Thursday, December 9, 2010

Well Jingle My Balls . . .

Somehow, somewhere, I became too old for this shit…I'm being knocked into, being glared at for plugging my ears…my legs and feet hurt from standing for four-and-a-half hours…for three-and-a-quarter hours of those hours the music is not only mostly unrecognizable, but awful. I come home grouchy and exhausted, with my ears ringing and buzzing so much that I can't sleep. I have a headache and I'm sitting here now kicking myself because I keep forgetting I'm not 22 anymore, I'm 32, no wait, recently 33, and going to WNCI's Jingle Ball just isn't as much fun as it would have been 10, maybe 11 years ago.

But I didn't go to Jingle Ball 10 or 11 years ago, in fact, I've never gone before, ever. It ironically wasn't my kind of thing then, so even in my naivety, I don't know why I was a fool to think that this event would actually be entertaining to me now, rather than a mere occasion to provide all the twenty-somethings of Columbus, OH, with the opportunity to get drunk, mosh, and perhaps even hook-up with some unknown someone at the end of the evening.

The thing is, while 95% of the crowd was under 30, there were indeed people there my age, and even older. We saw a few in their forties and a handful more in their fifties, albeit some of them were sitting down in the back of the crowd, probably only there for the same reason Jon and I were, to see the headliner band, but there were more than a handful of the "older ones" who having a grand old time…which causes me to scratch my head and ask myself, am I really too old for this?

Well, age is indeed more than a number, its state of mind, and my state of mind says you are too old for this event when…

…Jesse McCartney is the MC, and is not someone you are familiar with, but the majority of the crowd is, and they go wild when he walks out on the stage as he flirts with all the girls in the front row, and brags about meeting some of them at the bar…and you are annoyed.

…you have no idea who the first two bands to play are, but there is a mosh pit going crazyfor them. They sing songs about long distance relationships and teenage heartbreak…and you are annoyed.

…you are excited to see Charice come on the stage because you have seen her on Oprah, but her leg is sprained from an accident that occurred while playing basketball and she is tired, so she only sings three songs, leaving an hour long break of party music to blast between acts…and you are annoyed.

…you are excited to finally see Michael Posner come on stage because you think his song "Cooler than Me" is, well…cool, but he sings a bunch of songs that you not only don't know, but think rather suck, and then when he finally gets to his one-hit-wonder you've been waiting for, you begin to think the "Cooler than Me" guy is not so cool after all as he peels off his shirt, beats his chest, and has the audience do most of the singing, ruining the only decent song he's "sung"…and you are wishing he'd put his ego away…and you are EXTREMELY annoyed.

…by the time Train, the band you have really been waiting for, comes trucking in, the under 25 crowd, minus those under 15 who have come to hear "Soul Sister" not even knowing who the Mister Mister is, have mostly left and you are standing there exhausted wishing you would have come three-and-a-half hours late…and you are exceptionally annoyed that you haven't.

In the end, while Train did a lovely job, and we enjoyed every moment of their performance, Jon and I decided we would have much rather have been at a quiet coffee shop doing a crossword most of the evening than standing in that portal of puberty and pestilence. I may be 32, no wait, 33, but at this Standing Room Only concert, I felt more like 50. So, you can Jingle My Balls . . . but call them saggy, because I've become an old fuddy duddy and it is highly unlikely we'll be attending this Jingle Ball event ever again.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Double Your Potter

(WARNING: SPOILERS INCLUDED)

I've spent much of my time (the little free time I've had that is) over the last few months with my nose in random fiction, particularly in that of Potterland in preparation for the day that finally arrived over a week ago . . . the highly anticipated Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1 (otherwise known as HPDH1) finally made it's to a theater near you, and near me too.

Despite my desire to see long awaited seventh Potter flick at midnight with all my fellow HP devoted fans, the hubby and I settled for a 7:15pm showing on the day it opened, and I managed to impatiently pass the time by declaring my favorite quotes from the book on my facebook and twitter pages.

When we arrived 45 minutes before the movie began, tickets purchased several days in advance, we unfortunately were part of the last handful of people to arrive for our show time (due only to time constraints with babysitting arrangements), and subsequently were stuck with not so great seats in a dinner movie theatre with waiters that made a better door than window . . . . Nonetheless, the time had come, and I was super excited to see the film I have been waiting to watch since introduced to the books and movies in summer of 2009.

Upon leaving the theatre though, much of my excitement had abated and I felt quite confused and bewildered and decided that if I could sum up HPDH1 in one word it would be…rushed.

It's amazing to me the amount of detail that JK Rowling was able to convey with her writing if they could split the books into two movies, leave out the content they did, and still have to rush through the scenes the writer and director chose to include. I often found myself saying, "What just happened?" and feeling sorry for the ones who never read the books, because this movie would have been very hard to follow w/o having knowledge of the novel(s) to support the story at hand . . . for if you chose to skip the written word of HP you may be asking yourself the following questions: Where did Harry get that mirror and what the hell does it do? Who on earth is that Bill guy and how did he hook up with Fleur? When the hell did Ron start having the hots for Hermione? When the hell did Harry start having the hots for Hermione (which is not in the book, just so you know)? But I digress . . . .

After the first viewing of the flick I was prepared to pick apart all the things I found wrong with it, particularly the sins involving Ron and Hermione (otherwise known at R/Hr), since they and their relationship are my favorite part of this epic tale. I planned to go on about how Ron has been given the shaft and misrepresented, and as such the R/Hr story was not properly developed, making Ron's sudden love and devotion toward Hermione quite surprising and even out of place. I was going to rant and rave about Harry and Hermione (H/Hr) getting to dance and give longing looks at one another, allowing many to misunderstand the true nature of their completely platonic relationship in the book, while R/Hr's book written dance never made it to the big screen . . . Alas, I got the see the movie again before I had the chance to type it up, and have since improved my opinion of this now on-screen story.

Putting R/Hr aside, next to Sorcerer's Stone (SS) and Chamber of Secrets (CoS), HPDH1 is the closest book to screen adaption of this seven story series, and splitting it into two movies was the right thing to do, in my humble opinion (imho) anyway. Despite many of my favorite moments from this popular fiction not making it to the movie, it overall stayed true to Rowling's tale, and more importantly, finally gave Ron his storyline back and the veneration he deserved, but hasn't been getting since PoA, and maybe even before that.

If you've been keeping up with my blog, you know that Rupert Grint (Ron) is my favorite actor, so I am probably a bit biased in saying that he really brought it to this film . . . . happy, frustrated, angry, and in love . . . . his face, his voice, his body language conveyed it all. Mr. RG, you are amazing. Emma Watson (Hermione), whose acting hasn't impressed me since CoS, stunned me with her range of emotion in this film, only disappointing me in her reaction to Ron's return – she could have been far more ballistic and banshee like – imho. Dan Radcliffe, the hard working soul he is, has never awed me with his acting ability. As in all the other HP movies, he lacks feeling and remains nearly expressionless throughout the film. However, his best HP acting achievement to date is the scene of the seven Potters in HPDH1. He did a great job convincingly playing the Potter polyjuiced friends. If you are a Harry/Dan fan, that scene alone may be enough reason to buy your $10 ticket to see this motion picture now showing near you, and near me too.

All this being said, I'm not a film critic, and never proclaimed to be one, so if you are looking for a professional review, you're in the wrong place . . . and if you are inclined to argue about cinematic this, and adaption that, I want to remind you that I'm simply a citizen of society that happens to be a book purist, who is just sharing her opinions of the movie that was made out of her favorite book, EVER, and whose only hope since reading HPDH was that this notable narrative was given the proper respect . . . and for the most part it has been, if you consider them having to work with the sins of the past Potter screen plays.

In sum, I recommend you "Double Your Potter," because if you leave scratching your head and focusing on the negative after seeing it once, you will leave loving it after seeing it twice, imho anyway. :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine

Is your world dark and rank? Do you feel as though you are bathing in an abyss of excrement? Do you find yourself surrounded by shit and want to rid yourself of the reek in your life? If so, here are some hints to help wash away the rancidness wrapped around you:

Start by considering what is causing the crap to compile in your personal space? To find the answer you must first search through the brown fog and locate your head.

