Friday, October 31, 2008

Today's Boo-tastic

"Eat, drink and be scary." ~ Author Unknown

Happy Pumpkin Day, everyone! It's been a long week, and I'm soo glad to finally be getting rid of all this Halloween candy. My belly seriously cannot hold anymore sugar. We carved pumpkins the other night, and they're sitting on our porch waiting to get smashed by hoodlums.

To celebrate Halloween -- and because I'm lazy -- I thought I would do a quick list of things that spook me or give me the creepy jeepies. First, though, I'd like to thank you guys for re-assuring me that I wasn't being completely dumb in regards to my last post. I'm over it but will let it serve as a good reminder that I should probably never write anything that I wouldn't attach my name to at some point in the future. Besides, J has the attention span of a goldfish and has already forgotten about my blog.

Anyhoo, on to the list of things that spook me / give me the creeps:
  • Hairy spiders
  • Clowns
  • Eels and gar
  • Indian music played at high volume
  • Darkness
  • Kevin Bacon
  • Moths
  • Graveyards, any time of day
  • Aliens
  • Ghost Hunters
  • Roaches
  • Scorpions
I shared mine -- now what spooks you?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Safe Place ... Ruined?

I was working on a post when J came in the room and leaned over my shoulder to give me a smooch.

"What's that? You bored?" he asked, pointing to the big Escape from Dullsville header.

Damn. "It's my ... uh ... blog," I sheepishly admitted.

"You write a blog? Can I read it?" he pleaded.

"Ummmm, nope," I answered. After his incessant pleading, I read him a few of my posts. J gushed and thought the world of them before heading upstairs to watch Saturday Night Live.

Now I sit here, totally regretting sharing my blog with him. Not that I really care -- I actually enjoyed hearing him laugh at a few of my stories -- but I just don't want him finding it on the Web on his own or telling his friends or family about it. What's the point in writing somewhat anonymously if people know where to find you?

One of the reason's I moved to Blogger from MySpace (besides being over the age of 13) was so that I could write about anything and not have to worry about censoring my stories. This has become my "safe place". And you guys know, it's not like I ever write anything detrimental or completely inappropriate -- but I would like the option.

I had a post I realllly wanted to share tonight as it's not something I have the nerve to bring up in front of my close friends or J yet ... and now I'm a little gun shy.

Should I be worried? Should I even care? Am I being dumb about this??

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Home Alone

"Love is missing someone whenever you're apart, but somehow feeling warm inside because you're close in heart." ~ Kay Knudsen

This morning J left for a work trip to Arkansas and won't be back until Thursday. I'm always kind of bummed when he leaves ... and this is the first time he's left me in the new house alone. Not that I'm a big weenie (read: I am a HUGE weenie), but I'm starting to regret watching all of those Ghost Hunters episodes. Every time J's out of town, I end up sleeping on the couch with all of the lights on, the television blaring, my hockey stick within arm's length and my phone in my hand ... just incase.

I also have a problem properly feeding myself when J is gone. When I got home, I gorged on German chocolate cake and tortilla chips while watching Biggest Loser. Talk about a guilt trip. What's sad is that, as I was wiping cake crumbs off my face in the kitchen, I thought the stove was going to get me. I swear the digital panel was glaring "BOO" at me. After a minor stroke, I realized it was actually the clock showing 8:00. Get a grip, woman!

I decided my pjs would make me feel better. As I pulled on some cotton sweats and a Dallas Cowboys hoodie, I noticed something on my pillow. It was a sweet note from J and a little flashlight that he had left for me, just in case I got scared tonight. If only he knew how much that small gesture comforted me.

It's amazing how it's always the small things that truly make marriage work and nights apart less daunting.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hangovers and Smile Awards

"Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day." ~ Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Whew! It's Sunday afternoon and I can finally come up for air. J's having lunch* with friends, so I'm enjoying the peace and quiet around the house ... and some chocolate cake.

