November 30, 2011

Guest post: Neuroses - Mine or Hers?

Here's the first installment from the winner of the Everyday Hilarity Writing Contest.  Enjoy!

Neuroses – Mine or Hers?

Let me introduce our new family member! Brie is adopted and has been with our family since the summer. Personally, I think she has the most beautiful brown eyes and lovely black hair. She doesn’t look anything like us. Brie is still such a little girl and turns 4 years old in January. She’s integrated into our family fairly well, considering she was adopted at this age, but she still isn’t close to my husband. It’s like she wants to please him yet he isn’t too fond of her. He’s made it very clear that they will never have a close relationship. He’s a cat person. Brie (did I mention this to you?) is a dog. A beautiful Scottish Terrier.

From the beginning, we noticed that Brie had some mildly neurotic behavior. Not psychotic, mind you. She’s fully in touch with reality. But some of her behavior is slightly out of the norm. Her previous family adopted her when she was just 1 ½ years old and she had been abused prior to that. If we stretched out our hand to pet her, she ducked her head as if she’d been hit. Holding or rubbing her feet caused her to want to get away at times. She barked at thunder and lightning, running around the back yard looking at the sky, as if it was the enemy. One would think in this situation that she was a Rottweiler in disguise as a terrier. She’s ready to rumble.

I would have hoped she would be a great guard dog, learning that Scottish Terriers are quite possessive of their family. Brie, not so much. She sits happily in her chair looking out the front window to the street, calmly watching people walk by our house without a sound from her. But if there is a cat at the END of the street in someone else’s driveway, she goes on Full Alert. Whining, barking, running over to us to inform us of this critical situation and that she needs out to take care of it. NO cat or animal creature is allowed anywhere on the street or in their own yard. That’s her job. People, burglars, hooligans – that’s all fine. Not her job.

Another noticeable neurosis is her speed, or mode of operation. Brie has three modes. One is her usual calm, slow, observing speed. She doesn’t get excited easily. (Except if it’s another animal.) Her next speed doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s like someone has tied a firecracker to her tail and she’s madly running away from it. I call it her “dog on crack” speed. Suddenly it occurs with no known cause. She runs in the living room, tail tucked under, gaining speed on the carpet, into the entry way, sliding on the hardwood floors, just barely missing buying the farm into the wall, again getting traction on the carpet in the homeschool room, only to turn around and repeat. It’s crazy. She runs madly around, sliding, getting her speed up, grunting at times, low to the ground. It lasts maybe 2 minutes at the most when she suddenly stops in the living room and sits down. Done. No explanation obviously needed. None given.

Her last mode is called “Stealth.” It occurs when she is in the back yard, usually sniffing around for where the latest gopher is digging underground in her territory. We crack open the back door and yell at her to come inside. She jerks her head up and looks at us, obviously hearing us. She stands. She goes into her stealth mode, thinking “If I stand really still, I’ll blend into the scenery and they won’t see me. Eventually they will leave.” We yell again. She stands. We yell again, not happy at all now at this stupid dog. She’s not moving a muscle or even blinking. I don’t even think she’s breathing. This behavior is not acceptable for a dog. Commands are NOT optional. Who does she think she is?! It causes us to go back inside the house, track down a pair of shoes, sometimes grab an umbrella as it’s raining outside, and then literally stomp out in to the yard. By this time, OUR “anger mode” is happening. We have to get within a yard to confirm to her that she is NOT invisible, and shoo her into the house, where she runs inside like she’s in her “crack mode.” No beating has occurred, mind you. It’s often thought about, frankly. Stupid dog.

The way I think about life is that we ALL need therapy at one time or another. I specialized in mental health nursing as my master’s degree and have worked with individuals, couples and families. I’m not practicing now, but am fully using my mental health skills on my family, in homeschooling, and now on this dog. We’ve tried the “clicker” method of dog training. We’ve tried the positive reinforcement with petting and treats. Lots of treats. We’ve tried kenneling her when she’s behaved negatively in situations. Nothing is really proving that it works. Brie’s neuroses are still there. All the techniques in my arsenal have been tried, so I’m beginning to think the problem isn’t Brie. Am I feeding in to her neuroses with my own neuroses? Hmmm. 

