Monday, December 21, 2009

The Great Virginia Snowfall of 2009

It’s not unusual to get snow in Northern Virginia in the winter months, though it is unusual to get two feet of it in one big dump. That’s about what we got Friday night through Sunday morning. It was light and dry and beautiful. The prospect of a white Christmas, so missed by my daughter and, made the weekend a cozy pleasure.

Of course, light, dry and beautiful snow only served to spotlight the idiots. Headlines today are full of the idiot plain clothes cop in DC who brandished his gun at some happy-go-lucky idiots having a snowball fight.

A few suggestions for my fellow Virginians:

  • If you can only drive 2 mph in a snowstorm, you shouldn’t be on the road. You are a menace.
  • Women who stand in the middle of the road watching their husbands shovel out the driveway must understand that they aren’t helping their husband and that they are a danger to themselves and others. YOU NEED TO MOVE when a car is coming down the street. If you are deaf and can’t hear the traffic, you need to stay indoors. Cars can hurt you, you imbecile.
  • The Virginia Department of Transportation should focus a little more on cleaning the ice-potholed secondary streets coated with an inch and a half of hard-pack snow and ice. Go to New York or Colorado and take in a seminar on the basics of snow removal if you have to. If I wreck my car because you are stupid, I’m going to sue you.
  • People who require a brisk morning constitutional should NOT walk on said snow-packed unclean secondary streets. See, snow and ice are fickle masters – they might drag my tires straight into you, you retard. Go plow out a trench around your house and walk around that.
  • People who think that it is the height of snowy fun to load your three year old on to a sleigh and slide down your snow covered street into on-coming traffic – sister, you deserve to win a Darwin Award. You should die and take your kid with you so it won’t infect other generations with your half-wit DNA.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gunner's Got a Mom

Navy Son has loved animals since he was small. Well, with the exception of the kitten I brought home when he and Married Son were 1 and 2 1/2 (respectively). I remember bringing home a fine young calico. Both boys screamed in terror, climbed up my legs, and wept until the little ball of fur convinced them he wasn’t going to claw them to death. They eventually named him Bango.

When he was two years old and suffering from double-pneumonia, we bought Navy Son a Pound Purry for $2. He named her Missy and she went everywhere with him. She became part of the family.

Fast forward; a few dogs, a wild cat, and one Buddy later, Navy Son wants a hunting dog – enter Gunner. Male, tri-color beagle, roughly ten months old. Still a puppy really – full of piss and vinegar, killer of bunnies. But Navy Son is getting deployed soon and they don’t let dogs on subs. I drove down to get Gunner.

We became fast friends, Gunner and I – until we loaded him into the U-Haul. Gunner was shaking and unsure. I tried to engage him on our nine hour drive home, but he wasn’t having any. I bought him some treats that he carefully sniffed and declined. He just sat in the passenger seat and looked out the window. My heart broke.

He warmed up quickly once I got him home – jumped out of the truck, ran into the Daughter’s bedroom, announcing himself by pooping on the floor. Nice.

It had been years since Buddy had that much energy, and it was a delight. We bought Puppy Chow, chew bone things, treats, a squeaky quacky duck thing , and several balls with which to play. When unobserved, he rips up tissues and papers and I need to put things out of reach so he doesn’t gnaw on them.

He sleeps in my bed every night, usually at the top of my head, though sometimes he burrows into the blankets and keeps me warm. He bounds outside, loves to snuffle things up with that monster nose of his, and would eat the whole bag of food in one sitting if I left it where he could get at it. Of late, he has started staring creepily into a corner of the Daughter’s room growling and barking.

I imagine our apartment is haunted. Haunted with either the ghosts of Chick’s Dead Brides, or the young woman across the parking lot who was killed by her boyfriend back in April.

So, I find myself the Mom of a young gun once again. Jumping all over me when I get home, flying around the house, leaping on tennis balls, and wagging his tail like a windshield wiper in a downpour.

We still miss Buddy and think of him often. There’s no replacing a beloved member of the family. But we are distracted and enchanted by our new friend.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mommy’s Got a Gun

Drove down to my son’s place in South Carolina last weekend.  You have to really love someone to drive 9 hours down I-95 South, in the rain on a Friday afternoon to help them pack their stuff into a Uhaul from a third floor apartment with no help from any burly young Naval officers.  Do it again if it meant spending 12 hours with any of my kids.  Parenthood – a synonym for insanity.

I re-learned a few other principle’s as well -

  • long trips are made to feel twice as long when you don’t have a Sirius Satellite radio in your vehicle
  • no cruise control sucks
  • AM radio reception has the same clarity today as it did in 1973
  • NPR is not a good substitute for anything
  • and the further south you travel, the more country-western channels populate FM waves

Brutal.  Made worse a few hours later by driving home at 2am (I had to get the truck back to Uhaul by 12:30 pm).  I was hoping Coast to Coast AM, the delightful paranormal AM program hosted by George Noory, would have a memorable guest on.  It wasn’t George, it was Ian someone and the show was not a memorable one.  Some noteworthy Coast to Coast AM programs (at least memorable to me):

  • A woman had a feral child in her basement.  She wanted to know how she could get near it and keep it.  Like a pet I presume.
  • Nancy Leider and her May 2003 apocalyptic warning that Planet X was about to crash into the earth.
  • Sylvia Browne’s prediction that the victims of the Sago Mine Disaster would be found alive.
  • Any show where a psychic predicts what will happen in the coming year.

Sigh*  Good show.  Wish they had it on Sirius.

So, I drove to South Carolina to help Navy Son pack stuff up.  He promised to make chicken curry for dinner (it was fabulous – I need to learn how to make that stuff) and we decided to go to a local shooting range to lob a few bullets around. 

I’ve never been to a shooting range before, nor have I ever shot a gun.  The experience was entirely new.  A shooting range smells and sounds like a bowling alley -- without the balls.  Bowling balls, I mean.  The walls are plenty drenched with testosterone – I could actually feel the hormone being leeched out of me.  Handguns, pistols, bows, scopes, AK27s, even cotton candy pink rifles with knives on the end were bought and sold as a matter of course.  Word on the street was that some yahoo walked in to a shooting range one day and tried to rob the place.  He was shot 48 times.  Idiot.  Walking into a facility where milling about were men who had been waiting 35 years for just such an opportunity. 

Navy Son had an M-16 and his friend had 2 pistols – one was a 9mm Sig Sauer.  We got 2 targets – one was the typical round target and the other was a white man holding a white woman hostage while he pointed a gun at you.  I presumed she was his emotionally abused whore jacked up on meth and he was using her as a shield to escape the police.  He never would have shot her, but he knew Johnny Law would do everything he could to save her worthless life.  I shot her in the neck.

I also shot him in the neck and head, but had less luck with the testicles than I had hoped.  He wasn’t de-manned, but he sure was gonna limp out of there.  Navy son disarmed him by shooting him several times in the hand. 

I was so delighted with the 9mm that I swung it around pointing it in my face to get a closer look and I think I scared the boys a bit.  They reached for me urging me to be careful.  It was still loaded and the safety was off, my hand was on the trigger.

I did that twice. 

Still, it was a thrill that I enjoyed immensely.  Worth the 18 hour drive alone really; but then so was the chicken curry and spending altogether too brief a time with the boy. 

And then I brought home Gunner; Navy Son’s beagle.

That’s a whole other story.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Indulge me a little bit. I found this in my drafts folder. I wrote it after we put Buddy down.

I don't write poetry. Ever. So it's bad. But it wasn't about being good, it was about expressing sadness after loss.

The house is quiet
The tears are shed
He's gone

As far as he was concerned
he was one of us
he was a person, not a dog

he liked our food
he ate chocolate
and chicken wings

Dogs aren't supposed to eat those things, they'll get sick

He loved his girl
would play games with her
would watch over her
protect her when her brothers would rough house

I'm not leaving the toilet seat up
it feels strange
We don't have to close the door quickly so he doesn't streak out
it feels strange
He's not here anymore
it feels strange

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just Don't Touch Me

Had another Chick sighting.

Wonder what Chick looks like? He looks like Russel Dalrymple – Seinfeld character – NBC executive who fell in love with Elaine Benes? Yeah him. Imagine Russel a bit scrawnier with a little more hair – uncombed and a bit oily, with a crazed look in his eye.