Good news is that I get to keep my job (high five!) so we celebrated with enormous amounts of alcohol during our "housewarming" party yesterday. Six cases of beer, three jugs of Jose Cuervo margaritas and three bottles of wine later, my friends and I were all singing around the fire pit on our back porch until two in the morning. I'm sure J and I will get glares from the neighbors for awhile, but screw it -- after my hellish week I needed some alcohol therapy.

It was such a blast having our friends over to our new house, but it's taken until now to recover enough to actually get out of bed without yakking. My liver, on the other hand, will be in recovery for awhile. But the laughter and smiles were well worth it!

Speaking of smiles, the beautiful Mrs. Guru over at Off the Beaten Path presented me with the fabulous Smile Award. THANKS, girl! It was definitely a nice way to start my weekend, and it's such a wonderful feeling to know that someone delights in my rambles. And, as in any other award, here's the fine print:

Rules of passing the smile award to other fellow bloggers: Must display a cheerful attitude. Must love one another. Must make mistakes. Must learn from others. Must be a positive contributor to blog world. Must love life. Must love kids.

Rules when receiving the award: The recipient must link back to the award’s creator. You must post these rules if you receive the award. You must choose 5 people to receive the award after receiving it yourself. You must post the characteristics of a recipient. You must create a post sharing your win with others and thank the giver!

Okay, so I would like to pass this award on to the following bloggers who I can always count on for a smile or two:
  • thelifeofsass: I can "see" a part of myself in Sassy -- her witty blogs and great sense of humor always make me grin.
  • Miss Caught Up: If you aren't reading Amanda's awesome blog, then you should be -- it's more addicting than your favorite soap opera!
  • The Typing Makes Me Sound Busy: Her descriptions of real-life are hilarious, witty and always entertaining.
  • Newlywed Central: I love that Anna shares her world with us, and her sweet nature shines through her writing.
  • Morning Runner: Now that I'm training for a marathon, this girl is my running inspiration. I can always find motivation in her stories (and I need all the motivation I can get!).
Thanks again, Mrs. Guru! And thanks again to everyone who takes the time to read my blog :-).

*Does beer count as lunch?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Meeting with the Bobs

I waited around the office yesterday until 5 and never received my Notice. It took several phone calls today to figure out that consultants -- that would be me -- aren't part of the proceedings tomorrow. Something about the company not having legal responsibility over us.

So, my bosses will find out if they still have jobs tomorrow and then find out if they have to let us go. And since every one's banned from the office tomorrow aside from their designated appointments, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed until Friday. It's as if a hurricane is blowing through tomorrow, and we'll be sorting through the wreckage to see who's left to do the work.

I imagine the appointments tomorrow will go a little something
like this scene from Office Space. Classic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Whiff of Unemployment

"A lot of fellows nowadays have a B.A., M.D., or Ph.D. Unfortunately, they don't have a J.O.B." ~ 'Fats' Domino

This morning I received a "corporate letter" e-mail from the President and CEO of the food & beverage company I work for, announcing a realignment and semi-massive layoff. In an attempt to "streamline our business," the company will potentially be sending nearly 300 packing at my office.

Our building will be closed Thursday and, instead of working, we're all supposed to meet one-on-one with designated managers to find out if we've been canned. We are to receive notices today with explicit instructions on what time our individual appointment is, where to park, and where to vomit as we exit the building. I really hope the mail guy is wearing a jock strap.

I can't believe it really. Sure, the economy majorly sucks right now. But I never thought a Fortune 500 company of this magnitude would ever layoff employees at the company's Headquarters. But who am I kidding? Of course we'd be the first to go. The factory workers and sales team bring in the real money. The "fluff" we do at Headquarters doesn't really count for much. I mean, who needs marketing? Eh, screw product innovation and consumer research. And HR? Or even capability & training -- the team I work for -- who needs that crap, right? (And yes, I'm being totally sarcastic here.)

