Sunday, December 31, 2006

We'll Take a Cup of Kindness Yet

Oh kids, yesterday was crazy. Except to sleep, I think I was home a total of two hours all day. Since the girls are having some friends stay the night for the holiday tonight, I will be home most of the day today in order to clean earlier and then make sure no boys show up uninvited later.

Here's wishing everyone an amazing new year. I'm leaving you with some photos from a party my parents attended in the late sixties when we lived in Arizona. These are some of the ones my mom must have sent back to my grandmother in Chicago because there is not only writing on the back, but names and arrows pointing to certain people on the actual picture. (I can barely read the stuff on the front, or I'd document that here as well) I'll put the text from the back, exactly as it was written, under each photo.

New Year's Eve party at a Mexican restaurant where they had Flamenco dancers for entertainment. And an orchestra for dancing. I was on the left side of the table with my hand up to my hat. And Vince Buckley and Florence were on either side of me. We had a marvelous time.

These were the Flamenco dancers at the New Year's Eve party.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Oh, I Just Don't Know Where to Begin

I got tagged by Bice to do a meme where I name six weird things about me. Since I'm just a big old pile of quirkiness, this should be the easiest meme I've ever done.

1.) I love Iowa in general and Iowa City specifically. I know I didn't grow up here, but it's the closest thing to home I've ever had. I think it's great that everything is so cheap here, all the janitors and most of the waiters have advanced degrees and that we grow food that feeds much of the world.

2.) I like everything to make noise. I press the ends of my hair together so I can hear the crackling sound it makes and I can get cotton sheets to make a popping sound. (according to my sister, I've done that since I was a baby)

3.) I'm a girl who hates shoes. I barely ever wore them when I was a kid and the only reason I wear them regularly now is because it's cold out and because I messed my feet up from going barefoot so often when I was younger.

4.) I'm also a girl who doesn't understand the point of jewelry. Okay, I understand the whole ornamentation thing, but it really isn't worth the bother of remembering to put it on and take it off.

5.) I pretty much lived in my tent for a whole summer when I was nineteen. I had a trailer to stay in when I needed to, but I preferred to hang out in my tent on the banks of the Eel River.

6.) I think and speak in bad song lyrics way too often. I also change them to fit the conversation. I've been told this is really annoying, and I'm sorry, but I can't help myself. I can also recite entire commercials from the 70's and 80's. Of course, all this pop culture trivia knowledge has crowded out any practical information my brain may have held.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Into the Blue Again, After the Money's Gone

Oh, what the hell. We only have a few days left, so I thought I'd take a little look back at the year 2006 through photos. I'm also going to attempt a miraculous feat here - I'm going to try to find something good in everything that happened. Wish me luck.
The year started out very mixed. In February, one of our kinda/sorta neighbors died. He was also a beloved history professor and father. It was sudden and awful and Coadster took it very hard. I'm not sure if I can find much good in that; but we also got our digital camera around the same time and could start documenting all the wonders of Iowa City. Okay, I realize I'm fudging on this very first one, but you try to find something positive in a really wonderful man dying.

T. S. Eliot wasn't kidding, April was by far the cruelest month. Our neighborhood was rocked by a tornado and to this day, it looks so stark without any trees. I've thought a lot about the good in this one and it's easy. No one in our town died or was injured. Seriously, nothing else- not even the money, the terror it created or incoveniences matter.

My summer was spent catching-up in every way imaginable. I had to juggle money and time and sanity. (and I had very little of that to mess with, as you well know) In the end, I feel that I did a lot of things half-assed, (sorry about how little time I spent in the garden, K.) but it was still all good enough and we actually had a lot of fun too.

In July, after too much wine, I decided it would be a great idea to ride the last day (50 miles) of RAGBRAI. I've been very careful about what I've agreed to ever since. It was hot, sweaty, my ass was sore for several weeks after, and though earlier in the week my friends rode with Lance Armstrong's entourage, I didn't see any sign of John Kerry on the road to Muscatine.
It was also crazy and fun and I am oh, so glad I did it. Would I do it again? Um, only if I had the proper bike and gear and enough water.

In August, the girls and I took a trip to Minneapolis to see one of my many friends named S. and get away from the tornado reconstruction that was still going on. After we got back, we found out that our toilet had been running the whole time we were gone and my water bill was almost $400 dollars. Apparently, I was supposed to learn some karmic lesson about finances this year, but I'm not sure what it was. Please don't rat me out to the universe, I don't want to have to keep losing money until I say "uncle" or "now, I finally get it."

The Fall came just as quickly as the Summer and I found myself caught-up in teenage hell. Stinky had her thirteenth birthday party that went all kinds of out of control and my treat bag from it contained many new gray hairs, a need for blood pressure meds, and a pronounced nervous tic. I also learned one of those difficult life lessons - no more teenage parties ever!

Finally, the year ended much better than it started. A couple of my family members let me borrow their copies of old family photos to scan. It has been so great. I'm still not quite through with that project, but I don't think it will go much further into 2007.
Now, I'm looking forward to the new year and hoping it's much safer, happier, less expensive and freer from natural disasters than 2006.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

And the Cat's in the Cradle and the Silver Spoon

Here's me a year before I had children and still had time to cultivate that early nineties hair...

