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Monday, May 30, 2011

Things I CANNOT Blog About Anymore OR How I've Been Repressed

Yes.  In a previous blog, I ranted.  (See 'I'm Sorry This Individual Never Had a Female Dog OR Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt OR I Rant Therefore I AM.')  I admit that I ranted.  The ranting was, indeed, mine.  I quoted a reviewer who did not like one of my works and who sounded like a jackass.  (The reviewer sounded like a jackass.  He/she was so full of wind he/she sounded like a corn-eating horse.)  (Think about it, it'll come to you in a minute.)

Therefore, I've received instructions from several people.  In particular these people have spoken: HIM, my sis, and my daughter.  It was a truly biblical moment.  HIM said it first.  Cressy, my daughter, said, "Don't be sad, Mommy.  Be happy."  (Can you believe she's never heard that song?)  But my sis said it best.  Really, she nailed it.  And here I go, quoting because well she made the mistake of emailing it to me, and I know how to use the copy/paste command:

You've got to stop reading the comments. These are not people with any kind of brain capacity. Birds fly through one ear and out the other. These are mole people from the center of the earth. Vegetoids from planet Puree.Things from another dimension where they elected Sarah Palin President (shudder). My cat possesses more insight into literary criticism than these people do. She'd tell you if you hadn't pissed her off. Really. Seriously. Stop. Reading. The. Comments. Stop. Stop. Stop.
There's a funny story about her cat in there that I feel compelled to tell.  (How I pissed off my sister's cat is the story, in case you've missed the way my brain is bouncing around.)  Once I visited my sis in Spokane.  This was the same trip that I experienced the flight attendant joy that is **KYLE** and the wrath of not having potable water on board a plane when I've just consumed a Venti Chai Tea Latte.  (See 'Why I Love to Fly in Airplanes Or How a Venti Chai Tea Latte Almost Ruined My Personal Flotation Device.')

The alleged cat, Mellow.  Looks pretty benign there, doesn't she?
Well, don't hang your hands over the sides of the bed at night, dumbass.
So I was hanging out in Spokane with my sister and we were doing stuff.  (We got to see a laser show on a very large dam and I made fun of a documentary about the damn dam.  I made so much fun of it that we got the giggles and almost got kicked out.)  Anyway, my sis's cat was cruising around the house pretty much minding her own catly business and doing catlike things.  Her cat is a girl cat named Mellow.  (She's a Fat Cat and she isn't really mellow.  As a matter of fact she is the opposite of Mellow.  Her name really should be Angry-Don't-Touch-Me-I-Have-All-My-Claws-And-I'm-Not-Afraid-To-Use-Them.  Seriously.)

Well, I hid around a corner and when Mellow came up I kind of jumped out and made a loud noise at her.  (Mellow was not harmed in the execution of the pranking, but she did do a backflip in the air that would have made Nadia Comaneci jealous and it was frankly a backflip that a cat of her...shall we say...stature shouldn't have been able to perform.)  Let's just say that Mellow wasn't enthusiastic about my little prank.  In fact, I've never had a cat hiss at me continuously for thirty minutes straight.  For the remainder of my stay the cat would periodically look at me and hiss.  I think if my sister says my name to the cat, even now, a few years later, she still hisses.

Yes, I know I've moved past the cat story but I'm feeling the
creative dialogue mood.
So anyway, I've been instructed not to look at reviews any longer.  Furthermore, I can't blog about specific reviews, no matter how shitty, tacky, stupid, and whack-jobbed they are.  (Hmm.  I may be skirting the line here.)
Okay, if you don't get the reference then you need to google it.
And don't mention that you hid in a closet during the eighties.
All right, have I gotten off the point of the blog or what?  But no, I can't help myself.
Okay, referencing the same movie.  But if you met this cat, you would
understand completely.
So what was I ranting, er, talking about?  Oh, yes.  I can't look at comments, reviews, or otherwise relating to my books unless someone is pointing an uzi at my head.

But wait, I found pictures of the damn dam (Haha.  It's not as funny the second time.) that my sis's nice friends so graciously took us to see.  I'll explain why I was so silly.  I went to visit and the time zone is three hours earlier.  So by the time the laser light show was starting it's like 1 AM in Fat Woman Time.  (That's a special time zone.  FWT.)  I wanted to see the light show, but I was pooped.  Then I became silly.  (And I hadn't even had a drink.  Man, if they had given me alcohol there would have been a lampshade and not much else, I'm telling you.)  (Anyone who didn't have a vision of a naked fat woman wearing a lampshade on her head and nothing else doesn't have an imagination.)

My sis at the Grand Coulee Dam, I swear.
So they had the light show on the side of the dam and much hilarity ensued.  I don't think my sister's friends thought much of me.  Oh, well.
Now who said a blog had to go from point A to point B.  Hell, I just went from point A to XJH squared in triplicate divided by PI.  Yea, me.

Postscript by me: In anticipation of the note I'm going to get from my sis, the same note that's going to specifically say, 'You can't copy/paste this one or I'll fly over and hit you over the head with a wet noodle.'  Sorry.  Sor-ree.  I couldn't help dissing your cat.  She asked for it.  I swear.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I'm Sorry This Individual Never Had a Female Dog OR Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt OR I Rant Therefore I AM

First thing I'll do is post a recent review of Bubba and the Dead Woman, my parody/comedy mystery set in rural Texas.  This was the criticism of an individual who apparently didn't think much of my work.

