Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hey, You GUYS ....

Hola!

¡Buenos dias!

Come esta?

¡Mui caliente!

Oh, crap.

Now I've backed myself into a corner, because what you read there is pretty much all of the Spanish I know.

Sorry. I didn't mean to lead you on.

Were I Robert Palmer, I would tell you I didn't mean to turn you on.

But I'm not Robert Palmer.

And I don't speak Spanish.

I hope we got that cleared up.

I also hope you have a song stuck in your head at this point.

So why did I summon you here?

To invite you to a party!

Wait.

That's a lie.

After the Spanish Robert Palmer business, I realize I need to be careful here. Respectful of your trust.

I want to ask you to come on over to my other, much more active blog, and follow me there.

Pack your bags!

Grab your passport!

Get ready for a good TSA gropin'!

We're off to 365 Snapshots!

For ease of navigation, I'm goin' old school and presenting the link in plain web English:
http://365snapshots.blogspot.com/

I'm looking forward to seeing you there.

¡Gracias!

(Well would you look at that? I DID have one more up my cerebellum's sleeve!)


Thursday, June 16, 2011

OK, So Here's The Deal ....

I can't write here right now.

I know, I know ... transparency.

I lied.

Well, maybe not LIED, per se.

Or maybe I just lied to myself.

Things are ... uh ... squishy in my house right now. I need to find a great job and SOON, and that whole money thing riles up something worse than Hagrid's Fluffy in me. It's not a good feeling, and since I refuse to whine in public (oh, my shrink is going to LOVE this) I'm shuttin' 'er down for a while.

I'll start posting again one day, just not today.

Of course, you're always welcome to comb through the archives. This is a good place to start.

When you're done there (or if you've got crazy mad multi-tasking skillz), please join me over at my photo blog. It's a place I don't feel pressured to keep tidy or explain very well. Some days I have words to go along with the images, and some days I don't. Some days I use a good camera, and some days I don't. Some days the photos are good, and some days they aren't. 'Just depends.

I've learned that I need to express myself in some way, and for me, blogging is a great solution. But when words weigh too much, I find photos feel much better. So, you know ... it's something I can do. Something I can handle.

See ya on the other side, mi amigos!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Foiled Again


Ladies, you know how some days you just don’t feel pretty? Noteworthy? Like a freakin’ super model?

Right. I know. Some of us have those days more than the other kind … the good kind. The kind of day where you KNOW you are crackalackin’, lip-smackin’, dingo-ate-my-baby delicious.

For me, yesterday was (finally!) one of the latter variety.

I looked GOOD, y’all.

Clearly, the planets aligned, because the hair was just right, the eye makeup went on as it should, the girls were hiked up to their proper position, and no grunting occurred when the jeans were zipped up. Glorious!

Apparently though, all that gorgeousness comes with a time-related price.

I left the house in a rush, heading to lunch with a friend. (Hi, Chris!)

Now let me tell you something about Chris: the man is a punctuality freak stickler.

Seriously. Tardiness does NOT fly with him. His scorn, while moderated by his Scandinavian roots and therefore undetectable to those not familiar with the signs, is palpable if you know what to look for. (As innocuous as it sounds, Scandihoovian scorn is to be avoided, trust you me.)

So I sped. 

As I zipped in and out of interstate traffic, a cute fella in a nice car took advantage of my mad Nascar skillz and tucked himself in behind me. I’m sure he figured I would get ticketed, rather than he, should we be caught.

As I exited, so did he. A stoplight impeded our progress, and I took advantage of the pause in motion to repair a poor lip color choice made before the final wardrobe change of the morning.

As I pulled out my gloss, I noticed cute driver guy watching me with what I took to be a flirty grin on his face.

Well then. Looking for a show? Here ya go, big fella—enjoy!

I proceeded to take my time doing the sensuous gloss application, complete with an arched eyebrow for emphasis. You ladies know what I’m talking about. It’s bullet-proof as long as you’ve got all your teeth and no signs of lettuce or legume skins stuck anywhere.

The light turned green, and I scurried straight on through the intersection as driver guy made a left.

I was smug: I looked good, I’d gotten to lunch on time and I’d come off as desirable in the eyes of a complete stranger whom I would never see again. 

Then I glanced down at my dashboard.

And it hit me: cute driver guy wasn’t grinning at my obvious hotness.

Oh no, he was laughing at me.

'Turns out my left blinker was on the entire drive.


The Unmasking


When I began this blog, I masked the players—well, the human ones, anyway—in nicknames.

It’s bothered me ever since.

It felt fake, inauthentic.  

GACK.

So now that the BoyRD is eighteen and graduating high school, I’ve asked the various people I hang out with if I may use their real names when I post, and they’ve all graciously agreed.

