Thursday, November 30, 2006

I've Thought About Us for a Long, Long Time

Hello, pretty flowers. It sure is nice to see you.

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo where I pledged to post every day in November and that's exactly what I did, goddamnit. I usually try to post every day anyway, but with my cold this week, I've been really challenged to even hold a thought, let alone write it down and then try to make sense of it. So, after tonight, it's over and I will still try to post daily, but now I can take a sick day once in a while too. Uh, let's see...I got off work early to attend Stinky's last swim meet. I was so out of it from my cold and so I tried to stand off to the side where I couldn't infect anyone with my germs or my stupidity. Then I'd see people, like this guy, Judd who I went to high school with and he must have thought I had brain damage when he talked to me. I'm sure he walked away thinking, "Hmm. I don't remember her being retarded in high school..."

I also kept seeing people who looked really familiar, and I couldn't remember their names, but then I would suddenly think, "That's the large black coffee to go guy," or that's the "small iced tea with lemon and lots of ice," lady. Now I'm really worried that when I start to go all senile, I won't be able to remember my daughters' names, but I will constantly mumble coffee orders and daily specials from all my food service jobs. Is this how waiters and bartenders experience hell?

Oh, wait. I was going to end this, but I do have one last thought. What is it with Iowan's when it turns winter, anyway? It's like we forget every year and the minute there's talk of any snow, all anyone can do is relate the latest grossly over-exaggerated prediction. All I heard at the damn swim meet were converstations where people said, "Well, we're going to head back to Cedar Rapids as soon as we can. They're talking five inches." Or, "We thought we'd go over to the Hy-Vee and and stock up just in case this blizzard hits as hard as they say it's gonna." When I got home, I checked the weather and there is a chance of snow, but the big stuff is all supposed to fall East of us. I've also lived in Iowa long enough to know that fronts move, and we could get hit as well, but I think it's funny how dramatic everyone gets about imginary blizzards. Maybe if we had real crime in town, we wouldn't have to work so hard at creating our dramas.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Be Careful as You Pass, Move Along, Move Along

I took this a few years ago when the girls had attitudes, but not quite ATTITUDES.

When you have a thirteen year old and a fourteen year old living in your house at the same time, you can definitely have your bad days. Last Sunday, the girls came home from their dad's house and were at each other the minute they walked in the door. They fought about who would get on the computer first, and since Coadster lost that battle, she sat on the floor next to Stinky and made disparaging remarks and kept saying, "Are you done yet? How about now? Are you done now? Jeez, you are so spoiled. You get whatever you want." And when I tried to assure Coadster that it was Stinky's turn fair and square, I had to hear barely audible back talk under her breath.

"What did you say?" I asked.

"Nothing. God. Just forget it."

"Seriously. You have to knock that off or you're going to your room. It's disrespectful and I don't deserve it."

"What? I just said hummalahummala rasenfrasenrittlerattin (and a few more things I couldn't make out). I can't say anything in this house without getting in trouble..."

"Okay, that's it. Go to your room and hate me there where I can't see or hear you. I asked you to knock it off and that attitude is apparently beyond your control, so you need to contain it in your room. I'm going running. When I come back and we've both had time to calm down, we can have a little chat."

"Fine," Coadster said and stomped off to her room. She didn't slam her door - she knew better. She did, however put on her Emerson Lake and Palmer CD, because she has to pick some of the most obscure old bands she can find and play them a few hundred times a day for a while until she moves onto the next one. Last year she was into The Zombies.

At the beginning of my run, I grumbled under my own breath about the situation and aggressively rolled my eys a few times, but once the endorphins kicked in, I was over it and realized that I only had three and a half years left before Coadster went off to college. For the rest of the run, I compiled a list in my head of all the things that will change once the girls are gone.

1.) I won't have anyone around to shake their heads and say, "Mom. No." before I leave the house wearing something truly ridiculous.

2.) No one will roll on the floor laughing when I do my mock show choir routines.

3.) I won't have an excuse to watch cheesy girly teen flicks.

4.) I won't have anyone to run with me at the rec building and wave or give the dorky thumbs-up sign every time either one of us passes the other.

5.) I won't have anyone to spend that pre-Christmas weekend with, shopping, (and putting up with my grouchiness about it) seeing a cheesy holiday movie, picking out decorations and finally going to a farm and cutting down the tree.

6.) I won't have two people who are just as into taking road trips as I am - including buying special, gross road food, helping me navigate and listening to the same lame-ass mixed tapes I made in the nineties.

7.) I will have to figure out how to pimp-out my Myspace profile by myself.

8.) I will be hard pressed to find anyone else as spazzy as I am who will get so excited about any matter of dumb stuff that they'll shake both fists in the air or do the cheerleader clap and say, "Yea, Yea, Yea!" with me.

9.) I'm sure I'll mutter to myself as I putz around the house even more than I do already.

10.) I've always said I might join the Peace Corps. once the girls turned eighteen, and I'd either have to do that and live uncomfortably for a couple of years or call myself a liar.