*sigh* I need to get dressed, stop by the office and pick up my Notice. But, instead, I'm sitting here in my pjs with tear-stained cheeks, trying to delay the inevitable. I suppose I could always wait tables at TGI Fridays, wearing my 30 pieces of flair and striped shirt while singing "Happy Birthday" to gramps.

I wonder what the productivity level will be at the office today with the smell of unemployment lingering in the hallways?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Gas Pump Betrayal

“It's better to have beer in hand than gas in tank” ~ Anonymous

Lucky I awoke in a good mood today, otherwise this morning would have really sucked. I have a job where I normally work from home, but occasionally have to go into the office for meetings. Today was one of those days.

After struggling with my hair for what seemed like an eternity (and finally forcing it back into a stubby ponytail), I dressed and headed for the door, sidestepping kitty's fur ball in the hallway. I step outside and realize that my black tweed pants are actually brown. And I'm wearing a black button up shirt and black heels. Hmph.

I get in the car and the low fuel light glares at me. Damn. It takes 30 minutes to get to the office ... meeting starts at 10 o'clock ... and it's 9:20. I floor it to the gas station. I get out, scan my card, and reach for the gas pump to begin filling my car. Next thing I know gas is spraying everywhere. We're talking Old Faithful style. Not sure if it was a faulty pump, user error or just God's way of getting in a good laugh, but four letter words flew from my mouth as gas drenched my pants, splashed over the side of my car and began to form a pool under my back left tire.

I managed to control the pump enough to get five bucks actually in -- and not on -- my car before gas began to spew out of my tank. What the hell? I give up and return the pump to it's holder. I sadly watch as ten bucks drip off my car while paranoia sets in. Is my car going to catch fire when I start it? Am I going to die? A quick call to J assured me I wasn't going to burst into flames, but he said that I needed to tell the store employees.

I run into the gas station store and wait in line to tell Apu what happened. There's a young guy in front of me digging in his pockets for change. Upon closer inspection, I realize he's wearing pjs, an old bathrobe and slippers, and he's purchasing not one but two 24 oz cans of Natural Lite beer. At 9:30 in the morning.

He finally finds enough change, and I tell Apu about the sea of gas I created outside. I can't understand him and I wonder if he even understands me. He walks off and begins shouting. I can't tell if he's shouting because he's panicked, or shouting because he thinks if he talks louder, I'll understand him. Five minutes later he grunts and points to a man outside. I walk outside and tell Apu #2 what happened.

"Pump 15?" he asks.

"Yes, pump 15," I reply.

He begins to laugh and I'm not sure why. We walk over to the Sea of Gas and he shrugs his shoulders.

"Pump 15 is broken," he says.

"Broken? I didn't see a sign," I reply, frustrated.

"No sign, it's broken," he says. So now what? "Don't worry, I clean up with special powder."

"Fine, so I'm not going to burst into flames?" I seriously ask. He laughs again and shakes his head. What a waste. I get into my car and it's now 9:47. Damn. I floor it down the highway, getting high off the gasoline trapped in my clothes and shoes.

As I near the office, I glance to my left to see a black Oldsmobile barrelling down the wrong side of the road. Holy crap. There's a grassy median separating us, and I wonder if he realizes we're not in England and that he should be on my side of the road. I see him swerve around a couple of cars before losing sight of him at my turn.

By the time I circle the building and find a parking spot half a mile from the door, I'm twenty-eight minutes late for my meeting. Sweating, I sit down as quietly as possible. It wasn't long before someone asks, "Does anyone else smell gasoline?"

Perhaps the smell distracted from my mis-matched outfit. Perhaps I'll get a raise because I look (and smell) like a bum. Regardless, tomorrow I'm staying home in my pjs.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Team In Training

"The people I’ve met through Team In Training have been some of the most compassionate, kind, strong, and dedicated people that have ever crossed my path. Some are survivors like me and our bond was immediate – and is for life. But survivor or not, we’re all united by the common goal of wanting to find a cure for cancer." ~ Natasha Wieschenber, Triathelete and Cancer Survivor

I did it. Last night I went to a Team In Training informational meeting and committed to running 26.2 miles on behalf of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in the Big D Marathon in Dallas.

