Where the hampster wheel always turns

About Me

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Middle aged underweight high school graduate
"It is not advisable James to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener." - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged
"The soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut taxes now." - John F. Kennedy

Surprised Troubled Enchanted and Humbled

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What kind of world are we coming to when a candidate for Miss USA gets harder questions than the President of the United States? As I stated before, it’s a topsy turvy world when we’re tougher on our beauty queens than our Commander in Chief.

During yesterday’s news conference a New York Times reporter was given the chance to ask our President any one question... he came up a question that actually put me over the edge on this nonsensical media infatuation with Obama. “During your first hundred days what has surprised you the most, troubled you the most, enchanted you the most, and humbled you the most?”

What the heck?

I’m not sure I really care to know his answer to any of those questions.

The irony is, what the President does is a lot like what I do as a wife and mother. So, here’s what I would say, the President is welcome to copy off my answers. (Yes, I have a snarky comment I’m withholding).

I’m most surprised at how hard this job is. From sunup to sundown I’m bombarded with decisions that need to be made, epidemics that need to be contained, budgets that need to be managed and a constituency that is given to whining, and virtually impossible to please.

The most troubling thing is the challenging social environment in which I work. Devoid of consensus on moral issues, work ethic standards and fragile peace treaty negotiations, rarely am I able to have a conversation where everyone is on the same page. Things I think are of vital importance, like nutrition, schoolwork and hygiene, are low on the priority list of my cabinet members.

I’m enchanted by how I look in a swimsuit. People magazine loves me.

Oh wait, I got caught up in the “am I writing about me or him” conundrum.

Finally, NY Times, I’m deeply humbled that you would ask me this probing question. The fact that you want to know the inner workings of my thoughts on my career choice means a tremendous amount to me. It’s of vital importance that our society has an ongoing conversation on the importance of my job. The fact that I have the responsibility to shape and influence so many lives is something I don’t take lightly. I intend to have my hand in every aspect of those lives as my responsibility for their welfare cannot be understated.

Thank goodness we have the Federal Government to look out for us. I can retire now.

It's All Downhill From Here

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I have always prided myself on my excellent vision. During my last vision check I scored a 20/10 and a 20/15. My under performing right eye has had to undergo rigorous training to try and catch up to the overachieving lefty. The optometrist gave me a sticker. I still have it. I’m pretty sure he talks about me at parties, being his favorite, most amazing bionic patient and all.

My family is highly dependent on my superpowers. I act as the navigator for our outings since the driver is blind as a bat. OK, he has corrective lenses, but still, I can see better than him. I make everyone call me “Eagle-eye Maloney”

So imagine my dismay yesterday when driving along I can’t quite make out the upcoming sign. It’s all blurry. Stopped at a light, I clutch the steering wheel and lean forward a little. I’m squinting and contorting my face as I try and bring the sign into focus. Frustrated I stick my tongue out and give a loud razz. Of course, right after this I notice the three teenagers in the car next to me watching the whole performance. As I turn, they burst out into laughter and wave as they drive away. Not a high point for me.

Pulling into a drive through I realize I can’t make out the menu like I used to. The kids are hollering out their orders and I’m trying to find the items. I'm completely frustrated at my inability to bring the screen into clear focus. I can see the thing, I can read it OK, but it’s not clear like it should be.

Dang. Apparently I’m old. I am turning forty this year. People say that’s when it all starts to go downhill. I’ve just counted on being like my husband who hasn’t acted his age since he was 25. In a good way.

Well, I better go purchase some magnifying glasses at Walgreens and while I’m at it I’ll pick up some Metamucil and corn remover.

Resigned to the fact that I’m on the downhill slide, I carry on with my day being the stalwart soldier that I am.

Standing at the desk of the local YMCA I’m handed some paperwork to fill out. Filling out the redundant forms for three children I give myself a little pep talk about how great I can see close up. This new impairment is not a total visual decline, just far distances, which does make me feel better. I’m just going to have to give up bow hunting since I don’t want to pull a Cheney with my arrows on a hunting partner. My friends wouldn't be nearly as forgiving as his were. And I don't have that whole 'weight of the Federal Government" to coerce their magnanimity.

Turning to leave, I pick up my sunglasses and as I put them on I notice across both lenses is a thin layer of what seems to be dried mayonnaise. Yum. Nothing says fashion like a good case of food poisoning across your face. Somehow, while in my handbag some schmutz smeared my spectacles. On closer inspection I realize one of my lip glosses has come open and coated the entire inside of my bag with a veneer of slime.

Of course, being in the throes of aging mental decline it takes me a moment or to to realize that I can still see just fine. It’s my purse hygiene I need to work on.

Swine Flu

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I don’t want to catch the Swine flu. For that matter I don’t want to catch bird flu, monkey rash, horse pox or any other mutant strain from an animal-kingdom inspired ailment.

I am torn on the efficacy of how we’re dealing with the potential pandemic. Media outlets proffering pseudo restraint as they try to frame this outbreak as newsworthy. So far, we have about 165 confirmed international Swine flu deaths. Tragic. But we should also keep in perspective that worldwide estimates put plain old regular flu deaths between 250,000 and 500,000 annually, in the US numbers are about 35,000.

The challenge in sifting through all this information is trying to figure out what to do. I’m an ‘action item’ girl. So, do I pull my kids out of school? Do I make everyone wear a mask? Do we put our “fancy camping” practice into full time? Dig a bomb shelter? Hijack a crop duster and fill it with Lysol?

Apparently the best thing we can do is wash our hands and cough into our sleeves. Sad when it takes the threat of a major pandemic to get us to exercise our manners.

For you longtime readers, I’ve taken you down this road before. But good grief people, how hard is it to demonstrate basic hygiene and courtesy? It would be fascinating if this virus were spread by some interesting mechanism like - only people who lick shoes will contract it. Or, no rubbing the insides of your elbows underneath sink faucets. Sadly, we would still have media running the same interviews over and over again with ‘health officials’ telling us not to do these things.

We get on our high horse of hygiene as we cringe at third world living displayed on the travel channel. People living in huts made craftily out of mud and poop. Sleeping in beds made of leaves and animal bones. The fact is, even with all our fancy indoor plumbing and soap, we’re just as gross as the next guy. As this year’s pandemic is the Swine flu, which is really a mutant strain of the Avian flu, the reality is that next year’s outbreak will be a genetic morph of the Swine flu.

Let’s see, birds become pigs become... I know, next year it will be the Yak flu! Although I think I’ve already had that one.

Which Way Are We Looking?