I had Coadster when I was twenty-six, so I've been a parent through most of my adult life. It's hard to know what the hell I'll do once both the girls turn eighteen...Maybe I'll become one of those scary cat ladies instead.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

If You're Going to San Francisco, You're Gonna Meet Some Gentle People There

Here are some trees in that park on the corner of S. Dodge and Walnut St. Do you know that park?

Originally, last week I was going to write an entry on the worst Thanksgiving I ever had, but then I got all those old photos, and it was so much easier to post them than to write a longer memory piece. Then I read this post, by I Love You in the Face, and it made me wish I had taken the time to write the post I had originally intended. So, even though it's almost a week late, I think I'll write my shitty Thanksgiving entry anyway.

For much of my late teens and early twenties, I was depressed and totally lost and damaged. At the time, I was too young to realize I was all those things - I just thought I was restless. I lived in San Francisco in 1986 when I was twenty-one. The Thanksgiving before, Neal and I had lived in Big Bear and spent our holiday holed up in our friend's cabin eating egg rolls and watching a Twilight Zone marathon on TV. That year I planned to work in a soup kitchen earlier in the day, and then meet Neal at his mom's house for his family dinner.

The soup kitchen was so much worse than I had pictured. I thought it would be good for me since I was close to being homeless myself anyway, and working there would also give me an excuse to spend less time with Neal's family. When I got there, one of the church preachers paired me with some pompous asshole guy who thought I would be impressed by all his nice things. He spent close to half an hour bitching about what a drag it was that San Francisco didn't get cold enough for him to be able to wear his fur coats. He spoke negatively of all the "bums" that were lined up and ready to eat. My first thought was, "what the hell are you doing here?" But then I figured it was probably some part of his community service after a coke bust. I was really tempted to ask him if the feds repossessed his DeLorean too, but I was twenty-one and still worried that he might think I was a bitch.

My shift lasted about two hours. One of the last men that came through the line before I left said, "It sure is nice of you rich white folks to come and feed us." It sounded more like a dig than a thank you. The pompous man puffed up even more, but I felt the need to explain myself to him.

"Oh, I'm not rich. In fact, I could just as easily be standing on that side of the line as this one."

The man laughed and said, "Sure you could, honey. Sure you could, " and walked away.

When I got to Neal's mom's house, I was already depressed. His family didn't approve of me. They thought I was nice and all, but they also pegged me for poor white trash and thought that Neal could do much, much better. I don't remember a lot about the dinner except that there was some variety show on TV with Pia Zadora and watching it was probably the best part of the day.

Even at dinner, Neal's mother and one of his sister's ignored me and would only speak directly to Neal. If I hadn't been so cowed, I probably would have wasted a lot of energy trying to explain myself to Neal's family too. Now that I'm old and crusty and happily so, it's hard for me to remember why I felt it so necessary to defend myself to a bunch of people who weren't worth it anyway. I'm pretty sure it was because I wasn't really sure who the hell I was, and I still had to be careful not to let other people define me by their words or actions.

I guess the good thing about that holiday was that I learned a valuable lesson. For years after, I hosted an orphan's Thanksgiving at my place where all my friends who were away from home or stuck without a pleasant family could come and drink and eat and hang out. I discovered it was so much better to make people come and live in my world, than for me to try and live in theirs.

Monday, November 27, 2006

You Can Plan a Pretty Picnic, but You Can't Predict the Weather

Soooo, how sick are you guys of all the old timey photo posts I've been doing lately? Yeah? Sorry, but I'm just going to have to call too fucking bad, and put up another one. It's only because I have so many pictures and I really have to get cracking on scanning them. Plus, I have no life and my only other option was a post that would have gone something like this:

The weather was unseasonably warm all day. Of course, the minute I got off work, it started raining and I wasn't able to go running. The girls went to their dad's house tonight, so after I finished picking one up from swimming and taking the other to show choir practice, I came home and had popcorn for dinner. I multi-tasked by eating it in the living room while watching Wife Swap and spilling my cherry Coke all over the couch.

Whew, it's a good thing I didn't post that, because letting the whole internets in on my Wife Swap addiction would have been really embarrassing.

Instead, I'm going to post some photos my mom sent her mom for Christmas around 1967 and I'll even add the text for good measure too, since I'm putting you through all this old photo viewing. Hey, at least these are seasonal...

Top photo text: S, Claus and Friend.

Billy was there too but he didn't trust old Santa very much so he stayed with Grandma and Aunt Merrilee. I kept Churlita* at home as I thought it might be just too much for her.

Second photo text: This was taken Christmas Eve at a neighbor of Maxine's.** He has a party for the neighbor children every year with Santa Claus as special guest. That's Jack*** at the left in the background and I think you know the young lady with Mr. Claus.

* See? I've always been easily overwhelmed, it's not just because I'm old.

**Maxine is my paternal grandmother who also lived in Arizona. My maternal grandma lived in Chicago.

*** Jack is my dad's older brother. I'm assuming the elderly couple are the Christmas party throwers.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I Came in Here for That Special Offer, a Guaranteed Personality

Really, today I'm only good for a "random thoughts" post - it's about as cohesive as I'm going to get. Let's begin, shall we?