This won't be my first marathon -- I ran ... er, hobbled ... the Cowtown Marathon in Ft Worth. But that was eight years ago, and I've eaten a lot and have broken in a few couches since then.

The Big D will be different for many reasons. This time I'm running for a greater cause: to help find a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma. I'm running to help improve the lives of blood cancer patients and their families. I'm running for our Team Hero, a cancer survivor who we'll get to meet at the next meeting.

I'm excited. After I got home last night, J and I jogged around the neighborhood. Side cramps and numb feet aside, it felt good. It's nice to have something to strive for, a goal to reach, a cause to dedicate yourself to. In a way, a sense of purpose.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Night at the Spastics

"Every burden is a blessing." -- Walt Kelly

Last night, J and I went to our new neighbor's house for dinner. Honestly, we had been dreading it all week. While we've enjoyed talking to them the few times we have since they moved in a few months ago, their two kids are a whirlwind of spastic energy. Well, one is spastic, the other quite adorable.

They've come over a few times (unannounced) to play with our dogs. Which is great because our dogs love new people and every ounce of attention they can steal. But five minutes with these kids feels like five hours, and you're left wondering why the whole "kids should be seen and not heard" theory was laid to rest. Seriously.

If there was a contest for "How many questions can you ask in one minute?", Spastic would be world champion. And he's 7, so you can imagine the types of questions he asks as he's doing laps around our coffee table: Why do your dogs bark? Why is your cat black? Why won't he play with me? Why do you wear shoes inside? Why do I have feet?

I digress.

We were due at the neighbor's promptly at 5 o'clock. At 4:59 I pulled a pouting J away from the Dallas Cowboys game ("Why would they have us over during a Cowboys game? It's un-American!") and we slowly walked the 15 steps from our front door to theirs. We took a deep breath, plastered on smiles and rang the door bell.

Silence. "Are you sure they wanted us to come over?" pouted J. I shot him the shut-the-hell-up-and-be-a-good-sport-cause-we're-in-this-together look. Then we heard squealing, a running of feet, and the wooden door flew open.

"YOU'RE HEEEEERRRREEEEEE!" shouted Spastic as he grabbed my hand and jerked me inside. "Why are you late? Where have you been? What have you been doing?" he asked, pulling me down the hallway. I looked back down the hall at J, who was still standing in the door way, just as he was attacked with hugs by Miss Adorable. Lucky him, I thought.

Mr & Mrs Spastic greeted us in the kitchen, where they were busy making salad and setting the table. We exchanged small talk as I helped chop carrots while trying to ignore Spastic's plea to use the big kitchen knife. He began to throw a fit, crying and grabbing for the knife so Mrs Spastic let him peel cucumbers. Then the salad was done, but the lasagna was still 30 minutes from being done. Damn.

"LET'S PLAY A GAME!" screamed Spastic. We followed the kids upstairs only to notice Mr and Mrs Spastic stayed downstairs to keep an eye on the food. Double damn. I felt a little betrayed as I thought maybe we were only here to keep their kids entertained.

We got a tour of each of their rooms -- Spastic's decorated in horses and seashells, Miss Adorable's in hot pink and flowers -- and then sat down to play Trouble. I couldn't remember the rules, but it didn't matter as Spastic changed them every two seconds. I usually enjoy playing with kids but my head was throbbing and my heart felt for J who was crouched on the floor amongst dollhouses and board games, trying to forget about his precious Cowboys.

Finally, the magic words "Dinner's ready!" floated up the stairs, and we all raced down, the kids arguing about who they would get to sit next to. Ten minutes and several tears later, everyone was in their seats.

