Sunday, November 30, 2008

To get us all in the mood for Christmas....

The Good, the Bad, and the Giving of Thanks

I wrote the following entry on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but I never posted it. It’s been that weirdly busy with work, family, food, more family, and more food. So, in honor of Turkey Day passing, I thought I’d go ahead and post it anyway, even if it is like a really bad flashback. It’s my blog, after all, so whatever.

They say that you should start with a positive, give people the negative, then end with a positive. I don’t know who “they” is, exactly, but I’m going to try it to see if it helps buffer my complete lack of enthusiasm today – just a few days before a day of thanks and gratefulness for all that I love.

I had oatmeal for breakfast. In a mug. (That was the positive. Yep.)
I’ve been working for about 10 days straight now, with a day of tailgating thrown in that mix somewhere. It was the final, and coldest, tailgate of the year. I couldn’t even enjoy bloody marys...that’s precisely how cold it was. My once robust and caffeinated “I love my job so much” attitude has now been secretly replaced with the Negative Nancy Blend of Folgers’ “I am wondering why I took a salaried position to work 20 more hours a week and ultimately get half the money I made before I so stupidly listened to everyone telling me that salaried positions and 401Ks are for grown-ups and Daisywriter, you’re a grown up now” decaf thoughts. My mortgage payment went up without notice a few weeks ago. And, I can’t wait to see what Obama wants to take on top of that in 2009. I’m already stretching and limbering up to assume the position. I've always had a love/hate relationship with money, and for more than one reason this week, Mr. Money and I had some major tension going on behind the scenes.

So, this morning, I had my oatmeal. I did so in a very hurried, frantic manner, apparently, because it wasn’t until around noon today – a mere 5 hours later – that I realized that a huge hunk of dried up oatmeal was in my bangs. Just sitting there in all its glory, being thoroughly enjoyed by the three people I had meetings with, since it was lodged in the most conspicuous portion of my hair. It wasn't a little piece of oatmeal, mind you, but rather a nice chunk. And not one single person pointed this out to me. No one. Crickets chirping here. Oatmeal in my hair, people. I look like a homeless crack head alcoholic who just vomited in her own hair. Nice...really.

And, to top that all off (yes, there’s more), my Argentina trip was cancelled. That business class ticket (with the really big, comfortable, reclining seats) just flew right on out the window and my dream of a 2008 South American half-day adventure has been squelched. Because of safety issues. Safety shmafety. I mean, let’s get real - like someone would want to kidnap a homeless crack head alcoholic with dried-up puke in her bangs. As if.

So yeah. That was where I ended. Pathetic, huh? Which is why I shall do what I intended to do days ago and end on that positive note. Despite my bitchy attitude last week, I am still grateful for many, many things in my life, and I'm still the "glass half full" gal. As tradition calls, I shall provide my yearly notation of all the things I truly am grateful for, providing that uplifting exclamation point.

My Thanksgiving 2008, “I’m Thankful for” List
•My husband. I didn’t have one of those last year at this time. I like him.
•Dunkin Donuts’ coffee and flatbread sandwiches
•My backyard view
•My Jessica Simpson black stiletto boots
•Indiana sunsets
•Rock and roll – it’s not dead yet and still legal
•My stepson asking me for help with his English.
•My stepson actually listening to me when I help him with his English.
•Tailgating and bloody marys
•US magazine – fluffy, mindless, fabulous reading on a lazy Saturday afternoon
•My university teaching gig…the kids completely outweigh the fact that I’m sorely underpaid
•The MockDock
•A 5 am alarm clock in the shape of a brindle Great Dane nose
•An office with a door
•The stars at night (you can see more of them out in the country, you know)
•My new fashionably chocolate brown Carharrts (the one gift I know I’m getting for Christmas)
•Sephora. God bless Sephora.
•My new Venus, even if it does have a huge, gaping new scratch in it
•My stepdaughter’s friends telling me that I look 28, even though they have no idea what the difference is between 28 and 37 at their age. I take what I can get.
•The back two acres – cleared so I can see the new colt in the pasture.
•Michigan Avenue and the rest of that toddlin' town - only 3 short hours away
•The Bargersville flea market on a Sunday morning
•My fabulous Polish slippers
•Tito’s vodka
•Target…I really could live there.
•Indiana sunsets
•Shamwows. I don’t even have these yet, but they’re friggin GENIUS.
•Old, snoring dogs
•My best Nashville bud's boyfriend....home from Iraq, safe and sound
•Online Christmas shopping
•Family Guy
•New friends, and old friends that have become new again
•My Kohler, extra-big soaking tub
•My books
•My intellect
•My memories
•My health
•My friends
•My family

And there you have it. Another year of stuffing myself full of too much food, fun, and festivities with family galore. I didn't drink ANY VODKA this year, so I consider myself both classy and certifiably insane.