That’s Chick.

Went to the gym one Saturday morning a few weeks ago and noted as I walked in, that I was not to be alone for my workout. Chick was on the treadmill and the lovely little hispanic woman who works in our complex was lifting some weights. I do not know her name, but we will call her Maria.

I got on the other treadmill and hoped to get my time in and go – I had to drive up to NY that day. Chick got off the treadmill and began coaching Maria on her reps.

“Keep going! Unos..dos..tres…..diez y siete, diez y ocho, diez y nueve, viente!” Now, I am pretty sure that after working in this country for several years (I can corroborate four), Maria would have had an opportunity to grasp our numeral system.

But Chick wasn’t conversing in her native tongue. He was speaking some odd mixture of Spanglish to his hapless little captive. I was not convinced she had requested his personal trainer services.

“Michael doesn’t come over anymore,” lamented Chick. This must be a reference to the young man I had seen walking with Chick a few times over the summer. A nice looking hispanic young man with a happy smile. Maybe Michael was giving him Spanish lessons.

“He doesn’t come over any more. No MAS! No MAS!”

I was not sure how she knew Michael, but she explained that he came home nights and it was difficult for him to get out.

He raised the poundage on the weights. Maria made an attempt to lift them.

“I can’t do it.”

“You can! Try!”

To her credit, she tried. The bar wasn’t even moving. “No. I can’t.”

“You can! You aren’t trying! TRY!” This continued for three failed attempts. I made a concerted effort to pay no attention. He then moved her to another machine. I don’t know what its called, but where the bars are over your head? A few reps and she was moving her neck and shoulders around as though sore.

“You got a boyfriend?”

I hope that my neck didn’t snap up at that, though I’m afraid it did. I hoped I heard wrong. But no. “You got a boyfriend? Have him do this.” and Chick started to massage Maria’s neck.


Again, I hope that the horror didn’t show on my face, though I’m sure it did. Maria’s eyes met mine in the mirror. She smiled a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. I smiled back as best I could.

I put my head down.

Not long after, my time on the treadmill was up, I had done the requisite number of minutes and I had to get on the road. I started out the door when I was stopped by an enthusiastic Chick.

“I have a guaranteed method for you to lose six pounds.”

Well now, that’s a way to start a conversation. I guess its better than telling me Eddie Haskell of Leave it to Beaver was in porn movies.


I was then given strict instructions on where to walk the bike trail nearby. You can appreciate that as long as I live, I will now never walk the bike trail, since I am convinced he will be laying in wait.

“Yeah. I guarantee you walk that, and you will lose six pounds. Guaranteed!” He was really quite enthusiastic and I thought it touching that he seemed to want to impart his wisdom.

“Really? So if I walk it today, I’ll lose six pounds? And if I walk it tomorrow? I’ll lose another six pounds?”

“Yes!” A pause. “Well, I walked it and lost six pounds. But then I got really thirsty and I drank it all back again.”

“Ah! Well, that can happen! But thanks! I’ll check that out some time!” justdon’ttouchmejustdon’ttouchmejustdon’ttouchme.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Bit of A Catchup

It’s been a while since I’ve felt like writing.  August – September were stressful months and shame on my muse for abandoning me the way she has.  Started before then, I know – I only wrote twice in August and only once in July. 

So Buddy, the Dog Immortal, passed on; though Meghann and I refuse to believe he has really passed.  We are convinced that once we left the vet’s office, Buddy confronted the Animal Hospital staff, exited the premises and had a little vacation in the wild.  This is evidenced by the road kill on upstate New York highways and byways that we spied on our last trip up.  We are now certain that he has moved on to the next family that needs him since his work with us is finished. 

My friend Bess also moved on to better things; as I mentioned before, she’s hanging out with her adored Reuben in heaven.  I miss my little pen pal.  Her daughters have taken up her standard and are writing to me on occasion, something that makes me smile to no end.  Bess would be tickled with that.

I don’t have arthritis as it happens.  You may remember I had been self-medicating with Glucosamine Chondroitin with mild success.  I had a check up with my doctor two weeks ago, and he explained that it was more likely to be tendonitis, or tennis elbow.  Suggested aspirin for ten days and to use the arm more gently. 

It’s working.  Who knew?

I made two trips to New York in September, will be driving up this month for my niece’s confirmation and then driving down to South Carolina to see my Navy Son in the middle of October.  My poor Honda.  The exciting news there is I will be bringing back Gunner, my son’s beagle to stay with us while Navy Man goes on a sub.  I’m looking forward to that. 

Meg is adjusting to college, has applied for a second job, is researching Improv Schools in New York, DC, California and Chicago and is going out with her friends often.  We are riveted watching past seasons of “America’s Next Top Model”.

I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.  Fascinating information on foot binding in Chinese culture with an overall message, I thought, on what we as women do to ourselves physically and emotionally to be loved and accepted. 

I also read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.  Really enjoyed that as well – took me a day to read.  Funny!  The ending disappointed a little, but it was real and it was entertaining.  I read two more of the JD Robb …in Death series and I started on the Harry Potter series of books and am on #4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  They certainly are page turners, though they have not inspired in me the same affection for the characters or the story that The Lord of the Rings series had.  The last movie I saw was the sixth Harry Potter movie.  I think it will all make a little more sense once I have read all the books. 

As a comparison, the Harry Potter books, similarly marketed toward a young audience, are much more interesting, far and away more well written than any of the Twilight series of books.  Blech and shudder.

I am still without an active source of Korean drama – the sound drivers on my computer don’t work anymore and Comcast continues to refuse my request to include Korean programming in their line up.  I can watch all the Al Jazeera, Chinese, Indian, and Russian television I can stomach, but I can’t watch any Korean stuff.  I’ll get back to it soon.  Promise.  I’m planning on watching the first season of “Dexter”.  I may start that this week.  Anything with serial killers and I’m in.

So there you have it.  It’s like I never went away, isn’t it? 

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Immortal

budman We had to put Buddy down last month.  Like a phantom limb, it feels like he’s still here. 




August 18, 1991 – September 11, 2009

So long Budman. 

Even now, it’s difficult to write about it.

I’ve never had to put an animal down before so I had no idea how it worked.  Got some wonderful advice and support from my sister-in-law Char, then I called a few vet offices so I could get a sense – glad I did, since some places put animals down differently. 

We chose to take him in and the nurse anesthetized him.  He fell asleep while we pet him so he wasn’t too scared.  Meg and I were allowed to stay as long as we liked – which was about 10 minutes after he fell asleep.  We left and the doctor’s office took care of the rest.  We chose not to keep his ashes, though we could have.

The vet sent us an impression of his paw.  Meg and I cried.  The last little dirt that was on his little paw is in that impression.  We cried over that too. 

I’m still afraid to leave the door outside open, for fear that he will run out.  When I wake up in the morning, I can still feel him by my bedside.  I still look for him to be under my feet in the kitchen. 

So much for not being a dog person.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Funny how you meet people, isn’t it sometimes?  Sometimes you just grow up with your friends.  You know who they are and where they came from.  You know their quirks, and the quirks of their family, and it’s ok, because you still love them. 

Sometimes if you are lucky, your friends are in your own family.  You grow up with them too.  Sometimes you hate them, you torment them and vice versa, but in the end, you always love them.

Sometimes you meet them at work.  Those are a little harder to capture, I think.  We move from employment to employment and the daily things you have in common fade, so it’s harder to keep up.  But there are those who become special to you and you stay in touch.  As the years pass, they become dear and you love them too.

I met a friend a few years ago.  And funny as it sounds, it was through my obsession with Korean drama that I met many enduring friends; one of whom in particular was a wonderful woman named Bess.  We both liked Song Il Guk and were entranced with him from his series Jumong.  We struck up something of a friendship.  She admitted that the tune “With a Song In My Heart” made her think of SIG. 

As time went on, Bess and I started to write rather frequently; often once a week.  I’d talk about my children, she’d talk about hers.  It took Bess nearly a year to admit to me that she was in her 80s.  As if that would bother me.

Bess would tell me about her beloved Reub, the love of her life, who passed away not so long ago and how she missed him.  I found out she had twins, and grandchildren, and that she lived on the West Coast. 