So here it is:



The big kid towering on the left? That’s Mike. Or Michael James. Or Monkey Pants. The BoyRD is actually a nickname we’ve had for him for years. It’s based in my husband’s addiction to nasty canned pasta. I won’t go into detail here, but suffice to say the stuff makes me gag. It does, however, make for a mighty adorable nickname.

And the tall guy on the right? That would be KittyDaddy. His Mama named him Lee. KittyDaddy is also a legitimate moniker; the man never had a pet until he met me, and since I couldn’t be without a cat in the house, he was (initially) forced to become a cat person. Now, I can’t imagine he would ever choose to be without feline companionship again. (I would like to officially go on record with a great big, "told you so!" at this time. Thank you for your understanding.)

So there you have it. That's my son and my husband, revealed. 

Say hello to my tall, tall friends .... 


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Call Me Crazy

I don't always have time, or--let's face it--the gumption to write.

I do, however, find myself snapping at least one photo a day. Sometimes it's on my mobile phone and sometimes with my digital SLR. And when I'm feeling cuh-razy I'll actually use my Flip!

Thus, I have created yet another site to share those photos. I've enjoyed other folks' "year o' photos" postings on the various social sites we enjoy in this modern age, and have chosen the same time frame for this project.

Will I update daily? Maybe not.

I will, however, take a photo of some sort every day, then upload them by date to the site as time--and that darned gumption--allow.

Hop on board; it's bound to get interesting!

And really? Thank you for coming along for the ride. I love having you here.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Duuuude ...

Sweet, what does mine say?

(Five points for the movie reference.)

It's cuh-razy busy around here as of late. And when it's not, I am trying to impress every sight, every move, every sound and each and every scent (well, maybe not EVERY scent) my only child has to offer and pack them safely into my memory.

That's right, the RD is graduating high school.

I know, I know ... we've got months before college starts. Don't ... (hic) ... get ... me ... (welled-up eyes) ...  started. (wail)

Y'all, he has access to a vehicle.

And a job. (sniff)

And a life (hic) outside of MY home.

He's going to pack up his stuff. (a single tear escapes, coursing down my cheek)

Store some of his stuff. (snot flowing)

And go to college. (WAIL!)

To what far-flung land is he traveling in pursuit of his dream in technical theatre, you ask? Moorhead State. Yup, just across the river in Moorhead, MN.

WHUT?

(defiantly wipes nose on shirt sleeve)

Don't look at me like that. He's. My. (limb-shaking breath) BABY.

I'll try to keep my keening to a minimum.

The graduation party is this weekend. Actual graduation is next weekend. Mix in there family visits, putting the house on the market right after graduation and avidly looking for my next awesome employer, and well ... yeah. Duuuuuude. There's a lot going on.


While I'm off being super woman, I offer you two more pictures from our trip out West.


The first is the Boy RD being accosted by a five year-old. We went to visit some adopted family (you know, the kind you've known since their parents were THIS big and you love the whole brood like they're your own?) and this guy took one look at the 6'2" RD and decided he needed to take. Him. DOWN. Note the look of, "are you sure about this?" on the RD's face. And the RD's hat head -- it's so RD! Also, note the little dude's brother in the background, waiting for bloodshed. Such a good brother.


This next shot is of pie. Why pie? Because pie is good. DUH.

Suh g'on now, git yerself some puh. It's good fer ya!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Arizona -- The Mobile Phone Photo Tour

When Dad had a heart attack just over a month ago, I flew to Arizona. 

I didn't know if I'd be able to put it all into words; that was a task just too daunting to consider. Instead, I snapped photo after photo on both my mobile phone and my "real" camera. 

Let's get started on your own personal tour of the trip from departure to return, shall we?




I noticed this as Kitty Daddy dropped me off at the airport, laying in the passenger pick-up/drop-off lane here in Fargo. It was the first time since getting the call that I remember having a total "real life" moment where my mind wasn't going over and over and over the condition of my Dad. It also made me look at KD and say, "Did I pack my toothbrush?"


Little sister, H, and her saint of a man, D, flew in to 'Vegas from North Carolina about a half-hour before I got there from North Dakota. The first thing we noticed? It was warm enough for us to wear sandals! (Sorry if you're one of those anti-foot folks. Not having to wear socks and boots is a big deal when you live in the freaking tundra. You learn to embrace nearly-nude feet!) (Guess who has translucent skin and two thumbs? That's right! THIS GUY!)



This was the room Dad was in at the CVICU. In deference to his privacy, I won't be sharing details of his condition when we arrived. I will, however, tell you that it was one of the most terrifying days of my life. I think he got me back for any of those times he had to rush to MY side at a hospital. (That is my reflection on the right; little sister H's man, D, sits next to me. This was his first time to meet the family. That man made the best of a shit situation, and I will always be grateful to him.)