It's day two of my girls being up in Wisconsin, and I can't even begin to tell you how much I miss them. Yes, it's nice to come home and not have to leave immediately in order to taxi teenagers for several hours, and I like being able to listen to my music, but I miss almost everything else. Worst of all, there is no one to blame when I trip over shoes in the middle of the living room - there's only one person who could have left them there. It all seems like a preview of what my life will be in a few short years when my girls up and leave me for good. But before I become a melancholy baby and start bumming your high too, I thought I'd write a short list of things that made me laugh today:

1.) I went to the mall and bought a bunch of stinky girlie bubble bath, along with a pair of big man boots.

2.) I saw a Myspace profile who's name was, "Scarborough Unfair".

3.) Somebody applied to school here and gave us this e-mail address - babymamadramaorama24-7.

4.) A person googled, "stinky boys butts" to get to my blog. While I understand that Bice likes to answer people's search engine inquiries, I was at a loss as to how to respond. Should I say, "yes" or "no"? Maybe I should just respond by writing, "and how".

...And here's me after my daughters became teenagers - I'm shoveling shit, making a goofy face and flipping off the whole world.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Lookin' for Food in All the Wrong Places

I found out at the last minute that I would have the girls for most of the day today. I was happy about it, but I didn't have anything planned for dinner and almost no food in my house. I've been letting it run out because the girls are leaving tomorrow until saturday, and I'm also broke.

The problem, of course, is that hardly anything is open on Christmas in my town. I drove around and found a couple of convenience stores and for some reason, Walgreens was open. With those two choices, I imagined our menu options to be either Slim Jims and Little Debbie snack cakes washed down with a 32 ounce Big Gulp, or cough drops and laxatives washed down with some Nyquil. I was thinking the latter might be more fun, but either way, we probably wouldn't feel very good about halfway through dinner.

So, I did what I always do when I need some good suggestions, or if I ever want to read a post where a man talks to his penis - I perused Neil's blog. Once there, my issue was instantly solved. In his post he wrote, "If you want me today, you can find me with the other Jews at your local Chinese restaurant, playing Mah Jongg with the restaurant staff." That was it. I called around to see if any Chinese restaurants were open, and luckily, our favorite one was serving like it was just another day. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated non-Christians today.

Then I got to wondering if I had ever had to work on Christmas day. There was at least one. In 1986, I was cooking at a ski resort in Big Bear Lake, California. I had to work a double shift on Christmas because everyone else except one other guy was at home ill. We were both sick too, but neither of us could afford to see a doctor, so we weren't able to procure a note excusing us. I'm sure we infected more than one B movie actor that day. I still have visions of Jan Michael Vincent, Cheech Marin, or Pam Dawber struck down with my particular strain of virus.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Have Yourself a Merry Little...

I'm using another one of A.'s photos from New Mexico. How kick-ass do those trees look?

I just got back from Ottumwa and my family Christmas. My nephew is now three and a half and finally getting a better understanding of the holiday.

Last year when he was two and half and impatient with how long Christmas mass was taking, my sister tried to remind him that we were there to celebrate Jesus. To which he replied, "I already have a baby Jesus at home."

This year, before we could sing happy birthday to my Uncle, my nephew made us sing to Jesus. Of course, he was kind enough to volunteer to blow out the candles. Boy, but how the kids learn to use Christmas to their own advantage earlier and earlier.

Now, I will take my leave to finish drinking my cranberry apple tea and watch The Family Stone. (my new favorite holiday movie) Tomorrow at 1:30 pm, I'll watch my old school favorite Christmas film, Meet Me in St Louis. I know, I know, I'm an old sorry sap.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Yeah, the Night's Not Over, You're Not Trying Hard Enough

My friend A. who lives in Texas just sent me some photos she took of her boys during their trip to New Mexico. The top one was at White Sands and the bottom one was from the UFO museum in Roswell. These pics, of course, have nothing to do with the rest of my post. I just think they're really cool.

Tonight I drove around a suburb of Iowa City with another friend of mine who's first initial is also A. We were trying to find a party at the house of our friend's girlfriend. The city planners of that particular suburb either do a lot of drugs or else have a cruel sense of humor. Almost all the brand new subdivisons looked identical and the streets had animal names. We were looking for Deer Road, but all we could find was Vixen Road. Even though we thought we'd have more fun hanging out with vixens, we really wanted to see our friend who was in town from Virginia.

We never did find his party, but it was a nice drive and when we got to A.'s house we were able to freak out her husband by sitting in her car in the driveway and talking, instead of going inside where it was warm like sane and normal people would do.

According to the clock on my computer, it is now Christmas Eve. I hope everyone gets safely to their destinations, and most importantly is actually able to find their way. Okay, happy, happy and my wish is that you all get what you want from this holiday. Personally, I would like world peace and some more time and money. Can you get any of that from a holiday?

Which One of These Things is Not Like the Other?

There is one person in this photo who isn't my sibling. Let's see if you can guess who it is:

1st kid - open mouthed spaz.

2nd kid - open mouthed spaz.

3rd kid - smirking spaz.

4th kid - completely stoic.

Yeah, that wasn't too tough, was it?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

As For Me and Grandpa, We Believe

So, here's my Christmas tree. I know, she's a leaner. I cut her down myself and I held her with one hand and screwed the little things in from the stand with the other. I'm not sure which of those facts is responsible for her wall dependency, but I love her anyway.

Neil of Citizen of the Month just held his Christmahanukwanzaakah concert and those bloggers who didn't wish to participate musically, were encouraged to send in photos of their holiday images. Almost all the other Christmas trees represented were so beautiful and coordinated and none of the other trees appeared to be propped up against anything. These other trees did not make me feel unworthy or lame, however. I think my messy, mismatched, leaning tree is just about a perfect representation of me and the girls.

