Thursday, April 30, 2009

Over Futile Odds and Laughed At By the Gods

I took a bunch of photos on my way to work this morning. It had just rained so everything was still dripping.

Tonight I think I'm gonna write a poem. Don't worry, I may never write another. As I've said before, I don't really understand poetry, (which I'm sure I won't have to tell you after you read this) but I was walking home from work and sick the other day and overwhelmed by Spring and it just came to me. It's all very tongue-in-cheek. The idea cracked me up and so you all have to be exposed to it too...Or not. Ready? No? Yeah, I'm not really sure I am either. I think I'm going to call it:

Iowa Seasons Can Just Blow Me

Damn it!
You've suddenly come a-courtin' again
Looking all sweet and calling out to me

Wasn't it just a couple of months ago
When you were so cold and unfeeling?
Slapping me in the face with your ice pellets and frozen winds?
No matter how much I complained
(And you know I did) You were

But now you're overwhelming me with flowers
I can feel the difference in your touch on my skin
And your smell
Your smell drives me crazy
All dirty and warm and loamy
Distracting me and making me
Feel like maybe I can start turning my porch light on again.
(Although my friends like to remind me that there is a huge difference
Between turning my porch light on and getting drunk and
Accidentally leaving my back door

At first you make me hopeful
I'm reminded of how sweet you can be
And I start shedding layers
Exposing myself

But then I start to feel it
Something happens to piss you off
And you're suddenly on a tear
You thunder, you rage and you throw things around
You are a destroyer

Then when you calm down
You make up for it
You didn't mean it, you just care about me so much
It makes you do things you're not always proud of
You will try harder
You say and you show me your blindingly white smile
I do know better
We've done all of this many times before
I'm sure it's just a matter of time until you stifle me with your
Hot fetid breath constantly on my neck
And later, when you suddenly turn cold again

Yet I stay every year
Waiting for that first show of sweetness and

*I got the "porch light and backdoor" imagery from my friend Sara, who got it from another friend of hers. So, I'm not sure who gets the attribution, I just know it isn't me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oh, But They're Weird and They're Wonderful

Here is the fence separating me from the beer garden at Joe's Place.

For those of you who are new here, my taste in viewing things, is much the same as it is for hearing things and eating things. I like everything, both good and bad. I will watch any hard hitting documentary, but all kinds of cheese too. I think I may have already mentioned the fact that when I was pregnant with Stinky, my friend Anne and I would try to catch every Sunday night made-for-TV movie and saw all three Joey Buttafuoco/Amy Fisher ones. Man, that was a banner year for television.

Anyway, I just wanted to clear that up before you try to start judging me on my viewing preferences. Don't bother. I get it. I have no filter and we can start right there. So, after that preface, I will now list some of the things I've watched recently:

Here is a funny thing that reminded me just a little bit of the robot from Lost in Space.

1.) The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - I'm kind of digging this HBO series that takes place in Botswana. The music is great and Jill Scott does a really good job. Sure, it's quirky, and a little corny, and the mysteries all seem to be too tidily solved, but I like that about it. I also love that Jill Scott's character makes no excuses for her "traditional African form". She is big and smart and sexy and doesn't take shit from anyone. A girl after my own heart.

2.) Tough Love - This is total trash on VH1, but I watch it all the time anyway. At first, I thought it would be interesting to see what guys wanted in women, because lord knows, I have never been able to figure it out on my own. But, it hasn't revealed much except the usual: sexy vs. whorish and be honest, but say things in such a way that you put a positive spin on shit and don't be a drunken slut if you want a relationship and not just a hook-up. Now, I just watch it to feel better about myself. Most of the women on the show are shallow drama queens. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times; it's all about who you compare yourself to.

3.) Rescue Dawn - This is a Werner Herzog film with Christian Bale. I didn't know much about it before I watched it, except that it was a Vietnam flick. The first thing I noticed was that my college friend Toby is in it. He plays the funny guy, which is his normal gig, but he does it really well. The second thing was that it seemed really familiar, and then I realized it was the same story as a documentary, also by Herzog, called Little Dieter Needs to Fly that I saw several years ago. The movie was very slow moving, but the scenery and the character studies were pretty interesting.

4.) Rachel Getting Married - Many of you have already seen this Jonathan Demme movie. I know a lot of people had issues with it, but I really liked it. It's filmed in such a way that you feel like you just got dropped off at a wedding where you don't really know anyone and you have to figure out all the family dynamics on your own. Of course, the people were completely foreign to me. I've never come close to living in that kind of privilege, but again, I liked that escapism about it. Oh, and there was tons of great and varied music too.

I watched this with Coadster and it brought on some interesting conversations. The most obvious being the subject of addiction. I try to impress moderation and balance upon my girls. Most people are told not to drink, but most people end up drinking at some point in their lives. I talk to the girls about how to drink responsibly. As I've said many times before, I have to be very careful about how much I drink, because I have almost no tolerance for alcohol. They don't call me two beer Churlita for nothin'. I tell the girls that when they get to a point in their lives to drink, not to play drinking games or do a bunch of shots or share a pitcher. If you drink cans or bottles, it's a lot harder to get roofied and you can keep better track of how much you've had. I've also said, it's one thing to have a drink here and there but if you have to take drugs or alcohol just to get through the day, you need to look closely at what your real problem is.

