Thursday, December 13, 2007

I will be gone a while

Last Saturday night my 11 year old son, Alexander, was struck by sudden bleeding in the cortex of his brain. We now know he has an Arterial Venous Malformation which can either bleed or give seizures at some time in your life. He has been in Pediatric Intensive Care and has already come through one surgery and an angiogram.

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 and enter alexandermurphy1 where it asks for a site name.

Life is too precious. Be kind to each other.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I gave up my parking space - and it was worth it

Last night was cold. Very cold. My kids didn't want to go out. I didn't want to go out. If it had been just another Cub Scout meeting the boys and I would have been in the apartment watching the tube or arguing over who did or did not finish their homework.

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

Deck the halls with years of therapy

Christmas carols on the radio are supposed to put us in a festive, joyful mood, however, driving home tonight they made me re-live one one of those painful and embarrassing childhood moments I thought I would forget by the time I reached adulthood. Guess what.

When I was in second grade our class practiced a carol to sing at a local nursing home - or as we kids so very unPC-like called it, the old folks home. I had never been in one and the image I had in my mind was something like the day room in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
The song our class prepared was the 12 Days of Christmas. I was to sing the pivotal 5th day or "Five Gold Rings". If you are familiar with the tune, this is the phrase that hits the highest notes in the whole song. I can't recall the name of the sadistic teacher who gave this line to me, but I was one the few seven year old ALTO girls in the class.
On a cold night in winter we dressed up in our best clothes and bussed over to the senior home. I hadn't been around any non-family seniors at this point in my life and I was scared to death of the white hair, wheel chairs and wrinkles that met us there. (As you can tell, the school really prepared us well). It was hard to bring Christmas cheer when you felt like peeing your panties.

The song started and as we got to my climactic solo of "Five Gold Rings" I was petrified and my voice cracked so loudly the seniors turned down their hearing aids. Worse than that, it cracked in the same place for the seven additional choruses of the song. The laughing from the audience and my class members began after "Six Geese Laying" and continued to grow through "Twelve Drummers Drumming". I was very close to being "One Second Grader Puking" when the concert mercifully ended.

I flashed back on this tonight when my radio played the classically funny Muppet version of the "12 Days of Christmas" with John Denver. I was appalled to realize that Frank Oz, a MAN singing as Miss Piggy could hit the notes I failed so miserably at. If only I had the chutzpah to add "Ba-dum-bum-bum" the way Miss Piggy did. You go girl!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bored games

I have two closets of shelves filled with board games. You have to understand, I grew up in Wisconsin and currently live in Minnesota...get it...long winters... trapped with the family. On those freezing nights when television is numbing your brain and the kids won't leave you in peace to read a book there is sweet relief in a board game. I've always thought they should be called Bored Games because you usually find yourself playing them when you are literally bored out of your mind.

I attended a college (Stevens Point) that actually closes down each year to play the world's largest trivia game. This version is not played on a board but it is a great game. Fifty-four hours of nothing but trivia delivered via radio. Teams hunker down for three solid days, order in food and have runners ready to travel anywhere in town for questions like "How many light bulbs are in the fine arts building?" One year we played from my tech teacher's home which was once an old funeral parlor. After staying up for three days we were all seeing ghosts and looking like cadavers. Boy I miss college.

Our current family faves are Apples to Apples and Imagine If, which can be played by bored people of all ages.

However, the granddaddy of them all is still Scrabble. You gotta love Scrabble. The heck with spelling tests in schools, make the kids play Scrabble. We used to play these endless rounds with all my Aunts when we were out at our summer cottage. Things often got ugly. The family almost had to ban my Aunt Joan from the game for using obscure medical terms.

Alright readers, let's hear from you. What are the games that save you from climbing to the roof with be-be gun and taking pot shots at the neighbors?

Friday, November 23, 2007

The five phases of (good) grief

Hello Thanksgiving survivors. Hope you had a good one. In some insane attempt to feign healthy behavior the boys and I took a colder-than-hell walk by Lake Como after dinner and before pie. All I can say is - only in Minnesota would it be considered a "healthy walk" when the temperatures are in the 20's. Good thing I have my hot flashes to keep me warm. Hold it, SB's don't have hot flashes, we have power surges.

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 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

Piss and moan

Warning: I needed to write this blog. I would appreciate it if you did read it, cause I just really needed to write it.

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

Wired but not fired: part four

Here's a brief recap for those who may not have read the previous blogs in this series:
  • 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.
That should catch you up. So we come to our fourth day of our stellar work for the electronics manufacturer and they bring us to these tables where there are high-top stools in front of stations with weight scales and some boxes.

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.

