my return home from Milwaukee? With dirt, of course. Lots and lots of dirt.

Mediaplayer: Forever Young by Alphaville



If you’re lucky, you find someone who changes the way you view yourself, others, and the world in general. In addition to my family, I have found three such people, two of whom are in a tremendous amount of emotional pain right now. The first, a wonderful man I've known on the internet for over four years is losing kittens (he cares for twenty-one cats) daily to some lethal, extremely contagious virus and my heart is aching for him as he holds his dying kittens. He deserves more than my measley words.

Part two of the double whammy this week: my wonderful friend since Basic Training (1987) in Fort Jackson lost her father this week. I booked a ticket to Milwaukee, leaving Friday morning from Tallahassee (figuring I’d bypass the whole “speeding ticket/missed flight/get a hotel room” process I endure when I fly out of Atlanta). I crossed my fingers and held my breath while I waited for the purchase to go through on my maxed out credit card, and it must've worked because I’m on my way. I may be able to do nothing more than cry with my friend as she mourns the loss of her father, but offering my shoulder from nine-hundred miles away hardly felt supportive.


Dell's Bells

When my HP desktop crashed THREE TIMES for no explicable reason other than the possible alignment of Saturn and Venus, their not-so-English-speaking-customer service department sent me a box so I could fed-ex the computer that time forgot to them in California. They replaced the hard drive and eventually mailed it back to me - a week and a half later.

My current soulmate, a Dell laptop that's still under warranty, lost/misplaced two letters off the keyboard (completely cat-related, of course, as one was trying to jump on my lap, his claw gripped the keyboard and pulled as he tried desperately to stay attached, but gravity won instead*), so I was thinking they could send a few letters? P and 0? Nah, they sent a whole new keyboard PLUS a cute, tiny screwdriver.

*this reminds me of my boss, who insists that if you throw dice, the number three will come up most often and believes that he knows, from research, the luckiest numbers for the Florida state lottery to eventually win. I keep telling him statistically, the odds of each number is the same. He can refuse to believe in statistics and gravity, but they're still there, regardless.

My laptop screen occasionally blinks, so I thought I could find out if it was covered under the warranty, which it is. A technician came to my house, cleaned the connections and replaced the video card. Two months later, it did it a few times again, so another technician arrived the next day with a brand new screen.

I can't get over this customer service...Budweiser needs something similar.


St. George Island, Florida

Not again

At the risk of having cats completly take over my blog, meet Addison, the sister of one-eyed Bowie:
When I got home from work yesterday, I noticed her eyes were barely open and she seemed to be sick. Please let it be a sympathy reaction to her sister losing an eye and nothing more.


A round of jello shots for my cousin!

Karly Alexis, born on July 10th:
Congratulations to Kathleen and Scott for delivering this beautiful, miniature -ito's snacker to our family. Not to be pushy, but get her some shoes so we can start planning the next Mother-Daughter weekend.

One window to the soul

I started a pharmacy department in my bathroom for Bowie, the sevenish-week old kitten I took in last Saturday. I gave her eyedrops four times a day, general antibiotics, ointment and spray twice a day, but in the end, there was nothing they could do to save her eye (I might possibly have blacked out once the words "burst" and "eye" were used together so I'm not sure what the technical details are).

Weighing only 1 lb. 2 oz.*, I had to leave her at the vet's office today to have her eye removed.

*less than two cans of Campbell's tomato soup

Laying the almighty purple smackdown

I generally avoid heated discussions about politics or religion, because it seems sort of pointless. My beliefs work for me, as yours do for you, and I don't mind listening but please don't try to convert me. Well, unless you're a close-minded, hypocritical, right-wing Conversative Baptist trying to save my soul, then I'm just pretending to listen, while hearing the Brady Bunch theme song in my head and willing you to shut up. Quickly.

When I went to the gas station to fill up today, I had to walk inside to pay because the credit card option at the pump wasn't working (hey, it's 98 degrees with 99% humidity - I am not walking further than I have to). I heard the customer in front of me asking why the pumps no longer took the plastic, and the clerk told him it was a temporary glitch and he wished people would stop cussing him about it.
The customer said, "Guess you'll have to start cussing them back."
"Oh, I could never do that", the clerk replied. (I assumed he was going to say something about the customer always being right. Silly me). "God would never forgive me."

