Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cause It's a Bittersweet Symphony This Life

Me with a fistful of dollars.

So, yeah. This weekend...Well, it was kind of crazy. I gave plasma on Friday and the guy who did it must have gone through my vein or something. Anyway, I could hardly bend my arm and now have a HUGE bruise there. The plasma giving does seem to tire me out a bit, so I'll just count on not running on those nights for now. Since I was kind of out of commission afterward, I didn't get any work done in the kitchen. Instead, Coadster went to a large group speech contest and Stinky and I stayed home and watched a movie called The Boys are Back, about a guy who becomes a single dad after his wife dies. It was a slower movie, but I was okay with it. It was kind of interesting to see the other side of the single parent thing. I know all of the things I had to adjust about myself to fulfill both mom and dad roles with my girls, but got to see how that works for guys a little better. I remember talking about it with Mr. B. once and he said one of the hardest things about being a single dad for him, was having to be more openly emotional for his son than he felt comfortable with. Of course, that was one of the traits I really liked about him. Anyway, both the girls and I were in bed by 11. Party!

The supposed inspiration for Bill the Cat came down to play. Thank god the girl crush wasn't in town on Saturday. She would have been traumatized for weeks.

I woke up early on Saturday and started to work on getting the computer working right away. I stopped by the cable place and they FINALLY gave me a new modem, not a used one that was already broken before I got it. They gave me the wrong code to use to hook it up and I had to call the support people. After being on hold for about 50 hours, the woman helped me get it up and running. She also informed me that I was eligible for some special deal where I could get HBO and some other channels as well as a digital cable box all for $5 less a month than I'm now paying for regular, no frills cable and wanted to know if I wanted that. Uh, more for less? Sure, I want that. So, then I had to head to the cable place again for that special box and more setting up. Of course, this all took more time than I expected and then after I helped Coadster fill out some scholarship applications and went running, it was already well into the afternoon. Oy.

G. doing Marty Feldman.

Saturday night was a lot of fun. Most of my favorite people were out and I even stayed out until a little after midnight. I didn't turn into a pumpkin or anything, but I did turn into a foul-mouthed jerk, I'm sure. I'm also pretty sure that I did that long before midnight.

Today I still didn't work on the cupboards, but I got a hell of a lot of cleaning done. Stinky's job is to clean the living room and Coadster does all the laundry, so I scrubbed the bathroom and kitchen and will spend the rest of the night getting things ready for my taxes.There's so much extra stuff this year, I'm not really even sure what to bring. As usual, I'll err on the side of excess and bring every single document I might possibly need.

So, how did I do in terms of getting things done this weekend? I'll give myself a B- and try to keep plugging along at a faster pace the rest of the week.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Let the Good Times Roll, Let Them Knock You Around

So, my internet was hit and miss most of last night and by the time I went to blog, it had missed altogether. It always acts up when the weather is weird. I guess last night it was too cold or something. Tomorrow, I'm going back to the cable company and try to get yet another modem. If that doesn't work, I'll have to try some different options. I just don't want to spend so much time trying to unplug and plug back in all of my computer related crap all the time. It isn't like I don't have anything else to do...

I hope you all have a good weekend. I have a lot to do, so I'll let you know how much of it actually gets done when it's over.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nothing That I Would Not Try

Here is a nest in the top of my lilac bushes.

So, I did something weird tonight....I donated plasma for the first time. As most of you know, I bought a house in November and my mortgage payments are a couple hundred dollars more than my rent was. Then, of course, a month later I found out that we had to take mandatory unpaid days off. Great. All of that left me with very little wiggle room financially. I thought about getting a second job, but then I wouldn't be available to see my girls play sports or perform in anything and I'd probably lose most of my weekends. I decided to check out giving plasma instead. It won't give me a ton more money, and I may not be able to do it every week, but it gives me so much more schedule freedom, and basically I'll get paid to read for an hour.

I originally started the process a month ago, but had a little snag because I have a very slight congenital heart murmur. Doctors can usually only hear it if I alert them to it. When I was 19 and it was first diagnosed, the doctor told me that if I'd been running since I was 10 and never had a problem, not to even worry about it. The plasma people made me go to my doctor, so she could check it out again and give me the okay. Anyway, it was all fine.

A lot of the students who work in my office have given plasma, so they were telling me all the ins and outs of it. They all said that my life would be much easier if I drank lots of water. Because I'm me and I want to make sure I do a thing well, I came in there about as hydrated as a person can be. The only problem with that, is that all that water can affect your crit count. You have to have a certain amount of iron and protein in your blood before they'll allow you to donate. My iron levels were okay, but barely.

The nurse who had to do my health history scored big points with me at first, by saying, "Oh, they must have your birth date wrong." I asked her what they had down and I told her that was correct. Then she said, "Holy cow! I seriously thought you were in your twenties." I thought she might be my new best friend, until we got to the part where she had to feel my stomach for whatever reason and she asked accusingly, "Why are you so skinny?" Huh? For one thing I don't think I'm all that skinny, and for another, how rude. I bet she wouldn't have asked anyone why they were so fat. Anyway, I guess I'll just have to call it a draw and I won't ask her to go have a beer with me after all.

So, since I was so hydrated and my weight put me in the lowest category (which still doesn't mean I'm too skinny) I only had to give the least amount of plasma, and it just took me 33 minutes to donate. The tech people were pretty impressed. I do feel a little weak afterward. Some of it might be that I haven't been sleeping the best this week, but I'm sure it takes something out of a person to have their fluids drained, farmed and given back to them. I'm supposed to go again on Friday, so I'll see how I feel after that.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Don't Have a Window to Slip Out Of

I took this with my phone and no flash on my way home from work. She seemed a little frantic looking, but maybe she's stressing about the cold temps descending upon us again.

