Friday, March 5, 2010

Self-Help For Dummies

I have really tried to be a better person. I have tried being grateful for the little sunshine in February. I have tried starting out every day with a new outlook. I have tried pretending to read self-help books. (I said "pretending to read" because anyone that knows me knows that I think self-help books are a load of crap...which they are. Seriously, if you buy a self-help book, aren't you going to pick the one that tells you what you want to hear or what you already know? Of course you are. So, save your money and spend it on something that will REALLY help booze.)
So, I decided that I would forgo all the "planned" ways to change my life and do something a lot more free-form. Yes, my friends, I went with the lazy route to changing one's life because that way you don't have to adhere to any rules, or even guidelines, for that matter. I mean, if you say that you are going to wake up every day with a smile and then one day you don't then you have failed. BUT, if you go on some nebulous "spiritual journey" then you can pretty much do whatever you want and just say it's a part of the trip, which, in and of itself makes the whole thing doomed. However, I still thought that it was worth a try and went on my little spiritual journey unbeknownst to anyone but myself.

I decided that I would try to be less materialistic. I would think about all the poor people in Haiti and be thankful for my stupid house with the shitty threadbare carpet and the light fixtures that don't fucking work. I would be happy with my 5 year old Old Navy pants that are fraying at the cuffs and my hand-me-down shirts from my friend Laura whose style is more Las Vegas than a showgirl. I would be excited about my stupid fucking job and grateful to have it.

Well, you can see where this is going. My spiritual journey consisted of a lot of soul-searching and the conclusion I came up with was: Spiritual journeys are stupid. Once I was at peace with that, I bitched to my husband about the house, I painted my toenails black and I went to a tanning salon to take the edge off my post-spiritual-journey paleness.

Now I feel much better.

In other news, I also turned my back on my solemn promise never to watch Jay Leno on the Tonight Show (because I think he's a tool for what he did to Conan O'Brien) and watched his show just to see Adam Lambert.

This is not the best picture of him from the performance, but check out that eye make-up! This totally clinches the deal for me...I am dressing up like Adam Lambert for Halloween. I am going to get some Swarovski crystals and glue those suckers right to my face. I am hoping I can talk my whole family into being Adam Lambert. Now, that would be a picture for our Christmas Card!
Speaking of Adam Lambert, could American Idol SUCK any more this season? The best part of it so far is Ellen because she is so funny, but her big ears are starting to be too much of a distraction for me.Now, don't get me wrong; I love Ellen and think she's great on Idol, but she needs to grow her hair out a little. Watch Idol next week...I bet you will be staring at Ellen's ears now.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

Well, if you know me at all, then you know that I am endlessly bitching about my job. I used to call it my SAJ (Stupid Ass Job) but I have since upgraded it to SFJ (Stupid Fucking Job). I tell people that I keep trying to get fired, but that damn work-ethic that my father instilled in me just keeps rearing it's ugly head. I can't seem to screw around enough to get in trouble. So, I am going for insubordination.
Let me backtrack just a little...if you don't know what my SFJ is I will fill you in. I work in the financial aid department at our local junior college. I do a variety of things but, as you might guess, a lot of what I do involves numbers and tax returns and loans and percentages and shit like that. Considering my prowess at anything mathematical or precise (Just ask my friend Pat how fabulously I did in Economics in college. I hate to keep bringing this up, but he actually told me I was STUPID when he was trying to tutor me. He continues to deny it, but I remember it like it was yesterday. The truth is, I wasn't being stupid, I just didn't give a crap.) you can imagine how interesting I find my job. However, I don't just look at financial aid files all day because my boss discovered that my true gift is "customer service" and problem solving. I know, I know...I said customer service. Apparently my boss didn't notice that I am surly, bitchy and hung over most of the time.
Anyway, I answer all the emails for the department and sometimes I deign to answer the phone. And, I have discovered that what I have always said is, in fact, true: People are stupid. I love it when people call up and want to get some of that "Obama money". Like Obama got elected, decided that everyone should get to go to school for free and now all you have to do is call your local financial aid office and we will just write you a check. Because these stupid idiots don't know how the government works. Welcome to junior college.
So, last week a student called up and wanted to know why we were revoking his financial aid. I did not take this call personally, my colleague did. She was patiently trying to explain to the student that you cannot receive federal aid if you don't maintain a 2.0 grade point average (which isn't that difficult in junior college. I think a monkey could maintain a 2.0 GPA at our school if they got the right classes) complete at least 67% of your classes and/or achieve your associate's degree or transfer by the time you have taken 90 credit hours. So, I could tell that this student was giving my co-worker a really bad time so I went over to her and told her to put the student on hold. She did and told me the student's problem and showed me his file, etc. I looked and saw that this student had been at our institution for a number of years. Seriously folks, it's a two-year junior college. He had been skating by with less than a 2.0 GPA for a number of semesters and my boss continued to allow him to have financial aid until he got his shit together, which the student did. However, my boss made it very clear that if the student fucked up one more time he was not to get any more aid. Well, the student did sort-of fuck up and his aid was revoked. I carefully read my boss's comments about how this kid was not to get any more aid UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!
So, I immediately restored the kid's financial aid. I totally disregarded my boss's comments and told my co-worker to tell the kid he had his financial aid back. I then wrote a note in his physical file that I was responsible for over-riding my boss and I made a note in his computer file as well. I told my co-worker to tell the little snot that I restored his aid and I assured her that I was going to take full responsibility. She tensely did so and hung up. Now, keep in mind that she is a full time employee and I am a part-time temp who works 20 hours a week, if I feel like it and I just come and go as I choose. I don't like to have set hours or a set day I just let everyone know from day to day if I will be there the next day. Whatever. co-worker was pretty nervous about this whole thing so I said, "It's okay. Give me the file and I will go and tell the boss what I did."
Here is the conversation I had with my boss (who is a man, by the way):