Upon finding it you will surely make the keen observation that your think tank has not been resting atop your shoulders as you once thought, rather, has unequivocally been thrust up your ass. This dim prospect may be difficult for you to accept, but you must do so before moving onto the next step.

Once you are ready, you must voluntarily pull your noggin out from between your buttocks, regardless of how long it may have been there. I know this will be hard to do, as you have lived with your head stuck in your hind-end for so long, but it is an essential part of the process. If you believe it is too trying to do on your own, find some friends within reach willing to help. They will be the ones who stuck around while your head was stuck in your lower most orifice.

Upon your primary attempts to free yourself, there will no doubt be some resistance, as your anal retentive instinct is to keep you brain firmly in its place – it is now comfortable in the home you have created for it. However, I'm sure you will find that after a bit of buoyancy, a tad of tugging, and perhaps the aid of an amigo, your skull will soon easily slide out your backside and resume its position on top of your shoulders where you can clearly see what is going on around you.

If you should succeed in returning your head to its original home, take a deep breath and make some observations. Has the odor changed? Does the world look brighter? You might detect the faint aroma of roses and see something called sunshine . . . .

Don't be alarmed if you feel awfully overwhelmed. The ability to change your outlook on life is something you haven't been acquainted with for quite some time. It will no doubt take some getting used to, but eventually you will begin to enjoy the light of day and take pleasure in the smell of sweet things around you, and perchance even prefer it to the pungency of your pooing porthole.

If the time should come when you again feel as if your life is headed to the shitter, you will predictably try to disrupt the flow of life and poo as you have done in the past. Resist this at all costs. However, if you end up experiencing an encore of your excrement, unable to see the luminosity in your life, repeat the steps above and remember, when engrossed in pessimism and unable to put things in proper perspective, that the sun doesn't shine out of your ass. Shoving your head up there further is not going to make your day any sunnier, and if you don't make every effort to put it back where it belongs, will find yourself festering in your feces and drowning in your own dung.

Good luck to you on your journey out of your ass. May you behold the beauty that exists outside of it . . . .

Side effects of following these helpful hints: You may no longer have stomach upset, bloating and/or constipation. Your head will probably stop aching and a sense of calm may overtake you. There is a chance you will sleep well and want to get out of bed in the morning, and possibly even experience happiness and joy. If you have any questions about these changes in your life, and a friend is unable to talk you through them, call a respectable therapist that is able to explain these new sensations to you.

I dedicate this to those like myself, who spent much of their lives sulking about their supposed sad state of affairs, refusing to revel in the redolence of the roses. This serves to remind me that "sunny days sweeping the clouds away" do indeed exist, and that I have the ability to enjoy them if I just remember to look up.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

“My Hell Is the Closet I’m Stuck Inside” . . . Still

This closet is my brain; it puts up steel traps and won't let me out.

I've never been out west, west of Chicago that is. You know why? Part of it has been lack of opportunity and funds, but mainly it's been because of my fear to fly.

I've taken six flights in my life – three dreaded flights to get to France and three even more dreaded flights to get home – all of them within 10 days of each other, all of them with fellow classmates of mine in the French club.

One month after the aforementioned trip, on July 17th, 1996, TWA Flight 800 crashed. I stayed up all night watching the coverage. Sixteen students from a Pennsylvania high school French club were on that plane. All of them were to tour with the same company my French club toured with – all of them died in the crash instead.

I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that if that crash had happened a month before my scheduled trip, I never would have gone to France from fear of the same fate. I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that if my trip had been scheduled for a month later, I probably wouldn't be around to think about whether or not I would have gone to France.

At 18 years old I was frightened to death of death. At 23 years old 9/11 happened and those fears deepened.

I'm afraid of heights; I'm afraid of flying. I'm pretty sure in a past life I died from some kind of fall or plane crash, because no amount of logic, rhyme, reason, or rationalization will allow me to believe that planes are safer than cars, even though they are and we all know it.

But at some point I was able to move beyond TWA Flight 800 and 9/11, I got older, and my fears started to dwindle. I dreamed of traveling the world and considered flying again to get to where I wanted to go. My brain was rational . . . if only for a brief moment.

I managed to screw it all up.

A few months ago I started watching a little show called "Ghost Hunters", which led to watching another show called "Ghost Adventures". Both investigate the afterlife of souls trapped here on earth, souls that didn't move onto a better place, souls living the virtual hell of the closet they are stuck inside.

The fear of death consumes me again, but for different reasons this time. The death I once feared was not being able to see my loved ones again. The death I now fear is being stuck here to watch loved ones move on while I can't.

So I'm afraid to fly again, just when I was getting the itch to spread my wings.

I need to stop watching those effing ghost shows!

Yes, I'm unequivocally aware that I'm insane, no need to remind me. I write this for therapeutic reasons, and FUCK I need therapy, lots of it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

“My Hell Is the Closet I’m Stuck Inside”

I'm at an impasse. The lyrics from that one Dave Matthews song keep rolling through my head, "So much to say, so much to say, so much to say, so much to say . . . ," yet somehow I cannot find the words to say it.

Do I talk about the Gatlinburg trip I took a month ago? A trip which at this point has left me bereft of any statements of substance.

Do I express my thoughts on a Mosque that many find misplaced? Do I really want to piss off at least half my minute audience?

Do I talk about my impending personalized autographed photo of Rupert Grint and go on and on about my ardent infatuation . . . again?

Then there is this week's big event - Aidan starts school full-time. At this I realize I'm long overdue for my ode to Aidan that I promised so many months ago.

I've started blogs involving my fickleness about my features, raving rants, my obsession with Oprah, building bridges between us, and quirky questionnaires. All of them incomplete.

"So much to say, so much to say, so much to say, so much to say . . . ," and so many things left unsaid.

"'Cos here we have been standing for a long long time; can't see the light. Treading trodden trails for a long long time . . . . I sometimes find it easy to be myself. Sometimes I find it's better to be somebody else."

You know, I used to just like Dave Matthews for the groovy music. Through their lyrics I find something much deeper . . . now I appreciate them.

More to come . . . eventually. What's to come - I don't know, but stay tuned and we'll both find out.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

To Have or Not to Have

"It's so hard to love; there's so much to hate – hanging onto hope when there is no hope to speak of, and the wounded skies above say it's much too late, so maybe we should all be Praying for Time."

The "Praying for time" I did on occasion in my youth was never in the context of that in the quote above, in fact, except for when I was behind on my homework, I didn't really pray for time much at all. I was far more apt to pray for things.

I somehow got the notion that I was poor in my younger years . . . . Growing up in a farm town, living in a mobile home, never going on vacation, not usually being able to make purchases at the mall, I always thought I was one of the have-nots. I was depressed when my friends would begin to leave for their summer travels. I would sulk because I couldn't have the latest pair of Guess jeans or K-Swiss shoes and would drool outside the window displays of Express and Gap, considering it a really good shopping day when I could buy something from the clearance rack. Life was "tough" for this teenager and I was going to do everything in my power to make sure my kids didn't "suffer" the same simple life I did.

So you can imagine my excitement when my husband came home last week with the news of being offered a new job – it meant many more opportunities for our family and no more worries about a company take-over at his soon to be former place of employment. We started talking about how we could now go see Wicked for our upcoming 10th wedding anniversary (barring it being sold out). We salivated over what posh restaurant we could eat at to celebrate this new endeavor. We even discussed using the extra money to travel more and perhaps finally remodel our bedroom . . . .

A few hours later reality sank in and we began to feel quite guilty and ashamed of our exuberance over our good fortune.

Jump back to two days before when I received an email from my pastor announcing that Lutheran Social Services, otherwise known as LSS, was interviewed for the July 25th episode of Dateline NBC, and there was a chance the interview would survive the chopping block and be included in the show. I set my DVR to record the Sunday episode and sat down that Monday night to watch it. Unfortunately LSS was not specifically mentioned, but I'm glad I tuned in anyway, because I needed to hear what Dateline had to say.

The episode, titled America Now: Friends and Neighbors, was about poverty in Appalachia Ohio, poverty very unlike my experience growing up . . . stories of families working hard long hours, yet not having enough money to eat, some not even having enough to put an ample roof over their heads:

One woman was working a fulltime nightshift at a bakery to support her two kids and husband (who has been unable to find work for over a year), only so that they could live in a camper without electricity or running water. They have to walk to the neighbor's mobile home to shower.

