Friday, June 28, 2013

Bring the Heat

Summertime means humidity, which makes you sticky, hot, and if you’re special, swell up like a balloon so that your hands and feet resemble sausages.

I love it.

Hogwash, you say.  It’s miserable.  You can never cool down, and the air is so thick you can’t even breathe.  No one likes the heat and humidity.  But I do.  Bring it.

Now, look. I’m not a masochist.  I am shouting “I LOVE HUMIDITY!!!” from the comfort of my air conditioned home.  We have hardwood floors, for goodness’ sakes.  Humidity will ruin them, according to my Home Depot-assigned install man.  The windows are firmly closed and the air inside is cool and dry.  I’m practical that way.

But there’s no A/C in my car.  My husband borrowed it for a day and when he brought it back the air-conditioning didn’t work.  Did I run to the garage to get it fixed?  Nope.  Power down those windows and let the humid air in.*

We vacation in Florida sometimes.  In August.  When we tell people this, they say, “Ah mah gah, no way!  Flahridah is SAH HUMID in Ahgahst!!”  I’m not sure why the people we talk to about our vacations have eighties' Valley Girl accents.

To me, there is nothing worse than being cold.  Cold temperatures chill the air, your toes, your hands, your bones.  Nothing can warm you when you’ve been out in the damp cold, wind attacking you from every direction.  I sit in my house in the winter wrapped in blankets and sweaters, fluffy socks on my feet until May.  Every car ride is a battle of wills against the seatbelt, winter coat, scarf, and gloves, and an encroaching feeling of claustrophobia.

So when the heat comes, and with it the humidity, I raise my hands to the sun and whatever other atmospheric conditions contribute to the humidity, and let it all soak in.

In the humidity, my hair is big.  The frizz factor is high, and I relish it.  I have an unfortunate head of hair that only curls on the underside, and it would surely dreadlock if left to its own devices in a tropical climate, but look how BIG it is!  It’s majestic! Who needs volume spray when the humidity is 90%?  I just step outside for five minutes and WHOOMP there it is!  I put up pictures of Diana Ross and will her big-hairness into my own follicles. 

I love it so much.  Is that weird?
photo credit

In the humidity, my skin is hydrated.  It glows and plumps, all on its own.  In the cold I am the Crypt-Keeper, hopelessly dry and sunken and maybe even a little bit yellow.  In the humidity there are no crow’s feet, no lines, and a radiance that originates from the sweat emanating from every pore.

In the humidity, I drink water like it’s another job I don’t get paid for.  It contributes to an overall healthy attitude, boosts my mood, and makes me feel great.  In the cold I drink vodka to warm my bones and have the personality of a Russian mobster.** 
 
So when it’s humid outside, like it promises to be during this and every summer, you won’t find me sitting around complaining about how I can’t take the heat.  Pass me another bottle of water, don’t mind the cloud of hair curling away from my head and into your personal space, and help me pry these rings off my fingers.  I’m losing circulation here.


*Why yes, this is a thinly-veiled dig against my husband, who clearly can’t be trusted to take care of things.  Sigh.  I can’t have anything nice.

**No one likes them.  Every James Bond movie I’ve ever seen says so.

*******

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why Mother Nature Can Suck It

I grew up in a rural area, spending much of my childhood outside.  We'd sled ride and build snowmen in the winter, ride bikes and swim in the summer, and walk through the woods almost any season at all.  

When I look back at my childhood, most memories of playing outdoors were laced with a minor fear that I could die at any moment.

I'm no outdoorswoman.  Ask anyone who knows me: I'd rather be indoors.  Sitting around a fire pit – the pits.  It's so stinky – it’s a constant dance to avoid being blasted with smoke.  Wind is always annoying, and temperatures are always, frustratingly, fluctuating.  Unless it’s 90 or 20, there’s no way to dress appropriately. An inconvenient rainstorm can ruin an afternoon spent at the salon.