Have you noticed? I seem to be on a holiday upswing. I've been trying to figure out why I've been so cranky lately and I think most of it is sleep deprivation. I get off work at 4:30, by the time I walk home it's 5. Tonight I drove my children and others around for almost two hours and then I still had to come home and make dinner. (notice how I didn't get a run in there anywhere) I guess what I'm trying to say, is that adding holiday preparation in that mix means that I need to get less than five hours of sleep a night if I want to get everything done.

Basically, I've decided not to worry about getting it all done. I never wanted to be like my Aunt who ruined every holiday by stressing out about them. So, I'm calming down about all the shit that may or may not get done. Because I'm sure when they're adults, my girls won't have any recollection of what a sty my living room was. Though, they may just remember that year they pooled their babysitting money together to buy their mom a prescription for Prozac for Christmas.

It will all be over in a couple of days anyway. We celebrate Christmas on the Eve and since their dad's birthday is on Christmas Day, the girls go there. On Tuesday, they will travel to Madison to hang with my brother's family until Saturday the 30th, and I will actually have a few days to myself. What that means for all of you, is that I want book suggestions. Yes, I will actually have time to read something other than blogs and I want you to tell me something you've read that you think I'll love. 'Kay? 'Kay. Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's Okay, It's Alright, Nothing's Wrong

Today is the fourth anniversary of when the girls and I moved into our current digs. Before that, we lived with my ex-boyfriend who had become increasingly controlling and angry in general. Unfortunately for me, I had been in abusive relationships before, (beginning with my leagal guardians) and I was smart enough to get the hell out, before things escalated the way they most certainly would. I had people and trucks all lined up, but my Ex decided he wasn't going to let anyone else move me, and I knew it would just be easier to let him have his way one last time, than to expose myself or anyone else to his rage.

As you can probably guess, the moving process was horrible. Not only did my Ex make me lift extremely heavy objects into his truck by myself, he also screamed at me for loading his truck incorrectly. By the time it was all over, I was so physically and emotionally exhausted, that my body could only respond by giving me a blinding three day migraine.

I have vowed never to expose myself or my daughters to that kind of bullshit again. Since that day, I've read a lot about abusive men and I can spot the warning signs a mile away. I'm sure I'm probably way too cautious when it comes to dating, but that's just because I'm very aware that there are plenty of things in this world worse than being single. I feel really good about how hard I've worked and how much I've learned in the last four years. Not to get all earnest on you guys or anything, but I'm still getting used to being able to like myself and every once in a while it's good to remind myself how far I've come.

Okay, now I'm done with the Lifetime Channel portion of this post, does anyone want to talk about snotting on fish or how scary it would be to date Rush Limbaugh?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

You Will Be Saved at Any Cost

Here is a picture of my mom during WW II.

I thought I'd try to do things a little differently than last night - I was thinking I might actually work on making sense today. I've been feeling a little better about the holidays for several reasons, and since I'm working on my organizational skills, I figured I'd start by composing a list of all the things that are making me feel more festive:

1.) I finally did some Christmas shopping this weekend. I've been waiting to see if I would somehow come across more money, and since I didn't stumble over a wayward trust fund in the last week, I had to go to the mall with what I had. Hopefully, I'll be completely done by tomorrow evening.

2.) I'm still mixing my cheesy holiday fare with rock and PBR. On Friday night I went to see my friend's band play. Before I got a migraine and had to leave early, I had a really good time talking about such wholesome things as stray pubic hairs showing up in restaurants, and how people snot all over the fish in Alaska because it's cold when they're cleaning it and maybe it's not all sea water that makes fish salty.

3.) I went to some family oriented holiday parties on Saturday night. At the first one, Stinky's friend's mom got drunk and started dancing with anyone she could find. Needless to say, her daughter was horrified. At the second one, we were all laughing about how my neighbor called one of her daughter's friend's a smart-ass. For once in my life, I wasn't the most inappropriate or embarrassing parent in town.

4.) I have awesome friends. On Monday night I went out with some of my girlfriends to celebrate Ondine's triumphant two week return. When we ran into Mr Rejectorman, Ondine said, "I never liked him."

My friend T. said, "Oh, I was thinking he was someone completely different. That guy is all wrong for you. He looks like he's sixty years old." It's so nice to know my girls have my back.

5.) Stinky has been kissing my ass all over the place since our Sunday afternoon drama. Sometimes it's reassuring to see that my thirteen year old actually does have a conscience.

6.) The end is neigh. For the last month or so, I have been so busy that I couldn't imagine things ever slowing down. But that should happen after Thursday evening. First we'll all pile in the car and use up some unreneweable resources to drive around and look at other people wasting precious energy to light their neighborhood with Christmas joy. I feel so American when we do that, because here in this country, we like to celebrate our holidays by consuming as much as possible. Starting Friday, I should be able to relax for maybe even an entire week.

7.) I have a few days left to scan many, many old photos. I'm kind of excited to have them all in my bank. It's been a really fun project while it lasted.

8.) I've been hearing Christmas music done by more indie artists lately. Did you know that The Dandy Warhol's, Reverend Horton Heat, The Pogues and Tenacious D have all cut Christmas tracks? I keep waiting for Slayer to bless us with their Christmas contribution. I wonder which classic they would choose to make their stamp on? I was thinking they might do a kick-ass job of changing a certain classic to, "Let it Bleed, Let it Bleed, Let it Bleed".

