Friday, September 30, 2011

Donna's Story

I know I am late sharing this, and I can't put my finger on why I haven't shared it earlier. There is a wonderful woman and mother that writes for the website,  Mary Tyler Mom, whose daughter, Donna, underwent 31 months of treatment after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. As September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, she's written a new blog entry every day this month. Each entry represents a month of Donna's treatment. I was fortunate to have started following this early on. Though my heart is breaking now as it draws to a close and the inevitable is coming ever nearer, I've found so much strength and inspiration through reading about Donna and her family. October 1st will be the final entry about Donna's struggle with cancer, followed by a post on October 2nd containing resources about how we can help the fight against cancer.

If you are interested in following the story, you can do so beginning here: I won't lie and say that is hasn't been a heartbreaker, but it's also been a tremendous eye-opener and example of the strength we're capable of as human beings. I can't fathom being able to survive having made half of the difficult decisions this family has had to make.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Russian Roulette

My dear friends on facebook, you've already sampled a tiny bit of the rant that is to follow if you read what I posted about Listeria this morning. If you're Kate, you've seen more than that, even, but you started it so it's your fault. It got me all fired up, and I've come to vent and possibly set some stuff on fire. I am going to focus specifically on the choices women are faced with during pregnancy.

I don't want to assume all pregnant women feel the same way I did, so I'll refer to myself only.

When I was pregnant, I was a sponge. My pregnancy occupied my thoughts constantly. If I wasn't talking about the human being growing inside of me, I wanted to read about it and absorb all of the information. I joined a forum community (to be fair, I'd already been a member since pregnant with Riley, but never really participated) just so I could interact with other women who, like me, were too preoccupied by being pregnant to carry on with their normal lives without frustrating everyone around them.

Pregnancy, for me at least, is this massive thing to come to grips with. Creating life is intimidating, exhausting and demanding. Lifestyle changes have to be made, more for some than for others. Your decisions are no longer only affecting you, they're now being forced upon your future child. When I was pregnant, the idea of my "child" was more abstract, especially before I started showing. I was able to hear a heart beat, and it meant a lot to me, but at that point it was all potential and possibility. I had images in my head. I was envisioning what life would be like someday when I got to meet this little one. As the pregnancy progressed and I felt the movements and eventually saw them, things start to become more real- like a fuzzy picture gradually coming in to focus. Then we knew what gender it was, and assigned a name. This was no longer a "pregnancy", this was our baby. This was Riley, or Zoey. This was our future, this was the rest of our lives growing in there, if we were lucky. This was tiny socks, fists clamped around our fingers, first words, days at the park, first days of school. This was graduation, college, the future president, a cure for cancer.

Having children means your life isn't really your own anymore. I had no true concept of this before I had Riley, and I was more reckless during my pregnancy with him. After he was born, I learned the true meaning of selflessness, and subsequently was more consciencious during my pregnancy with Zoey. The fact is that, like any other life, you have to cultivate and care for a pregnancy to the best of your ability because a healthy infant is NOT A GUARANTEE. Even if you do your very, very best, it's not a guarantee, but the silent agreement you make by deciding to have a baby is that you WILL do your very, very best to ensure its health.

There were things that I didn't take seriously enough during either of my pregnancies, and one of those things was listeria. There were always "by the book" moms or pre-moms I'd encounter that would preach about avoiding lunch meat or heating it to 'steaming' before eating it and I'd blow them off. The fact was that I was arrogant and of the mindset that bad things only happened to other people, people I didn't know, people that I didn't share any kind of connection with. I ate whatever the hell I wanted to- thank you very much- and I had done so with Riley, too. He was fine, so there you go. It didn't help the situation that many doctors were advising women that listeria was nothing they needed to worry about. I remember reading things from other pregnant women on the forums like "My doctor never heard of anyone actually contracting listeria from lunch meat, so he said not to worry about it."

I am sad to say that like so many others have, I had to learn the hard way by watching my best friend's first child succomb to listeriosis. The kicker, in her case, was that she was following all the rules and it happened to her anyway. The doctors said it was likely cross-contamination, maybe from a restaurant. Shortly afterwards, I found out about two more people in my extended family that had lost their pregnancies to listeriosis- one of them from lunch meat. Suddenly this was a REAL concern, and the group of naysayers I'd once been a part of seemed abruptly very reckless. If this could happen to someone that was taking care to follow the rules, think about how much more a risk those who weren't following the rules were running?

