Thursday, February 26, 2009

Here In My Car, I Feel Safest of All

Here is a photo of some I-80 traffic on our roadtrip this Summer. I'm so photoless, I'm going through Coadster's vacation pics now.

We're almost at the weekend now and I am so happy. I want time to stay home and relax. I don't have any real plans, except for my friend Libby is coming from Chicago and we're planning on lunching together on Sunday. I got some shit to do, so I'm stealing from the old blog again. I wrote this in June of 2006. Read it and weep:

I have always been a freak magnet. It doesn't matter if I'm in a bar or walking down the street, you can guarantee that the only homeless, no teeth'd, crack head, psycho who ditched their meds, will come up to me and get all up in my grill. I used to think I had some kind of special sign around my neck that only they could see that said, "Lick me on the face and call me sucker." But today I think that sign fell off of my person and attached itself to the front of my car.

I had just dropped Coadster off at the baseball fields and was heading to the store to pick-up a few things, when I saw a woman standing in the middle of the street just ahead of me. At first, it looked like she was stupidly running in front of traffic, but then she turned around to face me and held up both thumbs. I stopped my car and she put her hands on my hood, then she kept her hands on my car and moved around to the passenger side window.

"Can you help me? I need help." I thought she might be sick or injured but I didn't have a cell phone. We were right by a gas station, so it seemed odd to me that she didn't go there. "I need a ride to my daughter's house over by Sheraton Street. I'm so hot and tired that I don't think I can go much further without fainting. Please. You're a lifesaver."

"You mean SheriDAN Street?" I asked.

"Yeah. Whatever. My daughter lives over by there and I need a ride. Please?" By that time, there was a line of cars behind me. If I had the girls, I would have said, no for sure. But I didn't have them. I used to hitchhike when I was younger, so I felt a little hypocritical not taking her. Although, I would never have been that aggressive about it myself.

"Um. Okay."

"Oh thank god. Shit. I'm on these new meds and they're fuc... I mean, messing with my system."

"Hmm, " I said. I didn't want to have to have a long, tiresome conversation about her meds, so I didn't ask her about them. I was just happy she was taking them.

"You know where Sheraton Street is? It's over by Summit. She don't live on Sheraton, though. My daughter lives on a street right off there."

"I know where Sheridan Street is."

"Hey, where you going? I don't go this way. I go a different way."

"This is faster than going to Court and then tracking back. It will still get us to Sheridan."

"Oh, this is Sheraton. You gotta take a left here."

"Left? Okay."

"Now we're back where we started. It should have been right over here. Drive around some more."

"You don't know where your daughter lives?"

"I would, if you'da gone the other way. Just keep driving around." I used to be a huge push-over when I was younger. It was that orphan thing where I thought I was a huge impostion to everyone and it was my job to help people and put up with all their shit. I continually felt like I had to make up for my being alive and breathing someone else's air. I'm finally old enough and have met too many people who were happy to take advantage of me, that I have gone the other way. Now, I push back once it's clear to me that the person I'm dealing with is shot full of entitlement issues.

"Actually, I'm not going to drive around. I was being nice to take you here, but I have things to do. I was going to Hy-Vee, and we were right in front of it, when you stopped my car..."

"So, what? Do you expect me just to walk around and look for the house by myself?"

"Yeah. If you don't know where your own daughter lives, how would I know?"

"Do you know where Summit Street is?" She said this slowly and loudly, like she thought I might be retarded.

"Yes. It's back the other way."

"Okay. Take me there and maybe I can find it that way."

"I'll take you to Summit Street, but that's it. I have things to do." I turned around and headed for Summit Street and two blocks away, she said,

"Stop! That's the street. I know it. It's here." I pulled over to the side of the road to let her out. She picked up her bright pink purse and said, "Thanks, so much. You're a lifesaver. God bless you. I'll be sure to pay it forward." And while I'm sure she'll be paying something, I doubt it will be forward, backward, or sideways. I have a feeling it will be straight to her dealer...Er, I mean, daughter.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You're Always Dancing Down the Street

I think this is the back of the Biology Building.

Hey, today was a good day and let me tell you why:

1.) The weather was amazing. It got into the 50's. I ran in shorts. I'm positive it will snow again this year, but I doubt we'll have to experience 20 below zero temps for the rest of the season. We are dangerously close to Spring and not a minute too soon.

2.) Along the same lines, I just got my gas and electric bill and it was $70 cheaper than last month. Just think of all the things I could do with 70 dollars.

3.) I went to supper club for the first time in a hundred million years and it was so fun. We talked a lot about movies and I got some great suggestions for films I apparently HAVE to see. The best thing was, that one of the couples who attend aren't able to have children, and decided to be foster parents for a while. Well, they were actually able to adopt a newborn they were fostering. She's is absolutely gorgeous and they are amazing parents. I almost got a little teary seeing their new family.

4.) After supper club, I met my friend S. at George's. A few years back, a guy we knew sold his life over the internet and wrote a book about it. Part of what he sold were experiences. At one point, he wanted to sell the experience of drinking a beer and eating a cheeseburger at George's with my friend S., but ebay won't let you sell people, so they had to nix that. I'm the lucky girl who got to drink a beer at George's with my friend S. while she ate a cheeseburger without having to bid on her. We had a great talk and laughed a lot.

5.) My iPod was so good to me on my run today. Here is what I can remember of the songs it played:

a) "My Best Friend's Girlfriend" - The Cars
b) "Yellow Moon" - The Neville Brothers
c) an East Indian song who's name I can't remember, but it's great to run to.
d) "Pressure Drop" - Toots and the Maytals
e) "Roll With Me Henry" - Etta James
f) "The Theme from Sanford and Son" - Quincy Jones
g) "Rock and Roll" - The Velvet Underground
h) "Magic Man" - Heart

Now, off to bed with me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

So Says I

Here are some old recycled photos I took a while ago. The old Greyhound bus station in Iowa City.

