Festival of...beer and midriffs

You know it's a crazy, mixed-up world when I am given the corporate credit card and the responsibility of planning the company Christmas party.

Some supervisors might take the $40/person budget and go to a nice restaurant for an hour or two. This particular party planner decided to have a bonfire, get a bushel of raw oysters (?), and spend the rest on alcohol. Oh, plus one Olive Garden gift certificate for the winner of the poker tournament. Who knew my co-workers and their dates could be so much fun?*

*I'm having second thoughts regarding the installation of a stripper pole in my living room, though. Hopefully, that was just holiday beer banter.

We took one group photo at the beginning of the evening, which was smart, because the rest of the shots look something like this:

I certainly hope there's something in the corporate budget for President's Day...


Colonel Mustard in the Kitchen

Every year, my mother, eternal optimist extraordinaire, buys me kitchen-related gifts, which I love because it's like she's keeping that glimmer of hope alive that someday I might become a great chef...er, not burn down the kitchen. (Nope, that was not a run-on sentence).

Observation of the day: why do spice racks come with unalphabetized bottles of spices? Who can cook under such chaotic conditions?

Post-baking-script: every try making "pecan ball" cookies while getting sloshed on white wine and listening to Clancy Brothers? No? Let me save you the trouble, 'cause you'll just wind up with chunky pecan oblong-ish shapes with wayyyyy too much sugar.


Stumbling across my religion

Martha Stewart's herb-roasted turkey recipe calls for rosemary, thyme and lemon zest, so I managed to scrounge up some chives and oregano, then stuffed orange wedges down the headless neck. And? It was the best turkey I have ever tasted (which is a relief since there are only two of us eating 12.23 pounds of meat, translating to approximately eight pounds per each of us). And, no holdiay oven fire - score!

I had a dinner date last night with Christian*, a younger guy I know from work. I felt an instant connection when I met him last May, but assumed he was in a relationship since he never asked me out (oh, the ego!).

*My cell phone automatically corrected his name to "Christianity" when I entered the text into my address book. I find it amusing, in an Are you there, God, it's me, Margaret kind of way.

Turns out he was taking a time out (a year) from women because when he tried to take the knife away from his last girlfriend, who was trying to slice her wrist, she stabbed him. Sounds like the perfect training camp for a relationship with me. He also owns a coke machine, but rigged it to dispense Bud Light. Be still, my lush heart.


Beach Mahal

Tonight for dinner I had a Twinkie, a chocolate donut, 4 marshmallow cookies and an orange. My body is so obviously a temple.

And beach season is officially over [Destin, Florida].


Double, double, toil/drink and trouble

"Before a mad scientist goes mad, there's probably a time when he's only partially mad. And this is the time when he's going to throw his best parties."
-- Jack Handey

I managed to interview for and fill all four of our new contractor positions last week and came to the conclusion that there are a SHITLOAD of unemployed biologists out there (and that I really, I mean really, hate being called "ma'am"). It probably doesn't help that this progressive state won't hire biology teachers who believe in evolution, by God/Darwin, either.

My ex-boss also managed to find someone to take my old job, which will be a huge relief for me. He's an intelligent, funny, adorable smartass - perfect, right? The twist is he met my sister and me in a bar in February, while he was home from Iraq for a couple of weeks, and has a bit of a crush on her. He called eight times, and isn't ready to give up yet. The universe really does revolve around that girl - the rest of us should probably be paying rent.

I'm taking an 8-hour online OSHA supervisor course with a virtual minute-ticking, internet clock. Normally, I jump straight to the final exam, but this time I'm forced to drink beer, watch tv and kill time for 7.5 hours first. At least I'll get a day off from work.


You say you want to be a supervisor?

After what I like to refer to as my "Crazy June Melt Down" (June - the month of Gemini's. Coincidence?), I came up with the ingenious plan of working in Iraq for one year starting next summer. Patrick would be in college, or hanging out in my carport building speaker boxes, or out in the world somewhere and I could take a year, working nonstop in the miserable heat (12 hours on, 12 hours off x 7 days/week), which would probably lead to massive weight loss, waiting for an "honorable" death. Life insurance doesn't pay if you kill yourself, you see, and I wouldn't want Patrick and my cats to lose their home.

Yes, I'm slightly twisted and always thoughtful, but apparently not transparent, because just about everyone, including my therapist*, thought it was good to have a plan. Something to shoot for. A reason to live.

*during our first of two sessions, he told me I was too intelligent for therapy. He asked me what the plan was...did I want medication? Someone to talk to? What did I have in mind? He also pointed out that I would be a hot little commodity in Iraq, given the male:female ratio. Eventhough we hit it off immediately, I didn't get much out of our gabfest, though I did follow his suggestion to try Michelob Ultra as a tasty low-carb beer.