It is easy for many people to make selfish decisions when the life growing inside of them is still an abstract concept, or a distant potential. It's not unheard of for women to not relate to their child until it is outside of their bodies, and even sometimes then it takes a while. What's important is that we acknowledge the potential and possibility there. It has become a matter of grave importance to me over the past year to caution women that disregard the warnings they're given during pregnancy. They aren't just myths. They are warnings for a reason. Far too often, I've seen the excuse "But I did _______ during pregnancy and _______ is just fine!". I liken it to a game of Russian Roulette, where a revolver is loaded with a single round, the cylinder is spun and the gun is fired against the side of the head. Chances are better that you will get lucky than they are that you will put a bullet in your brain.

But do you really want to risk not getting lucky?

I have seen and felt the pain that accompanies the loss of a child. It is awful regardless of the situation, but I can only imagine how much more awful it would feel to endure it wondering if there was something you could have done to prevent it from happening.

Your responsibilities as a parent start at conception. Take warnings seriously, and if your doctor doesn't? Get a new doctor.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Phone and Old Habits

This was one of my three day weekends, and I am happy to report that I did not spend the ENTIRE TIME playing old computer games.

Only, like, half the time. The other half was mostly spent eating or sleeping. Oh, and I have a family too.

I was happy to see that AT&T was giving me my phone upgrade a month early, so I could get rid of the awful Samsung Captivate I was using. My HTC Inspire arrived on Friday, and so far it's awesome. It contains an 8 MP camera- that's more than my damned digital kodak. Revel in the glory:

The peas are so DISGUSTINGLY detailed, they may as well be on YOUR face.
I wish I could take a picture OF my phone, WITH my phone. Cause it's pretty awesome looking. Weighs about as much as my daughter, but what can ya do?

Other than getting my phone, this weekend was spent completely blowing my diet all to hell by eating Chicago dogs from Sonic on TWO different occasions, chili-cheese fries, a beer, and more Salted Caramel Mochas from Starbucks than I even care to admit. Those things are amazing. Oh, and did I mention playing old computer games? I am basically a fat, lazy slob that should probably find a bucket to pee in so I don't have to trudge up the stairs to use the bathroom.

But I am happy to announce that I also did other things, mostly today, like grocery shop, clean my closet, laundry, and now I am tackling the painful process of transferring all of my music onto the computer to then upload to my cloud drive while Russell watches football. Right now my computer is coughing and choking on a "mix tape" cd an ex-boyfriend made for me about 12 years ago. Take it, damn it, Computer. Take it like a man. I could be playing Gabriel Knight right now. Productivity hurts.

Farewell to another weekend. May the week to come go by quickly.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

1337 Games

I swear I don't normally talk in "Leetspeak".

I have grown up surrounded by computers. My dad's a "computer guy", so it's been so much a part of my lifestyle that I simply cannot fathom being without them. As a result of this, I was introduced to computer games fairly young, and was insatiable as far as they were concerned.

Recently, one of my four brothers (the one closest to me in age. I won't name drop unless he wants to be mentioned here and perhaps be famous just by being related to me. Let me know, Nick. OOPS!) recently emailed me and asked if I wanted a copy of several games, including the following:

Day of the Tentacle
Incredible Machines
Sam and Max Hit the Road

You have no idea the nostalgia and GEEKY excitement those titles roused in me. I answered, of course, with a resounding "YES!" (I think followed by the words "RIGHT NOW!") and asked him if he could obtain Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers and Phantasmagoria. He DID, and he even went one step further and got Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. I should've gotten extra greedy and asked for Phantasmagoria 2 and Gabriel Knight 2 and 3- perhaps another time. After all, this is no small feat. These games are old and unable to run on modern platforms without a crap-ton of tweaking, which he is most graciously going to be doing for me tonight.

