Wednesday, December 28, 2011

15 New Year's Resolutions that I will really keep this year, I promise.

Once a year, almost every single person I know of makes a list of New Year’s Resolutions, whether they choose to write them down or simply daydream of things they’d like to change in the New Year.  We reflect on the past year and plan big changes for the New Year.

I do it too. 

I prefer to write them down, because it is a known fact that writing things down encourages the universe to give them to you.  Sometimes.  And wouldn’t it be great if you actually DID the things on your New Year’s Resolutions list?  However, you might want to be careful what you write down.  Nothing too personal.  In fact, perhaps hide the list, in case your snickering wiseass of a teenager finds it and decides to post it on Facebook for revenge, all because you didn’t buy Captain Crunch.

2012 Resolutions:

  • To stop telling the dog all my problems without politely offering to listen to his. 
  • To encase my credit cards in ice if I’m going to watch QVC.
  • To stop putting my Halloween decorations away and bring my Christmas decorations out on the same day.
  • To put gas in the car before the fuel light comes on.
  • To finally tell the loud, heaving, grunting weightlifters at the gym to pipe down.  Honestly. You’re not impressing anyone.  You sound like you’re giving birth. 
  • To tell my family more often how much I love and appreciate them.  Even if they sometimes make me so mad the cords on my neck stand out unattractively while I yell. 
  • To go to more garage sales than we did this past year, thereby increasing dramatically the chances of finding an old piggy bank that is stuffed with $100 bills.  That no one ever noticed before.  For a quarter.
  • To “unfriend” at least one fake “friend” a month and stop accepting friend requests from people I passed in the hall for one semester in middle school.
  • To become more regular by using Activia while encouraging (read:  making) my husband to try it too instead of having to slip Benefiber in his morning coffee on the sly when he runs with the sports page into the bathroom.
  • To match up clean pairs of socks sooner, instead of letting them sit in a laundry basket for weeks until I give up and just wash them all again.
  • To actually learn what “Occupy (fill in blank)” actually means.
  • To donate food to the food pantry more often, not just when I’m starting a new diet.
  • To be kinder to my children and husband, and not just when I need a refill on my coffee/wine/water.
  • To stop using sarcasm as a second language.
  • To resist the siren call of “As Seen on TV” items in the Publisher’s Clearing House mailings and ordering them, just because I think secretly it really does increase my chances of winning.
  • And as always, More Cowbell.
So, those are my resolutions.  I’ll even keep some of them this year, for a change.

What’s on YOUR list?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Once again, they're laughing

The illusion is shattered, if it ever even existed.  The illusion that my children should have of me as the perfect mother is gone.  

During breakfast in Plainfield at Larry’s Diner this morning, (which has excellent food, by the way) my mother chose to share one of the more embarrassing stories of my childhood with my children, over our breakfast of eggs and ham.   

It conveys one event in a long line of humiliating things that have happened to me.  I was about 12.  Some of you may remember that McDonalds had come out with a contest to win a Big Mac t shirt.  To win the contest, you simply had to harness the courage to stride right up to the counter and sing “two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun” under a certain time limit.  That’s it.

How simple!  Even I could do that!  I had practiced and practiced and had polished my Big Mac song to a competitive time and I was ready.  That t shirt was all but mine.  They surely had never heard anyone sing it faster.  I would probably be asked to do a commercial.  Everyone would know of my special talent. 

My long suffering mother took me to McDonalds one day so that I might give it a try.  We chose the Crest Hill McDonalds for the mortification.  Savvy readers might notice mortification and McDonalds start with the same letter

Entering the McDonalds my mother nudged me up to the counter and before I knew it, and more importantly before I lost my courage, I was at the counter loudly belting out my version of the Big Mac song to the gum-smacking, bored looking cashier behind the counter.   She stood there with her head cocked, letting me sing it out and when I was done; I looked at her, hoping that I sung it under the time limit…

“That contest ended a week ago.” she said snarkily.   “Are you going to order?”

There would be no tee shirt.  No free Big Mac.  No commercial.  I had just sung a song in front of not only the amused McDonalds crew, but also several hungry customers who were studiously avoiding any eye contact with me.   It seemed like the McDonalds workers got a little more industrious with their napkin filling and ice replenishment.

It was over.  I had sung a song that would win me not a t shirt, but years of humiliation with a large side order of embarrassment.

However, something good has come out of that debacle at Mickey D’s almost 33 years ago. My kids laugh so hard when they hear a story like that about their mother that they have tears running down their faces.  Watching them, I laugh so hard I get tears in MY eyes, and my husband laughs so hard he gets tears in HIS eyes, and on it goes. 

And there we are, the day after a wonderful Christmas, my daughter’s 21st birthday, sitting at a table as a family and laughing our fool heads off. 

I wish I could go back in time to that 12 year old version of myself and let her know that the embarrassment would wear off, she’d get better t shirts than the Big Mac T shirt she tried so hard to win, her barely breathing social life would recover from that catastrophe, and she’d (eventually) be able to go back into a McDonalds without needing a Xanax.

