Hello Blogging buddies! I have some bad news and some really, really good news! Bad news first; I’ve stopped posting on How Can I Complain? The good news is, that I started a new blog in January and I’d love for all of you to visit it. It’s called The Ravenously Disappearing Woman. I started it as a weight loss journal, at the suggestion of my weight loss counselor, and it ended up morphing into a blog. I’ve met many nice people at my new home, but I still think often of all of my original blogging buddies! It would be wonderful to hear from all of you! ❤ 🙂
Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging; at least that’s what I’m blaming my eight month, unplanned hiatus on. It couldn’t be laziness or my incredibly short attention span that’s kept me away from sharing my life on WordPress for the past three-quarters of a year. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, making a mere word is just worth a word, I thought I’d combine the two to let you know what I’ve been up to.
November: I went through quite a little art phase that began in November and is still going on. I collage. I paint. I shop at Michael’s. I make art, not great art, but I think that people at Michael’s probably think I’m Picasso as much as I’m in there!
December: In December, my husband made one of my wildest dreams come true! It involved a bus, the hubs and another man who I hope to one day make my second brother-husband. Minds out of gutters, dear readers! My husband took me to Manhattan to see Hugh Jackman on Broadway. Our seats were close enough for me to see the sweat on his well-chiseled brow. The whole trip was one of the best times I’ve ever had.
*January: I couldn’t recount the past eight months without recalling my favorite trashy TV premiers. VH-1’s Mob Wives premiered in January. Now repeat after me in your very best Botox inhibited and cigarette induced New Jersey accent: “You ain’t lived until you’ve seen and heard Big Ang!” Really, readers, you haven’t!
*February: TV goodness continues with the premier of National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers. If this show doesn’t help you get ready for December 2012, nothing will.
March: I got my first, and only, tattoo. My oldest daughter designed it and got the exact same one on her bicep. My youngest daughter wants to eventually get it. She’s still a little bit unsure about the pain aspect of being tattooed. The three birds on the branch represent my lovely daughters and me, and the bird above them represents my mother watching over us. March was the 28 year anniversary of her death.
*April: Celebrating my 48th birthday in April paled in comparison to the mystical wonder of the premier of TLC’s My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding. This show is especially near and dear to my heart because much of it was filmed just 20 minutes away from my house!!! I’ve actually seen the following people in my local Michael’s!
May: We took our annual beach trip to Nags Head, NC. While there we endured tropical depression Beryl, ate tons of glorious crustaceans, and my husband plucked a glass lizard out of our pool filter! Yikes!
June: Welcome to now! I’m chilling with the cats and blogging to you. (Actually, I’m chilling and they’re staring at me. It’s pretty creepy.)
(I like to imagine that my cats sound like Stewie from Family Guy.)
*I do other things besides watch TV. No, seriously, I do!
What have all of you been up to lately?
This is the real ghost story that I promised earlier this week. I apologize for the lack of my usual writing flair. The three-day migraine that I’m in the midst of seems to have stripped me of all creativity!
The following creepy occurrence kept me out of our basement for pretty much the rest of my teenaged years. What do you think it might have been?
As a teenager, I had an obsessive love-hate relationship with all things otherworldly. On one hand, I adored talking about and reading tales of poltergeist, demons, and monsters; but on the other hand, they scared the living crap out of me and forced me to sleep with the lights on whilst I pathetically begged my mother, in much the style of a three year-old, to sleep with me. By the time I’d turned 15, I’d read every ghost story that my small town’s library had to offer, and I’d listened in awe to every creepy story that my friends had to tell, but despite my burning interest, I had no personal ghost stories of my own to share. With my easy spookability, I’d certainly imagined ghoulish hands reaching from beneath my bed to snatch any limb or appendage that accidentally exited my covers during the night. I’d additionally witnessed demonic profiles and ghostly pictures haunting the shadows on my walls as I’d attempted to fall asleep. However, these spooks were merely figments of my very active imagination, and it wasn’t until January 1, 1980 that I had my first, and thankfully only, supernatural experience.
