Monday, December 31, 2007
Since I don't have any money, I wasn't sure how I was going to afford the move home. There are things to pay for when you move like moving trucks and house supplies and first month's rent and a gazillion other unforeseen expenses. Just when I was ready to crumple up in a heap and die, I had an idea: borrow the Wedding Money.
Back when ex and I were together, Ma let it slip that she had some Wedding Money stored for me. This might have been an incentive on her part for us to get married. Nice try. That was never going to happen. (Thank gawd!) But I did know in the back of my mind that I had an emergency fund. Just in case something horrible ever happened. Like me realizing I was on my way to bankruptcy in Chicago.
So after some cajoling and help from Dorothy, I convinced the Nerds to let me dip into the funds with the understanding that I would pay it back. I already owe them a ton of money from when I moved TO Chicago. Now I needed more money to get me out. Credit cards? Full. Bank account? Empty. Um...Dad?
When I moved into Farmhouse Villa, Ma tried to warn me about the propane tank. She told me it would be incredibly expensive. But like any good youngest stubborn child, I pshawed her worries. Whatevs. I've paid heat bills in Chicago. They made me cut open a vein and promise my first born just to get a driver's license. I also paid for City Stickers ($75 a year just to have a car in the city), car insurance, gas (which never went below $3-something a gallon) and, my personal favorite, cigarettes. Know how much cigarettes cost in Chicago? $7 a box. A BOX. Unless you're at a bar. Then they are $10 a box.
So anyway, I thought for sure all of my expenses would go DOWN in Iowa. My rent cut in half. This looked promising. My cell phone bill cut in half. Good again. Internet and cable? Not half, but less. New costs? $15 a month for trash pick up. I can handle that.
And then there is the propane.
So this morning, my poor father had to drive me a town over to go visit the propane people with his checkbook, a.k.a. the Wedding Money. To fill my little tank out back costs $2.25 a gallon. It's a 500 gallon tank. It needs to be filled roughly ONCE A MONTH.
As I watched Pa writing out the check and filling in the memo line, I envisioned him writing "Memo: Contract with Satan."
Dorothy keeps telling me she can't wait for me to own a house so I will realize how expensive they are. Dorothy, you are right. YOU ARE RIGHT. I have gotten myself in a bit over my head here. My propane costs more than my rent. For a month.
The thing is, I really like Farmhouse Villa. And it's only this cold right now. In fact, it's supposed to get up to 50 degrees on Sunday. A couple of more months and I won't need heat anymore. In Chicago, my windows were all cracked and my heater only kicked air out into the kitchen and living room. In my bedroom, I wore four layers to bed and shivered all night long. In my home office, there was ice on the insides of the windows in the winter. I've been cold before. I remember what it's like. So my little thermostat will NOT rise above 62 degrees for the rest of the winter. I just simply can't afford it. Unless I have guests over. They can have the special treatment. The problem? I work from home. And my home office isn't heated to begin with. Perhaps as a sign of love, or more like pity, my parents bought me an oil-filled heater yesterday for my office. It's like a little mini radiator. But as I eyeballed it and thought about its warm goodness, I started to wonder... what will that do to my electric bill?
Oh, and my car insurance is due on January 6th.
And I'm still paying off "last bills" from Chicago.
And my rent is due today.
And I think I'm going to sign off and go take a pill now.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
It's Sunday. Right now the Nerds are a town over going to church. I'm sure at some point, they will stand up and recite a creed. Let's see if I can remember one from my youth: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth..." Yep, still there. And even though I haven't been a regular church attendee for over a decade, it will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. Just like all of the moves to the Macarena.
But as far as what I do believe in, I believe in messages. Who are they from? Not sure. Jury is still out on that. But I believe that when the same message keeps getting repeated over and over again, the universe is trying to tell you something. The rub? Are you willing to listen? Can you hear it? That little voice telling you what to do?
Our fast-paced world often prevents us from being able to hear our inner voices. Except the crazy ones. I can hear those just fine. But living in Jungle City made it difficult for me to hear anything except traffic sounds. Research has proven that prolonged exposure to noise can cause increased stress and high blood pressure. I know, right? DUH. Anyway, I could barely hear anything in Chicago except the sound of my own unhappiness pounding me in the brain along with my ear whooshing. Oh yeah, my ear is STILL whooshing. And I can hear it a LOT better out here on the farm.
I can hear a lot of things better out here. Like the sound of myself. It's a quizzical voice that asks thoughtful questions. Just throws them out there. And then it makes statements, too. The number one statement?
You made the right decision. This is where you belong.
This voice has been confirmed by the lovely decorative item that Potato gave me the week I moved home. It's the one above. It's small, beautiful, lovely. And if I didn't already get the message from the universe fully, Ma gave me another one for Christmas:
When I told Ma what Potato had given me, she was upset because she had already bought me one. She thought I wouldn't want two. Yes, yes, I do. I love this message. I don't usually buy things like this for myself, so I am very glad others bought them for me. It reiterates the message. I will place them in two different rooms so I will always be seeing them. Reminding myself that this is where my story begins.
Once upon a time, there was a woman named Blondie. Just when she was ready to give up hope of ever being happy again, she decided to move to Iowa...
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Last night I went out in the Old Market with Featherplume. We had a great dinner and some drinks and then went to a little bar to hang out and wait to meet her husband, Egg. I told Featherplume I have come to a moment in time where I need to make some dating decisions. I am enjoying my life out in the middle of nowhere. I have learned how to fully function completely alone for the last year and a half. I have no need of men, really. I earn my own money, take care of my own home, and I own a vibrator. I could exist like this for the rest of my life and never date again. It's possible.
But then there is this other side of me that would like to have a life partner. The Nerds won't be alive forever. Dorothy has her own crew. And all of my close friends back here are married, almost all with children. They don't mind when I play tag-along. They welcome me into their homes and lives. But I know they would like to see me with a good man, too. They know that would make me happy. I certainly hope it would make me happy. Looking back, I wasn't very happy toward the end with my last boyfriend. Being in a couple can actually be HARDER than being single. It's a lot of work. Am I up for it?
So Featherplume told me she would be happy to search for men with me. She told me to just look around. See anything good?
You know what I saw?
Gold wedding bands.
We left the restaurant and went to the little kicky bar. More wedding bands.
I'm not stupid enough to think I will actually find someone to date in a bar in Omaha a month after I move home. It was experimental hunting. The men were hot, but they were married. Eventually, I found myself quite obsessed with the wedding rings. I started going up to men and pulling their hands out of their pockets to see if they had one. They didn't seem to mind. They were all drunk.
Shrinky and I talked once about online dating services. When ex and I broke up, I briefly signed up for eharmony in a fit of craziness. He hadn't even moved out yet, but I wanted to make him jealous by finding a new man. Oh, the games we play. I actually really liked the service and found a sweet guy. But I had to confess to him that I wasn't ready. I wrote him a goodbye note and shut down my account. Poof. Gone. Shrinky said she doesn't think I'm the kind of person who would be comfortable with e-dating. She's right. I prefer the natural way. But I have a problem. I live and work out in the country in a town where everyone is already married. In order to find single men, I have to leave my house--maybe even my town. And I'm sooo too lazy for that right now.
Kate knows me well. She told me the other day that I shouldn't feel guilty for wanting to just relax. She reminded me that I just moved back here from Chicago and my goal was to be around my family and now I am. I should enjoy it. I do. I'm so happy to be with my family. My cousin had a baby boy yesterday. I can't wait to go and snuggle the little Blonderson and give him love and kisses. I would have NEVER seen this baby if I was still in Chicago. It would have taken until next Christmas or something. But now I have endless opportunities and I will take advantage of them. I'll go see the little tot, even though he lives a WHOLE town over. Sigh.
Anyway, I can stay single perpetually if I want to. I'm OK with that. But it does seem to make people nervous. Married people are very confused by it around here. I'm sure they are wondering what is wrong with me or worrying that I'm the new local vixen who will eat their husbands for dinner. The red hair doesn't help. Ah, stereotypes. The interesting thing about all of this is that I was achingly lonely for a mate in Chicago. I wanted someone to hang out with and talk to. I was so so so lonely. I don't feel that same loneliness here. Maybe I didn't need a man, I just needed a nest. Companionship. Friends. Locals. Friendly smiles and mailman deliveries. I just needed someone to be really really nice. It's so good for my spirit.