Outside, there are bugs which bite and sting and around every corner is a plant out to prick you or give you a rash.  Small animals lurk in the grass just to jump out and give you a heart attack when you casually pass by.  Deer plow into your car when you drive down the road.  It’s always a thousand dollars to repair the damage.

Camping – sleeping outside, in the open, without locks and windows and doors and running water – is out of the question.  Have you seen Deliverance?  Hiking always, ALWAYS leads to getting lost.  I once heard of someone taking some kids on a hike and he stopped to check the map – steps before a steep drop-off.  Wow, where do I sign up for THAT?  It sounds like so much fun. 

Nature is just so unpredictable, and I can't get with it, and just in case I haven’t explained enough, here are some other reasons why:

Because of tornadoes.  Land of Oz, really.

Floods that ruin everything, and that no one can buy insurance for.

Forest fires.  Nothing can stop a wall of fire.  Have you seen the helicopters carrying huge bags of water to dump over the flames?  The forest fires are all, "that's so cute."


Hurricanes that destroy everything and frankly, are insensitively named.

Tsunamis, which are sneaky even though we can see them coming from miles away.  Oh look, the ocean just went out five miles.  Oops, now it's wiped out my whole town.

Mudslides.  Not the tasty kind.


Earthquakes.  Seriously, what is THAT about? The earth is spinning at a bajillion miles an hour, and it finds time to split apart?  What, hasn't it heard of centrifugal force?  You know, that force that prevents you from lifting your arm up on one of those spinny rides at the amusement park?

Volcanoes.  Hot lava, people.  It burns!

Underground volcanoes.  Did you know that Yellowstone National Park is sitting on one that, if erupted, would ruin our ability to mass produce food, and change our climate patterns for years?  Plus, the ground is famously thin in that area.  One misstep and you will find yourself in the center of the earth, and Brendan Fraser is most certainly NOT there.

Bears.  They will scalp you if you get between them and their babies, or a half a sandwich that some fool left out at a campsite.


Tigers.  I've seen a tiger pace along a chainlink fence while hungrily staring at my toddler who was strapped into a stroller.  Terrifying.  And let's never forget Siegfried and Roy, specifically Roy.

Gorillas, baboons, and chimps.  Not our cousins, people.  These are wild animals with fangs and huge muscles that will crush you before ripping your face off.  Plus, they will throw their poop at you if you get too close.  What a bunch of bullies.

Sharks.  Not cool, man.

The caption says:
"Sitting in a 3.8-metre sea kayak and watching a four-metre
great white approach you is a fairly tense experience."
YA THINK?

photo credit

Bees and wasps and hornets.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, pollination and all of that.  Get stung by one and you want to cut your arm off to stop the pain.

Mosquitoes.  Biggest jerks of summer.

Poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak.  The only effective remedy against these is a steroid.  Which, if you’re lucky, only makes you stay up all night and want to punch everyone.

Pollen, hay, grass, ragweed.  They lead to sneezing, itchy eyes, closed throat, stuffed head, and snot.  Disgusting.

Cactuses.  Okay, cacti.  All bad news.  Some jump out at you.  Oh, look at this cactus.  It’s so unusual.  Oh, look, now I have a zillion prickers in my skin.



There are more reasons, but that’s the short list of why Nature just isn’t my bag.  May I point out that none of these things occur naturally indoors?  NONE.  I will agree, Mother Nature is beautiful, but that is what windows are for - to see out, from the comfort of inside.

*******

This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It
Prompt #2: Nature.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Follow Me! Unless I'm going the wrong way. Then please steer me in the right direction. I hate being lost.

Hi friends!

I've been away, jetting off to all the hot spots with my family in tow, relaxing in gorgeous locales, meeting VIPs, and doing important work that has kept me from the blogiverse for several weeks.  It's why I haven't been posting consistently lately.  Time goes by so fast when you have back-to-back vacations and super-important assignments that take up nearly all of what little free time you usually have.

Yeah.  I've been here.  Riiiiiiight here.  Watching the world go by outside my window, reading everyone else's blogs, watching piles of junk mail accumulate around me, and waiting for my children to ask me to drive them somewhere.