I would also tell her to avoid ordering a certain fish sandwich at the Burger King in Melrose Park, but we’ll save that for another day.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Random acts of Christmas

Last year around this time, my 20 year old daughter got to see the ultimate example of the Christmas spirit in action.  Up until October of this year, she was a "comp peer" for a 13 year old girl I'll call Becky through the Mildred Berry program in Rockford.  It works much like a Big Brothers/Sisters program.

To my daughter, it meant giving up half of her Saturday or Sunday every week or every other week to go do something with this little girl.  They went to a craft show, they went out to movies, visited the library, etc.  Sometimes they came back to the house, where Becky would play on the computer, or with our puppy, or watch DVD’s with my daughter.

For Becky's birthday last December, my daughter took her to IHOP for breakfast.  As my daughter never has met a stranger, she was chatting with the older gentleman sitting close by, who had overheard my daughter and Becky talking.  She was explaining the program to him and the fact that it was Becky’s birthday.   Finished, he got up to leave, told them Merry Christmas and walked to the front of the restaurant to pay his check.

A few minutes later, my daughter asked the waitress to bring their check and was extremely surprised to hear that the mysterious gentleman who had been talking to them had very graciously picked up their check.  Their benefactor came back to their table to tell Becky to have a happy birthday.  

What happened next was truly a Christmas miracle, as he smiled and again opened his wallet to give Becky a crisp $100 bill to spend on her birthday or for Christmas.

It was more money than Becky had ever seen at one time.  She was in tears, my daughter was in tears, and even the waitress who had overheard the entire exchange was in tears.   A complete stranger had just paid for their breakfast and then gave this disadvantaged little girl $100.

Those two girls will never, ever forget what happened that cold December morning, and neither will I.  The Christmas spirit is alive and well, everyone.

ps...They finally did get his name before he left because they wanted to send a thank you note.  Being the internet sleuth that I am, (she said modestly) I did a Google search to find the address and found that there was no one by that name in Rockford or the surrounding areas. 

Somehow I was not surprised.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hey, Santa Claws!!!

Dear Santa. 

I have penned several letters to you this year, all of them unanswered.  This time, I waited until my human went to bed to use the laptop.  Although you can't read dog, I'm pretty sure you can read Times New Roman.   

Santa, I have been a very good boy this year.  I know this because my humans have told me so, over and over again, especially when I’m outside using the potty.   

Do you remember that present I asked for last year?  A new playmate?  And you bought the kitten we named Miss Whiskers?  The one that showed up with a red bow on her tiny little kitten head?   

It turns out that kittens are all cute and fluffy when you get them.  Harmless.  Tiny.  Adorable.  And then, before you know it, they turn on you. Santa, I don’t want bones or chew toys this year.  I don’t want a stuffing free animal.  (You and I both know I can tear that thing apart)  

What I would really like this year is this:  when you come to drop off the presents under the tree for my people, take that cat back with you.  Please.  That cat is a total beach.  I know this because I heard my human say, “That cat is a beach.  She never comes when I call.”  

And she is so mean!  She hisses at me constantly, tricking my owners into thinking I'm the one being naughty.  If I try to make friends and wag my tail at her, she tries to bite it.  Once I bowed to her (yes, I'll admit I was being sarcastic) and barked, and she whapped me across the nose. What other choice did I have but to chase her throughout the house?  It got me nowhere but chained up outside for an hour.  Don't get me wrong.  I like outside, Santa, but the cat laid on the windowsill the entire time mocking me.  It stung.  I was humiliated.   

She frames me for household crimes, too.  She unrolled the entire roll of toilet paper and left some by me while I napped.  I got blamed.  She got up on the counter and knocked down the box of dog treats on accident.  I know that mice can be a problem in the neighborhood so, Santa, I was merely keeping our home rodent free when I ate them all up.  Did they thank me?  No.  I got a newspaper swat on the rear. 

The worst thing, though, is that Miss Whiskers hides.  She hides.  And when I least expect it, she springs up from her hiding spot behind a door or whatnot and scares me half to death.  Twice now, the fright has been enough to make me piddle a little bit on the floor.  I bet you can guess who they blamed for that one too. 

As you can see, she has to go. 


Cooper (the Dog) 

PS  Sorry about the Christmas tree.  The beach knocked it over.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Things I know

More random notes:

  • Went into Joliet/Channahon area this weekend to honor the newborn "princess", Ashlyn Taylor Collins.  She's my new niece, born to Joe "The Ox" Collins and Deborah "I'm really sore" Frayne on Nov 29. 
  • Ashlyn was a whopping 9 lb 13 oz...And what a bundle of joy she really is.  I wanted to put her between two pieces of bread and eat her all up.  Nom Nom Nom. 
  • I had to settle for gnawing gently on her little fingers.
  • My brother has had to unscrew pretty much every light bulb, cover every outlet, and install safety latches on everything.  It's no use, because my nephews Cole and Aiden could take apart and put back together ANYTHING. They're 4.  Have fun with that.
  • Aiden and Cole are going to install some track lighting at my house this winter. 
  • I went out in just my socks this morning to get the paper, slid a little bit on the sidewalk, and took all the skin off of my third toe.  Luckily it's not my favorite one.  And now it never will be.
  • I am still, and forever more will be, on a diet.  Wait, that's not the politically correct's a "life-change" which is diet speak for "sometimes I'm going to have a brownie, beeyotch.  Deal."
  • I can run as fast as a Jack Russell terrier, but not by choice.  It's just courtesy of my heaving, 90 pound, muscle bound black Labrador-who-saw-a-squirrel-he-must-chase. 
  • It is my fervent hope that no one sees me running as fast as a Jack Russell terrier.
  • I have finished approximately 8 percent of my Christmas shopping.  Wait, I took one thing back.  Damn.  Ok, 6 percent of my Christmas shopping.
  • My children are 22, 20, and 18 and they still get Christmas stockings from Santa.  And a little something from the Easter Bunny.
  • While helping Santa fill the stockings, I eat approximately 3/4 of a pound of chocolate.  I don't think anyone knows except whoever is behind me at the gym staring at my rump.
  • I always think that I'm going to die by a freak kitchen accident with the hand mixer.
  • My kids have turned on the hand mixer accidentally, putting it away, so when I plug it in it whirs and it's enough to make me pee a little in fright.
  • I think Christmas Story is hysterical and I would watch it over and over, and have, in fact, done so.
  • I want a leg lamp.  It’s a major prize.
  • My other favorite Christmas movie is A Diva's Christmas starring Vanessa Williams.  It gives me a heart quake.
  • I love to scare my husband, or anyone else, for that matter.  But especially my husband.
  • I once owned a bank.  For about 1 minute.  Straw man, anyone?
  • I think the Target Chorus lady is about the funniest thing I have seen yet.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just another Friggin Copay

Cough.  Cough.

Welcome to my world for the past four weeks.  Actually, welcome to my dear, long suffering husband’s world as well, as he’s been enduring this as long as I have.  Neither one of us have slept through the night for quite a while, thanks to my new friend, Tickle.

Tickle = my cough.  It’s the most annoying cough you can possibly imagine.  The kind that starts as a little tiny tickle in your throat, and you think that you can delicately give a little “ahem”, clear your throat and move on with your day.

But that is not the case.  The “ahem” doesn’t work.  The tickle grows in strength like a tidal wave.  What felt like a tiny little speck of dust in your throat has now graduated into something that resembles a feather from a feather duster, except a little bigger.

Your eyes begin to water, you can’t speak, the feather in your throat has turned into the entire duster, and still you can’t clear it, because THERE’S NOTHING THERE TO COUGH UP.

And during the day, at work, several concerned coworkers have their fingers poised over 911, certain that I will choke to death at any moment given my recent coughing spasms.

The worst part, however, is the nighttime.  Invariably, I wake up at 3am or thereabouts, coughing, choking, sputtering and shaking the bed violently, disturbing my poor husband, who wakes at the drop of the hat anyway.  I’m not sleeping.  He’s not sleeping. 

I have tried Nyquil.  Vicks on the chest.  Vicks on the feet.  Vaporizer.  Mucinex. Benadryl, wine, Bailey’s on the rocks, four straight shots of whiskey.  (Surprisingly, no relief.)

I try to creep out of bed in the dark, which is almost impossible when you’re as visually challenged as I am, so there’s the requisite fumbling for my glasses, (and dropping them loudly) then finding my robe (after noisily fumbling a little more) and finally (as quietly as I can) trying to make it around the corner of the bed without stubbing a toe or barking my shin on the bedpost.  Sometimes I even succeed.

(Author’s note:  During one of these episodes, in the hallway, I hit my shinbone so hard on a box that I am still wearing the band aid.  True story.  Thanks for caring.  Maybe the whiskey had some effect after all.)

After days/nights of this, my husband helpfully whispers (when I stumble back to bed) that I should probably see the doctor for my cough so that I can get some sleep.  However, I get the impression that he means, “so I can finally sleep, because you’re about as graceful as a monkey when you climb into bed.”

At work the next day, I spend several terrifying moments googling “dry cough”, I raced for the phone to secure an immediate appointment with my doctor.  After lots of questions (on her part) and lots of nervous shaking (on my part) she informed me that one of the major side effects of my new blood pressure medicine is DRY COUGHING. 

She informs me to stop taking that medicine immediately, busily researches for a moment, then settles on a non-coughing alternative, faxes it to the pharmacy, and leaves.  I sigh in relief.  No need to wonder how to fit an oxygen tank in my car for the COPD I was certain I had.  Dr. Perky sticks her head back in the door, informs me that “Oh, by the way, although a dry cough is not one of the side effects of this new medicine…leg/foot swelling is a possibility.”  And smiles.

I breezily assure her that all the exercise (say wha?) that I do at the gym will probably prevent any swelling.  She assures me right back that exercise is not going to help, but if my feet get swollen to the point of being uncomfortable, or if my calves start to scare dogs and small children, to give her a call.   My mouth is hanging open.

Wait, how swollen are my feet going to get?  I ask faintly, but she’s already on the move, surely racing to impart equally good news to her next patient. 

I sit for a moment longer, sullenly rustling around on the white paper as I am imagining big old Frodo feet stuffed into my favorite pair of heels, and sigh. 