I don't even know how to date. Last night one man asked me for my phone number. He told me the exact date and time that he will call me. I don't care if he calls me or not. I don't know him. He's a stranger. A bar man. He was very nice and friendly. That's fantastic. I'm sure he would take me on a wonderful date. But I didn't feel the urge. No butterflies. No powerful need to see this person again. I don't need to be knocked over the head with a lightening bolt to go on a date with someone, but still. I just didn't feel it.
Is that because I've grown so used to being single or because he's not the right guy to go on a date with? I don't know. I'm really not sure. I think I'll just sit here for a while and ponder it. And then I'll go over to Nerdtopia for a lively Saturday night of Star Trek Next Generation DVDs.
I'm a WINNER!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Dear Blog Readers,
I am not sure why Mommy insists on putting me in this Christmas sweater each year, but she seems to think it is hilarious. When Aunt Dorothy and that little redheaded THING came over last week, Mommy ran to get the Christmas sweater and shoved my lovely body into it. I heard Mommy explaining to the THING that I licked all the fur off my belly. So? What's the big deal? I like licking my belly. MMMMMmmmmm. Belly. You can see my hairless manly fat roll right there in the photo.
Then she put me on the floor and I made my escape from the sweater. Aunt Dorothy laughed and laughed. Then she FINALLY helped me.
Webster has been out of the closet for some time now. I'm cool with it. Mommy has a lot of gay friends, so neither of us mind that Webster is gay, too. Mommy told Aunt Dorothy, so Aunt Dorothy made Webster a pretty collar from the pop beads that the THING was playing with.
I'm not really sure how I feel about the THING. Mommy told her that I have an "owie" on my back. I hate it when people touch my back. The THING tried a couple of times to touch it. I had to give her one of my classic Back Off looks. When I realized she doesn't speak Cat, I rolled over to show her my magnificent belly. She talked for a while about how I licked off my fur. Then Mommy showed her how to rub my belly. The THING reached for me. I wasn't sure what would happen. But then she petted the BELLY. Oh, it felt so nice. I love the belly rubbing.
The THING brought over a gift from Grandma. I like Grandma. She feeds me sometimes. When I was staying at her house, she let me sleep on her lap once. It was soft. The THING opened the gift with Mommy. It was a new scratch pad!!! Webster and I don't have front claws, but we like cardboard. And we sure like to sit on the pad and mark it with our paws. Mommy sprinkled some catnip on it for me.
Sweet LORD! CATNIP!!
So I rubbed myself ferociously on the scratcher. It was MINE!
Then the THING decided it was time to play with the Little Mermaid Tea Set Mommy bought for her. SNOREFEST. I thought for sure they were going to ignore me now and only play with each other. But then the THING handed me a teacup and a saucer. Um, THING? I don't drink tea. Webster wasn't interested either.
But then Mommy put catnip IN the saucer. I was so happy. It was catnip heaven. The saucer was just the perfect size for me.
Thank gawd the THING is gone. She wanted stories read to her and had this little high-pitched voice that sang songs and giggled all the time. She made us watch Cinderella a bunch of times. I only like the parts with Lucifer, the cat. He's fat like me.
So I guess the holiday wasn't a total wash. I got some catnip and a new scratching pad out of it. And even though Mommy was gone for days and days to stay with the THING at Grandma's house, she came back and has been snuggling with me ever since. I've been ignoring her at night since the house is so big. There are so many places to sleep that I don't have to sleep on the pillow next to her head anymore if I don't want to. But I must admit, I missed her. So I've been sleeping right there on her head for the last two nights. She said Aunt Dorothy might come back in January to stay for a weekend. If she does, perhaps I will sleep on her head, too.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I'm so glad I'm home. I really am.
Way back when, when I had the butt cyst surgery, Ma came to stay with ex and I for two weeks to help me recover. I was in a LOT of pain. And I was scared. And I was particularly terrified of what would happen if I somehow managed to rip my stitches. I was convinced that perhaps something awful would happen, like I would scrape my spine somehow and become paralyzed from the waist down. I did have surgery that went all the way to my tail bone, after all. There was nothing left to protect it after the surgery. Just a heck of a lot of stitches.
Ex was great throughout the whole ordeal, but Ma was the real trooper. When ex was at work, she would time out my pain killer dosages. She got up with me in the middle of the night to give me more pills. She fed me on regular intervals. And she gave me baths.
Yes, she gave me baths.
I was a grown woman living with my boyfriend. She probably hadn't seen me all the way naked since I was about 10. But there I was, in all my nekked glory with a series of lovely bandages attached like a puffy bunny tail. Ma helped me remove it the day after my surgery and gently lowered me face-first into the bathtub. And then she washed my ass. I was 27 years old.
Why am I sharing this story?
Well, it's quite simple. First, I have no pride. Second, my ego has been chipped away to the bare minimum. Third, I like to tell people about the butt cyst to educate them on random body problems so they don't feel bad about theirs. And fourth, the whole story shows the power of family and love.
At that time in my life, I was very lonely. I had started having panic attacks and severe depression about a year before that. The butt cyst totally didn't help. And my isolation in Chicago was only growing steadily worse. I needed to be nurtured and loved by someone other than ex for just a small moment in time. Ma was that perfect person. She held my hand and gave me food and petted my head when I napped. I was able for that brief moment to give in to all of those feelings we hold deep inside: I just want someone to really really love me for this quiet moment. I need to be loved to my deepest core.
When Ma finally left, I had a huge meltdown. It was bizarre. I bawled like a baby for days. Ex was totally baffled, as was I. What was my deal? I was a grown woman! We blamed my extremely high doses of pain killers. We blamed the trauma to my body from the surgery. But you know what it really was? I missed my mother.
I knew that moment was probably my one opportunity to be held and nurtured by my mother again. Maybe one last time. Before I got too old and she got too old and those moments slipped away from us forever.
At the time, ex and I were pretty sure we'd live in Chicago forever. I barely saw the Nerds. I did not foresee another butt cyst in my future (I just knocked on wood). (And, no, it hasn't come back.) I just saw a long life of being a Responsible Adult in front of me. Isolated, lonely, paying bills, going to work, struggling to survive my Jungle City, and visiting my parents twice a year on hellish plane rides across the Midwest.
Christmas for me this year was kind of like that two weeks back in 2004 when Ma came to hold me.
I felt so much love. I felt happy and cared for and nurtured. My brother-in-law cracked me up like he hasn't done in years. My sister lost the Crying Tally (to Ma). Pa and I attacked the Christmas Puzzle with feverish abandon. And we all gathered together for Christmas Eve like we do every year for one last time. Next year, Dorothy and her crew will likely stay home. Another tradition is ending. But that's OK. Things change. New families form. Time passes. But I got my one last Christmas with us all together just like I wanted.
Dorothy and Beloved went out on a date, so I was able to help give Little her bath. We played with Sea Wees and they used their long hair to wash the sides of the bathtub. I scrubbed Little and rinsed her off and then she made her exit from the tub.
I wrapped her up in a towel and held her close to me. She collapsed onto me and let me rock her back and forth, back and forth, just like Ma did for Dorothy and I when we were little girls. That was always the best part of the bath--being held close in that warm towel. Ma did that for me after the butt cyst bath. She wrapped me in a towel and gave me a hug. I was too big to sit on her lap or have her pick me up to hold me proper, but the love was the same. A big, warm, clean, happy hug. An "I Love You So Very Much" hug. Those are the best kind.
So I held Little and rocked her and knew that if she ever gets the butt cyst, Dorothy will come wash her and hold her like good mommas do. And if I ever need help again, my family will come in droves. It helps that I'm closer now. Just a quick car ride away. I'm finally back in the nest again, right here where I belong. Even when I'm lonely, I can feel them. Even the spirits of my grandparents, who were represented well with the Memory Tree again this year--they are all here, watching me and keeping me safe.
Monday, December 24, 2007
I've been sleeping over at Nerdtopia so I can wake up and see Little first thing in the morning. Funny things happen on the farm. Like birds who fly with lightning speed into the glass windows. And die. When I was in high school, there was a cardinal who flew into my bedroom window over and over because it saw its reflection and thought it was fighting a rival. Over and over it smacked into the window. I just stared at it, unsure what to do. I stood there and beat on the other side of the window, trying to show it that it was just glass. The cardinal eventually flew away, leaving blood smears on the window from the battle.