I've been at my current job for one year (which means my replacement had been at her job for one year, until she was fired on Monday for selling crack cocaine!). Our office is located in Baton Rouge, six hours away, which was okay when there were four of us, but now that our staff has been doubled to eight, some powers-that-be decided it might be a good idea if we had supervision and guidance of some sort. Enter my new promotion: onsite supervisor, pay raise 25%, then another cost of living raise in January.

It's more than the money...it's the power and future asskissings I look forward to the most. Just kidding. It's really about the money.


I'm Leaving...on a Jet Ski

Nothing piques a mother's interest quite like a text message from her teenage son in the middle of the night which reads:

I'm o.k. Call me in the morning.

His definition of "okay" is debatable, but I did call in the morning to discover the master of understatement and his dad were out riding jet skis last weekend when one (or both) of them turned too sharply and collided into the other. Patrick flew into the air from the impact, landed on his tailbone and thought he was paralyzed before they were rescued and he was transported to the hospital.

By the time I talked to him, he was doped up on liquid Lortab, and wasn't feeling much pain from the fractured leg and coccyx, stitches, assorted lumps and bruises. His dad rented a U-Haul to transport Patrick's new (pimp) El Camino from Savannah back to Alabama, and I'm guessing this was the least desirable way he imagined spending Fall Break.

My Kathy-Bates-in-Misery style of nursing* involved picking up McDonald's every night on the way home from work, and forcing him to watch chick flicks with me all week. Never underestimate the quality time you can have with a teenage prisoner on pain medication.

*What's the matter? WHAT'S THE MATTER? I will tell you "what's the matter!" I go out of my way for you! I do every-thing to try and make you happy. I feed you, I clean you, I dress you, and what thanks do I get? "Oh, you bought the wrong paper, Anne, I can't write on this paper, Anne!" Well, I'll get your stupid paper but you just better start showing me a little appreciation around here, Mr. MAN!


Seems "Crazy Dan" is in a bit of a pickle

A month ago: after two dates (and perhaps some saki), Dan told me he loved me and suggested we go to Las Vegas to get married. Proposing to a virtual stranger is one thing; telling them you love them? Freaks. Me. Out. I warned him, told him to stop with the nonsense because, truthfully, I was just looking for a fun drinking partner that didn't live too far away.

3 weeks ago: Dan & I met my sister Tiffany and her most recent/probably-soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend for drinks and got into a huge fight that included a stony-silent drive home. Correction: HE got into a huge fight because I was disrespectful by letting her tell a story about a man I had kissed in a bar. Forgive my lack of omnipotence, but am I really supposed to control everyone else's stories? He said he didn't want to see me again, I casually said, "fine, whatever", but when he called the next day to apologize and begged me to go to the beach for the weekend, I agreed.

2 weeks ago: he dumped me again because I couldn't tell him if he was wasting his time with me. I told him I no longer wanted to ride his bipolar express when he pleaded with me to go away for the weekend, like nothing had happened, a few days later.

The plot thickens: apparently Crazy Dan has been dating a woman, Lise, off and on for the past year. She contacted me through a mutual friend because she wasn't sure I was aware that he was already in a relationship. When we realized he'd proposed to and asked BOTH of us to go to Ohio over Thanksgiving to meet his family, it became a "you can have him", "no, you take him" battle for the roller-coaster drama queen.

Lise and I have been emailing back and forth, sending photos, and exchanging ideas for the perfect confrontation. She's amazing - an intelligent, funny, animal crusading cutie. Truthfully, I like her much more than I ever liked Crazy Dan. Oh, this is gonna be good...



So, our division chief sent out an email this week:

"The command staff has demanded that the individual releasing the cats from the live traps set out by the Game Warden cease and desist immediately."

Cease and desist? That sounds an awful lot like 'carry on like a rockstar but be careful and don't get caught'. Right?


Party of three?

The great part about losing your expensive sunglasses in the Gulf of Mexico while drunk is that you might spend an hour in the water looking for them, while doing back flips and hand stands and nearly drowning, then wake up the next morning, wondering if you've lost your glasses (all over again).

What was supposed to be a "sister weekend" in Destin, Florida turned into a "sister plus one boyfriend weekend" instead. Oddly enough, it wasn't uncomfortable or awkward in the least - she actually has great taste AND he picked the most amazing restaurants so I might be forever indebted.
There was quite a bit of feral cat drama at work last week involving military police cruising our street to find the saboteur of the metal cat traps. The director of my division was notified of my "possible" involvement, so tomorrow's either going to be a "ha ha, that's so funny" or a "pack your stuff and get out" kind of day. The suspense is killing me.