On the first morning, I went in with coffee for my sister, and immediately abandoned that idea to go find a camera. How could you see THIS and not think, "this needs to be on the internet"? There's also a photo somewhere of D's arm around the dog, because he woke up and found a warm body next to him, only to discover that warm body was quite furry. Turns out H. had gone to the shower and Jake, Dad's big ol' Heinz 57 dog fancied a snuggle. I'm telling you, D put up with a lot on this trip. 


H & D (and sometimes Jake the dog) got to snuggle, but I was on my own. That is, until Dennis came home. Dennis is Dad's roaming kitty, and he showed up every so often just long enough to say hi, catch 38 winks and run off. He has that little boy kitty body and high, squeaky voice I'm a total sucker for. We bonded. 


I made breakfast. This is a baked French toast dish to which I added blueberries after consulting with my foodie buddy Chris back in Fargo. (HI, CHRIS!) We decided that berries would hold up to the heat and brown sugar. Holy cow, was I ever glad we thought it would work because it. Was. AWESOME. (I should tell you Chris is a blueberry whore fan the likes of which you have never seen. It would not surprise me at all to learn he's got a blueberry burger in development. He's like that.)


Two days in, Kitty Daddy and I decided to bring the BoyRD out. I needed one of my boys with me, and it made the most sense to send out the RD. Even under the circumstances, it was some of the best time I've ever spent with my son. To pick up the RD at the airport in 'Vegas, we had to cross the Colorado River, formerly over Hoover Dam. But guess what? The bridge is done! Here is the one shot I got of it. (It rained later in the trip, ruining more chances for photography that trip.) I have no idea who those people are. I say we refer to them as Larry, Mo and Curly. Hey, Curly? Nice wedgie, dude. 


Somewhere during the week, I realized the RD is an adult! Needless to say, that meant he bought a lottery ticket and scratched his way to ... nothin'. I'm assuming he learned his gambling-related lesson. 



Being in Kingman, AZ, I figured I was in for culinary blech for a full week. Much to my delight, my childhood friend, Theresa, brought us to a sweet little coffee shop downtown that had carrot/ginger soup! Talk about feeling like I was back in civilization. (HI, THERESA!)


One day, the RD and I drove up to the Hualapai Mountains. It was a lovely afternoon, but we'll save the pictures from that trip for another day. 


Shucks, we missed it!


I was able to take my son places I used to hang out as a teenager. Many an evening hour was spent solving the world's problems on this beach as a teenager. I went on to work at this hotel/casino in Laughlin when the RD was a small boy, and the poignancy of being there with him wasn't lost.  


THIS is where Kitty Daddy and I met. No, really -- that exact spot. 


And when we all lived together, this is the apartment complex pool we used to go swimming in. Boy RD was about four years old and he would beg Kitty Daddy to "go slimmin'?" 


I did have one afternoon to myself out there. Needless to say, I took my butt straight to a Sonic. Ahhh, cherry limeade. I love you like no other. 


As the RD and I were driving back to 'Vegas to head for Fargo, I took this cloud break to mean the storm was over.



Thus concludes the mobile phone photo tour. I'll show you what we came home to in the coming days. 

Wherever you are, be glad of it. 
Whomever you're with, make the most of it. 
Time is short, life is fleeting. 
Live it. 

Glad to be here with you, 
Mama Laura


Thursday, May 5, 2011

GO BLOBS!


I have been honored to know quite a few folks who have taken part in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events all across the country. It touches me. It inspires me. And it reminds me of a story:

My older sister, J, had her own car then and didn’t need rides to school in the morning, but the baby of the family, H, and I were still in need. Mom would drive and H would sit in my lap, both of us sharing a single seat belt. (What? Like you never took a road trip lollygagging in a wheel-well or in the back window of your Dad’s car in your childhood? Puh-lease.)

I in sixth or seventh grade, and H in kindergarten or first grade made us both old enough to get ourselves ready in the morning, but Mom still ran down the check list to make sure nothing was overlooked.

One morning, as we backed away from the house, Mom started the checklist:

“Teeth brushed? Deodorant? Homework? Locked the door? Refrigerator is closed?” and the like sang out in call and answer fashion, my sister and I dueting on each “yes ma’am!” answer.

This morning, though, Mom must have wanted to keep us on our toes.

“Front door locked?”

“Yes ma’am!” we cried out cheerily.

“Shoes tied?”

“Yes ma’am!”

“Bras in place?”

Silence met her query as I swiveled my head to see if I’d heard right.

With a sly grin, she met my shocked gaze and we both erupted into laughter.

Little H, however. Did not.

With great concentration, she was held open the front of her own shirt, surveying things.

“No bra,” she said very matter-of-factly, “I don’t have boobs. I just have blobs.”

Please visit the Race for Life to donate, volunteer or enter your own race. GO BLOBS!