Summer is here, and I'm taking advantage of days with not much to do.  That, and I think I've hit an all-time low of laziness overall.

Last week I found out that Google is doing away with their Reader service, which amasses blog posts that avid blog readers like me can use (even though I don't use it; I get about a thousand individual emails a day from blogs that I subscribe to, holy crap so many emails).

A few of the bloggers I follow are using Bloglovin', a blog reader that will take the place of Google Reader and RSS feeds that other people use to read blogs, I don't know what that is, look it up, it sounds very technical and complicated, and then report back to me, please and thank you.  Anyway, I was all, OMG what if the dozen readers I have only use Reader or RSS feeds - they will be so relieved disappointed when these things end!

So I thought I'd tell you a little about Bloglovin', a service that compiles all the blogs you read into one handy little space.  If you go to www.bloglovin.com, register, and add About 100% to your reading list, when I post BAM there it is in your Bloglovin' feed!  And Bloglovin' will send you an email with all your daily posts from the blogs you love instead of a thousand individual emails like I get every. single. day.

It is so cute how they care.

Seriously, folks.  Thousands.

So click the link, below.  Set it up and read away!  So fun!

Not really.  But convenient and easy, which is pretty much all I care about these days.  Can someone bring me a glass of water?

Click it:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ten

 When I was ten, I was the tall kid in school – much taller than everyone except for the one boy and girl who always sat next to me in the back of the classroom.  She is tall, too.  Blame early development, hormones in chicken, genetically engineered vegetables, and whatever else you want, but she is my child and she is tall.

When I was ten, I did well in school.  I studied and studied and never missed a spelling word.  She does well in school too, and is smarter than I was at ten.  Way smarter.

When I was ten, I worried about nuclear war, being abducted, getting lost, talking to strangers, the dark, snakes, and frogs.  She is afraid of the dark and has never heard about nuclear war.

When I was ten, I had a core group of close girlfriends.  We shared a lot, lived for sleepovers, and giggled in school.  Making friends was hard because I was shy and timid, but I loved my friends deeply.  She has fierce girlfriends and makes a new friend practically everywhere we go.

When I was ten, I was emotional and sensitive, usually by myself, in my room, worrying about things that a ten-year-old worries about.  Things always came at me hard; I was easily injured and retreated to think about my injuries and to heal my wounds.  She is sensitive, too, but uses her sensitivity to reach out to others.

When I was ten, I danced but hated gym class and playing sports.  She loves gym class, dancing, and basketball.  I would have rather died than to play basketball when I was ten, and she not only loves it, she gets it.

When I was ten, I listened to old Beatles’ albums and the Annie soundtrack over and over in the huge headphones that I’d steal from my brother.  She dials up favorite songs on her iPod and makes videos of herself dancing and singing to them.

When I was ten, I played Barbies for hours, setting up elaborate houses and plotlines.  She does, too.

When I was ten, I loved Michael Jackson, George Michael, and Madonna.  She loves Selena Gomez, Bruno Mars, and Usher.

When I was ten, my brother and I fought terribly.  She and her brother do, too.

When I was ten, I would have loved to have been friends with my daughter.  I think she’d love that, too.

*******

This post inspired by:


Mama’s Losin’ It


Prompt #5: When you were your youngest child’s age, what were you like? 
Would you have been friends with your child? Why or why not?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Six Randoms About Me and Mine

Do you love hearing about how other people live behind closed doors?  I do.  Because I am wildly imperfect, and I want desperately to relate to others in this way.  I try hard to reflect that in my life, with varying success.  My motto is Show Me Your Ugly Face.  In moderation, naturally.  No one needs all of that.  Save some for your loved ones.

Which is the theme for this week’s writing prompt post.  No, silly, not Ugly Faces.  I’ve shared enough of that on this blog, you’re welcome.  I’m talking about my loved ones.  One in particular: my spouse. 

