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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Writer's Workshop: I Find it Interesting How "Mother" and "Bother" are Only 1 Letter Off...

It's time for the weekly writing assignment from Kathy over at Mama's Losin' It. I chose 'Things You Do That Bother Your Mother'. Because there are so friggin' many things, I opted to write them in my standard 100 Things format. Before you read the list, though, I will tell you two things... first, I love my mother. I do. Honest. Second, I hope she doesn't choose today to start reading my blog.

So... Things I Do That Bother My Mother...

1. I am me.
2. Which means I am not her.
3. And that bothers her.
4. I disagree with her.
5. About almost everything.
6. Name it.
7. Any subject.
8. Yup, we disagree about that.
9. And that, too.
10. The list is endless…
11. For one, I don’t vote Republican.
12. Of course, she doesn’t either.
13. Since she’s not a US citizen.
14. But she would vote Republican if she could.
15. Not me.
16. I say mean things about George Bush.
17. Very mean things.
18. I said worse things about Sarah Palin.
19. Which bothered her.
20. It also bothers her that I say ‘fuck’ on occasion.
21. Especially when I say it in reference to George Bush.
22. Or my brother.
23. I don’t like my brother.
24. He’s not nice.
25. My mother admits this.
26. But she likes him anyway.
27. She kind of has to.
28. I don’t have to.
29. So I don’t.
30. That bothers her.
31. It also bothers her that I don’t go to church.
32. Note that she doesn’t either.
33. But she believes.
34. I don’t.
35. She thinks I don’t believe just to piss her off.
36. That’s not the case.
37. It’s just a nice little perk.
38. I don’t let my kid take religious education classes.
39. That bothers my mother.
40. But I don’t care.
41. That bothers her even more.
42. I don’t discipline my kid enough.
43. Or I discipline my kid too much.
44. And I don’t discipline my kid the right way when I do it.
45. Yes, that means my mother's way.
46. I don’t think using physical punishment works with kids.
47. I wonder, however, if it might work on mothers...
48. I explain things to my kid.
49. Things my mother thinks she shouldn’t know.
50. You know who told me about sex when I was a kid?
51. My dad.
52. It was the worst 10 minutes of my life.
53. I remind my mother when she forgets things.
54. You’d think that would make her happy.
55. But it doesn’t.
56. I probably shouldn’t smirk when I do it.
57. She also doesn’t like it that I don’t use much salt when I cook.
58. I don’t really use salt at all.
59. I don’t like salt much.
60. She thinks that’s just wrong.
61. But I don’t have high blood pressure.
62. And she does.
63. I cook things she doesn’t like.
64. But she cooked things I didn’t like for 18 years.
65. So I think it’s fair.
66. She doesn’t like it that I don’t make my kid eat potatoes.
67. My kid doesn’t like potatoes.
68. Or rice.
69. My mom thinks that’s bad.
70. It doesn’t bother me in the least.
71. That bothers my mother.
72. I guess it should bother me.
73. I just can’t figure out why.
74. Which also bothers my mother.
75. Sometimes I drink too much.
76. That bothers her, too.
77. But I do it anyway.
78. Which bothers her more.
79. I date.
80. That actually doesn’t bother her.
81. That I don’t often date the same guy twice bothers her.
82. She thinks I’m too picky.
83. I don’t care what she thinks.
84. And that really bothers her.
85. I also don’t tell her about my dates.
86. That bothers her a lot.
87. Which is part of the reason I keep quiet.
88. It bothers her that I’d rather live in the UK than here.
89. She thinks I don’t like America.
90. That’s not the case at all.
91. I just like the UK a lot.
92. But I’m not very nationalistic.
93. Or terribly patriotic.
94. And that bothers her.
95. I don’t know why, though.
96. As she still isn’t a US citizen.
97. And she’ll likely never become one.
98. You know what her citizenship is?
99. Yup.
100. British.

Monday, December 29, 2008

On Rambling Aimlessly... Oh, and Goals, Too...

I’m blog-blocked. Again. Damn, but I hate blog-block. I can’t think of a thing to post about. Of course, I should be doing some work and not thinking about blogging anyway. I even cleaned my disgustingly messy desk yesterday so I could sit at it and work, instead of deepening the crater my ass has made in the sofa lately (laptops are grand, aren’t they?). I’ve found that when I work (also known as blogging, emailing, and tramping around the Internet) from the couch, I wind up slouching, down and to the left, until I’m in an incredibly uncomfortable position from which I have difficulty extracting myself. I don’t know why I can’t just sit up straight. Oh, and I put my feet up on the coffee table, usually with my left leg crossed over my right… then I find that my right knee locks and unlocking it is excruciatingly painful. And when I finally unlock it and cross my right leg over my left, my left knee locks. My body hates me. So working from the couch is really not good for me. If I keep it up, I’m going to look like a crippled Quasimodo.

After I cleaned my desk yesterday, I made a list of things I want to accomplish in 2009. Note that they are not resolutions. I hate resolutions. Mostly because I tend to break every single one of them about a week into the new year. I suck. So this year I’ve made a list of goals. Goals are better, I think, because you don’t feel like a complete failure if you take a detour from your path to the goal… the goal is still in sight (or you can leave a trail of breadcrumbs… or dog treats, which I always seem to have in my pockets). But falling off the resolution wagon bites.