One man, an air force veteran, used to be a well-paid crane operator for a company that laid him and five thousand others off about 25 years ago. This was the first of 10 companies he worked for that went under. He has two children who live with him in a tumbling down house lent to him by a friend. It has no heat, so in the winter this man sleeps in short stints in his basement spends the rest of his night stoking the fire in the wood burner to keep his boys warm. He is so distraught over his situation that, thanks to supplemental security income, he thought he would be "worth more" to his children dead than alive.

According to businessinsider.com in an article they published in July of this year, "Half of America owns 2.5% of this country's wealth. The top 1% own a third of it." The New York Times also noted in an article they published in March of 2007 that ". . . the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980."

The vicious cycle of these statistics will likely continue – there's no money to go to school to get a better job, and no job providing the money for the next generation to get a better education . . . . The gap between the rich and the poor will grow wider, and perhaps soon there will be no middle ground left in sight.

So when I'm sitting on my comfortable couch watching my amazing flat-screen TV (with cable to boot) in my heated or air-conditioned home (weather respective), I feel both grateful and guilty – grateful to be blessed with all the luxuries in my life, and guilty that I have them while so many others truly suffer.

When I reflect on my childhood now, instead of seeing myself as poor, I see myself as incredibly ungrateful little midget. I had a roof over my head, food on the table, enough properly fitting clothes (brand name or not) to get me through a week or two before the laundry was done for me. I had a mom who managed to provide me with dance lessons, a flute to play in the band, and the required supplies and money to be a part of the majorette squad. I may not have had as much as my friends, but I had a lot, a hell of a lot more than I could ever comprehend.

After watching this episode of Dateline and taking some time to reflect on our lives, Jon and I decided that we were going to stop viewing "charity as a coat you wear twice a year" and stop "living hand to hand with legitimate excuses". The unwanted things in our shed waiting to be tagged for a garage sale are now in the process of being donated to those who need them, those who will probably appreciate the used items so much more than we ever did when we bought them new.

"This is the year of the guilty man. Your television takes a stand, and you find that what was over there is over here."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The ED of Peculiar Pickiness

I'm going to start by pretending you all don't know this already and state something obvious - I'm a bit of an odd duck. Despite my denial and abnormal attempts to fit in the mold of those around me, I've never even been "next to normal", a facet about myself I started to deny from an early age. Had I accepted the fact that I'm just not the popular kind and embraced those more like me, I might have sidestepped the critical cruelty of my peers in my teenage years and actually accumulated some decent memories to share with my kids one day. Sadly, what I'm left with are stories which would force my fingers to tap and type for hours on end, producing pages upon pages of therapy to assist in alleviating the tempestuous unease of my adolescent angst barraged with bullying and banter . . . but I won't succumb to that measure of stress relief, not today anyway. Instead I choose to spare you, my fellow readers, if only for a moment and save the seething for another day . . . .

So, I will sidetrack by saying that my severed seams from long ago are pretty much sutured up, and for now I choose to ignore that fact that they fray every once in awhile - today I am, for the most part, a woman who has accepted that being not near normal is not only absolutely adequate, but somehow flawlessly fantastic. I have countless crazy quirks, many of which I have covered in some of my bellowing blog posts, particularly in Webwork of a Wacky Woman
where I ink out many of my idiosyncrasies (feel free to return there and review if you like), and among the myriad of my mental mannerisms I list in said post, there is one I would like to discuss in greater detail today . . . . My freakish foodisms for which I have already admitted are as follows:

Texture is huge. I like tomato sauce and ketchup, but not tomatoes. I like grape jelly, but not grapes. I pass on foods with rubbery skin and mushy insides

I like peanut butter, but not peanuts.

I don't like strawberries or coffee.

I was asked a question [in a survey] about my favorite salad dressing; my answer was, "Light Italian, on a shredded carrot salad. . . . I'm not a fan of lettuce folks, so give me a bed of shredded carrots and I'll put all the salad toppings on it."

Alas, that is only where the list begins. This too is a topic that my finger tips could type endlessly about, producing yet again pages and pages of peculiar pickiness that you would rather pass on perusing. However, I cannot breach this topic w/o giving you a bigger picture of my battle with my taste buds, so I will somehow summarize what needs to be said and hopefully reach my point (if there even is one) sooner rather than later.

I hate cilantro; in fact to me it tastes like soap.

I don't eat Mexican, Indian, or most other ethnic foods that are not American or Western European.

Peas make me want to vomit, and I hate most vegetables in general, even fear them, because they inevitably show up on my plate at most restaurants and dinner parties.

Beer and dry wine are bitter and I will never get drunk off them. Sangria please!

I love eggs, but never sunny side up . . . runny, snotty yuckiness!

So yes, in case you haven't cracked this code already, I will again state something obvious – I am a picky eater.

Coincidentally, upon perusing the tweets of the 24 I follow, I happened across this "scientific" statement a couple of weeks ago: "Picky eating in adults may soon be classified as a specific eating disorder
http://on.wsj.com/cmazc3".

Upon seeing this proclamation and clicking the link to the article, I believe it's accurate to say that "WTF" was the first thing that came to my mind. Surely this cannot be correct – my taste buds don't like things, so I must have a psychological disorder, an eating disorder in fact, worthy of being mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders? The DSM, a manual in which I examined more than once in my four years of studying psychology at Capital University, is also a manual that once classified homosexuality as a psychological disorder . . . just sayin' . . . again pages and pages, but moving forward . . . .

I've tried foods I don't like over and over again, and the result is the same, I still don't like them. I have built a better tolerance for foods I don't care for over time, but eating such items is in no way an enjoyable experience. I force such foods down for two occasions, when invited to someone's house for dinner, and when attempting to persuade my children to try such fare, but in any other case peculiar pickiness overrules and I say "pass please".

I cannot deny there are indeed some issues mentioned in this article for which I relate – dinner parties do undeniably make nervous (though not so much I won't attend), the range of foods that I eat (which extend far beyond 10 or 15 choices, btw) is no doubt limited, and I think it's fair to say I have some OCD tendencies – but I couldn't disagree more with the conclusion that has been drawn. Beyond potentially loosing vital nutrients (which is why I take supplements), being particular about food isn't a major issue in my opinion, avoiding social situations because of said issues is, and I am rarely one to turn down any social situation, food fears or not.

One of those who commented said it with the same sarcastic eloquence I wish I would have expressed myself:

I'm so glad that this country is still properous [sic] enough to develop more new "disorders" at a seemingly increasing rate. If you dont [sic] like it, don't eat it.

Next disorder please.

Americans, in general, don't seem to share the passion for soccer that the rest of the world has. I suppose we should look into this disorder of our national psyche next . . . .
(Tom Crozier, comment post #21)

There is a difference between being not quite "normal" and not being able to cope with that abnormality, which seems to be the case for many of those discussed in the article. For example, I have Crohn's Disease, I'm left-handed, and I've been told by my doctor that I get tendonitis frequently because my legs are "anatomically incorrect", but you don't see me being committed to therapy or a psyche ward for said "abnormalities" (or for any of my many unmentioned others for that matter). I've learned how to deal with them and move forward. I've used this quote before, and I will use it again: "Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference" –Virginia Satir.

So I say to those wasting so much money studying such things to stop. Treat for anxiety or OCD those who suffer if you must, but leave a potential ED of Peculiar Pickiness out of it, because I embrace this as part of who I am, and I'm okay with that.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

“My Vagabond Shoes Were Longing to Stray”

"Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood. Hop a flight to Miami Beach, or to Hollywood." But I took a car ride across PA's north side, and entered a new "state of mind".

I climbed the stairs and walked into a ". . . concrete jungle where dreams are made of [and] there's nothing you can't do; these streets [made me] feel brand new".

I woke up in "the city that never sleeps", and found that "my little town blues [were] melting away . . . ."

After eight years of absence from this majestic and marvelous mind-blowing metropolis, it was three weeks ago on my third trip to this upbeat urban utopia that I was quickly reminded of how so many locals wished to die by vehicular impact, how nearly no one on the streets spoke English, and how uncannily uncouth it was to be polite.

