Thursday, December 13, 2007
We have two more surgeries next week. The most crucial ones. The first will shrink the formation and the second will remove it. If you pray please pray for him. If you can just send your best thoughts his way I would be very grateful. If you want to follow his progress you can go to http://www.caringbridge.org/ and enter alexandermurphy1 where it asks for a site name.
Life is too precious. Be kind to each other.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
But it was not just another Cub Scout meeting. It was food drive night. Our small pack of scouts had collected food for the food shelf at Neighborhood House, an incredible facility on the West Side of Saint Paul. So we bundled up, gave up our coveted parking space during the snow emergency and made our way over to Neighborhood House (NH).
We were greeted by Christi, a friend of my from before the boys were born. She raises money and awareness for NH. The food shelf is only one of the many, many services NH brings to the community. (If I sound like a fan, I am).
The boys put their bags of goods on a huge scale and when all was done over 400 lbs. of food was donated. I learned from a grateful Christi that it would last about one morning. The need out there is great. I understood because it was only 2 short years ago the boys and I were using a food shelf to survive a very bad patch in our lives. I really appreciated having this resource in my community.
Now comes my preachy part. If you do nothing else to get into the giving spirit this holiday please go and give a bag of food to a local food shelf. I understand if you don't have the means, but if you do you will really be doing a good thing. I know the boys felt good after our trip.
Of course they also felt good about weighing the whole scout pack on the food scale before we left.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
I haven't posted for a while since I have been working through those five stages of grief around the likely lay-offs coming at my work on the first of the year. I decided to skip denial (I'm too practical) and bargaining (too pratical mixed with "sure, that's going to help!") and I haven't really embraced acceptance because it embraces you sooner or later whether you like it or not. Sooo, that leaves me with anger and depression.
Before I go on I really need to thank the great folks who responded to my last pity-pot blog either through posted comments or privately to my email. I appreciate your words of wisdom. (After reading the comments it also seems I need a dog). You are all gems.
Now, back to anger and depression. There is a unique phenomenon single parents deal with. We aren't really allowed to have anger and depression. You see there is no one to take care of the kids while you are dealing with your own personal issues so you stuff 'em and just keep going. Some people mistake this for bravery when it actually all it amounts to is masked terror.
The good thing about being an SB is you can still be thankful at Thanksgiving when your life is facing another upheaval...here goes:
I am thankful for two incredible kids who are just that, kids - they fight, they laugh, they are good more than they misbehave, they are funny, they make me want to scream, they jump on the furniture, they give me hugs, they miss the toilet, they carry out the recycling, they make pictures for their grandparents and best of all, they believe in dreams and happy endings when their mom has secretly lost that ability. They keep me hoping when I feel I don't have the energy to try.
Here's to games of Clue and Mousetrap on a Thanksgiving of quiet desperation.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Life just took the wind out of my sails...again... and as usual, it comes just in time for the holidays. I was told last week that my office will most likely be doing layoffs that will start in January and hopefully end in April. Merry Christmas!
I have to stop right here and say this is not something I feel is personal. I love both my job and my boss. It is the result of a typical scenario for small business. Times get tough, you do what you have to survive - no blame to be had there.
No, this blog is more of an SB piss and moan session. Since I am a single mom I can't piss and moan and look to support from the hubby. I certainly can't with the kids - I need to keep them feeling as secure as possible. I also can't piss and moan to the family. My folks lost their son this year and the holidays are tough enough without my issues piled on top.
I certainly can't piss and moan to the friends; they have been rock solid in the last few years as I went through abuse, divorce, foreclosure, death, drunk drivers and a few other things I can't even talk about. No they have had enough.
What I really want to say is "enough is enough." We were barely hanging in there as it was and now this. I know it's not cancer or nuclear war. I just hate always having to compare what is going on in my life with the worst case scenario (see my blog The good the bad and the unthinkable)
I just want a breather.
I never was the type to ask for big cars, fancy vacations and insane riches. I would, however, like my boys to have a future that is not just debt. I would like to give them some hope for higher education. God, I would like to dream again.
Dreams. I have a friend who I adore tell me that she stopped dreaming a long time ago because she was so tired of being hurt and disappointed. I remember feeling sad for her at the time, but I'm starting to understand it now.
If anyone is reading this blog, tell me what you do to get through it when the rain never lets up; when you just can't breathe. I would love some advice.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
- Barb and I work the conveyor belt - we whine - we get moved.
- Barb and I work the bending room - we whine - we get moved.
- Barb and I work the warehouse - we whine - we get moved.
The job is to take the electronics parts from the boxes, weigh the correct amount and put them into little plastic bags. It's lucky that Barb and I have reached a sufficient level of high school math to be able to handle this one. Who knew?
Amazingly, we sort of take to this work. We are even more jazzed when we learn that this is one of their more skilled positions in the company. We last almost a week before we begin to get that familiar old "let's run" look in our eyes. Sensing our displeasure, the management finally does something we don't see coming. No they don't fire us - they offer us a raise!
But Barb and I aren't falling for that one. We pack up our little lunch bags and leave, never to grace the electronics industry again.
Somewhere in a small town in Wisconsin they tell of tale of two young, working girls who knew what a diva was long before the Paris Hiltons and Nicole Richies were even conceived.
The two of us are handed brooms, dust pans and rags. The job is to clean off all the shelves, sweep the floors and dust the lighting units above the aisles. A chimp could do it.
At first it doesn't seem so bad, at least we are moving around and getting to climb these big honking shelves. Our contact with actual electronic parts is minimal. Except for Barb getting impaled on a pencil in my back pocket as I climbed up a shelf and she climbed down one, all was serene.
