Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I'll Do Whatever It Takes. . .

Dear Verizon,

Is it too late for us? I know that I said we were through, and at the time, I meant it. Being with you was costing me too much. And there were all these newer, younger providers tempting me with better, more economical deals. Virgin Mobile promised me the sun, moon, stars and unlimited texting….how was I supposed to resist that?

It was a mistake. The month of October was just one disappointment after another with V.M. No coverage, dropped calls, weak signals, and even worse, my new phone/provider woke me up in the middle of the night twice to tell me it was powering down. I had long since powered down myself and resented the interruption.

I finally reached my breaking point with Virgin Mobile today when I realized that my phone wasn’t working. The worst part is my phone was trying to hide it from me, acting all normal like it was sending out my texts. It was only when I went to call my mother that I realized my new provider had abandoned me. Apparently they had the wrong credit card number on file and when the new month started, my service ended. No warning, no customer service call asking me to give them the correct number, nothing. They just cut me off! As the day goes on, I’m beginning to realize all of the things I missed when I was without service.

I’ve seen you out with other people. You seem happy. And clear as a bell. I’m sure you don’t miss me, not after the way I dumped you and immediately took up with another provider. But I think about you all the time. How I never appreciated you when we were together. How you were there for me in even the most remote locations. I just wish we could’ve found a way to work things out.

It’s not that I don’t think you’re worth as much as my mortgage each month, just to have the ability to browse the web, not even fully surf on it, but why? Couldn’t you ease up on the Super Bowl advertising and lower the rates? I mean, I have three children and they’re not cheap. Is it worth sacrificing their futures just so I can have unlimited texting with you? Lately, I’m thinking maybe. But why do you always want such a long commitment from me? Can’t we just agree to take it a day at a time?

V.M.’s not half the provider you are, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss you and wish I could afford you. If you’re ever willing to take me back, I think I could survive with less texting, go without GPS altogether, probably. I just want to be with you. For $49 a month or less.

Wishing I was yours,


Monday, October 17, 2011

Dangerous Credit Lines

Yesterday, after church, we took the kids to the pumpkin farm, because some friends of ours invited our family to join theirs for the seasonal outing, and I’m currently accepting all invitations to everything. My dry erase calendar looks like there was a catastrophic marker explosion. From what I can tell, I still have a little time available on the 36th of November and maybe a lunch opening in mid-December, but that’s about it for 2011.
Back to the story though. . .we went to the pumpkin farm (the name of which I’m withholding because they don’t need any additional advertising) and as we pulled up the overflowing parking lots it was kind of disappointing, signaling we weren’t the only North Carolinians who had that idea yesterday. Judging by the crowd we endured, I’d speculate that a tenth of the population of our state was at this farm.
As we were parking on top of another minivan, my husband tightened his grip on the steering wheel. “Sorry,” I said, “I thought everyone would be at the state fair and we’d have the place to ourselves.” The kids were really excited though and already scanning the swarms of people for our friends, so I decided to just smile and to try to make it out of there at the end of the day with all three children and my sanity. (Or whatever the Heather equivalent of sanity is.)
Obstacle number one to keeping my cool was just paying to get in. (Once we got to the front of the line, which took a fortnight.) The prices at this particular pumpkin farm have $kyrocketed since we were last there three years ago. The superpass was $20 a person ($100 for my family) or there was a bare bones admission for $10, which my frugal husband opted for. “But that doesn’t come with pony rides,” Reckless pointed out. At which point we offered the twins the option to add that on if they would clean the toy room when we got home. “I wanna ride the ponies, but not clean up toys,” Stretch countered. “Yeah, well, I wanna beach house and a live in housekeeper, but life’s a compromise.”
As we passed through the gates I turned to the kids and said, “Remember today. When you’re older, I mean. Remember that we did take you places other than school and Target.” They nodded their consent and we went to get in the first of many, many lines. Some of the lamer options, like the hay jump, didn’t have lines. But if you wanted to do the giant mountain slide, you had to pack an overnight bag.
My son decided he wanted to do the “jumping pillow” and I told him that his pass didn’t include that, but he reminded me that he had his own money and could pay for it. He flashed me a wad of cash and I said, “Deal.” But, wait, why do you have more money than me? Lucky for us, he did though, because later, when the girls got to see those ponies up close, they caved and decided it would be worth it to clean up all the toys. (We got them to sign a legal binding document and had it notarized. With that many people, it wasn’t even hard to find a notary and a lawyer.)
We had exhausted our liquid assets getting into the farm, so we had to commandeer some of Brainy’s cash for his sisters. Looking back, I guess we essentially had our son pay our daughters to clean our house. American Dream REALIZED.
I actually thought I still had some cash back in the van, so I figured I’d repay him in the parking lot. Only I was four dollars short. My husband came up with one more Washington and we gave Brainy the five dollars. He was like, “What’s this? You owe me eight.” My husband said, “It’s a down payment. We’re good for the rest and we’ll get it to you soon.” Brainy scowled at us and started assessing interest that very second. He must have some high rates because he was already demanding eighteen before we even made it home. “Do you know how many things we buy for you?” I reminded him. “Wanna make it twenty?” he argued. I shut my mouth.
As we pulled into the driveway, my husband and I discussed if maybe we might be mismanaging our finances to end up indebted to a seven year old who’s gonna stay on us like a loan shark. Maybe. I have an idea for getting rich though. Buy a few acres of farmland, plant some pumpkin seeds, put a bunch of dried corn kernels in a big box for kids to jump in, purchase a few midget horses on their way to the glue factory, and throw around lots of hay bales and then charge people lot$ of money to stand in line all day. We’ll be printin’ money by this time next year. (Though Brainy already said I’ve only got to the end of the week to pay him back or he’s gonna hire the biggest kid in second grade to come and break my kneecaps.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nine Ten Never Sleep Again

