Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hoarder Update!!

The shitty Chrysler is GONE!! I'm not sure if they took care of it, or if it got taken care of FOR them, but it's gone. But all its absence has really done has moved focus from it to the front yard, which is still utterly horrible. I'm trying to be patient, but every time I turn the corner on to our street, their junky looking lot and house are all I see.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Our Neighbors Are Hoarders

There. I said it. After being in a state of semi-denial while we were preparing to move in to our new home and hoping that maybe the mess I saw was due to the fact that they were also getting ready to move, I am now 100% convinced that the people in the house that is 2-down from us are hoarders.

The evidence:

1. The front yard. It's filled with half dead plants in dozens of pots, rusted wagons and other things that I think are supposed to pass for folksy yard art, and--currently (this was just added this week) two godawful looking vinyl recliner type chairs and a couple of rolled up Oriental rugs.
2. The driveway. First there was one trailer parked there from Packrat.com. Just sitting there. Never saw anyone adding to or removing anything from it. Just sitting there. And then, last week, a second trailer was added to the driveway (this time, plain white, nondescript). So now, the entire driveway is filled with these storage container/trailer things, and NEXT to the driveway, couches and other furniture and shit that is covered in some sort of plastic tarp.
3. The foosball table. Next to the house near where the trashcans should go.
4. The car. There's an old convertible (Chrylser, I think) parked in front of the house that clearly hasn't moved in ages. It's been unregistered for years and is covered in dirt and sap and other environmental shit.
5. The front windows/front porch. Also filled with loads of junk.
6. The weird people who live there. As far as we can tell, there's an older woman and her two adult sons. The sons appear to be twins--they both have beards, but one of them also sports a long, scraggly ponytail as well. They have one operational vehicle--a red VW bug--between the 3 of them. Whenever it is there, it parks sort of 1/2 way in the street and 1/2 way in the driveway (or what's left of the fucking driveway that isn't covered by trailers presumably filled with crap). We've started calling these dudes The Wonder Twins and occasionally hear them bickering with each other or see them awkwardly riding bikes down the street. One of them came over the other day and rang the doorbell and asked BH if we had any Raid because there was a muffin in their kitchen "covered in bugs." BARF!! I can only imagine.

Still don't believe me? Here are a couple of photos that, I swear, do not do this shitheap justice:

BH works at home, and tells me he's seen contracter type people over there--like workers who repair flood damage, etc.--during the day. Okay, so maybe, maybe some of this crapola is due to some interior flooding that happened. But, like he said, "I still think they're hoarders."


Our new neighborhood has an HOA, which in addition to providing us with access to community parks and pools and keeping the common areas all landscaped and pretty, are supposed to handle shit like this. So I was kind of shocked that this situation has been allowed to continue for at least a month (if not longer). Then, on Tuesday, I turned on our street and saw a big, neon orange "remove this vehicle or get towed" sticker slapped on the windshield of the Chrysler. HOORAY!! And then, yesterday when I got the mail, there was a letter from the HOA gently nudging us about some crap we'd temporarily had in OUR driveway last week (a lawn mower, the trash/recycle bins, a metal washtub), saying that it wasn't in compliance with the HOA rules, etc. Whatever. Our stuff was out for a day or two (We just moved in! Give us a fracking break!), but it was put away before that letter even came off their printer. So if we got that letter, I can only imagine the 20-page manifesto our hoarder neighbors must've received...assuming they actually get their mail on any kind of regular basis. And yesterday, he said he saw some City of Austin code enforcement people in front of Hoarder Manor, taking pictures. Our tax dollars at work, people.

Hopefully this ugly-ass neighborhood eyesore situation will fix itself, and soon. At any rate, it should be interesting seeing how The Wonder Twins and their mama respond to their warnings and citations. It could get ugly...er, uglier.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012


In the spring of 1990, my dad and I drove from Longview to Shreveport to shop for a car. We'd looked at Subarus and Nissans, but what I REALLY wanted was a Mitsubishi Galant. The car I'd been driving since I'd gotten my driver's license had been purchased, barely used. It was a 1984 Buick Skyhawk, and I loved it to death. But I'd put a ton of miles on it driving around endlessly in high school for lack of anything better to do and then, when I'd started college, making the frequent 500+ mile round trip to and from Austin. It was time to trade her in.