"Who wants to say the blessing?" asked Mr Spastic. I quickly adverted eye contact like a child in school who doesn't want to be called on. Not that I have anything against a dinner prayer, it's just not something I grew up doing, not something I currently do, and not something I want to try for the first time in a strangers home not knowing what religion they are.

"I WANT THE GUESTS TO DO IT!" shouted Spastic. Luckily Mr Spastic sensed the delayed response and volunteered one of the kids. Ten minutes and several tears later, Miss Adorable said blessing to the prophets, and we all laughed when she forgot to bless the food.

Dinner turned out great. Mr and Mrs Spastic are actually pretty laid back. We talked about their old home back in California, how the kids were adjusting, our jobs, life in general. When not interrupted by Spastic, it was quite enjoyable. Miss Adorable -- who's 4 -- told us stories and was just precious. Not one to usually gush over kids, I wondered if she would fit in my purse so I could keep her for my own.

After dinner we got roped into watching cartoons with the kiddos. Ten minutes and several tears later, we were all piled on the couch upstairs watching cartoons. After a few corny episodes, Mr and Mrs Spastic told the kids to stay upstairs while we went downstairs to talk. Over pumpkin chocolate cookies, they began to tell us that Spastic actually had several mental development problems, severe ADHD and were worried that it was getting progressively worse.

My heart sank for them as Mrs Spastic told how Spastic awoke every night and was up for three or four hours at a time. How he can't be alone ever. How he has no sense of space. Worried that his self-centeredness and fits would eventually lead to him getting in trouble in school and keep him from making friends. They're trying to find a psychiatrist as they're at the end of their ropes and no longer know what to do. They were tired and frustrated.

I felt a little guilty for my feelings towards the kid, but I could only imagine being his parent and feeling some of the same emotions. It wasn't long before Spastic came downstairs and began to throw a fit. And. Would. Not. Stop. He was tired, he wanted us to come upstairs, he wanted a cookie, he wanted his mom to hold him, he wanted to go to bed, he wanted to stay with us because he was scared, he didn't want to stop crying.

Defeated, Mrs Spastic thanked us for coming and went upstairs to get them ready for bed. J and I stayed a little longer talking to Mr Spastic. It's hard enough to be a parent, but it's even harder to raise one child that doesn't understand time and rules and who is too paranoid and too immature to be remotely independent, and then one child who is completely adorable and well-mannered. Sometimes I think it's easy to take children and parenting for granted, to establish a delicate balance between the two worlds so one isn't left behind and one isn't propelled too far forward.

J and I left last night with a full belly, new friends and a better understanding of what it truly takes to be a parent -- lots of Advil, courage and unconditional love. Because sometimes, even blessings can be challenges.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Debate -- My Thoughts

To be completely honest, tonight's Vice Presidential debate is the first debate I've watched in its entirety in years. Okay, ever.*

While I'm still on the fence about who to vote for (no, I don't vote a straight party ticket), I was curious to watch Palin in action. And for the first few minutes all I could picture was Tina Fey as Palin on Saturday Night Live. But in the end I thought Palin did well, the debate was interesting if not a smidge boring, and life tomorrow will go on for both candidates.

It was the commentary from reporters after the debate that ruffled my feathers. Several remarks were made that Palin would appeal to women because she's *gasp* a woman. Sure, I applaud the fact that a woman could potentially become the next Vice President. But I would never vote for her just because she has a vagina.

But I guess that's politics. Some people ignore the real issues and vote for someone because they are male or female, black or white. The answers can't be found in gender or race but in words and experiences.

Wake up. Let's start listening with our ears and not our eyes.

*I hate confrontation and avoid it like the plague ... even when it's on television.

Real Estate on eBay?

Call me crazy, but who thought real estate would ever become a part of eBay? According to the AP, a Chicago woman bought this house in Michigan off of eBay for $1.75. Wow.