Saturday, December 26, 2009

Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney

I have always suspected that whoever wrote the majority of the Christmas songs out there was probably someone I would have hated. Have you ever listened to the lyrics of them, REALLY? They're ridiculous. And half the time, they're full of things that don't even make sense just so they will pseudo-rhyme. It's bullshit. All the happy people and perfect snowflakes and cuddly fucking reindeer--it gives me holiday hives and makes me all itchy. And don't get me started on the goddamn Muppets and Chipmunks, those creepy little bitches. I get all pissed off just thinking about it.

With this in mind, a few nights ago, Mom, B, and I piled the kids into Mom's Jeep to cruise the nearby neighborhoods so that the kids could look at lights. Although this was my idea (via the kids' encouragement--plus I like to make fun of the inflatables because so many of them often look like they are touching themselves inappropriately due to lack of proper inflation), I was jimmied in the backseat between two carseats, so I really didn't have much of a view. To distract myself, I started paying more attention to Mom's Sirius radio, which was set to some All Christmas, All The Time station. Torture at first, but then things got drastically better. Why? Because it was at this point that I heard the GREATEST CHRISTMAS CAROL OF ALL TIME. It was Etta Fitzgerald, and the song was "Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney."

I bet he did, Etta Fitzgerald, you naughty girl.

I have never in my life heard more pornographic lyrics to a holiday song. Sure, there is the occasional mention of a Yule log here and there, but you never hear much that makes you think, "Damn. That's just messed up," and makes you feel like you need to simultaneously use hand-sanitizer and potentially make an appointment at the free clinic. Yet, this year, I did. And it has now become my FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SONG OF ALL TIME. Because I was 1) drunk; 2) suffocating between the minions; and 3) laughing too hard to properly decipher some of the lyrics, I missed a few. Therefore, as my Christmas Gift to you all, I have Googled said lyrics and am posting them below. Please note that I enjoyed them all over again in the written form. Merry Christmas (a day late) and enjoy.

SANTA CLAUS GOT STUCK IN MY CHIMNEY
(William D. Hardy / Billy Moore Jr.)

Ella Fitzgerald - 1960
Lisa Nicole Carson - 2000


Santa Claus got stuck in my chimney,
Stuck in my chimney, stuck in the chimney
Santa Claus got stuck in my chimney
When he came last year

There he was in middle of the chimney
Roly-poly, fat and round
There he was in middle of the chimney
Not quite up and not quite down

Santa please come back to my chimney
Back to my chimney, back
Santa please come back to my chimney
You can come back here.

Cause baby, made a brand new chimney
Just for you this year!

Santa, come on back!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

And I Find Myself Alone

My Mom is here, B is off from work, both kids are out of school. It's Christmas Eve (which, incidentally, I ALWAYS type as "Christmas Even" and then have to go back and correct) and all are out running last minute errands. I am home alone, vacuuming. Yes, that's right. I'm vacuuming. Give me a break, I'm neat and I find it soothing. Plus I'm a fan of instant gratification, it's a great mood booster.

I have a vivid memory of sitting at my parents' kitchen table last Christmas Eve, drinking with my brother and sis-in-law (Crown for him, martinis for us), exhausted and sad, and talking about which would be worse--the Christmas we were having or the Christmas yet to come, which we knew would be our first without Dad. Everyone kept telling me that it was the first without him that would be the hardest, which was just an inconceivable amount of pain. I didn't think it could get worse than watching him suffer, and having to pretend to be happy. And you know, still, even with the First Christmas staring me in the face, I think I was right. I miss him so much it reduces me to a puddle sometimes, but he's not in pain. He's not suffering. He's not sick. I think, though it's an infinitely tiny amount, this one is easier. I imagine somewhere, wherever his soul rests, it's a better place than here.

Though this year has royally sucked for the most part, I have been giving a handful of blessings. My children are happy and healthy. My Mom is taking steps forward to better her life. B has been incredibly supportive. I have gained new loves (Easy E and my carpenter-- you know who you are, and I love you both), and I have made it this far. I will continue on, and grow stronger for it. Of that I am certain.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dirty, Pretty Things

I am a girl who likes lingerie. I have it abound, a bureau full of lace and silk, satin and tulle, in every color of the rainbow, every style one can name. (For the record, I would have a great deal more if I hadn't purged my collection of everything obtained during my previous relationship. Some of it I had never even worn, but it just felt creepy to hang onto.) It makes me feel like a vixen, pretty and desirable, regardless of how bad a day I may have had--you slip it on, and suddenly you're beautiful.

Tonight I went shopping for something new. There is a new year coming, it's a time of beginnings, and it's been a while since I added to the collection. A few minutes into my journey, I located a lovely black piece--a little sparkly, a little racy, but still quite elegant. Unfortunately, the smallest size they had was a medium. Since I can pull off a medium on occasion, depending on the fabric, I took it and headed towards the fitting room. A beautifully dressed, very robust, older black woman was the fitting room attendant for the night, and examined the garment, then me, shaking her head and making some type of "mmmhhh" noises under her breath. I wasn't sure if this was approval or disapproval, didn't care much. I just waited for her to unlock the door and allow me inside.

Once I was in the fitting room, I stripped down (it's 30 degrees outside--I had on several layers) and tried it on. Hmmmm.....it was okay. But just okay. The fit wasn't quite right. A little loose, gapping a bit in the top especially. Just then I heard a knock on the door.

"You okay in there, honey?" It was the attendant.
"Yes, ma'am."
"You got that thing on?"
"Yes, ma'am."
"Now open up this door and let me take a look."

I paused. It's not often that one is asked to model lingerie by an African American woman old enough to have given birth to me. But, I'm not particularly shy. I figured "what the hell" and opened up the door.

She stood back, looked at me for a long moment, then shook her head frowning.

"Girl, you too skinny. You can't even fill that thing out. And look, your girls don't stand up like they should, because it's just too big." She stepped forward so that she was behind me in the mirror, reached around my chest, grabbed my breasts and hoisted them up. It was my first experience going to second base with a 60-year-old woman. Comparitively speaking, I've had better, and I've had worse.

I tried to gently shake free. "Yeah, it's a little big, but I think it COULD be okay...." I cocked my head to the side and studied my image.

She started shaking her head before I even finished. "Nuh-uh. Ain't no way. That thing don't half fit you. I could put two of you in that thing. Now, ME--if you had MY girls, you'd be spilling outta it, ain't now way it could hold you in. You young girls don't understand that a man likes a little meat on those bones."

I examined her and agreed. "True, I wouldn't argue if I had those suckers. I'd flaunt them all the time. Hell, I'd probably be wearing a tank top in THIS weather. They're fabulous." Anita (her name, by the way) was probably a size 16 or so, and rocking approximately a 38 DD.

She stuck out her chest and looked in the mirror, clearly in agreement. I may have been standing there nearly naked, but all eyes were on Anita. I love to see a woman proud of her body, regardless of what her shape or size may be. This was a woman who was proud of her body.

In this world, we are all different. In my 32 years, I've been enormous with child twice, I've grown and I've changed. At this point, I'll probably never make it beyond 5'3" (on a good day) and my weight has stayed within 3 pounds for about four years. I'm settled into myself. I like my hair long, my makeup sparse, my fingernails unpainted, but my toenails red. That's who I am. And even if something pretty doesn't fit, whether it's too big or too small, I'm okay with that. Even better, I'm glad that there are other women out there who feel the same, like the lovely Miss Anita. To channel my soul sister Ray, "if you've got it, work it." Stand proud, ladies. Every last one of you is awesome.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Call Me Crazy

Today, for the second year in a row, I volunteered at the elementary school during the Gingerbread House Making Extravaganza. Last year I helped 30 kindergartners use frosting as glue to build gingerbread houses out of graham crackers, them trick them out with candy decorations. I came home with frosting in my hair, frosting beneath my fingernails, and frosting on my shirt. I drank for two days straight afterward.

This year, I helped 24 1st graders do the same. I came home with frosting in my hair, frosting beneath my fingernails, and frosting on my shirt. I am currently drinking. (As a side note, my Mom arrived a lunchtime, which is in fact reason enough on its own to drink. Considering the circumstances, you, my readers, are lucky I'm still functional enough to use the laptop.) At least this year I had the foresight to wear a white shirt so the vanilla frosting wasn't quite as visible whenever some kid bumped into me with an icing-coated hand or spoon or gingerbread house.

Why do I keep submitting myself to this torture, you ask? Well, the look on Belly's face when she sees me helping out at school is rather priceless, regardless of how much I often loathe being a mother. Some of these kids don't seem to have anyone to recognize their awesomeness, so I feel it is my duty to not only point it out, but to celebrate it (as in, "Yes, James, I think it's a fabulous idea to construct a fence out of Twizzlers! Way to be a GENIUS!"). I'm not a chipper, super peppy Mommy, but dude, I can tell when a kid needs a boost, and I'll be damned if I'm not going to help he or she get it. Kids may not be my forte, but I don't like to see them in need.

We live in a community that is so economically diverse that the range covers all kinds, types, races, and incomes. My kids fall somewhere in the middle, and I feel very lucky to be able to give them all that we are able. But it breaks my heart to think of those children who aren't so lucky--the ones whose parents don't care enough to give them the Christmas they deserve. Hell, I may be the antithesis of Christmas joy this year, but I will not deny my kids the best parts of it all-- watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," baking cookies for neighbors, saying their prayers every night to thank God that we are as blessed as we are, taking them to church for the candlelight service. These are the things that bring them the happiness, and hopefully, the memories they will carry. I only hope that they ingest that THESE are the important parts, not the presents or wrappings or bows.