Thank God there's plenty of time to make up for my lack of Thanksgiving sins at Christmas.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hello Winter, Goodbye Tailgates...

Winter is officially here - early, I believe. I think we completely bypassed Fall and went straight to the gray, nasty winter stuff, to be honest. But Mr. Old Man Winter doesn't care about our feelings or our lack of Fallness. Instead, he just pelts us with his painfully cold presence before turkey day. Thanks, you old fart.

Just as the weather's getting icy, this Saturday marks our last home tailgate at Purdue, my Husband-man’s alma mater. As an SEC girl by southern, formative-year molding, I am quite loyal to my Volunteers. However, I also have a motto of “when in Rome...” And, I am definitely in Rome now – the Midwest – a.k.a. Big Ten country. As someone who is used to a 102,000+-seat stadium (largest football stadium in the South, fourth largest in the U.S., and the seventh largest in the world, to be exact), my first Purdue game was a little like watching a really, really big high school team in the South. However, I’ve grown to love the Boilers, I now root for them at will, and I will faithfully defend their honor against the likes of those pesky Michigan and (ick) I.U. fans alike. Weirdly enough, West Lafayette reminds me a bit of Knoxville – the campus layout, architecture, and overall spirit. It reminds me of that place I used to call home.

When Husband-man and I attended our first game this year, I told him that if we were going to make a habit of this Big Ten football-thing, then I insisted on tailgating our asses off and bringing a bit of the SEC to the Big Ten. If you’re going to do it, do it all the way, I say. As a result, we have grown from going to the game in a car with nothing to packing our little truck until it’s on the verge of bursting - full of gear, food, drink, and tailgating paraphernalia - all in one short season. I believe our tailgate will become progressively more dedicated as the years go by. And, I'd venture to say that we’re the only Big Ten tailgate that has an SEC flag waving right below the Purdue one – the big orange and white checkerboard flag flew proudly this year, despite the Vols’ monkey-ball-sucking season.

I haven’t made it back to Neyland Stadium to see my boys play in several years, and this year was a pretty painful one to watch when I did for brief moments at a time. But, I still love that town, that school, and my team. And, I know we’re in a pile of ashes right now, just waiting to be that Phoenix who comes out flying high, kicking butt again. I've been irritated, of course, but my hope still remains intact.

Until I make it back to Knoxville, I’ll put my energy into rooting for the Boilers and bringing that SEC “thing” to the Big Ten. But I couldn’t let the season come to an almost close without raising a proverbial 16-oz. can of Coors Light in one hand, a glass full of moonshine in the other, toasting my boys and singing a chorus of Rocky Top with slurred speech and a face painted tangerine orange. So, to make me happy as well as any random, diehard, loyal UT fans....this one's also for you. Because you know what they can take the girl out of Tennessee, but you can't take the Tennessee out of the girl...

Oh, wait. No. This one's even better.

This one was especially funny to me today. OK. That is all. My work is done here.


It's been a crazy couple of weeks. I've been asking people at work things like, "Hey...I've only been here like three months, so you tell me if this chaos is normal, or if it's just that time of year."

Apparently, the chaos, the working weekends, the juggling of 14 projects and hoping you are talking about the right one at any given time during conference calls - this is all the norm.

So, my norm today required a laugh. And what else do I turn to than a monkey for a bonafide giggle.

I'm sure I've posted him someplace before, but he's worth a second giggle.

All behold - Whiplash, the cowboy monkey.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Hairless, Toothless Puppy: Um, Huh?

So I read this on Yahoo this morning:

A four-month old puppy that goes by the name "Ears" is seen in Lima November 10, 2008. Peruvians crazy about their national dog the Peruvian Hairless Dog, a bald and often toothless breed popular among Incan kings, offered on Monday to send a hypoallergenic puppy to the Obama family.

Um, yeah. Toothless and hairless, I might add.

For those who know me at all, you know how maniacal I am about dogs. I have two Danes and a boxer, and there's always room for about 4 more in my house. Love dogs. LOVE.

