Friday, October 31, 2008

The Ghost of Halloweens Past


I figured I'd better get my slack butt in gear and write something, since I've gotten a bit lazy on the blogging since our Charlottesville trip. (We had an incredibly awesome time, by the way. More on that another day.) So, in honor of Halloween, here's a lovely little collection of tidbits about Halloween experiences in my past.

Halloween 1979:
My Mother snags the Raggedy Ann outfit off of my life-size doll and dresses me up, complete with giant lipstick-circle cheeks. I am terrified of Raggedy Ann with her fiery hair and souless black eyes. My Mother does not believe in trick-or-treating because she is convinced that bad people will put needles and razor blades in all the candy. I am allowed to trick-or-treat at one house, my Grandmama's, which is actually pretty okay because my Grandpa buys king-size chocolate bars to give to the kids. I have no idea why I am given candy or dressed like a giant doll because I am only two. I still have not recovered from my fear of Raggedy Ann.

Halloween 1984:
I want to be a Princess for Halloween. My Mother refuses to buy me a costume, and we have no appropriate princess gear. Mom takes an old white sheet and makes me a toga out of it, calls it a "Princess dress," and hands me a roll of aluminum foil and suggests I make a crown while she goes and locates Dad's old flannel shirt so that my brother can be a hobo. (Note that 4-year-old Zach had probably never even heard of a hobo at the time. Mom was a firm believer in costumes made of things you already had around the house. Until the Grandkids came along, and then nothing short of the Disney Store official issue costumes were good enough. No ghetto Halloweens for my kids.) The parents do not feel like driving us across town to trick-or-treat at Grandma's, so we are allowed only to go to the neighbors who live behind us and whom my parents know extremely well. They give us popcorn balls, cupcakes, and giant lollipops shaped like pumpkins. The follow us home. We give them Skittles.

Halloween 1996:
I dress up as a black cat to go to the block party with my LOSER boyfriend, who has dressed like a greaser from the '50s. He abandons me at said block party to sell weed to some teenage trick-or-treaters. Luckily, I run into people I know who agree to give me a ride home. I don't see LOSER boyfriend for a week, at which point I find out he thinks he has impregnanted one of my ex-best friends after failing the Air Force's drug test and running off to live in Florida.

Halloween 2001:
Halloween on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. TOTAL MADNESS. At Ray's suggestion, I borrow her clothes and dress as a Dominatrix, complete with whip (you'd have to know Ray). Blaker borrows MY clothes, and goes as a Princess, complete with curly auburn wig. Rebecca wears her OWN clothes, including her red underwear on the outside of her costume, and goes as Super Ray. Unfortunately, Ray has to stay at Hinton James and do Resident Advisor duties, so Blaker and I, along with Madame Ovary (Robert) and his friend the pimp (Gil) go to Franklin Street without her. My whip is confiscated by the police. Princess refers to himself in third person all night. We meet someone named Twig whom, to this day, I want to kill with my bare hands. We drink a lot of beer and barely make it home. My whip is never recovered from the police.

Halloween 2007:
I host a Halloween brunch for the neighborhood kids. We eat monster toes and incredibly awesome cupcakes (thank you, Kara) with frosting ghosts on top. We watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. My children are Tinkerbelle and a Devil. I realize that I have forgotten to buy candy about ten minutes before the first trick-or-treater arrives. Kara saves the day with candy her sons collected at the previous Sunday's church "trunk or treat." She doesn't give out candy. Trick-or-treaters annoy her. I realize Mom has passed her candy paranoia along to me, so I only allow my children to trick-or-treat at two houses, both of which are occupied by people I have gotten to know well enough that they feel like family, which means they most likely are not razor-blading the candy they will give my kids. The two-house trick-or-treating expedition takes approximately 3 minutes. I spend the rest of the evening giving out candy to children I have never seen before, and wondering why their parents don't seem to be worried that I am secretly slipping lancets in the Snickers bars.

If I ever get re-motivated, stay tuned for news of Halloween 2008.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Till Death Do Us Part



I think it's about time I blogged a little bit about my husband. (Oh, he's just going to love this.)