'Huh? Guess that lands me right in the center of hell's shit creek. Who could get through this life believing that any cussing, flaws or errors in judgement are unacceptable? No, thank you. If (I mean WHEN), I screw up in the future, I know the people in my life, as well as a higher being, will be there to accept my apology. In fact, the people I respect the most have the ability to forgive the best (coincidence? hmmmm). Perhaps it's because I was raised Catholic, but forgiveness is generally a confession and a wafer away.

The rest of the day was spent burning through my full tank of gas by picking up my son after his piece o'shit car (the Patri-Camaro) stranded him twice and hydroplaned him into the ditch once. AND, if you ever sell a car, buy a car, ride in a car or think of stealing one in the state of Alabama, make sure you sign your complete middle name and not only the initial on the title because if you don't, we'll have to redo paperwork in triplicate and get it notarized before we can register it. And, I will personally cuss you out.


They're poisoning cats on Fort Rucker, Alabama...

...and I feel sick.

I mentioned the other day my feral crew of approximately twenty cats at work (well, seventeen, since I took three kittens home. One with a bad eye needed antibiotics, but she was lonely so I grabbed her sister, then yesterday I took them up to visit their mom, who missed them not at all, though their brother was ecstatic to see them so I took him back with me).

Yesterday, there were only ten waiting for breakfast, then today, only six. Someone at work mentioned that they poison the feral cats on base about once a year, to keep the population down, and they had posted the "DO NOT FEED THE CATS" signs just last week, so he figured it was time again. What the hell? Is there a time warp tunnel from the Dark Ages around here?

Military bases are historically chock full of abandoned pets, with soldiers not wanting to go through the trouble or expense to take them once they move, especially overseas. I contacted the Veterinary office on post last week about a feral release program and they told me they would take the cats in, put them up for adoption, then put down the cats that didn't get taken. What part of FERAL do they not understand? No one will adopt these cats. I've fed them every day since November, some of them trust me enough that I could catch them, but I can't live with their blood on my hands if I take them in.

I decided to talk to my Veterinarian, to see if he would give me a discount so I could get the females spayed then return them back to their homebase to roam and hunt rodents, but I never got the chance. They're being murdered by thirds. every. single. day. My boss suggested I verify the information before I continue my obsession. Like our government won't LIE to me?

I'm tired of explaining to rednecks that have shot at birds and squirrels their entire lives with BB guns that this is CRUEL. I'm tired of expecting co-workers to have compassion. I'm tired of not having enough money or space to save them all. I'm just...tired.


You say "to-may-to", I say "killer to-mah-to"

Tired of auctioning out my liver to the highest bidder (ha!) in order to afford fresh produce, I decided to start on a small scale with two slightly-wilted tomato plants in my back yard, inconspicuously hidden behind the gardenia and plumbago. Psyched to pluck the first fresh fruit of my labor, I tugged and noticed a gooey, sticky mess. With her distinguishable eight legs and red hourglass, was a Black Widow Spider living between two tomatoes!! ACK!! That big white blob? Some sort of nest with many widow orphans.

I'm from Michigan - you might get trapped in a blizzard, but you never worry about poisonous snakes, plants and spiders. Pass the Lucky Charms!


Raindrops on roses and eyedrops in kittens

I take my "stupid" pills daily, like a good multivitamin, but this weekend I threw caution to the wind and consumed the entire bottle.

A major SUCKAH for cats, I accidentally ended up with six at home after one disappeared (read here). And at work? I've been feeding an average of ten cats since around October, when we discovered abandoned kittens under one of our storage units. That number has steadily increased, and with the birth of a few more batches, it's up to around twenty. About two weeks ago, I saw a cute little kitten with one brown eye, one blue, and named her Bowie. She was one of the more tame ones, occasionally allowing me to pet her.

When I went in Saturday morning, I noticed her brown eye was closed, with pus and drainage making it impossible for her to open it, so I drove her over to my veternarian, who said it could be a viral or bacterial infection that's caused such a deep lesion. He gave me antibiotics for the eye, antifungal for her ringworm, told me to keep her separated from my animals if I was taking her home, then bring her back Tuesday to see if she's improving.

She looked so lost and pathetic, sitting in the cat carrier in my bathroom by herself, but I didn't want to take her back to work since I have to give her medicine four times a day. I did the only logical thing: went back to work and nabbed her sister. The two of them are living like fat cats.

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