So, here's how it all went down today. I finally got a call from the school. The guy said he had Stinky and the punching girl sit in a room together and talk things out. What?! I was pissed. I didn't think that was a safe situation for Stinky and I also think that "talking it out" implies that Stinky had some culpability in it. Believe me, I'm all about keeping my kids accountable for their actions. But it was clear from all accounts and video footage that Stinky didn't even defend herself. Stinky said they sat there by themselves not saying anything until Stinky apologized. I asked her why she apologized and she said she was scared that if she didn't, it would start all over again. I told the guy I wasn't happy with his treatment of the incident. He told me the puncher girl received some disciplinary action that he wasn't at liberty to tell me. Of course, all the kids at school were talking about it, so I found out that she got 3 days of suspension (2 of them were in-school).

I guess the real punishment for the puncher girl is that all the kids at school are shunning her and talking shit about her. Maybe that will help redirect her behavior in the future. I've heard tell that some boy got the last few minutes of the attack on video with his phone. I know I couldn't watch it. It would make me too sad and angry at the same to watch someone hurting my daughter.

Okay. I hate drama. I can't stand conflict and violence. I had to experience enough of it by the time I was 18 to last me the rest of my life and all of yours, so I'm leaving that all behind now. Of course, I'm monitoring the situation as closely as I can, in case the puncher girl has another flare-up, though.

On another note. I think I'm ready to start my cupboard project. I over-researched it, went to Menard's to get a few more things to help me with it, and now all I have to do is get cracking. I'm taking the doors off and finishing the boxes first. I've heard it's messy and time consuming, so I'm going to gear-up and prep as much as I can before the weekend so I can finish it by Sunday. We'll see how that goes....

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hey There. Don't Pay No Mind. If You're Under 18 You Won't Be Doing Any Time

Here are some icicles hanging off of my house.

Okay. So, today is one of those good thing and bad thing posts. I know I always say that life is a weird mix of good and bad and sometimes the bad outweighs the good and others the good outweighs the bad but no matter what, you can always find both in there somewhere.

As usual, I'm giving you the bad first. I got a call at work near the end of the day from my daughter's high school. Apparently, some girl punched Stinky in the face. Awesome. This particular girl had been threatening both Stinky and Coadster for the last few little whiles. Turns out, she dated some boy and he dumped her at least 6 months ago. I guess she just couldn't let go of him. The boy in question has been one of Coadster's friends since grade school and was on her soccer team and was in the group of kids who all walked home from junior high together. The punching girl, didn't like it that Coadster was friends with him. She had a bigger problem with Stinky, because said boy like, liked her.

Anyway, Stinky told me the girl was sending her threatening texts and voice mails. I told her to save all of them. If there's one thing I've learned after leaving my abusive ex, it's document, document, document. I also told Stinky that if the girl tried to start something, just to ignore her and walk away. Which is exactly what she did. The girl didn't like that Stinky wasn't playing along, so she punched her in the face a couple of times and bent her glasses. I guess that's one way to get her attention. A bunch of guys pulled her off and Stinky immediately ran to the bathroom to cry (which is exactly what I would have done). A couple of her friends came in and took her to the principal's office. She showed him the texts and he reviewed the security camera footage, to make sure Stinky didn't provoke it or anything. Later, he told me she didn't even defend herself. So, maybe she listened to me a little too well that time. Oops. Now I get to feel like shit for the rest of my life.

I asked him if my girls were going to be safe going to school tomorrow and he said he promised it. This girl has been in and out of trouble for years, so the principal didn't seem the least bit surprised by this. Actually, he just sounded really, really tired. He was going to call the girl's foster parents next and make them bring her to school for a meeting. Stinky's pretty shaken up and it looks like she's getting a shiner. So, maybe that will make her look bad-assed enough that the next psycho tough girl will leave her alone.

...And now for the good news. After walking home for 35 minutes in the snow and crazy winds and stressing out about poor Stinky the whole way, I checked the mailbox and found Coadster's letter of acceptance for Iowa State. Hip, hip, hooray! She still has to arrange an audition to the school of music, but she's been admitted into the college of liberal arts there. I guess this weekend we'll be filling out a hundred million forms for housing, financial aid and other scholarships. Let the financial blood letting begin.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Everybody's Coming Home for Lunch These Days

This is a guy wearing fake corn on his head...Apparently, he's proud of his Iowa roots.

Well, this weekend wasn't as productive as I'd planned. So, it goes. I'll just have to try to get more done during the week.

Friday night I stayed home with Coadster. You know how I said I had fulfilled my quota on Hitler assassination plot movies? Well, on Friday we watched Defiance. So, yes. It was about the Holocaust and I'm sure if they could have assassinated Hitler, they would have, but it wasn't really about that. We both liked it, though. I always appreciate it when they show good people who are shot full of flaws. It makes a movie so much more believable.

Saturday was pretty mellow. Coadster was at her show choir dealie and Stinky went to the Fieldhouse to work-out and then to her high school to watch the speech team tournament. she had never been to one before and thought it was pretty interesting. The left me to hang out by myself. I ran in the rain (which felt really weird in January) and sorted through a bunch of crap I've been putting off. My moving in and fixing things up process has been me moving all the stuff I didn't want to deal with into the kitchen after I did each room. So, yesterday I finally tackled all of that. I still have a ton of papers on my kitchen table to sort through, but the bulk is done. Finally.

Here's me at Soldier Field for the Bears/Saints game almost exactly 2 years ago. I'm a Bears fan first and foremost and sorry to all my readers who are Vikings fans...But, GO SAINTS!

Saturday night was fun. It just ended earlier than I had hoped. As I said, my girl crush was in town with her husband. I picked G. up and headed down to the Dublin. A bunch of our friends were there, but the girl crush was at the Yacht Club seeing a band. She got down around a quarter til 11. Of course, 15 minutes later, I got a text from the people Stinky was babysitting for saying they were coming home and I could pick up Stinky. So, that was that. Quick, but not nearly dirty enough. Hopefully, next time they come, it will work for me to stay out later.