I don’t like to be scared. I’m always looking for excitement, but I don’t want it at the cost of being afraid. Therefore, Halloween is not my favorite occasion. It’d be fine if it was all about chocolate, because I definitely believe in celebrating candy. But all the other creepy things that come along with it, like horror movies at the cinema and skeletons in peoples’ driveways make me uneasy.
When I was younger, I always thought that I’d grow out of my sensitivity to being afraid, like I’d learn to appreciate a good haunted house or terrifying movie, but I didn’t. A couple of weeks ago, I was at the theater with my friend and one of the previews was for some frightening, never-be-able-to-sleep-without-nightlight-again movie coming out this month and I turned to her and we, in unison, said, “I don’t like scary movies.”
It was reassuring to find that I’m not the only adult who shies away from intentionally terrifying myself. And that initial admission led to us disclosing that not only do we not like those things now, but that we’re still a little scarred by the experiences we had with them when we were younger. (That’s scarred not scared, though both are true in that sentence.)
For instance, I still freak out a little when I see static on a television screen, even if it's just because we don't get that channel and not because there's a demon who's reaching out and pulling me inside the TV. (I think they'd have a harder time doing that now that we have flat screens.) But, thank you Poltergeist!
And that movie came out in 1982! I was only five, so I’m sure my parents didn’t let me watch it until it made it's way to VHS, but still, whatever age I was, I couldn’t handle the thought of spirits haunting my TV. And over 25 years later, I’m still concerned that they’re there.
And a couple of decades after I was first introduced to Freddy Krueger, I can still remember the words to that scary little nursery rhyme about him: One, two, Freddy's after you. . .okay, I'm already freaking out, let's move on.
My friend and I talked about how upsetting all those haunted houses were that we went to as adolescents. Ironically, my church youth group organized a trip to one every year. It was usually something designed to freak you out about hell, show you the realities of the tormenting there and really bring it to life for you. Mission accomplished. Being forced to make my way through an entire darkened house, filled with horrifying images and blood-curdling screams, did feel like hell.
Once I even got lost and separated from my friends inside the haunted hell house. I was probably about fourteen, and I’m pretty sure that is still the most afraid I’ve ever been in my life. I was crying and trying to get some zombie “worker” person to break character and help me find my way, but that’s the thing about hell, no one’s nice enough to even think about assisting you.
And corn mazes! I hate those things! First of all, I have no sense of direction, so my only chance of ever coming out is to go in with people who can figure it out, or a mouse, or an Indian guide. And secondly, I watched Children of the Corn once and even cornfields that aren’t cut into mazes scare me. Honestly, I don’t even do well with corn on the cob when it’s on the menu.
But no one cares. People are hanging skeletons from nooses in their maple trees and turning their front yards into cemeteries, like my nightmares are my problem.
Last week, I went to Michael’s to pick up some craft supplies the twins needed for a homework project and there was a skeleton bride and groom that were propped up by the poster boards. I don’t know why the fact that these skeletons had on wedding attire made them a hundred times scarier, but it did. Skeletons = scary, Weddings = scary, so Skeletons+Weddings = I’ll never set foot in Michael’s again!
Even some of my regular television shows will have some “Halloween Episode” where they try to ratchet up the drama with some spooky stuff. Why? Can’t we just decorate with pumpkins and gourds and pay homage to Milton Hershey, Willy Wonka, and John Nestle by rotting our teeth out of our heads? (Okay, John is only a guess. And, actually, why do all these Halloween skeletons have all of their teeth? Did they die before trick-or-treating really took off? Or did they just keep up with their regular dental check-ups? That makes them seem pretty responsible, which doesn't make sense because somehow they ended up having their flesh torn clean from their bones and being used as lawn decor, which doesn't seem responsible at all!)
Regardless, I've been enjoying October, but the longer it goes on, the more tense I get, so if November could hurry up and save me from these neighborhood mausoleums and spider web covered coffins, I'd appreciate it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Picture This!

Sometimes I feel extremely under qualified for this motherhood thing. After making several school related slip-ups last year, I resolved to be more organized and on top of things this year for Brainy. It took me all of seven school days before I blew it.

Today was apparently school picture day. I'm 0 for 3 on seeing those things coming. (My mom just stopped reading so she could call and berate me for messing this up again.) But, in my defense, it wasn't as if a note came home from school or anything. It was all over the website, I guess, and it seems they expect us to check that thing religiously, which makes sense given my son goes to a Christian school.

But what happened to sending home a note with your kid to inform you that their photo will be taken tomorrow, so that you maybe don't send them to school in a blue t-shirt that has not only writing, but also frayed appliques on it?

The biggest irony of today was that it was the first day I sent him to school this year not wearing a collared polo shirt! I like to start off the year making him dress like a prep school kid, and then get casual once he's settled in. Today I went for a I'm-here-on-scholarship look, so, of course, that's the day they had to capture for posterity. I'm so glad Brainy will have professional pictures to back up the stories of neglect he'll be sharing with his therapist one day.

Another bad omen for my mothering potential this school year is that last night, at the parent-teacher meeting, I threatened some of the other moms. The teacher was going over how each of our children would be star student for one week of the school year. She offered examples of things we could do for and during that week to make them feel special. Things like coming to eat lunch with them (okay, I can handle that), to sending in a bag of little treats or surprises for her to leave on his desk each day while he's out at recess (sure, but easy on the $$$, lady), to having balloons delivered from a florist (ummm, no, I'll just pay for more important school stuff like textbooks, thanks), and, in her final example, she told us how one mom made a scrapbook for her child, that she delivered and read to the class during her child's star student week.

The scrapbook contained a page with not only pictures, but handwritten notes from each person in that kid's life, like their grandparents, cousins, Sunday school teachers, and neighbors. SERIOUSLY!!! She couldn't just come and share a happy meal or something? No, she had to accost her neighbors and use those stupid scissors that make fancy edges and realign the sun so that it orbited around her kid, so that when I send in a Hershey's kiss for Tuesday, I look like a schmuck!

At this juncture of the meeting, I turned to the women sitting nearest me and said, "You guys better not try that hard this year! Because I'm busy and I haven't even finished filling out his baby book yet, so don't have me scramblin' to come up with some kind of ego-boosting shelf-filler that's gonna make my neighbors stop answering the door when I come over!"

Am I proud of him? YES, of course. But, I'm not looking to start some kind of Brainy fan club or hire him an entourage or anything. He's a second-grader! And, one day, he'll have the pictures to prove it. Pictures that also prove that his mother never knew when it was picture day. But not because I don't care. Just because I'm old-fashioned and think an actual paper note should be sent my way as a reminder!

The sad part is that he didn't seem upset this year. Last year I remember him saying, "Mom, all the other kids were really dressed up today, and I wasn't, because you forgot picture day!" I was sad and felt so guilty that I choked up confessing my oversight to my mother. This year, he came to me smiling and said, "Guess what?" I looked at him wide-eyed and he continued, "It was picture day today." He was practically laughing as he rolled his eyes at me and walked away in his beach apparel.

But who does pictures during the second week of school? Give us a minute while we work out carpool details and homework schedules and some nutritious lunches, okay! One day, I'll take all of the class pictures of my son and make a scrapbook entitled OOPS. I'll have friends and family (but probably not the postman) write exposes on how I tried, but always fell short of the motherhood mark.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Big, Fat Brit Wedding!

I wasn’t going to watch the Royal Wedding myself, but my mom, or “mum” if you will, was here on that historical morning, to babysit my historical children, so I recorded it for her. She’s not a royal watcher so much as someone who enjoys any good spectacle. If people of a higher social stratum than her are dressing up in their finest for anything, she’s interested. Throw in a red carpet, and she’s hooked.

So, I had this recording, and even though I’m not British, I was curious. Along with two billion other people worldwide, apparently. I had something like eighty-seven guests at my wedding, so right off, I’m jealous. I was only four when Charles and Diana got married, so I don’t remember that extravaganza. And, I guess there’s that part of every girl that wants to see what the fairytale really looks like. Here in America, we can thank Mr. Walt Disney for that fascination. He brainwashed me with Cinderella, Snow White, etc., so that when I didn’t have a tiara and loyal subjects on my wedding day, it made the whole event feel a little flat.