Maybe it happened from watching too many movies or reading so many books - that thing I did, where I looked for signs. You know, like in a story where you know the one guy is going to die for sure, because he's too nice, or that something bad is going to happen because everyone is so damn content?

My friend Sara's screen door from her old house in Minneapolis.

Things seemed to be going really well right before my dad disappeared and we had to move. My mom worked and I remember my dad taking us to the movies and no one seemed quite so worried about money. It was the same thing when my mom died. I started 5th grade in a new classroom with nice kids and funny boys, I had my red, white and blue Liberty Bell bike with the banana seat and my brother and I would ride for hours past orange groves, and I just got a new kitten for my 10th birthday. I was happy. In junior high the pattern continued. Believe it or not, I was popular in junior high in Alsip, Illinois. I had tons of friends, and babysitting jobs, and I was excited about going to high school, and then my Uncle got transferred to Ottumwa, Iowa where I was miserable and isolated out in the middle of nowhere for the next four years.

What I found in the alley between Hotz Street and Rochester Ave. the morning after the tornado.

I wasn't even aware of it, but I made a connection between all of those events and decided that by being happy, I had just been asking for it. The forces that be must have decided I needed to be taken down a notch...Or 5,000 notches, and I was. The trick, it seemed to my fucked-up younger self, was to remain unhappy in general. If things were bad, maybe I could ward off the bigger catasrophes. Those unhealthy relationships were my way of taking control back then. Of course, I wasn't aware that I was doing that until later, when I got out on my own and tried to figure out what the hell I had been doing through much of my twenties and early thirties.

A cemetery off of Newport Road outside of Iowa City.

Once I looked very closely, that original theory proved false. I was with my abusive ex-husband when Coadster and I were in that horrible horse and buggy accident. I was dating the emotionally unavailable guy when Stinky got meningitis, so being unhappy wasn't keeping me safe from disaster. None of us can prevent bad circumstances. My house would have been hit by the tornado no matter how happy or miserable I was. It was in the way. In real life, there is no helpful foreshadowing. We all have both good and bad experiences and everybody dies before the story ends, not just the guys who are too nice for their own good. The true test comes in how we deal with those experiences and bounce back...Or not.

So, if that means I'm asking for it, I figure I might as well be happy and dance around like an idiot while I wait for whatever "it" is to hit.

Monday, February 23, 2009

You Was There When the Money Was Gone, You'll be There When the Money Comes

Here is some drank carnage from Saturday night.

Let's see...I was going to talk a little more about my weekend. Well, it started off with a bang, when I saw that I got my income tax refund. Yea, me! Most of the money is going to pay off bills and a credit card and the rest of Coadster's Spring Break choir trip to NYC. (she's already paid almost half) We do get to spend a little on fun stuff, however. Since you all know I like dates, the girls and I went on one on Friday night. We had dinner at the Blue Bird Diner. If you are an Iowa City ex-pat, it's located where Gilpin Paint Store used to be, across the street from The Foxhead. I have heard mixed reviews about it, but we really liked the food and the ambiance. It's a little pricey for us po' people, so we couldn't go there all that often, but it was great for a special occasion. I got a Reuben, and it was the first good Reuben I think I've ever had in Iowa City. Stinky almost always orders a bacon cheeseburger whenever we go out to eat. She said she thought the Diner's burger was one of the best she's ever had. They just happened to have shrimp scampi over angelhair pasta as a special, which is about Coadster's favorite food ever in the world, so she was happy. All in all, I'd say it was a fine dining experience.

After dinner, we headed over to Gordman's to get the girls some clothes. A while back, I figured the best way to go clothes shopping with the girls, was to tell them how much money they had to spend, and let them budget what they could get with it. It works for me, because I don't have to spend the entire shopping trip telling them that I can't afford whatever it is they want. Now THEY can't afford whatever it is they want. They get to be their own bad guys. It's also good for them, because it teaches them how to get creative about how to make what they want, jive with what they can afford. It's a valuable skill, I think.

We got home around nine, and my friend G. called me to tell me some friends were going out. The girls and I were all exhausted, and I was going to have to get Coadster to the show choir bus by 7 am, so I lamed-out and stayed home. Both of the girls went to bed, and I stayed up to watch a few of the newest episodes of Weeds. It was a perfect Friday night.

But These Are The People That We Call Friends

Okay, kids. This weekend was just crazy and busy and full of stuff. It was all good, but I do wish I had a day to recoup before I went back to work. Since it's so late, I'm just going to talk about Saturday night and get around to the rest of the weekend in the next day or two.

Originally, I was just going to get some sushi and wine and hang out by myself and watch movies and/or play video games. I haven't had one drink of an alcoholic beverage in over three weeks, so I thought it might be something fun and different to do. Then I got a call from my friend G. telling me she and D. and our friend Shecky were all going out. I decided it was time to break my hibernation and actually leave my house on a weekend night and have some fun. And boy howdy, did I ever.

All the Dublin regulars greeted my triumphant return to the bar for the first time this month, by showing how much they cared. In the above photo, you can see the guys making faces behind me while I spoke.

And here, another regular tried to bite my head off. See how innocent and unaware I am of the whole thing?

My favorite bartender even got into the Churlita appreciation evening by sticking a hook in his nose when I took his picture. Pretty.

I suppose when you're wearing a George Carlin t-shirt, you can channel him a little and really flip me the bird with feeling.

And not to be outdone, Dexter from Degrees of Gray blog, used his most expressive finger to point out the writing on the back of the t-shirt for me. Thanks, Dex.

Okay, that was fun. I might have to go out more often, what with all the love I'm shown when I do.

