Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Wanderer - Part 2

There was no telling how far he had fallen. The ravine that claimed him had come from nowhere, and he landed in its valley with a bone crunching halt. The world swam as he tried to gain some point of perspective, some glimmer of his surroundings. All in all, it had not been a good few weeks. His health had fallen steadily along with his remaining hope of survival. A ragged cough had set in, and now each Velcro breath took every ounce of remaining strength to be separated from his raw lungs.

He attempted to sit up and found that his right arm had either been broken into shards or had suddenly refused to cooperate with him. He struggled upward with his left. The effort took longer than he had concentrated on in ages and finally, he was hauled into a sitting position against the tree that had bloodied and threatened his skull.

Blood ran thick into his eyes, and using his good arm he continually had to wipe away the red smear that formed across his vision. The rain didn't help. It had caused him to slip and now it prevented his sight. He was sure that this was the way the Earth eventually undid you. Slowly it would wipe away your capabilities until there were none that remained. He sat there for a while trying to convince himself that there was something worth getting up and walking on for. Every cycle of his internal conversation was answered with the simple fact that getting up and walking meant you weren't dead yet; you might be damn close, but you still had a claim on life. This alone was not initially enough to motivate him. What was life anyway? He asked himself a million times and always answered differently. Today, life was a way to walk and air to attempt to breathe. All in all, he decided, that was better than nothing. Slowly and quite diplomatically, his brain tried to convince his battered limbs to lift his weight. They were not swayed easily, but eventually he garnered enough support to struggle upward and onto his feet.

He remained there, leaned awkwardly against this tree blinking hard against the blinding efforts of his own body, his own blood until he could see well enough to move forward. Moving had brought him this far. His last hope was that it would continue to see him well. He staggered several feet. He had no way of knowing just how fragmented his skeleton had become, but even the idea of walking caused several places in him to mourn. There he was, all ragged breath and blood, trying in vain to keep living.

It was the very picture of pity.

He'd only gone a little ways when he saw an unfamiliar sight before him. There, in the distance, was a small structure. It looked to be some sort of outhouse. It leaned a bit in the downpour as if to protect itself from more exposure. He exhaled some sort of muddy laugh that reeked of internal demise and hobbled towards it, looking for a last place to lay that might be out of this damned rain. He wiped another fistful of blood and water from his eyes and willed himself again to move, but just as he began to lift his foot from the ground he halted in alarm.

Suddenly, he wasn't alone.

From behind the leaning shack, a din of familiar noise leaped out at him. And shortly after that, so did the dog. It cavalierly jumped out, barking, its hackles raised in alarm. His heart had almost ceased to beat, both in terror from the sudden appearance, and in joy for the slim hope that he'd found a companion who might provide some affection to a dying man, and who might possibly give him one last bit of happiness before the lights went out for good. He stared, all dopey and bloody at this welcome creature. But, just as easily as the initial smile had crept across his face it was replaced with doubt. This dog was not the type that he would see still living. It was some kind of house pet, completely unequipped to survive alone this many years. In fact, it reminded him distinctly, painfully, of a dog he'd loved as a boy. This was no survivor.

Slow tears found their places at the edges of his eyes. This was no friend and companion. This must be a hallucination.

Then, even as his incredible grief fell slickly down his cheeks, he laughed harder than he had in a long time. It was hilarious, really. Hilarious, and terrible. God, or whatever it was, had brought him a last thought of his former life, a harbinger that would bring not terror, but would welcome him into what was to become.

The dog yapped on as he approached, and his face contorted into a goofy scene of joy that foretold of madness and eventual death. It was at this point, when he was mere paces from the little, wet beast that he felt it: the swift, intentional touch of metallic coolness at the base of his skull.

Immediately he froze, his arms went stick-straight at his sides in spite of the pain that shot through his every fiber at the action. Even though he had never been at its mercy before, the cool steel of the gun's barrel was surprising in its familiarity. There was no mistaking the severity and finality present in its touch. His mind scattered to the winds of panic, but somewhere inside the knowledge remained that guns do not hold themselves. No, there was someone here. A person. With a voice.

"Who are you? State your name and business, or die in pursuit of nothing."

The voice was as steely as the barrel nuzzling his skull. He searched for the right answer to the question and came up empty. Panic rose fast and hard into his entire being, he urged himself to speak, to say anything, and urgently forced an ejection of air that he hoped would say the rights things. If you'd asked him to, he never would have been able to recognize the horrible rasp that now passed for his voice. "I, I'm dying. Please. I need help."

"Your name?"

He paused. It had been so long, he wasn't sure it meant anything anymore, but managed to choke out, "Matt. My name. It's Matt."

There was no pause in the gun's insistence for use. But in spite of himself, he could feel his mind begin to journey elsewhere. It almost felt like falling, or flying, or just drifting away somewhere. He didn't mean to, but the stranger's voice was fading now, like a dream or a memory of something lovely. Lightness filled his aching body and flooded out through his skin. And slowly a tunnel of darkness appeared around his vision. It was quite nice actually, an interesting picture of mixed Autumn leaves surrounded by a shrinking black circle. He swooned with movement and watched dimly as the leaves approached him and the circle tightened to a close.

He could not sense the unceremonious smack of his skin as it collided with marshy dankness of the forest's floor. He did not hear that one last painful breath driven sharply from his chest or the overlaying sounds of the stranger calling shortly to the still barking dog, "Logan! Shut up, you're driving me nuts with that racket!"

Rain continued to fall, the dog continued to bark, and the stranger looked down seemingly apathetic to the mess of human being sprawled indelicately before them.

Peace came. Blackness became the new world.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Letter

It was one of those days that made you feel like you were suffocating, drowning, dying some awful death that made you feel too close to yourself. The temperature had risen steadily from an early 85 degrees to a stifling 102 by noon. She lifted the brim of her straw hat off her forehead and wiped away the slow rolling sweat that had formed too quickly. Stooped there, in her garden, she could feel the torturous sun peeling away her patience. Suddenly she couldn't stand to be there anymore. She had to get out of this heat.

Her knees popped and creaked as she stood. 67 years of wear and tear had taken their toll on the cushions of life, and now every movement was a reminder of how old she had become. Stretching her back she glanced idly at the glare coming off the blackened pavement. If she had looked down the street she would have seen the telltale glimmer of an oasis, a simple mirage that pointed out, not that relief was coming, but that you were so damn hot you were hallucinating.

She stripped off her hat as she walked up the back steps to her home. It was only just now becoming possible for her not to expect her husband as she walked in the door. It was only now that she was finally beginning to see that he was indeed gone and he wasn't coming back. All of his jokes about death had been leading up to the day when she would have to learn to laugh at the real thing. He’d always said, “When I go I want you to have a big party. No one is to cry, and there is to be no sad music. Everyone will have a drink in their hand and you will lead a toast. You’ll say, ‘This is for my husband, the lucky son of a bitch who got to go first.’”

And in the end she had done as he’d asked. But it wasn't nearly as hilarious as he’d made it sound.

The shocking cold of her air-conditioned home forced a grateful sigh from her lips. She slung the wide-brimmed hat over the coat rack and gingerly pulled her gardening gloves from each finger, the same way she had always done without ever having been told to. Simon snaked his way around her ankles, grating his angular chin upwards against her calf and revving his motor to prove he loved her. She, in turn, bent down to scratch his ears and say to him, yet again, the only praise she could muster: “Simon, you should thank God that you’re a cat.”

In the kitchen, she poured herself a cold glass of water and sat down at the table to pay the monthly bills. The stack of mail stood tall before her so she settled her reading glasses onto her nose, inhaled deeply, and opened her checkbook. As much as she hated the depletion of her checking account after paying her bills, she rather enjoyed the ritual. She loved to feel a job being completed. She loved the idea of progress, of moving forward. Even in the past few dark months she had found some sort of joy in simple tasks; it was as if by completing one she had moved somehow further from her grief. So it wasn't surprising that she found herself humming quietly and smiling slightly halfway through the pile of mail.

It was just as she was sealing the electric bill that she noticed it. Here, among her pile of junk mail and bills, was a letter. It took a moment for her to realize what it was; after all, people just didn't send letters anymore. And it took her even longer to recognize the lack of a return address and the use of her maiden name.