1.) This picture right here? This happens to be one of my all time favorite family photos. We're like some weird, early seventies, straight, family version of The Village People. My Mom is all cute and put together as usual. (if you could see her hands, you would notice that her fingernail polish matches her light pink lipstick) My oldest sister, is doing her best to act like little miss normal girl, but don't believe it for a second. My brother is the monkey face guy, my sister Moira, is the First Holy Communion girl (you remember that member of The Village People, don't you?) and I am some kind of feral, dreadlocked, cowgirl. Just in case you were wondering, my cowgirl outfit was made from something akin to naugahyde and I wore it almost everyday in the summer, in Phoenix. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times, thank god these blogs aren't scratch and sniff.

2.) I had a migraine and a cold for my family shindig on Saturday. What my condition did, was take away my usual, overly defensive, passive/aggressive reaction to my family and replace it with a spaced-out, distracted response. I'll have to call my sister and ask her which one is more annoying.

3.) I can't let myself think about going back to work tomorrow, because right now the whole act of getting up at seven, putting on clothes, remembering to grab my lunch out of the freezer, walking to work and sitting in my cubicle from 8 - 4:30 seems impossible. Aren't I being just a tad dramatic here, you ask? No, I really don't think so.

4.) To any of you who have young children, I highly recommend taking as many photos as possible when you catch them dancing with such conviction. Someday, they will turn fourteen and you will need to return to these and seek solace in a time when they weren't too cool for the universe.

5.) Someone found my blog by googling "love and shit" and now I feel like a total asshole for not naming my blog that in the first place. It would be at least as accurate as "Churlish Figure".

Saturday, November 25, 2006

And I've Been Waiting Such a Long Time, for Today

My brother, one of my sisters and both of their families came into town to celebrate Christmas early at my house. It was a very mellow affair. I made soup and bought stuff for sandwiches and we all ate and exchanged gifts.

I can't afford to spend a bunch of money on presents, so I only buy for the kids. I don't normally receive gifts from other people and that's just as well, because I would feel very guilty if someone bought me something and I couldn't reciprocate. This year, however, my sister bought me a gift. She kept bringing it up, so I figured it must be something very funny to make her that proud of herself. Finally, we opened presents, and I got to see exactly what it was. Once I opened it, I knew why she was so pleased with herself. She and her husband bought me a DVD of everyone's favorite late seventies made for TV movie, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. I was super excited and it only cost .99 cents, so I didn't even have to feel guilty. Now, if they can only find me Sooner or Later, my DVD collection will be complete.

The other awesome thing my sister did for me, was to lend me all of her old family pictures to scan onto my computer. She ended up with a lot of the photos my mom sent my grandma, so there are little descriptions on the back of a lot of them. I think the text is almost as interesting as the images. So, as you've probably already guessed, I will be frequently posting my favorite found family photos in the next few months. I will definitely include the writing from the back when there is any.

The two I have on here today, are of my oldest sister when we still lived in Chicago - probably in the early sixties. At that point we lived somewhere close to Lincoln Park Zoo, I think. Of couse, I have no idea who this guy is, selling his paintings on the street. I like his shoes, though, and the fact that my sister's bag of Fritos only cost .05 cents.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Saturday, What a Day. Rockin' All Week With You.

Here I am in sixth grade with some of my cousins. I'm the one in pigtails and we are all wearing our very best disco shirts - it must have been Christmas.

I think I mentioned once on this blog that I didn't have any pictures of myself in junior high and just a few from high school. Since puberty has never been particuarly kind to my family, I figured it was just as well. Now that my daughters are in junior high and high school, they have asked me about what clothes I wore when I was their age or if we watch a movie from the sevenites, they ask me if I looked like that back then.

So, in the interest of answering their questions, I borrowed some of the pictures my aunt had and scanned them on my computer. Tonight I'm going to show you a few of the photos I reclaimed.

The funny thing about looking at these after so long, is rectifying what they are with what I thought they were. I always imagined that I was one of the scariest looking kids in junior high. I had bad hair and bad skin and bad teeth and my perception at the time was that I was just plain fugly. Back then I couldn't get over the fact that my hair was never going to feather like Farrah's, my teeth were never going to be as clean or straight as Kristy McNichol's, and I would never have the perfect, smooth skin of Valerie Bertinelli. Now when I look at my junior high self, the first two words that come to mind are still "bad hair", but after that, I don't think I looked much dorkier than any of the other kids my age in 1977/78.

The other thing I love about these photos is the glimpse of Southside Chicago working class decor in the late seventies. Just check out this room - the couch is red and gold velveteen, the walls are well pannelled and the TV trays are handy, so that everyone can eat and watch Happy Days at the same time.

I don't want to belabor the point, but we never really got into the subject of clothes. Just in case this photos is too blurry for you to make it out, that lovely sweater I'm wearing, happens to be a cowl neck. Now, you can go suck on that for a while.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

And Ain't There a Child I Can Hold Without Judging?

Oh, I'm sure you know how it is. Let's just say that you drive down to Ottumwa to celebrate Thanksgiving with your family and when you first get there it's fine. You haven't seen many of your family members for a long time, and it's good to see them. There is a lot, and I mean tons, of good Midwestern home cooking.