And she didn’t just prattle on about herself.  She’d read what I’d write back to her.  She’d ask questions and she’d remember.  She’d laugh at my jokes, she shared in my triumphs, she read all my blogs.  She worried about my friend Lacie, she crossed fingers for Meg when she was nominated for her Cappie, and she called me to see if Meg won.  She told me all about Newport, Rhode Island when Adam was there for Officer Candidate School and she loved to hear about Josh and  his wife Stephanie.  She delighted in the pictures I would send.

We decided she was my adopted Jewish mother and we both had a bent for Korean Drama.  We adored Jang Hyuk and we couldn’t stand little Cardboard Face from “Kingdom of the Winds”.  She loved “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” and she loved her best friend Bev.  She ached still for her children and their struggles, asking me for prayers and I did the same with her. 

Bess passed away unexpectedly this week.  I had thought about her a few times – I hadn’t heard from her since July 24th and wondered how she was doing.  Her daughter was thoughtful enough to let me know. 

I’m terribly sad that my friend is gone.  But I’m overjoyed as I’m sure she is that she is now reunited with her dear Reuben.  And I’m happy to have made friends with and known this dear woman, out of the strangest of circumstances.  But sometimes, that’s how you meet friends.  And sometimes you keep them, even when it’s just in your heart. 

With A Song In My Heart - Jane Froman

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Accomplished Something

I finally accomplished something today. 

Can you recite all the Presidents of the  United States?  I can.  Now.  From Washington to Obama.  I’m pretty impressed with myself.

Not such a grand accomplishment.  I imagine 5th Graders the length and breadth of the land can recite the same list.  Maybe with first names and dates of term. 

Why?  Because I was ashamed I couldn’t name all the Presidents of the United States – there haven’t been that many, and I WAS born and raised here, so you’d think I’d have them all committed to memory. 

But no.

I think part of it started when I was trying to grasp ancient Asian civilizations and their rulers.  Way too much.  Thousands of years of history, conquests, coups, incest, and murder and all I have is 200+ years, and 40 something leaders to remember. 

ibeforeebook Oh, and I have a bathroom book that lists them and easy ways to help remember them.  “i before e (except after c)” by Judy Parkinson.  I came up with my own way to remember them.  The problem now, is that I’ve been working this for so long, that now whenever I go into the bathroom to take care of business, I start to recite the list of presidents to make sure I have them down cold.  Even at work. 

I imagine there is a diagnosis in there somewhere.

I’ve said before I’m pretty simple.  Still holds.

Next…memorize the Greek Alphabet.


Monday, July 13, 2009

I Am At A Loss

Something strange happened to me yesterday and I haven’t been able to wrap my arms around it.

Last year, my little Brain Tail friend and I met in Pennsylvania to watch the new X-Files movie together. We don’t get to see each other very often, since eight hours separates us, and Brain Tail suggested we meet in the middle this past Sunday to catch up. We found a picnic table, and set to have a very enjoyable 2.5 hours chatting. It was a gorgeous day in PA ~ the sun was bright but not overwarm, the birds were trilling, the scenery spectacular, and the company was as enjoyable as ever without a hitch in the conversation. We had a lovely time. We’ve decided to try to make this an annual event.

At 2:30 pm, we cleaned up our picnic and parted ways; Lacie to attempt to mow her lawn, and I to have dinner with family. I plunged back into the gaping maw of perpetual construction that IS I-81.

A moment: one of these days, I need to write solely on I-81 and the construction it has undergone in the state of Pennsylvania for the last 235 years. Seriously, I remember my Aunt bemoaning Pennsylvania road construction 40 years ago. I’ve been driving I-81 to visit family for 25 years, and there has always been construction in this state. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. I’m convinced that Organized Crime must be lining their pockets SOMEHOW and I’m bitter. One lane back ups for no apparent reason other than to give the United Orange Cone Makers of America extra coin to put bling on the necks of their trophy wives.

Thank you for the indulgence. I continue.

A mere half hour into my trip home, I noted a green van on the side of the road under a shade of trees. As I sped by at 65 mph, I saw the hood was open and a white man, slightly balding, wearing a blue short sleeved shirt and brown pants, standing in front of the vehicle with his hands gripping the open hood. His body language conveyed gloom, like “How am I going to get home now?”

My heart went out to him; I’ve had my share of breakdowns on the road. Not being a manly man with a tool kit in my trunk, but a single woman with few automotive resources, I did not stop. I wondered if he had a cell phone, and then spent some time pondering on the plight of today’s drivers versus vehicular predicaments in days past. What did we do before cell phones? I continued on that line of thinking for a bit before I RAN INTO STUPID ONE LANE TRAFFIC FOR AN HOUR.

As I said, I’m still bitter.

After breaking free from the bondage of that particular corridor of construction, I drove on listening to Christmas in July on Radio Classics. Jack Benny’s “A Christmas Tree Cactus” was great fun. Traffic had picked up to a normal pace. The trip was going well and I had no need to stop to use any of the rest area facilities or to get gasoline.

Two and a half hours into my trip home, I noted another green van on the side of the road under another shade of trees. As I sped by, I saw the hood was open and standing in front of the car was THE SAME WHITE MAN, SLIGHTLY BALDING, WEARING A BLUE SHORT SLEEVED SHIRT AND BROWN PANTS, WITH HIS HANDS GRIPPING THE OPEN HOOD. HIS BODY AGAIN CONVEYED GLOOM, LIKE “HOW AM I GOING TO GET HOME NOW?”.

Now, please understand. I am not given to visual hysterics of this nature. I’ve never seen a Cheetoh shaped like the Blessed Virgin, I’ve never seen a ghost and I have never met a psychic I considered really worth her $75 an hour fee. I love to hear the stories and I’m completely open to paranormal oddities, but I do not receive them. My kids do, a couple of my sisters do, some cousins, and even tiny little Brain Tail gets them. Not me. Though I get the occasional tingle when I need to pray for someone, I am mostly bereft of psychic ability. I’ve accepted this with equanimity.

For a second I was messed up. Had I somehow gotten turned around and was back in the same location? That couldn’t be right. I bounced back into character and said a “Hail Mary”, quickly and with fervor. I called Lacie. Surely, the brain tail would tingle if there was a psychic disturbance. There was apparently no hint of anything pawing at the cosmic continuum. I called Guest Blogger Who Hasn’t Blogged since 2007. Other than asking me if I was compelled to help him (which I was not), and considering a variety of urban legends, nothing solid was postulated.

I said a few more prayers but continued to feel a sort of unreality settle on me. An hour and a half later I picked up my daughter, went to Guest Blogger’s house, enjoyed a wonderful meal and put forth the mystery to my friends gathered around the table. All agreed the incident was creepy, and their responses were indicative of their personal character:

Guest Blogger – (curious, open to phenomena but not a medium to same, highly analytical with a psychological bent) - “I have no idea, but I immediately googled blue shirted, brown panted men on I-81. I found nothing. It’s strange.”

Starbuck - (a child of the universe, willing to believe the fantastic) - “You need to be more open to possibilities.”

Pamplona - (a devout Catholic Naval Officer) - “Did you pray? I’d have prayed.”

My Daughter - (scarred by years of my rigorous attempts to keep her from being victimized by teaching self sufficient situational awareness) - “Obviously, he wasn’t able to net any victims at his first location so he got back in his vehicle, sped ahead of you, pulled over to the side again hoping to lure someone into his green van of death and dismemberment.”

Guest Blogger’s Husband - (a solid thinking, no nonsense guy) - “Everyone in Pennsylvania looks the same.”

Additional theories:

It was the ghost of a soul trapped in purgatory who needed my prayers.

I was abducted by aliens, probed and didn’t notice I had a period of lost time.

It was a man driven insane by the never ending construction of Pennsylvania roadways who ended his misery by self-decapitating via his van hood. I was witnessing the paranormal re-enactment of the bloody event.

Now, in all seriousness, the only plausible explanation is that Creepy McBlueshirt got his van running after I first spied him, sped ahead of me and his engine broke down again. I simply happened upon him a second time as he peered curiously under his hood. It was all coincidence.

I’m not buying it. I don’t get it, I may never get it. I’ve looked on line for creepy stories, but none of these descriptions sound like my story.

