A Treehouse Built For One...

"The sight of well-manicured lawns, new and colorful homes, and friendly pedestrians can only mean one thing: You've wandered onto the wrong side of the tracks. "

Once upon a time, far away, long ago and such, I experienced a brief moment in time where life was deliciously simple. To this day, it feels like an out-of-body experience to even recall the events leading up to and away from it. As though it were recorded on a mysterious page placed in the center of the chapter of another book. Once upon a time, I lived alone in a treehouse.



Sorta.

My mind was rapidly deteriorating into a melting mass of chaos and confusion. Everything I thought I knew up to that moment seemed like a strange dream. I had no explanations for my actions or even real recollections of any facts. I had lost any focus of who I was, where I was, or where in the world I was headed. All of this was swirling about in my skull as I ascended that narrow, winding staircase for the first time and turned the key in the rickety antique lock. Upon opening that tiny wooden door of peeling paint, I walked into complete and utter clarity.



A one bedroom apartment at the tip-top of a small Victorian house in the Avenues. The name given to a series of streets just North of downtown Salt Lake. A perfect grid of craftsman-style bungalows and old Victorian houses laid out in city-block-length stairs up a vast mountainside. Each cottage more colorful and charismatic than the last. The Avenues were always my own small version of Shangri la. Strange as even at a young age, I had seen much of the world around me. But there will forever be something so familiar and comforting about this particular blanket of streets. 

The apartment couldn't have been more than perhaps 300 sq.ft. - and that may be wholly generous. To the left, a miniature bedroom with a cavernous ceiling... Odd closeted storage about 10 feet off the floor. It was painted the most horrifyingly sunshiny yellow, yet with only one small window immediately shaded by oaks, it gave the room an ethereal glow that I didn't mind in the least. Past that, a petite bathroom. I imagined it as that magical carpet bag from a certain flick - one couldn't fathom how a tiny pedestal sink was contained within, let alone the toilet and tub! Back upon first entering: a small, narrow living room with a funhouse floor dipping sharply off to the right. Beyond that, a minimal kitchen reminiscent of some remote cabin. Small fridge, a counter top containing the airplane-lavatory-sized sink and the stove circa 1963. No matter - after all, I wouldn't be spending much time in there.  Off the kitchen, these amazing (and poorly constructed) french doors that opened to the tiniest of dilapidated porches - more of a roost fashioned of plywood planks painted robin's egg blue.   



Most importantly: The trees. My god, the trees... These towering canopies of greenery that seemed to embrace every corner of my small world. The purest hues of green that make my eyes water to think about. Even when the sun was blazing overhead in the middle of an oppressively hot Summer day, those trees kept the light ambient and peaceful... a cool breeze would drift through the corners of each room from an unknown source and the smells were so foreign and fresh.


I furnished my little treehouse with only the few things I thought could serve some purpose. A box spring & mattress on the floor, bookshelf in the corner, two small chairs shuffled between the front room and the porch, and a stereo. Postcards and bits of boldly colored feminine fluff were pinned this way and that - but there was no need for anything more. From my cozy blue roost, I could peak through the branches to a bizarre and bustling world contained entirely in that back alley. This satisfied occasional social needs before I would retreat back inside with a glass of wine and a mis-matched collection of paints & brushes laid out on the floor. Always a soundtrack in the background, and the shabby doors opened up in welcome to My Trees. A fridge stocked modestly with a fifth of gin, a can of concentrated limeade, and a bottle of mustard. What more would one ever need?

This place was more than a bit of real estate along my path to date. It was more than a residence beckoning to be condemned or the place I hung my boa for a handful of months. With every imperfection, perceived inconvenience, leaky faucet or long-since-unserviceable stove - it was my Cocoon. Absolutely simple, and absolute perfection.


So what ever became of My Treehouse? As all good things must eventually come to an end, something unimaginable occurred within the walls of my small sanctuary. And from that day forward, all the perfection was gone. All sense of comfort, simplicity and peace. Tainted. Innocence lost.

So I went on with my life.... And I have no regrets in my life. Or at least I strive to such an end. I have made astonishing strides and accomplished things I would never in my wildest dreams have fathomed. So much to be grateful for. Still.... every once in awhile... I revisit that moment in time when there simply wasn't "so much".

Wait, Is This A Proctology Exam?

"Home is where your heart is, and your lungs and liver too, but despite a month long search they'll never find all of you."

When I awoke yesterday morning around 3am-ish, I felt a sharp pain in my jaw. Hmmm... Was I punched in the face in the night? No... no bruising. Oh well, must just be one of those "gentle" reminders that I'm aging. By the time I was ready for work, I was pretty well convinced I must have dislocated my jaw. As is par for the course when it comes to dealing with this caliber of horse-fukkery, I usually blow it off until I find it is impeding something so "important" that I must face the facts. One such moment occurred as I went to light my cigarette. Fuck.

In the spirit of too much information: As I was making my way into this world, the world clearly wasn't ready for the likes of me. It was the '70's. It is totally possible my mom was "medicated". It is additionally possible the delivering doctor was also medicated. Recipe for disaster? Well, the fool was armed with forceps, and that THING he had them so delicately vice-gripping was Ninja Kitty's jaw. This set the stage for all the glory that surrounds entering this world with an un-hinged jaw and the under bite from hell.

Fast forward 32 years... The day is April the 26th of 2011. Ninja Kitty can't light her fucking cigarette as her jaw has popped off to the left, and the motions of inhaling are trying to force the bone back to the right. Now it's personal. 5 calls later, it comes to light that only the most special of specialists will even agree to see me, and only with the accompanying agreement of coughing up $375 the moment I cross the threshold to the office.



"Don't you have insurance?" Them's fightin' words. You bloody well better believe I have insurance. In fact, the receptionist ooh'd and ahh'd what spec-fucking-tacular insurance I apparently have. Nonetheless, this is a "specialist" and I must satisfy the deductible first. All the while, crude visions of slamming my face against a brick wall are dancing in my head. Totally illogical since the problem is on my right side and the bone feels jammed to the left... OK, perhaps employing a small hammer (since I can't open my mouth more than a few centimeters) and knocking the sucker back in place.... I'm unsure I can get the angle right without losing a few teeth or pieces of flesh in the process.... Damnit.... "Huh? Ya, I'm still here. Ya, no, I'll take the 8:30am appointment, thanks."

So back to insurance. It is no small miracle that I'm lucky enough to work for an employer who pays 100% of the premium for my family and I. Generous is the understatement of the year. Yet here I sit, facing YET ANOTHER garnishment for medical bills from almost 2 years ago. "That's nothing", you say - Yes, but this is about the 5th such occasion. The birth of my first son cost about $6,500 out-of-pocket to date. I specify "to date" as it is still all too possible another bill or four may trickle in. No statute of limitations, it seems. I'm in the upper $3K level for the second born. Add to this various ambulance rides, post-birth health problems with both boys, MRI's, CT scans, back issues, x-rays, lab work, blood issues, organ issues, surgeries, reconstructions. Wow, there are quite evidently reasons the molds were destroyed upon our combined arrival on this planet! HA!

Well now, writing it all out like that would make one assume we should own up to single-handedly causing the exponential increase in health care costs... but I swear on all that is unholy we only waited until all our affairs were in order to finally make each call. With kiddos, it's a little more difficult (for those with a hypothetical soul) to make those judgement calls of whether to dig up household objects to aid in archaic garage-surgeries in lieu of employing more qualified help. I have learned to be the level of stubborn most can't wrap their heads around.

So I finally managed to move said jaw around just well enough to smoke said cigarette while only reaching 8 on the 1-10 pain scale. Hmm... I'm still semi-conscious, so I proceeded to the far less expensive alternative of Google. SUCCESS!!!! Could be a muscle spasm, the all-knowing computer tells me - take hydrocodone, it tells me. As it just so happens, I have plenty of that at home (most of it probably expired in the 90's, but no matter)!



Funny thing about all of this is that in the back of my head, I'm contemplating whether this may be related somehow to Karma. See, a certain mother-in-law got a certain l'il redhead Gummy Bears for Easter. A certain Ninja Kitty lusts after Gummy Bears and could easily rationalize stealing candy from a certain child based on the combination of this and the fact that this particular brand would be too tough on HIS l'il jaw..... Ninja Kitty stashed aforementioned Gummy Bears in her purse not 7 hours prior to waking up with a now-self-diagnosed-muscle-spasm in her jaw..... Superstitious Kitty returns said (unopened) Gummy Bears, pops a pill and begins to feel relief.

Now that my train of thought has derailed half a dozen or so times throughout the post, the point: The medical industry is out of control. What a sad day when some broad can't light her cigarette and can't afford to remedy that! Sure, the irony is thick when you think about the health problems I'm inviting in for coffee. Maybe this is some obnoxious goddamned sign about the hazards of smoking. I'll just go ahead and decide the ultimate lesson is to not steal candy from children unless you have either government-caliber insurance or a winning lottery ticket. Now turn your head and cough.


Ignorance Is Bliss.... ?

"A mob of torch-wielding villagers will soon gather outside your home, which is odd, as you don't remember inviting a mob of torch-wielding villagers over."

Curious thing about advancements in technology - It seems it will eventually bite you in the ass. I had a hearty chuckle over a comment left on yesterday's post. I am generally surrounded by really loyal & amazing people - the kind of people who have my back no matter how much they may disagree with my stupidity at any given moment. It's a bloody incredible thing, to be sure. It also makes me wonder what sort of fury would be unleashed should they discover an opening to be brutally honest. In the comment I reference, an anonymous lady or gent took no issue with pointing out what a brat I can be. At first, I was completely taken aback - "Hot damn, that took balls!" I mused... Then I started to feel a bit guilty that I really have enabled those I love the most to feel the need to walk on eggshells when it comes to my highly advertised fragility.

I've never been one to take criticism well - after all, I'm a broken bird deserving of sheltered pity, no? Well, no, not really. I just REALLY enjoy arguing. My supreme bullshitting skills allow me to debate & justify anything as my myriad of moods dictate. So what of the notion that love means never having to say you're sorry? It's possible that I orchestrate even everyday conversations to ensure that defensive barrier is never egged or tagged with negative bits of graffiti. Did you know "graffito" is the singular form of graffiti? Sorry - the hamster hopped off the wheel in my brain for a quick drink.

I shall elaborate. There is a very glaring theme throughout my posts as there is in my daily interactions with people. If I beat them to the punch at my expense, they naturally (and quite politely) respond with counter-arguments to stop me from pouting (best-case scenario, really ;) ). It's one of those knee-jerk reactions I've exhibited for a number of years. I can even recall a moment in recent history where I pondered how to effectively pass that skill along to my spawn. Good call? Well no, probably not. On one hand it's spared me some harsh truths, but those same truths inevitably come bubbling to the surface sooner or later. More and more, some people forced to put up with me frequently have finally let that boiling water splash uncensored in my face. It's a bit of a learning curve for me, but it's all greatly justified.

All that said, here's your open door, folks. Will I take the hits like a champ? Or for the love of god, at least some level of class? No guarantees - I'm unpredictable like that. But you could always post anonymously if you'd like. That way, the next time we go out for beers and I call ya on it, you can always say "Oh, that must've been some random, surly bloke from overseas....."



XOXO
- Miss V.

Kitty Komplex

"Don't worry about politics so much. From time to time, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of idiots."

Simply put, I'm well aware I'm opinionated and needlessly snarky. Now that we've established that, I have to ask, "What the hell?" As previously mentioned, I have been grounded from a certain social networking site. But once upon a time, while I was busily throwing my 2 cents around like some "Hollywood A-Lister" immediately following a national disaster, I quickly came to the following conclusion:

I can shut down any discussion thread with my mere presence.

Well here we are in yet another corner of the technological world and I've found the same result. I normally know better than to solicit an answer to what should be a rhetorical question - but honestly. WHAT THE HELL? Why in the name of all that is unholy do I have that power? Back in the "real world", strangers come out of the woodwork to converse with me. Aren't any of these unmedicated fools members of random social communities so they can fulfill my petty needs for occasional social interaction without commitment? I had a discussion with our new I.T. Director about donating our used cell phones to a battered women's shelter - I'm thinking we need to revisit disposing of the computers and further providing internet access to chatty people in dark alleys. *sigh*

OK, I think I'm done. Back to your regularly scheduled programming. *pouts*

Food: Friend or Foe?

"You have grown fat on the blood of the innocent, which, as it turns out, is the main ingredient in that white cream inside Twinkies."

Upon first glance, one might suspect this post was to be about some category of eating disorder... and it still could be - you never know where Ninja Kitty will venture when it comes to remembering what the hell the point was to be...

About a year into my marriage, My 'Ol Man mentioned something at a party that caused me to spew gin out my nose in a less than lady-like fashion: "When we met, she told me she could cook!" Hey now! Back up that trolley! I'll deny uttering such a foolish thing to my grave. As pretty well anyone who's encountered me can attest to, I would never have such delusions of grandeur unless I was either 3 sheets to the wind (so OK, I s'pose it's POSSIBLE) or meant it in the most sarcastic of senses.



Growing up, on certain occasions, my father cooked and more rarely, my mother would bake. There were plenty of jokes between my brothers and I suggesting that if we wanted a home cooked meal from a woman, we'd have to beg to be adopted by one of the neighbors ( My mother was less than thrilled to be a continual target of our jokes). It later came out that when my brothers were kidlets (before the miraculous birth of Yours Truly), she TRIED cooking - but my father always worked long hours at work and my brothers were finicky. Eventually, out of pure frustration, she gave up and decided to let us fend for ourselves. Fair enough. Now that I'm a Mama, I can understand that sentiment all too well.

The difference between she and I is that she CAN cook. Now that she lives on her own, she has amassed a bloody catalogue of recipes and is always on the lookout for something new and fabulous. She has always gravitated more towards the flavorful and spicy end of the food spectrum which I can totally appreciate as a now-smoker....The things she dreams up are amazing, if I do say so myself. Clearly my brothers and I have plenty of apologizing to do for all our years of heckling. But in the absence of this knowledge, I always figured I had some sort of genetic predisposition to lack all talents in the vast world of food. I even found it to be a bonding point.

When push comes to shove, which I generally find creative ways around, I can fall back on basic literacy skills to add water to some boxed creation brought to you by the good folks at Kraft or Betty Crocker - but even that tends to end in disaster, or at the very least, looks of disapproval from the kiddos.  I wasn't one of those little girls who grew up worshipping an Easy Bake oven... In fact, at the risk of alienating myself from all the foodies out there, I guess I just never cared all that much about food. *GASP*! I know. It's true. I literally experience heartburn at going out to eat. Sure, I can exhibit appreciation for things that have more tantalizing taste bud scrumptuousness than cardboard, but seems to me it's all going to be purged in one manner or another not long after. It's almost become more of a necessary evil in my skull. Once upon a time, I even fancied a harebrained scheme that I could live off smells. After all, the two senses are rather entwined, no? As one may imagine, that lasted about 10 hours - turns out those mint leaves growing on the side of our house lacked the levels of nutrition most humans, in theory, need... Conspiracy? You decide.

