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?
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)
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?
I live near one of those draft house cinemas; the wonderful kind that keeps the beer or wine flowing while you eat delicious treats and enjoy your movie. I’d been thinking a lot about my approaching viewing of the last Harry Potter movie, and thinking about Harry made me think of the draft house theater, which in turn caused me to think of my very favorite snack served there; queso and chips. Soon, my thoughts turned to cravings, and yesterday I was forced to begin my quest to find the components that made up the queso of my dreams. Luckily, my quest was short lived and went something like this:
Me: (to my friend Michelle) Hey, what do you think is in the draft house’s queso?
Michelle: I’m pretty sure it’s just Rotel and Velveeta…Oh! And those sliced pickled jalapenos.
Me: That sounds too simple.
Michelle: I’m pretty sure that’s it. Trust me.
Since Michelle had no reason to give me a bogus queso recipe, I made my way to the store to look for the three magic ingredients.
The can of Rotel and the glass jar of jalapenos had no effect on me as I placed them in my basket and made my way to the cheese aisle. It didn’t take long for me to find the familiar yellow rectangle with its accustomed red font screaming “Velveeta” on each
side and boasting a $5.99 price for 32 ounces of pseudo cheesy goodness. I realized as I placed it in my cart that my last visitation with this product had been sometime in the late 1970s or early ‘80s.
Velveeta was the processed cheese product of my childhood. I have fond lunchtime memories of creamy tomato soup accompanied by toasty grilled cheese sandwiches filled with melty Velveeta. As my seven, ten, or fifteen year-old self dunked a triangle of sandwich into my soup, I never once considered Velveeta’s composition. It could have been crafted of yellow Play-Doh and dog hair and I would have eaten it because it tasted so darned good.
Once I made entrance into the exciting worlds of adulthood and motherhood, I began to actually consider what I was putting into the bodies of myself and my little minions. Words like preservatives, additives or processed had no place in our pantry or fridge, and my love affair with Velveeta fell by the wayside—until last night when I dipped my first tortilla chip into its creamy goodness. It was then I realized how much I’d missed seeing its quadrilateral form in the door of my refrigerator. And when my youngest daughter asked me what was in the dip, I couldn’t resist introducing her to the remaining quivering block of cheese product residing in its classic foil wrapper. Her taste testing led to a discussion of bubbling mac and cheese and burgers fresh from the grill with gooey cheese product dripping down their sides. It brought back memories of backyard “picnics” by my plastic kiddie pool and packed lunches with thick slices of Velveeta on whole wheat with mustard. Soon my daughter and I were making plans for a lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup.
I’ve heard our sense of smell evokes our strongest memories, but I have to believe that taste runs a strong second. The foods of our childhood are time machines, linking us to the warm comforting memories of our past. Though its label may feature words that I’ve tried to eliminate from our food vocabulary, Velveeta’s ability to catapult me to simpler times may just make it a permanent fixture on my refrigerator shelf.
What are some foods of your childhood that take you back in time?
Classic Rotel and Velveeta Queso Dip
1- 10 oz. can of Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies (do not drain)
1- 16 oz. package of Velveeta cut into 1 inch cubes
Heat together on a medium setting, stirring constantly, until creamy
Garnish with pickled jalapenos and enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips!
Don’t ask me to read Margery Williams’ Velveteen Rabbit in a clear voice. I can more than guarantee you that before I reach the end of the opening sentence, there will be a catch in my voice accompanied by the inevitable welling of tears in my eyes. Stuffed rabbits, or bunnies as we like to say at my house, hold a dear place in my heart. This is a tale of two such bunnies. The first is old and worn, and frankly hardly recognizable as a 1988 Fischer-Price Puffalump Special Edition. The second has yet to complete his mission.
