Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Nights Used to be Hopping Around Me

Geoff is still at Camp Grandma. I think we are going to pick him up tomorrow. As of 8pm, Doug and Jessica are both asleep on the couches in the living room in front of the TV.

I'm going to go to bed in mere moments, but thought I should just spend a minute and write an update. After all, it has been a week.

Yes, I said chapter 3 of the novel. I have written the first 2 and what I'm calling an "interlude" to go between 2 and 3. I already have decided that there are things in chapter 1 that need to be adjusted, and before I have plot holes that the nerds point at and go "Ha! See? In chapter one she said blah blah blah and then here in chapter seven it is totally different!"

I need to go back and make repairs before I take the story forward. I found that I've read and reread the two full chapters and interlude a hundred times. And then I stopped writing for the better part of this week.

Part of me wants to schedule time to sit and write. And the smart part of me says to sit when it happens. I am not facing deadlines or demands of editors and publishing houses, so I guess that I can just let it happen as it does.

One shouldn't force or schedule what will just happen on its own. Kind of like this here journally thingie here. I write when it comes. That will be the same with the book. Forcing the writing here makes me write crappy, so I bet that will be the same with the narrative arc. Don't want it to be crappy. Want it to be inspired.

Courtney and JamieCourtney and Jamie got married last weekend, and we went to the wedding and had a damn good time. It was a lovely wedding in a beautiful church. She and Jamie did a handfasting with the monsignor's stole, and that was nicely done... something that I'm sure a lot of people in the Catholic church have not seen done before. Usually at a Catholic wedding we see unity candles and such done... so this was a really nice touch.

And while this photo is blurry, I think it is my favorite one that I took that night. They were moving quickly, and my flash didn't go off, but her face is in focus and she's looking right at me, so it almost looks as if I planned this or used a lensbaby or something... thank heaven for small accidents that result in cool little memories, I say.

Long may you guys run.

Work has been interesting. I think in the last two or three days we've laughed ourselves stupid once or twice just from sheer delerium. That's fun. It is very good to laugh in the office. Our air conditioning has been on the fritz for several months, and we spent the better part of this past week (remember, fellow Boston Area bloggers, that it was record-setting hotness outside so imagine how hot it must be inside!) stewing in our own sweat.

263/365 - i go swimming, swimming in the water...It was rather unpleasant. Luckily, G lives close by and we took lunch there and went swimming and had a cookout. Good times and a great respite. I posted a photo to flickr and people were surprised... "you get to swim at lunch?" Well, when the boss lives 400 feet away from the building and has an in-ground pool, hells yeah we get to swim at lunch!

Today the AC was fully functional for the first time in an incredibly long time. I was actually glad I had a leftover sweatshirt hanging on my cube hook. Else I would have been complaining about being too cold. And wouldn't that just have been rich.

So work has been okay. Nothing to complain about, and I'm feeling like we're on top of things again. But I've said that before and that damn hell ass boulder has rolled over us down to the valley, and I've had to push it up again... So we'll see how next week goes, seeing as it is a short week.

We're not going anywhere for July 4th this year. It is mid-week, which means we'd have to take vacation time on either end, and I'm saving my final vacation days for the weekend of Linda and Ronnie's wedding in September. I used most of my time in February when we went away (stupid much needed but early in the year vacation!) The kids are both in camp... Jess will be doing Shakespeare with Keri and the rebels, and I'm looking forward to the plays in July and August. Geoff is going to the swim camp nearby and then later in the summer has 3 weeks of cub scout camp to look forward to. I hope we can get away for a weekend or two as time goes by. I don't want the summer to just be a blur and be over with before we know it.

I hate when that happens.

Anyway -- I'm tired. Must go to bed and get a good night's sleep. I was tossing all night last night and just really am not the party animal I once was, I guess.

Nighty night.

Friday, June 22, 2007

File this under we've lost our collective minds

I love when there is a news story that leaves me with my mouth hanging open agape with surprise. It does not happen a lot, because honestly, nothing shocks me anymore. But...

The "I'm not a plastic bag" bag story is the latest in a string of "you've got to be shitting me" stories that have come down the pike, and I'm just plain stunned at the collective stupidity of the product, the concept, and the frenzied rabid mouth frothing attention surrounding it.

The news reported that over in Europe people went batshit psycho out of their minds for this stupid bag, which will retail in the US for about $15 bucks. This "coveted accessory" will advertise the bag-holder's love for the earth and environment. Sad thing is, it is ugly beyond all imagination.

I don't care what it is made of, it looks assy. It LOOKS stupid, and ... feh. It's retarded. Yes, I said it. It is retarded. It gets better though, dear reader. The news broadcast informed me that this "cheap" bag (cheap at twenty bucks) is going for hundreds of dollars on eBay.

The "I'm not a plastic bag" fever continues to rise like a rogue wave of stupidity across the planet. Reports are that haute couture types like Stella McCartney will be introducing versions of this idea of their own, which will retail for hundreds of dollars.