But this dog? As the White House representative canine? For chrissake...if you want hypoallergenic, get a turtle. I'm sure he's lovable and all, but it's like picking Sandra Bernhard to be the next Miss America.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Horoscopes, Stilettos, and Slippers

I've always read my horoscope. I know some people think this is completely stupid and lame, but it's just a habit of mine that's stuck. Today, my little horoscope talked about how completely fierce I'd be, and then ended with this:

Wear the highest heels you can walk in without falling down, and loads of black. You're a killer. Grrr!

I really should've worn black and my highest stilettos today. After all, I booked my business-class ticket last night to Buenos Aires the first week of December. I'll be presenting a global branding strategy to a bunch of Latin American executives. And the ticket alone, I believe, cost more than my car is worth. It gave me a slight panic attack when I charged it to my corporate AMEX. Regardless, I feel as though I am entitled to act like an overbearing, ridiculously bratty rock star today.

It's funny, though...the whole "grrr" thing, seeing as how I worked at home today, in my pseudo-pajamas, didn't take a shower, shoved my hair into a ponytail, and I didn't change out of what could possibly be the most unassumingly fabulous footwear EVER. My friend Mockarena surprised me a few weeks ago with these homemade slippers - direct from her Polish grandmother. All the way from Poland, which is about as glamorous as Argentina. I mean, the woman knitted them with her bare hands in Poland, while speaking Polish (because she doesn't speak English). And as much of a heels-wearing girl that I am, I love these slippers as much as my red "power" stilettos. It's as if my own Polish grandmother (I may have had one of those in the woodpile somewhere) is hugging each one of my feet individually and serving them cocoa with those little marshmallows. They're like that unconditional, Grandmother love, wrapped in yarn, contoured to fit my size-9 feet. Absolute genius.

So, yes, I booked a ticket to a country a gazillion miles away. I'll be there, sans any counterparts, for approximately 18 hours without a plan other than to try to drink some of the city in. Do I feel fabulous? You bet I do. Am I a little nervous? Absolutely. That's good for me. And, I may never get to go to Argentina again, so I realize the enormity of the situation. Does it warrant my red stilettos? Quite possibly.

But for today, I shall wear slippers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lunch of Champions

Once upon a time, I used to eat really, really healthy. I mean, I was over-the-top healthy, with my raw fruits and veggies and my lean meats. I would never be caught dead at a vending machine, except for the occasional Snickers once every six months or so.

You know what I had for lunch today? Bright orange crackers. I mean, those weirdly neon-orange ones that look straight out of Chernobyl and conveniently placed in my office vending machine. My life and work have become so overwhelmingly busy in the past few weeks, that I've now resorted to skipping lunch altogether and eating unnaturally orange crackers. This is my Monday. Welcome aboard. Tomorrow, I'm thinking I'll live on the edge and get some Combos or some of that pricey trail mix that was made and packaged circa 1987.

Happy Monday, faithful followers!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

It's Official. I've Become a Grumpy Old Woman.

Or, at least I sound like a grumpy old woman. But hear me out.

I have been feeling all week as though the Kool-Aid has literally been consumed by a little over half the American population, and I’m just sitting and watching it happen. I've come to terms with it, and will be nice and polite to the looming socialist party. I just don’t know what the people in this country are thinking. I didn’t, that is, until I heard a few comments last week that have shaken my sense of democratic, patriotic stability a bit. The kids in this country – those pesky 18 to 25-year olds – have pretty much called the shots on this one, folks. And, I’m going out on a slight limb here when I say that they’re all a bunch of spoiled, over privileged little brats. Visionaries? I think not. The visionaries I've always looked up to weren't living off their parent's dollars.

I taught class last Thursday night and heard one of my students blabbing about how excited he is that we finally will have socialized medicine and "rich people will finally have to ante up.” This kid said, and I quote, that “people who make more than 150,000 dollars a year have the responsibility to pay for people who don’t make as much money as they do.”

Huh. OK. (My lip was bleeding at this point. I'm a professional...I'm a professional...)

Now let’s preamble, as I always do. I did the calculations one time, a few years ago, about how much money I actually make teaching at the university. It’s job number two for me, mainly because I couldn’t afford to eat if I made it my sole source of income. When I did the calculations, it came out to around 5 bucks an hour – less than minimum wage – when you take into account the hours of lesson planning, grading, driving there and back, etc. It’s more than obvious that I’m nowhere near making 150K a year. I wish I could say that I was, and I wish I could say that I made a dollar to every MAN’S dollar, too, but I can’t. But do I go through life wishing that I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth? Do I feel as though rich people have the responsibility to take care of me? Do I feel as though a rich person OWES me money that he or she made?