By quitting time that afternoon we look like something that came out of a shaft in Coal Miner's Daughter. Our outside appearance is nothing compared to what shows up when we blow our noses. This is when we whine to the management that this job is just too filthy.
For some unfathomable reason they still don't can our butts, but tell us to come back the next day and they will find something cleaner for us to do. Like moths to a flame we come back. They bring us over to some tables against the wall that...
(Will I get black lung disease? Will Barb go all "postal" on the management? Tune in for the final blog in our series Wired but not fired: part four)
After whining to the management about not enjoying the assembly work we were moved to this little, airless room with a couple long tables. On the tables were thin blocks of wood mounted on a wood base next to a pile of diodes with long wires coming out of them.
The job was to pick up a diode, put it on top of the block of wood and bend the little wires down so they made a kind of an upside-down goal post shape. Then repeat, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat, and - oh you get the picture.
After a few hours of this mindless repetition Barb had to grab both of my hands and wrestle the little diodes out of them before I poked the little wires into my eye sockets. It seemed like a good idea at the time. By the end of the day we whined to the management that this job was just too boring.
Instead of firing our asses they told us to come to work at their warehouse in the morning and they would have something different for us to do. You can see where this is going, can't you.
The next day Barb and I show up at the warehouse and are given...
(See my next blog Wired but not fired: part three or "whose stupider the employer or the employees?").
Friday, November 9, 2007
The first day of work they put us on an assembly line. The job was inserting these tiny diodes into little boards in just the right teeny holes as the conveyor belt flew past us like a bat out of hell.
I was barely managing to keep up, but Barb was sporting one inch nail extensions making it virtually impossible to pick up the parts nonetheless place them in a circuit board. At one point I think I saw her crying while riding the convey belt in an act of sheer desperation. Finally, the much older and more experienced workers (picture Rosanne Barr and Sandra Bernhard in hairnets) took pity and pulled her off while tossing her a nail clipper.
As we took our lunch bags out on the lawn that day Barb came up to me, clutched my arm, pointed to the woods behind the factory and mouthed two words, "Let's Run!" I got her through the rest of the day by having her visualize us as Lucille Ball and Viviane Vance in the sketch about the candy factory.
The next day we whined that this job was just too hard and asked to be moved to a different section. They put us in this little room with...
(See tomorrow's blog Wired but not fired: part two where Barb and I screw up and whine our way through an entire company).
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
"Well, Miss SB, if you were President/Prime Minister for a day with the power to do absolutely anything, what would you do?"
I stand up straight thrusting my breasts forward and pronounce, "I would let there be world peace."
WAIT A DARN MINUTE...NO I WOULDN'T. Because if I used my omnipotent day to create world peace the fools who came back into power on the day after my presidency would totally screw it up. What would be the point?
No, if I were given any power it would be to make the world get a clue - get smarter if you will. I would want whatever change I made to last, and not for my personal glory. I would want it to last so things got better for the long haul. Here's how I'd do it:
- Everyone in the world would get educated instantly and then use that education to learn about the people they are voting for. Hell, if everyone actually paid attention to politics I doubt any of the current systems would stand.
- All those now-enlightened folks would see that the world is beautiful and fragile and needs to be taken care of. Overnight, sun and wind power would be our main sources of energy and every Hummer on Earth would be parked, gutted and the pieces recycled to make irrigation systems.
- All of the previously misnamed "supporters of life" would start to value all life, even after a person is born! In a flash senior citizens would be respected and given the food and medicine they need; all the kids with auto immune diseases and at-birth drug addictions would be adopted as would all foster children; homes that had been taken away in droves through foreclosures would be turned into rent-to-own dwellings that people who are not living the perfect American Dream could afford; and prevention instead of rehabilitation would be the method of choice in every country.
- This immense outpouring of knowledge would make it obvious that just because a person doesn't have the exact same opinion as yours or dress the same or have the same amount of money or worship the same or have the same color skin - it doesn't make them wrong and you right. Voila, world peace.
I am now so out of breath I whisper "Thank you" while giving the judges my best Queen Elizabeth hand wave and walk backstage of the blog competition. There I find my fellow blogging contestants nervously waiting to hear who has made the final cut. We turn to each other and in our sweetest southern voices drawl, "I hope you win." "I hope you win."
I wonder if I can get Miss Congeniality? A girl can hope, can't she.
Below are the links to the other Blog Ninjas who are part of the Mystery topic challenge. Enjoy!
Blog Ninjas present The Mystery Challenge #4! The topic was proposed by Mr. President of Textual Relations, the winner of MTC #3. Below you will find all the entries for this challenge. Please visit and read them all. Once you've read all the entries, please vote for your favorite. Members of the forum may vote in the poll HERE. Guests can place their vote in this thread HERE. Voting concludes on Nov. 22nd.Leaf - Read MoreScott - Read MoreBunGirl - Read MoreGrumpamoose - Read Morefrom Reason to Freedom (4 entries)Peter Namtvedt - Read MoreBob Bachus - Read MoreMichelle L. - Read MoreMJ Taylor - Read MoreJayne - Read MoreZybron - Read Morelonelygurl - Read MoreTooBIG - Read MoreAn Honest Woman - Read MoreStepford Mom - Read MoreShadyLady - Read MoreSome Go Softly - Read MoreDebaloo - Read MoreJan - Read More
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Friday, November 2, 2007
- Combine 9 cousins ranging from about 7 up to 12 years old
- Mix with 1 large, steep hill covered with trees
- Add 2 old car tires (one preferable a snow tire) and a wheel barrow
- Simmer with way too much free time, imagination and stupidity...and voila!