Are you kidding me?

I need a designer to step up and make this with me. I want to brand/develop/create a bag. I want a bag right now that says "I'm not a douchebag." They will retail for five bucks a bag. Proceeds to go to Reverb, Rock for a Remedy and the Greater Boston Food Bank. Will Stella McCartney make me one? Again, I totally doubt it.

Maybe Think Geek will step up and make them for us. We can wear this t-shirt while carrying our cool new "I'm not a douchebag" totes all over America. (and yes -- I emailed them with my suggetion. They take suggestions, which is beyond cool. So many companies like them don't want to hear from the public. I'm just hoping they agree that my idea is righteous and awesome).

If so, I want a slice of the bag money. Even if it is just a wee bit. The rest goes to the aforementioned organizations that really DO make a difference in the world, instead of hanging off Paris Hilton's shoulder when she gets sprung from the pokey and does her big Meredith Vieira interview (and you know there will be one hanging off that bony skeletor about 3 seconds after she's out...)

Are ya with me people!? Revolution starts at home.

I love the environment and the planet and all that stuff, but things are going too far with this bag and Sheryl Crow asking you to wipe your ass with one square when she's jetting all over the planet for her shows (yes, yes, she buys carbon offsets, but really -- do those WORK??? I mean... it is like buying indulgences from the Catholic Church in Medieval times to get out of Purgatory faster, isn't it?)

Look, people. To be honest -- if you REALLY love the environment, really want to do things to help, you should recycle the bags from the grocery store that you got LAST week. Use them until they disintegrate. Don't take another one from Stop N Shop or DeMoulas or Safeway or anything until the bags you have just fall to tiny shreds.

Better yet, if you want to spend some money, buy a couple of heavy duty nice canvas bags from LL Bean. I have had one for over 25 years and that thing is a workhorse. These monster totes mean business, kick ass and last for ever and a day. They go through the washing machine, they stand up in the back of the car when filled with gear or groceries.

And what is even better, dear friends all over the planet, what is even better is LL Bean replaces things when they tear or fall apart. Will this Anya Hindmark bird refund your money or give you a new one when that flimsy assed strap snaps off your shoulder as you're canoodling around town? Doubt it.

And if you're totally vain and the bag HAS to say something, well then darling, get your Monogram put on the bag! Personalize it! Don't have some crackpot marketing gimmick worked up by some think-tank goobers emblazoned on your bag.

You shouldn't be vomiting cash into some moonbat designer's coffer so her personal stock and wealth rise, while you look like a dingbat walking around announcing to the world that your bag is proud to not be made of plastic. Big whoop. I do not see the point in buying a bag made by a "designer" to announce to the world that the damn bag isn't made of plastic. Who gives a crap. I bet it doesn't do a good job carrying groceries from the soccer mom mobiles, and that it rips easily. Within months and there will be pantloads of these stupid trendy pieces of crap in garbage bags.

Will someone take a Sharpie to each of them and correct the text to "I am a garbage bag" after that happens? I volunteer.

Get in line behind me if you want to help.

This is just sad and wrong. It really is. Pathetic, sad, wrong and misses the point entirely for helping the earth and doing the right thing. I predict this time next year, the Salvation Army and Building 19 will be chock full of these bags and all the spawny little rip-offs that the fad will generate. It disgusts me.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Now, my question to you, dear reader, is ... were I to write a book, a beautiful book, a writer's sight found and written down... would you read it? Would you really? Or do you sit there and laugh and say "oh me. Yet another online writer who fancies she can write a novel."

Which side of the discussion do you fall on? Those of you who have read this journal off and on for six years, and those of you who in the last year, month, week, have found me. Where do you fall in the opinion holding?

Ever since high school, going on twenty aught years now, I've been told by people that I am a great writer, a superb story teller. I set scene, tone, feeling, develop the character (even if it is just me making fun of myself) incredibly well.

I have been a lazy writer though, writing when it suits me instead of writing like my life depends on it. Like my friend Jadepark, I used to write impulsively, writing every detail, every thought, building phrase and tale and epic as I went... and I fell out of that a long time ago.

Some people who lose their sense of humor say "I lost my funny." Well, I lost my writey.

As of late though, the seed has been germinating. Perhaps it is a weed and a bad idea, to be plucked out and cast aside. Perhaps it is a really nice flower, unique in all the world... and needs to be put under a clear glass globe to protect it, except once in a while to let a butterfly in to visit it.

My friend, I'll just say his first name, like uttering a blessing... Eric... lived and worked doing what he loved vocationally. He was an artist, talented, wonderful, imaginative. And I'm jealous that he died as a result of this lifestyle. He did what he loved, and unfortunately the by-product of what he did was cancer.

But ...

he lived and lived and lived and worked and produced and made and created. And my envy in the aftermath of his passing... grows.

Eric's death is the kick in the ass my quill needs. If quills have asses.