So, back to my list. I stopped writing when I got to my 43rd goal. Since I only accomplished, oh, about 3 goals last year (and one of them was to drink a lot of wine... because it's good for the heart, you know), I got to thinking that maybe I was being just a tad overly ambitious. Anyway, one of my goals for this year is to take my work more seriously. I’ll start that on the 1st. Another goal is to improve my financial situation… which could be helped by taking my work more seriously… on the 1st (you know those resolutions at which I suck? One of them is always to procrastinate less... go figure). Another goal is to make my body hate me less… or was that for me to hate my body less? Anyway, I want to look less like a crippled Quasimodo and more like Rebecca Romijn. Oh, wait… we were talking about goals here, right? Not miracles… my bad.

I narrowed my list down to about 15 things… some of them will be easy, like taking Ryan camping over every holiday weekend between Easter and Thanksgiving (and we’re even thinking about maybe taking a camping trip to sunny climes over Christmas next year). Some will be less easy, like training Sundance to walk off-leash nearly 100% of the time. Some will be downright difficult, like losing the baby weight (shut it… like I said before, even if she is 9, she’s still my baby). But I don’t think I listed even one goal that's unattainable… with a little work and focus... which is clearly not my forte. So wish me luck! You know I’ll keep you posted on my progress (or lack thereof). Because rambling aimlessly is the best way to cure blog-block. Obviously.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Kid is Weird, Part II...

Before I explain how my kid is weird, I should tell you that in our house, ‘weird’ has no negative connotations whatsoever. When Ryan was about 6, she called me the ‘w’ word. I asked, “Is that a bad thing?” She said, “No, Mama. I would rather you be weird like you are than be boring. You’re not boring at all!” It was at that moment I knew she was getting it. And it was cool.

I should also explain (to people who don’t have children under the age of 12 in their lives) what Webkinz are. Picture a wide array of the cutest stuffed animals you’ve ever seen… all priced at $10 or $15 each. Attached to each animal is a tag with a special, one-of-a-kind code (like a social security number). Buy the animal and you can log the code into, where you then obtain a virtual version of your pet to play with online. It usually comes with its own room, which can be decorated in various themes. It’s actually a pretty cool, creative, safe, FREE (after you buy the stuffed animal, that is) website. Ryan loves it and she’s got a crapload of these critters. Here are 3 of them…Meet Stuart, Tucky, and Sweet Pea.

So, I passed by the computer this afternoon while Ryan was playing in Stuart’s virtual room.

Me: Hey, Stuart has a menorah in his room.
Ry: Uh huh.
Me: Is he Jewish?
Ry: No. He just thinks Christmas isn’t the only important holiday.
Me: Does he?
Ry: Yes. He thinks it’s important to learn about other cultures.
Me: Oh. Well, he’s right. Plus, he gets 8 more presents!
Ry (looking stern): He’s not in it for the stuff, Mommy.
Me (looking chastised): Oh. Sorry. And good for him for not being materialistic.
Ry: Tucky and Sweet Pea celebrate Kwanzaa, you know.
Me: Really? Are they black?
Ry: Mommy, do they look black?
Me: Well, no. That’s why I asked. The only people I know who celebrate Kwanzaa are black.
Ry: Well, they’re not but they feel like Stuart. They think different is good and we should learn about different cultures because they’re interesting and it helps us to understand each other.
Me: Do they? Well, you know I think different is good, too. And I think they’re all pretty cool.
Ry: Yeah, I raised them well.

It’s weird to hear your own words come back at you from the mouth of your child. It’s weirder still to hear them applied to a mouse, a cocker spaniel, and a duck. Weird… but good… very, very good. There are days when Ryan’s just completely rotten and I think I’ve got this whole ‘mother’ thing all wrong. But then there are those days… good days… when I realize my kid is weird (in the best possible way) and I’m just so grateful and proud.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Kid is Weird...

Last night, Ryan was asleep about 3 minutes after she went to bed. I remember lying awake for hours on Christmas Eve. This morning, I had to wake her up... at 7:30! No one ever had to wake me up on Christmas Day. And she made me open my present from her before she would even look at her packages. How weird (and cool) is she?

After the weirdness, we headed out to serve Christmas dinner at the community center near here. It was the first time we'd volunteered there and it was really great! There was a standing-room-only crowd and everyone was feeling festive and grateful. I was so proud of Ryan, who just jumped right in and helped out anywhere she could. She delivered pie, served up drinks, and cleared tables. Though she's a bit shy around people she doesn't know, she was friendly and chatty (even though some people were "a little scary-looking"... but she also told me she realized how important it is not to assume people will act a certain way based on how they look. Have I mentioned how proud I am of her? I'm so proud of her!). Anyway, it was a nice way to spend a day that's usually very stuff-oriented, especially for a 9-year-old.

After cleaning up at the center, we headed to the movies and saw The Tale of Despereaux, which was adapted from one of our favorite books (by Kate DiCamillo), about a mouse who believes himself a gentleman; who faces life head-on and lives with a gargantuan sense of honor and responsibility. It was wonderful and if you have little kids (or even if you don't), you have to catch it! We gorged on popcorn and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

It was a different sort of Christmas for us, but a really good one, too. We'll be heading back to the community center on Monday, to help out in the weekly soup kitchen. I've committed to going as often as possible and Ryan has offered to come with me whenever she's out of school. It sounds like a good way to start the new year!

