Friday, July 31, 2009

Why God invented mosquitos.

Last night we checked out the DCI show in Greendale. It's interesting going to these things. Here are these kids (some of them really small - I can't believe I was ever that young sometimes), who have worked so hard, traveling around the country - they were pretty impressive, most of them.

The rules are clearly different in judging drum and bugle corps marching compared to high school marching band competitions (they are a lot more lax). Marching off the field, no rules about marching on the field, chaos, etc. Anyway, I had a good time.

Funny though, the first group we saw was - how shall we say? - bad. I didn't want to say it. But they really were. And my thought was: If the whole show is like this, should I stay?

Clearly this group was a brand new corps, so they are on one end of the learning curve. The group was small in comparison to the other corps and the marching and music was so not clean. (Listen to me judge - I was terrible when I was in hs marching - at least my playing was horrible. I know, I'm such a hypocrit.)

But the rest were pretty fantastic. I had my favorites (I won't mention names - *cough* Velvet Knights *cough*), but overall it was thoroughly enjoyable.

The fans really get into this stuff. My mom told me this story about my dad dragging her to a show with the NY Skyliners when they were first married and he and his friends were wooping and screaming and the like. You'd think they were at a football game or something.

As my grandpa used to say, "Good stuff, Maynard."

Downside: bug bites, people. In the end, I was scratching endlessly. The stupid mosquitos came out about a half hour before the show ended and of course, I was a target of their blood lust. Simply put, God was punishing us when he invented mosquitos. They carry disease, they annoyingly fly right in front of your face (and sometimes buzz in your ear), they bite you in the most inconvenient of places (back side of my knee - ugh! - and on my scalp - yes, my scalp), they cause you to use the stinkiest antidotes to the itch (bring on the Calamine), and though they don't fly at the speed of light, they make it impossible to kill them!

So, that was that.

Then I went out for pie. With ice cream. Yummmm.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Me - complaining again.

I've been totally slacking with this blog and my cheapskate guide. I admit it. I even added cinema therapy and blog of the week to be fill-ins for any real information. (They are actually fun little indulgences for me - I know you like them - don't judge.)

I guess I can tell you some things that are going on.

Firstly, my arm still hurts from the aforementioned injury. When I related the extent of the height of the pain to my mother (RN and fibromyalgia victim), saying it was an eight on the pain scale, she had the balls to demean my experience.

Mom: Well, an eight for you maybe.

My response: [scoff] What are you trying to say? I have no pain tolerance?

Mom: [rolls eyes and changes subject]

You know, I wait an awful long time before resorting to any form of pain killers. I don't mind minor discomforts. I don't even usually take anything for cramps. But she's my mother, so she thinks that she has a perfect right (and with the fibromyalgia, completely licensed) to belittle any injury I might have.

Am I the only one who gets this from a parent? It's not even right.

Anyway, it's raining a little today. All I can say is that crap better clear up before tonight, because I have a date with a drum and a bugle. I'm supposed to go to a drum and bugle corps show in Greendale. Of course, such events take place outside, and though I'm not opposed to getting wet once in a while (the occasional shower, running between the car and the store in a storm, you get the drill) I'm not a fan of the wet-clothing-sticking-to-the-skin thing. I get itchy.

I am literally ten cents from ordering another magazine through e-rewards. I've decided the next mag pick is Afar magazine. It has an interesting concept: experiential travel. I've noticed that so many people focus their traveling on doing the things that others are doing, activities specifically created and marketed towards the tourist, that and where to shop. At least, most travel mags do (I could just be picky about this, or maybe it's my arm annoying me).

And it seems lately that I'm helping other people with their travel plans, which would be okay if I had my own travel plans to dedicate my enthusiasm towards. But at the moment, not so. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 2

Today's Cinema Therapy pick is Iron Jawed Angels.

I love any movie that documents any historical struggle by one group and ends with a victory on their part.

I think women might take for granted the right to vote now - it's been almost ninety years since the nineteenth amendment was ratified, guaranteeing women the right to vote. So, when I watched this, I was doubly impressed not only by the suffragettes resolve, but also by their willingness to do what they needed to to get their voices heard. It's very moving, and a stirring reminder of what the US would be like if women were still overwhelmingly viewed the way they were by men during that time and how far we've come.

We may not be all there yet - there are still some glass ceilings to break - but I'm very proud of what women have been able to accomplish since then.

There are some great performances in this film. Of course, Hilary Swank rocks, as usual, but so do Frances O'Connor (who I've been a fan of since Mansfield Park), Vera Farmiga, and Molly Parker. Great for a rainy day!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Paris Breakfasts - Blog of the week

I'm not sure it's a good idea to start pointing out other people's blogs, but some of them that I've found are so interesting (and/or completely darling) that I don't think I can resist any longer.

I've been following Paris Breakfasts for a while. It's one of those blogs that entice people to pick up a French-English dictionary and quietly inquire into flights to Paris.