Oh, and yeah. How was your weekend? Did people show you enough love too?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cause When You're a Celebrity, It's Adios Reality

Stinky with some of her friends when she was in grade school. This was the same year Sally Field's granddaughter went there.

Okay. I'm going to try again to get some sleep tonight. I'm posting something from my old blog again. This one is from November, 2005, and it's one where I do some name dropping. Wheee! Also, I messed around with the color of the text and it won't let me turn it black. Sorry. Here it is:

Since my last blog post, I got on this celebrity kick and so I'll be wearing it all the way out. Because that's what I do. The other day, the girls were watching Mrs. Doubtfire and while I stood there and watched with them for a second on my way to clean the kitchen, I realized that I had met both of the stars of the movie. Now, when I say met them, what I really mean is that I was in the same room with them and if they didn't speak directly to me, they at least spoke in my general direction or to someone else I knew. Close enough.

It's amusing to make connections between myself and people I see on TV.
I love the idea of famous people. They never seem real. Which is why it is so much fun to talk about them. I like to make sweeping generalizations about them - really, about everyone and everything. I like to say things like, celebrities are just like us but they're shallower (my dictionary tells me this is more correct than saying, "more shallow" even though it looks awkward). Or, famous people are just like us but they're Scientologists. There is so much shit you can talk about celebrities. I don't even think celebrities think of themselves as real people and that's why they do such stupid things. That could be one of the reasons it is so weird to see a famous person in the flesh. They become real and it's not as easy to make sweeping generalizations about them. They also look different without all that make-up and kind lighting.

I met Robin Williams when I waited on him at the Courtyard Cafe on 24th St in San Francisco in 1986. He only had one son then and he was with 2 women. I think one was his ex-wife (his current wife at the time) and the other one could have been his nanny who turned into his next wife. She may have been someone totally different than that, but it's more fun to speculate and create fun fiction that you pass off as reality whenever you can. It could have been true. You never know.

All the other waiters kept asking me if I said anything funny to him. What did they expect me to do? Go up and say, "Hey, a funny thing happened to me on the way to the table...", or reprise my lame-ass Mork impersonation from junior high? Honestly, I think the last thing he would want is for some bonehead to come over and try their shtick on him while he ate in order to get discovered. So, I kept it low key and did my job and he was the perfect customer. He was pleasant, kind and he tipped well. I judged everyone back then by what kind of a customer they were, so to me, he was also a good person.

I met Sally Field two years ago at International night at my daughters' grade school. Her son Peter had been in the workshop in the early 90's and like many workshop alum, he moved away and then came back. His daughter was in kindergartern at Horace Mann and Sally was visiting during the event. She was very gracious and everyone was talking about it, but very few people came over and bothered her. At one point, my daughter and her friend were walking toward her and being all squirrelly about her being there but too shy to say anything directly to her and Sally (we're on a first name basis now) laughed and said, "Hello girls," and I think they both actually squealed. At this point in my life, I judge people by how nice they are to my girls and that's why I think Sally Field is a good person.

The thing about celebrities, is that they are like us but smaller. Both Sally Field and Robin Williams were about 4 feet tall close up. Sally was so tiny, I could have scooped her up in my arms and cradled her like a baby if I had wanted to. Obviously, I didn't want to. Even I'm not that fucked up.

Now, I think that may be just enough name dropping for one post. Come back tomorrow when I'm sure I'll drop some more. Because celebrities are just like us, only more interesting.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lively Up Yourself, and Don't Be No Drag

Here is a photo of some construction happening on Iowa Ave in November. I'm running out of photos again.

Today we had our Spring staff retreat. It was actually okay. It was mostly about how to keep things positive and fun in the workplace. We deal with tons of perspective students and their parents on the phone and in person, and we're supposed let people on the other end of the phone "hear the smile in our voices".

At one point, we were asked to volunteer up things our co-worker did to liven-up the workplace. The ex-nun in our office told all the people about how I change the lyrics to songs to match what we're dealing with at work and then sing them in my Ethel Merman/Axl Rose (same thing) voice. It was very nice of her to mention it, but then everyone wanted me to do one for them. I had to explain that I perform better from the peanut gallery, than on stage. Maybe some other time.

So, remember how I was waiting for my income tax refund? I checked the IRS website and it said I should expect it on February 17th. Well, it didn't show, so I went to the bank today to make sure I had the correct account and routing numbers. I did. I finally called the IRS and spoke to a very helpful and pleasant woman there. (I could almost hear the smile in her voice) She said they were having a problem with the website giving out incorrect dates. Oops! Anyway, she looked me up and said I should receive mine on Friday. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Okay, I'm tired. I haven't been getting much sleep and I went running tonight in really strong winds. I'm one of those freaks who likes running against the wind, (as you can probably tell by the way I've lived my life) but it really wiped me out.

Night, night.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This Could Be the Best Place Yet, But You Must Overcome Your Fears

Here is me pointing at you - yes you, with a pool cue.

I was giving a friend of mine some boy advice today. I instantly realized how ridiculous it was of me, and then laughed my ass off. In some ways it's pretty silly of me to give other girls advice about relationships, but in other ways, maybe it's not that crazy. For one thing, I put a lot of thought into boy/girl relations and for another, I seem to have done some social studying the last couple of years.

When I was younger, I stayed in horrible situations forever and only had a few relationships by the time I was 40 years old. Most of the guys I had dated and/or married could be put into two categories: the commitment phobe/emotionally retarded guys, or the control issue men who were really hard on themselves and if they were in a relationship with me, looked at me as an extension of themselves, and in turn, got mean any time they felt out of control or stressed in their lives.