Monday, April 27, 2009

I have a deep, almost sappy, reverence for all things patriotic. I tear at the Star Spangled Banner - every time. I choke up to the point that I haven’t been able to finish the Pledge of Allegiance at a cub scout den meeting. After a trip abroad as a teen I unabashedly kissed the ground upon my return.

We are tremendously blessed to live under this inspired republic. Yet somehow, as a nation we’ve devolved into a collective historical mediocrity. It’s completely acceptable to not know even basic facts about not only the origins of our political system, but also current affairs. As many people excuse their pathetically low history IQ against their Pop Culture IQ the footings of our political systems are coming unseated.

Remembering back to 9/11, I had an MRI scheduled for that day. It was a surreal experience to lay isolated inside the tube as the radiologist tech gave me a blow by blow of the towers falling. It was a day when the repercussions of evil was shoved in our faces. Driving around town days, even weeks after the horrors of that day, I would look at the faces of other drivers, complete strangers, and well up with emotion at how much I cared about them because they were fellow Americans and we were going through this together... one nation, under God, indivisible.

I truly could not have conceived we would be holding the public discussions of the past few days. Stunningly, we are considering being a nation that prosecutes people for their ideas. From the Homeland Security report naming ex-military soldiers as potential terrorists, to the administrations threats to try our family friend Jay Bybee for his legal service to the Bush administration during the early stages of the War on Terror, somehow we’re being dragged into a punitive retrospection the likes of which our nation has ever seen.

This week President Obama has completely retracted his position on retro-litigation. Nancy Pelosi stated she was never briefed on actual use of ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques and the moveon.org crowd is out for blood. All this talk about government sanctioned torture would make one think we were barbarians.

So if I get this straight, and follow Pelosi and Obama’s lead, it’s now the thing to do to subscribe to revisionist history, and look back ONLY if you disagreed with the previous administration. Looking forward is for pansies.

While I’m confident they’re not listening, here’s what I would say if they were:

Please stop diluting the word torture. Torture is not a technique that many of our elite servicemen willingly undergo as part of their training, as in the case of water boarding. Torture is never recovering the remains of a loved one who was obliterated as the towers fell.

Illegal activity is not legally advising the President of the United States, at his request, on methods for extracting information from known terrorists. Illegal activity is BEING a terrorist.

Finally, the role of government, especially the federal government is to protect its people. Meeting with the Castros, Chavez and Ahmadinijab while simultaneously disrespecting our allies is a curious way to go about that task. For all the comparisons you’ve made to Abraham Lincoln Mr. Obama, you certainly seem less than concerned about preserving the Union. This week you’ve been all about appeasing your radical supporters. Uniter my butt.

As we face our tomorrows I will still have trouble finishing the Pledge and I will still tear up at the National Anthem. I just pray that those emotions will be because of, not “in memory of.”

Aliens Among Us

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bookstores. Every time I go inside one, a whole world of interests I didn’t know I have opens up before me. People, places and ideas unfold in a veritable feast of knowledge. Who knew the President of Genovia raises hairless cats? That hydroponic gardening can be practiced in the desert? That Nostradamus predicted Obama’s presidency?

It makes me dizzy with delight as I move through aisle after aisle of potential treasures. One of my favorite spots in the bookstore is the bargain table, an eclectic collection of titles that didn’t sell the first eight tries.

I worked in a small bookstore as a teen. I know the drill. Books that haven’t generated a love connection with a customer should be given a higher profile. Given the chance to scream out “just get to know me a little, you’ll learn to love me!” These books are a little desperate, and would be happy to be chosen by just about anyone.

As I’m pouring over one such table a man that looks suspiciously like Yanni joins me. Normally I try an avoid other people when in the zen state of book shopping, but there is something about this guy that catches my eye. He has shoulder length gray hair, but a very young face. Trying to surveil with out getting caught I pretend to be fascinated by a copy of Latvian Lullabies while squinting out of the corner of my eye. From my natural-like contorted position I can only see up to his waist. He’s barefoot. He’s wearing linen pants... and remember he looks like Yanni.

I resist the urge to ask him if he’s carrying a pan flute and move to another table.

Forty minutes later I’ve ascertained that the book I came in to purchase is sold out, but on back order. Disappointed I lumber over to the check out line. Right behind Linen Pants Dude.

Now I can get a better look without being noticed. Everything is a little off about him. Had I been in Sedona or Ojai he would have fit right in, but few people walk around the Phoenix Metropolitan Area barefoot.

Using my bargain purchase, “The Book of Yiddish Insults and Curses” as a shield I give him the once over when I notice there’s something sticking out of the collar of his shirt. Barely visible above his collar are the spiny black threads from three stitches. He’s got a 1 inch incision that has been recently repaired.

Suddenly I realize what’s going on! I saw episodes of the X-Files! Agent Scully had been abducted by aliens, had something implanted at the base of her neck which only through intense physical suffering did she eventually notice and have removed. Yanni was also abducted! OR... maybe he IS an alien, trying ineffectively to blend in. Maybe his mother ship dropped him off behind Barnes and Noble with the mission of surveying intelligent life-forms. Clearly my powers of observation are more acute than the average bookstore patron since no one else in the establishment recognizes their imminent peril.

I’m torn between the desire to flee from the possibility of alien encounter, and the notion that if you’re an alien who wants to study someone I think I might make an interesting subject. Do I want to be picked? Do I not want to be picked? I’m like the bargain books!

Yanni swings around with his purchases, also bargain table books, and today’s copy of the Wall Street Journal. I have that horrible jerky reaction of being caught staring when you don’t want to be caught staring which only makes it completely obvious that you’ve been staring. Yanni doesn’t smile. I feel betrayed. We’ve developed a psychic connection over the last fifteen minutes as I’ve been mentally crafting his story. Doesn’t that count for anything?

Luckily I have my handy 99 cent Yiddish reference book for situations like this. As Yanni abandons me out the front door I mutter, “Er zol vaksen vi a tsibeleh, mit dem kop in drerd...” For those of you not yet fluent in Yiddish, this translates to: He should grow like an onion with his head in the ground.

That’ll show Alien man.

Ego Surfing

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A friend suggested I start another, anonymous blog, telling stories about my family - the Spellman side. Interesting concept that I considered while in a Barnes and Noble bookstore earlier this morning.

Perusing one of the featured tables a title caught my eye...”The Curse of the Spellmans” Clearly author Lisa Lutz has beaten me to the punch in writing my memoirs. Here’s a thumbnail of the first book in her three part series titled “The Spellman Files” :

“In THE SPELLMAN FILES you first meet Isabel Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors—but the upshot is she's good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family's firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people's privacy comes naturally to Isabel. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman, tail a Spellman, dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.”