I love talking about my husband here because he has a high level of tolerance for my tendency to over-share and exaggerate a wee bit, and he never makes me feel bad or guilty about it, which he definitely could and probably should.  But I know the reason why he doesn’t is that he is even more narcissistic than me, so I know that he loves it when I mention him on the blog.

Which is awesome for everyone involved here.

So anyway, here are some things about our imperfect relationship that I think you will find interesting and totally relatable, because we are normal people even though I am a blogger and that makes us rock stars:*

1. We met at my best friend’s wedding, where we spent hours after the reception taking drunk guests home.  We ate at an all-night diner that night.  I wore my bridesmaid dress.  I didn’t plan well.

2. After a month of dating I invited him on a trip to Europe I would be taking in 6 months’ time.  He agreed, and we went, and the hotel we stayed in had no separate bathroom – just a sink, shower, and toilet in the room.  After that trip there was no way we were not getting married.

3. He loves sports with every molecule of his being; I hate them with a fiery intensity.  He is an extrovert – the bigger the crowd, the better; I am an introvert who wants to hide in my room when the doorbell rings.  He can’t be alone; I can’t be alone enough.  When he is angry he observes silence, stews and smolders for days until his head implodes; I yell and scream and spew forth every curse word I know and may also actually spit.  He loves dogs; I love cats.  He can tolerate a reasonable amount of messiness, and IS THAT A CHEERIO ON THE FLOOR?  HOW LONG HAS THAT BEEN THERE?  DO WE LIVE IN A GARBAGE DUMP?

4. We were once admonished by a flight attendant that bringing your own liquor on an airplane and consuming it was illegal, and that the two plain-clothes police officers seated directly in front of us would frown on our doing so.  Our children were very amused yet disappointed in us.

5. We love inane comedy  like Superbad and Stepbrothers and Anchorman and 40-Year-Old Virgin and Bridesmaids.  When everyone in the world was all, “Hangover Part 2 - meh,” Keith and I were all, “BWAHAHAHA!!!  CLASSIC!!”  And when the Oscar-winning best picture Argo came out, we were like, "Hey, let's go see Here Comes the Boom!"

6. We are terribly unskilled home owners.  I gave up trying home maintenance long ago, yet he continues to try – God bless his bungling heart – and I continue to give his efforts the side-eye.


We put the F-U in fun.


*yeah right.

*******

This post inspired by:


Mama’s Losin’ It
Prompt #1: List six random facts about you and your husband.

Monday, June 10, 2013

About Me ABC

Here we go again – some old school blogging fun brought to you by my awesome friend Jennie at A Lady in France and also my new pal Jennifer at her eponymous blog Jennifer P. Williams (with Elaine at The Miss Elaine-ous Life.  Are you impressed at my use of the word eponymous?  Don’t be – I had to look it up.

This meme is easy – you just answer 26 questions about yourself that correspond to each letter of the alphabet.  You’ll see how tired I get of answering 26 questions about myself when you get down to T.  Please keep it to yourself if you bailed out at M, or worse, C.

Strap in and let’s go!

A. Attached or Single?  Attached.  To my husband Keith, whether he likes it or not.  Sometimes I imagine that he’s Ryan Gosling and I’m Ryan Gosling’s girlfriend.  That’s normal, right?

B. Best Friend? My husband, Keith.  Although after that last answer I may be in the market for a new BFF.  Oh dear, this isn’t going so well, is it?

C. Cake or pie? These questions are hard.  Why does there have to be a choice?  Both.  And every kind of each except for raisin pie and maybe shoofly pie, which are equally disgusting.  Bonus points for cake if there is extra frosting.  Extra bonus points for frosting flowers.

D. Day of choice? Monday.  Oh Monday, you are my one true love.  Except for Keith.  And Ryan Gosling.

E. Essential Item? I used to think computer, because the other day when the internet was down for like four minutes I paced around it like a hungry tiger does on the other side of the alarmingly flimsy-looking chain link fence or pane of glass that separates us from them at the zoo.  Then I remembered how I hardly even look at my computer on the weekends and how horrible it is when I’m thirsty, so I’m going to say water.  I literally can’t live without water.  And neither can you.