Hope you all had a great holiday!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Long Day... Cold Day... Good Day...

I spent the day in DC with Ryan today... we checked out the newly-remodeled American History Museum (pretty cool); we ran into the Natural History Museum to quickly peruse a new ocean exhibit we've been waiting for; we watched the really balance-challenged skaters hobble their way around the fountain-cum-skating-rink in the Sculpture Garden; and we finished up at the National Christmas Tree, which was pretty. It was cold as crap, but a great day overall. Here are some photos... Loved this one of the Washington Monument. The light was great...
Oh Christmas Tree... My Christmas Elf...
Though you can't see it in this photo, if you zoom in close, there's a figure standing in the middle window, dressed in what looks like a maid's uniform. Ryan and I decided she's a ghost that haunts the White House. I hope she gives W nightmares.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Welcome Back, Mr. Sun!

Today is the Winter Solstice. Happy Winter Solstice! This is one of the days I actually like to celebrate. The tradition of welcoming back the sun feels right, especially during a time that, for me, is usually a bit dark and somewhat less-than-pleasant. This day always feels more like the beginning of a new year to me than January 1. And today, fittingly, dawned sunny and bright - much welcomed after the weeks of grey skies and gloomy weather we've been experiencing. The sky is bright blue; it's crisp and cold (but not the damp, biting kind of cold of yesterday); and the sun is shining! Yay Mr. Sun! Welcome back! I spent the morning outside with my fuzzy boy, tramping around the woods, watching the sun glint off the ever-moving waters of a mountain lake, and generally feeling happy to be alive. After lunch out with my girl, we'll be spending the afternoon doing creative, crafty things. And this evening we'll each write 3 lists...

1) Our hopes for the coming year
2) Fears, hurts, and regrets we want to let go
3) Everything we're grateful for

Then we'll start a fire in the firepit outside and burn those lists... we'll send our hopes, our fears, and our blessings out to the Universe... and we'll see what comes back to us in the next twelve months. Good things, I expect... I hope.

So, Happy Solstice to you! I hope your day looks and feels as sun-filled as mine!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ode to Christmas...

Shopping’s done
Wallet’s empty
Packages wrapped
Boxes plenty
Santa can sit
On his big old hiney
I’ve done it all
Now I’m feeling whiney
I’m sick of the carols
And Rudolph’s red nose
Of egg nog and ornaments
This holiday blows
Just one more week
And that’ll be it
‘Til then call me Grinch
As I holler Bah Hum Shit!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Writer's Workshop: Dear Santa

If you don't know about the Writer's Workshop, head over to Mama's Losin' It and check it out...

Dear Santa,

Dude. This is totally a break-up letter. We’re through. You’ve had 43 years to get it right. But year after year… W.R.O.N.G. I know you’re busy making your list and checking it twice and all, yadda yadda. I know you have all those pesky kids to see to first. What.Ever. Even when I was a kid… you got it all wrong.

Remember the year I asked for that cool, sleek 10-speed? I wanted a boy’s bike, I know, but there’s no hard and fast rule about that, is there? I wanted it to be blue and white, like my brother’s. Remember? I was very specific. Remember what I got? A girl’s bike. A yellow girl’s bike. A very bright yellow girl’s bike. Do you know what it’s like to spend your tween years riding a banana with wheels? It’s not cool, Santa. Not cool at all. And yes, I know my mom liked it better than the blue and white boy’s bike. And yes, I know she’s a scary little tyrant. But you’re Santa, for Christ’s sake. The Big Guy. You could’ve overruled her. You should've overruled her. Just like you should’ve done the time I got the bright green duck shoes instead of the nice L.L. Bean navy blue ones I asked for (you know, so I wouldn’t stand out from all the preppy princesses in my high school like Kermit the Friggin’ Frog). She liked the green ones better, too… I know. The power of VETO, Santa. You had it. You didn’t use it. Dude. Not cool.

But I forgave you for the bike. And the duck shoes. And all the other things that were similar but not quite what I (very) specifically asked for every year. But still… you failed. Remember the year I didn’t ask for anything except for my ear infection to go away so I could fly pain-free? Yes, I know you did it. And I appreciate it. But I totally didn’t ask for the yeast infection I got in its place. Do you have any idea what it’s like to have to explain to a hard-of-hearing pharmacist in another country, who doesn’t have the same regard for patient privacy as the pharmacists here, exactly what a yeast infection is? Do you know how pleasant it is to hear him holler all the way across the (very crowded) store for the clerk to bring something for vaginal itching? Well, I can tell you from experience, Santa. It’s not pleasant. Not pleasant at all.

But even if I could overlook the yellow bike and green shoes and yeast infection incidents, I can’t forget or forgive the husband incident. I know it was a tall order. I know. But Santa… Rob? Really? Really, Santa?! Rob? He was seriously the best you could do? What? You didn’t have a gimpy elf with a wall-eye and a flatulence problem lying around somewhere? Rob?! So much for the friggin’ magic of Christmas, eh? I guess I didn’t deserve my miracle on 34th Street (or Oakhurst Lane… whatever).