If I could trade myself, just to give one happy Christmas to every soul on earth, I would do it in a heartbeat. The universe could have me, no questions asked. I only wish I had that kind of worth.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Those Presbyterians Know How To Party

Last Thursday night, we attended the St. Andrew's Preschool Christmas Program. Sutton had been talking about it for weeks--Miss Emily, the music teacher, was preparing them well. There was to be caroling, bell ringing, sign language--all kinds of good Christian hijinks abound. From time to time, he had burst without warning into "Away in a Manger" and "Silent Night," as well as some song about "Happy Birthday, Jesus" that involved him singing so loudly and with so much fervor that he became red in the face and made me wonder, at least briefly, if he would have an aneurysm onstage. We had his black pants and white button-down clean and ironed. The kid was ready for his stage debut.

The show started at 6, but we arrived around 5:15, as Santa was also planning a visit to the program and was to be available for pictures beforehand. My children never miss an opportunity to suck up to Santa (and in Bellamy's case, remind him that a Barbie RV SURE would look nice in her bedroom), so we made sure to get there plenty early to talk to Santa. Of course, since we arrived early it also gave Sutt the opportunity to play tag with his classmates, hence dirtying the knees of his black pants and disheveling his hair, but alas, 'tis the price one pays to talk to get on Santa's good side, so it was all good.

At 5:45 sharp, we delivered Sutt to his classroom and found our seats. Pops and GrandBabs had come out for the occasion, and Bellamy was decked out in her Christmas dress. Everyone was ready for the performance. Shortly after we were seated, the children entered the sanctuary. They had all had red velvet bows with tiny bells pinned to their collars. Every one's hair was brushed, their cheeks flushed, their eyes bright. Until Sutt entered the room.

Clearly, poor Sutt had decided that he was adverse to performing for the masses. His eyes were red, his cheeks tear stained, his shirt partially untucked. He was herded into the room glumly, amidst a sea of festive little classmates. As the girls preened their way to the stage, the boys standing tall and ready, Sutt spotted our family in the crowd and immediately shoved his way free of his class and sprinted straight to our row. He leaped into his Daddy's lap, buried his face in his shirt, and informed us (albeit very muffled) that there was no way in hell he was going up on that stage.

Although this was extremely unexpected (at least to me) we shrugged and decided to watch the show. I figured Sutt might eventually decide to go onstage with his friends, and in the meantime we were already settled in, so we might as well check it out. The music began, and so did the fun.

A brief list of things I saw during the performance:
1. One kid from Sutt's class completely fell over, and crashed into the Christmas tree behind him, leaving nothing visible except the soles of his shoes that were straight in the air.
2. Two boys decided to start up a conversation during "Jingle Bells." This conversation turned into them each licking his own set of handbells, then allowing the other kid to lick them. Perhaps they were comparing flavors. I do not know.
3. Just as the infamous "Happy Birthday, Jesus" song came to a quiet moment before the (very loud) chorus, one child burst into tears, screaming, "I. WANT. TO. GO. HOME!"
4. A few children, mid-performance, decided that their reindeer antlers were indeed an impediment to their ultra-cool Christmas attire, and yanked them off to chuck them into the audience.
5. Mid-performance, post the one kid falling over, another kid fell over and dominoed the entire back row, save the one child on the end who, apparently, has super sonic balance. The performance never wavered, even as five children tumbled off the risers into oblivion, causing teachers galore to sprint onstage and help right the minions.

To add to the joy, Sutt decided, during the grand finale, that perhaps he would indeed participate in the program, but only if Mommy went onstage with him and held his hand. I agreed. We crept to the stage, but once we arrived he informed me that he was "too tired to stand up" and collapsed into my lap. I had the great honor of singing the finale with the preschoolers, while a boneless Sutt puddled in my lap and refused to utter a single sound.

Ah, yes. The joy of the season. Merry Christmas to all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

One More, Weak

Christmas is apparently next week. As I have been choosing to ignore everything around me with the exception of the cocktail shaker and my torrid relationship with the North Suffolk Public Library, this somehow managed to escape my notice until this morning when Sutton asked if Christmas was tomorrow and I had to think about it (for all I knew, it really COULD have been tomorrow) and figure out exactly when Christmas WOULD be here. (As a side note, I have this theory that I could technically put Christmas off indefinitely as my children obviously have no concept of time. I would have to leave the tree up, and once we broke out the pool pass and sundresses, they might become suspicious, but then again, maybe not.)

True, there have been signs that Christmas was rapidly drawing near. The house across the street installed a large, lighted, inflatable chimney that boasts Snoopy (in a Santa hat) peeking from the top. I enjoy watching it topple over every night when the wind picks up. I have received a few assorted Christmas cards, mostly from people I can't stand and whom I wish would take me off of their Christmas card list (although the upside is that should I ever decide to have them killed, I will always have an updated home address). I think the kids get out of school for winter break at some point, although I'm not certain when this happens and suspect I won't know for sure until we arrive for the drop-offs and I notice that the parking lot is empty. (When this happens, I intend to just drop them anyway, as I figure it will give me a good hour or so of free time before they flag down someone with a cell phone and track me down.)

Sometimes I think about how I can't get this time back, and it makes it hard to stomach all the happiness I'm probably missing. I'll never get Sutt and Belly's 3rd and 5th Christmases back, not the goodness, and the only memories I have of it involve hospitals and cancer. Third and fifth Christmases are supposed to be good times for all involved. It's frustrating that there are no do-overs in real life. It also leads me to try harder this year, which believe it or not I'm doing.

Yesterday, we baked Christmas cookies after school. It wasn't that bad--they helped put the shapes on the baking stone. After they baked and cooled, I gave each kid a bowl of green frosting, red frosting, and a cup of sprinkles. (Sutt used all of his sprinkles on the first cookie, then spent the next half hour laughing at how "silly" he was. Belly mixed her frosting together and turned it gray, because "Gray is a great color for Christmas!") It was nice to see them so excited over something so small and easy. (The subsequent sugar high from licking frosting off of the utensils wasn't quite as nice.) The point is, as I said, I'm trying. Last year I just taught them how to mix Mommy a strong martini (and a useful lesson that has been).

There are people across the world having wonderful Christmases, miserable Christmases, joyous Christmases, and lonely Christmases. To each and all, I wish the same as I'm hoping to find myself at some point this year: peace, and strength in the knowledge that, somehow, we are probably all in this together.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Because It Wouldn't Be Wednesday Without It

Since Fate has chosen me as her bitch, I at least intend to benefit from the entertainment. Lucky you, I intend to share.

JUST A DELIBERATELY CHOSEN FEW OF THE EXTRA FABULOUS THINGS I HAVE ENCOUNTERED ON THIS WINDY WEDNESDAY THAT HAVE LED ME TO PEER AT THE SKY, SHAKING MY HEAD AND WONDERING, "WTF, UNIVERSE? DO YOU REALLY WANT TO THROW DOWN WITH ME? BECAUSE I'M CRAZY, UNIVERSE! I'M CRAZY AND I WILL TAKE YOU OUT IF GIVEN HALF A CHANCE!" Yes, I will.

1. The head of the herd~ This morning, I pulled Sutt's preschool craft from yesterday out of his backpack, and then just stood there wondering what the hell it was supposed to be. It was a coloring sheet of a shepherd standing in a field, looking up at the Star of Bethlehem, with Bible verse along the bottom. Sutt had colored the entire page orange, and glued cotton balls on shepherd's head. Yes, you read that correctly. He had glued cotton balls all over the shepherd's head. Bending down next to him, I said, "Hey, Sutt, what's this?" He looked at it and started to giggle, "Well, Mommy, that's the sheep man and those are his sheep. I glued his sheep on his head because I'M SO FUNNY!" then he literally fell over onto the kitchen floor holding his stomach and cackling with laughter at himself. Okay, then.

2. Losing your drawers~ As I was cruising through Chesapeake on my way to the grocery store, I noticed that all the rain had made virtual mini-rivers on each side of the road in the ditches. And floating down one of said mini-rivers was a dresser drawer, full of socks. A DRESSER DRAWER FULL OF SOCKS, PEOPLE. How does that happen? HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN? Seriously.

3. Santa needs some skins~ While standing in line at the grocery store, I happened to glance up just as Santa, in all his red velvet, white-fur trimmed Christmas splendor came walking by me, pushing a shopping cart completely filled with nothing but T.G.I. Friday's frozen potato skins. (Although he never acknowledged me, I did feel the need to shout after him, "Hey, Santa, I hope you've already scheduled your next cholesterol screening!" Here's hoping Santa has good heath insurance, as if his shopping habits are any indication, he's sure going to need it.)

4. Vitamin C never hurt anybody~ Returning home from the grocery store, I rolled down my street only to see an elderly black man sitting on the sidewalk in front of my house, drinking a carton of orange juice and holding a harmonica. I did not recognize him as someone who lived nearby, so I got out and asked if he was okay. (Note: I do not make a habit of asking if strange men loitering near my house are okay. However, in this case I made an exception because this dude was pushing 75 if he was a day, and small enough that I could have flattened him if necessary.) He said nope, he was fine, just out for a stroll and taking a break. I asked if he needed more juice (I thought maybe he was a fellow diabetic). He said nope, he was just soaking up the sun since the rain had stopped. When I finished putting up the groceries I looked outside and he was gone. (Ooh, maybe it was Jesus! I KNEW he was going to pull that old "disguised as somebody in potential need" trick on me one day. Busted, Jesus. Totally busted.)