Anyone know of a cheap shrink that works with people and their dogs?

November 28, 2011

Announcing the results of the Everyday Hilarity Writing Contest!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, y'all!  We visited Tree Guy's parents and that zany bald guy, Uncle Jake.  It was good times.

I enjoyed reading your entries whilst inhaling delicately nibbling three slices a single tiny sliver of pie.  Thank you so much for participating.  My panel of "experts" and I have decided on a winner.  Or three. 

So without further ado, I give you the grand prize winner The soon-to-be-recipient of a crazy wig and a draweringThe empress of Everyday Hilarity!  And the award goes to............................

She who wrote "The Offering"!  Congratulations!

Alas, this writer doesn't have a blog, howev, she provided me with two more essays (a before and an after) to go along with her winning entry.  My next post will be her prequel to "The Offering."  Stay tuned for the winning entry later this week. 

But why stop there?  Howse about we top Charlie Sheen and be tri-winners?!  We've decided on two second place entries. 

The shared second place winners wrote such gems as "It Will Grow Back...Won't It?" and "A Glimpse of Motherhood."  Click on the titles to check out their blogs.

Both writers win goofy wigs perfect for embarrassing spouses and children!  I will feature the second place entries here on my blog next week.

So, trio o' wordsmiths, send me an email with your mailing address and I will get your prizes to you ASAP.

BONUS!  Grab a button and announce your award wherever you'd like!  (Three woots for shameless self-promotion!)

Yeah, I said it Blog

November 22, 2011

Last call for Everyday Hilarity Writing Contest entries!

I know I'm not yer mama, but I'm gone nag you anyway because it is HIGH TIME, missy, that you sent your submission in.  Don't you know that the deadline is tomorrow?  You think the Blog Fairy's gonna fly in with your story all done up for you?  If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times that there ain't no sense in waiting 'til the last minute to do what you got to do!  Prince Charming ain't gonna ride in here on no white horse and carry you away to no castle!  Where is your head, girl?  Now, enough of this here fiddle-fartin'!  Just go on now and git 'er done.  And look here, Mama's gone make you a pie.  A PIE!  I shore am.  So get movin', little lady!   

That's a good girl, now.

November 18, 2011

Fit 'n' Fluffy: a business model

Dancing in front of my bedroom mirror to 80s music was my favorite form of exercise as a teenager.  My adolescent vanity demanded that I have an audience, even if that audience consisted of only myself.  (If a teenage girl does the Running Man and no one's there to watch, does she still put on a good show?)

Twenty years and 60 pounds later, in front of a mirror is the LAST place I want to be when it's time to get my groove on.  Not that I happen upon many occasions to cut a rug.  I'm just saying that when I do, I find that no audience is the best audience.

I've never really felt comfortable dancing in front of other people.  If I was really as cool as I like to think I am, I wouldn't care about looking stupid.  I'd clear the floor and drop my big butt down into a Tootsie Roll.  Or get all punky and dance like Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club.  As it is, I can't even do a watered down version of The Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  My moves are not for public consumption.

But I wish that wasn't the case.

So I submit that what the world needs now is a dance class for big chicks.  No chicken littles allowed.  And if all that boogieing down leads to massive weight loss, the newly-skinny chicks get kicked to the curb.  (Sorry, lil'uns.  Them's the breaks.)  That way, curvy girls could attend a fun fitness class without feeling judged or the need to compare.  We'd all have wobbly bits on display.  Kinda like at a nudist colony, only we'd be strictly genital-free.  (Well, members could bring their genitals, but they'd have to store them securely in the overhead bins.)