Do you hate me? What did I do? I was a good girl, wasn’t I? OK, yeah, I remember the Rhonda Incident, but I didn’t ask for anything that year either, did I? Or the year of the Big Lie. But I was good most of the time. I left you cookies and milk… chocolate milk, even. I left carrots and oats for the reindeer. I was never greedy. I wrote my letters in my best penmanship and checked the grammar and spelling twice. But still… you let me down. Over and over. So I’m ending our relationship. Severing ties. We’re done, Fat Boy. Kaput. Finis. Shot. Go peddle your ho ho ho's to some other schmuck. Have a nice life. Have a nice banana-riding-green-shoe-wearing-yeast-infection-scratching-Rob-marrying life. You’re off my Christmas card list, Dude. Permanently.

Love Always,


Monday, December 15, 2008

Because It's Easier Than Thinking Up a Real Post...

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.

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot...

OK, so you guys know that I now live in the same town in which I sort of grew up, right? I say ‘sort of’ because I moved here when I was about 10 and moved away in my very early 20’s. Though I never, ever thought I’d (ever) come back, come back I did, 20 years later, after my marriage ended. Coming ‘home’ is always a weird thing, I think, and this experience has definitely proved so for me. This place is very different than it was in many ways, but it’s still very much the same in others (which is sometimes good... sometimes not). Occasionally I’ll run into old classmates or kids I used to babysit or the parents of old friends… and I always (stupidly) expect them to look the same as they did the last time I saw them. And sometimes they do… sort of.

So, on Friday I went to the Rec Center to sign Ryan up for ski lessons. I’m standing at the desk, looking like holy hell, as I have the flu and haven’t showered. I’m not 100% sure I’d even brushed my hair (or my teeth… yeah... I know), but the ski package is a Christmas present and my neighbor told me there were only 9 spaces left, so I had to run over there quick. So, I’m holding onto the counter, trying to keep from passing out (as my temperature is about 102), when this guy comes up beside me to check in to use the gym. He gives his last name, “D****t”. It’s a very unusual name. And one I recognize immediately. I look sideways at him and realize that I’m standing next to one of the very first boys I ever loved. And by ‘loved’ I mean ‘I wrote Mr. and Mrs. Chris D****t on all my notebooks, circled by hearts and flowers, and kissed my pillow pretending it was him, and imagined going to prom and then getting married when we were old, like 25’... that kind of 'loved'. Yeah, you know it. We met at summer camp when I was 12. And he was CU-UTE. I was NO-OT. But he thought I was. And that made him even better.

I can honestly say he’s not someone I ever imagined I’d see again. And he’s still pretty cute (not CU-UTE, but that’s hard to maintain when you’re in your 40’s... and I'm hardly one to talk, given the crap-fest that was Diane that day... oh hell, lots of days). Of course, his cute factor could have been influenced by the fever-induced haze through which I was seeing the world on Friday. Not sure. Oh, and you know I was totally sick because I didn’t check out his ring finger, which I never miss. But... I might find a reason to go back to the Rec Center this Friday, around 3:30 or so… you know… just for old time’s sake. And yeah, don’t worry… I’ll be sure to brush my hair… and teeth... and wear make-up... and heels... and my skinny jeans. OK, just kidding. They'd have to be magic jeans... sigh.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

All Aboard...

So... there I was, minding my own business, trudging my slow way home from Woe Is Me Land, when I was abducted by some nasty bugger and flung aboard the S.S. Flusitania for a 3-day trek around Fever Penninsula, where temps hovered around a balmy 101 degrees. We docked in various ports of call over the next couple of days, including the infamous Saint Ill Islands (St. Cough, St. Wheeze, and St. Sneeze), and the bar was open, with NyQuil cocktails flowing freely. Even still (or maybe because of), delirium and general out-of-itness were the overall (and overwhelming) moods of the trip. We finally broke free of the Fever Penninsula around 3:30 this morning and are currently docked in What The Hell Hit Me Harbor, having a cuppa in the Weak Knee Cafe. I'm hoping to be home tomorrow, coherent and wheeze-free.

So, how was your weekend?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Programming Interrupted...

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program to bring you an announcement from the Emotional Broadcast System

Life and all its crap has gotten in the way of regular blog programming. Regular programming will resume when Life and all its crap pisses off.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Just Do It 'til You Fart...

When I was a teenager, my dad asked me to help him loosen a bolt from a pipe (my brothers weren’t home, so DIY assistance fell to me). My job was basically to provide resistance – to hold the pipe still as he used a massive wrench to loosen the bolt. Sounds easy, right? Nope… that bolt was stuck tight. I was holding the pipe as steady as I could but I wasn’t strong enough to counter his… wrenching. My dad looked at me with a rather exasperated expression and said, “Diane, just do it ‘til you fart.” Well, I burst out laughing and lost my grip on the pipe just as my dad gave it a good yank, and it shot up and damn-near broke my cheekbone.

That was my dad… he was a ‘do it ‘til you fart’ sort of person. Whatever he did, he gave it his all. And that included loving me. I could always trust that no matter how I failed; no matter what asinine thing I did; no matter what – he would love me; he would accept me (I know all parents are supposed to do that, but I also know that not all do). He was not a perfect man and sometimes he infuriated and confounded and even disappointed me, but he was still my hero. He taught me to think for myself – something I’m sure he kicked himself in the ass for at times, as from 15 on, I rarely agreed with him about anything… but I think, deep down, he was proud, too; proud that I stood up for what I thought was right, even if he thought I was wrong.