Blaker is potentially the most awesome dude on the planet. Maybe even in the solar system. Times infinity. Times a billion. Plus ten. He's my favorite. Which is why I am about to combine *him* with another one of my favorite things in the entire world (nope, not alcohol or chocolate). List making.

Behold: THE SLIGHTLY UNUSUAL BUT CURIOUSLY INTRIGUING LIST OF REASONS WHY I ADORE AND REVERE MY HUSBAND

(I love giving my lists pretentious titles. My last grocery list was entitled "A Random Assortment of Foodstuffs I Need to Procure From the Market." No, not really. That would be funny though, wouldn't it?)

1. I once saw Blaker kill a snake with a bar stool. Since I hate nothing more than a snake, I found it very comforting to know that Blaker could probably rescue me from a serpent in any situation. Like ones involving bar stools.

2. As soon as the doctor hacked me open and pulled Sutt out of my womb and handed him to the NICU to check out (he was a month early), Blaker scooted his chair from the position near my head down to where he could see what was going on, and demanded the doctor tie my tubes in front of him (we were taking NO chances that she might forget or get distracted and only do one...you know, whatever). None of that trying to talk me into more babies stuff that the husbands of some of my friends have pulled. Likewise, if I ever become pregnant again and subsequently throw myself off of a bridge, he will mourn my loss, but totally understand.

3. Last year, Blaker allowed me to drag him in the pouring rain to a synagogue in D.C. for a book reading by one of my favorite authors ON OUR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY and never complained once, despite the fact that he was one of only a few guys in a room full of man-bashing, hardcore feminist Jewesses. (I was not one of them--feminists or Jewesses.)

4. He has his pilot's license. So if I ever decide to take up wing-walking or want to join the Mile High Club, I have an inside connection. Oh, and it's sexy. (For the record, my Dad and my Father-in-Law both also have their pilot's licenses, but I do not want to join the Mile High Club with either of them nearby.)

5. Blaker has been known to call me from work, hear that I'm having a bad day, and encourage me to start drinking right away. Before 10am. And I rarely get out of the shower and don't find a glass of wine sitting on the countertop waiting for me. He loves me sober and crazy, he loves me boozed-up and crazy. Guess he has a penchance for crazy.

6. Once as a Christmas gift, Blaker bought a book I wanted, then tracked down the author and persuaded her to let him ship her the book so she could sign it, then send it back for him to wrap up for me. She probably thought he was a stalker, but she agreed. Now every time I see the book at the library, I do a little mental dance because I know that I have that book at home but it's all signed and personalized and not a silly generic library-like copy.

7. Blaker puts up with my family, despite the fact that they are all completely nutso and soooo not afraid to show it. The first time he met my favorite Aunt, she asked him (in all seriousness) why he had such a bad perm. (Blaker has very naturally curly hair.) When we announced to my family that we were expecting a baby, half the family wanted to know who the father was because they were all under the impression that Blaker was gay (we still don't know why they thought that). My Dad has been known to gift Blaker with jump boots, an authentic reproduction World War II trench coat, and, I believe, a gas mask. (If he hasn't actually given Blaker the mask, I know he has picked one up for him to go with the ones he has for the rest of the family in the fallout shelter. Yeah.....I'm not joking this time.)

8. He can roll sushi, makes amazing Thai Peanut Shrimp, fantastic stir-fry, and kick-ass enchiladas. And enjoys doing it.

9. Blaker taught MimiPants (my porky Yorkie) how to sit. I had been trying to teach her for two years, and it only took him, like, two months or so. (Disclaimer: there is nothing wrong with my dog-teaching skills. I have known of inanimate objects more intelligent and less stubborn than Mimi. Blaker just has some mad Dog Whispering skills or something.)

10. Although he may not always agree, he rarely tries to sway my beliefs towards something closer to his (i.e. stickers on produce are germ hubs, there is nothing trashier than a girl who plays pool, math should never be done without a calculator, corn dogs and frosting should each have their own important place on the food pyramid, etc.)