The other subject we talked about was the family dynamic in the film. Debra Winger (I also made Coadster watch some YouTube clips from Urban Cowboy after she said she'd never heard of Debra Winger before. Some people may consider that child abuse) played the emotionally distant mother. Having me for a mom, Coadster thought she was really weird. She didn't understand why she couldn't just have a real conversation about things or want to share in her daughters' lives.

Coadster wondered if Anne Hathaway's character was the middle child and if that was why she needed so much attention. I said I thought so. Then Coadster made some comment about how everyone knows that the youngest kid always gets all the attention. Just like how Stinky is so much more spoiled than she was. I told her that I thought that was an interesting perception, since Stinky said almost the same thing about her just the other day. Coadster seemed shocked and wanted to know how anyone could think she was spoiled. I gave her several examples, and she said, "Oh. I guess I never thought about it that way."

Okay. That's probably enough of my pseudo movie/show reviews. Come back tomorrow and I'm sure I'll prattle on and on about nothing again.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Can You Really Cough It Up Loud and Strong?

What a friend calls her "wailing wall". She's in the process of tuck-pointing it.

So, I woke up today feeling like my throat was being ripped from the inside by razor blades. Since I knew strep was going around and I didn't think my co-workers would appreciate me spreading it to them, I decided to stay home today and get tested for it and sleep most of the day...Oh, and drink as much Chai tea as I can stand, and I can stand a lot, believe me. It doesn't look like I have strep, so I'm going to try really hard to go to work tomorrow.

I think I'll make this super, duper short tonight, so I can sleep even more. I was going to blog about some stuff I watched lately, but I'll have to save that for tomorrow.

I just noticed on my site meter that someone googled: "fort madison library caught with someone looking at porno."

I wish I did have a blog post about that, but from the guys I know from Ft. Madison, and I seem to know an inordinate amount, that someone could be anyone and everyone. I may have to google that same thing and see what the real story is. FMDM's folks are always listening to the police scanner down there, maybe he could find out for me...

Okay, I'll take my leave now and try not dream about people getting caught looking at porn in the Ft Madison library.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How Many Lives Are Living Strange?

Here is a picture of a lovely bird bath.

Tonight I'm still sick, so this post will be pretty short and random. Ready?

1.) With my illness and my tendency to create bizarre scenarios in my head, I decided to do some reading up on the swine flu that's been going around. One of the things they suggested in order to protect yourself against it, was to stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing. If I did that, I'd never go into work. It's like the TB ward in my office all year long.

2.) On Sunday the girls and I went grocery shopping. We only had about $50 to spend until I get paid on the first, so we tried to be careful about what all we got. Sure, I had a credit card to use if we went over, but I really didn't want to have to use it. When the guy rang up all of our groceries, it came to $49.18. The girls and I all cheered and the cashier looked very confused, but laughed just the same. Poor guy.

Here are some pretty little daffodils. Happy Spring!

3.) So, this month two of my gay friends are coming back to Iowa to get married. My woman friend and her girlfriend will be here this Friday and my male friend and his boyfriend are coming on the 15th. They are both double professional incomes with no kids and have been waiting many, many years to legally wed. The way I see it, if California doesn't feel like it needs those kinds of dollars, Iowa will happily grab them up, thank you very much. Plus, now I get to see my wonderful friends again. Double bonus.

4.) On Saturday night, some young boy was talking to me at the bar. After he left, one of the women I was sitting with leaned over and said, "You do know that that guy was totally hitting on you, don't you?" Then jokingly finished, "And he was wearing a crochet headband. How could you say no to that?" I think the more appropriate question is, who would say yes to a guy wearing a crochet headband?

5.) You know how I'm always talking about the fact that my girls have almost totally opposite personalities? Well, here's just another illustration:

Stinky: I can't wait until you leave next year and I can have the room to myself.

Coadster: You'll miss me. You already said you'd miss me...

Stinky: Maybe, but it will be nice not to have you bossing me around all the time.

Coadster: You'll miss me doing all the laundry and folding all of your clothes for you.

Stinky: No I won't. I could care less about that kind of stuff. Normally, I just pick something up off of the floor, shake it, smell it and put it on.

Apparently, Stinky is in dire need of a finishing school.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I Wanna Take You There Like the Staple Singers

Here's me and some great girlies. If you look closely, you can see a bit of the plaid skirt I bought at the Gap outlet for .97.

So, I started feeling like I was getting sick on Friday. I've been furiously taking Zycam to try and get rid of it, but I woke up on Saturday with a horrible sore throat and feeling very weak. I used it as a perfect excuse to take lots and lots of naps.

On any normal Saturday, I'd just stay home when I was sick, but my girl crush was going to be in town for a bachelorette party and another friend was having stupid boy problems and needed moral support, so I went out for a bit. I did go home early, so I could get some decent sleep, though.

When I first got down to the Dublin, the bachelorette party was still at the Hilltop and I sat with my friend who was putting up with WAY too much shit from a stupid boy and another friend who met her husband (who is wonderful) after she stopped putting up with crap from other guys. I was busy spouting off about how I won't put up with games or bullshit from guys anymore. If a guy doesn't want a relationship, then I'm not interested. If the guy wants to hang out and not go out on a proper date, then I'm not interested. If a guy doesn't respect me, then I'm not interested, and if that means I'm single forever, then at least I know I'm happier alone than I am in a bad relationship.