My dad, not known for his soft-and-fuzzy qualities nor his love of salesmen, made me cringe throughout the negotiation process with the dealer. I'd never been a part of anything quite like the car buying process, and the whole thing just made me want to crawl under the floor. We got practically nothing for my road-weary coupe with more than 100-thousand miles on it, but when it was all said and done, we drove off the lot in a brand new, badassed 1990 Mitsubishi Galant LS, with cruise control, a sunroof, and--most important to me at the time--a bitchin' stereo system. I was in heaven.

But as we pulled away from the dealership, I saw my little Skyhawk, sitting there looking kind of...I don't know...saddish, and it made me feel like I was leaving an old, fun and reliable friend behind for the exciting new friend who'd just moved to town and had nicer clothes and better hair. I was flooded with memories of all the fun that my friends and me had in that little white coupe, despite its complete absence of any bells and/or whistles. And yes, I started to cry a bit until we got on the highway and my dad urged me to, "Punch it" so we could see what kind of pick up the new car really had.

Tonight will be the last night I spend in this house. My starter home. The place where I've lived while so many things--good, great, and lousy--have happened along the way. The place that I bought all by myself as a single mother, even though the concept of being a homeowner and understanding terms like "escrow" and "homestead exemption" were terrifying to me. The place where I have watch The Geej graduate from a crib to a toddler bed to her current big-girl bed. The place where I threw a surprise 60th birthday party for my mom and hosted Thanksgiving dinners for friends and family. The place where I first got to play Santa and the Tooth Fairy. The place I was living when BH and I reconnected, fell in love and got married. The place where we blended our families and our lives but that always felt more like "my" house than "our" house.

We are moving to a nicer, more family-friendly neighborhood with better schools and neighborhood "amenities." A place where we'll watch our kids grow in to teenagers and eventually leave the nest. A place that is finally and truly ours together. It's something we're all psyched about and have been focused on making happen for some time now. But there's still that weird feeling of leaving behind something that you've loved for years for this newer, sexier opportunity. Although I completely understand that buying our current house when I did and for what I paid for it, and then caring for it like BH and I have for the past (nearly) seven years is what has put us in a position to make this move, it still feels vaguely disloyal to leave this place behind. The (single) guy who is buying this house seemed really nice and genuinely excited about this place when we met him at the closing. He's currently living in a nearby apartment, and so this will be his starter home too. I'm happy for him and hope he takes good care of it and creates a thousand happy memories here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

In Betweener

I had no idea that our house would sell so quickly. But it did, and I'm grateful for it. The idea of keeping our house "viewing perfect" with three pets and two kids and real life and shit was not appealing to me. But of course selling so fast of course that meant that we had to jump on the whole looking-for-a-house thing in a serious way Which can be fun. But since we now had a closing date written in paper and happening sooner than either of us ever expected, we had to go in to warp speed. So many things we both wanted with our new house. We started looking, and saw some stuff we liked, some stuff we LOVED, and some utterly weird shit that just made you wonder about the homeowners.

The most important piece of the puzzle, however, was our meeting with the loan officer to understand what price range (and property tax rates) were do-able if we wanted to keep our monthly payment within a specific, comfortable range. Becoming "house poor" is not something either of us would ever be willing to do, so the monthly payment range was paramount We discovered, quickly, that houses within our price range, with the square footage and amenities we were looking for, in the school zones we were wanting were turning over very quickly--like within 24 hours. So one Thursday night, I saw a house that had just come on the MLS. It looked promising in all ways. We saw it the following afternoon, submitted an offer that night, and by Saturday afternoon, we learned our offer had been accepted. Bada boom, bada bing.

There she is! Our new baby!!
Since then, we've been in a whirlwind of earnest money, inspections, appraisals, paperwork, surveys, moving estimates, etc. It's been a wee bit crazy to say the very least. By early June, the kids will have finished school, we will have closed on our current house, gone on a family vacation to the beach, closed on and moved in to our new house.