This native small-town Texan says please, please pass.,

Seldom do I leave a mildly intriguing plot-line unread, but I simply could not get past the inaccurate and absurd attempts at Texan dialect, the ridiculous name of every other character (Lurlene? Willodean? REALLY?), and the numerous misspellings (the Good Will store instead of Goodwill, the often-mentioned Camero, etc), the seemingly lost-in-the-stereotyped-50's portrayal of Texan life, and the ever-present, if random, addition of commas into sentence structure.  
A note to the author, as well as to other non-Texans: We don't harbor fantasies of "naturally Southern women" (in fact, we barely consider ourselves Southerners - we're Texans), we're not likely to have heard the word carpetbagger mentioned seriously in the last two generations, it's not illegal to have a social poker game for money, and for heaven's sake, in a non-Texan-related observation, female dogs do not mark tires. (This was actually the last page that I read. I simply couldn't take it any longer.)


There is a reason why the first bit of advice given to any potential author is "write what you know." If you are from Texas, expect to be enraged by the sheer enormity of how "wrong" the portrayal is, and if you are not from Texas, please know that this is so off the mark as to be utterly and completely insulting.
That being said.  I shall say this.  Criticism is good.  Criticism can help authors improve their work as long as they take it in the proper vein.  Absolutely.  Of course, I prefer positive criticism but negative criticism can be helpful too.

Now I have to make some other comments before I can really get down to brass tacks.  Bubba and the Dead Woman is the book that's downloading best on the epubs.  Yea.  Free enterprise!  There are folks who just love Bubba to death.  In fact, the sequel, Bubba and the 12 Deadly Days of Christmas, is selling very well.  All gravilicious there.  (Yes, I made up a work.  Gravilicious: it's all good stuff.  Gravy + Delicious = Gravilicious.  Possibly an adjective.  Could be a noun depending on context.)  Anyhoo, Bubba is a good old boy in rural Texas whose ex-fiancee shows up and gets murdered.  Everyone is looking at Bubba as the bad guy and Bubba has to figure who done did it.

Good book.  I always liked Bubba.  He's a fun character and I enjoy writing about him and the imaginary town of Pegramville.  That being said, I'd like to say to the reviewer, who was quoted above, that the book is FICTIONAL.  That means made-up.  It means that I created the characters, the town, and the setting in my head and wrote it down in a book.

Things to clear up.  1).  Although I'm not a native Texan, I lived there for a very, very long time.  (Decades.)  I do know what some Texans sound like and I do know the way they speak.  Certainly not all Texans sound like the personalities in my novel, but these are characterizations.  (That means they're made-up, concocted, or fictional, if you'd prefer.)

2).  Do I really think that small town Texas is just like Pegramville?  Does anyone who reads my books think that?  No, of course not.  Again.  It's for humor's sake.  It's a parody.  It's supposed to be funny and quaint and adorable.  And certainly, there are parts of Texas that are just that, a truly delightful place.

3).  Let's address 'absurd names,' as mentioned above.  In Bubba and the Dead Woman I did something that I hadn't done before.  I was tired of using a baby name book, so I picked up the phone book.  (Some of you are smiling right now.)  With the exception of Bubba, which is a name that I specifically wanted to use in the book because of the connotations, every name in Bubba and the Dead Woman was selected from a telephone book.  Demetrice, Adelia, Annalee, Lurlene, Willodean, Foot Johnson, George Bufford, Daniel Gollihugh, Roscoe Stinedurf, and every other name in the book, again with the exception of Bubba, were selected out of the phone book of a small Texas town in which I lived at the time I wrote this book.  (Granted not all the names were matched up with the last names but believe it or not there was a Foot Johnson listed in the town I was living in at the time I wrote the book.)  So much for absurdity.

4.  Misspellings galore.  Yes, there were misspellings in the book.  Misused words, too.  I just finished fixing them and it's reposted on Amazon.  Also on smashwords.  It might take a few weeks for smashwords to get the document downloaded to bn.com so be patient.  I corrected Camero to Camaro.  (My abject apologies to Chevy fans everywhere, I did not mean to take the classic car's name in vain.  Seriously.  I love Chevy.  I also love Ford.  My husband has a 1954 Chevy truck sitting in the garage right now and it's the best storage device I've ever had.  I love that truck.)  I also fixed Goodwill from Good Will.  (I may go to hell for that error by itself.)  I incorrectly used gage for gauge once and that's taken care of.  I fixed every one that I could find.  I admit my sins.

Now I'll tell a typo story.  The first book I ever sold was Bayou Moon. I've written about it before. It's a Gothic mystery set in the south. (I should hope so.) I sold it to St. Martin's and it came out in hardback. Then I went around promoting the heck out of it. I must have read that sucker twenty times before it got published. Then there was my editor who must have read it twenty times too. HIM, the man to whom I'm married, read it multiple times. Several friends and relatives read it. Then there was a line editor who tore it apart with a red ink pen. Sounds like it was proofread, right?  About a month after the book came out I was doing a signing in Plano, Texas when a lady came up to me with a list. She said, "Here's a list of all the typos in your book, dear. I made note of them so you can change them in the future." Wasn't that nice of her? At the time I was mildly insulted. I looked at her list and looked in my book and said, "Shit, there are still typos in the book. There really are." And there were. Still are in Bayou Moon, if you care to find them. I never changed them, although I meant to, if Bayou Moon had come out into a paperback, which it did not. I was polite to this lady and thanked her for her principled interest. Now, I'm like, 'Thanks for the heads up.' Seriously.

The point of the story is there will always be typos in a book.  It's not the end of the world.  But if you feel perky send me a list and I will fix them.  I'm good about that.  I don't want them in there any more than you want to read them.
5.  Back to my reviewer's words.  Commas, well, yeah, heck, commas, what, was, I, thinking, with, too, many, commas?  Sheesh.  ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.  There.