I mentioned on facebook that I was getting a copy of Phantasmagoria and was surprised at the feedback that came back. I thought I was the only one that had been allowed, as a pre-teen and teenager, to play a video game where the heroine literally has her face ripped in half.

At this point you're likely considering why one would want to play such a game (I would ask you, why WOULDN'T they?) and also probably why someone like me is allowed to have children. You'll be happy to know that you only get your face ripped in half if you lose.

I think. I don't remember.

HOPEFULLY I WILL FIND OUT TONIGHT! Or maybe in the wee hours of tomorrow. I will try to post better screenshots, whether you want them or not. Do you at least want them a little bit? I am not sure how we're friends, honestly, if you don't see how this could potentially be exciting. Okay, I'm sorry I was mean to you just there. You mean a lot to me, Mom. Let's stay friends. Don't leave me.

This is actually the cover of Gabriel Knight 2, but I picked it for its Wholesomeness.

Do you game? What do YOU like to play?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I might have to change the name of this blog...

To "dumb things Amber does". Today's dumb thing?

I am wearing a jacket around the office because I am cold. The sleeves hang slightly down over my hands. While pumping soap in the ladies room this afternoon and wondering why I wasn't getting anything, I neglected to notice that my sleeve had slipped over the nozzle of the dispenser.

Yes, all of the liquid soap was simply pumping down the sleeve of my jacket. Truly, I am one to behold.

I don't generally support the use of this term as an insult, but since I'm applying it to myself, it's okay.

EDIT: On the plus side, the smell of this soap mixed with the smell of perfume is absolutely delicious.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Keeping with my apparent need to destroy my hands....

Picture, if you will, the following:

I am sitting at my desk with my thermos in front of me (YES, I USE A STAINLESS STEEL THERMOS FOR MY WATER, SHUT UP). The lid is a flip lid with a somewhat gummy-textured straw inside. Because of the straw, when the lid is not SNAPPED shut, it rests and bounces on the straw. I had the lid resting and bouncing on said straw, with my chin resting and bouncing on said lid. My fingers of my left hand, stupidly, were wrapped around the thermos right at the crack where the lid closes.

Then I abruptly sneezed my face off.

If you guessed that the lid proceeded to snap shut on a sliver of skin all the way around my thumb and index finger, you would be absolutely correct.

I am the God of Morons. Offer me your virgins.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Art of Time Travel

With my renewed passion in drawing, otherwise known as "getting back to my roots", came the need to find the tools necessary for the creation of crap. I mean art. Being that we have moved so many times in a reasonably short span of years, there are boxes that have traveled from home to home without having been opened. Most of these boxes contain my collection of books, which is an admirable and heavy collection. We don't own any bookshelves, so unfortunately the books cannot be unpacked. It was these heavy boxes that I decided to rip open and comb through this weekend in search of my set of nice drawing pencils. I went through about 8 different boxes, each weighing a metric shit-ton, before coming across a box labeled "art stuff". Duhhh.

I couldn't have predicted the effect that opening this box would have on me. I liken it to the effect that stepping from a time machine into the past would have. I guess I hadn't realized just how long it had been since the contents of that box had seen daylight.

I was considered a "goth" for the majority of my teenage years (I never cared for the term and still don't). Though my tastes have matured in a lot of ways, I'm still the same person I've always been. This was evidenced in part by the triumphant yell I let out when uncovering this at the top of the pile:

Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio.
 I THOUGHT I LOST YORICK! I hadn't realized he was merely hiding in a time machine! I got this guy from some charming, kitchy little Voodoo store down in New Orleans. He now has a prime piece of real estate on top of one of my desk speakers. Also found in the box: a stone box with a gargoyle on top, a small Gollum figurine, a heavy lidded onyx box that smells like incense, and every art supply I've ever owned. Linseed oil, fixative, india ink, my pencils, blank canvases, a hundred tubes of crusty paint, random sketchbooks, a nice black portfolio binder, several embroidered asian boxes containing stamps. I even pulled out my old silver desk lamp, speckled with paint (and subsequently pierced my thumb deeply on the coil of the broken bulb while trying to remove it). Suddenly, despite the looming beginning of the work week, I didn't feel at all like settling down or sleeping. In a flurry of excitement (and blood), I bedecked my desk with everything reminiscent of a more inspired time in my life.