Yesterday, I went outside to have a cigarette and noticed a dead bird in the snow behind the house. I thought perhaps farm cat Maggie had killed it? As I smoked, she came over and pawed it, threw it around, and ripped off a bunch of feathers. Huntress?
I was incredibly worried about this dead bird situation. I didn't want Little to see it and it was so close to the window. I came back inside and told Pa that Maggie had killed a bird.
"Did she go get her own or did she just take advantage of the bird that ran into the window?"
Little heard us talking and ran over.
"A bird flew in the window and hit its head. It died."
So much for protecting Little. I guess she saw the whole thing go down. Literally.
Later, when I went outside again, I saw that the bird had quite the squished face. It must have hit that window HARD. It was quite large. I think it was a dove. It looked pigeonish. Like any good farm mother, Ma went outside, got the bird, and threw it up into the field so we wouldn't have to look at it anymore. The only remains were the little feathers you see above.
Little said, "Grandma took the bird and put it in the field."
"Yes," I said, "That way it can go to birdie heaven."
Little had to ponder that one for a moment. She knows all about heaven, but I'm not sure she believed me that birdies go there.
Recently, Modern Day Hermit left a comment on my blog saying:
"I get a little romantic about going back to small-town life in Missouri, population 900. The only thing that holds me back really are my politics and lack of religion.
Your posts keep pulling me and making me think, I must admit. Life in a small town is just so different."
Yes, yes it is different. But here's the thing. I don't do religion either. And my politics? Vastly different from the majority of townspeople. I'll be the first to admit that there are a fair amount of meatheads roaming around these parts. And I'm sure someone might beat up someone else with a baseball bat for crossing some verboten line. But I'm also quite pleased daily when I run into someone who seems to share my values. They are all over the place. It's more liberal now than it once was. But my differences do play a part in life, particularly with my nuclear family.
I don't really like discussing religion on ye ole blog because it is such a touchy subject, but the bird heaven bit got me thinking about my duties as a Godmother to Little. As Godmother, it's my job to teach her about Jesus. The good thing about this is that I studied Jesus quite a bit throughout high school and in college. I know all the stories backwards and forwards. I know random verses and where they are hidden in the Bible. I can debate Biblical metaphors till the cows come home. But I'm not a Christian.
That is the sound of the happy Christmas music coming to a halt over at Farmhouse Villa where my entire family is happily Lutheran. Except me.
I won't go into how I got this way, but I will say this: I still respect my family's core beliefs. I just ask them to respect mine in return. Sometimes they do; sometimes they don't. But when it comes to Little, it's uber important to me to teach her exactly what her mommy and daddy believe. Luckily, I'm schooled in that.
Today is Christmas Eve. So I will sit Little down and tell her the story of baby Jesus coming into the world. I will tell her about Mary and Joseph and the big ole star. We'll discuss the value of frankincense on the market. Things like that. And I will do it with gusto and pride and tell her that Jesus came to save everyone, even birds.
Pre-therapy with Shrinkydink, I used to feel horribly guilty about straying from the flock. I tried to explain to my parents what was going on inside of me, but they never really got it. I don't believe in organized religion. This confuses lifelong Christians. They know no other way. And that's fine with me. Believe your beliefs. Live them, love them. Me? I'm over here doing my own thing. I believe in energy, and I suppose that is God. But I will not tell Little about these beliefs until she is old enough to understand how Aunt Blondie really feels about it. Then it's only fair to tell her the truth. I don't believe in lying to Little on this issue for her entire life. That's just silly. And being her Godmother means I'm responsible for helping her understand spirituality and Godliness as best I can. So when the time is right and Little is curious, I'll tell her what I think.
Did you hear that? Ma just fainted.
So did Dorothy.
And the bird, somewhere out there in the field, rolled over in its earthy grave.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
This year Little is quite obsessed with My Little Ponies. So I bought her a pink momma with a pink baby. Then Ma put a German Christmas Pickle on the tree and Little found it, so she got a special pickle gift--two more ponies. One was pink and one was blue. You can see them all in the photo. Little and I were playing with all the ponies and we had this lovely exchange:
Aunt Blondie: (playing the blue pony) I am a blue pony. Will you still be my friend even though you are all pink and I'm blue?
Little: (playing the mother horse) Of course I will, Blue Pony!
Aunt Blondie: Oh yeah! Will you be my mommy?
Little: Yes. I will be the mommy for everyone.
Aunt Blondie: And you don't care that I'm blue?
Little: It doesn't matter what color you are, Blue Pony. I love you all the same.
Good girl. Very very good girl!
Friday, December 21, 2007
I'm obsessed with my puzzle. OBSESSED. I'm convinced that Webster did actually eat one of the pieces because I spent about an hour looking for it last night and it's NOT THERE. If I get to the end of the puzzle only to discover that he has taken it and hidden it somewhere in my house, I will shove him outside and let the wild farm cats beat him up. OK, I won't, but come on. I want a complete puzzle.
Random Puzzle Facts:
- Puzzles were invented in the late 1700s and were made by hand out of wood. Making them really expensive.
- The first puzzles were maps that were hacked up and were used as educational devices. Which is clearly why STILL no one really knows where Iowa is if they live on the coasts. Ahem.
- The most popular era in puzzle world was, oddly enough, during The Great Depression.
- The world's largest puzzle is called "Life, The Great Challenge." It is a creation of Educa Puzzles. It is 14 feet long and 5 feet tall. It has 24,000 pieces. Dude, that's a big puzzle. And, I LOVE THESE PEOPLE, a family constructed one and has a blog all about it. Meet Scott and P.J. and check out their frakin' huge puzzle. Amazing.
PS: For a review of the Scott Paper Cutter (still need to wrap your gifts?) check out Clark Street Reviews.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Well, well, well, what a year it's been. When I went into Borders on Halsted and North in Chicago last New Year's Eve and bought myself a deck of medicine cards, who knew how much they would mirror the events in my life? Not me.
Here's the year's worth of cards:
It is very fitting that Antelope is my last animal of the year because it wraps things up quite nicely. It also speaks to me in a way that no other cards have done. Without truly realizing it, I took Antelope into my heart this year and followed its teachings.
Antelope highlights from the book:
Antelope knew that humans wouldn't survive the cold without killing Antelope and using it for clothes and food. Sweet little Antelope did a self-sacrifice. And humans lived.
Antelope signifies knowledgeable action. Antelope is a symbol for the antenna of your hair, which attaches you to the Great Mystery by its long cords of light... If you feel stymied, call on Antelope medicine. If you are balled up and twisted in knots, Antelope powers will speak to you of proper action and soon set you free... Listen, and even more importantly, act... Antelope knows the way, and so do you. Take courage and leap; your sense of timing is perfect. When Antelope has bounded into your cards, the time is now. The power is you.
But of course, back when I did the reading, I was a mess. And all of my cards were upside down in the contrary position. So here are highlights from my message:
Contrary Antelope is a signal that you are not listening, and not acting on the will of the Great Spirit... Antelope medicine in the contrary makes you crazy and quarrelsome. You will certainly be indecisive and not know what direction to turn... Let Antelope's heart beat strong in you, and you will know the way...
Contrary Antelope may also be telling you that a decision to start is now necessary. The main element in procrastination is lack of conviction. To honor your chosen destiny is to honor your commitment to do what you "proclaim" you are doing. Walking your talk is the essence of the Antelope people. Talking your walk is contrary Antelope personified.
To right contrary Antelope, three steps are necessary:
1.) Have the desire to do something.
2.) Make the firm decision to begin that action.
3.) Do it!
I hate to admit it, but Antelope got lost out of my mind this year. I was so busy fretting and worrying--not realizing at all that I had the answer right there in my deck. But you know what happened? Somehow, Antelope called to me and told me to get my a** out of Chicago. Antelope snuck into my subconscious and said, "DO IT! MOVE, YOU CRAZY BEYOTCH!"
So I did.
I did it!