On Sunday, I woke up with a migraine. Shit. I haven't had a bad one in a long, long time, so I guess I was due. Even with my migraine meds, it knocked me out for most of the day. I get the weird vision thing that makes me feel like I'm going to puke with them and that's super fun too. Somehow, I managed to get a run in today. I actually took the second half of my pill this evening, so I think it's finally sufficiently snuffed out. Of course, that just means that I have my work doubly cut-out for me this week.

I hope you all had a much more or less productive weekend than I had...Depending on what you were shooting for.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

If I Pick Up Speed, Get Out of My Way

Remember how I said we might get an ice storm the other day? Well, we did. I think that railing looks good dressed in ice fringe.

So, my internet is back up and running, which means I didn't get shit done around the house. No surprise there. That's okay. I have all weekend to try and finish some projects.

Speaking of the weekend...We only get 2 days this week, so I plan on trying to make the best of those days. Tomorrow night, I think Stinky is having a couple of girls spend the night. Coadster has a big show choir event in Wisconsin, so she'll probably go to bed early. That might just leave me hanging by myself, drinking beer and watching movies again, and that's just a-okay with me.

Coadster and her show choir friends on the bus to a competition. Does anybody else notice the absence of jazz hands in this photo?

Saturday will be my day to get projects done. There's talk of rain, or freezing rain, or snow, or some other kind of Wintry precipitation, and that's okay, because then I won't even be tempted to do any yard work, and I can concentrate on my many, many indoor projects.

My girlcrush and her husband are rumored to be coming to town on Saturday night to see their friend's band play. I have no idea what all will go down or how, but I want to at least try to see them for a beer at some point in the evening.

So, how about all you all? Will you be stuck inside trying to escape Winter precipitation or venturing out trying to catch a drink with your girl crushes?

Take a Minute to Concentrate and She Opens Up Her Eyes

Okay. Like everyone else in town, my internet cable was out all last night. I've heard that it's back up and running as of this morning, but I have yet to check it out. I guess it was out for part of the night before when I thought it was my modem as well. Mediacom sucks.

As you know, I can be a bit tenacious about obtaining or fixing something. If I think there is even a glimmer of hope, I will work the hell out of it. But if it's clear that there's no chance in hell I can fix or get the thing I want, I can finally just let it go. Which is what happened last night. I tried to get the computer to work, and then finally texted a friend to see if hers was working. She told me hers was dead too. So, I gave up, cranked up my music, cracked open a beer and cleaned my kitchen, and then read a book after that. Weird.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You Know You're Something Special and You Look Like You're the Best

This is what happens when you move into a house at the beginning of Winter. The snow falls before your kids get a chance to finish raking all the leaves.

So, tonight started out great. Both my girls were gone. Coadster had a showchoir performance in Cedar Rapids and Stinky went to a basketball game. I had most of the evening to myself. I made dinner last night, so all I had to do was heat things up and I could listen to my music and do stuff around the house. Then my computer went all weird on me again. I think it's the modem. I traded the last one out with the cable company about a month ago, but the replacement goes out at least once a day and tonight it took forever to get it back up and running. So, I might change it out again to see if that helps. Wouldn't it be cool to go just one day without something breaking?

There's talk of a big ice storm coming our way tomorrow. As usual, I'm set. I've got my Yaktrax, so I can just walk to work. We'll see how my co-workers do. Of course, my girls will fall asleep with visions of school being canceled dancing in their heads.

Okay. That's all I got. Tinkering with the computer must have sucked any creativity from me...Or maybe it was never there to begin with.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Yet There's Still This Appeal, That We've Kept Through Our Lives

Here is a snowman and his snow dog. I ran by it on Thursday and had to go back with my camera and take a pic. It's pretty damn cute.

Sooo, I was migraine free today, which means I got a lot done. I did some tree work in the backyard. If only I had a chainsaw and a longer ladder, I could get everything I want done in about a half hour. For now, I'm chipping away at it. The tree had some branches that grew down in order to find the sun. Unfortunately, those branches shade my little backyard too much. I'm a big fan of English gardens and have visions of those around the periphery of the yard. So, I'm trying to clear things up a little to make way for the sunshine.

I also helped a neighbor find and coax her cat out from under another neighbors porch, went running for 6 miles, and made a ton of Mexican food as payback to all the people who helped me start my car while its battery was bad. In other words, I'm tired and so I'm doing another cut and paste post. This time, it's a couple of text or email exchanges I had with friends recently. Sorry for the lame-assedness.

The first one is from Friday night when a friend texted me.

Friend: Hey. What r u doing?

Me: Since my girls went to bed early, I'm drinking a beer and watching The Hurt Locker. How about u?

Friend: (clearly making fun of me for hanging out by myself on a Friday night) Since my son has a friend spending the night, I'm free-basing and watching The Golden Girls.

Me: Wow. Really? Awesome. I think the only way I'd b able 2 stand 2 watch The Golden Girls was if I was freebasing.

This next one was an exchange between another friend of mine, on how tricky it is to read emails and messages and how we need several different fonts as aids.

Friend: What kind of font do you think someone should use if what they were trying to say was, "Yeah, this small talk is really nice, but I really want to see you naked and have sex with you"?

Me: I dunno. I think if you're getting drunk texted from a guy after midnight, you don't need a font. You can just assume that's what he's saying...

Okay, now. I have a little kitchen cleaning, and then I'm going to try to read myself to sleep. Night, night.

Who Needs to Think When Your Feet Just Go?

You probably won't notice the difference, but I did some tree trimming work on Saturday. It opens the house up a lot, but mostly accentuates how much the tree is leaning toward my house.

So, it's very late. I went out tonight for the first time since 2009. I'm going to try not to ramble, but I'm not promising anything.