I almost miss my cough.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Halloween, How I Love Thee!!

As many of you know I have a torrid love affair with Halloween.  I'm not quite sure what the allure is, although the colors orange, black, green, and purple have a lot to do with it.  Spiders (not live ones, of course...the immobile and plastic variety) ghosts, pumpkins, witches...I could go on but I have a feeling you get my drift.
It could be that October 31 is about one week after my birthday, and I've come to enjoy one as much as the other.  The anticipation practically kills me every year, I get that excited.
We decorate the second the clock strikes midnight on September 30th, and actually on November 8th of this year, the inside Halloween decorations are still up.  My helpful hubby has taken down the ones outside when he marathon raked the other day.
My sister points out that I have more decorations to celebrate Halloween, a day of spirits and ghosts and evil, than I have of decorations to celebrate "the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ."
(between you and me, I'm pretty sure that even God likes the decorations and colors of Halloween.  After all, duh, He created them.  I wish I could trick or treat at His house. He probably has full sized candy bars.)

At any rate, my husband and I host a Halloween party every October.  This years' party was a success, and following are the pictures to prove it...

Happy Halloween!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

11 and a half things that drive me crazy. and other neat schtuff.

I have many, many lists.  Some I keep to help me focus on things that need to get done in my personal life, or around the house, or TO the house.  Things that I would like to accomplish, or have accomplished.  (secret:  Sometimes I write something on a list that wasn't there before, only so I could cross it off.  so what.)

However, looking down from my lofty perch at 45 years old, (yeah, 45.  Hey, middle age, how ya doing?) I feel that there are some things that I am now qualified to have an educated opinion on.  At least, a crabby old lady opinion on.

The following are things that REALLY DRIVE ME FRIGGIN CRAZY.

  • Hi, Mr. Telemarketer?  You who calls me almost every day at work, pretending to be friends with the president of the company?  Or want to talk to him because you're "working on his driveway and have a quick question." Or keep refusing to give me a company name.  Or who CHANGE their name every single time they call?  You?  You drive me crazy.  And I'll never, ever, ever let you through to him.  I know your voice now, David/Cory.  Suck it.
  • You, in the car ahead of me?  The one who, despite the fact that the light turned green 10 seconds ago, are looking down, and so busy TEXTING that you don't notice the light change?  Yeah, you.  Put the friggin phone down.  Put it down.  I am older, and have more insurance, and I WILL NOT HESITATE TO HIT YOU with my car. 
  • Those of you who try to sneak through the yellow/red light.  You're not sneaking.  You're just breaking the law.  And pissing me off.
  • Stores who don't play fair at the coupon game.  Come on, let me use two coupons for the same thing.  It's not like it is coming out of your own pocket.
  • (but as a side note, thank you to most of the boy check out clerks, who would find it embarrassing to turn down a coupon and therefore let me slide, pretending to be grateful for my old lady wink of thanks.  Thank you anyway.)
  • The concession stand at the movies.  How dare you.  Really?  $8 for a bag of popcorn?  When I can pop up the same amount at home for about a quarter?  And damn you for being so good that I'll pay the stupid $8 and then just bitch about it. 
  • The movie companies who are charging $7.25 to let me in to see a movie.  No wonder so many people try to sneak in.  I, however, am not one of them, nor will I ever be, because I would be the one who gets caught.  Or if not caught, unable to enjoy the movie for the guilt.
  • When some punk got into my Twitter account and sent dirty pictures to people on my twitter list.  It's called the Discovery Channel.  Look it up if you're that bored.  Or at least, do some homework.  If you are smart enough to hack into my computer, apply some of those brains to real life.
  • People who buy vowels on Wheel of Fortune.  I mean, really.  You have the entire puzzle spelled out and you insist on buying a vowel.  Why?  To show the rest of the world what the puzzle is before you solve it?  Serves you right if you land on Bankrupt.  I will WATCH AND LAUGH.
  • Scary movies.  Why do you make me watch you? 
  • The resulting fear of going into my own basement, certain that someone is watching me do laundry/fold/iron from the shadows of the basement.  The fact that I will SPRINT to the stairs, to avoid being caught by whatever it is that is surely only inches from my back.
  • The grasshopper that was about 12 inches from my foot this morning.  You're lucky that I put you outside.  It's only because it was my birthday and I didn't want to ruin it by killing something.
From time to time, I will be adding to this list.  At my advanced age, lots and lots of things make me angry...or if not angry, just put out with the human race in general.

Get a life.  Or make a list of your own.

Monday, October 24, 2011

...and it's Monday again

  • Monday in bullets!!!!
  • saw a coyote in the parking lot at my work.
  • Reminded myself to talk to the people in my building about walking their little dogs outside with Wile E Coyote roaming around.
  • Was surprised at work today by a devious co worker who was able to smuggle in a birthday cake for me and have everyone I work with sign a card, ALL UNBEKNOWNST TO ME...and I'm the most devious of the devious.  I didn't have a clue.  But enjoyed it and the dirty card I got to go with it.
  • Bumped the pizza we were supposed to have Friday to today.  Thanks, Dominos, and more specifically, Katie who apparently made our pizza.
  • Saw Paranormal 3 with girls on Sunday.  Soiled myself only slightly.
  • Probably a good thing, then, that my husband got me a Victoria's Secret gift card for my birthday (along with a mug I was coveting from Starbucks.)
  • Worked out today on treadmill.  Probably burned off the calories I ate in cake.
More later...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Fit of the Vapors

(From a recent Gas Ex commercial) 

Woman to interviewee:  "I see you've graduated at the top of your gas and that you’re flatulent in three languages." 