I forced myself to bed at ten, knowing I had to get up at five am, and tossed and turned for hours before finally falling asleep.

I've got a plan. I'm not going to tell you what it is, in case it never comes to fruition, but it's big. Life-changing kinda big. This heavy box, this time machine, could be exactly what I needed to find myself back on the path I wandered off of years ago.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

And also keep them ready to loan to me in case I need to have this thumb removed, okay?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I guess it's like riding a bike.

I feel a bit more like myself than I have in a long time.

Now to acquire a scanner.....

Friday, September 16, 2011

I may need a little practice...

SO, I got my pictures back! You know, the ones I sent away? The two rolls of film?

Out of those two rolls, the following pictures were pretty much the only good ones, and I didn't even TAKE one of them. Enjoy.

Love how well you can see his eyes here. They're like sea glass.

This is Felix. He's got a gigantic web in front of my car. Russell took this.

So, good thing I also picked up four more rolls of film when I picked up the pictures, right? I need a LOT of practice.

New Look

So here's the deal. I look at this blog a lot after I post in it, the same way I'd look at any writing or artwork I produced, and I generally hate it the same way I hate any writing or artwork I produce. For that reason, you can expect me to change the way it looks a LOT.

Since you darling, sweet people that read this are mostly people I know or people I've forced here at gunpoint, you probably care more about the content than the aesthetics. I care about all of it. The problem is that I am having trouble finding a 'design' that fits a blog where I talk about vomit, poop, driving, kids, art, shoes, and sometimes sweet things.

So right now, it's just black.

Because I don't know anything about web design, and neither do you. If you do, you aren't sharing. That's pretty mean of you.

Baby, it's cold outside.


Fall in Virginia is so pretty. It looks like this:

This is one of the pictures that comes up when you search for "Fall in Virginia"
It is also exciting for many other reasons.

1) Fall flavors of Starbucks are my favorite. Closely followed by winter flavors.
2) HALLOWEEEEEEEEN! I'm a goth and a kid at heart, what can I say.
3) I am getting into photography and this is going to be the perfect time of year for it.
4) I like jackets a lot. And-
5) BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTS. Sorry to those who have already read this exclaimation on facebook several times this morning. If I had a million dollars, I could spend every last cent of it on boots. They are not only structurally gorgeous, they provide this sense of empowerment and edgy yet feminine confidence when you wear them. Look at these:

There is NOTHING wrong with combat boots.

Or Jimmy Choos that cost like $2K
This is a Frye boot, which requires no explanation.
If you are a guy (I'm sorry) you're probably not reading anymore. If you're a guy like my husband, you think women wearing high boots look like prostitutes, but guess what?

IT'S WORTH IT! Hell, I'll even BE a prostitute for a nice pair of boots.

Welcome, Fall! I'll meet you on the street corner!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I can't wait for YOU to shut me up.

Don't you hate it when there's someone that's got a talent in something or other and they let it go to waste in favor of doing something they hate, which they insist on constantly complaining about and lamenting? That's totally me. So if you answered "HELL YES I DO!" you probably shouldn't keep reading.

To put in perspective the type of person I am (rather than just saying 'neurotic' and making it easier on all of us), you should know that I've been narrating my actions mentally since the third grade. I remember the precise moment it began. I was given a paper, and I shoved it unceremoniously to the bottom of my backpack and stood, staring at it, for a moment. Briefly, I could picture the illustration of that crumpled, shadowed paper perfectly, so naturally me proceeding to sit down at my desk was accompanied in my head by "Amber reluctantly slid back into her chair" (probably not in those words, but maybe!). This never stopped. In my maturity (I mean age-wise- mentally I'm still in third grade) it has slowed down significantly, but it still hangs out there.

I'm telling you this to emphasize a point, which is that my view of life has loaned itself to a talent in certain things, specifically writing and illustration. It seemed to have been what I was born to do for the longest time.  I'm GOOD at it, and I can admit that I always have been, which says something coming from someone whose tendency is to short-sell themselves. At least- I was good at it. I was also good at singing, and acting, and painting, and working with others. I grew up dreaming of being an actress, a singer (which was abandoned upon realizing that I'm terrified of singing in front of people. Those who have heard me are a reasonably small group. Do I write in parentheses too much? I do, don't I?), a writer, a painter, a graphic designer, an illustrator, a psychiatrist, a social worker.

