Monday, February 26, 2007

Mugging for the camera

Big celebration at my house tonight; friends and family gathered to wish Brian a Happy 21st (March 2 is the official date), and to, in all probability, send him off for 18-24 months. There's a slim possibility that he'll be home next weekend, but it's slim at best.

We didn't take any chances, we feasted and laughed. Momo did a beautiful "Marilyn sings to JFK" birthday rendition for Brian, shaking her pregnant fanny all over the place. Brian asked for educational books to take to Iraq, so that's all he opened from us tonight. And of course, hugs abound at the end of the evening. Hey, if we get to do it again next week, all the better.

Ouch, I am going to miss this kid of mine, and I work on focusing on the positive, and not shedding unnecessary tears. It's hard work sometimes, but I do OK, for the most part. That said, as long as we're focusing on the fun, I'm going to share a couple stupid shots with you.

You may have noticed that besides pigging out, our party entertainment often consists of mugging for the camera. Kyle, Lathrop and Brian were posing for a group shot, when I told them, "show me your bedroom eyes." They acquiesced without blinking an eye.

Meow, eh?

Here's Kyle with the "Hottie" pillow my mother bought me, while Brian strikes his best "hottie" pose:

We decided to try to play that game where someone stands behind you, puts his arms through yours, and tricks the audience.

We're not that good at it; you can kind of tell that Brian's standing behind me. Still...that looks like it could be my hand, right? Right?


This one's a little more...realistic, don't you think? [Thanks to cropping tool in Photoshop]


Here I am smoothing out my eyebrows. Really. Brian is NOT in this picture.


Cowboy Brian rides again.

I'll post more pix and tales later. Right now it's 1 a.m., and I'm hitting the road for a 12 hour drive to Fort Benning, GA in the morning, and a return drive on Tuesday. I'm sure the boys will be sleeping most of the trip, so any of you have that have my phone number, want to give me a shout out, I'm sure I'll appreciate the company (hands free, of course!).

And those of you that can't call...send me a mental hand squeeze tomorrow night, will ya? It's hang on tight time.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Irrational Fears

For reasons most of you know, I have been, lately, trying to come to grips with "fear." While I'm still stewing on solid answers on how to deal with rational fears, I'll share with you now the fact that I've come to recognize a few of my own irrational fears.

For the record, I consider a "rational fear" something that could possibly happen, and something I may be able to prevent: A car accident; an injury; food poisoning.

An irrational fear? Something's that not bloody likely to occur, but that I still put mental energy into: I might plummet to my own death after a sudden lapse in sanity that causes me to hurl myself off of a tall building.

I also worry that I might lose my sunglasses, jewelry, and/or car keys over the same building. I might also throw those things into any sewer grate. Because, what if I did?! Huh?

Think that's bad? Here are a few more.

1. I hate diseases that have no symptoms. Duh, I also have no symptoms! Help me pick out my casket, I'm a goner.

2. Choking at home, alone. This never actually crossed my mind until I accidentally saw an episode of 30 Rock, in which Tina Fey and another woman talk about how this is a single woman's No. 1 fear. On the word of a sit-com, I incorporated it into my list, and devised a choking plan: Run out into the driveway and hope someone finds me. I'll keep a "Hello, My Name Is" label right at the door, to grab on my way out.

When someone eventually walks their dog past my driveway, I'll be lying there, lips turning blue, and "Hello, My Name Is Choking!! " pasted across my forehead.

3. Peanut Butter.
I worry that, after spreading peanut butter at work, I will not clean the butter knife well enough, and a coworker with a peanut allergy will die from my negligence.

I do not, as far as I know, have a coworker with a peanut allergy.

4. I never touch my nose while I'm driving. I fear that if I so much as scratch my nose, I'll be hit head-on by a Mack truck, causing my finger to jam right through my brain. The EMTs will then pry open the wreckage with the Jaws of Life, and declare the cause of my death: Picking Nose While Driving. I'd be so embarrassed, even if I were dead.

I'm not the only person that has irrational fears: My mother fears mile markers. You know, those little metal posts along the highway. "They'll go through my neck," she says, shivering from the idea of it.

Melissa hates icicles; she just made Joey go outside and knock them all of the soffits. Why? Duh, they'll fall off the house and impale her kids! If they don't fall through their bodies entirely, they will, at the least, lodge themselves into one of their eyes. They must go!