Her secretary, opening the door: "Excuse me, your son Rip is on line toot." 

Babies and small children do it, and then giggle.

Family members of mine have different ways of doing laughs so hard afterward he gets tears in his eyes.  One points.  One actually lifts up off the chair to enable production.  One claims that she has never, ever done it. 

I do it then blame it on the dog.  For all I know, the dog does it and blames it on me. 

We all know what "it" is, we've all done it.  (Yes, even you.) 

Admit it...tooting is funny.  It IS.  Except when it’s not.

Like when I have a belly dancing class that I really don't want to miss. 

It was a normal Monday, which for me means a) I was late to work, b) I sullenly put in sweaty time on the treadmill and c) I dreaded my belly dancing class that loomed ahead...a 6:15 p.m. punishment for those who forgot to practice any belly dancing moves from the last class. 

I dread it, yet I go because I know that once I'm there, of course, I enjoy myself immensely.  I am transformed into Shakira.  Or at least her slightly plumper alter ego, the one hidden away and still practicing in Mexico. 

This past Monday was particularly awful for me, in that I pumped up the fiber a little that day.  Ok, a lot.  Oatmeal.  Fiber bar.  Carrot sticks.  Perhaps an apple or two.  It went along with that whole "It's a new week, better do well on the diet." mentality. 

However, these foods, I have found out in the worst way, are not very shimmy friendly.  In fact, even the drive home from work that day before class was a downright uncomfortable...when all my tummy wanted me to do was lay down flat somewhere and "relieve the pressure." 

I couldn't.  I have half hour between getting home and leaving.  No time.   

I had some coffee the moment I got home, hoping the caffeine would act like a type of Drano, getting to the root of the problem quickly so that the rapidly expanding, painful belly I had would perhaps calm itself down within the half hour before class. 

It didn't work.  I moved carefully, getting dressed for class in loose clothing, hoping I'd feel better once there. 

First order of business in class is the stretching exercises.  Down and to the riiiigggghhhttt!! Each stretch we were asked to perform was a test of muscles I didn't know I had, frantically working together to prevent any extraneous noises.  Our class is three people on a busy night and very, very quiet.  Any disturbance would be immediately heard.  I was in agony yet absurdly proud of myself for not giving in.  I wonder if not giving in will affect me later in my old age. 

Our stretching torture thankfully ended, but now a new chapter in poot prevention was about to take place.  The battle had begun in earnest.  I wasn't only taking a belly dancing class at this point; I was going to war. 

I tied my coin belt on, like a soldier going to war, over a tummy that I had given up trying to suck in.  If someone had tapped it with a ball peen hammer it would have poinged like a drum. 

You might be asking yourself at this point, why didn't you just excuse yourself and leave early, stupid?    

Because leaving early would mean having to explain why.  It was not an option.  Plus, there was only a little class time left.  Surely I would be ok.

We were asked to practice an "entrance", which is when a belly dancer enters a room where she will perform (which for the record I will never, ever, ever do publicly).  She throws her head back confidently, plasters on a smile, shoulders/back/chest back and out, and prances into the room on the balls of her feet, a veil-covered, shimmying, hip-rolling belly dancing feast for the eyes about to give you the SHOW OF YOUR LIFE. 

If at a party I were to do this type of entrance, people would say, "Why, there's Chris.  I didn't know she was coming.  I think she stepped on a tack.  She better move off stage before the belly dancer gets here." 

My stomach is feeling worse and worse, but now there's only five minutes left.   I tell myself to suck it up.

The two other class members wait for the correct count of the music and one by one, practice their entrance while I formulate a reason why I  can’t do mine, why I need to leave.

Backing away slowly, I tell my instructor, "You know, I really have to get going now."  I can barely keep the desperation out of my voice.

She starts the music up for my turn and levels a steely look my way.  "This music is 24 seconds long.  You can stay for another 24 seconds."   

I do it. 

Later, I don't remember exactly how my turn went.  I remember some type of arms-in-the-air-prancing, and her telling me not to look at the floor next time.  I'm not sure if she said anything else because there was a haze over my vision and a loud clanging in my ears.   

Much later, at home, I made some adjustments to my grocery list, crossing out anything that had fiber in it.   

And lucky for me, our dog laid on the floor next to me the entire time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Haircuts and Fat Chins

Someone at my work (identity will remain a mystery) bought up an interesting point recently.  He came back to the office after a trip to Cost Cutters and said the entire time, all he could think about was how fat his chin looked.

How sad.  When you go get a haircut, you should be able to enjoy the feel of the hairdresser washing your hair, massaging your scalp, combing your hair out and the gentle tickle of her running your hair through her fingers as she lines up her next length of hair to trim. 

