Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Day My $80,000 Business Degree Pays Off

Today we are working hard on correcting payroll mistakes. Boss says we need to schedule a meeting with our lawyer to hammer out some details.

Lawyer suggests a working lunch and co-worker and I beg for a great little Mexican restaurant we know.

Boss: "Ok but we really ARE going to be working."

Me: "Fine. But I'll need my reading glasses. MARGARITA glasses that is!!" as I hold imaginary margarita glasses up to my eyes.

All he can do is shake his head and wonder why he ever hired me. I'm smiling and thanking heaven he did ; )

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fourteen things you don't really care to know about me

Inspired (yet again) by my blogger buddy, Heather, I am going to finish a few sentences to give you a peek into my soul.

After six....years of marriage I really wondered what the hell I was doing. I was 28 years old and had a serious crisis. Sam can be very high-maintenance and had started having serious health issues and I really wanted to leave it all.

It doesn't matter....if someone likes you or not. I used to try really hard to make everyone like me but now, I could care less. I adore my friends and would do anything for them but I have learned it is about caring for them and not making them like me more.

In another....ten years I will be 44 years old but I guarantee I won't feel any different mentally than I do today. That is the worst part about growing older. My body ages but I don't feel any wiser.

My mother always said....everything happens for a reason. I hated when she said it because it was supposed to make every rotten thing better but it didn't. Now that I am older I do understand what she was saying and repeat it to myself regularly. I have realized that everything that happens brings me to where I am now and regardless of what has happened, I wouldn't change a thing.

There are times....when I wonder what it is like to be single. I watch my single friends go out to happy hours and girls' get-away weekends and try to console myself with the thought of all the nights they spend alone. It doesn't always work when I am being pushed out of the bed due to sleeping with a steam roller and then I wish I had my own bed.

At the wake....there better be tears. I spent so much of my life flying under the radar due to insecurities that I want everyone to realize how much they will really miss me.

Consideration brings....a sense of peace to me. Whenever I go out of my way to be considerate of others it always makes me feel good. I don't really believe in an after-life so I don't do it for a place next to some mythical big guy in the sky but because it is truly my nature to help others.

In life was hell. I was 13 years old and my mom forgot she was a mother to two kids. She started hanging out with some older, partying people who didn't have the same obligations (like kids to cook for) and was constantly gone. My grandfather tried to make her see this but she resented him for it and all they did was fight. She moved us out of his house that year and my life was much worse for it.

Don't laugh but....I love peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. They are so good but everyone I meet always gags or retches at the thought. I have heard of far worse combinations but it never fails that someone has to make a face when I mention this.

Without hesitation....I would do anything for my brother. He has had a really hard life and done some things that got him in quite a bit of trouble but he knows that I am always here. Especially when my mom gave up on him. All he has to do is ask and I will move heaven and earth to do it.

Ordinarily, I never....say never. There are too many situations you can't even imagine to ever say never. Life is too short to limit yourself by saying never and I believe in living your life to the fullest.

I was driving the other day when I realized that I don't dread going there every day. I am so happy with my worklife right now it is ridiculous to me. I have never had so much contentment from a job.

If I the lotto, I won't live any differently than I do right now. Except I will pay-off all our debt. I am far too simple to live lavishly.

In my mind....everyone is completely equal. I really don't understand how someone can consider themselves any better than someone else because of their skin color, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. What makes THEM so important that they are better? Truly and honestly, I don't get it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why my grandmother thought I was a lesbian

I've lived a lot in my 34 years and I am grateful for all of the experiences, good and bad, because I think they all led to my becoming a kick-ass adult ; ) My family was a bit worried at first considering I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth and then dropped out of college a semester in to pursue a highly successful career in gas station attending. Sadly that career ended when I was questioned at police headquarters under suspicion of robbing the joint while my best friend was working on my night off. They figured it had to be two dumb blondes that thought up the brilliant scheme of taping her hands togther in front of her and then locking her in the bathroom. Which locked from the inside. Of course I had nothing to do with it since I was sitting at home on my one night off watching a Lifetime movie with my mom. To say I was pathetic is an understatement.

One day while pondering my future a recruiter called out of the blue to see if I was still interested in the Army. I had shown an interest in it when I was in high school because, well, face it. My options were limited in Cowtown, Missouri where I grew up. So I said sure I was still interested and waited until he showed up in person to mention that I was about.....oh, 50 pounds too heavy to join. He was nice (and super hot) and the recruiting numbers must have been low because he kept in touch. I wound up losing around 70 pounds to join up so off I went to sign-up in Kansas City. My family was very proud of me because I was going to "Be All I Could Be" and not only because I was finally getting out of my mom's house where I begged for beer and cigarette money on a regular basis.