I doubt there is anywhere else in the world where I would be willing to walk a mile across a bridge and stand in line 75 min waiting for a pizza at a parlor where I'm obligated to sit by perfect strangers – strangers I thought I would never see again . . . until I saw one of them do a stand-up routine following a surprise appearance from Marlon Wayans at a hole in the ground club called the "Comedy Cellar".

I have never been to another city where I have had the pleasure of devouring a "Salty Pimp" ice cream cone from a "Big Gay Ice Cream Truck", encountering a stiff as steel naked man standing in the streets, and seeing a dress made of condoms in a "Museum of Sex" all in one day.

It was in this very place that . . . .

I watched the limos drive by and saw celebrities walk the red carpet.

I met up with an old friend and made a new one.

I sauntered by some shops in China and turned the corner to stroll by some restaurants in Italy.

I ogled a $600 purse in the window of one boutique and purchased the $6 earrings from the one next door.

I watched "Next to Normal" in a setting that is anything but.

I took a walk in a park you don't dare tread in the dark.

They say, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere."

"Hear it for New York, New York . . . ."














Lyrics in orange are written and performed by Billy Joel in "New York State of Mind".

Lyrics in blue are written and performed by Alisha Keyes in "Empire State of Mind (part II)".

Lyrics in purple are most popularly performed by Frank Sinatra in "New York, New York".



Monday, June 7, 2010

What Is up with Amber?

“What is not up with Amber?” should be the question. I’ve been having one of those whole “life interrupted” experiences filled with non-stop streams of sour news and chaotic crap that continues to happen, leaving the well of my writing resourcefulness rather dry, in turn leading to my noticeable absence from my blogging abode and making me wonder if this drought of mine has lead to a whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” effect, as a few friends have been moved to remind me of said absence and offhandedly mention that more frequent bloggage would be nice – would be nice to have for some summer [break] reading material that is . . . .

So at this point my mind jumps a bit – perhaps it’s a lack of self-esteem on my part, or perhaps even the opposite, an overdriven ego which has made me misunderstand my friends’ insinuations, but I find it very odd that I am relied upon as the source of anyone’s summer entertainment, for I am sure there far more entertaining reads (with far shorter sentences) at one’s local library than I can ever ink out: The Woman Who Walked into Doors and its somewhat superior sequel Paula Spencer, both written by Irish author Roddy Doyle, being two perfect examples . . . , just sayin’. *smiles coyly*

Nonetheless, a request has been made (I think), and I certainly do not want to let the very small handful of those who have been steadfast readers of my scribed spewing down and out, which leaves me to beg the question: What do I do when life throws me dried up lemons with no writing wit in sight . . . ?

I post a recipe for CITRUS SUGAR COOKIES, and give the requesters something to do during this turbulent time of mine, hoping they will still be around when I make my return to regularly written essays.

May you be able calm your cravings with something for your palate while I calm the chaotic currents of my currently crazy life . . . . Happy baking!

CITRUS SUGAR COOKIES (recipe adapted by moi from http://www.marthastewart.com/)

Makes about 30 large cookies

* indicates to check note at base of recipe

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
*2 tablespoons finely chopped candied orange peel (optional, but don’t use orange zest if using candied peel)
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one lime
Zest of one orange
*1/8 tsp lemon or lime oil
*1/4 tsp orange oil
Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper; set aside. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and the granulated and brown sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Mix in candied orange peel, the zests, and the oils. Reduce mixer speed to low, and slowly add dry ingredients. Beat until fully combined and dough begins to form around paddle.

3. Use a *2-inch ice-cream scoop to drop cookies onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Flatten cookies with palm of hand. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush tops with water. Sprinkle with more sanding sugar. Transfer to oven, and bake until just set and beginning to turn golden at edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

*Candied orange peel can sometimes be found in stores around the holidays, but there are recipes on the internet to make your own.

*The citrus oils can be found at most stores with candy making supplies. For example, in Columbus they can be found at Drug Mart and Hobby Lobby.

*Feel free to make the cookies as large as called for in the recipe, but they are just as I said, large. I usually make them with a traditional cookie scoop and begin to check them after about 6 min. Always check your baked goods early until you know best how they will bake in your oven.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why Did the Elephant S**t on My Week?

Weak, disoriented, and hardly able to stand, my pulse begins to race and sucking in air has become a chore rather than part of the natural rhythm of life. The room begins to spin and my stomach lurches, and it's everything I can do to keep my dinner where it belongs.

Just when you think things are going great, the forbidden French foible happens. Some may say it hits the fan, but for me it comes from an elephant's ass, leaving copious piles of poo in my path.

It was about this time two years ago that I found myself making my first official "blog" post, otherwise known as a "note" on facebook. It was entitled A Week Worth Writing about, and it was indeed a week worthy of expression through written word. I could never forget those seven days filled with stories I had told my friends, stories inevitably to be told to my children and grandchildren some day. It was a week of D's; a downward detour of disaster that involved a dishwasher in flames, a drainpipe that wouldn't drain, and a dog untrained, which respectively resulted in a dish stack in the sink, a newly refinished basement becoming a lake, and an forbidden bite out of a four tier wedding cake. It was one of those weeks where one might indulge in a stiff drink to drive away the angst at the end of it all. Alas, that was not the way I rolled back then, so my liquor was left untouched.

I find that while a lot of things have changed since then, so many things have also remained the same, and two years later I find myself with another "week worth writing about".

After Emie's birthday bonanza a couple of weeks ago, Jon and I were invited to attend an adult birthday bash of an old buddy of ours. My perception of taxing times was poor, and after what I thought was a somewhat strenuous week, I deemed a stiff drink (okay three) necessary to smooth over the serrated edges and celebrate another year of life, forgetting it had been a day of inadvertent dehydration. Only two screwdrivers and a Mike's Hard Lemonade later did the tough times actually present themselves, and the aforementioned elephant took its first of many dumps on my series of seven days.

At 32 years of age, I finally faced what so many experienced after many more than three drinks, and at an age half that of mine - the first hangover that had hung over my head for so long finally happened . . . . I imagined many would not suppose that was such a bad thing, as a hangover has happened to the best of most. However, while Emie's precious party was the day of my lightweight drunk fest, her actual birthday was the day of dreary drunken regret. Having had many more liquor lavishes in one evening in the past, I never dreamed that three of them would fling me full force into an abysmal after affect. I spent much of the morning praying to the porcelain gods and crying like a crazy woman for the horrible mommy I felt I was in that moment. Sitting in a chair unable to move while my daughter opened her remaining presents was not how I envisioned spending Emie's birthday. Putting on my best happy face, I began to be thankful for Emie only turning three . . . she was none the wiser to my state of suffering, and had she been a bit older she would have assuredly understood the circumstance at hand.

So as each birthday passes in a child's life, subsequently do annual well check-ups . . . Emie's pediatric appointment of 2010 is one I may never forget. Not only, as many of you may already know, am I handed a book called The Difficult Child, but I am informed, after assessing Emie's gait and reflexes, that she may have a condition called Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome. The panic does not set in initially, as the doctor does not fully explain what this means for my adorable daughter if she continues to live with this condition, but after Googling it I feel like vomiting once more. TSCS is when the spinal cord is fused to at least one part of the spinal column, and is a condition that can eventually interfere with Emie's ability to walk and appropriately relief herself on the potty, a condition that can be cured, but only by surgery on the spine. I try not to think about it much, as no official diagnosis has been made yet. A diagnosis can only come by way of a very expensive and very invasive MRI. Since the condition deteriorates only with growth, we have a bit of a window to watch for possible improvement . . . three months of waiting before we know more.

I am blessed with two days of calm before the storm erupts again – one of my mom's best friend passes away, Jon and I's Goddaughter is taken to the hospital, and I get a bad burn on the palm of my left hand, and all in the course of one afternoon. The barrage of bad news begins to be too much to manage, and I think about a glass of wine to wipe away the worries for awhile. But the nausea returns as I remember the recent morning of mourning over the misguided decision to drink my misconceived woes away, and just like two years ago, I choose not to roll like that and stay stunningly sober.

So what I am grateful for in this week of wretchedness that my room spinning, heart-racing, short of breath experience which I described above did not occur as it has so many times before. For all it is worth, not having one of my many migraines (which I usually get weekly) is the only redemptive thing about my story of seven days. And much like Emie had no punch line for "Why did the elephant poop on the ground," nor do I have one for "Why did the Elephant Shit on My Week," other than *it* happens sometimes, and so goes the ebb and flow of life and poo.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Why Did the Elephant Poop on the Ground?