What a year, friends. Truly. What. A. Year.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Lately, I feel like I should be "doing things." Like I spent all this time and energy figuring out how to get back here and now I'm here and something is supposed to happen. It's a crappy feeling. Cause I feel guilty about relaxing and watching TV or reading my book or working on my puzzle. Aren't I supposed to be doing something fabulous?
I was thinking about this last night when I realized that the point of coming back here was to STOP trying to be fabulous. Oh yeah. I don't care about that anymore. I DO care about being content with life, comfortable, peaceful, and happy. Right now there are a gazillion birds at my bird feeder. I just watched the school bus pick up the neighbor kids. The sunrise is INCREDIBLE. I am blessed.
I do still have these little twitches of shoulds, however. I should do this. I should do that. Blah blah blah. Same old story. I feel like I have just gotten off a treadmill. You know that feeling? You're walking walking walking and then you just stop. Hit ground that isn't moving. You still feel like you should be going somewhere though so for a minute your whole equilibrium is off. It's a little dizzying. That's how I feel right now. Like I'm supposed to be still moving really fast.
But I hated the fast life.
What I've learned the most out of therapy is that your body and brain can get trained to think a certain way. Connections are made. You physically change to respond to situations in a way that might not be healthy. My brain is still stuck in Survival of the Fittest. I'm too used to my way of life in the big city. Go go go go go go gogogogogogo. It's hard to change that pattern of thinking and slooow down. It's hard for me to actually stop at stop signs and yellow lights. I have to retrain myself not to drive like a maniac. I'm learning slowly how to adapt to my new situation. When someone knocked on the door the other day, I headed toward it with a scowl. I could see a man with a beard, a stocking cap, and sunglasses on outside. Was he here to kill me? Rob me? Sell me something? I opened the door.
It was the mailman.
He brought me all of my mail and a package.
I'm working on releasing my City Energy. Hopefully, I too will melt soon, just like all this snow. I don't want to turn into some kind of lazy slacker hermit, but I do want to learn how to really really ENJOY my life without feeling guilt for not being busy doing something else. I want to learn to stop at stop signs. And I want to be really really nice to my mailman.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Order a fantastic piece of art from your bloggie friend JChevais. Squee with excitement when you open up the little unicorn who has safely flown all the way to Iowa from France. Be quite blown away by the amount of details and the perfection. Find a cheap frame you have lying around and put the Unicorn in it until you can go out and buy a proper frame. Admire her chubby pink body and blue tail raised high. Imagine it is you, balancing on the head of a pin. Go visit her Etsy often to see the other Unicorns.
Look out window every day to search for Foo Foo. Giggle when you see him just sitting there watching the traffic go buy on the road.
Buy a $5 amaryllis bulb at Pamida. Think to yourself: This is sooo not gonna grow. Become incredibly surprised and happy when it bursts into life. Stare at its pregnant little stalk with wonder. Look at it every day to see if you can actually see it growing because it seems like you should be able to by how fast this thing is shooting up. Realize you love this plant.
Spy a random tiny possum at Nerdtopia eating the bird seed under the bird feeder. Remember how much Ma hates possums. Try to control self. Realize you can't. Sneak out when she isn't looking and put a little pile of birdseed next to it. Wait for it to be all mean. Smile when it's not. Take its picture for posterity. Realize later that the possum is now living under the side of the house and is freaking out Farm Cat Maggie. Feel guilty for courting ugly possum. But still feel kind of good about it.
Realize that the holiday season is hard for everyone. Know that somehow you will survive even though your propane tank is low, your bank accounts are empty, your bills are due, and your car insurance is about to expire.
Whenever you start to panic, think about the Unicorn, the bunny, the amaryllis, and the possum. If they can all beat the system, you can, too.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Every year for as long as I can remember, Ma has purchased a Christmas puzzle for the family to work on while we're at home. For many years, I was uninterested. I had way better things to do, like sulk and hide in my room with a book. Somewhere along the line, I started working on the puzzles. I have photos from years worth of puzzles. It's usually me and Pa, sitting there tinkering together while Ma takes the photo. So cute. I do not have any memories of Dorothy working on the puzzle, too. Perhaps it is because Dorothy doesn't like puzzles?
This year, since I'm home and all, I decided to buy my very own Christmas puzzle for people to work on when they come to see me. So far, it's just been me working on the puzzle. It's one of those mystery puzzles that comes with a booklet. Why did I do this to myself? I dunno. The puzzle is farkin' HARD. It's got an Egyptian theme. So far, I've only been able to piece together the sections that have hieroglyphics on them. And a random cat.
Dorothy and I were talking about my Christmas puzzle and she confessed that she doesn't like working on them. I shuttered a bit. Certainly this was not my sister? But after hearing about my Christmas puzzle, Beloved decided they needed one, too. So Dorothy caved and bought one for her family, too. Hers has boats.
Last night I went to Nerdtopia to see the parents when they got back from babysitting Little during the pub crawl. I immediately saw their puzzle. It's got cats all over it. Meows. Everywhere. Ma went off to shower and Pa and I sat down together to get started. He had abandoned a previous mission to turn over all the pieces, so I helped him and then we started looking for a way to start. Pa, being an engineer, went straight for the edges. Me, being arty farty, went straight for the brightest colors. Their puzzle is hard, too. Very hard.
Then Pa tells me that Little worked with him on Dorothy's puzzle and put together some pieces. YES! Corrupting the next generation! I love it! We were discussing this when Dorothy called. I harassed her for not liking the puzzles. She confessed it was because she can't enjoy them because she always feels like she should be doing something else. Ah yes, the twittering. The need to do do do go go go. It hits us all. I do feel a certain amount of guilt sometimes when I sit down to puzzle. Sure, there are other things I could be doing. And yes, you can get lost for HOURS working on a puzzle. But there is something so beautiful about finding all the right pieces and slowly seeing the puzzle take shape. And, because I'm very sentimental, doing the puzzles reminds me of family. So I will continue to always have a Christmas puzzle. Maybe Little will help me with mine someday. And perhaps I can drug Dorothy and make her play, too.
Now if I could only get Webster to stop playing with the puzzle. Like any good Blonderson, he seems to be obsessed.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Yesterday, I was supposed to drive to Kansas City to go to Dorothy's annual Santa Pub Crawl. She's invited me every year, but I can never go because I'm always, you know, living in a state that's really far away and inconvenient to come from. This year? 3 hour drive. Should be easy, no?
Um, enter the snow.
Ma and Pa took off on Friday afternoon to get there in time for Little's Christmas program at the daycare. I had to work until 5pm and I don't have a cat sitter yet, so I decided to leave on Saturday morning.
On Friday night, I crawled into bed early with my book and was a bit startled to get a late-night phone call from Dorothy. She was calling to tell me the family was making bets that I wouldn't come because I'd be scared to drive in the snow. Because there was this giant snow storm coming. Early estimates were saying 5 inches.
I used to know how to drive in snow. Used to. Waaaay back in my memory, I know I've done it. But then I moved to Oregon where it doesn't snow. And then I moved to Chicago and lived there without a car for almost 5 years. And then by the time I got my new car, Global Warming kept it from snowing too much. Lots of snow? Car stuck on the side of the road. Take the train. So learning how to drive in snow again has been a huge pain in the ass. I feel like it has snowed more in Iowa since I've been back than it snowed in Chicago the entire time I was there. WTF? So I got up and dug out my car and got to the end of my driveway. That's the photo. That was what the road looked like at roughly 10AM yesterday. Covered. No snowplows had come by yet. See the curve? I've got lots of those on my road. Including giant drop offs. So it took me 800 years to get into town and then I made it out to the Interstate, which had also not been cleaned.
I got to the first exit and turned back. I was destroyed. I actually started bawling. I was so frustrated. I really wanted to see Little and go to the Pub Crawl. I wanted to prove I was Not Afraid of the Snow. It wasn't meant to be.
So I stopped in town, rented a bazillion movies, got a pizza, and went back home. Where I had a pity party. I showered my wall with Diff and scraped off enough wallpaper backing with a kitchen tool that looks like the round one with the holes in it shown here to work up a good sweat. For the record, the kitchen tool works waaaay better than the wallpaper scraper thingie. That thing sucks. So anyway, somewhere late in the evening, I decided to go to town and have a beer.