As a way to figure out how to stop staying in bad relationships, I took a few years off from men altogether and learned how not to fear being alone, but instead, became scared of dating. The last two years, I tried to be more open and went out with different guys. What I've found out in all of that, is that there are as many kinds of men as you can imagine. It was nice to discover that I had options. As always, the trick is to find one who can put up with my shit, and who's shit I can deal with too. I haven't met that guy yet, but I've been close.

In the last month or so, I stopped putting any energy into game players, (whether they are doing it intentionally or not) and it has put an abrupt end to my current dating life. I haven't talked to Mr. B. since last month when he told me he was going to come and visit, and then called me a few days before that was supposed to happen to cancel. He said he got called in to work at his weekend job. I already know he only works from 4 pm -9 pm, so he could easily drive up the whole hour it takes to get here and hang-out after that. The last time he visited, he didn't get here until after ten anyway. I didn't argue that point with him, because it didn't matter. If he liked me enough, he'd make an effort to see me. So, I let it go. I will always like him as a friend, but I just don't have time for the excuses any more.

I also haven't talked to Neal for a bit either. He gave me his usual Saturday call a couple of weeks ago, and I just didn't pick up or call him back. If he wanted to be friends, I'd love to talk to him now and again, but he doesn't listen to me when I tell him that's all I can be to him. He made me promise to write him a letter, so I'll do that. I'm much better on paper, when I can edit myself anyway.

So, I'm changing my boy track again. I'm less open than I was last year. Which isn't to say that I'm against dating altogether. I just don't have time for the bullshit. I spent a lot of time and energy getting my shit together in how I deal with men, and now I feel like I'm in a great place. I'm no longer afraid to be alone nor am I scared to date. I know exactly what I want and I'm sure I won't wallow in an unhealthy relationship, waiting for something to magically change. If that means I end up alone, I'm really okay with that.

As far as giving my friend relationship advice is concerned, I'm probably no less qualified than anyone else is to give it. It's just kind of silly for anyone to offer up advice. It's one of those annoying things everyone has to learn for themselves, (usually the hard way) from their own experiences.

Monday, February 16, 2009

This Is My, My, My , Beautiful Day

Here's my mom and my oldest sister in our house in Scottsdale.

It's kind of a weird time of year for me. Some years, I can get a little down right about now. It would have been my mom's 77th birthday on Valentine's Day. I still can't imagine what she'd look like old. I know I've already mentioned this, but she died the age that I am now. Thinking about my mom and remembering Stinky's near fatal illness that happened this time of year, can make me sad if I let it.

Here is a photo of some sepia toned cornstalks.

This year, I'm surprisingly not letting it. I am, however, just a little on the blah side. It's like all the creativity drained out of me and I can't even think what to make for dinner anymore. Then when I do try to do anything, I screw it up. Like tonight, I tried to make tuna noodle casserole. (I know. Shut-up) I had never made it before, and it seemed really easy. The big problem was that I used frozen peas that I'd had for too long, apparently, and I put too many in. They just made the whole thing taste like stale freezer. I was able to pick off the wonderful top layer of crumbled up cracker and melted cheese, and that was just fine.

Here is a couch that has been abandoned and has weeds growing through it.

I am so ready for Spring. Unfortunately, Spring isn't quite ready for me yet. So, I decided to post a few old photos most of you have already seen before. They're both moody, and that's why I like to look at them. There is something I really appreciate about how stark Iowa's landscape can be in February. It looks like I feel right around this time of year - dormant. I get very internal and I prefer to be entertained, as opposed to entertaining.

I keep thinking back to last year, when I was dating a VERY social person. I asked him once if he ever let himself be alone and he said, "Well, when I am, I just pick up the phone and call someone." I couldn't understand that. It seemed like so much work to me to have to always be "on". As much as I would say this is probably my least favorite time of the year, there's a part of it that I'm thankful for. It's the only time I allow myself to rest and be a little slothful. I'm sure it's probably really good for me, not just the relaxing, but also the reflection. I think some self-indulgence can be healthy in small doses.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cause There's a Million Things to Be, You Know That There Are

Here is a photo that I took looking up at a building downtown.

So, the Saturday Scavenger Hunt word this week was chosen by LauraB. from My Boring Life blog. She chose excitement, but I couldn't really play because my life has had none of that in it for the last couple of weeks on purpose.

Well, kids. It's been an EXTREMELY uneventful weekend here again at the Churlish household. the closest I came to partying on Friday night, was shoveling the couple of inches of snow that fell that evening.

On Saturday, Stinky and I went on an afternoon date. Since I didn't get my tax refund after all, we just went to the mall to see a movie. I know we're supposed to be in the middle of an economic crisis and everything, but I have never seen the mall so packed before. Ever. Even at Christmas, there are usually a couple of parking spaces, but on Saturday, cars were parking illegally and behind other cars, because the lot was completely full. Weird.

I did some cleaning this weekend and I did get groceries, but other than driving the girls where they needed to go, I tried to do as little as possible. I was more in the mood to watch. I finally saw the newest version of Casino Royale, Ten Items or Less and a documentary of the events that led up to the black gloved fists to the sky salute at the 1968 Summer Olympics. For the most part, it was some good viewing.

Coadster went to her show choir competition and called me from there to tell me that a girl performed who was in the MTV show Made. She was from Cedar Rapids and had asked to be made into a human beat box. Dude. She totally stole my idea. I asked Coadster if the girl was any good at beat boxing and she said she was alright.

Anyway, I basically treated myself to a special Valentine's Day/Single's Appreciation Day celebration and gave myself a Get Out of Jail Free card this weekend. I bought myself some take-out, treated myself like a princess and fell in love with myself all over again. Who knows? Maybe next Valentine's Day, if I still feel the same way about myself, I'll finally give myself a ring or something.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

You Put Your Passion Out Under the Pressure Pin

Here is a very grainy photo of Coadster's choir that I took with my phone. They worked with singing in different spaces and sang on either side of the audience at one point.

