formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Know It...

Last night I held my normally full-of-herself child as she cried, distraught over the fact that she suddenly decided she was ugly. When prompted, she told me through sniffles and tears that no one had said or done anything to her to make her think it... she'd just been looking in the mirror and decided it for herself.

Sigh. Big, sad sigh. I took her face in my hands and I assured her that she is indeed beautiful... that she has skin and hair others only dream of... that she has a smile that lights up the room and eyes like melted chocolate. I told her this is an awkward age for most girls, though she is far less awkward than many (which is so very true) and certainly far less awkward than I was at her age (all knees and elbows and stringy hair, still waiting to grow into my nose). I told her that so many people tell me how beautiful she is -- even my friend Todd, who never, ever lies, doesn't especially like kids, and refuses to acknowledge that even babies are cute.

Then I reminded my little girl that even though she is indeed pretty on the outside, what's most important is what's inside. I told her that if she keeps her heart and mind open and her spirit generous; if she cares for people without judgment; if she allows herself to be ruled by compassion and love instead of criticism and fear; and if she's confident in herself and and believes she's capable of amazing things, she will be even more beautiful than she is right now.

She left my embrace smiling her sunlit smile. She felt better. She kissed me, thanked me, and told me she loved me. Then she went off to watch Hannah Montana.

I sat for a while, a little piece of my heart broken. I know she has to hurt sometimes in order for her to appreciate the times when things are wonderful. I know it. I know there will be more hurts, real and imagined... there will be more hugs and assurances... there will be more lapses in confidence... and even more hugs and assurances. I can't stop any of it. I wouldn't if I could, as I know it's part of life. All the same, I'm steeling my heart for the breaks to come.

But we'll make it through... both of us... my beautiful girl and me. I know it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Random Miscellany...

Mondays just beg for random miscellany... don't they? Well, even if they don't, that's what you're getting, 'cause I've got nothing else. So, here are 5 random, miscellaneous things about me (calm down now... all that excitement can't be good for you)...

1. When I was in my early 20's, I developed an allergy to perfumes. As a result, I can’t wear the stuff, though I’m always on a quest to find one that won’t make me sick because I like the idea of having a 'signature scent' (that isn’t deodorant or, you know, that sweatshirt I haven’t washed in a week). But when I’m in a smelly store and I spray perfume on (or near) me, it takes about 10 minutes for me to get a Texas-sized headache and feel as though I’m going to vomit. It’s so annoying. I’ve had to ask women I’ve worked with not to wear their signature scents, which I always hated doing, but it was the only way I could function. Strangely, men’s cologne doesn’t affect me the same way. In fact, I’ve been known to go weak-kneed at certain man-smells (not to be confused with man-stink… which makes me go weak-kneed, too, but for entirely different reasons).

2. Until Ryan gets home in the afternoon, I spend my entire day in complete silence... no music, no TV. I like quiet. Maybe because when my kid is home, I experience so little of it.

3. When I was 11, my cousin Stephen shot me with an air rifle. I still have the scar, about an inch down from the hollow in my throat. Having the pellet removed was horrifying, as I had to get a shot to numb the area (and there’s nothing but bone there) and then the doc pulled it out with these big things that looked like pliers. It hurt. Fifteen years later, Stephen became a police officer. When he graduated from the academy, my first words to him were, “I can’t believe they’re actually going to let you carry a gun.”

4. My senior year in high school, I won a state writing competition with a story about 2 girls named Ryan and Elizabeth. Sixteen years later, my daughter and niece were born 4 months apart and though my ex (who picked Ryan’s name) and my brother (who picked Elizabeth’s name) never read my story, our girls wound up with the same names. Weird, huh?

5. When my dad was sick, I used to write him letters from my dogs. I had 2 Cocker Spaniels, Shandy and Tucker, and I’d find cards with pictures of spaniels on them and then write these ridiculously long, silly letters to him in their ‘voices’. I even had a paw print stamp I’d use to sign them. Yeah, I’m a dork. But he kept them all and I found and re-read them several years after he died. They were pretty funny, really.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Happy Happy Sun-DAY!

Man-oh-man, but it's gorgeous out there today! After days and days of gloomy skies and rain, we're having a perfect Sunday... warm, sunny, breezy... perfect! I figured I'd do a quickie post and then come back later to read blogs (I go away for one day and you guys go nuts! I've got, like, ninety-eleven new posts to read!).

Anyway, the weekend's been good so far. I didn't injure myself on skates Friday night (and sorry, Jenners, there's no video... 'cause I'm not that stupid... or self-deprecating). I did realize, however (after quite a short time on wheels), that I need to get back on my rollerblades very soon, as I'm more out of shape than I thought (and that's saying something!). The party was fun, though, and Ryan's been at her cousin's all weekend, playing with the hamster, dubbed 'Bear'. Yeah, I think there's a furry little rodent in my future.

The non-date with the Republican was fun, too. We went to Monticello (my 4th time in 18 months) to take pictures and I saw (ever so clearly) the difference between photos taken with a $400 camera and photos taken with a $3,000 one. Sigh. Someday. Maybe. Probably not. But maybe. You never know.

My non-veggie dinner went well, too. I made this shrimp/pasta concoction I found in Real Simple magazine. It wasn't something I'd normally eat, as it had a sauce made with heavy cream (most of which, luckily, stayed in the pan and didn't go over the pasta), but it was surprisingly good. No one felt ill later, anyway, which is how I judge the success of my cooking.

As for Duplicity... it was a Dud. Disappointing. Dull. Not quite Dire, but close. Thankfully (or maybe not) I only had one glass of wine with dinner or I'd have been snoring about half-way through. It was 30 minutes too long and far too short on a decent story line. My man Clive was lovely, though, so it wasn't a total bust. He's not quite Gerard Butler, but he's still yummy.

That's about it for me. I'm off to go sit in the sun and read, as Sundance and I have been to the park for a long walk and he's passed out. Hope your Sunday is wonderful and the rest of your weekend was good, too! Later, 'gators!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Happy Happy Fri-DAY...

Happy happy Fri-DAY! Happy happy Fri-DAY!

That was meant to be sung (chanted?) in the 'Conga Line' tune, in case you weren't sure.

It's Friday! Whoo hoo! I don't know why I'm so excited, actually... it's not like Friday is different from any other day for me. I work from home, in my pajamas, for crying out loud. And, truth be told, I haven't had much work in lately (which is not good but means I haven't been running around like mad). It's grey and gloomy out, too... though it's not as chilly as it has been, so I guess that's something, eh?

Anyway, it's still Friday and that's pretty much universally a good thing... so I'm going with it!

Sundance and I have been for our walk-cum-slog... our park is under 'eco-renovation' at the moment so it's full of construction machines, men, and muck. We plowed our way through the mud and then my boy decided to give me a 'hug', so my jacket is now brown. Dark brown. In places. Lovely.

Tonight is my niece Elizabeth's 10th birthday party... at the skating rink... where I will don 8 wheels and roll around like a 7th grader, batting my eyes at the cute boys and deftly weaving my way in and out of the slower, less-coordinated kids (like Ryan). Cool. Elizabeth is getting a hamster for her birthday. I'm scared Ryan will want one now. My car already smells like a hamster habitat (yes, I finally pinpointed the smell my big, wet, hairy dog leaves behind), so I guess having one in the house wouldn't be much different. We'll see. She's never been a follower, that kid of mine. She'll probably want something like a chinchilla. Or a mongoose. They don't sell those in pet shops, do they?

Tomorrow I have a non-date with the Republican, during which he's going to give me a camera lesson in the hope that I can figure out what at least 1/3 of the settings on the confounding contraption do. After, I'm cooking him dinner. I felt it was important to have the lesson first, you know, in case he's not feeling well later. I'm still not sure what I'm cooking, though. The man does. not. eat. vegetables. Can you imagine? None. I've never met a vegetable I don't like. Anyway, I think we're going to see Duplicity later. It doesn't look fabulous but I haven't had a Clive Owen fix in a while (and I'd watch the man sit still for 2 hours). Yum.

So, that's my weekend. Hope yours is lovely! Oh, and happy happy Fri-DAY! xo

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Count Me In...

I have been fortunate enough to 'meet' some of the most amazing people here in Blogland. Some of you, I found on my own. Some of you found me (probably by searching for 'idiots and nutcases'). I'm grateful for every one of you... for your humor, your honesty, your positive spirits, and your validation.

Every now and then, though, someone touches my heart in an especially profound way. Several of you have done that, certainly (as you know), but today I want to tell you about one particular blogger... Tabitha, or Tabby, as she often refers to herself. Her blog, I Choose Bliss, is one of the most uplifting, inspirational ones I read on a regular basis. Not only does Tabby indeed choose to live her life in a state of blissful gratitude, she does everything she can to pass on her positive vibes to everyone she meets. I find her truly amazing. You will, too. I guarantee it.