Needless to say, the pictures that Madame Gillott provides the willing vicarious participants of her Paris adventures are divine. And her watercolors have that quaint, precious quality that makes you want to order every one and place everywhere around your home (on the walls, sitting on your tables, propped up on books sitting on the floors, etc.). That said, may you proceed (or click) with caution (to your pocketbooks).

Kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Carol Gillott, blogger extraordinaire, was even featured in Metro Pets last week. (Check out the headliner here.)

I find that when I'm in need of a little happy time (cue the Petula Clark) this is the sort of blog I like to read. Of course, Paris Breakfasts already has a large following, but what's a few more. I think everyone needs a little Paris in their lives.

Say "bonjour" to Paris Breakfasts.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Finally, relief...

This morning, I was glad to wake up to less pain. Actually mobility - who knew?

I'll never take my working limbs for granted again. My right arm isn't fully mobile yet, but the strength is returning. Overall, the sharp pains - the kind that make me sit rocking like a psych patient - have subsided quite a bit.

All I can say is, "Thank God!" For a while I didn't think it would ever end. There was a point where all I was doing was laying down in a very specific position because it was the only way that the pain wasn't completely unbearable. I've downed a ridiculous amount of ibuprofen over the last week or so.

As a result of this experience, however, I don't have much to blog about. Not much happens when you're just lying around, except piles of dirty dishes magically appear, taunting you.

I hope I didn't miss too much in the blogosphere.

Friday, July 24, 2009

There is definitely something wrong with me.

So, I've reported on the crick in my neck that's been haunting me for over a week now. The night before last, it shifted to a point in my back/shoulder. Now, it must be pinching a nerve, because I have limited control of my arm (weird? I know, right?). It feels a little bit like my right arm (I'm a righty - this is my luck) is almost foreign to my body. I can only lift it so far, and my shoulder and arm are in pain! Ouch! (I'm trying to type this one-handed.)

It's a little funny. My mom doesn't see the humor. She wants me to see a chiropractor, but I think it's getting better. (This is what I tell myself anyway. Denial isn't always a bad thing.)

If I appear absent for the next couple days, this is why.

Pain sucks. Sam signing out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My heart belongs to Hulu.

So, as previously stated, Hulu is my new BFF. Can't help it. Going through a bit of the satellite withdrawal. (It's really not that bad.) I can find a couple shows to watch and I'm good for a while. Not a complete substitute, and I have to admit, it's nice not having an excuse to watch several hours of TV a day.

However, Hulu has offered up a fine selection of television viewing including a new show I'm digging, Warehouse 13. The premise sounds a little used and dopey, but it's entertaining just the same, and kind of a funnier version of Fringe (which was last season's best new show as far as I'm concerned - I think the SciFi girl in me is speaking out loud and clear). Be sure to watch the Pilot first.

They say we can't have it all, but they've never been to Hulu.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 1

So, I've decided that every HumpDay, I will pick one of possibly millions of films that are either uplifting or touching in some way (not the bad way - naughty!)

This week's pick is Peaceful Warrior.

I love movies about people going through an existential crisis of sorts that only some metaphysical therapy can remedy.

(And it helps that the guy has a great body. But that's way besides the point.)

Anyhow, possibly the best part about this movie is Nick Nolte, whose philosophical nature imbues a new sense of self on the young gymnast, played by Scott Mechlowicz.

Definitely worth a couple hours. Based on the book by Dan Millman.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dawdling - yeah, that's right.

I am a little annoyed with Blogger today. I have this really bad habit of wasting time by trying to find other cool or unique or weird blogs. So, I hit the "next blog" button, looking for others, and today, it seems that they just keep providing me the same five or six over and over, until I finally get the point and give up.

I like checking out other blogs. It's fun. I try to give a look-see to most of the ones that I'm following most days. Maybe I should be doing that instead of adding more to the already oversized list of weblogs I'm already following.

Or better yet, get some freakin' work done.

Just a thought.

Update: My sister is reporting that my niece got her first molar in. This weekend, Lily was being especially whiny (and annoying), and Shannon was crabbing at her a little for it. Then she felt bad when she realized that the kid poked another tooth through, and not one of the fun ones. In addition to this, Lily is now officially afraid of bugs. This is funny because this is the same toddler that was previously trying to kiss ladybugs. Now, if a fly lands on her or an ant crawls on her, she freaks out like me when there's a spider in the tub (envision a crazy person running around, arms flailing). She is so unpredictable (Lily, not the crazy person - me). And quickly becoming a girly-girl. I think Shannon was hoping that Lily would be a little tomboyish like she was when she was little. But Lily may change back yet. We'll see.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thank God I wasn't naked!

Funny how things work.

The gas meter on the house is located inside the enclosed deck off the back room addition. I was sitting all ho-hum this morning, reading a book, enjoying the weather as the breeze wandered in through the open sliding glass door. Suddenly, I was not alone!