The anticipation of the birth of my first daughter, my second baby, was great after a long, difficult, and somewhat high-risk pregnancy. First being on prednisone, then dealing with anemia after weaning off the atrocious steroid, those nine months of my swelling belly seemed to last an eternity. But when the day finally came and they placed my calm and content little one on my lap after a fairly easy induced labor, I fell in love. She laid there quietly sucking her hands and I looked at Jon and said something along the lines of, "I think I want to do this again." After having Aidan I wasn't sure that I would want more than one child, so I found it fascinating that after giving birth to Emie I was thinking about having three. Had I known that three years after at my second child's birth I would be handed a book called The Difficult Child at her annual well check-up, the thoughts of having a third child would have never entered my mind.

Who would have thought that this peaceful beautiful baby face . . .










. . . would have become this spunky monkey . . . .










So having just celebrated her third birthday, I thought the time had finally come to give you an overdue introduction to my daughter Emerson, a free spirited fire-cracker full of obstinate opinions.

The first two weeks of her life were quite calm and collected. Emie was a baby who ate and slept well. Our Eden like existence was short lived though; it took an emergency exit out the back door as Emie presented us with her pistol like personality. The incessant crying and late nights (some with no sleep) began and thoughts of another child quickly flew out the window. While much of the reason for her crying was due to a really bad case of acid reflux, I am now almost certain that at least some of that crying was in part Emie exhibiting the drama, willfulness, and sheer determination she demonstrates so freely today.

This adoring daughter of mine will do anything to be the center of attention. A fine example of this occurred only a few weeks ago while shopping at my local grocery. You see, my son had been telling a lot of "Why does a chicken cross the road" jokes, and my daughter had been using the rhythm of the joke to ask other questions. In her best jokester fashion on this day at the store she asked very loudly, "Why did the elephant poop on the ground?" I couldn't help but laugh out loud before asking her why indeed did the elephant poop on the ground. Her answer was her own laughter with no punch line in sight. I then proceeded to ask her where she heard the joke; she simply replied, "I made it up all by myself." At this I chose to keep my thoughts in my head, which was nodding side to side with a smile . . . Dear Lord Emie, you are obnoxious!

Her obnoxious nature has reached such a pinnacle of precociousness that it moved me to recently type the following two status updates on facebook:

"[I have] told Emie that for all the drama she creates, she best put it to good use someday and then walk me down the red carpet with her."

AND

"[I feel] like I'm in a movie filled with drama, angst and war. Emie is the star whose main goal in life is to waste every single second of the supporting actress's (that would be me) time and eventually drive her insane."

I mean, this is a girl who on a day I let her choose whatever she wants to wear, insists on arguing with me about whether her underwear goes on the outside or inside of her clothes, and upon asking her another day why she chooses to argue with me so much, she answers by belching in my face and laughing. So you can imagine that as her third birthday approaches, preparing for her party is a production like no other (thus yet another bit of a break from my blogging, sorry). She has opinions on what her cake should look like, what characters would support the theme, where she wants the party to be, and so on and so forth, and all at just less than three years of age. Despite her original wishes for a Spiderman party, we somehow (and gratefully) end up with Abby Cadabby's face gracing the cake I work on for so many hours. In the midst of the cake making process I hear more than once "I want my cake now!!!!" To which my reply finally is, "Then perhaps I'll throw this one in the trash." Silence is golden; mommy wins this battle . . . . So when the cake is finally completed, excitement ensues. Upon viewing it she looks up at me, smiles, and says with ardent enthusiasm, "Oh mommy, I love it so much! You did such a good job! Go mommy go, [insert claps] go mommy go!" and then squeezes my arm and says "Mommy I love you so much," and much like the day she is born and placed on my lap, my heart melts once more.

Emie is a girl much like my adult self, so it is inevitable that route of our relationship is going to be one of a collision course, but every crash is worth it for those heart-melting "I love you so much" moments. Her spunk and dogged determination is something I never had as a child, and in fact I was much more like my sweet and shy one, Aidan (who I will pay homage to soon enough). If she is like I am now at three years of age, I can only imagine the strong independent woman she can become by age 32. I have many dreams for her, however, whatever my dreams, they mean nothing next to what she can dream for herself, and I imagine the fearless fireball that is Emie is going to dream big and do whatever it takes to make said dreams come true (and perhaps even come up with a punch line for her now regularly repeated elephant joke, lol). So keep your eyes peeled, because just like any admiring mother, I believe there is a good chance Emerson is going to do something larger than life one day, and when she does, you can bet your ass I'll be shouting from the roof tops and boasting of her brilliance.

To my endearing Emie, always know that Mommy loves you so much too!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Diamond in the Rough

Sleeping soundly, dreaming peacefully, all is right in the world . . . until the blaring begins in my ears and makes me forget my pleasant dream. Ugh, I reach my hand over my head in an attempt shut off the alarm. I slam on the snooze, but to no avail, the pounding at my peace is not my everyday alarm which usually wakes me around 8, but is my ringing phone for which is now unexpectedly interrupting my slumber at 7:30. It takes a moment, but then I remember that it's Monday. Before I even look at the phone I know who is calling; I pretty much know what is going to be said before I even answer it.

I push the button and do my best to make it seem as though I have been awake for awhile. Even though I already know I'm going to have to call Jon in five minutes and sweetly ask him to come home for a bit to take our son to school, I let my friend explain his situation, that his oldest of two daughters is sick, and unless I want to risk my own daughter becoming ill, he is not be able to take my Emie to school on this "Manic Monday". The quiet morning I have planned to have at home has just been cancelled.

I sucked up the sleepiness, did what I needed to do, and tried to ignore the fact that I really could have used that extra 30 minutes of sleep. I also tried to ignore the fact that I missed a lot of time with my family the day before to run the errands, errands I could have been running while my daughter was a school had I known I would not be able to take advantage of my abode. Frustrated with the turn of events, knowing that driving back home and returning to pick up my daughter and her friend (my aforementioned friend's youngest daughter who was in tow) was going to waste an hour of my time, I glanced at stack of books on top of my laptop next to me on my path to preschool and told myself that if I couldn't do housework, I was going to find somewhere quiet to read during this two hour duration I needed to fill.

After kissing the girls goodbye and leaving them to learn, I begin to drive aimlessly in pursuit of a destination, a quaint place to read my books. I think of my favorite coffee shop, coincidentally much closer to the preschool than my home, and take a few wrong turns before arriving. I order cup of hot chai and sit it down next to my laptop to cool a bit. I sit staring at the laptop, knowing that bringing it in would inevitably cause me to put off my reading material. "I'm just going to check my email and facebook account," I tell myself. The next thing I know I am perusing my twitter feed, which I use mainly to follow others, because tweeting is not something I do so much. John Cusack, who loves to tweet, tweet, and retweet, has filled my feed with his thoughts, links, and a quote, a quote that I happen to fall in love with, and suddenly I'm on a quest to add this fascinating find to my email siggie, not an easy task for a low-tech girl like myself.

I end up spending a chubby chunk of my time figuring out how to add this quote to my signature, an experience which forces my fingers to pound away at the keyboard once again. Before I know it my two hours are up, and no novel reading in sight. Normally I would be bummed that I didn't take full advantage of my hazy little diamond in the rough, uninterrupted time to read, but in this case the diamond I do discover is much clearer, whiter, and has a much better cut. It sparkles very brightly and lights the sometimes dim bulb in my brain, for the quote of which I've mentioned has been the gem for which I've been searching, the opening line to something I've been working on since beginning this blog a few months ago, the opening line of an essay which should appear on a blog page near you sometime soon.