Whoever oversees the universe, must be either a real asshole or have a bizarre sense of humor, because before I even stopped spewing out all of my little blah, blah, blah, I receive a text from Mr. B.. I haven't heard from him in a month, so I was a little surprised. I guess it was a perfect opportunity to put my money where my mouth was. We texted back and forth a bit and then he called me. It was almost impossible to hear each other in the bar, but he did tell me that he found a great place for him and his son and they were moving in two weeks. I was really happy for him, because I knew it was something he'd been working on for a while. It was nice to hear from him, but in my head we're just friends who drunk text from time to time. Of course, he told me that I'm the second thing he thinks about every day (his son being the first, presumably). I just tried to ignore that. If it were really true, I'm sure he'd contact me more often than once every month or two when he was drunk and actually make an effort to see me. So, I imagine the reality is that he wanted to tell someone about his change in situation who would get really excited with him about it, and I was happy to do that.

Now, on to something more fun. The bachelorette party, along with my girlcrush invaded the bar with a vengeance.

They made quick work of moving the tables and chairs out of the way to create the dance floor.

They also brought fun party props. As we all know, drinks taste so much better when sipped through a crazy straw.

And the girlcrush also taped a cute little pink appendage to herself.

It took her a minute to figure what to do with it...

...But with a little help from a friend, she made good use of her new extremity.

After she was, uh, done, she went back to performing some of her best show choir moves for the fun kids at the bar.

As you can imagine, the pink penises (i?) never got old and boys were whipping them out at every opportunity. I wish I could have stayed to see the same schtick 100 more times, but I was fading fast, so I went home and went straight to sleep.

Luckily, the girl crush will be back in town next weekend for another friend's baby shower, and if this stupid cold doesn't evolve to an evil swine flu, I plan to be rested and ready to roll by then.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Friday Night and Everyone's Moving

I love this photo. V. looks like the bat leader of the dog pack.

Tonight was one of those crazy, rush around nights in the Churlish household. I got home from work, dropped Coadster's soccer jersey off at her game, went running, came home, picked up Stinky, went to Coadster's game, took the girls for some greasy, crappy fast food, got gas and a few groceries to last until Sunday and made it home with a half hour to spare until I had to take Coadster to jazz choir rehearsal at nine. Whew!

Here are some peonies coming up by a headstone. It's so very "beginning and end of the cycle", isn't it?

So, what's on tap for the weekend, you ask?...Or maybe you didn't, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. Sadly, I have to work the entire Friday tomorrow. I put in my vacation requests for the next two months, so in May I'll work half days on the 1st and the 15th. (Coadster's 17th birthday. Eek!) Then get Memorial day off. In June I always take the the two days off after the girls' last day of school. This year those days fall on a Friday and Monday. Perfect. Then I'll take three more days off at the end of June. I kind of like breaking my week of vacation up so that I get at least one day off every week in June.

Friday night Coadster's going to the free concert of the band, Motion City Soundtrack at the student union for Riverfest and Stinky is going to see the Hannah Montana movie and then either sleepover at a friend's house or have that friend sleep at our house. Me? I'm planning on driving Stinky and her friend to their movie, but then just staying home and drinking a beer and watching a movie on my own. It's what I've been fantasizing about doing all week. That's how lame I am.

Saturday, I'll do practical stuff like recycling, and helping Coadster study for her AP government exam and get all of our bike maintenance done. Then I'll go grab a beer with my friend G. Rumor has it that my girl crush will be in town for a bachelorette party, so I'll try to hook up with her at some point too. You can bet your sweet ass, I won't forget my camera this time around.

Sooooo, what are all you all's plans? Will you get to do the thing you've been fantasizing about all week? (Please feel free not to go into any detail)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Simple Prop to Occupy My Time

I'm posting two tree photos tonight, in celebration of Earth Day.

Well, kids. It's just another exhausted Wednesday. A good day, but I've been having some motivational problems. I had a little time to myself for a change, which was good, I just wish I could have spent it lying on my couch watching a movie or something equally relaxing. Maybe this weekend...

Here is a whole row of trees by a lane. I could just hug them all.

Okay, since I'm so lame, I'm going to just post the random playlist my iPod created for me while I was running and leave it at that. Trust me, it's all I'm really good for right now.

"Galway Girl" - Steve Earle. It was just about a year ago that I saw him perform live at the Englert. I think he would be even better to see in some small town bar, playing with a real band.

"Got to Give It up Pt 1"- Marvin Gaye. Even his disco era stuff is awesome.

"The One I Love" - R.E. M.

"Gamma Ray" - Beck. This song is so fun to run to...Or to do anything, really.

"Mama Said Knock You Out" - LL Cool J. Don't call it a comeback!

"Johnny Too Bad" - The Slickers. This is from the soundtrack of the movie The Harder They Come. There was a time in my life when I was delusional enough to think I'd be able to afford graduate school in comparative literature where I would study Latin American and Carribean literature and film. I think I've seen almost every Caribean movie made up to a certain year.

"Raspberry Beret" - Prince. This is one of those songs that takes me right to a particular place and time whenever I hear it: My first day at the salmon restoration site in the California Conservation Corps. in Leggett, Ca. in 1985.