I remember the exact date because it was the last day of my winter break from school, and like most 15 year-olds, I’d put off doing any homework until the last possible moment. I’d gathered my books and headed downstairs to my usual study spot, our basement rec room. I’d just spread my school stuff out on half of the ping-pong table and settled into a chair swiped from the card table when I felt a swift, icy breeze sweep across my back and neck. Adrenaline shot through me and the hair on my arms instantly rose. I scanned the room for the source. The basement was completely underground making a wind of any temperature impossible. Our house was still decorated for the holidays, and I watched in terror as the wind that touched my neck ruffled the Christmas cards arranged atop a bookshelf on the opposite wall. From the shelf my eyes were instantly drawn to the slightly swaying branches of the Christmas tree situated in the corner directly beneath my bedroom. A cold, horror filled me as a foggy mist began surrounding the tree. The mist weaved and moved through the branches, and condensed around the nativity scene arranged on the tree’s skirt. My mother had long ago painted the figures for this crèche in a ceramics class, and my father had crafted the wooden stable that housed Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. Atop the stable’s entrance was an angel. I stared in disbelief as the ethereal fog thickened around it. I tried to call out to my mother, but no words would escape my lips as I watched the tiny cherub shake and rock from side-to-side. I remained frozen, feeling an overwhelming sense of evil, as its quaking and quivering continued. Finally, the angel dropped from the nail that it had once securely held it and hit the carpeted floor. It was then that I was released from my stiffness; then that I could scream and run breathlessly up the stairs to the security of my family.
At first, my parents naturally blamed my experience on my overactive imagination and my above average desire to put off schoolwork, but I think my mom eventually began to believe my tale after several sleepless weeks of being called to my room in the middle of the night. My friends thought my encounter was awesome and all had their theories about what I had seen. Was it a ghost? A demon? What do you think?
Have you ever had a ghostly encounter? Tell me about it.
Remain calm. Don’t freak out. All is well, I promise. The fact that I have yet to use an exclamation point proves that I’m not upset. This is not a murder scene. In fact, my daughter, who appears to be the victim, was having a difficult time not laughing when this shot was taken. That girl is one tough cookie! (See, that interjection was a positive one.) She’s only momentarily resting in that disgusting pool of gore after fighting off an intruder, and you can best believe that the poor bastard left with aching junk and a depleted blood supply. Like I said, my kid is tough.
This picture is a still shot from a short flick that her film-student boyfriend, Owen made for one of his classes. Thankfully, this film was made at his house. I’m all for creative expression, but copious amounts of fake blood are not allowed in the confines of my home. They can spray and splatter my yard and driveway until Dexter comes to investigate, but one drop of that stuff on my hardwood floors and I’ll freak!
With my favorite holiday only six days away, I have several Halloween posts in the making, including a REAL ghost story that happened to me! I may even be tempted to vlog again, once I figure out what my costume’s going to be! Stay tuned!
Do you like horror flicks? What type? (I’m a psychological thriller kinda girl—no blood and gore for me!) What will you be watching this Halloween?
Early in the morning, on the day my mother left this earth, she called me. It was not to tell me the secret of life, or ooze with gushy words over my greatness at being her daughter; it was to remind me to go to the financial aid office to make sure my paperwork for my student loan had been processed for the next semester. While she certainly remembered to end the conversation with an “I love you,” her call was a purposeful prompt for me to get things done. This wasn’t because she found me too incompetent to take care of my own shizz, because thanks to her, I’d been handling my own shizz for quite some time. Her final reminder was an example of who she was; a woman who endlessly worried about her children. I am SO my mother’s daughter.
On a daily basis you can hear me say such phrases as: “Did you eat lunch; what did you have?” “You have that paper due on the 11th; are you making note cards?” “Be careful at that blind turn on your way to school!” Do I think my daughters wouldn’t eat lunch, turn assignments in on time, or crash their cars without my input? Certainly not! I know, from my own experience, that after my mother’s death, I turned in papers in a timely manner, unplugged the coffee maker before leaving the house, and that I always remembered to not buy cheap bras, “because they’ll make your boobs sag!” Oh, but I missed her unnecessary input, and I still hear her voice at the crux of any decision I make.
Yes, I’m a serious nag, and during my daughter’s teen years, my advice and questioning was often met with eye rolls. Now my ceaseless guidance, in most cases, evokes a smile, because they know. They know that my badgering is one of the ways that I stay enmeshed in their lives. It’s one of the silly ways that I say “I love you,” and show that I care so deeply about them that I want even the most miniscule details of their lives to go smoothly. Even in my mother’s last hours, she was tangled up in the routines of my life. She was giving me orders that voiced her love and expectations of me. I am SO much my mother’s daughter.
Do you nag your children unnecessarily? Was, or is, your mom a nag?