Wired but not fired: part three

Having failed at the assembly line and the bending room Barb and I are sent to the big electronics warehouse across town. The main part of the building is filled with these insanely tall metal shelving units holding boxes of every kind of elctronic thingamabob imaginable.

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)

Wired but not fired: part two

When we last left our two inept employees they had just finished the first day of their new summer jobs at the electronics plant. Barb,close to a nervous breakdown and myself, bored but fearing what the folks would say if I quit after one day.

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

Wired but not fired: part one

I recall a summer job my good friend Barb and I took at small electronics manufacturer. She and I had spent our earliest forays into employment as waitresses but something possessed us to go in another direction. Perhaps it was the fact that we were still in high school and had no skills of any kind. We did however have our looks and we were breathing which seemed to be resume enough to land the jobs.

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

Mystery Topic Challenge #4

Okay, I am standing there right after the evening gown portion of the Mystery Topic Challenge and I lick my vaselined teeth. I am smiling ear to ear as I perch at my blog with my long tresses cascading around my alabaster shoulders. All eyes are on me as the panel of MTC guest judges, led by current champion Mr. President, say,

"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:
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

Boats and Scouts and Bookies Oh my!

Okay, I've kept her under check but the SB in me slipped out last night and of all the places for her to show son's very first Cub Scout Pack meeting.

Now I have to preface this by saying I have held off putting my boys in Scouting because of the organization's archaic views on the world today. This is not to say that boys don't gain from a good Scouting experience. I have met and worked with some great Eagle Scouts, so I see how it can be a good experience. Last night, however, was not a good experience.

My 7 year old had spent the past few weeks sanding, painting and assembling his little boat for the Rain Gutter Regatta. For anyone who is as new to this as I am here's the Regatta in a nutshell. Two rain gutters filled with water plus two boys with two boats and two straws. They race by using the straw to blow into the sail and whoever reaches the end first wins the heat. Cute huh? Simple huh? You'd thinks so.

The guy that was running the races just happened to pair all the 1st second and 3rd graders with the 4th and 5th grade boys who have been in Scouting for a while. Rain Gutter Ringers if you will.

After the 3rd race and the 3rd win for the boys in the brown shirts (4th & 5th grades) and the 3rd loss for the boys in the blue shirts (1st, 2nd and 3rd grades) one of the dad's turns to me and says "They do it like this every year." Note - he did not seem pleased.

So, the SB in me walks up to 'Joe Laptop' who is running the heats and says "It might be nice if you change the order and let the little guys race with the little guys and the big with the big. That way it would be a little more fair." He then looked at me as if I had just thrown up on his shoes and continued to call the next brown shirt, blue shirt race.

At that point I started to take bets that the tall kid in the brown shirt with the amazingly detailed boat with (and I am not lying here) rigging, flags and a mast that really lit up, would win the trophy. And he did. Second and third place also went to the older Scouts.

Not only that, but the same boy also won for 'best in show' where his small scale version of something reminiscent of the Titanic was put up against the little boys boats with fish stickers and fingerprints on their sails.

After it was over I saw 'Joe Laptop' cozying up to Titanic boy's mom and I knew one thing. I better get to Vegas and place some bets before the Pinewood Derby hits.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Recipe for fun (and injury)

  • 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!
Rollers, Runners and Stoogies

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:
  1. Two kid stand at the top of a steep, tree-lined hill armed with old tires (Rollers)

  2. Two more kids stand directly in front of those tires (Runners)

  3. 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

Copping out for Halloween

It was one of those days on the job when you were working hard, minding your own business and BAM! a co-worker takes pity on you and sends you a computer link that makes you laugh. So I thought it would be fun to share a couple of my favs with you. My selfish motive for doing this is to save a very tired blogger from coming up with something witty to write this evening. Sit back, watch these clips and thanks for the break.

Clip #1 is from You Tube for the Harry Potter fans in all of us. Especially those who want to see the Hogwarts adventures acted out with puppets. The episode that caught my eye was The Mysterious Ticking Noise - a sort of wizard mini-operetta.

Clip #2 - Now here's a real scary one (in my opinion) from the Joe Cartoon website called Happy Mothers Day. I find it frightening because I am sure I am watching my sons in about 10 years. Check out my sidebar for a link to other Barats And Bereta videos. I love these guys.

Oh yes and before I forget:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Looking for John

WARNING: Serious blog about death (and Life) but not depressing or morbid. If you have never lost someone close - it may not be the blog for you.

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

Finding my digital womanhood

In college at the start of the 80's the only people who had regular access to any kind of computers were the ones majoring in communication technology. In my freshman year I happened to date a senior who fell into this category. I actually saw the inside of the forbidden computer lab!