I called my grandmother breathless to say I had finally accomplished what I had worked so hard for and barely had a chance to say "I joined the Army!" when she went completely silent. When she spoke, it was quick and to the point. "So I guess this means we were right and you really are a lesbian, huh?". Blow ME over with a feather cause where the hell would she get that idea? Maybe I didn't date boys regularly (or ever) but that was their choice not mine. I answered that I didn't think I was but that could change after I had a chance to see all those naked ladies in the shower for 8 weeks of Basic Training.

I never did become a lesbian but I did take up the habit of calling all my friends 'my girlfriends' when I would call or write and even call Sam by a girl name to this day. Funny thing is that she has never met him so I'm not entirely sure she believes me that he is a man ; )

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My three wishes

We were drinking over at the neighbor's house Friday night. They have their garage turned into a bar complete with satellite television and neon signs. If you don't get too drunk to run into the Jeep parked in there when you leave, it was a good night.

So we're drinking and chatting and someone brings up what you would choose if you could have three wishes. We were taking turns telling what our wishes would be and I, of course, froze. I'm never good at spontaneous things like that. My neighbor (one of the funniest people I know) wishes to spend more time with the kids, have a beach house as a second home~which is where his wife jumped in and said if she got her wish of a million bucks he wouldn't have to waste his wish on this because she was buying it. This led to a brief tirade from him about how she will not leave this area because her whole family is here and she agreed that she won't leave until her family is all gone. My neighbor turns and says with the straightest of faces, "And that would be my third wish."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

When I die, I know what hell will look like.....

One of the things we humans all have in common is the thoughts we have put into wondering what happens to us when we die. Maybe we spent nights as a child praying for forgiveness so we wouldn't wind up with that awful devil that parents and preachers spent so much time getting us to fear. It is one thing that no one can answer and we are all left to imagine where we will end up once our time on this earth is done. While not absolutely 100% certain, I am pretty sure after today I know what hell looks like. A knock-off Chuck E. Cheese.

Our daughter was invited there for a birthday party for the next door neighbor's daughter. It is a pretty cool place for a local joint considering we are in a small town. During the summertime they have go-carts, bumper boats, paintball, putt putt golf and a small roller coaster. Best part is it is 5 minutes from our house. During the summertime you never really venture inside except to get drinks, pretzels and load back up your card with credits. Wintertime? The outdoor stuff is closed down and you are forced inside into the Chuck E. Cheese style gallery with the noisy games, rockwall and laser tag.

Let me tell you, it is the bowels of hell. The noise alone makes you want to pull your own eyelashes out for a distraction. The obnoxious offspring of completely idiotic parents make you wish they served booze. Your own obnoxious offspring running from game to game shoving tickets at you to hold and whining when the tokens/credits run out? Enough to make you wish you could still take kids to the bathroom for a good old butt kicking without fear of the cops hauling you out of there in handcuffs. Then you get to feed the machine that counts all of their tickets up and it is guaranteed that at least half of the machines will be broken so you have to wait behind that one kid who feeds the machine one. ticket. at. a. time. UGH!!! Of course then you get to follow that same kid to the counter where he/she spends an incredibly ridiculous amount of time selecting his prizes. But then it gets SO much better. Now you get to explain to your own child how many points they have and what they can get for that amount. Then they select something that they don't have enough tickets for and you explain this in a sweet voice and ask if could they please move down to the side where the lower-priced prizes are easier to see?

After they go through 50 different scenarios and still haven't picked anything, you find yourself walking away from the counter while they demand to know why they didn't get to pick anything. With gritted teeth you snap that it is because they couldn't decide from anything they could actually get and that if it is that hard they should hold onto them and wait until next time when they can get something they really want. Their little eyes beg and implore you to go back so you turn around to get back on line. Only to find that same kid from the ticket-counting machine again who is picking 5-ticket prizes with like 500 total tickets.

Yes, when I die I am going to hell and THIS will be where I will have to spend it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Score One for the Wind

I must have looked like the biggest idiot yesterday. With the best of intentions to get those pesky leaves out of the backyard, I went outside all bundled up in my Lands End winter shoes and a nice pullover fleece sweatshirt. I told Sam that I was bound and determined to get them out of there so our pool area doesn't look so abandoned. He smiled and said "You know it's really cold and windy outside. It would probably be easier to wait until another day." Being the biggest procrastinator I have ever known, there was no way I was going to take advice from him on this. He was nice enough to shut the door when it slammed back open from the wind as I threw my body out into the artic blast that was moving in yesterday.