In addition to her regular blog, she has one for her family's non-profit organization, AFiveOh4Uplifting. They collect items to make 'goody bags' for kids in hospitals. Their collective goal is to make as many children smile as they can. OK, how cool is that?! Today they're on a mission to have items purchased for bags that will go the hospital where a fellow-blogger's baby is battling a serious illness. I'll be purchasing some goody bag goodies tonight and having them sent directly to Tabby (pursuant to her request)... I hope you will all check out the instructions/link on either of her blogs today and do the same. We all know how good it feels to make someone smile... but kids in hospitals? Count me in!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Writer's Workshop: Not My Thing...

Note: I noticed I lost a follower this morning (though I can't figure out who)... I hate it when that happens anytime but I hope it was just a timing coincidence and not a result of this post. But if it was, so be it. As Popeye used to say, "I yam what I yam." Love me (or at least like me) or leave me!

Kathy over at Mama’s Losin’ It listed a couple of interesting prompts for this week’s Writer’s Workshop… one was, ‘I don’t believe in prayer because…

I found it interesting because I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the whole God/religion/prayer thing. Several of my favorite bloggers are very devout in their religious beliefs and it comes out in their writing. And some of my favorite bloggers are as far from religiously devout as you can get. That sort of diversity makes for an interesting reading list!

Before I really get started, though, I guess I should issue the following disclaimer...

1) It is not my intention in any way to offend anyone or sound critical...
2) I have no desire to be converted or told I’m wrong/right/going to Hell, etc...
3) I'm not looking for a Bible study or theology lesson...
4) I have never, ever attempted to change anyone’s mind about their religious/spiritual beliefs and I assure you, I’m not doing it now...
5) This isn't in any way, shape, or form about me being right and anyone else being wrong. The bottom line for me is, and has always been, I don't know. And I'm 100%, totally, completely, no-doubt-about-it comfortable with that.

My spiritual path is mine alone and I’ve been traveling it my whole life. I’ve worked hard to arrive at this place; to figure out what feels right to me; to embrace what makes sense. And though I've never felt the need to explain what I believe to anyone, I will tell you that I was baptized and confirmed in a Christian church, but I never felt comfortable there. I searched... I asked questions, listened to answers, and looked for signs. I labeled myself an Agnostic for a while and an Atheist for a long time after that… then an Agnostic again. I don’t know what to call myself now but I’m not all that keen on labels, really, so my inability to find a name for what I am is OK with me.

I know what I’m not, however. I’m not a Christian, nor do I align myself with any religion. I believe strongly that true faith and spirituality have nothing to do with religion at all and while I completely understand, respect, and even admire faith, religion simply makes no sense to me. I am especially confounded by the various Christian religions… they’re all similar in some ways, yet vastly different in others; all based on the worship of one god and the doctrines of one book – a book with many different interpretations - with each branch of Christianity believing their interpretation to be best and true and right. Then there are the other major religions of the world – again, similar and vastly different – all believing their view is best, true, and right. As I say, confounding.

But I do understand that other people need religion; rely on it; live for it. I understand the need to come together to worship. And I believe religion has done a lot of good in the world. I also believe it has been, and continues to be, an incredibly destructive force. The things men do in the name of God, religion, and their interpretations of religious doctrines are often horrific. One of my favorite quotes is Gandhi’s, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Truer words were never spoken and I believe they can apply to the followers of nearly all deities, whatever their names.

I often say I believe in tolerance over faith because in the end, not a one of us knows for sure. I believe that with my whole heart. I know I have been so sure of many things in my life that turned out not to be true so I don’t think for a minute that my path is any more 'right' than anyone else’s. To believe that would be, in my opinion, the definition of arrogance. I saw a prayer for the conversion of non-believers on someone’s blog a while ago and though I know this person is a devout Christian and incredibly kind and good-hearted, I found the prayer to be arrogant and somewhat offensive (though I also know with 100% certainty that was not the blogger’s intention, so I didn’t take offense). Now, having just said I found it arrogant, I do understand that people with deep religious or spiritual faith believe the path they're on is right and true and, as a result, many want and feel the need to share it (and indeed are compelled to do so by the very doctrines in which they put their faith). And I understand that all religions need followers; they need believers. I understand that continuation through conversion is the mission of true believers. Although I don’t necessarily respect the act, I respect the strength of the belief... but I'm still often bothered by what I perceive as arrogance, whether it's intended or not.

While the prayer I just mentioned implied that all non-Christians need converting, I’ve found, in general, a particular negative-bias toward Atheists. I know Christians who believe them to be immoral, reprehensible, frightening, and living in a dark place (they are sometimes even mistaken for Satan worshippers!). I always shake my head at this view. Most of my very closest friends are atheists. And you know what? They each have an incredibly strong moral compass… far stronger than many devoutly religious people I know. They always try to do the right thing; they help people; they follow the Golden Rule; they are passionate, joyful, kind, positive, productive, good people. Every one of them.

One of my best bloggy friends told me a while ago that I am more of a Christian than many Christians she knows. Strangely, a man I dated for a while last year (a devout Catholic) told me the same thing. Of course, another man I dated told me I was going to Hell and according to his Christian religion's "correct" interpretation of the Bible, he couldn’t be associated with me in any way because I’m a ‘non-believer’. In any case, I found this whole ‘me like a Christian’ reference interesting. I suppose they see me that way because regardless of what I believe about Jesus and the Bible, I acknowledge the lessons taught by both are important and relevant (the same as I see teachings in other religions and spiritually-based cultures as valuable). I do try to live by the Golden Rule, the same as my Atheist friends. We are all as far from immoral, reprehensible, and frightening as you can get… we simply follow our own True North, which doesn’t necessarily lead to the Christian Kingdom of Heaven. And you know what else? I’d rather be counted among that group than stand by a Christian (or follower of any religion) who goes to church, claims to love God, and then craps on his fellow human beings. And sadly, the world is full of those sorts of believers. Fortunately, it’s full of the other sort as well; the ones I’m happy to stand beside; the ones I've found here in Blogland.

So, back to the prompt. I don’t pray because, like religion, prayer doesn’t really make sense to me. I’d have to believe there was someone or something listening, willing and able to act… and I don’t. But I do offer up good thoughts to the Universe – I believe strongly in the power of positive thinking, hope, and love, because I believe they inspire positive action. Some of you might say that’s the definition of the power of prayer; a tangible display of God’s love. And that’s cool. I’m perfectly willing to accept that possibility. And just imagine… if every one of us was willing to accept even the possibility of each other’s truths… what a wonderful, tolerant place this would be!

Wordful Wednesday: Washington, DC

Man, I am totally without blog material. Or inspiration. Or inclination. I hate this feeling. I'm pretty sure it means I should take a few days off... or maybe just get off my butt and do something interesting so I'll have blog material. Which I might just do (either/or). But for today, I'll take advantage of Wordful Wednesday and post a couple of pictures.

Ryan and I go to DC every couple of months. We drive up to the first (well, the last, really) Metro stop in Virginia, park, and ride the train in. Parking in DC completely sucks and the train is fun (as long as it's not rush hour). We usually wind up at the Smithsonian stop... sometimes we hang out at various branches of that well-known and remarkable institution. Sometimes we visit other museums (the Holocaust Museum is one of our destinations of choice). Sometimes we traipse from monument to monument. Last spring we went to see the cherry blossoms. If you've never seen them, and you have the opportunity to do so, you should. The city is awash in pink and white flowering trees and it's to-die-for gorgeous. As they line the tidal basin on the way out to the Jefferson Memorial, we walked through throngs of people and under a canopy of sweet blossoms to see Mr. Jefferson. Instead of walking back the way we came, though, we opted to completely circle the basin, which took us past the FDR Memorial. Although it's been there for ten years, I'd somehow never seen it. It's amazing, powerful, inspirational, and sadly, so relevant, given the condition of the world today. It immediately became my favorite memorial.

Anyway, below are a few pictures from that day... and we'll be heading up next month to see the blossoms again...




Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I Wonder...

Empty. I'm running on empty today. And while I'd love to post about something interesting or exciting going on my own life, I can't. 'Cause there's nothing interesting or exciting going on. Luckily, thanks to Comcast news, I know there are things going on in other peoples' lives...

I just watched a report about this woman (and by 'woman' I mean 'greedy wench') who is fighting her soon-to-be-ex-husband in court. She's trying to nullify their post-nup, which would provide her with a 36 million dollar settlement upon finalization of their divorce. It seems that's not quite enough to support her $50,000+ weekly spending habit for long. No. So she's shooting for $99 million. Dollars. Ninety-nine. Million. Dollars.