This weekend we are going away for our wedding anniversary, sans kids, during which I am sure I will be reminded of many other fabulous things about my husband. Expect an update when we return.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Twenty Years Later, And I Still Have All My Toes!

Today is the 20th anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. That includes ten years of injections (between two and five shots a day), ten years of an insulin pump, and between four to twelve finger pricks a day for TWENTY FREAKIN YEARS. Not to mention weighing my food for years, denying myself sugar for years, carrying Sweet-Tarts or juice boxes or whatever in case of a low, several weeks of hospitalization to get educated on this whole diabetes scene, etc., etc. And what do I have to say about all that?

Hell, yeah. Look at me go.

Well, I mean, how upset can I really be? I COULD mope around feeling all sorry for myself that I have this stupid disease OR I could do what I DID do, which is be HAPPY. I have all my limbs. I have two kids. I have my eyesight. I have functioning kidneys. I have minimal nerve damage. Twenty years ago when I was diagnosed, I was told I would have NONE of those things at this point. Nobody even knew if I would be ALIVE. Diabetes care has come a long way in twenty years. Sure, I could not have diabetes, but I do. And since I do, I COULD have all sorts of complications from the disease. Or I COULD live in a third world country where I didn't have the option of shots/blood sugar testing/endocrinologists. It's all about the perspective, right?

I feel pretty damn lucky.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Blog Needs a T-Shirt


I was at the mall a couple of weeks ago and saw a very skinny, morose-looking teenage girl, who had clearly spent too much time with the kohl liner and the flatiron, wearing a t-shirt that said "Nobody Cares About Your Blog."

WHAT?!?!?!

Of course they do. (If you beg to differ, I would just like to take a second to point out that you ARE reading it right now....)

My first instinct was to run up and push her 14-year-old, 90 lb. self down and kick her. She's lucky I was carrying a toddler. We all know I'm rather prone to violence. Probably just pulling a handful of that long, stringy hair out would have been somewhat satisfying. Alas, I fought the urge to put the smack down and stayed on course towards Macy's.

Even so, I couldn't help but wonder: Why would anyone wear such a shirt? I mean, I have shirts that say things--a pink one that spells "Princess" in sequins (Blaker has been known to borrow that one for Halloween), my awesome "Gimme Some Sugar" diabetes shirt, great T's from different bars I've been known to haunt in my day, and my most recent favorite, my Halloween shirt that says "Bad Witch"--but none of my shirts say mean things about other people or other people's things. No "Your Ass Looks Giant in Those Jeans" or "Ever Considered Invisiline?" or "My Yorkie's IQ is 20 Points Higher Than Yours Which Isn't A Good Thing Because It Took Her Two Freakin' Years To Learn How To Sit." Nothing.

What's wrong with the world today, that one finds it necessary to insult others in the name of fashion?

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Sad State Of Affairs

You know your life has reached a low point of mythic proportions when you do any of the following:

1. Find yourself sitting at home with your best friend on a Friday night at 9:30, relatively sober because you quit drinking an hour and a half ago, discussing which of the Imagination Movers you would have sex with if you HAD to sleep with one of them.
(For you who are of the childless variety, the Imagination Movers are these really annoying guys who host a kids' show on the Disney Channel. They wear blue and red jump suits and break into song and dance every few minutes. They also have this little Asian chick as their sidekick. She wears too much blush and has an eclectic yet strangely appealing fashion sense.)

2. Write a strongly worded letter to the USPS because you're so damn pissed off that the mail doesn't run on Columbus Day. (I hate stupid, useless holidays with no decorations or special food!)

3. Hope that your stalker does something weird and creepy to entertain/frighten you because you're so bored the thought of potentially being kidnapped and tortured is becoming oddly appealing.

4. Plead with the political tele-bastards who keep calling the house asking you to go door-to-door for Obama to please come and babysit your children, just for an hour or two, so that you CAN interrupt total strangers during dinner and harass them about a candidate you aren't even thrilled about voting for.

5. Stand in front of the mirror in a sleep-deprived stupor holding your makeup bag and thinking "brown eyeliner or gray?" for at least 5 minutes before you finally flip a coin and allow fate to decide for you.