The instant I stepped out I wanted to go back in. My eyes were instantly watering and my fingers went numb before I took a step. However, I was committed to getting ALL those leaves out of there and not proving Sam right that it was not the day for this task. I started with securing two pool rafts that were laying out in the open. Next I picked up everything that has blown into our yard but not back out due to the fence. I took the chairs into the shed. By this time, every part of my body was numb and my face felt like hot lava followed by an ice tray had been thrown into it. But I refused to give Sam the satisfaction of winning. Don't think I didn't notice him checking on my progress from the warmth of the house with his shoulders heaving up and down.

After I had raked several piles of leaves off the pool decking and down the side of the hill, I went back for bags. They were only on the side of the house but as I made my way back I was greeted by a leaf shower as they blew back UP the hill where they came from. Thoroughly frustrated I considered grabbing the riding lawnmower and driving it right over those leaves to chomp them down to glitter. Then I considered the agony of sitting atop a huge pile of leaves with the lawnmower stuck. No matter how I played it in my head the ending was not good so I nixed that idea. I left the gates open hoping the wind would blow the leaves right out into the front yard. I imagined I would run out with this horrified look on my face as the leaves blew into all of the neighbor's yards and pretend I was upset it happened. The reality is the stupid leaves were too wet to blow much of anywhere except back where they started.

I got one bag filled as I struggled to keep it from tipping over in the wind. When it was full and tied up I walked it out front to the garage. On my way back I was again showered with leaves as the wind increased and then I noticed the area where I had just been working was exactly as it was before I started this adventure. This seemed like the perfect time to Sam to come out and report that the neighbor's sandbag weighted basketball hoop just blew over. Since it was now a matter of my personal safety I trudged back around the deck and into the house. As I passed Sam I told him if he knew what was good for him he would not let that smile on his face turn into a laugh. He chose instead to point out that the leaves I had raked had already returned. I chose that moment to beat him with a rake before making a really stiff drink. That was the hardest 30 minutes of work I have done lately.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Winter Blues......

I desperately want to be outside in the sun with the warmth spreading from my head to my toes. It hasn't been a hard winter but when you don't enjoy the season it seems to take forever to pass. What I wouldn't give to be on a beach right now in a lounge chair watching the waves roll in with a nice drink in my hand. I will ignore the wind blowing sand in my face and the awful feeling of sand in every crevice of your body cause this is my damn fantasy.

We had an in-ground pool put in last summer. The contract was signed right before Memorial Day and the construction started June 19th. Our friends who had a similar pool built over the course of 5 months said there was no way we would swim in it that summer. We went into it with the hope that we WOULD but if we didn't then it would be ready to go this summer. Turns out we picked the perfect summer to build a pool. The weather was dry so no construction delays. There weren't a lot of pools being built so the contractors were lined up waiting every morning to start the next phase. The longest waits were only with the county for permits and inspections. We opened the pool on July 23rd. It was great payback for our doubting Tom friends who said we wouldn't swim that summer. We loved every minute in the pool even when the bill started showing up in the mail. It was worth it because we had something to do as a family and a way to entertain friends when we had them over. This was the end result and we couldn't have been happier with it.

Then the inevitable day came in early October when we had to close it up. They drained a ton of water out that we had only just put in it seemed. An ugly green tarp covers the tile and coping I agonized over choosing. It won't see daylight until late April when we will open it up to get it all cleaned up in time for our kids' birthday parties in May. Yet the funny thing is, the bills keep coming. We have to pay for something we can't use. It stinks. And to make matters worse, it looks so desolute out there. I don't even like going out on the deck and seeing all the dead leaves caught up against the fence and in the curve of the retaining wall. The flowers and bushes I so carefully picked out are dead and leaves are caught in them too. It is depressing to go out and see it like that.

Today I will don my work shoes and gloves while bundling up against the cold wind. I will go out with lawn and leaf bags and gather up all of those leaves which are ruining the sight of my little oasis in the back yard. It might do little to brighten the area up but it will do a lot for me. It will signal to the area that I haven't forgotten it and that weather permitting, we will be back soon. Just like the bills. Too bad they aren't dependent on the weather ; )

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Switching my political party......