The folks at Susan G Komen do not know who I am. Nobody is giving me so much as a pink ribbon to post this. It's just that, as it turns out,  I have boobs. And I hope to for the rest of my life. I hope you do, too. Rock on. 


Friday, April 22, 2011

THAT Is What I'm Talkin' 'Bout!

I just stumbled across these folks while checking out Frozen Music Studios' Facebook page.

Their mission moves me.

Please, go check them out and spread the word!

http://www.unseenministries.net/


Frozen Music Studios isn't payin' me. She probably has no clue I called her out right here in public. Unseen Ministries has no clue who I am ... yet. Y'all keep yer panties unwadded; ain't no consideration bein' handed over by nobody, no how. Word.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Unexpected Beauty


Heather over at Dooce raved about this, and I thought she was maybe on the loony juice, but alas—I stand corrected.

Sheer beauty.


That sigh you just heard was me, because by the end of the clip, I realized I was holding my breath. And that hug at the end? That was a REAL hug; none of this bro-hug bullshit. Gorgeous. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go dance to something beautiful and unexpected.



(Heather? Since I so presumptuously used your first name here, you are welcome to just unceremoniously start using MY first name should we ever meet.)  


Friday, April 15, 2011

It's A Small World, After All


A recent conversation with a friend examined what we decided is the outright coolness of being alive in this time and space. (HI, CHRIS!)

He described having a moment of realization as he simultaneously ordered coffee from Africa, ate a banana from South America and talked, delay free, with a friend thousands of miles away on a device smaller than his hand. He said that moment struck him as amazing and thinking about how effortless it is now, what the founding fathers would think.

I’d have to concur.

I just had a moment of my own.

Sitting in my recliner, I was struck with a craving for apple crumble. Never having made something like this, it used to be I’d spend at least an hour combing through my recipe book collection before following a reasonable candidate word-for-word.

The web has changed that, though.

I can’t remember the last time I cracked open a book for cooking advice.

Now, I visit P'Dub's Tasty Kitchen and All Recipes online, search for their two or three highest-rated offerings, scan the reviews and tweaks readers have submitted, and in ten minutes I’m in the kitchen—creating an amalgamation of ideas from around the world right here in Fargo, ND.

The apple crumble turned into an apple-blueberry crumble, and next time we’ll use more flour and less butter.

Despite these needed adjustments, though, I think even Martha Washington would have asked for seconds. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Back In Black


Thankfully, I’m not actually wearing black. It’s just the song that popped to mind when I reached around for a post title indicating my return to the flooded upper Midwest.

Dad is better. Lots better, in fact. He’s home now and improving daily. I won’t tell you anymore; because he’d be mortified to find out I’m talking about him to anyone, much less in a public forum online.

Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and love over the last ten days. I encountered so much of these that at times I was overwhelmed. I know darned good and well there are people I didn’t get back to who wrote notes, email and texted, but I have to tell you …. I practically needed a PBX system to keep up. I apologize if you’re one of the un-returned. I can’t thank everyone enough.

Re-entry into “real” life has been odd.

I spent ten days at the hospital in the desert, at my father’s house and showing the BoyRD around one of the towns I grew up in.

At one point, I realized he and I were having lunch in the very same restaurant in which I first met the folks I almost gave him up to for adoption. I probably looked like I got hit with a 2x4 upside the head. Lord knows I felt like it.

Other ghosts stomped around that town, that county, that part of the world in general.

All the times I ever drove up to Hoover Dam find solace in its massive concrete presence.

Any of the evenings I spent hanging out on the beach at Harrah’s in Laughlin with friends, solving the world’s problems.

The afternoons spent tromping around the Hualapai Mountains, escaping the heat or just getting closer to God.

The hours and hours spent futzing around the wash near our house as an elementary student.

The hospital my Dad was in is the same my son was born in. The same his father died in.

It was sobering.

Sobering to not only visit the same old places, but to finally put the feelings I had assigned them into order. I didn’t like myself when I lived there so many years ago, and my impression of that area mimicked my memories. The sobering, or clearing of my own mind, allowed me to finally put those things in the past, where they belong.

And like me, those places and things have changed, too.

Hoover now has a giant bridge over it, bypassing the Dam for those who need to get where they’re goin’ instead of braking for pedestrians, or more to the point—saving wear and tear on an extraordinary national monument.

Harrah’s feel has changed, as has the skyline we used to stare at while lying in a beach chair. I don’t know how to describe that one. Maybe it’s just because my perspective has changed.

The Hualapai’s aren’t as big as I remembered. And the park I used to drive to is now behind a fence you’ve got to pay to get into. Once I got over my initial shock, I was impressed with what they’ve done with the area. Even the teepees they erected (HA! I said, “erected”) are cool.

That old wash’s path has changed. The giant bush I used to play inside of (no, really … it had “rooms”) might just be dead. There aren’t as many rocks. There is more debris.