Is it just me or does anyone else out there want to kick this woman? Just throw her down on the ground and stomp on her with steel-toed workboots? You know what I wish? I wish the judge would 1) laugh at her, 2) put her in jail for contempt of court and wasting his time, and 3) nullify the post-nup and then award her nothing in the way of a settlement. I know none of that will ever happen but that's what I wish. So many people are struggling to put food on the table right now... they're losing their homes... they can't afford basic medical care for themselves or their children... and she thinks she deserves $99 million simply because she married a wealthy man? Grrrrrr.

The news gets even sillier, too. A teenager in Florida was suspended from riding the school bus for 3 days this week. Wanna know why? He (allegedly) farted. The kid maintains it wasn't him, though he did smell it (as did, apparently, everyone else)... and you know the saying... the one who smelt it dealt it. The bus driver (and by 'bus driver' I mean 'the nasty old curmudgeon who clearly needs to get a life and a sense of humor') wrote in his report that the smell was so bad, the others on the bus couldn't breathe. Isn't that why they make windows that open? In a time when kids are getting beaten up on school buses... when they have to put monitors and cameras in them to keep unruly kids in line... when we have metal detectors in schools... a kid gets suspended for farting? Man, all I have to say is I hope Ryan never rides that old grump's bus.

I've never been a big fan of the news. I'm more the ostrich-type... stick my head in the sand and pretend all's well with the world. I get so sad and angry and frustrated when I read or watch it and I wonder what is wrong with people. I wonder why we just can't figure out a way to co-exist with one another... to stop judging and criticising and fighting. I wonder.

I think I'm going to start a new news network... the Good News Network. I wonder if maybe we all had the chance to read good news - even a little bit - every day, our outlooks might change. I wonder.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mondays Bite...

Happy friggin' Monday, yo.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chatty Cathy Meets Chatty Kate...

I'm back from DC, where I had my first in-person meeting with a bloggy friend! I met Heather, who was there from Alabama all week for a conference. Since she was only 2 hours away and since she's become my official bloggy little-sister, I headed on up there to hang out with her last night. It was great!

Heather is as completely adorable and sweet and funny in person as she is on her blog. I started laughing with her (and by 'with her' I mean 'at her') before I even laid eyes on her. I'd given her my room number (536) and she said she'd be right down. About 10 minutes later, I was still waiting. Then my phone rang and Heather asked, "Are you actually IN room 506 now?" Yup... room 506, where she'd been standing, knocking, for 5 minutes (I told her she'd just disturbed the people having sex in there). She was embarrassed. I was cracking up.

We sat in my room for a while and talked and talked... then we had a huge dinner (during which we talked and talked), and after we waddled back to the hotel, we planted ourselves in the bar (where we talked and talked... for a total of 8 hours straight, with only a couple of short bathroom breaks). It was my turn to be laughed at then...

I ordered a Guinness, which came in a bottle. I've only ever had Guinness from the tap or in a can... apparently the bottles are a relatively new thing here. Anyway, we were chatting and drinking and I noticed an odd, rattling sound coming from my bottle. I looked at Heather, shook the bottle, and said, "There's something in here." The look on her face, I'm sure, mirrored the look on mine... there is not supposed to be anything in a bottle of beer after all... well, except for beer. I had some unpleasant visions running through my head, let me tell you, so I decided to bring it to someone's attention. I went up to the bar and when the (very cute, very charming) bartender came over, and smiling big, asked what I needed, I said, "Ummm... there's something in my bottle." He replied, "Yes?" Me, again (shaking the bottle this time), "Ummm... there's something in my bottle." His smile turned into a full-fledged guffaw. Apparently bottles of Guinness contain some sort of plug thing that's meant to do something relevant... I dunno... like keeping all the beer from coming out at once...? That's not usually an issue I have, but whatever. When the bartender stopped laughing, he told me the look on my face had been priceless. Whenever he came over to our table for the rest of the night, he asked if I wanted another rattley beer.

So, Heather and I talked and talked until we were nodding off into our beers. We met for breakfast this morning before she had to head to the airport (where she's now stuck for the rest of the afternoon, as her flight was cancelled... poor baby) and I had to wander home. Meeting her was really fanstastic... it was like seeing an old friend again. I'm looking forward to the next time we can get together... and to meeting more of you lovely bloggy people!

Friday, March 20, 2009

I Take It Back...

OK, so Sherri didn't say awful things about me on her blog today after all. In fact, she said nice things. Really nice things. She even made me cry a little. And she gave me an award. An award! Can you believe it?! She probably just did it because she felt bad about yelling at me yesterday (and telling me I have a big butt, which wasn't nice at all...) but I don't care. I'm takin' it! She even created it for me, which is just beyond cool!
It's called the You Raise Me Up Award. Damn, but that's a serious shoe, isn't it? Sherri probably knows that if I ever tried to wear anything like that, I'd be flat on my butt in about 30 seconds flat. Which I'm sure would make her laugh and laugh and laugh (she says nice things, but I'm telling you, that woman has a mean streak). Anyway, all that aside, it's a pretty spectacular award and I appreciate it more than she'll ever know. Sherri does (far more than) her fair share of raising people up, too.

So, I officially take back every mean thing I've ever said about my pal Sherri... including the cracks about menopause I've been dishing out lately. And I'm going to leave Big Al and his new Harley to her (and not flaunt the fact that he really loves me). 'Cause I'm a good friend that way. Oh, and I'm fabulous, too (if you didn't realize that, read the post below this one). Michelle says so. And she's brilliant and insightful so it must be true.

And now I'm going to scoot out of here because I'm trying to get ready to leave for DC, where I'm going to hang out and drink beer tonight with my adorable bloggy little sister, Heather, from And Now I'm a Grown-up. How cool is that?! Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Who's Fabulous?

Sherri, over at Matter of Fact told me she’s featuring my blog on her blog on Friday. Normally this would thrill me, but today Sherri told me I have a big butt (actually, she yelled it at me, people!) and that I can no longer have her gorgeous husband, Big Al, when she kicks. I’m not sure what is up with that (crazy) woman's attitude or why she turned into an Indian-giver… I mean, I assured her I’d wait ‘til she was gone before I took my place on the back of Big Al’s new Harley, but that didn’t even seem to matter! Can you imagine?! The nerve of some people! So, although being featured on her blog sounds good, I’m not at all sure what sort of stuff she’s going to say about me. Some not-so-nice stuff seems highly likely. Sniff.

So, in case any of her peeps come by, ready to believe the terrible lies she’s spouting (I know my regular readers won’t… right? Right? Right?!), I figured I’d make sure they know I’m really fabulous. And you know how I know I’m fabulous? Because the lovely Michelle at The Truth As I Know It told me so! She bestowed upon me this fabulous award… because, hello! I’m fabulous!

Have I mentioned that I’m fabulous? (Well, it's that, or I've fooled the hell out of Michelle...)

And now I have to pass it on. But how to choose? You’re all fabulous… well, except for those of you (Sherri) who yell at me that my butt’s big. Even if it is. Details schmetails.

But I have to pick…

I’m going to give it to someone to whom I’ve never given an award… a person who never fails to make me laugh, with his blog or his comments… a person I know I’d love to sit with over a pint in ‘real’ life… a person I’d give anything to sit next to on the train… a person whose shoulder I will never read over…

Mo “Mad Dog” Stoneskin

If you’re not reading his blog, you’re nuts. Do it. Because I said so and because I’m fabulous (I told you, Michelle said so, damn it!). But more importantly, because he’s fabulous.

And Jon, I know the award is a little girly but I also know you’re man enough to take it (and so do all those teenagers at the pool! Oh, wait... it was cold that day, wasn't it? So, hmmm... maybe not ;)… xo

PS... Thank you, Michelle, for the fabulous award! I'm really honored (even if you are a little misguided and clearly gullible ;)... xo

PPS... Sherri, I still love you... even if you are crazy, an Indian-giver, and think I have a big butt. Sniff.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Writer's Workshop: I Used to Think...

It's Writer's Workshop time... head over to Kathy's and check it out. This week, I chose the prompt: I used to think...

I used to think it was funny when my dad groaned the ‘old man groan’ when he got up out of his chair. Then I started doing it myself.

I used to think that even if I abused my body, it wouldn’t let me down. Then it broke and made me cry.

I used to think we were never handed that which we couldn’t handle. Then a good friend committed suicide.

I used to think that as long as I refused to believe it was going to happen, the people I loved would never leave me. Then my father died.

I used to think that death was the end. Then I felt my dad’s spirit and I knew there was something more… and that was enough.

I used to think my husband would never cheat on me. Then he broke my heart… but not my spirit.

I used to think that when you love someone, you love them forever. Then I found out that love can end... but the world doesn’t.

I used to think people who claimed to be depressed simply needed to get over it. Then my world caved in around me and I found out just how hard it is to find your way out of the dark.

I used to think writing was just something to do for fun. Then it saved my sanity.