I fancy myself quite the liberal voter. I want equality for ALL human beings and desperately want the war in Iraq over. I am passionate about the environment and am tuned into the smallest changes in weather that I perceive as the "beginning of the end". With that said, I walked out of the office today at lunchtime and it was 70 degrees on February 6th! I can't say I missed the sting of the cold or the slap of the bitter wind in my face. I am very tempted to go grab some aerosol cans and spray them right up in the air to keep this trend going. Who's with me?

Ok. In all seriousness I would never advocate contributing to global warming. But in the words of Jackson Stewart (Hannah Montana's TV brother for those not in the know ; ), "Why should I care if my kids will never see polar bears. I never got to see a dinosaur!!". Just kidding!!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

My Favorite Childhood Memory.....

Many thanks to my favoritest blogger in the blogosphere, Heather, for giving me a topic to sink my teeth into to get started blogging. She asked me to write about my favorite childhood memory so I went about trying to think of a truly good one while I cleaned the house this morning.

In order for someone else to understand why this is my favorite childhood memory, I have to give a bit of history. I'll try not to go into too much detail since my childhood is perfect fodder for future blogs but it won't make much sense without a little bit of background.

When I was 5 years old my parents divorced after a really tough 7 year marriage. My mother's parents never wanted her to marry my dad but she thought she was marrying for love and nothing her parents said could change her mind. They supported her decision but when things went sour quickly after they married, they wanted her out of the marriage. She stuck with it and had me first and then my brother a year and a half later. When I was 3 she had a stroke while driving and had an awful car accident which left her partially paralyzed on her right side and a hole in the roof of her mouth that never healed. Shortly after she recovered as much as she ever would from that accident, my parents split up. We lived with her for awhile in an apartment but were sent to stay with my mother's parents in Oregon. Through all of the turmoil we had been through in our short lives this home represented the first stable environment we had ever lived in. My grandmother was tough and didn't take any crap from you but we were good kids that didn't give it to them. My grandfather was the total opposite of my grandmother. He would sneak us off to the convenience store and buy us small bags of penny candy and Dunkin Donuts for a treat. He was always gentle and nurturing and loved us unconditionally. We loved it there because life was as it was supposed to be with the adults taking care of the kids without fighting and yelling. Shortly after we left for Oregon my dad died in a car accident. My mom joined us in Oregon after the funeral but she never got used to her overbearing mother telling her what to do and running everything when it came to my brother and I. When my grandfather (dad's dad) decided to leave California (where we lived prior to my dad dying) for Missouri, my mom gladly helped him move and decided to live there.

Looking back this probably wasn't the best move but it is what it is and we dealt with it. Of course now here we are thousands of miles from any family and in a totally different environment than anything we knew. The people meant well but there is a mentality that comes from living in a small town in the middle of the midwest that is unlike any other. I never fit in with any of the kids I went to school with and was viewed as an outsider even though I started school in third grade and graduated there. We made friends with an older neighbor couple who had 6 grown kids who came to visit often with their own large families. They accepted us into the mix and invited us for holidays and neighborhood parties but we knew we weren't one of them as much as they made us feel welcome.

We traveled back to Oregon to visit about once a year for Christmas and sometimes during summer break. My mother despised going out there because she didn't want her mother telling her what to do and what she was doing wrong in her life. But for my brother and I it was great. My grandmother had done up "our rooms" with wallpaper and curtains we liked and kept them like that for us. We felt like we belonged somewhere when we were there and loved the security. Until my mom's sister would show up with her 3 kids. Then we were under the magnifying glass that my aunt pulled out to go over us and nitpick all the things wrong with us. Since she hated my father so much I guess she was looking for any part of him in us. She and my mom were not close growing up and had an awful falling out when their grandmother died. They barely spoke to each other and when they did it made everyone uncomfortable. I didn't like my aunt but I tried so hard to please her. Nothing seemed to make her happy when it came to us so we felt like the black sheep yet again. After she would leave my grandfather would take us down to his workshop and let us ride bikes while he worked on some project. Some of my best memories with my grandfather are being in that workshop with the woodstove burning and my brother and I riding in circles on the big wheel or jumping on the pogo stick. Yet, this isn't my favorite childhood memory.