6.  The crack about naturally Southern bred women doesn't really need to be commented about but I will.  Refer back to parody.  The individual might want to look it up in the dictionary for clarification.  Do Texans and Southerners harbor secret fantasies about 'naturally Southern bred women?'  Well, yes, yes some of them do.  They also harbor secret fantasies about all kinds of other women.  Probably some of them about men, too.  But then that's perfectly normal.

7.  Texans vs. Southerners.  I've heard Texans say both.  Many times.  Some of them are fiercely Texan.  I've heard some refer to themselves as Southerners, and yes, Texas was part of the South.  It's official.  Nothing wrong with that either.  It's one of the reasons that Texas is such a great place to be.  And it makes for a wonderful topic to write about, too.  I've also heard Texans refer to 'carpetbaggers' too.  Especially older Texans, so I guess the reviewer isn't very happy about older Texans and Southerners.  That's the reviewer's problem, I suppose.

8.  Social gambling is still illegal in some parts of Texas.  (Gambling for profit is illegal in many places.)  That's a no-brainer.

9.  And OMFG, I'm sincerely sorry that this person never had a female dog.  (That's called a bitch, and now I'm really laughing.)  This person really missed out.  As a point of elucidation, I checked with HIM's sister, who happens to be a licensed veterinarian, and get this, she's a licensed veterinarian in the state of Texas.  (I'm really laughing now.)  Yes, female dogs do mark things like tires.  Some of them even lift their legs to do it.

10.  Finally, it was never my intention to insult Texans.  I can't make it any more clear than this.  I love the state of Texas.  My daughter was born in Texas.  Some of my family and some wonderfully dear friends live in Texas.  It's a simply fantastic place to be.  One day, when the economy and life permits, we'll move back there.  Yes, I will write more Bubba books.  Furthermore, I'll be giggling when I do it.

In conclusion: Texas is GOOD!  Texas is WONDERIFIC!  I LOVE TEXAS!  I love my fans.  I even love the reviewers who don't like my work but are constructive.  (Thanks for the feedback.  I'll certainly keep it in mind.)  Bubba is GOOD!  Bubba in TEXAS is even better.  Go Bubba.

In further conclusion, and because I can't keep myself from adding this, this reviewer left his or her comment on http://www.amazon.com/.  Amazon permits others to commit on reviews.  While I'm restraining myself here, I would tell folks to feel free to leave a comment on this person's review.  And here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/review/R1CBR3O8KXBMOT/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B004E10W0E&nodeID=&tag=&linkCode=#wasThisHelpful

Peace.  Out.  Y'all be good hear?

PS.  Thanks to my wondrous sister-in-law, Amy, who is undoubtedly the best veterinarian in Texas, and possibly in the world, and who is gracious and wise for answering my weird questions.  Also thanks to Mark Twain for saying, 'Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.'

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

HIM Had Surgery OR How This Day Got Progressively Weirder!

HIM, the man to whom I'm married, had two neuromas in his right foot.  Okay.  First I have to tell you just what the heck a neuroma is.  Hey, we'll have a questionnaire.  It sounds like a funky word and who knows, it might just be something really, really, really funny.
This is HIM prior to having foot surgery.  Haha.  I love my autodesk sketch program.

A neuroma is: A) A neurotic disorder of the limbs causing one to inadvertently kick other people in the butt whenever they're being stupid and/or silly.  No, wait, that's me.  B) A rare type of meatball dish which is covered with noodles, peas, and pig's intestines sauteed in a light butter cream.  C) An odd game played in Turkey by goatherders using rocks and other men's testicles.

Answer: D) None of the above, although I'd like to see the game in Turkey.

Here's what a neuroma is from my trusty, large dictionary: 1. A tumor or mass growing from a nerve and usually consisting of nerve fibers.  It can also be 2. A mass of nerve tissue in an amputation stump resulting from abnormal regrowth of the stumps of severed nerves - called also amputation neuroma, pseudoneuroma.  HIM has definition number 1, since I'm pretty sure he still has all his limbs attached.  (Not certain about his brain however, so that could have been amputated without my knowledge.)

This interesting little thing happened to HIM because whilst in the US Army he was forced to road march 15 miles with a 60 pound rucksack once or twice a month for many years.  (Although HIM was a Patriot Missile Warrant Officer who fixed the missile and radar systems, for some reason the battalion thought that all of the troops should be able to hump 15 miles down sandy dirt roads carrying 60 pounds on their backs.  Whateveh.)  In any case, his feet got fubared.  (For those of you who are acronymically challenged, that's FUBAR-ed or Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition - ed.  This is a highly technical term developed by people in the military.)

So the VA Hospital decided that HIM's pain was overwhelming and debilitating and that they would remove the neuromas.

They set the day for Friday, May 20th but they wouldn't tell us what time the surgery would be because that would mean some ordnance of convenience for us.  After all, our lives are comparable to an ant that was trod upon when compared to the importance of the outpatient surgical center.  The day before the surgery they finally announced condescendingly it would be at six am.

Seriously.  6 am.  What this means is that HIM would have to get up at 4 am, and drive to Crystal City and take the metro over to the hospital because I would have to stay at home and make sure our daughter Cressy gets off to school.  (Asking friends, family, and neighbors for a special keep-my-daughter-overnight-and-get-her-off-to-school favor kind goes against my grain.)  Thanks, VA for the compassion.  So HIM got up at 4 am and naturally I couldn't go back to sleep.