The hospital has added on and has an amazing VCICU staff and doctors. I’m still stunned by how impressed I was by them. That’s a thank-you note in the making, I tell ya.

I got to introduce adult BoyRD to folks who were there before I even guessed I’d have an RD to brag about, were there when he was born, and, and even after his birth as I struggled to discover and become Me.

There were texts from people far away who knew me back when. There were calls and emails from people who only know me from Fargo. All full of love. All like gifts from God himself.

And now I’m back in Fargo.

The snow is gone, replaced instead by floodwaters. Our basement is wet (nothing new; it happens every time the water table gets ridiculously high) and Amos is still a butthead.

The love carries forward, though. And for that, I am forever grateful.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Proof of His Absence

As the date of Dad's heart surgery approaches, we girls are staying at his home.

It's beyond odd to be here without him.

The lack of his physical presence is always at the forefront. We’re here because he’s in the hospital; it’s not like it’s something we forget.

Recent days have a hodge-podged, temporary sense of normalcy to them. It’s like my brain seizes upon things from everyday life which run parallel to the happenings of now and clutches them tightly—a link, however tiny or mundane, to it all being okay. I have coffee at home every day, so the sheer act of making coffee every day here in my father’s home, even without him joining me, ensures that all will be well. If I hear a song I know he’d like, I fill in everyone around me, “Dad would love this.” No moment passes where his presence is not somehow inserted.  

It's as though just speaking his name heals his body, strengthening his heart and acting as a substitute until he can be here in person. A reassurance or promise of a return to real normalcy. 

Then there are the things that jump out in seemingly innocuous moments, insisting on being noticed: proof of his absence.

The change from his pocket, still lying on his dresser.



His pipe, cold and singular on the kitchen counter.



The jeans and shirt he would have put on when returning from work.



His truck, with his favorite radio station tuned in and waiting, engine cold, devoid of its driver. (My little sister insists I point out the dirt and bugs are NOT how Dad left it; she drove it down to see Mom and is going to return it to the shape Dad insists on keeping it in before she heads home.)



Or George, who just doesn’t understand where Dad could be hiding.



George has had enough of his Dad being gone, and will tell anyone who listens of his insistence that Dad be returned immediately. So things can return to normal. 

Amen, brother George. Preach on.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For (LANGUAGE WARNING)

Shit.

Shit. Shit. Shit. Hell. Damn. Shit.

I've been whining pretty heavily the last few days. About the WEATHER, of all the fucking things in the world to be pissy about.

It's cold here. There's still a cubic shit-ton of snow on the ground. And I've been complaining about it. Angry, even.

I've been saying to anyone who would listen in the last 24 hours that I've been looking at cheap flights to just get the hell out of here, to anywhere with sunshine.

I even was joking with my neighbor when I saw her at the grocery store this afternoon that I'd do pretty much anything to get to somewhere warm. Anywhere.

As I was putting groceries away, the phone rang.

It was my Dad's wife.

Dad had a heart-attack at work, died twice in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and is now in surgery.

That's all we know.

And now I'm booking a flight to get to AZ.

Shit.



A Short But Heartfelt Love Note

Dear Dunkin' Donuts,

Your Dunkin' Decaf makes my tongue's toes curl.

Honestly, until I met you, I had no idea my tongue even HAD toes.

I'm so glad you came along.

You warm me. You comfort me. You make me sigh deeply in contentment and promise to do crazy things like laundry, more writing and even (dare I say it?) painting the family room.

I love you.
Laura


Monday, March 28, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Winter Storm

Living in Fargo, you get used to the weather.

Kind of.

Blizzards in March, Mother Nature's final wintery stand, are not uncommon. I've gotten to the point of welcoming this last dumping of snow, knowing that we just need to get through the Red River's crest and all will be normal again.

This year's March blizzard was a doozy. It was nice enough to layer ice and graupel before frosting the whole thing with about eight inches of snow. Shoveling this stuff was a near-impossible task. Machinery was the only cure.

Thank God for my boys.

The BoyRD and TheBestFriend attacked our sidewalks and driveway with a snowthrower. The RD had to first break into the hard crust, followed by TheBestFriend with machinery.

From my warm roost, it looked like this :












I wish I would have thought to grab the video camera for this. The racket the snow made was, in a word, alarming.

Of course, it was no more alarming than the thought of having to go out there and kick some graupel gluteus   all by my onesy.

I know what you're thinking.

And don't worry.

I bought them pizza.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SAD much?

I've been busy.

OK, I'm a liar. I wasn't busy. For a long time. Like two months long. That's a long time when the average temperature was about 20 below, not counting windchill.

I started going to a therapist, I was so un-busy.

She took one look at me and sent my ass to a psychiatrist ... or maybe he was a psychologist. I have no clue. She just wanted to get me to someone who could diagnose any clinical bidness that was happenin'.

He said I was depressed.