There's also a new little kitten to play with in the garage.

But as the day wears on, you start to feel a little overwhelmed. And though you think you've found a quiet place to be alone and regroup, some annoying relative comes in and shoves a camera in your face.

By that point, you're just plain crabby and tired. But you're still finding room for more food and you want to help your family members celebrate their birthdays.

And though it isn't your birthday, you try really hard to put up a good front. You even offer to help your cousin open her gifts and blow out her candles with negative results. When everyone starts spazzing out just because you licked the top of the cake a couple of times, you finally reach your saturation point.

You are just ready to pack it in and call it a day. Yeah, it was fun for a while, but you're over it and there are certainly better holidays to look forward to- like Christmas and your own birthday.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

It's Time for the Good Times. Let's Forget About the Bad Times. Oh Yeah.

Here is some phallic cornucopia for your holiday.

Probably by the time you read this, it will be Thanksgiving. So, happy holiday and hug the closest Native American you can find - because it really should be their holiday afterall.

Me? I'm just happy for the shortened work week. Unfortunately, I packed a lot of crap into the three days. I think in this post, I'll examine the good and the bad of things lately.

Here is my list of things that make me go, FUCK!:

1.) I got home from work yesterday and found a disconnection notice on my door from the water people. We had spent so much time together in September, I thought we were close to becoming friends or family, but it turns out we're not. On further review, it appears that the water people are those snotty-ass girls in junior high who pretend to be your friend and then suddenly start talking all kinds of shit about you in an effort to make all the other junior high girls hate you.

I had to go down today to figure out why they were again asking me for almost $200 or they would shut my water off within the week. The woman told me I was two days late in paying my bill and that voided the payment plan we had set up and she was forced (although it killed her to do it) to ask for the amount due in full and to charge me a $20 fee for posting the disconnect notice. Her hands were tied, you see. I tried to explain to her that for the last two months, my bill was due on the twentieth and for some reason this bill was due two days earlier. She didn't care, because it says right there that if you are late in paying, the payment plans becomes null and void. I let her go on for a while with the "Blah, blah, blah. Beyond her control, blah blah." And I blank stared her and sighed excessively until I started hearing, "Blah, blah, blah. I guess I can just reinstate your payment plan, but you have to pay what's due this month right now and I suppose I can write off the $20 too..." Thank god, it's over. But I really can't emphasize enough how much I hate dealing with The Man.

2.) I had to go to the mall tonight. Three of my nieces have birthdays this week and a few of the relatives won't be coming back for Christmas. The mall was pretty empty, but there were still those people in the middle of the aisle that bug you about trying their stupid products. Stinky went with me and talked a lot about her friends and who was dating whom and who she had to call and break up with a boy for one of her friends so that they wouldn't get yelled at. Apparently, it's all very delicate and complicated. You would hate to just be straighforward or anything.

3.) I was immensely stupid at work today. The kind of stupid where you find yourself staring at the computer screen and wondering what you were doing and then when you try to focus, all you can do is obsess about what you're going to make for dinner. I'm expecting to be plastered all over the error report on Monday.

4.) I came to the sudden realization today that it has been almost exactly four years since I've dated.

Now, here is the list of things that make me go, YEA!:

1.) The weather is amazing. 60 fucking degrees outside. Can you stand it? I was too warm walking around in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans. I'm not sure if it's the kind of warmth caused by El Nino, or if it's scary global warming, melting ice caps while I jauntily tie my sweatshirt around my waist for the walk home from work.

2.) My boss' wife is about ready to have a baby and he has been in an awesome mood lately. He even sang me G 'n' R during the last cold November rain. Maybe he won't sweat that error report too hard on Monday...

3.) The students have been gone all week. Iowa City has seemed like a ghost town. You can even find parking downtown. Honestly, I don't think I viewed one Illinois license plate in the last few days. I was the only runner out tonight too. It was great to have the sidewalk all to myself.

4.) I came to the sudden realization today that it has been almost exactly four years since I've dated. I put this on both lists because I'm still 50/50 on whether this is good or bad. I suppose I better wait to date a little longer until I decide it should only live on the "bad things" list.

Okay, now run along and start masticating.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I Have to Celebrate You Baby. I Have to Praise You Like I Should.

Today I'm participating in a promotion hosted by Neil at Citizen of the Month. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, he has suggested we thank the first person who ever commented on our blogs. My very first post was just this picture and no text. Oh, how sweet and quiet those old posts were...Yeah, well don't start expecting that again. Churlita has found her voice and in keeping with the name, it is loud and boorish and inappropriate.

I originally posted this photo to see how it worked and because it was the only recent picture of all three of us at the time. It was from my fortieth birthday trip to the Black Hills in the summer of 2005. My friend K. wrote the first comment and it went like this,

"ya keep feedin' 'em, that's why them asses keep wrappin' themselves around ya...........hahahahaha. wait, that kinda makes me an ass." She so kindly flipped me shit on my blog for the first time because I used to bring her and her boyfriend all the leftovers from my house. I quickly received an e-mail from a male friend whose first name also begins with a K. assuring me that he wasn't the one who left that pervy comment. So, I got the double bonus of a comment which led to an e-mail. And goddamnit, I appreciated them both.

