So funny I forgot to laugh

Photo by Pat Hawks via Creative Commons

Tuesday was the worst day ever.

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Relatively speaking.

No one died — that I know. No one lost a limb or drove a Segway off a cliff. Wait …

OK. Tuesday was a series of unfortunate events.

Let’s make a list, shall we?

1. Call comes in from client that Wednesday deadline is now Monday deadline, if I don’t mind.

2. I consume a pot of coffee and take the world’s fastest shower. Girl from the East watches a record amount of DVDs while I sweat and hyperventilate to meet deadline. People, do you know what kind of dreams you have after a 12-hour caffeine bender? Let’s just say I had one involving small children, countless bowls of lumpy oatmeal, and the deep woods. There may have been a hungry bear, or maybe it was a wolf, in a supporting role.

3. Realize it’s too late to line up child care so Girl from the East has to tag along on client meeting. Awesome. At client meeting, she manages to launch a rolling desk chair into low orbit.

4. Afterward, I find an out-of-the-way coffee shop. After spending money on food and yes, more coffee, I pull out the company laptop with the measly battery life, only to discover the one electrical outlet available to customers is — on the freakin’ ceiling! You know how the rest of it goes.

5. Heavy rain begins to fall. Next discovery: We’ve left without rain jackets and have one smallish umbrella for all three of us. A little drenched and chilled, I pull  in to the designated pickup spot and call Girl from the West on my phone. Long wait ensues. I grab a book and a blanket and settle in. Suddenly I’m eye-to-eye with a winking red tail light whose attached bumper punches my quarter panel. I sound the horn. Twice. I roll down the window, shout and wave my arms. The driver speeds away.

6. I call the police to report a hit and run. Police show up one hour later. In the meantime, the guilty party, who identifies himself with one of those ’70s hippie names like Moonbeam, returns from what appears to be a cigarette run. He sits on his porch, smoking and staring. Finally, I approach him, ask if he, by any chance, realizes that he hit my car. He is shocked, I tell you, shocked that he hit my car. He cannot believe he didn’t FEEL it. In fact, he didn’t HEAR my car horn. He had no idea at all that I was parked behind him. It’s quite possible he was unaware he was in a car.

Meanwhile, Girl from the West tells me SHE heard my car horn and ignored it, thinking I was being dramatic.

But Moonbeam’s girlfriend is mad at him, too. He hit my car with HER CAR! Now it’s a big deal, you see.

After the police officer, who had all the patience and understanding of an executioner, leaves, Moonbeam begs me to tell him what I’m going to do. He needs to know, you see, because he’s leaving for California immediately.

He called me again today. He gave me his e-mail address and his phone number. He wants me to call him when I know what I’m going to do.

If you live in California, watch out for a guy who calls himself Moonbeam.

Hey, what happened to my garden?

By Mozzercork via Creative Commons

I’m reading quite a bit online lately from other bloggers about the state of blogging. They ask: What’s next? Why am I still doing this? Should I be making money and growing my following?

Some have closed their blogs. Others have renamed and relocated under new identities. Some have cut back on their posting frequency. Some have changed the focus of their sites.

Lately I’m regarding this site as I do my seasonal garden. It goes through cycles, from birth and the early excitement of new growth, to the steady maintenance of its peak season, to the realization that the peak is followed by a slide toward dormancy. I don’t know what I’m going to do next. What I do know is that my life today is nothing compared with what it was when I started this blog in May 2007. Back then I had hours to burn. I was lonely and bored.

Today, I am more like a sweating and exhausted gerbil on a squeaky treadmill. My blog always seems to be on the other side of the glass enclosure. I start a post and something else comes up. I hit save and click away or close the lid of the laptop.

My blog is not the only thing that suffers.

Last week? I  almost missed Girl from the West’s road test due to a misguided attempt to multi-task on a rainy Saturday.

And then, later on after she passed the road test, I could not take her to get her first, official driver’s license because I could not find her Social Security card.

After that, I took her shopping for her homecoming dress and accessories. When we came home, being the neurotic that I am, I quickly gathered up all the plastic bags and boxes and broke them all down and placed them in the recycling bin and trash can. I used one of the plastic bags to empty the cat litter pans.

A day later, Girl from the West notices that one of the items is not working properly and should be returned to the store. Except … the box is cut into pieces the bag is filled with cat poop and the receipt is buried under the aforementioned cat waste. Furthermore, the garbage and recycling trucks have already made their rounds. All of it is gone.

Needless to say, she is more than angry with me. I’m angry with me, too.

Does it sound lame to say I once was an organized person? I was. I had to be. It was part of my job to be an organized multi-tasker.  I was organized enough to complete the tiring, complicated paperwork process of international adoption.