Utter insanity, but the thought of being in this new place--OUR new place--with so much more space and a great neighborhood filled with kids for Geej and F to play with and wonderful schools and parks and pools and all of it, just makes me so very, very happy. (I'llh have to remind myself of this often when we start to pack. Man do I ever fucking hate to pack.)

Some other things of note recently:

San Antonio Riverwalk
Took a short, much-needed overnight trip to San Antonio to stay in a fancy hotel by my damn self and visit with a friend who was in town for work. We went to the spa (amazeballs) and had an unbelievably wonderful dinner at this place, and I got one of the best night's sleep I've had in ages.

So much fun!

Took The Geej and her friend Skye to the annual school carnival where they pretty much went nuts for a couple of hours. It was a cloudy, breezy day--so it wasn't as hot as it was last year, and the girls had a blast.

Participated in my first-ever 5k! It was actually fun, and miraculously, I didn't die! I did, however, end up with large blisters on each of my heels, which tells me I need some new running/walking shoes if I plan to get serious about my racing career. (Yeah, right.)

We have discovered the joy that is the CamWow app on the iPhone. OMG, the pictures that we've come up with of ourselves, the pets, etc. HiLARious.

Finally, if you haven't yet seen the movie "Bernie," go. Now. You talk about some good ol' Pine Curtain craziness, they NAILED it in this movie. Wow. I laughed out loud. A LOT. The town of Carthage (where the story takes place), is only about 25 miles from my hometown of Longview. The accents? The decor? The clothes and makeup? Holy CRAP, these people knew what they were doing. And Jack Black (who can be annoyingly over-the-top) was perfect and understaded in the title role

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Insomniac Mind at 4:38am

Unclinch my jaw. I need to remember to tell the team about jury duty. I should throw a load of towels and underwear into the wash before we leave tomorrow. Did BH start the dishwasher? I didn't hear it. Not comfortable. Got to write a check for the cleaning people. What else have I put on my credit card this month besides those tickets and that lunch? Where is that bin in the garage with the Geej's winter stuff? Unclinch my jaw. If F doesn't like tomatoes, I'll have to modify that recipe. But what else would be good in it? I need to make an appointment with the dermatologist. Call the endocronologist tomorrow. What does my schedule look like tomorrow? I know there's the team meeting, but there's something else...in the afternoon. Not comfortable, roll over. Shave my legs tomorrow. New razor blade. Where is that special floss that gets behind my retainer? Unclinch my jaw. The ceiling over the bathtub. The shelves. Breakable things. Storage room. Kitchen paint. New faucet. Call Jeff. Or email. The weekend of the 20th? That's the best weekend. That police officer. Honor flag. Fitting tribute. Just doing his job. Unclinch my jaw. What else on that playlist? Music lessons for Geej. Schedule? Which beach house? Need to book it. Don't nag. Should email Mel about happy hour. Miss her and Kim. Mell to Temperance? Call Thelma. Hope Skye's mom will respond tomorrow. Worried about exective support. What does "They think it's done," mean? Alarming. 529 rollover. Confusing paperwork. Unclinch my jaw. Ireland. When? Does he still suck his thumb? San Antonio. About $14,000. Wonder what I could get for it. Legroom. Laura's house. Charleston. Why can't I sleep?! Legalzoom. Finish. How much? Can't do everything. Dishwasher. Laundry. Re-fold and organize. Unclinch my jaw. Dental bill. Just ignore. Throw away? File? Clean out files. Shredding. Uncomfortable. Change sheets. More laundry. It's not a closet. No more pedicures. She's going to be pissed. Pictures. Carnival. Unclinch my jaw.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

A Perfect Storm

Today I was catching up on a blog I enjoy, and the post I was reading was mostly photos of a camelia bush...a bird's nest...and some amazingly bright blue robin's eggs in the nest. So simple and perfect. So gorgeous and symbolic of spring. And suddenly, I started crying.

It was kind of like yesterday when I drove myself home early from work in a weird mental haze, feeling drugged without actually being drugged. It was all I could do to drag myself into the house and to the bed, utterly fatigued and unhinged and crying and apologizing to BH for being such a mess.

I'd figured out at some point yesterday that this horrible feeling was very familiar--it's exactly like I'd felt after I got my thyroid removed and before I'd started my synthetic hormone replacement. I called my endocrinologist and told them what was going on, and now I've got to go get blood work done to see if I need my meds adjusted. If my thyroid levels come back within normal range, I guess we'll just chalk all of this up to me being nuts, which would be a surprise to exactly no one.