If you are anything like me, the Fall air just does something that brings out the kid in you. I'm brought back to autumn days out at our Wisconsin cottage (or lake home as the Minnesotans say) that was jointly owned by our very fertile Italian side of the family.
When you get that many people all in one place there just has to be some activity to burn off the energy that builds up. And this, my friends, is how Rollers, Runners and Stoogies was born.
Here's how you play:
- Two kid stand at the top of a steep, tree-lined hill armed with old tires (Rollers)
- Two more kids stand directly in front of those tires (Runners)
- Two unfortunate kids crouch behind a wheel barrow tipped on its side at the bottom of the steep, tree-lined hill (Stoogies)
The object of the game is for the Rollers to roll the old tires down the hill at the Runners with as much force as they can possibly manage. The Runners must then run their asses off in an attempt to avoid being bowled over by said tires. They are only allowed to run to the side and dodge the tires after they pass two trees at the very bottom of the hill.
Alas the Stoogies main purpose it to catch the careening tires before they make it into the swamp and lake just beyond the wheel barrow of terror.
Here's a little hint from my cousin Mark - Only chase the tires after they pass the wheel barrow. Do not, I repeat, do not peek over the top of the wheel barrow to see if they are coming. Oh yes, and don't wear your good shoes.
I never did get run over by the dreaded snow tire but the faint whisper of tread marks on the back of my thigh proves how close I came. If Nintendo game systems had come along years ago I may never have had the memories, and the scars to prove I had a fun childhood.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I am sorry about my lack of blogging for the past few days but I find myself caught up in thoughts of my brother. John died suddenly and unexpectedly right after Easter. He was 50 years old, which may seem like ancient to some but is quite young in the scheme of things.
When I got the call I was shocked and hurting. I drove back to Wisconsin and did my best to help my boys understand the loss of their Uncle along with attempting to comfort my parents through the devastating death of their only son. A painful and unbelievable time.
Our whole family rallied around us like a large, downy quilt doing their best to soften the blow. Our extended family of friends showed up in droves to give us their tears and their support. It was truly moving.
So, it amazes me that it is only now, months later, that I really feel the loss. I think time tends to magnify the void left, emphasizing how a loved one is now beyond our reach. There are no phone calls or cards on birthdays and holidays. There are the million times I stop myself in the middle of saying, "I gotta remember to tell John this, " or "I bet John would like that for Christmas."
The memories of him that pop into my head are not what I would expect. They usually involve him as a kid verbally insulting me or beating the crap out of me. No one would mistake us for Donnie and Marie. My brother and I were not close as kids. In fact, I think he found me annoying at best. Our temperaments were different, our interests were different and I was looked on as inferior in every way.
But as he got older he mellowed and found a real respect for who his little sister had become. I asked him to be Godfather to my youngest and he checked in on me regularly through the long demise of my marriage. I realized he did not want to be seen as soft-hearted - but he was. I began to appreciate his wit and intelligence and he told me how he was amazed that I hadn't become bitter, but showed real courage during great adversity.
Had we not been brother and sister, we may never have been friends - but families don't work that way do they. Often you are completely unique people with the same last name. I once read that everyone is born into a different family, meaning each person that comes into it changes it before the next arrives. Our childhood days aside, I'm glad John arrived before me. I wish he didn't leave so soon because I believe he never got the chance to finish the changes he was meant to make in all of our lives. I miss him.
Rest in peace J.D.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
This was pretty heady territory for a theater arts major. I knew then and there I would never be tempted to learn how to use a computer. I was too pure to be caught up in the technology lure. I was saving myself for Shakespeare and Ibsen, not to be trifled with by clicks and bytes.
Well, it's pretty obvious isn't in? College life changes you. I fell in love.
I am not a technological virgin anymore. I guess you could say I succumb and lost my "apple" quite a few years back. Hey, don't look down on me. The fact that you are reading this blog on a computer puts you in the digital slut or pimp category as well. You know we gotta have it.
We gotta have it, email it, blog it, vlog it, podcast it, download it, upload it and stream it.
Does anyone else need a cigarette?
It seems like a million years since the days when my cousin Teri and I would sit out on the lawn chairs in my folks backyard playing with my Say it Play It tape recorder. It was made almost entirely of red plastic and had these little yellow plastic tape cartridges on which you could record about 20 minutes of dialogue. We used it to create our own parodies of the Watergate trials. We thought we were so cool. The Jon Stewarts of our day.
Ah, but the innocence of youth is fleeting. Last year I discovered that my then ten-year old was using his school bus rides home to make satirical videos about George Bush and the gang on his friend's Mac laptop and iSight camera. I'll admit I was shocked. We hadn't even had "the talk" yet. They grow up so fast these days.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I need to pause here to see if I want to tackle this subject. After the divorce last year I can't say I was eager to date. I figured I'd better get my kids' lives more settled and get my own shit together before I think about that Pandora's Box again.
However, I have started thinking about it.
It's been a while since I dated and I really need some advice from blog readers out there...Your thoughts on the current dating environment...Your gentle advice...Your strict warnings.
I think it only fair to give you a snapshot my past experiences. I dated a decent amount in my life, but only had a few of what I would call memorable relationships; those included:
- The absolute perfect guy who unfortunately set the bar so high it's been impossible to reach since.
- The guy that turned out to have two personalities - #1 mild mannered Clark Kent, #2 a velociraptor.