5. This morning, pre-grocery shopping, I needed to run to BJ's Wholesale Club and pick up a few bottles of wine as Christmas gifts. I dashed through the store, back to the wine aisle, and grabbed four different bottles. Returning to the front, I saw that only the Self-Checkout lanes were open. This is always a huge pain in the ass when you are buying alcohol, because they have to come over and check your id anyway (which in my case is important, because I look so youthful and glorious at all times--CLEARLY under 21, despite my 32 years). So I scan the wine, get everything rung up, and then stand there and wait for someone to come check my id so that I can pay. This older man struts my way, wearing his maroon BJ's vest, the coveted override card hanging from his lanyard. He comes up and looks over my purchases. "Well, there, pretty lady. You're starting early today, aren't you?" "Yes, sir." I replied, pulling out my driver's license. "You gonna drink all this alone?" He gave me an old man's version of a suggestive look. "Yep. Just me. It takes at least four bottles to get a decent enough buzz on for filming," I answered. "Filming? I could see a cute little thing like you in commercials. Do you do commercials?" (Dude, he was really laying it on thick, as I am clearly not commercial material, but definitely more runway and print ad style.) "No, sir. I considered commercials, but then I realized the real money was in the adult entertainment industry. Today's a big day, my first all female orgy!" I left him open mouthed as I took the wine and walked away.

6. This afternoon, I was dropping some books off at the library when my phone rang. Exiting the oh-so-wondrous silence of the stacks, I stepped out into the parking lot and answered my phone. It was Mom. She shouts, "Guess who got certified today in infant and adult CPR AND in how to use those zappy things at the mall?" Zappy things at the mall? "Um, a defibrillator, Mom?" "Yeah, one of those zap 'em things!" Oh, Sweet Jesus. If I'm ever having a heart attack, please, oh please, don't let my Mom be the one brandishing the defibrillator paddles. I think I'd rather just die.

7. And lastly. As I was helping the kids get dressed this morning, I handed Sutt his clothes and asked him to get dressed while I went to go dry my hair. A few moments later, he came into the bathroom and said, "Mommy, sister won't help me!" I sighed, this was a constant issue at our house--the power struggle of him needing or wanting help and Bellamy deciding whether or not she was in the mood to give said help. "What do you need helping doing, buddy?" I asked. He looked up, blue eyes all teary, and said, clearly distressed, "I can't get my pants on right because my junk's all crooked!" Apparently he couldn't get himself, um, arranged comfortably or something. (For once, I was thankful that Bellamy refused to be helpful.)

And that, my friends, had been my Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ex-cited


I am a girl who remembers dates. I remember the date of my first kiss, my "anniversaries" with all of my boyfriends, the birthday of college neighbor's cat (sad, but true)....everything. You give me a date, I will remember it. It's both a blessing and a curse, as I never forget the dates of bad things, but also eternally remember the dates of the good as well. With this ability in mind, I realized today that there are also days that personify qualities both good AND bad, and we are rapidly approaching one of these days: December 17.

December 17th would have been my 10 year wedding anniversary to my first husband. We married on a Friday night at First Presbyterian Church in Cleveland, TN, at 7pm. My bridesmaids (all 8 of them) wore black dresses. I carried red roses. I walked down the aisle to my favorite instrumental song ("Greensleeves"). Both my Dad and my Grandpa were still alive. It was spitting snow. My cake was stunning. That pretty much sums up the positives.

The negatives? Well, my husband was an abusive asshole (I didn't know this at the time, so I'm not sure it counts). One of the groomsmen showed up without his tux. The silver balloons decorating the reception hall had all stopped floating and fallen to the ground. My best friend told me marrying this guy was the worst decision I had ever made. I hated my hair and makeup.

As I reflect on the marriage and subsequent divorce, I can't help but feel anything except gratitude and relief. I am glad that we married, and I am even more glad that we divorced. Leaving my first husband was hands down the best decision I ever made, and foraging through that situation made me far stronger than I could ever have become otherwise. It wasn't pleasant, it wasn't what I would have chosen for myself had I had a crystal ball, but it happened and it's okay. In fact, it's better than okay, it's good.

Resigning myself to accepting that I'm not perfect, I make mistakes (sometimes BIG ones) is not easy. It's a matter of taking steps towards the future and making the best out of what I have. So this December 17th, I won't be sad that I'm not celebrating ten years of marriage. I'll be thrilled that I'm celebrating 8 years of freedom. And I won't look back for a second.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Change in Perspective

Today I took the kids to the library to get new books for the weekend. The weather was cold and overcast, and the parking lot was extremely full--not your average Friday afternoon library crowd, which is usually around two cars, max. As we hurried inside the lobby, I noticed that there were people everywhere, in three separate lines, snaking around the room, through the entryway, and starting to spill outside into the cold. They were all in line for the City of Suffolk Treasury offices, and I quickly realized that it was because today was the deadline to pay your personal property taxes. My first thought was, "Thank goodness I don't have to stand in that line! That would take forever." I had send our payment through the mail almost as soon as it arrived last month.

As we wove our way through the crowd, I noticed that while there were many people who looked stressed and harried, there were also a few people waiting, one black woman in particular, who looked perfectly content to be spending her Friday afternoon in a never-ending line. She was probably twenty people from the front, with a long wait in front of her, and had probably been waiting a very long time already. But by the look on her face, she didn't seem to mind at all.

Seeing her face, I wondered what she was so happy about. There was no way in hell I would look so zen while standing in that throng of people. And then I had a realization, almost like a tap on my shoulder, a shot to my brain--My Dad would have looked the same way. If my Dad had been standing in that God-awful line and I had complained about how long it was taking, he would have told me exactly this, smiling all the while: "I'm just happy to be standing in line, Princess. Because if I'm standing here in this line, that means I have the money to pay the taxes I owe. Lots of people don't have that." And that's absolutely true.

This time of year, everyone is strapped for cash it seems, and with the economy in the shape that it is, things are tighter than usual all around. Even though we aren't rich by any means, I never had to wonder for a moment where that money was going to come from when our tax bill arrived. It's easy to forget with a life like mine that so many people DO have to worry about that, that some people have been up at night wondering how they are going to pay their mortgage, or provide food for their families, or give their kids anything for Christmas. I have had to worry about those things in years past, but not for a very long time. Which reminds me that despite all the pain and loss and heartache of this year, I'm still a very fortunate girl. And being fortunate doesn't just include the material things in this world, even the necessities, but also includes the fact that I had this amazing Dad who lived his life in a way that taught me so much and can continue to teach me, if only I keep the memories of him alive.

So from now on even though I'm sad and I'm tired and I'm desperately missing my Dad, I want to try to emulate him a little more. I want to step back from situations that seem hopeless or frustrating and try to consider how he would have looked at them. I want to be thankful each morning when I wake up. Because no matter how bad things got, there wasn't one minute of his life that my Dad wasn't grateful just to be alive. And that's how I want to live my life--making him proud, for him, my kids, and myself.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Aiming High

When I was in elementary school, my future goal was to go to college. When I was in high school, my future goal was to go to a GOOD college. When I was in college, my future goal was to have an awesome career. Now that I have this awesome career (I say this very dryly. Please keep up.) my future goal has changed a bit. Now it pretty much goes something like: Just don't die. And if you DO go and die, at least die in some interesting way. Which is why I compiled the list of:

ACCEPTABLE WAYS, FROM AND OF MY OWN TWISTED MIND, FOR ME TO MEET MY OWN DEMISE, SHOULD THE UNIVERSE GRANT ME THREE WISHES, ONE OF WHICH (HOPEFULLY, THE LAST OF THE THREE) BEING CHOOSING MY OWN MODE OF KICKING THE BUCKET, BITING THE BIG ONE, KEELING OVER....YOU GET THE IDEA.

*Please note that each of these is only acceptable should it happen in a public place, with many attentive and traumatized witnesses*

1. Being hit by an astronomical object~ I would prefer Halley's Comet to take me out, as it would be ironic. However, should Halley's Comet not be available in its grand, universe circling schedule, I will accept any meteor, or hell, even planet (let's dream big!) falling from the sky and leaving me nothing but a pile of starr-dust on the ground. Preferably while a news crew is filming, or at least someone with a camera phone so that it can be uploaded to YouTube.

2. Murder by spiritual being~ People who are killed by ghosts ALWAYS go down in history. If you don't believe me, just turn on the SyFy channel, the History Channel, or Biography at nearly any point after dark. If you are haunted, possessed, and then slaughtered in your own home by a Dark Presence, you're a shoe-in to become both a ghost story AND an urban legend. Your memory will scare teenagers looking for a make-out spot for years to come. Priceless.

3. Spontaneous Combustion in the Nordstrom's Shoe Department~ Spontaneous combustion because I am partial to fire. Why the Nordstrom's Shoe Department, though? Well, because I like shoes. And because I don't want to pick Barnes & Noble and run the risk of singeing any of the lovely, sweet-smelling literature that graces the shelves.

4. Plane or spaceship crash~ Due to my Dad's love of flying, I have never had any fear of it myself. I've been up in all kinds of planes and flown all over the world without the slightest hesitation. (Please note that I HAVE NOT been up in a spaceship. Unless I was abducted by aliens at some point and have no memory of it, in which case it's possible that I HAVE indeed been up in a spaceship. Perhaps we should just leave this particular point undecided.) I can totally dig the idea of dying in a plane crash or (or a spacecraft explosion) and be fine with it. When everyone else was going down screaming, I'd be doing that rollercoaster thing--hands in the air, shouting with glee. No, seriously. I would.