F. Favorite color? Yellow.  I’m a dark sort of internally-focused person, so I combat this tendency with a love for sunny, bright colors.

G. Gummy bears or worms? Have you tried chocolate covered Gummy Bears?  They are everything.

H. Home town? Pittsburgh, PA.  Close enough.

I. Favorite Indulgence? Massage.  It never lasts long enough.

J. January or July?  July.  January is the middle of winter, the start of every diet, when you have to put away Christmas decorations, the home of the post-holiday let-down, and a total jerk.

K. Kids?  Before kids, I was all, “Hell, NO!  Kids are whack!” Then when we got married I was all, “Let’s have FOUR!”  Then after one, I was all “Okay.  Another.”  Then after the second, I was all, “IF I GET PREGNANT AGAIN I WILL DIE!!!!!!!”  So, we have two. 

L. Life isn’t complete without?  My family.  This includes close friends who are like family because we live far away from our hometowns.

M. Marriage date? Lucky November 13, 1999

N. Number of brothers/sisters? Two brothers: one older, one younger.  This configuration produced the best life of a middle child EVER. 

O. Oranges or Apples?  Apples.  Oranges are too time-consuming, and they make your hands sticky, and you never know if you’ve got a good one until you eat it, and likely you’ve bought a crate of them and now you’re stuck with a crate full of tasteless oranges. 

P. Phobias?  Claustrophobia tops the list, followed closely by frog phobia and snake phobia.  And public-speaking phobia.

Q. Quotes?  Oh man.  I did a blogpost on this once, and I couldn’t remember any of the quotes that I claimed were my favorite.  One thing I say a lot is “Oh my,” as my friends enjoy pointing out to me.  Just like George Takei.

R. Reasons to smile? When my kids get home from school, when my husband comes home from work, meeting someone for the first time, babies.

S. Season of choice? In order of preference: Spring, summer, fall.  We don’t talk about winter.

T. Tag 5 People.  Tag, you’re it!  And you, you, you, and you too!  Yeah, you, the one standing in the corner trying to pick her nose on the sly.

U. Unknown fact about me?  I play the piano.

V. Vegetable? Cucumbers.

W. Worst habit?  Saying No to everything.  It’s the worst because often there isn’t another chance to say Yes. 

X. X-ray or Ultrasound?  I’d say ultrasound, because x-rays remind me of broken bones and dental work, and ultrasounds remind me of the excitement of seeing my babies for the first time, and then I remember that I had an internal ultrasound once for a reason that had nothing to do with babies and so I’m going to choose neither.

Y. Your favorite food?  I seriously started to type about twenty different foods here.  I can’t choose.  But based on the type of food I eat the most of, I’ll say salad.  I’d eat it every day for every meal if I could.  And I have.  Yum, salad for breakfast.

Z. Zodiac sign?  Taurus.  Stubborn, earthy, cow-like.

Whew!  That was fun, like running a marathon.  Ha ha, I’m totally joking.  Marathons seem like torture.  Maybe this has been torture for you.  So if you read through all of it in one sitting, you win a prize.  And the prize is an internet high-five.  *slap*

If you’re a blogger, go ahead, try it out!  It’s fun, easy, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll jump at the chance to talk about yourself and/or have something else to write about on your blog instead of making up some random subject just to fill the space.

Grab the questions and link up with Jennifer or Elaine.  Don't forget the badge on either of their websites.  Happy Meme-ing!


Friday, June 7, 2013

In Which I Acknowledge Current Events

In recent years we've seen so many weather events wreak havoc on the world's cities, watching news coverage of tsunami, earthquake and tornado destruction, devastated areas from flooding, high winds, and general mayhem that results.

So we've started another summer, and with it comes another hurricane season.

Isn't it cute how they name hurricanes?  You know, give real people's names to events that affect so many lives negatively?

Andrea is the first storm to be named this year.

Prayers of safety and no major damage go out from my heart to the affected areas.