The letter looked as if it had been traveling for years. At least twenty different postmarks littered the dingy envelope and several forwarding orders had been put into effect. But, somehow, even with all its stamped on bruises and signs of wear, this letter was the single most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

Her breath became slow and shallow, the same way that, as a small girl, she would breathe in Sunday church service. It was the breathing of a reverent child. It was a sign of wonderment and innocence and all other things that had been lost. She carefully broke the seal of the martyred envelope, and she oh so carefully sidled the stationary from its pocket, laying it to rest in the light of her kitchen under the shelter of her eyes. She unfolded the pages and began to read:

My Dearest Olivia, 9/22/1998

Greetings from India! Oh Olivia, you would be absolutely smitten with this place. Everything here is so vibrant and rich and seemingly expensive…I cannot even imagine your face when I bring you here someday; you will probably do that thing where you light up from the inside and knock my socks off with how beautiful you are. Come to think of it, I probably shouldn't bring you here… the Indian government may be upset if I bring them the one woman who is more perfect and beautiful than their sacred country.

Work is going fine. Some of the action sequences have gone awry, and the narrator still refuses to learn the correct pronunciations of many, many words, but no one ever said being a hit documentary film maker would be easy.

I know it’s probably strange for me to be writing you this letter. I mean, I have only known you a couple of weeks now, but there’s just something about you that I can’t stop thinking about. I am hopeful that when I get back you will still be willing to go on that date we talked about. I am hopeful that at the end of it you may let me kiss you goodnight. I am hopeful that at the end of everything you’ll be my girl and we can celebrate the apocalypse together. I am hopeful that my blatant and, perhaps, premature declarations of love will not scare you away.

I will be home in three short weeks. I cannot wait to see you again.

Beyond Love,

Time no longer existed.

How could it exist when a letter from 42 years ago, from her dead husband, had found its way onto her kitchen table? She felt disconnected from the present. She came unhinged from her senior citizen status and flipped around until she was 25 again. She flipped around to the day they’d met, to the day she had found out what living was really for. She landed back in the late summer heat, back in time, back to the moment she’d stumbled across perfection in the public library.

He was nothing she had ever expected to deserve. She saw him standing amongst the stacks, comfortable, as if he had been grown from that very spot, as if he belonged there exclusively in a world of leather bindings and beauty. He was flipping through a copy of some peer-reviewed scholarly chemistry journal and smirking, looking thoroughly amused by a diagram of something too complex for her to fathom. She was impressed, not by his choice of literature, but rather by his nature. He seemed to glow somehow.

She had never been one for flirting with strangers, but when her search for Ernest Hemingway found her standing only inches from his frame she figured it might not be a bad time to start.
“Have you read this one?” she barely whispered as she held out a copy of “The Old Man and the Sea” for him to regard. He turned to her. His hands dropped casually into his pockets, and his angled frame rocked back on its heels. He seemed to consider his response for a moment, casting his eyes towards the ceiling and sucking in a deep breath. A knowing smile spread slowly across the fabric of his face, and he locked his eyes on hers and said, “I’d like to ask you for a date.”

And that was how it began. That was how it began for them, suspended in a library in a moment too great to be real, waiting for time to clip their heels and tell them to get moving, to tell them that daydreams can’t last forever. But when time’s pursuit never made itself known they both realized that this must indeed be love.

But time most certainly did exist. It caught up with them eventually; it caught up with them as cancer and it killed him as punishment for happiness. Time kills us all eventually. Time wraps its icy hands around your ankles and makes you slow and encumbered. Time takes you away from the bookshelves and summer heat and beating heart you had at 25 and turns you into an old woman clutching an ancient piece of stationary in an outdated kitchen. Time had turned her into this seated statue with the wide, glazed look of a terrified animal. She felt the rising bulge of grief edging up and out of her eyes. She let it all consume her. Slipping from her chair, she collapsed to the linoleum. Pounding, aching sorrow drenched the ancient olive tiles. Ferocious loss, impossible love, and undeniable hurt racked her widowed body. Incapable of speech she seemed instead to hum her pain, the sound of brimming over, the sound of finally breaking and not knowing what else to do.

And Simon, who remained settled on his perch, squinted his green eyes and felt nothing.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Wanderer

Many nights were passed there, huddled up as tightly as he could beneath his jacket. This old tree had become his savior in a world where salvation seemed impossible. He'd lost track of the days now. There had been a time when he'd marked them down in a notebook he'd brought with him, but an unfortunately timed fall had brought him down hard into a swift stream; and his last piece of normalcy, his sense of time, had been swept away in its torrent. Now, he just walked. He walked and tried to find food and waited for death to come to him just like it had done for all the others.

The end had come just as no one had expected. They should have known it could never be predicted. The Earth makes its own decisions and follows no known time and pays attention to no creature's will or want. The plaguing population that had burdened it was eradicated by its wrath. And it had cleansed itself, leaving very few people behind to experience its rebirth. In truth, he often felt he might be the only one left. Even the sense of loneliness he'd felt so intensely at the beginning had waned. Loneliness, like any feeling, requires fuel. And without the reminder of others, without hearing a voice or seeing a face, there was nothing left on which the feeling could burn.

The sun shone brightly and warmed him through his jacket. Even though the days had grown a bit cooler, and the nights had become close to unbearable, the mornings still brought warm relief. He knew this wouldn't last long. Last winter he had managed to find a small house with a wood-burning stove. He'd made due in spite of nearly succumbing to hunger many times. At the remembrance of this a stab of panic brought him out of his slumber. He keenly realized that time was running short. He would need to keep heading south quickly if he wanted to survive that dead season again. Even more acutely, he knew that the blind luck he'd stumbled into last year would most likely not repeat itself. He would not likely find another antiquated cabin like the one he'd left.

He had laughed until he was delirious when he'd found it lingering there in the rough. Although unimpressive to look at, he could see it was solidly constructed and it's window panes remained in spite of all the rage the Earth had poured out onto it. He lurked outside it for several hours, hiding both in fear of an occupant, and in hope of one as well. When his voyeuristic surveying had born no fruit, he scurried forth in the dark to try the door. It had swung open easily, and unlike most of the homes he'd entered on his journey, the only scent to greet him was the distinctive plea of staleness. He sighed in relief. No matter how many times he encountered the remnants of death he could never quite pull back the sting of his own fear nor the heavy pool of disgust and grief that immediately gathered weight in his gut. The moon was in its height that evening, so searching the small space had been easy enough. The iridescent beams broke through the darkness and splashed irreverently across the contents of his new home, revealing the plump blackness of the stove, and sending waves of sweet relief streaming into his heart.

At the realization of what he saw, he'd laughed until he cried. He laughed until he was rolling around on the floor and clutching at his sides. He laughed for his good fortune until rivulets of tears poured forth from his eyes. He'd laughed until he sobbed and then he sobbed again for all he'd lost.

Hard time was passed there, but the inevitable spring had taken hold. And as soon as the weather felt consistent enough for travel he had taken what he could and continued south. Now, it was time to keep on with the trek. Now, the green was fading and falling. The autumn was taking its turn, and the deathly ice of winter was lingering on its breath. Now was a time for motion. So he thanked his arbor Christ, grabbed his things, and walked on again.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Know My Heart

I picture her flying.

I see her surrounded by coolness, by dark blue skies; cutting through them and swirling up around the stars. I see her here, in my breath, in my heart; unmaking the little tangles of grief that have caught up there and selfishly refuse to go. I see her and know her. I can feel her spirit singing with peace.

But I miss her, too. I miss her warmth and life and stubbornness. I miss hearing her bellowing voice. I had pushed it all away because it hurt too much. I had pushed her away because I couldn't see her there anymore. And now she's everywhere at once and everything always, and I remember how much I loved her.

In this universe, I am just a small piece. I am a separated piece that has fallen from the whole. I believe in this part of our lives we all are. We're little parts of the bigger picture, but we've lost sight of where we once belonged. Death brings back the longing to find that place again. Death allows us to remember that to pass on is to rejoin the celebrating center of this glorious Earth.

A person I loved is gone. My Granny. She fought the good fight and served her time as one of us. She lost everything to this petty world and its cruel devices. She died a mere shadow of the warrior she was.

But now, I hear that roaring spirit cascading over this good Earth with whooping enthusiasm. Now, she flies.

Free at last.

And in spite of my sorrow, she knows I'm laughing with her. Laughing at the silliness of it all. Laughing in delight at the speeds she can now conquer and the freedom that can only come when you are reconnected to the whole. The freedom of pumping in the veins of Mother Earth and kissing creation in each silver moonbeam.

Know my heart, Granny. Know that I hear you. Know that I see your presence in everything I do. I will hold on forever. I will hold on in the hope that in my dreams you'll take me flying with you.

I can almost feel it now; diving through the substance of everything. Holding your hand and rejoining the pulse. Understanding. A little piece reconnected. A little wave in the ocean of time.

Miriam West
March 30th, 1917 - July 19th, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Indiana Summer

So, the weather is finally muggy. God love the midwest and its muggy-ass summers!