5. A Crime of Passion~ Hey, Johnny Depp-- want to dress up as Roux from Chocolat, have a mad affair with me, then kill me because you can't stand the fact that I won't leave B for you, but will only satisfy your mad, gypsy sexual desires? Go for it, dude. Make it happen.

6. Walking the Plank~ Say I'm at the beach and kidnapped by pirates. Say they make me their captain and I sail the high seas, raping and pillaging and just generally running amok. Then say there is a mutiny on the ship and somehow I am overthrown by the OTHER pirate badass on the ship (preferably Johnny Depp dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow) and forced to walk the plank. That might be kind of cool.

7. Lightning Strike~ (*This scenario is potentially the most likely.) The universe recognizes my rogue nature and decides to take me out in a big way, thus teaching the masses a lesson that goes something like "Yeah, Masses! You had better not fuck with me! I'm the UNIVERSE, bitches, and this is how I roll!" A storm brews, lightning strikes, bam! I'm toast. Or, even better, there is no storm, it's FREAK lightning that shoots from the sky unexpectedly and bam! I'm toast.

Awesome.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Delivery Triangle of Love


Some of you are familiar with my penchant for having wild sex with the delivery people. UPS, FedEx, DHL, USPS....it doesn't matter, really, there's just something about those polyester uniforms and those knee socks that's got it going on. If he comes to my door with a clipboard, I'm as good as naked. (Which might explain all of the things delivered to my house that I don't actually order, now that I think of it. Hmmm.)

This morning, I awoke to an interesting sight (see photo). After careful consideration, I have constructed my own theory regarding how this happened. The UPS lady is jealous. Yes, readers, I now have a UPS lady. She's a bit on the (how should I say this?) rugged side, a redhead, and can lift the equivalent of a compact car over her head with one hand while the other hand carries the electronic signature pad. She likes me. I fear her. Regardless, I am an equal opportunity housewhore, I see no reason to exclude her based on her gender or the fact that she could kick my ass (and make me her bitch at any point she decided to do so, so why fight the inevitable?). However, as of late I've been receiving things from the USPS on a much more regular basis than from UPS, and I fear this may have displeased my Lady in Brown.

Perhaps this is a warning to me. Perhaps this is a warning to my mail carrier. Regardless, I choose to take it as a compliment, that someone is willing to damage personal property in order to remind me of their lust and devotion.

Time to visit Amazon.com and nip this problem in the bud.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Suck it, Christmas

Now that we've finished up with giving our thanks, Christmas is but a few strands of lights and a department store sale away. As one can imagine, I'm just as excited about Christmas this year as I was Thanksgiving. I wanted to skip the holidays all together, but seeing as how the munchkins didn't fall for the whole "Santa is taking a year off" spiel, I have to suck it up and deal. So with what does that leave us?

MY CURRENT AND PARTIAL MENTAL LIST OF WAYS I INTEND TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS, AT LEAST CHRISTMAS, AS I HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO THINK FAR ENOUGH AHEAD TO ENCOMPASS NEW YEAR'S YET, WHICH IS GOING TO SUCK A BIG ONE AS WELL, BUT RIGHT NOW WE'RE JUST FOCUSING ON CHRISTMAS AND WHAT IT WILL TAKE TO GET ME THROUGH DECEMBER 26TH INTACT, AND WITHOUT COMMITTING ANY FELONIES, OR AT LEAST NONE FOR WHICH I KNOW FOR SURE I WILL GET CAUGHT

1. Channel the Master~ Remember how The Grinch slipped down to Whoville and stole all the weird little Who's Christmas decorations? Sure, that didn't stop Christmas from coming, but I bet it made him feel pretty damn good before he stopped being all evil and stuff. So I'm thinking maybe if I target a neighborhood house once every few days or so between now and the holidays, snatching their plastic nativity scenes (yes, we already know I'm going to hell, so shut it), light-up reindeer, and inflatable Snoopy-dressed-as-Santa light up lawn ornaments, I'll feel at least a little better. I'd be like the Festive Police. (Setting them on fire in their owner's yards would be more satisfying, but much harder to get away with. I'll have to ponder that one some more.)

2. Nachos make everything OK~ It has become a Christmas Eve tradition for me to cook Christmas dinner--basically a fresh repeat of Thanksgiving dinner--and serve it on my Christmas china, using my crystal. We eat by candlelight, there is Christmas music in the background, everyone looks nice (or, at least Darth Vader wears pants, which is currently about the most I can hope for). My Dad always enjoyed the food, the company. But this year? This year his spot will be empty, so I'm thinking I need to rethink the tradition. The new version goes something like this: nachos and beer on paper plates, eaten from our laps in the living room while we watch something non-festive (Dateline: To Catch a Predator, perhaps, as what is less festive than watching a bunch of creepy dudes try to hook up with fourteen year olds? Not much, I say). No crystal. No music. No candles.

3. Here Comes Santa Claus~ Here's a little holiday algebra for you: Santa equals Christmas, Christmas equals sad. So what if we take Santa-Christmas+sex, does Christmas equal sex? Maybe not, but close enough. What does all this mean? It means Mommy puts on her schoolgirl skirt and goes to the mall to have her photo made with Santa. What would Santa's reaction be to have Mommy in his lap, tricked out in her uniform, wriggling around in his lap as she tells him what she wants for Christmas? Something that would be awesome in a photo, is what. And forever more, rather than Santa equaling Christmas in my mind, Santa would most likely equal something much more......tangible. Problem solved.

4. Buyer's Remorse~ Holiday shopping is hard this year, because I tend to pick things up that I think would make great gifts for Dad, forgetting that there is no Dad for whom to buy gifts. My new theory is that since I do that already subconsciously, what would happen if I went out shopping for Dad on purpose, so that in my head he has already been shopped for? Dad and I had some of the same interests (alcohol and, um......well, alcohol), so I'm thinking I could shop for my Dad at the ABC store, then when I realized I had gifts for him but couldn't give them to him, they would not go to waste. The added bonus is that I would be really sad when I put that all together in my head, which would make having lots of alcohol even more beneficial at that moment. Bam. I'm a genius.

5. July in Christmas~ You hear of "Christmas in July" sales, movie marathons, whatever. This year, I intend to have just the opposite--July in Christmas. I've already taken to listening to my summer cd mixes in lieu of fucking Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas (my children's holiday cd of choice). I can currently hear somebody in the neighborhood mowing their lawn (weird, but true), so that's helpful. Sipping margaritas instead of Bailey's is a start. And hell, who knows, maybe I'll go back and pay Santa a second visit, this time in my bikini.

6. Dress the Part~ Some people have Christmas sweaters, holiday t-shirts, Santa hats. I have my Wicked shirt (from the Broadway musical, not just a reflection of my soul in case you're wondering), my pancreas shirt (Gimme Some Sugar!), and my Loch Ness Monster Is A Puppet shirt. This is my holiday attire. You want to wear a jingle bell necklace? Fuck off, and go jingle somewhere else.

7. Starbucks Should Really Serve Vodka~ Most people like to pick up a strong, piping hot cup of coffee while they are out doing their holiday shopping. Personally, I'd much rather have a couple of shots of Jose Cuervo, with a little salt and lime. It makes the crowds easier to manage, takes the edge off the traffic, and hey, you can always return that karaoke machine you accidentally bought while under the influence (as long as you keep the receipt and get it back within 30 days). Since the world at large (or at least the coffee shop owners) don't seem to see eye to eye with me, I think my best option is to keep a flask of Absolut in my handbag. As long as I don't try to take it through airport security, I should be golden. Other people would likely back me up as well, as I am much more pleasant while tipsy.

And that, folks, is my current blueprint for getting through the holidays. Because Christmas can suck it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Reaching for Happy

November seems to have blown by in the bat of an eye. September and October were the same. On the one hand, this is fabulous, as this year fucking blows. On the other hand, I feel like I spend most of my time wandering around having no idea what day, week, or month it is, just trying to keep up with it all. I am terrified of time dragging. I am terrified of time passing. All in all, I guess there is no way to make me happy.

Somebody asked me recently if I'm happy. My answer was the happiness was something I have not yet reached, to which the rebuttal was that happiness was something you had to work for along the way. And what would make me happy?

Excellent damn question.

What WOULD make me happy? Most of the things seem out of reach. Having my Dad back. Knowing my purpose in life. Not feeling so guarded, like there is no one out there I can trust with my heart. Assurance that my children will always be safe and healthy. Feeling like I'm making a difference, somehow, some way. Those things would make me happy, but they are completely unreachable. They will never be within my grasp.

So what are the things that make me happy that I CAN have? Well, let's see. I like to drink coffee in my favorite chair and read my library book. I like to be able to put fresh blueberries in oatmeal occasionally in the summer when they are in season. I like to wear the pearls my parents gave me, and the earrings my Grandpa gave me. I like to feel pretty, and smart, and loved. I like the total silence when I'm home alone, and the laughter of my family when I'm not. I like seeing my Mom when she's thriving despite all the adversity, and talking to my brother when he's happy. I like the smell of gardenias, and watching it snow. I like it when I can remember my Dad without my eyes tearing, and when those memories makes me feel safe rather than scared and confused.