Me: "Hey, can you move your coat off the chair so I can sit down and tell you what I just did?"
Boss: "What do you mean?"
Me: "Well, this student was on the phone and he was being a real dick..."
Boss (interrupting): "A dick? That's not really a very descriptive term."
Me: "Um...okay. How about prick?"
Boss: "Well..."
Me: "I could call him what I call my ex-husband."
Boss: "What's that?"
Me: "Asshole. Of course, that's what I call my current husband too, so..."
Boss: "You better tell me what happened before I get on your list of assholes."
Me: (Pause, during which I narrowed my eyes and looked right in my boss's eyes) "What makes you think you aren't already on it?"

But, he did not fire me. He laughed like I was the most delightful thing he had ever come across. Then I followed up that exchange with the information that I had completely ignored his explicit instructions and restored this kid's aid.
Again, not enough to get fired. He actually said that he never would have even questioned it if he saw my initials on the file. Wow. I literally think I would have to come in drunk and set the place on fire to get canned.

So I have this damn job that pays well, that I do well, but makes me miserable.

The highlight of my day today was going to the gym and walking on the treadmill. All the treadmills have little flat-screen televisions attached to them. I always turn it off and stare at my reflection in the monitor. Today I had my favorite Morrissey t-shirt on
(it says "Je Suis Morrissey" on the front and on the back it says "It's Morrissey's town, we just live in it." It's just plain black with white writing and I love it. Morrissey wore the exact same t-shirt for an encore when I saw him from the front row and I knew then that I had to have one too) and I could see my face and about to the bottom of my ribcage in the monitor. I put my IPod on shuffle and started walking. The first song was Fever by Adam Lambert. It's a sassy dance song being played in gay bars all over the country. I love that song, so I was looking at myself in the monitor and mouthing the words and winking at myself. I must have looked like a fucking lunatic.
The next few songs were by The Smiths, Morrissey, Madonna, Morrissey again, Kylie Minogue and George Michael.
Deep down inside I am a gay man.
And let me just say this...if I were a gay man I would be the emo, black fingernail polish wearing, make-up loving type. Just like Adam Lambert. Because he knows what I have always been vowing is true...everyone looks better with make-up on. Give me a break. I love it when celebrity magazines have their "Stars without Make-up!" special issue. Then they put pictures of celebrities with their make-up on next to a picture of the same celebrity without make-up. The funny thing is, they usually ask the question, "Better with or without?" and they have statistics for each celebrity. Like..."67% of people think Jessica Alba looks better WITHOUT make-up than with it!"
No fucking way. Everybody looks better with makeup.
Case in point: If it weren't for a very talented make-up artist, a fortunate camera angle and an artfully done upward glance, Renee is a very, very plain Jane...and I am being generous.

In any case, maybe tomorrow I can get fired. Any suggestions?

Monday, October 26, 2009

That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

Here is Bronte's new soccer picture. Doesn't she look great? I am glad she is such a grinner and not one of those kids who has to plaster a big smile on her face for every photo op. This way you can't see how goofy her teeth are. You know what I mean...when a kid at this age starts to get in her adult teeth, her mouth just looks weird. So, grinning is good.

Tony is the coach of Bronte's soccer team. I volunteer him to coach for everything. It started when Bronte played T-Ball in kindergarten and has just become a tradition. I decide Bronte is going to play a sport and then Tony counts the minutes before I tell him that he's coaching. He used to be pissed about it, but now he is just resigned to it. At least I know that if Tony coaches then Bronte will actually learn a sport rather than just worry about what the post-game snack is. Anyway, this year his co-coach is my good friend Gina. She has coached soccer with him before and last season they also coached softball together. The reason they coach together is to be sure that our daughters get on the same team. The problem with the two of them coaching together is that they are both ultra-competitive and this house soccer league is NOT competitive. It's one of those stupid pussy leagues in which, if your team gets up by 3 goals then you are supposed to "dial it back". That means that you should tell the girls to play with their left feet only, or put your really weak players in at the forward positions. The problem with this is, even our weakest players are so much better than some of the best players on some of the teams we play that we still wind up kicking their asses.

I have a real problem with this. I think that if a team is well coached and the kids play well they ought to be allowed to score. I'm not saying that the score should be 20-0, but if we win 5-0 who gives a shit? So, are we supposed to tell the kids, "Now don't try too hard because we don't want to hurt any one's feelings!" What a load of crap. If our team is better, well then we are just better and we should be allowed to win. We aren't even supposed to keep score, for crying out loud. So, my question is, if we aren't keeping score then how do we know when we are up by more than 3 goals? If I was the coach I would just play dumb and let the kids score as often as possible. Then when I was called on it I would say, "Well, I wasn't keeping score. I am just here for the fun of the game and the post-game snack! Who gives a flying fuck anyway seeing as everyone gets the same lame-ass trophy at the end of the season even if they SUCK!" I daresay that is why tony won't even let me help at the practices, let alone coach a game if he's out of town. He would rather forfeit. So anyway, Gina has a tendency to be a little competitive too, but she and Tony manage to keep it in check.