Bunny Number One was an Easter gift to my four month old daughter, Kalah. I clearly remember purchasing him on the Thursday before that holiday, my payday. Money was tight and I wavered between buying her one gift, a lavender bunny nearly half her size, or several small rattles and a chunky board book. Perhaps it was his soft brown eyes, or the “magic” that still resides in his egg that called to me, but I ignored my usual philosophy that more is more and I chose the rabbit. Right from the start Kalah latched on to him. From four months of age through toddlerhood
she could be found with the thumb of her right hand planted steadfastly in her mouth and the fingers of her left hand firmly clutched to Bunny.
As Kalah’s perpetual pal, Bunny experienced life with her and regularly bequeathed his vast wisdom as they navigating the world. He was an expert on sharing, on taking turns, and on table manners. He always picked up after himself, said excuse me when he burped, and, like all good rabbits, ate his vegetables. Bunny, like Kalah, loved to play. He built block towers and put together puzzles. He soared to the moon on the swings and climbed Mount Everest on the monkey bars. He was a lover of nature and was always the first to sniff a flower or spy a toad. He liked to travel and soaked up knowledge as Kalah did when we visited the library, the zoo, or the Smithsonian museums. Perhaps one of his best attributes was his expertise in all things associated with bedtime. It could be counted on that Bunny always became incredibly sleepy exactly thirty minutes before lights-out time. He would insist on telling stories that more than often detailed adventures that he’d had long before he’d been chosen to be Kalah’s constant companion. Often these tales featured times when he’d slept all by himself without waking up Mother Bunny before 8 a.m.
Bunny was darned near perfect friend, yet he had two clear downfalls; he had very poor hygiene and a propensity to get lost. Because prying him out of my daughter’s clutching paws was often a trick, Bunny only got washed about once a month. Kalah would lovingly place him in a pillowcase, watch me knot the top, and then stand by the washer as it whirred through its gentlest cycle
until Bunny was once again sanitary for human use. She held vigil at the dryer, as well. Clean or not, Bunny was a wily critter who would often seek his own path. The phrase, “Where’s Bunny?” accompanied by a frantic glance from my tiny daughter would strike fear in my heart. Many is the time I combed through a toy box, searched through cabinets, and dived into dumpsters in search of Bunny gone rogue. And somehow, no matter how bizarre his journey, he always found his way back home.
Though Kalah gave up the thumb, and the constant need to carry her rabbit to every destination, Bunny was still there for her. He saw her through becoming a big sister and through our divorce. He waited patiently for her on her first day of school. He’s slept with her through every peaceful, fevered, or sleepless night. He’s been sneezed on, confided in and has soaked up tears. There is no doubt that he has long been “real” according to Velveteen Rabbit standards.
Bunny turned 23 this past March, which has to be something like 161 in rabbit years. He no longer tags along on my daughter’s every mission. He mostly spends his days in an honored sunny spot on Kalah’s bed, often with a purring kitty nestled near him. On the chance that he’s feeling spry he fills the role of sagacious Jedi Master to his young Padawan, Bunny Number Two; a recent EBay find. There is not much to tell about my daughter’s second Bunny. He’s spent most of his time in a plastic container atop her closet. Although he’s 23 years old, he looks as good as new. He’s never been clutched, or loved, or sneezed on. He’s never helped to build block towers, or been the keeper of great secrets. For now, he’s a stuffed rabbit in a box, lacking wisdom, and hoping for the day that a little boy or girl will love him and make him real.
Did you or your child have a special stuffed animal? Tell me about it!
Four short months ago, I was slightly terrified to start a blog. Blogging seemed like great way to practice my craft and gain feedback from other aspiring writers, but I had my worries. What would I write about? Who would read it? Would anyone comment? Would I be able to stick with it? I’m so glad that I placed my fears aside and plucked up the courage to write my first post. All of the bloggers that I have encountered on WordPress, and beyond, have been so friendly and encouraging that in a short period time I feel like a full-fledged member of the blogosphere.