Add to this supreme lack of culinary talents, my general hypersensitivity and every breakfast, lunch & dinner equates to moments of unreasonable stress. I dread each approaching meal more than the last. When my almost-2-year-old lobs his applesauce at me, I immediately break down in tears of defeat. My pleas of "don't worry, Honey, Mama didn't make this - I only removed the wrapper" do nothing to help my plight. I still don't quite understand what's so wrong with raising them on Fruit Loops.... Silly pediatricians and their wild notions!

Perhaps someday we'll live in a Jetson's dream world where frazzled Mamas/Papas near and far need exert no more energy than pressing a button on a screen to experience satisfying results of fully tummies.... Or we'll all be on some spaceship to the moon where I can simply open those delectably simplistic freeze-dried cubes of joy. In the meantime, could someone put a bug in My 'Ol Man's ear regarding the upcoming Mother's Day holiday? All this Mama wants is a day w/out food!

Are You Still Dying, Darling?

"Although roughly 70 percent of the earth's surface is covered by water, that still doesn't explain why you have to be rescued from drowning all the time."

Hypochondriacs. We all know one. We may even be related to one. I've certainly had my moments. But sometimes, in life, you remove the film of selfishness pasted thickly over your eyes, you get up, and you get over it.


At this precise moment in time: I know a group of people, very dear to my heart, who are experiencing very real and very scary health issues. Very expensive medical bills are literally the very least of their problems. Despite being scattered throughout this ever-spinning globe we find ourselves fastened to, these people all appear to have one amazing thing in common: Their unbreakable and inspirational spirit. Some are tired from all the medication and radiation - others excruciatingly sore from one surgery after another. Some have lost their hair. Others, their jobs and even their families. Yet they laugh. They exude this unbelievable strength and energy. Extraordinarily positive attitudes. Sassy rebellion against the doctors and journals who have set that egg timer of life. My eyes well up and I experience chilling sensations throughout every inch of my flesh when I imagine what these individuals must be going through. Yet, they not only cope - they resolve to fight back with knowledge, optimism and class.

Then there's "Group B". In the grand scheme of things, it would probably be an exaggeration to describe their health issues with more severity than a paper cut. More likely, an endless need for attention. Sympathy, pity, lifelong devotion and signatures in blood ensuring this miserable group will forever have miserable company. They spew hate, darkness and poisonous selfishness. They do nothing to help themselves, yet suck the souls of all who encounter them. They are little more than drippy, moping, festering pools of pessimism. And oh my, you best not ever mention casually that you may have a headache coming on in an instant of small talk as they not only can out-migraine you with so much as a groan - they will extend their oozing claws from the depths of the Doldrums in desperate attempts to overtake your notions that any good is left in the world.

I do not have the time nor energy to so much as pity Group B. It is repulsive to watch them "suffer" when they do nothing to help themselves. Ah yes, that's right - the world must owe them for something... wait... no.... it doesn't.

My mom tells me of this remarkable woman she encounters on her walks around a lake near her home. The woman was a nurse for well over 50 years and recently lost her husband of 60 years. There isn't a day when she isn't smiling what I can imagine is the most radiant smile - one of those infectious smiles where you thank your lucky stars you simply encountered her.  She is 97 years old, and my mom maintains you wouldn't place her even past perhaps her late 60's.

You read about stories like this all the time - those uplifting ones where the moral can be summed up with exercise or organic foods. Perhaps laughing in the face of adversity or remembering to tip your waitress. Not this gal. She is apparently a sack of sugar masking loads of piss & vinegar. "You gotta take care of yourself cause no one else should have to", she tells my mom. "I'm 97 years old and if I happen to fall and break a hip, walk on by as it must be my time." There isn't an ounce of sarcasm in this. Truly, there is a lot even the most stubborn of us could learn from her. Something as minute as taking responsibility for our own lives - the good, the bad and the rest.

There is no arguing how fortunate I am to know those illustrious souls I first spoke of. I will forever strive to have 1/15th the character each and every one of them exhibit. In the same breath, I will continually remind myself not to ever fall into the second group. It is a conscious decision that every last person has the ability to make. To not cut others down or punish them with our woes. To not cloud others and their families with our misery. It may sound harsh to say, but for those of us given another day of it, life just ain't that bad. It may require restructured priorities or a good long look in the mirror followed by a vow to make a change. But you are not owed happiness. There are zero promises against stress or pain. And the next time you're feeling super sorry for yourself, you can either write about it as I do - and move on.... or for the general sake of society, please lock yourself in some closet somewhere until you're ready to grow up.

Satan in Stilettos

" You try to be an accepting person, but you still don't see why some people can't be a nice, normal gender instead of women. "

I'd apologize ahead of time for setting feminism back 50 years with this post, but that honor was already snatched up by too many people to mention, here. Speaking, shockingly enough, from a female point-of-view (or at least that's what the presence of cancerous ovaries might suggest), I cannot stand the majority of women in charge. *gasp*! WHAT!?!? Yep. I said it. I'd say it again.

Correct me if I'm wrong... actually, scratch that - we don't want to set some sort of silly precedence, here.... I've observed that, in some of these broad's heads, there is the archaic notion that we womenfolk are still fighting the brave battle to get past being held down by The Man. I have no doubts there will forever be instances of sexism in the workplace. Just as racism, religious bias, homophobia, speciesism and every other form of prejudice and/or phobia will exist as an organic poison grandfathered in from generations gone by. What is curious, is that these same women... Oops, they may prefer being called "womyn" so there's no reference of the other sex thrown carelessly in there...are the same ones who come to work dressed in cheerleaderesque miniskirts, stiletto heals, sporting teased bleached locks and fake claws with the oh-so-subtle addition of harlot-red lips. Gloria Steinem would be so proud!


Somehow, and I won't go into my normal low-life speculations as to HOW, these dames are continually promoted. Thrown more and more scraps of power until the inner she-demon is shining brightly through all those Mary Kay-caked pores. At the moment, it's a toss up whether the promoted ones, or the ones who walk in off the streets of the night directly into management are worse..... Regardless, the moment they have that power, watch the fuck out.

"I heard somewhere their periods attract bears. The bears can smell the menstruation! "
"Well that's just great. You hear that, Ed? Bears. Now you're putting the whole station in jeopardy."

This isn't even slightly suggesting that men in power are the impenetrable bee's knees. But there's something special in the sauce that makes these triple-x-chromosome nightmares truly forces to either be reckoned with, or drop-kicked across the parking lot. This one, in particular, the human chihuahua as we "lovingly" call her, has suddenly amassed some sort of "god's gift to the secretarial pool" caliber ego. It's possible she had a measurable level of intelligence prior to this emergence of a monarchy - but the rest of us are willing to admit there are some things we JUST DON'T KNOW. And WHEN we don't know, we respect those who do enough to ask before fancying up all sorts of rules, policies and... well hell, when in Rome... LAWS.

I've been anxiously awaiting cries of "OFF WITH HIS/HER HEAD", but no such entertainment from the whole ordeal to date. I'm particularly a huge fan of being patronized. Attending meetings only to have her ignorantly speak over and for me. All the sudden delegating of her duties? I think I just wet myself in excitement. Add, to the ever growing list of pet peeves, the guys who come to me to bitch about how out of control she is - sandwiched between murmurings of "I mean, she's easy on the eyes but...". No. No she is not. There is nothing attractive about such an ugly personality and no amount of makeup or silicone is ever going to convince me otherwise.

My point to all of this ranting - and yes, there is shockingly enough a point - is that this all is unnecessary. There are ways of proving ones-self through hard work, the basic abilities to learn that which you do not know and treating other people with the respect they have EARNED. No one gets to dictate then enforce respect. No amount of money, official-sounding job titles or sexual favors in the world should be able do so either. If you're looking for a slap on the ass for a job well done, far be it from me to get in your way, just get it through that pretty head of yours that you had better not get in mine.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

" When the stars told you this was a good time to start new projects at work, they certainly didn't expect you to put Vaseline on the stairs and then pull the fire alarm. "

Yesterday, I was respected at work. Ya, no... you read that right. I didn't forget the "dis" in front. I was actually respected. Without warning. Possibly a sad state of affairs when that sort of thing actually knocks the wind out of you. I would pretend I was speechless, but this one ALWAYS has something to say! I think one of the particularly amusing parts about the whole thing was the timing.

Not 12 hours prior, I had lost my temper with a certain little boy who was too mesmerized by a certain DVD (which he had incidentally watched no less than 9 times already) to bother pausing it when the forces of nature hit causing him to pee all around the toilet. The poor thing was already breathlessly mumbling "Oh no, oh no, oh no..." when I came bursting through the door (picture the Kool-Aid man coming through that brick wall) to put the fear of Ninja Kitty in him. After violently spewing far too many words most parents hope their kids aren't exposed to before at least 7 or 8 years of age, I put myself on a time-out in the garage. While I was out there, it seemed a lovely idea to break into one or three of the wine coolers housed in the old fridge a few feet away. Two sips into the first one, as I was already toasty, it seemed pure genius to reach for the phone and tell My Iza all about my terrible parenting.


I was downright slap happy. We're talking unreasonably hysterical.... I could not have found myself more amusing if I tried! The conversation quickly turned (as it usually does) to work and all the dysfunction surrounding it. I mused about how I had finally reached such a boiling point of stress that I achieved a heightened state of "I don't give a flying fuck". There was much plotting and scheming and it was decided I was to take on the role of guinea pig for all our equally exhausted co-peons. A little game to see how long it would take someone with an ounce of authority to notice my passive attitude.

12 hours later, I get an email. Official business. Marked "confidential" and even annotated with that handy little red "!" signaling the utmost importance and urgency. The favor of my reply was requested before a particular transaction would be put into motion. It's entirely possible I laughed out loud as I acknowledged the "read receipt".

For years, I was reminded that the higher ups don't know what I do so it was a foregone conclusion that I must be useless and have too much time on my hands. The latter can be true from time to time, but I maintain it's due to my remarkable efficiency. Efficiency, common sense, competence and troubleshooting abilities are generally frowned upon by those who have paid handsomely for that piece of parchment outlining educational merit. Please don't take offense, these are merely my incoherent mumblings based solely on my own experiences.

A handful of years into the world of steady employment, I encountered a situation that only fueled my tainted perception of Corporate America in all it's unethical glory. I was a bank teller (No shit! They actually allowed riff-raff such as myself to do such a thing) at a large downtown establishment. Having unexplained talents with numbers despite only needing basic math skills, I had no problem balancing each day. That's the point, right? I didn't quite understand how one could NOT balance if that was pretty well the primary purpose of clocking in each day. I only later found out there was actually a jar of change and bills that all the other tellers ritually worshipped each evening so they could go home.

I suppose this notion was born of the consequences bestowed upon these poor social gals as, if they were so much as a penny off, no one was allowed to go home until it was accounted for. What appalled me is that the manager (who held an Accounting degree - though possibly from a box of Cracker Jacks) was aware of  this jar idea and further had come to the ultimate conclusion that, without said jar, it was only pot-of-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow-caliber-luck that would enable one to balance. Absolute certainty that only deviance of the most foreboding variety would explain otherwise. So I was written up. For doing my job. Protests of routinely bathing in unicorn tears offered as the culprit fell on deaf ears. No dice.

This was not an isolated instance, simply the most glaring example of such. I slowly learned to "play the game". I have been cheery. A "team player". I can instantly zero in on my recipient's sense of humor and pander to such. I type 108wpm w/out errors. Data entry is the air I breathe. I can Google any job function they drop on my desk. And until recently, I would keep my mouth shut***. The model employee.

***Oh yes, I did sneak that in there. I would pinpoint the timing to roughly a year ago that something in my brain snapped. The inner Peanut Gallery has been delectably brewing to the current rolling boil. When invited to meetings, it is fully expected that I will be a very BAD KITTY. I'm sarcastic. I point out absurdity. I bullshit like a bloody champ. I talk back. I disrespect. One might say I'm the textbook quintessential personification of everything an employee should NOT DO. The result? No visible difference from before. No shit. The true difference is that I'm not harboring nearly the stress I did previously. Oh, and why do I get away with it, you ask? I'm adorable. That's fucking why. No, in all seriousness, the other lesson I had to learn FAST is that power in the hands of the already self-important renders them unable to grasp subtleties. Even not-so-subtleties.... but if you build it up gently over time, same thing. It's all 6's as my mother would say.

Against all odds, I'm living the dream straight from Office Space sans the hypnotherapy. And I have no illusions this will all last. When it comes to the almighty dollar, everyone is expendable. That long ago referenced series of 0's and 1's. Well, look at that, time for my next meeting. Ciao!

The Hair And I

"You will finally develop soft, shiny, touchable hair, just moments before getting hit by a bus--which at first might seem unrelated. "

Although I've suspected as much in recent years, I now have full reason to believe the mop atop my skull is a completely separate being. Growing up, it was hardly a subject worthy of writing home about. At birth it was that shade of jet black that could easily generate controversy and curiosity as to the mailman's true reason for swingin' by twice a day. Luckily for all involved, it quickly fell out as a result of my habitually rubbing it against the carpet to pass the time. In it's place came something white-blond in color, wispy in nature, and generally pulled inhumanely into pigtails secured with yarn.

Through the years, it was braided, teased, crimped, permed, pulled into a side ponytail (man, I miss the '80's), and at the rather experimental young age of 12, dyed. Lacking any real worthwhile acquaintances, I began paying more attention to it. One might even say it became my imaginary friend....It truly did seem to take on a life of it's own. A defiant one, at that. If I attempted to curl it under, it would flip out. If I straightened it, it would suddenly transform into ringlets. If I cut it, it would grow faster and chaotically in protest. Curiously, it seemed the beast simply wished to be treated with some level of artistic care.

I began paying attention to stylists, barbers, and that guy in the dark alley sporting a rusty pair of shears. I watched carefully as varying results would come of dancing a razor along the strands or twisting it all into a knot and clipping bits and pieces in spiral movements. I took mental notes as gels, mousse, pomades, liquid silk, veneers, hairsprays and gadgets were applied. It became a sort of fun little canvas.


I have always admired and further envied my older brother, who holds - to this day - the level of artistic talents the word "genius" doesn't begin to approach. He can work in any and every medium known to man, even those the same man might warn against. He can pick up any instrument, hobby or language with the ease I would kill for if I thought that would get me anywhere. And then there is Annie. Well, when Annie falls, she looks around in the hopes no one was watching that clumsy tumble down the stairs, dusts herself off, and hops right back up on those platform heels. I can't draw, can't paint - played piano for over a decade and still can't read sheet music, aha.... but I still have my imaginary friend. And I was starting to get the hang of placating that friendship.

If I dyed my hair blue, the result would be the purest hue of Cookie Monster blue fathomable. I toyed with shades and brands, products and cuts. I slowly made connections between the color wheel and how to minimize brassy shades of blond. I browsed European stock photos, wig shops and strip clubs; piecing together something I thought would compliment my protruding jawline. Initial results would suggest all that piecing together was accomplished with magazine cutout letters for some ransom note - mistakes were made, oh my, how they were made - but it finally seemed as though I had graduated the equivalent of Elementary School for Hair.


Nowadays, I'm all too aware of this familiar I carry around. It's at once an ice-breaker, follicle carnival or invitation for debate. I won't pretend some remarks don't generate oodles of personal amusement: "Do you have to have fucked up hair to SHOP here too?", "Did those flying monkeys get you again?", "It's like a thousand tiny erections!".... Wait... WHAT??? My husband groans as complete strangers have a habit of leaping in front of our moving vehicle to get a closer look.