There are a lot of things that make me happy. Often, the smaller they are, the happier they can make me feel. But this year they are easy to overlook. So when next year rolls around, I will be looking out for a better year. I hope we are all granted a better year. 2009 has had too much heartbreak, here's hoping for a bright and shiny 2010.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Amalgamation

A list of random thoughts today on which I've unfortunately wasted valuable time and thought processes:

1. Why isn't there a better set-up for pediatric offices? I appreciate the separate sick/well waiting rooms, but what happens when you have a sick kid and are also forced to bring a well kid along too? Why does the well kid have to be exposed to the sick kid germs all because they are both too young to be left in a waiting room alone while you wait with the other? Am I a bad Mommy if my son gets H1N1 because my daughter potentially has strep throat? Why the fuck didn't I just become a pediatrician in the first place? Oh, yeah. I don't like kids. But still. It might have been worth it.

2. I should have made these jeans into cut-offs back in the summer. I mean, dude, they are totally ripped along the hem and it's not like I don't have more jeans. But what if I cut them off and then hate them? What if they are better as jeans than cut-offs? Does it really matter anyway since I paid $12 for them about 4 years ago?

3. Why is the FedEx dude delivering out of a Hertz-Penske truck?

4. Is it bad that I've finished off the Viognier by 4:30 and just cracked open a bottle of Merlot? After all, I HAVE had a hard day, and I AM lucky enough to be alone tonight. Will I feel guilty tomorrow for drinking most of my calories for the day? Does string cheese actually count as a meal? Because if not, I haven't actually eaten today. Maybe I should have eaten today.

5. Damnit, why can't the neighbor kid JUST PUT ON SHOES? It's 55 degrees outside, and she's not wearing shoes. She's going to get pneumonia, or worse yet, frostbite, and then I'm going to feel guilty because I didn't wrestle her down and put shoes on her.

6. Wow. Two glasses of wine on an empty stomach is really effective.

**pause for a long thought process and consideration regarding #6**

7. If I had to be ranked on a scale of 1-10, taking into consideration just my looks, then just my personality, then a combination of both, what would I rank? Which one would rank the highest? Should my brain factor in? I wonder how many brain cells have died since I became a parent?

And THIS, my friends, is a taste of why I'm difficult to love (well, at least ONE of the reasons). Despite keeping it to myself most of the time, I'm neurotic. Obviously.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Digging Deep (The Thanksgiving Blog)

Every year, I grace my readers with the Thanksgiving Blog, where I list all the things, both big and small, for which I've been thankful during the past year. Tonight I sat down to write my annual Blog of Gratefulness, thinking of all the things peppering my small life with joy, and one thing repeatedly came to mind:

Suck it, Thanksgiving.

Yes, there's pie (a plus), and the Macy's Parade (of which I'm a fan), but what do those things remind me of? My Dad (he loved pumpkin pie--he and I were the only two who would eat it) and my childhood (suck it, childhood). So this year, I've decided to make my Thankful List in reverse, as in the following:

THINGS FOR WHICH I WOULD BE ETERNALLY THANKFUL, IF ONLY THEY WERE TRUE AND ACTUALLY HAPPENED, BUT THEY'RE NOT AND THEY WON'T, SO I SHALL NEVER BE THANKFUL FOR SAID ITEMS, UNLESS HELL FREEZES OVER AND THE WORLD CEASES TO SPIN UPON ITS AXIS, AND ONE OF THEM TAKE PLACE, DURING WHICH TIME I WILL MOST LIKELY ALREADY BE DEAD

1. A President who doesn't suck~ Okay, go ahead. Get all political on me, send me emails with heated remarks. I don't care. I voted for Obama, because McCain lost me when he took on Palin. I have no problem with Obama, except I said from the beginning that the boy has no experience, is going to get in office and lock the hell up, and nothing is going to change. And I was right.

2. The school bus actually shows up on time, twice a day~ Every morning, Belly heads out the door at 8:15. Sometimes the bus shows up at 8:20. Sometimes it shows up at 9:20. Any point in between seems to be free game. In the afternoon, I start watching for the bus at 3:20. Sometimes it shows up at 3:22. Sometimes it shows up at 4:15. How fucking hard could it possibly be to show up within 5 or 10 minutes of the same time every day? We live nearly across the street from the school, and the bus only goes through our neighborhood, nowhere else. It seriously makes me question the abilities of our school system.

3. Johnny Depp is crowned People's Sexiest Man Alive~ Oh, wait. That's the one I actually got this year.

4. My friends don't leave~ Living in military central is hard. I develop rapport with people, I stop being such a heinous bitch and allow people to actually learn to adore me, and then they leave. It hurts when you lose people you care about. Trust me.

4. The library actually orders books that were released less than a decade ago~ Our library is gorgeous. It is new and clean and has a super fancy electronic check-out system. And very few books on the shelves. I swear, I've literally read every piece of fiction in the joint. I have more books in boxes in my garage (damn you, playroom, for taking precedence over my library) than the library has on the shelves. It makes me sad.

5. My family isn't crazy~ This is never going to happen. I would be totally fine with endearing, eccentric crazy. However, this is an assortment of fucked-the-hell-up. There are no words. Once again, trust me.

6. Tuesdays are awesome~ Why is it that Tuesdays always blow? I NEVER have good Tuesdays. I have no problem with them, they start with "T" and I'm okay with T. I think they are a little boring, being the second day at the beginning of the week, but I hold no grudge against them, except for the fact that SHIT ALWAYS GOES WRONG ON TUESDAYS. It does. Always.

7. Maryland is kicked out of the USA~ "Oh, Haley. Why do you hate Maryland so?" BECAUSE IT FUCKING BLOWS. Fuck off, Maryland. Go join some other country.

I like seven, so I shall stop with seven. Happy Thanksgiving, One and All.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Truth Hurts

Today, I woke up thinking about how many people in the world actually matter to me, and to how many people in the world I actually matter. It was not a long list.

This line of thought all began last night when my best Virginia friend, Erin, went missing. Erin lives down the street, has a brood of children, and is expecting another, which means that she usually isn't difficult to locate. As a matter of fact, I've been known to track her to the grocery store up the street, and pinpoint her exact location within said store without even knowing she was there, because that's just the way it is. But last night, she was nowhere to be found. Her car was missing, she wasn't answering the home phone, her mobile phone was off, and her house was dark. Post-multiple child bedtime, she was still nowhere to be found. I panicked.

One might wonder why I panicked because a grown woman and her family happened to not be home at 7pm on a Saturday night. Maybe they had gone to dinner, or to a movie. But I knew that wasn't true, I KNOW her, and I was terrified something bad had happened. Irrational? Perhaps. But people don't make a habit of walking around referring to me as "rational." E. doesn't have anyone here, I have established myself as her local family.

An hour later when she got home and found the messages I had left on her phones, she called me. She and the family were fine, they had found out last minute that they had to attend some Navy function out of town and had gotten back late as a result. I was relieved, because during that little window of time that she was missing, I realized that E. was one of the few people whose loss I would mourn deeply. And then I realized that those "few" people, were really limited to approximately four, outside of my very close family.

I am not a particularly lovable girl, and I don't readily love people in return. I have an abundance of friends, whom within me most stir lukewarm feelings of random affection, much like the way I feel about my favorite t-shirt. (Except, now that I think about it more carefully, I worry much more about losing or ruining my favorite t-shirt. It, after all, is dependent on me, while the people are not.) Likewise, I am a plaything to a lot of my friends, someone who is quirky and uninhibited with her words, someone who can fill some time for them while they wait on something else. I'm used to it, and occasionally revel in it. It's the role in which I've been typecast, a role in which I've become comfortable.

If I started loving others more deeply, would they feel that way in return? I don't know. It doesn't really matter. I can't change who I am, and honestly, I don't want to do so. I don't mind being tight-fisted with my true emotions. It makes them all the more real to those whom I choose to share them, whether they know it or not. I know who they are, and it matters to me.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sugar, Hi.


As I await the ghosts and goblins to materialize upon my doorstep demanding a sugar high, I thought what better way to kill time between the little monsters than to make a list. And while I have recently duly noted that not all of you appreciate lists (I believe the actual wording included the word "despise") I feel that since my tendency towards list-making is yet another facet of my awesomeness, it is crucial that I continue to grace the world at large with said lists. Thus I now give you:

A VERY WELL THOUGHT OUT AND DELIBERATE LIST OF FASCINATING THINGS I HAVE ENCOUNTERED THIS HALLOWEEN, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER I ACTUALLY CHOSE TO ENCOUNTER THEM OR WHETHER THEY WERE FORCED UPON ME AGAINST MY BETTER WILL AND JUDGMENT

1. The Zombie~The Zombie is a cocktail containing many different liquors, including (but not limited to) brandy, and....well, actually I have no idea because by the time I chose The Zombie as my drink I had already had a very large (potentially triple-sized) Cosmopolitan and a Sam Adams and was far beyond paying much attention to detail. I know it had brandy in it, though, because Blaker mentioned that this morning. Anyway, the point is that I had never had a Zombie before, but after last night, I learned that one should never drink this Zombie (especially after a few other drinks) unless one wants to find, upon reviewing the photographs from the night before, that one stole a red feather boa, partially undressed, and wrapped themselves around a barely legal Hugh Hefner/Cowboy type character who claimed to be dressed as Van Wilder. And then had it photographed.