"Come On Eileen" - Dexys Midnight Runners

"Ceremony" - New Order. Better this than "Blue Monday", which is annoyingly overplayed.

"Don't You Just Know It" - Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns

Today I was thinking about how I get songs stuck in my head when I don't listen to to music while I run. In the past I was foolish enough to tell people I knew about that problem I have. An ex-boyfriend used to think it was funny to play Ratt's Round and Round, when he saw me getting ready for a run. Have I mentioned to you how grateful I am for my iPod?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tonight I'm Gonna Have Myself a Real Good Time

Here is the Black Angel.

So, what say we lay off the heavy shit from the last post and just look at beautiful stuff and overly cute things? Sound good? Great!

This week is much better than last. We don't have quite as much crap going on. I tried to make a bunch of food on Sunday, so all I'd have to do is heat things up the rest of the week. So, my only plan tonight, was to drop off some leftover leeks and a CD to my friend K. I texted her to see if it was a decent time for me to stop by. She told me she just got kidnapped by her neighbors and they were going to walk their dogs and/or child in the cemetery and did I want to join them. Normally, I'd never have time to do anything like that during the week, but we were sitting pretty good, so I said what the hell?

K.'s gorgeous neighbor A. just happens to have a gorgeous daughter V. who had the most adorable bat costume she ran around the cemetery wearing. I did warn you we might be on cute overload on this post, didn't I?

K.'s other neighbor J. has an Irish wolfhound. She used to have two, but the older, female dog died earlier this year. The male dog she has left is much younger. You can tell by his rebellious emo bangs here.

Here is K. looking all chic and walking her dogs through the cemetery. I used the setting on my camera that makes everything black and white but one color, for an extra, added, creepy effect.

As you all know, you don't really want to overstay your welcome in a cemetery. We followed the signs out and made it to their street.

Here is a photo of V.'s super colorful glove next to her water glass.

Once there, we noticed another neighbor quietly sitting on his porch, and we took no time at all in ruining his peace. K.'s neighbors brought bottles of wine and glasses and we commenced to porch sitting and drinking. There is nothing much better than a gorgeous, Spring, Iowa evening spent walking and then porch sitting and drinking with good people. It was just the break I needed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

All These Lines on My Face Getting Clearer

Here's a photo of me in my twenties. So much attitude. So much bullshit.

What funny business this aging thing is. For the most part, I'd take being in my forties over my twenties any day. Sure, those lines are no longer so fine, and I can't bend at the knees without a loud, cracking protest from the place where my cartilage used to be, but it's an easy trade-off to finally be able to relax and like myself.

There was so much angst and unhappiness in my twenties. I would be paralyzed by what I used to call restlessness, but now know was something more akin to self-loathing. I felt threatened by almost everyone. I dressed in such a way and wore more than enough black eyeliner to let people know they wanted to avoid me. I hated you first and best - whomever you were. Gawd, how tedious I was.

Here is a photo the Dexter took of me dancing last month. So little shame. So much dorkiness.

I still see glimpses of my former self. Like this evening when Coadster asked me to go to her AP Government study session, so she could get extra credit. My immediate gut reaction was to go find my black leather motorcycle jacket and sit in the back of the class, surrounded by my invisible wall. To be honest, I did sit in the back of the class, and it took me a minute or two to warm up to finding someone who shared a similar political term. We had to match up terms, and the students then would write a sentence with them. The kid who's term went with mine, was a bigger dork than I was and his dad was totally pleasant. He now worked at ACT but had previously worked in the same office where I'm currently employed. He had seen me running down Rochester Street before. His wife arrived and she was also very nice. I suddenly remembered I wasn't an angst ridden freak anymore. I looked and acted (you know, for the most part) like a middle-aged mom. When did that happen?

When I was younger, I never thought I was enough of anything, and I dated guys who helped instill that in me. Now, my friend Ed jokes that I'll never meet a guy who likes me as much as I like myself, and it just might be true. Thank god I'm old.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Now Everybody Needs Some Time and Everybody Knows the Rest of It's Fine

Here is a photo that Coadster took when we were at Lake Rath-bun a couple of weeks ago.

So, guess what? I forgot to bring my camera on Saturday night. I know. I must have been off my game.

I got a call from my friend G. on Saturday afternoon to see if I wanted to go out with her and her roommates and I was up for the challenge. We didn't meet until 10, so I had plenty of time to hang by myself and get some cleaning done, after the girls went off to do their things.

I ran into my friends Sara and Catherine on the way to the Dublin.They had just come back from a charity auction and were on their way to the Motley Cow to drink more wine. They invited me along, but I had already made plans.

Catherine and I were friends in college and then she moved away and finally moved back to town last year to take over her family's clothing store that shares her name. She was lamenting the fact that all the people she knew had moved away and she hadn't met any new people who weren't lame. I invited them to come down to the Dublin to meet my friends who are so decidedly not lame and drink margaritas with me. You all know how I am, I love all of my friends to meet my other friends and I hope everyone gets along. Of course, I hang out with almost every kind of person there is, so my little social experiments meet with varied results.