Today, I have the honor of guest posting for the spunky and talented Renée Schuls-Jacobson on her fabulous blog “Lessons from Teachers and Twits.” I am very fortunate to be able to share the story of Mrs. Larson, my fifth grade teacher, who put up with my constant shenanigans with grace and poise. So, please head on over to Renée’s blog and check my story out. While you’re there, you’ll want to stop and read heaps and bunches of Renée’s stuff, because just like the gorgeous Hugh Jackman, it’s really great! (You can also find her on Twitter at RASJacobson)
I have a pathetic confession, I have absolutely no idea what the latest, serious news stories are. This is usually not like me. I used to teach school and I know the importance of keeping up with current events. My normal “first thing in the morning” routine is to drink coffee (lots of coffee), read the news on my computer while I watch it on television; perfect multimedia multitasking. The truth is, from around the time the last Harry Potter was released, I haven’t paid one iota of attention to serious news. I’m not blaming this on Harry. Lord knows, the poor guy has had enough on his plate, with defeating “You-know-who” and restoring the wizarding world to normalcy, to shoulder any of my burdens. It is solely my doing, or the doing of my mid-life crisis, that has caused me to delve into the world of escapism. So, for the fun of it, I’ll share with you the few things that I’ve discovered during my six week hiatus from reality.
First off, I know exactly what’s happening on True Blood, and may I share that I wasn’t thrilled with episodes eight, nine, or ten. C’mon, Alan Ball, can’t you at least pretend to have read the
books? Next, I’ll confess that I wish I would have started watching Boardwalk Empire last season. I’ve watched the first seven episodes online and it is AMAZING!! You go Steve Buscemi! I’ve also been delving into documentaries more often than usual. I watched Supersize Me for the third time. I developed an appreciation for street art after my youngest recommended Exit through the Gift Shop and I surprised myself by enjoying Beyond the Mat, a film about the lives of several professional wrestlers.
It’s not just the high quality entertainment that premium channels have to offer that’s been making me forget stuff like who our president is or whether we’re allies with Libya, it’s the less costly, trashier channels that have been keeping me occupied, as well. Have I watched a women reenacting giving birth in a toilet, because she didn’t know she was pregnant? Yes. Have I observed housewives from New Jersey forgetting to follow the golden rule? You know it. Have I tuned in to Joey Greco showing hidden camera footage to woman who is ready to kick her cheating boyfriend’s ass? Yep. Do I know whether or not Eden Wood won the “Rumble in the Jungle” beauty pageant? That would also be a yes. Do I feel guilty for watching any of these low quality programs? Oddly, I don’t.
Before you judge me too harshly, I also read. Like a champ, I read all of the blogs that I subscribe to almost every, single day. I’m also reading several books at once. My bedtime book is The Sea of Monsters; book two of the Percy Jackson series. My living room forwhentheTVgetsboring book is currently Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks, and my bathroom book is David Haviland’s Why You Should Store Your Farts in a Jar & Other Oddball or Gross Maladies, Afflictions, Remedies, and “Cures” (and, no, I didn’t make that up). I’ll admit, none of these are on the classics list, but if their subjects were too heady I wouldn’t be escaping.
As superiorly pleasurable as escapism is, I feel that it may be time to return to the world of the living. So, now I’m left wondering about the happenings of the world while I was “out-to-lunch.” Should I be learning Russian? Has the Zombie Apocalypse occurred? Have scientists discovered a cure for chronic flatulence? Only time, and a few Google searches, will tell.
How do you “escape,” dear readers?
I have a vague memory of being very small and walking outside to greet the night, barefooted and in my pink nightgown that was scattered with strawberries. We lived in the country far away from anything that resembles the sky glow that I face now on the nights when I try to find Orion, or the Big and Little Dipper. I sneaked past my parents, absorbed in their television program, and felt the crispy grass of August beneath my feet. From my hilled yard, I met the vastness of the speckled sky. My heart boomed in my chest and my breath quickened. It was so big, so wide and so endlessly enveloping that it scared me. So, I ran from the night in my little bare feet to the safety of my house, slamming the screen door behind me. I was relieved to see the white ceiling above me, and relieved to see my skin bathed in the artificial light of the living room lamp. My mother turned away from her show with a start at the slam of the door. I had frightened her, too. Why was her silly girl out of bed? She scooped me up, kissed my blond curls, and tucked me in the safety of my covers.