I used to think it was nurture and not nature that caused little girls to like dolls and little boys to like trucks. Then my daughter jumped straight from gender-neutral toys into her Disney Princess phase.

I used to think my baby would take her time growing up. Then, today, I bought her a bra.

I used to think I knew a lot about a lot. Then I realized just how little I know about a lot.

I used to think life was, if not endless, long enough. Now I know better.

I used to think that the best is yet to come. I still do.

Wordful Wednesday...

I'm busy, busy, busy again with work today, so I thought I'd do a quickie picture-post for Wordful Wednesday (as I can never post a picture without saying something about it)... This is one of my favorite pictures of Ryan ever. It was taken just before her 5th birthday, at a photography studio in Charlotte. We'd been going there a couple of times a year since she was a baby and she called the photographer's husband (who got the kids positioned properly and helped make them smile), "Uncle Gary". He had the greatest rapport with Ryan and never failed to make her fall over laughing (he fell over a few times, too, as my kid gives as good as she gets). The pictures they took were always just amazing. They loved working with Ryan and I usually had about 150 proofs to sift through after every sitting. There are a few pictures of my baby up in their studio, too, as samples of their best work. As for this one, I never go for the 'fake' backgrounds but they convinced me to try the beach view... I wound up really liking it. Her personality just shines through, I think, and she looks so happy and healthy and sun-kissed... I love it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Try it...

I'm really busy with work today... so I thought I'd give you an assignment, too...

Monday, March 16, 2009

I Think That's Called a 'Sneeth'...

Well, it's Monday, gloomy Monday, and I've got nothin' new so I'm going to tell you an old story that always makes me laugh, 'cause whether or not you can use a giggle today, I could sure handle it.

First, you know how a sneeze combined with a fart is (in addition to being incredibly embarrassing) called a 'snart'? You didn't know? Really? Well, it is. I like combo words like that... they make me laugh. My cousin Anne, who lives in New Zealand, told me one that made me chuckle for, like, 3 days. Her son Jack had a stomach bug and was feeling much like I was feeling on Friday night (you know, after I consumed the entire bag of prunes)... and, bless his little heart, he thought he was only going to fart but he... well... did a little more than that. Anne dubbed it a 'shart'. Funny, eh? Yeah, it runs in my family. The funny, not the runs. Well, sometimes...

ANYWAY, before I digress to the point of no return, this story isn't about snarts or sharts... it's about a 'sneeth'. What's a sneeth, you ask? Well, my bloggy friends, do read on...

About 100 years ago, I worked for a video retail company (like Blockbuster, but smaller), in the Operations Department at the corporate office. Part of my job was going out to the stores to do monthly evaluations and audits. One morning, I was in our largest store, looking at something behind the counter where Rob, the store manager, was working. An old man, ready to check out his movies, put them on the counter and handed Rob his video card and money. Then he backed up and took a deep breath, clearly gearing up for a massive sneeze. As he let it fly (without, I might add, covering his mouth), his false teeth flew out of his mouth, shot about 5 feet, and landed on the floor behind Rob and me.
Rob and I, stunned, looked at each other... looked at the teeth... looked at the man. The old guy, calm and seemingly unaffected, walked behind the counter, picked up the teeth, and just popped them back in. He took his bag from Rob without a word and just hobbled out of the store, as if a sneeth happened to him every day. And who knows? Maybe it did.

We burst out laughing, Rob doubled over the counter, me sinking to the floor. Luckily, we didn't have another customer for a while after, as I'm not sure either of us could've managed any sort of transaction that required us to stand up straight. It was months before we could look at each other without laughing. At Christmas, I gave him a tube of Effergrip, with a note that said, "For Sneeth Man."

Sometimes I miss that job.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday, Rainy Sunday...

It's rainy and cold out but it's been a great day so far nonetheless...

Ryan and I got up and went out for breakfast, while Sundance waited ever so patiently in the car. We took a seat by a window so we could watch out for him, but the entire time we ate, he sat watching us. To reward him for his vigilance, I brought him a to-go container of scrambled eggs (he's so spoiled, that boy of mine).

After breakfast, we headed to the park for some puddle-stompin'. My boy ran around like a dervish, off-leash and happy to have the whole park to himself. My girl ran after him, chasing him, slipping in the mud, and laughing. I limped behind, amazed at their energy... wishing I could bottle it and drink deeply on days when I just don't have it in me. We stayed until the heavens opened and we got absolutely drenched. And let me just say, Sundance really stinks when he's wet. My car now smells like I've been transporting a herd of sheep... for miles and miles... and miles.

Early this afternoon, we went to the movies to see Race to Witch Mountain. It was good... edge-of-your-seat suspenseful (albeit a kid kind of suspenseful). And I have to say, whether he can act or not, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is one spectacular-looking man. As Ryan says, "He's very 'smiley' and his 'man boobs' are fab, not flab." I nearly fell over when I heard it come out of her mouth... I just looked at her... then I laughed big. She is right, after all.

Thanks to everyone for the advice you gave on my Mussolini Heel. I've decided that I will indeed visit a podiatrist soon. Oh, and no worries about not wearing sexy shoes anymore. That made me laugh out loud. I've always hoped someone would find Nikes sexy. Sigh. Not going barefoot will be an issue, though. I don't wear shoes if I don't have to. Who does? I'll adjust if I must, though... as we do... all of us... right? Anyway, I tried the tennis ball trick last night, which I'd read about, and it actually helped. It hurt a lot while I was doing it but it seemed to loosen my heel quite a bit. The biggest problem I had was when Sundance kept stealing the ball out from under me. In any case, my limping was not as profound today, so that was good.

I researched our summer vacation earlier. I was hoping to get us out to the Grand Canyon but given the way the economy's looking (and the fact that my ex lost his job 2 weeks ago... gulp), I'm thinking we need to stay a little closer to home. Instead, we're going to camp for a week+ on Assateague Island (the Maryland side). For those of you who don't know about Assateague or Chincoteague, look up the book, Misty of Chincoteague. The wild ponies are said to wander about the national park campground and Ryan was even willing to put up with cold-water showers and chemical toilet facilities for the chance to camp around the horses. We'll be right over the dunes from the ocean... can't beat it! Hopefully the Grand Canyon will be next summer's trip.

I guess that's all the excitement I'll lay on you for now... I don't want any of you to suffer heart palpitations or anything. Besides, I need a nap.

Hope your Sunday's been great!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Damned Fascists...

Today's post is to ask for advice from anyone who might have a clue... 'cause I got nothin'...

I've developed this rather painful condition I've dubbed 'Mussolini Heel'. It's actually known as plantar fasciitis and it Hurts. Like. Hell.

Now, I've suffered from chronic joint pain for several years and though it can get pretty bad at times, I mostly just ignore it. It is what it is... it'll be there forever and I've learned to manage it. It's sort of like when Ryan's been talking for 3 hours straight... I just tune it out and it doesn't even bother me anymore.

But this heel pain is different.

Sometimes it actually brings tears to my eyes. I'm walking like I'm 92. I feel it even when I'm sitting and the pain has taken to radiating up my shin, so that I can't find a comfortable position.

What's that you asked? What does my doc say? Well... ummm... I haven't been yet. I know what it is. I've read everything there is about it and it seems there is little that can be done for it. Plus, I hate doctors. With a passion. Well, OK, I don't hate doctors per se (some doctors are lovely... Maithri)... I just hate going to the doctor. I blame it on Dr. Cook, my pediatrician... 400lbs of toothpick-chewing, gravelly-voiced fear personified. Anyway, I pretty much only go if I feel like I'm dying and I'm reasonably sure I'm not going to die from Mussolini Heel.

But I was wondering if anyone else out there has dealt with this annoying condition and has any advice to offer up regarding alleviating the pain...? I've tried the inserts for my shoes... no change. I looked at the thingy that will keep my foot in the right position when I sleep, but before I spend $30 on it, I wanted to know if anyone else has tried it. Anti-inflammatories (though I hate taking any sort of pills and will avoid it at all costs)? Massage? Anything? Anything at all?

Trust Me...

Have you ever sat in front of the television or computer and absent-mindedly eaten an entire bag of chips or cookies or candy, etc...? You know... you get to the last bite and, utterly shocked at your own gluttonous behavior, exclaim, "Oh my God! Did I eat the whole bag?!" And then you feel bad. Guilty. Fat. Just plain bad.

Yeah, you know.

Well (and trust me when I say this), never, ever do that with an entire bag of those yummy Sunsweet Orange Essence Dried Plums (I know, I know... A prune by any other name... is still a prune).

You will feel bad. Not guilty. Definitely not fat. But bad. Very, very bad.

On the up-side, you won't need that colon cleansing you were considering.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Please Send Good Thoughts...