My favorite childhood memory involves my grandparents and my never satisfied aunt along with my mother. One year when I was about 9 or 10, we went to Oregon for Christmas. That year I badly wanted a handheld tape recorder because I just knew I was going to grow up and be a reporter or writer and what is a good reporter without a handheld tape recorder? My mom let me know that it wasn't happening from her since she was tapped and I was so disappointed. Until I got to Oregon and talked to my grandpa. I wanted that tape recorder so badly that I could taste it and I told him all about it. He thought it over and then took me to Radio Shack to pick it out. I was so thrilled and on top of the world until we got home. My grandmother scolded him for off-setting the delicate ratio of presents per child. There were 5 grandkids and she had gotten us equal amounts of presents and it wouldn't do to have me get one more than everyone else. I begged and said I wouldn't tell anyone and she said she would take one out of my pile to keep it even. To tell you the truth I don't think she did but it didn't matter. I had my treasured tape recorder with the miniature tapes and everything was good in my world.

Christmas night we were all laying around after opening presents and a huge family dinner when I pulled out my tape recorder. I guess I was feeling brave and I asked my aunt about my mom when she was little. Told her I wanted to catch some family stories on tape so I could write them down. For some reason she ran with it. She started telling stories in a very dramatic and funny way about how my mom had used her so many times to get out of trouble and all the pranks my mom pulled on her. She was a very animated storyteller and we all sat there enthralled with her stories and laughing so hard our stomachs ached the next morning. My mom stood off for awhile and didn't get involved but soon it proved too much for her and she started chiming in with "Well, she deserved it cause she always such a Pollyanna!". The cousins loved hearing about their mother when she wasn't such a stick in the mud and my brother and I loved hearing about our mother when she wasn't so burdened with what life had dealt her. Most of all my grandparents loved seeing their two daughters connect in a way that they hadn't been able to in years. For that one night we were finally a true family where everyone of us belonged. I will never forget that night as long as I live.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Blogging for Dummies

I really feel like a dummy when it comes to blogs. What keeps me coming back to blogs is their depth and their reliability. Is that even a word? If so, did I spell it right? All I know is that in order for me to come back, I have to feel a connection. I really don't care if it is spiritual, political, emotional, intellectual or sexual. As long as I feel we are on the same wavelength about something, I will come back. I will remember how I found the blog and will come back.

What eludes me in this "blog'o'sphere" is what in the hell inspires a blog. I guess I have been taking for granted these clever posts that pop up routinely on my favorite blogs without a single thought as to what it takes to create them. As I sit here and ponder what hilarious and awe-inspiring blogs *I* might come up with, I hit a solid road block. That block is simple. I am not a writer. Oh, I wanted to be one badly when I was young. I even had the symbol for journalism inscribed on my high school ring because I figured if I could envision it that it would happen. Funny thing is that 18 years later I sit here without a creative writing bone in my body. Actually if you give me a topic, I can BS with the best of them. In college I learned the art of talking up and around a topic so much that at the end, I was sick of hearing myself speak and told MYSELF to shut up. But if you sit me in front of a computer with absolutely nothing to work with, I will ramble for hours about how unfair it is that hair scrunchies are now so uncool. Why? What did the hair scrunchie ever do to anyone? It was a great alternative for those of us too uncoordinated to figure out the banana clip and now it has seen the undying wrath of whoever deems these things uncool.

With all of that blather said (told you I could go on and on about nothing), I really think they should teach a class about blogs. Blogging 101 sounds great. It could help people learn how to seek out their own styles and keep them from totally ripping off someone else's style. I don't know how but that is why I'm not in school administration. All I know is that I have always wanted to write but known I wasn't good enough. And that's ok. As long as I have others who so eloquiently grab my own thoughts and feelings and put them to paper. THAT is why I am an admitted blog addict!!

Ice, Ice Baby

I'm showing my age but when I hear there is an approaching ice storm I always bust out the lyrics to that long-forgotten song by wanna-be-rapper, Vanilla Ice. I remember thinking he was the coolest rapper in rap. He represented a way to bridge the gap between two cultures that had been deeply divided for so long and we clung to him in an effort to show we were cool, too. Boy, that blew up in our faces, huh? Regardless of those uneasy feelings I still break into that song when I hear that we have an ice storm heading our way. Call me corny (my kids sure do) but I still think about being 17 and finally understanding all the hype about rap, LOL!

So we are at home this morning while the schools were initially delayed and then closed. Dedicated me got up and worked out at 5am thinking I would have some time to myself after I finished. My son decided to go ahead and get up willingly at 7am though I usually have to drag him up. There goes my quiet time........ I have to e-mail work again and tell them I won't be late after all but working from home all day. Is it spring yet??