You know what I’d love - I’d love to hear from someone who has seen “The Man in the Breakdown Lane”. And if you told me that I-81 is actually hell and Satan is the Head of the Pennsylvania DOT – I’d believe you.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

More People to Hate

The glucosamine chondroitin is still working. In case you were wondering.

So, after the Cappie Awards (no more bitterness on that event shall be posted…whore), #2 son – the one who totaled his car – stopped by my house on his way back to his naval base. He purchased a BMW – yeah, I don’t know what number 355i4507q690f – I don’t know. It was silver and it was nice and it drove like a dream.

I am now praying he doesn’t smash this one up.

Went to dinner at Guest-Blogger-Who-Hasn’t-Blogged-Since-2007’s house and had a marvelous time. We were regaled with tales of South Carolina red-necks smashing Infinity #1, as well as the horrific tale of a representative slice of South Carolina law enforcement.

You see, my son witnessed an altercation between one of his friends and some other young men. My son was the shortest in his crowd (and he is well over 6 feet tall). During the shouting match, someone (whom I will call Ass Hat) bloodied my son’s eye and then punched him in the mouth. My son did not retaliate. The gendarmes were called and these pathetic excuses for police arrested my son (who LET ME REPEAT didn’t hit anyone – he was the only one bleeding), did NOT record his statement, did NOT tell him what he was being arrested for (“We can’t tell you that. Now just sit down and shut up.”), did NOT read him his rights, DID incarcerate him, DID take his bail money, and did NOT release him from jail for four hours after he posted his bond.

Don’t go to South Carolina and expect the police to know the definition of the phrase “due process”.

At the hearing two days later, my son and his friends appeared in dress whites, and the same slimy police officer that did NOT take my son’s statement approached and asked him to to drop the charges against Ass Hat. I guess Ass Hat was scared. See, Ass Hat was going to the Citadel and later realized he had punched an officer.

My son demanded that the charges against him be dismissed and he wanted to talk to the young man. Everything was straightened out in front of the judge, and charges were eventually dismissed in the civil court. However, I’m told that the military will continue to pursue action against the young Ass Hat. Good.

I just wish someone could do something about that backwards police department.

*Sigh. More people to hate.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Buck Toothed Hag

Ashamed of myself really for not having posted anything in forever. It’s another one of those times I figured I’d just jump on and see what plopped out.

Cappie Awards Meggie did NOT win the Cappie for Best Featured Actress in a Play. If you will allow me a mom moment, some scag in a red dress with big teeth won. And I hate her.

Not hate. Not anymore. Not really. Disappointment there has almost faded. Mostly. Funny how as a parent you will hold a grudge against anyone who has hurt your child no matter how minutely. There are young men and women who have broken the hearts of my children. The offense is long forgotten in the minds of those same children. I still hate them. Hate them with the heat of a thousand burning suns.

Maybe not every parent holds that kind of bitterness. Maybe it’s just me. In 20 years Meg will mention the Cappie Awards and what a marvelous night it was, the fete at the Kennedy Center, a spectacular gala, a fabulous experience. And I’ll just mention the red-bedecked buck toothed whore who snatched the prize from Meg’s deserving fingers.

I’ll be 65 and I’ll still say whore.

My sweet daughter will roll her eyes and tell me to stop saying whore around the grandchildren. Then I will secretly teach them the phrase buck-toothed scag. It will amuse me.

The main cast of "You Can't Take it With You" The cast on stage at the Kennedy Center. Meggie is the one standing on the chair.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What a Weekend!

Oh my oh my oh my oh my.  A weekend of emotional highs and lows.

Dunkin’ Donuts opened up an outlet 2.8 miles from my house!  What joy!  Heretofore forced to travel 17 miles round trip to secure my sweet sweet DD fix, I very often choked down Starbucks coffee. 

I am NOT a fan.

But I AM a fan of Dunkin Donuts and am thrilled someone FINALLY opened one up nearby!  HIGH!

I started my weekend at 3am Saturday morning.  I was scheduled to spend an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  Last month, not enough people signed up and Father was called and sat with the Blessed Sacrament between 1am and 4am.  So this month, as we got closer to First Friday and All Night Adoration, the President of my Legion of Mary presidium asked us all to sign up for an hour.  I picked 3am.  I always enjoy it when I go, I get so much out of it.  So much peace.  Hard to explain to anyone who isn’t Catholic; sometimes just as difficult to explain to Catholics.

So I’ll just say go.  Catholic or not.  Go.  Sit.  You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to.  Just sit. 

Anyway, though I woke up and got there late, I arrived and I spent an hour.  I said some Divine Mercy prayers; appropriate to the 3:00 o’clock hour and came away feeling really peaceful and good.  I enjoy it so much I always come away saying I’m going to go next time - then I rarely do.  But when I got home, it was so quiet, no cars yet on the road in the Land of Traffic, and all I could hear were the early birds starting to sing. 

I went back to bed.  HIGH!

At 7:30 am, I called my son; on his way to upstate New York his vacation.  He was driving up from South Carolina and I figured he’d be close to his destination. 

“Hey, buddy, how’s it going?”

“I totaled my car.”



“6:30am”  It’s the kind of low a parent doesn’t ever want to have; it’s always in the back of our mind, we always pray we don’t get that phone call or that knock on the door.  Low

Apparently, a deer ran out in front of him, and he swerved to avoid hitting it.  When he turned to come back, he overcorrected and went off the road into something of a ravine, but at that point he was airborne, hit a tree about 5 feet off the ground and totaled his car. 

That detached account does not relay the panic and anxiety that I felt while he was telling me this, and I kept hoping he was just going to tell me he was joking and that he was nearly there.  He was not joking.  But he was on the phone.  He was alive.  Complaints about totaling his car were like music to me; the alternative was unthinkable.  High and low all jumbled up.

He had already dealt with the police, filed the report, called his insurance company – they were immediately supportive.  Miraculously, he sustained no injuries at all and his brother was already on the way to pick him up.  I learned later that the tow truck driver told my son he should think about going to church on Sunday.  He was lucky he walked away. 

Highs and lows.  Highs and lows.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bearing Down

I had a dream last Saturday night that begged for interpretation.

tornado I was driving in upstate New York, likely the NYS Thruway between Utica and Herkimer.  There was an unidentified little girl in the front passenger seat and my seventeen year old daughter was in the back seat, with her head up near the front so she could talk to me.  I was traveling east on the Thruway and it was dusk.  The sky had a sort of clear purple color that was darkening.  I looked into the rearview mirror and saw a tremendous black tornado bearing down on the car (looked exactly like the above picture – it’s like someone was in my brain and snapped a photo.).

For one second, I pressed on the gas and thought I could outrun it.  My daughter saw it behind us and shouted at me to go faster.  Wasn’t going to work though.  I looked on both sides of the car for a place to hide.  There was a small shallow ditch on the driver side and a deeper wider expanse on the passenger side.  It was doubtful that we would be able to get out of the car and get to a place low enough before the tornado consumed us.

At this point, I was conscious enough to begin to manipulate the dream, getting us into the big ditch to safety.  I do not consider this part of the actual dream since I woke myself up. 

I dream a lot, but it’s only the dreams that stick that are the ones that cry out to our conscious to be clarified.  This one demanded to be understood.

Was I running from something?  Was something bearing down on me?  Was it prophetic – were there storms on the way of which I was blissfully unaware? 

I rarely have luck interpreting my own dreams – my daughter is good at it, Starbuck is good at it, but it is Guest Blogger-who-hasn’t-blogged-for-me-in-years who has a remarkable sense of what my dreams mean.  And she should – I do the same for her; we’ve been translating each other’s dreams for years.  We have a good sense of personal symbolism and the sort of things that tic our subconscious. 

So my daughter considered that I had been viewing my past – one full of turmoil and upheaval, the future was ahead and clear and I was driving right into it.  Not bad.  Starbuck wondered the what the tornado could symbolize.  Guest Blogger-who-hasn’t-blogged-for-me-in-years just smiled and said, “The tornado is time.”

You could have punched me in the gut.  That’s when I know an interpretation is on the mark.  It feels right.  The ah-ha moment.