I've just found out through Henry the Dog's Mum that one of my favorite bloggy friends, Braja, of Lost and Found in India, has been in a serious car accident. She was on her way to the airport to fly off to New Zealand from India when the taxi she was riding in with her husband was involved in a head-on collision. Her injuries, while serious, do not appear to be life-threatening, but her husband was hurt very badly and the driver of the taxi was as well.

Please send lots of good thoughts and prayers (if that's your thing) their way.

And all of you out there, just take a little extra care to keep safe and well... OK?

XOXO

Trying... Again...

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t make yourself understood? Well, if you’re like me, you keep trying… again… and again... and again...

You all remember Troll-Guy, right? If not, go here… or here… to read about him. So, I got my quarterly email from him last night and I thought you might like to read it (and by ‘read it’ I mean ‘laugh hysterically at Diane’s keen ability to attract the most pitiful men on the planet’).

Dear Dianne, (Again with the misspelling!)

How are you on this windy, blustery March day? (Oh, did I forget to mention his middle name is Redundant?) I can’t believe this crazy weather, can you? (The weather? Sure. But I can’t believe you, crazy guy, are emailing me again.) I hope this email finds you well. (I was well… ‘til I saw your name in my in-box…) As usual, I have been thinking about you alot (I think they make a pill for that now) and I was wondering if you have decided to get back into the dating world again. (The dating world? Possibly. Your world? Not a chance.) I understand the need to take a break sometimes. (I’m betting your ‘breaks’ aren’t exactly voluntary, though, are they?) Anyway, if your up for it, I’d love to get together again. (And I’d love for you to learn the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, but that obviously isn’t going to happen either.) Please let me know if your free this weekend. (Oh, sorry, I just made plans to shave my head and have every orifice on my body cauterized.) Maybe we could go for a hike up in the SNF (only if you promise to get eaten by a bear) and then we could have dinner at Red Lobster again. (We ate at LUIGI’S, damn it!). That was so much fun! (No. No, it was not.) I hope we can do it! (Sure, if by ‘it’ you mean ‘never see each other again’.)

Love, (I know, I can’t believe he said it either.)

Troll-Guy (It'd be funny if he called himself that, huh?)

And my response…

Dear Troll-Guy, (Yes, I double-checked before I sent it.)

Thanks for your email. (And by ‘thanks’ I mean ‘why the hell can’t you take a hint?’) You certainly are persistent, aren’t you? (And by ‘persistent’ I mean ‘annoying as crap’.) I do appreciate the offer (I’m lying) but I have to say no. (That part’s the truth.) I just don’t think we’re a good fit (unless, of course, you’re comfortable in coach, on an 8-hour flight, sandwiched between a 300lb gassy woman and a 6’9” man with the wingspan of a pterodactyl and chronic halitosis) but I really hope you find what you’re looking for out there in Dating World. (There’s got to be a place where you can find Troll-Girls… keep looking.)

Take care, (And go away!)

Diane (with one ‘n’)

I hoped that would be the end of it. But hope has a way of pissing in your Cheerios, doesn't it? Here is his response, received this morning…

Dear Dianne, (Clearly he’s not detail-oriented.)

I guess nothing has changed. (Oh, but it has, as I’m even more annoyed with you now than I was last night.) I hoped you would be able to get past this (ummm… past what?) and realize that looks aren’t everything. (Or, in your case, anything.) I’m sad for you. (And I’m really pissed off with you.) I hope YOU find what YOUR looking for in Dating World but be aware that no one is perfect. (And some of us are much less perfect than others, aren’t we?)

Troll-Guy (Awww... I guess he doesn’t love me anymore, huh?)

Well, damn. I could just let it go, couldn’t I? So what if he thinks I’m shallow and don’t like him because he’s ugly… I mean weird-looking… I mean unconventional-looking… OK, no, I mean ugly. But I’m not shallow. I swear! I know I joke about his looks (a lot), but they truly weren’t the reason I didn’t like him. And when I get right down to it, although I say I don't care what people think about me, I don’t want anyone to think I'm shallow (even Troll-Guy). So now I have to get serious… and honest. Crap.

Dear David,

Here’s the deal… I try really hard to live by the Golden Rule. Sometimes I fail, but I try. I appreciate it when people are honest and direct with me, so in an effort to get you past this, I’m going to be perfectly honest with you… again. I realize the first time I told you the complete truth, I hurt your feelings. I felt horrible about it and that’s why I’ve been somewhat evasive each time you’ve contacted me since. But I’m going to give it another shot and hope it gets through this time.

As I explained to you numerous times after we went out, your looks have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I don’t want to see you again… they never have and they never will. I did not (nor would I ever) say you were unattractive in any way and I don’t appreciate you putting words in my mouth… again. As I said before, we’re attracted to the people we’re attracted to and there’s no controlling it. It has a great deal to do with chemistry, which, as you know, is elusive and unexplainable. I truly never know what I’ll find physically attractive from one person to the next… that’s the beauty of being a woman with no ‘type’ and diverse tastes.

It is never my intention to be unkind so forgive me if I sound that way now, but the absolute truth is, I didn’t enjoy the time we spent together at all. While I’m sure you’re a very nice person and will make the right woman happy, you and I are simply not right for each other. But know beyond all doubt that I am not looking for perfection. I’m well aware it doesn’t exist and I wouldn’t want it if it did. I am, however, looking for certain qualities in a partner and, as far as I can tell, you don’t possess them. As such, I don’t believe you are or ever will be the person I’m looking for – the person who is perfect for me. And, as such, I cannot be the person you’re looking for either. Relationships (and attractions) must be reciprocal and people must complement each other in order for things to work. We don’t. That’s the bottom line.

So take care of yourself and please don’t contact me again. Thank you.

Diane

I hope he doesn’t cry… again. Or email me… again. Or dye his hair that weird shade of yellow-orange… again. You know I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I wish

Yesterday’s Writer's Workshop post left me feeling kind of flat and sad and headache-y… today’s is different…

I wish for every child on the planet

At least one person who loves you with wild abandon… and isn’t afraid to show it…

Goodnight kisses and ‘just because’ hugs…

Swing sets and slides and grassy hills to roll down…

Firefly lanterns and creeks to wade in…

A belief in magic and miracles…

Enough good, healthy food to fill your bellies…

Freedom to explore and grow…

Puddles to stomp in and stars to wish upon…

Kind words and common sense boundaries…

Chores to teach you the value of work…

A willingness to try new things to find what you love and what you’re good at…

The big box of crayons and the imagination to use them all…

Wonderful books full of magic and adventure…

Clean air, water, and land…

A good friend to laugh with, confide in, and just be with …

Healthy bodies, curious minds, and kind hearts…

Time to spend in nature…

A pet to cuddle and care for…

Good role models…

The understanding that you can’t have everything you want, that you will lose sometimes (even when you do your best), that feeling sad or angry sometimes is a part of life… and that it’s all OK…

Peace, safety, and security… at home, in your schools, your communities, and your world…

Time to just be children

If every child grew up this way, can you imagine what sort of world we'd live in? Can you?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Writer's Workshop: Inspiration? Or Desperation?

One of Kathy’s Writer’s Workshop prompts this week was, ‘What has inspired you to write?’ I haven’t been feeling all that inspired lately… but when I got home this morning and read the news, I found some inspiration.

A man in rural Alabama shot at least 11 people yesterday (they’re still doing a body count). Most of them were members of his family; some of them were just random people he drove past; two of them were infants; most of them are dead. Like most of the people who commit this sort of horrific act, he killed himself (after a shoot-out with the police).

I’d like to say I’m stunned that this could happen in a small town in America. But I can't. I’d like to say I'm shocked that it could happen at all. But I can't. I’d like to say I believe it will never happen again. But again, I can’t.

As I read, my heart heavy, I thought about the other stories of gun violence I’ve heard about in the last year… the stories involving children…

A few weeks ago, I read a report about an 11-year-old boy in Pennsylvania who killed his father’s pregnant girlfriend with a kid-sized shotgun he’d received for his birthday (the same sort of gun, I must add, that my 8-year-old niece got from my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas a year ago).

In January, a 4-year-old in Ohio wounded his teenaged babysitter when he got a gun out of a closet and shot him. It seems he was angry because the older boy stepped on his foot. This happened in a trailer full of teenagers and small children.

In October, an 8-year-old in Massachusetts, under the direct supervision of his father and a certified shooting instructor, died when he lost control and shot himself in the head while firing an Uzi submachine gun at a gun fair.

Back in November, I did a post called, “I’m Bothered” about an 8-year-old in Arizona who shot and killed his father and his father’s friend.

In June, a 4-year-old girl shot herself in the chest while shopping at Sam’s Club in Columbia, SC with her grandmother. It seems her grandmother was (legally) carrying a concealed weapon in her purse and, forgetting it was there, set the purse next to the child in the shopping cart. While Grandma was turned away, perusing the aisle, the little girl got the gun out and pulled the trigger.