In the spirit of full disclosure I have made my share of romantic mistakes, avoided excessive drinking but do have a creative vandal streak. I’ve been snooped on, tailed, and wiretapped by the Provo, Utah police department. To my knowledge I have not had my dirt dug up, nor been blackmailed, but I am still young, and the odds are against me.

I’m smiling at how badly I want to read these books, merely because my name is in the title. This little encounter has awakened all the narcissism I’ve got crammed in my little body. I’ve googled myself more than once and discovered Spellman is the 4,634 ranked surname in the US, after “Battles” and before “Fang”. Thank goodness we beat the Fangs. Spellman’s got a cardinal, a school, football player, apartments and criminals. A dorm, a stamp and postal museum, a Monopoly game and a teenage witch. The gamut is impressive.

This isn’t my first foray into appellation fascination. In a music store a few years ago a CD caught my eye: Aselin Debison, 12 year old Canadian singer. Since I've always felt the hollow ache of never being able to purchase pre-made keychains, magnets or mugs with my name on them I was exultant at seeing a commercially produced product related to me! Of course I had to purchase the CD. I thoroughly enjoyed Aselin's music and played it over and over.

Then, I found out she had her own PBS special! I was thrilled for us, I mean her. She was doing my, I mean our, name proud, singing her little twelve year old heart out on an outdoor stage in Cape Breton. Of course, my Christmas gift to myself that year was a DVD from Aselin. We’re soul mates.

Unfortunately for me, little Aselin (who is older now) has captured all the .com, blog and twitter accounts for her own use. Since she has a real career, I suppose she can get more use out of them.

So, I recommend to everyone, listen to the Celtic strains of little Aselin, while reading my blog. This way you will avoid The Revenge of the Spellmans... which is a cousin to Montezuma’s Revenge.

What Would You Say?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Years ago I stood in front of a large crowd at the Ventura County Fair, in the process of vying for the title of Miss Ventura County. Clad in my hot-pink ball gown, and dyed-to-match hot pink heels I strode out for my shot at the question portion of the competition.

This was my favorite portion of the show. I’ve always had an opinion, and as evidenced by my writing this blog, I like to share it. So as I crossed the stage the emcee announced my arrival “And next we have Razzlin’, Dazzlin’, Aselin!” Quite the introduction. I’ve tried to get Hubby to call me that, but he just won’t oblige me.

So there I stand, more comfortable than I had been all night. I was not in a swimsuit and heels wobbling down the runway. I was not trying to coordinate my kicks with the other contestants in an ill-fated kick line. Nope, I was in my element.

I’m all smiles as the emcee draws out a question and fires. “If you could trade places with anyone in the world, who would it be, and why?”

Suddenly, for the first time in my life, and for the first time since then I had absolutely NOTHING to say. In a cheap effort to buy time, I half repeated the question, “Anyone in the world?” To which the emcee echoed “Anyone in the world.” We repeated this witty banter about six times... no exaggeration, as I futilely racked my brain for an answer.

I share this little story because I have replayed this moment a million times in my head. The answers I’ve come up with over the years are witty, clever, profound and totally unlike what I actually said.

Watching Miss California being excoriated all over national television these past few days makes me cringe. Suddenly it’s asserted that winners of beauty pageants actually represent a constituency. Having been a winner of a pageant or two, I’m 100% sure that no one in the entire city felt I represented their personal interests as I performed ribbon cutting duties, or pie eating contest officiation. Yet here is poor Miss California, in the quintessential American sport of superficial competition, answering a controversial question in a complete, coherent sentence - and losing.

I thought that was all we expected from these girls. I’ve never been aware the content of their answer was actually considered. Mostly we just want to see if the knockout in the bikini sounds as good as she looks. The audience has never really cared if we agree with her, or believe her platform will actually accomplish what she proffers. Yeah, we all want world peace, or to save tsunami victims, or cure cancer, and if she can string together half accurate syntax she gets our vote.

My answer that night lost me the competition. As I ping-ponged the question back and forth with the emcee I finally blurted out that I’ve always wanted to dance like Mikhail Baryshnikov, so I would trade places with him. The emcee looked sadly at me as I stumbled off the stage in defeat, knowing I had just said something incredibly stupid.

Miss California, on the other hand seems to have left the stage with her head held high. In her question that night, she was given a softball, that was actually a curveball. Apparently exercising free speech is not part of the competition.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Last week I saw an image that rocked me to the core. A photo of Kathy Ireland having put on quite a bit of tummy. My heart ached for her. Life certainly gets in the way of image.

We know Kathy as an image, an icon. Years ago, before any of you knew her, I knew her. Not as a close friend, but as a colleague. She was funny and professional. Hard working, and a little shy.

When I saw this photo I realized how we see Kathy has become collective property. I’m not sure what it would be like to feel compelled to call a magazine and share an unflattering photo, especially when you make a living producing flattering photos - and lamps.

Studying the photo I was keenly aware at how deeply I want to be seen in a positive light. I don’t want the ugly photos shown of me - and there are a lot. I’m not near as secure of myself as Kathy is. I admire her for it.

I also realized how completely impossible it is for us to objectively see ourselves. For some reason part of me will always be the skinny ninth grader football players Sean Lopez and Casey Cansler would hoist over their shoulders when they passed me in the school hallways. Often depositing me in the trash can. Their antics bruised not only my ribs, but my ego as well.

In my mind part of me will always be the girl who got spit on, teased and hazed in a way that provides great material for future posts. The girl who carried a heavy chunk of awkward around like some sort of badge.

Interestingly enough, there came a day when I sang cum-bay-yah with my self image and released my adolescent obsession with how others saw me, and made peace with how I saw me. When I quit looking at these experiences as evidence of my inadequacy and held them as stepping stones for my maturity.

I suppose Kathy got there too.

And in fairness...here's one of my favorites, hair courtesy of my kids...

Last night after Cub Scout Pack Meeting, the parents were milling around visiting with each other and about seven hundred cub scouts hopped up on sugar were jumping on this enclosed trampoline. They looked a little bit like a toy I had as a kid that was a gumball machine looking apparatus on wheels with a long stick. As I pushed the stick the gumballs would jump around the globe. Providing hours of entertainment for the simple-minded me.

Holding a classic ‘worms in dirt’ scout refreshment, I’m watching the frenetic popcorn action of the scouts out of the corner of my eye when suddenly, but not surprisingly, there’s crying.

All the scouts have frozen and they’re all looking at two prone comrades wailing in pain. Like some sort of incompetent teen trying to unhook a bra strap, I’m trying to unlatch the entrance to the enclosure and extract the wounded. We don’t own a trampoline let alone a net to lock people inside, so I’m completely bamboozled by the contraption.