Hey, kids. It's almost Friday and it's also almost Valentine's Day Weekend. Last year at this time I was in a relationship, and getting ready to go down to Bourbon, Missouri with my ex-boyfriend and some other people to shoot guns, eat food and do some drankin'. It was a great time, but it was also a lot of time and bother that I don't have to worry about now. This year, I'm single with no real plans and totally fine with it. Really. I'm not just saying that either. Somewhere in the last couple of weeks, I got in the spirit of hibernating and I've been so happy at home hanging with my girls, cooking, watching movies and geeking out. If I can find time to get a run in, then I'm even happier.

Here are some people with the graduate students' union rallying outside of my office. Another camera phone photo.

So, I guess I don't have any concrete plans for this weekend, and I kind of like that. There are plenty of variables. One is that it may or may not snow up to six inches tomorrow evening. I also may or may not get my income tax refund tomorrow. I've heard a rumor that my girlcrush was thinking about visiting on Friday night. If she does, I may try and meet everyone for a drink. Of course, that all depends on what my daughters are doing.

I do know a couple of things for sure. One is that Coadster will be gone all day on Saturday for a show choir competition. Two is that my ex-husband's play is finally ending this weekend. I'll have the girls both nights this weekend, but starting Monday, their dad will actually be able to start spending time with them again.

For that one "holiday" that some of you like to refer to as Valentine's Day and that I prefer to call Singles Appreciation Day, right now I'll probably celebrate by hanging out by myself, being all comfortable in my lounge pants and geeking-out as I see fit. Hell, I might even treat myself to that bottle of wine and really whoop it up.

How about you all? Do you celebrate Valentine's Day, and if so how? Do you celebrate Single's Appreciation Day, and if so, how? Or do you completely ignore it all and look at it as just another Saturday?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dug From the Night, Your Eyes as Black as Coal

Stinky on her 5th birthday, about 4 1/2 months before she got sick.

Okay, tonight has been crazy. Basically, I got home from work, talked to Coadster, went to her choir concert and then came home and helped Stinky with her homework and studying for her test. Stinky's test tomorrow is for health class and is on the male and female reproductive systems and other sex education kind of stuff. I used to work in an ob/gyn clinic, so I could really help her. For right now, she has to show me all her completed homework and study for every quiz and test with me. She was a little resentful at first, but once we started going over everything, she seemed to really like showing me what she knew.

And just so you don't think that the only way to get attention in my house is to fuck shit up, I will be rewarding Coadster with a lunch date in the next week. She has been great about just doing things like the laundry and taking in the garbage can from the curb without ever being asked, that I wanted to show her how much I appreciated it. I think we all like to be recognized for doing our part when we don't really have to.

Now, February 12th is the tenth anniversary of Stinky having meningitis. She was five when she got it and lost ten lbs in only a couple of days. When you only weigh a little over 40 lbs to begin with, that's a huge drop. She had a bacterial meningitis that originated from strep and then the bacteria moved to her spinal chord fluid. We were lucky, because she had only had antibiotics once berfore in her life, so her body responded really well to the three different kinds they gave her, just in case.

I worked at the hospital at the time, so there would be times where I worked all day, stayed all night with Stinky and worked the whole next day, spending roughly 35 straight hours at that icky place. I remember hanging out at the hospital by myself on Valentine's Day watching the movie Smoke Signals, while Stinky was unconscious in the bed next to me. No matter what I've done on any Valentine's Day since, it has seemed wonderful compared to that.

So, now ten years later, I feel so very lucky for all of the gray hair she's given me and the ones she'll be causing through the rest of her teen years.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

She Says to Leave it to Me, Everything Will Be Alright

Here is what happened to the snow in my front yard after it was warm for a day or two.

Tonight I'm just giving you a quick post. I had a choir concert for Stinky tonight, I have another one for Coadster tomorrow night, my iTunes got all weird somehow and went back to an old library version from October, so we could easily lose at least a hundred songs I've put in there since then. We still have those songs on the iPod itself, but I'm afraid that once I attach it to our iTunes, it will all revert back to the old library. If you know how to make sure that doesn't happen, I would love some help with it. Thanks and smooches.

The other thing is that Stinky is back to messing up in school again. It seems I go through this about every other year with her. I love her, she's a sweet kid, but she is lazy as hell and she gets so caught up in the social aspect of school, that she forgets she's there to learn something too. Oops! I hate it when her edumakayshun gets in the way of her important socializing. I detest being the hard-ass. Which is why I try to set things up to prevent me from having to take on that role. I tell the girls my expectations, next I tell them what they stand to lose if they don't meet them and what they will gain if they exceed them. Then I follow through either way. There is no need for boundary pushing, because they won't gain anything from it. It usually works really well...That and the fact that I'm not a yeller, I'm one of those parents who just gets disappointed, and my girls REALLY hate it when I'm disappointed in them.

Soooo, this is the first time in a long, long time that I may actually have to follow through. I've told Stinky every trimester that there is no reason for her to get anything less than a C in any class. School is really easy for her, so if she does the work and hands it in on time, she will get a good grade. If she does get lower than a C in a class, she will lose her phone for the entire next tri and be grounded the first two weeks of it. This is a huge deal, because if she was being completely honest with herself, she might just say she loves her phone more than me. Right now she has a D in Algebra. Math is her easiest subject, (yeah, I'm not entirely sure we're related either) and she should be getting an A in it. So, it's been annoying me and stressing me out lately. I'll let you know if I have to take out my can of whup-ass in two weeks or not.