Never did it even cross my mind that 10 years- and counting!- of my adult life would be dedicated to foreclosing on peoples' homes, and invoicing.

There are a number of musicians I listen to, artists I follow, etc. that have produced work that more or less points a finger of blame at me and mocks me for the decisions I have made that have lead me here. I can't say that I blame them. They are brave. They took that plunge into a strange, competitive, unpredictable world to follow their dreams. I'm too chickenshit to do the same.

This is all I have on hand. I had a crappy scanner.
A good part of the reason behind it is that I have always feared that there was no such thing as enjoying a "job". I was worried that turning a "hobby" into a duty would take all of the enjoyment out of it. What I didn't realize was that eventually I wouldn't have the time to engage in any of the hobbies anymore anyway.

The second part of the reason is that, as aforementioned, I am a chickenshit. You see, I really like STUFF. I like having stuff. Nice stuff is even more appealing, as is expensive stuff. This includes a house, preferably one I like, and a car that isn't a piece of crap. Stuff costs money. Money is never a guarantee, but especially not when you're an artist. There's a reason the term "starving artist" came about. The idea of not knowing when I am going to have money is absolutely terrifying to me. Considering I am not particularly wealthy, or even "Well off" most of the time, you can only imagine how often I am on edge about finances. I obviously am just me and therefore can't tell you whether or not everyone feels the same way about this, but when I don't know if I'm going to be able to pay my bills or when, I literally think of nothing else and lose tons of sleep.

Maybe the choices I've made have contributed to this way of thinking, or maybe it's just another one of the traits that make me the barely tolerable person I am. Maybe I would be more happy and tolerable a person if I could find a way to let go of materialistic things and figure out the difference between what I need to be a happy human being, and what I want. It's worse now that I have kids, because I'm not just worrying about myself anymore. Now I need to ensure that they have electricity, and bedrooms to sleep in, and comfortable furniture. Would they still be happy if we lived in a little shack with no heat and no TV? Some people argue 'yes'. All you need is love, ideally. Realistically, though, in this day and age? I'm not so sure. I'd love to trust in that and take a flying leap into the unknown. I'd love to be able to let go of this fear and embrace the struggle with open arms the way I did once, but I've lost that ability along with the squandered talent.

I don't know if it's my approaching 30th birthday that has gotten me so introspective lately, but I seem to be on a massive self-improvement kick. As part of my quest, I've found myself way too focused on materialistic means of acquiring a sense of satisfaction, though I know full well that it's empty gains. I've never purchased something for myself that followed with a sense of contentment. It's always just- "now I have this, what can I get next?" and that lifestyle of greed will never make me happy.

I guess my real quest should be getting back to the basics of who I am as a person, because in my pursuit of keeping up with this increasingly materialistic and vain society, I have lost that. Here's hoping the next decade can be one in which I can chip away at the meaningless layers I've piled on in the in the decade before it.


I don't like a lot of things. I could possibly be considered cynical or disgruntled. My list of pet peeves grows longer every day, and you, my faithful reader (Mom), get to read about it because you're unfortunate enough to hold out hope in this blog containing something worthwhile eventually. What has infuriated me this morning is being behind a car that proclaimed it's model name on the license plate. Why do people do that? We SEE that you're driving a Ford Mustang, you don't need the "MYMSTNG" plates. I love my car just fine, but I wouldn't drive around boasting "MYSNTRA"" on my damned plates when 8 inches to the right, the nice silver lettering clearly reads "Sentra" and it is obviously mine by virtue of my driving it. Do people do this because they don't want their plates to be stolen? Is this a defensive technique? Please, someone "in the know" (Mom?) explain this to me.

I love these plates, for the record. And this person's butt.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

There's a reason the word "Diet" contains the word "Die."