Trail of nails

The two greatest words for impulsive gamblers of Irish descent who might possibly have lost an entire day last weekend? FREE DRINKS. I'd be bummed about losing all my money in Biloxi, though it probably just covered what would have been a 3-day bar tab. Perspective, you know.
I was a tad pissed in May when I had to buy new tires for my car that had only 25,000 miles, but paid a little extra for the extended warranty with a lifetime of balance and rotations because they gave me an instant line of credit (which should probably be the tagline to my life). This has never worked out in the past since I always forget to take autos in for maintenance, but, hey, I'll play your game.

One of my coworkers mentioned that I had a flat tire last week, so I high-tailed it to the Firestone before closing, to be informed that the culprit was TWO nails. I made an appointment to come back today to get the tires rotated (plus, I'm naturally suspicious of scheming, hoodwinking, greedy mechanics - I wanted to make sure they had repaired the nail holes adequately).

Imagine my surprise: a third nail in the sidewall of a second tire. How the hell am I driving sideways over nail-infested terrain with my car? Alas, it didn't matter: they replaced the tire, since it couldn't be repaired, and I had to pay nothing. Nada. Zilch. Nyet. Oooompah!


House of Biloxi

How is it possible that I'd get two invitations to go to Biloxi, Mississippi to go gambling for the weekend by two different men?

Is Venus rising over the first house of Leo, or was the timer set for my implanted chip to start emitting steak-scented pheromones on my 40th birthday?


St. Augustine

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, Florida

I drove my car to Hilton Head Island to I could take the long way home, via St. Augustine, Florida, since it was only a few hours out of the way (as an aside: Georgia has more police officers, state troopers, and speed-trap-enforcers per capita than any other state. And yet, I am amazingly ticket-free). Founded in 1565 by the Spanish, St. Augustine is the oldest, continuously occupied community in the United States.

I think the world would be a better place with more cobblestone streets.


Boy Logic

Today I asked Patrick how the new school year was going. He told me it was going okay, but on the first day, he told all his teachers to call him "Rick" so he keeps missing his name during roll call. This from the boy whose cell phone says, "You've reached Rodney - leave a message."

[Why? Why?]


It's an island - how lost can we get?

I didn't imagine we'd learn much at a work conference last week scheduled on gorgeous Hilton Head Island, but, oh yeah, did I care? Turns out, though, that the social events every evening might be more crucial to the future success of our program, as we have many future visitors volunteering to visit and assist. I hope. Unless "bar talk" is similar to our grand family schemes, in which cars and computers are bartered for property.

Oddly, the Marriott Resort offers a fitness center, spa treatments and valet parking, but no free wireless. Geez. I'm too cheap to pay $9.95/day for an internet connection that I can get from any neighborhood parking lot.

The first evening, in the bar at what would become "our" table, the vice president of the hosting company introduced himself, "Hi, I'm the young, arrogant vice president." Ever-so-smooth when inebriated, I replied, "Oh, hi, taste this buttery nipple." (the bartender, for some inexplicable reason wasn't sure about the ratio and I offered to be the guinea pig until he perfected it). Later, Mr. VP told me that he had always been attracted to "crazy". No wonder we hit it off and spent the week together.

A fellow conference attender from Alabama was, unfortunately for his sake, named Reagan. "Oh, no," I said. "I can't, in good conscience, call you by the same name of the worst president in our history! I'm calling you Kennedy, instead." By the end of the week, I'm sure everyone there thought his name was actually Kennedy. I was officially renamed IRISH.

Only a half an hour from the EX in Savannah, I'm quite proud to report that I didn't stalk, call, or Google search his new girlfriend. In fact, I probably only thought about it a handful of times. Baby steps, ya' know.

Highlight: Crabcakes and unbreakable, cobalt blue, aluminum bottles holding 16 oz. of Bud Light on the beach.

Life is good.


Rainy days and cat killers always get me down

I topped off a grueling day at work as I always do, by heading a few streets over to the yard near the warehouse building where my family of feral cats live. There were only a handful there, instead of the usual 15, with three wire cages holding styrofoam cups of dry cat food, chained along the fence. I continued along my merry way, feeding the remaining cats and manually setting off the traps so curious animals wouldn't be tempted, then gave my old boss a call to get the scoop.

"The game warden was here today," he told me, "and said he would arrest anyone caught feeding the cats."

"What is this? Carry-a-badge-and-make-up-your-own-rules day if you hate cats? Arrest someone for being compassionate? That's ridiculous," I said.

"He said he'd put cameras out if he had to, and he does have the authority - and a gun."

I continued my rant, "Well, I'd like to see him arrest me, even shoot me for resisting arrest, because I will go to every newspaper, tv station and animal rights group in the state. I'll be sneakier, if I have to, but Mr. Almighty Game Warden should really be doing something more productive with his time. Cold-hearted redneck."

I'm so endearing when I'm pissed off. Or headed off to jail. Either way.