Well, so much for my short post. Don't get me wrong, I'm not super upset or anything. None of these things are horrible. It's more like I'm overwhelmed with stuff that should just work nicely, but isn't and now I think I should go to sleep and hope everything magically fixes itself when I wake up. It's worth a shot, right?

Monday, February 09, 2009

I Recall the Sunshine As You Were Melting

It's time for another installment of "what's in the storm drain by my house". I haven't taken a photo lately, because it's been covered with snow since the beginning of December, I think. Anyway, today you can barely see the grate because of all the sand that's covering it. There's also a chocolate milk carton, a plastic part to a car, a water bottle, and I think that's a Keystone beer can. Nothing but the finest for my storm drain.

Today, the weather was heavenly. It rained while I was at work, just like it always should. Then when it was time for me to run, it was perfect. I ran my four mile route and had no problem with it. I hope that means my cold is officially over. Which is good, because I am so over my cold. I'm so tired of my cold's bullshit, that I hope I never see its snot-filled face again.

The last couple of evenings, I've noticed the crows going all ape shit and flying in these huge swarms. Do crows swarm, or do they flock, or are they just big, shitting, cawing, pains in the asses, so who cares what you call their rallying together? They definitely have been overwhelming the sky and the trees. So, maybe now that I've kicked my cold to the curb, I'll start working on a nice case of the bird flu.

Even though the weather has been great, we are definitely at the ugly, ass-end of Winter. The snow is gray and dirty and now that most of it has melted, the exposed grass is brown and muddy. Lucky for me, I live across the street from a creek. The water is so dramatic right now, what with all the ice cracking loudly, and being pushed downstream. If this went on all the time, I might not need cable anymore.

Okay, my episode of Hodge Podge Lodge is over. (Does anyone else remember that show, or was it just in Arizona in the 70's?) I hope you feel at one with your immediate environment, and if you wanted to post a photo of what's clogging your storm drain, I promise to be fascinated by it.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Now I Don't Mean to Make You Frown. No, I Just Want You to Slow Down.

Here is a sign very close to my place of employment. Just a reminder.

This weekend was my relax and recuperate time. Originally, I was thinking about going out for a little minute on Friday night. When I got home from work, Coadster told me she was exhausted and had a headache and decided she didn't want to go to the basketball game after all. Stinky went with a friend, but I told Coadster we could just have a girl night.

What that meant, was that I made a nutritious dinner of nachos and salsa and guacamole. Hey, don't look at me like that. There's cheese, which is protein and dairy, avocado is a fruit, right? And then there's the fried and salted corn, which I believe is its own deliciously wonderful food group. Mmmmm. We watched The Secret Life of Bees and actually left the house for a few minutes to head to Dairy Queen for Mocha Moooo Lattes. So, basically. It was a perfect evening.

I woke up early (for me) the next day to take care of business. The girls and I went to Bruegger's for bagels and then to the post office to purchace Edgar Allen Poe stamps, because we are that fucking committed to promoting literature. Then we headed to Jiffy Lube for car maintenance.

Since Stinky had to go to her baskteball game that she still can't play in because of her broken finger, I decided to have a date with Coadster. She really wanted to see the movie, The Reader. It was pretty good, I have to say. I thought all the acting was amazing.

It was really warm here on Saturday. Though I should have waited, I still tried to run. I was only going to do my three mile route, and I wasn't strong enough to even finish that. I got about 2 and half miles before I had to stop and walk. I was so wiped-out afterward that I even had to take a little nap. I took today off, but I might try again tomorrow.

Sunday has been mellow as well. The play my ex-husband is directing went up this weekend, so the girls went to see it. Then Stinky had religious education classes for her confirmation this evening. They did readings on the saints, and Stinky's reaction was the same as Coadster's had been. Basically, it sucks to be a saint. I knew there was a reason I didn't even try.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

You Can Go With This, Or You Can Go With That

Here are my girls at Mt Rushmore in front of some mountain goats that just happened by.

Today's Saturday Scavenger Hunt word was chosen by K_Sara. Her word was options. Since we finally got a couple days of February thaw. I thought I'd put some photos up of one of our Summer vacations. It wasn't just warm in South Dakota, that year, it was hot.

I wanted to take a family fun vacation for my 40th birthday. We had a few options, but the best choice, for my daughters' ages at the time, seemed to be South Dakota.

The girls in front of the jelly fish tube at the Omaha Zoo.

We also had a few options of where to go and what to do on our trip. In the end, we chose to head to Omaha first and check out the zoo. It came highly recommended and it didn't disappoint.

Here is Stinky emerging from a tee pee at Wall Drug. My girls loved Wall Drug so much, that we had to go back for seconds on the way home.

We drove the next day to Wall drug and the Badlands. Then finally made it to our cabin in Custer State Park. We stayed there for a week and had a great time.

Me and Coadster in the Badlands.

Considering all of the other options, South Dakota was by far the best choice. I love having Summer vacation options. If I had the money, I'd go somewhere different every year.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I Got a Parachute to Land On You

Here is a rock announcing the Centennial in the town of Hills, Ia.

Well, kids. It seems as if I'm doing a hundred times better tonight. I still can't breathe properly and my ears are bugging me, but I've been able to sit-up successfully for most of the day. Soooo, anything interesting happen all week besides Lux Interior of The Cramps dying? All the cool kids on Facebook have been bemoaning his death on their status updates, which is how I found that out. One of my friends even said he accidently put his hand in Lux's puke a long time ago. I wish I could claim that kind of punk rock cred...Or maybe I don't, really.

Anyway, I'm feeling better and now I have to be careful that I don't start running around literally and figuratively all over the place again. I would really hate for this thing to reoccur.