When we crossed the threshold into our home as a family of four, my organization fell to the floor along with the sour-smelling clothes from that 13-hour flight. I have not been able to get that mojo back.

What I’ve learned is that being the mother of two children, including one whose work and school are 25 miles from my house,  has proved to be my breaking point.  What I’ve learned is that in my hope of finding my place in the world, which I thought was not the workplace but maybe at home, is now up in the air. I cannot go back to the cubicle world. Being a stay at home mom has not been a highly successful endeavor for me, either. I’m hoping to find a balance somewhere.

I’m not sure what has happened. Is it mid-life brain rot? Is it the stress of the economy?  Is it because I can’t accept the reality of my situation and I keep thinking if I do this, sign up for that, join this group, I’ll find the glue I need to bind it all together?

I’ll keep you posted.

It might be a while.

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When Spam is naked — with a Brazilian

Via Creative Commons

You would not believe what I found in my inbox this week. Naked Spam doing it with other Spam. Spam all over the walls and floors. What did I do to deserve this barrage of raw meat?

Oh, yeah, I used the phrase  sex with Labrador retrieversin my last post. What did I think that would attract, updates from the American Kennel Club?

All I can say is I do not get porn, especially the really out-there stuff involving construction tools and hair accessories.  I do not read it or watch it. However, I cannot resist turning to the back pages of our local independent weekly to read  Savage Love. No matter how long I walk this earth, I will never, ever be able to say I’ve heard it all as long as Dan Savage is answering his mail.

I’m more of a let’s-leave-something-to-the-imagination person. I prefer tease, innuendo and mystery. A pair of tight pants to suggest what’s underneath rather than full-on nudity with party tricks is far more enticing. With few exceptions, sex in the mainstream cinema kills me: It’s over-the-top stupid.  Maybe that’s why porn is so off-putting to me. Real sex is not really all that glamorous to watch. Some things are best left to the mind’s creative eye and mood lighting.

When I was 18, my boyfriend, my best friend, and I were sitting around bored one winter evening. We decided to do something really outrageous. Well, as outrageous as you can get when you are 18 in the suburbs and only have a few bucks collectively. So, we came up with the idea of going to a porno theater. We grabbed the newspaper, found the XXX movie listings, and tracked down the nearest theater.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but my nerves were jangling the closer we came to the ramshackle building with the leering marquee. We were in the scary part of Detroit. In case you didn’t know, that’s a wide area.

We didn’t have enough money for three tickets so we convinced the greasy looking ticket-taker that we were a “wink-wink, nod-nod” couple and got in on admission for two. After giggling for a few minutes over the merchandise in the display cases (super-sized they were, but candy bars they were not) we sprinted up the dark stairway toward the auditorium.

Nothing could prepare me for the larger-than-life character close-ups bobbing on the screen as we stumbled along the sticky floor to find a trio of empty seats. I think it took me a full five minutes to gather to courage to look up at the screen, to stop giggling uncontrollably, and for my eyes and ears to adjust to what the hell was going on around us. It was busy in those dark rows. I was too afraid to look.

Like all novelties, this one wore off fairly fast. There wasn’t much to the plot. The soundtrack, if you closed your eyes, could double for a scene from a meat-processing plant. It didn’t take us long to feel twitchy. We decided to detach our soles from the tile and get home to take showers and wash our clothes on the hot cycle.

The porn world is big. I cannot fathom it. I cannot escape it. I’m not going to march in a parade to ban it or anything but I wish it would go back into hiding a little bit.

I'm old school and I'm OK

Photo by Suedehead via Creative Commons

“I’ll wash some of your dishes for you,” I said.

I made the offer because I was standing in a beautiful but currently disheveled kitchen strewn with pots, pans, serving trays and a growing pool of water on the floor. I offered to help because this was where the beautiful host cooked and prepped all the beautiful food and desserts for the amazing barbecue still in progress in the yard. I made the offer because during the course of this festive event, resplendent with crackling wood fire, ambient music, flickering candles and free-flowing wine, some kitchen pipes decided to belch and fart all over her shiny wood floors, rendering her sink and dishwasher useless. With each soggy plunge and futile turn of the wrench, it seemed the night’s work was expanding exponentially. I could see a look growing in her eyes.

“I’ll help you,” I offered. “I’ll take some of it home.”

“You don’t even have a dishwasher!” she exclaimed.

All heads turned to stare. The looks ranged from shock to confusion to almost pity.

It was as if someone had shouted and pointed: “She has sex with Labrador retrievers!”