Stop now, stop that rolling your eyes! I know darned well you have irrational fears, and I want you to tell them to me right now! I'll factor them all into my own thoughts on fear and anxiety.

Or, at the very least, I'll feel a little less crazy. Power in numbers, and all that jazz.

Spill it, kids. We're all family.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Look Who Dropped In...

That's right, folks. My boys are home for the weekend, and just stopped into my office to say hello. That's a good picture of my son on the right isn't it?

Here's a better one of him with my friend (& employer), Yoram:


And Brian and Yoram giving us their "tough-guy" faces:

I don't know about that. I've known both of these guys for about the same amount of time, and I'm confident that Momo and I could take 'em. Remember our tough-girl faces, from this Just One blog?


I rest my case.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Starting the day with a smile...

I spotted these kids in the field off of Duncan Road yesterday afternoon, after work. I couldn't resist: I circled the block to get a photo of them. Maybe I should have added that to my list of weird things I do: Circle the block to take photos. If you ever want to ride around with me, be ready for it: I'm going back for the shot.



Actually, I circled the block 3 times; there's not much in the way of parking on Duncan Road, so I had to work with the traffic.

A giant snowman was obviously in the works, but each time I drove around, they were struggling with the weight of that second snowball. I sent them a mental "good luck" and left them to it.


This

morning,

on

my

way

to

work

I

could

hardly

wait

to

check...


Yayyyyyy! They did it!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

CU Blogger Bash: Wrap Up

The CU Blogger Bash at Crane Alley was a blast last night. Attendance was high and laughter was loud. I had a great time, I think everyone did. I met a few people, and have a few new blogs to put on my Blogroll. Conversation was varied and interesting: we hashed out politics, pregnancies, and pedicures, to name but a few. Illini Pundit summed the evening up well when he said "this wasn't nearly as geeky as I expected it to be."

For more of a report, go check out Gamera's blog.






Momo, Woof, Prairie Biker

Mrs. Cake, Matt

Maladjusted, Gnightgirl

Ashley

Gamera, Illini Pundit

Woof's mini screwdriver

In attendance:

Maladjusted
Prairie Biker, of Lone Tree on the Prairie
Momo, of Cat People
Woof, from Me First
Moon_grrl, from Frogs and Crowbars
Gamera, from Gamera Gabs
Jonathan from Analog Periphery
Matthew, from It's Matt's World
Ashley, from Out of the Forest;
Gordy, from IlliniPundit,
Jason Barickman, from Illini Pundit
John Farney, from Illini Pundit from IP
Mrs. Cake from My Pet Goat


If we missed anyone, get in touch!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Winter Wonderland

I live a pretty cushy life. I wake in a warm house, jump into a car inside of a warm garage, and muck off to work every day, where I sit surrounded by cubicle walls. I leave those walls at 4 or so, drive back home, into my car shelter, and dash back into the house.

It's quite decadent, on harsh winter days. I'm spoiled. I'm protected.

I'm TOO protected. I forget that I can forego fashion (not that I have any sense of it) and pull on ugly-ass galoshes, a warm coat, commit myself to hat-hair for the rest of the day, and get the heck outside.

I did just that today, after working and erranding. I'd intended on settling in, but on a whim, grabbed the camera and exited the premises around 4:30.

Guess what, the nippy air didn't kill me. Not only did it not kill me, but I was reminded how astoundingly beautiful winter can be, and that I miss out by hibernating, shivering, and whining.

As daylight was limited, I only went as far as Meadowbrook Park. I spotted these cuties shortly after I arrived, and was immediately inspired to keep walking.

(Click for an enlarged view)



Marker, by Peter Fagan






The pictures don't do the day any justice. To me, they're just a small reminder not to hunker down too awful much, lest I miss out on something good.

This day was pretty good.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Veird.

Both Sveny and Bob have tagged me for the "6 weird things about Me" meme. I actually did this back in October or sometime, but since my Veirdness isn't limited to 6, I'll play again. I shudder to think how many times I could play along without running out of ideas.