My weekend started out so productively. Friday night was very mellow and I woke up on Saturday rarin' to go on my projects. I worked on the kitchen and did laundry, and cleaned up the ice on my sidewalks and tried to figure out why my garage door won't work (it must be this week's broken thing) and limbed up my favorite tree in the front yard. It had a few issues after the ice storm and it also had some unruly branches growing in the wrong directions, so I did some sawing and some pruning and some dragging of brush to the backyard. I'm one of those freaks who loves yard work, so all of this made me very happy. I celebrated the completion of all the projects with a really nice run. Then Stinky and I made a Menards run to find some new cupboard knobs and hinges.

This was the first thing I saw when I got downtown. I have no idea what was going on. I just snapped this and kept moving.

I got a text from G. a little after midnight saying that they were back from Belize. I was glad to know they were home safely, and I was also happy I got to stay home both Friday and Saturday nights this weekend. I really needed some mellow time.

My friends and I were all wearing jeans. Since we usually wear dresses or skirts, we figured we should document it.

I originally planned on getting as much done on Sunday, but my migraine had other ideas. I spent most of the earlier part of the day resting while I waited for my migraine meds to work. Later in the day, they finally kicked in and I was able to function better.

Stinky and I went to a friend's open house. She and her husband flip houses and they did a really cool job on their most recent house. It was fun to check out, plus she wants Stinky to watch her kids next weekend, so I thought it would be a great chance to meet them. Stinky thought they were adorable and is excited to babysit.

My new friend up to some shenanigans, while G. tries to set him straight.

G. asked me if I would please go out tonight. She said she was having some post-vacation let down and really needed to laugh. I talked with the girls and they had their own stuff going on, so I was up for the challenge.

Consider his chalky hands wiped-off.

The bar was pretty darn slow, except for some of G.'s younger friends. I haven't really had a chance to meet those guys before. We always called them the surly punk rock boys, and I just figured they were those kind of guys in their early twenties, who were too cool for school. After tonight, I have a TOTALLY different opinion.

A guy named S., especially was even dorkier than I am...Okay. At least as dorky as I am anyway. he was dancing around and doing anything he could think of, to distract G. from any shots she tried to make and making me laugh harder than I have all year. In other words, he was tons of fun. I guess that's what I get for stereotyping.

The best thing about tonight, is that I don't have to work tomorrow, so I might be able to make up for the things I wasn't able to get done on Sunday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I got Echoes In My Head

We got Coadster's senior pictures back this evening. This is my favorite one.

So, I took off work today, because I had some business to tend to. Turns out, the business was all tended to by 10:30. That left me with almost a whole day to myself while the girls were in school. What to do? There are so many amazing and/or productive ways to spend a day. I could have spent it with my music cranked and getting my kitchen all back together and organized, or I could have done some preparational paperwork in order to get ready for my taxes, or I could have given myself an indulgent day, to relax and take care of myself physically and emotionally. I chose the third option. I have been feeling a little isolated and out of sorts lately and I've been catching that hitch in my voice that means I might could be overreacting to things the last few weeks. So, before I end up writing this blog from my padded cell, I decided to slow my roll.

The first thing I did was take an hour and a half long nap, then I got ready and ran for well over an hour. I haven't done that in forever, and I can't tell you how necessary that is for me. I'm sure it's the combination of endorphins, constant repetitive movement and time spent without having to interact or answer a question, but just getting to run outside for that long fixes me in every way possible...And I was definitely starting to feel a little broken lately.

Anyway, after the run I took a crazy long, hot bath and emerged ready to be a better parent and person. The gift that was today, couldn't have come at a better time.

The traditional cheesy pose. She looks so pretty here, but this is the exact pose my friends and I make fun of when we do fake senior photos in bars.

After my self-indulgent day, I was ready to get back to business. My "me" time turned into "their" time. I took Stinky to a few places, so she could hand in her applications in hopes of attaining employment. Then we picked Coadster up at the before and after school program where she works and then went to the place where Coadster had her senior pictures taken so we could pick-up the final product.

I was so much more patient than I would have been when I helped Stinky make us her signature meal. She calls it Italian stir-fry, but what it is is chicken and veggies sauteed in garlic, butter, white wine, and basil and served over chicken flavored wild rice. It's actually pretty good, but it does take a while to cut it all up.

This is Coadster's favorite one. I like it too. I just think the other one shows her personality better.

Hey, I guess it's the weekend already...And the best part of that, is that I get three days off. Hurray! I've spent the last couple of weeks safely at home, which has been really good for many reasons, but there's always that problem of me not socially interacting with adults I have anything in common with, if all I ever do is go to work and then home. So, my bet is that I'll probably try to go out, at least for a little bit.

I have a couple of friends with a Friday birthday. One of them is having a party. I doubt I'll stay very long, but I'll at least try to do a drive-by and do some well-wishing. My friends should be returning from Belize on Saturday. Before they left, they said they thought they'd for sure want to go out that night to catch me up on all their whacky hijinx, but we'll see how they feel when they actually get home and there's all that jet lag to deal with and laundry to do.

How about you guys? Will you be dehibernating yourselves this weekend too?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Can't See Much Difference Between the Dark and the Light

Here is some destruction from the tornado in my backyard...Was that almost four years ago now?

Hey, kids. I gave myself a get out of jail free card night tonight. I could feel I needed to rest, and if I'm not going to listen to anyone else, I might as well try to listen to myself every now and again. I got a new battery and was told the alternator was fine. Whew!

With all the news of the earthquake in Haiti, I had some weird remembrances of the tornado. I decided to post my little piece I wrote about it a few days after it happened. I'm glad I did, since i seem to have forgotten some of it already. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you've probably seen this, if not, it is a little long, but take a gander if you feel like it. Here it is:

At first the sirens went off and we ignored them. I have ignored those sirens for the 20 years I've lived in Iowa City. Coadster looked worried but I reassured her (like I always do) that there will never be a tornado in Iowa City because of the way the river runs or whatever the hell I've always been told. Then the siren went off again and I told Coadster that the tornado would hit Swisher like it always does. Then I got a call from Stinky at UAY telling me that she was safe and in a basement.