Step aside for a moment to consider – oldest son is married and doing well in his work, pursuing a degree in human services.  Middle boy has just graduated the most difficult educational program the Navy has to offer – Nuclear Engineering – and will be headed out into the murky depths within a year.  But now - the baby that I nursed those years ago is graduating high school in less than a month, and soon to embark on higher education, a major life change on her horizon.

The tornado is Time.  It’s bearing down on me.  The little girl in the front seat is my daughter as a toddler and she’s also in the back seat, a woman.  Me?  Arthritis.  Progressive Lenses.  Middle age.  Wrinkles.  Surprised at the changes when they crop up.  Identifying them.  Combating them.  Coming to terms with them.  Then enjoying it when I see others as they find themselves on the same track.

The tornado is Time.  I can’t outrun it, and though I didn’t realize it, I still try.  I realized though, that as my daughter is headed toward a new and entirely unchartered course in her life, so am I. 

Time.  I was a daughter for 19.5 years.  A wife for 15 years.  Caretaker of the same dog for 16 years.  But I’ve been a mother of dependent children for coming up on 25 years. 

Time.  This is going to be new and unchartered for me too.  It’s pretty exciting.  No bailing out of the car on this one.  It’s time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Gotta Tell Ya

I received several suggestions from dear friends and readers on how to self-treat my self-diagnosed arthritis.  I even had a gifted Doctor of Linguistics urge me to eschew the castor oil and go to an MD.  

Having outright self-rejected the lukewarm water enemas,gluc_chon I decided last week to break down and buy Glucosamine Chondroitin.  CVS had a buy one get one sale on some brand that had 50 extra pills in it, so I figured, deal deal!  $21 for one bottle though, so you know the markup has to be stupid.  Bitter when I read that it would take 4-6 weeks to kick in.  Tomorrow will mark one week of near-religious dosage.

I gotta tell you, I’m feeling some alleviation of my symptoms!  I didn’t expect to, so I don’t think it’s a placebo effect.  Make no mistake; there’s still some pain but it isn’t as sharp as it was last week.  I’m not perpetually rubbing my thumb and elbow and I’m not downing Excedrin at all.  I am now enthusiastic about my self-prognosis. 

It was a busy weekend otherwise; my daughter’s prom went nearly without a hitch - - $75 up-do fail caused some drama for a half hour, but that was quickly fixed.  Otherwise, last minute boutonnieres, makeup and toe nail polish were executed with perfection and a good time was had by all. 

Monday started splendidly, the weather was fine and my colleague and I were feeling adventurous.  We investigated a highly touted food court and I was pleased with the salad bar.  For about an hour.   Until it started shooting right through me.  When it threatened to shoot out multiple orifices, I decided it was time to go home.  Chicken broth is a lot better for dinner than I thought.  I was better by evening.

dystenteryToday, Wednesday, I was feeling bright and perky.  One of my bosses suggested we take advantage of another local establishment’s Wednesday special of Singapore Noodles.  A favorite of mine since my days in Alexandria.  I took him up on it and enjoyed every bite.  For about an hour.  I’m back in the bathroom. 

I’ve ruled out cholera, typhoid fever, parasites and salmonella and have dramatically self-diagnosed amoebic dysentery.  Not really, but it’s certainly taking my mind off of the arthritis. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

Eager Arthritis Homeopathy

I have not been stricken with a headache since earlier in the week, but I am still suffering with the joint pain, which I have decided is arthritis.  I attribute this pleasure to both parents and their damnable arthritis-laden dna strands.  Yet another hurdle placed on the track of my life. 

I’m game enough to see if I can find an alternative remedy for my self-diagnosis.  What you should take away from this is:

  1. I’m young enough to I think I can tough out the pain
  2. I’m too cheap to buy Glucosamine Chondroitin
  3. I’m too cheap to pay the $20 copay to get a real diagnosis
  4. I’m still in denial of my aging process.

When I got home Wednesday evening, I was in enough discomfort to give the “warm olive oil rub” a try.  I had some in the cupboard, so it wasn’t like I had to go out and buy it (cheeeeeep cheeeeep cheeeeep).  At the same time, and just to play it safe, I took 200 mgs of ibuprofen as well.  The olive oil was nicely soothing, I wrapped my thumb in an old sock (NOT the alien master race vehicle that IS red flannel!) and I sensed an alleviation in my symptoms.  Well that was easy!  I felt the smugness of the effortlessly triumphant as I fell easily into sleep.

The next day, I remembered I had taken ibuprofen so I wasn’t sure if the that took away the pain or the olive oil did.  Craaaaaap.

Last night, in an effort to test the truth of the olive oil cure, I decided to go anti-inflammatory-free and just put the lovely warm oil on my thumb and elbow.  I wrapped my happy sock around the thumb, and waited for the magic to happen.  It didn’t.  Awwwwwww,craaaaap.

I want to avoid using aspirin and ibuprofen to excess, since I can envisage my stomach lining disintegrating, it’s molecules wafting up then bursting into nothingness.  I’d like to exhaust all my “already have the stuff at home” methods.  The olive oil tanked and I have vinegar, so I’ll try the “warm vinegar rub” tonight…see if that works. 

If that proves a disappointment, my next grocery list will include ginger (for ginger tea), some cayenne pepper, and castor oil (where do you buy castor oil?). 

You know I will keep you posted, and I welcome suggestions.  As long as it doesn’t blister me, corrode my skin, is made of blechy eggs or gets me arrested, I might give it a try.  However, there’s still no way I’m going to squirt lukewarm water up my backside. 

Craaaaaaaaap, indeed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oh for Bleep’s Sake

Yeah, so the headache stuck through yesterday.  Better today and contrails I’m glad of it.  I decided that it must be the result of some sort of monster pollen engineered by Mother Nature as a response to animal hormone injections, airplane contrails, biotech corn killing off the monarch butterfly population, terrorist activity or alien master race implantation.

Not really.  But I do think the pollen is nasty this year. 

However, my complaint du jour is not the government-assisted ragweed.  It is joint pain.  Pain in the thumb and elbow of my left arm.  And because I know how it works (the finger bone’s connected to the hand bone, the hand bone’s connected to the arm bone, the arm bone’s connected to the shoulder bone, them bones, oh them skeleton bones), I’m expecting the crippling effects of arthritis to debilitate my shoulder tomorrow.  I’m envisioning my left hand gnarling up and hardening any day now.

The good news is that my left hand is not dominant, so I will be able to sign my social security checks and swat at mouthy children.  I also look forward to getting a handicap designation for my car.  I’m all for looking at the silver lining.

nettles In the meantime, I’m investigating homeopathic remedies.  Some appear to be very soothing, others are a little, uhm…no.  The lukewarm enema for a few days to flush out my system?  A big fat NO.  The nettle soup doesn't sound too easy to make.  The water and potato juice drink…ew.  I could rub warm olive oil on the effected areas, or possibly warm vinegar.  I'll smell like a salad.  I'm unwilling to spend $20 for a few glucosamine chondroitin tablets.  For now anyway.  If it gets bad enough, I might.  So expensive though. 

I think I'll try the olive oil rub tonight.  See if it helps.  Oh, and I red flannel could wrap it in RED flannel.  I don't know why exactly it has to be RED flannel.  I get the flannel part – soft and warm – it’s nice.  I’m unschooled, though, in the medicinal properties of the red dye.  Maybe it makes it WARMER.  Maybe it seeps into your warmed pores, lays red eggs, feeds on the inflammation, then exudes alien master race spores into the atmosphere causing the monster pollen that will give me another two-day headache. 

I’m just not sure. But I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have any red flannel handy.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I’m sleepy today; the result of nodding off on my couch in an awkward position with the television left on.  The by-product - a bad night, a tired day, a sore neck and a dull ache that won’t relinquish it’s hold on my poor poor head. 

A night of busy dreams about teeth.  Teeth of all things.  This could mean several things I suppose;

  1. metaphorically – perhaps I need to “sink my teeth” into a problem;
  2. emotionally – for all I know I may have anxiety about the way I am perceived by others;
  3. perceptually – conceivably there was an infomercial on at some point in the night about teeth whitening that my subconscious picked up;
  4. prophetically – an old acquaintance of mine is a dentist – it may be that I will receive and email or;
  5. physically - maybe I just need to make an dental appointment. 