- The cute, fun guy who was not really sure of his sexual preference and wanted me to decide for him. (Girls, never, ever, decide for them).
- Two summer romances that were great. One of them I still miss.
- My Ex. His description will not fit in a blog. Suffice it to say that if some people have baggage, he owned a chain of luggage stores.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The problem with these ESP drivers is the fact that not all of us are similarly gifted and usually we don't know that the hell they're doing. Although I admit I prefer the ones who don't use their signal at all versus the fools who put it on after they are in their turn. They must want to let us know if we guessed right. Thank you for nothing.
There is also something missing up here that you may be accustomed to where you come from. The lack of this driving signal is probably due to another phrase describing our temperament - "Minnesota Nice." It explains the rare use of "the finger" up here. Oh they think of it, they just don't want to let you know they are thinking of it. (How I miss people from Chicago).
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
My bedroom was in the back corner of the Wisconsin home my parents still live in today. It had the standard pink walls and frilly curtains of the period. I remember a hot morning in late summer waking in my bed wearing only my baby doll pajamas. (Side note: What ever happened to baby doll pajamas? The stuff they sell today makes you feel like GI Joe rather than Barbie).
Anyway, I awoke with a strange feeling I was not alone. I sat up and to my shock and fear there was a creepy looking meter reader ogling me through my bedroom window. Being young and rather stupid I didn't yell or get my parents, I simply jumped up and ran into my closet.
I had a small window in that closet and standing on a couple of board game boxes I peeked out to see what my would-be attacker was up to. I was surprised to see him running away as if being chased by a rabid dog.
After I came out and shut the closet door I found my rescuer standing there in front of me. It had been the summer of the Twentieth Olympiad and I was madly in love with swimmer Mark Spitz. Taped to the front of my closet door I had a life-sized poster of Mark wearing nothing but a red, white and blue Speedo and his seven gold medals. When I ran into the closet the open door must have stopped right in front of the window and the scum bag outside came face-to-face with Mark and his glistening, chiseled chest.
So more than 30 years after the fact I owe Mark a long over due thanks. Thank you, Mark, for scaring the crap out of the peeping tom in my window, and thank you even more for a poster that gave me many, many sweet dreams.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I like to put a disclaimer right at the top for those blog-hopping brethren who are looking for a little lighter fare to cheer up their day. This isn't it. You may click out.
Now if you stayed with me so far I really need to ask you a question that I have no earthly answer for.
Why is it we have this human tendency to rate trouble in our own lives by that old standard, "it could have been worse"?
What I mean is, when some shitty thing happens to us and we feel like wallowing on our pity pot for a while, why is it the one thing that yanks us back to reality is when something shittier is happening to someone else? There is definitely something wrong with this process.
I am wrestling with this today as two dear people I know have had the shittier thing happen. One of them spent 4 hours in surgery today to repair her hand that was severely damaged in a freak accident. The other just notified me that the health tests she has been going through have all but confirmed she has MS.
It wasn't a good day for them. It shook me just to think about what they are both going through.
If I had my SB way, we would all be aware of how fortunate we are without the rude awakenings or the need to learn of someone else's pain.
Oh and one more thing...be sure to be there for those going through the shittier thing. And if it is you going through it, I sincerely wish you peace and better days.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Well that was rude wasn't it. Actually, it is not an offensive question but a scary one because the answer, once revealed, almost always leads to some false conclusion by the person who asked it. I am in the last gasping breaths of my 40's. I hope that won't make my readers in their 30's, 20's and under run screaming. Believe me I'm still the same inside - it's the outside wrapping that's gotten a little beat up. This leads me to one of my most cherished S.B. theories:
My theory comes from reading The Velveteen Rabbit (a book by Margery Williams) to my first born several years back.
It's a great tale of a new and perfect stuffed bunny that learns a most valuable lesson from an old, threadbare toy horse.
Ms. Williams tells it so much better than I do:
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."Now, go read The Velveteen Rabbit and if you are under 30 and still have all your fur it will give you wisdom beyond your years;
If you are significantly over 30 and your stuffing is starting to fall out, you'll know just what I mean;
And if you happen to just be turning 30, congratulations on becoming real.
*Illustration bu William Nicholson
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
We come to a scene in the movie where the Rock has his shirt off (surprise) and is trying to impress a girl by popping his pecs. My boy turns to me with an angelic look of enlightenment and says,
"So! Men have men have boobs too?"
I wipe the drool off my chin and try to put on a motherly face as many responses flash through my mind. The first of which was to say, "Well, THAT man does." Another option was, "Shhh, don't interrupt. This is Mommy Time."
What did come out was, "You see Honey, on a man's chest those are his pectorals. His pecs."
My child came back with, "Ohhh, so only women have boobs!"
Technically... he was right. (I tried to remember ever using the word 'boobs' in front of him but couldn't. Kudos to all those school chums of his for expanding his vocabulary). I replied,
"Well Dear, they are called breasts when they are on a woman's chest. You say breasts."
Then this big, blue-eyed, curly haired cherub announces,
"Well I call them boobs."
Sometimes you just have to let it drop and be grateful Pamela Anderson never made a Disney film.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
When I was engaged to be married in the church, my then fiance and I were obligated to take a "pre-marriage test" to assess things like compatibility and possible areas of disagreement. I remember sitting in a room in the rectory and trying to stifle a few snickers as I worked my way through the endless questions. Here's a sample:
"Do you resent your spouse-to-be's overuse of drugs/alcohol?"
The answers were: true, false or I don't know. We were told that any ' I don't know' answers would be counted against us. This left me with either saying that my fiance had a drug and/or alcohol problem, or that I didn't resent the fact that he was a total alcoholic crack head.