What was once a quiet coffee outing between two is now a group discussion about hairdressers and highlights. I don't pretend for a moment to be some omnipotent guru for all things hair. It was merely a personal journey to achieve what I like for myself. As an unfortunate side-effect, this personal journey pushes the door wide open in unstated welcome to the same world which causes me to recoil in fear. I have done nothing short of creating a monster. Yet in the same instance, my monster knows damn well I wouldn't hesitate in breaking out the Bic should it rise up against it's master. After all, I have always day-dreamed of dipping my toes in the cool (and time saving) relief of that pool of wigs....

Speaking of Which....

.... Which I wasn't.....

"Sometimes, you just have to step back, relax, and take a deep breath. However, you might also find it helpful to get some heavy radiation therapy. "

OK, so a friend of mine - and when memory starts serving me, I may even recall SEVERAL various occasions of the same - was discussing the ridiculousness surrounding feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment or even general concern/awareness over how we are viewed by others. Why the hell do we care, right? Tis truly a dream of mine that I didn't. Simply put, that very subject sums up my entire life to date. Simple indeed. Almost pitiful how much a Simpleton that makes me. A Rube, even.

Shallow? When it comes to how I view of myself - yes. I'm afraid of sharks, after all.  I previously listed a handful of my ultimate fears in life. What I oh-so-super-sneakily omitted is the supreme fear of myself. Sure, I can attribute bits and pieces to one experience or another. Enjoy how I even danced around calling a spade a spade? Too easy to blame others for my hypersensitivities. But to actually sit down and give it the level of thought and attention I lavish upon the mundane - well that may bring even MORE insecurities bubbling to the surface. We can't have that, now, can we?

Sure we can! So here goes: I can honestly recall being overly aware of my surroundings from the ripe age of 3. At the time, I was having bizarre health problems in both ears. I'd be walking along around the campus where my dad worked, minding my own business for no other reason than I was thoroughly entertained by my own shadow - then BOOM! Spontaneously and without just cause, my eardrums would explode and tiny streams of blood would start seeping from each ear. Normally, one would think I'd be too consumed in the horror of these events to notice the crowd that had amassed around me. No such luck - nosey gawkers would move in like vultures to take in the train wreck before them. But these weren't your average good Samaritans there to lend a helping hand (and/or to dial 911, stat) - rather, they just stared. Silent horror. Staring.

Did it all begin there? Not sure... Based on the strange patchwork hippie frocks my mom plopped my chubby l'il frame into, there may well have been earlier occasions of shocked chortling. But from that shining moment forward, I was always aware - suspiciously paranoid, even.

Amusingly enough, the more I longed to blend in with the wallpaper, the more outrageous my taste in "style" became. Subconsciously I suppose I figured if "they" (they = the general public, at large) were going to look at me, may as well give them a show! And the question remains - why care? Why let the snickers and whispers sink through my rice paper skin? From that ripe age of 3, I chose to believe that the world was watching me, judging me, and had absolutely nothing nice to say. This countered once-held beliefs that others had been taught if they had nothing nice to say to say nothing at all... Ahhh, but they were WHISPERING! So it must be sinister! Furthermore, it MUST BE ABOUT ME!!!! *gentle weeping*

In the grand scheme of things, these people... this...*shiver*....public... surely has better things to concern itself with than expending such time and energy to the judgement of Ninja Kitty. Pesky Kitty brain... as precisely THEN come those evil seeds of irrelevance. Is there a more tortuous response to such fragility than insignificance? Coming to find out you had, in reality, gone for years unnoticed!? Sweet jesus, there must be a healthy balance to all of this. If there is, I clearly have not received that memo. So on I go - day in and day out - all too aware of that out of place hair, or the bleach spot on the calf of my pants... the toenail polish that has chipped or the unraveling seam of a jacket cuff. These all register as glaring beacons of stupidity and neglect in my head. If there is a laugh in the distance, it is unarguably known to be at my expense. Innocent compliment? No such thing - it is simply a gesture of pity to offset something else that must be wrong. Hopping beyond general awareness and straight into the realm of madness.

So where, oh where, does the madness end? At the moment, as disco music has once again invaded my psyche, the answer seems to circle back to notions of joining the circus. Surely, the carnies would accept me? Or that nicely landscaped sanitarium downtown, perhaps?

AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!!!..... *crickets*

"True to its promise, a new kitchen disinfectant will make life easier for you, a working mother with two children. But that's only because you'll take to regularly huffing the highly toxic solvent. "

This past Saturday was chalk-full of... well let's face it... unreal expectations. Granted, this is true of most weekends since stumbling upon the grand notion of breeding... but that's a rant for another time! This particular Saturday was to commemorate our 4-year-old's official first step towards "manhood" (I'm well aware of all the irony in that statement).

Over four years ago, My 'Ol Man and I didn't possess the luxury (or, let's be honest, here: the true desire) for one of us to take on the career title of Domestic Engineer once we spawned. Thus, it was necessary to send sweet Vanaloons to an in-home daycare after my maternity leave. As the ill-alignment of the stars would dictate, he was surrounded by miniature whining bundles of "sugar & spice" and all-around theatrics. When Dr. Snicks came along, so did the impending need to move them into another facility. With that move came the hopes of less sobbingly dramatic cohorts, but no such luck. In fact, a certain Emma A. immediately gravitated towards the wee Lady-Killer and has since put quite the spell on him. I'm almost impressed at how bossy and dominating some of those pint-sized broads can be! I'll never forget walking in to pick the boys up from school and being approached by the aforementioned Miss A.. She shoves a crude glitter & glue-mucked construction paper creation in my face and declares "Here. I made this for YOUR HUSBAND". I had to really bite my tongue from blurting "Back off, Bitch, He's MINE" in retort!

So let's just assume that King Van has had minimal contact/interest with the wide world of sports. Let's further assume that his Papa had dreams of his kid(s) following in his footsteps of football, soccer, baseball, hockey, basketball, golf and any other cause to drool while perusing the overpriced aisles of Dick's Sporting Goods. This was not so much a petty machismo or chauvinistic dream - in fact, he would have been equally delighted to guide a little girl through the "joy" that is organized sports. So in direct response to the perceived calling of the street-corner advertisement for flag football, we plunked down our $115 and Mama quietly mused at what was to unfold.

My Darling Redhead was thrilled for this upcoming day of reckoning (much to the delight of Papa) and even began the countdown more than a month beforehand. It was finally the eve of this momentous occasion. Papa and his eldest son headed out to procure the "necessities" for the festivities. "We are getting you gear for football", Papa proudly exclaims. Van's eyes positively light up as he is always an eager participant where the frivolous spending of money, in his honor, is concerned. As Mama fully expected, upon their return, I heard tales of how he promptly wandered off only to return with a tennis racket. "I need this to catch the football!" "Ummm, no, son, you catch it with your hands". "Oh, OK!" Moments later, he excitedly returns with a pair of rollerblades: "Look, Papa! I MUST have these for football!"  Yeah. Clearly his tendencies to think outside the box were shining bright that evening.

The morning of the Greatest Game Ever Played, the boys were up at the crack of dawn in eager anticipation. Well, Van was eager, Dax just enjoys causing a ruckus when his parents are grasping at the elusive bitch, that is sleep. Despite having shattered my crystal ball some months before, I had already planned on staying behind with Dr. Snicks to avoid the fallout....err....so Van and Papa could have their "moment" without the accompanying Peanut Gallery.

Truly, to enroll a 4 year old in anything with any real level of expected organization attached is somewhat absurd. I still maintain that his upcoming "graduation ceremony" will unfold as hilariously as any other event where you dress animals up and expect obedience! Still, there was some glimmer of hope that the athlete-within would come bursting out at the right moment.

I'm sure you can all guess what happened next. To be fair, it wasn't catastrophic - and I rather suspected that the volunteer coaches weren't prepared to explain the game as though the audience didn't speak the language. In fact, all in all, the result was pure gold. Van had a blast. He didn't listen, he ran amok, he covered his ears anytime a ball was thrown to him, he made a habit of running the wrong way on the field and he couldn't stop messing with his mouth guard. I'd like to think that all equates to SUCCESS :). Somewhat to Papa's chagrin, he can't wait to go back. Meanwhile, I have proceeded to Google "martial arts for midgets" and other off-tangent searches. All is not lost, King Van spent most of the remainder of the weekend pounding around on the drums Papa brought home. There isn't enough Excedrin in the world - but at the end of the day, I couldn't be more proud of my boys. They quite simply kick ass and keep this Mama seriously entertained!

You Can Do It, We Can Help... In Theory....

"The dread specter of your own mortality will loom over you all month, but you'll be so busy remodeling your bathroom that you'll hardly notice."

Almost 4 full months ago, now - Mama, in all her molting splendor, clogged the sink in our Master Bathroom. Silly to label it with such grandeur as it is smaller than most closets. I also chose to hang out in a state of denial about being the cause of said clog as my hair is barely over 3 or 4" long - and you'd really think all that Aquanet & bleach would make it nice and slick for the water-slide ride down.... Regardless, He-Man thought he'd clear it right up with a straightened metal hanger. Seems simple enough, no? No. The P-Trap (I giggle every time I say it out loud) was right on the verge of rusting through and aforementioned hanger finished the job. For what I can imagine were a few brilliant moments, He-Man patted himself on the back for a job well done. Meanwhile, Niagara Falls had invaded the laundry room downstairs.


After a few hours of cleaning, cursing and general carrying-on, it was observed that I was almost in a pleasant zen-like trance as I plugged along building Noah's Ark out of toothpicks. This put him quite suddenly at ease and he actually thanked me for remaining so level-headed. Ooooh! It seems I just stumbled upon yet another instance of ulterior motives.... That bathroom has been the bane of my existence since we moved in. It was a blinding Sanitarium White (pretty sure the good folks at Valspar had the sense to since take such a sterile shade off the market): White old wooden vanity, white chipped sink, white tile, white shower stall, white walls, white blinds, white medicine cabinet and white fixtures... or at least I'd like to imagine they were white sometime around 1983-ish or so. Currently, no combination of bleach, Kaboom!, Lysol Tub & Shower or paint thinner could bring it back to anything even approaching a non-yuck status.

Eureka! Mama answered the door before Fate had a chance to knock! "Well, Honey, damnit all to hell - looks like we're just going to have to gut this bathroom and make a trip to Home Depot!" On rare occasion, I can put on a poker face long enough to hide the sinisterly giddy intent. As it just so happened, there were all sorts of fabulous deals between Lowe's and Home Depot's weekly ads and my mind quite literally ran amuck as drool seethed out of my mouth.


Fast forward 4 months of showering in the kid's bathroom, spending far more than the poor bank account legally allowed and enduring catastrophic mishaps on top of the colorful language that would even make Ninja Kitty proud... It's gorgeous. Seriously. GORGEOUS. Not done, mind you - but I think of it as an exciting adventure. Simply substitute the mystery behind Door #1 with the mystery behind the wall the shower is attached to.

The problem with home improvement stores, in general? Those pesky displays and brochures - they have a way of sending the imagination soaring off a cliff. We have now taken on no less than 3 additional projects with 2 more in the wings. I maintain the first was altogether necessary - the rest? Well - I'm taking a stab at the notion that my manifestation of some sort of bipolar disorder is the manic need to remodel. Even when I have those recurring dreams of winning the lottery and I mentally walk through each and every project with the level of detail Mike Holmes* would be proud of - it's simply never enough.

My 'Ol Man and I are quickly getting quite the edumacation on all of this as we couldn't even consider ourselves amateurs with a straight face - but that's the glory of DIY, right? To hear the experts in orange aprons tell it, we're only taking on the projects so simple the dog could do it. They apparently either underestimate the brilliance of that slick-headed idiot, or WAY overestimate our ability/patience to read directions. Shoot first, ask questions later - that's been my motto since I was little more than a fear in my parents' subconsciousness!

Further adding insult to injury, my mom is in the process of taking on one project after another in her condo in Portland. That's not an entirely true statement - as it was her job for well over 18 years, she is researching the hell out of everything down to the countersink screw in the sub-floor - then promptly hiring a well-liked and highly recommended contractor to bring the visions to life. Plus we've come full circle back to the aforementioned personification of contractor genius that is *Mike Holmes.

Since getting satellite TV a handful of years ago, I have been mesmerized with the offerings of HGTV and DIY Network.... I tried sharing this passion with my mother innumerable times. Clearly all my accolades were falling on deaf ears as sometime late last year she calls me with what promises to be amazing news. "Darling! There is this channel called "HGT...Something-or-Other" - it's the bee's knees, Annie!... And Mike Holmes *dreamy sigh* - well I'm speechless". Rather daily since this initial "revelation", Mr. Holmes has come up at least twice in every phone conversation. Don't get me wrong - the guy is clearly a well educated and talented genius - but our version of DIY is to buy the materials we vaguely remember needing and hoping for the best. Just as my viewpoint of my hair is if I f*ck it up too royally, I can always shave it - the same goes for our house. Nothing is permanent... costly - sure, permanent - no.

But on it goes. And with each subsequent trip to these castles of home improvement, Mama's spirits lift that much higher. We may not be pulling permits or adhering to these mythical codes I keep hearing about, but sweet merciful jesus, we're having fun! (Remind me to reward/bribe Van with more cookies this afternoon for putting up with yet another month of Mama taking over his bathroom....)

*squeal of delight*! I just got the email notices of the new weekly ads!!!!
-N.K.A.


The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions

" You'll come face-to-face with many of life's mysteries next week, none bigger than why the Angel of Death looks like a younger, slimmer Roy Clark. "


As I stood in front of the mirror this morning, I asked myself a question I found myself unable to answer: "Can you honestly say that anything you do, in life, is without ulterior motive?". My intuitive answer was to defend myself.... against myself.... Yeah, it's entirely possible I've been inhaling far too many hairspray fumes for far too many years. But as I pondered this and even debated it in the fashion of Point-Counterpoint (seriously hoping I wasn't inadvertently muttering any of this gibberish aloud), I kept peeling back more and more layers of that proverbial onion. I shall even maintain it is due to the onion that I suddenly found myself weeping for no good reason.

I'm going to take a stab at the notion that none of us thoroughly enjoy admitting any level of selfishness. And please don't misunderstand - this conversation amongst my personalities wasn't yet another log in the fire of Ninja Kitty's self-pity-bonfire.... It just wasn't as simple a response as I was carelessly grasping for.

Bear with me for a moment and I'll explain further. Hehehe - that actually made me just guffaw out loud as I'm suspecting I've scared off the few people who accidentally happened upon this train wreck in the first place! OK, so I'm going to go ahead and continue based on the assumption that I'm just committing the conversations in my head to an outlet disconnected from the internet (or even one of those hilarious cardboard computer facades you might find in a low-end furniture store....).