No SHIT, Sherlock. 


Specifically, though, he said seasonally depressed. I nodded sagely and said, "Seasonal Affective Disorder."

No. He repeated, "Seasonally DEPRESSED."

Hmmm. OK, fine. Maybe that's the case.

Then I came home and looked through the photos I've snapped over the month prior to this appointment. Gee, Doc -- maybe you're right!

Here's what I've been up to:

I watched the Oscars with Bob. Well, I watched the Oscars. Bob took a nap. I think my
Facebook friend, Fred, said it best when he wrote, "All in all, I think the James Franco 
animatronic puppet was the best part of the show." Oh, Fred. That STILL makes me laugh.

Then I watched Craig Ferguson. In my jammies. A shocking turn of events, I know.

The BoyRD made a WalMart run. This is how he remembered  what pit stick to buy for me.
I was then forced to bathe and put on fresh jammies.

I read the new Pyschology Today in bed. I was wearing jammies then, too. There was an
article called, "Hey, Laura -- you might wanna get your ass out of bed and see some people.
We know it's as cold as the face of the moon, but really ... you gotta get out and mingle,
girl." I thought it was odd the article had such a long name, but it had some good points.

So I put on seventeen layers of clothes and drove to a meeting. It's March,
and the roads still look like this. Damned winter.

The meeting was at a restaurant. I asked for an iced tea with sweetener. They brought me
this rock candy on a stick business. I gnawed on it, giggling like a loon the whole time.
CANDY! Needless to say, it was totally worth getting out of the house. BONUS: I got
a really enjoyable freelance writing gig out of it.


Then 'Ria called and said, "Hey -- you wanna set my hair on fire?" Uh ... do I? DUH!


Something about putting 'Ria in mortal danger clicked with me. I accepted that getting
out and about here in the tundra is really a necessary part of mental health -- even
when it's cold enough for an Eskimo to say, "screw it" and go to Florida. But I digress.
The next morning, I decided to find breakfast through a window. And I saw evidence of a THAW!

It made me happy enough to try eating beets. They taste like dirt. I liked it.


The end. You may be seated.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Being Rejected (By Software)

There is nothing like having a Microsoft® product throw its hands in the air and declare in a snit, "I have NO idea what your feeble-ass mind is even TRYING to spell."

It may have something to do with the fact that I "hear" this in my head in the voice of an puffy, overly-coiffed Southern woman with perfect, judge-y teeth, who then stomps away, hair bouncing, girdle compressing everything into the very sausage-look she's been trying to avoid since adolescence, but it makes me instantly crazy.*

Angry crazy.

Crazy angry.

So much so that when faced with "no suggestions" in the spelling dialogue box, I have been known to give my monitor a double flip with a TWIST.

You know, to get the point across.

No suggestion at all? Ruh-huh-huh-eallllly, Word? HAL would have known what I'm tryin' to say here. For Gate's sake ... GOOGLE even knows what I'm trying to freaking spell!

(sigh)

What can I say?

Microsoft Office and I have a very complicated relationship.



* For some reason, I can also tell you this fictional spelling judge lady smells like stale coffee and years-old Emeraude. It makes me wonder if I've blocked out an angry-teacher memory.


Monday, March 14, 2011

My Happy Plate


I have a plate in my cupboard that makes me smile every time I see it. Catch me on the right day, and it even has the power to make me cry. Yes, that’s right, cry. Weep. Snivel. Blubber. Bawl. Sob, even.

Odd to be connected to something as commonplace as a plate, is it?

Probably not, once you know the story.

I've had a connection to our local March of Dimes "Bowls for Babies" event in one way or another over the last five years or so.

It started when I worked at a local ad agency and met a woman who would become one of my very best friends. She worked on the account team, and I was a production manager. We worked closely on many, many projects for her clients. One was—you guessed it—the local March of Dimes.

That first year, we were able to provide pro bono work for the Bowls for Babies event. Only ever having heard of March of Dimes through television spots, I was excited and proud to watch my team create a great logo, followed by a whole bunch of collateral for the local organization administration and then the event, itself.

I don’t know if it was fate what we would call it, but shortly thereafter, C. had her twin boys way too early*. If it weren't for the years of commitment to funding of research by the March of Dimes, they might not be with us today.

If I thought the March of Dimes was cool before, I am now a life-long fan.

My favorite fundraiser will always be Bowls for Babies.

Local artists, art-students and a whole lot of "regular" people paint bowls and plates or mugs to be used at a soup-luncheon fundraiser. Individuals and businesses purchase "raw" bisque for a small fee (which I believe in part becomes a donation,) and a local paint-your-own-bisque shop owner donates her time firing the finished pieces. Then local gourmet chefs pull out all of their soup and bread stops, donating time, resources and unspeakable deliciousness to the event. Participants make a donation at the door and are granted entry. Once inside, they peruse the unique and often entertaining tableware to take home before enjoying a fresh, hot lunch and a whole lot o’ visitin’. 