The guy came to read the meter today, and all I can think is "whew, thank God I wasn't naked!"

I'm sure there have been many a nude person imposed upon by these rare and always sudden occurrences. I was not one of them. Simply startled, then went about my day.

Yikes! That was a close one. (Note: It wasn't really that close, I am not one of those people who is only comfortable in the buff. But I could've been. That's a nice breeze today.)

Now, I'm contemplating the next home project in a concerted effort to clean up the dung heap - er - garbage dump - er - this lovely home. They shouldn't call them ranches. They should call them the single-story abodes that rarely provide enough storage space and thus accumulate crap. (Added note: I realize this is deflecting blame from where it squarely deserves to be - on me. I am not always organized, but when I am, I really am.)

Plus, whoever planned my bedroom should be shot. There are two doors into it: one from the kitchen and one from the hallway. This makes it increasingly difficult to find a decent place to put the bed, much less any other furniture. And you factor in the stupid placement of the windows, and I just want to scream.

Moving is quickly looking a lot more pretty! Shannon might win out on her endeavor to bring me and Mom into the same state as her little family.

Until tomorrow (if I can get my ass to the blog).

P.S. The neck still hurts. I've pretty much given up. Now, I'm giving into the pain and waiting patiently for it to fade. Any day now...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The end of the world as we know it, or how Sam endured the neck injury.

So, I've been absent a few days. Can't say that I'm particularly happy with the results of my trip to IKEA. I didn't get anything. Until some things are situated in my bedroom, there will be no purchases from said store. So, I had to just browse and enjoy the little trip that included dining at the cafeteria (I heart the veggie wraps!). I've also decided that my new mattress will be the Sultan Hagavik. There's no way around it. They may mark it as being medium-firm (or medium-soft depending on your point of view - glass half-full or empty, whatever), but it is by far the most comfortable mattress they have there.

It sucks driving when checking your blind spot is like being executed (and not one of the better ways, like lethal injection - we're talking the mega-voltage through your head and starting your hair on fire executions). I really don't have anyone to blame but myself. I should've been sleeping on my back during this neck thing, but I'm stubborn. It is the most natural thing in the world to sleep on my side. I can't imagine any other way and actually being able to sleep.

Anyway, it's been a boring few days. Working, resting the neck, watching stuff on Hulu (my new best friend). Not much to blog about. Still, thought I should make an appearance. Don't want people to think I died or anything. Truthfully, I've fallen off the planet for much longer before. I'm trying to end that habit.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My head hurts!

There should be a body parts store. It could be like a cute little boutique, stocked with brand new necks, and arms, and torsos, and even ankles. Anytime a body part breaks down or proves inadequate, you just go to that shop, find the one that works for you and be on your way. Lickety-split!

After having slept awkwardly the night before last, I have one of those tweaked necks that I manage to get every once in a while. This particular one has been leading to headaches and ear pain (that's right - I said ear pain). No amount of rubbing has made any difference. I applied heat to it yesterday, and then I managed to forget to throw an ice pack on it. This morning, when I was lifting my suddenly gargantuan-sized head off the pillow, a sharp pain shot throw my neck into my head and down into my shoulders.

Whoever designed this thing made a big mistake! Why are heads placed on the narrow platform we like to call a "neck"? Shouldn't they be put on something sturdier? Yeah, we'd look weird, but at least we'd have less pain.

By the way, for all you side sleepers out there, they actually make pillows especially for us! Yay! But the retailers discriminate against side sleepers, charging more for these pillows than those made for back sleepers. Boo! End the madness! Make them the same price for Pete's sake!

I've been using a firmer pillow of late, which has helped, but didn't the other night, apparently.

Stay tuned to Sam's further adventures - next time: a trip to IKEA or adventures in Wonderland? (Yeah, I'm going again.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Leaving empty handed?

This morning found me at Half-Price Books - the delight of my existence is this chain of used book stores. Like any used book store, there's the funny, unique, strange, out of print, and the rare.

Take, for example, this lovely book called White Trash Gatherings. (Link enclosed just to prove it's truly a published title.) I had no idea the quality of a get-together such as this. The title aside, there were plenty of recipes inside. And there's a precious quality to craft ideas such as pinto bean covered toilet paper rolls used as napkin holders (no, I'm not kidding).

Oh, I was really tempted to pick up a book entitled Scouts in Bondage: And Other Violations of Literary Propriety. That didn't happen, but I did flip through it (and giggled a few times - just a few).

I never have a focus in a book store. I always have an agenda when I go to the mall, or the grocery store, or the drug store. In and out. Never with book stores. I roam aimlessly through the aisles. What will catch my interest today? Medieval literature? Perhaps some algebra to go with my David Sedaris? Yeah, there's no hope for me.

I try to limit myself time-wise, or I could be there all day. Not that that is a bad thing. I just don't want to completely lose track of time. Besides, I already have a bunch of books at home I need to get through before even considering the possibility of leaving a book store with more unread titles.