Never Saw the Devil Look So Damn Clean

I'm going to make this quick because I already wrote an entire post, and Blogger closed down for no apparent reason. So, now I've had two beers that have done nothing to make me drunk, and everything to make me tired and stupid, it's after midnight, and I can't remember what all I just wrote.

Sometimes when all you're writing is bullshit anyway, having to recall it and write it twice, just highlights the ridiculousness of it. It's like being at a bar and trying to tell your friend which one of your mutual acquaintances has herpes, and the band is so loud, your friend can't hear. So, you repeat it, and as you're screaming, "Jenny Jones has the hoips!" the song ends and you're left feeling embarrassed and catty.

All I was going to say, was that lately I've been smelling like my ex-boyfriend. Out of nowhere, I'll catch a whiff of myself, and it's the exact same odor as my ex. (which isn't at all bad)

The other day, I finally figured it out. Last week my neighbor came by and dropped off her old laundry detergent. She got a front loader and it required some very specific kind of soap. So, apparently my ex-boyfriend washed his clothes using All. The things you find out about a guy ten years after you date him...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

It's Getting to the Point Where I'm No Fun Anymore

I am ever so weary and now I'm going to tell you exactly why. I did something that I don't recommend anyone do unless they are feeling mentally, emotionally and physically very, very strong - I got into a struggle of wills with a thirteen year old girl that lasted almost the whole damn day. Yeah, I know you're all admiring my bravery, but if I have to engage in another battle royale tomorrow, I'm sure I'll crack.

As those things go, it was all over something as ridiculous as making a certain slobby girl clean her damn room. It wasn't like I wanted it spotless, I just wanted it so that I didn't need to get a tetanus shot in order to walk through her room and kiss her goodnight. Stinky told me she didn't feel like it, so I laid it out for her; If she did her chores, she got cash, and if she didn't she got grounded. I gave her until the end of the day. She wasn't allowed to watch TV, get on the computer, hang out with her friends, go with me and Coadster to the mall or talk on the phone until it was done. So, for the first couple of hours, she colored in her Mythical Beasts coloring book. I went into her room and told her what she stood to lose if her room wasn't clean by the end of the day. She would be grounded for the rest of the week and if it wasn't done by the end of the day on Monday, she wouldn't be able to have her friends over for a New Year's Eve party. She said, "Whatever." and continued coloring.

I went running and when I came back, I found out she had jumped on the computer during my absence. She was then grounded for a week and on top of that, if she didn't clean her room, she would have to stay at her Dad's house for the next week where there are no snacks and almost nothing to do. During this conversation she said, "Whatever" about five times. When I asked her to quit saying that word, she switched to smugly saying, "Okay".

By three o'clock, Coadster and I got ready to go to the mall. As we drove away, I saw Stinky peek through the blinds to make sure we were gone. I quickly drove around the block and parked the car on the street and came back into the house. She had been dialing the phone, but threw it on the couch when she heard me enter.

Me: That's it. Are you going to do your chores or not?

Her: I don't know. I haven't decided yet.

Me: Well, decide right now. If you're not going to do them, I'm taking you over to your Dad's so he can make sure you don't do any of the things you're grounded from. If you're going to do your chores, you can stay here so you can finish them.

Her: I guess I could make an effort to try to get something done...

Me: No. You're not doing me any favors by doing your chores, those are your responsibilities. So, you either tell me you're doing your chores or not. You know how much I hate being a hard-ass. I really don't want to make you miss your party, but if you don't get your work done, you also know that I'm going to stick to what I said.

Her: It's just so boring and I don't care what my room looks like, so I don't see why I have to clean it.

Me: If you never do anything you find boring, you'll never work a job and I'm sure you won't care how tidy your space under the railroad bridge is either, but there won't be any place to store all your shoes there. Plus, if you don't do your share of the work around here, then I become your maid and you'll start having huge entitlement issues and nobody will want to hang out with you. So, we're not having all this conflict because I think it's a lot of fun; it's to make sure you grow-up to be a functional, compassionate adult with at least a little bit of a work ethic.

Her: Okay, okay. I'll clean my room and vacuum the living room.

Coadster and I went to the mall and Stinky's room was clean by the time we came back and not only was the living room vacuumed, she actually used the attachments to get behind the Christmas tree. It was so annoying that we had to go through all day drama for less than an hour's worth of work. The good thing about having two children, is that I've already gone through this stage with Coady, and I'm getting better at sticking to my guns and not screeching the way I'd really like to. It also blows me away that after living with me for thirteen years, they still think they can out-stubborn me. Silly teenage girls.

Here is a list of seven things I'd rather do than get into a battle of wills with a thirteen year old girl:

1.) Go to a crowded mall the weekend before Christmas.

2.) Eat a lardsicle.

3.) Get my eyeballs pierced.

4.) Have Baptists who don't know me come to my door after a tornado hits my house, and tell me it's my fault for all the sinning I've been doing.

5.) Go on a date with Rush Limbaugh.

6.) Drink hotdog water.

7.) Have a heart to heart talk with either K. Fed or Paris Hilton.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Love is Like Oxygen

Yesterday, Margaret listed me as one of her blog crushes. She even called me her fantasy girlfriend. It was just the kind of props I needed on a cranky Friday afternoon. It's even better, because I feel the same way about her.

Since I'm feeling the love today, I thought I'd combine that sentiment with my ongoing scannning of old photos project and put up pictures of my parents wedding in 1958:

I have a lot more wedding photos than I'm putting on here and when S. was visiting, we looked at all of them. We both thought that the best part of the photos were the people in the background. If you look right behind my mom, it appears that James Dean may have even attended their wedding.