So, thanks to all the people who have been kind enough to comment since then. If I forget to tell you, just know that all your anecdotes, words of encouragement and smart-ass razzings are greatly appreciated.

Monday, November 20, 2006

All the Crazy People Couldn't Hold a Candle to You

Apparently, I'm not finished wowing you with Fall foliage shots.

I am doing a meme suggested at Jane's blog. I'm supposed to tell you five things you don't already know about me, but since I divulge about 9,000 things about myself to you everyday, I'm changing it to five things you may or may not already know about me. (and nowhere in the rules does it talk about whether you have to care about any of these things, so don't feel any pressure)

1.) When I get all excited, I make the rock/Texas Longhorns hands. It has been kind of embarrassing in the past when I've done it in front of people I don't know very well. I did it at the Mill during Ondine's going away party and one of her friends asked, "Did you just make rock hands?" Uh, why yes I did. How do you explain that uncontrolled action to someone you don't know very well?

2.) I don't like mushrooms. I may have briefly mentioned that I don't like foods that taste like dirt and I've even gone so far as to classify these foods into subspecies. (ie spicy foods that taste like dirt - radishes and nutty foods that taste like dirt - hazelnuts) Of course, mushrooms would fall into the category of slimy foods that taste like dirt.

3.) Behind my cold, wanna-be bad-ass, aging punk rock exterior, I cry easily. This is not surprising to my family members, but apparently friends and co-workers find it odd. Once I related a story to a co-worker about a time when I was driving in the snow on a country road and slid into a ditch. When I mentioned that, even though I wasn't hurt, I still cried like a baby afterwards, the woman I was telling said, "Oh, I can't imagine you ever crying." I really wanted to call my sister and make the woman repeat what she said over the phone as proof, but there was no time for that at work.

4.) I can be very girly about certain things. Namely, I love hot bubble baths and lotions and candles. If I can get all the various item's stink to match, it makes me very happy.

5.) Of course, I will never be famous myself, but I have waited on many famous people and that makes me super cool, right? Here is a list of celebrities I have served: Robin Williams, Punky Brewster, Bert Parks, Marilynne Robinson, Jorie Graham, the band Berlin (guess which year in the eighties that was?), Jan Michael Vincent, Vanna White, members of the band Luna, Cheech Marin, Alice Walker's daughter, and I made Husker Du's meal one night at The Mill.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Machines to Save Our Lives. Machines Dehumanize.

Here is my friend A.'s son seen through his dad's sculpture.

I wasn't feeling 100 percent this weekend. I went out on Friday night and had my usual two beers and that was nice. Then most of Saturday I felt like shit and got another migraine. That's it. I'm going to start going to the chiropractor once a month again - it's so much better than getting a migraine every weekend. So, I spent most of today doing all the shit I should have done on Saturday, and now I'm just wiped. What that means for you, is that I'm moving the meme post from Jane's Calamity's blog from tonight until tomorrow and tonight I'm showing you some kick-ass art instead.

Here is A.'s husband, his beer, a bunch of people I don't know and his first robot sculpture.

To me, sculpture is like poetry - I don't know how to make it, but I appreciate very much what others do. For a while I lived and hung out on the Radillac Farm. Once I got past waking up and finding a bunch of metal sculptors staring at me through my kitchen window, I really got into the work that came out of the foundry there. So, when my friend A. showed me this first photo of her husband's robot, I was very excited. I especially love the outboard motor head. Her husband makes props for films in Texas, so this seems like such a natural extension of that.

The piece in front is called the "Supplicant Mailbox" which I think is the best title ever.

A.'s husband had his first show in Austin today and sold almost everything he made and has orders for more work. All I can say is, hurray! I love it when my friends not only make really cool art, but are able to sell it as well.

Okay, I will stop my gushing - on here, anyway. I will continue to gush in private, however.

This last photo was taken by A.'s six year old son. I think it's awesome too.

Now, I will go and clean my kitchen and wish that I could sculpt and write poetry.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I'll Be Lost in Love and Havin' Some Fun With My Cynical Girl

Julie in L. A., does this look like yours?

Myspace continues to be a source of amusement for me. I think it's funny that I'm too old for it and yet I'm on there anyway. There are also things that annoy me about it. Hell, why don't I just go ahead and make a couple of lists. And I suppose I should provide you with a link to my very own Myspace.

Things that annoy me about Myspace:

1.) The creeps who keep bugging me even though I specifically say I don't want to meet them in the "Who I Want to Meet" section. Almost every single one of these guys write in their messages to me and on their Myspace profile that they are looking for fun. So, does "fun" mean that they want to come over and play records and dance? Yeah, I didn't think so. Why don't they just say that they're looking for sex. Judging from some of the other things they've written to me, they don't seem to have problems being very specific about their wants in general. Do regular women, who aren't looking to make money off poor horny schlubs, really communicate with these guys?

2.) The girls who want me to do some live web cam thing. Wha? I don't get it. Is this the Myspace version of a 1-900 number and why don't the creepy men just go to these sites and leave the rest of us women alone?