Note: There's also a White Trash Gatherings II. Just when you thought you couldn't get enough...

Thoughts on my childhood summers - part 3

The stepmonster didn't like us being in the house during the summer. So, me, Shannon, and her kids, the twins, were outside most of the day. Some parents would counter that we should be out, playing, taking in the fresh air. Yeah, I get that point. I do. Who wants kids running in and out of the house all day? But seriously, she would kick us out in the morning and not let us back in until shortly before Dad would come home from work, with the exception being the short amount of time we would eat our lunches. And I would turn out looking more like a lobster than a little kid. (Did this woman ever hear of sunscreen? They did have it in the 80's. It's not like it was 1889!)

The stepmonster decided one day that I should be wearing a bra. I was nine. There really wasn't anything there yet. But as was her way, she pushed me to the local discount big box store to buy what would become my first bra (this stupid padded thing that made no sense at the time, and less sense now). I remember when she brought us back home to my mom, her telling us to go inside because she needed to have a conversation with the woman who brought us into the world, and then reaming her out because I wasn't wearing a bra yet.

Needless to say, Mom thought it was kind of funny. The stepmonster was really good at turning these stupid little things into monster-sized horrific situations.

This reminds me of one of the other head-butting-of-the-moms situation they once had. The stepmonster did not like my mom. Despite the fact that mom had bent over backwards trying to accommodate her at every turn, and despite the fact that she had urged me and Shannon to like this new pseudo-parent, the stepmonster found every manner of fault with my mom.

One Thanksgiving, we had turkey hot dogs for our holiday dinner because my sister, whose only job was to take the turkey out of the freezer to thaw while my mom was at work, failed to do so. The result was my mom asking what we wanted for dinner and us, wanting the quickest, tastiest meal possible, said "hot dogs" of course. The fact that they were turkey hot dogs is coincidental. They just happened to be in the fridge. When Dad and the stepmonster called, we didn't hesitate to tell them of our meal. Not a big deal. Not so to that woman, who told all these people, including my dad's sister who still talked to my mom, that Mom was no doubt a terrible mother, completely incompetent. All because we had hot dogs on Thanksgiving.

Note: The irony of this whole situation is that she accused my mother of bad parenting, when you could find fewer specimins worse than the example my stepmonster was (who has Borderline Personality Disorder, by the way). Volatile, mean, and at times violent, she probably still believes she was the better mother. Go figure.

The summer we spent the longest at my dad's, I got very sick from their smoking (I'm both asthmatic and allergic to cigarette smoke - not particulary fun). It turned into a nasty respiratory infection that my body took forever trying to shake. No one bothered taking me to the doctor (though I'd been sick for weeks) until a day or two before our returning home to our mother (the nursing school student). Yes, the stepmonster thought this an imposition, no doubt. But eventually she made an effort to get me well.

Where was Dad during all this? Working.

I suppose he took a bit more time off during those times that me and Shannon were there to visit him. But not a whole lot.

On the upside, at least he did fun things with us, like take us to museums or zoos or on various errands. He'd pretend he was the pilot and we were the navigators when we were in the car. His conversations would be interesting, to the point of philosophical. The stepmonster would take us to the lake and leave us there.

Why did he marry her? We're still trying to figure that out.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thoughts on my childhood summers - part 2

For me, the summer vacations were split into three.

First, there was the time spent at home. No worries.

Second, there was the time spent with my grandparents in small-town Minnesota. More on that in a minute.

Third, there was the time spent at my dad's house with my stepmonster and stepsisters. This will require a whole other post.

I have to tell you, for Shannon and me, being at home with Mom was just fine with us. Yes, there was the typical arguments and the dreaded cleaning of the bedroom and such. But there was also the little outings and the relaxed atmosphere and the friends. This was best. Always the best.

When we lived in Wahpeton, we (Shannon and I) had a lot of freedom. Mom was doing home-health care at the time for this old lady who only lived a few blocks from us. She would go to work, and we'd run around everywhere. They have this great park in Wahpeton with a zoo and a pool and everything else to make a free child giggle with delight (mind you, I haven't been there in eighteen years, so I'm sure time has changed some things). I have just learned that they started charging admission to Chahinkapa Zoo (just try to pronounce that one). It was free when we lived there. I should've known that would end.

Anyway, I remember going to the pool every single day. Even on the days when it was particularly chilly. And afterwards, we'd hit up this little stand outside that served those little ice cones with all these different flavor syrups. We could have as many flavors as we wanted on those babies (okay, I'll have the bubblegum, and the watermelon, and the strawberry!) and they only charged a quarter (if memory serves correctly). It was awesome. We were so happy then.

I remember going to the little zoo all the time. Even on my own. I'd just ride my bike down there and walk through, hang out with the barnyard bunch in the petting zoo, and talk to my friend, the otter. It was pleasant.