Basic Training, 1987: the drill sargents were always yelling at me for eating too slowly, "Two hands, private! What do you think this is - finishing school?!" I stubbornly refused, of course, because training to kill people shouldn't mean a complete lack of manners. For three days, they'd throw me out of the mess hall during every meal, but obstinence prevailed and eventually I was left alone to chew and swallow my food.

I'll be in Hilton Head, South Carolina this week (should I tell Ed I'll be in his neck of the woods, just to make him sweat?) for a conference, anyway, but I'll be stashing bags of cat food in every nook and cranny on Ft. Rucker...hopefully we'll win the battle of the cats, but a hunger strike may be on the horizon. Summer diet '07.


Honey darlin' sweetheart

As a strong, independent, no-nonsense kind of Yankee, this is a bit difficult to admit, but...I kind of like being called "baby".


I love my job, part XXVI

The most stupendous part of the federal government employee hiring process is that someone who is a disabled veteran with virtually no experience or particular knowledge has more "points" than, say, a conscientious, diligent contractor with years of experience (and a cute haircut) who's currently doing the job.

Un-generalized afterthought: I'm not just bashing him because he's male; it's because he's a dumbass. The man who has come to me for years with questions is now running the program? Bravo.



The other half of my Apache pilot* induced meltdown in June was caused by Dale. He was everything the EX was not: sensitive, patient, generous and, apparently, a player. We hit it off immediately when we met in November, though it was short-lived because he had to go back to his life in Ohio, 743 miles away. Our friendship grew over cell phones, and eventually we coordinated a rendezvous in Milwaukee before the weekend in Chicago with my sister (et. al). She was even smitten by him.

*Since my divorce, I've gone out with an Apache pilot, a Blackhawk student pilot, a TH-67 Instructor pilot, and a retired Chinook pilot who forgot to mention he was still married. Is it time to move? Seriously.

I thought we had a fabulous time together, even imagining it was the first trip of many, so I couldn't understand why he seemed distant after we returned home. I made excuses at first about why he stopped calling - "oh, he's busy catching up at work"; I'd leave a voice message - he'd call a few days later; I emailed - he ignored. I was tired of being pathetic so I deleted his number and tried not to obsess (haha, do you know me?). He doesn't drink or like the same music and he's allergic to cats - it was doomed from the start, obviously.

I haven't talked to Dale in 6 weeks, but he called to wish me a happy birthday on Thursday. I didn't answer, so he's called an additional two times and left messages. WHY? Can't you just blow me off and move along? I think I'd have more luck understanding quantum physics than men at this point in my life. Please pass the quarks.



· In the middle of a"can't-sleep-or-eat" phase, I got up at the crack of dawn and watched the extremely powerful movie Freedom Writers. I wish my passion - the cats - could graduate someday.

· My car sales manager, Mitch, who found my dream car for me two years ago, called today. He said he missed me since my driver's side door leak had been repaired and I no longer brought it in for service every month. Really? Because I was kind of thinking how great it was not to discover a foot of water on the floor every time it rained. He asked me to play golf and have a few beers on the course with him, but I told him I didn't know how (to golf. Obviously, I excel at drinking beer) and had no clubs. He offered to buy me a set so we could play, which I find a bit odd, especially considering the fact that he didn't give me that great of a deal on the car.

· I then managed to misplace my cell phone, tried calling it from another phone, but dialed the wrong number. Imagine both of our surprise when someone answered and I asked what they were doing with my phone.

· A guy I used to "date" (a term I use loosely since we live six hours apart and manage much better as friends) in Baton Rouge might be interested in buying the engagement ring from my ex to give to his fiancee...am I officially a redneck?



I had a sneaking, egocentric suspicion the movie "In Her Shoes" was based on my sister and me, but the theory was modified one weekend at a a pool in Panama City when a clueless gentleman yelled out, "Look! It's Cameron Diaz and her mom!" (yes, I would be the 'mom').

Appointment-with-the-new-shrink countdown: 5 days.


Running with Scissors (Addendum)

Because they were a little suspicious about all the chemicals in my blood, I had to talk to a substance abuse counselor before I was released from the hospital. Smart, those doctors.

We came up with a "life plan", in which I agreed not to attempt to harm myself before June 16, 2008 (do I get a "best if used before..." date stamp on my forehead?) and to see a counselor, who happened to be a therapist AND a pastor conveniently rolled into one. Great. I eagerly agreed, mostly because I didn't want to raise any flags and spend another night in that tv-less room, throwing up jello, and was in desperate need of a shower.

I made a casual, "hypothetically-speaking, if I did need a therapist" phone call to my insurance company and discovered they were willing to shell out funds for forty-five visits per year. A little pessimisstic, I thought, but at least this self discovery crap wouldn't cost me anything.