Here is my aunt helping my mom get ready for the ceremony. I think this was taken at the church. The reception was held at my grandparent's house.

This is my favorite photo. My grandfather is helping my mom into the getaway car.

Here are two of my uncles vandalizing my parent's car. My folks grew up a block away from each other on the Southside of Chicago. My dad was a year younger than my mom, so they didn't really notice each other until my dad came back from Germany where he was stationed during the Korean War and my mom got back from all of her adeventures in Mexico and South America. I bet it makes it easier to get along when both families have known each since they were born.

Here are my parents officially hitched. My sister likes to blame every physical flaw we have on my dad. Since he's not around to defend himself, he's an easy scapegoat. I think every family should have one.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas is Just Alright With Me

I needed to look at pretty flowers tonight.

I don't know if you were reading my old blog last year, but back then I wrote this post about how I was right with Christmas now that I was older, and last year I really was. This year has been a little different - I'm just not feeling it.

Yes, this weekend was fun. On Sunday S. went with me and the girls to cut down our tree and then we went to see a cheesy girl movie like we normally do over the holidays and it was all very sweet and nice. When I got home and went to put up the tree, I couldn't find the stand for it. I ripped everything out of my scary walk-in closet, but to no avail. Then Coadster reminded me that I had put it in the shed. I slipped some shoes on and was about to go out, when she said, "No, Mom. You put it in the shed last year." Which meant that it, along with the side mirror on my car was probably somewhere in Hickory Hill Park. So, now seven months after the tornado, I'm still being reminded of how bad it sucked.

On Monday I came home from work to find a Christmas card from some of my neighbors who live on Hotz Street. Inside it, they had included a little Christmas letter. The letter detailed their year - how they still didn't have their garage fixed after the storm and how their cat was diagnosed with diabetes and how their dog (which was like a child to them) had died of leukemia. I have to say, it was a refreshing change from those ones you get where people go on and on about how their kids are geniuses and their husbands are amazing and they work forty hours a week and volunteer at a homeless shelter and then go out and milk their own cows and churn their own butter and I keep waiting for next year's letter to be sent from the psych ward where they are finally getting the meds they need to calm their manic episodes.

While my neighbors' letter was a little depressing, I was right there with them. This has been a particularly sucky year for me and many of the people who live around me. There have been so many deaths and disappointments and I'm personally trying to financially dig out after the tornado. It's no wonder that I'm not totally into the holiday spirit this year.

I'm not writing this to try to ruin everyone else's good cheer either. I'm just saying that if I'm not quite perky and happy and bursting with love, (because I know you've all come to expect that from me) you now know why. When I was younger, I used to think that whatever didn't kill me, made me more bitter. But this time, I've actually been feeling kind of hopeful that next year has got to be better. I've never heard of anyone getting hit by a tornado twice in two years. I keep threatening to buy a lotto ticket - maybe I'll do that this weekend.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I'm Taking What They're Givin' Cuz I'm Working For a Livin'

Here is a picture of a train.

Another night where I'm only capable of random thoughts:

1.) I think Blogger, as my brother-in-law says, is eight-tracking me. I haven't switched to Beta yet, because change is bad and I suck at computer-y things. I know others who had problems with their templates during the transition and I really don't need any new frustrations in my life right now. Lately, though, Blogger hasn't been letting me comment on many Beta blogs, so I guess this weekend, I'll have to invite a completely new and different frustration into my life and finally switch over. If I haven't been commenting on your blog and you have Beta, I'm sorry, but now you know why.

2.) I've been very busy and stressed out about not having any time or money. Then tonight, I fuck with myself even more by burning a pan of brown rice and spilling half a box of cereal all over the kitchen floor. So, now I have even less time and money and I'm feeling really guilty about wasting food. That'll learn me.

3.) My work Christmas party is tomorrow. In the past we were given the option to attend, or take off for two hours. Since I spend way more time with my co-workers than my family or by myself, I have always chosen to walk home and wash dishes and hang-out by myself while the girls were at school. Sadly, an hour alone to clean is many a single mom's fantasy. This year, I was informed that the party was not optional. Whatever. We're also supposed to bring a potluck item, and since I've been busy wasting my food and making new messes to clean-up, I don't have the energy or inclination to cook for a party I don't want to attend anyway. My boss told me I didn't have to bring anything, I just had to go. This is just the kind of thing that sends my self-diagnosed Oppositional Defiance Disorder spiraling out of control.

4.) This weekend while my friend S. was in town, she thought we should take some time to find me a new imaginary boyfriend. I was open to it, because when it isn't pathetic and sad, it can sometimes be fun to have a crush on someone. We didn't have much luck this weekend, but my eyes are still open. This time, instead of crushing out on someone I feel I would actually be compatible with, I've decided to go completely the other way. I just think the rejection will be easier to stomach if it's by someone way younger, hotter and completely wrong for me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Aquanetta, Bo Baquanetta Fanna Fo Faquanetta Fee Fi Mo Maquanetta, Aquanetta!

Another photo from beautiful downtown Tipton.

Where I work, I see a lot of names. I'm not going to tell you what my job is on here. Let's just say I'm doing god's work, so I'm everywhere and then again, nowhere at all. Yeah, anyway, as I come across all these names, I have to wonder what the hell people are thinking when they name their children. I understand that you can't help what your last name is, but if it were really bad, wouldn't you have it legally changed? I know I've done posts about weird names before, but I came across some recently, and I thought I'd move beyond Assman, Slutsky and Misty Bush and share a few more with you.