I sat down and pulled up the menu on my DVR to find that “The Royal Wedding” was six hours long. Almost as long as some royal marriages. It was ten-forty-five when I decided to watch it. My husband, who would probably rather cut our grass one blade at a time than watch a televised wedding of British monarchy, questioned the sensibility of starting the show that late at night. I told him I just wanted to check it out for a few minutes, and that I’d probably fast-forward through the whole thing. He nodded and pulled out his laptop, possibly knowing there’d be nothing sensible about The Royal Wedding, at all.

First there was some sort of pre-game ugly hat contest that lasted over an hour. And I while I don’t know what the prize for winning that thing was, I would hope that it was a front row seat to the wedding, because if you were in any other row, you probably couldn’t see because of all the hats. One thing I had forgotten about Westminster Abbey is that it’s divided into different sections, many of them out of range for viewing the nuptials. So, some people got all dressed up, attached bird carcasses and sculptures of Transformers to their heads, and just got to hear the wedding.

Yes, I said that I’d “forgotten” that about Westminster Abbey. I’ve been there. I spent a summer in England when I was sixteen. Prince William would’ve been twelve, so had we met then, maybe he would have “fancied me” since I was older and from the country that is probably synonymous with rebellion for them. Maybe we would’ve had this epic romance spanning the next seventeen years and I could’ve been the girl living the fairytale, and then I’d have a very different tale to tell in this blog. Come to think of it, maybe I wouldn’t even be writing this blog. So, I guess the world is better off with me having married a commoner.

And, I just loved how the announcers of the wedding kept calling the Middletons commoners. I mean, they’re millionaires, not brick layers or shoe shiners. It’s as if the wedding helped me clarify the true meaning of “snob” in my head.

I fast-forwarded until I reached the point when the important people started showing up. Like the Queen, who looked remarkably well for her age. That was a bit of a disappointment, actually. Because I think it would be awesome to see a coronation. She’s been on the throne for like sixty years, so we probably don’t have any good footage of the last one. Certainly nothing in high-def. And, don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish she’d die. Though, when she does, it’s going to be difficult for newspapers to come up with a more eye-catching headline than that “ROT IN HELL!” one they used for Osama Bin Laden’s death. Anyway, maybe she could just step-aside, or down, or whatever direction her royal highness wishes, so we could get crackin’ on the next round, Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, formerly known as the Mistress of the Philanderer.

The titles really confuse me. Like why isn’t Queen Elizabeth’s husband King Philip? What’s with this Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh stuff? Is he a Prince or a Duke, and, really, why the heck isn’t he a King? Even stranger to me is the lack of surnames (last names, to us commoners) over there. During the nuptials, the Prince said, “I, William Arthur Philip Louis. . .” and I was like, “Wait, do you have a last name or just a bunch of old school first ones?” I had to Google that, and it turns out he does sort of have one that he doesn’t really use; it’s Mountbatten-Windsor. WikiAnswers stressed that the royal family doesn’t ever use it. It sounded like they probably wouldn’t even know what it is if you asked them. But what did little William put on the top of his homework papers in school? Was it William Arthur Philip Louis, or Prince William, or William A.P.L. Mountbatten-Windsor? (He probably had to use middle initials so his stuff didn’t get mixed up with all the other William Mountbatten-Windsors in his class.)

I stopped fast-forwarding when Kate showed up for the main event. She looked like a princess, which is what people always say about brides, but this time it was for real. I was a little weirded out that her sister, Pippa, wore a white gown, too. Something that an average girl would wear on her wedding day, but given that people came with geraniums on their heads and swords in their belts and ropes and sashes and all that, I guess the fashion police probably won’t call her out on it.

The wedding was romantic and entertaining and before I knew it, it was almost one in the morning and I was hanging around waiting for them to kiss. I felt like I was eight years old and watching Cinderella all over again. And even though Kate probably didn’t play with mice as a little girl, or have to scrub the floors on her hands and knees with a do-rag on, it still felt like a victory for commoners everywhere to have her catch that royal fish.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Can't Recall. . .

I have never understood the saying “a memory like an elephant”. Maybe that just highlights my overall lack of knowledge regarding pachyderms. But I gather from the way it’s used that elephants have great memories. And I’m sure there’s probably an opposite axiom, concerning forgetful mammals, something like “a memory like a seahorse”, or a hamster, perhaps, but I can’t remember what that saying is, so I’ll just say that my own memory is very unelephantlike.

Today, I forgot where I put my sunglasses. Which is weird, because I don’t usually forget little things like that. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve misplaced car keys in my life, and, for the record, they’re never gone for good. I would need a lot more hands to count how many times I’ve forgotten to return a phone call, show up for an appointment, or take a medication. A ten day course of antibiotics usually takes me the better part of a month to get through. And I’m constantly amazed at the amount of friends I have when I’m notoriously forgetting to call them back, or respond to an email. When I get those reminder calls from doctors’ or dentists’ offices, I’m always surprised by them. Like, “I’m supposed to be there at ten tomorrow? Really? Who decided that?” Oh. I did. When I scheduled it six weeks ago. Then I scramble for a babysitter and cancel whatever else I’ve double-booked in that time slot.

I have a calendar that I write these things down on, but I forget to look at it! I think I’m going to find some success setting calendar reminders on my phone, now that my husband pointed out I could be doing that. But, so far, it’s been confusing. The ring is totally different than my cell phone ring, so I ignore it, thinking it’s someone else’s phone. The other day, this guy from work and I were walking around trying to see where that unfamiliar sound was coming from and just when we’d get close, it would stop. Back to work. Then, there it is again. He finally said, “I think it’s coming from your pocket. That’s why it always seems so close.” I pulled out my phone and it said I had a lunch meeting with the American Red Cross, which I was in the process of getting set for. As I walked to the car, I realized I heard that same sound when I was in the grocery store the other night. My phone and I still don’t know all there is to know about each other, but I did manage to locate a chamber where I had stored that other thing that I missed, which was a reminder to send something in to school with my son. Something I forgot.

I make lists for the grocery store, so that I won’t forget what we need, but then I almost always forget the list. This endless cycle has led to me being a “regular” at Super Target. The cashiers all know me, and I’ll probably be invited to all of their children’s weddings one day. I’m careful not to wear red shirts and khaki pants because then people will start thinking I work there. Which might be a better solution anyway.

But, the sunglasses mattered to me. They only cost ten dollars, and I bought them three or four years ago (I can’t remember, exactly) at Super Target. Because I’m there . . . ALL. THE. TIME. And they fit perfectly. Even for running, which I do a lot of. It’s hard to find a pair of sunglasses that you can run with. Ones that don’t move, but aren’t too tight, which would be equally annoying. I’d rather not run without sunglasses this time of year, because the squinting is only going to etch more lines on my face. Then I’ll be wrinkled and forgetful, and I might as well sit around and knit or play Bingo and just forget about going running. Which, given my memory-handicaps, shouldn’t be too hard.