Two years ago, I attended my first Bowls for Babies event here in Fargo. Appropriately, I did so with C. There must have been close to 1000 bowls and plates to choose from.

Hundreds and hundreds of men and women from all walks of life waited patiently to snake around the display tables, survey the fragrant offerings and find a table. Local celebrities, brand new moms, veteran fathers … everyone was there. (And by “everyone”, I mean, “I sat next to the mayor and his wife.” HI, DENNY!)

I had a wonderful time. I got to hang out with C. I got to see a LOT of babies. I got to have lunch with the mayor.

But that was just the surface stuff.

I got to see my community in action. I got to see the faces of those who have lived real, throbbing, gut-wrenching fear … and still had a little person to hold. It made me think of those who have lost children. Of those who love someone who is no longer with us in physical form. It simultaneously lifted me up and filled me with sorrow.

So yeah, it’s a plate. It’s got a little wear and tear, as much-loved objects often will.

But it’s a plate that’s come to represent love, endurance and mostly, faith.



There are initials on the back of my favorite plate. MJ, whoever you are, thank you.  
  
* In early 2008, C. wrote her first-hand account of the boys’ birth and first few years of their lives for NDSU Magazine. I was the one she called to proofread it. It was perfect. Not only in its tone, grammar and punctuation, but in the gift it brought me. We had been good friends through all of those years, but seeing her words on the page made me once again realize what a blessing that woman is. Not just to me, but to her family and everyone she encounters. To read the article, please click here

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Today's Lesson: The Other Woman, The Third Party and Our Accidental Perpetrator Heroine

Newsflash, people!

It turns out the lyrics to Naughty By Nature's, "Hip Hop Hooray" are, indeed, naughty.

I know—this stuns you. I, too, was all, "whu? Whu? WHUT!?"

This lyric safety announcement is brought to you by someone who may or may not have spent the last oh, I dunno ... SEVENTEEN years singing this song whenever someone uttered even the tiniest of, "hooray"'s within her hearing radius.

Until today. 

When "she" did so to another woman of about the same age who had just used the magic word in a tiny cheer of self-affirmation.

And the other woman looked HORRIFIED. 

The other woman ACTUALLY. PHYSICALLY. RECOILED.

The accidental perpetrator instantly felt ashamed. But didn't know why. And had to ask. 

And the other woman said to her, "Lau--" "Lady, do you KNOW the rest of that song or were you one of those kids who actually listened to country and just heard the 'everybody say hey, ho' part and decided it was an anthem for the gangsta ages?"

Our accidental perpetrator heroine's brain danced. It zigged. It zagged. It finally admitted the truth. 

"Uhhh. Yeah. Yeah, that's pretty much how it went down." 

(Clearly, our heroine used "went down" as her final stranglehold on the much desired "street cred" she'd heard so much about.)

It was then the third party cleared his throat.  

The third party, standing next to the other woman. 

The third party sporting a stiff, white collar. 

The third party with a BIBLE cradled in his left hand.

"Is that the "graffiti on your kitty" song?" 

Other woman rushed to answer, eyes cast to the floor.  

"It is, Father."

The third party again cleared his throat—clearly uncomfortable—and shuffled his feet as through relying on his toes to detect and point the way to the nearest exit. 

"Right then. I wouldn't sing that song to just anyone either."

So there we have it. 

Learn something from our heroine, 'k?

If: 

a) the priest knows the lyrics are dirty; and, 
b) the band's name alludes to their own bad-ativity, it's safe to assume these are not the songs you're going to want to sing to random strangers based on the use of the word, "hooray" in their vocabulary.

You're welcome.

Er ... I mean: Our heroine says, "You're welcome."

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things


circa, one-meeelion years ago

A million years ago, I was a fifth grader. I sat next to Paul Miller most of the year. (HI, PAUL!) 

OK, maybe it wasn't a million years ago. 

Maybe I exaggerate.

OK, for sure I exaggerate. I graduated high school in 1991; feel free to do the math.

Our teacher's name was Mr. Capes. I want to say his first name was Ed, but that might be cloudy. Let’s face it—as a fifth grader, I just called him “Mr. Capes”.

He was my first male teacher, and I remember being a little freaked out about that.

It turned out just fine, though.

He recognized that I was a smart-ass bright child, and, save the one paddling he was forced to give me (I’m reasonably sure it involved the lobbing of an ill-timed f-bomb), we got along swimmingly. 

He figured out pretty quickly that I loved to be right, and would take advantage of this fairly often during open reading. He’d let me sit on a stool at the front of the class while he sat at his desk, presumably grading papers, as the other kids took turns reading aloud. My role was to facilitate the turn-taking and proper pronunciation of words as we worked through books like White Fang and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. That is to say, I’d give my fellow students two attempts at a word before I blurted it out for them.