So I get to sit on the side-lines with Gina's husband Jason. Jason, I have to add, may be the only person I have ever met who could really challenge me in a smart-ass contest. I still think I would win, but he might come close. For example, when our kids were playing softball last season, whenever his daughter would pitch he would tell her to make sure to hit the first couple of kids with a pitch because then the rest of the batters would be scared.

That's Jason. He does coach his son's football team. He is the kind of dad who videos the game and watches it with his kid afterwards to critique his performance. Too bad you can't see his whole head in this picture because he is bald and we all know how much I like bald guys. Even my kids will point out the hot bald guys to me when we are out. I think it all started when I saw The King and I. Yul Brynner was the hottest thing I ever saw. Other hot bald guys, Bruce Willis. He just oozes sexiness. I also like Ralph Fiennes. He isn't always bald in his movies, but he should be. Stanley Tucci. Rumor has it that he is gay, but if there's one thing I like more than bald guys it's gay guys. We all know that. Adam Lambert, case in point. (I will take any opportunity to gaze upon Adam Lambert.) So imagine the appeal of a BALD gay guy! Yummy.
Back to Jason. In this stupid pussy soccer league where we aren't supposed to win, a lot of the coaches wives make scrunchies for the kids on the team. If you aren't familiar with scrunchies let me tell you about them. You start with a regular ponytail holder. Then you find a bunch of ribbons the same color as your jersey and other decorative ribbons with soccer balls or whatever. You cut the ribbons about 3 inches long and tie them all over the ponytail holder and voilĂ ! A scrunchie. As you can imagine, the idea of team scrunchies goes against everything I think team sports are about. Needless to say, Jason the smart-ass has been all over my case to make team scrunchies since Gina and Tony started coaching 3 teams ago. Every time one of the girls gets a foul in a game he mutters, "Well, if they had those matching scrunchies..." He reminded me how much better our team photo would have looked if the girls had their team scrunchies. Jason loves to remind me that as the coaches wife it is my job to make the scrunchies. I love to remind him that he is a coaches WIFE too so he should make the idiotic scrunchies. He then points out that I am the HEAD coaches wife so scrunchies are clearly my job. It has gotten to the point where whenever we play a team with matching scrunchies I just roll my eyes and wait for Jason to say something about the fact that we don't have any mother-fucking scrunchies.
I swear I am going to make those stupid scrunchies. And I am going to find the sparkliest ribbons I can. I told him once that I was going to make them and I was going to be sure to make one for Gina too and I expected to see her wearing it for every game. His response? "Make her two so she can have pigtails. It'll go perfect with her school-girl outfit." Smart-ass. When I do make them I am going to make one really big one he can wear around his head. And he will, my friend. Yes he will. I would just make him an honorary scrunchie for his rear-view mirror, but I shudder to think where he might wear it one night after a couple of drinks.
For all the crap Jason gives me about scrunchies, you still have to love the guy. After all, he did make me a CD called "White Trash Anthems". My favorite song on that CD is My Wife Left Me For Jesus.
One afternoon I went to a local bar for a glass of wine with a friend while our kids were in dance class. Oh, who am I kidding? That dance class is an hour long...we really planned on having 3 glasses of wine. So, we walked into the bar and sat down. I looked around after slamming my first glass of wine and who was sitting at the bar but Jason! But he wasn't alone. OH NO! He was with a woman, and that woman wasn't Gina. So, I watched him just to see what was going to happen. I didn't really think that Jason was stupid enough to cheat on Gina (because she's a babe with a rockin' body) or that if he did cheat on her he would be in a crowded bar IN TOWN. But, hope springs eternal and I thought I would watch for a few minutes to see if he touched her inappropriately or something. I figured if I caught him even flirting with another woman I could use it to get him off my back about the fucking scrunchies. Plus, he and Gina seem to have such a great marriage I was pretty much looking for the chink in that marriage armour. Maybe they were swingers and he was trolling for a new couple for some swapping. I didn't know, but after i slammed my second glass of wine, I decided to go over and say hello. Well, OF COURSE it was his business partner and OF COURSE he introduced me and there wasn't anything unseemly about it. Actually, after I was introduced to her she reminded me that we had met before at their house. Oh well. So much for my blackmail material.
Seriously, though. Jason may be a smart-ass. Jason may be competitive. Jason may be like a dog with a bone when it comes to the scrunchies. (Which he will receive wrapped around a brick through his car window.) But he is also a really great dad. His kids are unfailingly polite and nice and loyal and gorgeous. (Jason would probably remind me to throw in "gifted" at this point.) He is a very devoted husband. When Gina was turning a particular age, her mother wanted to throw her a surprise party. Jason, on the other hand, knew that she did not want a party so he refused to help. Sure, some might say that was just a convenient excuse to get out of helping, but I CHOSE to see it as loyalty because I like to see the good in everyone.
I do have a favorite Jason story. Get a Kleenex.
When my dad died we had his memorial service over Spring Break. I knew Gina and the kids were not going to be in town and I just assumed that Jason was going to be with them. Gina expressed her regret that she would not be able to be at my father's memorial service and I said I completely understood. Then I concentrated on the service and my mother and all the other things that went with orchestrating the entire thing. Brenna sang at the service and Bronte did a reading and I did the eulogy. It was a beautiful service and afterward my family and I greeted people as they left the sanctuary and went to the other room for a light lunch. All of a sudden Jason came up to me and gave me a hug. I was so surprised to see him because I thought they were all out of town. Well, for whatever reason he had to stay behind and so he came to the service. Not only did was I touched that he made the effort to find out when the service was and show, but I was very moved by the fact that my family was important enough to him to come. He wrote Bronte a beautiful little note during the service and gave it to her afterward and later called my cell phone and left me a message about how impressed he was by the Phipps girls that day and how beautifully the memorial was pulled off and what a tribute it was to my father.
I saved that message until I recently replaced my cell phone. I used to listen to it when I missed my dad or I was feeling down and friendless. His presence and that message meant so much to me. I'll bet he has no idea.
Plus, the man bought me a fabulous t-shirt at the Spinal Tap concert. That's two thumbs up for Jason. First, he knows and appreciates Spinal Tap and second (and more importantly) he bought me something.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Niceness is over-rated.