Doesn't 1200 calories seem like a very little amount of food? It does to me. Did you know that the beer I drink is 207 calories per bottle? So that's out. And those spicy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I have all the ingredients for in my pantry? Yup, out too. So is practically everything else that is good. Okay, that's not fair. Laughing Cow Light Cheese wedges are pretty awesome. And I do always feel better after drinking copious amounts of water. But my dinner, for example. You'd think something like "Roasted Corn and Chicken Tostada" could potentially be healthy. It has corn! Useless corn! And lettuce! And beans! And somehow, almost 500 calories per serving. Wanna know why? Because of the tortilla. Not only is it evil in and of itself, but it's basted with approximately ONE TEASPOON of oil, which is basically the devil's sweat. Oh, and there's TWO TABLESPOONS of shredded cheddar on top, which is about the equivalent of eating straight lard. There was once a time where I could literally eat whatever I wanted. Age, you snotty bitch.

I still have no relevant pictures to offer you, with the exception of one, which I took on my phone's camera just to make facebook uploading easier. I took two rolls of film (Shall I link the definition or a picture for those that no longer remember what that is?) to Walgreens to have them developed this weekend. Did you know that most places no longer have the equipment to process film on-site? They had to send my shit out. They told me it would take around two weeks. TWO WEEKS!!!! By the time I get these pictures back, they will be entirely inappropriate to illustrate whatever nonsense I'm blogging about at that time. Sounds like I'm going to have to start pinching pennies for a digital version of the camera I've come to love.
Love this, cause it's all you get.
 Riley and I had Eye Doctor's appointments on Saturday. I was a little nervous for him. I didn't, and still don't, think he'd like wearing glasses. Judging, however, by what he's getting from his parents I assumed he'd at least eventually have to. I am absolutely useless without glasses or contacts, and though Russell's not nearly as awful, he's not well off either. He did well throughout the testing. I figured he'd have fun reading the letters on the eye chart, and I wasn't wrong there. The problem arose when it was my turn and Riley kept telling me what the letters were before I could get a chance to read them. I had to keep explaining that the nice lady needs to know what I'm able to see or the entire thing is pointless. In the end, he didn't end up needing glasses- this year. Sadly, his vision is not perfect even at five. He will likely need glasses sometime in the next few years. Hopefully by then he will have gotten over his weird aversion to things being near or on his ears. With any luck, he will not be given a hard time by his peers. As obsessed as he is with all things learning, the glasses aren't going to help him on the image front, and as much as I don't want him to care about that himself I can't keep myself from fretting about it on his behalf.

Riley at least has one friend now. Her name is Bailey, and his interest in her seems to be bordering on a frightening obsession. I hear about her constantly; how pretty she is, how cute her clothes are. Riley relayed to me precisely what her hair looks like (epic fail on the eye color though. He THINKS they're blue). He told me he cried on the bus on Friday because she sat with someone else and he thought she didn't want to be friends with him anymore. On our way to our appointments yesterday morning, "If you're happy and you know it" came on my Laurie Berkner Pandora station. After prompted to say "Hooray!" if you're beautiful, Riley informed me that had Bailey been present, she definitely would have to have said "Hooray!". Oh boy.

I had a very nice lunch with an old friend yesterday as well and she got to meet Zee for the first time. I expected Zoey to be her normal public personality- flash that big open-mouthed smile and do her best to wrap everyone around her finger, but she was quite stoic instead. She tolerated the lunch with a wary expression and leveled her gaze with appraisal at everyone in the restaurant as they complimented her. She did, however, find it in herself to toss her things on the floor every five seconds. What meal would be complete without six-thousand reps of what I'll call "Table crunches"- bending down to pick up Zoey's pacifier, cookie monster, blankie, sippy cup, etc. Towards the end, she even managed to steal my check card and hurl it under the table.

Today, as a whole, has been unremarkable besides my dieting woes and an unusually packed grocery store. I haven't forgotten that it's the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, so to end this blog I'll touch on that topic a little.

