Crap, crap, crap

Okay, so I knew I forgot to do something! I forgot to write anything for four months. Yeah..

So here is the Reader’s Digest version of life so far (By the way, “Reader’s Digest version” means nothing to kids nowadays. It doesn’t really mean anything to my generation either. I’m secretly an 85 year Jewish man stuck in a 26 year old female body. Don’t tell.)

Okay, read all these really quickly in one breath.

1. Got married. I think you knew that.

2. Still married. Yea us! We made it longer than Kim Kardashian (Googled how to spell that name… clearly I can’t stand pop culture)

3. Got a dawg. Her name is Macaroni. She’s part corgi, part husky, part Satan spawn.

4. Still teaching Texas history…still pretending to know Texas history.

5. Husband signed us up for a July 4th 5K. I’m still not talking to him.

6. We started GeoCaching. I have poison ivy.

7. Big plans are in the works, but mum’s the word on those for now. (That’s trying my hand at intrigue.)

8. I’m writing a book. I think it sucks. I’m writing it anyway.

 

I really wanted to get to 10 since Letterman taught me things are better in tens. I ran out of stuff though.

However, I’m back in the game and will be writing more soon. Like for realsies.

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The Mall? At Christmas??

Houston is the fourth largest city in America…

Some of you may not have the distinct pleasure of shopping at a downtown mall just a few days before Christmas.

In my naive state, I thought that because it was mid-workday, the mall wouldn’t be as crowded as it would be later in the day. The terrifying thing is that I was probably right.

My first moments within the vacinity of the mall dropped me into a movie-moment. With my blinker on, I waited to turn left into a parking spot. I wanted to wait until a car passed me…. and as I waited,  I watched that same car look at me and pull into my parking spot. All I could do was stare. And stare. And stare. She eventually looked over at my mouth-agape look and started to put her car in reverse. I drove on. Perhaps she would feel badly about her obvious jerk move. Merry Christmas, after all.

Once inside the mall, it looked like a scene from a monster movie. Everyone running, dragging crying children, and frantically pushing their ‘competition’ out of the way. Survival of the fittest, right? Right.

Oh, and while bobbing and weaving to get away from the terrifying crowd, you have to dodge a train. A train! As if the mall weren’t a challenge enough, now we have a man who hates his job (I like to imagine what major he had in college…Philosophy? Teaching? Ooo fine arts!), but has the power to drive a four foot train throughout the crowded halls of the mall. And, let’s add to it by putting small, sticky children inside the train…adding to the ever present possibility of child-vomit.

So…

Frantic Parents

Crying, sticky, sugar-crazed children

Red-eyed, manic train engineer (Did I mention it’s a grown man who has to curl up into a child sized train?)

And me.

When a mother grabbed my arm and asked me through gritted teeth, “WHERE is Santa? He’s suppose to be here. He’s not here. WHERE IS HE?” as if I were a jolly elf representative for altruistic Big Guy…I decided that Cyber Monday and I were going all the way next year.

All. the. way.

 

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Government Agencies at Christmas

There may be no greater joy than having to go the Department of Public Safety here in Texas. Truly. This joy could only be compounded by having  to go to the Social Security office first, then to the DPS for my license. Oh glory!

The Social Security office looked like a scene from a movie. Everyone in plastic chairs, perfectly lined up, all staring straight ahead. Occasionally, a crackle, a pop and a computerized voice (whom I named Betty) would announce, “Now serving number 82 at window 3”. Then the television screen at the front of this sad room would then update and the staring would continue.

With ticket number in hand, the minutes ticked by. Naturally, I had a book in my bag (not to mention every government paper ever issued to me or about me. I was NOT going home without a newly updated name on my s.s card), but Betty’s voice made it difficult to concentrate.

What if I was thoroughly engaged in my book and my number was called? Who would I tell? Would I start over again? Oh no, the stress was far too great to be involved in any sort of reading.

And then, number 178 was called!!

I strolled down row after row of closed windows, until I found myself face to face with a scary bureaucratic woman asked for every bit of information purtaining to me, my family, and Skippy, the German Schnauzer who once bit me.

At the end of her furious typing and my silently waiting. She stared deep into her computer screen and proclaimed that any information that is falsified to ‘us’ can result in legal action.

“We have the right to investigate all information given. We have the right to follow up on the information. We take this matter very seriously. Do we understand?”  My guess is I was working with the spirit of all Social Security Officers of Christmas Past, Present, & Future. We nodded and we left.