Did I mentioned we're divorced now?
I would love to rewrite that marriage test for the real world. My questions to my spouse-to-be would go something like this:
1. You just just got your pay check and have the following three choices, which one would you choose?
a. Pay the rent, utilities, food and help keep a roof over your heads?
b. Go out to eat with friends and pay for everyone's meal and drinks even though they make three times the money you do?
c. Don't pay any bills and don't tell the wife or kids; let it be a surprise!
2. You have been fired...again. How do you tell your wife?
a. You sit down and have a calm discussion followed by an aggressive job search?
b. You eat up the family's meager savings by buying her something very expensive to try to soften the blow?
b. Don't tell the wife and kids; let it be a surprise!
3. You have been out of work for over a year now and will probably lose the house. What do you do next?
a. Spend the last money the family has on a get-rich-quick scheme you saw on late, late night TV?
b. Play a lot of games on the new computer system you bought on credit?
c. Don't let the door hit you in the ass when the wife kicks you out; let it be a surprise!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I am constantly yammering at the boys to put the DS down and back a way from the joy sticks. Once a kid meets up with any type of game system he/she is useless for anything productive afterward.
Now this was my thinking before one evening when I was feeling a little anxious and needed something to get my mind off the world for a while. I recalled purchasing a little computer game for myself that was on sale a few weeks back. As a lark, I opened it and loaded it onto my home computer...that is when I met Flo.
I am talking about the infamous waitress Flo of Diner Dash.
I spent many a year before college as a waitress trying to eek out a living. I worked my ass off for very little pay and a lot of grief. My perfume of the day was "Eau de Fryer." So I sympathized with Flo. I related to Flo. I was one with Flo. Night after night I snuck into my room and cranked up the computer ready to earn that new counter top or possibly an espresso maker - anything to please Flo and get her that new restaurant she so richly deserved.
Even my two male children were sucked into the mania. I found my seven year old slumped over my desk one night, asleep and murmuring, "If I only got the bread sticks out in time." His little finger was still clicking the mouse.
I knew I had to get help. I weaned myself off of the game, slowly. I am still one step away from getting that last upgrade that would make my fourth restaurant the envy of Chef Ramsay himself. I know that's not the most important thing in life anymore. I found something much more important.
I was saved. Yes, I was saved by a little game called, Nancy Drew Message in a Haunted House. Now leave me alone will ya. Nancy needs me to find out what Gun Bo Fu means.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Once, while getting out of my little car, the SUV next to me pulled out suddenly. If I hadn't ducked in time it would have been a scene from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre - only instead of a chainsaw ripping off my head it would have been a side-view mirror. Objects in the mirror Really Are closer than they appear.
You can probably tell from this and my SB Lesson #2 blog, that I am not a fan of cars the size of small towns. On my drive home from work on Friday I listened to how the greenhouse effect is worse than scientists predicted. I also pondered if the blood shed over oil wouldn't be as extensive if we just quit consuming so much.
After a peaceful afternoon among the Haralsons (not Woody, the apples) I pulled over into a gas station to fill the tank. There, on all the pumps were television screens. Above the computer screen that shows how much you are being ripped off there were television screens to show the latest ads and specials in little mini-commercials. The irony of it was, this was the station selling the E85 "good for the environment" clean gas. I guess we were saving so much by buying green that the gas stations felt they needed one more thing that used electricity on their pumps.
Sing with me now, "Green Acres we are there...da, dumb ,da-da, dumb...dumb, dumb."
Thursday, September 20, 2007
If you do nothing else in your life - go somewhere. Get out of your chair, get out of your town, get out of your state, or if possible, your country.
I have never had real money. I don't have a "401K plan". I have a "4 pity sake don't let me end up a bag lady" plan. The point is, you do not have to be wealthy to go and see something beyond your back door (I'd say back yard, but don't have one - get it?).
I saw the entire United States because I acted in a couple different touring troupes. We busted our butts driving across every state on the map. Except Alaska. I haven't been to Alaska. Well, technically I flew to Hawaii.
The U.S. is absolutely amazing. I am sure the American electorate would not vote like such assholes if they ever got out there and saw how the rest of the country lives. What makes us all tick. What we care about.
While living as a travelling actress I also hopped into Mexico and Canada - eyes opened even wider now.
My other out-of -country treks were just dumb luck. My old French teacher asked me to chaperon her class on a trip to France during my first year of college. Seven years of french finally paid off. We popped into Monaco and Italy too. It was my first time in Europe. Guess what folks - we are not alone!
My ex-husband and I went to the Bahamas for a honeymoon. A short trip on a big boat and you get to drink all day and play on the beach. Nice job for a Midwestern girl.
One of the most exciting and unexpected trips was the one I made to England a few years ago. My marriage was at its worst and my once college roommate asked me to come stay with her. Ten days - all expenses paid. When I said yes I thought she was still living in Seattle. She was living with her fiance 30 miles outside of London. So this SB went British; and I could live there, I could really live there.
Remember you don't have to go far to change your life up a bit. Last summer my friend Beth drove with me to drop my kids off with their dad in South Dakota. We met up with him just over the border in Sioux Falls. After staying the night in a hotel we drove back home using anything but the highway and stopping at every interesting point we came across.
If you life isn't changing - change your scenery.
Monday, September 17, 2007
After I was separated, the kids and I lost the house and I had to find lodging and work fast. As I looked at an apartment I was asked to be the manager of 56 units in 3 buildings. It was sold to me as a part time job.