Um. Yeah. I don’t have a dishwasher. I also don’t have a snow blower or countless other gizmos and gadgets that seem to be “mandatory” for suburban living in the 21st century.

I know she didn’t mean to make me feel inadequate and nearly naked in front of a kitchen full of suburban women. She only meant: I wouldn’t ask that of you since you don’t have a dishwashing machine.

But that is precisely why I offered to box up at least half of the mess and clean it in my kitchen. It’s what I do. Every day. Multiple times a day. It’s not that bad. Besides, I’ve dealt with kitchen disasters, too.  I know how much it sucks to clean the remains of dinner in your bath tub at 1 a.m.

I haven’t had a dishwasher in my kitchen since 1998. It’s not that I wouldn’t want one again. The configuration of our kitchen does not allow for one: picture a walk-in closet with a stove and refrigerator. Long ago I accepted the rubber-gloved, scrubber sponge and Brill-O pad experience.

I don’t have a snow blower because I love to shovel snow. Really. My husband and I disagree on it but I think our lot is not really big enough to justify the price tag for something that largely sits collecting dust in the garage for eight months of the year.  I’m also personally opposed to fouling the air and peace with gas-belching, buzzing machinery.

I’m low-tech in most ways. Rather than dream of a big home with all the latest and greatest stuff, I fantasize about a life lived in a small, simple cottage on the edge of a forest. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Internet and my computer. So the cottage better have Wi-Fi. But I also like to balance things out by raking leaves and pulling weeds and shoveling snow and washing dishes by hand.

Call me crazy, but don’t look at me that way.

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Random act or publicity stunt?

By Heath Brandon via Creative Commons

When you witness something are you really seeing what’s going on?

The other day I was walking  a brick path lined with wooden benches. Perennial gardens and low shade trees flank the walkway, which connects a library, courthouse, municipal offices and a veteran’s memorial. Rising above all this is a bronze sculpture encircled by a splashy water fountain. It’s a peaceful, pretty area generally populated by teen boys rumbling around on  skateboards, seniors parked on benches, and children chasing pigeons. It also has a lot of homeless people.

On this day, the walkways were empty. As I followed the path, supervising Girl from the East’s balancing act on the garden wall, I noticed an attractive, well-dressed man walking toward us at a brisk clip. His mouth threatened a smile. His eyes and whatever story they might tell  were hidden behind dark glasses. He balanced a cardboard pizza box on one upturned palm. Mr. Well-Dressed passed us, turned and leaned over a white-bearded homeless man slouched on a bench. The pizza box exchanged hands. Mr. Well-Dressed  – was he a lawyer from the courthouse or one of the local business owners on a break — crouched to get at eye level with Mr. Homeless and began talking to him in a low voice.

At this point my attention shifted to Girl from the East, who was attempting a jump off  the wall. But I couldn’t get Mr. Well-Dressed out of my mind. It wasn’t his looks or his clothing. It was what he did. It really moved me.

When I worked in this town years ago, my co-workers and I occasionally (and by that I mean rarely) would leave food offerings on benches and in doorways. Generally it was a bag of bagels or takeout leftovers. I’ve never had the courage to hand food directly to someone on the street.

I looked back at the two engaged in quiet conversation. I tried to read body language. I tried to eavesdrop. Was this a random act? Did this guy pick a different person each week or each day to feed? Did the two strike some kind of deal earlier? Was this an attorney-client thing? Why the heck was I obsessing as usual about something that did not concern me.

As I walked toward my car, a breathless woman clutching a cell phone caught up to me.

“Did you see? It’s him, isn’t it?” she asked.

“Who?”

“That GUY! The one who just gave a pizza to the homeless man. He was on ‘The Sopranos.’ I can’t think of his name,” she said, clearly hoping I’d jump on her bandwagon.

“I never watched that show,” I said, shrugging and beginning to feel like I was on one of those candid camera shows.

I looked around for Mr. Well-Dressed. His good deed completed, he was now heading toward  the parking lot. Pinstriped lawyer? Incognito actor on a personal mission?  Weird set-up for ‘Punk’d'?

Ms. Enthusiastic was still going on about ‘The Sopranos.’  She said something about a cop show in Detroit. I shook my head, told her I really had no idea who he was.  Then she was off to follow Mr. Well-Dressed to his car.

I went home. I Googled. I looked at pictures online. I think Mr. Well-Dressed really was Mr. Actor Guy.

Maybe.

I’d like to think I witnessed something random and kind. I’d like not to think of this as some celebrity sighting, something that made its way around Twitter or Facebook. I don’t like the creeping cynicism that poisons my thoughts.

When you see something happen, do you really know what you’re seeing?

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