A few texts and an hour and a half later, HIM notified me that he was at the VA, and they were prepping HIM.  I got the kid off to school and got off on a drive whereby I would go to the VA hospital and be there ready to drag him home in his new, improved neuroma-less state.

So HIM had programmed the VA's address into the Garmin and put it into my car.  I knew how to get into the District but I didn't know exactly how to get to the hospital.  Once I got up to where I could see all the monuments and wave hi to Barrack and Michelle, I turned the Garmin on.  Let's see.  Where to begin.  Oh, HIM programmed the Garmin to have a New Zealand accent.  I'm sure that most Kiwi's are very nice people but having a New Zealand accented voice to give you direction in heavy, downtown traffic is like trimming nose hairs with a flame thrower.  (Not that I've done that.  Really.)

At one point in time it told me to turn left on a one-way street, going the wrong way.  There was a lovely incident where the Garmin was telling me to do a U-turn on a freeway that was, well, very well populated by vehicular occupation.  By the time I got to the VA hospital I was a nervous wreck and I was lucky I hadn't caused one.  (There's one guy in a Lincoln Continental who's probably still swearing a blue streak about me.  He looked like he was ready to stop his car and beat me with his shoe or maybe his wife.  But hey, the good part was that our cars didn't actually make contact, so it's all gravy.)

Enter the hospital.  The VA hospital isn't like normal hospitals.  No, this is a place for veterans.  Most are great people, just like New Zealanders.  But of course there are exceptions.  Notably the man in the elevator.  My first error was getting on the elevator with him.  You see, he wasn't wearing his I'm-a-crazy-SOB-you-should-avoid-me-in-tight-constricted-places sign.  And I think he had an aluminum foil hat under his ball cap.  He talked to himself.  That's what I thought at first.  Then I figured out that he was talking to someone else.  But there were only the two of us in the elevator.  And it was a freaking good conversation.

The veteran: "I told you not to come here."

Invisible person: "But we had to come."

The vet: "I told you.  I told you.  I told you.  I told you."

Invisible person: "Don't like it here."

The vet: "Shut up."

Invisible person: "No, you shut up."

Me, thinking to myself, 'I'll just back into the far corner of the elevator and pretend I'm a part of the wall.'

And here was the funny part, I was only going up ONE floor.

I located the outpatient surgical center and bypassed it to find a bathroom.  When I found a bathroom (girl bathrooms seem to be at a premium at the VA hospital so it was well hidden.) there was a single stall inside.  This normally wouldn't have been a problem except a woman was using the toilet with the stall door open.  (As far as I could tell she wasn't physically challenged and didn't need to leave the door open.)  But I believe I turned beet red and hightailed it out of there because I didn't feel inclined to stand and watch a strange women go pee pee and/or poo poo.  (And I could have because the woman told me to stay, which made me leave EVEN FASTER.)

After finally using a bathroom (with the stall door shut) I made it back to the surgical center, where I talked to the receptionist.  More drama ensued.

The receptionist had a very nice mustache, which was curly at the ends, and on the chin was a very nice goatee beard.  It was even combed into a Colonel Sanders-like arrangement which a neat little curl at the end.  I think Dippity-Do might have been used to achieve this effect.

Doesn't sound like an issue does it?

Except the person had long hair, 'd' sized boobies, and spoke in a feminine persuasion.  After the psychotic voice on the GPS unit, the man in the elevator talking to himself, ("I'm not schizophrenic and neither am I."  "It is as bad as you think and they are out to get you.") I was at a loss.  I couldn't decide whether I should stare at the ground, her boobs, or her face.  (I'm 75% sure it was a woman.)  Now Fat Woman has facial hair issues.  I have been known to use tweezers, wax, and exotic mud compounds from the depths of an Amazonian rain forest, but I don't think I'm brave enough to let it all go, much less go ahead and style it too.  ("Hey, y'all, I've got facial hair and if you don't like it, then you can kiss my hairy tushie.  Both cheeks and I styled them, too.")

And I thought about taking a picture with my Droid but conscience and logistics won out.  I couldn't get close enough and she looked like she was big enough to hurt me.

This looks just like her.  I swear.
Anyway, I found out HIM was still not back from surgery and I went to hide in the waiting room before I asked about what conditioner worked best for facial hair.

HIM rolled in five minutes later with a goofy smile on his face.  (Yes, Virginia, there is a sedative.)  More hilarity ensued.
Well, HIM wasn't really singing.  But he was happy.
Very, very happy.  But here look at the alleged neuroma-less foot:

This is a foot under the blanket.  I swear.
Okay.  Okay.  Here's a better shot of the alleged victim of neuromalic attack:

Of course, once everything was in the clear, we relaxed and had a sandwich.
HIM eating a sammy with orange juice.  It's good for you, boy.
Then they released HIM from the hospital and I drove HIM home where Cressy drew little smiley faces on all his exposed toes.  Why?  This is really good.  Wait for it.  She wanted him to have HAPPY FEET.  Haha.  She's so cute.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Candy Zombies, Beware! Or More Zaniness From Cressy's POV

Once there were...candy zombies.  These weren't normal zombies.  Yes, they would eat brains, but only brains with cereal and milk.  (Milk is good for the bones, and zombies have big issues with bones.  They fall off.  They stuff 'em back on.  All that nonsense.)  No, these were worse than the usual, typical fare zombie.  They had the capacity to induce terror in even the bravest of souls and make the knees knock of super heroes everywhere.  They were...
They were the most evil, the vilest, the nastiest, meanest zombies ever.  They looked at you meanly.  They spit on the ground.  (I'm told this is a truly icky thing.)  They said bad words.  (Like...shh....crap....and...barf.  Apparently those are the worst words Cressy can think of at the moment.)  They looked at you in a bad way.  (They made the Charles Manson Zombies look like Mary Poppins Zombies and that's saying a lot.)