6. Start counting vodka as the most important food group, and working multiple servings into your daily food pyramid.

7. Go to the YMCA at certain times because that's when there are a lot of military men there and your motivation is so low you're hoping their discipline will rub off on you when you're next to them on the treadmill. Otherwise, you'd just stay home and eat chocolate.

8. Are horribly homesick for your family in TN, despite the fact that your Mom bought an RV and some chickens off of Ebay, blares Law & Order from the giant television 24/7, and believes it's perfectly okay to pull out her fake breast (aka "chicken cutlet") in public for the kids to play with; your Dad tends to go commando and accidentally flash the family on a fairly regular basis, disappears for hours at a time only to be found standing in the yard staring at the sky, and spends a great deal of time working out his governmental conspiracy theories; and your Aunt keeps threatening to pull up in front of the house and put your senile Grandma and all her stuff out on the curb and drive away because she thinks it's sombody else's turn to take care of her.

9. Start to wonder how badly it would hurt if you repierced your nose ring hole yourself and how likely it is that you would get blood on something important. Blood is difficult to clean up, specifically from carpet and clothing. (I know this from experience. I'm accident prone. I bleed a lot.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ain't No Party Like A Tennessee Party



A few days ago, an article caught my eye on People.com that contained a headline saying Ashlee Simpson had had a White Trash Party to celebrate her 28th birthday. I was intrigued. I am no Ashlee Simpson fan (although I do think she's much prettier since the plastic surgery, and feel that someone should encourage Jessica to have the bump removed from her nose as well) so I normally would not care about an article concerning her, but the "White Trash" part had my attention. Apparently, I learned as I read the article, guests dined on chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese, Ashlee wore cutoffs and a bikini top, her husband sported a mullet wig, and Jessica showed up in a leopard print dress.

Well, hell. It's just like the parties we've been having for years in Tennessee. We just think of them as regular old birthday parties (and weddings, and baby showers, and bar mitzvahs--psych! We don't have Jewish people in Tennessee!)

I remember the last birthday party I attended in Tennessee. It was a combination birthday party for Bellamy and me, as we happened to be visiting the folks during the first week of June. (I would like to note that even though we held the party on my actual birthday--June 5--nobody outside of my parents seemed to remember my birthday, and instead focused the party on my parents' wedding anniversary--June 2--and Bellamy's 3rd birthday--June 13.) It was held in the backyard, on the carport. We ate hot dogs (chicken fingers and mac and cheese is WAY too fancy, and requires silverware) on paper plates and used paper towels as napkins. It's possible that my ex-Uncle played the Banjo, although I don't remember that for sure. (I don't attend family functions without drinking heavily, hence the memory loss.) Someone might have barked "Jingle Bells" (oh, wait--that was Christmas. Sorry). There was potentially impromptu clogging and hay rides (it ain't a party unless there's clogging and hay rides). We had a giant sheet cake from Wal-Mart with Elmo on top. I know that I wore cutoffs (I've seen photos) and somebody in my endlessly giant family probably had on some animal print and a bikini top, and maybe even an animal-print bikini. Those are fairly standard in June in Tennessee, particularly when you're going to a party at a house with a blow-up pool in the yard. I don't believe anyone at the party had a mullet, but my Mom does wear a big, curly, fake, clip-on ponytail from time to time. She calls it her "white girl weave."

Ah, yes. Now I'm feeling homesick.

Eat your heart out, Ashlee Simpson. You'll never know how to party like we do in Cleveland.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Favorite Pair of Genes


I love my brother, Zach. When God made Zach, I'm pretty sure he took a good, long look at everything about me, then took all the opposites to create my brother. We have nothing in common besides a set of parents, an intense love of coffee, and a similar sense of humor. He's awesome. And then to add to his awesomeness, he's been married for five and a half years to Shawna, with whom I have probably even less in common with than I do Zach, but who is hands down one of my favorite people on the planet. Together, they are quite a pair.