2. Things Never Quite Go As Planned~ For weeks, I've been hearing from my kids that they wanted to be a Snow Queen with Pink Hair and a Green Power Ranger With Orange Hair, respectively (my children are nothing if not particular). This remained the case up until approximately 20 minutes before trick-or-treating time, when my Snow Queen morphed into a pink fairy then into a princess then into a fairy princess (with no wings) and my Power Ranger became a Transformer then an Evil Genius Bad Guy. Now, having prepared myself for this yet knowing I am not one to embrace last minute changes, I fortified with vodka ahead of time. Unfortunately, it was vodka on am empty stomach, which, combined with huffing spray-on hair color fumes, didn't do much to encourage motor function. Hence, the kids' makeup is slightly askew.

3. Ain't No Party Like A Newport News Party~ B and I attended our first Halloween Extravaganza in six years last night, hosted by the ever-lovely Monica and Chris. Monica and Chris are a fun, childless couple with an incredibly cool house that was used as a Speakeasy during Prohibition. Although I was skeptical about partying with a bunch of engineers, it was a blast. There were cool decorations, tons of food, unbelievable amounts of liquor, and great costumes. I've never seen so many drunk engineers in my life, but as it turns out, engineers get a hell of a lot more fun when they're tanked. Who'd have known?

4. I love carving pumpkins. Usually, I help one kid carve one, and B helps the other kid carve another. This year I got my knives and scoopers and bags together to go outside and commence with the carving, only to be told by my children that they had absolutely zero interest in carving pumpkins. None. Refusing to bow to their ridiculous lack of enthusiasm, I set out carving my own damn pumpkin. B soon joined in. I just knew that the kids would see the crazy amounts of fun we were having and want to help, so our family tradition would be complete. I was wrong. They glanced at us once or twice, but chose to ride their bikes in circles around the driveway, then sweep out the garage. (How messed up is it that my kids would rather SWEEP than participate in McPhail Family Halloween Fun??) On a side note, the pumpkins look fucking fantastic.

5. Coincidental Hauntings~ I rarely watch television, and if I DO watch it, it's never the Biography or SyFy channels. There's just not enough time in my life for a good two hour in-depth exploration of Abigail Adams or the moons of Pluto. So how is it that today, when I'm totally psyched about Halloween tv AND find myself with a few minutes to spare, that I turn on the set to see that the only scary documentary-type ghost show (my favorites--fictional gore doesn't do it for me) is one that I've seen not once, but TWICE before? HOW CAN THAT BE? Does the universe REALLY hate me that much? REALLY? Apparently so.

I'm out of candy. Happy Halloween, Y'all.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Clocking Out

One day while I was bored, I Googled the word "death" just to see what happened. Of course, I received about ten zillion results, ranging from "explaining death to young children" to necrophilia (ew, gross). Since I bore easily, I only made it through the first two pages of sites, but something on Page Number Two caught my eye. Death Clock. Apparently, there is a website you can visit at deathclock.com, at which you enter a few pertinent details about yourself and IT TELLS YOU WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. Insane? Maybe.

Want to hear the kicker?

The few people close to me that I've lost (Dad, my Grandpa) were listed as already deceased when I entered their info. Their death dates were incorrect, but still. Craziness. My own date of future demise? July 15, 2031. That will put me at 54 years old, which is approximately 22 years older than I expected to live (I still hold true to the belief that I shall die while I'm 32) but young, nonetheless. According to Death Clock, my mom, my husband, and pretty much everyone I know will outlive me. Hell, I even went back a few times and re-entered my information, and apparently the best I can hope for is 63 years old, tops.

Kind of makes you want to go base jumping and spirituality seeking, right?

On the deathclock site, you enter your date of birth, sex, outlook, body mass index, and whether or not you are a smoker. While I believe there are many other things that play into one's demise (being hit by a bus, having a meteor fall out of the sky, being struck by lighting while lying in church) you can't help but wonder how much accuracy comes in tidy little Internet packages.

At least, I can't.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Life Is Ours, We Live It Our Way

You know something that drives me totally freakin' insane? Inspirational things. Like those friendship forwards and Jesus emails. Magnets and bookmarks with sunsets and Bible verses on them. Little wall plaques that say cute things about families. They make me want to slit my own throat, while standing at the precipice of a very tall building, so that just in case I don't bleed out quickly enough, the fall will surely kill me. (If now is the time you plan to point out that I'm going to hell, suck it.)

Why is it so hard to find a coffee mug that says, "Fuck off, I hate you," or a sympathy card that says, "It's a shame he/she died instead of you"? I would totally buy both of those things. (Then I would send the card to my uncle, but that's a different story.) Unlike Oprah and Deepak Chopra, I think the people of the world spend way too MUCH time being nice to each other. What happened to honesty? Wouldn't we all feel better if we just let those feelings OUT? I think so (as does my psychologist). I just don't see any point in pretending all the time, especially where other people are concerned.

That is why I am taking it upon myself to start a new movement across America, promoting individual emotional honesty. I want to stamp out Maya Angelou quotes and eliminate all items of clothing with kitten appliques on them. Nobody really likes those things, so quit pretending like you do.

You know who you are.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No Pain, No Gain

Yesterday was an interesting day.

I woke up in a great mood, despite the fact that three things were a given:
1. I was going to have to drive to Greenbrier (about 20 minutes away) first thing, in traffic
2. I was going to have to have blood drawn
3. I was going to have to do these two things without any coffee in my system, as it had to be a fasting blood draw

Now, I hate traffic with a passion. I get all pissed off in traffic and yell and swear like you wouldn't believe. I tend to whack the steering wheel and the dashboard. Occasionally, I will beat my head against the driver's side window in frustration. I. Hate. Traffic. Additionally, I HATE having blood drawn. Am I afraid of needles? Nope. I just like to be the one in control of the damn needle, and I have yet to figure out how to draw my own blood. Which means I have to trust a total stranger, who may or may not have graduated at the bottom of their unusually large phlebotomy class after dropping out of nursing school because wow, that CNA program is HARDCORE, to come at me with a needle. Between over twenty years of diabetes and two pregnancies, I have had a lot of blood drawn--from some of the best, and definitely some of the worst. When it's one of the lesser talented phlebotomists, I tend to swear, whack the side of the chair, and occasionally bang my head back against the wall behind me. (Are we seeing a pattern here?) Oh, and I don't function without coffee first thing. At all. Period.

Despite these strikes working against me (along with a few extra strikes--like Bellamy running home from the bus stop sobbing because she was tired of waiting on the bus and "so bored!" just as I watched the bus pass by, leading me to have to drive her to school and deal with the crossing guard from hell) I was able to make it to the lab with no permanent injuries to myself or those around me. I settled in, and offered up my left arm. (The veins roll in my right--so I ALWAYS insist on the left. And on the offhand chance I get one of those people who tell me they can ONLY draw from one side or the other because that is what they are used to, I immediately leap from the chair, covering my veins and haul ass outta there.) The lady drawing the blood was a very sweet, older black lady, whom at first seemed to have no idea what she was doing. No request for fist pumping? Tourniquet in a funny spot? However, either she was highly talented or my veins were just ripe for the sticking because all went well. As she filled tube after tube, she explained to Sutt what she was doing, what the blood was for, etc. He was fascinated, and behaving very well (and sitting in my lap). Before long, it was over, she taped down a cotton ball on my arm because I bleed through Band-aids and I was ready to go.

Until Sutton spoke up.

"Hey, what about my surprise? When you go to the doctor you always get a surprise when you're a good boy!" The phlebotomist and I looked at each other. I knelt down to his level, and pointed out to Sutt that HE didn't do anything, Mommy was the one who got stuck, so if anybody should get a surprise it was Mommy. And Mommy just wanted the hell outta there and a straight shot to the nearest Starbucks.

"But I was a good boy! And I had to come to the doctor! And there was blood and shots!" Um, yeah, kid. MY BLOOD. MY SHOTS. You just had to sit there in my lap, holding your hand-me-down Batman and one-armed Robin action figures that somebody somewhere found in their attic and assumed had once been Blaker's, hence should be passed onto you, despite the likelihood they contain crazy-assed 1970's things like lead and asbestos.

At that point, the phlebotomist stepped in and mentioned that he HAD been a good boy, so she DID have a surprise for him, and produced a Garfield Band-Aid, noting that being a boy means he probably gets a lot of boo-boos. (I neglected to tell her that the last boo-boo he got was when he pinched his finger in Barbie's Diamond Castle while pretending that pink fairy Barbie was having a sleepover with Holiday Barbie, circa 2006. I figured, let the kid keep his dignity in public.)

Sutt examined the Band-Aid suspiciously. I gently reprimanded him, "What do you say to the nice lady?"

He sighed, begrudgingly. "Thank you, wady. But I willy willy wanted a wowwy pop."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Many Uses of Me

I recently had a conversation with a friend, during which I made the remark that he should make a list of all the reasons he's useful, because it probably would not be a very long list. Granted, I was (mostly) joking, but it got me to thinking, "For what am I useful?" And I realized I was kind of drawing a blank. Damn.

Here's what I've got so far:

THE SEMI-COMPLETE AND SOMEWHAT FINISHED (MEANING, STILL INCOMPLETE AND UNFINISHED) LIST OF A FEW OF THE DREADFULLY IMPERATIVE USES OF HALEY, UPON WHICH YOU, MY BLOG READERS, MAY RUMINATE SHOULD YOU BE REALLY, REALLY BORED AND CHOOSE TO SPEND YOUR TIME IN SUCH WAYS

1. Wine recommendations~ I drink a lot. Not like, get up in the morning and break out the Chardonnay (well, not MOST mornings), but more like "Dear Jesus, let's hope livers really do regenerate, otherwise I'm irreversibly screwed." You know, about average. The bright spot in all this organ damage is that I've tried many, many different brands and varietals of wines and have created a decent working knowledge of them all in my head. So, should you be wondering, "What's a good, mid-priced Pinot?" or "What is a spicy red that goes well with rare beef?" I'm the girl to ask.