I don't live and breathe and exist for my work. My job is a job. It is a place to go where they give me money. And that is great.

I do a good job at what I do. No one likes doing what I do. Which is good, because that means I can keep showing up and doing it. No one is trying to jockey for position to steal my throne.

It is safe, reliable, there... It is difficult and sometimes frustrating... but when I walk away at the end of the day, I walk away. I don't THINK, obsess, breathe, toss in my sleep because I want to get back to it. I cannot WAIT to get back to doing it again. I know I'll get back to it the next day and I sleep fitfully... and I go in... and push the Boulder up the Hill again.

I constantly tell my Boss, the lovely G, that I am like Sisyphus. I push a bigassed rock up a bigassed hill for all eternity. Bigassed rock rolls down. I get up, push it up bigassed hill again... Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

This is a job. This is not love. It is what it is, and I am incredibly thankful for it. Do not get me wrong. To be honest, I'm lost without it...

but I miss passion when it comes to life. Not sex passion, ya pervert... but life-fulfilling passion. I have a great life, a great husband, spectacular kids, a super house. But... I am not doing and being to my utmost. And that is so painfully clear.

I'm not quitting my job. But ... I am going to dedicate the time to doing something for me that hopefully will be something for you.

For a very long time, I've nursed an outline for a novel. Shelved in the back of my mind were some characters, and their situation and adventures, and their concept ... and they all needed to grow up with me to get to this point in my own life in order for the story line to just be clear. And yesterday afternoon it clicked and I knew where to go with it, where to finish it, and how it all comes together.

I put the outline down on paper and shared it with two people I trust -- my sister, because she is my muse, and Amy because she knows bad art when she sees it and I know she'll be honest with me.

When Amy hates a movie, she's right. When Amy reads a book and says "feh..." she's right. But when she reads or hears or sees something, she knows when it eats your soul and says YES to you... and I want to write something that she'll say YES back to. I told Amy about this over lunch a few months ago, and she was open to hearing more. I asked her if she'd read it, and she said yes.


So I started with the outline. My sister read it and immediately wanted details on the "blanks." Because an outline isn't very detailed... it lines up what will happen, in order, and then I will fill in the details around it (I didn't learn to write that way until college, but wish someone had taught me that, even from a research paper perspective, long long before...), she wanted to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!

Why is this person doing this? How did she end up there? What was she thinking?.... all sorts of questions were pouring out of her. I answered her, because I already KNOW. So it was easy to come back to her and say "Good question -- here is why..."

And I knew she was hooked.

But I can't just write a novel for two people. I've never done anything like Nanowrimo in November, because I didn't want to put my novel up there and have it lifted, borrowed, creatively appropriated. I write these journal entries and they are the longest pieces I write. Seeing as most people write a paragraph with links out to other sources, I know for a long time that like Jadepark, I am still a writer. And will be again. But I need you to promise me you'll read it.

Promise me.

And advice -- is always welcome. Email or comments. Up there on the left navigation bar... you know what to do.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Shedding Of Our Summer Skin. Observations on Eric

"I don't recall a single care, Just greenery and humid air."
-Death Cab For Cutie

Once in a great while someone from my past crosses my mind. Over the past several weeks one particular person has been an almost daily fixture. It is weird -- for nearly 23 years this man has come and gone in my thoughts, and I often wonder if he thinks of me at all.

He usually comes to mind when I'm listening to or thinking of "Summer Skin" by Death Cab for Cutie. I'm not even sure they would be a band he would like. It is just that the song itself, something about it in the lyrical content and the percussion make me think of him, and of me, and others we were with in 1984... and of being 17 and 18 and fresh out of high school.

Squeaky swings and tall grass, the longest shadows ever cast
The water's warm and children swim, and we frolicked about in our summer skin

Mid-June is hardly the time of year to be pondering Labor Day and end of summer events, but for some reason in my mind for the past several weeks I keep hearing the gentle snare drum and Ben Gibbard's voice singing softly to me.

In the summer of 1984, we were all getting ready to leave for college. There were a lot of really fun days at the beach, hanging out in someone's backyard drinking wine coolers and swatting mosquitoes. There were good-bye parties almost nightly at the end of August. Some of us left before others, due to athletics of marching band at their universities. My school didn't begin until after Labor day, so one by one I watched people leave.

There was a lot of laughter and regret, a lot of wondering if we'd ever see each other again. I remember getting mad at someone I had been friends with since third grade for something so petty, and I don't think we've spoken since.

I don't recall a single care, just greenery and humid air
Then Labor day came and went, and we shed what was left of our summer skin

One of those long ago good-bye to someone party nights, I was floating on my back in an in-ground swimming pool on an under inflated floating chaise lounge. Most of my body was submerged, and the water was warm as a bathtub. My friend, the one I've been thinking a lot about lately, was floating in the pool with me, and Pink Floyd's "The Wall" was blaring from a boom box on a table beside the pool.