Regardless, I’ve been lacking the enthusiasm that usually sparks the day and have felt apologetic.  A little revived this afternoon, I’m still fuzzy and off my game.  Not the end of the world.  She’s awfully tiny and speaks in a tentative whisper, but my inner optimist tells me that tomorrow I will better appreciate the warmth of the sun, the clearness of my head, and life in general.  It’s all good.

Yeah.  I’ll be better tomorrow.  Wait and see.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Flu

It might just be me. 

swine “They” don’t want to call it the Swine Flu anymore – I don’t know if that’s in deference to our Jewish and Muslim friends who find pork  offensive or if “they” wanted to be more clinically accurate in referring to this lovely strain as H1N1.

I can’t help myself.  I now read it as “heiney”. 

Yeah.  Probably just me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Under Pressure - 80s E

Love's such an old fashioned word -
Love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the light
Love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves

under pressure - queen

One of rock music’s most famous basslines. I’m only sorry that hoards of American youth only know it from Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”.

I had forgotten what a great song Under Pressure was – it’s more likely I didn’t appreciate what a great song it was at the time. The lyrics are packed with beauty and that angst we get as we mature over, well, pressure. How it affects us, our families, our peripheries. The end a realization of what’s really the most important, and our biggest challenge – to love.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What is UP with THAT??

OK, two weeks ago, I was treated to a Chick Encounter.  A week ago, we have a grisly and lurid murder // “almost” suicide event in the building directly across mine.  You’d think things would start to level off, get back to good, calm down, ease up.

My complex is normally very quiet and pleasant.  Everyone is respectful of everyone else – if you are walking your dog and see another person strolling ahead with their pet, you cross over to another side walk so there’s no fussy sniffing, no potential dog fights.  People nod, occasionally initiate a friendly greeting, “How ya doin’?  Nice weather.  Mornin’!”, some form of casual acknowledgement that you are part of the family of man.

Sunday morning, 11:30 am.  I am on the couch watching something with my daughter when we are treated to loud hip hop music.  Loud enough to rattle the windows; so I know it’s right outside my door.  I waited a few minutes, thinking possibly that some young buck was picking up his current amore for a frolicking day of love…and…loud music.

I waited more than an appropriate amount of time.  Five minutes passed.  I decided to stick my head out the door to see what I could see.

 meat-smoker-robert I saw a four door coupe parked, as I suspected, right outside my door.  All four doors were fully extended, the trunk flung agape, almost as if surprised at it’s exhibition of wanton abandon - - in an effort to fully maximize each decibel of sound.  On the grass next to my porch was a young man, lounging prone on a lawn chair, with a smoker puffing away, working presumably to provide he and his friends with smoked meats.  A little table was set up with what appeared to be ketchup and a few implements.  He nodded his head politely at me, I nodded back.  I quietly closed the door.

I don’t confront much directly – in fact, in my apartment complex, I like to keep way under the radar.  Occasionally I must hurl back after being verbally accosted (Chick), but mostly I keep to myself. I don’t complain to anyone and I try not to do anything that would make others complain about me. 

The goal is to not be discovered three weeks later bloated, wrapped in plastic under my bed.

Smokey turned down the music to a polite level after we acknowledged each other, but continued to provide delicious smoked nourishment to friends and family for most of the afternoon.  I am left with a burn mark in the yard and a few charcoal briquettes as a powdery black memory.

Who does that?  Three years I’ve been there quietly adhering to HOA rules and regs, and suddenly, I have someone screaming “I don’t want your dog sh*tting on my lawn”, then there is a dead lady across the parking lot, and the cherry on the April parfait is Smokey on my terrace. 

I’m hoping things quiet down now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Zombie Box

My son and nephew drove down last Wednesday to see his sister perform in the high school production of “The Wiz”.  Meg played Addaperle ~ the Feel Good Girl! ~ and she was fantastic.  I will hopefully get to post some video later this month.imac_ice

They also came down to see what they could do about my home computer.  It had crashed.  Messed up.  The plan - reformat.  I had already come  to terms with the fact that I was losing three years worth of downloads and files and pictures.  The heart breaks, but we move on, lessons learned, a system for backing up planned.

dawn-zombiesAfter some speculation about the sheriffs and CSI vans across the parking lot, I took them out to get some barbeque.  The boys challenged me on my belief in the resurrection by asking me what the definition of a Zombie was.  After explaining that zombies didn’t exist, but for the sake of argument, I declared that they were the un-dead.  this played right into their rebellious little hands as they claimed that Jesus had to be a Zombie – having been raised after His death.  We agreed to differ, after I declared them godless heathens for whom I would pray. 

They laughed.

The next day broke bright and early as the boys attempted to reboot my computer.  It didn’t work – in fact, we couldn’t even get the machine to turn on.  The boys took the entire machine apart, dusted, vacuumed, blew on a lot of parts and I was convinced it was hopeless.  I was going to have to buy another computer.  We discussed options – my nephew had a computer sitting unused a mere three hours away.  If we hopped in the car immediately, we could get there and be back just in time for my daughter’s play. 

This plan met with little enthusiasm all around.

We considered taking it to the Geek Squad at Best Buy to see if they could run a diagnostic on it.  In the mean time, the boys continued to poke and prod – discussing power sources, mother boards, and processors.  I told them they might as well have been speaking Korean and I went for a walk wondering how I was going to buy a new computer. 

When I came back, the pc was on and the new install was underway.  Apparently, my genius nephew unplugged the fan, plugged it back in and voila – it sparked back to life.  You would have thought they invented fire, such was my amazement.  Geniuses both.  After all was installed, the time came to name my brand new computer – after some musing on their parts and after tapping in to their favorite creative muse, they came up with a name:  “Zombie Box”.  Risen as Our Lord was Risen, except they were the all powerful gods who brought it back to life.

The pen drive that stored some other critical applications off which the Zombie Box would feed?  It was called “Brains”.

Creative.  VERY creative.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Oh My

I, like many of my contemporaries, have a fascination with forensics.  The media does not disappoint - - television offers us plenty of opportunity to sate our macabre interest with shows like Law and Order, Forensic Files, CSI, Cold Case Files, Americas Most Wanted, etc.  When we can watch it from the security of our locked homes, in the cool analytical light of the television, we call it entertainment. 

The closest I had personally gotten to grisly and shocking was in upstate New York when I lived in the same village as a fella who dismembered the remains of his mother (who died of natural causes) and placed them in the freezer so he could continue to collect her pension checks.  Dreadful all on its own.  There was little extra side kick in the neighbor, fully aware of all the goings-on, who was extorting money from the son to keep quiet.  Word was he helped put her in the freezer. 

Caused quite the stir in our quiet little village.  The police tape remained undisturbed for years.

Fast forward my life nine years.  Loudoun County, where the grass is green, the spring comes early and the rich roam free.  My continuing- to-expand suburb is lovely and affluent (except me…I’m sure my salary brings the gross national product for the county way down).  My little development is quiet and well manicured.  You just don’t expect stuff to happen.

cavalieramug_tease_t599 10:00 am Wednesday, April 15, building across from mine.  Resident male contacts 911, indicating that he attempted to harm himself.  Upon responding and being taken to the hospital, the man indicates to the police officers that there was something else in the apartment, “…but you probably already knew that.”  “Yeah, we do.”

Apparently, Resident Male had strangled his girlfriend several weeks ago, wrapped her in plastic, kept her under the bed, and used her email account so that friends and family thought she was still alive. 

My cousin Starbuck had texted me that there was an incident in my complex, and of course my thoughts flew to Chick and the suspected bunker of doom.  Fortunately no.  But by the time I got home at 5:30 pm, there were 15 sheriff cars, 2 CSI vans and one videographer capturing the scene.  A uniform stood outside the entrance to ensure the crime scene remain unpolluted. 

Upon reflection, I realized who the perp was – I’d pass by his apartment when I walked Buddy.  He’d be outside early in the morning smoking a cigarette, we’d say hello, remark on the weather.  He had a big white dog who would watch us walk past from the living room picture window.  My daughter had heard the couple argue in the past.  Couple of broken windows in their apartment that never got fixed over the few months they lived there. 

Creepy.  Glad it wasn’t Chick. 

Read a little more here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Twilight; or How Dead Do I Need To Be To Like This Movie?