1. I constantly calculate the overall cost of a gallon of anything. .25 ounces of Chanel No. 5 costs $95.00. 1 ounce of the stuff, therefore, costs $380.00. There are 128 ounces in a gallon. The cost of 1 gallon of Chanel No. 5 comes to $48,640.00. Before tax.

$50,000 a gallon.
I refuse on principle.

2. I'm crazy-ticklish.


I make myself quite vulnerable, telling you this. My son and his friends are infinitely amused at my response to someone walking up behind me and poking me in the ribs. An instinctual, gutteral, altogether UN-Princess-Di sound, like "HUhnggggg!" comes screaming out of me, and I jump 3 feet into the air.

I've been known to accelerate wildly if you grab my knee while I'm driving. Just don't do it; you might lose your life.

3. I'm allergic to my cubicle.


I'm not sure if it's psychosomatic or mere dust on the carpeted cubicle walls, but 8 a.m. Monday mornings bring me to such sneezing and nose-blowing fits that I'm sure my coworkers want to kill me. Gone are those cute little sneezes I used to emit. It's more like BLAHhhhhhhhhhhh-BLOOOOO!; scaring holy hell out of all my poor coworkers. I'm sorry. It's incontrollable.

4. I'm terrified of heights, but I love rollercoasters.


Stand me on a kitchen chair to change a lightbulb and I want to vomit. Looking over the edge of anything, my knees, calves, and pee-hole tingle. Yes, my pee-hole. I can't even view heights on a television show without feeling nauseous.

Still, get me on a rollercoaster, and I'm in heaven. The initial climb makes me a nervous wreck, but the dooooooownnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn is a thriller. Upside down, rightside up, freefalling, front row...I'm there, screaming and laughing and loving it. Whoo Hooo! Let's get back in line!

5. Since my son left for the army, I have a recurring dream: People walk into my house.


They're everywhere, and I cannot get them to leave. If I get them out the front door, I turn around to find more have come in the back door, or are just standing in the bedrooms. I resort to violence in every dream, to get them out of my house.

I have two interpretations for this dream: 1) I fear someone walking in the door, and having no protection; and 2) I am protecting my solitary existence.

6. I make Gourmet Ramen Noodles.


I can make 19-cent ramen noodles worth your while: I add peas, shrimp, and thai chili paste, and then scatter green onions and pepper over the top. I don't imagine there's that many varieties in the Asian grocery store just so you can add water, jack.

7. Can I have 7+ weird things? I might have more. I e-mail myself all the time. Memos, blognotes, reminders: "Get bday card," "make a will," "don't forget the ramen noodles in the 'weird' blog."

8. I try to write all of my dreams in a Dream Journal. It took me 10 years to fill the first one, and it's full of strait-jacket material, such as "I'm crawling down the yellow line in the middle of Bradley Avenue..." and "I've sprayed salt water all over the slugs in my living room, and now they crunch under my feet when I try to walk."




Sweet Dreams, ya'll. I tag you, even if you've done it before.

Six.

Hmph. I know you have more.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I'm frickin frizzin.


Oh, and also, if you're interested, I've started a new blog called Back Talkin'. It's at www.gnightgirl-backtalk.blogspot.com. Established for my, what George Carlin would refer to as, Brain Droppings. A line or two here or there that don't constitute an entire entry on this blog. And maybe an occasional haiku. We'll see.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Valentines Expressions

(Glass sculpture from www.frabel.com)

Happy Valentines Day to you all. It seems like it's an occasion people either love or hate. I think it's kind of a cute little holiday; some years I participate, others I do not. Not much going this year, so I'll tell you a story about last.

I have a close friend that I call Evelyn. His name isn't really Evelyn, but when I forgot what it was after the first time he told me, he refused to tell me again. I dubbed him Evelyn, then, finding it a perfect name for a brawny biker/construction contractor. Evelyn lives about 3 hours away, but we still manage to get together for lunch, art shows, antiquing, and riding now and again.

Last year, on Valentines Day, Ev sent a text message on my cell phone: "Happy VD" I returned "right back atcha" and went about my day.

A few hours after that, Ev took a fall from a rooftop of a house he was working on. He broke his neck, shattered his wrist, and broke his leg very badly, in addition to slicing holy hell out of his scalp on a deck railing on the way down. Some confusion about the 911 district he was in caused a 45-minute delay in the ambulance's arrival.