3.) That the site is constantly bugging out on me. I can't tell you how many times I get the "an unexpected error has occurred" message from the site... I know, I know, what the hell do I want for free, anyway?

4.) That when you put in a friend request, Myspace says, "Currently awaiting approval from..."It makes me seem so needy. I'm just asking some person or band I know to add me to their site. I do not, however, need anyone's fucking approval.

Things I like about Myspace:

1.) It is free and I've hooked up with and reestablished relationships with people, (both in town and out) who I haven't seen in quite some time.

2.) I really like making the page different every week. Either on Friday or Saturday of every week, I change my background, put up new pics, change the song and try to halfway coordinate it all in a way that cracks me up. As usual, the photos I use for my background are very Iowa/Iowa City in nature.

3.) It amuses me that some of my daughters' friends are asking me to be their Myspace friends. I think they find it hilarious that someone's mom has a Myspace too and sometimes they put up comments in their shortened, teenage/text message, language. (liberally using exclamation points and LOL's the way they do)

4.) The girls and I all have each other in our top eight's. I think it could be a good disciplinary tool from now on. If the girls don't behave properly, I could lower their postion to the bottom of my top friend's list, and when they're really bad, I would take them off altogether - banishing them to the back pages of the "View all of my friends" list.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My Mind's Distracted and Diffused

Tonight I'm doing another photo post in honor ofBooda Baby. She said she wanted to see pictures of certain Iowa City landmarks. Since I didn't have time to go out and take any this week, I thought I'd dig up some old ones. They aren't all exactly what she suggested, and they're from a time in my life when pretty much every photo I took, included at least one of the girls.

Here is Coady in front of the Black Angel in Oakland Cemetery. When we lived above the Hilltop, we used to pretend that the cemetery was our backyard. Check out our very dramatic lawn ornament.

This is in front of The Hilltop. Booda Baby had mentioned the Deadwood, and eventually I'll take that, but right now you get The Hilltop. When I first came to college, this bar had shuffle board. It was so awesome.

This was taken on the side of Pagliai's Pizza. Coadster wasn't always that thrilled to get her picture taken, but Stinky made up for it by mugging for every shot.

Here is a picture of Stinky in front of the fountain by the Union. Booda Baby did mention the IMU, so at least I got that part right.

This post is pretty thrown together, but I'm going out to drink beer with friends in just a little bit and this way you will all be saved the obnoxious, drunken blog post I would surely have written if I waited until after I came home. You can thank me later.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Windows Are Illuminated by the Evening Sunshine Through Them

Just so you know, this will mostly be a photo post because I'm tired and I've been a little on the angsty side lately. My, but how the Seasonal Affective Disorder sets in earlier and earlier every year.

I think I mentioned earlier this week that I took photos of a tornado ravaged house on Governor Street. Before it was condemned, it used to be some kind of half-way house for guys who all seemed to be heavily medicated one way or another.

I took the opportunity to investigate it on Saturday afternoon, right when the last home football game was getting out. All the cops had their hands full directing traffic, and giving out tickets for public urination, or whatever the hell they do right after a football game. They were far too busy to notice me trespassing.

Even though I know from first-hand experience how dangerous a house can be after it's been hit by 150 mph winds, I still walked in through the open door. A woman I work with told me I was stupid since there could have been a homeless person in there. Little does she know, most of the homeless people in town know and love me because I used to serve them coffee and beer on a daily basis.

The first thing I saw when I walked into the house, was this pair of boots, just exactly how you see them here. I wonder how they ended up there like that? Do you think someone was walking out of the house with them and noticed that they had a particular, moldy, tornado scum odor and dropped them in the kitchen before they left?

This is what the rest of the kitchen looked like. I thought about shooting this in black and white, but I liked the red color on the inside of the cupboards. Everything was exactly how I found it here. I've handled enough stuff with tornado jizz on it, that I refuse to touch anything like it again. Just know that if you get hit by a mighty wind, I may do whatever else I can for you, but I won't be moving your nasty shit.

I'm not sure if the bathroom here really looked all that much different before the storm. And again, why the hell is there an old lampshade next to the toilet?

Finally, this is the view of the basement through the non-existent window. It kind of feels like watching TV, if there was a really, really depressing program about forgotten items with severe abandonment issues on.

I hope you enjoyed this photo post about a decrepit building. Stay tuned next week when I bring you pictures of disfigured children and abused pets. If I have to have Seasonal Affective Disorder, then everyone else gets to feel it too...Hey, wait. Where did everybody go?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Always Playing Clean

Last Thursday was not a good night for the Churls. Coadster was stressed out about finals and Stinky was busy trying to make up a trimester's work in three days. Right before they got ready for bed, Coadster was talking about her upcoming show choir concert and mentioned the other high school in town was doing "Pinball Wizard" as one of their pieces.