Suddenly I notice there’s blood. Lots of scout blood. (Glad it’s not my trampoline). By this time two more parents have arrived and are pressed up against the mesh. I’m calling to each of the boys trying to get their names. The mother of one of the fallen was on my left, and I finally got one of the lucid caged to cough up the name of the bleeder.

For the sake of anonymity the names have been changed. So “Beuford’s” mother ushers him from the enclosure, but “Horace’s” parent is nowhere to be found. I ask the man next to me if he know’s Horace’s parents to which he replies “Which Horace?”

Now, the Horace is not going to die, but he is bleeding all over the trampoline and has spent about five minutes writhing in pain in front of his peers, so on the scale of cub scout injuries, this ranks in the “get the parent’s zone.”

Me, being the wit that I am look this man straight faced in the eye, point to Horace and say, “That one.” He doesn’t respond.

One of the talents I developed in honor of an impending high school graduation was the ability to whistle REALLY loud. (Nothing attracts the fellas like a shrill dog call). So, I whistle to the crowd and call for Horace’s parent. While everyone is looking at me, no one is responding. Yikes. Horace the wounded bleeder is an orphan. Poor kid.

I proceed to crawl into the trampoline when the aformentioned man standing next to me holds me back and says “I’m Horace’s dad.”

Now, had this man been my husband, OR, had I known him better, I would have smacked him in the back of the head. He stood there the whole time, even while I called for Horace’s parent to the crowd not claiming the kid.

I shake my head at Beuford’s mother, completely dumbfounded at this exchange.

In fairness, I have certainly pretended like my kids weren’t my own. There was the time unnamed child number three put together a “celebration of pink” outfit and did her own hair with an immersion blender. I dropped her off a couple of blocks from pre-school with her lunch and a map. The time at church when unnamed child number two audibly passed gas. Or the time unnamed child number one said to me in front of another parent “Mom, is this the lady who you said dressed badly?”

But NEVER when they were bleeding, and crying, and other people were yelling on their behalf.

I suppose that’s what comes from naming your kid “Horace.”


Friday, April 17, 2009

I awoke this morning to a terrible discovery, two of the most important holidays ever had gone by this week completely uncelebrated by yours truly. Now, I'm always missing something, keys, sunglasses, once a kid. Always. I have demands on my time from chores, kids, school, activities, driving, pet massaging and as a consequence I just can't do it all. But to have missed these two sacred days gives me pause to re-evaluate my whole life.

These two days really act as a unifying description of who I am on a very deep level. At the risk of getting too personal, I feel I must share my pain.

This past Monday, April 13th, all over the nation, like-minded celebrants gathered to honor and celebrate one of the greatest National Treasures our country has. I suppose I was distracted by tax protests and pirates. It is with profound shame I admit my deeply inadequate remembrance of National Scrabble Day.

Throughout my life Scrabble has given me, and thousands, nay hundreds of thousands of amateur parlancers like me, an outlet for their knowledge of 'words that use Q and no U'. It's a very special breed who has such talents. Such knowledge is sought for high level intelligence positions and used on the international espionage entrance exam. No, not Trivial Pursuit. Not Monopoly, but Scrabble is the quintessential American nerd game.

But I mentioned two interdependent holidays. To have missed both of them in one week underscored that my priorities are clearly out of whack. The children can feed themselves, the dog must learn to be on his own, I must re-dedicate my focus to things that matter. What could matter more than yesterday's celebration of "High Five Day?" I'm not sure I even gave out one high five yesterday at all. I must re-consecrate my efforts for today is the dawn of a new day.

No well played rack of tiles can be better punctuated than with a resounding High Five from your fans. Scrabble decorum requires that the actual participants refrain from such displays, they are akin to spiking the ball in the end zone in a college football game and not considered good form. But the fans, how can the fans adequately express their exultance at my etymolgical prowess if denied the high five?

Scrabble is not a game of the plebian fist bump. Scrabble is ensconced in history and tradition which eschews the evolution of lesser forms of physical expression. Maintaining the dignity of the patrician, the linguist and upholding all tenets of erudition, Scrabble and the High Five represent what is best about this country, even best about humanity. Were we all to sit down together with our tiles the world would be a better place. (High Five)

Tea Party on the Senate Lawn

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend my first protest. It was held on the lawn of the state capitol in honor of a cause I feel deeply about, hence my attendance.

I’ve seen lots of protests before. America has a healthy history of people publicly exercising their First Amendment rights. While not all of us attended these notable protests, many of them are part of our national psyche. Who doesn’t stir at “I have a dream!” or thrill at the revolutionary sentiments “Give me liberty or give me death!” ?

Yesterday it was confirmed to me that in order to be a truly effective protester one must possess a good streak of crazy. Approaching the senate lawn where we were to gather we walked with a relatively sedate group of like-minded rebels. As we reached the fringes of the gathering it was quite a sight to see, and our little group stopped short of the throng just to take it all in.

It was quite the marvel as an eclectic parade of posters, signs, flags, police and news cameras paraded by. A fire truck, with its ladder fully extended was parked on one side of the demonstration covered in banners and flags. Like some sort of Broadway prop it had people on top and hanging from every angle.

There were people dressed as American Indians in burlap sacks and face paint. There was a man who I’m 100% sure is the Elvis impersonator I saw perform a few years ago dressed all in black, shackled in chains. He had an assistant that was adding to his bondage as we walked by. The kids asked if he was going to perform some sort of escape trick.

A couple in matching outfits, each on a recumbent bicycle covered in little American flags, parted the sea of people as they honked their little air horns. Veterans in black leather vests covered in a myriad of trading pins waved POW/MIA flags. A clown on a unicycle ineffectively sputtered through the crowd handing out booking fliers.

Children bearing the signs their parents told them to write got lots of notice. Mostly because each of these signs I saw first declared the age of the bearer, then the message. “I’m only eight years old and...” got lots of attention.

There was an unbelievably large man wearing a t-shirt in a size I didn’t know they made that said “cut the pork.” There was a homeless looking man holding a sign that said “I’m unemployed and you work for me!” And a ‘little person’ covered entirely in tea bags.

Yes, to get noticed you have to be willing to be noticed. But for all the standouts of the crowd, there was a thousand like me. Sweatshirt and tennis shoes, white shirts and ties, lots of us in jeans who felt strongly enough about the issue we would brave a little wind and cold just to be counted.

I didn’t fashion an effigy or burn my bra, but I feel profound gratitude for my ability to speak my mind, even if I was one of the less noticeable.

God bless America.

Attack of the Loch Ness Monster

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Years ago when I was first married hubby and I were visiting the in-laws at their home on Loch Ness Drive. Hubby waited a long time to get married, and at our wedding dinner his father stood up and said “We think Aselin’s great and all, but we’re just glad he’s not gay.”