Husband and I were walking to work yesterday from the train, and we were both sweating our respective parts off, when it dawned on me that before I became an adult, I used to LOVE this weather.

I used to love the sweaty feeling of summer days, and the cooler (yet still humid) weight of summer nights. But, something has changed... oh, I remember, I've changed because I no longer get to enjoy it like I did. I am what is oftentimes called "a grown-up" and in many respects this is a good thing: I get to live without my parents, and drink alcohol. I get to order pizza whenever I want. I get to stay up late and watch whatever movies or TV shows I want. AND, I have the added bonus of living with a boy full time. Joy!

BUT, I miss summer vacation. I miss the feeling on the last day of school when everyone would sing that Alice Cooper song while walking down the hallways towards the exits. I miss that feeling of having the whole glorious summer ahead of me. I miss jumping off the bus at my stop and thundering down the street towards my house for the last time that year with all the carefree joy and abandon that my heart could possibly hold.

Mostly, I think back to long days at our neighborhood pool. I was lucky enough to grow up in a awesome subdivision. We had a big lake in the center where we could go fishing, tons of kid-friendly sidewalks to ride our bikes on, and a glorious pool (complete with a deep end and diving board) that was open to residents anytime, day or night. We'd pretty much go there every day, all day - even when it was cloudy. And we'd stay until our bodies got tired or the need for a mom-made sandwich drove us back onto our bikes and back home.

Even with all the daytime swimming, we were not satisified. And sometimes, at night, when dinner was over, our Dad would agree to take us back for a nighttime dip. I am confident that even when I am old and gray, I will look back on those precious times as some of the happiest of my life, and most certainly, I will look back to those times and remember my father incredibly fondly. He is an excellent swimmer. He was actually a lifeguard as a teenager, and he would delight us with incredible feats of underwater swimming, and allow us to climb onto his back and be a passenger on some of his trips below the surface.

Afterwards, we'd tumble home in the dark and rinse the chlorine from our bodies and hair and climb into warm pajamas. Even now, my nostalgia is no match for my incredible need to provide these kinds of memories to my children (which I will hopefully have someday). They're so precious. Those moments in life that elevate you and open you up to happiness are the most treasured possessions anyone can have. In spite of all the shit that we have to go through everyday, in spite of all the times Husband or I feel trapped or depressed or futile, I always have memories like that to go back to.

So, when the man's got me down, and the checking account balance is surprisingly low, and work sucks, and I look around and realize how far I still have to go, I just think about summer vacation. I think about the quiet beneath the water and the way it felt to joke with my sisters while we rode our bikes to our favorite spot. I think about my Dad's smile when he'd climb up the side ladder after a perfect dive. I remember us. And it never fails to give me back some of what adulthood takes.

Just a little good, old-fashioned joy. No responsibilities. No impending collapse. No worries.

Just us, a pool, and a summer to spend by it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Me. In Pictures.

I'd seen this on a couple of other blogs and thought that it was very interesting. So, I am jumping on the bandwagon. The way it works: Answer the 12 questions below and then type each answer into a Flickr search. Take one of the pictures that comes up for your word and paste it into the mosaic maker at:

Then, when you're finished, post it for the world to see you in pictures! Here are the questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you attend?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your Flickr name.

1. Van Dyke: Allison, after Picasso, 2. Homemade Pepperoni Pizza, 3. Homestead High School, 4. Verde no Aquarius, 5. Harrison Ford, 6. 8pm landscape, 7. The Night City, 8. kahlua chocolate mousse, 9. Young student with his teacher, 10. return for refund., 11. eyes so tender, 12. Going Up And Down

I do find it hilarious, that the picture for #10 was found on my search for Husband's name (as he is the thing I love most in the world). Return for refund... hmmm. :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fumbling Towards a Change

Hello friends. I'm so sorry it has been a while since I last posted. In truth, I have been pretty darned busy and blogging definitely fell out of the limelight and into the background.

What was I up to?

I threw a successful and fun shower and bachelorette party for my best friend last weekend. I was pretty consumed by making sure that everything went well and in addition to that, Husband and I had been entertaining houseguests for basically the entire week previous. Needless to say, the combination of those two things left little time for anything personal.

But, the guests have all left, and the party has been thrown, and Husband and I are looking forward to a blissfully open weekend (aside from one family get-together on Saturday afternoon). A little "down-time" is definitely in order.

In addition to these little events, I have also been feeling a larger event in the making deep inside of my heart. For a long time now I have been struggling with making the transition into being the best version of me possible. Although I know that becoming the best you can be takes a lifetime and is probably never really accomplished (because we are just human, after all), I have felt on the brink of making a huge stride in the right direction for some time now.

I have spoken before on this blog about my deep affection for all living creatures. I do indeed have very intense feelings about animal rights and about fighting cruelty and about becoming closer with nature and the Earth, but I realized the other day that I'm being a total poser. Yes, my feelings are legitimate, but I'm not really doing anything about them. The most overwhelming part of the realization was the fact that I had never even thought about that before. It had never really occurred to me that all of my rambling and my hurt feelings and my love for my dogs meant basically nothing on a larger scale.

I needed to take action.

So, I started. I decided first to begin replacing all of my beauty/hygiene products with ones made from natural ingredients by companies who conduct no animal testing. Because I wasn't sure who these companies were, I went looking (where else?) on the internet. I found a website called and another (which I found the most helpful and easiest to use) at The Caring Consumer page is run by PETA and gives a list of all the companies that do and do not conduct animal testing. The second page is run by the National Anti-Vivisection Society and allows you to search by company or product to see if they are using animals for research there.

I was surprised both by how many companies have shunned the practice and by how many companies still refuse to see the light. The truth is that there are many ways of testing beauty and household products that do not rely on dropping chemicals into the eyes of a bunny. Companies that carry on these practices DO NOT NEED THEM. They are completely without merit and oblivious to the plight of the poor creatures trapped in their labs. Yes, some animal testing is required by law, and although I do not like it, I do understand that when a new medicine is released testing on animals can show the possible side-effects that might mean death for those taking it. Companies that do this type of testing are required to do so by the government, so my beef is not really with them. What I am protesting here is the fact that animals are losing their lives because I want to wear make-up. It's a simple and as ridiculous as that.

I urge you all to consider going to one of the websites above to check out which of your purchases are involved in this atrocious practice. You may be pleasantly surprised that you already buy products that are created by enlightened companies. For example, make-up companies like Almay, Revlon, Bath and Body Works, Bare Escentuals, and Smashbox are all created without the use of animal testing. However, companies like Cover Girl, Procter and Gamble, Aveeno, Johnson and Johnson, Neutrogena and many many others are still employing this barbaric technique.

Another line of products that are easy to replace are your household cleaners. This one is a little bit tougher as almost every single cleaning product that is commonly used is created by one or two archaic corporations that refuse to give up their lab rats. However, please keep in mind that not only are these types of products hurting defenseless creatures, they are also hurting all of us by polluting our Earth and ruining our natural water sources. You can check out the lists, but if you use Windex, Clorox, Tide, Pledge, or any of their associated products (plus TONS more) you already own an Earth polluting, animal abusing product. And I'm not trying to make you feel bad about it - I personally have all of those products in my house (much to my dismay).

The important thing to remember is that there are alternatives, lots actually. It may take you an extra trip to a different store, but there are a lot of Earth-friendly, natural cleaning products that are also never tested on an animal of any sort. The products I plan to purchase are found at my local Target store (and I'm pretty sure can be found at any Target):

Method, Inc is an AWESOME company that uses totally natural, biodegradable ingredients and has never participated in animal testing. They are very down-to-earth and all of their products are very reasonably priced. Some other suggestions I've received for similar types of products are Holy Cow, Ecover, and Third Generation. I know that Holy Cow can be found at several grocery chains and Walgreens.

The last bit of change I'm making for now is cutting back the amount of meat I eat. This is not just for purely cruelty-related issues. This decision is actually primarily based on the environment. The meat industry in this country is one of the single largest contributors to environmental issues - not to mention the fact that we could be feeding our country and others much more efficiently if we were using our land for raising crops rather than cattle.

True, if I were totally prepared for this endeavor, I would cut meat altogether. But I'm trying to take my Dad's advice and make "little changes that will stick rather than drastic ones that won't." I do see myself hopefully cutting meat completely from my diet altogether (as this is what my heart is telling me to do) but my head knows that 26 years of meat-eating won't be easy to break. So, rather than eat meat every day of the week, I'm going to cut down to 2-3 times a week.