 

The DPS was more fun. Take a 10×20 room, and then stuff it full of broken plastic chairs,  languages of multiple kinds, and varying success rates of deodorant.  As number 282, I knew my first priority was to snag a seat, lest I be resigned to the doorway for an untold number of hours.

Now I was raised to always give your seat to an elder.  I chose to deploy ‘elder’ as a very loose term on this day. The elderly were already seated, so I only had to beat out the 25 slightly-older-than-me’s milling around. My only benefit?  I was flying solo.

All I had to do was stalk out the person who looked ready to bolt to the ticket window. When those numbers switched, he or she would bounce out of chair and I would take the opportunity. After a few awkward minutes of staring, the numbers clicked and with swift action, I swooped in on a vacant seat as soon as number 124 was called (this was done with dramatic flair, of course).

The next 78 minutes flew by. My seat was wonderfully located adjacent to other rows of chairs. So as the numbers were called in excruciatingly slow order, my seat allowed me the distinct joy of being step on or contorting my legs to allow full grown adults the aisle room they so deserve.. .1 3/4 inches wide.

My other benefit to this exclusive seat was having the exciting pleasure of being wedged between two charming groups, each with a family feud happening somewhere on the other end of their phone. The screaming was only sweetened by the baby that began howling. Perhaps the child was sad that he was born at the DPS office. Conveniently though, he would already be in line for his driver’s license when that time came.

My leg room...

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Secret Santa

If you work in an office or a school, you’ve probably encountered the Christmas tradition of Secret Santa. Basic concept, right? I get a name of a co-worker, I go and buy stuff they may possibly like…but more likely it’s a bunch of crap because I don’t actually know this person or it’s stuff I would like to get, and then I sneak into their workspace like a deranged elf and drop off said gifts, completing the spectacle with a barrel roll as I escape out of sight. And the rewards for my effort?  I also get similar crap dropped off while I was away, invoking an illogical fear of someone being in my unattended classroom.

So, this year I once again joined a Secret Santa. Why not, right? They’ve always gone so well before…

Like the year my Secret Santa moved away before giving me my gift, but made sure to get the gifts I left.

Or like the year I didn’t have an actual Secret Santa because my name somehow got misplaced.

Or how about the year that it was my arch-enemy in middle school was my Secret Santa. Yeah…. those home-baked cookies from her were thrown out once we announced our Secret Santa identities.

Alright, so I was looking for vindication this year. We’re all adults. Better yet, we’re educators! Surely it’ll be better.

Day 1 Drop off: And so I found myself ninja diving behind desks to deliver the gifts I bought. Oh! And don’t forget the adorable poem I wrote copied and pasted from the Internet and put in her gift bag. Oh so clever!

Day 1: I returned to my desk and found a six pack of rootbeer and Flipz pretzels. I thought it was great snack and a nice attention to detail (as we wrote out a lil’ survey of our favorite snacks). And just like me, my Secret Santa chose to go small on the first day, and then give the big gift on Day 2.

Day 2 Drop Off: I dove and scampered to get my gift there while my giftee was away.  After a successful drop off, I conveniently made myself scarce, thus making it easy for my Secret Santa to deliver the second gift.

Day 2: I returned to my desk to find a bag of chips. I looked around to see if perhaps the larger (read: the gift that would have brought the total of gifts up to the requisit $20) gift had fallen under my desk. Nope… it was all that…a bag of chips.

 

Damn you Secret Santa, damn you! Thwarted again.

 

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Didn’t We Already Go Through This?

As seen on a mind numbing infomercial:

Snap-On Feathers?  Yes, snap-on feathers.   Apparently you use a roachclip type thing to snap these things into your hair.   I distinctly remember those from the mid 90s…usually from those of the American Indian descent.

Well, they’re back. And for the low, low price of $20 $10 you can get not one, but two feather clips. Because, after all, who can figure out those home hair feather kits. I mean..with the feathers and the glue and the reading of the directions. Read? Who are they kidding?

And the coup de gras of this special new trend? You can get a free smoky ash feather for free. Smoky ash?  New name that doesn’t make me giggle like a 12 year old, please.

Now, maybe it’s because I’m not fashionable, but if you saw a feather hiding in someone’s locks, wouldn’t you yank it out and stand there triumphantly waiting for them to thank you? After all, you saved them from looking ridiculous. Oh…

Ok… no more t.v for me. This world scares me.