I got Coadster set up in our laundry room that doesn't have any windows (we don't have a basement) and I decided to take a bath since the bathroom doesn't have any windows either. I lit candles just in case the power went out and Coadster had dragged any comforter or blanket she could find. Halfway through my bath, the sirens stopped and then I heard a sound different from anything I'd ever heard before. It was like a train, but louder - it was a huge locomotive, bigger than our house. I jumped out of the tub and wrapped some towels around myself. Coadster was in the fetal position on the floor and so I wedged right behind her. She had made a nest of our dirty laundry and comforters and we covered ourselves in blankets. Our ears were popping and we could feel the house start to lift. All we could hear was that fucking train and Coadster screaming, "Mommy, make it stop!" But I couldn't. I couldn't protect my daughter. When I felt the house move, I thought that was it for us and I was so sad that Stinky would have to grow up without us.

Then something happened and our ears stopped popping and the house calmed down. I think it was because the roof blew off and relieved the pressure. Then the winds died down. We were afraid to sit up in case it came back. I reminded Coadster to breathe, "In through your nose and out through your mouth," and we practiced taking long, deep breaths together.

We heard voices outside. People inquiring if everyone was okay. We decided to get up and see what happened. All of our windows were covered in mud and I remember thinking how strange it was that none of them had blown through. I tried to open our door to see out, but there was a tree keeping us in. I went around to the other door and the tree was there too, but we could wedge it open a crack big enough to get through. Our neighbor and his daughter were standing outside. When Coadster saw her friend, they both cried and held onto each other. My neighbor informed me that there was a gas leak and a downed power line and we should leave our place. He took Coadster and I tried to get in my car and pick up Stinky downtown.

My car looked okay at first and then I noticed the glass. The back window blew through my car along with parts of trees and leaves. I cleaned off my seat and got in. The road was blocked by a downed tree to the West and so I tried to go the other way. I made it to Hotz Street before I was blocked by another tree. Hotz St was torn up. Every tree, every garage, most of the houses looked like they had been bombed. The radio was telling me that another tornado was approaching so I got out and tried to run to our neighbor's house. A guy stopped me and asked me if I had a place to go. I have no idea what I said to him, but whatever it was must have appeased him. It smelled like Christmas because of the huge pine that had been topped off and was now lying in the street. I looked out for downed power lines and climbed over several huge trees before I made it to the neighbor's house. Every single one of their windows had been blown out, but they had a basement and we all huddled in the bathroom and listened to the radio.

It sounded safe again. The neighbor's phone was working so I called my ex-husband at 126 where he works and asked him to get Stinky. We went outside to see if everyone was okay. Slowly, we were finding people and pets. But we couldn't see very well. We thought it would be so much better if we could just see. We were trying to go from house to house on Parsons, Hotz and Jefferson to make sure everyone was okay. Most people I ran into were laughing - not because it was funny, but because it all seemed so ridiculous and surreal. I walked past a duplex on Hotz street where one side was smashed by a tree and I heard someone sobbing. That sound was almost worse than the sound of the tornado itself.

We had heard that they turned the gas off so we thought it was safe to go back home. I walked to the back to see if the gas lines were still attached and they were. When I came back to the front my landlord was there with his high school aged daughter and 2 of her male friends. he hugged me and said his house was fine but he was fighting back tears at what happened to us. He thought it would be okay for us to stay in our place since the gas was off.

The upstairs neighbors came home to get their cats. He had left 10 minutes before the storm and had barely made it to his friend's house before it hit. Luckily, their cats were fine and they put them in a duffel bag to take them back to where they were staying. His girlfriend was crying and Coadster went up to her and said, "Are you okay? Really?" and hugged her. I was so happy that my daughter was growing up to be a compassionate and good person. Sometimes when they're 13 and hard to take, you wonder, but Coadster has been so amazingly helpful and kind through all of this.

The guy who lives upstairs looked around and said, "Dude, this looks just like Storm Stories, but it's my house."

The girls and I finally went in our house. We unfolded our futons and all slept together in the living room so I could reach over and make sure they were okay throughout the night. One, two. One, two. I counted them from time to time. They were both sure they wouldn't be able to sleep, but they were out in 5 minutes. I was up most of the night. We had to leave the window open (without a screen as they had all been shredded and ripped off), since there could have been gas left in the pipes to escape into our house. MidAmerican was across the street by 10 and working cutting up all the felled trees on the power lines. Chainsaws buzzed all night and after the bars closed, the drunk college kids stumbled through our neighborhood laughing and probably looting. I fell asleep dreaming about a drunken A-hole trap. In my dream, the power was still on and I set a cold shiny 40 oz. directly behind the live power line and watched as each drunk fried on their way to take it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It Never Ends (It Never Ends...)

Here is a photo of my freshly painted kitchen walls. The color is called "sparkling Stream". I bought flowers for myself at the Co-op on my way home for work. I'm so glad I had them later on when I needed some cheering up.

Okay. I have good news and bad news, but I always say the bad news first to get it out of the way. My car battery was dead again when I went to drive Stinky and her friend to a basketball game. I haven't driven my car for a couple of days, but I used to go days without driving it before my battery was drained and never had a problem. Plus, it's not really even that cold anymore. So, I did a lot of spazzing in my head, and since I don't really have an adult to talk to, I posted a FB status update just to whine into the void we call the internets. Then, since I'm a fix-it girl, I sat down and figured out what to do. I called Sears to find out about how it worked to get a new battery. The guy said they're open at 8. I can't make an appointment, but they'll take care of it on a first come, first served basis. Then I called my mechanic neighbor. After he called me a pain in the butt and kept laughing at American Idol while I detailed the problem, (which made me smile) he agreed to give my car a jump in the morning. He said I should get a new battery and if it loses its charge, I might want to get the alternator checked out. Which was exactly what I was thinking. Anyway, at least I have a plan now and I'll call work in the morning to let them know I'll be a little late...Again.