But is my coworker the only one who feels that way?  Unfortunately, no.   When most people get their hair cut, they’re forced to stare at the mirror for approximately 15 minutes, during which time you’ve got your hair plastered to your scalp.  Instead of enjoying the feeling, though, and relaxing, you’re sitting there self consciously watching yourself talk and laugh. (Does my mouth really move like that?  All the time?   Cripes, when I smile, I look like I don't have eyes!  Oh My God, how many chins do I have?  That's it, I’m never smiling again.)  Also, you’re watching the underarm jiggle of the Cost Cutter hairstylist.  But the whole time you’re staring into the mirror, you’re a little uncomfortable.  And mentally cutting down your calories for the next month to approximately 1000 a day.  Mmmm….yes, that IS relaxing. 

It wasn't always that way, though.  It's a learned behavior.  Think of it this way.  When a baby looks into the mirror, the baby doesn’t sit there and think, man, kid, you gotta lay off the strained bananas, YOU are getting CHUNKY.  How many bottles are you up to a day, anyway?

No.  The baby points at the mirror and says, look at the PRETTY BABY.   Complete acceptance there, not name calling.

My oldest just got his hair cut.  He also is growing what we normal people would call sideburns but what his homies would call “chin straps.”  Those “chin straps” were trimmed as well, and now he looks like a pretty clean cut dude.

My husband gets haircuts on a regular basis.  I don’t think his hair has ever been over ½” since I’ve known him.  I asked him jokingly once if he would like to grow his hair out like a hippie, and he told me that his hair doesn’t grow DOWN, it grows two ways...CURLY and UP.  Always.  Just higher, and higher, and higher.  So he would NEVER look like a hippie but more like the Bride of Frankenstein.  Or Marge Simpson.

Oh, Homie.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What's up with that NICKNAME???

Poopwa Foley.

I imagine that some of you have wondered, where in the hell did that nickname come from?  And if you didn't wonder, you should have.

Listen up.  “Poopwa” is derived from the word “poopwahhhrg”, which is Irish for “cooking class”, and as we all know, “Foley” is derived from the word “der foler”, which is German for “dog paws.”

Just kidding.  My DAD made it up.  Isn't it great?  (phony smile)

My father, Mr-I-think-I’m-So-Funny, has been calling me Poopwa Foley since I was a tiny little girl.  That, and “Monk”, but Poopwa was the one that really stuck to me like, well, you know, poopwa.

Growing up, I was mortified and red-faced if he ever called me that in front of people.  The more embarrassed I got, the harder he wheezed with laughter

Flash forward a few decades.  I have now actually developed a sense of humor (and a thicker skin, to be sure) and find those nonsense words hysterical instead of embarrassing.  

However, using this IN PUBLIC as a writer’s name, if you will, was a leap of faith for me.  I kind of grew into it over the years and now, claim it.

Who else would want this name?  Who else would stand with pride as the name Poopwa Foley was called?  Who has the steel cajones?

A writer calling herself Poopwa Foley, that's who.

There can be only Poopwa Foley...and it's me.

Thanks, Dad!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Raise the's Ruby!

It's sporty, it's red, it's really, really fast, it's brand new, and...
it's a stick shift.
Please welcome the newest member of the "Cacciakins" family.  Her name is Ruby.
After months of talking about it, weeks of research, and about .001 second's worth of deciding, we settled on a Victory Red 2012 Chevy Cruze.
It has all the bells and whistles you could imagine...Bluetooth, Onstar, XM radio, ten thousand airbags (I think) ,a popcorn maker, lots of leg room and barely any miles.
Ok, I was kidding about the popcorn maker.  (But wouldn't that be cool??) 
I had forgotten how much I enjoy the sheer total CAR INVOLVEMENT of driving a stick shift.  I haven't made one hands-on phone call or typed one text message. (not like I did before, mind you, or did I?)  I haven't applied any mascara or toted my morning coffee along, and believe me when I say I drink enough coffee that I should wear a sombrero and walk a donkey.
We kept our old car, known affectionally as the Green Goblin, because, well,  it's a 94 Honda Accord, and the trade in value was approximately 27 cents.  And that was the HIGHEST offer from the dealerships.
I have made several completely unnecessary drives in that car, including a) taking my son to Family Video to return movies, when normally he would be told to do it his own damn self and b) driving to Hilander for garbage bags which we didn't really need.  Not only that, it's a 10 minute round trip ON A BIKE, and that includes time spent chatting in the aisles.
Ah, well.
Currently I'm the primary driver, although I have let my husband drive it twice, park it once, move it several times, and of course, touch it.  (carefully.  with gloved hands.)    With a round trip for me to work of approximately 16 miles per day, we don't expect the mileage to add up very quickly, and of course our trips out of town will be in that car.
A recent drive to Wisconsin revealed some very interesting things to us, including the fact that a) we get 50, yes, really 50 miles per gallon on the highway and b) that cruise control is a really, really, cool thing and c) that we enjoy the XM radio a lot and d) that we made the ONstar people give us directions for a place we have been to a lot, then snickered the entire way when the woman's voice would say "bear left" and we didn't actually see a bear ON the left.
Oh, yeah, and that Wisconsin cops really are observant of new, shiny, red, fast cars.
Have a very safe Labor Day, everyone!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tis the season...for new cars?