Also, when I am purchasing meat I am doing my best to search for organic, free range chickens that have not spent their lives in a tiny cage with half their beaks cut off (which is actually what they do). It may be a couple dollars more expensive (example: I paid $15 for four organic chicken breasts at the store, while their non-organic counterparts would have cost me $12)but that price is worth it to me, if it means that the animal was able to live a more natural life before its death. I have also been buying the free-range, vegetarian eggs for quite some time and have been paying attention to which milk brands do not use hormones in their cattle. There are lots of options out there, so if these causes are near to your heart they way they are to mine, very few sacrifices have to be made in order to make a difference.

I apologize if I seem like I'm on my soapbox, but my mind has really been consumed lately with the fact that our environment and our world really are in trouble. We hear it all the time, but we do need to wake up and begin doing our part to ensure that future generations have a viable planet to live on. What's most exciting for me is that I get to establish a lifestyle now that I can pass on to my kids (when I hopefully have them). It is our human responsibility to take care of our planet and the creatures that inhabit it. We may have been given dominion over it by God, but that does not mean we have the right to disrespect the Earth or its inhabitants or to bend them to our will. We have a responsibility for their well-being. We are the only ones who can turn our behavior around, and I'm quickly learning that just a few small changes from all of us is the way to begin doing just that.

Thank you for reading. And please consider looking into some of these things for yourself. They are terribly important, and we would really be doing future generations a disservice if we continue on the way we are. I sincerely hope you are all having a great week so far, and I'll be sure to update you along the way of this journey. I'm certain it won't be entirely simple, but for once in my life, I feel like I'm really heading in the right direction.

Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, "Life is no way to treat an animal." And even though I used to agree, I really think that with some hard work, we can prove him wrong.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I stole this idea from Slouching Mom. She linked to a picture and you were supposed to write down the first three words that popped into your head and then use those three words in a memoir-style story. Obviously, I am not creative with my word choices. But I do find the stream-of-consciousness style and the place my brain went naturally interesting. Do we all have a penchant to go straight for the melodramatic? Thought provoking stuff, kids.

I suppose it was silly to get on this stupid boat. I was naive to think that just the act of climbing on a cruise ship would help me to relax. When, in truth, my anxiety has been worse than ever. But, oh, how they encouraged me!

"You really should take a vacation, Julie."

Right. Like a vacation is going to solve my problems. Like all my issues would just suddenly melt away as soon as I sat down in a deck chair. Like they would vanish as soon as I gazed out on all that blue water.

The cabin is nice enough, I guess. And I haven't gotten sea-sick yet. And there is an open bar with which to attempt to dull the ache of worry. But, it isn't exactly what I was promised.

No, it's not what I was promised at all. I was promised surrender. I was promised relaxation. I was promised that something about this stupid experience would help me to forget the fear clutching at my heart each time I hear a strange noise at night. I was told that a little fun in the sun would help to erase that feeling, and the memory of him standing over me, and the realization that I just might die.

No, not what I was promised at all.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Back in Action!

Hello dear readers!

Welp, I'm back from the ole vacation and am finally caught up enough with work, life, and all that junk to remind you all of my existence.

Aren't you glad? :)

The vacation was a lot of fun aside from a serious case of car-sickness that occurred just as we were about to view one of the most gorgeous national parks I've ever seen. (Good timing is not my forte). But, all the nausea aside, it was a wonderful time. I gambled a bit in Vegas and even won a bit of money on the video poker machines at Paris - which was a cool feeling.

Husband and I were both very ready to get home and see our boys, so waiting for our 5:00 PM flight home from Vegas on Friday was torture, but it was definitely all worth it for the fun that was had. I'll try to post some pictures when I have them handy.

In other news: I saw this today and just can't help but share it with all of you... personally, I laughed my ass off because I swear that the content of this video is ALL I can remember from Little House on the Prairie. Seriously.

And for any Aussie friends who may be reading who seem to NEVER be able to see my videos, this one's on under the title "The 30 Second Little House: I'll be Waving as You Drive Away."

Love it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

You're Welcome, In Advance...


I just discovered this today (thanks to Pink is the New Blog) and it is some of the craziest, funniest shit I've ever had the pleasure to see. Plus, there are unicorns in it. Enough said.


This is just the first installment. So, visit them at Planet Unicorn to see more!

Vacation Situation

Well, dear readers, in less than one week, I will be here:

And then, here:

And I am totally excited. Husband and I will be traveling with his parents and another couple to the expansive frontier of the West. We are anxiously awaiting our departure this weekend, and I am trying my best to fend off any creeping sense of anxiety. It always happens, but I'm trying to control it as best as I can.

Am I alone here? I know a lot of people get nervous when they leave the house, but I feel almost ill whenever I lock the door and leave our pups behind to go out of town. Even though I am excited for the trip and know that it will be wonderful, I still have these overwhelming feelings of fear that something will go wrong and I will not be there to help or stop it.

It's possible I should be medicated. Very possible.

But I just can't bring myself to do it. I have taken medication for depression before, but have since learned that my depressive tendencies are almost purely situational, and because of that, I am not a prime candidate for medical help. But, this anxiety thing seems to be happening more and more frequently, and I am having trouble controlling it on my own.

I despise feeling powerless. And this damn issue makes me feel that way. I feel terrified and nervous. I feel like I want to miss the fun and turn around and go home. I feel like all the precautions I have taken are not enough. I feel sure that our house will burn down and the boys will be stuck inside. I just feel like crap.

Any tips? As I said before, I know that this is a common feeling when people are going on vacation, so maybe someone out there has some advice or a similar experience to share... if not, that's ok too. I have left town before, and can do it again. I guess I'm just wishing that it would be a bit easier.

On a much happier note: I am actually supremely pumped for this trip and am confident that once we land in fabulous Las Vegas I will be ready to flay my wallet and drop some cashola on the old roulette wheel. Who knows, maybe I'll even win something. Or I'll just jinx myself by blogging about winning something and come home poor.

PS: I have also decided that in addition to my successful bringing back of the word "rad" (Successful is defined here as, "I use it regularly and get weird looks/reactions") I am going to be endeavoring to bring back the phrase "Sufferin' Succotash."

Yeah, I'm rad. Spread it around.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


So, I just had a shocking revelation the other day. No, really. It was shocking.

My best friend is getting married on July 4th. When she and her husband-to-be got engaged last year, she called me to not only tell me the good news, but to ask me to be her maid of honor. Of course, I said, "Yes!" I truly believe it is a great honor to be asked to stand in someone's wedding, and so I felt all the more honored to know that among all the honor already flying around, I was going to be honored extra! (and now I can't write that word without pronouncing it "Hoe-norde")

I was touched and very pleased, to say the least.

Anyway, I was planning my own nuptials at the time and promised her that as soon as all the shenanigans with that were over, I would turn my attention full force to her big day. Then, the holidays happened. Then, New Year's happened. Then our dog got surgery. Then we went to Jamaica for work. Then we tried to relax a little bit. Needless to say, my MOHing had not been as good as I had hoped.

In truth, the MOH's main responsibility is to make sure she leaves herself open to helping the bride whenever possible and plans a really kick-ass shower and bachelorette party that spotlight the bride and give her a chance to relax. So, all in all, I wasn't doing too bad for not having done much.

We solidifed a date for the shower and decided to also do the bachelorette party that same night once the shower was over. Good plan. It worked for me, and we'd make it work great for her too. I started throwing the tenative details around, and with some help from my fellow maids, have finally gotten most of the specifics nailed down.

But, I tell you what. I think I'm going through some sort of "wedding withdrawl." Here's why:

I wake up in the middle of the night because I'm obsessing about getting the shower perfect and I have panicky thoughts that I've forgotten something crucial. I have made several unnecessary Excel spreadsheets that I eventually scrap because I have come up with "an even better Excel spreadsheet" to do my pratically self-explanatory job.

Basically, I'm a nutjob. A big one.

I was analyzing this yesterday and wondering what the hell was my problem? Because honestly, planning the shower and bachelorette party is nowhere near the headache of planning a wedding, and I haven't felt this way since I was deep in the throes of wedding hysteria. So, why am I treating it like it's the event to beat all events?

In my analysis, I uncovered several possible reasons:

1. I really love my best friend. She's great! And I want to make it a really special day that runs really really smoothly and allows her to relax.
2. I'm anal, and I have problems delegating responsibility (mostly because I've been burned with the whole delegation thing in the past. I will never forgive the slacker in college who read his portion of the presentation directly off of a sheet of paper and who did not bring a visual aid - which was expressly required - and who, therefore, pulled our group grade down to a B from the A it was suppsoed to be. Dick.)
3. I am having "wedding withdrawl." I am coining this phrase to mean: "The symptoms felt by a married woman who, in the face of planning an event of any sort, slips right back into her past wedding planning mode and the idiosyncracies that accompany it."