The worst part of this is that I can remember cleaning them yesterday, wearing them to the frozen yogurt shop, sliding them up on my head and using them as a headband. I remember wearing them upstairs as I went to take a shower. And then that’s it. My memory after that, concerning my sunglasses, was wiped clean by that blue flashy thingy that Will Smith toted around in Men In Black. I wish I could at least remember meeting Will Smith, but I don’t. I think they’re really gone. My sunglasses and Will Smith. I’ve searched everywhere I can think of and it’s like my sunglasses never existed. There’s no trace of them.

I guess I have no choice but to go to Super Target for the eight trillionth time this month. It seems like there’s something else I needed to get while I’m there, but I can’t remember what it is. . .

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Time Off For Bad Behavior

I heard that the federal government might shut down. What does that mean, exactly? I had to Google it. Not the federal government, just the shut down part. Turns out, my life probably won’t be drastically affected. As one of my insightful friends pointed out on Facebook yesterday, Netflix will still be up and running, and that’s a little more essential than being able to visit the Washington Monument. Apparently, probation officers won’t be working, so that will free up some time for me that I won’t have to meet with mine.

There’s this “National Reconnaissance Office” that for the record I’ve never even heard of, but they’ll be shutting down, because “there will be no support services – no cafeteria, no cleaning crews, and minimal heating and lighting”. Yeah, how can we expect them to go to work with no cafeteria and only sixty-watt bulbs? And who doesn’t refuse to clock in when it’s chilly? I mean, I don’t know what these people do, but National Reconnaissance sounds kind of important. Can’t they just brown bag it?

Congress will obviously be closed, but I’m betting they get just as little done as when they’re in session. Lest you lie awake at night and wonder about the livelihood of your elected representatives, they would still be getting paid. Hmmm. . .a paid vacation. . .I wonder why they aren’t in a hurry to patch things up and fix this mess?

The IRS would shut down, and isn’t that convenient since they owe me lots of money! I bet they’d find a way to accept my check, but it’s just out of their control that they can’t cut me one. This official site I was looking at also said that “Personnel who normally answer Social Security questions will likely not report to work.” Shouldn’t we add EVER AGAIN, because there is no Social Security left for any of us? And maybe they’re just grateful to shut the phones off because they didn’t have any answers anyway.

All of this I could possibly withstand, but it was the last “closure” that nearly crippled me. The White House Visitor Center AND gift shop would close to the public. The gift shop? Say it ain’t so! I mean, how could my family survive without the White House gift shop? Are we supposed to just build our own replicas of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

But all sarcasm aside, which I’m sure you know is difficult for me, our military better get their paychecks on time! Because not paying the brave men and women who protect us all would be despicable. And in what universe would it be okay to pay slacking Congressmen who are acting like three year olds, during a shut down, but not the soldiers risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan? If they want to hang on to my tax refund for a while, fine, but they better not let down our military.

Now, if the NFL really shuts down, then you’ll see a nation that’s hurting. I’m not sure if I could live through a football-less fall. I’d be willing to donate my tax refund to the New York Giants in return for season tickets if that would help.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cowboys and Indians

One of my dear friends is expecting her first child this summer. We roomed together our freshman year of college in Texas. She hailed from the exotic foreign land of New Delhi, India and I came from the slightly less exotic, but no less foreign Floyd County, Virginia. We were both considered second-class citizens in Texas though because we weren’t born and bred there.

That’s okay, because second-class in Texas feels a lot like first-class everywhere else. Doors were still held open for us, there were gallons of pleases and thank-yous offered, and we had as much right to eat the superior Mexican food and drink the Dr. Pepper as anyone else. I almost got a Texas green card by marrying a native, but it didn’t work out. I couldn’t name all three of Sam Houston’s wives or recite the years that Roger Staubach was quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, so I was extradited out of the state.

My Indian (not to be confused with Native American) friend and I both moved away after graduation. And, as fate would have it, we spent a few years in the neighboring states of Ohio and Virginia. (We pretended West Virginia wasn’t there and you can, too.) We visited each other a couple of times and set ourselves up for a lifelong friendship. But then I started having travel prohibitive babies and she and I both moved to other states. Me to North Carolina, and she illegally immigrated back into the Lonestar State. And even with email, Facebook, and that antiquated invention, the telephone, I still miss her.

I miss a lot of people. I think it’s the age I’m at (33.8) that makes me feel so much nostalgia for the good old days. I’d love to take a month and just travel around visiting all of my old friends, from high school and college, and even the friend I’ve had since I was in diapers (32 years ago for the record). That’s not very realistic with my busy life and tight budget, but at some point you have to see those things for what they are: excuses.

The years start piling up and people drift apart despite the best of intentions, and I don’t want that to happen. So, I just took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and bought an airline ticket to go to her baby shower. (It was a figurative eye closing, because I didn’t want to end up with an airline ticket to North Dakota, where I know absolutely no one. Not that I couldn’t make friends in North Dakota. I could. But then I’d have more people that I never get to see because they live far away!)

So, I’m leaving in one week and going to Houston, Texas, where I will see not one, but two college friends and a really good friend from high school. And possibly some people I don’t even know yet. The pregnant Indian texted me today and told me to save some calories and spare pounds for when I’m down there, because the Mexican food is better than ever and BBQ runs freely in the streets now. I may need to stop eating tomorrow so that I can break even at the end of my trip. Ironically, my trainer was congratulating me today on how well I’m doing; I’m leaner, stronger, and faster than ever. I couldn’t look him in the eyes because I knew. I knew that come April 14th, I’d be doing unspeakable things that he’d never approve of. However, I fully intend to pack my running shoes and find a way to make that happen. Even if it’s just running to the closest “to-die-for” ice cream shop.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Dog Days Of Spring

I’m not a pet person. I was when I was younger though. I owned lots of different cats growing up, and one puppy. I never owned a dog though, so you can do the math on that puppy thing. And I didn’t just have pets, I loved them. Growing up in the country, there was no need to keep them inside; we had plenty of land for them to roam around, and we had outdoor buildings they could get into for staying warm. Well, I should correct that last statement. In light of what happened to the puppy, I guess there was a need to keep him inside. Or at least buy him some reflective wear for when he crossed the road at dusk.

Anyway, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when I stopped loving animals, but I just know that when I left for college, I was a pet person, and by the time I graduated, I wasn’t. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here though. Especially given that I’m a well-known Michael Vick fan. It’s not that I hate animals or wish them any ill will, nor would I bet on any if they were being forced to fight illegally. Or legally. This disclaimer could go on all day, so I’ll just sum up with I think they’re cute, but I have no desire to own any.