Clearly the bar was set very high for me.

During this visit there was a lot of extended family sharing the finite space. I, being the honored guest, was extended special privileges. As nine of us, and what felt like 900 kids, were readying ourselves for the day, bathroom facilities were scarce so my mother-in-law Ann, offered me her bathroom to shower and dress. This way I would be away from all the other riff raff. I gladly accepted the offer, and gathered my toiletries heading off to my seclusion in the master suite.

I was having a glorious shower, singing show tunes to myself when I hear my father-in-law’s gruff voice from way down the hall.

“Ann!” He boomed.

“She’s not in here!” I yelled back.

Now, my father-in-law has no interest in messing with any type of fandangled hearing enhancement technology. This does not mean he does not need fandangled hearing enhancement. He really, really does. I’ve nominated him as the poster child of needy hearing enhancement. Kind of like those skinny, sullen African kids you see on posters that beg for your help. I’ve spent years begging for someone to help him.

So imagine my dismay when I hear, louder and closer another “AAANNN!”

Of course, I louder, and with great gusto yell “She’s not in heeeeeeerrrrreeee!”

Only to be met with the same “AAAANNNN!”

At this point I’m starting to panic. It’s feeling like a horror movie with the repetitive screeching string music as danger advances closer and closer.

I take a different tactic, “It’s ASELINNNNNN!!!” I scream, straining my vocal cords.

His next bellow is now inside the bathroom, right next to the shower “ANN!”

At this point I’ve come completely unglued. I’ve backed myself into the corner of the shower, trying desperately to shield myself with a shampoo bottle and a washcloth. The panic has tightened my vocal cords and I’m crouched in an awkward naked squat as I squeak out with everything I’ve got “It’s Aselin!”

Suddenly not only does he holler my death blow of “ANN!” but the shower door flies open.

Every humiliated cell in my body wishes I were dead. Attempting to cover all of what used to be my private parts I make the squeamish attempt to look up, hoping that not only is the guy deaf, but that he had also suddenly been struck blind.

I whimper a final “It’s Aselin” as I realize that the jacka** standing before me is not my father in law. Rather it’s his soon to be dead spawn - my husband.

Sadly, sixteen years later I’ve still yet to adequately repay the prank. But I do revel in the fact that he hasn’t slept one good night since then - he’s been looking over his shoulder.

Run in with the Law

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Curse photo radar. The only thing this system is good for is to slow the rest of you down so I can weave in and out of traffic easier.

Heading out of town for spring break, I was nabbed. It’s such a racket, clearly designed to catch people who have a seven hour drive ahead of them and don’t want to drive 55. I was two miles over the “allowable” speed. (Meaning, not the posted speed.)

The big problem with photo radar is it removes the interpersonal exchange with law enforcement that I’ve depended on for years. During soccer season I was driving the Prius down Val Vista road blissfully enjoying and NPR interview with a Brazilian opera singer when BAM! I see the lights in the mirror. Now, in my defense, these electric cars are deceptive. They make no noise, they drive extremely smoothly - sort of like a silent zamboni.

So I pull over, very aware of my teenage daughter in the front seat. I haven’t been pulled over too many times, but I confess strategically I’ve flashed the pearly whites and given a hair flip or two with the hope that the officer would have pity on me. My mind is racing on how appropriate a little flirting will be when I have a witness.

As the officer is preparing to exit the vehicle, I check my teeth in the mirror, opt not to put on lip gloss and curse that I was caught. I turn down the radio, gather my license and registration and with my doe eyes look up at the officer coming into view over my left shoulder. Crap. It’s a girl cop.

Well this changes everything. Everyone knows girl cops are mean to other girls. They are a scary breed who have a chip on their shoulder and have it out for humanity. They relish wielding power over us lesser beings and have no compassion, or pulse.

We go through the standard questioning and she takes my paperwork back to her car. Luckily I don’t have any outstanding warrants anymore, so as long as I stay in my vehicle there is little chance I’ll be arrested today.

In my side mirror I see her returning. The whole time my daughter is firing questions at me on what I did wrong, how much will my ticket cost, have I ever gotten a ticket before... blah blah blah. I’m confronted with the challenge of being a responsible parent and using this as a teaching moment or giving her answers that I wish were truthful.

So officer fancy pants returns and I brace for the worst. She extends her clipboard to me, where from sad experience I know I must sign. I’m baffled as the only thing on the board is my license and registration. With a winsome smile she reminds me I have precious cargo and I need to slow down to make sure that cargo gets to her game in one piece. Then with a wave to my daughter she wishes her good luck, both of us a nice day and departs.

I’m totally confused. The paradigm of my entire universe has just unraveled. What is this world coming to?

Oh, yeah, the Karma of the Law. I’m licking the envelope to send in the photo radar ticket. I know why I didn’t get out of this one... It didn’t capture my good side.

The Fruits of My Labor

Monday, April 13, 2009

This weekend I made jam. I know, big whoop. But this jamming experience was unlike anything I could have imagined.

The whole project was conceived while visiting a friend. While giving me a tour of their extensive fruit tree orchard she pointed out and gave me a sample from a mulberry tree. It was fantastic! Not being an arborist, I’m not tree savvy.

I’m standing in awe under this mulberry tree. I’ve never seen a producing mulberry tree. Back in grade school our fourth grade class raised silkworms in what I'm sure was some sort of illegal sweat shop operation. Every day someone would be responsible for harvesting a handful of mulberry leaves to feed the audibly munching worms. During spelling tests we were all distracted by the 50 munching caterpillars housed back by the sink. It was horror movie creepy. I was planning on getting a kimono out of the whole operation - I didn’t get squat.

The trees on the school grounds had beautiful green leaves, but no fruit. All I’d known about the mulberry involved monkeys and weasels. So how I found myself on all fours, collecting ripe fruit for processing is still a bit of a mystery.

After collecting four overflowing bowls of fruit we then had to wash, and strip, and mash, and boil, and jar, and boil and cool... it was an all day operation. We came out with about 40 jars of gorgeous mulberry jam. Fortunately the tree-owner was berry savvy and gave me surgical gloves to strip the berries so my hands retained their translucent pink hue. She was also berry savvy enough to give me the job of stripping the berries, so those same hands are still locked in a cramped curl. Clearly she had found her jam making patsy. I stripped for about four hours. (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.)

When we were done, I crawled to my car dragging my bottles of jam by my teeth. Her dog watched and tried to pee on me once. I kicked at the dog and got in my car, smiling weakly, trying desperately not to let her know how jam-out-out-of-shape I clearly am.