Last names: Just this week I came across two fun ones. The first was a guy with the last name of Munch. Would you really want to be forever known as Mr. Munch? If you were a man, perhaps you would. It might make you very popular with the ladies.

The second awesome last name was Lustenberger. That guy could easily be a character in a romance novel..."Jezebel Slutsky touched her heaving bosom as she fantasized about Mr. Lustenberger's throbbing manhood."

First names: Here are two I've seen recently that you should definitely not name your sons. Adonis and Casanova - you can be certain with those monikers to live up to, your sons would have to be the nerdiest, most unattractive and unluckiest in love, men alive. It's like laying a curse upon your boy's head right at birth.

If you have a girl, promise me you won't name her Aquanetta. I swear to god this is someone's actual name and I would put money down that she will grow-up and kill her parents at the height of her out of control meth addiction.

Oh, and if you have twins, rhyming or similar names can be cute, but calling them Tiffany and Taffany is wrong and bad.

First and Middle Names That Correlate: I'm not sure of the thinking here. When you name your daughter, Farrah Fawcett Smith, do you want her to turn out like a certain seventies actress with great hair, or are you just out of your fucking mind? The other priceless correlating first and middle name I found this week was; first name, Tammy and middle name Wynette.

That's all I got tonight. I will go forth and do more of the lord's work - researching names to make fun of.

Monday, December 11, 2006

It's Seven O'Clock and I Want to Rock, Want to Get a Belly Full of Beer

This photo has nothing to do with my post. I just wanted to see a pig walking around at the State Fair right now for some reason.

I have to say, today was a little more taxing than most Monday's. My sleep schedule is all off from staying up too late on Saturday night, and last night I couldn't get to sleep until after 2 a.m. Was it worth screwing up a day or two during the week for one night of fun? Yes, I believe it was.

After we got back from the concert and took pictures of Coadster and her ever-popular jazz hands, she went back for her evening performance, Stinky went to a movie with some friends, and S. and I went to eat at the Hamburg Inn. Because I have no tolerance for alcohol, it's very important that I drink on a very full stomach.

I love it when ex-Iowa Citian's come back to visit, because then I go to places I don't normally frequent any more. After The Hamburg, we walked over to the Deadwood to drink a pint of Leinenkugel or two. I haven't been in there in about a year. The good and bad thing about this town, is that there were still people I knew hanging out. Some of them have been drinking there since I was eighteen and clutching my fake ID with both hands, lest someone try to snatch it away from me.

The show at The Picador was so much fun. S. is just as much of a spaz as I am and when we go out, we're twelve years old all over again. S, got her bearings about her right away by identifying some of the Iowa City action figures. (as my friend Kyle likes to refer to the most eccentric and identifiable townies) "Hey, there's that one surly guy who works at the Co-op - the one who scares everyone away from his line by harping at them to become a member," She said. "Oh, and there's that guy who looks like Trotsky. I remember him. Let's stalk him."

Don't worry, when S. said stalk, she just meant, be weird and keep tabs on him. Like, if one of us came back from the bathroom, the other might ask, "Hey, have you seen Trotsky lately? Do you think he took off already?" and the other of us would reply, "No. I just saw him back by the bar, chatting up some hipster chick." It was just something to do in between sets.

Spying on Trotsky was probably way less obnoxious than our little daring game. Once I get a beer or two in me, I like to dare people to do all kinds of stupid shit. Since S. doesn't live here and probably won't ever see any of those people again, she was up for almost anything. I got her to touch a woman's hair, (it was all twisted in this cool bun thing and was just begging to be touched) and pet the fur that lined the hood of a man's jacket. We both stopped short on S.'s last dare. She wanted me to run up and jump on the stage in the middle of one of Ed Gray's songs and do some of the show choir moves we learned from Coadster. I thought it would be even funnier if she did it. In the end, neither one of us had the guts. Apparently, we both do have a little shame - who knew?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sing for the Laughter and Sing for the Tears

I'm totally exhausted. My friend S. just took off and now I need a a day or two to recover from my weekend. I've always been a big fan of the blending of sweet and salty and this weekend was a perfect combination of the two. We partook in plenty of the fun/cheesy holiday fare and then washed it down with a trip to the Picador, (the bar formerly known as Gabes) to see my friend Ed Gray play music and drink some PBR. How classy is that?

Saturday afternoon, S. and I attended Coadster's show choir performance and it turned out to be quite a spectacle. It wasn't just the choirs performing, it was a whole winter music celebration. There was a jazz band, skit introductions and some of the upper classmen sang songs with assorted forms of accompaniment. For the most part, is was a big cheese fest, but if you ever have to witness a cheese fest, make sure you bring my friend S. with you.

She was a perfect, private announcer. When one of the girls came clumsily, tromping, tripping and almost falling on her face across the stage, S. leaned over to me and whispered, "New shoes". And after two sisters sat on stools and did a duet of the song "Believe" from the movie, The Polar Express, (a film I've only been able to watch once, because an animated Steven Tyler is scarier than any clown, as far as I'm concerned) S. said, "I've never had a sister or anything, but if I did, I can't imagine I'd be too comfortable gazing into her eyes and then holding her hand in front of all my high school peers." I was forced to concur.

Once Coadster's show choir took the stage, we both quietly watched the performance. I got a little sappy and teary eyed (which S. totally called me on) after Coadster nailed her solo in the second song.