Now, in my memory, I was gentle. Nurturing. Knowledgeable, but not all knowy-pants*.

I have met myself, though, and I’m pretty damn sure it didn’t go down like that … which might just explain why RoseMarie Wilder seemed to want to kill me on a regular basis.

Pretty much every day in Mr. Capes' class brought the noon ABC Radio News and the Paul Harvey Show. 

To this day, if I hear the ABC-radio brass intro, I wait to hear Mr. Harvey’s voice. (I cried when I learned he died. I was sitting in my car in a grocery store parking lot. It was raining, and tears coursed down my face as I sat there, thinking about all of the wonderful things I learned from his show and what a loss the world had just endured.) 

We’d listen to the noon news, then The Rest of The Story, and Mr. Capes would quiz us about the things we'd just heard.  (“Page three!”) Those who got the right answer the fastest got candy thrown at them. I gained a whole extra butt cheek that year.

Fifth grade brought many lessons: I learned how to properly protect an egg during a parachute drop, how to make candied apples, how to cover books in clear contact paper to protect their covers, and how to grow alfalfa sprouts in paper cups. (My fifth-grade palate was impressed when he served those sprouts on saltines atop a pillowy bed of American-flavored Easy Cheese. So fancy!)

One day, Mr. Capes went around the room, asking the class what our favorite numbers were.

I scoffed. Loudly.

I rolled my eyes as though already a teenager.

When he got to me, I refused to play. I told him I didn’t have one. He wanted to know why.

“It’s stupid. It’s like having a favorite COLOR. There’s no point. It’s not like your favorite pet. It’s not even alive!”

I can’t imagine (uh HUH) why he would have been exasperated with me at this point, but he very clearly was.

“Just PICK one!” he demanded.

Not to be forced into anything so ridiculous, I did. But on MY terms.

With a Tony-worthy sigh, another dramatic eye roll and one massive gust of an exhale, I said, “Fine. One million, four-hundred thirty-six thousand, two-hundred twelve … point eight.”

Poor Mr. Capes.

He stood there, staring at me, gaped mouth.

As an adult and a parent of a smart-ass bright child myself, I can say with a certain degree of surety that he was either a) plotting my death or b) picturing me as a cute, sweet toddler … to save himself from plotting my death.

“WHAT?” he hissed, lunging toward me a wee bit and shaking his head as if to clear any waxy build-up from his ears.

“One million, four-hundred thirty-six thousand, two-hundred twelve … point eight.”

“That’s the one? THAT’s going to be your favorite number?”

“Yup.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes.”

The red in his face faded back to a non-cardiac-emergent color as he exhaled slowly through his mustached lips. His next move was brilliant—he managed to not only save face, but to challenge me, as well.

This guy had my number, after all.

“Alright then. If you can remember that number for a week, I will buy you a Tab.

A Tab? YES!

(For those of you who don’t remember Tab Cola—it was super awesome. It was dark, cold, bubbly, certainly toxic and most appealing—came in a pink can. PINK, y’all! MODELS drank from pink cans!)

I didn’t commit to a lot back then, but I committed myself to this.

Yes, you read into that properly.

A week passed, and I got my Tab Cola.

And to this day?

My favorite teacher: Mr. Capes.

My favorite drink: Iced tea, no lemon. (What? Tab was only awesome when you thought cool people drank it.)

My favorite number: 1,436,212.8


                                                                                                                        
UPDATE:  All these years later, I found a jewelry maker who created a piece showcasing my favorite number in copper, my favorite metal! Come on over to 365 and check it out!




* "Knowy-pants" is a term coined by one Tammy Swift, the funniest woman I’m lucky to know. If you’re smart—and I know you are, 'cause I don't hang with no dummies—you’ll make yourself a cup of coffee, unplug the phone, ignore the kids and go read everything she’s ever written






Sunday, February 20, 2011

Laugh Until You Cry, Then Keep Going

I want to share with you something that made me laugh uncontrollably.

As a self-diagnosed control freak, (ain't nobody else gonna diagnose this bidness!), I don't use the word "uncontrollably" lightly. The mirth this particular post brought forth from me was volcanic. Full-bodied. All-encompassing. In a word, EPIC.

Even now, hours later, the merest whisper of a thought of this story sends me into gales of jocularity. My belly hurts from laughing, and my cheeks are tear-streaked.

Props to Becky (HI, BECKY!) for sending the link to me. I may be one of the few folks on the planet who hadn't heard about this wondrous collection of illustration and storytelling, and now want to make damn sure you know about it, too.

Without further ado, I give you .... "The Party" on Hyperbole and a Half.

Hyperbole and a Half
Hyperbole and a Half is all Allie Brosh. I've never met her, but I think she deserves a park named after her.