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Confessions of the Awkward Girl

Alright, lettuce get real. It’s thyme for the truth to be told. Kale it overdue, but I’ll give it a go.  It won’t take mushroom, but there is a small margarine for error. So I hope you don’t think me radicchiolous because I need to get this off my cress.

I’m kinda awkward. No, seriously…awkward.

I spend my social time trying to remember the cues that I’ve learned over the  years. My high school ROTC Mom told me that when I don’t smile, I look like a total bitch (ok, she didn’t say that word, exactly, but I knew what she meant.), so I smile a lot. And I know that I need to make eye contact and shouldn’t stare at the ground when I walk.

And yet, I still have that same old freak out anytime I need to be social. Take walking in the hallway at school. I know I need to make eye contact and smile when I see a colleague.

:shuffle, shuffle:

Okay, here they come. Steady, steady.. don’t stare at them. Avoid eye contact until jusssttt abouttt…. NOW

“HI!” Phew, that was a close one. Next time, start with the eyes at up higher… you look like you just checked him out. Cripes.

I was invited to a Labor Day party this afternoon. Well, with The Fiance out of town, I had a panic attack and declined. Seriously.  I’m not afraid of new places. I’m afraid of people!  What if I didn’t know anyone besides the hostess??  I don’t chit-chat.

Chit-chat. I don’t know how to do it. I try and channel my mother anytime I need to talk with people I don’t really know. WWDD- What Would Debbie Do? After years of watching my ma, I know to ask questions…

“So, um… how’s your dog?”  Yes, good…dogs. Everyone likes dogs.

“Oh… did they stop?” Oh crap.

“Er… well, at least you had a few years with him, right?” Oh geez, oh geez, oh geez.

“Oh… your dying father’s gift to you… oh.. yeah, I guess that would be tough…”  Ohhh man..

“I..um…how’s the weather?”  Yes, weather…good.

So why am I spending my afternoon watching Dance Moms (second time I’ve seen this episode today, by the way) and eating stale Fruitty Rings?  Because my dog doesn’t mind how awkward I am. After all, she’s a pug.  She’s pretty awkward herself.

 

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Claymation, but not really

Above and beyond everything else, I’m a total cheap skate when it comes to, well, most everything. So you can imagine how difficult it has been to plan a wedding.  Because, well, in case you weren’t sure, those things ain’t cheap.

So when The Fiance and I got it in our heads to have an adorable, whimsical clay replication of us for the cake topper, it was way exciting.  And then reality set in. I’m not going to pay for something like that when I can attempt to bumble my way through to a mediocre result.  Why leave it to the professionals, right? Yeah…

Lessons learned while claying (I know that’s not a word. Back off.):

1. Getting clay warm enough to work with is a real bugger for something with one vaguely workable hand and one fairly gimpy one.

2. Pug dogs will happily chew on a loved one’s clay skull. Watch them- they’re sneaky creatures.

3. It’s vaguely creepy gouging out eye holes for your clay future husband.

4. Pug dogs will happily chew on the baked version of a loved one.

5.   I’m seriously not going to quit my day job over this one.

 

So an activity that I assumed would take me an hour to complete (like the whole thing.. me, Fiance, books, pug-dog) ended up being many hours worth of clay activity.  Once I declayed the dog’s mouth, I had to start over. Grrr, pug dog. Then gravity starting playing with me. It just went from there, as you can imagine.

In any case, my evening was taken up with this clay-tacular event.   Why leave it to the people with true talent?….

 

Check out some neat clay skills!

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Who Needs Sleep?

Do you remember that song? Anyone? Anyone?  I’ll hum a few bars- visually:

Who needs sleep?
well you’re never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
tell me what’s that for
Who needs sleep?
be happy with what you’re getting
There’s a guy who’s been awake
since the Second World War

Those spinners of the language, Barenaked Ladies, came up with that one back in 1998. Now, personally, I think BNL were geniuses, but that’s neither here nor there.

They wrote it in 1998. NINETY EIGHT. Half of my life ago, this song hit the radio.