She smiles back at me... and let’s me know another harvest will happen in a week or so. I think, in this instance, I’m the weasel.

Threshold of Hope

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pain is a funny thing. I have a pretty good pain threshold. One who has survived multiple child births, an undiagnosed broken wrist, and a self inflicted tortured adolescence I feel somewhat of an expert on the subject of enduring pain.

In the English language pain is both a noun and a verb. I completely understand this. Pain runs a spectrum of definitions.

There’s mental pain, usually brought on by life’s burdens. Loneliness, isolation, conflict all bring degrees of pain.

And of course physical pain, which makes me say things I normally don’t when it’s brought on by the blunt force trauma of my clumsiness. Or pain that wears me down with it’s relentless sting.

Few will escape the soul weighting pain of loss. The palpable heaviness in the chest that makes it hard to breathe. It’s so strong you can feel it. It’s so powerful you can see it in the face of the bearer. And while it inevitably fades, the hole left in its wake is rarely filled.

One thing about pain, it’s universal. And on this Easter weekend I reflect on such universal experiences.

I’m humbled by the pain borne thousands of years ago by the carpenter from Galilee. This week marks the anniversary of his willing entrance into Gethsemane. Where His closest friends abandoned Him, inflicting loneliness and isolation, even the conflict of abandoned friendship.

Where he endured such physical pain He sweat drops of blood. No matter how much pain I’ve borne, it’s never reached such scale.

And as He hung on the cross in full submission to the pain, He felt the loss of the presence of His Father.

Reflecting on all of this pain, grief and suffering I am humbled. I believe we all suffer degrees of pain in our lives to give us the opportunity to draw closer to divinity. In the pain I’ve endured, it is the good choices, the patient actions, and the opportunity to see outside myself that makes me a little more like Him.

So far, I have found, through all my different kinds of pain, that there is always an Easter morning. It is this truth that makes endurance worthwhile.

Waiting for Happiness

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I received an e-mail today that said “in 9 minutes something will make you happy.” I’m watching the clock, and I’m also trying to consider what it could be. It’s 1:01 p.m. so I’ll keep you updated.

Waiting for happiness is potentially a waste of time. My dog, Sanook, is staring out the window right now just waiting for something to happen. His list of options is pretty limited: bird fly-by, lizard scurry and if he’s really lucky the pool guy will show up. It’s not looking good for him.

Distracted by my constant glances Sanook becomes self-conscious, as dogs do, and wanders over to me. I scratch his back, he smiles, as dogs do. His fulfillment couldn’t be fuller.

It’s 1:10 and I realize, it’s a glorious day. The earnestness of Sanook's watch makes me smile. I’m completely happy.

Wow, those e-mails really do come true!!

In order to better facilitate your Happy Day, I wanted to share a few Churchillisms with you:

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

If you're going through hell, keep going.

Never, never, never give up.

There is no such thing as a good tax.

Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon.

We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile—hoping it will eat him last.

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.

I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

The whole history of the world is summed up in the fact that, when nations are strong, they are not always just, and when they wish to be just, they are no longer strong.

Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace and those who could make a good peace would never have won the war.

Who Are You?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Back in 1986 I had a pretty big year. Among some of the oddities that befell my way, I was runner-up in a beauty pageant. (I can hear you laughing) (Stop it!)

Being runner up is a surreal event. Standing on stage holding hands in a best friend huddle with a girl you met a week ago. All eyes in the room watching, time seems to stop and both of you are holding your breath. Girls have been known to faint prior to the announcement, since for some reason every announcer has acted like Ryan Seacrest on American Idol: seemingly incapable of just netting out the information you need. Rather, the guy with the microphone and the envelope always gets caught up in the power play of suspense.

Then, the moment arrives, the envelope is unsealed, the calculations of Deloitte and Touche are revealed and...and...and...

Someone else’s name is called. Spotlight goes to her. People rush forward with flowers and crowns and there’s singing. I just stood there, out of the spotlight, clapping like I was ecstatically happy happy for her. Then I wandered around the back of the stage, not sure where to go. Soon I found myself back to the green room. Got someone to unzip my gown. Packed up, and went home.

The title of Miss Ventura County came with all sorts of perks: cash prizes, fame, groupies. As her dutiful runner-up I was poised to take over at any moment lest some misfortune befall her.

One of her duties was to preside over various activities at the County Fair. Having raised my share of competition lambs, I was well acquainted with the workings of the fair. Sort of like Templeton the Rat from Charlotte’s Web. For instance, I knew that if one had ‘duties’ at the fair one missed school. Somehow I convinced the pageant committee that the runner-up should accompany the winner on her duties. I can be quite persuasive, but I’m still not sure how I managed this one.

Attending concerts was one of the duties. As Fair Royalty, we were escorted back stage to meet the myriad of dignitaries who graced the stages of the fair and sanction their performances with our blessing. Billy Ocean, the Beach Boys, David Copperfield... just to name a few of the iconic performers who’s autographs I acquired.

1986 heralded the Ventura County Fair arrival of the chart topping group, “Flock of Seagulls”. All decked out in my crown and sash (from my city pageant) pageant officials brought me up to meet the wing-haired group.

Looking down his nose at me one of the Flock said derisively, “Who are you?”

With all my teenager poise I said “Um, uh, um, Aselin Spellman?”

He sneered, “No, who ARE you?”

Again, “Um, uh, um, Runner-up to her.” I motioned to my queen.

A third time, sporting a creepy lip curl, he repeated, “Who ARE you?”

Well at this point I was both confused and mad, so of course I said, in a tiny whisper of a voice, “I don’t know.”

He huffed and stomped off leaving me in a bundle of existential angst.

Later that night, staring at the ceiling in my room I thought about my inability to answer the question. I tried over and over to formulate what I should have said. I have perfected this skill - going over a conversation and coming up with better responses than my actual ones.

To this day, I don’t have a better answer. It’s not something that one can put into words. Us humans can’t be reduced to sound bites, no matter how much we’d like to simplify each other. Throughout my life I have run the gamut of dichotomies. Hero, coward, wise beyond my years, more stupid than one person should be allowed, lover, fighter - every possible contradiction has been a part of my continuing evolution.

My great satisfaction in all of this is that I, unlike the Flock of Seagulls, have not been a one-hit-wonder.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Please picture me lying on my back on the floor with my left arm outstretched and that fist clenched tightly enough that my fingernails are leaving semi-permanent indentations in my palm. The right hand is draped palm up, over my eyes. The dog is standing over me panting.

Nemesis: 600

Me: 18

As her enrollment rate has increased, mine has stagnated. (Resume focusing on above picture in your mind)

I have lots of family stories that shouldn’t be told in proper company. When Scott and I got married it was like the Cleavers were joining with the Addams. I tried to warn him; he didn’t believe me. “Every family is odd” he asserted. While this is true, some are odder than others.