My friend Jim has got to be one of the nicest people I know. I am not sure if that is a compliment or not because I have never, ever been described as nice (Seriously, when you think of me is "nice" the first word you would use to describe me? I don't think so. I don't even think it would be the tenth word you would use. I think it would be somewhere around...well, where ever you would place the word "perky" in that list. You get the picture.) and because of that maybe I have a skewed sense of what constitutes nice. However, I do have a lot of really nice friends for some weird reason. I have no idea why. I mean, these are people that, not only do I think they're nice, but other people do too. Therefore they must have some other character flaw that makes them want to befriend me, but that doesn't take away from their inherent nice-ness.

In any case, Jim is really nice. I say this because he is the only person that I know that, even when he is rightfully and HUGELY angry with someone, rather than say something awful and mean to that person, he doesn't. He told me that he had such an opportunity recently and rather than call his former friend a stupid mother-fucking jerk (which is what I would have done) or something like that...he thought of the immortal words of Thumper. Yes, Thumper of Bambi fame. Those words are, "If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all."

Honestly. Now, I know I have told my children the same thing (only grammatically correctly and with the "g"s on the ends of the words---I mean, I'm not Sarah Palin) but I don't really mean it. C'mon! I just say that so they won't say mean things to ME, but I have no problem with them saying mean things to someone who is crappy to them. Sometimes I even do it for them. For example, when Brenna was in 3 year old pre-school she dressed up like Peter Pan for Halloween. Unfortunately, that was not a year the Peter Pan was particularly popular so I had to run around like a moron trying to find her a damn costume. I couldn't find a green leotard or leggings to save my life. I ended up finding her a hat at a drunken Oktoberfest party at a bar. I'm surprised I was coherent enough to think to buy it...but that's another story. ANYWAY, Brenna was dressed up like Peter Pan in a room full of princesses. I was proud of her originality, but one of the other little girls walked up to her and said, "Are you supposed to be Peter Pan? Peter Pan is a BOY. Are you a BOY? You can't be Peter Pan."

Well, Brenna just stood there and I could see that her feelings were hurt and that this costume that she had been so proud of and that I had busted my ass to get together was losing it's shine for her. Let me tell you, I wasn't going to let some bitchy little 3 year old brat take this away from her. So, of course I rationally explained to the child that Peter Pan was notoriously played by a woman on the Broadway stage and that the part was really written for a girl to make Peter Pan more childlike and that it was all about pretend anyway, just like Halloween!

No, of course I didn't REALLY do that. I ripped her a new one. I looked at her and said, "Are you supposed to be a princess? Princesses are supposed to be tall and blond and have royal blood in their veins. Are you royalty? Well, then you can't be a princess!"

True story. I was a complete and utter bitch to a poor 3 year old on Halloween. She had it coming. Thumper's flawless philosophy never even crossed my adult mind because I was pissed off. I'm sure Jim would have patted this child on the head and said something nice about her stupid princess costume and been, well, you know, a grown-up. Good for Jim.

My friend Crystal's husband Glenn is really nice too. He just can't help it. I totally don't get it. He's so nice that it bothers him when people around him aren't nice to each other in his presence. One night Tony and the kids and I were over at their house for dinner. The adults were sitting on the deck drinking wine while the kids were making us dinner. It was the kid's idea! I swear! However, I am going to suggest that the next time they want to do something like that they should learn to mix a martini or something too... In any case, the kids were all inside and we were outside and Tony and I were bickering back and forth about something. I am sure I was annoyed with him because (and I know he will agree with me on this point) I am usually annoyed with him about something. So there were were sniping at each other (but smiling the whole time) and Glenn is getting more and more discombobulated and uncomfortable because we are bickering, albeit playfully. And even though I knew I was teetering on the edge of being a really shitty guest by continuing, I suddenly looked at Tony and said, "You're just an asshole."
Well, that pushed Glenn right over the edge. He said something like, "Okay, okay. Now my rule is that when you say something mean to somebody you have to immediately follow it up by saying two NICE things to that person."
I was still annoyed with Tony, but I decided that, in the interest of being a good guest I would play his silly little reindeer game. So I looked at Tony and said, "You're really good at being an asshole. In fact, you are so good at it, you could be a professional asshole."
Then Tony and Crystal and I busted out laughing while Glenn sat there trying to figure out how his nice little game had gone so horribly, horribly wrong.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer's here