My 'therapastor', who doesn't like to focus on the past (what kind of anti-Freud bullshit is this?), welcomed me into his office and distracted me by talking about himself for 45 of the scheduled 55 minutes. The shoulda-been-caped Super-Crisis-Therapist has helped the high school tornado survivors, girls who are "cutters", and families who need help communicating.

After my brief synopsis/sharing of the spotlight, his only concern seemed to be my drinking, so he asked if I'd ever considered AA.

"Nah," I said, quoting my sister, "That's for quitters."
"Does your sister think you drink too much?"
"Uh...no. She's in college."

Obviously, alcohol might have impaired my judgement and encouraged impulsivity, but it seems like it'd be more logical to give up prescription meds if we're going to take this odd approach to curing depression. Yeah, focus on the only enjoyable social activity I have. He deemed me 'fine' and suggested I make another appointment in a few weeks. Delusional narcissist.


Charmed and dangerous

I hauled my bitter, junk-in-the-trunk self back to the gym this week, for the first time in at least five years. I figure if I keep busy and glare at enough sweaty, grunting men in tank tops, my broken heart will eventually mend.

Life begins at 40, baby (squeeze, breathe, relax, and feel the sarcasm).

"The vote means nothing to women. We should be armed."
- Edna O'Brien (b. 1930)


So you think deleting phone numbers out of your cell phone address book makes you less impulsive?

I have this great new game: I send emails (or forward some he wrote to me) to the most recent address I have for my ex-husband. I get to vent under the veil of mystery (is he getting them? Are they sitting in cyberspace?); he gets to remember my bitter, sentimental, accusatory, pitiful and angry sides. Are we having fun yet?


Is that in Euros?

I've always wondered how much my life is worth - now I know:


(I'm guessing there was a substantial service charge for the emergency crew having to tolerate my sister's bossiness. When she walked into my house to see me strapped to the gurney, with so many men in blue standing around with their arms crossed, she told them to put their arms by their sides, "Why are we standing like this, when we should be standing like this?" She also insisted on riding in the ambulance, so they let her in the front seat. She didn't, fortunately, demand to drive).


Instant karma

How to get your dad to drive 15 hours for a last minute father's day visit: overdose, spend some time in ICU, then have your sister given the authority to commit you to a mental institution for one year. Granted, there might be easier ways.

For the icing on a week full of beer, no sleep, and a passive dumping, I talked to Ed on the phone. The initial awkward topic was Patrick, which somehow evolved into his telling me that he was strapped for cash because he was buying a new house and moving in with his girlfriend. Too much information. "Great," I said. "I'll talk to you later. Bye."

During our marriage, I always assumed HE was the problem; the control freak that was lucky to have me. Ha. Turns out I'm the unlovable one, the girl that can't seem to find anyone else. Eight beers followed in quick succession, to wash down the bottle of beta blockers and a handful (or two) of Tylenol 3 that had been prescribed to him after knee surgery. Every attempted suicide needs irony, afterall.

Though there physically, details came later about the fire truck, police cars and ambulance ride to the emergency room. My auto pilot had no measurable blood pressure, so there was talk of a pacemaker. In the end they found an antidote to the beta blockers, which relived Patrick - he was worried I'd never be able to make microwave popcorn again.

Around 4:30 a.m., with a "stable" heart rate around 40 bpm, they wheeled me from the emergency room to the I.C.U. I realized I wouldn't be going into work and called in with a vague explanation of a history of heart trouble. Co-workers came to visit, bringing magazines and plants. Making small talk on a good day, is painful for me. Making small talk with i.v. tubes, heart and blood pressure monitors, and oxygen tubes in my nose while I unceremoniously vomit into a plastic kidney shaped bowl, is hell.

I feel like a fraud who doesn't deserve well wishes or concern - I did this to myself. Relatives and friends battle cancer, praying for more time, while I carelessly try to cut mine short. Why isn't there a life barter system? Watching my dad cry, thinking he failed, and knowing the hell my son and sister went through...depression, apparently, is better served with guilt.


Copper lining

My son always uses my first name when he's irrate or pissed off, which is about 93% of the time, as far as I can figure.

"Colleen," he said two weeks ago, on the phone, "your house is trashed and everything is gone."

"What? WHAT?! Don't touch anything - I'll be right there."

I geared up for a mini-tirade after I dialed 9-1-1 and the operator asked for my husband's name. "Oh, right," I thought, "I'm some helpless, fair maiden without the means to support myself or buy my OWN house in this hillbilly, backwoods...er, my son Patrick probably already called in, didn't he?"

Some good news?

1. Three eighteen year old boys were arrested the other day, hopefully putting an end to our small town crime spree, and I can almost fall asleep without worrying that they'll come back for the other half of the miter saw they left behind.