One family story that gets retold every so often is about my cousin. I only have two official first cousins. Surprisingly they aren’t married to each other. One of them I met for the first time in 1999 at my grandmother’s funeral, when he wanted to beat up my dad, but had gotten too drunk to follow through with it. The other one I’ve known most of my life.

This cousin, married his sweetheart, a trapeze artist in the Barnum and Bailey Circus, and had two spunky kids. These kids are grown now, but how they made it to adulthood is a mystery to all of us.

Years ago we were all enjoying each other at a family gathering in rural Louisiana. Here on the bayou the scene was a bit like the beginning of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, only more light. It was early in the event so no one was drunk yet, and the bluegrass music had not begun to play. We were all enjoying a fabulous dinner when Nicole, the oldest of my cousin’s two children ran into the house, covered in mud, in full alarm mode.

“Mom! Mom! Mom!! Billy is eating frogs!”

Every plate was immediately pushed away as all of our stomachs turned.

Nicole’s mother, Lorna the Trapeze Artist, sprung into action. Pushing her chair aside with a swoop she was up and over the table with the skill of, well, a trapeze artist.

Nicole put her hands up to slow her mother’s advance, and with the aplomb of her wise five years said, “Don’t worry Mom, I made him peel them first.”

As I tried to explain to my disbelieving husband, my family isn’t like anything he could have imagined. Repeatedly he would pat my hand and shush me. That was until he actually met them.

Fancy Camping Wrap Up

Monday, April 6, 2009

Well, we did it! We lived for a week off of our food storage. Without dragging you though too many of the uninteresting details here’s the net of what I learned.

1. We don’t have enough water. While we made it through this week just fine, I was amazed at how quickly we would go through the 55 gallon barrel drums we’ve stored if we were really living off them. All of the long term storage foods I have require water to cook them: pasta, beans, rice, brownies. Since we live in the desert, water will be a huge commodity in even the tiniest of emergencies.

2. We have planned pretty well. Except for some fresh items we ate pretty normally, so we do store what we eat. I am going to get serious about adding a garden since I couldn’t coax the one tomato plant I’m growing to produce this week. I do know someone with a banana plant. I’m going to be better friends with her. I’m sure she’ll love the newfound attention.

3. While I think I would like chickens, I’m barely able to keep my dog alive. I need to coax my new best friend, the banana lady, to coop some chickens as well. That way I can still live the cavalier traveling life I love so much yet still have access to eggs. For those of you who also have a chicken shortage problem, really good egg substitutes are flax meal or unflavored gelatin. Although these are really only good substitutes in baking. In the breakfast burritos the kids noticed the difference.

4. The oranges I have are not a good bartering crop. While they are delicious, if the world falls apart and we are actually living off of our food storage, then everyone else around me will be as well. They all have oranges too. I’m pretty sure the neighbors, who have a garden, won’t want to trade me oranges for spinach. They already have oranges. As you read earlier this week, I gave away 1,318 oranges without batting an eye. I have thousands more oranges left. I’m going to have to consider some form of transportation to distribute my one commodity. Which brings me to number 5.

5. I need to convince one of you to get a cow. Banana lady will have reached her limit with the chickens, so please contact me if you will be willing to house a milking cow that also will pull a cart so I can send the kids to hock orange juice off I-10. In return, you’ll have all the orange juice you can drink.

Nemesis: 550 Me: 18

Friday Night Update

Friday, April 3, 2009

Nemesis: 497 Me: 16 (I'm accruing followers at the rate of one each day. She's been accruing followers at about 100 each day.)

Dinner tonight: Food Storage Potluck with the other participants of the challenge. I'm bringing pesto pasta salad with smoked ham and chocolate cake pumpkin pie bars. (I made them up) Pumpkin pie with a chocolate cake crust. The hostess of the party is making white chicken chili and didn't have enough beans so I made her a pot of beans in the magic pressure cooker. Dry to done in 1.5 hours.

Nothing says party like Food Storage!!

Each spring a flock of fruit flies move in to my kitchen. Likely this has to do with the fact that we have literally thousands of oranges that pass through on their way to the juicer. Since science class taught me that the fruit fly has a very short life span, I’m pretty sure they aren’t the same ones each year. However the same class taught me they also have an extremely short reproductive cycle so the one or two I start with quickly turn into a swarm that would make even Alfred Hitchcock uneasy.

Like the hiccup cure, there is a lengthy list of suggestions on how to rid your home of the noxious pests.

There is the “zip lock” trap - put a piece of overripe fruit in a zip lock bag leaving only a small part of the bag unsealed. Once the bag is full of flies, crush them with your finger. I’m not sure why I have to crush them, can’t I just zip and discard? This way I’m not directly responsible for their demise. They made a bad choice entering the small plastic enclosure and must bear the consequences.

The “funnel trap” instructions start with “make a paper funnel.” Have you ever tried to make a paper funnel? I’ve tried a couple of times, usually trying to fill a salt shaker or other small-holed spice container. Using the crooked ‘overlap and twist’ technique I’ve constructed a couple of good looking funnels. Unfortunately all of these design marvels have come apart during use leaving my workspace and forearms covered with substances like cayenne pepper. At this point I usually rub my eyes, become blinded and curse the paper funnel.

The trap I’ve been using is a complete enigma to me. I was taught that one catches more flies with honey than with vinegar. Yet the trap that’s been most effective is the bowl filled with cider vinegar, covered with plastic wrap. Poking a few holes on the top allows the flies to get in. A small amount of oil floating on the vinegar traps the flies. Soon I have a bowl full of fly carcasses.

Is carcasses a word? Spell check isn’t alerting me, but I would have thought it was carcai. Is it corpses? Corpi?

Well, at any rate, soon I had a bowl full of dead flies. We had company for dinner last night - yes during the ‘food storage challenge’. As I was preparing for their arrival I had to get rid of my bowl. Nothing says disgusting like a carcai bowl. Rinsing the evidence down the drain I thought my secret was safe.

Then, as we were sitting across the table from each other, enjoying our meal, my guests start swatting at the air. Lovely. At first I was wondering what sort of pestilence was accosting them until I looked down at my fork. A tiny fruit fly was staring up at me, shaking it’s little fruit fly fist. As I leaned in I distinctly heard his tiny fruit fly voice. He had a Spanish accent like Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride.) “You will never be rid of us! My family avows to avenge our forefathers.” He keeled over and died, having a short life span and all. His children greeted me at the sink this morning where I constructed another vinegar trap.

Apparently some adages are not accurate. You do catch more fruit flies with vinegar.