Um, no. I do not.

I don’t particularly like most rich people. I mean, I was married to one for eight years, and for the most part, those people were not smarter than me in any way. They didn’t have more class. They weren’t wittier or superior. They were just luckier, really. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that some people are smarter than others, some are luckier than others, and God didn’t put us all on this planet to be exactly the same. That’s the joy of it. As much as I love having money in my pocket, it never made me happier when I had it. For the most part, I thought about 75% of the rich people I lived among were pretty much pricks BECAUSE of the money they seemed to hide behind. But, never did I EVER feel as though they were responsible for me. Or my lot in life, for that matter.

The kid went on to say that his “parents taught (him) to give to those who needed it – (He) was raised to take care of others and be charitable.”

My lip bleeding profusely from biting it at this point, I answered with, “Well, that’s interesting, because my parents raised me to take responsibility for myself, my actions, to be independent and self-sufficient, and never expect anyone else to take care of me.”

To top off that lovely sentiment, I mentor young writers at work. One of them, in her first year out of school, actually made the statement this week – “I didn’t sit in class for four years to NOT be respected.”

Thank God I heard about this second-hand from one of my colleagues. I may have been fired for a potential response had I actually been there.

What is it with this generation? I know I sound like an 80-year old woman, but have we raised a bunch of kids who feel they’re entitled to everything? I myself have never birthed my own offspring, but I'm surrounded by them. And the vast majority of the ones I see in my life day-to-day have this air about them like the world owes them something. They’re the “time-out” generation – the kids who were put in a corner in their room when they were bad, forced to have quiet time (quite possibly with their flat-screen TVS and their 150-gig IPods). They’re the generation who all got trophies when they made 7th place in the track meet. What the hell is THAT? If you’re 7th, you LOSE. You’re a big, fat loser. Suck it up, kid. In real life, there is no trophy for 7th place.

As much as I love my stepkids and their friends, I see glimpses of that entitlement in them, too. The color-coded Christmas lists, the “I want, I want, I want” statements. The expectation that parents are responsible for certain things, 40-hour workweeks are only for people in their 30s, and every kid should have a car with a bow on it for their 16th birthday - not to mention a wardrobe that would be worthy of Imelda Marcos. They’re loving and kind and compassionate kids, for the most part, so I hold that as saving grace for them. But I’m also the wicked stepmother who reminds them that color-coded Christmas lists and the notion of entitlement are ridiculous bullshit. I’m a giver like that.

I told Husband-man that if we ever had a kid (and that may not be possible with the powdered eggs that linger in my uterus), I would try to raise the little person like my parents raised me. If I could just figure out how they did it, though. The genius way they made me love them so much, but fear them at the same time. I keep trying to figure out how they managed to do that, but neither my Mom nor Dad can answer me succinctly when I ask, “how did you make me believe that disappointing you in any way, shape, or form was the absolute WORST thing I could do in the world?”

So, back to that kid in my class. Upon his statement proclaiming that it was everyone else’s responsibility to take care of HIM, I answered, “Mr. Obama promised me that he’d have the national debt balanced in 4 years. In fact, his Vice President – that wonderful Mr. Biden - said it directly to me on TV one night during the campaign, so it must be true. I’ll be very happy to see that they’ve accomplished exactly what they’ve promised at the end of their term. I’m hopeful they will come through with all those many, many promises.”

And then I handed the self-absorbed little socialist bastard his C+ paper.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I'm just not ready to talk about it yet.

Yeah. Obama is President. I'm not stunned, per se...not really even fearful. Just disappointed in the direction of this country. I think I said it best in a comment I made to another site this morning, so I'll just post it here. And, yes, it's dripping in sarcasm:

The year was 2008, and everybody was finally equal. It’s going to be totally bitchin’ awesome to finally be lobotomized, chipped, and told where my hard-earned money is going to be spent. Phew. I mean, living in a democratic society where I had to actually use my feeble little capitalist brain and choose things on my own - such as my doctors and personal philanthropies - was so friggin EXHAUSTING. Thank you, Mr. Lawyer Congress man, for finally getting into power so I could quit thinking for myself!

God. Bless. America.

You know how I got through the elections last night? I watched Purple Rain. That's right. Purple Rain. Prince in all his purple, puffy-shirtified hotness. There's nothing like a little cheese, Appolonia, and Morris Day and the Time to get your mind off the upcoming demise of America.