2. Our dog's probabation period is almost up. Did she offer to hold the door open for them?

3. Cleaning a clutter/game/electronic-free home takes hardly any time at all. Who needs a yard sale?

4. My insurance company reimbursed the full cost of my laptops, not what they would be worth today, and I can once again surf my favorite internet watering holes. Latest curse word, however: Vista (as in "damn Vista!").

5. The $14.70 I claimed for the stolen case of bud light? They reimbursed that, and I upgraded to Corona.


Time to make the donuts

I've worked the past thirteen days straight, 12-15 hours per day, implementing a new hazardous waste tracking system on post that "goes live" on Monday.

I feel disoriented, with a brain full of mush, and unable to articulate simple thoughts. When I asked the date the other day, and the person replied, "the 3rd", I said, "No. What month?"

One lesson I have learned: if you send a 17 year boy to the grocery store to do the weekly shopping because he won't shut up about how there's never any food in the house, expect him to come back with cases of bottled water, potato chips, and pink wafer cookies.


Blonde and Blonder

Tiffany came waltzing out of the bathroom at the bar on Friday night, holding a folded wad of twenties and a check written to 'Avon'.

"Look what I found in the bathroom," she said, as she showed me the hard, beer-buying cash.

She wrote her phone number on a bar napkin, with a note to call with the exact dollar amount, and left it with the eye-rolling bartender.

We're fully prepared to hand over a briefcase full of i.o.u.'s if someone ever calls...



My Grandma Hope, who died shortly after my sister's birth, requested that she be buried in a red velvet dress. Finding the material during the summer was no small feat, but the task was accomplished in time for the funeral.

In seventh grade, my sister accompanied her sister to a fortune teller (no doubt to find out if their parents would be out of town in the near future) and asked, "Do I have a guardian angel?"

The wise seer replied, "You are surrounded by red velvet."


Slightly irked bovine

I was able to donate blood today for the first time since our return from Germany in 2000 and am relieved to find out I'm no longer a substantial mad cow risk (though witnessing flabby, old-lady-chicken-arms-from-a-tourniquet-tied-around-an-aging-bicep wasn't such a bonus). Let's just hope the lucky recipient doesn't get a DUI after the donation.


Uncle Sam and Moses

Patrick arrived back home sans truck. Seems a little gratitude and a 'thank you' was required, and he wasn't quite up to the challenge. I don't claim to understand him, and if I could, I'm sure I wouldn't admit it anyway, BUT the good news is he has a new job standing outside Liberty Tax dressed as Uncle Sam for $8/hr. I won't laugh, I won't laugh, I won't laugh.

I went to pick up my military driver's license today as a class of Army soldiers were simultaneously walking in the opposite direction in the hallway. Someone in charge yelled, "let the lady through", as half the soldiers went against one wall, while the other half went against the other. I felt a bit Moses-like, walking through a giant, parted sea of green uniforms.

I'm feeling a bit omnipotent, like I have commandments to write. Thou shall not covet thy father's Dodge truck.


Where was I, and where'd I put that baby?

Seventeen years ago, after the birth of my son Patrick, people (and by "people", I mean meddling women with secret agendas) would say to me, "Oh, the pain of childbirth will fade and you'll be wanting more kids before you know it."

Uh huh. Right.

The memory doesn't fade so much as get replaced by the temper tantrums of a screaming, headstrong toddler, to be followed by interactions with a hormonal, angry teenager. I suppose Bud Light might've induced a bit of memory loss, though: I didn't realize it was Patrick's birthday yesterday because I thought today was March 31st. It's not - it's April 1st. Who's the fool now?

He's in Savannah for the weekend with his dad, getting that black monstah Dodge truck. Surely he'll drive me to the drugstore to pick up some Gingko biloba when he gets back.

P.S. In the wagon above: Patrick and his Uncle David (or 'Trick and 'Vid, as they called each other one year for the sole purpose of being annoying).



Honey, we're home

Tall (5'9"), lanky, and naturally thin, my mother eats more than any other woman I've ever known (my dad is the same way, but did they pass those stellar metabolisms down to moi?? Of course not. BAH!). She had a baby a year after I did, when she was forty-two and her energy level makes me wonder if she found the secret fountain of youth (if that's the case, I plan on aging badly, thankyouverymuch). My mother is a goddess and today is her birthday.

Although she's extremely intelligent, kicks ass at all things mathematical, has memorized bridge hands for the past 20 years, and has flawless grammar skills, she is still able to embrace her inner fruitloop. When I was an angst-ridden teen, these idiosyncrasies would annoy me because I always wanted her to be serious. And Martha Stewart, dammit. Years later, however, these are traits I find most endearing:

Her odd medical mystery tendancies, like watches breaking from her electromagnetic energy? And the fact that she was hypoglycemic until she gave birth (now she's fine), or that she gets asthma if she stops smoking. Mosquitos never bite her and perfume turns rancid because of..too much vitamin B?