My father’s death was devastating. I knew it was coming, but knowing something and believing it are two different things. Knowing certainly didn’t make it easier to accept or handle. That I didn’t make it home in time compounded the difficulty. I was already so angry and hurt and lost and sad, but still, the part of me that likes to torture myself when I mess up had to throw some guilt on top of the emotional crap heap already smothering me. It didn’t matter that I knew in my head my dad understood why I wasn’t there; that he knew I loved him. My heart was ripped apart with grief and guilt, and it ruled my psyche for a long time after his death.

The day after he died, I sat down at his desk and started writing – logging memories frantically; terrified they would all disappear because I couldn’t see his face or hear his voice anymore. The unintentional result of my scribbling was my father’s eulogy. No one in my family thought I’d actually be able to deliver it. Hell, even I didn’t think so. I was a mess. But as I stood, all alone, in a little room next to the chapel at the funeral home, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace settle around me… in me. I believe it was my dad giving me what I needed at that moment… and I understood that it had to be me who spoke at his service; that no one else could say my words. Having me deliver the eulogy was what he would have wanted… and what I needed. It was my way to say good-bye; to honor my father in a way he would have loved. So I did it. I stood up in front of everyone, with dry eyes and a clear voice, and I told them about my hero; I showed them my dad through my eyes; through my words. I made them laugh… and cry… and I know I made him proud.

That was ten years ago. Lord, how time flies. It feels like his funeral was just last December. I didn't think I’d make it through that first year... and I’m not entirely sure how I did. It was likely because I had a new baby to take care of… and because I still felt my dad around me; I really believed he was still there. I was also sure it would get easier with time. I suppose it has. I don’t cry every day now… but I still cry. There’s still a hole in my heart… in my life… in my whole world… where my dad used to be, and time and my memories simply aren’t big enough to fill it. It gapes, wide and dark, and sometimes – the times when I want so desperately to tell him something or when I need to lean on him – that darkness just about swallows me whole.

And I don’t feel him anymore.

And that might be the worst thing of all.

I just miss him like hell.

My dad…

June 26, 1937 – December 10, 1998

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Gotta P...

Heather, my adorable, much younger bloggy sister (I’m still waiting for her mom to adopt me) recently played a ‘favorite things/letter game’ with Jenners. She had to list 10 things she loves, all beginning with the letter Z (Jenners' 4-year-old son picked Heather's letter). Heather did such a great job, I figured I’d try it, too. I let Heather pick my letter. She picked P. Heather's a Putz (how's that for a P word?). P was hard! But here you have it…

1. Pudd’nhead Wilson… but not Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson… my Pudd’nhead Wilson, also known as Ryan (also known as Pud, Fibber McGee, Booger Girl, Ryan Dork, Fartin' Martin, Turkey Lips, and the list goes on).

2. People… the people in my life (not the ones I don’t like, obviously. Yeah, you know who I’m talking about… the ones that start with the letters ‘brother’… and ‘sister-in-law’).

3. Public speaking… I know I’m weird, but I love standing up in front of a big group of people and running off at the mouth. I get to teach classes for work sometimes and it’s the best part of my job.

4. Pepsi… but only the diet kind. Nectar of the gods. OK, it’s totally not, but I’m addicted to it anyway.

5. Puppies… who doesn’t love puppies?! People with no souls, that’s who! Puppies are wonderful and cute and they have that sweet puppy breath. I love puppy breath… as long as it’s not tainted with drywall. That’s just so not sweet.

6. Paisley… the pattern, not the town in Scotland (though I like it there, too, as that’s where my dad was from). I just bought a paisley scarf and it’s bee-yoo-tee-ful!

7. Photography… whenever I travel, I always look for photography exhibits – at museums, galleries, art fairs... I dream of being able to take pictures like the ones I see in places like that (and someday, when I learn to use my camera properly, I still won't be able to do it). When I go to someone’s house for the first time, I always scope out the photos… I love to see peoples’ lives played out in images.

8. Potter… as in Harry. Love me some HP (the books, not the movies… duh).

9. Pajamas… there's nothing better than lounging around on a chilly night in my plaid flannel bottoms and ancient VA Tech sweatshirt (which is not fit for out-of-the-house wear anymore). The ultimate in comfy and cozy (though admittedly, not terribly attractive or flattering).

10. Posting… blog posting, that is. It’s fun… it’s therapeutic…it’s addictive. What’s not to love?

And now I'm phinished. Phinally.

Love Your Stuff...

One of my very best bloggy buddies, Heinous, gave me this award last week (thanks, darlin’!).

It’s all full of testosterone and man-sweat, but I like it. Before I pass it on, I’m supposed to say something nice about a man in my life and then list 6 ways in which I measure success, in life and/or as a blogger. Hmmmm…

It’s not hard for me to think of something nice to say about any of the men in my life… but because my world is filled with wonderful men, it’s hard to choose the one about whom I say it. I’m going to go with my friend Todd, though. He’s truly one of the best people I have ever known and he loves me more than I deserve (even when I act supremely unlovable). I’m so grateful to have him in my life.

The ways I measure success… hmmmm. I’m not feeling terribly successful these days, but here you go…

I feel successful...

1) ... if my daughter is healthy, happy, and doing well in general. Being a single parent is difficult and when I see signs that she is growing into the sort of person I hope she’ll be (healthy, happy, productive, caring, honest, etc), I’m encouraged and feel better about the job I’m doing.