That desire is contrary to the desires of my children though. They don’t care that several members of our family are allergic to cats or that we don’t have a fence in the backyard for a dog. Or that hamsters are in the rodent family. They want a pet. So far, I’ve gotten away with a “maybe when you’re older” answer and they’ve accepted that. And, honestly, it makes them appreciate other people’s pets that much more. My parents had a cat that they adored. If you’ll note the use of past tense verbs in that sentence, you’ll know how that turned out. She was an old cat and had a good run. The kids were sad when she passed away, but the twins have this childlike hope that makes them continue to pray for that dead feline every night. They also still tell me every day they attend preschool that their friend Sami wasn’t there. She moved away, to another state, in December. I guess the whole “not coming back” speech I gave them is taking a while to sink in.

The pets we encounter most often are my best friend’s three dogs. Casey is pretty normal, but then there’s Zoey, who I’m pretty sure snorts crack in the morning rather than eating Kibbles, and Jake, who is late to his own funeral. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason those dogs always come to me, the one person who doesn’t want them to. They remind me of myself in high school (yes, I left that open to dog jokes) because I always wanted to date the guys that showed the least interest in me. My friend’s dogs don’t understand that I’m not playing hard to get, that I really just don’t want dog hair all over me, nor do I have the need to rub anyone’s belly.

But, I’m evolving a little bit. Since my friend told me that Jake is dying (about nine months ago), I’ve let him lay near me on the couch, occasionally shared a bite or two of popcorn with him, and even rubbed his head with my toes the other night. Even more telling is that I think I might actually be starting to like the crack head.

See, Zoey barks and rushes the door every time I come in, which is at least twice a week for the past six years, so you’d think she wouldn’t consider me a stranger anymore, right? But on Friday night, when I was there watching TV, my friend’s youngest child woke up with a fever, so we had to postpone the rest of our show and I was going to go home. Normally, my friend would walk me to the door and restrain Zoey, so that she didn’t leave. I’ve never understood why they don’t want her to, but whatever. My friend was upstairs and I was on my own, so when I got to the door and Zoey was right on my heels, I turned to her and said, “No, Zoey, stay here.” Miraculously, she listened to me and walked calmly back into the living room. Six years after I started telling her what to do, she finally obeyed me for the first time! It gives me hope for Reckless, who is only four and a half. Maybe she’ll start listening soon, too. If she does, maybe I’ll get her a pet.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

On The Road...The Squeakquel

While my family could easily be described as a circus, I don't think we're cut out to be the traveling kind. Today we came to visit my grandmother for her birthday, and a trip that should have taken three and a half hours took a little over four and felt like eighteen. Partly because I had to put up with Alvin and those other wannabe squirrels running around and singing pop hits in shirts and no pants, and partly because the "Are we almost there?" interrogation started 20 minutes outside of Raleigh. My husband and I got so irritated with that question that we seriously considered driving all the way to Canada just to spite them. The only thing that stopped us was the prohibitive fuel costs.

There were other minor frustrations, like accidents, construction, and speed limits. And then despite my rationing out water like we were miners trapped underground with no hope of rescue, Reckless still needed to use the restroom. "When are we going to stop?" she asked me as we passed by one exit after another. Clearly, "We'll stop when I see a place that doesn't pose a DEFCON Four level threat of infectious diseases!"

Later, we realized we just weren't trying hard enough to distract them. As we were traveled through what we on the East Coast refer to as mountains, my son looked out his window and hopefully asked, "Is this where the Presidents' faces are painted on the mountain?" Carved, I corrected him. And, "No, Mt. Rushmore's in South Dakota." In the spirit of honesty, I'll admit that before I answered, I conferred quietly with my husband on whether it was North or South Dakota. But, then we realized that we should have them look for things. Things they wouldn't easily find. Things that weren't even there. "I mean, there could be Presidents' faces painted on the side of a mountain out here somewhere," I said. And, don't judge me; there really could be, you know. "Do you see any buffalo?" my husband asked the kids. Their eyes widened and suddenly it was like we were traveling through Jurassic Park, everyone was on high alert.

We had a lovely time visiting with my family at my grandmother's 87th birthday party, which was off the hook, and now the kids are nestled all snug in their hotel beds with visions of breakfast buffets dancing in their heads and I was just sitting here trying to determine what it says about my packing and organizational skills that we made it here with more pillow pets than toothbrushes. And thinking about packing brought to mind one of my favorite posts ever. The one about the "go bag", and I thought I'd paste part of it on here:

"So, I pack. And, in order to pack economically, I try to ask myself what's essential. Kind of like packing a "go bag". The kind it was highly recommended we keep on hand post 9/11. (Those people at FEMA are all about being prepared, ya know.) And anyway, once that train of thought left the station for me, I started wondering what I would pack in a real "go bag". The obvious approach is to say, "What could I not live without?"

1. My glasses. I'm not sure if this unknown and hypothetical emergency is an "on the run" scenario or a "fleeing disaster" one, but, either way, I'm supposed to take my contacts out at night and would love to be able to see where I'm going.

2. My cell phone. How our world made it so many eons without cell phones is a complete mystery to me. And I even lived in those very dark ages. If the emergency is so serious that I need a go bag, I don't know that calling 911 would be a viable option, but I'd still need to text my friends. Like. . .No tennis 2nite. Running from Attila & Huns. Or, to my Texas friends, East Coast destroyed. Can we come 2 ur house 4 dinner?

3. My iPod. I can't run from anything without music. And, don't worry, I already have a "go playlist".

4. A ponytail holder. The only thing more annoying than being forced from my home and running for my life is not having anything to put my hair up with.

5. Chapstick. I seriously question my will to live with chapped lips.

6. Running shoes. Should be self-explanatory.

7. Water. I'm not the kind of girl that could sniff out and identify a safe fresh water source during an emergency. I could sniff out a Sonic and they have many drink choices, but I'm not sure I should count on that.

8. Cash. I'll still use the Visa if I can because it has cash back rewards, but if the Huns are holding my husband hostage and I have to buy his release, I might need the cold hard stuff.

And, if there's room for just one more item (and isn't there always), it would be white-chocolate covered pretzels. Because if my time on Earth is limited, which a go bag would imply it may be, I'm done counting calories.

FEMA suggests a compass (I don't know how to use those things at all), and your passport (mine's expired, but I have considered investing in some fake ones, a la Jason Bourne), and duct tape. What's with the full-court press on duct tape, anyway? Is duct tape the official sponsor of the end times and all natural disasters until then? I'm almost 33 and have never needed duct tape, so I'm not wasting valuable go bag space on it. I'm pretty sure it would just get stuck in my hair." (quoting myself in "Can I Get That To Go?" from June, 2010)


Friday, March 25, 2011

All The Right Friends In All The Right Places. . .

This blog is going to be about my night with an old friend who's a rock star now. I don't want it to seem like I'm bragging, even when I clearly am, so you'll just have to forgive me for my good fortune.