Pretty good, eh? I think it totally exists, and I think I totally have it. But really, I'm pretty sure that all of the above are true in my case. Making me both really nice and really screwed up mentally. Great.

In spite of all of it, I am pretty damn excited for the whole thing to go down. It should be a fun party. Or at least, it better be...

One last revelation, and this is the one where I cry silently into my palms after my shrieks of horror have finally subsided:

When she asked me to be her MOH, I was the maid of honor.


I am the MATRON of honor.

Is it wrong that that phrase makes me feel incredibly old? I mean, MATRON?! I feel like I should run out and buy a bonnet and wire-rimmed glasses and start talking exclusively about how expensive everything is and how when I was a kid a movie only cost $3!

Well, I kind of already talk about how movies used to cost $3. I mean, come on! They did! AND now they're like $12, and that's just, well it's ridiculous. Gee golly, gosh darnit! I'm going haul my old married ass over to my rotary phone and place a call to my congressman. $12!? Get serious!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Goodbye to a Friend

One bright Spring day in 1994 my big sister came home from school with a puppy. She and a friend had been driving along one of the country roads that ran near the high school when they saw a "free puppies" sign that they could not ignore. They swung into the farmhouse's drive and walked over to see the puppies in the barn.

They were adorable. There were several left, and my sister and her friend both fell in love with them all instantly. As they were playing with them, the owner of the dogs came over and asked, "So, do you want one?"

Of course my sister wanted one. But she knew my Dad would be furious. He did not like us to bring home pets, and we already had a dog at home. He would not allow it to stay if she did bring it back with her.

The owner continued as the girls mulled things over, "...'cause if you don't want 'em, we're just going to drown 'em."

Horrified, each of them grabbed a puppy and thought about grabbing more. How could anyone want to kill such sweet innocent creatures!? They took the two puppies and rushed back to the car.

No sooner had my sister sat down than the feelings of dread began. How was she going to spin this one? There was no foreseeable way that our Dad was going to relent and allow a second dog - especially one that would grow as big as this husky/collie mix was going to. No, she'd just have to beg. He'd see the light, he'd see they were saving her from certain death, he'd give in this time.

Yeah, right.

I was thrilled when she brought the little girl home. She was a sweet, wriggly little thing with beautiful coloring and bright eyes. We all loved her immediately. But, then my Dad came home and the arguments began. We tried our best, but we knew he was right... we couldn't keep her. There were a lot of solid reasons, chief among them was the fact that half our family is horribly allergic to shedding animals. We were all well aware of the fact that we could not have anything more than our wonderful, hypoallergenic poodle, Buffy. My Dad laid down the law: Find it another home within 24 hours, or I'll take it to the shelter.

After our tears ended and our feelings mended a bit, the phone calls began. Unfortunately for us, and for our sweet little puppy, it didn't seem that any of our friends were in the market for a big shedding dog either. We started losing hope.

And then my Mom stepped forward and grabbed the phone.

And called our Granny.

In all her years, my Granny had never paid one red cent for any of her pets. All animals that lived at Chez West were strays who were lucky enough to wander onto her yard. Her dog, Harry "Harrison Ford" West, had just passed on, and she only had Tweeter, her bob-tailed cat in the house, so my Mom thought that she just might be in the market for a new challenge.

She said yes. :)

She named her Heidi Savannah, and it was at this moment that little Heidi officially joined our clan. She was a challenging dog. She was highly spirited, and there were many years where she was so out of control, that we could barely walk her without running. But we loved her very much. She had this very long, very proud nose. And she had the darkest, most intelligent eyes. She was a beauty. And she'd communicate with little howls that would shape her big mouth into the tiniest little O. She was good-natured and lovely. And my Granny just adored her.

Many of you know from past posts that my Granny now lives in a nursing home. When we had to move her there, she was allowed to take her cat, but she was not allowed to take Heidi. This was really hard for all of us, especially my Granny. The hardest part was that, for a moment, Heidi was homeless again. We still couldn't have shedding animals, and now the sanctuary that my Granny had provided for close to ten years, was no longer available.

We spent a couple of days making the calls to the usual suspects, dog-lovers and people with other large pets, but no dice. My Mom had automatically begun to rehearse her speech to my Dad in her head where she somehow convinced him to let her stay with us, but it turned out, she didn't need it.

In a highly unlikely turn of events, my mom received a phone call from my Granny's only living sister. In the call, my Great Aunt said, "I know you're looking for a place to put my sister's dog. Well, I think I'd like to take her. She'd have to stay mostly in the garage and backyard, but I think it'd be alright." My Mom's jaw just dropped. My Great Aunt had not only never had a pet of any sort, but she was the white carpet type. The type with plastic pathways through her house. They type that did not have anything that would cause a mess. The type that was ALL WRONG to have a big shedding dog.

But our options were all tapped. This was the best offer we could get. And so it was that our Heidi girl moved into her new residence: My Great Aunt's garage.

It did not take long for the boundaries to weaken and expand. "Just the garage" became "Just the garage and kitchen." "Just the garage and kitchen" turned even more quickly into "Just the garage, kitchen, and living room." Pretty soon there were no boundaries, and my Great Aunt was hooked. She was head over heels for our gal Heidi.

What was most amazing to all of us were the changes we saw happening in our Aunt. She was becoming more sensitive and loving. She began expressing feelings and communicating more effectively with all of us. Our relationships with her began to grow. And it was no secret to anyone that Heidi was the reason. She had brought joy into her life. And it was so infectious that she couldn't help but share it. It was wonderful. And we all felt blessed by it.

I spoke to my Mom today, and she told me that our Heidi girl is gone. She was 15, which is a very long life for a dog her size, and it was time for her to go. My great Aunt couldn't make the call on her own. She didn't want to lose her. But our gal could barely stand anymore, and previous to that she had lost control of her bowels which caused her to look and feel ashamed. It broke both of their hearts, but they took her to the vet to explain the symptoms.

He agreed that it was time for her to leave us.

So my Mom and Aunt held hands and watched as our beautiful and loving Heidi finally laid her proud head down to rest. It was very fast and painless, of course. But my great Aunt and my Mom were just heartbroken. They both hugged her and kissed her sweet nose. And then they quietly said their goodbyes.

I'm trying not to be too sad about it. Heidi led a very full and wonderful life. I guess more than anything, I just wanted to pay her some tribute here. She brought joy to two old women who didn't have much before, and she brought our family together. She was a binding force in our hearts, and she is missed and loved immensely by many people and always will be.

I love you so much, and I'll miss you a lot, old gal.

Goodbye my Heidi girl, goodbye.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

MIA in Minneapolis


Aloha from the great state of Minnesota!

I've been here for three days. And I'm ready to go home. It's nice and everything, but three days away from Husband is difficult for me. Three days away from home and my dogs and all my stuff... it sucks, to be honest.

But, tomorrow, my ship sails! Well, really it'll be a plane, but it will be heading toward the great state of Illinois (home to world-class democrat, and my personal choice for el presidente: Barack Obama) and the fabulous city of Chicago (which, God love it, is one of the only cities still TOTALLY run by the mafia. Love it).

It can't come soon enough!

Oh, and what is it with people in Minneapolis being total A-Holes while driving!? I mean, I know how to drive in a big city, but this place is like an endless parade of complete mean-faces on the freeway. Don't get me wrong, everyone is perfectly nice (in that reliable Midwestern way that I love and adore) outside of their cars. But, magically, when they step inside their Toyota Camrys(would you spell the plural of Camry as "camries"? No way. It looks too weird like that - and PS there are like a bazillion of those damn cars in this place!) they all suddenly become rabid, shithead assfaces! I've been almost hit several times while trying to change lanes in traffic, and no one waves to say thanks when you let them in, and it's all a big mess.


Good thing I don't live here, because apparently it would require that I become a jerky driver, and I am staunchly against that. Staunchly.

Doesn't staunchly sound like a really good name for a mean, fat, sidekick character in a movie? Like a cartoon or something?

Just a thought.

So long twin cities! I'll be back later. Gators.

Mean, bad-driving gators with big chips on their "driving shoulders."

Friday, May 2, 2008



I'm never going to stop laughing at this. Ever. EVER!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Thank you, Husband! This is the funniest (and weirdest/potentially most scarring) thing I've seen.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Reminder...

I was grocery shopping the other week, and I wandered down the household products aisle just to stand indecisively in front of the laundry detergent for a few minutes. I knew that we were almost out (so it was definitely on the list) but, as I am known to do, I couldn't decide which one to try.