Lately, I feel like I’ve been staring at the night sky, but instead of finding myself faced with the enormity of space, I find myself enveloped by the vastness of this new role that I find myself in. I am mothering from afar. My oldest is five hours away and fully engrossed in biochemistry, microanatomy, and clinical skills. My youngest, is the independent young woman that I always knew she’d be. Do I need to remind her to take her medication, or make a doctor’s appointment? Nope, she’s got it. She has a boyfriend, a ton of girlfriends and plethora of activities that keep her busy. It’s just as it should be, and I know that my role right now is to step back and let both of them be the adults that they were raised to be. They’re busy tasting the fruit of independence, and I know from past experience that it is very sweet. But, what’s to become of me? The mother who held them tight and sheltered them, who cooked their favorite foods, cleaned their scrapes and read them stories? Who am I without them in my house and at my table, and tucked into their beds safely at night? That’s the question for me right now. Its answer could be as complex as the systems of stars I once feared, or it could be as simple and pure as the words on my screen. I am faced with freedom and there is a part of me that longs to be tethered to the safety of my past, bathed in the light of familiarity. There is also that fragment, so long ago sequestered by responsibility, who knows she must run out into the night, feel the sunbaked grass of August beneath her feet and embrace the endless sheet of night, the speckled stars and glowing moon, unafraid.
Do you know who you are and what you want from life? How did you invent, or reinvent, yourself?
Ten years ago at 12:15 p.m., my husband and stood in front of a towering judge, along with my daughters, my ex-in-laws, and two of our best friends. The ceremony was short and sweet, and at its end, we were bound for life, just as we knew we would be from the day we met. While friends, family, and coworkers rejoiced in our happiness, very few of them knew the real story of how we came to be standing in front of that Frankensteinianly tall judge and saying our vows.
Years ago, I was a skinny blond school teacher; a not so gay divorcee, raising two kids on my own. Though I had my work and my beautiful daughters to keep me occupied, my inward lack of gaiety was a definite problem. I was lonely. When I’d first divorced I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t date anyone for at least a year, and even then, I would confine my dating to the weekends that my daughters were visiting their father. The last thing I wanted to be was one of those women who introduced their daughters to an endless string of men. I had taught children whose mothers acquainted them with a “new daddy” every few months and I certainly feared for their future.
In my college days, before I met my first husband, I’d dated a fair variety of gentlemen, so I assumed that once I put myself back out on the market that dating would be effortless. Oh, I was wrong, so very, very wrong! If I were to blog about my post-divorce dates, you would see titles like, “Don’t Call Me Sunshine,” “If you Touch me with your Foot Again, I’ll Kill You” “Wrangler Jeans and Flannel Shirts in August,” and the classic “Oh, you Live with your Mother.” In spite of well-meaning friends, with scores of dudes to fix me up with, I just wasn’t finding Mr. Right, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. My dating plan was oddly intermingled with a lay-away plan at my local Wal-Mart. It was simple; I’d buy computer in six easy payments, secretly post a personal ad, and in a few short months, or sooner, I’d be dating the man of my dreams.
After my debt was paid, and I’d figured out which cord went where, I began to compose my ad. I brain stormed by making a list of attributes that I hoped for in a mate. He needed to be kind, responsible, sober, and willing to accept the fact that my children were a huge part of the package. He had to be intelligent, financially secure, and cool with the fact that I’m an adult who still likes to make prank phone calls. When I finished I had a list of 54 requirements that my future husband needed to possess. A girl has to be picky, but to assure you that I’m not shallow; there was nothing on the list referring to appearance and nothing that I that I required of Mr. Right that I couldn’t bring to the table myself.
I spent an entire Saturday munching on baby carrots, cooped up in my stuffy apartment trying to turn my list into the most brilliant personal ad ever written. Finally, after hitting the delete button fifty bazillion times, I settled on something like this:
SWF, 35, seeks responsible, kind, intelligent guy to date, to eventually love, to potentially marry, and to possibly make prank phone calls with.
The problem with personal ads is that lots of people aren’t reasonably good at self-assessment. There are guys who’ve had restraining orders placed against them who consider themselves kind. There are guys that are chronically without jobs who consider themselves responsible and there are dopey dudes who think they’re Einstein. There are also lots of crazy guys out there! So, once the fruits of my labor began showing up in my inbox, I had to do some serious analyzing to make sure I wasn’t about to hook up with Hannibal Lector. I immediately deleted any email that came from a father of four plus children. I’m no Carol Brady. Then I axed anyone who couldn’t write in complete sentences. Sadly, this got rid of quite a few. If an email had anything remotely perverse such as a reference to fetishes, or a vibe that there might be a girl chained up in the basement, it was a goner. After my careful scrutiny, I was left with an inbox containing three potential choices. I replied to all and one guy answered back. He was a civil engineer eight years my senior and Guardrail1234, was his screen name. For a few weeks Guardrail and I wrote back and forth. His letters were always witty and fun. After we’d learned all that we could about one another online, he asked to meet me. Amazingly, although I’d received emails from men who lived hundreds of miles away, Guardrail lived only eleven miles from my apartment. After asking for his social security number to have him checked out (not kidding, girls have to be careful), and after telling two of my closest friends exactly where I’d be (really, you can’t be too safe). I met Guardrail1234 at a Chinese restaurant downtown. As silly as it sounds coming from a non-romantic girl like me, it was love at first sight. He was, and still is, the beautiful human form of everything on my 54 item list, and then some.