The bar? Ruled. I had my own little Santa Pub Crawl except it was just me. When I first walked in, I immediately saw my lifelong friend... arg... we couldn't think of a good bloggie name for him. I need to think about this. I don't want to just be impulsive. So I'll call him Friend. So creative. Anyway, Friend and I drank together, caught up on old times, shared some secret gossip (well, I did), and enjoyed watching a random young man across the bar who was wearing one of those contraptions they give you when your neck is broken. You know, the things that hold your head onto your shoulders? It looks like a tiny scaffold and is somehow screwed to the body? Yeah, he was wearing one of those. At the bar.
And there was karaoke. So I mustered up my courage and sang Wanted Dead or Alive in honor of Cousin Kira and all of the good times we had singing that together in Oregon. I sang my heart out. In my Carharrt blue hooded sweatshirt and my snow boots. I rocked them all.
So it turns out that even though I thought I was going to have a shitty evening, I ended up having a really good time. And now I have reconnected with Friend so I have someone to call to meet at the bar. He has also left in the past and come back, so we have like a secret code embedded in us that makes us understand each other. Maybe someday I will force him to sing karaoke with me... Hear that Friend?
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I just got finished watching Sicko by Michael Moore and I feel like my heart could literally pump right out of my chest. So I wrote a review about it and would like you all to kindly stop in, read the review, and watch the film if you haven't already.
And vote for Hillary Clinton.
And vote for Hillary Clinton.
I am a little weebed out this morning.
I woke up. I heard a sound. Something loud. I went over and peeked out my window. Um? What did I see?
In really warm clothes.
In sub-Arctic temperatures.
Scraping off my driveway.
I have to be honest, a little tear came to my eye. I thought for a second that I was hallucinating. Yes, I realize I moved to a little sweet town. But my previous experience with icy conditions? Well, my first landfather in my last Chicago home NEVER scraped the stairs. Ever. I fell numerous times. I had to struggle through ice and snow that piled up and never left. I stubbornly REFUSED to go get de-icer or a shovel because seriously? It's illegal not to scrape the steps when you're the landparent in Chicago. And I had all these ancient neighbor ladies who had to avoid my little patch of the sidewalk like the plague so they wouldn't break their hips. Neighbors? Forget about it.
In Chicago, we have this little thing called The Chairs. It works like this: You spend 5 hours digging your car off the side of the road and you really really want to save your space for when you get home from work. So you put a chair in the space and leave. If someone dares to move your chair and park there? They get their ASS KICKED. They'll pop your tires, key your car, or literally beat the crap out of you. Even the mayor supports the chair thing. For reals. Here's a little article about it. Anyway, it's fair to say that NO ONE would voluntarily get their ass out of bed at 7:30AM on a Saturday to randomly scoop out their neighbor's driveway on an ATV with a snow plow hooked to the front of it.
I knew I would have a certain amount of Culture Shock when I moved home, but nothing could prepare me for what happened on Thursday.
I'm minding my own business, sitting in my home office, when I hear a knock at the door.
"Hi. I'm Nicey Nicerson. I work for the Welcome Committee here in Farmsville. You've been away a long time! How long has it been?"
I search my brain and once again have to really think about it.
"Well, I left home when I was 17 and I'm 30 now... so I guess that makes it 13 years."
"A lot has changed while you've been gone! I have a bunch of gifts from the local businesses that I'd like to give you if you have a moment."
She goes back to her car to get the gifts. I go pull out the chairs at the dining room table and shoo the cats away. I know this woman. I went to school with her son. Her husband was the principal for a while. And then I realize that I recognize her from somewhere else.
Every week, she writes a column in the local paper about the people who have just moved to town.
I just got here. I didn't buy property. I haven't registered to vote yet. I haven't switched my car information yet. And mostly, I'm just hiding in my house working. How did she know I was here? And exactly where I LIVE?? Ah, small towns.
So she comes in and interviews me and gives me a gift bag full of stuff. In the photo above, you can see the stack of gift certificates I got. Almost all of them are for a free gift from someone in the community. Then she gave me a phone book, voter registration card, all of the information I would ever need to transfer my car and my license, lists of clubs, religious organizations, school information. It goes on and on and on. The stack of stuff covered the table. The kitties eyed her curiously.
After she went through her speech, we talked about her son for a while and then she left. I felt warm and fuzzy. She was SO NICE. And genuinely caring. When I told her I already subscribed to the paper, she said she would go over there herself and tack on 2 months free to my subscription for me.
Yes, a lot has changed since I've been gone.
And it's me.
I am no longer used to these random acts of kindness. I'm baffled by kind neighbors. I'm distrusting of the woman who shows up at the door unannounced. I'm still jarred when people drive past me on the road and wave.
I am not as nice as they are. I'm not as nice as I once was. I have a protective layer of city dust on my person. When people call my name on the street, I don't look because I'm so used to avoiding random people who are yelling at me. I look straight ahead when I drive and don't wave because I'm used to not knowing anyone on the road. In Chicago, I never opened the door when someone knocked. Ever. I figured if it was someone I knew, they would call me and say they were outside. I'm not as friendly as I thought I was.
Yesterday, I went into town to get a new cell phone. The shipment hadn't come in yet, so I just talked to the girl for a minute. She told me that she too had moved away and come back. She left for 10 years before returning. She said, "I think people need to move away and come back to really appreciate it. I think it should be a requirement, really." I saw a kindred spirit in her. And yet she was so friendly, just like everyone else. She had adapted back to her environment. She's been back now for 9 years. I don't know if I'll stay in this town forever. It might be a stopping point on my way to Council Bluffs or Omaha. That's how I saw it at first. But the longer I'm here, the more beautiful it becomes.
So I dug through my cards to look at the goodies. One was for a free plant from the local florist. After work, I drove over and looked around. Two friendly dogs greeted me. The woman at the store took my card and showed me the different plants she had available. There, by the window, I saw 5 orchids. ORCHIDS! She took the one that had a stem with a bunch of buds on it and said, "This one is about to bloom. Take it."
I brought my huge orchid home and put it on the counter. A free orchid. Beautiful, little buds, long stem. Almost ready to bloom. Maybe we will bloom at the same time.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Last night, I opened my front door and tucked in between the glass and the door was a package. From amazon. It was Lost Season 3. I almost peed myself.
I'm quite obsessed with Lost. I can't wait to start talking about Season 4 when it cranks into action SOON. And despite how much I HATED those first few episodes of Season 3, I was eager to pop it in and take a looksee. You know what I did all night!
So in honor of Lost and castaways in general, I give you this Friday's fun fact, c/o a book that has been sitting on my bookshelf for ages: Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls. (Ominous title, no?)
So there was this dude named Pedro de Serrano. He was minding his own business one day when his ship sank. It was 1540. No GPS system for Serrano. He ended up on the WORST POSSIBLE deserted island. No trees. No plants. No foliage of any kind. Just sand. Lots of sand. And ocean. But no drinking water. Ouch.
So after thinking about death for a while, Serrano sees a sea turtle. Whoo hoo! He kills the turtle and drinks its blood. Then he eats it and turns it upside down to catch water. WATER! In this manner, Serrano survived on the island alone for THREE YEARS. When low and behold, someone else washes up. At first, the other guy wouldn't talk to him because he was pretty sure Serrano was the devil. Can you blame him? Eventually, they made friends. At some point though, they got in an argument and went to opposite sides of the island and refused to talk to each other for quite some time. Men.
So anyway, they made up eventually and went on to live on the island eating turtles and growing tons of hair for FOUR MORE YEARS. One day, a ship came by and (after thinking they were devils and trying to sail away) rescued them. Seven years on an island of sand. Oof.
Sadly, the guy who was with Serrano died on their ocean voyage back to civilization. Serrano survived and went to see the leader of Spain who gave him some money for his troubles. Where did Serrano want to go with his new loot? America of course!
And the kicker? He died on the way. After living for seven years on a deserted island eating turtles.
I hope you enjoyed this fun fact. Happy Friday!!!!!!!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
It is that time of year when the blogosphere goes dark. I've come across endless entries saying that people have not had time to write or surf blogs or read blogs or comment on blogs. I'm here to tell you: It's OK. It's a busy time of year. The holidays are coming. People are harassing you about whether or not you're going to bring a gift for Aunt May or Cousin Jerry. You still haven't figured out how to pay the mortgage AND buy a new snow blower. Your brain is tired and your spirit is weak.