I rarely stick with any one product long. In fact, I frequently change all the products in my house and toiletry cabinet. I like to switch it up and experience new things. It's nice to have a change of pace - even if that change of pace is simply switching from lilac scented to lemon scented dish detergent. Plus, I'm a total whore for new and improved packaging (yep, I'm the sucker that remarks on how cute that bottle of ketchup is - I know, LAME).

So, I was studying the different brands and checking out the options when I realized that I had actually tried most of them. I wasn't interested in any of the Tide products because Husband hates them for some reason, and I did not see anything earth-shattering happening with Cheer, so I turned my attention to one of the only brands I had not yet purchased: Gain.

I'd heard good things about Gain. The commercials boast an impressive longevity in scent, and a college friend of Husband's used to finish her laundry, hold a piece up to her face, inhale dramatically and deeply, and say "Ahhhhhhh. Gain." So, I decided, what the heck, I'll give it a shot.

Life progressed and clothing got dirty and we finally had the occasion to use the Gain several days later. Several loads of laundry, and a special wash for my favorite "napping blanket" were done without much incident (in fact, I had almost completely forgotten that I'd bought the Gain at all). I folded the laundry (because that's my job), put it away, and cuddled up on the couch with my favorite (clean!) blanket to watch some TV.

As I was sitting there, I pulled some of the blanket to my face and took in the smell. It was lovely, fresh and clean, and over the next hour or so I probably smelled the damn thing 20 times. What struck me as strange, though, was that on that 20th smell, something hit me as achingly familiar. You know that feeling? When life suddenly slaps you in the face with a memory? A memory so stowed away that it could only be convinced out with a smell or sight or incident? It was one of those moments. I smelled that blanket and WHAM. I knew there was something there to remember. Something that made me immediately feel safe, warm, and happy.

It did not come to me right away. In fact, it was not until the next night when we had finished with dinner that I finally pinpointed it.

Husband was washing the dishes (because that's his job) and I had just sat down to relax a bit. I reached over to grab my blanket, and as I wrapped its warmth up around me, the reason for the memory came rushing in so quickly that my eyes welled up with tears and my heart filled with happiness and comfort.

It was my best friend.

Her clothes. The sheets on the guest bed at her parents' house. Hugging her and being near her. She smelled like this. It was the detergent that her mother used to wash her clothes in high school. It was the smell of being close to her and seeing her everyday, and living in the same town.

So simple. And so obvious at that moment that I couldn't believe I'd ever forgotten it. So many nights I slept in the double bed in her parents' guest bedroom. So many nights as teenage girls, we'd fallen asleep with this scent all around us and talked about all the stupid, simple, teenage things that we cared about.

It sounds silly, but smelling that blanket brought her back to me for a minute. For just a minute I was 17 and I was sleeping over at my best friend's house. For just a moment I was back there in that safe little place that always calmed my teen angst and rebellion. Her home had felt like my own during those tumultuous years. Whenever I felt misunderstood, she understood me. And whenever I was scared, she comforted me. And all of that love and all of that friendship was all wrapped up in the way those sheets smelled and in the way the scent called back how I would finally drift off to sleep feeling secure again, feeling like I knew myself again, feeling at peace.

Of course, we are still best friends. But, I don't see her or speak to her all that often. There used to be a day when I never doubted that we would always be as close as we were at 17. There used to be a day when I would have laughed at the idea of not speaking to her at least twice everyday. But that day is here.

It's part of growing up, and I know that. So, the lump in my throat was brief but poignant. I love her and miss her. And I remember us then more clearly than I have in years. And I will not forget us.

Thank you, Gain. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

No Sooner Had I Promised...

... than the corporate bandwagon of my company rolled into town. Argh. There can be very little posting whilst they watch us all like this:

Suddenly I feel like a little field mouse... and a dancing monkey... a dancing field mouse-monkey.

Corporate bullshit. Love it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

For Those Having a Boring Afternoon....

I give you: Christopher Walken!

I'm peeing my pants a little. I love this man (even though he is looking rather corpse-like these days).


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You Heard it Here First: Everything's Bigger in Texas

Including the hangovers.


Free wine + Me = One hell of a good time (AKA: I got drunk). Which is fine, really. I don't go out to "party" anymore. I don't go to bars and tie one on or anything like that. I do enjoy some wine at home on a pretty regular basis, but I don't really cut totally loose all that often. So, going to a friend's wedding and getting smashed is totally ok in my book - and as far as I know I did not make an ass out of myself, which makes it all even better.

But, damn. Waking up at 6 AM the next morning for our flight was rough. After we left the hotel and were up in the great blue sky I realized that I had almost zero recollection of what I had done first thing that morning. I was just going through the motions (which, and I'm going to credit my sleepwalking habit here, I apparently do pretty well). You know, shower, brush teeth, get dressed, throw shit in bag, walk around to make sure there is not additional shit to put in bag... things like that. We made it out on time and did not forget anything - score for us.

We ate a pretty fulfilling breakfast of eggs, toast and hash browns at the airport - which, in hindsight were probably crap but they tasted like am-freaking-brosia (the nectar of the Gods - in case you did not have Greek/Roman mythology shoved down your throats at some point in time like I did). I was loving the eggs and was feeling much much better.

Then we flew.

And I thought I just might die.

Southwest (which, please don't get me wrong, they are definitely my favorite airline) does not have any direct flights from Dallas to Chicago. And that blows. Both there and back we had to do a short layover where we sat on the plane and waited for the new passengers to come aboard before continuing on. Fine, I don't mind waiting. it was the whole "let's take off and land TWICE" thing that made me want to toss my proverbial cookies all over the place.

Like this:

Cute, eh?

But, we made it without incident, ordered a big pizza (which I ate most of - regrettably) and then proceeded to partake in our individual relaxation activities. Husband played his computer game, and I laid, sloth-like, on the couch and watched the Golden Girls.


Next weekend, project "let's clean out the garage so that it can fit both our cars" and project "let's clean up our dirty ass house" commence. Spring cleaning has never seen a fury for cleanliness like the one currently residing in the depths of my gut. I will conquer all disorganized closets and scour each surface. Even the dogs will be getting makeovers (ok, they're just getting an overdue grooming out of the way). The goal is that by Sunday evening I will be able to sit down and victoriously look upon my spotless home and well-manicured pups, smile with the deepest sense of satisfaction and then lament the loss of my weekend to chores - which will, let's face it, inevitably happen.

More on this later. And more from this corner of the blogosphere tomorrow.

PS: I'm going to try to be more diligent about posting more frequently. I know how disappointing it is for all 7 of you to come over here and find nothing new. Don't you fret my dears, I'm on it.

On it, I am.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I just got back from the dentist. I left work and used my lunch break to get my teeth drilled.

It was awful.

Even with today's modern technology, getting your teeth drilled is still fucking horrible (sorry for the profanity, but I still can't feel my lower jaw or tongue and it's pissing me off).

I immediately came to my desk, logged into You Tube, and found this video:

Dirty bastards.

Texas, Here I Come!

Watch out Dallas, TX!

I will be prowling your streets by this time tomorrow, and I know how to prowl... believe me.

Anybody know anything good to do in Dallas besides eating? I've been trying to find an activity to keep Husband and I occupied whilst we wait for our friend's rehearsal dinner to begin. We are slackers (it's true) so by the time we booked our flight all the good ones were gone, and we ended up on a 7 AM flight. Ouch. That means a 4 AM wake-up call and a 10:40 AM arrival in Dallas, so we have, oh, about 8.5 hours to kill before the dinner is underway.

I looked up tickets to go to Six Flags down there, but we really don't have enough time to spend 2 hours waiting for a rollercoaster that will probably end up sucking to then wait two more hours for a second potentially sucky coaster... it would hardly be worth our $60.

Then I thought, Hey! We could go to a museum or something. And I found this one:

Yep. It's the Cockroach Hall of Fame! Which, in spite of what you may immediately think, I think sounds AWESOME! However, it's in Plano, TX - which doesn't sound awesome. So, I kept looking and I found something called the:


Which, HOLY HELL, sounds rad! It should also sound extremely fitting for those of you who have the pleasure of knowing Husband - because he's TOTALLY into that stuff. But (and it is with a heavy heart I inform you of this) The Conspiracy Museum has been closed. Bummer.

So, I'm kind of stuck! No cockroaches, no conspiracies. What are a couple of kids supposed to do!? Yeah, yeah, yeah they do have other museums of the more average variety, and there's an aquarium that we might check out, but we're from Chicago! We've got all that stuff right here! I want to do something that is quintessentially Dallas-ish.

I guess for the time being we will just plan on walking around and looking at stuff. Fun. But the wedding that we are going there to attend should be tons of fun, so it will more than make up for a couple of hours of blah.