The good news, is that I got my kitchen painted. Hurray! With all the drama, I didn't get it put back together yet, but I figure I'll do that tomorrow night. My girls gave me crap about how much blue there is in our house, but I don't care. Like I always say, I'm a water girl. The blue in my kitchen is much more muted than my bathroom and my bedroom is actually green. Although it's still a color based on water. I think it's called sea surf or something. Anyway, I find water or sea colors relaxing and the blue/gray in my kitchen is very clean looking. After how dirty it was when we moved in, (I'm still trying to clean off the dirtcicles hanging off the ceiling) I wanted something really clean.

This week I'm going to work very hard at putting everything back together and cleaning and FINALLY unpacking the last couple of bags and boxes in the kitchen before I start my next project - priming, sanding and painting the cupboards. I really can't wait until the bulk of my projects are done, so I can just sit around and read a book or something crazy like that.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Take It Off the Rack, If It's Whack, Put It Back

That one guy all blurry and stuff.

Okay. After a quick run, I've spent most of the evening painting my kitchen. I'm about 95% done, I still have to clean up and I have a slight headache from huffing paint fumes all night. What that means for you guys, is that I'm going to write a fairly lame post that consists mostly of copying and pasting. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better and I'll have a pic of my freshly painted walls.

Sooo, remember how a few months ago, I thought I might run into Mr B. and that I said I'd be fine with it? The thing is, I wasn't sure how he'd be with it. For the most part, I didn't care, but I'm socially awkward enough without there being any bad blood between myself and anyone else.

The last time I talked to him was in June and at that time he was trying to convince me that he wasn't lying to me about having a girlfriend while we were hanging out, while at the same time, trying to get me to assure him I'd date him again now that he and his current girlfriend didn't seem to be working out. I gave him a big "Hell no!" in answer to that. I can't date someone I don't trust, and I'd never be able to trust him. He seemed upset about my answer, and we left it that we'd be friends, but I never heard from him again.

Since he and my friend K. graduated from high school together, they are Facebook friends. On New Year's weekend, Mr. B posted something on K.'s wall. I thought it would be the perfect and "safe" opportunity to test the waters of our friendship. So, I left a smart-ass comment on it. He knows me well enough to know that's what I do. (and it would be a much worse sign if I didn't flip someone shit) But he took it the wrong way, and I got a message from him.

The subject title was "Bitter", which cracked me up and this is what it said:

Ok, you sound bitter, understandable. Let's make sure exactly what your bitter about. I am guilty of blowing you off and going to my previous relationship. For that I am truly sorry and I totally understand why you would be pissed. But I did not do what you said I did (which would be a serious dick move.) If you do not believe me fine. Either way, I hate the weirdness (which I created) but I understand. You are an awesome person and I acted immaturely. You did not deserve that.

To which I replied:

I totally didn't mean to sound bitter. I was trying to be funny (har har). I guess things come off sounding weirder when writing dumb-ass FB comments.

There's no weirdness from me. You did whatever you did, and I'm sure I'll never know what really happened and when. You have to understand that it's hard for me to believe you when you told me different things at different times. Only one of those things could be true, right? But it doesn't matter. Believe me, I've had guys do way worse things than that to me before. I just liked you a lot, so it probably affected me more than with other guys. Whatever. It's done. I'm soooooo not bitter. I hope you're happy and doing well. I'm doing great. I just bought a house. Even though my pipes are frozen right now, I'm still happy about it.

Thanks for trying to make things right.

He messaged back that he was glad we were friends again. Hopefully, things won't be weird between us the next time we run into each other. I guess that's what I hope for with every guy I used to date. How about you all...Do you try to stay friends with exes, or do you just avoid them all together?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

She Said, "Do You Think There's Some System That Controls and Affects?"

Here are my counters. Waiting out their installation in my bedroom. The sink hole seems cut out to accentuate the weird stain on my floor. Nice.

Soooooo, this weekend? This weekend I was really tired. I thought it was just from all the annoying little crappy things I had to deal with for a week straight, but my girls were both exhausted too. So, I'll just go ahead and blame it on the mind numbing cold.

I decided to give myself a little break on Friday night. I took the girls out to eat to Chili's (their choice). We never do that anymore, but since my kitchen was torn apart and we were all exhausted, it seemed like the thing to do. We had a nice meal and the girls went on and on about their high school stuff. I'm so glad they have each other to talk to about that stuff with. If I had to listen to it all the time and try to pretend to care, my head might just explode.

Stinky went out for a bit when we got home, but Coadster and I stayed home and we watched Valkyrie, while I drank my two beers. Last week we watched Inglorious Basterds, so I think I've officially met my quota on watching Hitler assassination plot movies.

Stinky came home from hanging out with her friends that I don't particularly like. She just started hanging out with them this Fall and got into trouble with them. I've been talking to her about the fact that these kids aren't the best influence. I try not to make a huge stink about them, because if I've learned one thing about having teenagers, it's that the more you tell them you don't want them to do a thing, the more they want to do it. Anyway, I think Stinky might be over this latest boundary pushing/rebellion exercise. She finally told me I was right about those kids and doesn't think she wants to hang out with them anymore. She said all they care about is partying and she's bored by the fact that they really have no other interests. Sweet. I'm glad that she came to that realization on her own...Eventually.