2) ... if I’m on-track in most areas of my life and moving in the ‘right’ direction (this is where I tend to falter, much of the time, it seems).

3) ... when I get positive feedback from my work. I work at home, all alone, and do everything via email. When someone takes the time to send me a note to tell me how much they appreciate what I do, it makes me feel like it matters.

4) ... when I connect in some way with the people who read my blog; when I make someone laugh, or cry, or think about something in a new way.

5) ... if I accomplish something difficult, especially if it’s something I’ve put off because I was dreading it.

6) ... when I count my friends and the people who love me. I have the most amazing group of wonderfully insane people who support me in so many ways… I’m so lucky.

Now, I’m passing this award on to 6 bloggers – all men – whose stuff I love. Well, I love what they write (several of them are married, so I can’t love their ‘stuff’ without making their wives mad, and I don’t need that). Visit their blogs if you don’t already… you won’t be disappointed.

Oh, and you guys don’t have to do the whole rule/pass-on thing if you don’t want… just take the award with my bloggy love and know I think you totally measure up!

Lee at A Curate’s Egg – Lee’s blog is one of the first I visit every day; he’s smart, thoughtful, irreverent, and seriously funny. He doesn’t really do awards, but he deserves so many.

J Cosmo Newberry – J Cosmo is an amazing poet, which is something I admire, as I suck at poetry. He’s brilliant and hysterical – two of my favorite qualities in a man.

Andy at Wild ARS Chase – besides being my bloggy crush, Andy is just wonderful all around (though he sucks with names… ahem).

Joshlos at it’s a bloggy blog world – Another smart, funny guy, Joshlos makes me laugh and makes me think. Plus, he likes girls with dreadlocks and I think that’s cool. Not that I have dreadlocks (or want them)… I just like men who think unconventionally.

Stevyn at The Unbearable Oddness of Stevyn – I do love my Englishmen… and when they’re fantastic writers, well, all the better.

And finally, Henry at The Dog Diaries… Henry really is a dog (a miniature schnauzer, to be specific) and though I suspect it’s his mum who helps him actually type, I’m always a bit taken aback by how, when I read his posts, I’m completely sucked into his little doggie world (sort of like how when you see a ventriloquist with his dummy, you unconsciously suspend your disbelief and start to think the dummy’s actually acting independently… not that I’m saying you’re a dummy, Henry, ‘cause I’m so not!).

And that’s all I’ve got to say. For now.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Sleestak Ate George Bush...

Does anyone remember Land of the Lost, the kids' show from the mid-70's? I watched it pretty religiously... it was about a girl named Holly, who was transported, with her dad and brother (who was really cute... which was very possibly the primary reason I watched the show), through a portal to a prehistoric dimension. They spent most of their time battling dinosaurs and other creatures, including the Sleestak, these icky, lizard-men who had nasty tempers, all the while trying to find their way home. Cool, right?

Anyway, I had a dream last night and though I don't usually remember them, this one was still playing clearly in my head when I woke up. I was in the Land of the Lost, running away from the Sleestak, all alone and peeing-in-my-pants scared. I ran into a cave and who's sitting there, but George Bush... W, in the flesh, lounging around a little campfire, roasting a chicken. Instead of being happy to see another human being (yeah, OK, human being might be a bit of a stretch), I pointed my finger at him and hollered,

"YOU! What the hell are you doing here?!" (I'm really shocked I didn't swear bigger.)

He replied (sounding as smarmy as ever), "I'm just roasting my chicken."

"I'll roast your chicken," I screamed at him (I'm assuming I meant that figuratively and not literally... though I did wake up hungry), and I ran to the mouth of the cave, waving frantically at the Sleestak who were hunting for me. "He's in here! Here's your dinner!" I waved them to the cave and then ran like hell into the jungle, I presume, to wait for the screams. Sadly, I woke up before W became lizard food.

I wonder if they ate his chicken, too?

Note: Don't bother analyzing. The dream was most likely the result of a conversation I had last night with a Republican friend about evolution versus creationism and the theory of a divine plan. I contend that George Bush proves both the theory of evolution (he just got stuck half-way to human) AND the absence of a divine plan (no God, unless he's a sick S.O.B., would have planned for that dimwit to rule a kindergarten class, let alone a big chunk of the free world). Argument ends. Dream ensues.

Oh, and I've no idea where the chicken came from.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fowl Mood

Remember when I said that my gorgeous 4-legged boy doesn't cause any chaos now? That there are no more incidents, now that he's all grown up? Yeah, well, I lied. A big, fat, honkin' lie. There was chaos this morning. There was an incident...

First, let me explain a few things about me and animals. I love them. I do. When I was younger, I worked for a vet and I volunteered at the SPCA. OK, so both jobs broke my heart and I had to quit, but I tried. Because I love animals. I've always had pets... budgies, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, dogs, etc. I can't imagine my life without some critter to buy kibble for or who sheds all over my stuff. I love them. I have wondered, however, if perhaps I might have owned a slaughterhouse in a previous life... or maybe I was a trapper... or a furrier. I don't know. But my animal Karma seriously leaves a little to be desired. There have been a few incidents in recent years... incidents involving squirrels, geese, a mad cow, a camel (yes, a camel), and a cat (click here to read my friend Mel's account of that attack)... incidents I didn't cause but in which I was maligned... mauled... smacked-down... chased. Unpleasant incidents. There was such an incident today...