Take religious nuts (please).... even the more balanced of them - the ones who actually do good deeds and "treat others as they would like to be treated" - is this out of basic human decency (further, is that last part an utter oxymoron?) or an act of underlying selfishness in the hopes of eternal salvation? That guy I got an email from - the one who volunteered to coach my uncoordinated midget's flag football team - was it out of a love of the sport? A need to be a positive role model to the future "athletes" of America? Perhaps he found that this somehow qualifies as the much needed community service he must complete as part of his sentence for a DUI three months ago? Am I just being a ray of goddamned sunshine in this thought process? *snicker*

When I declare that I'm really not that negative of a person, am I just trying to convince myself? Most find fault with my habits of giving the world the benefit of the doubt and second, third, fifteenth chances when they couldn't be more undeserving. That all is irrelevant at the moment. Despite the movie bombing magnificently and not even remotely doing the book, it was based on, justice - I was enraptured at the entire series including and following The Golden Compass. A journey to understand and even define that concept of original sin. The notion that the very moment children become self-aware, they are doomed to contribute to all the poisons of modern society. In addition, I happened upon an article in the wee hours of this morning about man-on-man rape in the military. It pushed me to question whether those so-called surrender-monkey nations who neglect or even refuse to engage in global warfare are nurturing a higher level of intelligence and overall social benefit. I was probably five minutes into that train of thought when Edwin Starr lyrics suddenly popped in my head and I found myself wanting to run out and rent an old Kung-Fu flick. ADHD to the nth degree!

The title of this post never ceases to amuse me as I always labeled my beloved mom as a poster child for the sentiment. The same woman who would call us home for dinner when we were out causing general chaos in the surrounding neighborhoods - if we neglected to answer promptly, there would be additional vocal threats of calling the cops and slapping our mugshots on the sides of milk cartons. To this day, her concern is no doubt out of love - but there is also a delicious flair for the dramatic and tendencies to over-think and over-worry. She is the same fabulous woman who wouldn't hesitate in getting on the horn to give that hiring manager, who failed to consider you for the job, what for. She has shut down entire dealerships based on shoddy customer service. I always thought she should consider a career as one of those undercover reporters for a tabloid Dateline story!

In my own dealings with the outside world, I place oodles of focus on doing as little or as much as I can to ensure general happiness. This is often at the risk of my own. Ahh, but don't cry for me, My Pets - uncover a deeper layer and you may find a martyr complex or some selfishly planted little seed of hope of recognition down the road. Peel back that layer and you may even happen upon something dark and sinister. Or you could do what I do and simply have your thoughts overrun by disco music when the going gets tough ;).

You, Too, Should Be Dancing....
-A.

wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji rocznicy slubu

"He looked at her.... She looked at him... And everyone else in the room threw up a little"

Five years ago, today, I asked my boss if I could take an extended lunch. As I was still fairly new at this job, it seemed a bold request. I'd say he agreed without hesitation, but he was far too curious as to what led to my sudden testicular fortitude...

"I'm getting married on my lunch break, today."

*long pause*...."Are you kidding me!?"

Five years ago, I met My Sweetheart at the County Clerk & Recorder's Office downtown. We giddily held hands as we approached the ominous building's glass entrance. Probably surrounded by the usual clamour of surly business-types rushing from one meeting to the next and cars ripe with road rage honking at the dame in the utterly insensible pumps, taking her sweet time to cross the street illegally. We didn't notice. It was a sparklingly sunny day and we were there to slap our $15 down and make things "official". 

Throughout the years, I have maintained that a piece of paper doesn't make or break true love.  It doesn't perfect our feelings nor does it keep all chance of pain or strife at bay. In many respects, it makes bureaucratic red tape a bit easier to cut through, and it certainly puts an end to some of the judgemental pestering from eras gone by. For us, none of this really matters. To this day, we wear the inexpensive rings we found at some beach peddler on a trip to Florida. There was no ceremony, no cake, no guests and no dress. It was simply something we felt we wanted to do. Aside from the banshee scowling at us from the other side of the desk that day - clearly nonplussed that we were the only ones in line not filing papers for divorce - it was a pleasant and quiet experience. We followed it up with a brief lunch at a friend's diner, then I headed back to work.

Many of my treasured memories of our time together thus far have been understated and simple. And we couldn't be more blessed than we are with our two beautiful (and kick-ass) boys. There have been so many ups and downs, celebrations and trials. Each day has the potential of bringing a new obstacle or crisis. And that's OK. It's all part of the cycle.

We understand each other on levels many others will never grasp. We bitch and gripe one moment, then find ourselves laughing and embracing the next. Anyone who knows me knows what a complete pain-in-the-ass I am (the rest of you have surely come to this conclusion based on previous posts ;) ) - I have a moving truck full of baggage and enough insecurities to fill a stadium. Yet when he looks at me, he has stars in his eyes as he appreciates me in all my troubled glory.

A dear friend of mine once remarked how drastically people can change in 5 years - and how she felt so fortunate that, even after all those changes, she and her husband of now 30 years were still so compatible. When My Honey and I first met, it was all such a whirlwind that I hardly think we gave any serious thought to compatibility. We had our first child rather quickly and then found ourselves immersed in the dramas of our respective families. Along came the permanent arrival of an in-law, the purchase of a house, the birth of our second child and the resulting financial/work stresses galore. Would we have popped up on some illuminated screen as the "Perfect Match"? Probably not. But it's often far more fun to succeed despite the odds, no? Somehow, at the end of each day, as we sit in the garage and chat over a beer or box of wine - the world just seems right.

  I won't pretend I'm not perplexed by the symbolism behind "wood" for a 5 year anniversary... Nor will I mask the fact that my train of thought instantly derails the way of innuendos.... Nonetheless, we have no real reason to be bound by others traditions, so our guilty pleasure dates to the hardware store should suffice. As my crystal ball has been misplaced somewhere, I have no clue what the future holds. There is no false hope or promise of a life-sized bowl of cherries....

....But with each passing day, I will thank the stars that I have my best friend, soul mate and the father of my two boys to brave it all with! Love you, Sugar! XOXO


Let's Go Skinny Dipping In DeNial!

"Your plan to fake your own death will be thoroughly convincing right up through the autopsy. "

"And if they ever ask about me, tell them I was more than just a great set of boobs. I was also an incredible pair of legs. And tell them... tell them that I never turned down a friend. I... never turned down a stranger for that matter. And tell them... tell them that when all is said and done, I only ask that people remember me by two simple words...
....Any two, as long as they're simple."
-Elvira

Multiple Personalities, or Multi-Faceted? No matter - While I was composing the earlier post, this was weighing heavily on my mind (and pressing even more heavily on my innards) so I thought I'd go ahead and spit it out. I'm beginning to freak out a bit about my continual health issues. I'm not going to feign ignorance,  here - I couldn't be more to blame. My "healthy lifestyle" could easily be summed up with the question "Do you even fucking try?"  I'm one of those pesky statistics who, right up to the end, protest with nothing more substantial than "Well I didn't think it would happen to ME!"  My diet would horrify a lab rat, I abuse pills, smoke almost 1-1/2 packs of menthols a day, often try to stay under 400 calorie-consumption just to see if I can and even a trip to the mailbox can stress me out to the brink of a stroke.... I laugh in the face of danger, then display a look of naive shock when I find myself in a hospital bed on a sunny Saturday morning when I should be eating sugar cereal and watching cartoons with my boys.

Why, if so panicked, don't I make a change? I'm not sure I remember HOW to. Just as it's easier to advise others with emotional issues, it's so much simpler to know what I'm doing wrong than to correct it. Trouble is, I can't continue being so bloody selfish. I have a family to consider. My peskily over worrying mother had to pose that one question that brings on more guilt than all of the Vatican could muster: "Do you want your boys to grow up without a Mama?". Jesus f*cking christ, did you have to go THERE? I do so well taking full responsibility in every other area of my life - can't I be absolutely reckless in this one?

*Sigh* The answer is quite clearly no. And once again, I state that, and it's like that slap on the wrist - I'm still going to walk away doing exactly what I did yesterday and the day before that. Not sure what rock bottom promises to be for me, but I'm willing to wager it won't be good. Any suggestions? And please keep in mind, if you simply reprimand me, I'm likely to nod & smile politely like the brat I am :)

Yep. A definite cry for help this time.
-A

April Showers May Cause Annie To Overestimate Her Abilities....

"  Inspiration will hit you when you least expect it this week, knocking you completely unconscious while your back is turned. "

Each Spring, as I reluctantly crawl out of my hibernation-like state of laziness and seasonal depression, I experience a sudden rush of motivation and wild ideas. I mentally flash-forward to some moment in time when I'm sitting on my back deck sipping coffee at 5am... marveling at the warm breeze dancing off my skin and beaming with pride at the fruits of my labor: A lush, well maintained lawn, free of Bella's various bowel movements, perfectly placed landscape lighting and flowering bushes - the patio fashioned of flagstone in such a way, it compliments the fire pit and furniture arrangement in such an impeccably well-thought-out manner... further enhanced by the Boho-chic illuminations of all the spectacular lanterns hanging from the meticulously arching branches of the ancient and wise shade tree towering overhead. One would almost mistake me for having the remotest talents to bring this all from conception to reality with such fanciful dreaming, no? Alas, I have had these magical notions on so many occasions - yet as another Monday draws near, it's a bit of a miracle if I accomplished anything beyond napping (let alone bathing)!

Despite severely lacking talent in so many areas, it would be a delightful escape to take on all the projects I find myself daydreaming of. Regardless of outcome - the euphoria from getting my hands dirty or clothes spattered with paint rather than regurgitation.... Experiments in brilliant colors and chainsaw concoctions.... welding a wonderland of creatures to frolic in the playground of foliage. Nothing lifts the spirits quite like accomplishment - of any sort, really.

My parents had a very modest, but beautifully maintained yard. Levels upon levels of greenery.... edible flowers and berries in every shade of the rainbow (by the by, I define "edible" the absence of an E.R. visit after consumption) - I would marvel at what fun it would be to throw cocktail parties and BBQ's... Scores of good friends and good cheer (good spirits would certainly enable the latter where conversation failed to...). My family, however, didn't smile upon company of any sort and so much as a ringing phone was a mind-numbing nuisance. Growing up in silent solitude, while somewhere in the distance: sounds of laughter and birds chirping... smells of charcoal, chlorine and Coppertone.  I seemingly long to experience outdoor socialization with the ever increasing presence of daylight hours.

I aspire to FIND the time, banish the excuses and do the things I enjoy outside. To come out of my shell and bask in the world beyond the closed blinds and climate-controlled habitat. Maybe I could find a way to overcome the miniature buzzing critters hopping about in the half-dead grass and the obnoxious tickle of the wafting cotton from that god-forsaken junk tree two houses down..... As the landscape slowly begins to thaw and transform as though kissed by that Harlot, Mother Nature, I am making myself a promise. To put forth more of an effort in achieving the variety of accomplishments that may even guide me through the less-favored seasons with a bit less angst.

We're almost one month into one of my two favorite seasons, and there is much to do - for once, not because of duty or deadline. Simply because the creativity contained between my ears is aching to flow on the canvas laid out beyond that sliding glass door. Should I succeed, you may consider this an official invite to swing by as frequently as the mood moves you. The fridge shall be stocked with beer, and if you're lucky, this elusive Kitty may even break out the harmonica and sparklers. Who wouldn't want to witness THAT disaster firsthand?

-N.K.E.

"Ummm Hi! Long Time Listener, First Time Caller...."

" You've always believed there are two kinds of people in this world: normal everyday people, and the ones in the blood-spattered yellow raincoats who stay out of sight, waiting for just the right moment."

Where the majority of rational people in this world would possibly exercise some restraint when about to broadcast a mental breakdown, Little Orphan Something-Or-Other clearly has no such sense. I shall maintain that, to my credit, very little is "off limits". If nothing else, this declaration helps me sleep at night. One thing I have noticed is that it can also help initiate tough dialogue on rare occasion.

Seems I needed to take a trip outside myself to absorb the bigger picture, so to speak. When all else fails, even the most stubborn of us need to ask for help - perhaps even cry for it. In doing so, I achieved a small bit of clarity.... even came to some long overdue/overlooked conclusions. I am faced with that nagging question of "What Now?". For me, it seems I not only had issues, there was an entire subscription cluttering up the mailbox upstairs. And you know what? That's OK.

Some inexplicable portion of my personality welcomes (acts as a super-magnet, even) others to seek me out when the weight of the world has exceeded the perceived strength of their shoulders. What very few of us realize is that we are far stronger than we will ever give ourselves credit for. The catch being it often takes an instance (or specific sequence of events) of catastrophic proportions to bring that strength to light - or at least within reasonable grasp! Ninja Kitty is quite the sage, no? Ahhh, but it's always far easier to diagnose & treat others than to purchase that overpriced admission to our own faults and shortcomings. Nonetheless, unbeknownst to my conscious state, I had been collecting little bits and pieces of the lessons I did my unauthorized best to assist in.... along the way, I had amassed quite the pile of dust bunnies ready to assimilate and spring into action when I needed it most.

I do so adore making a short story, long... The Arch Nemesis of Cliff Notes!

Anyhoo - I arrived at a few eye-opening facts. As we all are products of the events leading up to this moment, one such event rendered this product unfit for consumption. I previously never took the time to address, mourn, heal from and/or cope with this event. Over the years, the contamination spread like a wildfire until the initial match was no longer decipherable in the charred mess. Sans hypnotherapy, crystals, tarot cards or historical records (this is me patting myself on the back ;)  ), I was finally able to put the pieces back together and, with the assistance of an ACTUAL LICENSED professional, I believe the dark fog will eventually burn off.

This surely is not a one-size-fits-all answer - For me, it is (and don't call me Shirley). I wish to thank each and every one of you out there who have always supported me and had my back - even when I'm acting like a drunken fool and picking fights with grizzly bears. One foot in front of the other and one day at a time. Far too much to be thankful for to let it waste away while I spin worthlessly in my office chair! As I am the self-proclaimed Queen of always having the last word, you can trust (and possibly curse) the fact that I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.... Well... unless we win the Tyndall AFB contract, then it's every kitten for him/herself!

A hui hou,
A.V.

The Girl From Ipanema...

...playing softly in the distance....


" In a neat but unfortunate melding of rhetorical and actual elements, you'll get stuck in a rut and wake up in a ditch this week. "


Looks like it's time to take this meltdown offline. Ciao for now! XOXO

DONE

"Sometimes, you just want to go someplace where nobody knows who you are. Luckily, this is easily accomplished by leaving your house. "
***Warning: Annie rant in 5....4....3....2...***

One of the peculiar things about Cancers is that, due to their well-documented hypersensitivity, they will eventually crawl back into their shells and demand solitude. Today is clearly that day for this dame.

For four weeks now, my left eye has been dripping endlessly - bloody becoming, I know. If not for taking on the problems of the world, I may have chosen to take the time out to get it looked at by someone other than casual (and tactless) gawkers. For a brief enough moment in time, it did stop.... until someone asked me how work/home/the software conversion/the answer to their problems was going.... *drip* *drip*........*drip*. I have resorted to no less than drawing on my already worn face with Sharpie in the hopes of maintaining some semblance of actual features. Despite my previously explained distaste for them, I have found myself looking like a bit of a clown.

Should you ever want the "secret" to assisting an Annie Meltdown, the recipe is simple:.....

Oooh - You really thought I was going to give you further ammunition? Sucker. Truly, *pouring vodka in her pity party tea* I just have a rather simple question: If I honestly work at being a kind, considerate and all-together pleasant human being, does that equate to attaching a "Kick Me" sign on my back with a nail gun?

*gulp*

Kitty

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Treehouse Built For One...