And those are just the stories I came across… how many others were there? How many did I miss?

I have big issues with the way we manage our ‘right to bear arms’ and gun control laws in general, but I’m going to try not to rant about that. I grew up hearing (and still hear) "if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns." I know all the theories and justifications (and I even understand some of them). My brother and his friends could supply the military with the firepower they keep in their homes. I’ve seen the bumper stickers that declare how many lives are saved each year by defensive civilian gun use.

I’m not going to argue any of those points because I don’t believe it does any good. I don’t really believe our overall situation will ever change, even with events like Alabama and Virginia Tech and Columbine happening with alarming regularity, because a large enough number of our citizens won’t allow it out of fear they’ll lose a freedom they deem necessary to live comfortably. In fact, I've heard those horrific shootings used as fuel for the argument that all Americans should carry weapons in order to ensure their own safety and quick resolution when something like that happens. I find all of that disturbing, frightening, and incredibly sad. I just know I’m glad I don’t live in a place of darkness and fear; a place where I feel the need to arm myself in order to feel safe and simply live my life.

But the children? That’s a different story, isn’t it? I am of the strong belief that children have no business near guns. They should not have access to them… ever… not in Grandma’s purse; not in Daddy’s closet; not in their own bedrooms where they keep the rifles they’ve been given for Christmas. Does this mean Daddy won’t be able to teach Junior how to hunt? Absolutely. Does this mean my niece, a crack-shot, won’t be able to go target shooting with her parents? Damn straight. Does this mean that an 8-year-old won’t be on trial for murder? Let’s sure as hell hope so. And I have no problem with any of that. I don’t see it as a loss of any sort of freedom. I see it as protecting our children, pure and simple. They are not allowed to drive cars, or drink alcohol, or smoke cigarettes legally… how is not allowing them to handle a weapon any different? It makes, in my opinion, even more sense than any of those other laws.

I do realize that the gun issue is only a symptom of a much larger problem – one that includes the violence kids are exposed to in the media, games, and real-life news, as well as the fact that we are taking away any ‘safe’ conflict they encounter, hindering their ability to develop strong, rational conflict-resolution skills. I was going to go on (and on and on) about all of that but this post wound up at about 2,000 words… too many, even for me. So I’m going to get off my soapbox… for now.

I am wondering, though, what one concerned mom in a small town in Virgina can do about this... there has to be something, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What My Kid Thinks About Mememememe...

There are a couple of memes floating around and I decided to steal the 'What My Kid Thinks About Me' one. I'm never quite sure what Ryan's going to say about me but she's been pretty good in the past, so I went for it. I told her she couldn't think very hard about the questions and she had to simply say the first thing that popped into her head...

What is something I always say to you?
Ry: That you love me. (She obviously forgot about, "Ryan! Honey! Stop talking, just for 5 minutes, will you?!")

What makes me happy?
Ry: Me! (Yeah, she's not conceited at all.)

What makes me sad?
Ry: When I'm rude and act like an idiot. (Smart kid.)

How do I make you laugh?
Ry: By acting like a dork and telling fart jokes. (I know my audience.)

What was I like as a child?
Ry: How the heck should I know?! (Fair enough.)

How old am I?
Ry: 44 (Crap. I was hoping she'd go younger.)

How tall am I?
Ry: Ummmm... 5'2"? (I obviously look significantly shorter from below.)

What's my favorite thing to do?
Ry: Go hiking. (I'm so glad she didn't say 'eat'... not that it wouldn't have been true...)

What do I do when you're not around?
Ry: You're on the computer. (Like I said, smart kid.)

If I became famous, what would it be for?
Ry: Writing a book. (One can hope.)

What am I really good at?
Ry: Making chili. (And eating chili.)

What do I do for work?
Ry: Write resumes for people who can't write them for themselves. (Or who can't write at all.)

What's my favorite food?
Ry: Ummmm... complicated foods that I don't like. (She doesn't like a lot, so that's not hard... not sure what the 'complicated' bit means, though, given that I don't really even cook.)

What makes you proud of me?
Ry: When you get the little kids on the swim team to stop being afraid of the water. And that you're really funny and all my friends love you. (Awww.)

If I were a cartoon character, who would I be?
Ry: Jerry from Tom and Jerry, 'cause he's really smart. (She had to know if she said anyone from Spongebob Squarepants, she'd lose her computer privileges.)

What do we do together?
Ry: Go camping and hiking and swimming and bowling and to the movies. We have fun! (We do, it's true!)

How are we alike?
Ry: We both talk a lot. And we like to read. And we're both sarcastic. (The apple didn't fall far from that tree... which is pretty cool... except when she spits sarcasm at me.)

How are we different?
Ry: I'm dark and you're really white. (Her tone implied that I glow in the dark... which is sort of true... sigh.)

How do you know I love you?
Ry: 'Cause you're my mom. Duh. (Yeah... duh.)

What do I like best about your dad? (Uh oh...)
Ry: That he lives in Alabama! (She was laughing when she said it... but it's true!)

Where is my favorite place to go?
Ry: England! (My kid knows me well!)

Sigh...

I made a rather disturbing discovery this morning. My life is incredibly boring. Well, OK, I didn't actually discover that this morning (I've known it for some time, really... though I do forget on occasion), but it hit home today. You see, I've been sitting here for a little while now, thinking about writing some sort of post, which you'll note I couldn't do yesterday, as I had nothing interesting to say then either. Now, upon finding my brain blank all day yesterday (not that unusual on a Monday, really), I thought to myself, "Self, tomorrow you'll have something interesting to say." But I got up this morning and after a couple of hours of Blank Brain Syndrome, I thought to myself, "Self, you clearly live the most dull existence in the history of existences." And I sighed.

Sigh.

How can one spend 10 days offline, presumably to actually live life, and have nothing to write about at the end of it? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Sigh.

On the up-side, the weather has warmed up. Well, it's a bit chillier this morning, but that's cool. Ha ha ha ha ha... cool... get it? See, it's cooler than it was the other day... which is cool... oh, never mind. Anyway, it's been a bit bizarre, really. A week ago Sunday, Ryan was skiing in a snowstorm. It was about 2 degrees and I had to drive home that night at 20 mph, as the roads were snow-covered and slick. Exactly one week later, it was 72 degrees when I got her all stuffed into her ski boots and pointed her in the direction of the lift house. Bizarre. She found she doesn't like skiing in slush. Well, to be specific, she doesn't like falling in slush, as when it's too warm for a ski jacket, significant parts of her aren't covered in waterproof material... not pleasant.

Here's something funny (or not)... I heard an ad on the radio this morning for the Virginia Heritage Market. It's this big building on the outskirts of town that houses all sorts of small, local craft/retail businesses. The guy on the radio said, in a very country-fied sort of accent, "Whether you need you some grape jelly (pronounced 'jell-Eh') or a new rifle, we've got it at the Virginia Heritage Market!" How cool is that? You can get your sweets and killin' machines, all in the same place!

Sorry. I told you, I got nothin'. I'm going to just quit while I'm ahead. Hope your Tuesday is more exciting than mine.

Sigh.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hiatus... Over

Hi Everyone! How was your week? Mine was not bad... not bad at all. I missed you guys and there were a couple of days last week where I had to force myself to stay offline, but I did it. It got easier, though I did find myself wondering what everyone was up to. As for me, the most significant thing I noticed about being unplugged was that I was able to focus on one thing at a time, which I almost never do. I know I've listed 'multi-tasking' as an attribute on many resumes, and maybe it is a positive in some industries, but I found out that although it's become routine for me to do several things at once, being a multi-tasker is not good for me. I felt much more clear-headed last week than I have in a long time...

I worked without stopping every 15 minutes to check email (and I actually got caught up!)... I read 3 books (which is easy to do when you devote 2-3 whole hours at a time to reading something other than blogs!)... I gave Ryan my undivided attention (i.e. without the laptop open) and read to her every night... I worked out... I went to bed early nearly every night... it was good.

I learned this week that while I love being connected - and even need it - I also need to disconnect sometimes. So my goal is to allot a certain period of time every day for blogging/emailing/IMing... and that's it. It means cutting back... but I'm finding it necessary to cut back in a lot of areas of my life in order to improve the quality of the life I'm living. It's all about balance, which has never been one of my strong points... but I'm going to keep working on it.

I hope your week was wonderful! I look forward to seeing what you've been up to... it might take me a while, though...

The Dragon and the Mouse... 9/10/08

More about Ryan...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My daughter is 9 and quite grown up in some ways, but the little girl in her still sleeps with stuffed animals… 2 of them. First is Stewart, a realistic-looking mouse puppet she got for her first birthday. Back then, he was known as ‘Stew-it’ and he was absolutely indispensable in our house. When Ryan went through a phase at about two where she didn’t want to eat, I would put Stewart on my hand and hold the fork and, voila! Creamed spinach gone! It was cool. Stewart used to be very bright white and soft… now he’s sort of grey and ratty (no pun intended) with a band-aid on his tail, but he’s still well-loved (by both of us).