Afterward, Coadster was kind enough to wave her happy hands so I could take action shots while she was still in costume. I think it's important to capture the full effect of the sequined, turquoisey, goodness.

I promise that after this, I'll give the show choir posts a rest. I understand that not everyone is as amused by the concept of competive show choir as I am. But if you had to see Aerosmith's, "Dream On" performed by a bunch of Iowa teenagers copiously flashing jazz hands, you might just feel the need to vent about it too.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Too Proud to be a Queen

Tonight was the first Friday night in months that we were all home at the same time. It was a good night to rest up, because most of this weekend should be insane. One of my many friends named S. is coming to town from Chicago tomorrow and I'm so excited. Coadster also has two show choir performances to give, so there was much preparation for that tonight as well.

I swear my daughters are going to make a girl out of me yet. I had to learn the finer points of a little thing called show choir hair. The process was very lengthy and required much paraphernalia and product. Here's the recipe: First take most of the hair and clip it on top of a show choir girl's head. Next, make weird fake-curlers out of Kleenex by rolling them. Then roll and tie little bits of hair while combing water and then gel into strange knots in several rows on top of the show choir girl's head. Once all the rows are made, take a can of hairspray and apply to the strange head knots while at the same time, blowing huge holes in the ozone layer all by yourself. Once the hair is basically shellacked, tie a bandana around the whole mess and look just like my friend's mom's did in the early seventies driving their huge station wagons to the store.

Don't worry, I'll be sure to take tons of pictures of Coadster in full sequined, make-upped, show choir regalia and post them for you all to see the final product.

On her Friday night staying in, Stinky decided to indulge in one her favorite pastimes - taking funky looking self-portraits. For this series, Stinky painted a blue heart over one of her eyes and liberally applied dark dramatic lipstick. She looked like she should be auditioning for a KISS cover band. The top photo she took through this pink mesh hanging thing she uses to store her shoes.

In this one, she looks like she could be in a 1960's B horror film. Which, of course, is why I like it.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It's Gettin' Kinda Long

This is a view of the garden underneath the fire escape at work during warmer times.

Originally, I thought I might have to stay home with a sick Stinky girl, but she woke up feeling a little better and went to school after all. Here is a list of things that I wouldn't have experienced (both good and bad) had I stayed home.

1.) I saw a dead raven upside down on the ground, with it's wings outspread and frozen stiff.

2.) I saw a man staggering across the street toward St Mary's church clutching his brown paper bag wrapped forty at 8 am. It was even more depressing than the time a bird shit on my head on my way to work.

3.) A guy about a year younger than me called and wondered why he couldn't transfer here. I told him he didn't meet our grade point standards. He had a 1.5 and still wanted to argue the point with me. I had to struggle really hard not to point out that he was almost forty years old and the most prominent word in his e-mail address was "reefer". I also didn't suggest that he take this incident as a really good reason to do a little self-reflection and think about making some positive changes in his life. (i.e. wean himself off the reefer a little bit) Sometimes, I'm amazed at my own restraint.

4.) Almost everyone I work with is over fifty and so sometimes we have a little generation gap - like when they all start talking about where they were when JFK died and I always have to say, "I was a gleam in my dad's eye." Well, today they were all talking about who might want to borrow the Jimmy Buffett Christmas CD one of my co-workers brought into work and I had to try to explain all the many issues I had with Jimmy Buffett. Mostly, my problem with him is all the creepy baby boomer guys with big hairy pot-bellies, covered in Hawaiian shirts, sporting a balding pate on top and a scraggly ponytail in the back.

The new guy in my office said, "So, what you're saying is, you have problems with guys like me?" I told him he didn't have the weird little ponytail in the back of his head and he replied, "Yes, but that's not by my own choice." I told him that I liked his wife better and better everyday.

5.) After I got home tonight, I was tired of looking exactly the same, day after day and decided to take a little action. That's right, I cut my hair and had my daughter straighten it for me.

You can just ignore how weird my mouth looks in this picture, and bask in the fact that you are the first people in the world to see me without curls. Weird, huh?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I'd Take You Down Honey If I Could

For once in my life, I can't think of much to say. Maybe it's because I've said way too much this week already. Mostly though, I think it's because both of my girls have the same bad cold I did and I've been putting all my energy into stressing out about them.

I stayed home with Coadster today since she had a fever and headache and horrible sore throat. I thought I was going to get all kinds of practical shit done, but instead I slept a lot. I must not be completely better, because I still feel like I could sleep even more. Stinky just called me from her dad's house and said she also had a fever and sore throat and headache, so it looks like I might be staying home again tomorrow. I'm sure I'll feel like getting practical things done around the house then.

I ran for the first time in over a week tonight. It's weird that I hadn't been missing it much. I'm usually not one to forget my addictions that easily. It's been nice having an extra hour in my day, and the idea of getting bundled up to to go outside and sweat, has seemed so absurd lately.

Tonight though, I was getting a little itchy. I just ran my four mile route, so it wasn't too taxing and it felt really, really good. Even though snow was hitting me in the face and the winds were a bit harsh, it still felt good...Okay, after the second mile when the endorphins kicked in, then it felt good. I'm also now experiencing the secondary benefit of the mood enhancement that comes after a run and so I'm sitting here thinking about puppies, and unicorns, and rainbows and angels. It's enough to make me want to hunt down some cheap tequilia so I can drink it and get mean and hate the world like I'm used to doing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Makin' Their Way, The Only Way They Know How

So, yeah... Ahem. You'll be happy to know that I'm extremely sober right now. I'd love to say that the drunken post will never happen again, but if you've been following this blog for any length of time, you'd know I was lying.