Once we'd moved from Wahpeton to Anoka (MN), that all changed. We didn't feel like we had the kind of independence there we once had. The setting was completely different. After the two years in Anoka, we went to Oak Creek (WI), where I ended up graduating from high school. Oak Creek was a hell of a lot better than Anoka, but we were older by then and the degrees of independence were different as a result.

We lived in an apartment complex in Oak Creek that had a swimming pool. We spent a bunch of time there until growing too self-conscious of our bodies, and then it was only sporadically.

Anyhow, another part of our summer vacations was spent at Grandma and Grandpa's house. This wasn't too bad, though I have to say the forced labor wasn't pleasant. Grandma's idea of fun was making me and Shannon weed the garden, pick those god-awful string beans, and paint and clean whatever random thing came up. Say what you want about the pleasures of living in an old home. When you're a kid and it's summer vacation, the last thing you want to do is chores.

My grandparents' marriage was - er - interesting. I've been told that the first few years they were married they were both very happy. Somewhere along the way, that changed. The result was my Grandpa being buzzed at the supper table while Grandma nagged him endlessly. If you'd been watching me and Shannon, you'd think we were at a tennis match. Let the insults fly!

It wasn't all bad. We had friends to play with, and books to read, and an endless supply of old movies to watch (most of which I've probably forgotten).

And Grandpa, God bless him, knew how to pick out the sweets. In his lifetime, he probably ate damn near a million of the chocolate covered cake doughnuts he got from the bakery in Spring Valley. To be fair, those things are excellent. He'd freeze them, and we'd take them out, one at a time, and nuke them for fifteen or twenty seconds. Divine!

Ah, the simplicity of those days!

But, as is the lot of children of divorced parents, we had to go to Dad's at some point.

And this, my friends, is where the summer vacations get sticky (and I don't mean humid).

Continued tomorrow...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thoughts on my childhood summers - part 1

So, it'll probably prove an uneventful weekend. I thought a little reminiscing might shake things up.

I remember the last day of school when I was in sixth grade with a slight cringe. (Wait for it.)

My sixth grade teacher is probably one of the best I ever had. Sadly, this is overshadowed by the fact that it was one of the worst years I had in childhood. This has to do with the fact that most of the kids in my class were a bunch of douche bags. (I'll leave that for another time, perhaps.)

So, my teacher, in all his wisdom, organized an outing for all of us on the last day of school. I think it might be pretty typical, especially for the elementary set, to get out of the classroom before the start of the most hallowed of times - the summer vacation. We went to some park for a giant picnic and water fight. This was to be followed by a trip to the bowling alley for a little competitive pseudo-sport.

I thought this teacher was pretty cool, coming up with tons of strange activities for us to participate in. It's funny - thinking of those things now, it was like team-building exercises that bored middle management make their employees do, like retreats and those stupid trust-building activities (think: falling-backward-and-believing-that-your-partner-will-catch-you type of stuff). Maybe I'll tell you other stories of this guy another time.

Anyway, the picnic went off without a hitch. Then came the water fight. Nothing overly embarrassing. Then we went to the bowling alley.

You see, dear readers, I had a bag with a change of clothes with me in anticipation of having to change them after the water fight. I had been wearing my swimming suit under my clothes thinking this would make for easy access to the water fight. Turns out, I didn't even need them. The water fight, though it happened, didn't really happen for me. Instead, I only got a little wet, then I sat out the rest of it, brimming with boredom. I might've chatted with a friend. Details of this are sketchy. What I do know is that the changing of the clothes that was supposed to take place never occurred. So, when we got to the bowling alley, I still had the bag with the clean clothes.

Now, I bowled a little. It was alright. Nothing to brag about. (I might've actually knocked down a couple pins - I don't really remember.)

As we were gathering our stuff to leave and get back to the school for the buses and the final "adios" from the teachers, a friend of mine thought she'd do me a favor as I was tying my shoes and picked up my bag. Sadly, she grabbed it oddly and most of my clothes, including my little nude-colored training bra, fell out onto the cigarette burned carpet.

This did get some attention, to my horror. There was some outbursts of laughter by all the popular kids (okay, more than "some") and some sympathetic looks from the other sixth grade teachers, who were female.

I, to my credit, blushed in silence, whipped the bra and other clothing off the disgusting floor, stuffed it back in the bag, and promptly headed for the bus.

All these years later, I'm trying to remember why the bag was with me in the bowling alley and not kept on the bus. I have a feeling it has something to do with my teacher saying that we needed to take our belongings with us (theft reasons maybe?).

What I do remember is feeling horrified that I'd have to ride out the rest of the school year with the memory of my sad little bra laying there on the floor, everyone pointing and laughing (amplified in memory for maximum mortification).

And then, happily, I remembered it was "the last day". I'd be in junior high in the fall, and the kids from my class would probably forget all about the incident.