The thing about blogging is that it is supposed to be FUN. Hear that? FUN! Personally, I haven't run through my own blogroll in MONTHS. I was too busy trying to figure out how to move. At first, I felt terribly guilty. But then I really thought about it. I said to myself: Self, the bloggie people are your friends. They don't care if you need a break. They love you anyway. (OK, so maybe LOVE is pushing it.) But the thing is, it's perfectly alright to take a break. In fact, I distinctly recall this exact same thing happening last year at this time. I even decided to take a break right at the end of the year and not update. And it felt great. I needed it.
Take it from me, a person who has had a sh*tload of therapy, no one is going to be upset if you don't have time to blog or read blogs right now. And if people DO get upset? Well then something is wrong with THEM that they need that kind of attention from you.
It's the holidays, people. Take care of yourselves. Nurture your spirits. Ignore your emails. Sit back and enjoy the moment as much as you can. Buy yourself a purse. Well, maybe not Pirate. But anyway, it's OK. The Internet will still be here when you get back. Your readers will return when their holiday hangovers wear off. And if not, I'll still come over and read you. When I get a moment. (snicker)
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The other day I was thinking about how excited I am to draw new Medicine Cards on New Year's Eve like I did last year. My animals for 2007 have taken me on quite the journey. I am too lazy to link to all of them right now, but so far I've talked about Eagle, Bear, Wolf, Squirrel, Badger, and Snake.
The animal for "Below" represents the inner Earth and being grounded on the path. How appropriate then that I should find Dragonfly as my "Below" card.
But then again, when I drew my cards, they were all upside down in the contrary position. I was a flippin' WRECK when I pulled all of these cards, so the fact that they were contrary has never surprised me. And the lessons I learned from them being upside down have been amazing.
Regular Dragonfly highlights from the book:
Dragonfly medicine is of the dreamtime and the illusionary facade we accept as physical reality... Dragonfly is the essence of the winds of change, the messages of wisdom and enlightenment, and the communications from the elemental world. This elemental world is made up of the tiny spirits of plants, and of the elements air, earth, fire, and water. In essence, this world is full of nature spirits.
I love that. I love thinking of my plants and orchids all having little spirits.
However, contrary is not so good:
Are you trying to prove to yourself or someone else that you have power? Are you caught in an illusion that weakens your true feelings or minimizes your abilities?... Misery is a prime clue that you lost your will and personal validity when you bought into someone else's idea of who or what you should be. The illusion was that you would be happier if you did it their way. In forfeiting what you know is right and true for you personally, you gave away your power. It is time for you to take it back.
Follow Dragonfly to the place inside your body where magic is still alive, and drink deeply of its power. This strength belongs to you. It is the power of becoming the illusion. This ability is ever changing, and contains within it the knowledge that you are creating it all.
Damn. Bitch-slap of reality that was.
It's true that this time last year I was living dreams that were not fully my own. I was pretending to really really like living in Chicago. I was daydreaming that something fabulous would happen and I would make a gazillion dollars and therefore be able to own property. It had been a long time since I'd thought about what I really wanted. I was living ex's dream for along time. Where did my dream go? What was it?
It was time to create the reality I really wanted. And through a lot of soul-searching and therapy, I figured out that what I really wanted was to move back here. So I slowly made it happen. I created a NEW reality. One that fits me better and feels good. And I will continue to make this reality more and more exciting and interesting as the new year rolls my way. This is the beginning of something beautiful. Because I say so.
PS: Check out Clark Street Reviews for a review of an all-in-one HP printer.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Due to the gigantic ice storm that was scheduled to show up (and did) in the wee hours of the morning, I knew I had to go shopping last night after work. For my very first act of true charity. Sure, I've donated money to causes before, but I've never been hands-on. Some of my Chicago friends were involved to their necks in charity--on boards, hosting events, etc. The Chicago charity scene was just too big for me. There were balls and galas and auctions that made my head swim. I always chickened out from going. I didn't have nice enough outfits for Chicago charity events.
But here? Easy as pie.
The local businesses are hosting a gift-giving event. I went to a little cafe and dug through the sheets of random numbered people. It broke my heart to see how GIANT the stack of papers was. The families are low-income and can't afford to buy Christmas presents. There were babies all the way through adults. Some were listed as handicapped. Some were sick. The sheet showed a huge range of options that the people went through to check off what they needed or wanted. Even the children mostly asked for clothes.
I decided to pick two people: a girl and a boy. I found my girl right away. She's 16 and she wanted a Christina Aguilera Stripped CD. Of course I picked her. The boys were harder. I kept sifting and sifting. Then I saw a man. 30 years old. It said he works outside and needs warm things. I tucked him into my purse.
Since I have a raging cold, Ma drove with me up to the mall to help me with my gifts and hit the grocery store. I had copied all of the items they had both listed onto a sheet of paper. There were a lot of choices and no minimum or maximum price range, so I chose items from both lists. Fun things, serious things. I chose a mix of both.
When I got home, I sorted the gifts into two piles and was slightly shocked to see that the man got about twice the amount of gifts as the girl. What happened? How did I do that?
I think it's because it could have been me. The man I chose is 30 years old. Probably the father in one of the families. I'm 30. And since this is such a very very small town, I probably know him. In fact, I probably graduated from high school with him. This made feel very sad. I think I subconsciously loaded up my gifts for him to try and make him have a better holiday. He had listed "warm things" as gift needs. I got him those. And then, almost as an afterthought at the side of the paper, he'd listed a Playstation 2 controller. At first, I thought, oh good grief. I'm not getting you a Playstation thing. But then I really thought about it. I thought about our basic needs to have fun and play in our lives. It's crucial to survival. So I picked out a wireless one and even bought the batteries to go with it. Nothing sucks more on Christmas morning than realizing you don't have the batteries. Ma, who often likes to comment on my personal budget, kept her mouth shut while I was loading up my cart. She knows I'm broke. But she also seemed to know that I needed to do this. She whizzed around Target helping me find the things on my list. It was a wonderful bonding experience, even if I was snorting and wheezing along the way.
I realize you're not supposed to "brag" about your charity acts. I'm not trying to do that. Because what was really going on here was that I was forced out of my own little world to think about the lives of my peers for a moment. I thought about the old friend I saw recently who responded poorly to my move home and made me feel frustrated. Perhaps he was blown away that I would move back here because he has a hard time here. Or perhaps he knows more of our friends who are down on their luck and don't see a future here. Perhaps he just needs a Playstation 2 controller.
Monday, December 10, 2007
This is Dorothy's cat Bella. Isn't she cute? She's got this look on her face that King often gets. One that kinda says I hate you. But Bella really isn't like that. She's very loving and wonderful. I think she was just pissed about the flash.
This is all I have for you today because I have a horrible cold. I spent the weekend being very ill. Snuggled on the couch. Losing my voice. Stuffy head. Freebasing cold medicine. I did go to Nerdtopia to help decorate their tree, but ended up on the couch under a blanket drifting in and out of consciousness while watching a movie. The good thing about getting a cold in Iowa? The Nerds brought me lunch two days in a row. They felt sorry for me and came over to check on me. Squish. In Chicago, I would have just laid on the couch feeling miserable without anyone to come check on me. But now, at least I have the Nerds. Nothing is more comforting when you're really sick than a good hug from a parent. And maybe some chocolate.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
This is my very first Christmas tree. Well, I had a little tiny one in my Chicago apartment for years, but this is the real deal. That means it's over 1 foot tall. Ma gave this to me last night after I helped decorate the tree at Nerdtopia. I somehow wedged it into my car and brought it home. I need to get a topper, so for now it has a little gift wrap bow thing on the top. And the skirt is made of green and gold material that I had lying around. You can see King camouflaged quite nicely at the bottom left, staring at the tree, wondering which part of it he can EAT.
So I am broke. Moving costs a lot of money. And I was already in debt. So this year, my budget is microscopic. But last night when I was thinking about Christmas, I started thinking about how much it sucks when there are presents for Dorothy and Beloved and Little to and from each other and I just kind of sit there picking my nose. Ho hum. La la la. So I started thinking about what Shrinky would tell me to do.
Shrinky would say, "You should buy yourself a present to put under the tree."