So one night when the moon was full and the candy store was empty, the candy zombie came out.
Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  There's an editorial change.  It turns out that the candy zombie doesn't have blood coming off him.  He has candy dripping off him.  Silly me.  What was I thinking?
And I was specifically reinforced that candy zombies do eat brains but only with milk and cereal.  There was no mention of what type of cereal was involved, but I suspect it was Captain Crunch or possibly Cheerios with 1% milk.  (No Wheaties or Fat-Free Milk because those are gross-buckets.)

Anyway, to get this story back on track, the candy zombie had a special key.  He looked everywhere for it.
Finally, he found it in his shoe.  Apparently candy zombies are very security conscious.

So the candy zombie took the special key and opened the door to the candy store.  Then HE ATE EVERYTHING IN THE FREAKING STORE.  Oh, my gosh.  ("Oh, my gosh," is a direct quote from Cressy, the erstwhile director.  She was truly shocked at the direction that her own story was taking.  That nasty, awful, dreadful candy zombie ate ALL THE CANDY IN THE CANDY STORE.  Horrors abounding!)
Yes, the candy zombie consumed every last bit of candy in the store.  He shuffled happily off into the sunrise, wondering if he could find some early morning brains with milk and cereal.  (Definitely not a bran cereal because that tastes like grass that someone threw into the bowl and farted on it.  Possibly it had nuclear fall out too.)

But when the candy store owner came back he was really upset.  He cried.  Then he ran away from the candy store and became a politician.  And he never ate candy again.  (For a seven year old this is truly a fate worse than death.)

The end.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Brussels Sprouts Incident of 1972 OR How My Mother Found Out Via the Vacuum Cleaner Method

It was 1972.  I'm guessing at the year but it was definitely thereabouts.  My mother believed in 'Thou shall eat of the vegetables,' and 'Thou shall cleaneth of the plate.'  My mother also mentioned starving children in China.  Repeatedly.  (I think it was China.)  (HIM has mentioned that his mother, my MIL of whom I'm not supposed to blog about except in a glowing positive manner, also used the same phrase and HIM outdid me by responding thusly to her, "Then give it them."  I'm sorry I didn't think of that.  Really I am, but it was probably for the best because I don't think my mother or father would have appreciated the humor in it.)  This was also the year that my father scared the crap out of me by letting us watch a really bad 'B' movie on TV.  (See 'I have Pinpointed How I Became Warped Or It Was All My Father's Fault' from April.)  Truly it was a year of vivid personal memories.

My mother served us...da da dahhhhhh...Brussels sprouts.

I'm not sure who originally decided that Brussels sprouts was a good thing to eat.  I recollect that Ma used to serve it with butter on top because I suspect she knew that no one but a person who had just wandered out of the Gobi Desert after 30 days of being lost would ever voluntarily eat unadorned Brussels sprouts.  (Hey, melted butter almost makes anything taste better but I'm thinking that melted cheese in a deep, gooey, I-can-drown-in-it-layer would have been the way to go.)

So now I felt compelled, as I often do when I'm blogging, to look up Brussels sprouts in my BIG dictionary.  (This is the dictionary I can use as a lethal weapon if I was so disposed.)  Here we go for posterity and because I think it's funny:
Brussels Sprout n., often cap B 1: any of the edible small green heads resembling diminutive cabbages and borne in the lower axils of the stem of a plant (Brassica oleracea gemmifera) closely related to the cabbage and cauliflower 2: the plant that bears brussels sprouts - usu. used in pl.
Isn't blue a nice color to describe Brussels sprout?  Wait, I guess it should be green:
Brussels Sprout n., often cap B 1: any of the edible small green heads resembling diminutive cabbages and borne in the lower axils of the stem of a plant (Brassica oleracea gemmifera) closely related to the cabbage and cauliflower 2: the plant that bears brussels sprouts - usu. used in pl.

There.  All official like.  Who decided that cabbage and cauliflower were good, much less a closely related plant to them?  What was wrong with those people?  (I bet they never had a hot fudge sundae with nuts sprinkled on top.)  Now we'll discuss the problems I had as a child with the consumption with said Brussels sprouts.

First of all, it didn't look right.  In abject demonstration I will show you a photograph:


The alleged Brussels sprouts - I think they look like little aliens
OMFG, I've gone off on yet another tangent. 
If you stare at it you can see the little aliens waiting for their moment.  Clear as day.
See, definitely little alien cabbage monsters waiting to suck our blood and kidnap our women.  Or something like that.  Anyway, anyone can see that Brussels sprouts are not the most appetizing looking.  Furthermore, here's the plant they came from:
I mean, if I was wandering around in the wilderness, starving for something, I don't think I would look at this plant and say, "Oh great balls of fire, look appetizing morsels to stick in my mouth and alleviate my raging pangs of hunger."  (I think it looks like a plant with a case of testicularitus.  Come on, guess what that means.)

And hey, if you put them in a bowl, they don't look any better.  Really, do they?
Of course, you could put a lot of cheese on it.  Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of cheese, just about any variety.
A little boiling would take care of those little alien creeps too.  Plus they probably taste like chicken.  (Okay that was baaaaaad, but I'm not taking it out.)

Second and more importantly, it didn't taste good.  It tasted like old tires that had been boiled into obscurity.  (Don't ask how I know this obscure fact; it isn't a pretty story.)  Besides which the Brussels sprouts talked to me.  Seriously, they told me the bottom line.