I met him in college, which is remarkable given that I went to college with some world class nerds. Forty percent of the student body was studying engineering. If any of you have seen The Big Bang Theory, it was those guys. Not that every one was that smart or fashion challenged though. Most of my girl friends were almost completely normal. There was this one girl on my floor that had a freaky Winnie the Pooh fascination, but other than that, they were great. And there were a decent amount of cool guys. Coincidentally, most of them were aviation majors. (*My R.A.'s boyfriend was an engineering major and he was as chill as Dr. Dre himself. And, on a completely unrelated note, he reads my blog. My R.A.'s former boyfriend, now husband. Not Dr. Dre. Or, if Dre is reading it, he hasn't signed on as a follower.)

But one of the more entertaining guys I hung out with in college was Zach. He worked with me in the admissions office and we were good friends. Actually, I ended up marrying one of his roommates, who is also one of the coolest engineers I know. (*On a completely unrelated note, my husband pays our mortgage.)

Zach and I, along with a crew of collegiates we traveled with, went rollerblading, hung out at the IHOP, and tried to find any activities we could to postpone studying. Oftentimes, he and one of my husband's other roommates would sit around the apartment and play music. I thought he was talented, and it turns out, he is. He's the lead guitarist for One Republic. And if, for some unexcusable reason, you don't know who they are, let me assure you that you've heard their song Apologize. (BTW: Zach is a celebrity, thereby forfeiting all rights to privacy, so I can use his name in my blog.)On Tuesday, my husband and I traveled an hour away to see them perform. We showed up early and went out to dinner with Zach. He was happy to sit down at a restaurant and eat a square meal because they do a lot of fast food and pizza when they're touring so rapidly. (I've found those things helpful even when I'm not on tour.) Anyway, I thought it might be strange to be reunited with him now that he's a big rock star, but it wasn't. He was the same guy I remembered from college, but with a few added "laugh lines". The placement of them led me to believe we find the same things funny.
We found this hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant in a strip mall. It seated maybe thirty people, which is ideal if you're a rock star playing in a small town and trying not to get mobbed. But the place looked a little sketchy from the outside, possibly because it was a couple of doors down from a pawn shop, and we weren't sure if we should go in, but our only other option was McDonald's and that just seemed wrong under the circumstances. So, we went for it, and the food and service ended up being fantastic. At the end of the meal, my husband leaned across the table and told me, "This was the best strip joint I've ever eaten at." I'm pretty sure that's not the way he meant that sentence to go, but it was good for some more laugh lines.

Our seats were awesome. The concert was awesome. Zach talked to me from the stage and dozens of surrounding girls gave me the evil eye, which was beyond awesome. I'm not sure if that or Brent's cello playing was the highlight. No, wait, it was probably when Ryan Tedder came and stood on my chair to sing. Seriously, that happened! After he went back to the stage, I looked around to see if hundred dollar bills had fallen off of him in my vicinity, but, alas, they had not.
After the concert, Zach told us to meet him at the bus and we'd hang out. So we went there, only to be told by security that we couldn't loiter around there. I really hated to pull out the cliche "We're with the band," but we were, so we said so. Of course the security guy didn't believe us and he sent us away. About a minute later, my husband's cell phone rang and Zach told us to come on. The security guy felt a bit sheepish watching us climb aboard the bus WITH THE BAND!

We chilled while Zach and other band/crew members munched on the homemade chocolate chip cookies I baked for them, and I met this one crew guy who was hilarious. Like I would sponsor his Comedy Central stand-up special. If I had found any of those loose hundred dollar bills that is. So, ironically, I asked my husband to take a picture of me with him. The crew guy. Not the other rock stars. Just an average joe sound guy or something. That's who I was starstruck by. Top ten hits are impressive, don't get me wrong, but anyone that can make me laugh until I'm crying is the real rock star!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Scarred For Life

Most of my weekends are trauma free, so to be on my second one this weekend already is a bit disconcerting. Normally, I’d be working on Friday and Saturday nights, smiling and encouraging people that have no business eating fried food to try what was a harmless onion that our cooks have turned into a potential heart attack. But this weekend, I took time off to have some fun with my friends, which hasn’t exactly worked out yet, but I have to say I’m okay with that because I’m getting in lots of quality family time.

The quality time started when I heard my husband and three screaming children come busting in the front door last night at 6:30. I had just stepped out of the shower and was trying to find something fabulous to wear out with my best friend. I didn’t panic, initially, because it’s, unfortunately, not uncommon to hear all three kids screaming. But after my husband bounded up the stairs with Reckless, both of them covered in blood, I realized I probably didn’t need to waste any more time finding the perfect shirt, that I should probably just grab a disposable one.

My husband, ever the calm one, said, “She had a bike wreck; I was just going to see how bad it is and if we should take her to the Emergency Room.” I was like, “IF?!!!?!?? She’s got maybe a pint of blood left in her and isn’t that her chin bone!?” He looked and was like, “Oh. Yeah; let’s go.” Meantime, the other two were screaming, crying and grieving for her. I heard my son tell her twin, Stretch, that she was dead. I quickly interrupted their loud memorial service to assure them that she was alive, and while not necessarily well, she would be soon. I know you’re wondering, “How bad could a four-year-old’s bike wreck be?” Well, she stopped using training wheels when she was three and a half and now she’s training for motorcross. General Mills is thinking about a sponsorship since she’s pretty heavy into Kix cereal, too.

She was so brave at the hospital, as they examined each and every bone and joint and looked over the less serious abrasions and bumps. This is a girl that doesn’t cry when she gets shots, doesn’t cry when she falls down, and doesn’t even have a healthy dose of fear. So when they told us they often have to put children her age to sleep to stitch up their faces, we were confident in letting them try it on her awake. Funny how ten seasons of ER, several years of playing that game Operation, and even watching as I got my own stitches a few years ago did nothing, NOTHING, to prepare me for the horror of what they had to do to her chin. Seeing layers of flesh and tissue in a textbook is so much less threatening than seeing it on your child. I had to look away. But when I did, I saw my husband, who watched the entire procedure, which was a lot more than sewing. I thought it was very brave of him. Until. . . (WARNING: Mom stop reading now! Seriously, don’t read any further!)

I saw him slaughter an anaconda in the backyard this afternoon! I was passing by the big bay window in the breakfast nook, where Reckless and Stretch were painting, in lieu of working on meeting their health care deductibles, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw my husband raise a shovel over his head. That didn’t correlate with the seeding the lawn work he was supposedly doing outside, so I looked. He was clearly trying to kill something, and from the amount of blows he was giving it, it wasn’t a tiny creature. I told the girls to stay put and then stepped onto the deck. Which I wouldn’t have done had I realized that it meant never sleeping peacefully through the night again. I guess, technically, it was a black snake, but its resemblance to the reptiles I saw in that J.Lo movie, Anaconda, was uncanny. Like they were separated at birth or something. Now I’ll have to ask all but the bravest of readers to stop reading; it’s about to get freaky. . .

He had chopped this huge snake into several smaller, less threatening snakes. BUT, (excuse me while a shiver runs down my spine) they were all moving!! And not just a little bit. And not just for a few seconds. Did I mention that I left that back door open and my kids, along with a neighbor kid had come to see what the commotion was about? So, I won’t be the only one having nightmares tonight.