February 14 marks a different occasion now, for him, for me, and I'm sure, for all that love him and nearly lost him a year ago. Though he'd get all embarrassed and say it was nothin; the last year has been harrowing for my friend Ev. He has, I know, endured excruciating pain, tough physical therapy, and physical and mental exhaustion.

And he won't get it when I tell you all that in the midst of this all, he still managed to be a rock in my life. I can hardly wrap my mind around that while he was graduating from a wheelchair to a walker, to a cane, with pins in his hip, he still managed to send me notes expressing support when I was missing and worrying about Brian when he was in bootcamp. And he rejoiced along with me when he graduated.

He listened to every damned drama I endured in my life, be it family, men, work, money, cats or imaginary. Sometimes he laughed at me, sometimes he laughed with me, and sometimes, if I needed it, he scolded me. And there were plenty of days he put a little wind beneath my wings. Tsk. Can you imagine?

So, at his probable utter horror, My Valentine's Blog is dedicated to my strong, quiet friend, Evelyn:

Friend, I imagine this may be an bittersweet day. You are, as always in my thoughts, and I'm giddy that you're here today to read this. Your strength and selflessness amaze me, thanks for being my friend, you know I love you.

Oh. And Happy VD.

Boop!

Blizzarddddddddddddd

Still snowing. Still 8 hours left, according to weather.com.







Monday, February 12, 2007

A Rant on Anger

Mom and I were at Aldi's, a local discount grocery store, on Sunday afternoon. This store is completely pared down: the clerk sits on a chair at one end of the conveyor belt, and tosses your stuff into an empty kart as she rings it up. How you get them home from there is your business; if you want a grocery bag, you buy one.

While we stood in line, a Middle Eastern man approached the clerk, to purchase a few grocery bags.

There happened to be a crazy old white woman at the check out, paying for her groceries. She was unhappy with the close proximity of the gentleman waiting, threatened by his presence...and as I said, crazy. She let loose a string of profanity toward him that would make a sailor blush, accusing him of lurking about to steal something from her.

We were as taken aback as he was. All eyes on him then, he stepped back to his groceries for a few minutes. Then he approached the woman again, and told her that he had no intention of stealing from her. The woman went ballistic then, shrieking and continuing with her derogatory remarks, before running from the store.

The gentleman approached the clerk, and, angry then, asked her "why did you let this happen to me? Why did you honor HER, instead of telling her she was inappropriate? You should never let her back in here." Alas, the timid clerk did a dear-in-the-headlights routine, merely staring at him.

Ohhhh, dear, I thought...this is going from bad to worse for this guy, who was becoming more frustrated with her silence. She finally freaked out and screamed for the manager.

By then, the Upset Customer was livid, and proceeded, at the top of his lungs, to repeat what Crazy Woman had said to him: "How can you just let her call me fucker? and Asshole?!!! And you do nothing?"...

It was then that I wanted to race and take his arm, and say, "STOP! Calm down. There's a little girl here, don't you see?

You are right.

You are justified.

But you've just let a crazy angry old woman transform you into what she is. You are crass. And threatening. She's left the building, and you've taken her place.

You've just given her power over you, don't you see?!

******

I am teased, among my circle, for being a bit of a pushover. I don't anger easily, and I tolerate a lot. I come off, sometimes as being more timid than I am.

I am, however, tuned in. Yes, friend, acquaintance, or coworker, I did hear your smart-ass remark. I acknowledge both your outwardly rude and your passive aggressive behavior, to me, or to others. I noted that roll of your eyes. And you communicate as much with what you don't say as with what you do.

I heard you. We all heard you. I'm amused you think we didn't.

And in general, I don't rise to it.

People say and do petty things because they need to feel better about themselves. They have so little going on in their lives that all they can do to find a sense of self-worth is to try to make you feel like shit about yours.

Let them feel better, I say; what's it to me, after all? You think I shouldn't have let my son pierce his ear, and you'll toss your own out if he does the same? OK. Toss your kid out; it's no reflection on me if you do so. I have a different mindset, and believe me, there's not a lot I do that isn't well thought-out.

That said, I do have boundaries, and I'm quite capable of rising to battle.