The timing could not be more perfect.  We are a hairsbreadth away from paying off our primary car and getting out from under the crushing burden of a car payment.  Financial freedom, right?  Nope, now we need to get a new secondary car.  It always works that way, doesn’t it?  Get one thing paid off, another payment pops up to take its place…like a whack a mole, but in dollars. 
We are looking at small cars for me to replace my rusty, trusty Honda Accord.  I’m sure it will stay in the family, but after teaching three kids how to drive in it, it’s pretty much run its course…not to mention all those mysterious dings, dents, and scratches that seem to go hand in hand with teenage drivers.  In their defense, though, it’s old enough that perhaps one of those dings or dents is from actually hitting a dinosaur. 
It’s a picture perfect old car, with rust around the wheel wells, a radio that quit working two years ago, and a high pitched squeal from time to time, like a hamster is caught in the engine.  (I checked.  There’s not.)  There are cigarette burns everywhere, which is really hard to imagine because I, the owner of the car, quit smoking 12 years ago.  (when confronted, my then teenage son comes up with some whoppers, such as “a truck driver threw his cigarette out the window and it landed in the car.”  Really.  Really?  That is the best you can come up with?  Come to think of it, perhaps the burns are from the asteroid that killed said dinosaurs. 
My husband and I are having a delicious time deciding what and where to buy.  Nothing too big, such as the Lincoln Townsquare, but nothing too small, such as the Toyota Speck.  We have a real life and need a functional small car, because we buy groceries, have a big black lab to take for shots, and family to chauffer around from time to time. 
Meanwhile, I am daydreaming of what it will be like to have a car no teens will ever drive.  The seats will stay clean and be positioned just like I left them, the radio won’t ever be turned to a scream-o station loudly (which has in the past, caused yours truly to startle and spill precious morning coffee upon starting it up) and any dings, dents, or scratches will be my doing.  Or more likely the doing of some frenzied dork with a cart in the parking lot. 
Plus, I have had this car for nine years.  Nine.  Long.  Years.  We both work, right?  We deserve to have a pretty little car that can go through a car wash without losing large pieces of rusty Honda from the sides, or have the weather stripping peel off the roof of the car, only to have it flap down loudly on the windshield as I drove from the gas station.  Embarrassing but true.     
Stay tuned, the Great Car Search begins soon…subtitled OMG, that’s per MONTH??

Joe Has Three Sisters

For my husband, living in a house with three women must have its advantages.  Sure it does.  For instance, good smells wafting through the air most of the time.  It could be from his wife's amazing culinary talent in the kitchen (snicker), or perhaps the candles we're constantly lighting (and occasionally forgetting to blow out).  Maybe it's the dainty feminine clouds of perfume emanating from bedrooms or even various cleaning supplies we use, guaranteed to turn your house into a "country lane" or "apple orchard", and also, um, well…

Ok, the advantages just may stop there.  Three women in the same house?  It's a special kind of hell.

He was wise to us almost from the beginning, though, almost seven years ago, having grown up in the same house as three sisters.  (Refer to the famous concerto, a piano piece entitled "Joe Has Three Sisters" plinked out in A minor.)  He's experienced with the “feminine way”; he had to be to survive.  He's smart...knows how more than one woman in the house can lead to the following events. 

a) Snarky comments, ranging from the phony, ostensibly helpful, "oh, you must not have had time to do your hair." to the far more dramatic, going-for-the-jugular serious, such as " have $20 yet I'm missing $20.  Hmmmm."

b) Women all “cycling” together, resulting in a noxious black cloud, visible from space, hanging over just our house approximately once a month.

c) Interminably long waits for the bathroom, even though we have two.

d) his shaving cream and shavers mysteriously disappearing and magically reappearing in the bathtub.

He has handled it with aplomb and grace for the four years we’ve been married, even if he has had to stop for a beer from time to time after work to mentally gird his loins for the insanity surely awaiting him at home.

Such as, you ask? 

Well, mostly (meaning never) it's actually calm around our house.  That is, if the dog isn't chewing up something important or having horrifying bathroom accidents in unlikely, hard to reach places.  Or if the girls are sniping at each other.  Or I am sniping at them...or the dog, or the husband, or the son.  Sometimes the sniping results in me tearfully hiding out in our bedroom all night in the dark, armed with a cell phone, a flashlight, and a container of Betty Crocker frosting, reading articles on weight loss and snarling at anyone who dares crack open the door.  (wait, did I say frosting?  I meant carrot sticks.)

It's pretty well known by anyone with girls (let's say, oh, 18 and 20 years old) living at home that mostly, they're picking on each other.  It's guaranteed.  Yet, if needed, they will gang up and turn on their parents faster than a snake in a skirt.  That, too, is guaranteed.  If there should ever be a time when everyone is in perfect harmony that is when I will run to the medicine cabinet and check the level in the Nyquil bottle.  Again.