So you can see as a child I had objections.  But like a poorly paid, cheap suited defense attorney my objections were promptly overruled.  My mother said, "You shall eat of the vegetables.  You shall clean your plate.  You shall not get up from the table until the above two things are accomplished."  And hell yes, I wanted up from the table.  There were things to do.  Lots more interesting things than eating bleeping-blarping-bloinking Brussels sprouts.

Another tangent has occurred.  This time from Cressy, the non-Brussels sprouts eating child of my loins.  (I have never told her there are starving children in China who would love to eat her food.  But I might have intimated it.)  Anyway, she came in, saw the alien Brussels sprouts, felt like she had to draw the following:
I love the blue spots on Fat Woman, er, Alien Mommy's face.  Could be a strange, virulent space disease.  (Man, are we obsessed with aliens and such.)  (And can I interject that if we gave all the invading aliens our Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage, they wouldn't want to invade us anymore.  I mean, isn't that a good point?  Somebody call Barrack and let him in the know.)

Back to the Brussels Sprouts and the point of this blog.  It was 1972-ish.  Ma had served Brussels Sprouts.  There were probably other things on the plate, but apparently they weren't so objectionable that I vividly remember them.

The Alleged Incident of 1972...ish.
Well, I don't recall the exact thinking that led to the crapshoot that followed my mother's dictate.  Honestly, I wanted to get away from the dining room table and I DID NOT want to eat the Brussels sprouts.  I think I lingered enough that everyone was either up or distracted.  Cleverly I thought of a plan to contrive my way out of this situation.  (I think I had been watching Jonny Quest and The Wild, Wild West too much.)  I reached out with my fork, got a sprout, and put it into my mouth.  I probably gagged, but subterfuge was necessary.  I sneakily reached for my...paper napkin.  While my mother/father/sister were not looking I spit the sprout out into the napkin.  Then I put it into my lap.

Again I don't remember the formation minutia of my escapade.  There was a convenient lip/shelf under the table.  How I happened to know that it was there or what I intended to use it for, I do not know.  (More realistically, I do not remember what little sneaky thoughts had formed in my eight year old brain.)  But I put the little half chewed Brussels sprout wrapped up in its napkin coffin there.  Whoo-hoo.
What a master manipulator.  How had I learned this from such an early age?  From my parents?  No.  From my sister?  No.  From kids at school?  Maybe.  From Saturday morning cartoons.  Definitely.

I cleared my plate and innocently alerted my mother.  I called, "Oh, Mother dear, I have cleaned the plate and politely request that I be allowed to frolic and rampage about my sister and the general neighborhood at large.  I will pluck hapless crawdaddies from the stream across the street and gleefully chase the neighbor's child with them."  (I didn't really say that but it was categorically understood by myself at the time.)  Ma nodded at me and I was allowed to leave the table without chastisement.

Undoubtedly, just out of parental viewing range there was a victory dance.
And life went on.  Apparently for some time.

Until my mother was vacuuming around and under the dining room table.

One would understand that as an 8 year master manipulator I had made a critical error in judgement.  I didn't go back at a secure time to remove the evidence.  I'm not sure what I thought would happen to the Brussels sprouts in their little decomposing napkin cocoons.  Maybe I thought aliens would come and take them away.  But they didn't.  Ma knocked the table with the vacuum cleaner and down came a slew of small tissue enclosed desicated Brussels sprouts.
I wish I could have seen the expression of comprehension on my mother's face when she figured it out.  (Probably better that I hadn't.)  I don't remember what happened after that.  It might have involved being spanked or being forced to eat a fresh batch of Brussels sprouts.  But I do know that it was a long, long time before I got left alone at the dining room table again.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spending Time at Chuck E. Bleeping Cheese Hell OR How I Was Blackmailed by my 7 Year Old Daughter

Cressy, my 7 year old daughter, my only beloved child, is kind of like a special little monkey.  Once I tried to describe her to my Sis, who lives all the way across the country, and I said, "She's on her own little wavelength."  And she is, but then, so am I, so I guess she got it honestly.  What can I say?  My DNA has passed onto her.  So when I mistakenly ask her what she wants to do when it's just she and I, I can always count on those cutesy-mootsy genes coming back to haunt me.  (Or in actuality to kick me in my metaphorical balls.)

Consequently, I was coerced by Cressy to go to the restaurant that all parents secretly fear and dread.  Yes, I'll say it.  I know people are cringing somewhere.  But here it is:

Chuck E. Cheese

Whoops.  Just lost a few people.  I can still hear them screaming in denial.  For those of you without children, this is a restaurant, and I use the term 'restaurant' loosely.  It serves kid type food.  It has kid type entertainment in the form of games, toys, and a giant robotic dancing rodent named Chuck E. Cheese.  I'm assuming that Chuck E. is a mouse, although I think he looks like a giant rat in jams.  
I don't know who the kid is, but the other thing is Chuck E.  I can only surmise that two vice presidents got together with a bottle of cheap tequila and brainstormed for ideas of a mascot.  ("I know, a giant talking thing."  "No, how about a sheep?"  "No, I mean, like a rat, no, a mouse."  "How about a rouse?  Or a mat?"  "You don't have children do you?"  "I could have children...somewhere.")

Cressy likes the games and the other kids at Chuck E. Cheese.  However, when the poor little bastard in the Chuck E. Cheese suit comes out to socialize, she's usually like, "WTF, Mommy?  Is that a rat or a mouse?"  (Once Chuck E. Cheese accidentally knocked her over at a friend's birthday party and she has never forgotten it.  Twenty years from now she'll still be holding a grudge.  That guy better have eyes in the back of his head, let me tell you.)