Our dance room would have mirrors, but only the skinny kind you find in a fun house at the circus.  The AC would be blasting at all times because we big girls need some help in the temperature regulation department.  No windows, because we don't want to attract chubby chasers.  There would be cute and comfy plus-size dancewear on sale up front.  We'd have a nice big pool to cool off in after class where we could wear our skirted swimsuits in peace.  Finally, there would be roomy private showers.  And each shower would be connected to a private dressing area, because don't nobody need to see that much ass in one day.  Not even us.

So who's with me?! 

November 16, 2011

Reel life

So you know how we like drama in this here family?  (Well, Nature Boy and I do.  Not so sure about Tree Guy on that one.)  My son and I got the chance to be in a movie a couple weeks ago!  We found out about the opportunity the day before filming, and since we are slackers very relaxed homeschoolers, we actually got dressed for the day cleared our schedule and headed over to the set.

We were extras (extra AWESOME, that is) in a Christmas pageant scene filmed in a local children's theater.  Nature Boy was originally supposed to be an audience member like me, but he got pulled to be one of the shepherds in the pageant.  He was so excited!
I was a mere 5 feet away from Vivica A. Fox and Eric Roberts, y'all!  Viv and E. Ro (yeah, we're tight like that) brought down the house with a soulful Christmas song as I sat in the front row of their "audience".  We filmed several different audience reactions.  My favorite was the one in which we had to crack up, of course.  We were supposed to pretend that something hilarious was happening onstage (one of those childrens' pageants-gone-awry situations).  I hope my guffaws don't look stupid on film... 

Not that anyone really pays attention to the extras in a film anyway.*  The audience will likely just seem like a big emotive mass eclipsed by the wonder that is the beautiful Vivica A. Fox and the charismatic Eric Roberts.  (Who wears rose perfume and can make noises that sound like a trumpet with his mouth, respectively.)

When we got there, we were told not to bother the stars (as if we would ever stalk a public figure!!!), not to take pictures or video, and that we'd have to stand until it was time to film our scene.  There's a whole lot of waiting around on a movie set, y'all.  We did about 4 hours of waiting and about 1 hour of filming.  But it was FUN!  The only annoying thing about the day was that the "kid handler" was constantly yelling, "SETTLE!!!!!!!!"  Which was more disruptive than the chatting kids if you ask me...  

Nature Boy was armed with the latest 39 Clues book and his Nintendo DSi, and I was armed with granola bars, so the waiting wasn't too bad.  The director of the movie was wonderful.  (He looks a lot like Donald Sutherland!)  His wife was sweet too.  So This is Christmas is scheduled to come out in Fall 2012.  Check it out!

*Of course, I fully expect you, dear readers, to watch the movie and intently stare at the front row of the audience during the pageant scene.  I don't care how well Vivica breaks it down, I want your eyes on me.  Got it?  Kidding, of course!  (Kind of.)

November 13, 2011

Sundry Sunday

So here I am on a Sunday night, trying to think of something to write about.  Rutabagas?  My joyful discovery that some brands of sharp cheddar are lactose-free?  The fact that we still have a (fake) jack-o-lantern and skull decorating our living room?  They've taken quite a "shine" to each other.  (Sorry.)

Maybe I'll write an ode to my boyfriend, Bob's Candy Canes.  Or about my snot factory sweet son who is sick right now.  Poor Nature Boy.

Ooh, I know!  How about the fact that today is my in-laws' 40th wedding anniversary?!  Yeah, that's it.  The folks who raised Tree Guy surely merit more than a mention.  So here it goes.

Aren't they cute?  He's a silver fox and she's a white hot blonde.  They have tons of friends (only one of them is invisible), and they enjoy traveling and red wine.  This photo was taken 5 years ago at a gigantic family reunion. (I married into a prolific family.)  Check out Tree Guy's brothers.  Somehow my in-laws managed to raise three awesome men.  They were raised on a diet of Star Trek, Weird Al, and marching band, yet they turned out just fine.  (Amazing!)  And 40 years later, Nana and Papa are still partners and friends.  Such an inspiration. 