Here are a few reasons why:

Example #1:
A couple of weeks ago I went to the mailbox to bring in the mail. Among the usual assortment of bills and junk (mostly junk--dude, whatever happened to saving trees? I DO NOT NEED a sunroom added to my house or a coupon for bathfitters. LEAVE ME ALONE, junk mailers of the world!) I had a postcard. On one side, there was a picture of a rooster. Beneath the rooster, was the Japanese character (do they call them "characters" in Japanese, or is that Chinese?) for rooster. Beneath that, was the English translation, "cock." When I flipped it over to the address side, all it said was "hee hee." It was from Shawna.

Example #2:
Last time I was in Cleveland, I was very sad. It was my first visit home in a year, the first time seeing my Dad since his cancer diagnosis, and I wasn't prepared for it all. I missed Blaker. I'm kind of a homebody anyway, and a neat freak, so having our stuff scattered ALL OVER THE FARM and living out of a suitcase for two weeks was tough. One day when I woke up, all I could do was cry. No reason, no explanation. I absolutely couldn't do anything except sit on the porch swing and cry. Zach called to see if I wanted to hang out with him and Shawna and Mom told him I couldn't seem to do much but sit and cry. So what did they do? They showed up ten minutes later with a Red Bull and vodka already mixed, which Shawna shoved into my hand and told me to start drinking as she headed into the house to mix a pitcher of margaritas (pre-mixed, but she added an entire BOTTLE of Jose Cuervo for extra ooomph). The best part? It was 10am.

Example #3:
My children LOVE Uncle Zach and Aunt Shawna. One night when Bellamy was at "Camp Yaya," I called the farm at about 11pm to say goodnight to Mom. Zach and Shawna had just stopped by and gotten Bellamy out of bed to take her for a midnight snack to IHOP. (Bellamy ADORES IHOP. The child would live off of pancakes if you let her.) They take the kids out for milkshakes, on trips to the park, down for sleepovers and pizza parties--they are Bellamy and Sutt's idea of the MOST FUN EVER. Oh, and when they party with the kids, I get a break.

Example #4:
Not an important one, but Shawna and I are the same size and she has great taste in clothes and an affinity for Banana Republic. She lets me borrow things a lot :)

Example #5
Zach has a wicked (and dry) sense of humor, and not one iota of guilt about using it. One of he and Mom's favorite games is to see who can get Shawna the most riled up and offended. They are both extremely good at it, and poor Shawna can't seem to resist falling into their trap because she's so passionate about so many things that they like to bring up, particuarly being respectful of the nationalities of others. It's great fun to watch. Until Shawna gets mad and stops speaking to everybody. Because of his sense of humor, Zach is also the first person I call when I'm sad, because he NEVER fails to cheer me up. He also knows me well enough to know when I need cheering without my having to ask.

There have been many times in my life that I've wished to live closer to my family. Right now, it's harder than it's ever been with Dad being sick. I hate having the kids away from my parents, and not being there to see what's really going on with Dad. But I think the thing I wish for most of all is to be able to spend time with my brother and my "sister" whenever I want. It's hard being away from the people I love most.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Shane's Life History and Disney On Ice







Last night I took Bellamy to Disney on Ice, and met one of the biggest freaks I've met since we moved to Hampton Roads. Shane.

But let me back up.

Disney on Ice was "Girls' Night," just me and the Bug, because we figured that though Sutton, who is scared of pretty much everything, would enjoy parts of it, there would be much more screaming and ear-covering than enjoyment if we took him along. Bellamy had requested that we both dress like Princesses for the show, which was fine, except that my princess wardrobe is slightly lacking these days. (Unless you count the dress from my first wedding, which is exceptionally princess-like due to all the pouf and tulle. However, with pouf comes inconvenience, as it is terribly hard to maneuver about while wearing said dress.) Also, despite the fact that there are no fewer than twenty tiaras at our house, we were somehow only able to locate one that was not damaged in some way, thus rendering them unsuitable for Princess Me. The end result was that Bellamy was head-to-toe the Pink of Perfection, and I was my regular old self.

We left early to get to the Hampton Coliseum. I figured traffic would suck (it did) and wanted to get there early to make sure that we could get parked and find our seats and all that jazz before the show started. Once we got there and purchased the prerequisite Little Mermaid Magic Wand, which both lights up AND plays music and cost pretty much the equivalent of a compact car, we found our seats and got settled in. And that's when we met Shane.