Saturday was good in the fact that my pipes weren't frozen and my car started. Coadster and I went to the rec building to run and that felt great. I was still exhausted all day. I don't think it helped that when I got back to working on the kitchen, everything I touched in there turned to shit. Behind every moved appliance was a new project. There were so many cracks and so much peeling paint, I felt like I was reconstructing every wall in the room. I finally gave up around 9'ish. Stinky and I tried to watch a movie, but we were both too pooped and we ended up going to sleep around 11. Yeah. We really know how to party.

Anyway, I finally got the kitchen walls scraped, spackled, sanded, taped and primed. Now, all I have to do is my favorite part - paint. I love adding color to a room. I can't promise anything, but I might be able to show you the freshly painted walls tomorrow or the next night.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

And Of Course You Can't Become If You Only Say What You Would Have Done

Here is a recycled photo of the old Greyhound bus station that they tore down last Spring.

Man, tonight was soooo much better than the last week has been for me. This time, partly because of the weather. Coadster was supposed to have a show choir benefit performance for Dollars for Scholars, but it got canceled because of the weather. So, I had a whole night where I didn't have to try and fix something or go anywhere. It's amazing all the shit you can get done with one of those nights.

Mostly, I concentrated on my kitchen. My counters are being delivered tomorrow at 3. My friends won't be able to install them for another few weeks, but that's okay. I really want to get my kitchen painted and most of the cabinets primed, sanded and painted before they're installed anyway, I just have to figure out where and how to store them. My friend Billy who is going to install them for me said they need to be on a flat surface, so they don't get warped or anything. So, I have to measure some stuff still tonight.

Anyway, as I mentioned yesterday, the rest of my weekend is a blank slate. I definitely want to get some projects done and go running, but other than that, I have no idea what the hell else I'll be up to.

How about you guys? Will you be figuring out where to store stuff or going along with things as they come at you?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

It's Gettin', It's Gettin', It's Gettin' Kinda Hectic

I'm in denial of the snow storm happening outside and the next blast of bitterly cold temperatures in its wake. This photo is how I'd rather think of Iowa.

Oh, kids. It's been kind of a trying day. My car started, but just barely, so I decided to go into work late and take my car in. The mechanic guy couldn't see me until two, so I had to come into work late and leave early. Anyway, when he finally could get to it, he said the battery seemed fine. He said when the dome light was on, it probably heated the battery and all the water steamed out and that's why it didn't hold the charge very well. He also said it was just THAT cold and the battery probably wasn't charged completely. Anyway, I guess we'll see.

I'm pretty much drained like my car battery right now. I had an appointment on the outskirts of one of the neighboring towns and the snow started right as I was driving there. I got lost on the way back and drove around on unplowed country roads in the snow and wind. Then when I got home, my computer was being all wonky and Coadster had to do some homework using a disc, so I messed with the computer for a few hours. It's working fine now, but I'm done for the night. You know how that is? Where you spend the day putting out fires, until you just can't do it anymore? Well, that's me right now.

These last few days of dealing with car problems and frozen pipe problems and computer problems, have left me almost no time to deal with the regular cleaning duties. So, my house is a pit. I'm not a clean freak by any means, but it does make me all out of sorts when things get too bad. Since most of my Dublin friends are leaving for a 9 day vacation in Belize tomorrow, I'll at least have plenty of time to get things done...Well, at least if no one else talks me into going out to play, that is.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

In the Place Where I Make No Mistakes

Here is Stinky, earlier in the season with a coworker and a certain Hawkeye.

I'm writing this while watching the Orange Bowl and my daughter is yelling at the TV, so this post might be even more disjointed than usual. Today continued my string of annoyances. Believe me, I know how good I have things. Annoyances are not tragedies. I've just reached my saturation point of having to deal with crap - mostly because of the frigid temperatures.

When it's bitterly cold out, I drive in as close in to work as I can without having to pay. So, this morning, I hopped in my car and the battery was dead again. Nice. As I've said before, I have the right kind of clothes to be able to handle the cold, so I walked all the way to work. No problem

The big problem came with trying to figure out what was wrong with my battery and how to get it fixed, so I don't get stranded wherever I go. I emailed K.'s ex, J. because he was the one who was nice enough to get and install my battery 3 years ago. He gave me some options and said something about the battery possibly needing water in order to hold a charge. I had no idea you needed to put water in your battery. I've had my car for several years and didn't water my battery once. He sent me a link to a helpful YouTube video about just how to water up my battery.

My friend G. was nice enough to come over right after work to help me push my car out of the garage and give my battery a jump. Of course, we didn't have very good cables, and the jump didn't take. G. was smart enough to get a number for my neighbor V. who lives two houses down from me and happens to be a mechanic. He was still at work, but said he'd stop by if we didn't get it figured out by the time he got off. Next, my ex stopped by to drop off my daughter and tried to help as well. Even with his cables, my car didn't charge.

I was starting to think my battery might be toast, but then my neighbor stopped over and used his cables and my car started right up. Finally! My neighbor was even nicer still and told me that if my car doesn't start in the morning, to call him and he'll give me a jump, so I can drive to the mechanic where I bought the battery and get me a new one - one that hopefully works.

So, like MnMom suggested, this might be the year when my friends show up at the right time, with exactly what I need. Thank god, the wonderful people in Iowa make up for the crappy weather.

Monday, January 04, 2010

He frowns, "Gee, My Life's a Funny Thing, Am I Still Too Young?"

A recycled photo of me and my family at Papago when I was a kid. I'm the one standing in front of the dog in my favorite turtle patterned sun suit.

Hey, check me out. I'm actually trying my hand at some fictiony-ish writing. I rarely try to write in a man's voice. As I've said before, I have no idea what goes on in guys heads, and I'm more than a little afraid to find out. (I'm sure guys say the same thing about me) I just thought it would be an interesting exercise. Feel free to tell me if and how it is totally unbelievable. As usual, I appreciate the feedback. Fair warning, I wrote this just now and as usual, didn't really proofread it. Here it is:

He could hear one of them out there. They had to go. No, they couldn't hold it. They really, really had to go. NOW. The enemy at the gates, he thought. They always acted like he couldn't hear them when he checked-out, but he heard everything. He just chose not to respond. He felt like the kid who closes his eyes and thinks no one can see him. He hoped that if he didn't interact, then everyone would take the hint and leave him alone. It rarely seemed to work that way. Although, this time he could hear his wife leading one of the kids away from the door.