Had I ever done this before? No. Did I know what the hell I was doing? NOOOOO.
With two little boys needing a home before school started I did the SB thing and signed the lease and the contract. I was getting my rent plus $300 a month. (I had another part time job too). There was a caretaker on site and maintenance guys that came in. It sounded good.
Here's a sample of the calls I got all day and all night (quotations are my thoughts):
"Did you walk the all the buildings today? You need to walk all the buildings every day." (Sorry, I forgot to leave breadcrumbs) "You recorded the answering machine greeting wrong." (They called about 10 times on this and every time I had read it off the sheet they gave me - with gusto). "I just drove by and there was a hanger in the middle of the street, go out and pick it up." (Response not printable in polite society) "There was snow on the steps when I went by this morning. Why?" (Well, maybe it was the blizzard outside) "Why are the washing machines breaking down all the time?" (I don't know, maybe because they are cheap pieces of crap) "There were newspapers outside the front door when I drove by, go put them in front of the everyone's doors." (What is this place, the Hilton?) "There was a piece of dust in the hallway. Why?" (There's going to be a foot up your ass and you know why)
And here's my favorite, "Find a stick and test the fire alarms in all 56 apartments." (Whaaat?) Which was all I could say for the next week because I was completely deaf; at least I didn't hear the phone ringing.
The funny thing is, the tenants, maintenance folks and I got along great. I might add that at the same time I was being berated by Lord and Lady Hemorrhoid, I was getting bonuses and raises at my better-paying, highly skilled, part time, then three-quarter time and then full-time salaried job.
My eyes opened wide when the apartment owners wouldn't show mercy to the two newlywed soldiers who lived next door to me. When they were suddenly re-deployed to Iraq, Juan and Eva Peron wouldn't honor the agreement of the previous manager and charged the couple a bundle to get out of the lease and go fight for our country. So much for democracy. I quit. I still have the nightmares.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
No, this is not an ad for speed-dating or the newest therapy. This is an SB sharing some observations that I hope will be help.
I just spent the evening talking to the mom of a new friend of one of my sons. She, I discovered, is single, with a son she is raising completely on her own. His father walked out 11 years ago while she was pregnant. She is still hurting, but working hard to make a good life for her beautiful boy.
I have met this woman many times. She is a he in many of the encounters. The story may change to one of abuse, neglect, anger, betrayal or fear. However, the ending is always the same - someone is left out there very hurt, very alone, very sad and doing the best they can to get through and make things better.
In one of the lowest points of my divorce I called an amazing, long-term SB friend of mine. I was in tears about everything the kids were going through. I was exhausted and quite lost. I will share her words of advice verbatim,
"They say, 'that which does not kill us makes us stronger'. Bullsh_t! I say, that which doesn't kill us makes us smarter. We are beaten up, bleeding, crushed and left for dead but we are smarter."
I write this because I know you 'smart' people are out there. We are on a similar journey but at different crossroads. My own life is out of crisis but I still struggle and the wounds are not healed. Wherever you are - beginning, middle, or seeing what you long for on the horizon, I want to say, stay smart. I wish you faith and strength. You aren't as alone as you feel."
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Pardon me while I hurl.
You must understand, I am no wussy. I have seen my son's skull through a split he put in his head. I have helped the doctor wrap a fractured arm. I have fumbled my way through curing their rashes (in boy-type places), dealing with their asthma bouts, completing their potty training and let's not forget the ever-popular cleaning up of the puke. I would do them all a hundred times over before I'd face lice again.
For those of you who have not had the pleasure, these disgusting why are they even on this earth creatures like to live in people's hair and feed off our blood. They not only hold on to the hair strand for dear life but they lay eggs, lots of eggs, and glue them onto the hair with a formula 3M would pay millions to own. A tsunami wouldn't budge the little bast_ _ ds!
My next stop is the pharmacy. The pharmacist just laughs at me and tries to be funny by saying, "Just rub sand in his hair and light him on fire." The SB in me wants to tell him where he can put the sand but I ask for the aisle with lice shampoo instead.
At home we shampoo and comb with this torture device that came in the box. Gobs of little bugs and eggs show up in the comb. (Hurling again). After that, we throw out his pillow. Change the sheets. Vacuum the bed, couch, chairs, rug and car seat. All his clothes with anything else he might have infested are put in dark plastic bags and sealed tight for days to kill the beasts.
I wanted to get into a plastic bag.
Next I check my younger son. Whew! No lice. I check myself as best I can and I also come up clean.
My older son is still itching.
I call my SB sister-in-law who is a nurse practitioner. She suggests vinegar and plastic wrap on the hair for 15 minutes followed by more combing. My poor boy sits there smelling like and Easter egg and looking dejected as the vinegar makes his eyes water. He turns to me and says in a serious voice, "We shall never speak this."
If only he had said we shall never blog of this.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
I saw the drivers side window come down slightly and fingers pop through with some sort of wrapper that floated to the ground outside the behemoth auto. I could feel the kids start to fidget in the car as they knew I was not going to let it go. They probably flashed back on the time I tracked two neighborhood guys who dropped Taco Bell wrappers on our street and showed them how easily the bags would fit in the trash cans in their own back yard. Or another grocery store incident where the posh woman in the cashmere and pearls finished her free ice cream sample and threw the stick and wrapper on the ground not 2 feet from the friendly garbage can. She too learned how to "stop, drop and be droll."
So, as the boys cowered inside the car I jumped up about 6 feet in the air and knocked on the SUV window. The window came down as I picked up the wrapper and held it up to the middle-aged-and-should-damn-well-know-better driver inside. I said, "Come on, let's not do this. It's a beautiful world." And he...