Summer finally came to Palatine, Illinois. So I packed up my sunscreen and my kid and went to the pool. Now, our pool here in Palatine is not just a stupid lap pool with a diving board. Nope, it's called the Family Aquatic Center and it is like a mini water park. It's one of the reasons we moved to Palatine. You see, I grew up in a town called Crystal Lake. (Yes, just like the Friday the 13th movies. Nothing as exciting as some crazed killer in a hockey mask killing horny teenagers having sex in a cabin happened in my hometown. If that had happened, my graduating class would have been cut in half.)Well, we didn't have public pools in Crystal Lake because we had...a LAKE. However, every year when I went to visit my cousins in New Jersey we went to their town's public pool. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. Plus, even at a young age I had all kinds of OCD crap going on. I don't like sand because it never really washes all the way off and I hated getting in the car with sand anywhere on my body or feet. And all the sand gets stuck to your wet towel and then you can't wrap it around yourself or you get even more sand stuck to you. I don't like lakes because there's all kinds of green algae crap floating around. Additionally, when you walk around in a lake you never know what you are going to step on. That just creeps me out. And, the water is really murky so you KNOW all the kids pee in there because nobody can tell if you're peeing or not. So, the idea of a public pool was quite exciting for me.
Therefore, when we were looking at houses and I found out that the Palatine Park District has a plethora of public pools for our summer swimming pleasure I was thrilled. In the summer the pool is my happy place. I love the smell of chlorine and sunscreen.
The best thing about the pool though is the people watching. Today was a banner day for that because it is Saturday and everybody and their brother was at the pool. Here are some of the highlights:
I enjoyed the Middle Eastern man with so much body hair that he looked like a Brillo pad. However, he looked like he had been heavily dusted with powdered sugar, but only from his nipples up. Honestly, the abundance of hair from his nipples up was pure white. Then, right at his neck the hair just ended. Everything from there up was bald. I don't even think he had eyebrows. It was the weirdest thing.
I enjoyed the really skinny mom of two with the worst boob job ever. They looked like two cupcakes stuck on a skeleton. She was really proud of them too because her bathing suit top (she had on a tankini) was cut down to her naval. I couldn't stop looking at them. She probably thought I was a lesbian.
Speaking of lesbians, there was a lesbian couple there. (At least I assume they were lesbians. I suppose they could have been 50 year old spinster sisters with their adopted Chinese kid. I am going with the lesbian assumption though.) They stood out not because they were lesbians, but because they looked exactly alike. They looked like a 50 year old version of Chastity Bono. Okay, that's a picture of Chastity Bono. She goes by the name CHAZ now and is undergoing a sex change operation. (I'm throwing that in there for my non-People reading friends.)
Anyway, the funniest thing about this couple was that they had on the exact same black bathing suit and they had stars tattooed all over their right calves. You couldn't help but do a double take.
AND, speaking of tattoos, I enjoyed the variety of tattoos today. There was a fairly large group of Hispanic men there today and they all had a tattoo of Jesus somewhere on their body. But not just any Jesus, it was the crying Jesus with the crown of thorns on His head. And these tattoos were HUGE. One guy had it on his upper chest and had the name Jesus tattooed around his belly button in 2 inch high letters. I don't know if he was labeling his tattoo (in case someone didn't know who it was) or if that was HIS name.
There was your usual group of trashy 20 year old girls with their tramp stamps. You have to wonder if some day they will wake up in the morning and say, "What was I thinking having the name of that motherfucker tattooed on my lower back surrounded by flowers and doves?"
I also enjoyed some of the hot dads. There was one that had a little boy and this dad was smokin' hot. He had a great tan (I think he was Italian, so he probably acquired that tan today) and a washboard stomach and the whitest teeth I've seen since Adam Lambert.Well, how about that? I managed to find a way to bring this all back to Adam Lambert, who I adore. I'm telling you, he was too good for American Idol. Seriously, that stage was just too small for my boy Adam. If I had a son I would want him to be just like Adam Lambert.
More on Adam Lambert later in the week...let's get back to the pool.
Here is the deal: most women who have had a kid or two do not have terrific bodies. One is bound to have a stretch mark (I don't, but I was extremely moisturized throughout both of my pregnancies) or a little cellulite or a less than tight stomach. I have an okay figure for a mom of my age, but I'm not going to the family Aquatic Center in a string bikini! Seriously, cover that shit up! I can't believe some of these women look at themselves in the strategically placed full length mirror in the locker room on the way out to the pool and think, "I look fantastic. I am going to take off my sarong today and show everyone as much as possible." I was sitting in the shallow end of the pool and this mom walked in front of me. Right when she was directly in my line of vision, she bent over at the waist to say something to her 2 year old. Good Lord! I felt like a gynecologist. No one wants to see that! Bottom line...never bend over at the waist in a bathing suit unless you are under the age of 10.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Dad

Well, it's been three weeks since my dad died. Three weeks. Three weeks seems like FOREVER when that's how many weeks there are until Christmas. Three weeks seems like a really short time when that's all the time there is before your 40th birthday. I'm not sure how I feel about three weeks in this case. All I know is that I wish I had three more weeks with my dad.
Seeing as many of you were unable to come to my dad's memorial service, I thought I would share a few photos of him with you

This picture was taken in the time I like to call "B.C." (Before Carolyn) I imagine that they were just on their way to church or something...I wonder who took the picture? Look how much happier everyone looks now that I have been born! Look at our fabulous short haircuts!
Ah yes, the Eighties were an ugly time for hair...and eyeglasses for that matter. I do believe that is a Guess jean jacket though. This is outside my apartment in college. This is how I remember my dad best. Smiling and always giving me a hug that was just this short of painful. I'm pretty sure he bought me some groceries before he left town. Beer too. Here is my dad with Brenna. I can't believe he's repotting that plant on the carpet! He was a notorious neat nick. I never would have gotten away with that when I was a kid. But for his princess granddaughter...anything!!
This was taken in my parent's place in Galena. We were just about to leave for my wedding to Tony. However, my dad was having a very important conversation with Brenna and we were a little late.
This is Dad with Bronte. At this point he was in the early stages of Alzheimer's. I wish Bronte had known him then. All her memories of Grampa are of the late stages. He always loved my kids though, even when he didn't know exactly who they were.
I know, it's hard to believe I was in a sorority. Don't worry, they wised up after a year and kicked me out. But they didn't kick me out until my dad was named Dad of the Year because of an essay I wrote about him. He was so surprised! I am glad I got the opportunity to let him know how much I thought of him. Even though he only got that lame Burger King crown and some kind of a statue, I know he was touched.
This is at my wedding to Tony. Dad was starting to show signs of Alzheimer's then, but not a whole lot. He had so much fun at the reception. AND, look at my fabulous shoes!