Now, I'd happily show off my bra to whoever wants to see. (Okay, not really, but this girl does need some action soon or she might forget how to do it altogether.)

Do you ever have moments where the feelings of a particular event come rushing back in a flood, causing a spontaneous "Oh f---!"?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ho Hum

Not a whole lot went on today. For the most part, just moped, as I do every year on this day. I shouldn't say I moped; it was more of a somber reflection. Thirteen years since Dad died. Thirteen years. It might as well have been last week, with the wound still bitingly fresh. But only in moments like this. (Read my post on A Really Good Day about this.)

And now, I'm thinking about what I need to do tomorrow. Can we say "major cleaning"? There's a crap-load of clothes I need to go through. (I see a rummage sale in my future. And a trip to Goodwill.) And paper hell to sort.

I lost the phone number of a good friend of mine. That's what I get for being a dumbass from time to time. Michael, are you out there?

He was supposed to get back to me about getting together via email. I haven't seen him in over a year. He moved down to the Chicago area a couple years ago and just moved back. I should find my old cell phone and see if I was smart enough to put it in my contacts at the time.

Have you ever been tempted to spend an afternoon at Borders or Barnes & Noble, just to flip through magazines? If I get far enough tomorrow with the clean-up attempt, Sam might be taking a wee trip over to Greenfield.

Sorry, I felt the need to document a boring day.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I heart IKEA

This is the conversation from 7:30 this morning.

[Phone rings.]

Me: Hello?

Mom: Let's go to Illinois.

Me: [Sigh] IKEA?

Mom: Yeah.

Me: Can I shower first?

Mom: As long as I don't fall asleep before we go.

Me: Fine. I'm driving.

[Note: Mom is an RN that works third-shift in a telemetry/cardiac ward. Today is her one day off before the weekend - her weekend to work.]


A few months ago, we jumped on that very large IKEA band wagon. It seems that they can inspire the design imagination in us more than any other store - ever!

We've been to the one in Schaumburg, IL and Bloomington, MN. Bolingbrook is only about another 25 miles south of Schaumburg, so we figured we'd high-tail it on over. Thinking we were slick, trying to avoid the toll-roads, we took the scenic route. A couple of misdirects, some u-turns, and three hours later we arrived. I think by then IKEA lost all of its luster. Still, we made our pilgrimage. We particularly like the "little house" set-ups they have. And of course, these are different in each store; we were curious.

After eating lunch, trekking through the store, being followed by a family with a child that had one very long tantrum through the whole thing, we left.

I guess we would always wonder what this one was like if we didn't go. But, I wasn't that impressed. I don't know if it was the kid or the fact that I was a little beat after the drive or the fact that I was practically dragging around my dead-weight mom. Whatever it was, I think that while I enjoyed myself some, it wasn't the same sort of experience I've had at the others. Go figure.

Why does the drive home always seem longer than the drive there? (I say that now, but when I'm dreading going somewhere, that drive there is the longest in history. Get it over with already!)

Speaking of long drives, when I was a kid, we lived in this town in ND for a couple years - Wahpeton. Whenever we wanted to hit the mall, it was a half-hour drive to Fergus Falls (in MN). That half-hour is the longest half-hour of your life - trust me! We still joke about that. It's funny. The land is so flat and you can see the town slowly getting closer, but it's like you'll never really reach it. In the summer, though, part of the drive was cool because of the sunflower fields. All you could see for miles around was these giant sunflowers. (That's if memory serves right. I haven't been up there in eighteen years.)

I might call it a night early. Six hours of driving and I didn't really get anywhere. It's almost a cruel joke. C'est la vie.

A late night secret post...

So, I have to tell you, I decided (mind you, very last minute and thinking I was fooling someone - who? I have no idea) to run out to Culver's for a little (itty-bitty-bit) frozen custard. This isn't any of that sweet-tooth savior-created pseudo-healthy stuff. Oh no. This is in-your-face-gonna-put-some-meat-on-ya frozen dairy heaven - er - custard. And instead of opting for the one scoop vanilla in a dish (which, I swear, was my intention), I got the two scoop sundae with hot fudge and Snickers.

Let the self-loathing begin. Okay, not really. You know what? I love it. I love it and I won't deny it. I won't hide it. I won't pretend that this stuff is quite possibly the best stuff on Earth (move over Snapple) - because it is!

Besides the secret rendezvous with the drive-thru attendant (and the point that I keep screwing around with this stuff), I noticed that the SUV ahead of me had that window chalk-writing on it. Random numbers followed by the date and some more random numbers. I had to giggle.

You see, dear readers, in Milwaukee, this means you've had your car towed. Probably for unpaid parking tickets too. (It's possible they do this everywhere, but I just don't know and never bothered to find out.)

What's funny about this is that the chalk-writing is an immediate indication of said event. You would think that people would be mortified to keep that on their car windows (please don't notice that I'm a slacker who refuses to buy the extortion sticker to park in front of my own house that I pay taxes on). You would think. But it turns out that people keep this on their windows for a long time - like some bizarre badge of honor. A scar from the war with the meter maids.