Hopefully I'll have some interesting stories to share on Monday when we return from our mini-vacation to the warmer climates of Texas. At the very least I'll have a rockin' wedding recap and an airline tale or two (because something's always happening at the airport).

Here's wishing you all a great weekend. I'll catch you on the flipside!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekend Update

Happy Monday, suckas!

I am in an unfathomably good mood today, which is totally bizarre considering that when I woke up this morning I considered breaking my own arm to avoid having to come into work. Ok, I wouldn't really break my own arm because that would involve having some crazy-ass level of determination that I do not possess. Quite honestly, if the zombie plague ever comes, I will be one of the first to die - and most likely it will be because I will just stand still and scream until I'm eaten - just to get it over with, you know?

Anyway, I'm glad to be alive and not plagued by zombies or anything of that sort. This weekend was rad for many reasons too, so that is another contributor to my zest for being zesty.

Husband is awesome and he painted our bedroom and bathroom this weekend. It's blue, and I L-O-V-E it. I promise I will try to post a picture of it so you can all be inspired by his painting talents. So, I was a happy homemaker and I went to Target (pronounced tar-jay (say it like you're French but avoid becoming conceited over your worldliness, please)) and had a grand ole time picking out a couple of new accoutrements (also pronounced like a fancy frenchie) for our boudoir (God, I am ROCKING the french today) - well actually, most of the time I was restraining myself from purchasing EVERY knick-knack in the damn place because everything is completely adorable (God! I love Target). I mean, there were at least 10 bowls and/or glass thingees that I HAD TO HAVE. Of course, I forced myself to pick just two... so I did. But then, I found this:




This is the best thing I have ever SEEN! So, I quickly threw one of my selected items back on the shelf and lovingly carried this completely useless fish-shaped vase straight to the checkout line. I'm freaking nuts about it.

But, I also have no freaking clue what I'm going to do with the thing. I don't care though. It's cool and it's mine and I'm thrilled. Hoot!

God, I'm shallow.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Check it!

The blog's got a new attitude, eh? I'm INFINITELY pleased with myself right now, so I'm not even going to ask for anyone's opinion. If you hate it, shut up about it! If you love it, feel free to sing my praises. :)

And here's a funny clip to brighten up yet another ENDLESS Wednesday. Hump day, Schump day!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Death by Embarrassment

So, something strange happened to me this weekend. I'm not even kidding. Something REALLY freaking strange happened to me, and it's making me quite ill at ease.

This past weekend I found out that I am a sleepwalker.

Never, in my whole life, had I ever done this before. Never. But, I had had some experiences with my little sister as a kid where she had been sleepwalking - and, I'm not going to lie, it freaked me out every single time it happened. I have always been completely uncomfortable with the entire concept. I mean, walking around with a glassy-eyed stare in the dark, "creeping quietly through the house" (as one online journal put it) is a thought that has always thrown chills down my back. So, discovering that I actually do this was a big blow to me.

And the circumstances surrounding this epiphany made it even worse. I mean, they were bad.

It was totally embarrassing.

Before I tell you how it happened, I first want to share something about myself: I HATE to be embarrassed. To me, it feels like dying. I feel like I'm suffocating from it, and my immediate reaction is always to cry and to hide. I have a very strong reaction, and the situation is made none the better due to the fact that I am also very easily embarrassed. As I've grown older, I have tried to remedy these natural reactions of mine and have come up with a few successful safeguards:

1. I try to tell myself that it is nothing. No big deal. It will not be remembered for long, and the other people who witness this probably don't think much of it anyhow. I try to let it go.

2. I take deep breaths and try to smile and make a joke. For smaller embarrassments, this normally works. I have gotten much better at swallowing the emotions and making light of it.

3. I do everything in my power to avoid it.

Most of the time I am successful with these. I try to be very aware of myself, and I definitely put forth a daily effort to live as embarrassment-free as possible. Of course, sometimes you just can't help it, but other times I have been able to identify a possible embarrassing moment and sidestep it. This pleases me to no end.

Naturally, the double-whammy of this weekend was not only the knowledge that I'm a freaky sleepwalker, but that in this state (where I have no control) I embarrassed myself. I hate knowing that I can't be the master of my actions while sleepwalking. That fact is even more scary than the whole walking around in the dark thing. The whole scenario leaves me helpless to it - especially when I had put no safeguards in place for being embarrassed while sleeping.

And, man oh man. This was a doozy of an embarrassing moment.

My little sister had brought her new boyfriend to our house for the weekend (already you should be able to see that this is going nowhere good, and fast). He is a really nice guy, and Husband and I were both impressed and very glad to meet him. They stayed in our guest room both Friday and Saturday nights.

Sunday morning, I was up making waffles when they came downstairs. I asked the usual, cheerful morning questions and as I looked up for a response I could tell they were smirking about something - something that made them both uncomfortable. The new bf said, "Well, something weird happened to us last night." Just with the way he was looking at me, I knew that I had done something. Automatically my throat clenched up, my stomach dropped, and fear clutched my heart.

"Last night at 2:30 AM, you climbed into bed with us."


Me: "No way. NO WAY! I couldn't have, I was asleep."

New BF: "Exactly. You were sleepwalking."

Little sister breaks into laughter at this point.

Me: "Husband! HUSBAND!? Where are you!?"

He finally comes into the room

Me: "Did you know that I'm a sleepwalker?"

Husband: "No. You are?"

Me: "Apparently so. And I climbed into bed with them last night."

Husband: "What!? That's crazy. I had no idea."

The scene continued with a few more, "I can't believe it"s, but it was all just an echo in my head. I could feel it happening. I was falling into it. I just kept repeating, "I'm really sorry. I'm so embarrassed." over and over and over until I felt the stinging tears at the back of my eyes. I poured another waffle into the waffle-maker, asked Husband to please check it in a few minutes, and avoided all eye contact as I tried to discreetly slip upstairs.

I came completely unglued. My head was a tangle of horrible thoughts. He said I crawled into bed, but what else did I do? Oh GOD, I wasn't wearing pajama bottoms, they both saw my underwear! Oh God, I hope I didn't do anything else. Please God, tell me I didn't do anything else.

Husband came up to check on me, which only made things worse. He meant well, of course, but I was completely horrified with myself. All that hard work, all those days of trying not to embarrass myself, trying to avoid my greatest fear were all for nothing. Turns out, I'm so determined to make a fool of myself that I'll do it in my sleep. They were getting ready to leave, so I hopped in the shower like a coward and waited until they had gone before I ventured out.

Husband had talked to the new bf and he had reiterated that I merely walked into the room, laid down for 10 seconds or so, got back up and promptly walked out. Still, it consumed me all day. I just couldn't stop feeling helpless about it, and of course, totally humiliated that I'd done it, and to top if all off, I felt foolish for being such a baby about it. I was trying to make a good impression on the new bf, and I had succeeded only in showing him my underwear after crawling into bed with him and then crying so much about it that I couldn't compose myself enough to say goodbye in person.

Brilliant. Good work.

Anyway, I am still embarrassed, but I'm starting to get over it. And the sleepwalking thing sort of makes sense from what I've read online, and it definitely explains a couple of past weird moments. Like the time that Husband woke up in the middle of the night and our humidifier was off and the door was open. We always make sure that the opposite is true when we go to bed, and since I had come up second, I chalked it up to forgetfulness and moved on. But, it gnawed at me all day that I was pretty sure I had successfully done both those things. It was only after the humiliation of Sunday that it dawned on me that I must have shut the humdifier off on my way out of our bedroom while sleepwalking. Yuck. I hate this.

At the very least I guess I can maybe use it for an excuse or two down the line.... Like

Husband: "Honey? Why didn't you remember my birthday?"

Me: "What!? I did! I swear! I bought your present and everything... oh, I must have returned it while I was sleepwalking... sorry honey, I just can't help it! "

See? I'm getting better already - jokes and everything.

And from now on out, I wear pajama bottoms to bed and tell all guests to lock their doors - apparently, there's a sleepwalking perv roaming the halls of my house at night....

God, I'm embarrassed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tuesdays RULE!

And by "RULE" I mean, "are totally boring."

So, a friend showed me a music video the other day by this band called "Gil Mantera" (which is actually the name of one of the guys in the band, but whatever) which totally slayed me.

Check them out on YouTube if you dare... I'm not going to link to it because I don't put SMUT like that on here (contrary to popular opinion), and by "SMUT" I mean, "guys playing crappy electronic music while airhumping their instruments and wearing only thongs."

But they do a pretty sweet cover of "Dreams" by, Fleetwood Mac, so I had to give them nods. Plus, I haven't laughed so hard in a while, so it was totally worth being grossed out by their thong-wearing and keyboard stand-felating (I think I made this word up... awesome).