So time warp back: Ninety eight:

  • Harry Potter survived his first year at Hogwarts and won’t be seen in the first movie for three more years.  (Only a year of H.P- bleak times indeed, my friend)
  • Pres Clinton was…well, he was doing what he was doing with whom, and what, he was doing it with.
  • Europe busts out the Euro, but we counter with getting those funky new $20s that look like cartoon cash.
  • That famous lil’ blue pill came out…as did all the jokes.
  • Titanic.
  • Spice Girls, Alanis Morissette, The Nanny, and X-Files.

 

Okay, so you remember 1998. Me too.

Why is this significant?

Because when I can’t sleep, all I can hear in my head is a song that hit big thirteen years ago!  Why can’t I sleep? Because I hear a song that was popular when I was in eighth grade.

So in my recent insomnia, as I nod away to the tunes of the aforementioned song, I imagine all sorts of things in my head. Needless to say, I need the power to defrag my mind. With a bit more space, I wouldn’t sing songs that are a decade old and would probably drift off quicker.

They say (you know, the all powerful ‘they’ who maintain the force to cause folks to believe anything since there was obviously a panel of ‘thems’ who have more knowledge than we.), that the average person takes seven minutes to fall asleep.

Seven minutes.

I can assure you that a seven minute voyage to my slumber party does not occur. So in my transition from awake to snooze, I imagine all sorts of things.

Thus is the basis of my problem, in reality. My brain gets going like a whirligig and I can’t chill it out enough to drift off.

So, allow me to share some of the scenarios that went through my brain (before having the genius idea that writing would tire me out. Albeit this won’t be award winning… I’m still wide awake and ready to start my day… at 2:00am.)…

1. The Heroine Chronicle

Someone enters my classroom with a knife (should be a gun, but guns are way too scary for me and have potential to hurt someone. Even in my mind, I don’t want anyone getting hurt), and I immediately have a plan. I gracefully glide toward the assailant- and ultimately take him down in an exchange of quick reflexes and physical prowess, reassure the class (whilst holding the foe to the floor), and gallantly walk away with only one wound which will surely heal into an awesomely wicked scar.

Um… I’ve never done a graceful thing in my life and my physical prowess is limited to my ability to walk and possibly think about chewing gum at the same time. I’ll just keep the door locked.

2. Wedding Woes

At around  1am, I received an email from my friendly wedding website anxiety inducers, informing me that the wedding is in 4 mos & 4 days and that I’m severely behind schedule. The email then judged me. Sure, it didn’t announce its judgement, but I knew it was there.

And things went downhill after that.  Oh you slippery slope! It all became a blur of tulle and jordan almonds. Even as I reflect now, I feel as though a thousand bridesmaid dresses (all different colors by minuscule degrees) are marching towards me, ready to drag me down to the depths of Hades where all other unprepared brides have met their demise.

3. The What If Tango

Oh, is there any more powerful pair of words? What. If.  Each night, I fall into a slow tango of what ifs. We twist and turn over each event (perceived or real) and the consequences of these moments. What if I upset my buddy by not going to a summer teaching inservice? What if I finally told a quasi-friend to kick rocks? What if my hair falls out? What if someone breaks in and I end up being portrayed on a t.v show by someone really homely? What if coffee really is bad for me and The Fiance never lets me forget it? What if … what if.. what if. I can find the most asinine combo of what if & result- a dangerous pair that can leave me awake for hours…heading down a tangent of absurdity (Which The Fiance promptly fixes/ nullifies/ or laughs away once morning comes ’round).

Of course, the list marches on.

So for now, I shall return to bed and…

Who Nees Sleep?

 

 

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Let Freedom Ring

Being as The Fiance and I are living the Suburban Dream, we went to Lowe’s yesterday to buy an important element for our house.  We have the picket fence (that we’ve rebuilt 4 times), we have the dog, and the spice rack. Sure, we have a quesadilla maker and 128 ceramic elephants, but no American flag.  This, my friends, just won’t do.

It didn’t take much to find the flags in the store.  Find the red umbrella, the tiki lamps, and :boom:  there are the flags.  I’m not sure at what point in history our patriotism fused with eating outside, but there you have it. Think of an American holiday: are you thinking of potato chips and hot dogs? Me too.