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

Mary Tyler Moore had it easy


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.
So there you have it. When I moved to Minnesota I felt a little like Mary Tyler Moore starting a new life and career. I married and that didn't work out as planned. Now I identify much more with Rhoda (a good example of a TV SB). So if anyone has a good tale to tell or some sound advice to share. I'm listening.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

They're not that nice!

In case any of you are planing to take a trip to Minnesota in the near future I feel it is my duty to warn you about...
You may have heard of us being referred to as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" but I'll bet you've never heard of us as the "Land of Absolutely No Turn Signals." It's true. Drivers let other drivers know things like whether they are changing lanes or turning a corner by using their amazing powers of mental telepathy.

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).

There is a definite self-containment in the personalities of the North Star State. Like the old joke about the Minnesotan who loved his wife so much - he almost told her. I actually love the people up here but coming from a manic mix of Italian and German I have next to no control over things like emotions. I like people to know what I am thinking. I guess that's why I use my turn signal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My hero wore a speedo

When I was a young and nubile teenager back in 1972 (it hurts just to write that date) I had a disturbing incident I feel it is time to share. I've held it in too long and it's about time I thank the man who came to my rescue.

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

Dirty little secrets

What is your dirty little TV watching secret? Hey, get your mind out of the gutter! I'm not talking porn sites on pay per view. I can't even afford cable so I let's stick to the major networks.

What I want to know is, what is the show you watch that is pure garbage but you hate to miss? Okay I'll go first...

"My name is Susan and I watch "America's Next Top Model."

There, I said it. I have watched it for three years now and I don't intend to stop.

I just love the carnage. Maybe it was the year the narcoleptic girl passed out on the judging runway and still another girl got voted off before her. Or maybe it was the time the girl who contracted what looked like scabes on her face was kept on for another week or two. I wonder what the model felt like who was voted off before her?

Possibly it's the fact that they keep trying to make me believe the poor plus-sized contestants are going to win it. As a plus sized girl myself myself I just don't know how much longer I can get my hopes up. For them, not me. Believe me, the only way I could be stunning to a man these days is with a fully charged tazer. But I digress.

The truth is, I need the weekly escapism that comes with watching them take pictures of 6 foot tall women suspended off of climbing walls, wearing chicken wire and lizard suits and calling the photo "high fashion". I admit I am amused.
Give me a shout and share your TV pleasures. I promise you, I'll understand.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The good, the bad and the unthinkable

WARNING: Serious day...serious blog ahead.

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 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

The theory of "real"-ativity

How old are you?

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:

When you turn 30, you become real.

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

You say tomato and I say ta-mah-toe

I am on a little "date night" with my seven year old and he asks to go see the Disney movie "The Game Plan" starring the Rock. Not my first choice, but the boy is only seven. I, not being seven, decide I don't mind looking at the Rock for an hour or two.

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

Making the grade

WARNING: Before reading this blog realize that it is one of the most S.B. things I have yet to write; which means it comes from the heart and from personal experience.

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

The mystery of the lost hours

I am such a hypocrite.

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

Environmentally frustrated

I was parking at the apple orchard today when the sun disappeared. It wasn't cloudy out but, nevertheless, it grew dark inside my car. I looked out my side windows and discovered I was in THE VALLEY OF THE SUV's. I was between some sort of Explorer and and some humongous Lincoln. I was scared, very scared.

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

Parlez-vous anywhere but here?

How much of the world have you seen?

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

For rent - one ulcer

Have you had some real crappy jobs? Let's talk.

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.

However, I was also getting the landlords of the damned! Oh my God.

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

The stages of life

The single-parent life is not easy and while I have no wish to go back to the damaged marriage I had, I do wish for a connection with someone. Right now my children are my life and there is nothing wrong with that as long as I have enough life in me to give back to them. So, I did the one thing I knew would bring me out of my funk...

I went to the theater.

The stage has always been my escape valve; my secret life. I've mentioned before that am an actress, but I haven't acted for years. I long for it. I tell myself that when the kids are old enough I'll be out there auditioning again (it's very important to me).

Anyway, living in the Twin Cities is wonderful for many reasons and one of them is you have a great many theaters to choose from. I chose the grand-daddy of them all, The Guthrie.

I called a phenomenal, SB friend of mine who is originally from my home town. She acted with me in college and "Knew Me When." This means she doesn't see me as the pathetic example I am today, but remembers me at my best, with no real cares and doing what I loved most. I love her for that. She and I did what we could to look presentable and set off for an evening of live entertainment. It worked. The show was charming and I wasn't me for 3 hours. I feel renewed.

Now I'd like to ask what gets you back when you have lost what is really you? Who is it "knew you when" and makes you feel like your better self? If you have the time I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friedrich Nietzsche is a putz

Are you single, divorced, separated, widowed or in a relationship (married or not) that is ripping the soul right out of your body? If you said yes to any of the above, this blog is for you.