We were apart in the water, enjoying the experience of looking at the sky and the trees and the glow of the streetlight from over in front of the house, listening to the music. Once in a while our feet would meet the wall of the pool and we'd push off gently with just our toes and send our bodies floating along further to another part of the water. We'd sometimes bump into one another and smile. At one point, I remember holding left hands with him, our feet facing opposite directions, and our toes touching walls to continue the float around in the void.

Someone did a cannonball into the pool, and the quiet magic of that night suddenly ended.

On the night you left I came over, and we peeled the freckles from our shoulders
Our brand new coats so flushed and pink...

And I knew your heart I couldn't win
Cause the seasons change was a conduit
And we left our love in our summer skin

I was never in love with him in school or anything... that floating moment was and is perpetually sweet and suspended in time. For years in High School I kept falling in love with the guys in the rock bands, and always wanted them to love me. I was part of a circle of friends where I was the far out on the fringes always hoping to be included, and I rarely ever was when they did fun cool things.

Looking back I realize that I should have given up in 10th grade instead of trying to perpetuate relationships with people who just didn't want me around.

There were wonderful people in my life, wonderful guys who were unfortunately not the kinds of people a wannabe rock star groupie girl like me crushes on. When I look back on all the fantastic men I was friends with, and all the opportunities I could have had to have an actual boyfriend instead of a perpetual heartache I kick myself.

Jesus, I was such a dumb ass.

He and his brother were in my homeroom for four years, and they always made me laugh. Every morning was a lot of fun. He would draw a lot, on my books, in my books, on my desk, on my hands. And mornings put a smile on my face as I sat there with him sitting in front of me in that home room. I look around that room in my mind and there were some really nice people there. Some real shit-heads too, but for the most part I have a smile on my face thinking of this person and the relationship we had.

Over the past several weeks, I've imagined that end of summer moment even though summer has just begun here. I hear the snare drum, and I hear the lyrics. So I had to do it. Instead of the echoes of Ben Gibbard's voice in the back of my mind, I pulled up an mp3 of "Summer Skin" and listened to it here at my desk at work.

At the same moment, I figured -- what the heck, I'll Google him. I wonder how he is. I'd like to find a point of contact and see if I can maybe drop him a line. I'd googled him before and didn't find anything, and I fully expected to once again find nothing.

I didn't expect to find an obituary.

He passed away on May 13, 2007 at the age of 41. I knew it was him and not some other person as it listed his brothers and their names. There was no reason listed out as to what happened. Does there need to be?

The next thing I'm doing is sitting on the bathroom floor crying. I don't think I cried like this when my aunt died in February of 2005. Blindsided by the surprise of stumbling across someone's obituary is not cool.

I do not believe that anyone speaks to me from the grave. I don't believe that I am guided by voices, that spirits communicate and let me know stuff. I know some of you do. After Clayton died, every single song on the radio was something that connected me to him. But that was sheer coincidence. I can hear "Galileo" now without breaking into tears.

But I've got no idea why or how the constant sound of "Summer Skin" by Death Cab For Cutie has been in my mind since mid-May. When he died. And why today when I actually pull it up to play I find the news. I believe in strange coincidences, but not in messages and contact. And this one was a tremendous and strange coincidence if ever there was one.

Apologies to those of you who want to know his name. I'm not writing it here. There are so few references to him for search engines to pull up hits that I don't want this journal entry to be listed chief among them.

Suffice to say, in the future when I float, be it a pool, a pond, the ocean, and I look up at the sky and the silhouettes, I know I'll be thinking of him. And I don't think I can listen to that song again...

After letting myself cry for a good long time, I wondered what to do next.

When I was in high school there was this circle of lunchtime friends that I sat with, and my friend who passed was part of that group. For some strange reason, I was the only girl. I don't know why they let me tag in, but there I was with these tremendously funny, smart guys who were kind of the bookish and ├╝bersmart. They always made me feel like I was funny, that they were laughing with me and not at me. We would round table discuss Monty Python, Peter Gabriel and whatever movie was hot at the time.

I loved these guys, but like summer skin, they peeled off after that point in time and there was little or no contact after I left. Top that off with the fact that I left and never went back, so the attenuation of the communication and connection faded with distance and time.

I looked up one of those friends from the lunch table. He has maintained a website for a long time, and once in a while I reach out and ask how he is doing. That is about how deeply connected I am with that part of my history.

I emailed him to ask what happened. He thankfully called me right back as he was on his way to work. He lives in California, and he tells me the story that from the point of diagnosis to the day our friend died, it was an incredibly short period of time.... He had gone to the hospital not feeling well and a few short weeks later was gone. He had cancer -- and it just swept him.

My friend and I talked for a good long while on his walk to work, about how we look in the mirror and the person looking back at us is not the person we think we look like. We see ourselves as that 18 or 19 year old that we were at our prime. Or our so-thought prime. I think I've blogged about this very recently, and my friend Keri also wrote about that person who looks back at her in the mirror not being WHO she is.