2. I'm practically fearless~ Need a spider killed? A base jumping partner? Someone to tell your husband to go fuck himself because it's really not fair for him to call you names because you skipped going to the gym today? Other than being Ophidiophobic, I fear essentially nothing, including excruciating pain and impending death. If you're scared to do it, I probably am not. And if you give me vodka beforehand, I definitely am not.

3. High Entertainment Value~ This is likely due to the frequent drunkenness and fearlessness, nevertheless, it gets its own place on the list. I also have a tendency to hit and swear at people who make me angry, which other people seem to enjoy watching (particularly when I'm pregnant, but if you're interested in that show, you've missed the boat because I have no intention of producing another child).

4. I'm the literati~ I have a vast working knowledge of most books AND authors, as well as strong opinions on both. I feel reasonably certain that most people at Barnes & Noble either find me extremely helpful, or excruciatingly obnoxious, because when I see someone looking at a book I've read (which is most of them), it's very difficult for me to hold back my feelings regarding said book. (On a side note, they should really hire me to circulate and make suggestions to people, as I am very, very good at it and would be an asset to their establishment.)

5. I'm intuitive~ Another job at which I would be fabulous would be Justice Operative (yes, I just coined that title). The government could hire me to show up with my Tarot cards and my intuition and gauge the guilt of criminals and/or the outcome of crimes. I have an uncanny ability to read other people, and can tell from the moment I see someone, before he or she even says a word, whether or not I'm going to like him or her. (Usually I don't, because most people suck. From time to time, when I meet someone I feel this way about, as soon as they say "hello," I will say, "I don't care for you," and walk away. Or if I REALLY don't like them, "Get back, you boil upon the face of humanity! Crawl back into the hellhole from which you came!" It's part of my charm.)

6. Size matters~ I'm reasonably small for a grown woman, so I can fit into places that many people cannot. Drop something behind the bookshelf? Never fear, my hands are small enough to fit back there. Need something that's really far up under the bed? No problem, I'm little enough to slide under there. (On a side note, I can also wear clothes from the children's department if they are a size large. This has been known to come in handy for various reasons that we will not get into right now.)

7. I'm fun and easy (and yes, I like the way that sounds)~ I will preface this by saying that I'm USUALLY fun and easy. There are a couple of instances during which I am not fun nor easy, namely times of PMS and high blood sugar. However, those times aside, I'm SUPER FUN and SUPER EASY. I'm not a picky eater, I'm not obsessed with how I look, and I'm pretty much always up for anything. Additionally, if you don't already have a plan, I'm always full of good ideas (potentially strange ideas, but still good ones). Yes. Yes, I am.

Right at this moment, I can't seem to think of anything else. (Also, I really have an attachment to odd numbers, particularly 7 and 13, and since I know that I can't think of enough items to make it to 13, I would like to stop here to stroke my own OCD tendencies. You may have noticed over the years that I am also outrageously fond of parenthesis, but that's totally tangential.) For now, this will have to suffice.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shards of Infinity

Throughout my life, I've been a girl who hasn't sought out a lot of friends. I have always had tons of acquaintances, but have neither the need or the desire to have many actual friends. I do not like to share my thoughts with people. I do not want to cuddle up with a girlfriend and paint each others' nails and talk about boys (figuratively speaking, of course). Never have. That freaks me out. However, that said, every now and then I stumble across people who I DO want close to me, people that I recognize (though I still do not want to snuggle with them). This has happened all my life.

I like to think of it as soul recognition. (Do not scoff at my theories, because I know what the hell I'm talking about--as I always do.)

It is my belief that there are a handful of people walking this earth for each of us, who are intrinsically important and necessary to us, not only in this lifetime, but in many others. We may not see them every single life we live, but during many of them, they are there. The roles of these people change from life to life--one lifespan they may be a spouse, in another a best friend, or a parent or a child or a neighbor. Regardless, if we are intuitive enough, when we meet (or sometimes even see) them for the first time, we just feel like we know them already. And that's because we do. It doesn't matter how hard you try, you can't untangle yourself from these souls. You're destined to always have them intertwined with you somehow.

I do not believe that everyone close to us in each life is one of our special "people." You do not always marry one of your recognizable souls, and you certainly can love many unrecognizable ones in each life. But our "special" people always have a bit of an edge. You will always have them lurking somewhere in your psyche, in your heart, in your gut. Just as you will be in theirs, whether they realize it or not. And sometimes, they will not. Just as sometimes, you won't either.

In my life thus far, I have found five souls I've known before. I don't know who they were in past lives, or how we were connected, but I do know that I've known them many times over, and I've known them well. I find this comforting and it brings me joy. I look forward to seeing them again someday, wondering how I will find them when I am someone new.

Someday, I think I will die and I will go to my own version of heaven, as will we all. But until I complete the cycle of lives I am to live on this earth, I take heart in knowing that I am not alone, because even if I haven't found them yet, there are always people who already love me.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Musings From the Edge

Those of you who follow my blog know I haven't been writing as much lately. I'm going to blame it on my brilliance--all gifted artists tend to work in a manic/depressive form. During manic times, they create with abundance. During the depressive times, not so much. This is a depressive time. Personally, I am pretty damn sure that I'm not manic depressive, but since it's a sign of genius, I'm willing to consider it as a possibility. (I mean, we all realize I'm a genius, right? Right.)

This morning I was sitting on my deck watching the sky and the dogs (not at the same time, as they were in opposite vertical directions), thinking about what I was going to do today when I suddenly realized that maybe I didn't want to do anything at all. Every day I do some combination of about ten million things. I clean, I cook, I chauffeur, I launder, I run errands, I shop, I exercise, I teach, I worry and work and wreak havoc upon my mental facilities to make sure my family continues to function in a proper and necessary way. But what if I stopped? What if I just decided one morning that I was DONE? Would it really matter?

This is where it gets interesting.

Hell, yes, it would matter! My family would fall apart without me. B wouldn't have lunch, he wouldn't have clean clothes, the kids wouldn't be bathed or fed or have their homework done or their hair and teeth brushed or their lunches packed or permission slips signed or tuition checks written. No one would make the doctors appointments or take them TO the appointments or feed/bathe/take out the dogs or sign for the deliveries or buy the groceries or realize that neither of the kids' shoes fit any longer and they both need to be taken shopping. No one would know that Sutton takes a 1/2 a teaspoon of Zyrtec BEFORE bed or that he only eats oatmeal cooked in the microwave (not on the stove!) or that Bellamy has to be checked every morning to make sure she's not trying to go to school without panties (yes, this is a problem in our house).

And this is why I don't get sick days. I'm tired. I have a headache. I vomited four times today. But there is NOBODY who can fill my shoes, no substitute for me. Good or bad, I have no idea, but regardless it's true. There's only one me.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

In a Month's Time

It's been nearly a month since I've blogged, if you can even even consider the last entry a real blog. Life's been a bit topsy-turvy lately, which has kept me busy and distracted.

My children started school the day after Labor Day. Belly went into First Grade. In a grasp at parental emotional maturity, I allowed her to ride the school bus with her friends on the first day instead of walking her into her classroom. She had already been for orientation, picked her desk and met her teacher, so I figured it was all good. Still, it was hard putting that little person on the bus, sending her off like the big girl she has become. Sometimes I look at her and I don't see a six-year-old, but instead the adolescent, teenager, woman she is going to be someday. It's terrifying, and fascinating all at once.

Distracting me from the first day of First Grade was Sutton's first day of preschool. Even more frightening. I had NOT met his teacher, as we switched schools the night before the first day when a spot came open at our first choice school. I had to just take him in and hope for the best. I got lucky, as his teacher is a sweet, wonderful, sunshiney kind of person. My sweet baby, whom I expected to cry and cling, didn't meet my expectations at all. Not a tear, not a fuss. I couldn't decide if I was proud or devastated. Maybe both.

These perfect little people are growing up on me. I feel so many mixed emotions about it all--the biggest one is that I feel like I SHOULD be upset, but you know, I don't think I am. I like that they are able to have conversations with me. I like that they are more capable, less dependent, giving me little peeks as to what kind of people they someday shall be. I feel like it's wrong for me to celebrate this, to sigh with relief, that it makes me seem lazy and unattached. But I'm not. I've worked hard to teach them and love them and make them who they are. That's something I have to hold onto, something I need to acknowledge more often, as I watch my babies go out and make the world their own.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hell (?), Yes (!).