Yes, I thought to myself, this is a FANTASTIC idea. Then I have something nice that I am sure to want right there under the tree so I have something to open.
What to get? How much can I safely charge on my credit cards? What do I really want?
My brain was abuzz with thoughts. And then it came to me:
A fabulous purse.
A few years back, my company had a holiday party where I won a $100 gift certificate to Coach. You can't really buy anything for $100 at Coach, so ex and I went to the store to check out the situation. I found the purse of my dreams. But it was really expensive. I would be forking out quite a bit of cash on my part for the purse in addition to the gift certificate.
Ex said: "You never buy things like this for yourself. You don't spend lots of money on things you don't need. Just buy it--you really want it. Do it."
He was so supportive. I found this amusing because he was a Rock Star and all. I thought he would balk at my purse. But he was totally into it. He understood that I wanted it. That was that. Bought the purse. LOVE IT. Love my purse like you wouldn't believe.
The thing about Coach purses is that they are pretty much guaranteed for life. You can send them in and have them fixed if something goes wrong. My purse is in top condition. Even though it's WINTER and the Beautiful Purse is SUEDE. For the first two years I owned it, I would only take it out on special occasions. I didn't want to "hurt" it. I got over that about 3 months ago. I thought: Self, you have this fabulous purse. If you're not going to use it, you shouldn't have bought it. USE IT!
Love my purse.
So I decided to research amazingly expensive purses last night. Um. Dude? Do you know how much Prada purses cost? Over $1000. I don't love myself thaaaaat much. But I did fall in LOVE with one Prada purse that I want so very much but cannot have. Meep.
I'm realizing right now what a Purse Whore I sound like. But in my own defense, I will say this: I am pretty frugal. I am financially responsible. But we all have our vices and my vice is bags. So be it. So now I need to find one on major SALE. Clearance even. Cheap cheap bag.
Because everyone needs a special gift under the tree. Even if it's from themselves.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
When I had settled into Farmhouse Villa, I started digging through some of my drawers. I found this postcard and decided that I would submit it to PostSecret. I've had it long enough. So I wrote on it and addressed it and I will drop it in the mailbox the next time I pass one by. Who knows? Maybe Frank will like it and post it online.
I was ready to get rid of it because of what I wrote on the postcard itself. For many years, I did think I was damaged. I didn't know how to crawl out of that mindset. I was tortured quite a bit by the locals while growing up for being redheaded and tall and just alive, I suppose. Ma had cancer twice and Dorothy had an eating disorder. Life happened. Some damaging things occurred during my youth that set up patterns for my future and coping skills that didn't quite work. So I ventured out into the world, broken and teetering, not sure how to deal with things that came my way.
It sucks to be reminded that you were a schmuck at certain times in your life.
Dorothy and I wrote a post recently on our sister blog, She Doesn't Get It, about living closer to each other now. She was talking about her fears of her new house being too suburban and said:
"But it's also suburban, because when the little angel came along we realized we had to make choices that involved school districts and crime rates that weren't as important when it was just us. And I do worry Sister Little will come along with her Bad Apple t-shirt and ponytails and hand me a t-shirt emblazoned with the word "Suburban" across it if I admit it. Or maybe write it down in a notebook somewhere to laugh about later."
It's true. I keep a hypothetical quote book. I guess it used to be real. I honestly don't remember having a real one. But I often refer to the "Quote Book" with my friends and family. At one point last year, Pinkie actually asked me to get out the Quote Book and show her all the quotes. But there was no book. It's just trapped in my mind. Dorothy was referring to a T-shirt ex and I got her one year about America. See our original post for details. Ex had a great laugh. When he laughed, I laughed at just the sound of it. When Dorothy biffed the population, ex and I laughed and laughed. But not out of meanness. We had this way of constantly making fun of each other to make sure neither of us took each other too seriously. So we were always mocking each other. Ex and I were constantly doing things that were stupid and we had a running list of things we liked to tease each other about. So when Dorothy made a boo boo, we brought her into our inner circle. It's true that I constantly mock those I love. Sometimes it's funny, and sometimes it backfires royally.
Pa and I have always ruthlessly jabbed at each other. For example, I'll say:
"I'm going to go get pretty now."
And he'll say:
"There isn't enough time in the world for that."
It makes me laugh every time he says it even though I know it's coming. Pa and I constantly throw these sarcastic daggers at each other. It's a sign of love. At work, I constantly harassed my friends throughout the day as a sign of affection. Most of the time, they laughed and laughed and we all got a good kick out of it. But it backfired recently. Pa and I were talking about it on the phone and he said something like, "I worry that our way of teasing has gotten you into trouble with one of your friends. Maybe we shouldn't tease each other so much."
I looooove the teasing that goes on between me and Pa. But I realize that some people can handle it and some can't. Kate is totally used to my jokes; Potato isn't. I realized this when we went out to dinner. I often have to test my humor on people to see if it's applicable. If I see that it's not, I don't do it. One day at work, one of my friends said, "How come you never tease me?" in this kinda sad way. Like she wanted me to. That opened a door that never closed, my friends. And she jabbed back with just as much force. It was hilarious.
I say all of this because I started realizing as I read Dorothy's response on the sister blog that I must have really let her have it back in the day. I remember two or three good fights between us, but the rest is a blur of teen angst. It's true that words have always been my greatest ally and my greatest downfall. I have written painful poetry, scathing letters, and unbelievably sad journal entries over the years. My words have been a knife for whoever tried to crack into my Damaged Armor. Stay back. I have booby traps waiting for you.
But after all this therapy with Shrinky, a lot of the anger, jealously, and painful thoughts and memories have drifted away. I no longer feel the need to launch a verbal assault on Dorothy when we get in a fight. Now I ask questions. Why do you feel that way? Are you saying this or that? What can I do? Do you realize that this is what I really meant? Things like that. But I know the evil knife words are still held deep inside me just in case I ever need a good weapon. We all need a baseball bat just in case of a break-in.
But at least I'm not damaged anymore. I was. And that postcard was my constant reminder of that fact. I was lost and hopeless for many many years. Now I've turned a corner and I need a new postcard. What will it say...?
PS: Check out Clark Street Reviews for a review of The Daring Book for Girls. A review of my new cat carriers will be up soon, too!
Friday, December 07, 2007
Yeah, that's not a crow. That's a red-bellied woodpecker. It's HUGE. It lives outside my house and feeds from my little bird feeders all day. It buries seeds in the tree and then hacks them apart. It's fun to watch when I need a break.
But I also have crows. I have not taken photos of them yet, but I can hear them and see them. Giant black crows. So I started doing a little research and here are some fun facts:
- Crows roost in giant numbers. This can range from the hundreds on up. In Fort Cobb, Oklahoma, there was a roost that held roughly 2 million crows. That's a lotta crows.
- A group of crows is called a murder.
- It is illegal to hunt crows except during your own state's crow hunting season. And part of the federal law is that crows can't be hunted by aircraft, so forget about it.
- According to Greek mythology, a crow PISSED off Athena, and she turned his feathers black.
- The "Jim Crow Laws" were named after a song called "Jump Jim Crow," which was a blackface song from 1828. (That one, by the way, seems utterly lame and wrong. Seriously? The US government named a law after a blackface song? But of course, we do have George W. as our president, so why am I surprised?)
- In the opener of Six Feet Under, there is a crow. But it's NOT a real black crow. It's a pied crow that was painted black. That's because it's illegal to own a real crow as a pet. Or any wild bird for that matter. So release your crows before you get in trouble!
- The World's Largest Crow is in Belgrade, Minnesota.
I hope you enjoyed the fun facts this week.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
For the first time in perhaps my entire life, I am supremely grateful that I was in a work meeting yesterday from 1-5pm. Sure, I enjoy my work, but meetings that are that long usually hurt the spirit and the rear end. But because of my meeting, I was able to conveniently miss the news about the Omaha mall shootings until after work. Then I could sit down in front of the television and figure it all out without any distractions.
I always seem to miss big events like this when they are actually happening. I slept through 9-11. I woke up at 11:30pm that day (in Oregon, so it was actually 2:30pm or something in New York). I remember feeling very stupid for snoring through such a tremendous day in our nation's history. I'm not going to compare a mall shooting to 9-11. It is a vastly different thing. But this one hit close to home. Too close.