I'd slept over at Russell's house on September 10th (sorry, Mom). We'd undoubtedly been up until the wee hours of the morning, probably drinking, since people were always coming and going from that house. One of Russell's friends burst into his room to wake us and exclaimed "WE'RE GOING TO WAR!" and I remember thinking "What the fuck is wrong with the people in this damned house?". We all gathered in the living room to watch the news, where the videos of the World Trade Center crashes were shown over, and over, and over again. There were several people there that didn't live there. These were drug users, heavy drinkers. Some of them were probably jobless, some maybe homeless. At that point, though, I know we all felt vulnerable and personally offended on our country's behalf. I was so naive then. I had no idea what this meant, and too small an understanding for the lives that were personally affected by the losses that came as a result of that day. I regret that, now. I want to say that on this day, and every day, I am so sorry to those who suffered the loss of a loved one as a result of the terrorist attacks, whether it be directly or through our nation's efforts that followed.

I don't consider myself a hugely political person. I tend to shy away from political conversation, because frankly it depresses and agitates me. In remembering the events of September 11th, 2001 though, I can't help but reflect on the way it affected us as a nation in addition to how it affected the families and friends of those who gave their lives, their health or their service. There are many measures and standards that have been put into place since that day that I find to be completely repugnant. Although I am not always happy about the decisions made for and/or by our country or its leaders,  I am generally still proud to live here. I hope that if there's one thing that we can all remember, besides those who lost their lives and the families that remain behind, it's that we don't need to wait until something extraordinarily terrible happens to be united. We always have that choice. My hope is that another ten years from now, we will be able to reflect on the ways September 11th changed our nation positively.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Beer and Plastic Sports

Let me preface this all by saying that I recently went in search of, and uncovered, an old Canon Rebel EOS G camera that I bought for Russell back in the day before digital cameras became the "thing" (btw, I'm old). It's a beautiful little camera that has somehow lived through my husband's neglect and circumstantial abuse in immaculate condition- after I cleaned off all of the laundry detergent that had slowly dripped onto it while it lay forgotten in the laundry room for the past several years. It takes awesome pictures. What this means is that I will someday have awesome pictures to post! It also means that right NOW, I have a couple rolls of film sitting, forgotten, in my purse and no recent pictures to insert in this blog entry. You'll have to live with what you get. Someday, though? What you get will be awesome pictures. I may be jumping the gun, I am an idiot as far as photography.

This is one of my favorite pictures. Sometimes I do all right.

Anyway, THREE DAY WEEKEND! Was it really three days? It felt so short.

Saturday, I seemed to be getting sick, and spent most of the day lazing around and blowing off all of the productive plans I'd made in favor of grumbling and feeling run down. Russell worked, and when he came home, he had a little pink bag from Victoria's Secret with some lovely lingerie for me! It wasn't racy stuff, just basics that I hadn't afforded myself in some time now.  The biggest reason I hadn't is that I am trying to lose some sizes right now. Luckily, he bought everything for the size I was 5 years ago, so I have something to aspire to! In all honesty, though, it was a sweet gesture and I greatly appreciate it. I will appreciate it even more once I can wear it : ). At least it's flattering that he apparently sees me as much smaller than I actually am.

Sunday, I was suddenly feeling 100% again. Shortest sickness ever. I went to Target and dropped a painful amount of money on formula and diapers and then decided to just rip off the bandaid and did our grocery shopping afterwards. The cashier carded me for the white wine I was buying for french onion soup, and I thanked her because I'm entering the OMGTHIRTYISCOMING stage. She then proceeded to turn me every color of red and puce by going on and on about how in person, I look half the age that I do in my driver's license photo and I've got such a great complexion (if you think tomatoes are attractive?) blah blah blah. For a second, I had to wonder if she was somehow getting commission on my groceries and if she was trying to get me to spend more.

Later that evening, after both of our kids napped (!!!! I know! But they keep staggering them so we actually only get an hour or so of peace) we packed up and went to Outback Steakhouse for filet. We made the mistake of being talked into wood-fire ribeyes, though, and both ended up somewhat disappointed. Zoey spent the hour dropping things on the floor over and over (and. over.) again and charming all the waitresses into stopping and picking them up (and. over.). Riley couldn't even be persuaded into eating by the promise of ice cream. When we got home, despite being stupidly full, we took our beer outside into the humidity and heat to play whiffle ball with Riley. That was the highlight of my weekend. Despite being bloated with beer and red meat, and covered with an instant mist of sweat, Russell and I had so much fun playing in our yard. Riley and Zoey mostly sat around and watched us act like overgrown, clumsy children. It reminded me of when my dad and brothers and I would gather outside for an impromptu game of "baseball", which was always one of my favorite things to do. We stayed outside until we realized it was time for Zoey to go to bed, and then filtered in with smiles on our faces.