Speaking of gross:

I'm currently reading this book, and it is gross.... and RADICAL! If you like stories about vampire/zombie people who eat other people and live under a graveyard then pick it up! Clive Barker is truly a sick sick man, and I am so glad for it. Hoot!

Horror books are some of my favorites. I read at least ten Stephen King books in in high school (Pet Semetary is my favorite of the favorites) but have not really delved into the genre much further. But, since the Horror section is right next to the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section at the Borders near my house, I wandered over there during Husband's and my last visit (because I always finish looking around before he does and I always end up waiting in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section while he sizes up which Post-Apocalyptic novel he will read next - he's nerdy and I love him). So, I gave this one a shot and have, so far, not been disappointed... although I have, on several occasions, been nauseated (he gets really gross sometimes - I mean HELLA gross).

It's actually pretty weird that I like horrific fiction so well because I despise - with an infinite passion - horror movies.

Ah, the dualities of a complex woman (points to self).

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Friday, March 28, 2008

So Far Away...

When I placed this movie on our Netflix queue, I already knew it wasn't the best idea. The whole film centers around an older couple in their 60's who are unexpectedly faced with the horrific truth of Alzheimer's. It is the wife who becomes afflicted, and with her mind only beginning to wane, she makes the decision to check herself into a nursing home rather than burden her husband with her care.

I cried pretty much the entire movie because it is not only sad, but I have a personal connection with this disease. It claimed my Granny quite a few years ago, and it will never give her back.

I know that it is difficult to deal with the declining physical health of the elderly. I watched my Grandmother suffer from the after-effects of a major stroke for most of my childhood and teenage years before old age took her home - so, I have experienced the intense grief associated with being a witness to the steady decline of a family members physical body. But, I have to say (and you can disagree if you want - it's always a person's right to do so) that it has been noticeably harder for me to deal with my Granny's mental deterioration than is was for me to handle my other Grandmother's physical woes.

The difficulty lies in the fact that it is expected that as we get older and edge towards the end of this life that our physical bodies will become weaker and break down. After all, our lives on this planet are measured as "over" when our physical bodies give out on us. But, it has been really, significantly sad for my family to watch my Granny's perfectly healthy body stay healthy while her razor sharp mind has become a mess of confusion. It seems unnatural, not the way things should be.

Probably the saddest day for me came shortly after she had begun living at an assisted living facility. My Mom got a routine update from the nurse giving her the good news that my Granny had finally been convinced to shower with one of the nurses assisting her. My Granny had immediately resisted this, saying she didn't need help - but none of us were quite sure if that was true since we were not sure when she had last showered before we brought her there. Things had gone south quickly before we decided she needed full-time help. Her sense of hygiene had declined sharply, and although her home was very neat, it was also very filthy. Everything was in its right place but dust and grime covered every surface. Her clothing was always in need of washing, and she had started to smell. This, in and of itself, was heartbreaking as she had always taken a lot of pride in the fact that she was an excellent housekeeper. Truthfully, her cataracts were as much to blame for the dirt as her Alzheimer's was, but the fact remained that she no longer had the judgement needed to keep clean on her own. The nurse then gave my Mom the "wonderful" news that not only had my Granny showered, but she had done it completely by herself, even balancing on one foot at one point to scrub the other foot's bottom. The whole staff was completely blown away by what excellent physical condition she was in. My Mom thanked her for the report and then promptly hung up the phone and cried.

You see, to us, this wasn't the greatest news. Yes, it is wonderful that at almost 80 years of age my Granny could still perform such amazing feats of balance. And yes, it is amazing that even in the slippery shower (where, in all honesty, her 26 year-old granddaughter (points at self) has slipped attempting the same maneuver - and not just once) she could manage an act that causes many people much difficulty. But for us, it was like an extra kick in the teeth. It was like Life was mocking us.

Life: "Hey family! Guess what!? Your Granny has Alzheimer's! And in a few months, she'll barely know you. That's right! She'll grow to not know you at all only a short time after that. She'll become confused, and she'll cry. She'll ask you if: She ever had a husband? Children? Where did she live? What was she like? Who is she at all? Who are you? Why are you in her room? Eventually, she'll become so confused that during the middle of the night she'll wander out of her room and punch another resident in the face. Yep, you'll have to send her to a REAL home then. Not like the current "cushy" joint. Oh, and did I mention that she's going to live a LONG LONG time. Aren't you pleased!?

It just doesn't seem fair. A person should be rewarded for taking care of their body. They should get to have a long healthy life that they enjoy, that means something. But my Granny does not enjoy her health. She just sits. She sits and she listens to the other old people who inhabit the "crazy people" wing of the nursing home she now lives in.

Last year, I went with my Mom and sisters to see her in the new home. After she was booted out of the assisted living facility, we had no choice but to put her in a place that provided more security. She was now sharing a room with another woman, and was given a lot more medication that she had been previously given. I had tried my best to prepare for what I was going to see, for how she would look, for how this new place would be different, but I couldn't have known.

They were having some sort of party. Someone's birthday or something. All 10 or so old folks were seated at tables with two plastic cups in front of them. One was full of fruit punch. The other was full of popcorn. My first thought was, "My God. They look like preschoolers." Young children being pacified by a pre-measured serving of punch and popcorn. Young children seated at school tables with that germy-urine smell in the air being barely concealed with the heavy smell of antiseptic.

And my Granny. She looked... defeated.

We spent about an hour with her there. Some of the other people were very talkative, and I could see my Granny looking around every once in a while as she caught a conversation, and then turning her head back to glance at us as we talked or at the floor. I took my turn and tried to tell her some exciting news from my life. I told her I was getting married, and I described Husband to her. I told her about our new home and our dog. I let her know that one of Harry's (one of her past pups) toys was still around and that Logan loved playing with it. I talked about work and told her I missed her. And then just as I'd reached my limit and I could feel the tears beginning to choke me, my Mom gave the signal that it was time for us to go.

We all gave her hugs. I chose to go last, and as I leaned down I heard her murmuring something. I couldn't understand right away, so I asked her to repeat herself. I drew close so I could hear better, and as I did she said, "...there's just never enough time."

"....there's just never enough time."

And that was it. I drew back and fought hard to hold onto my tears, but I could feel them coming with a vengeance, and I didn't want to confuse her with my crying. It never does any good to cry and plead with someone who has Alzheimer's, they don't understand you anymore. They don't understand your sadness or disappointment, or even what it really means. So, I hugged her again and turned quickly to head down the hallway. I made it about halfway before my sobs bubbled over the surface and took me.

I have not been back.

Sometimes I feel really guilty for not being there more often. True, I don't go home to Indiana very often, so I have few opportunities to see her, but even the few times I have been back I have not made the trip. I suppose that part of me doesn't really see the point. My Mom visits her a couple hours a week, and although she is pleasant as she listens, none of it ever sinks in. There is no magical moment where clarity creeps in and lights her up. There are no miracles. There are no recognitions. She is gone. Far far away. And nothing is going to bring her back.

I am always expecting a call to tell me she has passed. In a way, I guess I almost hope for it sometimes. I know the woman she was, and I know she would be enraged with the woman she has become. She is a shell who looks like my Granny, but my Granny is no longer there. I know that when the day arrives I will feel the weight of the finality, but most of my grief has already been felt. I lost her years ago, so when her day of peace comes, I know that with it will come a sense of peace for me too.

She will be reconnected with herself again. Whole. No longer just a staring body that tries to remember who she was. No longer alone and away from us. But reconnected with herself, and finally resting after a long and trying journey. Finally at peace.

It's possible that I'm selfish. But, I really don't see it that way. I only want her to know herself again - and we have been assured many times over that that is not something we can hope for.

I believe we all take that for granted, knowing ourselves. Even if we don't like who we see in the mirror. Even if there are points in our history that we regret, or memories that cause us pain - there is no greater gift than being able to know and remember all those things. Having a past, and having a sense of self are too important to lose. They provide us with an identity, they make life make some sense. What would we be without them?

Just shells. Just bodies. People robbed of what it is that makes them human - fears, hopes, memories, love, regret, sadness. All of it, gone. It is a condition that I wish on no one. It is, in my opinion, the greatest of tragedies. And that is why I sometimes ask God to grant my Granny peace of mind, the peace of a whole mind.

And I hope that maybe in her dreams I visit her sometimes. I hope that maybe in that world she can see and know me and that we can talk the way we used to. I hope that in some place she still remembers how much she means to all of us. I hope, in spite of everything. And try desperately to remember it all, no matter how much it may hurt.