Here she is attempting to catch her breath after days of stressful playing at Chuck E. Cheese.  It's my belief that she and her friend, shown here, are holding each other up.
"You ready for more, Cressy?"
"No, I need to rest or maybe find a bathroom, Alyssa."
So the great part about Chuck E. Cheese is that parents can go in, get their hands stamped with ultraviolet ink so no perverts can take their kids out, buy pizza, hand their wallets to their kids, and sit quietly until their kids return with the empty wallets.  Fun, huh?

Okay, so we went.  It was a Friday and it wasn't jampacked.  I ordered pizza for Cressy and salad for me.  (I was being a good fat woman.)  I handed Cressy a cup full of tokens.  She disappeared into the mass of whirling, spinning, undulating, and color screaming machines to gleefully burn out the neurons and dendrites in her little brain.

I had brought my Kindle, thinking I would get to read.  Hah.  Instead remnants of a psychological/sociological education started slithering around in my head as I watched all the other parents attempting to maintain their collective sanites.  There were lots of mommies at Chuck E. Cheese and well, I couldn't help myself.  I started categorizing them.  I even came up with seven types.  SEVEN.  Who knew?

The first is the Hoverer.  This mommy likes to stay by her child's side no matter what.  I suspect that this mommy wouldn't even let their own grandma pick them up as an infant.  This mommy is on the prowl for anything unsafe to their precious little angel and will ruthlessly safeguard their being.  Pay particular attention to the protective bubble that has been formed around the child.  (This child will grow up to be a serial killer or maybe a politician.)
Then there was my personal favorite, the Screamer.  This mommy has several kids in the restaurant, some of which are actually hers.  She WILL NOT get up to go straighten anything out.  Now don't get me wrong, the Screamer Mommy is not ignoring her children/wards/things to be watched.  On the contrary, she is paying close attention to them, but she doesn't really want to get up and do anything.  So she bellows.  (She has special mommy voice powers that enable her to be heard over Chuck E. Cheese's robotic dancing mouse/rat music, other kids' screaming, and the sound of 20,000 games being played at the same time.)  Everyone knows that the Screamer Mommy is present.  (My God, they can hear her all the way down the street.)
Next up is the Socialite.  Here is a mommy who cannot go anywhere without a posse of gal pals.  She has friends in multiples of twos and will not stop speaking/gossiping/interacting with them in order to do anything so silly as to be a parent.  You see, Chuck E. Cheese has become socializing time and woe be to the parent who interrupts her precious socializing time.  She might nail you with her Manelo Blahniks.  Seriously.
There is the Smart Phone Addict Mommy.  This mommy has a smart phone.  It is surgically attached to her hand and she has special implements to help her use it effectively.  She has this phone in front of her the entire time, even while she is eating, drinking, telling her kids not to kick Chuck E. Cheese in the testicular area and even if someone else comes up to speak with her.  This phone is the Smart Phone Addict Mommy's best friend.  She even sleeps with this phone.  God help her if it runs out of juice.
The Smart Phone Addict Mommy is closely related to the Talker Mommy.  There is an important difference.  The Smart Phone Addict Mommy is playing with the phone, Tetras, Angry Birds, Facebook, etc.  The Talker Mommy is yakking on her phone for the entire time she is at Chuck E. Cheese.  It is my observation that this type of mommy is speaking to every one she has ever known.  Relatives, friends, the guy at the Quik-E-Mart, her pastor, her 2nd grade school teacher.  You name it, she's talking to them while on the phone.
Okay, now we have an editorial comment.  My daughter, Cressy, has wandered in to ask what I was doing, and when I explained, she said, "There's another mommy, Mommy."  She looked at me with large, solemn blue eyes.  "The Space Mommy," she intones.  "You know with the suit in outer space and everything."  I know.  I know.  It has nothing to do with the point of this blog, but Cressy's so cute when she suggests something to draw that I have to oblige.
Space Mommy, which has nothing to do with this blog whatsoever.
Okay, then onto characterization number 6.  The Director.  This mommy could be confused with the Hoverer, but they're actually quite distinct.  While the Hoverer mommy seeks to protect her child from, pretty much, everything in existence, the Director wants to live vicariously through her child.  Nothing that the child does is the correct way.  This mommy wants the child to do everything mommy's way, no matter if mommy is nitpicking or not.  The child can only play the games mommy's way.  The child can only dress mommy's way.  Don't you dare take off your scrunchy because mommy put it there.  The Director Mommy can also be easily mistaken for the Screamer Mommy because of her yelling capacity but don't make that subtle error.  The Director Mommy is large and in charge, kind of like Fat Woman.  Not only does she want to be in control of her children, but she wants them to be mini-robotic versions of herself so that she can feel like a better person.  Also the Director Mommy can be likened to the Godfather.  She'll make you an offer you can't refuse and if you refuse you'll wake up in your bed with the head of one of your plush animals cut off.
Finally, there's the Hermit.  The Hermit Mommy sits alone, avoids eye contact, and ignores pretty much everything unless her child is shrieking bloody murder, has a bone sticking out of their leg and/or arm, or has arterial spray which is coating the ceiling in a bad way.  The Hermit Mommy should not be confused with the Smart Phone Addict Mommy.  Hermit Mommy is not playing with her phone constantly.  Nor should she be confused with the Talker Mommy.  Although Hermit Mommy may talk on her phone it is limited in nature and only because her mind is fried from child/mommy interactions and/or Chuck E. Cheese exposure.
 And me?  I am Fat Woman Mommy, ignorer of all social conventions.  So there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How HIM Shouldn't Be Allowed Out of His Hole First Thing in the Morning On Sundays OR How Fat Woman Shouldn't Be Allowed Out of Her Hole First Thing on Sunday Mornings

It was a Sunday morning.  We'd crawled out of bed at approximately 7:30 am and that was only because our daughter Cressy had 'slept in.'  Hah.  We're lucky she's not getting up at 4:30 am anymore.  (She did, you know, and believe me, getting up with a three year old who likes to get up at 4:30 am is not fun.)