Since it's February and we're being inundated with all that lovey-dovey Hallmark crap, I thought I might try to write out a thing or two I like about being single, when I think of it. This week's is that I'm glad I'm single when I'm sick. I hate having to be around other people when I don't feel well. Sure, my girls were around here and there in the evenings, but that's different. I just don't like being all gross and contagious and snotty around other people. I also get really internal when I don't feel well. It's much better when I can spend the day in my head or watching movies, and not feel like I have to explain myself or entertain anyone else when I'm not up for it.

Here are some store fronts in Hills, Ia.

Now, I guess it's the weekend. Originally, I was going to try to see some White guy rappers at the Picador. No, these are good White guy rappers. They aren't those ridiculous wanna be street guys. Both Shaffer the Darklord and Coolzey are performing at the Picador on Friday night and their rhymes are funny, smart and sometimes even charmingly self-depracating. Just what you want in your White guy rapper. I doubt I'll be able to make it now, since I'm not 100 percent better, and I do have the girls, but I hope tons of other people get out and see them.

My friend G. was IM'ing me on Facebook tonight and told me that a bunch of folks were going out for our friend D.'s birthday. I told her to text me if they made it to the bar they were going to, before 10 when I have to pick my girls up at the basketball game they're going to. I might be able to join them for a drive-by drink early. Other than that, I don't have many other plans. I'm going to try to lie low and hopefully get a run or two in during the warm-up that's supposed to happen this weekend.

Oh, one more thing. I think I get a new phone later this month. My company is Verizon and I was thinking about getting a Blackberry. Does anyone have anything to say good or bad about Blackberries? If you can, let me know what kind of Blackberry you have too. Thanks, in advance.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

"Doctor, Ain't There Nothing I Can Take?"

Here is box thingy. I'm pretty sure that's the technical term for it.

Well, kids. I'm having a hard time shaking this bad bug.

Here is a water bottle on a box backstage of Coadster's show choir performance last month.

Here is another bottle of water between all the ropes and pulleys backstage. It's nice to know that teenagers leave their crap all over school too and it's not just my house.

I've been sleeping like crazy, which seems to make me remember my whacky dreams better.

Here is another angle of those ropes and pulleys.

I woke-up for a bit tonight and watched the movie, Ratoullie all hopped-up on cold medicine. I highly recommend that particular combination.

Anyway, this is all I got for you tonight. Hopefully, I'll feel better tomorrow and can find something more interesting to blog about.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

What Did You Do to End Up Here?

Kids, I seem to have lost my internal germ battle, and went home sick from work. I must have a fever, because I'm super dizzy and most of my co-workers practically shoved me out the door, before I could infect them too. I've been sleeping on and off all day. So, I'm stealing from the old blog. This post was from January 2006 too. It's about a time I got sick from meat and marijuana poisoning. Some might say that would be a perfect illness. Anyway, here it is:

Because the Conservation Corps was a state organization, we got pulled wherever they needed us. We were all trained to fight wildland fires and floods and once a couple of groups had to go to an area in the Sierras and comb the backyard of serial killers named Lake and Ng looking for teeth and personal items of victims. Since we lived right on the border of Humboldt County, one summer we were summoned to cook for CAMP (campaign against marijuana production). No one wanted to do it. For one thing, we didn't believe in it, for another it was dangerous. Most of the growers were Vietnam Vets and had all their fields booby-trapped with fish hooks at eye level and other ingenious snares. If they found out we were connected in any way, it could have been very bad for us. The bigwigs told us that if we didn't do it, we would all be fired. Myself, my boyfriend at the time and 2 others agreed to go so that everyone could keep their jobs.

CAMP was made up mostly of CHIPS cops (man, the state loves it's acronyms) from the LA area. Picture Panch and John, overweight and dressed only in camouflage. Do you feel the bile rising in the back of your throat yet? Yeah, me too. Of course, they wouldn't speak to us and just assumed we were prisoners. We were reminded several times a day to make sure we wore gloves when we served them their food. After all, you wouldn't want us convicts passing on the HIV to them.

Their job was to fly around in helicopters looking for weed (No more lookin' for weed in all the wrong places...). When they found it, they would land, cut it all down and confiscate all the shit on the property. Then as we saw, they pinched enough of it not to get caught - the stuff, not the weed. The weed was all still green. They then flew back in the helicopters with the cut down weed in a net hanging from the bottom of it. The helicopter always looked like it had lost one of its cajones when it was flying in. Once they arrived at the camp, they would put a bunch of gas on the weed and burn it in a huge, expensive and sad bonfire.

One day when we worked there, they had confiscated 180 lbs of Thai stick in the San Francisco Bay. It was quickly shipped up to Humboldt and what didn't get taken by the CHIPS guys, was burned in a bonfire for over a day. We took turns going down to the trailer where the pot fire mountain was and emptying the already empty garbage can. By dinner time, we had been slow roasted in pungent herbs. The CHIPS guys liked steak. Every night, they liked steak. I hadn't eaten meat for over a year at that point, but the steak looked so good. Duuuuude. So, I ate half of a steak and then got very, very sick.

The best part of this story is that the next day, my new boyfriend's mother was coming up from San Francisco to meet me and apparently judge me very harshly. Even if I hadn't had the hazy fazies from too much weed and been lost-enzyme-sick from eating steak, she still would have hated me. She was originally from Trinidad. In our first meeting, she asked her son very loudly in front of me, "Why do you want to date this woodsy looking white girl when there are so many beautiful, refined, black women in the city?" Then the rest of her stay, she constantly brought up his ex-girlfriends who were all still single and brain surgeon super models. I met a few of them later, after we moved to San Francisco and I was sorely disappointed.

I dated Mr. Man for 2 1/2 years and got to know his mother better during the relationship. She was totally crazy and always still wished I was black, but she ended up liking me in the end. When we finally broke up, she kept voicing these scenarios about how her son and I would meet when we were in our thirties and both finally had our shit together and we'd live happily ever after - who knows, maybe I would submit to some kind of pigment enhancing procedure too.