I immediately got on the phone to call Potato. Our mutual lifelong friend, Lovely, has worked at Von Maur at Westroads Mall for years. She's actually very high up on the food chain there. Potato assured me that Lovely was OK. Potato had talked to Lovely's mother earlier in the day, but didn't have her cell phone number. Lovely's husband, another lifelong friend and a boy I dated for two weeks on the school bus in 6th grade, just happened to be at the mall when this all went down. I am grateful that he was near her, and that he was NOT in the store at the time of the shooting.
I looked up Lovely's husband's parents' name in the local phone book. Ma said she thought they had moved away, but I found the name and called. It turned out to be their son. I explained who I was and that I was seeking a cell phone number to call them. This guy told me what he knew about Lovely's experience, which sent this really creepy hot-blood-rushing feeling down my arms. I felt tingly. She watched people die.
Potato ended up getting in touch with the husband. They were still at the mall waiting to give a statement at roughly 6pm. My heart aches for them and the experience they had to go through. One thing that is truly annoying about the local news is that they loop the same images over and over again because they don't have enough material to keep putting up new stuff. So while people talked last night, I watched an endless loop of Lovely on the television, crying and talking on her cell phone, walking in a circle, clearly panicked and scared and very sad. Every time that image looped back, tears came to my eyes and I felt like vomiting. I didn't want her to be sensationalized just because she happened to be there and was crying. I wanted to run and throw a blanket over her head and tell the news people to F*CK OFF! But all of this had happened while I was in my meeting. And there would have been nothing I could do to help her anyway.
The only thing I can do is send her my love and thoughts. And to all you Internets out there, send your positive energy to my Lovely. She's going to need it.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
A couple of nights ago I smelled something "funny" while I was standing outside having a cigarette. I was talking to Dorothy on the phone at the time. No, no, it doesn't smell like rotten eggs. No, I don't think it's gas. Hmmmm.... Dorothy and I decided it must be the exhaust coming from the cars that drive by my house.
But I had this feeling it was something more. Because I "live" on Clark Street and everything.
So yesterday I'm working and I go outside to have a cigarette and I smell it again. Stronger. Thicker, somehow. Now I'm growing concerned. I have a propane tank. That's kinda like having a giant bomb hooked up to your house. Yes, these things have safety measures. No, I didn't really think I was going to explode.
OK, I did.
So I go around the side of the house to where the smell is coming from. There are some gas lines there and an exhaust tube coming out of the side of the house from the furnace. On cold days, I see a white smokelike substance coming from the tube. Pa assured me this part is normal. But I figured it wasn't normal to see a giant patch of black soot right under the tube along with a pile of black leaves. There are some leaves that have gathered in that area, but surely they were not being set on fire? No, not fire. Just stinky. And completely black.
So I come back inside and google "propane exhaust" and "propane gas leak" and "black soot propane" and all of the other things you could possibly google about this. And then I saw all the lovely stuff about BLOWING UP. All of the pages said to leave the house, call the fire department, and then call the gas people from your neighbor's house.
OK, so my neighbors are actually my landparents. But here's the thing... I've never spoken to them. I rent through a real estate place in town. They take care of everything. It's as if the landparents aren't even part of the picture. So I call Pa. He listens and says, "Well, that doesn't sound right. I'll stop by after work."
Um, dude? Might not be alive by then.
BUT I know that I have a tendency to get pretty panicky about the small stuff. I realized that my head was getting a little tingly. Ah yes, the first signs of a panic attack. Chest tightening? Check. Trouble breathing? Check.
So after two phone calls to the rental agency, the gas man showed up. Gotta love Iowa. It took a total of 20 minutes to get someone over here. He checked the tank, showed me how to read it, and told me that funky smell? Not normal. That soot? Not normal. But it was not the propane. WHEW!
So this morning, two young chaps showed up early in a truck and took a looksee. Yeah that black stuff? Not normal.
So something is clearly wrong with the pipe that leads from the furnace to the outside. The boys, well, men, who were here were related to guys I went to high school with and one is the nephew of my landfather. Score! I still don't know who my landfather is, but no biggie. It seems the pipe might need to be replaced. Decision to come.
So I'm not going to blow up, but I do officially have my first Home Problem. And it's being taken care of in record time. Now if I could only get them to come back and scrape off the wallpaper backing...
UPDATE: New post up at She Doesn't Get It!
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
This is my new bunny, Foo Foo. For those of you who do not know the song, click here. A few of my Chicago friends own bunnies that live in their homes. To brighten their days the other day, I emailed them this shot of Foo Foo.
One of them wrote back that it was a fat, fat bunny. Compared to the city bunnies of Chitown, this bunny looked quite fat and healthy. Go bunny!
I thought back to my memories of city bunnies. I had one that lived out side of Old Building for years (OK, so I like to pretend it was the same bunny, who knows). He started out as a little bunny and grew long and lean. Yes, thin. He was a svelte bunny. Pretty much the exact opposite of Foo Foo. Was it the rough city life that made him so thin? Was it genes? I'm not sure. But the bunnies I see here in Iowa are "healthy." Large. Fat. Bunnies.
I told Pa the other day that I'm worried my ass is going to atrophy. I do sit here all day without really needing to move. And then to get into town I have to drive. In Chicago, I walked everywhere. Always walking. Walk. Walk. Walk. Here, I'm driving. And sitting. There is a place to work out in town, but it's the hub of life with lots of locals buzzing around like flies on the equipment. I'm not sure I want to rock that world yet. Plus, I'm so broke I can't afford the membership even though it's the equivalent of two months membership in Chicago. BUT I do have attic stairs and basements stairs, so I think I will become a stepmaster. As long as the evil ghosts living in either place don't eat me.
Yesterday, on the way home from paying my rent in town, I decided to drive through the cemetery to see if there were any interesting monuments in there to take photos of. The second I pulled in, I was struck by something: there are flowers on the graves. WTF? I thought to myself: Did Memorial Day happen recently or something?? No. That happened a while ago, I'm pretty sure. Why are there all these flowers? As I kept driving, I recognized names. A lot of names. People I had known or relatives of those I've known. It was sad, but peaceful. And there were just SO many flowers. Then it dawned on me that people miss their loved ones. Even when they died 50 years ago. So they bring flowers. All year round. In Chicago, I only saw flowers on Memorial Day. They have strict rules about the flowers in Chicago because upkeep is such a pain in the ass for the giant cemeteries there. And it is such a transient place--so many people die without the next generation there to remember them in that way.
My cemetery is kind of boring, I admit it. I've decided I'm going to take a small-town tour soon to check out other cemeteries in the area for photos. But I think I might start walking in my cemetery to get some exercise. It's even a bit rolly polly. I remember walking in it when I was younger with my mother and her friend. At the time, it was one of the only places to get a good workout. But now that there's an exercise place in town, I might just have the cemetery all to myself. And hopefully, this will keep me from becoming a very fat bunny.
Monday, December 03, 2007
The hardest thing about being home is realizing my grandparents are dead. By not living here, it was easy to sometimes pretend they were still alive and I just wasn't seeing them. But moving back to the area has let that dreaded reality really sink in. They're gone. And boy do I miss them. I've shown you some of the art my grandfather welded on this blog before. Today I'm sharing the poinsettia tree. He made this for the church. It holds all of the plants that are bought in someone's memory or honor throughout the season. Then the people take them home at the end. It's an incredible work of art.
Last year, I was talking with Shrinky about how to bring the magic of my grandparents back to life. I came up with the Memory Tree. It was a hit on Christmas Eve. Everyone brought decorations and we put them up on the tree. It danced in a slow circle to show off all its decorations while singing a little song. This year, we're bringing it back. Once again, I will venture out into the decoration stores searching for that perfect decoration that somehow goes with Grandma or Grandpa. And this year it will be a little more painful because I drive past their house often and know they aren't there. They lived right next to my parents out in the country, so I can't go see Nerdtopia without passing by their house and being flooded with feelings of love and sorrow.
But I must remember what Shrinky taught me about those I have lost--they can live in my heart and feed me love and happiness whenever I need it. I like to think of Grandpa as Grandfather Sun, and right now he's coming through the window to warm up my home office. I hope I can find just the ornament to make him proud.