I did some research and discovered that the traditional gift for a 40th anniversary is ruby.  My father-in-law is fantastic at buying his woman jewelry, so I'll, uh, leave that to him.  I want to give them something meaningful though.  A ruby red grapefruit?  A puppy named Ruby?  (My father-in-law would LOVE that.  He's similar to Tree Guy when it comes to pets...  Scrooges!)  Help me think of something, y'all!

P.S.  Don't forget about the Everyday Hilarity Writing Contest!  Get your submissions in by November 23rd so I have something to read while I scarf down my pumpkin pie.

November 11, 2011

Shrinky Dink 'n' Me

Shrinky Dink is totally my sister from another mister. I'm so lucky to have her in my life. (Bebe's kids, wild dog, crazy ex and all.)

Shrinky Dink and I first crossed paths at childbirth class in 1999. I remember her mostly because of her (based on first impressions, butthole of a) husband who self-importantly talked on his cell phone in the hallway for most of the class. She remembers me mostly as a (likely single) woman who (most likely) pretended her husband was sick so she didn't have to admit that she had no man to accompany her to childbirth class. Turns out, her now-ex really is a butthole and I really was (and am) married. (Tree Guy didn't come to the class because he was sick, and we were afraid he'd pass it along to all the mamas-to-be in class.)

Fast forward 9 months or so, and Shrinky Dink and I met up again, this time at a young mothers' group at church. We both had our adorable, chubby, big-headed, blue-eyed, six-month-old babies with us.

We immediately started comparing notes. We discovered that not only did we go to the same church, but it was the first time for both of us to come to the young mothers' group; we were both raised in different religious denominations, but "converted"; we were both born in the same state; we both graduated with social science degrees; we both had our babies delivered in the same hospital by the same obstetrician a mere 4 days apart, and our kids had the same pediatrician.

We started hanging out.  Over time we discovered that we also share a tendency to neurosis and a really goofy sense of humor.  Bonus!  We bonded over baby-obsessing, coffee, and shared values.  Her baby pinched.  Mine hit people with sticks.  We went to story time at the book store.  To the zoo.  To birthday parties.  Shrinky Dink had two more kids.  I found out I had secondary infertility.  She helped me through health crises, hospitalizations, surgeries.  I helped her through a painful marriage and a just-as-painful divorce and custody battle. 

And here we are, 12 years later.  Living on the same street by choice.  Sharing meals and gripe sessions, and as always, coffee.  I help her with child care.  She helps me with highlights and eyebrow maintenance.  She's a fabulous cook.  I can entertain slumber parties of giggly girls.  She knows how to use a power drill.  I can organize like a mofo.  If we were fundamentalist Mormons, I'd totally choose her for a sister-wife.


Her birthday's this weekend.  (Psst!  She's got a BOYFRIEND!  Finally, a guy we can actually be around without throwing up in our mouths a little.)  So I probably won't get to see her much.  I'll make her a cake anyway, even though she selfishly declined to babysit the house painters for me on her birthday.  (I mean, what else does she have to do that day?!) 

Happy birthday to my BFF!

November 07, 2011

Everyday Hilarity Writing Contest--with a prize!

I'd like you (bloggers, non-bloggers, whoever) to write about something hilarious that you've experienced.  I want the story, your perceptions about it, the aftermath.  All of it.  Keep it PG-13 and 750 words or less.  Include photos if you want to.  Submissions will be judged by a panel o' 3 people with fantastic wit (including me, of course).  Depending on how many submissions I receive, up to 3 winners will be chosen.  Winners' stories will be posted here on my blog and I'll send you a.......(wait for it)..........


But wait!  There's more!  I'll also illustrate your story (yep, a custom drawering by yours truly) so you can post your story on your own blog/Facebook, etc.