Super Date

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I didn’t date much in high school. Most of the boys who knew me tried very hard to avoid me. In college things picked up. One particular date made me want to return to my high school social situation. This particular evening combined a number of my least favorite things: crowds, guns and fire. By the end of the night my list of least favorite things had increased.

I am a fan of the Second Amendment. Everyone should have the right to own a gun. I just happen not to like them. I don’t like shooting them, the noise and the fact that most of the people I know who own guns make the honorable mention list of the annual Darwin Awards.

So imagine my delight to find myself on a date in the rural desert with 50 or so of my closest friends waving guns around a bonfire. I’m pretty sure it was an Amway style introduction meeting to the Aryan Nation.

While my date shot at aluminum cans, paper targets and cacti I entertained myself around the fire. There was a large pile of ammo next to the graham crackers and marshmallows. Surreal doesn’t even begin to describe the scene.

As the evening wore on, and I stress wore, the ammo ran low and the faces of the militia wanna-bees flickered in the light of the fire. I had taken to roasting marshmallows. Since we had eaten no dinner, and I wasn’t up to packing heat in search of a javelina to roast I decided to fill up on roasted sugar fluff.

I’m a really good roaster. I have the rare patience and stamina to achieve the golden brown toasty goodness while the mallowy inside is perfectly gooey. My date came up and asked me to cook him a mallow. As he speared it on the end of my coathanger he requested “well done.” This request was akin to asking Monet to draw you a stick figure. I was deeply offended but began to comply with his request. He specified he wanted it “burnt.”

So, I lit the confection on fire, carbonizing the exterior. As I drew the mallow to my face to blow out the flames it suddenly exploded with a loud “BANG!” Having listened to the gunfire all night I thought I had been shot. Dropping my stick, grabbing my ears and hunching to the ground I was completely disoriented. As I drew my hands from my ears, one of them was covered with blood. Looking around the campfire I expected to see everyone else in a similar state of alarm. Instead every single one of them was doubled over in laughter - including my date.

The clever little prankster had put a firecracker inside the marshmallow. When it exploded it blew out my left eardrum. Boy was I having fun.

Retreating away from the light of the campfire I tried to gain control of my tears. My date followed me and tried to get me to talk to him. All I would say was I wanted to go home. Now. Today’s amateur soldier apparently does not take classes in chivalry, and he found me a ride home with someone else.

I did have another friend in the group who had not witnessed the firecracker incident, she also was ready to call it a night. Waiting in the cab of a little pick up truck for the driver, my friend was extremely animated, having thoroughly enjoyed the evening of gunfire and arsenal display. This group bore all kinds of weapons.

She chatted as we waited for our driver. As we shared small talk, I was still very distracted by my injury and not paying much attention to anything else. My companion reached to the floor and picked up some sort of metal stick. She casually asked me if I would hold it for her.

I distinctly remember her yelling “NOOO!” as I firmly grabbed the end of the stick. Untold amps of electricity jolted from my hand, thorough my body and out my elbow that was resting on the metal door of the pick up truck. The searing pain was blinding and my whole body twitched uncontrollably. My former friend was yelling at my slumped frame like I was the biggest idiot she had ever met... “Don’t you know what a stun gun looks like?”

Well, apparently not. I thought I didn’t know anyone who had a stun gun. I thought I didn’t know anyone who carried firecrackers on a date. I thought the dried blood on my face gave me immunity from further mercenary pranks. I had reached my limit.

Unable to control my muscles I remained slumped over in the truck, completely incapacitated except for my incoherent whimpering.

Eventually I made it to the safety of my apartment. It took two people to help me stumble inside, where in the light they could see I was not only twitching uncontrollably but half covered in blood. Just wanting to be alone I sent them away and lay on my bed unable to feel my right side.

In the solitude of my convulsing stupor I realized what most women eventually find out: dating is entirely overrated.


Today's Menu
Breakfast burritos Dinner: Enchiladas


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Come on!!!

Nemesis: 427 Me: 15


Moving on to something I can win... where are my kids? Let's see...foot race? Canasta? Speed reading? Shoot, they've gotten sick of losing to me like I'm sick of losing to Nemesis. They can beat me in all of those. HA - Orange Juicing!!!

I'll be able to sleep tonight.

Kids: 137 Me: 1,318 Nemesis: 0

OK, I wanted to walk away. I tried to move on. You all saw how well that went with Earl the Doughnut. (See the March entry entitled ‘Self Discipline?’ if you missed it). I just can’t keep from peeking. My Nemesis, “Blog of Note”, has amassed well over 300 followers. In only three days, she doubled her followers. She’s squishing me like a bug in a competition she doesn’t even know she’s entered. Since the competition began I’ve increased my follower list by 8 percent. She’s increased by 50 percent. I’m like Uzbekistan in the world economy of blog followers.

What’s interesting about this story is not how I’m losing this competition so badly. Hardly an unpredictable headline. What’s interesting is how many people have signed up to follow the Blog of Note just because it was selected to be the Blog of Note. Her content is not that interesting. I’m confident it’s not important to know what kind of cat she would be if she were a cat, the countdown to the second that her semester ends, and how much money she spent on Starbucks (SBUX) in the last few years.

Are the masses that starved for information? It seems to me we are inundated with information each day. Is it this overload that prevents over 150+ people from sifting through it effectively. Is it the sign-up syndrome? Are there a number of people who need to be part of “the group” so badly it’s immaterial what the group is?

Still, I can’t quit checking on her. I thought I was in better control of my psyche, and while I haven’t signed up to follow, I do visit her site and huff at the increase in her numbers each time. Revealing yet another of my unhealthy fixations.

Ruminating on my defeat I realize that in the blogosphere, most of the information, including mine, is only entertainment. The masses have a right to choose their entertainment. In a moment of humility I become aware that my fending off a swarm of bees, leading a goat through town, and trying not to stare at the metal beaded thong is probably not more important than which Starbucks fare “Blog of Note” ordered yesterday.

Although I do hope mine is more fun.

BTW... I couldn't be a cat because I'd have to move out (hubby's allergies), My semester ends when I take the online final, and I've never (yes I did say never) been to Starbucks. Revealing yet another of my oddities.

Let's see if that increases my follower list...


For those following our progress in the food storage challenge, the kids daily siphon water from our blue barrels before breakfast each morning. We use this for all of our cooking, teeth brushing etc. Drinking water comes from our 2 week per person supply of bottled water.

I was able to trade some food for some eggs, so they've requested eggs benedict for breakfast. Dinner will be pasta with bolognese sauce and spinach. I'm going to make the famous breadsticks as well, might even make a double batch and see if I can barter for something else.