"The sight of well-manicured lawns, new and colorful homes, and friendly pedestrians can only mean one thing: You've wandered onto the wrong side of the tracks. "

Once upon a time, far away, long ago and such, I experienced a brief moment in time where life was deliciously simple. To this day, it feels like an out-of-body experience to even recall the events leading up to and away from it. As though it were recorded on a mysterious page placed in the center of the chapter of another book. Once upon a time, I lived alone in a treehouse.



Sorta.

My mind was rapidly deteriorating into a melting mass of chaos and confusion. Everything I thought I knew up to that moment seemed like a strange dream. I had no explanations for my actions or even real recollections of any facts. I had lost any focus of who I was, where I was, or where in the world I was headed. All of this was swirling about in my skull as I ascended that narrow, winding staircase for the first time and turned the key in the rickety antique lock. Upon opening that tiny wooden door of peeling paint, I walked into complete and utter clarity.



A one bedroom apartment at the tip-top of a small Victorian house in the Avenues. The name given to a series of streets just North of downtown Salt Lake. A perfect grid of craftsman-style bungalows and old Victorian houses laid out in city-block-length stairs up a vast mountainside. Each cottage more colorful and charismatic than the last. The Avenues were always my own small version of Shangri la. Strange as even at a young age, I had seen much of the world around me. But there will forever be something so familiar and comforting about this particular blanket of streets. 

The apartment couldn't have been more than perhaps 300 sq.ft. - and that may be wholly generous. To the left, a miniature bedroom with a cavernous ceiling... Odd closeted storage about 10 feet off the floor. It was painted the most horrifyingly sunshiny yellow, yet with only one small window immediately shaded by oaks, it gave the room an ethereal glow that I didn't mind in the least. Past that, a petite bathroom. I imagined it as that magical carpet bag from a certain flick - one couldn't fathom how a tiny pedestal sink was contained within, let alone the toilet and tub! Back upon first entering: a small, narrow living room with a funhouse floor dipping sharply off to the right. Beyond that, a minimal kitchen reminiscent of some remote cabin. Small fridge, a counter top containing the airplane-lavatory-sized sink and the stove circa 1963. No matter - after all, I wouldn't be spending much time in there.  Off the kitchen, these amazing (and poorly constructed) french doors that opened to the tiniest of dilapidated porches - more of a roost fashioned of plywood planks painted robin's egg blue.   



Most importantly: The trees. My god, the trees... These towering canopies of greenery that seemed to embrace every corner of my small world. The purest hues of green that make my eyes water to think about. Even when the sun was blazing overhead in the middle of an oppressively hot Summer day, those trees kept the light ambient and peaceful... a cool breeze would drift through the corners of each room from an unknown source and the smells were so foreign and fresh.


I furnished my little treehouse with only the few things I thought could serve some purpose. A box spring & mattress on the floor, bookshelf in the corner, two small chairs shuffled between the front room and the porch, and a stereo. Postcards and bits of boldly colored feminine fluff were pinned this way and that - but there was no need for anything more. From my cozy blue roost, I could peak through the branches to a bizarre and bustling world contained entirely in that back alley. This satisfied occasional social needs before I would retreat back inside with a glass of wine and a mis-matched collection of paints & brushes laid out on the floor. Always a soundtrack in the background, and the shabby doors opened up in welcome to My Trees. A fridge stocked modestly with a fifth of gin, a can of concentrated limeade, and a bottle of mustard. What more would one ever need?

This place was more than a bit of real estate along my path to date. It was more than a residence beckoning to be condemned or the place I hung my boa for a handful of months. With every imperfection, perceived inconvenience, leaky faucet or long-since-unserviceable stove - it was my Cocoon. Absolutely simple, and absolute perfection.


So what ever became of My Treehouse? As all good things must eventually come to an end, something unimaginable occurred within the walls of my small sanctuary. And from that day forward, all the perfection was gone. All sense of comfort, simplicity and peace. Tainted. Innocence lost.

So I went on with my life.... And I have no regrets in my life. Or at least I strive to such an end. I have made astonishing strides and accomplished things I would never in my wildest dreams have fathomed. So much to be grateful for. Still.... every once in awhile... I revisit that moment in time when there simply wasn't "so much".

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wait, Is This A Proctology Exam?

"Home is where your heart is, and your lungs and liver too, but despite a month long search they'll never find all of you."

When I awoke yesterday morning around 3am-ish, I felt a sharp pain in my jaw. Hmmm... Was I punched in the face in the night? No... no bruising. Oh well, must just be one of those "gentle" reminders that I'm aging. By the time I was ready for work, I was pretty well convinced I must have dislocated my jaw. As is par for the course when it comes to dealing with this caliber of horse-fukkery, I usually blow it off until I find it is impeding something so "important" that I must face the facts. One such moment occurred as I went to light my cigarette. Fuck.

In the spirit of too much information: As I was making my way into this world, the world clearly wasn't ready for the likes of me. It was the '70's. It is totally possible my mom was "medicated". It is additionally possible the delivering doctor was also medicated. Recipe for disaster? Well, the fool was armed with forceps, and that THING he had them so delicately vice-gripping was Ninja Kitty's jaw. This set the stage for all the glory that surrounds entering this world with an un-hinged jaw and the under bite from hell.

Fast forward 32 years... The day is April the 26th of 2011. Ninja Kitty can't light her fucking cigarette as her jaw has popped off to the left, and the motions of inhaling are trying to force the bone back to the right. Now it's personal. 5 calls later, it comes to light that only the most special of specialists will even agree to see me, and only with the accompanying agreement of coughing up $375 the moment I cross the threshold to the office.



"Don't you have insurance?" Them's fightin' words. You bloody well better believe I have insurance. In fact, the receptionist ooh'd and ahh'd what spec-fucking-tacular insurance I apparently have. Nonetheless, this is a "specialist" and I must satisfy the deductible first. All the while, crude visions of slamming my face against a brick wall are dancing in my head. Totally illogical since the problem is on my right side and the bone feels jammed to the left... OK, perhaps employing a small hammer (since I can't open my mouth more than a few centimeters) and knocking the sucker back in place.... I'm unsure I can get the angle right without losing a few teeth or pieces of flesh in the process.... Damnit.... "Huh? Ya, I'm still here. Ya, no, I'll take the 8:30am appointment, thanks."

So back to insurance. It is no small miracle that I'm lucky enough to work for an employer who pays 100% of the premium for my family and I. Generous is the understatement of the year. Yet here I sit, facing YET ANOTHER garnishment for medical bills from almost 2 years ago. "That's nothing", you say - Yes, but this is about the 5th such occasion. The birth of my first son cost about $6,500 out-of-pocket to date. I specify "to date" as it is still all too possible another bill or four may trickle in. No statute of limitations, it seems. I'm in the upper $3K level for the second born. Add to this various ambulance rides, post-birth health problems with both boys, MRI's, CT scans, back issues, x-rays, lab work, blood issues, organ issues, surgeries, reconstructions. Wow, there are quite evidently reasons the molds were destroyed upon our combined arrival on this planet! HA!

Well now, writing it all out like that would make one assume we should own up to single-handedly causing the exponential increase in health care costs... but I swear on all that is unholy we only waited until all our affairs were in order to finally make each call. With kiddos, it's a little more difficult (for those with a hypothetical soul) to make those judgement calls of whether to dig up household objects to aid in archaic garage-surgeries in lieu of employing more qualified help. I have learned to be the level of stubborn most can't wrap their heads around.

So I finally managed to move said jaw around just well enough to smoke said cigarette while only reaching 8 on the 1-10 pain scale. Hmm... I'm still semi-conscious, so I proceeded to the far less expensive alternative of Google. SUCCESS!!!! Could be a muscle spasm, the all-knowing computer tells me - take hydrocodone, it tells me. As it just so happens, I have plenty of that at home (most of it probably expired in the 90's, but no matter)!



Funny thing about all of this is that in the back of my head, I'm contemplating whether this may be related somehow to Karma. See, a certain mother-in-law got a certain l'il redhead Gummy Bears for Easter. A certain Ninja Kitty lusts after Gummy Bears and could easily rationalize stealing candy from a certain child based on the combination of this and the fact that this particular brand would be too tough on HIS l'il jaw..... Ninja Kitty stashed aforementioned Gummy Bears in her purse not 7 hours prior to waking up with a now-self-diagnosed-muscle-spasm in her jaw..... Superstitious Kitty returns said (unopened) Gummy Bears, pops a pill and begins to feel relief.

Now that my train of thought has derailed half a dozen or so times throughout the post, the point: The medical industry is out of control. What a sad day when some broad can't light her cigarette and can't afford to remedy that! Sure, the irony is thick when you think about the health problems I'm inviting in for coffee. Maybe this is some obnoxious goddamned sign about the hazards of smoking. I'll just go ahead and decide the ultimate lesson is to not steal candy from children unless you have either government-caliber insurance or a winning lottery ticket. Now turn your head and cough.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ignorance Is Bliss.... ?

"A mob of torch-wielding villagers will soon gather outside your home, which is odd, as you don't remember inviting a mob of torch-wielding villagers over."

Curious thing about advancements in technology - It seems it will eventually bite you in the ass. I had a hearty chuckle over a comment left on yesterday's post. I am generally surrounded by really loyal & amazing people - the kind of people who have my back no matter how much they may disagree with my stupidity at any given moment. It's a bloody incredible thing, to be sure. It also makes me wonder what sort of fury would be unleashed should they discover an opening to be brutally honest. In the comment I reference, an anonymous lady or gent took no issue with pointing out what a brat I can be. At first, I was completely taken aback - "Hot damn, that took balls!" I mused... Then I started to feel a bit guilty that I really have enabled those I love the most to feel the need to walk on eggshells when it comes to my highly advertised fragility.

I've never been one to take criticism well - after all, I'm a broken bird deserving of sheltered pity, no? Well, no, not really. I just REALLY enjoy arguing. My supreme bullshitting skills allow me to debate & justify anything as my myriad of moods dictate. So what of the notion that love means never having to say you're sorry? It's possible that I orchestrate even everyday conversations to ensure that defensive barrier is never egged or tagged with negative bits of graffiti. Did you know "graffito" is the singular form of graffiti? Sorry - the hamster hopped off the wheel in my brain for a quick drink.

I shall elaborate. There is a very glaring theme throughout my posts as there is in my daily interactions with people. If I beat them to the punch at my expense, they naturally (and quite politely) respond with counter-arguments to stop me from pouting (best-case scenario, really ;) ). It's one of those knee-jerk reactions I've exhibited for a number of years. I can even recall a moment in recent history where I pondered how to effectively pass that skill along to my spawn. Good call? Well no, probably not. On one hand it's spared me some harsh truths, but those same truths inevitably come bubbling to the surface sooner or later. More and more, some people forced to put up with me frequently have finally let that boiling water splash uncensored in my face. It's a bit of a learning curve for me, but it's all greatly justified.

All that said, here's your open door, folks. Will I take the hits like a champ? Or for the love of god, at least some level of class? No guarantees - I'm unpredictable like that. But you could always post anonymously if you'd like. That way, the next time we go out for beers and I call ya on it, you can always say "Oh, that must've been some random, surly bloke from overseas....."



XOXO
- Miss V.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kitty Komplex

"Don't worry about politics so much. From time to time, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of idiots."

Simply put, I'm well aware I'm opinionated and needlessly snarky. Now that we've established that, I have to ask, "What the hell?" As previously mentioned, I have been grounded from a certain social networking site. But once upon a time, while I was busily throwing my 2 cents around like some "Hollywood A-Lister" immediately following a national disaster, I quickly came to the following conclusion:

I can shut down any discussion thread with my mere presence.

Well here we are in yet another corner of the technological world and I've found the same result. I normally know better than to solicit an answer to what should be a rhetorical question - but honestly. WHAT THE HELL? Why in the name of all that is unholy do I have that power? Back in the "real world", strangers come out of the woodwork to converse with me. Aren't any of these unmedicated fools members of random social communities so they can fulfill my petty needs for occasional social interaction without commitment? I had a discussion with our new I.T. Director about donating our used cell phones to a battered women's shelter - I'm thinking we need to revisit disposing of the computers and further providing internet access to chatty people in dark alleys. *sigh*

OK, I think I'm done. Back to your regularly scheduled programming. *pouts*

Food: Friend or Foe?

"You have grown fat on the blood of the innocent, which, as it turns out, is the main ingredient in that white cream inside Twinkies."

Upon first glance, one might suspect this post was to be about some category of eating disorder... and it still could be - you never know where Ninja Kitty will venture when it comes to remembering what the hell the point was to be...

About a year into my marriage, My 'Ol Man mentioned something at a party that caused me to spew gin out my nose in a less than lady-like fashion: "When we met, she told me she could cook!" Hey now! Back up that trolley! I'll deny uttering such a foolish thing to my grave. As pretty well anyone who's encountered me can attest to, I would never have such delusions of grandeur unless I was either 3 sheets to the wind (so OK, I s'pose it's POSSIBLE) or meant it in the most sarcastic of senses.



Growing up, on certain occasions, my father cooked and more rarely, my mother would bake. There were plenty of jokes between my brothers and I suggesting that if we wanted a home cooked meal from a woman, we'd have to beg to be adopted by one of the neighbors ( My mother was less than thrilled to be a continual target of our jokes). It later came out that when my brothers were kidlets (before the miraculous birth of Yours Truly), she TRIED cooking - but my father always worked long hours at work and my brothers were finicky. Eventually, out of pure frustration, she gave up and decided to let us fend for ourselves. Fair enough. Now that I'm a Mama, I can understand that sentiment all too well.

The difference between she and I is that she CAN cook. Now that she lives on her own, she has amassed a bloody catalogue of recipes and is always on the lookout for something new and fabulous. She has always gravitated more towards the flavorful and spicy end of the food spectrum which I can totally appreciate as a now-smoker....The things she dreams up are amazing, if I do say so myself. Clearly my brothers and I have plenty of apologizing to do for all our years of heckling. But in the absence of this knowledge, I always figured I had some sort of genetic predisposition to lack all talents in the vast world of food. I even found it to be a bonding point.

When push comes to shove, which I generally find creative ways around, I can fall back on basic literacy skills to add water to some boxed creation brought to you by the good folks at Kraft or Betty Crocker - but even that tends to end in disaster, or at the very least, looks of disapproval from the kiddos.  I wasn't one of those little girls who grew up worshipping an Easy Bake oven... In fact, at the risk of alienating myself from all the foodies out there, I guess I just never cared all that much about food. *GASP*! I know. It's true. I literally experience heartburn at going out to eat. Sure, I can exhibit appreciation for things that have more tantalizing taste bud scrumptuousness than cardboard, but seems to me it's all going to be purged in one manner or another not long after. It's almost become more of a necessary evil in my skull. Once upon a time, I even fancied a harebrained scheme that I could live off smells. After all, the two senses are rather entwined, no? As one may imagine, that lasted about 10 hours - turns out those mint leaves growing on the side of our house lacked the levels of nutrition most humans, in theory, need... Conspiracy? You decide.