Took the wrapper back.
I guess I'll never really know what happened to that wrapper, but I do know this, my sons know better than to toss their garbage on the ground, and that means an SB has done her job right.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
I love to dress up. It is even better that I have two kids I can make costumes for from scratch. You heard me. I make costumes. No one-size-fits-all, sewn by slave labor, cheap looking knockoffs for this family. As a kid, my mom sewed our costumes and I have taken up the gauntlet. Hell, I've even made a few gauntlets.
In college, my theater and dance crowd always had the best Halloween parties. Two of my favorites: the "Princess Di Royal Wedding Party" (a friend of mine came as an anarchist and of course the Queen Mum was a man), and who could forget the "Come as Your Favorite Tragic Death Party" with classics like having an Alien popping out of the chest or the hospital patient with a cord hanging out that he let you unplug for a beer.
With kids you have to tame it down a bit. My greatest kid creation was the Elvis costume I made when my youngest was two. It was patterned after the older, fatter Elvis and was complete with studs, bell bottoms, red lined cape and sideburns. You know you've hit a fashion home rum when the sweet old lady who answers the door to hand out candy turns around and screams, "Fred,...Fred, get your butt off the couch and come see this. It's tiny Elvis."
I'd like to hear from any SB's out there who have a memorable Halloween costume story. And thanks for those of you who are leaving comments. If I met you, I'd make you an Elvis costume too.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Depressing you say. Minnesota I say.
I am not - I repeat not - a winter girl. I want to sit on a rock and bake like a lizard. I think swimming outdoors is one of the finest joys in life. I prefer a fan or an air conditioner to 15 pounds of coat, mittens, hat, scarf, thermal underwear and boots any day!
I grew up in the Midwest and have lived through a lot of winters. I especially enjoy the banter when some frozen-brained clown tries to talk me out of my hatred of winter. The discussion almost always goes like this:
Them - "You need to get out more and enjoy the snow."
Me - "I enjoy the snow. I enjoy it from about November 20th to January 1st."
Them - "Why don't you go skating? Skating is fun."
Me - "I have gone skating. I even took lessons again a few years back when the boys started hockey. My center of gravity has dropped with a lot of other things on my person. Skating is not fun anymore. Skating hurts."
Them - "Try skiing. Skiing is a wonderful sport to shake off those old winter blues."
Me - "I am petrified of heights - and you must have money."
Them - "Isn't the snow beautiful?"
Me - "Yes, the snow is beautiful, until you have to shovel your car out of it."
Them - "Why don't you just put your car in the garage?"
Me - "Garage? Again, you must have money."
Them - "We drive to our cabin and we go snowmobiling."
Me - "We drive to our tiny little apartment and we go hibernating."
Them - "I don't understand how you can like sweating from 90 degree summer temperatures and rubbing on all that sunscreen on just to stay safe."
Me - "I guess I prefer it to sweating from a 100 degree winter flu temperature and rubbing my nose raw with Kleenex just to be hygienic."
Them - "Why don't you take a vacation in the middle of the winter? A change of scenery would do you good."
Me - "I stand corrected, you must have lots of money."
It's no good people. I don't have the funds to live the good life in the winter, so don't try to change me. You have your eight months out of the Minnesota calendar, leave me in peace with my four.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Just some of her gifts in life were:
a need for adventure,
a big heart,
a strong will,
and a love of children.
She shared all of these with me. She had a way of looking out for those kids among my many, many cousins who were a little on the outside of things. She especially watched out for those of us who battled with our weight. She understood. She made us feel special.
For the grown ups in our family she wasn't aways understood. She grew up in a time when women really weren't very career minded; were supposed to stay home; were supposed to be quiet and tow the line. Not Aunt B. She was on the go, highly opinionated and most definitely not Betty Crocker.
From time to time in this blog, I will come back and tell you more about her. She deserves that. She deserved a lot happier life than the one she lived. A ancient Egyptian saying I once read said, "To speak well of the dead is to make them live again." Grazie mille Aunt B and live.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
There are many things I recall from my Catholic education but the most vivid of these memories are those that entail nuns. Nuns, like public school teachers, come in all shapes, grades and temperaments. It's the temperaments that stay with you. First grade was a breeze. Sister H. was a cross between Maria in The Sound of Music and Georgette from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Angels sang as she walked in the room. Then came...Sister M.A.
Sister M.A. was a cross between General Patton from World War II and Mr. T from the A Team. Right away Sister took an immediate dislike to me. My class was seated alphabetically and my last name was very close to the end of the alphabet so I was located in the back row. Day after day she would send me down to the Principal's office for "making faces at her" which I swore on many bibles I did not do. Finally, after enduring her scowls and hours out of class in detention some charitable nurse realized I was near sighted and needed glasses to read the chalk board. Even after corrective lenses things never did get much better with Sister M.A., but I felt lucky. My brother was in Sister E's class down the hall and she had a metal ruler that wasn't never used for measuring.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
If dog-years are the same life measurement for cats mine is 133 years old. Unlike most older cats who tend to put on the pounds like we humans do, my cat is a scrawny little guy. This is due to the fact that he has been bulimic for most of his life. Maybe you have a cat like this - they eat as little or as much as they wish an then throw it up in the most inconvenient spot they can find. I've started buying only cat food brands that match the color of my rug.
My younger son has a fun trick he likes to play on mom. He discovered he can imitate the cat's "pre-barfing" sound to a tee. Many is the evening I have come screaming down the hall to find kitty and get him on a tile surface just to see my 7 year old laughing in the corner. I am not amused.