Diamonds are rare and hard to find, and finding this one has let me know that writing is what I'm meant to be doing right now . . . that I need to let go of the fact that not many are reading and that the stories I tell need to satisfy no one other than me. For the few of you who keep returning, I'm pleased that you enjoy what I write and I thank you for your loyalty. This day my wish for you is to be blessed with the ability make lemonade out of lemons and find your own sparkling diamond in the rough.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Rich Declare Themselves Poor

It was a stressful day, and after a vodka and OJ and an unfinished attempt at another entry I was feeling rather melancholy. I did what I often do in times like these, I reached for my mp3 player and let the music envelope me. I didn't select a play list; I just let it spin song after random downloaded song, allowing it to take me down the path that was to be. I began mixing and making a new recipe for chocolate cake as I listened, and an old favorite started to play. I always liked the song, but tonight I really listened to it as I stood in my beautiful home making something yummy, gooey, and unhealthy for me and my friends to share tomorrow. A chord was struck by the contrast created my current state of being and the lyrics to which I was listening. I decided to leave the unfinished entry for another day in the foreseeable future to share this instead. Listen and view (by clicking on the title) or read as a poem below, then interpret as you like on "Praying for Time".

Praying For Time
George Michael

These are the days of the open hand
They might just be the last
Look around now
These are the days of the beggars and the choosers

This is the year of the hungry man
Whose place is in the past
Hand in hand with ignorance
And legitimate excuses

The rich declare themselves poor
And most of us are not sure
If we have too much
But we'll take our chances
'Cause God's stopped keeping score
I guess somewhere along the way
He must have let us all out to play
Turned his back and all God's children
Crept out the back door

And it's hard to love, there's so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it's much too much too late
Well maybe we should all be praying for time

These are the days of the empty hand
Oh, you hold on to what you can
And charity is a coat you wear twice a year

This is the year of the guilty man
Your television takes a stand
And you find that what was over there is over here

So you scream from behind your door
Say what's mine is mine and not yours
I may have too much but I'll take my chances
'Cause God's stopped keeping score
And you cling to the things they sold you
Did you cover your eyes when they told you
That he can't come back
'Cause he has no children to come back for

It's hard to love there's so much to hate
Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it's much too late
So maybe we should all be praying for time

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Business of Time and Thoughtlessness

"Time, time, time; see what's become of me . . . ." From here move into a cool 80's guitar riff and begin to jam. Can you guess the song? If you can, great, but it doesn't really matter. I simply just want to use the opening lyric to the unnamed tune because it fits what I want to talk about, that being time (in case you haven't figured that one out).

During my two week break (or so) from blogging I found I had even less time than I had before, and certainly did not spend the time restfully reading as I anticipated I would. Additionally, unable to piece together the jigsaw puzzle of ideas that flooded over me, I had been left with notes, lots of notes, and nothing thoughtful to present to you yet. Nonetheless, I thought you deserved a drabble in this duration of my absence from essays, so I decided to present you with something rather thoughtless, that was without much thought, not inconsiderate as one would usually presuppose about the term.

Anyway . . . I have been one of those people who thrive on business, that is on being very busy, not on commerce or trade as one usually presupposes about the term (I told you this would be rather thoughtless). I have always wanted something to do, somewhere to be, someone to be with. Now though, after 17 years of schooling, several jobs, a spouse, owning a house, getting a dog, having two kids, and having way too many flower beds installed, I find that these things filling the 32 years of my life experience add up to a whole lot of stuff that creates a whole lot of responsibilities that suck up a whole lot of my time, leaving me with the kind of business (aka busy-ness) I prefer to do without from time to time. *I must interrupt my thoughts for a moment to note that I am grateful for all those things that fill my life, I just don't always welcome the 'side-effects' that come along with them sometimes, but "you can't look a gift-horse in the mouth," and "beggars can't be choosers," so all that being said . . . .* I find that solitude and moments for leisure are two of the things I would love to add back into the equation of my life, two things that I may never experience again as I did in my youth. *I must interrupt again to say "Damn, this thing is thoughtless . . . haven't I talked about this before?"* In any case, I just want to be able to do what the song says (no, not the aforementioned song, another one silly), "open up your plans and damn you're free."

Oh how tempting it is just to cancel with everyone when I'm feeling overwhelmed, but I don't feel right doing that, and in fact I think it's rather rude. I continue to remember the very few occasions I've called off plans without a real reason, because of being exhausted or having too much going on, and I find those odd occasions still bother me today. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone cancels on me because something better comes up or he/she is tired and/or "doesn't feel like it." My time is important to me (if you haven't gathered that already), so when I go out of my way to make plans with you and give you some of that precious time, I expect you to think really hard about whether your reason for standing me up is valid, as to cancel on me, or anyone for that matter, for no reason is indeed thoughtless in the presupposed meaning of the term . . . just sayin'.

Well, that's it really . . . short, sweet and to the point, no deep thoughts or abhorrent alliteration (though I'm sure you have noticed I cannot leave it out completely). I just have one more thing and a few more ellipses and parenthetical notations before I go . . . the opening line is a lyric from Hazy Shade of Winter as performed by the Bangles, but little have I known until I have begun typing this that it is originally written and sung by Simon and Garfunkel. The other tune is probably much easier to pick out . . . the lyric is from a little hit known as I'm Yours by Jason Mraz. If you click on the titles to the listed songs, you will see that the YouTube videos have been conveniently linked for you. J

So I hope you have enjoyed my lack of large words thoughtless drabble about business (again, busy-ness), time, and thoughtlessness (in both senses of the word). My schedule is slowing down soon, if only for a bit, hopefully giving me more free moments to collect my thoughts to potentially present you with something more thoughtful next time around. Until then, I once again bid you adieu, and as before, hope to return in a week or two. Salut . . . .

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Atrocious Alliteration and Random Recipes

When I wrote last, I told you a tale of my entrancement with Harry Potter, and how I've funneled that fanatical fascination by reading books about the Harry Potter series. One of the books I am reading right now is Repotting Harry Potter. This knowledgeable narrative is interesting and informative and has enlightened me about many a matter, most importantly a fatal flaw of mine, one that involves my wacky writing ways. For those who have read the heroic Harry Potter tales, particularly the Chamber of Secrets, you know of a character called Gilderoy Lockhart. The author of Repotting,
James W. Thomas, noticeably notes Lockhart's love of alliteration and even goes as far to say that, "[Lockhart] is more than fond of foolish and frivolous alliteration." Upon reading this my face reddens and embarrassment is the emotion that engulfs me. At once,
I am appalled by the atrocious amount of alliteration and balderdash that has bombarded the bulk of my blogs. I am abruptly attacked with angst and begin to agonize over my ability to give up this gabble, nevertheless I know my claptrap must be canned, or at very least dumbed down. My brain must break from blogging. So rather, than rattle on and ruffle you with these ragged ramblings and random redundancies, I will roll out some recipes, which are made-up by me and entrusted to you for your enjoyment and entertainment!

SUMPTUOUS SANGRIA (VIRGIN VERSION IN VIOLET)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle fruit wine, such as black raspberry
  • 1/2 cup triple sec
  • 1/2 cup brandy or grand marnier
  • 2-3 oranges, washed and sliced into rounds
  • 6 oz black berries, fresh or frozen
  • 8 maraschino cherries
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda

Directions

In a large pitcher or bowl, mix together the first five ingredients. Float slices of orange, blackberries, and maraschino cherries in the mixture. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor. You can add the soda when you first make it, or wait until before serving if you want it to be a bit fizzy.

For virgin sangria, you can substitute BOTH wines for one-half gallon of your favorite juice, preferably a grape and berry combination such as 100% cranberry-grape juice, and substitute both the orange juice concentrate AND both liquors (triple sec and brandy) for 2 cups of regular orange juice (using OJ concentrate with the juice may make the flavor too strong and two sweet). Follow the rest of the directions as written and enjoy.

GARLICKY GUAC

Ingredients

  • Pulp from 2 ripe avocados, 1 pit reserved and skins and other pit discarded
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of your favorite salsa
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Juice from ½ of a lemon


Directions

Place all ingredients (except the pit) in a small food processor and blend until smooth, stopping the food processor and scraping down the sides as needed. When done, scrape the guacamole into a container to store, place the reserved pit in the center to help keep it from browning, and cover the container. It will keep in the refrigerator for several days. The surface of the guacamole may still brown a bit, especially if exposed to the air for a long period of time, but it's still good to eat.

So as you receive these recipes, my blogging break begins. I have no intention of abandoning my abstract abode as I have numerous notions at the hilt. I shall be back before you know it. I expect you to enjoy my kitchen creations while I take respite from writing to read more rigorously, as reading is what inspires me to write. Perhaps the next time I put this 'pen to the paper', I will no longer plow you with this poppycock prattle.