Sometimes he just couldn't do it. It was all too much for him. All the people, all the kids, all of them needing. Every year he acquired more people, and they all wanted something from him - his money, his time, his privacy and they expected him to express emotions he didn't even feel comfortable admitting he had. It was overwhelming and made him want to hide in the bathroom, sitting in the tub with his feet braced against the wall and his head in his pulp science fiction books, where anything was possible...Including escape.

He could leave them, he knew. Just get in his VW bus and go. Start somewhere fresh, where no one knew him. Create a completely different past for himself, that would forge a future of infinite possibilities. But that would mean a life without his family. They would eventually find a replacement for him. Another man who would provide for them, and meet all of their expectations better than he did, and without feeling the need to hide in the bathroom. The thought of that was unbearable. So, he tried to be a husband and father when he could, and hid when he had to. Only imagining an otherworldly escape, where he would never have to know what happened to the people he left behind.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

We're Sweating in the Winter

Here is the hand of a friend of mine who owns the Dublin Underground.

OMG, kids! What an end and a beginning to the year and decade I just had. If it is any kind of foreshadowing to the year I'm going to have, it will be much like the roller coaster my life has been up to this point. So, I guess I should be ready for it then, huh?

New Year's Day was very nice. I gave myself the morning to actually lie around and read. Yeah. When does that ever happen? Then I finally got cracking and tried to take care of some stuff and start in on the kitchen. My kitchen is the project I'm most afraid of. It is big and messy and high maintenance. So, I'm just going to have take baby steps with it and do one wall at a time, and then sort all the extra weird, stuff (which includes mounds of papers) I have yet to unpack and am not quite sure where to put. So, on Friday night I started with the wall behind the stove, that was filthy and greasy and was all lined from cracking paint. It was quite a chore and after I finished it, I decided to just go to bed.

When I woke up the next morning, I realized that I didn't have any water. Apparently, it got very, very cold overnight and my pipes froze. Shit! I tried to fix the problem myself. I had some heat tape I turned on, and then spent a couple of hours with a hair dryer aimed at the offending pipe, before I called in reinforcements. My friend G. came over and brought a space heater, which gave my arm and our hair dryer a rest. Then I wrote a status update on Facebook about my pipes. I have no idea who gets on my Facebook page unless someone leaves a comment or mentions that they were on there, so I just assume that it doesn't get much traffic, but after I posted that, I was overwhelmed by the comments, the texts and phone calls from people with great suggestions. My friend's husband is an engineer and very thorough and sent me probably 20 texts about what I should do. The crazy thing was, that an hour after I followed his instructions, my water was back on. Hurray!

My friend G. wanted me to go have a beer with her, because she is going to Belize with a bunch of our other friends on Thursday and it could be a couple of weeks before I see her again. Since it was well below zero outside, I offered to drive her and a couple of other people. When I got out to my car, I realized that one of Stinky's friends must not have closed her door all the way and the dome light had been on all night and day. Great. Obviously, my car wouldn't start. G. was trying to think of options, but I had given up for the night. I figured if things were working against me going out and it was THAT cold, I should just take the hint and stay home.

It turned out just fine. Stinky went out until ten and Coadster went to her dad's house. I had a lovely evening listening to music, drinking a couple of beers and reading. I finished The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I really loved it. I was glad that I had a lot of comic book knowledge and had taken a class on Caribbean literature and culture in college, so I got most of the references. I thought the last chapter in particular, was amazing. Now, finally on to Reading Lolita in Tehran.

On Sunday morning, I got a text from a friend making sure I was still okay with my water situation. I assured him I was still good that way, but mentioned my dead battery. He was nice enough to offer to help get my car started, and even pointed out that my back, right tire was low. Now that I have a garage, I don't really check my tires that closely. Anyway, it was so great to have it all taken care of and run all of the errands I hadn't been able to run the day before when I was afraid to leave my house because I thought my pipes might burst.

So, as always. Shit happens the way it does, and I am truly blessed with wonderful, caring friends. If that's the way this year will go down, then I'm one lucky, lucky girl.

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Days Get Shorter and the Nights Get Cold

One last hosiery shot for the year.

Hey, kids. I just thought I'd pop in quickly to wish you all a happy New Year! I hope you were able to ring it in in style. I had a nice mellow evening.

Last year, my girls were at their dad's house, I went to a party and a few bars, had a couple of boys chasing me from one establishment to the next, but went home around 2 and talked an out of town guy on the phone until we were both falling asleep around 4. What a difference a year makes. I had the girls this year. Stinky got into a spot of trouble a while back and now has a strict 10 o'clock curfew. Originally, I was going to just stay home, but G. was having a hard time finding people to go out and play with. So, I told her I'd come and get her around 7'ish. We stopped down at the Dublin and found it very, very slow there. So, we went to Mickey's to eat, and a few of the younger regulars, met us there. It was wickedly cold here, and that meant Mickey's was pretty dead too. We went back to the Dublin after that, where I had my one and only beer of the evening. A few more friends had shown up by then, so I had a nice time dorking-out and dancing around. I went home and spent the rest of the night with my girls. Except for a few guy friends, this New Year's Eve was totally boy-free and I am totally fine with that...One less thing.

Me making a bad dance face. No surprise there.

As far as ringing in a new year and a new decade is concerned, I think I'll stick with my usual stance: I can't help what happens to me (for the most part) but I can help how I react to things. So, I'm hoping for the strength to deal with anything that comes my way with grace, compassion and dignity. Wish me luck.