I should also tell those of you who don't know, that although I love animals in general, my goodwill does not extend toward fowl. Fowl are foul. I don't know why but many fowlish sorts of creatures give me the heebie-jeebies - namely turkeys, chickens, geese, and pigeons (are pigeons technically fowl?). Now I would never do any harm (unless you count eating chicken and turkey as harming... semantics, right?) but I don't like them. Truth be told, I'm actually afraid of them. Again, I've no idea why. I should try past life regression therapy one day to find out.

Anyway, today's Karmic incident involved a goose. A Canada goose to be specific. I really don't like Canada geese. They are gigantic rats with wings... nasty, pooping, scavenging, noisy bastards. A few years ago, I had a run in with three Canada geese while rollerblading. I'm ashamed to admit they got the better of me. And they laughed about it. And I'm pretty sure I recognized one of them this morning. Nasty, pooping, scavenging, noisy bastard.

So... back to my dog. My lovely, sweet-natured, well-behaved, darling, completely chicken-shit dog. Actually, he's very brave... if he's on his leash. Before he barks or lunges at some other dog or animal at the park, he always does this little check to make sure he's attached to me. If he is, he'll bark and lunge away. If not, he glues himself to my hip and shuts up. Yeah, he's smart. So today he was on his leash. And we were walking by the pond... which was full of nasty, pooping, scavenging, noisy bastards. There were a bunch on the bank and Sundance, after doing his leash check, did his little barking-lunge, which he likes to do at the ducks to make them squawk and fly into the water (which is funny, actually). A bunch of the geese did just that. One of them did not. Clearly pissed off, he came right at my dog (and me), wings and neck extended, head down, honking his nasty, pooping, scavenging, noisy, bastard guts out at us! Sundance, ever the brave one, yelped, turned, and ran like hell, tail between his legs. Still attached to me, he jerked my arm back and I slipped on the bank, as it's all frosty, and down I went, face-first, being dragged by my terrified dog who was at the other end of his 20-foot flexi-leash. And that nasty, pooping, scavenging, noisy bastard was still coming at me! As he closed in, I buried my face in my arm, waiting for the assault. I didn't have to wait long... that bastard PECKED ME IN THE HEAD! Sundance grew some cojones at that point, and ran back toward me, barking, which scared the foul fowl and he turned and flew into the pond.

Have I mentioned that I hate fowl? I do. Oh yeah, and my dog is grounded.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Good Stuff...

So… this whole Christmas tradition thing…

First, thanks to everyone who shared their traditions and made suggestions! I came up with a few things for us to do this year – things that could possibly become traditions down the road. I’ve told Ryan about them all and she’s pretty excited… and that makes me feel kind of excited… so I’m putting my Grinchiness on hold for a little while. As of right now, our list looks like this…

1. Going to DC this weekend (if the weather holds) to visit the (finally!) reopened American History Museum (which is not Christmas-y, I know, but the place has been closed for renovation for two years and we’ve been chomping at the bit to get in there!)… possibly some ice skating at the rink near the Portrait Gallery (Ryan’s a little balance-challenged, so we’ll see how that goes)… and we’re definitely staying ‘til dark to see the National Christmas Tree

2. Snuggling on the couch one Saturday afternoon with popcorn and hot chocolate to introduce Ryan to my two favorite holiday movies – It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story (I bought that one for my dad about 20 years ago because it reminded me of him and where he grew up. We watched it together every year but I haven’t seen it since he died)

3. Going to The Moonlight Holiday Festival at the local university, where we'll take a carriage ride around the university arboretum

4. Celebrating the Winter Solstice on the 21st with a hike in the mountains during the day (brrrrr) and a fire in the fire pit outside that evening (ahhhhh)

5. Serving dinner to the homeless at the community center on Christmas Day (I expected a little resistance here but Ryan’s really looking forward to it, as am I)… then heading to the movie theater to see The Tale of Despereaux (one of our favorite books that looks like it’s going to be a great movie!)

So… stuff to look forward to… good stuff… that doesn’t involve actual stuff. It doesn’t get better than that!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Writer's Workshop: Canine Chaos

I’m going to kill 2 birds with one stone today. It’s Writer’s Workshop time at Mama’s Losin’ It and I chose the prompt labeled, ‘Describe a time when your pet caused chaos.’ I’m also doing the 6th of 6th photo meme for Sam I Am, who tagged me the other day. I’m supposed to pick the 6th photo from my Flickr account AND the 6th photo from my 6th computer folder and tell you about them. Well, I don’t have a Flickr account, so I picked the 6th of the 6th from my old computer and the 6th of the 6th from my newer computer (and a few more, too). Both happen to be of Sundance, and since I’ve got to describe him and chaos… you see where I’m going with this… 2 birds…

OK, well, I couldn’t really narrow the whole chaos thing down, as Sundance’s entire first year was just one big chaotic incident (click here if you’d like to read more about that)… so I’m going to post pictures of my boy (and my girl) prior to a few of the individual incidents (there are no photos from during or after the incidents because it's hard to take pictures when your eyes are bugging out of your head and the veins in your neck are throbbing… duh).