They agreed and I got to show off one group of friends to another. The results this time were really positive. I was worried that there might be alpha female problems between Catherine and G. and D.. Both Sara and I are sassy, but not particularly bossy. Catherine, G. and D. are delightedly sassy and bossy, but they all seemed to be fine with bossing each other around and laughing about it. Both Catherine and Sara agreed to come down and hang out with us on a more regular basis. Score!

Okay. You know how I've been trying to stay away from boys other than my male friends? I guess I'm not avoiding them, I'm just very careful not to get myself in a disheartening situation right now. Anyway, I had some funny, extremely harmless boy anecdotes from Saturday night.

The first one was when I was walking with Sara and Catherine to check out the Northside bars for a little minute. There was a group of guys walking behind me. They said something to me that I ignored. I figure it's a good idea to to tune out stupid drunk people and since I have children, I'm an expert at blocking out whatever it is I don't want to hear. So, one of the guys says, "Hey, I'd much rather have you tell me to fuck-off than to run off and ignore me."

Always willing to oblige someone a simple and attractive request, I turned around and said, "Fuck-off!" Then raised my arms and cheered myself for being so agreeable. All the guys followed suit by raising their arms and cheering me too. Sweet!

Later in the night, I went back to the Dublin and was designated to play songs on the jukebox. If you're a girl, you know you can't walk up to a juke box without some guy coming over and bugging/judging you about your music choices. On Saturday night a guy from Davenport came up and started giving me shit. He had just come from the 311 concert and was in good spirits and cute and pleasant and funny. So, it was fine. I even played the Pantera song he requested. Then when I was done, he introduced himself to me. I told him my name and he said, "Cool. I'll just warn you that I probably won't remember your name. I smoke a lot of pot." My guy friends told me I should give him points for honesty. So, fine. I gave him his imaginary points, but also wasn't tempted away from my self-imposed boy moratorium.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

She's Fresh as a Summer Breeze

The Saturday Scavenger Hunt word was chosen by Laura B. at What Fresh Hell is This? blog. She chose the word fresh. Originally, I had planned to paint the above photo I took a couple of years ago and post that as a fresh take on an old picture. But yesterday, I was in the need of some freshening up of my own. I've been so overwhelmed as of late, and knew that I would be a much better person if I selfishly used my four hours of vacation to relax and do things just for me.

So, I had a nice long run when I got off work, and since it was so warm out, I sat in a lounge chair and read a novel and soaked up some badly needed vitamin D for over an hour. I can't remember when the last time I took that much time out to lounge and read was. Then, after all that relaxing made me tired, I took an hour long nap until Stinky called me to pick her up from track practice. I felt so fresh and I'm a much better person and parent because of that. Sometimes my selfishness helps everyone I'm around.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Don't Know How to Tell You All Just How Crazy This Life Feels

Here is a picture of a parking meter and a drainage pipe up against the Bluebird cafe/diner/whatevethehellit'scalled.

Ah, hell, kids. Is this week almost over yet? Didn't I call it yesterday? Remember when I said my head might explode? Well, I think it did a little, but on the inside. Where no one can really tell...From a distance anyway.

There was all this schedule finagling that was supposed to happen. My ex was going to the soccer game at the school outside of Cedar Rapids to pick-up Coadster to get her back in time for her jazz choir concert thingy because I don't get home from work until 5. Then I was going to take it from there. It was going to be kind of nice, because I would have time to get a run in before the other running. Then right before I was ready, I got a call from the ex to say that his car had broken down somewhere in North Liberty and I would have to pick up Coadster.

So, I went and as you all well know, I have no sense of direction. I took one little wrong turn and then figured it out. Meanwhile, Coadster was trying to figure out what was going on, and called her dad, who's cell phone ran out of minutes so he couldn't answer, and me, who was driving on the interstate and couldn't hear the phone I probably wouldn't answer anyway while I was driving. Coadster started to spaz that maybe I was hurt or in an accident. When I finally made it to the school, which is much more like some weird compound of several grade, middle and high schools, Coadster was crying. I calmed her down and we figured out where the hell she was and where the hell I was and we finally got it right. Whew!

Needless to say, I am beat like a rug, and not at all at the top of my game, so I won't be cutting anyone with my sharp wit at any point in this post...Then I guess it's like every other post I write.

The good thing is that I gave myself a another half day tomorrow. I will have FOUR WHOLE HOURS to myself tomorrow. Yes, that needed to be all in caps. That's how much of a big deal it is to me. The difference between this week and last week, is that this week I have no plans whatsoever. I am up for anything, and then again nothing. The only thing I'm planning for is my six mile run tomorrow. It's supposed to be 70 degrees and I really need to experience the meditative benefits of running. I can't wait to have at least an hour with me and my iPod and the sidewalk and not being asked one single question that entire time. How lovely!

What kind of loveliness will you be experiencing this weekend?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

There's a Black-Winged Gull With a Broken Back

Here is Stinky at her confirmation.

Well, I just spent most of my evening at Stinky's confirmation. I'm beat and tomorrow will be a mosh of soccer games and track meets and a choir performance. Since most of these things are out of town, it will be more logistical issues of getting teenagers where they need to be and fed and maybe find some kind of helmet to wear that will keep my head from exploding.

Oh, and during the day tomorrow, I'm going to leave work and meet the girls at their dental check-up to talk about getting a certain 15 year old some badly needed orthodontia. My insurance will cover a little of it, but it sounds like the bulk will come from me and so I might have to scout around for a good bank to rob. Let me know if you're privy to any insider information. Thanks.