It might be a 'fro wig.  It might be a Donald Trump wig.  It might be a vampire wig.  It might even be dreadlocks.  (Don't worry fellow paranoia-sufferers, it will be sealed in its original packaging and I won't share your address with anyone.  Wait a minute.  This means I have to share my address with the winners.  Okay, that freaks me out a little.  Hmmm.  Maybe I'll put my mom's address on the package as the return address.  She's not paranoid.  Okay, we're good.)

I will accept submissions until Wednesday, November 23, 2011. Send your stories to yeahisaiditblog{at}gmail{dot}com.  Winners will be announced on Monday, November 28, 2011.  Bring it on, y'all.

But first, grab my button!

Yeah, I said it Blog

Another day, another earthquake

So Tree Guy and I had never experienced an earthquake before.  Then this weekend we had two in one day!  The first one happened at 2:30am Saturday morning. Tree Guy was in bed and I was folding laundry. It sounded and felt like the Jolly Green Giant was jackhammering our house. Tree Guy woke up and yelled, "What the hell was that?!" He was certain I did something to mess up the washer or dryer, thus creating the ruckus. No amount of denial on my part would convince him.

After the 5th "Are you sure you weren't using any kind of appliance?", I yelled, "Noooooooooo! I WASN'T USING ANY KIND OF APPLIANCE! Maybe it was an earthquake." Which was a ridiculous suggestion. We live in a part of the country where earthquakes aren't common, and the ones we have usually can't be felt. Nothing was showing up on the news yet, so I checked online for word from those faithful twitterers and discovered that, lo and behold, it was an earthquake! A 4.6 on the Richter scale. Cool. Nature Boy slept through it.

We knew to expect aftershocks. But Saturday night at around 11:45pm I was jackhammered awake by another earthquake. This one was bigger and longer lasting than the first one. Tree Guy was the one up this time, so he got the full experience. Our dog Raven just chilled out on the floor next to my side of the bed. (She freaks out at thunder, but doesn't bat an eyelash at an earthquake.) Nature Boy slept through this one too. Turns out, this earthquake was a 5.6 on the Richter scale. The biggest earthquake in our state's history. The only damage done that we can see is that the dishes in the dishwasher were all knocked around and there's a big chip in my great-grandma's serving bowl.  (Stupid earthquake.)

Tree Guy is a big disaster movie fan. His favorite movie growing up was Red Dawn. We just watched Cloverfield Friday night, then BAM!, an earthquake. I figured it would make Tree Guy all eager to have a disaster movie marathon, but when I mentioned it, he was all, "Um, no thanks." We are soft here in Oklahoma, I tell you.  We know what to do when a tornado comes to town, but send us an earthquake and we freak out.

And the Californians laugh.

November 06, 2011

Another day, another chocolate bar

Man, y'all.  In the past week, I've made appointments for a glaucoma screening (for my EBP), a mammogram, and an endometrial biopsy.  This means at least one of the following:

1.  I'm a hypochondriac.

2.  I got the short end of the stick genetically.

3.  I'm getting old.

I seriously doubt #1 is the answer.  I've been traumatized enough medically what with the bowel surgeries, dreaded NG tubes, collapsed lung, and that whole paralyzation thing.  I sure as heck don't seek out more of the same.  If anything, I wait too long to go to the doctor.  I usually have a laundry list of complaints gathered over months before I deem it time to visit my PCP.  (Doctors love that, right?) 

I definitely think there is something to option #2.  It's a trade off though.  If I hadn't inherited the autoimmune problems and mental health issues, I'd have missed out on the good stuff--like my sunny disposition.  Yeah.  My mom's side of the family has a strong history of cancer, hence the mammograms. And colonoscopies. (Crohn's disease makes having them more often than usual a necessity. Hurray.) Fortunately, I have a good butt doctor who is generous with the drugs, so the worst part about my colonoscopies is the prep. Greasy Sprite followed by hours on the john, anyone?  