Add to this supreme lack of culinary talents, my general hypersensitivity and every breakfast, lunch & dinner equates to moments of unreasonable stress. I dread each approaching meal more than the last. When my almost-2-year-old lobs his applesauce at me, I immediately break down in tears of defeat. My pleas of "don't worry, Honey, Mama didn't make this - I only removed the wrapper" do nothing to help my plight. I still don't quite understand what's so wrong with raising them on Fruit Loops.... Silly pediatricians and their wild notions!

Perhaps someday we'll live in a Jetson's dream world where frazzled Mamas/Papas near and far need exert no more energy than pressing a button on a screen to experience satisfying results of fully tummies.... Or we'll all be on some spaceship to the moon where I can simply open those delectably simplistic freeze-dried cubes of joy. In the meantime, could someone put a bug in My 'Ol Man's ear regarding the upcoming Mother's Day holiday? All this Mama wants is a day w/out food!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Are You Still Dying, Darling?

"Although roughly 70 percent of the earth's surface is covered by water, that still doesn't explain why you have to be rescued from drowning all the time."

Hypochondriacs. We all know one. We may even be related to one. I've certainly had my moments. But sometimes, in life, you remove the film of selfishness pasted thickly over your eyes, you get up, and you get over it.


At this precise moment in time: I know a group of people, very dear to my heart, who are experiencing very real and very scary health issues. Very expensive medical bills are literally the very least of their problems. Despite being scattered throughout this ever-spinning globe we find ourselves fastened to, these people all appear to have one amazing thing in common: Their unbreakable and inspirational spirit. Some are tired from all the medication and radiation - others excruciatingly sore from one surgery after another. Some have lost their hair. Others, their jobs and even their families. Yet they laugh. They exude this unbelievable strength and energy. Extraordinarily positive attitudes. Sassy rebellion against the doctors and journals who have set that egg timer of life. My eyes well up and I experience chilling sensations throughout every inch of my flesh when I imagine what these individuals must be going through. Yet, they not only cope - they resolve to fight back with knowledge, optimism and class.

Then there's "Group B". In the grand scheme of things, it would probably be an exaggeration to describe their health issues with more severity than a paper cut. More likely, an endless need for attention. Sympathy, pity, lifelong devotion and signatures in blood ensuring this miserable group will forever have miserable company. They spew hate, darkness and poisonous selfishness. They do nothing to help themselves, yet suck the souls of all who encounter them. They are little more than drippy, moping, festering pools of pessimism. And oh my, you best not ever mention casually that you may have a headache coming on in an instant of small talk as they not only can out-migraine you with so much as a groan - they will extend their oozing claws from the depths of the Doldrums in desperate attempts to overtake your notions that any good is left in the world.

I do not have the time nor energy to so much as pity Group B. It is repulsive to watch them "suffer" when they do nothing to help themselves. Ah yes, that's right - the world must owe them for something... wait... no.... it doesn't.

My mom tells me of this remarkable woman she encounters on her walks around a lake near her home. The woman was a nurse for well over 50 years and recently lost her husband of 60 years. There isn't a day when she isn't smiling what I can imagine is the most radiant smile - one of those infectious smiles where you thank your lucky stars you simply encountered her.  She is 97 years old, and my mom maintains you wouldn't place her even past perhaps her late 60's.

You read about stories like this all the time - those uplifting ones where the moral can be summed up with exercise or organic foods. Perhaps laughing in the face of adversity or remembering to tip your waitress. Not this gal. She is apparently a sack of sugar masking loads of piss & vinegar. "You gotta take care of yourself cause no one else should have to", she tells my mom. "I'm 97 years old and if I happen to fall and break a hip, walk on by as it must be my time." There isn't an ounce of sarcasm in this. Truly, there is a lot even the most stubborn of us could learn from her. Something as minute as taking responsibility for our own lives - the good, the bad and the rest.

There is no arguing how fortunate I am to know those illustrious souls I first spoke of. I will forever strive to have 1/15th the character each and every one of them exhibit. In the same breath, I will continually remind myself not to ever fall into the second group. It is a conscious decision that every last person has the ability to make. To not cut others down or punish them with our woes. To not cloud others and their families with our misery. It may sound harsh to say, but for those of us given another day of it, life just ain't that bad. It may require restructured priorities or a good long look in the mirror followed by a vow to make a change. But you are not owed happiness. There are zero promises against stress or pain. And the next time you're feeling super sorry for yourself, you can either write about it as I do - and move on.... or for the general sake of society, please lock yourself in some closet somewhere until you're ready to grow up.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Satan in Stilettos

" You try to be an accepting person, but you still don't see why some people can't be a nice, normal gender instead of women. "

I'd apologize ahead of time for setting feminism back 50 years with this post, but that honor was already snatched up by too many people to mention, here. Speaking, shockingly enough, from a female point-of-view (or at least that's what the presence of cancerous ovaries might suggest), I cannot stand the majority of women in charge. *gasp*! WHAT!?!? Yep. I said it. I'd say it again.

Correct me if I'm wrong... actually, scratch that - we don't want to set some sort of silly precedence, here.... I've observed that, in some of these broad's heads, there is the archaic notion that we womenfolk are still fighting the brave battle to get past being held down by The Man. I have no doubts there will forever be instances of sexism in the workplace. Just as racism, religious bias, homophobia, speciesism and every other form of prejudice and/or phobia will exist as an organic poison grandfathered in from generations gone by. What is curious, is that these same women... Oops, they may prefer being called "womyn" so there's no reference of the other sex thrown carelessly in there...are the same ones who come to work dressed in cheerleaderesque miniskirts, stiletto heals, sporting teased bleached locks and fake claws with the oh-so-subtle addition of harlot-red lips. Gloria Steinem would be so proud!


Somehow, and I won't go into my normal low-life speculations as to HOW, these dames are continually promoted. Thrown more and more scraps of power until the inner she-demon is shining brightly through all those Mary Kay-caked pores. At the moment, it's a toss up whether the promoted ones, or the ones who walk in off the streets of the night directly into management are worse..... Regardless, the moment they have that power, watch the fuck out.

"I heard somewhere their periods attract bears. The bears can smell the menstruation! "
"Well that's just great. You hear that, Ed? Bears. Now you're putting the whole station in jeopardy."

This isn't even slightly suggesting that men in power are the impenetrable bee's knees. But there's something special in the sauce that makes these triple-x-chromosome nightmares truly forces to either be reckoned with, or drop-kicked across the parking lot. This one, in particular, the human chihuahua as we "lovingly" call her, has suddenly amassed some sort of "god's gift to the secretarial pool" caliber ego. It's possible she had a measurable level of intelligence prior to this emergence of a monarchy - but the rest of us are willing to admit there are some things we JUST DON'T KNOW. And WHEN we don't know, we respect those who do enough to ask before fancying up all sorts of rules, policies and... well hell, when in Rome... LAWS.

I've been anxiously awaiting cries of "OFF WITH HIS/HER HEAD", but no such entertainment from the whole ordeal to date. I'm particularly a huge fan of being patronized. Attending meetings only to have her ignorantly speak over and for me. All the sudden delegating of her duties? I think I just wet myself in excitement. Add, to the ever growing list of pet peeves, the guys who come to me to bitch about how out of control she is - sandwiched between murmurings of "I mean, she's easy on the eyes but...". No. No she is not. There is nothing attractive about such an ugly personality and no amount of makeup or silicone is ever going to convince me otherwise.

My point to all of this ranting - and yes, there is shockingly enough a point - is that this all is unnecessary. There are ways of proving ones-self through hard work, the basic abilities to learn that which you do not know and treating other people with the respect they have EARNED. No one gets to dictate then enforce respect. No amount of money, official-sounding job titles or sexual favors in the world should be able do so either. If you're looking for a slap on the ass for a job well done, far be it from me to get in your way, just get it through that pretty head of yours that you had better not get in mine.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

" When the stars told you this was a good time to start new projects at work, they certainly didn't expect you to put Vaseline on the stairs and then pull the fire alarm. "

Yesterday, I was respected at work. Ya, no... you read that right. I didn't forget the "dis" in front. I was actually respected. Without warning. Possibly a sad state of affairs when that sort of thing actually knocks the wind out of you. I would pretend I was speechless, but this one ALWAYS has something to say! I think one of the particularly amusing parts about the whole thing was the timing.

Not 12 hours prior, I had lost my temper with a certain little boy who was too mesmerized by a certain DVD (which he had incidentally watched no less than 9 times already) to bother pausing it when the forces of nature hit causing him to pee all around the toilet. The poor thing was already breathlessly mumbling "Oh no, oh no, oh no..." when I came bursting through the door (picture the Kool-Aid man coming through that brick wall) to put the fear of Ninja Kitty in him. After violently spewing far too many words most parents hope their kids aren't exposed to before at least 7 or 8 years of age, I put myself on a time-out in the garage. While I was out there, it seemed a lovely idea to break into one or three of the wine coolers housed in the old fridge a few feet away. Two sips into the first one, as I was already toasty, it seemed pure genius to reach for the phone and tell My Iza all about my terrible parenting.


I was downright slap happy. We're talking unreasonably hysterical.... I could not have found myself more amusing if I tried! The conversation quickly turned (as it usually does) to work and all the dysfunction surrounding it. I mused about how I had finally reached such a boiling point of stress that I achieved a heightened state of "I don't give a flying fuck". There was much plotting and scheming and it was decided I was to take on the role of guinea pig for all our equally exhausted co-peons. A little game to see how long it would take someone with an ounce of authority to notice my passive attitude.

12 hours later, I get an email. Official business. Marked "confidential" and even annotated with that handy little red "!" signaling the utmost importance and urgency. The favor of my reply was requested before a particular transaction would be put into motion. It's entirely possible I laughed out loud as I acknowledged the "read receipt".

For years, I was reminded that the higher ups don't know what I do so it was a foregone conclusion that I must be useless and have too much time on my hands. The latter can be true from time to time, but I maintain it's due to my remarkable efficiency. Efficiency, common sense, competence and troubleshooting abilities are generally frowned upon by those who have paid handsomely for that piece of parchment outlining educational merit. Please don't take offense, these are merely my incoherent mumblings based solely on my own experiences.

A handful of years into the world of steady employment, I encountered a situation that only fueled my tainted perception of Corporate America in all it's unethical glory. I was a bank teller (No shit! They actually allowed riff-raff such as myself to do such a thing) at a large downtown establishment. Having unexplained talents with numbers despite only needing basic math skills, I had no problem balancing each day. That's the point, right? I didn't quite understand how one could NOT balance if that was pretty well the primary purpose of clocking in each day. I only later found out there was actually a jar of change and bills that all the other tellers ritually worshipped each evening so they could go home.

I suppose this notion was born of the consequences bestowed upon these poor social gals as, if they were so much as a penny off, no one was allowed to go home until it was accounted for. What appalled me is that the manager (who held an Accounting degree - though possibly from a box of Cracker Jacks) was aware of  this jar idea and further had come to the ultimate conclusion that, without said jar, it was only pot-of-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow-caliber-luck that would enable one to balance. Absolute certainty that only deviance of the most foreboding variety would explain otherwise. So I was written up. For doing my job. Protests of routinely bathing in unicorn tears offered as the culprit fell on deaf ears. No dice.

This was not an isolated instance, simply the most glaring example of such. I slowly learned to "play the game". I have been cheery. A "team player". I can instantly zero in on my recipient's sense of humor and pander to such. I type 108wpm w/out errors. Data entry is the air I breathe. I can Google any job function they drop on my desk. And until recently, I would keep my mouth shut***. The model employee.

***Oh yes, I did sneak that in there. I would pinpoint the timing to roughly a year ago that something in my brain snapped. The inner Peanut Gallery has been delectably brewing to the current rolling boil. When invited to meetings, it is fully expected that I will be a very BAD KITTY. I'm sarcastic. I point out absurdity. I bullshit like a bloody champ. I talk back. I disrespect. One might say I'm the textbook quintessential personification of everything an employee should NOT DO. The result? No visible difference from before. No shit. The true difference is that I'm not harboring nearly the stress I did previously. Oh, and why do I get away with it, you ask? I'm adorable. That's fucking why. No, in all seriousness, the other lesson I had to learn FAST is that power in the hands of the already self-important renders them unable to grasp subtleties. Even not-so-subtleties.... but if you build it up gently over time, same thing. It's all 6's as my mother would say.

Against all odds, I'm living the dream straight from Office Space sans the hypnotherapy. And I have no illusions this will all last. When it comes to the almighty dollar, everyone is expendable. That long ago referenced series of 0's and 1's. Well, look at that, time for my next meeting. Ciao!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Hair And I

"You will finally develop soft, shiny, touchable hair, just moments before getting hit by a bus--which at first might seem unrelated. "

Although I've suspected as much in recent years, I now have full reason to believe the mop atop my skull is a completely separate being. Growing up, it was hardly a subject worthy of writing home about. At birth it was that shade of jet black that could easily generate controversy and curiosity as to the mailman's true reason for swingin' by twice a day. Luckily for all involved, it quickly fell out as a result of my habitually rubbing it against the carpet to pass the time. In it's place came something white-blond in color, wispy in nature, and generally pulled inhumanely into pigtails secured with yarn.

Through the years, it was braided, teased, crimped, permed, pulled into a side ponytail (man, I miss the '80's), and at the rather experimental young age of 12, dyed. Lacking any real worthwhile acquaintances, I began paying more attention to it. One might even say it became my imaginary friend....It truly did seem to take on a life of it's own. A defiant one, at that. If I attempted to curl it under, it would flip out. If I straightened it, it would suddenly transform into ringlets. If I cut it, it would grow faster and chaotically in protest. Curiously, it seemed the beast simply wished to be treated with some level of artistic care.

I began paying attention to stylists, barbers, and that guy in the dark alley sporting a rusty pair of shears. I watched carefully as varying results would come of dancing a razor along the strands or twisting it all into a knot and clipping bits and pieces in spiral movements. I took mental notes as gels, mousse, pomades, liquid silk, veneers, hairsprays and gadgets were applied. It became a sort of fun little canvas.


I have always admired and further envied my older brother, who holds - to this day - the level of artistic talents the word "genius" doesn't begin to approach. He can work in any and every medium known to man, even those the same man might warn against. He can pick up any instrument, hobby or language with the ease I would kill for if I thought that would get me anywhere. And then there is Annie. Well, when Annie falls, she looks around in the hopes no one was watching that clumsy tumble down the stairs, dusts herself off, and hops right back up on those platform heels. I can't draw, can't paint - played piano for over a decade and still can't read sheet music, aha.... but I still have my imaginary friend. And I was starting to get the hang of placating that friendship.

If I dyed my hair blue, the result would be the purest hue of Cookie Monster blue fathomable. I toyed with shades and brands, products and cuts. I slowly made connections between the color wheel and how to minimize brassy shades of blond. I browsed European stock photos, wig shops and strip clubs; piecing together something I thought would compliment my protruding jawline. Initial results would suggest all that piecing together was accomplished with magazine cutout letters for some ransom note - mistakes were made, oh my, how they were made - but it finally seemed as though I had graduated the equivalent of Elementary School for Hair.


Nowadays, I'm all too aware of this familiar I carry around. It's at once an ice-breaker, follicle carnival or invitation for debate. I won't pretend some remarks don't generate oodles of personal amusement: "Do you have to have fucked up hair to SHOP here too?", "Did those flying monkeys get you again?", "It's like a thousand tiny erections!".... Wait... WHAT??? My husband groans as complete strangers have a habit of leaping in front of our moving vehicle to get a closer look.