She would, and still does, stare at me in the car, drying my hair, while talking on the phone..."you're so beautiful," she'd say, "I can't believe I gave birth to you." Now that I'm older with my own son, I see this for the true psychological torture method it is.

She would laugh (especially in public with my aunt Susie) - gleeful, uninhibited, loud laughter that mortified me to no end. Now when we're in a quiet pub or at home, I'm proud to be sharing a space with someone so capable of expressing joy.

We'd be having a conversation, or so I would assume, when her end of it would suddenly stop. Thinking that the was the end of the discussion, I'd retreat back to my head...covering a range of several other thoughts when she would respond to the intial conversation. "Yes, I think so, too." Uh...huh? What?

Every time she pulled the car into the driveway, she' d say, "Honey, we're home." Every. Single. Time. In my head, I'd be yelling, "Duhhhhhhhhh, where else would we be?" (because I was obnoxious like that), and it makes me laugh now when I still hear her say it.

One year, I saved my allowance for several weeks to buy her a "hot to trot" keychain because I thought it meant she was beautiful...Happy Birthday, mom, and I still think you're beautiful!



Black(jack) Celebration

I fell in love with Tuscon the moment I laid eyes on my first 'Desert Diamond Casino - 2 miles' sign.

Just like other obsessive relationships, psychological warfare was employed and I was able to think of nothing else except my beloved Blackjack (which makes for a rather awkward work conference: HIT ME!). I won $100, which would be great if I hadn't acted like a hillbilly and spent $600 at the mall, but a girl's gotta have shoes, ya' know.


Route 66?

There's a billboard near a freeway on-ramp in Michigan with a picture of Jesus that says, "Are you on the right road?"

My Uncle Brian sarcastically feigns suprise and confusion, "What? Isn't this I-75 North?"

I have flown out of so many airports across the country, I'm quite sure I could find each and every one of them without a savior billboard. Eventually. Unfortunately, my internal clock runs on beach time and that pesky compass of mine is broken. I did break my four year streak of missing every flight booked, but just barely, pulling up at the gate with twenty-two minutes to spare.

After I arrived in Tucson, the gentleman at Hertz asked if I had a car preference. I told him anything American would be fine, but when he couldn't find any keys, he upgraded my rental car to a new, red, convertible Mustang with Sirius Satellite radio at no extra cost. Does it get any better than that?


Alimony in Meow Mix

The quickest, shortest, easiest route to my heart? Via a 20-pack of Bud Light (in bottles) left on the stoop where I feed the feral cats, accompanied by a note that says, "Forgive me?"

Sometimes my ex-boss and I act like an old divorced couple. We rarely agree about work responsibilities, I nag, and he yells hurtful things. Fortunately, though, we both have crappy memories and love cats, because he agreed to feed mine while I'm IN TUCSON FOR A BUSINESS CONFERENCE NEXT WEEK!! WOOOOOOOO! (I've noticed this "woooo" slips past my lips every time I mention it).


Cry Baby Cry

Ever cry so hard your arms shake and you can't be bothered to turn your head or wipe the tears, so they roll down your neck and stomach before they're absorbed by your waistband? And when you're frustrated because you can't cry harder, you kick the metal gutter alongside a building and possibly break two freakishly long toes?

Me neither.



Apparently, the separation between church and state in Enterprise, Alabama is the width of one street. The row of churches (Baptist, Methodist, and Catholic) adjacent to the high school was left virtually untouched Thursday afternoon.

[St. John's Catholic church, minus one tree]

My sister and her best friend were in her 2nd story apartment in Troy, Alabama during another batch of tornadoes that day. The weatherman advised them to hunker down and her stepfather called, telling them to "get the fuck out of that building". Braless, in their wet, white wifebeaters and clutching their box of wine, they ran to the nearest house, where they must've seemed like a dream-come-true to the resident lesbian. Who said Mother Nature doesn't have a sense of humor?


Why I will never again say, "try not to get in trouble at school today, eh?"

"Mom, aren't you relieved I was suspended from school today?"

Relieved isn't half of it. Wednesday afternoon I thought the punishment a bit severe - detention seemed like a more viable option for getting up in the middle of PE class and ignoring the teacher's request to sit down.

Thursday, during the two-hour drive home from work, with twisted, uprooted trees dotting the landscape, rescue workers and concerned parents on every corner, I cried from relief. Sitting in the dark with no electricity, cable, phone or internet seemed like such a tiny inconvenience after the storm.


I *heart* a jaded cynic

I brilliantly combined Walmart and Valentine's Day this year, kind of like plunging into icy Lake Michigan while simultaneously pulling a band-aid off an oozing, not-yet scabbed knee.