“Death is easy…peaceful.  Living is hard.” – Bella Swan

Nice.  Not exactly the lesson I’d choose to teach young girls who are impressionable, dramatic, and tend toward the suicidally romantic.

Seven months ago, I reviewed several of the “Twilight” novels by Stephanie Meyer.  Overall, I found the premise interesting but the delivery uninspiring.  Uninspiring.  HA!  They were sophomoric, insipid, poorly written dreck.  However, I’m the first to applaud Stephanie Meyer for making a gazillion dollars with this story.  God Bless her.

This weekend, I bought the dvd for my daughter.  She’d seen the movie several times during it’s release and was thrilled that she now owned it.  The minute we got home from the store, she popped it in the dvd player and popped her ass on the couch.  She was in for the night.

I tried.  I kept my mind open.  I had hoped the opposite might be true – maybe for once the movie would be better than the book!  I lived in hope.

Hope.  It springs eternal you know.  Unless you are one of the undead, the damned, one of the blood sucking creatures of the night.  Then there is no hope.  Only…perpetual high school. 

For those living in Forks, Washington, life is perpetually gray in the land of monsters and mud.  It is to this land of the mythic beasts our heroine arrives; Bella.  Emo Bella from Phoenix, Arizona - the land of sunshine and dry heat.  Bella of the Blue Foundation.  Bella of the Stuttering Awkward Dialogue. 

Bella the Monotone falls in love with Edward Cullen the White.  Edward of the Perpetual Seniors.  Edward the Deer Blood Sucking Vampire.  Edward is powerfully attracted to the wafting scent of Bella as she walks into chemistry class (HA!  Get it?  They have CHEMISTRY).  Edward and Emo.  Why, it’s practically a song. 

It was awful.  Good thing they had chemistry class together – since there was otherwise no chemistry to speak of with the lead characters.  Robert Pattinson as the tortured Edward Cullen might have been a more dynamic character had his Bella (played particularly badly by Kristen Stewart) not been awkward and stone-faced.  Every scene was painful to watch and easy to pick apart – it’s really a bad mark when I’m completely taken out of the movie and making jokes about the makeup.

harold lloydTHE MAKEUP.  Pwhphthawrpth.  Sorry.  I just threw up in my mouth.  It was like I was edward cullen watching Harold Lloyd in a 1920s silent movie.  Eyeliner, lipstick, and whiteface with an undercurrent of blue.  The girls’ makeup was no better.   Look, I get that these are the tragic undead.  I get that there is no blood flowing through their cold, black veins.  But if the hero of the piece – by all accounts as misunderstood as the classically romantic Fitzwilliam Darcy – grosses me out just by looking at his foundation?  Blech.

There was little redeeming about this film.  James, the scary evil human blood sucking vampire was a wonderful villain.  Jacob Black – very cute and engaging.  I know what happens to him a few books down and that could be cool.  Though they both have very small roles, they played them well.  Shame James didn’t kill Bella. 

Had there been more focus on Edward’s internal struggle to love a woman who was full of life…had we seen more conflict in Bella as she dealt with her attraction toward what amounts to a walking corpse – I might have bought it a little more and invested in the characters some.

As it is, I’m still choking down the bile.  I can’t recommend it.  Go rent Nosferatu, or “Salem’s Lot” or “Dracula; Dead and Loving It”.  Hell, wait for re-runs of “The Night Stalker”.  Anything is better than this.  “Death is easy…peaceful.  Living is hard.”  Yeah, who you tellin’?  Living through this movie…please pardon the expression - sucked.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Terrific Words

Soupcon.  I wrote soupcon today to someone and wondered where the hell that came from.  Other words that I’ve enjoyed recently:

  • panoply
  • huzzah
  • triumvirate
  • splendid
  • de minimis (LOVE the rhythm of that word!)
  • fubar (effed up beyond all recognition)
  • oeuvre

Yeah, yeah, I know that there is an acronym and a phrase in there, but blah.  Fun Words.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Punctuation Chick

I haven’t had a real Chick sighting since my appendix was removed. 

There have been, you know, moments when I walk by his condo and see the blinds move slightly, and a moment a few months ago when he was unlocking his door and I waved as he stared.  Oh, and when I came back from the hospital after having my appendix removed, I noted a stickey on my door that said I had flowers, but since I wasn’t home, that they were delivered to my neighbor.  I knocked on Chick’s door, but there was no response.  I went back home and just as I drove the deadbolt through, there was a knock at my door.  Strange, no one showed through the peep hole.  I opened the door, and there were my flowers, but no Chick.  He must have scurried away.

So there has really been no significant contact since the last Chick incident. 

Until yesterday.

6:20 am.  I was out walking Buddy the Immortal, as I always do.  You know I’m a bit paranoid (from reading too many Zodiac serial killer John Douglas Forensic Files books) and I occasionally change up my routine so it’s not so routine.  I like to thwart serial killers stalking my route, so they can’t kill and dismember me leaving only the DNA from my teeth to identify my charred remains. 

My imagination is colorful.  The color is blood red, but still, it’s colorful. 

So I varied my walking route this week.  I think it’s good for Buddy too – then he doesn’t get tired of all the same old smells.  And smell he does - Buddy likes to sniff!  It’s really all he has left after 17 good years - he can’t see so well, he can’t hear much, and he’s got stiff old bones.  He spends a lot of time sniffing around, seeing what’s what ~ it’s his final joy and I don’t like to rush him. 

Buddy decided to spend a little time sniffing Chick’s “lawn”.  The 10’x10’ slice of heaven that ever he’s tending.  As I waited for Buddy to reach his conclusions about the scented patch he was working on, I heard Chick’s door open.

“Mind getting your dog off my lawn?”

Understand, that there was a time in my life that any confrontation made me feel like a bad girl and I would noiselessly comply.  That time is over.

“Why?  He’s just sniffing.”



We stared each other down for a beat of three seconds.  I could hear the music of a thousand western high noon stand offs in my head.

I didn’t back down.  I was the bigger person.  I still think that creep has a bunker hewn out of concrete in his condo and I don’t want my daughter or I to become a tenant in it.  Discretion, better part of valor, all that. 

“But yeah,” I said, “I’ll get him off your lawn.”  Buddy and I moved away.

As I prayed some of my regular prayers later on, I realized I’m supposed to try to see Christ in Chick.  OhhhhKayyyyyy.  Some times it’s harder than others. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Just for Writing’s Sake

It’s been a while since I’ve just posted shite, isn’t it?  Just to write for writing’s sake.  Let’s say we give this a try.

Work since Christmas has been unbelievably busy.  Partially because the first quarter of each calendar year is the end of our fiscal year and partially because I’ve had more temporary support staff through here than can possibly be healthy.  I’ve had four temps in the last six months.  I think the mail room staff and human resources are starting to wonder if I beat them.  One was here a week, told me she didn’t like filing, left one day for lunch and had her agency call and tell me she wasn’t coming back.  She left two desk drawers full of work left undone and an expensive Starbucks’ ceramic travel mug. I did her work and I kept her mug.

Spoils of combat.  I figured it was an even trade.

Got one in now that’s good!  Here’s hoping she sticks!

Holy Week!  Indeed, it’s Holy Thursday.  I haven’t posted much about my lent.  For the first time ever, I gave up meat.  You know, it was tough the first week.  When Sunday came (one doesn’t fast on Sundays) all I could think of was meat.  Meat meat MEAT!  Went out and bought steaks that Sunday for my daughter and I.  The sacrifice got easier after that.  It’s amazing what you can find to eat that is meatless. 

Both Campbell’s Healthy Choice Tomato Soup and their Vegetarian Vegetable Soup are really good.  Canned salmon is kind of gross.  My macaroni and cheese isn’t as good as it used to be.  I can fill up on a lot of celery.  I still like peanut butter and tunafish.  Vietnamese delis make a tuna on a hoagie roll that’s pretty tasty.  I’m a little sick of McDonald’s fish filets.  I also learned I make a really good seafood salad. 

It wasn’t just the meat I gave up.  I also gave up reading anything that wasn’t spiritual (this really = no J.D. Robb “…In Death” books).  For years, I’ve been trying to finish Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s book “The Life of Christ”.  I start it each Lent and never get through the whole thing.  I did well this year - I have 100 pages to go and it looks like I’ll finish it right around Easter day, if not a little sooner.  A really wonderful work and highly recommended.  I found it easier to read a chapter at a time and let it soak in.  It’s filled with lyric descriptions and classic Sheen analogies that bring Our Lord to life. 