My ex-boyfriend's mom took this picture the day we met and as you can see, I'm not the only woodsy-looking person in it. Can you tell I'm still green around the gills, though?

Monday, February 02, 2009

I Bring Wrath to Those Who Disrespect Me Like a Dame

Here is a barber shop sign in Hills, Ia.

I feel like I'm getting that bad cold my girls have both had. I know I always say this, but it's because it's always true...Kids are grubby little germ breeders. Since there's this gigantic bacterial war going on inside my body, and I want the good germs to win, I'm going to try to write quickly and go to bed at a decent time. A lack of time means I'll be random, because I won't have the several hours necessary for me to form one cohesive blog post. Yeah, yeah. I'm full of excuses.

1.) I love it when it warms up and the snow starts disappearing. Like I said last post, the ice had finally melted enough for me to run my six mile route on Saturday. Just like every other year, I couldn't help but notice all the dog poop landmines suddenly uncovered by the melting snow. Do people only pick up their dog's crap when it's warm enough for others to be out and catch them when they don't do it?

2.) I was going to spend a lot of Saturday cleaning and organizing. On that same day, Stinky wanted money to go to a movie with her friends. Of course, in our house, money don't come cheap. So, Stinky cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom in addition to her normal chores, leaving me plenty of time to sit on my ass when I got back from running. Nice. It's the closest I'll ever get to hiring a maid.

Here is the barber shop that goes with the sign. Closed for the evening.

3.) When I was out on Saturday night, some people at my table were talking about this guy who comes down to the Dublin sometimes who looks just like Anthony Michael Hall. They were wondering how old he was. (The guy in the Dublin, not the real AMH) If you've ever met me, you know that after I've had a beer or two, I can be easily dared into things. This time I even volunteered to ask him.

I stopped him at the bar, asked him his age and he told me he was 25. Then one of his friends showed up, who just happened to also be his boss. He was in his early thirties and getting his MBA, and a total pompous asshole. The pompous guy started aggressively hitting on me, but being a total butt about it. He wanted me to guess his age and then he wanted me to guess which business he owned in Coralville. Turns out, I didn't even know it existed. He was all offended, and I tried to be nice and explain that I don't make it out to Coralville much. He said, "So, what. You can't even go two feet away from your door?" I informed him, that I do indeed leave my house. I know the main drag of Coralville, I just don't drive down the side streets.

"...And don't worry," I said. "You didn't sound a bit condescending there." He acted all shocked that I would think that, but then as part of his "apology", he mentioned that English was only his 17th language. Gross. Thank god he wasn't trying to sound condescending, right?

I got a break for a minute when their other, totally hot, friend came up and introduced himself to me. He was surprisingly charming for someone wearing a "Likes to Fuck" hat. Both Anthony Michael Hall and Likes to Fuck went upstairs, because they both also liked to smoke and left me with Mr. Condescension. He immediately started badgering me about buying me a drink and telling me he would take me to Mexico with him and those two guys. I very politely declined his offer. I told him that I was done drinking for the night. He said he couldn't believe that. I explained that I try to be careful about how much I drink, and that I had already hit my limit, but it was really sweet of him to ask.

"You have dimples, " was his response to that.

"Yes, I do. But I'm still gonna have to decline. It was really nice meeting you," I offered my hand to him, but he wouldn't take it. He got all huffy and pissed off. He turned around to the bar and wouldn't even look at me. Whatever. If he didn't want to get rejected, then maybe he shouldn't have been such an unholy prick.

Okay. I guess that's all the fun I have time for tonight. May you win all of your internal bacterial battles.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

We Were Running All Around and Having a Blast

Here is a picture of my girl crush with her ever faithful fanny pack.

Okay, kids. This will be a lot of pics and few words. Just the way you like it. This weekend was insanely busy again, and I haven't had time to process anything yet. It was great. I watched movies with Coadster on Friday night, it warmed up enough on Saturday for me to run my six mile route, I went out Saturday night, and after some cooking, I went to my Superbowl party this evening. It was a kick-ass game and the Steelers won. Yea!

So, on Saturday night, my friend G. made us homemade pizza and then took us to a party her old college roommate was having at the Hills Community Center.

Hills is a town outside of Iowa City. I love going to small town bars or parties. I meet such interesting people, and it's great to go somewhere that isn't full of college students. At this thing in Hills, there were actually people who were older than me. Can you believe it? I sometimes forget that those people even exist.

I don't think we ever found out exactly what the party was about or for. There were a lot of people wearing pink and blue bowling shirts and there was a band playing oldies covers. We were a little different than most of the people at the party, but all the folks we spoke with were very nice. They took us to the back room and offered us shots. I can't really drink hard liquor, so I just documented the shot taking.

Apparently, the people in Hills are very authentic, or their clothing is, anyway.

The band was really fun and played songs everyone would know.

We got out among the bowling shirt clad kids and danced.

Eventually, we got tired and decided it was time to head back to Iowa City.

At the Dublin, we encountered some of our friends back from a wedding reception.

It seems many of our friends were a bit wine drunk from the reception and brought out their party tricks. The best one hands down was our friend's ability to balance almost anything on her head. I don't have that skill, but if I did, I would be so much more popular than I am right now.

All the cool kids wanted to be just like her and soon everyone in the bar was wearing their drink on their noggin...Except me, of course.

At last call, we ran upstairs to hail a cab and go back to our friend J.'s house. Just so you know, I really am wearing a skirt, it just doesn't look like it in this photo.

I stuck around for a few minutes and watched the Guitar Hero tournament, but I'm old and can't hang with the young'uns. I braved the icy sidewalks and went home and crashed. The end.