After I had made breakfast for Cressy, washed the dishes, cleaned up the kitchen and gotten the dirty clothes sorted for washing, HIM had made himself coffee, taken a shower, read a little on his Kindle, and gotten around to asking if I were going grocery shopping.  If I was could I please not forget the beer, wine, diet-coke, and Cheezits.

Here was my expression at that request.  But first a little background information.  We had gone out the night before.  Cressy had a pizza party.  We went to Red Lobster where HIM plied me with one Long Island Iced Tea.  (It was enough judging by the amount of alcohol in one of those suckers.)  There were copious amounts of teenagers dressed in formal length dresses and a few of them in suits.  (It was Prom, in case anyone doesn't get it and some of the girls were clearly confused about whether they were going to Prom or out to the Las Vegas strip.)  (HIM wouldn't let me take a photo for the blog because he didn't think the teenagers would like it.  I was tipsy enough from the single Long Island Iced Tea not to care overly whether they liked it or not, but I bowed to his sober knowledge.)  We had stayed up late.  Cressy had stayed up late.  Then contrarily she had gotten up at her regular time.  I didn't have a caffeine injection automatically shot into my arm.  I was somewhat groggy.  I was in a mood.  Consequently, I should have been locked in a nearby convenient closet for the duration of the day.  But I wasn't.
Fat Woman On the Edge
Despite all of the warnings, HIM looked at me like a puppy dog expecting to be rewarded.  HIM, you must understand, was happy that he had remembered to put actual items on the grocery list.  Excuse me, The Grocery List.  No, I guess it would be THE GROCERY LIST.  (Words actually spoken by Fat Woman to HIM, usually in a snarky fashion: "Can't buy it if it's not on the list."  "Can't read your mind."  "I would have bought it if it had been on the @#$%^!! list."  Wow, I sound incredibly bitchy.)

No, at this particular moment, he wasn't adorable.
So was I thinking, 'Goodness Gracious Googly Woogly, I should be grateful that HIM remembered to remind me that he would like me to NOT FORGET to purchase beer, wine, Cheezits, and Diet Coke on my next shopping extravaganza.'?  No, I was not thinking that.  Also I was not thinking that all those snarky statements had finally borne fruit.  "See, I remembered to add it to the list BEFORE the list was compiled and you went shopping," HIM might say in a cheerful and pert manner denoting his utter adorability.  (Hey, I think I made up another word.)  HIM might even run outside, pound his chest in a manly fashion and yell it to the neighbors, "I HAVE REMEMBERED BEFORE SHE GOES SHOPPING!  I AM COMPLETE!  HALLELUJAH!"
Okay, does HIM deserve a medal?

But here's the thing.  (There's always a thing.)  HIM hadn't remembered to take two steps to my left and especially hadn't remembered to reach out to the little notepad that is my combined list/things-to-do-JOURNAL-of-DOOM (It rules my life.  HIM will probably bury it with me.) which was a maximum of three feet away from where he was blithely reminding me to not to forget his stuff for his benefit.  HIM didn't unclip the pen that is on the spiral part of the notepad and he didn't find the last list in the pad, and HIM most certainly DID NOT write the four fucking items down for himself.  NO. Nopity.  Nope.  Nopus mopus.

HIM asked me not to forget the beer, wine, Cheezits, and Diet Coke.  (You can probably appreciate at this point of the story that I might have been right to be locked in a hole and be fed through a slot until I came to my senses.  Alas we don't have an oubliette and our closets are pretty much full of other crap.)

So instead of ripping HIM's throat out with my bare teeth, I calmly picked up the notepad myself and wrote this, while HIM watched in a state of dawning horror, and made sure I multiple-underlined each and every most important item for HIM.  (It's possible HIM was frozen in terror because there was a set of very sharp knives not five feet away from the place I was standing):
I did not want to underestimate the importance of how HIM wanted me to remember the bleep-bleep-bleeping BEER, the bleep-bleep-bleeeeeeeeeeeep WINE, the bleep-bleepity-bleep DIET COKE & the bleeping bleep bleepious Cheezits.  (No, you don't need to point out that I misspelled Cheezits on the list.  I would understand the list and get the right item no matter how it was spelled.)  And btw, the itsy bitsy, teenie-weenie items on the list were for insignificant little ol' me and insignificant little ol' Cressy.  Tea bags, Cheetos, toothpaste, and pink lemonade.

Oops.  Streaking off on an almost unrelated tangent.  Looking over the above leads me to think that the list sounds like it's the list of a family, shall we say, who is unconcerned with health and appearances.  Let me go back and amend my list.  Yeah, yeah, this is the real list:
Right, so not only did I diss HIM, but I took care of the 'good' things that I needed to do.

And oh what the hell, I might as well make myself look really good:
Anyway, when I was done with my melodramatic effect on the list HIM laughed and went in the living room to drink some more coffee, probably because we've been married so damn long and HIM knew I wasn't in a homicidal mood.  Lucky bastard.

And I thought, "This is a blog," because that's the way my warped mind thinks.