Second is Jonesy, a red dragon. Ryan has been totally into dragons since we started reading Harry Potter when she was 5, and this one is identical to the one she sent to my friend Todd in London. Todd used to email her as the ‘real’ Jonesy, a red Welsh dragon who lives in his spare room (Todd’s very imaginative). And while Ryan knew Jonesy didn’t really exist, she enjoyed suspending her disbelief to carry on a correspondence with him.

I find it funny that her two favorite animals are a mouse and a dragon. In some ways, they are like tangible little displays of Ryan’s own personality. On one hand, she’s big and fierce and fearless and fire-breathing, with claws and wings and a forked tongue. This part of her tends to fly alone. On the other hand, she can be tiny and timid and quivering; cuddly and mild. But, as would happen in real life (if dragons existed, that is), the mild is overshadowed by the fierce. In fact, I'm often the only one who gets to see the mouse.

I WANT her to be a dragon. I want her to be able to stand up for herself and not take crap from anyone. I want her to fly and breathe fire when she believes in something; to be noticed and respected. But I want her to be able to temper that side of her personality with the mouse… I want her to understand that you don’t have to be big and bad to be strong; that you don’t have to be loud to be heard; that being afraid doesn’t mean you’re not brave; and that it’s OK to be a part of a group… it’s OK to share the cheese with the rest of the mice.

I’m sure (I hope) it’s something she’ll figure out as she grows. I just see some heartache in her future if she can’t tame the dragon a tiny bit… and that breaks my heart, especially when I know there’s a sweet little mouse in there, deep down.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Just One Dance... 10/22/08

This was written in response to a Writer's Workshop prompt, issued by Kathy over at Mama's Losin' It...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s that time again! Kathy over at Mama's Losin' It has assigned her weekly writing prompts... I chose, I would walk a mile for…

A mile’s not very far, is it? I walk/wheeze a bunch of them every day… sometimes as many as 6… sometimes (like this week, when I’ve been feeling run-down) only 1 or 2. So I guess, since it seems a fairly insignificant distance, I’d walk a mile for just about anything.

As such, I’m going to change the prompt to this:

I would walk 1,000 miles for…

Now that’s more like it, don’t you think? A thousand miles… that’s a crapload. That would take effort… time… heart… commitment… really good shoes. Am I right? Yes, I am.

So… I’d walk 1,000 miles for… a dance. Yup… just one dance.

You see, when I was little, I used to stand on my dad’s feet and he’d dance me all around the living room to Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett or big band music. I can see us in my mind’s eye perfectly… arms outstretched, my little hands in his big ones, struggling to keep my balance, both of us laughing. When we danced, I felt special and loved. And I was. I was his girl. He was my hero.

I didn’t inherit my dad’s skills on the dance floor, however. It became painfully clear as I got older that I have no internal rhythm. My brother, who is completely deaf, moves better than I do. It’s sad, really. I couldn’t even take aerobics classes, as I couldn’t sort out the moves properly. When the instructor went one way, I invariably went the other, which caused me to bump into other students. Often. (They didn’t actually ask me not to come back… but they were thinking it, I know.) No rhythm, I tell you. So dancing is not something I do. Ever. And though I’m certainly not above making a fool of myself (and I do so with alarming regularity), I simply cannot bring myself to be that much of a fool.

All that being said, I did muddle through the father/daughter dance at my wedding. It’s tradition, after all. But my dad teased and laughed at me and how awkward I was. I (lovingly) told him to shut up… and then I stepped on his foot… again. So when he asked me to dance with him at another family wedding a few years later, I said no. He asked again. Again I refused. I wish I’d known that would be my last chance.

When my dad was very sick, with no chance of recovery, I saw the movie Hope Floats. There was a scene where Sandra Bullock’s character visits her father, who has Alzheimer’s, in his nursing home. He recognizes her briefly and holds his arms out, asking for a dance. She flashes back to when she’s a child, dancing on her daddy’s feet, just like I did… just like so many little girls do. At that very moment, as I sat there sobbing in the dark movie theatre, I realized I would never dance with my dad again. And my heart broke.

So, yes, I’d absolutely walk 1,000 (or 2,000… or 10,000) miles for one just dance. I’d forget that I have no rhythm… I’d ignore my lack of grace… I’d put my hands in his... I'd rest my head on his shoulder… and I’d dance with my daddy.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I Do Believe in Fairies... I Do! I Do! 6/13/08

As Ryan's 10th birthday approaches, I feel the same way... sniff...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was looking at the photos I took of the Ryan the other day, thinking how grown up she looked in them, and I suddenly realized she’s going to turn 9 in a few weeks. Nine! How the hell did that happen? It’s a weird age, I think, as she’s straddling this invisible line… on one side, she’s a ‘tween (the new word for pre-teens)… on the other, a little girl. It’s a bizarre (and frustrating) dichotomy. For example, she’s more technically savvy than many adults I know… but she still has temper tantrums when the computer hiccups (of course, so do I). She is picky about her clothes and what coordinates… but she doesn’t see the mass of wrinkles that result when she stuffs her clothes in her dresser drawers. She has the attitude (and mouth) of a 15-year-old… but she still wants me to lie with her for a cuddle when I tuck her in.

I don’t like this growing up stuff. Part of it is because I know she’s going to be a massive challenge as a teenager and I’m scared witless. Part of it is that I simply miss my baby. But it’s inevitable, isn’t it? This past Easter morning, when we woke in our tent (bundled in our sleeping bags and parkas, hats, gloves, etc), we had “The Santa Talk.” Actually, it started out as the Easter Bunny Talk, as she wanted to know how he managed to leave her basket in my locked car, at our campsite. She wasn’t upset at finding out he isn’t real (I pointed out that the whole concept of a 6ft bunny waltzing into your house with a basket of candy is just plain creepy), but the whole Santa thing bothered her for a few minutes. I was a little sad about that… but relieved that I’ll never hear, “It doesn’t matter if I don’t play with it. Santa brought it, so it’s not like anyone PAID for it” again. Grrrrr.

Every now and then, though, I am reminded that she is still a little girl. My friend Todd, who lives in London, corresponds with Ryan via email, both as himself and as Jonesy, a red Welsh dragon who fishes in the Thames, types with a pencil (because of his long claws, you know), and lives in Todd’s spare room. Now, Ryan knows deep down that Jonesy isn’t real, but she’s still willing to suspend her disbelief and carry on this really lovely correspondence with her friend… her friend who just happens to be a dragon. And she still believes in fairies. When we were in England the summer she turned 5, she and her cousin Georgia saw one at the bottom of the garden (I missed it because I was on the patio, drinking beer… go figure). Since then, there is nothing anyone can say to convince her they do not exist, though her resolve does waver every now and then. After being told by a boy at school recently that there is no such thing as fairies, she asked me if I believe in them. I said I absolutely do; there’s no doubt in my mind. My affirmation worked, just like when she was little and I kissed the boo boos and made them better, and all was right with the world again. But I know the day is coming, in the not too distant future, when my words won’t mean a thing. Sigh.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Just One Second Later... 8/25/08

Thinking about this still scares the bejeebies out of me...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I almost killed a kid yesterday. He rode his bicycle at breakneck speed into the intersection I was driving through on my way to Target to pick up dog food. About Ryan's age, he was clad in only a pair of shorts - no shoes, no helmet - and a 'deer caught in the headlights' look. I slammed on my brakes HARD and though I know my tires were no longer moving, my car was still being propelled forward by sheer momentum... it stopped a mere 6 inches from his sturdy little-boy body perched on his green mountain bike. He waved and hollered "I'm sorry" twice before continuing on his way. I had to pull over, to catch my breath and wait for my heart's rhythm to return to normal. I can't remember ever being so frightened. A hundred things ran through my head -- all the what if's... what if I'd been just one second later entering the intersection? What if I'd been looking down at the radio or adjusting the AC or looking in my rear view mirror? What if I hadn't had my brakes replaced recently? What if I'd been tired or my reflexes weren't so good? None of the scenarios my mind fabricated were positive... every one of them resulted in him being terribly (or fatally) injured. It didn't matter that it wouldn't have been my fault... I wasn't speeding; I was crossing the intersection at a green light; he didn't stop or look before he barrelled in front of me; he wasn't wearing any of the protective gear required by law (or common sense). All that would have mattered was that I hit a child with my car. My life as I know it would have been over. That's the sort of thing you don't move past, no matter how it happens or how it turns out. Luckily, I didn't have to move past it. I just had to take a deep breath and thank the Universe that everything fell into place so that little boy could make it, unharmed, to his friend's house or the playground or wherever he was going (hopefully a little bit wiser, a little more wary of intersections, and a lot more respectful of red lights). And after another deep breath, I thanked the Universe that all my problems and frustrations and the annoyances that plague this daily mess we call 'life' pale in comparison to what I COULD have had to deal with, had I been just one second later.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Breast Man Is Born... 6/7/2008

Coaching on Ryan's swim team last summer was so much fun...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You'd think, after living with a bright and extremely articulate child for nearly 9 years, I'd be used to hearing unusual and unexpected thoughts escape from the mouths of little people. But every now and then, I'm thrown. Last night was one of those every now and thens...