We are just into the 40s and this isn't the kind of thing we're supposed to be dealing with. Divorces of friends, yes. New Babies for some... yes. Cancer? Uh, not so much.

He's had time to process this, and was in touch with the East Coast while it was all going down. He wanted to get home to see our friend before he died but it all happened so fast that he even missed the funeral.

We told each other "I love you," and even though I haven't seen The Yale Master since 1984, I truly do love him. It made me feel so much better hearing his voice. He told me I would probably have a really rough day, a rough week... but that it would be okay and that we'd see each other probably next year for a reunion and toast our friend then.

How I feel right now is like I was sitting at a traffic light and was sideswiped by another vehicle. The other vehicle is nowhere to be seen, no one is around, there are no witnesses and I'm left with the shock of the wreckage, as I am sitting in the middle of the intersection. And there is no one standing here with me going "Wow. That was horrifying."

And I guess that is it. Sorry for such an entry as this. Go tell someone you love them, someone you have had on your mind for a while. Hopefully you won't be met with similar circumstances and will have the opportunity to smile.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

School's Out

The kids finished up school this week. Geoff had a half day on Thursday that ended the year, and Jess had one final that same morning and was done. Today is only the Saturday of summer vacation, and Geoff is languishing behind me on the floor whining that he has "nothing to do" and that "summer sucks and it is so boring..." Are you KIDDING me?

i am boredHe wants to go to the movies and go to camp and go to play bowling. And I'm trying to tell him that sometimes in life, having nothing to do is a good thing, a nice thing, something to be relished and enjoyed. Enjoy it fer chrissake.

I wish I had a summer off and all my mom asked me to do was pick the clean laundry up off the floor that I dumped out of my basket while looking for my favorite shirt.

The thing is, he's pissing me off. And I shouldn't wake up at 8am and be pissed at my kid. But he just won't stop. I can't make summer camp start today. I am not taking him bowling at 9am on a Saturday... he's 10 for the love of Pete. At age 10, kids create fun. It shouldn't be mommy's responsibility to create fun for a boy his age.

Part of me fears that it will be a long, long summer.

Doug is angry.

Our neighbors moved out a few weeks ago, but the dad is here constantly moving more stuff out and cleaning up. I guess the house is going on the market, but I haven't seen a sign yet, and there is still a ton of stuff over there and nothing is really progressing.

He came over to me the a week or so ago asking if we would loan him the lawnmower so he could mow the lawn. He had sold his lawnmower because they moved into an apartment and he didn't need it anymore.

"I will gas it up and sharpen the blade for you," he said.

Dude -- that's okay. "You don't need to sharpen the blade, it'll be fine. Gas is good because you've got a lot to mow, but don't sweat the sharpening."

We'll he borrowed it. He gassed it up. And he "sharpened" the blade. Sharpened it to flat. You can't cut melted butter with this blade. Doug mowed the lawn on Sunday last week and thought that maybe the grass was wet or something because he got the impression that the blade wasn't cutting the grass but just pushing it over. This morning he gets out there to cut it again, and sure enough... it is really just pushing it over.

He flipped the mower over to check out the blade and it is as dull as a Republican presidential debate (heh. I'm scoring off the republicans. I bet you didn't expect that!) Now he is mad as a hatter, and has to replace the blade because he doesn't think it can ever, EVER be sharpened again.

Yikes. I think this is the last time Doug will allow me to volunteer his stuff to anyone for use... Blast my kind and generous heart I guess.

Doug's Aunt called us at about 10:30pm last night while we were in bed sleeping. Y'all know my "the phone better not ring after 9pm philosophy," and luckily Jess didn't pick up and then bring me the phone because I would have been all "oh HELL no you're not calling me this late."

I called her back this morning -- She's up in Portland Maine at a conference. She wanted to check in and let us know she was close by. She flew in, so she doesn't have a car, which means if we are expected to see her, we will be driving. Hmm.

Tomorrow I had plans to show BunkoSquad around the upper Merrimack Valley for his Project 351... essentially, his goal is to take at least one photo in every one of the 351 incorporated towns in the state of Massachusetts. And I'm all about helping with something THAT cool. I was going to take him all through this area -- ending up in Salisbury where we could play arcade games and eat fried dough.

That plan may be put on hold. Sigh.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Birthday Bridal Shower

My daughter is 15 today. That really freaks me out. I never thought I'd be a parent in the first place, much less to someone as wonderful as Jess. I've said it a million times before -- she's a gem. I adore her. And I'm the luckiest mom that I know. Happy Birthday Jess!

We're waiting for Doug to get back with her birthday meal of choice. We asked her where she wanted to go out to eat and she said she wanted Sal's Pizza brought to her. With a bottle of coke.