Entire aisles filled with candy, flower arrangements, and men holding giant red balloons filled with heart-covered stuffed animals and other cheap trinkets. Don't forget the brilliant marketing bastards at Hallmark.

I'll be inspecting worksites today, passing out little candy conversation hearts that say "bite me".


Pont Neuf

When darkness comes
And pains is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
- Paul Simon


4 a.d. (after divorce)

How unfair that my ex should look so relaxed, fit, and well-dressed (he wore long, flowered surfing shorts when we first met), more distinguished and handsome.

I, on the other hand, look as if I've been hit by a runaway bus - full of lard. Then dressed in hand-me-downs, dipped in honey and rolled in cat fur.


Apache over Baghdad

Naturally, I was curious when my phone rang this morning and my ex-husband's number appeared. Being tax season, I figured he was calling to share his sob story about having all that income, with nothing to claim, poor baby, and didn't answer. He didn't leave a message, which was perplexing, so I hunkered down and prepared to stand my ground (crying if necessary) when I called back. He told me, instead, that his friend from Ft. Campbell had been one of the pilots shot down and killed in Iraq the other day. His family had stayed here in Alabama, while he finished his final year before retirement.

His wife & I had walked our kids to school together; invited one another to Tupperware parties and giggled over wine at aviation functions. Their daughter has a crush on my son, and they joke over whose car kicks more ass (neither's).

I feel such an overwhelming sense of loss for the family that was just like mine; for the daughters and wife he left behind. It could have been us, and nothing in the war thus far has hit so closely. All the numbers and statistics and finger-pointing because the U.S. didn't offer enough troops for sacrifice...and I still don't understand why. Lousy, shitty war.


Cats behaving badly

I'm contemplating snagging two feral kittens from work and decided I'll need a place to keep them quarantined from the rest of my brood for a while. My spare bedroom, which was used as a gift wrap room, with bows and ribbon separated by color in little plastic containers, was apparently the site for the 2007 cat mardi gras:


Which doctor

I'm still not sure if I had food poisoning, a stomach virus, or cat scratch fever this week, but I was horizontal for thirty straight hours.

I told my son I'd probably be dead before he returned from work, but if I could have one last wish, it would be for a McDonald's strawberry shake. I even told him he could drive my car, take all the money in my purse, and keep the change.

He told me dairy products would make it worse, brought me a glass of water with a straw (when I wouldn't stop whining), and KEPT THE MONEY anyway!



I recently initiated a private family/friend group blog to get more interaction, then promptly deleted it when it failed miserably. I'm nothing if not consistent. When my cousin Kelly emailed to ask what happened, I might have replied with something along the lines of '...and you can all kiss my ass'.

She said she understood, but wisely mentioned that dealing with our family is like trying to herd cats. Part of our uniqueness is not following the program, and I love that about us. Damn rebels.

So I found my power cord, dusted off my keyboard, and decided to continue blogging on my merry, though solo, way. I like having a reason to organize my thoughts and having a record of my life, even if it's a lonelier this way. I wasn't an only child (for fifteen years) for nothin', you know.

Oddly enough, the next morning, as I was sneaking across the street to peek in the windows of the house for sale, I noticed a trail of five cats traipsing across the road behind me. Turns out I have other cats to herd.



Two sisters who don't wear watches should not go out drinking on a Wednesday night to meet a "classier" crowd of drunken misfits.

She slept in the next day until noon and missed all her classes. I had to be at work because I had stupidly taken the extension cord needed for a projector during this training week, but left shortly after to vomit in the privacy of my own bathroom for the rest of the day.

The good news? I lost 4-1/2 pounds!


Pyjama party

Since she's still a bit traumatized from having someone break into her apartment while she was gone over Christmas break, Tiffany has decided to drive to my house once a week to stay for the night (I like to think of the beer in my refrigerator as bait).

In between assorted cat ruckus Thursday morning around 3 a.m., she gave a bloodcurdling scream, sat up, said, "Oh, my God! I thought you were dead.", then promptly fell back asleep.

Me? I was a bit freaked out, but sometimes it's just nice to be reminded that you're alive.


Must like cats

"Sooooo...." I said, "do you think he liked me?"

Robbie, Tiffany and I all giggled and snorted at the possibility. Yeah, my first blind date. Who knew you weren't supposed to talk about politics, religion, or gay rights with conservative Baptist teetotalers that didn't swear? And the worst part? Tiffany told him about my blog, I gave him my url, and now I can't even talk about him in my online sanctuary.

I decided over Christmas that I needed to step out of my comfort zone shell and hang out with interesting, intelligent people at coffee shops. Or book stores. Perhaps even small talk at a grocery store wasn't out of the question. My shyness shouldn't be an excuse to hole up during the winter with a six-pack and a dvd player.