Shane was sitting one (empty) seat away from Bellamy, along with his brother, his brother's kid, and Shane's son, Shae. (Confusing, I know--Shane, Shae-- too much similarity there for me. It's like this girl I knew once who had two daughters named Isabella and Anabella. That's just a "bella" overload, in my opinion.) As soon as we sat down, Shane introduced himself, and launched into what I like to now think of as the World's Greatest Too Much Information Monologue. It went something like this:

(Part One)
"Hey! How're you? I'm Shane. This here's my boy, Shae. He's three. How old's she? 'Bout five? That's my brother over there and his boy. He called me up and said, 'hey, you wanna go see Disney ice skatin'?' and I was like 'HELL, YEAH!' I'm more excited than my boy. Oh, sorry about that 'hell.' It's just us boys tonight out causin' trouble, watching McQueen and all. I ain't with Shae's momma no more because when I met that girl, you see, she was really TIGHT. And I mean, TIGHT. Then she went and had this boy and just let herself GO! She got all fat and stuff and her hair got all greasy and one day next thing I know she come and told me that she done met her some dude at a trailer park--he's all fat and stuff-- and she was done gonna go move in with him. I was like, 'if he wants to live with your fat self, you just go on. You used to be TIGHT!'"

Then he offered me a congealed nacho, and finally stopped talking to take a breath.

Now, you've probably got a few questions about Shane, most of which I cannot answer, but a few I probably can. He was about mid-twenties, charming and mildly unkempt, with the maturity level of a fifteen-year-old boy. I'm also fairly certain, although not positive since I'm not from this area, that he might have been the Hampton Roads version of a redneck (which is slightly different than the Tennessee version, but with several similarities, such as his girlfriend leaving him for a fat guy in a trailer park). He was also super friendly, used lots of hand gestures, and like to smack his fist against his other palm for emphasis.

Lucky for me, the show started before he could tell me his blood type or sexual preferences. The show was great--lots of confetti and bright colors, music, skating, the whole nine yards. Belly was entranced, and I was having more fun watching her face than the performance. Things went swimmingly for about an hour and a half, then it was time for Intermission. And more from Shane.

(Part Two)
"Hey! How you likin' the show? You like Mater? I love me some Mater. Me and my boy here both love us some McQueen, but that Mater just cracks me up. I think we's gonna run down and get us some chicken fingers. You think they got chicken fingers here? I was at this car show once and they didn't have no chicken fingers, but you could buy a whole box of chicken and just take it home with you! I'se like 'damn!' Saw cars, had some chicken, got me one of them hats drank some beers. I don't think they got no beers here. Hey I like your bracelet. This girl I knew once made me this tight bracelet out of like a bicycle chain. It was all black and she painted it and--it wasn't Shae's momma--this girl was TIGHT. She could make all kinds of stuff out of like chains and wood and rocks and money and stuff. She had these feathers..."

This is when I excused myself and Bellamy to go to the bathroom. There was no way in hell I was going to the bathroom because I knew the lines would be insane. What I wanted to do was exit the Coliseum and head directly for the nearest shot of vodka, but Bellamy was still knee-deep in desire to see Tinkerbelle ice skate, so we walked around the concessions area for a few minutes until we heard the announcement that the show was getting ready to start, then headed back to our seats.

When we got back, Shane was wearing a large foam hat shaped like "Tow-Mater" from Disney's CARS, and drinking from what appeared to be a 2-liter Coke. (Don't ask, because I don't know. I only saw people selling 20 oz. bottles. Nothing bigger.) He proceeded to share Shae's cotton candy with Bellamy (which was very sweet of him) and whoop and holler as the show commenced.

I'm sad to say that, although Shane would lean over and babble at random on occasion, I didn't get to have any more full-impact conversations with him at the show. Sad, because, looking back, it was vastly entertaining, despite being slightly overwhelming and Twilight-Zone-like at the time.

Just think of all the boring people we COULD have sat next to...