Planning Dad's memorial service was quite an undertaking. Pastor Morris (my buddy Michael) had a lot of ideas and things he had done before, all of which I nixed. I wanted very specific hymns, I wanted the Bible passages I wanted (Michael suggested talking about Moses and how God kept his promises to him. I said, "Didn't Moses get only to SEE the promised land, but not ACTUALLY GET THERE? Hmmm...") and I had a whole service mapped out. Michael just let me go with it.

The service opened with my friend Nancy singing "Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus)" and she was fantastic! I thought it would make me cry, but the love Nancy has for my family and her unwavering faith in Jesus made it so joyful. That set the tone. The whole rest of the service was just a joyous remembrance of my dad. Bronte read the 23rd Psalm and remembered to keep eye contact with the crowd. It was great. People stood up and remembered my dad with funny stories. Michael delivered a wonderfully uplifting sermon. Brenna sang "How Great Thou Art" after my eulogy and she made everyone smile and cry a little too.

Speaking of the it is: (Thanks to John Eaton for calling me just when I needed it and giving me the strength to get through it.)

Although I really have no fear of public speaking, I was a little nervous about getting up here today. The past week or so has been so difficult and I just didn’t know where to start with my memories about Dad. I didn’t want to get up here and break down or not make any sense because to eulogize one’s father is such a daunting task. Then I was reminded that this is an HONOR. It is an honor to be able to speak for my father. It is an honor to be able to tell you my memories of this wonderful man. It is an honor to share my father with you.
My father was a hard man to dislike. He had a story for every situation. He enjoyed every new experience, whether it was a musical downtown or ice fishing on Crystal Lake. Yes, he was opinionated. I recall hearing the phrase, “Well, you can do it my way or the wrong way,” more than once. Some might see that as arrogance, but I always saw it as confidence…and occasionally as an opportunity to prove him wrong. Dad constantly challenged me to do my best. I don’t think that he ever thought there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do if I just put my mind to it. He was never satisfied with taking the easy way out. Another of his famous phrases was, “anything worth doing is worth doing right.” As a kid I thought he was just impossible to please at times, but I am grateful every day that Dad had the confidence in me to strive for the best I could do. He always made me feel like I could do anything if I were determined. What greater gift to give a child? Although it would be easy to say that Dad pushed me, I would rather have the memory of his confidence in me than memories of someone who didn’t think I could ever amount to anything.
I remember my dad’s love of puzzles. He and my mother would do the Jumble in the newspaper everyday. They didn’t exactly do it together, but they did it simultaneously to see who could finish first. Also, I don’t believe a Sunday ever went by that he didn’t do the crossword puzzle in the Chicago Tribune. The funny thing is, my dad was allergic to newsprint. So, for the hour or so that he would work on the puzzle he would sneeze. Constantly. Dad liked to do the crossword puzzle alone. He didn’t share or ask for help ever, he liked to do it independently. I can only remember one exception to this; when Brenna was a little baby, she got a cold. Like any new mother, I panicked and didn’t sleep because she wasn’t sleeping and when she was sleeping I was watching her to be sure she didn’t STOP breathing. So, needless to say, I was exhausted. On the third day of Brenna’s cold, I was so tired I went over to my parent’s house and asked if they could just watch Brenna so I could rest for an hour. When I woke up from my nap, my mom was asleep on a blanket on the floor with Brenna asleep beside her and my dad was sitting in a chair with a crossword puzzle watching them both to make sure they didn’t STOP breathing. My dad saw that I was awake and came and sat by me on the couch. He looked at me and looked at my daughter, who he adored, and said, “Want to do my puzzle with me?” Honestly, I was so tired, all I wanted to do was sleep while Brenna was asleep, but he had never asked me (or anyone, to my knowledge) to do a crossword with him. So we sat there whispering about crossword puzzle clues and solving strategies until Brenna woke up.
Dad also loved what I always considered “old” movies, but truthfully were just the movies from his youth. Back in the days before cable television, all of the old movies were on Channel 9, but usually not during prime time. No, the movies my dad loved were on at midnight or 1:00 a.m. Well, that didn’t stop my dad from watching them, or from wanting to share them with me. I recall many a night being awakened at 11:55 p.m. so he and I could watch the Marx Brothers and eat popcorn. He and I would stay up and laugh and laugh. I don’t think my mother ever understood…
The dad of my childhood was someone who taught me how to keep a baseball scorecard and instilled my love of Cubs baseball by taking me to games and patiently explaining every aspect of the game to me. He also encouraged me to play sports, particularly softball. He would practice with me out in the backyard for hours so I wouldn’t be afraid of a sharply hit line drive. (You see, I wanted to play short-stop because my favorite Cub when I was 9 years old was Ivan DeJesus, the short-stop). However, no matter how many pitches he threw me in the backyard, Dad never could get me to hit the ball very well. I figured I could walk more than 50% of the time if I just didn’t swing at all, so I took my chances on a walk rather than try to hit. I was always afraid I’d hit a shallow pop fly and be humiliated. So, I just didn’t swing. That made Dad crazy, so he decided to become an umpire in my softball league. He was a very fair umpire too, except when it came to me. No matter where the pitches were when I was batting my dad called them strikes. He figured I would get angry enough at him for calling everything a strike that I was bound to take a swing eventually. I don’t recall how many games went by before I got sick of striking out and started hitting the ball.
Although it may not seem like it, my Dad was a very sensitive and gentle man. When I was in 4th grade, my parents bought me a dog; ToTo. I loved that dog. Toto was with me when I learned to drive, she was around for my first date and she saw me off to college and slept in my bed every time I came home. But, we all know that dogs don’t live forever. When my parents had to make the decision to put that dog to sleep, I was firmly entrenched in college life. I knew she was old and sick. The day my folks put her to sleep, they got in their car and drove out to University of Iowa so that they could tell me in person. They stayed all weekend and watched me cry and made sure I was okay before they left. This was not unexpected news, but my Dad knew that it would be devastating if I was alone. The presence of my Dad, a fierce dog lover, that weekend is something I will never forget.
Dad’s sarcasm is something that many of my friends recall about him. (Luckily I did not inherit that trait...) I know that many of my friends were unsure about how he felt about them upon meeting him because he had a sharp wit that made you wonder how he really felt. I know that he respected those who could give it right back to him.
Dad’s love for my mother and his joy at being able to spend his days with her made me believe that true love is not just a myth. I recall coming home to find them dancing in the family room with Frank Sinatra crooning from the stereo. I remember watching them walk down the streets of Galena hand in hand for many years. Neither of them ever left the house without a kiss and an “I love you.” The love they had for each other inspires me to this very day to be a better person and to show those that I love how I feel every day.
As Alzheimer’s robbed my father of his memory it also allowed me the gift of seeing him at his core. Although Dad didn’t know who I was near the end he always knew that I was someone who loved him. He enjoyed his grandchildren every time he saw them. He rejoiced in their attention and love. Alzheimer’s took my dad’s memory, but it didn’t touch his love.
Even though it is easy to wonder at God’s plan at a time like this, I am comforted by the words of Proverbs chapter 3.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him; and He will make your paths straight.” I know that my Dad has gotten the Ultimate promotion and that he is sitting at the right hand side of God.
I will miss my father every day. If I could see him one more time I would thank him for making me the person that I am, for making me the parent that I am. I am proud to be his daughter and I KNOW that he was proud to call me his daughter.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hello Gorgeous!!