I’ll admit that I was less faithful to my commitment to stay off the computer after 8:00 pm.  I was on it less to be sure, and since the PC is heaving from a some sort of spyware rash, perhaps the Lord is punishing me because of my faithlessness.  I don’t really believe that, but I can’t get on it at all now.  It begs the question of the vengeful punitive God and how much involvement He had in my technological breakdown.

Overall, it’s been a good Lent; one of my most spiritually fruitful I think.  Will attend services on Good Friday, do some spring cleaning on Saturday, attend mass and enjoy the company of family and friends on Sunday. 

*Sigh.  Thanks for letting me write.  Felt good.  Missed you.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

High Noon; or How high do I have to be to like this?

Yeah, sorry about that.

After watching most of "Lifetime Presents the World Premiere of Nora Roberts' High Noon" (their emphasis, not mine), I wish I had a gun so I could take some hostages. Unfamiliar? Let me explain.

High Noon is the story of Phoebe MacNamara, played by Emilie deRavin, gun totin' single Mom of sweet little Carly, daughter of an agoraphobic Cybill Shepherd, primary hostage negotiator in Savannah...Georgia presumably. Phoebe's car needs to be fixed ($400) and her ceiling is leaking ($600) and needs new pipes throughout the house (don't even make me tell you what that will cost). She meets bar owner Duncan Hottie (forgot his last name) and they click. We find out in short order that Duncan won $100M in the lottery a few years back and runs a couple of bars...because he's a nice guy.

Played hotly by Ivan Sergei, we should all have a little Duncan in our lives. I will refrain from posting the incredibly lewd pun that my fingers are just itching to type. It's Sunday, afterall.

Anyway, this connection with Duncan is a little remarkable, since little Phoebles seems to have serious man issues. I imagine it all started when she was 12 and her Mom's boyfriend took her whole family hostage. Phoebes put sleeping pills in his food expertly diffusing the situation. (I guess if I was Mom, I'd be afraid to go outside after that too). Later in life Phoebe marries a creep who abandons her and their one year old baby, doesn't pay support and doesn't contact the kid. Niiiiice. Then, there's this disgruntled uniform who has issues reporting to a woman (likes 'em booby and stupid I guess; such depth of character) who beats the snot out of Lieutenant MacNamara and tosses her down a stairwell. He gets off with some probation. The coup de gras is the psychotic cop sniper albeit accomplished photographer, who holds a grudge against the lieutenant because a hostage taker killed the chick he was banging.

It's a real mystery why she doesn't get many dates.

Lifetime had been touting the "2009 Nora Roberts Collection" for a while and since I'm such a fan of J.D. Robb and the "In Death..." series, I thought I'd check out how one of her books translated to the screen. I think that the "In Death..." series would make good television. And I like Nora Roberts - I really do. I promise I was giving it some slack - there are limitations to the medium. Limitations to character development and plot depth and blabbity blahhhhhh.

I was disappointed in most of it and could see where it was going early on - how they were setting up Meeks (disgruntled booby loving cop) as the bad guy of the whole piece when in actuality it was someone else with an axe to grind. How Duncan Hottie was every woman's version of the perfect guy, "I re-hired Suicide Joe, the one you talked off the roof. He's in therapy, seemed like the right thing." or better: "Wait, the flowers aren't for you, they're for your sweet little daughter Carly!" Awwwwwwwww. Every woman needs a little Duncan. Did I say that already? Sigh* We all need a little obscenely wealthy nice guy who likes our kid and is nice to our crazy mom.

But I lost interest when she was talking down psycho sniper at the end; recreated here, tongue in cheek:

Psycho-Sniper Jerry: "The security officer has a new jacket on, Lieutenant. I don't think he likes it."
Phoebes: "Have you wired him with a timed incendiary device Jerry? Is it connected to the pocket of his with little silver buttons and wired up to a box you created in your own garage? Where you keep photos of me and my hot boyfriend, Jerry? "
Psycho-Jerry: "You're quick Lieutenant"

Lke I said, I wanted to see how Roberts' stuff translated to the screen. Sadly, not well. I immediately was forced to compare Phoebe to JD Robb's Eve Dallas. Both strong women, both lieutenants, but that was where the similarity ended. There wasn't the strength of character and toughness that Dallas has - Phoebe was certainly more needy. Which is ok. This isn't Eve Dallas and Duncan Hottie, though hot and wealthy, is no Roarke.

"High Noon", though I had some aspirations for it, was exactly what I imagined most Lifetime Movie Network movies are - cookie cutter. I was disappointed. The good news is, I won't be watching anymore of the "2009 Nora Roberts Collection" on Lifetime.

I talked myself off that wall.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Little Bit on Emperor of the Sea

I watched Emperor of the Sea two years ago now, but thanks to a recent re-run, there has been renewed interest in my very first Korean Drama – the one I had so desperately wanted to discuss with someone, but no one shared my fever.

I like my endings happy and it certainly would have been more satisfying if that little pig Yang Kim would have been gotten cut to pieces, and Jang Bogo had grown old with his wife and children, and if Jung Hwa had finally opened her heart to a redeemed Yeom Moon and given his life the meaning he lacked. As a team, Yeom Moon and Jang Bogo would have done great things for the world.

I found that of the little I know about the history of Jang BoGo was that he got a little too involved in politics and Yeom Moon did kill him. So it would seem that the writers were trying to keep that part of the story real. This isn't Hollywood and this tale has all the markings of a Greek tragedy. The bad guys won. Well, sometimes they do. But can we find any positive message in the way our beloved characters died in the end?

I want to tackle this from a little different perspective. BoGo was stubborn to a fault – he expressed that to Yeom at one point. Was he doing the right thing? He wasn't going to compromise himself. It could be said that that unrelenting "morality" was going to bring war upon countless thousands of people. There was going to be blood and a lot of innocent people were going to die. I suppose that in the end, he recognized the risk, his people agreed with him and they were all willing to die rather than live in a world where corrupt nobles bought and sold them like chattel.

Yeom Moon wanted to spare everyone all the bloodshed. I don't think that's a less noble position. He walked into the lions den in order to change BoGo's mind. Just bend this little bit – we can save people – you and your family can still live. You can do more good things if you only live. Brilliant as well, Yeom discerned BoGo's reaction and was prepared for that. He warned BoGo, "If you don't climb off this wall, I'm going to have to kill you." Not particularly admirable to you and me and it tore him up because I think he so loved and admired BoGo. He thought he was doing the right thing though, and he did it.

Yeom did have one guiding principle in his life. His love for Jung-Hwa. He was unable to be with other women because of her, he defied Master Lee because of her and risked his life saving her life countless times. His love of her was the principle that he couldn't compromise. And I think he DID redeem himself in the end – he saved Jung-Hwa, but he also saved BoGo's child.

So maybe more the message is, even if you lose, you win. BoGo and all the inhabitants of Cheon-Hae were slain – but for a brief shining period of time, they lived as they wanted to live. Free and equal. They died for that ideal. Yeom Moon died for his ideal too. He died saving Jung-Hwa and was finally released from his life of pain. Beautiful, conflicted and tragic - he achieved his long sought peace in death. In the end, the good guy didn't win. He doesn't always win in real life either. But I'd like to think that the takeaway is - be the good guy, even if you have to die doing it. There's honor in that.

It's a testament to the writers and the actors of the series that we cared so much about these characters. We loved them and wanted them to win. We grieved when they were gone. The chemistry between Choi Soo-Jong and Song Il Guk was incredible. Song Il Guk is a superb actor – you could feel all the conflict without him saying a word. You pulled for Yeom Moon, you hated Jung Hwa for not loving him, and you wanted so much for Yeom and BoGo to be friends. I don't know how many actors could have pulled that off. Song Il Guk is the one that kept me coming back night after night. Very powerful.

I really hated the ending too – I wanted my Hollywood ending. But the story of these historical characters didn’t have a happy ending either. Since I didn't get my happily ever after, in order for me to make sense of the series I needed to at least come up with some reasons why it was redeeming in the end. I spent countless hours watching it – I had to justify it somehow.

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