Here he is on day-one, prior to the Tantrum Incident (also known as the Soon-to-be-Ex’s Meltdown Because He’d Said, “No more dogs!” and Diane Said, “Up yours, Soon-to-be-Ex, because you have no say anymore!” and Brought the Puppy Home Anyway Incident).

Here he is prior to the Crayon Incident (also known as the Rainbow Poop Incident).

Here he is prior to the Kitchen Wall Incident (also known as the Diane Learns How to Patch, Sand, and Paint Drywall All by Herself Incident).

Here he is prior to the Picnic Incident (also known as the Don’t Leave a Puppy and a 5-year-old Alone With a Loaded Picnic Hamper, Even for the Short Time It Takes to Walk to the Trashcan Incident).

Here he is prior to the Drop It Incident (also known as the Stop Chewing On That Hat and Drop It Right Now Before I Strangle You With Your Own Leash Incident).

Here he is prior to the Swearing Incident (also known as the Drama Queen Screams “Mommy, that damned puppy just bit my nose off!” Incident).

Here he is prior to the Barking Incident (also known as the Scare the Old Lady in the Next Car at the Rest Stop Into a Screaming Heart Attack Incident).

And here he is today. No incidents. No chaos. Just big laughs. And big love.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey…
Kenji Miyazawa

I’ve mentioned that I don’t like the holidays much. This time of year is always really difficult for me and I’ll admit I’m struggling at the moment. And I’m struggling with some things that aren’t normally even issues… so instead of the good-sized whammy that usually smacks me upside my head, this one feels like a massive, ugly whammy that's kicking me in the ass, too. I’ve always been someone who sees the light at the end of the tunnel; who knows nothing lasts forever… but still, I’m just barely holding it together right now. It’ll pass, I know… and I wish I could just hibernate until it does… wouldn’t that be lovely? But, no, life doesn’t work that way, does it? So I’m trying to find some ways to embrace the pain and burn it for fuel… trying hard. You know what, though? I’d rather burn chocolate... or red wine.

Anyway, I’ve been tagged for a couple of memes and I got another great award today from Heinous. I’ll pass them on soon, I promise… after I wrestle this whammy to the ground and stomp some of the ugly out of it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Let There Be... Dark...

There is an old wives' tale that says when a lightbulb blows out, it means there's a spirit in the room. It's something to do with the spirit's energy... I guess it's supposed to be like a power surge. I don't know. I do know, however, that after my father died, my entire family blew a lot of lightbulbs. A lot. I even had an electrician come into our house to make sure we didn't have something wrong with our wiring. It was bizarre. It was also kind of cool. I felt like my dad was there with me... and I really needed that.

It happened for quite a while, too, on and off. And yes, I know everyone blows bulbs... but there were times when the occurence was a little less like an old lightbulb and a little more like a 'Ghost Hunters' episode.

When my daughter and niece (both born a few months after my father died), were about three-years-old, they found these little bicentennial American flags that used to sit in a stand on my dad's desk. I should tell you that my dad was very patriotic and he was very, very careful about the way he treated the flag. It had to be flown, folded, and discarded properly, with reverence... always. Anyway, these little flags were attached to sticks with very pointy ends and I was afraid the girls were going to poke each others' eyes out, so I took them. Because they were old and because my mother had enough old stuff cluttering up the house, I asked, "Can I just throw these away?" She said yes. Just as I was (unceremoniously) dropping them into the trash can, she turned on the light... and the bulb sparked, crackled loudly, and blew out. Those flags were out of the garbage before my mother could even say my name, and I was whispering, "Sorry, Dad" as I put them back where the girls found them!

I haven't blown any lightbulbs in a long time. And let me tell you, I wouldn't mind having to replace a couple right about now.

Yeah, It's Monday...

So, this morning, as usual, I take Sundance to the park. As usual, he picks his poop spot with painstaking care (I wonder what, exactly, constitutes a good poop spot in a dog’s eyes?). And he commences pooping. And he keeps pooping. And he keeps on keepin’ on. And after a few minutes, I realize he’s got a hanger. Crap. Literally. A big dingleberry, just hanging out of him. He looks ‘round at me with this, “Good lord, can’t you help me?” look on his face. Pitiful. Thing is, I don’t want to help. It’s icky. And it’s something no one should ever have to do… pull poop out of some other creature’s butt. Nope. It was not on my agenda this morning. But he’s waddling around, still in poop stance, a few feet forward every minute or so, clearly hoping it’s just going to drop out of him. But it’s not dropping anywhere. It’s still just a hangin’. Nice. Crap. Literally. So I bend down, holding my breath, making sure the pick-up bag is wrapped firmly around my hand, and I reach for it, up close to his butt, figuring I can separate it from his hiney pretty quickly. But it doesn’t separate. It’s still hanging. Crap. Literally. So I roll my eyes, say a swear word (or two), grab it (bag still covering my hand, mind you), and pull. And pull. And pull. The poop is attached to something… something very long (like nearly a foot long!!). I don’t know what it was and I didn’t want to look too closely (but it sort of resembled that raffia stuff you see wrapped around country crafty crap... not so literally... in Michaels). I can’t think of anything he could have eaten the past day or so that would look like that (unlike the time he ate the streamers from Ryan’s bike handlebars and I had to pull foot-long sparkly ropes of poop out of his butt for 2 days).

Anyway, that was my Monday morning. How was yours?