Luckily, I married a man with many wonderful attributes that seem to be greatly contributing to his longevity, most notably a high tolerance for "crazy-psychotic-woman" behavior, an incredible sense or humor, when to give good advice and/or maintain a lip-biting diplomatic silence...but mostly an uncanny sense of when to just quietly, sympathetically pour two Southern Comforts over ice.

I’m sure it was not an easy decision for him to marry someone with three older children but I, for one, am so glad he made the decision to take the chance and dive headlong into a ready-made family, especially after being carefree and single for so long. 

Even if our recycling bin has lots of empty frosting containers but there are no cakes in the kitchen.

(Here's to you, Bear.  Happy Anniversary!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Below you will find a copy of the true essay I had published in the anthology "Red Silk", put out by Womanspace of Rockford, IL.

“Ask, and ye shall receive.”

Five simple little words.  Yet, if used properly, you will find that although both small and simple, those words are powerful.

I have always been a reader.  Growing up, I was attracted to books and the world they allow you to inhabit.  Summers when I was out of school, I would ride my bike up to the public library, where I would while away the long afternoons in the cool quiet library basement, reading biographies of famous people, spiders who spin webs describing fantastic pigs, and wrinkles in time.   My vocabulary grew and grew, as did my imagination.

A fun writing assignment on parodies I turned in for an English class in high school turned out to be an example the teacher couldn’t wait to read in front of the class…and the attention I received…well, let’s just say I was hooked.  Validated.  I could write.

As I grew older, my tastes changed and I began reading more grown up fiction; romance novels, mystery, and terrifying novels about things that go bump in the night.

I also began journaling.  I have been keeping a journal and writing down dreams (both awake and asleep) since I was 15 years old.  As I grew older, it became less a dream journal and more an outline of what was going on in my young life; what I wanted, what was happening in my life, all my dreams and fears, doubts and triumphs.

A few years later, I was a single, overwhelmed mother of three; I still journaled.
It was a time when I was unhappy, lonely, self conscious and a complete nervous nelly.     However, I loved the freedom of being able to take out my frustrations of daily life safely, secretly in pen and paper, whenever I needed to 

I also began a wish list.  Before anything like “the Secret” became popular, I remember toying around, drinking a cup of coffee, making a list of attributes of my dream man.  I was extremely detailed, (must like children, must be kind, must be funny, and must like fishing…) right down to having him be a great kisser.  This “man” list wasn’t my only one; by far…I had lists of things I needed to do around the house, ways to lose weight, ways to make money…lots of other things filled this journal but my dream man list was fairly memorable, and I reread it often, sometimes adding and subtracting attributes.

A few years later, I was given a book to read that outlined exactly how to ask for everything you could possibly want.  Like a brand new computer.  A new freezer.  A car.  The perfect weight for your body.   The perfect man.

Just write it down, trust that you will get it, let it out into the universe, and close your notebook.

I did this, rather tongue in cheek, and filled several notebooks.  Couldn’t hurt, right?

Actually, no.  It didn’t hurt at all.  As a matter of fact, one afternoon I went to pick up some Market Day at the elementary school.  To my utter shock, my name was listed as the winner of a brand new freezer.

A guardian angel of a loan officer helped me buy an adorable green Honda that my sister had for sale.  Nine years later, it’s still adorable…but a little rusty.

I applied for a $1000 grant to buy a computer to help with college schoolwork.  I didn’t win the scholarship, but received a phone call informing me that although I didn’t win, my application had been taken to heart by the woman running the contest.  Within two weeks I received a brand new Gateway computer/printer/monitor.  For free.  (Thank you, Linda Lael Miller.)  It should be noted that my computer was the exact same Gateway computer setup that I had written down in my journal...right down to the color and brand name. 

I found a diet that worked for me, and the time/motivation to exercise.  I lost 65 pounds, reaching a good weight for my body type.

It could be argued that all of these really, really good things happened because I wrote them down, because some magic happened; that I asked for them in such a way that the universe was obligated to answer.

It could also be argued that writing those things down not only released into the universe that I wanted them…but ALSO released into the universe the idea that I finally thought I deserved them.  That in the end, even if it was subconscious, I finally realized in some way that the only thing standing in the way of getting those things was ME.  If I placed value on myself and what I wanted, I got it.  What a revelation.

I grew from a timid, shy, overweight single mother into a confident, slimmer, better version of myself, all due to the power of writing, of valuing myself and what I wanted.

Whether or not writing down your wishes and dreams puts everything into motion, it certainly does open a portal.  Seeing the written word is powerful.  Opening your journal and seeing what you have asked for, over and over, reinforces in your head that what you’re asking for is not only valid and attainable, but also a foregone conclusion.

As you can see in my situation, I had several examples where my writing was powerful enough to me that it manifested things I wanted.  

And that list of attributes I wanted in my perfect man?  I met my husband Joe on eHarmony.  Wouldn’t you know it; he met almost every single one of my detailed requests…the lone exception being he doesn’t like to fish.  In the scope of things, this is an extremely minor detail.

What I still find even more amazing is that I had written it down, asked for it, put it away, and just trusted that eventually I’d find my perfect guy.  And I did.