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

This really bugs me

I go to pick up the boys after work last Friday with only one thought on my mind, 'Yes, now I can relax.' Just then my 11-year old says the six words every woman thinks she'll never hear..."Mom, I think I have lice."

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

Enough said

I am taking a little break today to say Peace.

On the anniversary of the 9-11
In the midst of war
With the loss of people we love every day


Monday, September 10, 2007

SB lesson #2

Okay class, to continue educating you on the traits of a true SB (note: I did not say "typical" SB, there is no such thing as a typical SB), I need to tell you what happened today. The kids were getting into the car at the grocery store as I loaded the bags in the back when I noticed I was parked next to an SUV that was much larger than my apartment. Their motor was running even though the temperature was in the 70s and I'm almost sure it would have started again after the person they were waiting for came out of the store. But that wasn't really what got my SB engine started. Oh no.

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

A hunka hunka burnin' blog

Okay, I think I got this 'goodbye to summer' thing out of my system in the last blog. Let's face it, no one wants to read a crabby blog entry every night. I want to talk about something in the fall that I really look forward to ...Halloween. If the stores can sell Halloween junk three months early, by George, I can talk about it two months early.

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

Crank up the heat

Summer is ending soon. :( It is almost time to pull out my dark, heavy clothes, wail and gnash my teeth and wear the black armband until spring pops up out of the gloom.
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

Hat's off to the original SB

I have a small picture in my hallway which contains just myself and my Aunt B who was also my Godmother. She passed away many years ago but much too soon in the scheme of things. I still miss her terribly. This is the right forum to share a little of her story because she was the original SB in my life. She was the lone female child in a house with four brothers, a singer in her youth, an office worker in her heyday and an SB everyday. She didn't have any children and never married which was a loss to men and children everywhere.

Just some of her gifts in life were:
common sense,
straight talk,
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

Read the first line of the chart, please!

As I toted ten tons of classroom supplies into school for the boys first day back I reminisced about my elementary days. I started out in a Catholic grade school - which made sense because I 'm Catholic. My brother and I attended parochial school through 6th grade when my folks could no longer afford it. Things do move a lot faster these days because my first son attended through kindergarten before we could no longer afford it. We then moved to public school.

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

The skinniest cat in town

Do you have any pets? I do. I have a cat. I have always had cats. First, because the family has loved cats for generations and second, because I now live in small apartment with the boys and it is no place for a dog. Dogs need space - cats need respect. Also, I live in Minnesota and it will be a cold day in hell (in Minnesota that's the weather 7 months out of the year) before I get up at 5 a.m. to walk the dog in 15 below temps with 30 below wind chills.

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

SB lesson #1

I am so ready for the 3-day weekend. I work hard at a job that is fabulous but totally out of my league. My co-workers are educated to the hilt with Masters in subjects like Urban Planning, Economics and Public Policy and I walk in with my little Bachelor of Science degree in Fine Arts. Wait! I am not knocking the arts, on the contrary, more people should understand their value in quality of life, understanding and connectedness. However, with my schooling occurring in the distant past my learning curve in this job was (and continues to be) a mountain. After 8 years as an at-home-mom who did consulting work on the side, catching up to the technology alone was enough to send the strongest SB screaming into the night.

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

Let me illustrate my point

I really have to write one of these things when I am awake. Then again, most people probably read these when they are only semi-conscious so it's a good fit.

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.

Looney Tunes

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

A muse with the blues

Poetry by S.B.

"Oh To Be Thin"
Oh to be thin
To walk without a swish
and wave without a jiggle
for clothes to fit
the thought of it
makes a fat girl giggle.
Oh to be thin
to see the daylight
'tween your thighs
and lose the nickname
Oh to be thin
to be perused in
just one glance
to throw away the stretchy pants
and give a girl a half a change
to win.
Oh to be thin!

I like to share

A friend of mine shared this with me today and the S.B. in me shares it with you:

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

A little background music if you please

I have been living in Minnesota (via Texas) for the past 21 years and I like it here but I am, at heart, still a Wisconsin kid. I grew up there and it is a great place to do that because the pressure is off. As I learned later in life, many people from the East and West coasts don't believe there are people in the middle of the country - certainly not in a place called Wisconsin where cheese magically appears if you really, really want it to. This kind of thinking allows us to fly under the radar and we Wisconsinites like it that way.

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

Hello, is this thing on?

Happy Birthday It is your 8 year site anniversary and my 1 day anniversary on your site.

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 really should be in bed.

So I am an S.B. One of my best S.B. friends told me that not long after we met and I discovered, once again, that I have a cosmic connection and an instant like for pissy women from New York. We just blend somehow. I get them.

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.