What was once a quiet coffee outing between two is now a group discussion about hairdressers and highlights. I don't pretend for a moment to be some omnipotent guru for all things hair. It was merely a personal journey to achieve what I like for myself. As an unfortunate side-effect, this personal journey pushes the door wide open in unstated welcome to the same world which causes me to recoil in fear. I have done nothing short of creating a monster. Yet in the same instance, my monster knows damn well I wouldn't hesitate in breaking out the Bic should it rise up against it's master. After all, I have always day-dreamed of dipping my toes in the cool (and time saving) relief of that pool of wigs....

Monday, April 18, 2011

Speaking of Which....

.... Which I wasn't.....

"Sometimes, you just have to step back, relax, and take a deep breath. However, you might also find it helpful to get some heavy radiation therapy. "

OK, so a friend of mine - and when memory starts serving me, I may even recall SEVERAL various occasions of the same - was discussing the ridiculousness surrounding feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment or even general concern/awareness over how we are viewed by others. Why the hell do we care, right? Tis truly a dream of mine that I didn't. Simply put, that very subject sums up my entire life to date. Simple indeed. Almost pitiful how much a Simpleton that makes me. A Rube, even.

Shallow? When it comes to how I view of myself - yes. I'm afraid of sharks, after all.  I previously listed a handful of my ultimate fears in life. What I oh-so-super-sneakily omitted is the supreme fear of myself. Sure, I can attribute bits and pieces to one experience or another. Enjoy how I even danced around calling a spade a spade? Too easy to blame others for my hypersensitivities. But to actually sit down and give it the level of thought and attention I lavish upon the mundane - well that may bring even MORE insecurities bubbling to the surface. We can't have that, now, can we?

Sure we can! So here goes: I can honestly recall being overly aware of my surroundings from the ripe age of 3. At the time, I was having bizarre health problems in both ears. I'd be walking along around the campus where my dad worked, minding my own business for no other reason than I was thoroughly entertained by my own shadow - then BOOM! Spontaneously and without just cause, my eardrums would explode and tiny streams of blood would start seeping from each ear. Normally, one would think I'd be too consumed in the horror of these events to notice the crowd that had amassed around me. No such luck - nosey gawkers would move in like vultures to take in the train wreck before them. But these weren't your average good Samaritans there to lend a helping hand (and/or to dial 911, stat) - rather, they just stared. Silent horror. Staring.

Did it all begin there? Not sure... Based on the strange patchwork hippie frocks my mom plopped my chubby l'il frame into, there may well have been earlier occasions of shocked chortling. But from that shining moment forward, I was always aware - suspiciously paranoid, even.

Amusingly enough, the more I longed to blend in with the wallpaper, the more outrageous my taste in "style" became. Subconsciously I suppose I figured if "they" (they = the general public, at large) were going to look at me, may as well give them a show! And the question remains - why care? Why let the snickers and whispers sink through my rice paper skin? From that ripe age of 3, I chose to believe that the world was watching me, judging me, and had absolutely nothing nice to say. This countered once-held beliefs that others had been taught if they had nothing nice to say to say nothing at all... Ahhh, but they were WHISPERING! So it must be sinister! Furthermore, it MUST BE ABOUT ME!!!! *gentle weeping*

In the grand scheme of things, these people... this...*shiver*....public... surely has better things to concern itself with than expending such time and energy to the judgement of Ninja Kitty. Pesky Kitty brain... as precisely THEN come those evil seeds of irrelevance. Is there a more tortuous response to such fragility than insignificance? Coming to find out you had, in reality, gone for years unnoticed!? Sweet jesus, there must be a healthy balance to all of this. If there is, I clearly have not received that memo. So on I go - day in and day out - all too aware of that out of place hair, or the bleach spot on the calf of my pants... the toenail polish that has chipped or the unraveling seam of a jacket cuff. These all register as glaring beacons of stupidity and neglect in my head. If there is a laugh in the distance, it is unarguably known to be at my expense. Innocent compliment? No such thing - it is simply a gesture of pity to offset something else that must be wrong. Hopping beyond general awareness and straight into the realm of madness.

So where, oh where, does the madness end? At the moment, as disco music has once again invaded my psyche, the answer seems to circle back to notions of joining the circus. Surely, the carnies would accept me? Or that nicely landscaped sanitarium downtown, perhaps?

AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!!!..... *crickets*

"True to its promise, a new kitchen disinfectant will make life easier for you, a working mother with two children. But that's only because you'll take to regularly huffing the highly toxic solvent. "

This past Saturday was chalk-full of... well let's face it... unreal expectations. Granted, this is true of most weekends since stumbling upon the grand notion of breeding... but that's a rant for another time! This particular Saturday was to commemorate our 4-year-old's official first step towards "manhood" (I'm well aware of all the irony in that statement).

Over four years ago, My 'Ol Man and I didn't possess the luxury (or, let's be honest, here: the true desire) for one of us to take on the career title of Domestic Engineer once we spawned. Thus, it was necessary to send sweet Vanaloons to an in-home daycare after my maternity leave. As the ill-alignment of the stars would dictate, he was surrounded by miniature whining bundles of "sugar & spice" and all-around theatrics. When Dr. Snicks came along, so did the impending need to move them into another facility. With that move came the hopes of less sobbingly dramatic cohorts, but no such luck. In fact, a certain Emma A. immediately gravitated towards the wee Lady-Killer and has since put quite the spell on him. I'm almost impressed at how bossy and dominating some of those pint-sized broads can be! I'll never forget walking in to pick the boys up from school and being approached by the aforementioned Miss A.. She shoves a crude glitter & glue-mucked construction paper creation in my face and declares "Here. I made this for YOUR HUSBAND". I had to really bite my tongue from blurting "Back off, Bitch, He's MINE" in retort!

So let's just assume that King Van has had minimal contact/interest with the wide world of sports. Let's further assume that his Papa had dreams of his kid(s) following in his footsteps of football, soccer, baseball, hockey, basketball, golf and any other cause to drool while perusing the overpriced aisles of Dick's Sporting Goods. This was not so much a petty machismo or chauvinistic dream - in fact, he would have been equally delighted to guide a little girl through the "joy" that is organized sports. So in direct response to the perceived calling of the street-corner advertisement for flag football, we plunked down our $115 and Mama quietly mused at what was to unfold.

My Darling Redhead was thrilled for this upcoming day of reckoning (much to the delight of Papa) and even began the countdown more than a month beforehand. It was finally the eve of this momentous occasion. Papa and his eldest son headed out to procure the "necessities" for the festivities. "We are getting you gear for football", Papa proudly exclaims. Van's eyes positively light up as he is always an eager participant where the frivolous spending of money, in his honor, is concerned. As Mama fully expected, upon their return, I heard tales of how he promptly wandered off only to return with a tennis racket. "I need this to catch the football!" "Ummm, no, son, you catch it with your hands". "Oh, OK!" Moments later, he excitedly returns with a pair of rollerblades: "Look, Papa! I MUST have these for football!"  Yeah. Clearly his tendencies to think outside the box were shining bright that evening.

The morning of the Greatest Game Ever Played, the boys were up at the crack of dawn in eager anticipation. Well, Van was eager, Dax just enjoys causing a ruckus when his parents are grasping at the elusive bitch, that is sleep. Despite having shattered my crystal ball some months before, I had already planned on staying behind with Dr. Snicks to avoid the fallout....err....so Van and Papa could have their "moment" without the accompanying Peanut Gallery.

Truly, to enroll a 4 year old in anything with any real level of expected organization attached is somewhat absurd. I still maintain that his upcoming "graduation ceremony" will unfold as hilariously as any other event where you dress animals up and expect obedience! Still, there was some glimmer of hope that the athlete-within would come bursting out at the right moment.

I'm sure you can all guess what happened next. To be fair, it wasn't catastrophic - and I rather suspected that the volunteer coaches weren't prepared to explain the game as though the audience didn't speak the language. In fact, all in all, the result was pure gold. Van had a blast. He didn't listen, he ran amok, he covered his ears anytime a ball was thrown to him, he made a habit of running the wrong way on the field and he couldn't stop messing with his mouth guard. I'd like to think that all equates to SUCCESS :). Somewhat to Papa's chagrin, he can't wait to go back. Meanwhile, I have proceeded to Google "martial arts for midgets" and other off-tangent searches. All is not lost, King Van spent most of the remainder of the weekend pounding around on the drums Papa brought home. There isn't enough Excedrin in the world - but at the end of the day, I couldn't be more proud of my boys. They quite simply kick ass and keep this Mama seriously entertained!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

You Can Do It, We Can Help... In Theory....

"The dread specter of your own mortality will loom over you all month, but you'll be so busy remodeling your bathroom that you'll hardly notice."

Almost 4 full months ago, now - Mama, in all her molting splendor, clogged the sink in our Master Bathroom. Silly to label it with such grandeur as it is smaller than most closets. I also chose to hang out in a state of denial about being the cause of said clog as my hair is barely over 3 or 4" long - and you'd really think all that Aquanet & bleach would make it nice and slick for the water-slide ride down.... Regardless, He-Man thought he'd clear it right up with a straightened metal hanger. Seems simple enough, no? No. The P-Trap (I giggle every time I say it out loud) was right on the verge of rusting through and aforementioned hanger finished the job. For what I can imagine were a few brilliant moments, He-Man patted himself on the back for a job well done. Meanwhile, Niagara Falls had invaded the laundry room downstairs.


After a few hours of cleaning, cursing and general carrying-on, it was observed that I was almost in a pleasant zen-like trance as I plugged along building Noah's Ark out of toothpicks. This put him quite suddenly at ease and he actually thanked me for remaining so level-headed. Ooooh! It seems I just stumbled upon yet another instance of ulterior motives.... That bathroom has been the bane of my existence since we moved in. It was a blinding Sanitarium White (pretty sure the good folks at Valspar had the sense to since take such a sterile shade off the market): White old wooden vanity, white chipped sink, white tile, white shower stall, white walls, white blinds, white medicine cabinet and white fixtures... or at least I'd like to imagine they were white sometime around 1983-ish or so. Currently, no combination of bleach, Kaboom!, Lysol Tub & Shower or paint thinner could bring it back to anything even approaching a non-yuck status.

Eureka! Mama answered the door before Fate had a chance to knock! "Well, Honey, damnit all to hell - looks like we're just going to have to gut this bathroom and make a trip to Home Depot!" On rare occasion, I can put on a poker face long enough to hide the sinisterly giddy intent. As it just so happened, there were all sorts of fabulous deals between Lowe's and Home Depot's weekly ads and my mind quite literally ran amuck as drool seethed out of my mouth.


Fast forward 4 months of showering in the kid's bathroom, spending far more than the poor bank account legally allowed and enduring catastrophic mishaps on top of the colorful language that would even make Ninja Kitty proud... It's gorgeous. Seriously. GORGEOUS. Not done, mind you - but I think of it as an exciting adventure. Simply substitute the mystery behind Door #1 with the mystery behind the wall the shower is attached to.

The problem with home improvement stores, in general? Those pesky displays and brochures - they have a way of sending the imagination soaring off a cliff. We have now taken on no less than 3 additional projects with 2 more in the wings. I maintain the first was altogether necessary - the rest? Well - I'm taking a stab at the notion that my manifestation of some sort of bipolar disorder is the manic need to remodel. Even when I have those recurring dreams of winning the lottery and I mentally walk through each and every project with the level of detail Mike Holmes* would be proud of - it's simply never enough.

My 'Ol Man and I are quickly getting quite the edumacation on all of this as we couldn't even consider ourselves amateurs with a straight face - but that's the glory of DIY, right? To hear the experts in orange aprons tell it, we're only taking on the projects so simple the dog could do it. They apparently either underestimate the brilliance of that slick-headed idiot, or WAY overestimate our ability/patience to read directions. Shoot first, ask questions later - that's been my motto since I was little more than a fear in my parents' subconsciousness!

Further adding insult to injury, my mom is in the process of taking on one project after another in her condo in Portland. That's not an entirely true statement - as it was her job for well over 18 years, she is researching the hell out of everything down to the countersink screw in the sub-floor - then promptly hiring a well-liked and highly recommended contractor to bring the visions to life. Plus we've come full circle back to the aforementioned personification of contractor genius that is *Mike Holmes.

Since getting satellite TV a handful of years ago, I have been mesmerized with the offerings of HGTV and DIY Network.... I tried sharing this passion with my mother innumerable times. Clearly all my accolades were falling on deaf ears as sometime late last year she calls me with what promises to be amazing news. "Darling! There is this channel called "HGT...Something-or-Other" - it's the bee's knees, Annie!... And Mike Holmes *dreamy sigh* - well I'm speechless". Rather daily since this initial "revelation", Mr. Holmes has come up at least twice in every phone conversation. Don't get me wrong - the guy is clearly a well educated and talented genius - but our version of DIY is to buy the materials we vaguely remember needing and hoping for the best. Just as my viewpoint of my hair is if I f*ck it up too royally, I can always shave it - the same goes for our house. Nothing is permanent... costly - sure, permanent - no.

But on it goes. And with each subsequent trip to these castles of home improvement, Mama's spirits lift that much higher. We may not be pulling permits or adhering to these mythical codes I keep hearing about, but sweet merciful jesus, we're having fun! (Remind me to reward/bribe Van with more cookies this afternoon for putting up with yet another month of Mama taking over his bathroom....)

*squeal of delight*! I just got the email notices of the new weekly ads!!!!
-N.K.A.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions

" You'll come face-to-face with many of life's mysteries next week, none bigger than why the Angel of Death looks like a younger, slimmer Roy Clark. "


As I stood in front of the mirror this morning, I asked myself a question I found myself unable to answer: "Can you honestly say that anything you do, in life, is without ulterior motive?". My intuitive answer was to defend myself.... against myself.... Yeah, it's entirely possible I've been inhaling far too many hairspray fumes for far too many years. But as I pondered this and even debated it in the fashion of Point-Counterpoint (seriously hoping I wasn't inadvertently muttering any of this gibberish aloud), I kept peeling back more and more layers of that proverbial onion. I shall even maintain it is due to the onion that I suddenly found myself weeping for no good reason.

I'm going to take a stab at the notion that none of us thoroughly enjoy admitting any level of selfishness. And please don't misunderstand - this conversation amongst my personalities wasn't yet another log in the fire of Ninja Kitty's self-pity-bonfire.... It just wasn't as simple a response as I was carelessly grasping for.

Bear with me for a moment and I'll explain further. Hehehe - that actually made me just guffaw out loud as I'm suspecting I've scared off the few people who accidentally happened upon this train wreck in the first place! OK, so I'm going to go ahead and continue based on the assumption that I'm just committing the conversations in my head to an outlet disconnected from the internet (or even one of those hilarious cardboard computer facades you might find in a low-end furniture store....).