"Nu - uh," I said. "How do you incorporate jazz hands and The Who?" And because it doesn't bother me one little bit to make an ass out of myself for a good cause - or even for a bad one, I decided to help the girls relieve some stress. I'll never be able to give my daughters the newest electronic devices, or a clean house or straight teeth or a sense of direction or a sense of decorum for that matter, but what I can do for them is sacrifice my dignity for some schtick - the dumber the sight gag, the better. And so right there on the spot, I did my interpretation of a high school show choir performing "Pinball Wizard". Don't worry, I did it right. I worked the exaggerated hand motions to mime playing pinball and flashed spastic happy hands right up by my face while I sang, "Ain't got no distractions..." and used my most white person-Midwestern-"Up With People" voice and over enunciated the end of every line. In other words, for about three minutes, I was perfect.

It really seemed to help the girls too. They were literally on the floor laughing, and really, what better way to decompress than to bond with your sibling for the purpose of making fun of your mother?

The downside came on Sunday. I thought the show was only going to be our high school's group performing, but when I got to the auditorium, I realized it was both schools. I was actually going to have to watch the performance I had previously parodied. It was bad. The hard part was that their choreography was not all that different than mine. (including the spastic happy hands right when they said the word distraction) Obviously, I couldn't have predicted the swinging, limp wrists as they sang "...S'got such a supple wrist", or at the end when, for some reason they all started doing the robot, but I bet you didn't count on that either, did you?

After the show, Coady came up to me and said, "Thanks a lot Mom. I couldn't stop laughing during it and everyone kept staring at me." Yeah, join the club princess.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Father Says, "Your Mother's Right, She's Really Up On Things."

Here is a picture of some little red berries.

On Sunday afternoon about a half hour before Coadster's show choir concert, I was lounging around my house contemplating whether I could get away with wearing my pajama top and some sweats to the performance. Right before I made my final decision, my sister called to ask my advice on a very pressing matter.

She and her husband are prone to taking their very young children on quaint Sunday drives through bucolic Southern Iowa. On this particular trip, they were discussing euphemisms for male and female genitalia - because really, what else would you be talking about on a beautiful Sabbath day? My sister called me, thinking I might be able to provide assistance. (I'm going to assume she asked me because I used to work in gynecology and not because I'm crude and inappropriate in general)

"Hey Sissy, T. and I were just talking about how there were tons of appropriate words for little kids to use for penis and we couldn't think of anything to use for the vagina that wasn't raunchy sounding. T. thought it was okay to use the P word, but I said no way," she explained.

"P word? You mean, pudendum?" I asked.

"No. Pussy." We both laughed and then I agreed with her.

"Pussy is a bad word."

"Okay, but can you think of any good words? For boys you can use, peter or pee pee or ding dong, but what is there for girls?"

I looked at the clock and realized I only had fifteen minutes to get to the show, so I told my sister I'd get back to her on it. I also realized my decision, through lack of time, had been made for me. I would tuck my pajama top into my nylon sweats and leave my sweatshirt on, no matter how warm it got in the auditorium. Surely, I wouldn't stick out too badly amongst all the people still dressed up from church, would I?...Okay, I'd sit as far to the back as possible.

So, this is a few days late, but here is a list of euphemisms for the vagina. I'll leave it up to you if any can be considered appropriate in polite conversation. You know how people are always talking about vaginas in polite conversation?

Ready? Here we go:

sex organ, private parts or privates, genitals, genitalia, reproductive organ, labia, pussy, snatch, bearded clam, (my most hated term) quim, beaver, twat, box, trim, strange, cunt, (okay I lied. This is my most hated term) cooch, lips and envelope.

So, the answer to my sister's question, is no. There really isn't an appropriate substitute for little girls to call their vaginas - unless you want to use something non-gender specific, like privates or genitalia.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mama Always Told Me Not to Look Into the Eye's of the Sun

November 14th is my one year blogging anniversary. In honor of that, I put pictures of plumey fan-like plants I found by ground zero at the sorority house on Saturday. Aren't they festive?

You started blogging a year ago. Your initial reasons for getting started were to help you write as close to every day as possible and to suck you out of the vacuum where you had been writing and get some feedback. The free therapy sure hasn't hurt either. Sure, you've met a few creeps - ones that sent you cryptic and not so cryptic e-mails written all in caps and when you let your friend G. read them, he said, "Why does he keep yelling at me?" You also went through a little (or big) paranoid phase that drove you into the witness protection program where you changed your name and your blog and lost many, many readers. Mostly, you've met some really amazing people. You can still get all sappy and teary-eyed when you think of the support you received from people you had never met after the tornado.

Though sometimes, you think it would feel so freeing to just scrap the blog altogether and get some real writing done, you don't feel like you are quite there yet. The blog has helped you write better on your feet. Many nights, you've had less than an hour to dream up, write and sometimes even proofread a post before you publish. And while it has been painful for your readers, it's been a great way to clean your shit up as you write.

Okay, I'm over the second person bullshit and now I'm all first person and memoir style and stuff. With the very helpful suggestion from Long division, I'm slowly but surely saving all the posts on my old blog as drafts because it would be damn shame to lose all those pearls I dispensed at my other house of crap. So, please help yourself to some imaginary cake and have fun viewing the next plumage photo which was taken directly into the sun for that retina burning effect.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

When the Seasons Circle Sideways Out of Turn

I think it's comforting for people who used to live in Iowa City to come back to town and find that very little has changed since they left. I have friends who worked at George's almost twenty years ago, and they're quite certain that if they walked behind the bar and opened the cooler, without even looking they could grab a Miller Lite because things are still exactly as they left them in that bar. George's still has a working Hamm's beer sign - the kind that produces the illusion of water flowing downstream.