I’ve put a For Sale sign in the front yard, and in my best friend’s front yard, because obviously I can’t move to Hawaii, where there are no native snakes, without her. I like it here, but after cleaning up all that blood last night like a crime scene investigator and now with my new inability to go into the breakfast nook, let alone go outside, it’s probably time to move on.

*Correction: My husband dismembered the snake with a switchblade, not a shovel. And he’d also like you to know that he can bench press 450!Photobucket

Monday, February 28, 2011

Favorite Things

Yesterday, on the way home from church, my son, 7, asked my husband, 33, if we could take his second favorite road home. “Your second favorite road?” I wondered. “Yeah, Duck Creek,” he answered enthusiastically. I meant, second? As in you have a first? He assured me that yeah, of course he did. He went on to give me his top five list. And then everyone joined in the street rankings. The girls were totally making up street names, saying things like “Julia Street is my fourth favorite.” But, still, it made me think, which is remarkable, because usually the kids just make me frustrated, not thoughtful. What’s my favorite street? I guess the one that I run on almost every day. It’s flat and even, without a lot of traffic. I guess that’s what I look for in a street. Though, if I could design my own, it would probably have flowers all along the side, and probably down the middle. I’d also want a wide array of wildlife to be visible, but not in the way. Like some elephants would be great to run/drive by, but I wouldn’t want to share the road with them. Obviously, there’d be a chocolate tree or two near my favorite street. (Dora the Explorer has led me to believe these exist.)

My husband pressed me to come up with my top five favorites, and I couldn’t. But, this exercise made me think that maybe I should do a My Favorite Things Blog. The way Oprah has her favorite things special. My fame and stardom is clearly akin to hers. And, there is a possibility, the remotest of one, that you’ll be given some of these things as part of the special. (Maybe you shouldn’t hold your breath on that one.)

Favorite day of the week: Thursday. It’s a well-known night of superior television programming, and always has been. It’s close to the weekend, without the added weekend pressure of getting things done around the house. You guys will all be getting Thursdays, that’s a promise.

Favorite style of donut: Cream filled with chocolate frosting. Blueberry cake and plain old glazed just can’t compete with biting into a messy blob of sugar, butter, and . . . I don’t know, pudding? Whatever it is, it’s fantastic.

Favorite Super Bowl ever: XLII (I can’t convert Roman numerals, but my best guess, assuming L=25, and why wouldn’t we assume that, is that it was Super Bowl thirty-seven. But, alas, I’ve googled it and I was wrong. Whatever. Didn’t Rome fall? Why are we still using their counting method for football, a game they never even played?!) I’m speaking of when my beloved New York Giants upset the favored and undefeated New England Patriots, better known as Tom Brady’s team. I’m disgusted by how genetically gifted Mr. Brady is, so I always root against him. Maybe if I had that kind of bone structure, bronze skin, athletic-skill, and money, we’d get along better.

Favorite M&M color: Blue! I’ll see what I can do for you guys on that one.

Favorite celebrity couple(s): Beyonce and Jay-Z; they’re so talented, yet seem so grounded, spending just a fraction of their time on private islands and yachts. They make time for basketball games, like real people, and I like that she’s a lot better looking than him. It’s how I know she must really love him, because, honestly, she could do better. My other favorite celebrity couple is Jake Gyllenhaal and whoever he’s with at the time. I always think he makes a great couple with pretty much everyone; Kirsten Dunst, Reese Witherspoon, Taylor Swift, all good choices.

Favorite jungle cat: Tiger. Those stripes are beautiful, and the tiger is very underrated because there aren’t as many publicized attacks by them as there are by lions, which don’t actually live in the jungle, do they? Well, I’d like to include all large cats in this category, regardless of their location. Anyway, the tiger is very fierce and certainly could attack anyone, anytime, anyplace. Okay, not anyplace, like not at the mall or Antarctica.

Favorite Restaurant: Posado’s. It’s a Mexican restaurant in Longview, Texas, and if you’ve been, congratulations, and if you haven’t, it’s worth the trip. And, if you live in Longview, like my Irish friend, J, then you really shouldn’t complain about anything ever, because you can go to Posado’s whenever you want. Your daughter barfed on your shoes? Oh well, wipe ‘em off and go to Posado’s. Your boss is making you work late? At least you can go to Posado’s whenever you do finally get off. Some of us haven’t been in twelve long years (XII – for the Romans out there), and miss it horribly!

That’s probably enough for today.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ready For Some Football . . .And A Nap

I make my bed almost every day. But, I left it disheveled today as a reminder that I needed to find my way back in there for a couple of hours. That’s because I’m coming off several nights of interrupted slumber. First it was my son, who was battling the flu and needed to reload with Motrin or Tylenol every few hours. Then I worked late the next couple of nights, and then the next kid got sick. There was actually one night between my weekend waitressing shifts and round two of the flu, but a completely healthy kid wet the bed that night. A lot of completely healthy kids probably wet the bed Sunday night, but this one was in my house, so I was drafted into changing sheets and finding clean pajamas.
In order to stay healthy myself, I need to listen to my body. It’s telling me a lot of things today. Things like “You need to nap for a few hours,” and “You won’t make it without an adequate dose of dark chocolate,” and “I need something salty. No sweet. No salty. . .” and finally, it’s saying, “Try to get a nerve blocker as soon as possible.” That’s because I had my session with the trainer yesterday and out of the 640 muscles I have, 600 are killing me today.
But while napping is a priority, it’s not the only one. There were cereal bowls to fill this morning and lunchboxes to pack. Prescriptions to pick up and phone calls to return. I had to run the vacuum over the upstairs carpet so I could check “clean the house” off my list. Clean the house usually means clean the house, but when I’m operating on a sleep deficit, I allow myself to do one thing that falls under that category and call it good. And my laziness was also interrupted by trying to get organized for the Super Bowl.
I’m not playing in it this year, or even the foreseeable future, but in honor of the men who are, it’s my job, as an American, to consume 5,000 extra calories that day. For whatever reason, this one sporting event calls for Doritos, Oreos, and a plethora of dips. There are zoning ordinances in place that call for hamburger and hotdog preparation, or, in some counties, pizza is an option. And I fear if I don’t make brownies, my citizenship could be revoked. But why is it just for this one game? I don’t remember ever breaking all FDA guidelines during the NBA Finals or The World Series. (Some maybe, but not all) And I certainly wasn’t chowing down on nachos when the American women’s gymnastics team took the gold for the all-around competition in the Beijing Olympics.
One year I actually decided we would eat healthy fare on Super Bowl Sunday. We made turkey burgers and served them on whole wheat buns with fresh tomato slices and reduced fat cheese. Instead of chips, we had carrot sticks and ranch. And I topped that off with a fruit salad. It was the worst Super Bowl EVER. I was ashamed of myself and what I had become. I don’t remember who we had over that year, but I’m pretty sure we never heard from them again.
So I spent some time today making a grocery list that would make the Pillsbury dough boy blush, and scouring the Sunday coupons for anything that would fit in that tiny triangle at the top of the suggested food pyramid. Because we’re going to enjoy the Super Bowl this year, regardless of the outcome of the game itself, and we’re doing it the old-fashioned way, through voracious eating. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a nap to take.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fro-Yo Anonymous

There’s this new frozen yogurt shop in town, Sweet Spoons. It’s about 4.2 miles from my house, give or take. I go a lot. But I go for a lot of different reasons, like if it’s unseasonably warm outside and frozen yogurt sounds perfect, or if I’m driving by on my way to work and need something sweet, or if I have an hour to kill with the girls before my son gets out of school and they need a snack, or if I’m awake. All of those things make me feel like I should go there.