So, as I bid you adieu for a week or two with the hope of returning anew, may my addiction to alliteration be forever askew with these tongue twisting blessings I give to you,

Amber

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Potting of Pride and Prejudice

The summer of 2009, it was a summer unlike any other. Unknown universes were unveiled and magical mysteries unfolded. The allurement of alchemy overrode the angst of war, loss, and grief. Rapt with revelations on this encouraging experience, fresh friendships were formed and romances were resisted, relinquished, and reignited. I fell in love without ever betraying my beloved or abandoning my abode. It was a gem of a journey and an escapade of emotions . . . yet my defiant discrimination almost averted this apex of all adventures and slapped away its sway on my soul.

I had my Pride; I ignored the peer pressure attempting to erode my Prejudice. I originally snubbed my friends' supplications and was determined to never allow such novel nonsense into my life. Yielding to its youthful objective and cutesy pop culture was not an option; I chose to keep such childish chronicles out of my existence. My rigorous rejection, however, was unfounded, idle, and misguided. I was suffering from the sickness known as PRUBON by refusing to peruse the pages of this story I selectively slighted, and had I not indulged in the insightful influence of my friends, I would not be telling this tale to you today.

I was never inspired to write before being introduced to the charismatic characters in the previously implied plot. Without my fumbling attempt at fiction, I would never have been confident enough to accept the encouragement of a friend, the one who induced me to ink out these essays. Writing was not an art I ever had any desire to do. Until now, never did I have so many intrinsic ideas burst in my brain, finding me on a frantic search for paper and a pen to jot them down, leaving me with numerous notes throughout the many nooks of my house, where they remained until I picked a time like now to sit down and translate my musings into these black and white quirky quips. Without the alluded anonymous author's astounding ability to flood one's spirit with such stories and to create the ultimate art in written word, it was unlikely that I would have ever clicked the keyboard to eke out this Webwork of a Wacky Woman.

I am forever grateful that I have stopped saying no to this highly suggested saga and find it odd that I've ever refused to read this recommendation, because if you have read Words Like Violence, you know of my affinity for fiction and that reading is the one avocation I adore the above any other. It's the one that has been with me the longest and the one that has kept me afloat above all other hobbies. It is thanks to this aforementioned unnamed narrative and its novelist that I am reminded why I hold no deeper affection for any other pastime. Reading is something that takes me to another place, lets me live vicariously though others lives, yet allows me to remain on my couch with my cup of tea in my home where I'm at ease, and no narrative has led me on such an enjoyable excursion as the tale about which I've been telling you. It bears all the effects elaborated above and more. I've become so besotted with this beloved set of books of which I am about to bestow to you, that I have not found any fiction to satisfy me since. I've been on a quest to cure my addiction to this mysterious story since finishing its final pages, but have been unsuccessful at quenching my thirst. This only rain I have received in this drought is a myriad of mediocre fiction and some literary supplements to guide me on my second passage through my favorite fantasy known as Harry Potter.

As I putter through the process of Repotting Harry Potter, I need to give gratitude to its author James W. Thomas, who is now accompanying me on my repeat ride of the infamous HP. It is thanks to him that I know I have been afflicted with ailment of "Presumptive Reader Unworthiness Based on Non-reading", otherwise known as PRUBON. It is he to whom I amplify appreciation for uncovering the elements I have missed on my original excursion and exemplifying exactly why I have come to love this notorious narrative first place. As I have hurried through the pages to see the next sequence of events on my first passage, I become fanatical about Rowling's fiction, and thanks to Thomas I become shamelessly smitten with her smartness on my second. J.K. Rowling's talent to craft characters with such care, giving them distinctively different prolific personalities is beyond extraordinary, and her attention to the finer facts is flabbergasting, only leaving me thirsty for more . . . wondering what genius and inspiration beguiles such brilliance.

I am mesmerized by what her muse may be, and as such have been led to Harry Potter's Bookshelf by John Granger. It is an anecdote about the books and authors that potentially encourage Rowling's writing ways. It is here that I find out Jane Austen and her entire collection of chronicles is amongst Rowling's favorites, and that HP has many parallels to said plots. Austen is another author whose books have found me ill with PRUBON and leave me with no choice but cure this condition which has left me bereft of such brilliance. I do what I must and dive head first into Austen's most popular plot we know as Pride and Prejudice, a book that never would have been pleasing placed between my paws if it wasn't for Rowling and her tremendous talent. After finishing this fiction, I find it to be deliciously delightful, and almost as intriguing as HP itself. Sadly though, my hunger is still not satiated, so my quest commences once again to read more books I once rejected and to never allow such PRUBONic sickness reenter my system again. Wuthering Heights, here I come.

So if you have rejected the recommendations of a respected comrade, I implore you to Pot away the Pride and Prejudice that keeps you from a particular plot . . . put your presumptions aside. You can't possibly deem a narrative non-readable and unworthy if you haven't even touched its tale to be told, and if you never give it a shot you'll never know where you'll end up on the other side.


Friday, March 12, 2010

The Vital Village

It was 4pm; I knew that Jon would NOT be walking through the door in 15 minutes; he would be home late today. Today of all days, I thought to myself . . . I was utterly exhausted. Thanks to the events of the afternoon, lying on my bed for a moment after my desperately desired shower (which took place five hours following my workout) was a luxury I longed for, but should have ignored. The kids piercingly playing downstairs pounded in my ears. I needed to check on them, but the deliberation of the day made me feel like lead, immobile and heavy laden, unable to deal with the definite defiance I would encounter upon descending the stairs. I allowed myself to fall backward and let the softness of the mattress catch my collapse. In that instance I pondered the life of a single parent, something I usually avoided addressing . . . and I hated every glimpse I was granted. My heart began to race as I imagined day in and day out being like this, with no one to give me respite and reprieve, a life without leisure. I reflected on how much I underappreciated my indulgences – my free time, my quiet time, my sleep time – time that would be overtly opulent if I was doing this alone. I thought about those parents with no partner, or with a partner who doesn't help, and then I thought about my life as such . . . no blogging, no girls' night out, and no cute crocheted scarves I made myself. I knew the effect of such an existence: life on loony lane.

On this very day for which I was speaking, I made the following post on my facebook status update, "[I am] starting to think that losing my mind is imminent and that my kids are collaborating to ensure it happens." This is at 12:30pm, three-and-a-half hours before the aforementioned reflection. Yes, it had been one of those days . . . a day I had to spank both my children (something at one time I swore I would never do), a day I sent them both to their respective rooms and made them stay there for far too long, a day that I sounded like the bellowing banshee from hell, and a day where sending the kids to boarding school was looking rather lovely. After Aidan almost escaped our motor vehicle in motion making my heart hesitate before its next beat, and Emie refused to poo on the potty leaving me to stare at the walls of our bathroom for a seemingly endless amount of time, I began to envy the mother who got to leave the house for work and perhaps took a piss whenever she liked, and I could no longer imagine missing my adoring angels once they were in school. I was reminded of my humanity and affronted with the admonition that superwoman did not define me in the least – and damn it all – this selfish musing mommy needs all the help she can get!

I love the expression, "it takes a village," because it's entirely accurate. I refuse to be one of those mom-warriors who proclaim to do it all, because I don't. Without the help I get from Jon, family, and friends, I would be a never-ending nonsensical nutto. I know this because I briefly go berserk when denied the occasion to do the things I want and love. It's in times like these that I am resentful of my kids' clean plates when mine is full of cold food still waiting to be devoured. These are the moments that make me remember if it wasn't for my hubby and hobbies, I would crawl into a hole and decline to come out. It is in these instances that I become the one who writes the blogs containing the raving, ranting, and whining before you. Yet, in spite of all this, I stand by a statement in a previous blog post: staying home with my kids is not a bad gig . . . most days aren't this agitating. Nevertheless, without the village of support I eagerly accept at every turn, I would no doubt want to trade in this profession for post outside my abode.