I'm not going to insult my brethren by calling my 37-year-old self old.  But if skin tags, night sweats, and chin hairs are any indication, I'm at least on my way.  And arthritis has me walking like Frankenstein right now.

Do you feel sorry for me yet?  I think I need some chocolate--STAT.

November 05, 2011

Some kids are a-holes

I know it's not PC to say so, but as I am constitutionally incapable of keeping my opinions to myself, I had to let it fly.  And I don't think I'm alone in my assertion.  Y'all know what I'm talking about.

You're at the grocery store and a teenage steam punk/emo/scene/whateverthehell bumps into you and then has the nerve to say, "Watch it, old lady."  Or you're at the skating rink with your kids when you see a little rink-hag totally cheating at the Red Light/Green Light game by moving forward 5 feet after every other kid has stopped. She gets away with it every time and wins, of course, because her big brother is the DJ, and no one makes a fuss because the prize is just a stupid plastic bead necklace of which you have 20 at home from that crazy trip to Marti Gras in college.  Or you're at play uh, football practice and the kid who's had the lead role in the past two shows been the quarterback on your son's team every year since first grade keeps interrupting the director coach to draw attention to himself because he's just too charming and hilarious to settle for mere applause a trophy after the show championship game.  And he gets away with it because he's too darn talented for anyone to expect him to follow the rules all the other kids have to follow.  Or you've been carefully nurturing and protecting your child's fragile self-esteem for years when one (stupid, ugly, turd-burglar, poopy face, jerk-of-a) bully with a motor mouth and a cruel streak makes a few comments totally zeroing in on your child's insecurities, and that delicate balance you've been maintaining is thrown off kilter.  And then the bully throws in a punch or a kick for good measure.  And you feel like kicking that kid's ass.  (Or maybe that's just me.)

I'll give the moms of toddlers and (because I'm feeling generous and, okay, I had a fit-throwing, head-butting preschooler myself) preschoolers a free pass.  These little ones may be infuriating at times, but they don't have the impulse control or the maturity to do better.  And I'm not talking about garden-variety, normal kid misbehavior either:  sneaking candy, eye rolling, no-I-don't-have-any-homework, occasional smart-mouthed comebacks, I-didn't-do-it-maybe-it-was-my-sister kind of behavior.  I'm talking about kids of the age of reason who know they are breaking the rules and don't give a crap because the rules don't apply to them, what they want takes precedence over the rights of everyone else, and everyone knows that grown-ups are too stupid to figure out what they did anyway.

I think allowing these behaviors, writing them off as oh, they're just being kids, is a good recipe for cooking up an entitled, narcissistic adult. 

Here's some food for thought.  Imagine being at work when a coworker comes up to you and says, "You're a stupid, ugly loser and no one likes you, " and then pushes you down on the floor.  You'd go to your boss and complain, right?  (Unless you have your crazy papers like I do, in which case all bets are off.)  Imagine your boss responding, "Oh, that's just how coworkers are sometimes.  You've got to let it go.  Do you have any brothers?  No?  Ah, well then you must just be overly sensitive to rough housing."  The end.  Doesn't that sound crazy?  Is there any justice in that?

Kids have to deal with this kind of thing all the time.  We would never tolerate attacks from other adults.  But kid bullies are tolerated because it's just the way kids are.  Being bullied is a rite of passage.  Bullied kids are just being too sensitive/wimpy/reactive.  Blah blah blah.


Could it possibly be that tolerating bullying among children is one of the last vestiges of the time in history when children weren't so precious?  Do children have full legal rights (including the right to live free of violence), or do they only earn those rights when they reach the age of 18?  Is it okay that kids have to deal with behaviors that we, as adults, would never stand for among our peers?  And if it is, why?  Because the sink-or-swim approach just works so wonderfully for children?  Because we had to deal with it, so by God, they do too?   Because they need to be toughened up for the real world of adulthood?  (You know, the one in which we don't stand for verbal or physical abuse.)

Let me know what you think.