I've thoroughly enjoyed coaching the littlest kids on Ryan's swim team so far... I work with between 3 and 7 kids on any given night and they range in age from 4 to 6. They're all really adorable and because I've always been good with kids in that age group, they like me and are all getting quite attached (which I don't mind in the least). I try to make practices/lessons a lot of fun and give them all loads of encouragement and praise, which isn't difficult, as they try really hard to do their best for me.

One of my little guys, an especially cute and charming 5-year-old, doggie paddled out to me last night and when I picked him up to congratulate him for not touching the bottom of the pool, he looked at me through his bright orange goggles and said, "Your boobies are bigger than my mommy's." Well now. I didn't expect that. So I replied, "Thank you for that little bit of information," and I sent him back to the wall, where his little cronies were waiting for their turns to paddle out to me. When he reached the wall, he repeated his revelation to his 4-year-old partner in crime. And his (rather loud) reply? "Yeah, your boobies are bigger than my mommy's, too." Oh my. Our third little perv piped in (again, loudly) with, "Well, they're not bigger than MY mommy's! My mommy's boobies are HUGE!"

Monday night I'm wearing a t-shirt in the water.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Because It's Easier Than Thinking Up a Real Post... 12/15/08

One of my 100 Things posts...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1. I’m still sick.
2. Being sick sucks.
3. Know what doesn’t suck?
4. Sick dreams.
5. No, I’m not a perv.
6. Mostly.
7. I mean the dreams you have when you’re sick.
8. They’re bizarre.
9. And kind of cool.
10. Like Stanley Kubrick on acid.
11. Or 3rd graders on speed.
12. Me on NyQuil.
13. Cool.
14. Not cool is coughing ‘til you see stars.
15. Or ‘til you pee.
16. The effects of natural childbirth.
17. That no one tells you about.
18. Damned No One.
19. ‘No One’ is like ‘They’.
20. Of ‘They say’ fame.
21. My mother believes everything ‘They’ say.
22. She believes nothing I say.
23. Sometimes I make up things ‘They’ say.
24. And I tell her.
25. And she repeats them back to me.
26. Weeks later.
27. Beause she can’t remember where she heard it.
28. Only that ‘They’ said it.
29. So it must be true.
30. And I laugh.
31. And laugh.
32. Yeah, I’m mean.
33. The apple didn’t fall far from that tree.
34. And yeah, I’m so going to Hell.
35. If there is a Hell.
36. I’m not so sure.
37. If there is, I’m betting it looks a lot like my brother’s house.
38. Only cleaner.
39. And more tastefully decorated.
40. I told you I was mean.
41. But truthful.
42. I always try to write the truth.
43. But I acknowledge that it’s my truth.
44. And no one else’s.
45. Why would I write someone else’s truth?
46. Duh.
47. Sometimes I write erotica.
48. It’s shockingly hard.
49. To write.
50. What were you thinking?
51. Lots of the names for genitalia make me laugh.
52. Or cringe.
53. Including the word ‘genitalia’.
54. It sounds like a varmint you should kill with a rake.
55. It’s hard to write about sex when you’re imagining killing varmints.
56. Or when you’re snorting.
57. Or wincing.
58. Wincing usually isn’t good during any sort of sex.
59. Not when you’re writing it.
60. Or reading it.
61. Or especially having it.
62. The first boy I ever had it with was the first boy I ever kissed.
63. But I didn’t do both in the same night.
64. I was 11 when I kissed him.
65. And 19 when I slept with him.
66. He was my boyfriend.
67. When I was 11.
68. Not when I was 19.
69. But I loved him.
70. Still do.
71. Just not in a naked way.
72. Anymore.
73. I’m sure his wife is relieved.
74. I’ll be relieved when the holidays are over.
75. And when they stop playing carols on the radio.
76. If I hear The Christmas Shoes one more time, I’m going to hurl.
77. Shoes.
78. At children.
79. Jesus Take the Wheel is almost as bad.
80. Ryan and I change the words.
81. Ours are really rude.
82. But very funny.
83. Yes, I’m teaching my child sacrilege.
84. And I’m cool with that.
85. Though I think what we do is more offensive to Carrie Underwood.
86. Than to Jesus.
87. I’m betting that song gets on his nerves, too.
88. WWJD?
89. Make Carrie Underwood shut the hell up.
90. That’s what he’d do.
91. If he was my kind of savior.
92. Oh, yeah.
93. Hell.
94. It’s where I’m going.
95. In a hand-basket.
96. What does that mean?
97. Anyway, I’m cool with it.
98. I already know the floor plan.
99. And the gatekeeper.
100. We’re related, after all.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I Am... 10/28/08

This remains one of my favorite old posts...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

During my regular early-morning, random blog stalk, I came across a post I really loved, generated from a writing prompt. Though I copied the directions for the prompt, I (stupidly) neglected to bookmark the page (and of course I can’t find it again). As such, I can’t give credit to the blogger. So if you happen upon this post and know where the prompt came from, please let me know! Thanks!

Tell us who you are, what’s inside, where you’re from. Share your memory fragments, those visions in your head, those figments that make you, you. What bits and pieces formed your whole? Are you whole? Tell us.

I am from pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.
... from porch swings on muggy summer evenings.
... from Jiffy Pop popcorn and toasted marshmallows.
... from bagpipes and 'Billy Don't Be a Hero'.
... from unlocked doors and good neighbors.

I am from hard work never hurt anybody.
... from soldiers and patriots.
... from swings and see-saws and skinned knees.
... from narrow-minded viewpoints and broad horizons.
... from firefly lanterns and rain on a tin roof.

I am from stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about.
... from stand up for what you believe in.
... from Red Rover and tag, hide-and-seek and kick-the-can.
... from musty libraries on rainy afternoons.
... from hand-knitted sweaters and penny loafers.

I am from money doesn’t grow on trees.
... from beer and smoky barrooms and weekend-long cookouts.
... from dreamers and from grounded in reality.
... from do as I say, not as I do.
... from stray dogs and stray people.

I am from campgrounds, mountain lakes, and battlefields.
... from faith and faithlessness.
... from betrayal and loss and great pain... and from great love.
... from strong men, resilient women, and funny, funny people.
... from lost… and found… and lost again.

I am from still searching for home... still searching for me.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Brown, It's Just a Color... 7/30/08

This still hurts my heart...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I met a man recently who was very smart, funny, and attractive… I liked him… a lot. We hit it off and for the first time in a while, I allowed myself to hope that I might have found someone with whom I could have a relationship… a long-term relationship. He seemed to share my enthusiasm for our connection… until… he said, “I have a question I’ve been meaning to ask for a while, as it could be an issue down the road…” Uh oh. An ‘issue down the road’ is never a good sign. And then he asked, “Did you marry outside your race? I’ve wondered since I saw a photo of your daughter.” Now, I’d already mentioned that Rob is Hispanic but it must not have registered… I dunno. So I reiterated that fact. I asked why it mattered. He replied that 'race-mixing' is fine for other people but because he believes it brings difficulties upon families, he didn’t want to date anyone who had a mixed-race child and invite those difficulties into his life.

I was stunned. Hurt. Angry. Sick. Sad. How did I miss the fact that this very smart, funny, attractive man, with whom I’d shared hours of conversation, was a bigot? But miss it I did. I understand that lots of people share his view. I know people who do. But I truly believe in my heart that we should invite people into our lives based on their character, integrity, actions, and what’s in their heads and hearts… not based on the color of their skin. There are quality people (and people not worth our time) of all colors. And I don’t see how I can teach my daughter that – teach her that color doesn’t matter but then say, “Oh, by the way, Ry, you can be friends with someone from a different race, but you can’t date or marry them.” That makes me a hypocrite. And though I am a lot of things, I try not to be one of those.

As I say, I know people (quite a few) who think the way he does. I just never thought anyone would apply that way of thinking to MY child – my beautiful, brilliant child, who just happens to tan easily and can barely count to ten in Spanish! And you want to know the most ironic part of this whole situation? HE is the only person who has ever made Ryan’s ethnicity a ‘difficulty’. And while I might be na├»ve (or maybe ‘hopeful’ is a better word), I truly hope he’ll be the last.