Take religious nuts (please).... even the more balanced of them - the ones who actually do good deeds and "treat others as they would like to be treated" - is this out of basic human decency (further, is that last part an utter oxymoron?) or an act of underlying selfishness in the hopes of eternal salvation? That guy I got an email from - the one who volunteered to coach my uncoordinated midget's flag football team - was it out of a love of the sport? A need to be a positive role model to the future "athletes" of America? Perhaps he found that this somehow qualifies as the much needed community service he must complete as part of his sentence for a DUI three months ago? Am I just being a ray of goddamned sunshine in this thought process? *snicker*

When I declare that I'm really not that negative of a person, am I just trying to convince myself? Most find fault with my habits of giving the world the benefit of the doubt and second, third, fifteenth chances when they couldn't be more undeserving. That all is irrelevant at the moment. Despite the movie bombing magnificently and not even remotely doing the book, it was based on, justice - I was enraptured at the entire series including and following The Golden Compass. A journey to understand and even define that concept of original sin. The notion that the very moment children become self-aware, they are doomed to contribute to all the poisons of modern society. In addition, I happened upon an article in the wee hours of this morning about man-on-man rape in the military. It pushed me to question whether those so-called surrender-monkey nations who neglect or even refuse to engage in global warfare are nurturing a higher level of intelligence and overall social benefit. I was probably five minutes into that train of thought when Edwin Starr lyrics suddenly popped in my head and I found myself wanting to run out and rent an old Kung-Fu flick. ADHD to the nth degree!

The title of this post never ceases to amuse me as I always labeled my beloved mom as a poster child for the sentiment. The same woman who would call us home for dinner when we were out causing general chaos in the surrounding neighborhoods - if we neglected to answer promptly, there would be additional vocal threats of calling the cops and slapping our mugshots on the sides of milk cartons. To this day, her concern is no doubt out of love - but there is also a delicious flair for the dramatic and tendencies to over-think and over-worry. She is the same fabulous woman who wouldn't hesitate in getting on the horn to give that hiring manager, who failed to consider you for the job, what for. She has shut down entire dealerships based on shoddy customer service. I always thought she should consider a career as one of those undercover reporters for a tabloid Dateline story!

In my own dealings with the outside world, I place oodles of focus on doing as little or as much as I can to ensure general happiness. This is often at the risk of my own. Ahh, but don't cry for me, My Pets - uncover a deeper layer and you may find a martyr complex or some selfishly planted little seed of hope of recognition down the road. Peel back that layer and you may even happen upon something dark and sinister. Or you could do what I do and simply have your thoughts overrun by disco music when the going gets tough ;).

You, Too, Should Be Dancing....
-A.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji rocznicy slubu

"He looked at her.... She looked at him... And everyone else in the room threw up a little"

Five years ago, today, I asked my boss if I could take an extended lunch. As I was still fairly new at this job, it seemed a bold request. I'd say he agreed without hesitation, but he was far too curious as to what led to my sudden testicular fortitude...

"I'm getting married on my lunch break, today."

*long pause*...."Are you kidding me!?"

Five years ago, I met My Sweetheart at the County Clerk & Recorder's Office downtown. We giddily held hands as we approached the ominous building's glass entrance. Probably surrounded by the usual clamour of surly business-types rushing from one meeting to the next and cars ripe with road rage honking at the dame in the utterly insensible pumps, taking her sweet time to cross the street illegally. We didn't notice. It was a sparklingly sunny day and we were there to slap our $15 down and make things "official". 

Throughout the years, I have maintained that a piece of paper doesn't make or break true love.  It doesn't perfect our feelings nor does it keep all chance of pain or strife at bay. In many respects, it makes bureaucratic red tape a bit easier to cut through, and it certainly puts an end to some of the judgemental pestering from eras gone by. For us, none of this really matters. To this day, we wear the inexpensive rings we found at some beach peddler on a trip to Florida. There was no ceremony, no cake, no guests and no dress. It was simply something we felt we wanted to do. Aside from the banshee scowling at us from the other side of the desk that day - clearly nonplussed that we were the only ones in line not filing papers for divorce - it was a pleasant and quiet experience. We followed it up with a brief lunch at a friend's diner, then I headed back to work.

Many of my treasured memories of our time together thus far have been understated and simple. And we couldn't be more blessed than we are with our two beautiful (and kick-ass) boys. There have been so many ups and downs, celebrations and trials. Each day has the potential of bringing a new obstacle or crisis. And that's OK. It's all part of the cycle.

We understand each other on levels many others will never grasp. We bitch and gripe one moment, then find ourselves laughing and embracing the next. Anyone who knows me knows what a complete pain-in-the-ass I am (the rest of you have surely come to this conclusion based on previous posts ;) ) - I have a moving truck full of baggage and enough insecurities to fill a stadium. Yet when he looks at me, he has stars in his eyes as he appreciates me in all my troubled glory.

A dear friend of mine once remarked how drastically people can change in 5 years - and how she felt so fortunate that, even after all those changes, she and her husband of now 30 years were still so compatible. When My Honey and I first met, it was all such a whirlwind that I hardly think we gave any serious thought to compatibility. We had our first child rather quickly and then found ourselves immersed in the dramas of our respective families. Along came the permanent arrival of an in-law, the purchase of a house, the birth of our second child and the resulting financial/work stresses galore. Would we have popped up on some illuminated screen as the "Perfect Match"? Probably not. But it's often far more fun to succeed despite the odds, no? Somehow, at the end of each day, as we sit in the garage and chat over a beer or box of wine - the world just seems right.

  I won't pretend I'm not perplexed by the symbolism behind "wood" for a 5 year anniversary... Nor will I mask the fact that my train of thought instantly derails the way of innuendos.... Nonetheless, we have no real reason to be bound by others traditions, so our guilty pleasure dates to the hardware store should suffice. As my crystal ball has been misplaced somewhere, I have no clue what the future holds. There is no false hope or promise of a life-sized bowl of cherries....

....But with each passing day, I will thank the stars that I have my best friend, soul mate and the father of my two boys to brave it all with! Love you, Sugar! XOXO


Monday, April 11, 2011

Let's Go Skinny Dipping In DeNial!

"Your plan to fake your own death will be thoroughly convincing right up through the autopsy. "

"And if they ever ask about me, tell them I was more than just a great set of boobs. I was also an incredible pair of legs. And tell them... tell them that I never turned down a friend. I... never turned down a stranger for that matter. And tell them... tell them that when all is said and done, I only ask that people remember me by two simple words...
....Any two, as long as they're simple."
-Elvira

Multiple Personalities, or Multi-Faceted? No matter - While I was composing the earlier post, this was weighing heavily on my mind (and pressing even more heavily on my innards) so I thought I'd go ahead and spit it out. I'm beginning to freak out a bit about my continual health issues. I'm not going to feign ignorance,  here - I couldn't be more to blame. My "healthy lifestyle" could easily be summed up with the question "Do you even fucking try?"  I'm one of those pesky statistics who, right up to the end, protest with nothing more substantial than "Well I didn't think it would happen to ME!"  My diet would horrify a lab rat, I abuse pills, smoke almost 1-1/2 packs of menthols a day, often try to stay under 400 calorie-consumption just to see if I can and even a trip to the mailbox can stress me out to the brink of a stroke.... I laugh in the face of danger, then display a look of naive shock when I find myself in a hospital bed on a sunny Saturday morning when I should be eating sugar cereal and watching cartoons with my boys.

Why, if so panicked, don't I make a change? I'm not sure I remember HOW to. Just as it's easier to advise others with emotional issues, it's so much simpler to know what I'm doing wrong than to correct it. Trouble is, I can't continue being so bloody selfish. I have a family to consider. My peskily over worrying mother had to pose that one question that brings on more guilt than all of the Vatican could muster: "Do you want your boys to grow up without a Mama?". Jesus f*cking christ, did you have to go THERE? I do so well taking full responsibility in every other area of my life - can't I be absolutely reckless in this one?

*Sigh* The answer is quite clearly no. And once again, I state that, and it's like that slap on the wrist - I'm still going to walk away doing exactly what I did yesterday and the day before that. Not sure what rock bottom promises to be for me, but I'm willing to wager it won't be good. Any suggestions? And please keep in mind, if you simply reprimand me, I'm likely to nod & smile politely like the brat I am :)

Yep. A definite cry for help this time.
-A

April Showers May Cause Annie To Overestimate Her Abilities....

"  Inspiration will hit you when you least expect it this week, knocking you completely unconscious while your back is turned. "

Each Spring, as I reluctantly crawl out of my hibernation-like state of laziness and seasonal depression, I experience a sudden rush of motivation and wild ideas. I mentally flash-forward to some moment in time when I'm sitting on my back deck sipping coffee at 5am... marveling at the warm breeze dancing off my skin and beaming with pride at the fruits of my labor: A lush, well maintained lawn, free of Bella's various bowel movements, perfectly placed landscape lighting and flowering bushes - the patio fashioned of flagstone in such a way, it compliments the fire pit and furniture arrangement in such an impeccably well-thought-out manner... further enhanced by the Boho-chic illuminations of all the spectacular lanterns hanging from the meticulously arching branches of the ancient and wise shade tree towering overhead. One would almost mistake me for having the remotest talents to bring this all from conception to reality with such fanciful dreaming, no? Alas, I have had these magical notions on so many occasions - yet as another Monday draws near, it's a bit of a miracle if I accomplished anything beyond napping (let alone bathing)!

Despite severely lacking talent in so many areas, it would be a delightful escape to take on all the projects I find myself daydreaming of. Regardless of outcome - the euphoria from getting my hands dirty or clothes spattered with paint rather than regurgitation.... Experiments in brilliant colors and chainsaw concoctions.... welding a wonderland of creatures to frolic in the playground of foliage. Nothing lifts the spirits quite like accomplishment - of any sort, really.

My parents had a very modest, but beautifully maintained yard. Levels upon levels of greenery.... edible flowers and berries in every shade of the rainbow (by the by, I define "edible" the absence of an E.R. visit after consumption) - I would marvel at what fun it would be to throw cocktail parties and BBQ's... Scores of good friends and good cheer (good spirits would certainly enable the latter where conversation failed to...). My family, however, didn't smile upon company of any sort and so much as a ringing phone was a mind-numbing nuisance. Growing up in silent solitude, while somewhere in the distance: sounds of laughter and birds chirping... smells of charcoal, chlorine and Coppertone.  I seemingly long to experience outdoor socialization with the ever increasing presence of daylight hours.

I aspire to FIND the time, banish the excuses and do the things I enjoy outside. To come out of my shell and bask in the world beyond the closed blinds and climate-controlled habitat. Maybe I could find a way to overcome the miniature buzzing critters hopping about in the half-dead grass and the obnoxious tickle of the wafting cotton from that god-forsaken junk tree two houses down..... As the landscape slowly begins to thaw and transform as though kissed by that Harlot, Mother Nature, I am making myself a promise. To put forth more of an effort in achieving the variety of accomplishments that may even guide me through the less-favored seasons with a bit less angst.

We're almost one month into one of my two favorite seasons, and there is much to do - for once, not because of duty or deadline. Simply because the creativity contained between my ears is aching to flow on the canvas laid out beyond that sliding glass door. Should I succeed, you may consider this an official invite to swing by as frequently as the mood moves you. The fridge shall be stocked with beer, and if you're lucky, this elusive Kitty may even break out the harmonica and sparklers. Who wouldn't want to witness THAT disaster firsthand?

-N.K.E.

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Ummm Hi! Long Time Listener, First Time Caller...."

" You've always believed there are two kinds of people in this world: normal everyday people, and the ones in the blood-spattered yellow raincoats who stay out of sight, waiting for just the right moment."

Where the majority of rational people in this world would possibly exercise some restraint when about to broadcast a mental breakdown, Little Orphan Something-Or-Other clearly has no such sense. I shall maintain that, to my credit, very little is "off limits". If nothing else, this declaration helps me sleep at night. One thing I have noticed is that it can also help initiate tough dialogue on rare occasion.

Seems I needed to take a trip outside myself to absorb the bigger picture, so to speak. When all else fails, even the most stubborn of us need to ask for help - perhaps even cry for it. In doing so, I achieved a small bit of clarity.... even came to some long overdue/overlooked conclusions. I am faced with that nagging question of "What Now?". For me, it seems I not only had issues, there was an entire subscription cluttering up the mailbox upstairs. And you know what? That's OK.

Some inexplicable portion of my personality welcomes (acts as a super-magnet, even) others to seek me out when the weight of the world has exceeded the perceived strength of their shoulders. What very few of us realize is that we are far stronger than we will ever give ourselves credit for. The catch being it often takes an instance (or specific sequence of events) of catastrophic proportions to bring that strength to light - or at least within reasonable grasp! Ninja Kitty is quite the sage, no? Ahhh, but it's always far easier to diagnose & treat others than to purchase that overpriced admission to our own faults and shortcomings. Nonetheless, unbeknownst to my conscious state, I had been collecting little bits and pieces of the lessons I did my unauthorized best to assist in.... along the way, I had amassed quite the pile of dust bunnies ready to assimilate and spring into action when I needed it most.

I do so adore making a short story, long... The Arch Nemesis of Cliff Notes!

Anyhoo - I arrived at a few eye-opening facts. As we all are products of the events leading up to this moment, one such event rendered this product unfit for consumption. I previously never took the time to address, mourn, heal from and/or cope with this event. Over the years, the contamination spread like a wildfire until the initial match was no longer decipherable in the charred mess. Sans hypnotherapy, crystals, tarot cards or historical records (this is me patting myself on the back ;)  ), I was finally able to put the pieces back together and, with the assistance of an ACTUAL LICENSED professional, I believe the dark fog will eventually burn off.

This surely is not a one-size-fits-all answer - For me, it is (and don't call me Shirley). I wish to thank each and every one of you out there who have always supported me and had my back - even when I'm acting like a drunken fool and picking fights with grizzly bears. One foot in front of the other and one day at a time. Far too much to be thankful for to let it waste away while I spin worthlessly in my office chair! As I am the self-proclaimed Queen of always having the last word, you can trust (and possibly curse) the fact that I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.... Well... unless we win the Tyndall AFB contract, then it's every kitten for him/herself!

A hui hou,
A.V.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Girl From Ipanema...

...playing softly in the distance....


" In a neat but unfortunate melding of rhetorical and actual elements, you'll get stuck in a rut and wake up in a ditch this week. "


Looks like it's time to take this meltdown offline. Ciao for now! XOXO

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

DONE

"Sometimes, you just want to go someplace where nobody knows who you are. Luckily, this is easily accomplished by leaving your house. "
***Warning: Annie rant in 5....4....3....2...***

One of the peculiar things about Cancers is that, due to their well-documented hypersensitivity, they will eventually crawl back into their shells and demand solitude. Today is clearly that day for this dame.

For four weeks now, my left eye has been dripping endlessly - bloody becoming, I know. If not for taking on the problems of the world, I may have chosen to take the time out to get it looked at by someone other than casual (and tactless) gawkers. For a brief enough moment in time, it did stop.... until someone asked me how work/home/the software conversion/the answer to their problems was going.... *drip* *drip*........*drip*. I have resorted to no less than drawing on my already worn face with Sharpie in the hopes of maintaining some semblance of actual features. Despite my previously explained distaste for them, I have found myself looking like a bit of a clown.

Should you ever want the "secret" to assisting an Annie Meltdown, the recipe is simple:.....

Oooh - You really thought I was going to give you further ammunition? Sucker. Truly, *pouring vodka in her pity party tea* I just have a rather simple question: If I honestly work at being a kind, considerate and all-together pleasant human being, does that equate to attaching a "Kick Me" sign on my back with a nail gun?

*gulp*