On Sunday, the weather was beautiful, sixty-five degrees and sunny, so I ran three miles to the gym, worked out for thirty minutes, and then ran home. I wish increased physical fitness was its own reward, but it’s not, so my husband and I loaded up the kids and went to the yogurt shop. On Monday, which was supposed to be one of my two days off of work, I had to go in for a couple of hours to make some flyers and I figured a monotonous job like that would go faster if I had some frozen yogurt keeping me company.

Tuesday, I managed not to go to Sweet Spoons, but I have to say, I wasn’t as happy yesterday and I think there’s a correlation. Today, Wednesday, my mom was in town and wanted to try the new frozen yogurt shop I’ve been raving about. Enough said; you had me at “today”. Tomorrow night is my monthly girls’ night out with my church friends, and it was decided, by someone other than me, actually, that we should meet at Sweet Spoons. I mentioned some, but not all, of this to my best friend on the phone today and she was like, “Did you fill up your card already?” (They have a frequent customer card where you buy nine and the tenth one is free.) “Are you kidding me,” I said, “I turned in my third card today. Forget free yogurt, I’ve almost earned enough points for a trip to Cancun.”

I’m not sure why I can’t quit going, but I blame it on Hollywood. I blame a lot of things on Hollywood. For instance, on Monday, I really really wanted to rob an armored truck or knock off a bank because my husband and I rented The Town and they really glamorized the life of armed robbery. Here I am, a thirty-three year old housewife, folding laundry in the bonus room of my house in the suburbs, and at the end of the movie, I turned to my husband and said, “Do you think any of my friends would wanna do that with me?” He laughed and said, “Your friends scrapbook and do recipe exchanges; I don’t think they’d know what to do with an assault rifle.” I laid the pair of Minnie Mouse size four underpants I was folding down on the appropriate pile and said, “Maybe I need new friends.”

By the next morning, the adrenaline rush of the movie had worn off and I was pretty content with my law-abiding life. But, I got way off track there. Sorry. I blame Hollywood for my yogurt addiction because of that movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a movie I always mistakenly call Willy Wonka.

When you’re dieting, and I always am and always will be to some extent, you feel like your underprivileged, like Charlie. And you feel like your life is dull and gray sometimes. So when I walked into that shop the first time and was visually seduced by all of the bright colors and fun decorations, it felt a little like I won the golden ticket. And haven’t we all been waiting to win one of those ever since we saw that movie?

And the cool part is you get to make your own treat! There are eight flavors of fat free frozen yogurt, occasionally one of them will just be “low fat”, but I avoid those whenever humanly possible. (There was a German Chocolate Cake one that, I promise you, no man could’ve turned down.) You can sample any and all of them in these little paper cups like they have at the dentist, but now someone has finally put them to good use. Redeemed them, if you will. And once you choose your flavor (s) (sss), you can go through and put any number of toppings on. We’re talking basics like strawberries, sprinkles or Oreo cookie pieces, to more unorthodox Lucky Charms, cantaloupe, kiwi, cheesecake pieces, or even yogurt chips. How decadent is that, to put yogurt chips on your frozen yogurt?! Finally, you weigh your concoction and pay. I had two flavors and six toppings today and it was $3.15!

I haven’t gained any weight since I started going there, but if you had any idea how much I exercise, you’d know that it’s probably the one thing standing in the way of me losing anymore. Not so much that I go there, but just that I go there every day. I might need to check myself into some kind of rehab. If I can find a facility that treats yogurt addicts, that is.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year, Same Life

There’s something familiar about 2011; it reminds me of 2010, with faint traces of 06-09. The New Year’s Fairy didn’t make it to my house to give me an actual clean slate to work with. My desk was still is great disarray when I woke up on Saturday morning and I’m still not a size four, despite putting pictures of movie stars who are under my pillow on December 31st. I’d like to say I’m a much improved person this year, and maybe the possibility remains in certain areas, but, sadly, I’ve already committed a crime, driving eighty miles per hour when I knew the interstate speed limit was seventy, and I’ve already slipped a tiny bit on my diet, unless someone can come up with a solid nutritional value for the Rice Krispie treat I had yesterday. I haven’t raised my voice at my kids yet, and I really hope to keep that resolution as long as possible, but, in all fairness, I was gone Saturday and Sunday and they went back to school this week, and I’ve always been better at not losing my patience with them when they’re not around.

I’ve overheard the resolutions of others in the last few days. From your basic “get in shape” to “going to bed by midnight every night”. The bedtime one was from a college friend who has a strong distaste for mornings, and she had been pretty successful in passing that aversion on to her kids until she had this last baby and now she’s out of bed before McDonald’s even starts serving lunch. I thought it was ironic that she made her New Year’s Declaration public at 12:06am on January 1st. Talk about blowing it right away.

My heart goes out to the weight loss and get in shape crowd because I’ve been there. I was fortunate enough to find something I love to do – running, and it’s been easy to stick with. And I think that’s key in anyone’s overall success; you have to find something you love and that doesn’t feel like a chore. And you can’t choose eating. Believe me, I’ve tried. My husband and some of his cronies love playing basketball, so they get up in predawn hours and meet at the gym a couple of days a week. It’s a “come as you are”, no teeth brushing or hair combing necessary type of organization. Not that my husband needs that to stay trim; he won the genetic lottery with a fast metabolism. He could eat half a gallon of ice cream at eleven at night and it wouldn’t show up on the scale in the morning. Actually, I think it might show up on the scale in the morning, just not when he’s the one standing on it. And I know he secretly indulges in the dark arts of fast food eating and dessert consumption, whereas I can’t even drive by a Taco Bell without gaining a little weight. And while I’m comfortable with the size I am now, I want to lose another 17-18 pounds so that I can be a serious competitor in running. So, I just pretend cookies and donuts are poison and that full fat dressing doesn’t exist. And it helps to brainwash yourself into believing your highly allergic to anything fried.

So, good luck to all of you who are climbing on the whole grain, low-fat wagon, and remember that while your eating options may be limited, your options for an active lifestyle are virtually limitless. This twenty-one year old guy I work with came to work the other night with an eye-catching scab on one of his elbows and when I asked him how he got it he said, “Ping pong.” Seriously? What kind of ping-pong is he playing? Tackle ping-pong? Whatever style it is, it seems pretty hard-core. And to each his own.