So after about 2 or 3 minutes of these meandering meditations, I reminded myself of my good fortune and bumped my bushed bum off the bed. I endured the entreaties about eating soon and placed a pot of water on the stove. I refilled the kids' plates with a second helping of spaghetti before I finished my first, and gave Jon a grin of gratitude when he walked through the door. I sighed as my stress began to cease, my help was home and everything in the world started to seem sound once more.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Questionable Quirk

I have a secret . . . . Oh all right, not really a secret, rather something that I have not directly disclosed about myself. I'm sure you've surmised by now that I have a lot of bad habits, and upon reading my blog you may have had the infrequent occasion to observe my penchant for this particular practice. Despite that this is something I strive to refrain from revealing here, there have been a few instances where I've divulged this egregious element in these black and white expressions of my essence. It is something I often execute in everyday life, so much so that I am often unaware of this iniquitous idiosyncrasy occurring – until . . . one of my kids demonstrates the said shortcoming of which I speak.

It was only a few weeks ago that I was sitting in my family room, probably browsing the internet (which I do far too much mind you), when Aidan reminded me of my above-alluded disparaging defect. Bloody hell, I thought to myself, I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. I stopped what I was doing and I looked at this innocent boy who returned my gaze with a smile before going back to drawing his pretty picture on the Magnadoodle, obviously unaware of his misstep. I took a breath, contemplating how I was going to handle this, wondering if I should press forward with punishment. I knew what I wanted to do, and that letting it go was the preferred path. I mean, how could I expect him to know any better when he observed my mistake many times? I was caught between the old cliché, "a rock and a hard place," trying to decide whether or not to do what I wished, or what society says is necessary. I took another breath, wishing I could tell society to sod off!

Ah yes, so here it is, the art of cursing – my potential propensity for potty-mouth . . . there is nothing like shouting the f-bomb after stubbing my toe, or saying "Damn!" when amused by something a friend has said to me. Swearing is something that has never been censored from my life; both of my parents have done it quite frequently in my presence (although ironically less frequently now than in my childhood), and as such speaking like a sailor is an art I began misusing around age 10. Having never been properly educated on the where's and why's for such explicative expressions, I have additionally never been good at censoring myself and reserving such swears for their appropriate use. Yes you have read that right, APPROPRIATE USE . . . . At this statement you may be starting to consider my sanity, pondering the possibility that I am barking mad for thinking there is ever such an occasion for such foul fair, but before you click the red x on the top right hand corner of your internet browser, deeming me dingy no doubt, I implore you to bear with me for a bit longer while I make my case in point. I present you with an example:

A phrase that most of us use on a regular basis is "have a nice day!" This old adage is typically what one says when intending to wish someone else a great afternoon, so to speak. It's considerate, genuine, and polite when it's used in this form. However, this ancient idiom is also something one (such as myself) may use when a telemarketer refuses listen to one's pleas . . . , "No, I do not want the latest edition Good Grammar and How to Use It! HAVE A NICE DAY! [CLICK]" In the latter instance, this often used expression is certainly not polite, nor is it any way genuinely wishing the telemarketer to have a blissful afternoon, and in the end one may have well just said, "PISS OFF," because that is certainly what one meant.

It is for this reason I believe that it's not the cursing that is wrong, but the purpose behind it. If you are using it to direct ill feelings toward someone or something else, then that is when its usage is definitely inappropriate, something of which I'm guilty of more often than I would like to admit. Saying the cursing equivalent of crap after being incorrect is directed at no one other than myself however, and therefore considered perfectly acceptable, in my humble opinion anyway.

So after hearing Aidan use a "four-letter word" for the first time . . . okay, the first time in a few years . . . I pondered, as I had many times before, about where the idiotic idea of curse words came from in the first place, and why do I have the bleeding responsibility of making sure my kids don't say these sodding senseless taboos? I mean, you think it would be more appropriate to teach my children the suitable use of such assumed slander rather than just telling them not to do it, which in turn could inevitably cause them run off to school and say them to their friends, because as you and I both know, it's always so much fun to do something that is forbidden, is it not? Coincidentally, Susan Sarandon talked about this very subject on David Letterman once years ago. I hoped find the interesting interview on YouTube for all to see, but alas no luck. I cannot recount the discussion for you word by word, but what I may never forget is Ms. Sarandon telling Mr. Letterman that she had recently given her six-year-old son (at the time) a leisurely lesson on the proper usage of the infamous f-word, and that he is indeed allowed to use it in the house if used in the proper sense (such as when stubbing a toe). I was intrigued as I continued to listen to her rationale and I thought she was genius in her decision, hoping that one day I too could teach my kids when and where it was appropriate to utter such unmentionables.

Now, fast forward several years from said interview; I am in a similar situation to Susan. I have a six-year-old son who has just iterated something I say all the time, but if he says it in school, I have no celebrity status to explain myself out of the sticky situation. Despite my deeming his treatment of the word extremely appropriate, I allow the correction of this off kilter conduct to commence. "Aidan," I say as calmly as possible, "can you please tell me what you just said?" He looks up at me again, this time with confusion on his face. "Damn," he answers honestly, but quickly adds, "I didn't know mommy. I didn't know I couldn't say it." I think about how his frustration with the mistake he has made in his drawing, and consider that I would likely have delivered the same dialect in his circumstance. Bugger, I think to myself, as I want to applaud him for using the word correctly, but then I do what I need to do to protect my child from earning a ticket straight to the principal's office one day. "It is okay honey," I begin consolingly; "I know mommy says it too, but it's a grown-up word, and kids aren't supposed to use it. You can get in trouble if you use that word in school, so please don't say it again." He nods, letting me know he understands and goes back to his work. I, on the other hand, grunt in frustration, knowing that one day when he can discern the difference, I plan to let him know that the occasional swearing slip-up in our house for the appropriate reason is okay with me now and then, and perhaps he may in turn have far better censoring sensibilities than I ever have had on such swearing.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Left or Right: Determining Long Lasting Life

This morning I open my internet explorer as I usually do, and my home page pops up, as it always does . . . . It's www.msn.com, which is often my source of news and attention-grabbing articles. Today, upon viewing MSN's slideshow of links, I observe something that is rather disheartening. According to said slideshow, I have a certain characteristic that may be hazardous to my health. After clicking the link and reading the words on the screen I learn that this very trait of which the article is speaking may ensure my life is shorter than the average person's. "What is this infamous feature?" you may ask. "Does it affect me?" Well maybe, it affects 10% of the population. This distinguishing attribute being referenced is not the upper digestive Crohn's Disease for which I have been diagnosed (and have been in remission from for 3.5 of the 4 years since the diagnosis), nor is it that I'm prone to stress and anxiety. No my fellow readers, it is not because of either of these things. The reason – now wait for it . . . is of all things – the fact that I'm left handed. Upon finishing this offbeat article some thoughts certainly slip into my head and, "You've got to be shitting me!" is among the least of them. Can This Be Right? INDEED!

I am a southpaw and proud of it. Yes, being a lefty has many inconveniences in a righty world . . . . I get ink on my left hand when I write, and I've had to adjust to using scissors with my opposite hand. It's annoying when I go to sign for the credit card and the pen is attached on the right side, the chain securing it barely long enough to sign with my preferred paw. Using a spiral notebook properly is something I have never been able to do, and upon starting baton twirling lessons in my youth, my need to acclimate makes itself obvious. Conforming to society's handedness is something I've become used to over the years though, and I feel I have done it well. In fact, my baton twirling skills have become good enough over time for me to make the majorette squad for three years in a row in high school, and twirling with my left-hand is just as awkward as it is for everyone else who is 'normal'.

So, I cannot see how any of the above mentioned annoyances can shorten my life, and since I do not use power tools, as the article suggests, I suppose I have nothing to fear. I am so aggravated after reading the author's findings that I want to exclaim, "Talk to the left, 'cause you ain't right!" All 90's slang aside, I need to give props to the author of the article, who has written it to pay homage to his two left-handed daughters; he seems to share the same amount of cynicism as I do on the matter at hand (no pun intended). Thus my aggravation is not directed at him, rather the right-handed harebrained boneheads whose idea it is to study such rubbish in the first place. What a misuse of time and money that is assuredly much better spent on finding the cure for Crohn's, ensuring the longer life I need to prove this wasted research wrong. In short, I have a hard time buying into the idea that one's handedness has anything to do with one's life expectancy. When scientists haven't even found the gene that causes hand preference, how can they possibly presume the life length of a lefty? This musing mother deems the aforementioned hypothesis preposterous, but I'll let you decide for yourselves on the matter . . . at hand. J