Okay, the rest of this post will be short and full of religious icons. I'm sure it's because I grew up Catholic, but the dramatic religious statues fascinate and creep me out all at the same time. I keep expecting them to come alive and start bleeding or talking or something.

FMDM and I were instant messaging for a couple of minutes today. He's been trying to get me addicted to a new video game and judging from the other games he hooked me on, I'm sure I'll be trying to liquify and shoot this new game into my arm in no time. He also gave me shit about the fact that he thought I'd start on fire just walking into a church. But I'll have you know, I'm still here and at normal body temperature. So there.

I think this is a statue of St Francis. He was my favorite Saint as a child and we had a book about how he was the animal protector. As a kid I fancied myself as a savior of animals and tried to heal birds and baby bunnies from the dogs and cat attacks in the neighborhood. I guess I wasn't very good at it, because most of them died. I'd put their dead bodies in margarine tubs to bury in the backyard, but the Arizona ground is usually too dry and hard for a kid to dig up, or else I was just lazy. Usually, my poor brother would end up cursing me when he came across the stacked-up tubs of decomposing creatures while cleaning out our carport. Oops.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

And Though You Want to Last Forever, You Know You Never Will

I took this at the girls' choir concert. My daughters go to one of the gaudiest Catholic churches I've ever seen.

Oh, good lord, kids. We are smack dab in the middle of our busy season here at the Churlish household. As I'm sure I've mentioned a few hundred times on my blog, my parents were artists and it was the seventies and structure was never their strong suit. In turn, organization of time and anything else, has never been my strong suit either. Because of that, I have to work even harder than most people to get my shit together. I have to be careful to do everything in a certain order, or I'll forget to do a lot. It isn't something that comes naturally to me. Also, chaos doesn't really bother me either. So, after all that, sometimes no matter how organized you are, or how much you try to prepare ahead of time, your daughters still might end up eating their chicken fajita tacos in the car going from track practice to their confirmation rehearsal.

Stinky's making her confirmation tomorrow night and not a minute too soon. She foolishly tried to lie to me tonight, and about something totally stupid. I don't get it. I don't know how many times I've told the girls how much I hate to be lied to, but they keep trying it anyway. Unfortunately for them, I've dated some of the biggest and best liars in the free world, and I can smell one a mile away. Plus, my girls can't lie to me. Like tonight when I called Stinky on it, her eyes got even bigger than normal and she started to laugh nervously (which is my favorite uncomfortable habit) and then tried to lie to me anyway. Duh.

Anyway, maybe this religion thing will put the fear of god into her. I like to consider myself a spiritual person, but I don't really believe in organized religion. If you've been reading my blog, we've already covered this on here. I'm just stating it again for those who haven't. My girls go to a Catholic church with their dad. I don't have any problem with it. I think religion is great for people who are into it and find comfort in it. Hey, whatever gets everyone through their lives as healthy and happily as possible, right? I was raised catholic, but my mom encouraged me to question everything, and I did, and now I have WAY too many issues with churches to practice any one of them . There are plenty of things I've taken from Catholicism and many other religions that I've studied. Like my mother, I encourage my daughters to question everything and check out as many other beliefs as possible. You never know what they'll be able to use in their lives.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Being Good Isn't Always Easy, No Matter How Hard I Try

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Saturday. Saturday was busy as hell. I woke-up and got the girls to track practice at nine. Coadster went to soccer practice after that and I went on a 6 mile run. Aaaahhhh.

In the afternoon we went to the big scary maul to get even more shin guards for soccer, and a sweater for Stinky to wear with the dress she picked out to make her confirmation in on Wednesday night. Of course, I couldn't resist the comic book t-shirts in the boy's section at Old Navy either. That's me wearing my new Silver Surfer t-shirt out later that night.

At 6:30 I headed to my friends' house and let them make me an amazing dinner of manicotti, salad and bread and then tell me hilarious stories of all of their most recent bar exploits. They usually go out a couple of nights a week, which I couldn't handle even if I didn't have kids. Luckily, hearing their stories is just as much fun as experiencing it all myself. By the time we were ready to go out, we were laughing so hard we were crying.

For some reason, I had a hard time rallying myself to be out and about. I had a great night by myself on Friday, and I wasn't so into the social scene. My friend G. had gone out the night before, and was feeling the same way, so the first hour or so, we both watched other people's antics. Which seemed to include a lot of yelling and screaming at the television broadcasting the Cubs game.

I finally hit my stride and amused myself by pointing my camera at my friend Bryan. Apparently, it's impossible for him not to make a goofy face when he realizes he's being photographed.

I love our group of guy friends. A lot of them are still in their twenties and we have a big sister relationship with them, where we boss them around and give them shit until they want to punch us, but they take it and are pretty good natured about it. A few weeks ago, one of the guys was talking to me and talking to me and talking to me and he wouldn't stop, and I even gave him shit about it, but I guess he couldn't help it. I just sat there with my eyes glazed over while he "Blah, blah, blahed". Finally, my friend G. came over and looked at me and then looked at the guy and said,

"Honey, you are so adorable...But why are you still speaking?" And I was ever so grateful.