There was a momentary debate between the $7 chinsy metal pole and the $20 wooden post.  We were going to go cheap because we’re on a frugality kick (I say kick..we all know that this hasn’t just started nor will it end, but it makes me seem less cheap this way.), but my dream has always been to have the upgraded flag holder. It looks so…um… American city purlieus. We then discussed the issue with upgrading the flag in time. Not only would we have spent extra money, but then we have the compounded issue of having an extra flag hanging around, our inability to rid ourselves of the surplus flag, and where we could find a Boy Scout troop that was holding a ceremony to retire Old Glory. In the end, we just bought the nice flag and decided that perhaps split-second financial decisions aren’t our strong suit.

Since it’s impossible to get The Fiance out of a home improvement store without first making a time-sucking round throughout the various departments, we set off in the direction of countertops.  After rounding through the bathtubs and making a left into the paint department, we decided to compare a color sample to the fans in the lighting section.

As we stared upward into the illuminated bliss of sixty hynotic ceiling fans, a gray haired gentleman walked up to us.

“Good for you two!”

Maybe the guy works for the ceiling fan company? Is he an environmentalist and prefers fans to air conditioning?

“There aren’t many of us old guys left that still care about the flag. It’s nice to see young people involved. Were you in the Army?”  He then reaches out and grabs The Fiance’s bicep. My eyes roll around in my head at this, but The Fiance puffs up like a peacock.  Great, I’ll never hear the end of this one.

The kindly gentleman then asks The Fiance what time the flag needs to go out in the morning.  The Fiance blinks- I giggle.  (8:00 am, by the way)  The gentleman asks what time it’s suppose to be brought in. The Fiance shifts and looks at me- I respond. And I’m rewarded with an, “Atta girl” from the retired Naval officer.  Guess who’s beaming now.

The General and I head home to prepare a place for our waving banner of American pride. Now, I’m not sure, but I think I heard the garage open at 07:58 this morning.  The Fiance was also humming “She’s a Grand Old Flag” for the next few hours and walking with very clean, precise steps.   Happy Independence Day everyone!

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I Just Wanted to Run

“Where do you find these people?”

This question has been asked many times over the years. Usually it’s a close friend or family member who mumbles it as they stare wide-eyed into the distance, thinking about whatever bizarre situation has unfolded.

The latest off-beat situation took place in a very innocuous place… our sweet, little neighborhood park.  We should have known that it was going to be a strange run, since the park smelled like Limburger cheese. It’s been my experience that any time a place smells like cheese, and it’s not a cheese factory, it means that something is not right.

But we shrugged it off, and started our walk.  A few minutes into our workout,  we pass by a lanky man with two kids hanging out by a folded table set up just off the walking path.

“Ah, now you two look like a couple who wants to get in shape!”

Did he just call us fat? “Well, yeah…”

We stop (Mistake #2), and he tells us about an exercise group that he’s involved with. Overall, it seems pretty great. You pay for a month, but you have unlimited exercise classes. They have them all over Houston and you can go as many times as you wish throughout the four weeks.

So at this point, I’m going through all my chit-chatting techniques and am ready to move forth with our jog. After all, my interpersonal skills are very limited and after we found out he’s married and has five kids, I was pretty much out of things to say. I do the shift-weight-to-my-back-foot thing to show my eagerness to run. He asks are names, shakes The Fiance’s hand, then shakes mine.

He stops smiling.

“WOOOO what happened to your arm???” (Please read this with extreme enthusiasm, since that is how he put it forth to the world)

I tell him that I have a ligament disease and do my lighthearted shoulder shruggy thing. You know, so folks don’t think it’s something worse than it is. You remember Gumby? Pretend my mother was stepping out with Gumby… I’m the end result.

Instead of doing the normal, “Oh, my grandma has carpal tunnel” or something along that line (by the way, carpal tunnel really isn’t the same thing, but whatever….), he seizes my arm and stares into my eyes.

“I can pray that away.”

My arm?

“God gave me the power to heal.”

Wow- geesh,  I can’t even get the DVR to work right.

“God didn’t design you to have flaws.”

Er..who did then?

By this point, I’m just nodding. Now, don’t get me wrong,  I don’t doubt his utmost sincerity. And in truth, who am I to judge anyone based on their beliefs?

Then he grabs both arms, and tells me that he hopes he can pray over me sometime soon. He can make me whole again.

I thanked him and off we ran..quickly.

As we jogged, The Fiance and I tried to decipher what happened.  We couldn’t figure out if he was going to help heal my disease or make my rockin’ scar go away. Truth be told, we couldn’t decide which would be more impressive.

We should have stopped when we smelled the cheese.

Thanks barber surgeon!

 

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