Well, Jim has come and gone and my life will never be the same. Jim has been a loyal reader of this blog practically since it's inception. For upwards of two years we have commented on each others blogs and emailed back and forth. However, we had never heard the other's voice or seen each other in person. He lives in Los Angeles and I live here in Palatine, Illinois. I sorta figured we would never meet...but Jim loves to travel and Chicago is a pretty desirable destination so out he came! Plus, Valentine's Day weekend was the Catholic Drunken Fest and why in the world would you want to spend Valentine's Day with your loved one when you can spend it with a couple thousand drunken Catholics?
In any case, I was a little nervous about meeting Jim for the first time because, well...what if I hated him? (Notice how it never occurred to me that he might not like me.) That silly thought was laid to rest when I saw him coming down to baggage claim resplendent in his tiara. My first thought was, "Shit, I should have worn my tiara too," and my second thought was, "Good Lord. He's way bigger in person than on his blog."

Let me tell you, Jim is one great big hunk of MAN. He is tall and tan and fabulously handsome. He gave me a hug and then promised not to do it again. I was greatly relieved. Once he got his suitcases (yes, there were two suitcases for a four day trip) I tried to remember where I parked. I was also hoping that we would find enough to talk about on the car ride into the city. Well, that was needless worry, to be sure! Not only did Jim have LOTS to talk about, he even brought his own soundtrack! We no sooner got out of the parking garage and he popped a CD in my CD player. I tell you, if you've never heard Dame Shirley Bassey sing Pink's Get This Party Started, then you haven't really heard that song.
In any case, I have to respect someone who actually brings their own background music with them because, let's face it, the moment when you meet a total stranger who you've only exchanged emails with and could very likely be a crazy serial killer, you might as well be listening to music you like.
After we got to his hotel and went up to his room (Yes, I went to his room. Total stranger. Just met him an hour ago. Whatever.) he proceeded to unpack. This is when I was rendered speechless. Out of his suitcase he pulled already assembled and hung up outfits. He had a "preppy" look and a "dressier with tuxedo pants" look and various shoe choices to go with each. Seriously, I thought he was going to pull a coat rack (a'la Mary Poppins) out of there. When I go on vacation I just make sure I have enough of each required clothing item (i.e. underwear, shirts, pants, etc.) to last for however many days I will be gone. If I am really lucky, things might match..but at least I have enough to make it through. Jim, on the other hand, was pondering, "Whatever shall I wear to the Catholic Drunken Fest?" like he was standing in his own closet with a plethora of choices.
Once he had unpacked (and complained about the lack of drawers--I didn't realize people actually used the drawers in hotel rooms!) we went to dinner. After dinner we went back to his hotel room and laid on his bed while he showed me all the fun things you can find on Craig's List. Silly me, I thought it was a job finding site! Apparently you can find all KINDS of jobs on Craig's blow jobs. So we giggled and gossiped like a couple of sorority girls, then we had a pillow fight and then we did each other's hair!!
Just kidding. We did turn off the lights and look in other people's rooms from his window. Eventually I realized that I had to work in the morning so I left and got home at some silly hour.