In the photo above, they're all singing along to Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man". I'm sure if it weren't for Pulp Fiction, they never would have heard of that song.

My hot crazy friends showed up at the very end of the night, right when all I wanted to do was go to sleep. I did apologize for not having anything to say. They had just come back from some weird body building competition in the Quad Cities. My friend Lyd is a humanities professor and loves spectacle more than just about anything else.

I took the photo above while we were waiting for Lyd's husband to show up and give us a ride home. Some bonehead with a chaw in his mouth decided we really wanted to hear what he had to say. Guess what? He thought wrong.

And that was my Saturday night. I hope you had the night that was right for you.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I'd Like to Rest My Heavy Head Tonight on a Bed of California Stars

So, tonight I thought I'd do the Saturday Scavenger Hunt one day late. Once again, this has been a crazy busy weekend, so I figured I'd just write about what I did on Friday and combine it with the Scavenger Hunt. Alien CG picked the word this week and he chose Alien, of course. It was a great word.

Remember how I took a half day off on Friday? Well, I ran and that was great, but then I took on a little project. Stinky had a bunch of canvasses that my friend Bob and his Wife Allison had stretched for her 9th birthday. She had started paintings on several of them, but never finished them. I asked her if she was going to or if I could take some Gesso and try to get them light enough to paint over them. She told me to have at it and I did.

By Friday evening, I had at least five canvasses to work with. I took the girls to a show at United Action for Youth where a bunch of high school bands were playing and went home to paint. The only time I've ever set foot in a painting or drawing class was when I was modeling for them in college, so the whole thing was kind of alien to me. I figured the best way for me to learn was by doing and taking the tiniest baby steps in the world. The first painting I did was of that photo I posted on here last week - the one my friend took of the Sequoias.

I don't pretend to know what I'm doing. I use Acrylic paints because they're less toxic and less expensive and easier to use. When I first flirted with the idea of trying to paint, my friend Sara came over and gave my girls and I a tutorial about all the ways you can use Acrylic paints and it was really helpful. I'm sure all my paintings will have a cartoonish or comic book quality about them, because that's what I know. Anyway, it was fun messing around with texture and color and stuff. I'm sure I'll do a lot more. I still owe Coadster a painting based on a photo I took of her years ago. I just wanted to get a few paintings under my belt, so I wouldn't mess hers up too badly.

So, that was my alien experience this weekend. Happy Easter to any of you who celebrate it, and happy 3rd Iowa City tornado anniversary tomorrow for myself and my neighbors who's lives were disrupted by it.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Take All Worry Out of Your Mind

Well, kids. I only have to work for fours hours tomorrow. Even I can handle that. It will be nice to get away from all the speculation on budget cuts at my job. No one knows for sure what will happen, but everyone really seems to like to obsess over it. Frankly, I'm tired of it. So, tomorrow when I leave work, I plan to turn off that part of my brain that stresses about stupid stuff I can't control...And if that doesn't work, I can always go get drunk. There. Now at least I have a plan.

Other than that, I'm not sure what all I'm doing this weekend. My friend G. and her roommates have invited me over to dinner on Saturday, so they can tell me stories that are too private to tell me in a bar. Judging from the things they normally tell me in bars, I am REALLY excited to hear what they have to say.

Now, I will leave you with a post I wrote on my old blog in November of 2005. Holy shit, that was a long time ago, yo. Its about nicknames we gave to customers at different places I've worked. Read on:

Zira - Planet of the Apes

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine about a neighbor who I thought was kind of annoying. I never mentioned his name but because this is Iowa City, she figured out who he was and told me that she and her friends used to call him Senor Scratchy Patches because of what she described as "an unfortunately placed skin condition that he felt at liberty to touch". Gross...but that's what makes it funny.

Ever since then I've been thinking about nicknames and remembering monikers that were given to different cutomers at all the various bars and restaurants I've worked. When you wait on people, you don't always remember their names and nicknames really help reference people. Sometimes the monikers are based on their order - like there has been a mocha man at almost every coffee shop I've ever worked at and when I worked at The Mill there was that jesus freak guy we always called the chicken man. Then sometimes the nicknames are just mean and those are usually reserved for customers who are annoying and/or rude and people who don't tip well.

One of my favorites was from when I worked as a bartender at Macy's in San Francisco in 1986. There was a woman who we always called Zira-Planet of the Apes. She was never just plain Zira, it was always the whole, long name. I thought she looked more like a combination of Zira and Ruth Gordon but it would have been way too long to say, Zira-Planet of the Apes-Ruth Gordon. I have no idea what her real name was. She would come in every Monday and be horrible and never tip the waiter but she would put tons of money in the jar for the pianist to play "New York, New York" at least 6 times a night. She always ordered a VERY dry vodka Martini. Which meant she didn't want vermouth. Which meant what she really wanted was vodka with an olive but she was too pretentious to order that. So, instead the waiters would come up to the bar and sing, "Zira-Planet of the Apes" and I would know exactly what to make. It was way more fun than giving me the order the regular way.

But while I was laughing at all the nicknames I've always labeled other people with, I did have to stop and wonder what nicknames people may have for me. It's not like I can stop one of the guys at the Co-op and ask them if they have another name they call me. I'm sure they wouldn't tell me if they did and would I want to know? If it was bad enough, I'd have to start going to the Coralville Co-op and never be dumb enough to ask a question I didn't want to know the answer to again.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

She's the Sweetest, hmmm, Pet in the World

Here is the purse of person who owns a three year old girl...Or more accurately, the purse of a person who is owned by a three year old girl.