A child of simple pleasures I guess. It's not like we don't GET Sal's pizza like every couple of weeks. I kind of wanted to go out because I don't feel like cleaning up, and for her birthday I can't really MAKE her do the dishes. That's just plain shady. I could leave them to tomorrow morning and then say "Hey Jess, do the dishes before heading out to school, thanks!" But that would be equally shady.

Damn. Guess I'm doing the dishes. More on the birthday after some Bridal Shower news.

Last week turned into a blur of me working as much as possible to be comfortable taking Friday off and then me taking Friday off to drive to NY for my sister's bridal shower.

She's getting married in September, you know.

Anyway -- We initially planned the shower in late May when Jennie could be here from Sweden. But there was a change of plans, and we pushed the shower back to this weekend, but didn't want to go too deep into the summer when everyone is busy 90% of the time... That's why it was now instead of closer to the actual date. And to be honest, I'm glad because I feel like I need a couple of months to recuperate from the event.

table settingFor weeks now I've made invitations, centerpieces, gone to AC Moore and been aghast at their stocking situation (ie: Nothing Is In Stock. Ever).

I learned a lesson -- if you say "I'll buy a couple of these and see how they work out, then come back and get more later..." Don't do it! You'll be boned. Know that it will work out and buy the entire pantload full stock of whatever that crap crafty crap stuff is, and keep the extra.

Stupid starfish. Out of stock since April 28th, my ass. They're just lazy jerkbuckets at AC Moore. And I hate them and their lack of shelf stocking skills.

Friday evening we got to Linda's and then we went out to Mexican for dinner. There was a karaoke thing going on and let me tell you, some people just shouldn't try to sing hip hop or R&B if they are drunk and caucasian.

Just watching these three girls standing in front of the screen with the mic in hand and their mouths hanging open because they can't figure out when to sing, or what it means when the words change color... that was sad, pathetic and funny all at once.

None of us sang karaoke, but we had fun reading the songbook. They didn't have any Guster, but they did have "Kyle's Mom is a Bitch" from South Park.

There was this much older couple there... he did Sinatra and blew the roof off the joint. Loved him. Everyone loved him. At the end of the night I wanted to go back inside and thank him for doing it right.

Ginger and Michelle stayed up late with Jess peeling stickers to put on the favors. Late meaning incredibly stupid late. At 7am Saturday my alarm went off and I found myself at PathMark looking for printer paper and some other little things that we needed. I got to the restaurant at about 10:15 am to set up and the girls all came shortly thereafter.

Jess and I had made the centerpieces here at home and planted live flowers in them on Friday morning. Unfortunately, we discovered that the hot glue from the glue gun doesn't like getting wet... and several of the glued on gems fell off after we watered the plants. D'oh. Jess did emergency touch-up Saturday morning, and I was thankful I brought the gun after thinking "why will I even NEED the glue gun at all once we get there..."

bride and groomMistakes were made (here's a free tip -- if you're exhausted, DO NOT try to make a word scramble. You'll be boned. You'll leave letters out or put too many letters in, and your family will think you are retahded). But even though there was last minute gluing and messed up word searches, there was someone I love using the heel of her pump to pound a nail into the wall so I could hang something up, and I got horrible blisters on the backs of my feet and ripped my shirt on some ragged metal mesh of a patio chair, the party was flat out awesome. The hanging out with everyone was awesome. I had so much fun, and I know Linda did too.

We got back to Linda's house and she went through her "wishing well" gifts. There's a story there and I'll have to save it for tomorrow. Because I'm almost as tired as I was when we got to relaxing on Saturday night. I fell asleep at 7pm on the chaise, and woke up at 1am. I went back to sleep and stayed that way until about 8:30am. That was some serious sleep. We all slept like death descended upon the house... and got up Sunday morning and ate left overs. Especially the potatoes.

All the photos are here, if you want to see them. And you know you do.

And as mentioned earlier, there is more to tell on the birthday girl.

My sister wanted to take Jess shopping at this store called Utopia near her house. It is kind of like a low-scale Hot Topic. Punk without being all "Hai, Im in ur mall, bein all commershul" and whatnot. Real punk instead of Paris Hilton Might Wear This and Make It Popular Punk. It has a headshop section and an adult section, but most of it is swords and jewelry and punk t-shirts and whatnot.

Jess picked out a ring and it was 10 dollars. My sister encouraged her to pick out something else. I suggested a toe ring. She likes my sister's... so she picked one out. She thought she was done, and thanked her auntie... but auntie wanted to spend more on her. This was weird to Jess.

She is at once a teenager, and not greedy. She is at once humble and gracious, and not at all "gimme gimme" when someone offers to get her something. So with coaxing, she picked out some sneakers (army camo, vans style). She picked out two celtic necklaces. And she was starting to feel uncomfortable, I could tell. So that was the end of that.