I'm terribly uninspired these days. I can barely complete a thought, much less a blog or a story. It's partly due to stress, partly due to mood, partly due to boredom......my mind is pervaded by a whole lot of nothing these days. It's irritating, and it makes me shrewish (even more so than usual). Which means in lieu of something deep and provocative, this blog shall be about:

A TASTEFUL SELECTION OF REASONS WHY I, DESPITE MY EDUCATION, KNOWLEDGE, AND GENERAL AWARENESS ABOUT THE WORLD AND MANY OF THE RELIGIONS IT ENCOMPASSES, WILL MOST LIKELY END UP BURNING IN HELL ONCE I MEET MY DEMISE, WHICH I FEEL (DUE TO MY ACUTE INTUITION AND MODERATE PSYCHIC ABILITIES) WILL MOST LIKELY HAPPEN SOONER RATHER THAN LATER BUT REGARDING WHICH I'M ACTUALLY VAGUELY AMBIVALENT

1. I make fun of midgets. I do. Not to their faces, but just in a general sense. They are freaky, and leave me feeling, at best, terribly unsettled after a midget encounter. I know that they cannot help their midgetness and that I, myself, could have been born a midget. But I wasn't. I'm a giantess at 5'3", towering over their little midget selves. And they are funny to me. I even use "midgets and applesauce" as code for kinky sex (TMI, yet oh, so true). My theory? That there is a special circle of hell just for me where I shall spend the day, enslaved by midgets. Potentially involving applesauce. And if I'm REALLY horrible in this life, said midgets will be uncircumcised (comments, Joel from Canada)?

2. I do not like children. You know that line in "It's a Wonderful Life" where they say every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings? Well, every time I hear a child screeching I swear I lose a year off my life. They are messy, they are loud, they leave peanut butter smeared in unmentionable places, and they are capable of making the word "poop" into two syllables. To me, children are short, vastly obnoxious little people who have terrible taste in clothing and stunted motor skills (how difficult IS it to wipe your own behind?). I like my OWN children, of course (although I'm not sure why as they don't even slightly resemble me and certainly meet the criteria for NOT liking kids that is listed above) but rarely care for the offspring of others. Sue me. It's my prerogative.

3. I think the death penalty is a fabulous idea, although instead of death row and all of those ridiculous appeals, I think those proven guilty without a shadow of a doubt should just be dragged out behind the prison and shot. There should even be a system for the shooting. For example, if you are a rapist, you are first shot in the genitals. You get the picture. I would totally put in an application for Rapist Shooter employment opportunities.

4. I am married to a man who feels strongly that it was highly likely that "Jesus got all the chicks." B doesn't believe that Jesus died a virgin. B believes that Jesus probably used that whole "son of God" thing as a pick-up line. Do I agree with him? No. But my beliefs tend to sway so far to another dimension that Jesus's sex life really isn't applicable.

5. I am not respectful of God's creatures. Is there a snake in the kitchen? Let's hack off its head! A spider in the bathtub? Get my shoe! I would never kill or injure a bunny or a dog or a spider monkey, but if something creepy (like an Eastern Box Turtle) comes crawling my way--watch out, because I'm loading the .38. I do not care if you are an active member of PETA, I do not care that a turtle couldn't catch me if it wanted to, that bitch is going to die.

6. I enjoy messing with Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. If they come to the house and want to tell me about their Lord, I invite them in. They decline (seeing as how I'm a female all alone), yet I entice them. I offer them candy. I offer them baked goods. I offer them a ride so they don't have to ride their stupid bicycles. I work, methodically, like a serial killer, circling my prey, drawing them deeper and deeper into my scary world of sin, and then.....I let them go. Hey, I'm going to hell. I'm not the devil incarnate.

7. I'm potentially Agnostic. Which means I couldn't go to Hell anyway, because I probably don't believe there IS such a place. Is there a higher being? Yes, I think so. A higher SOMETHING, anyway. Is there the God I've been brought up to believe in? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. Is there a Heaven? I sort of think there's probably just a Beyond, where we all end up, a combination of energy forces that have passed into something grand. But who knows. Nobody, really.

Nobody, really.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Own Bell Jar

THE BELL JAR, by Sylvia Plath, has long been one of my favorite books of all time. I think more than enjoying the content of the book itself, my affection is directed towards the fact that I identify with Plath. She was a slave to her life and a slave to her madness. I am the same. People tell you that we create our own lives, through our choices and decisions. I do not agree with that. I think we create our own reality, but not our own lives. I can choose to look at myself and my life in any way I wish, but I cannot choose what will and will not happen to me or what happens to others that, in turn, affects me. Life is one continuous game of Russian Roulette--some of us get cancer, some of us win the lotto, some of us die before we are even born into this world, and some of us live decades beyond our prime.

The idea of suicide has always appealed to me. Not because I plan on taking my own life, but because I like the idea of being able to control your own end. I don't like chance. I don't like fate. I don't like surprises. This life is hard enough with its endless cycles of that which is given and that which is taken away. Ultimately, death is the Grand Exit--shouldn't we be given the opportunity to write our own final chapter?

I think yes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hula, Girl

There's a vacation in my midst, which is why we had to shift gears from chess boards to surf boards. B and I take off for the McPhail Family Beach Abode tomorrow afternoon--sans munchkins--for a long weekend of sun, sand, surfing, and....hhmmm...now what was that other "s" word that the vacation was going to be centered around? ;)

In honor of our impending much needed break, I decided to compile a list of McCoy Family Vacations Past, for your literary entertainment.

A TOTALLY INCOMPLETE (DUE TO MY MEMORY, OR LACK THEREOF) LIST OF MCCOY FAMILY VACATIONS, SPANNING FROM AROUND 1979 TO 2005, ON WHICH I TRIED REALLY HARD TO DRAG UP THOSE REPRESSED FAMILY MEMORIES FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT, ALTHOUGH IT WILL MOST LIKELY SET ME BACK MONTHS IN PSYCHOTHERAPY

1. Summer of 1979--My parents take me to Disney World for the first time. I ride in a stroller. I remember nothing. I would never have known this vacation took place if I had not been shown photographs.

2. Summers between 1980 and around 1984--There were trips to beaches. (I've seen photos.) I had a green bathing suit with orange fish on it. (Again, photos.) We camped some. (Photos.) Yeah. That's all I've got.

3. Summer 1985-ish--The first vacation of which I have real memories. We travel to St. Augustine, Florida, which is actually the city from which my family heralds (my Grandpa moved to Cleveland as a teenager and always wanted us all to move back to St. Augustine). My Mom spends a lot of time making fun of me for talking to the ocean. We have a beige Honda Accord. It gets stuck on the beach and a huge storm blows in with giant waves. We all nearly perish in the monsoon, as my brother and I cry, Mom yells, and Dad swears a lot and digs out the car. We visit the Alligator Farm and Marineland. My brother's obsession with sharks is born.

4. Summer 1987--Return to Disney World. My Dad wears black acid washed jeans with pleats and the airbrushed deer hat I bought him (this has been mentioned in a previous blog) despite the zillion degree heat. We eat a lot of ice cream shaped like Mickey's head. I am fascinated by Epcot's countries around the world, and the hedges cut into animal shapes. My obsession with topiaries is born.

5. Summer 1989--We plan a cross-country drive to Colorado. We load the car with suitcases, coolers, travel games, cameras, etc. We drive and drive and drive until we are all cranky and over the idea of driving, which, unfortunately came about in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We check into the nearest hotel, and proceed to spend the next week eating a lot of Subway (the nearest restaurant) and swimming in the hotel pool. We go nowhere and do nothing else. It's hotter than the ninth circle of Hell. My Dad teaches me to dive. My family's hatred of Arkansas is born.

6. Summer 1992--We end up at some random beach in Florida while Dad goes to equipment sales for work. I'm rocking a spiral perm and fill out my bikini for the first time on vacation. I spend all my time on the beach and I meet boys. Lots and lots of boys. Some cute guy named Tom who is down from upstate New York asks me out. We meet on the beach, have dinner, and make out. It's the first time my gum ends up in someone else's mouth. He tells me I'm beautiful and he wants to keep in touch. Then he finds out I'm 15. He's 22. I never hear from him again.

7. Summer 1993--The family goes to Destin. I eat alligator for the first time. My hair is back to straight, but I still meet lots and lots of boys. I have brief, hours-long flings with Jim from Louisiana. And Elliot from Texas. And Jason from North Carolina. I also meet Joey, who lives in Destin and is a pretty cool guy. We hang out. We go to the movies and see "True Lies." He is a fellow Guns N Roses fan. A long-term friendship develops.

8. Summer 1994--I spend a chunk of the summer in Europe. I travel all over Italy and France and the French Riviera. I eat lots of croissants and learn that I'm terrified of riding in Italian taxis. I see many interesting things: a man masturbating in his car at a red light, a grand piano in the McDonald's in Paris, nude beaches. It's all together a grand time.

9. November 1994--I take off with my Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin to Barbados, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Martinique. I shop a lot, and see the cast of "Martin" having lunch in St. Maarten. I meet a native dude who takes me in his boat to St. John and teaches me to snorkel. I fall in love with St. John. (Looking back, I'm probably lucky I didn't pull a Natalee Holloway.) I also meet a magician who levitates me. To this date, it is my only successful levitation experience.

10. Summer 1995--Return to Destin. I call up Joey and we hang out. He kisses me and it freaks me out. Our friendship fizzles.

11. Summer 1996--My maiden voyage to New Orleans. I have my first cocktail while sitting next to a transvestite at a jazz club on Bourbon Street who tells me I have nice hair. We stay at a very quaint, very old inn in the French Quarter where I stay awake all night looking for ghosts. I never see one. I am disappointed.

After that, summers pretty much consisted of school, then vacations with various husbands I accrued along the way. Since then, there have been trips to Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Caymans, Cozumel, more Disney World, Seattle, New York, Hilton Head, (more) New Orleans, Texas, etc. But no more with the family, as a single girl, with long, lazy days to fill, and lots of boys to kiss. Oh, how I miss those days.