I will do so, usually only if I love you, or if I'm defending someone I care about. My God, how many times did I go round and round with my own son?! And often, as they will attest, in front of his own friends. If something needs to be said, or set straight, I'll speak my mind in no uncertain terms. Because I care. If I didn't, I'd walk away.

*****

I did stop that gentleman, in the parking lot, on Sunday. "You were treated terribly," I acknowledged to him. He needed to hear it.

"What do you think about that? I am not an American. We would NEVER treat someone like that in my country, never!"

There was no time to say all I'd have liked to. I told him only, "Please. Write the letters you have to write. And then let it go. Don't let her hurt you. And know this: She does not represent us."

I hope he does let it go.

I hope to God he doesn't let his anger over the hateful words of a bitter old woman taint his opinions of Americans, of Midwesterners, of this town. I would wish on him that he wouldn't even let her ruin his afternoon.

He's worth more than that.

We all are.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Chicago I: Intro

This was Lake Michigan yesterday morning, around 10:00 a.m.:



Brrrrrr. It was approximately 100 million degrees below zero in downtown Chicago yesterday, but that didn't stop us from a Very Important Mission: Find a Gettin' Married Dress for Melissa.

Four of us ventured out: Mel, daughter Kirstin, sister Sue, and Me. Momo dislikes cold weather a bit more intensely than the rest of us, and bowed out when she found that we were going to drag her around for approximately 12 hours in the midst of it. We promised not to have a lick of fun without her.

I confess: While fighting off frostbite and running noses and watering eyes that literally froze on our faces, we might have, accidentally, had intermittent bouts of fun.

I'm splitting this blog up into a few highlighted entries.

*************

In The Unofficial Guide to Chicago, there is a section called "How to Avoid Crime and Keep Safe in Public Places." One sentence reads:
Women, keep your purses tucked tightly under you arm. If you're wearing a jacket, put it on over your shoulder strap.
This lady took that advice to heart. I admit that she's unlikely to have her purse stolen. Still, it does kind of accentuate her hips, don't you think?


Well, that's all for Part I. Read on, if ye wish.

Chicago II: Kicked Out of Ladies Accessories in Macy's

We found ourselves at Macy's on Michigan Avenue late in the afternoon. On the way up to the kid's department, we pulled over to check out Ladies Accessories. We were looking at scarves & wraps, but got side-tracked in the hat department. Melissa and Kirstin are looking chic in these floppy hats:


In light of the sub-zero temperatures, Melissa just wanted to cozy up in this one for a second.



As she posed for this one, a hateful voice ring out from the counter some 20 feet away: HEY YOU LADIES! NO TAKING PICTURES!!!

The clerk apparently couldn't be interrupted to walk over and politely request and/or explain the "no taking pictures of hats" policy that she felt obliged to enforce.

I didn't care for that.

So I took her picture.




Seriously, what could Macy's possibly have to gain by this "policy"? Do they fear we'll create own Roadkill Hat Knock-offs, and rob them of precious profits? We weren't in a designer section of the store, we were just kicking around hats and scarves, and crap that will be 70% off in about 10 more days.

No Smiling or Laughing at Macy's, people. Just give them your money and be on your way.

Chicago III: (Dressing) Room with a View

Later in the afternoon, when we were wearing down and readying for a chair and a hot chocolate/caffeine somewhere, we found ourselves heading to a dressing room with armloads of dresses and clothes for Kirstin to try on.

Hallelujah: A dressing room with a view, and a cool marble ledge to rest our weary bodies. I myself was dressed for the outdoors, and overheating, with silk long johns, heavy coat, scarf, and gloves. I peeled outerwear and, having the dressing room to ourselves, spread out on the marble to cool off. Sssssssssssizzzle!

While Kirsty got about trying on dresses, we had ourselves a little photo shoot:

Me & Sue:

Kitten Lori:
Demure Melissa:
And our baby Kirsty, after we'd chosen THE dress, which I will not show you here, cuz it's a s'prise!


We had a howling good time in "our" dressing room, walking along the ledge and messing around, laughing and screaming like we owned the place. Oddly enough, no one joined us in that room while we were there, can you imagine?!

Tired when we entered, it was comic relief that cooled us off and energized our spirit; we left giggling and on our way, finally, to:

Hot chocolates, lattes, and a brownie sundae with 4 spoons was enough to move us to the next leg of our trip.