Auntie got off easy -- I spent $200 on a new digital camera for the girl. The one I bought off of Amy for her got the lens jammed and it won't open. So she's been using my 1.3mpxl Sony Cybershot that I got for Christmas in 1999 (Virginia -- remember the pictures that were ON the camera when I got it? The item had been returned to the store and the people who bought it didn't erase their photos. They were scary people...)

So now she has a 7.2mpxl Sony. And it was all I could do to keep myself in check and not upgrade my 6.x camera to a Nikon D40 or something. Gah. I have camera envy when I am on flickr checking out my contacts and their cool shots.

Anyway -- Jess is stylie now with her camera, her camo shoes, her Celtic necklaces and her toe ring. It's good to be 15 I guess.

And there are more tales to tell. I will have to save them for tomorrow. I am way beat and it isn't the 11th anymore. So ... more later.

Monday, June 04, 2007

School Closing!

"A teachers strike, a power failure, a blizzard... Anything that'll
cancel school tomorrow. I know it's asking a lot, but if anyone can do
it, You can! Thanking You in advance, Your pal, Bart Simpson."

When the phone rings after 9pm or before 8am, I always wonder if something horrible is wrong, if someone died... if we have to pack quickly for a funeral. This morning was no different.

Doug was rushing around to get ready to leave. On rainy days, the commute into Boston can be hell. He was already 10 minutes later than he should have been on any other given day. I had three dogs in the bed with me, curled up, at total peace. The phone rings. Doug is too busy trying to find his brown hiking boot for his 20 minute walk from the parking garage to his office (it was raining, so he didn't want to wear his dress shoes). I was ... surrounded by the comfort of warm dogs on a cold morning.

So no one picked it up.

It rings immediately again... Jeesh, someone really wants to get ahold of us. I manage to wiggle out of the bed as I hear Doug peel out of the driveway. Jess picked up an extension of the phone in her room (the ringer was off but she heard it ringing through the house) just as I found the phone by the computer. It was a friend of hers from school letting her know there was a 2 hour delay.

"I don't know, my mom heard there is no power at the high school and middle school and that part of (town X) has had no power since the storm on Saturday. So they're working on it and hope to have school open after the delay. Call everyone you know. Spread the word."


I hung up and tried to access the highschool or district website, both are down. I looked for a listing on one of the many Boston area TV station websites but saw nothing.

Then, I started thinking, what if this was a senior prank that was being played on the kids... wouldn't that be something. Perpetuate a school closing, start making phone calls until the trickle down makes it to a goodly amount of the kids. What's funnier is a two hour delay, because kids would go back to sleep and then go out to the bus stop at 8:30 or 9 to wait for the bus and it wouldn't be there.

Oh, that'd be rich.

So the phone rings again. It's the same girl... she's very very UP in the morning and talks as fast as I type.

"I'm sorry to keep calling, I just want to make sure that Jess understood, she didn't seem too awake..."

I told her I had picked up the extension and heard the call so I understood, even if Jess didn't. And then I asked her what her source was.

"Well, this person called and that person called and we didn't see it on the news so my mom called the police department in our town and asked and they confirmed it is true. OH! there it is. It's on the news I'm watching the news right now on channel five and there it is..." (mind you, she is RACING through this conversation at about 10,000 words per second... and I'm dizzy from listening. I pull up that station's website and there it is -- just posted nice and fresh.

Two hour delay.

I pick up the phone and call a couple of neighbors. I tell them where I am seeing the news. The phone starts ringing again, more kids calling, more questions, Geoff yelling that it is not fair that SHE gets no school for two hours but HE has to go to stupid school and ...

ring ring yell coffee ring... all before 7am.

I email the office to let them know I'll be late.

I don't have to stay for Jess. She's old enough and incredibly responsible enough that I can trust her to get ready and get out for a 2 hour delay. But I know her -- she went back to bed.

And she is just like me. She falls right back asleep and goes into THAT sleep. You know that kind of sleep, when you get up and are dressed and lay back down and go to sleep again and you immediately slip into that unbelievably deep abyss of phenomenal sleep... and you didn't set the clock because you're only going to just snooze a bit. Surely some noise (like the truck jake brake that just went off outside the house, or the dogs barking at the neighbors, or another kid calling to find out what's the deal with school being closed) will wake your slumbering ass up.

She's just like me, and I knew that if I walked out the door at the normal time, that she'd be asleep and not wake up in time to get out to the bus.

So I make more coffee, get a shower, surf blogs.

The phone just started ringing again... School is now officially closed for the day. She's on the couch, dressed and ready, and now she doesn't need to head out there. She's kind of mad that they just didn't make that decision right off the bat. If they haven't had power since Saturday, what made them think they'd have things juiced up in time for the kids to GET to school?

I called the neighbors who are so relieved because the daughter didn't fully complete her project that was due today, so she buys an extra day to polish it up and refine it. Jess gets some quiet time to herself to study for finals, which start on Thursday. And now I'm off to work... to the litany of phone ringing and excited 14 year old girl jibberjabber on the line.