The next night was the big Catholic fund raiser!! Jim came out on the train. (You really need to read his take on the night . I will hit on some of the things he missed.)
After I found Jim we went to a restaurant where my friend Laura is the hostess. We sat at the bar and waited for our designated driver, Nancy, to arrive. Nancy was at a wake and we bemoaned the fact that she couldn't get us to the Catholic Drunken Fest earlier, but we made the best of it and ordered drinks. Jim charmed the bartender and Laura until Nancy arrived.
Notice how tan Laura and Jim are. Jim is from California, so the tan was totally expected. Laura has a tanning bed in her house. Nancy and I adhere to the "it's winter in Chicago so of course we're pale" school of thought.
Once Nancy arrived and had her "I was at a wake and I'm going to have one drink even though I am the designated driver" drink we left. We went back to my house where Jim marveled at the Barbie Dream House in my living room and cringed at my IKEA furniture and my children charmed him with all their marvelous-ness (they were very anxious to meet my imaginary blog friend) we left for the fest. I have to add that we brought Jim's CD with us for our listening pleasure. Also, Jim was so excited about the snow--he was like a 3rd grader wishing for a snow day. I think it was just because he wanted to try on my enormous fur coat. This picture was taken at the very end of the night when they practically kicked us out. Yes, I believe that we were absolutely the LAST people to vacate the premises. The Catholic guard actually escorted us to the coat check where they waited for us with our coats in hand. The coat check folks were very anxious to see who was stupid enough to check a fur at a high school fund raiser. The kids working the coat check probably laid my coat on the floor and made out on it. (I would say they had sex on it, but we all know that Catholics believe in abstaining from sex until marriage...just like Sarah Palin's daughter....)Both Nancy and Jim were thrilled when they saw the sign advertising MEN. Imagine their disappointment when they followed the arrow and only found a bathroom. I think they were hoping their drink tickets were good for more than just cocktails.Okay. Keep in mind when you are gazing on the photo of Nancy and me in front of the Love Muffin that we are actually in a private Catholic High School. I believe the students themselves do the bulk of the decorating. Hmmm...wonder how that abstinence program is working at this school? You can tell by the look on my face that I know what a Love Muffin is.You know I must have had a few drinks at this point because I am voluntarily hugging Jim. (Jim claims I am a closet hugger. He actually counted how many times we hugged during his visit. Again...we were drinking. I'm sure we've all uttered, "I love you man!" while tipsy.) My favorite thing about this photo is how great our teeth look. Jim told me I look like a "fucking Osmond"! So, I think perhaps our designated driver had a couple of cocktails... Just kidding! Nancy only had one and she nursed it for hours. The thing you gotta love about Nancy is that she doesn't even have to be drunk to pretend like she's getting eaten by a giant pickle. This is just some random guy who wouldn't leave until I took his picture. The thing is, I think I actually argued with him about it a little bit before I just took the shot. I mean, I have a digital camera, right? I could have just deleted it...but NO! I wanted him to move along. Nancy did too, but (as you can see from the photo) she didn't want him to knock over her drink. After all, she was only going to have ONE!
Jesus Christ! We found Him at the Catholic Drunk Fest! Nancy was so excited she did the splits and didn't even spill her (ONE) drink! This was the only indication that we were in a Catholic institution that we found all night. Oh no! I take that back. At one point Jim was getting a drink and asked the bartender where all the gay priests were and the bartender introduced herself. I think her name was Sister Mary Nancy... Nothing says "Catholic Fund Raiser" like a bartending nun! At the end of the night we still had quite a few drink tickets. I bought a ton of them and then Jim bought more because he mistakenly thought we were out. Plus, I think we got a few free drinks along the way. I know the bartender in the "wine room" kept refilling my wine glass and refusing my tickets. I think she was flirting with me. Whatever. I flirted back as long as the wine was flowing. You wouldn't know it from these photos, (I am famous for bringing my camera with me everywhere and then forgetting to take a single picture) but my friend Crystal was there too. However, she had to duck out early because she had to go to her daughter's music competition at 7:00 a.m. or some un-Godly hour. She should have just stayed with us! We would've kept her awake until then!

All in all, it was a fun night. I got home at 4:30 a.m. I'm still recovering.

Jim was delightful! If he doesn't come out for this event next year I simply won't go! I tell you though, we will have to charter a bus next year. I have a bunch of friends who were pissed they didn't get to meet Jim and come out with us. Selfishly I didn't invite a bunch of people because I wanted Jim all to myself. Next year maybe I'll share the wealth.

Some of my favorite Jim moments from his visit...
When I caught him petting my coat behind my back.
When he was relaying a conversation he had with someone and he said, "And I was all, 'What?' and he was all, 'Oh no, I don't think so,' and I was all, 'Whatever' ". I thought only Hannah Montana talked like that. Somehow, it works for Jim.
When he was all frustrated because he couldn't get the Hershey's kiss out of the bottom of his plastic martini glass.
When he told me after seeing my fox coat that, "You know I'm going to be trying that on at some point tonight."
When he ordered a deep dish pizza with 4 different kinds of cheese and then added BACON.

Come back soon, Jim! Love you!!!