Cats are definitely SBs, they like things on their own terms and the older they get the more this is so. All in all I love the cat. I've had him longer than I had a husband. I respect that he's an old SB and needs some extra care. Don't we all?
Friday, August 31, 2007
I mention all this because it is a lesson in SB-ness. I thought I had about as much chance of getting this job as Dick Cheney has getting his Boyscout safety badge. What I did have going for me was a divorce with no place to live and two little boys to protect. Another thing to add to the list of SB traits is the ability to rise to the occasion. Sometimes the rising occurs when our backs are to the wall and the wolves are circling , but we rise. I was going to get a job, and a good one and I was going to do it quickly. The bonus came with loving the job I found (much praise for an employer who is the model for all employers). You closet SB's out there, whatever you need, really need...go for it. I'm rooting for you.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
You know what's on my mind... cartoons. Yep cartoons. I sometimes wish life were a little more like cartoons - except for the Japanese Anime ones because I wouldn't want to go around with those freakish big eyes and my mouth only moving for half of my words.
My favorite cartoon character is Foghorn Leghorn.
If Foghorn was female he'd definitely be an SB. Especially the way he is always going around trying to tell the other barnyard animals how to do things "the right way."
I love this guy. He is never bored. He always has a project. He's always singing. He's almost always happy. He gets to be outside during the work day. He has a dog. Not a bad life.
I'd like to hear what your favorite cartoon character is and why. Are there any cartoon legends you think would make particularly good SB? (Remember to check back to my first blog for definition). Leave a comment and "I say, I say, I say there," I might just write back.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
makes a fat girl giggle.
Historical Quote of the Day
"A moment I've been dreading. George brought his ne're-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work."
-- Ronald Reagan in his recently published diaries, May 17, 1986.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
My home town was a factory town where all the Italians married all the Germans, my parents included. These are two nationalities with personality traits I feel shouldn't be in the same country let alone the same bedroom. My folks, whom I ADORE, have somehow persevered for decades and I appreciate their strength. However, having their genes mingling inside of me has certainly nurtured my S.B. characteristics which make me want to hug you and hit you up-side-the-head all at the same time.
I don't know how other women became S.B.'s (for a definition of S.B. see my first blog). Maybe other S.B.s out there can write and tell me their stories?
Monday, August 27, 2007
Wanna hear a true story? Last Saturday my boys and I are walking out of a little farm building at the Minnesota State Fair. My youngest just finished learning the ins and outs of farm life complete with life-size plastic cow you can milk. We were about to walk over to the kiddie rides when I think I hear a faint "Look out down there." I didn't feel God was particularly displeased with me that day but for some reason, I felt it was directed toward me. I trot a few steps faster until the kids and I turned to hear a thud, followed by a scrape and a quick sliding sound and ending with a prosthetic leg hitting the ground about 5 feet behind us.
I've seen a lot of things at the fair, but this one was a first. Looking up we see the open sky ride gliding above us and the boys and I scan it to find a chair with an odd number of feet dangling below it. Everyone around us sees the same loose limb just lying on the ground but no one makes a move. I walk over to pick it up and am met by one the fair workers from in the little farm building. She says she'll take it.
Being an S.B. with a long memory I recall my older son (now 11) losing a hat on that very same ride when he was about 6 years old. Some amazingly good Samaritans saw it fall and chased all the way across the park to the end of the ride to give it back. I admit I was a little disappointed not to be given the opportunity to return the favor...lend a foot, if you will, to my fellow Minnesotans. NO DISRESPECT, just a healthy sense of human, I mean humor.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
I have no time for being coy these days so let's get right to it. What is an S. B.? Before I tell you please read the whole explanation because it is not a tee-shirt slogan or a thing you call a girl you met in a bar that you don't like very much.
S. B. stands for Snotty Bi_ _ _. Can I say Bitch? I am in the habit of using underlines because I am a mom raising two boys under the age of twelve and underlines are a bad word, mom-thing. As I doubt my boys will be reading this any time soon and I want to be Honest as an S.B. I will use the word Bitch. In this case it is a very good thing to be, especially for those who the S.B. loves.
An S. B. is:
- The kind of woman who has more empathy than is healthy coupled with a great deal of intelligence, a fierce sense of loyalty and the notion that she needs to stand up and speak out when she or someone else is getting shit upon. (or is it shat upon - I just don't know).
- We tell people like it is and we expect some form of honesty in return.
- We see things coming and often get bit in the ass when we warn someone to get out of the way. We are usually kind when they come back to us after having learned their lesson the hard way.
- We work like bees (all puns intended).
- We feel pain for those we have never met.
- We try like hell to keep our families together and we make wonderful friends and fearsome enemies.
- We have a VERY LONG MEMORY.
- We are suckers for romance but don't really believe in it at the same time.
- We read a lot because we always want to know more.
- We laugh even more than we read.
- We yell.
- We often greet each other as just B. (And some of us find it funny to exchange things with bees on them. Remember bees sting but they also make sweet honey).
I know I'll think of more things about being an S.B. as this blog develops but that's a pretty good start.
Is late at night the best time to start a blog?
I find myself compelled to publish this now that I finally got off my ass and started a blog. I blog for my job regularly but this is different. I'm different. Different than the person you would see if I passed you on the street. I'm not hiding anything big and dark. I just had a lot of life fall on me in the past years and it pretty much covered up what's at my core. This blog is part of my attempt to scrape it off and see what emerges. Are you game? Are you B enough? We'll see....we'll see.