We had quite a storm up this way on Saturday. Geoff and I were home alone and Doug had driven out to Salisbury to pick Jess up at a party at a friend's house. The storm basically passed right over where they were, but the bulk of the damage was in our town and the towns surrounding us, as evidenced in the school closing and power loss today over in the next town (we're a regional school district, so our high school and middle school cover three towns).

Geoff and the dogs were freaking out from the storm. I shut everything down -- computer TV everything, and fired up the battery operated radio. I had to throw Gonzo and Brodie into their kennels because they were so disturbed by the storm, which was more violent than anything I remember in years. Geoff was running through the house screaming his head off. I was literally seconds away from grabbing him and running into the basement.

It was that scary. And I honestly have never been THAT weather scared before in my life. Midwestern readers are probably laughing at me right now, but it was honest to God the most brick-in-the-pants inducing terror I've ever felt in my life. The only thing that kept me from grabbing the boy and dogs and jetting to the basement was that I was waiting for the firehouse down the street to run the siren. I was convinced this was the signal that I'd need to run from the tornado. But the siren never went off, and a tornado never touched down.

Doug eventually made it home and said that he thought he saw funnels starting in his rear view mirror on the way back west here from Salisbury. The sky behind him was green black, just like storm skies he remembers from western PA and Ohio growing up. He said he hasn't seen that in years.

The news said that the thunderstorm produced micro-bursts which downed trees and flattened things, but no actual tornado hit. You wouldn't know it driving through a couple of the towns.

I'm proud that I didn't actually poop my pants, or freak out badly enough that I cried. I'm glad we had batteries and supplies, and that if I needed to we could have hidden under the arch of the huge fireplace structure in the basement. That could withstand anything. I'm proud that I had the wherewithal to get my act together and be prepared even though I was alone. I could do this without Doug with me. I am glad he and Jess didn't get swept up in the VW and blown three counties north.

All told -- that was the scarediest I've been in a really long time. And I am glad that I lived through that scared feeling, got a grip, knew what to do, and don't want to have to do it again anytime soon.


Alright -- School is canceled, I'm off to work. More later.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Happy Anniversary

"Through the years, you've never let me down. You turned my life around.
The sweetest days I've found, I've found with you ...
Through the years I've never been afraid, I've loved the life we've made.
And I'm so glad I've stayed, right here with you, Through the years."
-Kenny Rogers

Oh my Lord, I'm quoting Kenny Rogers for my anniversary entry. What have I become? I've lost my street cred. But... I'm sorry -- I can't help if the lyrics are apt and there isn't really a good BNL or Guster song to illustrate with for the Quote of the Moment.

Kenny Rogers has a point. The sweetest days I've found, I've found with Doug. Yesterday was our 16th wedding anniversary. We went out to dinner with the kids and came home. We picked Thai food, and enjoyed a delicious meal. Doug even bought "Chili Fish" which was a giant striped bass... and at the end of the meal I said "Thanks for catching me a delicious bass" a la Napoleon Dynamite. The kids laughed. Geoff toasted us with his water glass and all told it was a wonderful night out.

I love my husband -- I love our family. Between all the nights of dogs pissing in my bed, horrible experiences while moving house, and other ghastly events, there have been plenty of days where we've done nothing but had fun, we've done nothing but enjoyed ourselves, we've toasted one another, drank a lot of wine, laughed at each others' jokes and are bringing up kids who laugh at our jokes and crack jokes that make us laugh.

We've had a lot of fun. I can't imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't met him by accident outside the mail room at Gordon College in late 1986.

Thanks honey. Happy anniversary.

I told Geoff that we were all going out to dinner, and he wanted to know why Doug and I just didn't go out by ourselves, why THEY (meaning himself and his sister) had to come... I said that if anyone should celebrate our anniversary, the two of them should be first on the list because if we'd never gotten married, they never would have been born. So they need to thank us, celebrate, and just eat some Panang Duck and shut up already.

Geoff's retort was classical Geoff -- "Come on. You guys didn't have to get married, you could have just been a single mother and you could have raised two kids. Women do that all the time. It's no big deal..."

I told him that isn't my style, that I wouldn't have gotten pregnant in the FIRST place if I weren't already married. So I guess that made sense to him. But I do think it is funny that his perception is that it is okay to not be married and still be ... pregnant and raising babies.

I think he got it, because he raised that toast to us so lovingly. Thanks Geoff.

A lot of my friends have done it (congrats to Ben and Amy who welcomed Emma this week...) and yes, women do it all the time. It is true. But that wasn't our style, and Jess and Geoff wouldn't be here today if on June 1, 1991 Doug and I hadn't gotten married. So there.

I plan on scanning some pictures of our wedding and putting them into Flickr at some point. One of the many projects I've not gotten to.

Speaking of projects, I'm off to buy centerpice makings for our Bridal Shower next weekend. I want to have these all done by tomorrow night, that way all I have to do is drive them down and not think about it. Yay!