The SUV ahead of me had a date written on it from May. That's really not all that bad. My mom had one on her car for over a year. But that was just because she wouldn't take her car to the car wash (don't get me started on that one). And that chalk-junk-stuff doesn't come off with the rain. You have to physically wash it off.

Much like everything else.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Comfort zone shmomfort zone

Yeah, you read that title right.

I'm trying to find a way out of my current comfort level (trying to shake things up). Working yet? We'll see.

A personality test I took asked if I prefer the conventional way of things or being more off the cuff, adventurous. What a stupid question! Of course, everyone prefers the conventional way. It's the comfortable way, the familiar way. How silly these people are!

Anyhow, working up the courage to move out of my comfort zone and move (that is geographically move). Is it worth all the scare and hoopla and meeting of the new people and all that? Maybe. We'll see.

Shannon, my sister, has this fabulous idea that I should move to Rochester with them. Upside: daily access to Lily, my niece and resident genius. Upside: no longer worried about going to some places and running into all the wrong people. Upside: moving on. Downside: worry. Downside: packing. Downside: leaving all the right people behind.

It's not like there isn't this handy invention called the telephone. But still, life is rather convenient when you always stay in the same place. It gets "ho hum", but what can you do? It's comfortable.

There's the little genius now.

On another note, Shannon has decided that she and the hubs need to take the little genius on a short vacation. Josh has accumulated too much vacation time again. He wants a "staycation". Shannon wants to get away. I told them I'd help them out - I'll give them one of my bonus vacations out of my package. They're considering Spirit Lake. They don't like to have to drive too far or the munchkin gets restless. It was either there or the Dells yet again. I guess for a vacation that costs gas and $13 a night, either will do.

I, myself, would like to get out to Cape Cod this fall. The overwhelming tourist season will be over, so it might be especially relaxing. I signed up for Airfare Watch Dog emails. They find pretty good deals. Using that with my package might be advantageous.

It's overcast and gloomy. Maybe a good day to clean, then dive into a book. What a yummy notion!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Notes on fatness

Things I have learned in this experiment of gaining this weight:
  1. Everything hurts more. Granted, I'm not in constant physical pain. But, my joints and back hurt more than I ever remember experiencing. What the heck? You'd think with the extra padding that things would hurt less. (Yeah, I get it, the carrying of the weight thing - this was a joke.)
  2. There is nothing more terrifying than trying on clothes. With every pound, one cringes at the idea of having to buy more clothes to fit the added girth. But then you factor in the fitting room and then the dreaded check out (where, no doubt, there is some cute little thing - a size 2 - manning the register and eying the size, and then you, and innocently turning away as if she didn't notice). My most traumatizing weight-related experience to date was buying new pants at Old Navy. I was determined I wasn't going to spend a lot on the purchase of pants that wouldn't fit me long. I had to - horror of horrors - return to the sales floor three times to find a pair that would fit. Mortifying.
  3. When you accept yourself for the size that you are, you realize a motivation unlike anything ever experienced before. Accept it!
  4. When you naturally have large breasts, you really shouldn't get fat. They get big, big, big! The horror!
  5. Any kind of exertion causes a scary reduction in ability to breathe. Gasp!
  6. Food has a different meaning to you. I don't care what anyone says. When you are desperately overweight, the relationship you have with food changes. Instead of arming yourself with the nutrients and calories necessary to keep you alive, you experience this love-hate-love-hate-relationship with food. You want it all, yet you despise it. And then, you despise yourself for not being able to throw the crap out. Not to mention the inner debate you have in your head every time you hit the grocery store. It takes a serious f----ing grip to get past that.
  7. Shoes. I don't think I need to explain this one. If you've packed on the pounds, you know what I mean.
  8. Chafing and boob sweat. This, too, lacks explanation.
So, that being said, time to move on! I'm seriously determined to get back to the place I need to be. Who's with me?!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

And the winner is...

So, Roger Federer won Wimbledon, acquiring his record 15th Grand Slam.

As an observer of such an event, I find myself wondering what exactly is takes to become the kind of person who is able to compete so heavily, unwavering in his determination. How does one become that kind of champion? How do you put in that kind of fight?

In a previous post on one of my other blogs, A Really Good Day, I asked: What if you were the arbiter of your own destiny?

What is it they know that the rest of us don't?

It's funny. After watching something like this, you almost get a burst of energy from the performance. You want to be something great like that. You want to be one of those people who champion above what is considered impossible. But after a few days or a few hours, that energy fades, and you return to the everyday experience.

The problem is maintaining that experience of excitement. What can you do to renew that feeling, pushing you towards all those rewards that you seek?

Perhaps what champions like Federer have that many don't is this in-training mindset, this constantly looking to improve, this constant training. Can I strive to live in this way? Can I become the kind of champion in my own life that winners of competitions like Wimbledon do?