How Can I Complain? is a blog still in its infancy, stuck with me as its new mother. Parenting a blog may not require nightly feedings, but devoting the proper amount of time and dedication to assure that it flourishes and grows is a balancing act. Sometimes I find myself hovering over my blog baby, checking its site stats, like a helicopter parent suspended outside of a teacher’s classroom. Other times, like this past week, I’m so neglectful about writing that I picture my poor blog baby in a ratty playpen, saddled with a soggy diaper, and arms outstretched begging me to nurture it. That’s when a nudge from a blogging buddy comes in handy.
This week, I got that nudge when the fabulous writer limr, from her blog As a Linguist, presented me with the Irresistibly Sweet Blogger Award. Limr holds a special place in my heart because hers was the very first WordPress blog that I read and commented on and she was my first subscriber. She’s a wonderful wordsmith. She’s wicked smart and I always learn something new when I tune into her blog. Plus, she has cats that don’t object to wearing hats like mine do!
The rules of the Irresistibly Sweet Blogger Award appear to be that I’m to write seven random facts about myself, and that I pass this award on to seven deserving bloggers. First, we’ll hit the facts!
1. I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd. I have a wand, and I’m not afraid to use it. (So far “Lumos” is the only spell that works, and that’s only when I’m near a light switch.)
2. Throughout my life I’ve been told that I look like Jayne Mansfield. (I guess I see it in the nose, mouth and well um, chest!)
3. I love wearing flip-flops! (In my neck of the woods, flip-flop season begins on the first warm day in March and ends when the temperature dares to drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit).
4. I’ve broken both of my ankles and my right middle finger. The ankles I broke skating and helping to install a pool liner. (Not at the same time!) The middle finger break happened while snow tubing and NOT from flipping too many people off as some of my friends speculated!
5. I was an extra in a movie my freshman year of college. Sadly, it wasn’t a cool movie. It was part of a Mark Twain series for PBS called The Tragedy of Puddin’ Head Wilson. It starred Ken Howard and Steven Weber. It was a fun experience, but not my ticket to stardom!
6. I’m a stickler for oral hygiene and I floss every single day!
7. I have an unnatural fear of eels and will only go into fresh or saltwater up to my knees. (Perhaps my fear is Freudian, but anything that looks like a penis with teeth or a turd with eyes needn’t come near me!)
Now for the seven fantastically talented bloggers worthy of the coveted Irresistibly Sweet Blogger Award! I’m following limr’s lead and choosing girls this time, but I promise my next award will go to the guys! Bring it on blogger gods!
Cue the snare drums!!! Here we go!
1. Deborah Bryan, from The Monster in Your Closet: Deborah is an amazing author, blogger, mom and human being. Her posts are honest, inspiring, and completely from the heart. Deb has had an amazing life journey and I urge you to check out her beautiful, well-written posts and novels.
2. Tori Nelson, from The Ramblings: If you need a good laugh, Tori’s your girl. Her posts are over-the-top hilarious. Need the answer for covering up a public toot? It’s there in her blog! Ya gotta read it!
3. Marie, from Marie’s Space: Marie’s writings are heartfelt and often humorous. She’s gutsy, capable, and a personal inspiration to me. Check out her space! It’s only a click away!
4. Renee Schuls-Jacobson, from Lessons from Teachers and Twits: Renee is one spunky little lady! She’s an amazingly dedicated professor and mom, and a very talented writer! You’ve gotta check her out!
5. Kristina, from Ten Minute Missive: I’ve just started following Kristina’s blog. She’s a former English teacher, and a current comic and writer. I really like what I’ve read so far, and I bet you’ll like her too!
6. Thoughtsy, from Thoughts Appear: This is another blog that I’ve just started following. Thoughtsy is 29 and has a list of 30 things that she wants to accomplish before she turns 30. I have to admit that I sometimes live vicariously through her adventures!
7. Monica, from Monica’s Tangled Web: This remarkable writer has been Freshly Pressed three times and once you read her posts you’ll see why. She’s witty, insightful and a pleasure to read.
Well, there you have it seven mad random facts about moi and seven irresistibly sweet award-winning bloggers! Thanks again limr!