And to those Katrinas, Andrews, Hugos, and Sandys out there:



Respect.  Because everyone's a comedian.




Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Quitter

The ad read “Executive Administrative Assistant.”  It meant “Secretary.”  My new master’s degree and I didn’t care.  I was organized, good on the phone, and had decent computer skills, thanks to swift on-the-job training at school, where I found myself plunged into a new world led by computer technology instead of people skills, which I also excelled at.  I was planning a wedding and a new life.  I didn’t need a career; we needed cash.

My word processing and spreadsheeting skills proved worthy enough to land the job, and I worked forty-plus hours a week deciphering the boss’s handwriting as I typed up reports and data tables full of familiar numbers and letters due to my time spent crunching academic data.  I knew statistics, and asked questions about the programs used to come up with the results I was transcribing, and isn’t this a better way to say this than what you’ve put here?  Within months I was part of the projects teams, spending my days doing additional analyses and writing rough drafts of report results.  I hated the stats, but loved the writing.

My coworkers, most transplants from Brooklyn, filled the air with accented voices I had only heard on TV and in the movies.  I stood on the sidelines, watching the Goodfellas converse in a way I previously thought was fabricated in Hollywood.  They took me in as a Yankee sister, having originated from north of the Mason-Dixon Line, though admittedly more Midwestern than East Coast.  One thing we shared: our surroundings were foreign.  Grits and biscuits were on every menu; twangy ya’lls stood out as homegrown strangers and neighbors addressed each other.

It was a small, friendly, fast-paced office and I was moving on up.

One day I went to work feeling awful.  I looked it too, because my boss came out of his office, stared at me, and said You Look Awful.

This was not out of the ordinary for me, feeling awful at work.  My husband and I were in our early twenties, and we stayed up too late and drank and ate too much of the wrong things.  Never, though, had anyone called me on actually looking the part.  The worst part of this declaration was that I had no excuse; there was no over-indulging to blame this time.

One call to my mother and a trip to the drugstore confirmed what my husband and I didn’t plan: I was pregnant.

We discussed children; how many, what kind, names.  He liked Peyton; I liked Marguerite.  Having both grown up without nannies and daycare, we wholly agreed that one of us would stay at home.  We knew it would be me.  We kept quiet about that, biding our time until the time was apparent. 

A new job appeared for my husband, far away from there but closer to home.  Things made more sense.   We were starting a new life again.  I approached the boss, trembling.  I’m pregnant and we’re moving, I said.  He smiled.  I know plenty of people in that city.  I can find you something.  My boss was a good person.

No, I said.  I want to stay home.  I want to continue to work for you, but remotely.

Telecommuting was a new thing, but I convinced him that I was a good worker, that I’d stay on top of things, and that there would be no difference in the work I produced.

It worked.  The move and transition from office job to home office went smoothly, though I missed the rapport and pop-in conversations I had with coworkers.  I was isolated, but the move was necessary for our family.  It was the best of both worlds.  Two years went by and our family was four.

Things got tougher.  The workload changed; the deadlines stricter.  My flexible hours were not flexible enough.  They needed this done in an hour, and I was in the middle of making dinner for my family.  I needed to work during naptimes, and the client needed a rough draft when the kids woke up.

I struggled.  I refused work.  I asked for longer deadlines.  In time, my coworkers gave up including me in their projects.

My husband and I talked.  By then I was only working part-time; my salary wasn’t huge, and surely we could get by on less?  As long as we could pay our bills and eat, we would manage.  We set a date, and I dialed the company.

I talked to two people; my project manager, by then the department head, who agreed that this was the best move for me, and my boss, who admitted that he didn’t even know that I still worked for him.  I said my goodbyes and hung up, free.  I didn’t think I’d feel so light.  I had worked there for six years, five of them remotely.

Today, I work solely as a manager of our household, as I have every day for the past eight years since that day.  This job has proven to be most important to our family, even though it comes with no paycheck.  The benefits outweigh the costs, and I would quit any other job to do it. 



*******

This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #4: Tell us about a job you quit…why did you do it?