I've decided to move on and maybe work on fostering that thing I've been having with HBO. You know, he really isn't that bad. Like they always do, our relationship started out all hot and heavy. I inhaled the whole last season of The Sopranos in the first few weeks of our honeymoon phase. Except for the first couple of episodes with the annoying, continuing dream sequence, I was so passionate about the show, that I had a hard time doing or thinking about anything else. The mix of violence, money and all that creative swearing in New Jersey accents, was intoxicating.

But as those things go, I finished watching The Sopranos, our fervor cooled to a reasonable level and we got to the stage where I felt like I needed intellectual stimulation from HBO as well. At first, I was nervous that all we had was passion, passion, passion and I would be bored when it died down, but he really surprised me. I sat down with him and watched Mrs. Harris, a made for HBO film about the lives of the Scarsdale Diet doctor guy and the mistress who murdered him and I thought it very well done. Both Ben Kinglsey and Annette Benning were awesome. So far, HBO has detailed such unhealthy and unattractive male/female interactions, that I'm not even tempted to pursue a relationship with a real, living, breathing man - it's much safer this way.

After Mrs. Harris, HBO and I ran into a snag when he exposed my daughters to The Dukes of Hazzard movie. Imagine my dismay when not just one, but both girls told me they loved that slimy piece of cinematic cheese. Wha? HBO probably would have killed less of their brains cells had he introduced them to the joys of ingesting whippets of nitrous instead.

We were able to work it all out in the end. HBO promised to take The Dukes of Hazzard off of OnDemand and then turned the passion back up on our relationship, by introducing me to The Band of Brothers series. The special effects are amazing, and it does a good job of detailing that whole military concept of throwing a bunch of strangers from wildly different backgrounds together into a platoon and making them responsible for each others lives. I'm sure it makes me a sucker, but I thought Band of Brothers totally made up for The Dukes of Hazzard.

I'm not sure how or when my relationship will end, but as far as imaginary boyfriends go, HBO will do just fine for right now.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Dreamed I Was an Eskimo, Frozen Wind Began to Blow

Here is a picture of that closed down diner/campground I took on Labor Day in Cedar County.

After a weekend of lying around watching movies and sleeping and watching more movies, I finally feel like I've turned the corner on my illness. I think I may have even gone an entire hour without coughing.

I'm sure my girls look at my recovery as both a blessing and a curse. Now that I'm better, I can start driving them around to all the places they want to go, but I also remember to get on them about doing their chores. Stinky in particular, had to clean the crap out of her room. She spent hours in there today and when she was done, she had not only cleaned her room but totally rearranged it. Then she decided to decorate for the holidays. She got into my box of Christmas decorations and put up every strand of lights she could find all over her shelves and window sills. It seriously looks like Las Vegas in there right now. I'm afraid I'm going to have a seizure when I go to tuck her in tonight.

Speaking of the holidays, I know what both of the girls are getting me for Christmas. I always insist that they make my gift and since they both need my help, it's impossible to keep their gifts a secret from me. Stinky has a canvas all picked out, she's collecting reprints of all the old black and white photos I took of the girls over the years to make a collage and she's going to use the different colored ink I have to wash color over them. I'm excited to see how it turns out. Coadster is doing a similar project - she's making a DVD of herself reading some of her favorite poets and some of my favorite poets, with old photos and music in the background. I'm curious to see what kind of music she chooses. This week she's been listening to a lot of Sly and the Family Stone, so that could actually be kind of cool.

Promise you won't slap me, but I've been kind of wishing for a snowstorm. A big one. The kind that comes down in huge flakes and makes perfect snowballs. I want it to take over and slow everything down and insulate the cold hard concrete so the whole world seems like a Hollywood soundstage and you can hear your voice echo off the walls of all the buildings. Is that so wrong?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

You See, Ya Can't Please Everyone, So You Got to Please Yourself

God, I love those old dresses, and check it out, my mom's even wearing gloves.

Oh kids, I keep feeling like I'm letting you down. I'm still sick and dumber than ever, so I've decided to rely on my new favorite crutch - that's right, more retro photos. My old favorite crutch was alcohol and abusive men, so I feel like I'm making progress here.

I was supposed to go out with my friend G. to celebrate the birthday of this guy who works at Dirty John's Grocery and used to work at Gabes, but I'm on day eight of this annoying cold and so I had to lame-out at the last minute. I'm sad because I haven't seen my friend G. in forever. She truly is the world's best salty broad and I love that about her.

So, since I've grounded myself, I thought I'd throw a pretend cocktail party on my blog. You know, the old fashioned kind from the late fifties, where all the women had on funky hats and the men wore suits, and everyone (even the kids, apparently) had a cocktail in hand.

Most of these are of Irish people from the Southside of Chicago, so you know they can drink. I love it that I even have a picture of my grandma tying one on.

The back of this one says it was taken at my Uncle Peter and Aunt Liz's wedding in 1957, so my parents wouldn't get married for another year yet. My mom would have been twenty-five back then. Isn't it weird sometimes to think of your folks being so young and newly dating? It's almost like they were real people and not just your parents who weren't allowed to have lives outside of your existence.

This concludes my blogtail party. Now, go smoke yourself a Lucky Strike, and drive home drunk in your '57 Chevy.