Another one of those moments filled with things that make you go "Hmmmm."

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I think this will help my diet.

So, I'm going to be setting up my own vegetable garden in the back yard - hopefully completely organic. I know absolutely nothing about gardening, so this should be an exercise in seeing exactly how many times I can fail with plants in one lifetime. Plants are tricky - and Sam doesn't really do tricky.

Anyway, ultimately, this means that I will be eating better. I hope this means I'll be eating better. Lord knows I'm probably the only fat vegetarian on the planet (okay, maybe not, but there are only a few of us).

There are, apparently, some easy tricks to keeping weeds out of the garden if you start it off right. Like, putting down wet cardboard or newspaper and then topping it with organic mulch. Wait a couple weeks, then punch through the decomposing cardboard/newspaper with your trowel and start planting. This is the article I found this info in.

Maybe this won't be a completely hopeless endeavor. Stay tuned for more on that.

On the same note, I've been waiting impatiently to see the new documentary Food, Inc. It looks like it will do the same for the food industry what An Inconvenient Truth did about global warming. It hasn't arrived in my market yet, so I'm waiting for the wider release. It would be totally unfair if I had to wait until it's on video. I understand that it's harder to market documentaries to theater chains, but still, this is important people! Get with it!

Any-who, I thought y'all might want to see the trailer. So, here you go:

Happy Independence Day! May yours be filled with family, good food, and fireworks!

Friday, July 3, 2009

My Facebook absence

It's really bad when you decide to step on over to Facebook a week after your birthday and discover that all your friends have left you well wishes and you didn't even know it.

I joined Facebook a few years ago. And I was hooked for a while. There were days when all I did was see what was going on there and sending cyber-gifts and stuff. Wow.

Now, if I remember to sign in it's near a miracle. Not good. These people all had such good intentions and I was completely oblivious to it. (Could it be I'm quickly turning into a jerk? I better knock that crap out right away.)

It just might be the return of the Sam - better than ever? We'll see.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Because I don't think this gets asked enough...

When I was first working for Wal-Mart in 2001, I decided to go that summer with a couple of friends from work to see the movie Jeepers Creepers. (I don't know how the Wal-Mart thing is relevant, but it's worth noting.)

Now, on the whole, I think this movie was an absolute piece of crap. I don't know why anyone bothered to see it, much less myself. There must have been something promising in the trailer. Give me some credit. I was 22 and had a few bucks in my pocket from the full-time bad excuse for a job.

So, in the movie, this monster-flying-creepy-thing drives this scary motorized jalopy with the personalized plates that say BEATINGU - meaning "be eating u".

My question is this (and this doesn't get asked enough):
Did the monster actually go into the DMV, wait for an hour or so, then apply for his personalized plates? Seriously.

Why don't more people ask this? More importantly, didn't the people making this movie think of this?

I've been stuck on this for eight years. I know - move on, Sam.

So much for that...

I'm kind of bumming over the departure of the DISH. It's still hanging out on our roof, but it's no longer functional. I'm waiting for the box to come to mail back the receiver. Let's see how long that takes.

On another note: I've been planning on doing this major diet lifestyle-change-overhaul-thing. And I went to the store (didn't think the farmer's market would cover it). Big mistake. Why did I come home with ice cream?! Yeah. So much for that, Sam. Are you ever going to make that concerted effort that you've been talking about?

There's the culprit.

A little back story for those who don't know: over the last three years, I've packed on the pounds. All I want is for those cute jeans that I used to wear to fit. Okay, I want to be smaller than that, but if I get to that point, it's like starting back at zero.

Hopefully, by the end of the year, I'll make it to the goal. We'll see.

Dead Tomatoes

I'm hoping that the tomato plant survives until it can be planted. A large amount of dead leaves have shown up and it's a little disconcerting. At least the pepper plants are thriving so far.

The farmer's market is open today. Considering heading out for some fresh stuff. Hoping they have melons. I'm really in the mood for a good fruit salad.

I cannot believe the amount of people dropping dead lately. Not just the famous ones, although that can't help.

My uncle Dick passed away on Friday. We attended his funeral in MN yesterday. Shannon and I hung out outside for a while with Lily. (She's not quite old enough to understand the gravity of a funeral. Shannon says she's unpredictable. She'll be shy one minute, then singing at the top of her lungs in front of dozens of strangers the next. Best keep her out of the way.)

Mom knows of two or three people from work who just died this last week. And then you factor in the celebrities. Unreal!

Michael Jackson (whose death seemed to consume the media - what about Farrah?)
Farrah Fawcett
Ed McMahon
Karl Malden
Billy Mays

The anniversary of Dad's death is upcoming - July 10. I can't believe it's been 13 years! Still miss him.

Could the last couple weeks be more depressing? People dying, death anniversaries, and I turned 30. Go figure!



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