Tonight was a little different than I expected, but still great. I originally thought that it would be the first night in for-freaking-ever that the girls would both be at their dad's. They did both spend the night there, but were also at my house on and off until nine o'clock anyway. It was fine, I love to see my girls as much as possible. I was just fantasizing about having a few hours of uninterrupted alone time. Sigh.

I did finally watch my zombie movie - 28 Weeks Later. I was going to drink a beer while I watched it, but was starting to feel a little migrainey and alcohol and migraines are mortal enemies and usually wage great wars in my head. So, I got all crazy and drank a soda pop instead and watched all the blood and gore and zombies. I agree with Mr. Manuel, it wasn't as good as the first one, but it was still entertaining.

Before that, I did my one hour's worth of cleaning thing. It's going really well this week, since the girls' track meets and soccer games are out of town, and I can fit it in every night. It still amazes me how much I can get done in one hour.

Before the cleaning, I ran my six mile route. It was about 55 degrees outside and it felt really good. My iPod randomizer thought I might like to listen to some classic rock this evening for the most part, and it was right. Yesterday it thought I wanted to listen to cheesy dance music, and it called that one perfectly too. So, here is a sampling of what my iPod thought I might like to hear on my run tonight:

1.) "Diamond Girl" - Seals and Crofts.

2.) "The Kids Are Alright" - The Who. I listened to the Who a ton on my Walkman when I was in high school, so it's always a running nostalgia favorite for me.

3.) "Arc of a Diver" - Steve Winwood. This song was also big when I was in high school and it reminds me of the first time I ran in the Drake Relays and met Herschel Walker right after he won the Heissman trophy.

4.) "Sabotage" - The Beastie Boys.

5.) "Brandy" - Looking Glass. This song reminds me of being a kid and living in Arizona.

6.) "We Got the Beat" - The Go-Go's. I can't hear this song without instantly thinking of the beginning of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

7.) "Cynical Girl" - Marhsall Crenshaw.

8.) "Under My Thumb" - The Rolling Stones. This is one of my favorite Stones songs.

9.) "Gimme Danger" - The Stooges.

10.) "Walk in Jerusalem" - Mahalia Jackson. Nothing like a good gospel song to wash off the dirt of The Stooges.

So, now I'm going to bed. I'll let you know if I dream of flesh eating zombies or not.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Well Can't You Just Let It Ring a Little Longer, Longer, Longer...

A photo of Sequoia National Forest that a friend of mine took when he was making trails in the back country there in 1986.

I heard the phone ring, but thought it was my alarm. I was confused at first, because I was pretty sure it was Saturday and my alarm is only set to ring during the week. I finally figured it out and answered my phone.

Me: Hello?

Neal: Hey there. What are you doing?

Me: (Trying not to sound like I just woke up) Nothing?

I looked to see what time it was and realized it was barely 9. That would mean it was 7 in the morning in California. What kind of insensitive idiot calls someone before 10 am on a weekend day?

Neal: You feel like coming to see Van Morrison play at the Greek Theater on the 1st?

Me: What? The first of which month?

Neal: June. You wanna come?

Me: (in disbelief) No. I don't live that kind of life. I can't just take off to see a concert in Berkeley. I wouldn't miss that much work or spend that kind of money unless I was doing something with my girls. Sorry.

In my head all I kept thinking was, "Shit. Shit. Shit! How do I get out of this?"

Neal: (sounding disappointed) Oh. Okay. So, um....Are you going running today?

Me: Oh, no. I have to go out of town to do this family thing in...Ottumwa. How about you? Are you going running?

Neal: No. I might walk into town at some point. I think... (Extremely long and awkward pause that I didn't even fill with nervous laughter, like I usually do when I'm on the phone)...Hey, my son got MVP on his basketball team...

Me: That's great. Did you go see one of his games?

Neal: No. He knows I don't like basketball. I've never been very good at it. If he played football, ran track or played baseball, I'd go see him. He's fine with it. He's really well adjusted. We talk on the phone, but I just don't really have time to go visit him...

Me: (not even trying to hide the annoyance and judgment in my voice) Really? Are you serious? Don't you think he'd be thrilled if you he saw you sitting in the stands at one of his games? Didn't you say that you were really hurt when you were younger and your dad wasn't around for you?

That was pretty nice of me. In my head I was thinking, "Can you be a parent and really be that fucking selfish? Do you understand how unattractive that is to a single mom? No, probably not, or you wouldn't tell me that and still think I'd ever date you.

Neal: No. That wasn't me. That must have been some other guy you dated...Or maybe that was my brother. My brother was really pissed-off at my dad. I already told you my son was fine with that. He doesn't feel abandoned by me at all. My ex was the one who decided to move my son an hour away from me, so I guess that's what she gets...Actually, I've been talking to my ex a couple of times a week lately...

Me: Hey, that's great. Maybe you guys can finally work things out...

Neal: Yeah, well...I gotta go. My cat's jumping all around on my deck.

Me: (laughing a little at his excuse, but also relieved) Well, you better go take care of your jumping then. Bye.