Kinda what I'm talking about. 'Cept no pool or wine or bathing suits.

The rest of the weekend was stuffed full of productivity. I barely sat down at all yesterday, but my material life is better for it. It is starting to look like we actually LIVE in our house now, instead of gypsy wanderers passing through with labeled cardboard boxes instead of wagons. One thing that seemed to be the soundtrack of the weekend was BBC's "Top Gear", a car show- oh, but it's not JUST a car show. I initially dismissed it as such, but once I watched an episode, I was hooked. Those guys are freaking HILARIOUS!!!! The downside is that I think I honestly have the potential to become a car snob if I allow myself to get too into it.

Before I leave you, since I'm on the topic of cars, can I make a request to the driving world at large? I have been officially driving on my own for exactly 3 months and two weeks now, and that makes me an expert. I know that the gas pedal makes the car 'Go'. You may laugh, but I am 98% sure that at least half the population doesn't know that.

Quit riding your brakes. It is the opposite of 'Go'ing, which defeats the purpose of being in a car. Try the OTHER pedal. My commute thanks you.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Today is TFGIF. Guess what that first 'F' stands for.

I'm serious, this was a long week. Maybe it's the fact that my work week started on Sunday? I dunno, but I am OVER THE MOON with happiness that today is Friday. I even was dumb a lot this morning and two minutes late to work and it hasn't dampened my mood. Two other factors that make today fantastic:

1) I forgot to pack diapers in the diaper bag for my mom's house last night, so I snuck into Zoey's room this morning and SHE WAS AWAKE! Bad for Russell, since he inevitably had to get up 45 minutes before necessary in order to feed her (UPDATE: I just got off the phone with him, she let him sleep until 6:30), but it meant that I got to pick her up and twirl her around and shower her with kisses before I left.

2) I stopped at Starbucks before I got dumb and made myself late. I am enjoying the lukewarm dregs of a Caramel Macchiato right this very moment. Actually, they're really not that warm at all, and I am not enjoying them exactly.... They're kinda gross, but Starbucks is expensive so I feel compelled to finish.

Last night was Back to School night for Riley, and I went while Russell stayed home with the kids (which pissed me off. I was told no kids, but there were other kids there). Before the evening officially kicked off, I had the opportunity to speak with Mrs. W. Remember when I had mentioned here that she'd said something about Riley having finished something for her? I assumed it had something to do with the bus, but last night I got the full story. Apparently during the teacher's time with the students on Meet the Teachers day, Mrs. Weigel had started reading the children a book, but was interrupted by a visitor. She asked the kids to hold on a moment and got up to speak to the person waiting for her. When she returned a few moments later, Riley had gotten up and resumed the book reading, and the rest of the class was gathered and listening quietly. He'd gone through three pages while she was up.

My knee-jerk reaction was pride, followed by the fear that maybe she found this annoying rather than charming. I voiced my concerns, and she assured me that she will not let Riley commandeer the classroom and that she adores him. She of course could be lying, but I hope not.

When I got home last night, determined to not somehow botch this great opportunity I have to foster this eager child's love of learning, I made a chart of the different coins and wrote next to them their name, their amount, and what it looked like when written numerically- Quarter, 25 cents, $0.25- and happily went over it all with him. I then excitedly asked him "So if I asked you to give me two coins that equal fifteen cents, what could you give me?" and he boredly mumbled, "I dunno, a penny and a quarter" and looked about the room for something, anything, to distract him from me. Maybe he'd reached his capacity for the day, or maybe he thought he could pay me a bit more to shut me the hell up.

Zoey appears to be amused by Riley's nosepicking.
 Maybe, just maybe, I should lay the heck off and just let him enjoy kindergarten? I think I'll just hang the chart on his bedroom wall in case he's interested. Hopefully he won't just be interested in peeling off the coins and making letters out of them.

Happy FRIDAY!!!!