A burning question among family and co-workers was, “How did you meet?” This was 12 years ago, before the answer, “Oh, we met online,” was acceptable. I didn’t want everyone to know for a fact that I’m as
flakey quirky as they imagine I am. So, my über conservative grandmother was told that we were introduced by friends. My co-workers were told that we met through one of my relatives, but anyone who really knows and cares about me is aware of the real way that we really met.
I’m dying to know!! How did you meet your partner?
Throughout the years, I’ve teased my darling husband just a wee bit for his lack of comedic style, but today, after a telemarketer called for the second time, I had to generously extend him some comic credit. Now, I’m never one to be rude to a telemarketer, but I have been known to mess with one, if they won’t take no for an answer. After all, this is the modern age of malls and online shopping. If I want something, I can usually find it myself without the assistance of a telemarketer. A few minutes ago, I picked up a call that went something like this:
Telemarketer: (of nondescript nationality, phoning from a very noisy call center) Hello, I am prepared to offer you international calls for only $4.99 per month.
Me: No, thank you. I don’t usually make international calls. Please put me on your “do not call” list.
TM: (Very passionately) We have no list madam, but we have $4.99 a month international calling!
Me: No, thank you. Goodby…
TM: But madam! I have a proposition. I give it to you for free for one month.
(At this point, I am unable to resist such an offer. After all, a comment like that is similar to an opportunity to say “That’s what she said!”)
Me: You’re going to give it to me for free for a month?
TM: Yes, free.
Me: So, are you any good at it?
TM: The phone service madam. It is good.
Me: I didn’t think we were talking phone service anymore. I thought we were talking sex.
TM: I am married man!
ME: Then why are you propositioning me?
TM: (Yelling) It’s $4.99 now a month for you, madam!
ME: Sorry, but you generously offered to give it to me free for a month. I won’t pay for it. I never pay for it.
TM: (Exclaiming in total exasperation) You pay $4.99!!
ME: Are you crying?
TM: (I swear he said this!) I never cry! I am a man!
(At this point my husband in his best little boy voice says, “Help me, mommy! I’ve stepped in poop. Hurry mommy! I’m sinking in a big pile of stinking poo!)
ME: I’ve gotta go. My boy just stepped in crap.
TM: But $4.99, Madam! You must say yes!
I decided the poor guy was about to blow a gasket, so I chose to stop the madness and hung up. Two seconds later, the phone rings again. This time my husband picks up.
Mr. Sprinkles: Hello?
Telemarketer: Are you the man in the house?
Mr.S: Yes, I am.
TM: Your wife. She has hung up on me and I will sue!
Mr. S: You can’t; we’ve already started the proceedings to sue you.
TM: You cannot sue me! Your wife will not accept my offer of $4.99 a month international long distance!
Mr. S: (Sternly) Put us on the “do not call” list.
TM: There is no list!
Mr. S: Don’t call us again, or I’ll put a curse on you! (By this time my youngest daughter has entered the room to listen!)
TM: There will be no curse!
Mr. S: Ha La La Ba Un Da Gaaaaaa! You will burn like fire!
TM: Noooo! $4.99 a…
Mr. S: Ba La La Un Da Ga Haaaaa! You feel that? That’s what a curse feels like!
Mr. S: Bun Da La Ha Da La Baaaaa! You’re cursed now, buddy!
TM: Ok, I end call. (click!)
This is when we all explode with laughter. My husband, the sweet, nerdy, engineer and voodoo priest! Who knew?!
***The poor guy must be a glutton for punishment, because a few minutes later there was a third call that I answered. I won’t go into great detail, but in my best hillbilly accent, I accused the unfortunate fellow of causing my home to be invaded by ghosts, told him that I never made international calls because “them international people is why we lost the Civil War,” and that “I can’t afford $4.99 a month because it’ll cut into my beer money!” He’s promised never to dial our number again!