Because of the constancy of the Iowa City landscape, I was slightly jarred when I was driving home from the Co-op on Saturday and noticed something askew at the yellow ghetto. If you lived in Iowa City in your late teens or early twenties, chances are you've probably been to a party at the yellow ghetto on Washington Street. And if you were like me during college, your memory of those parties is probably a little hazy.

The yellow ghetto is in the process of being painted a tan color. Those apartments have been the same stained, stale urine color since I first moved to town in 1983. It seems almost wrong to try to pretty them up. Plus, the tan ghetto doesn't have the same ring to it.

If you were worried that they were also going to take the time to fix things and replace the old steps, fear not. Like everything else, when you look closely enough, you can still see the rot just underneath the exterior.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I thought I'd check out the old sorority house that got ruined during the tornado. It received a lot of news coverage, and I even put this picture up on the old blog, but I hadn't wandered around to see what it looked like after they demolished the building.

Well, it looks like this. The driveway leads to a hole in the ground that needs to be graded. There's an orange plastic fence that's supposed to keep people out, that I foolishly crossed and there's a gas grill leaning to one side but still standing over where the deck used to be. I haven't heard whether they're going to rebuild the sorority house or if this corner will soon be home to a new apartment complex.

If you're looking for a pile of twisted chainlink fence, you should stop by here. I can't imagine why they didn't haul it away with the rest of the sorority - unless it belongs to the white houe next door. I went over there after I was done photographing the absence of the other structure and ignored all the No Trespassing signs to take pictures of the damage in that building. Maybe I'll charm you with quaint photos of the diseased innards of that house later this week.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Well We Got No Class and We Got No Principles

Here is a picture of my Aunt's dog.

We are nearing the end of the trimester, and with it's closing, new truths are being revealed. On Wednesday night, Stinky handed me grade reports from two different classes to sign. One was a B and one was a C. I've always said to the girls I didn't care about what grades they got as long as they tried hard. So, if they racked their brains every day in a class and got a C, I would be okay with it, but if they got a B because they didn't turn in assignments or because they didn't study for tests, then I'd be disappointed. Stinky had zeros marked down for assignments in both classes.

At the beginning of the tri, I told the girls that I would trust them to be responsible for their work until they gave me cause not to. I meant it to be empowering for them, but Stinky has taken it as a challenge. She seems to have worked all semester trying to see how many different ways she could lose my trust academically and she really has done a great job. During the tri, I have asked her if she finished her readings and completed her assignments and each time she said yes and showed me what page she was on (she lied). I've even sat down with her and watched her finish an assignment, only to hear later that she didn't turn it in because she folded it a hundred different times, put the piece of paper in her pocket and it fell out somewhere in the hallway before class. Apparently in Stinky's world, there are a plethora of ways to mess up an assignment.

On Wednesday when I found out about her missing homework, I made it my mission to figure out how to fix things. The trimester doesn't end until Monday so we had a couple of days to chip away at it. We mostly worked on positive and negative reinforcement - because I was pissed off, it was mainly negative. Since I remember being in junior high and high school, I had some great ideas for deterrents. The biggest one for me at that age, was the threat of my legal guardians actually coming to school and talking to my teacher in person, so I posed that to Stinky. Judging from her violent reaction, it proved to be an effective deterrent for her as well. I also detailed a list of things that could be taken away from her if she didn't start getting shit handed in on time. Then she asked what she'd get if she earned straight A's. I told her I'd think about it, but she already had a suggestion. What if she got a new pair of shoes for straight A's? Not understanding shoe love, I would never have thought up that one on my own, but it seemed totally reasonable, so I agreed.

By Thursday night Stinky was in tears. When we spoke of the straight A reward, I had been thinking it was something for her to work on for the following trimester, but Stinky had meant it for the current one. In her head, she was going to rectify three months of slacking in just a few days. At first, I was astonished that she could even think that was possible, but then I remembered every finals week during college, and realized that those delusions could be passed on through DNA.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Drove my Chevy to the Levee, But the Levee Was Dry

Here is a fucked-up little outbuilding by the Cheese House in Kalona.

Now, here are some disjointed thoughts for you:

Yesterday it was almost seventy degrees. Today it snowed a little when I walked home from work. All this weather leaves me stupid and confused.

I asked one of my co-workers to shoot me today around 11 am. She kindly suggested I wait until Monday morning just before work, since the week was almost over and my last images would include cubicles. I thanked her for helping me see reason.

Tonight I went to Stinky's band concert. In the middle of it, I decided to start a petition to press the school board to provide a lifelong prescription of valium for all junior high band directors. I can't imagine another job that lends itself to pill popping quite like that one.

I bought pumpkin pie and real whipped cream at the store after the band concert. It was about damn time.