So combine this weird hypothyrodism bullshit with the whole root canal drama from last week (that continues tomorrow with Part Two of my dental appointment), the fact that I busted the FUCK out of my arm by falling into my nightstand last Thursday night when I got out of bed in the middle of the night to go pee (I mean, y'all should SEE my arm...it's sick), all of the weird shit going on at home, and the fact that I have to go to fucking JURY DUTY next week when I am waaaaaaaaaay too busy to be out of the office right now, and I am one gigantic ball of stress.


But lest you think that I am all gloom and doom these days, there are good things going on too:

Got to spend some quality time with some of my favorite people this past weekend--my friends Josh, Michelle, and their daughter Ruby who were visiting from Portland, OR. We ate vegan treats and swam in the river. The Geej and Ruby played and had a blast. It was wonderful.
Throwing rocks.

The Pedernales

I get to see my friend Stacy (from Atlanta) in San Antonio in a couple of weekends. I'll be staying in a hotel! By myself!! Whoot!

I got tickets to see Nick Offerman (a.k.a. Ron Swanson) during the Moontower Comedy Festival.

I'm also going to see Jeff Mangum, mastermind behind one of my favorite albums of all time: Neutral Milk Hotel's "In An Aeroplane Over the Sea."

Work is rocking. I'm busier and happier than I've been in a long time, and the team I'm on is amazing.

So you know, there's that stuff...

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Wild and Wacky World of Adolescence!

I would say that, for the most part, I had a pretty good adolescence and teenager-hood. I mean, sure, there were some severely shitty parts. I was goofy and awkward and was worried that my boobs would never grow and no boys would ever ever like me ever. I worried that, because I was utterly mystified by algebraic concepts, that I might actually be stupid and that once this fact about me was discovered, I would utterly fail at life. I fought with my parents and occasionally thought they were total idiots. I snuck around and did stuff I wasn't supposed to. I drank too many wine coolers and barfed everywhere...way more than once. I smoked pot when it was around and I took Ecstacy a handful of times. I had crushes on "good guys" who were often times just as bad or worse than the "bad guys" I also had crushes on. I was bored out of my mind in my small town, but I managed to make the best of it with hilarious friends and lots of school and parties and hairspray.

But there is not enough money in the universe that would convince me to get in a time machine and do it all over again. Being a teenager sucks balls. Your body is all out of whack, your brain is equally screwy, and your emotions? Whoa. Total psychoville. You have no idea who you are and, if you start to feel self-assured for one single minute, something or someone smacks you down (or at least you think they smack you down...but who knows because you're nuts). You spend an inordinate amount of time wanting to crawl into a hole and disappear. I guarantee you that even the most beautiful/handsome, popular, and seemingly awesome kid at your high school secretly hated themselves and longed for their own hidey-hole sometimes.

So watching my young stepson--barely 12 years old--just beginning to struggle with all the bullshit that is adolescence breaks my heart. There's nothing I can say that will convince him that I, or any other adult for that matter, understands one iota what he's going through. Every teenager is sure that they're the only person on the planet who has ever felt the way they're feeling; to them, their angst and misery are completely unique and unprecedented. If they lack the coping skills or parental structure necessary to make it through the roughest of the rough patches, they shut down and withdraw. They can't, or simply won't, talk about it--whatever that "it" might be, which leaves those that love them totally ill-equipped to help or support them. You all enter a whirlpool of frustration and start to go down the drain together.

But BH is an amazing father, and if there's anyone who I'd want in this kid's corner right now, it's him. We're going to get through this as a family, and with any luck, F will come to know just how loved and supported he really is.

Also, I'm guessing we're that going to learn a lot, which will hopefully prepare us for The Geej's teenage years because I'm pretty sure they're going to be a freakin' doozie.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Things that Have Happened Since I Last Posted

  • BH celebrated his 43rd birthday.
  • We went on an old-fashioned Sunday drive to see the spring wildflowers that are blooming like crazy right now after months of severe drought followed by a wet winter. It was beautiful and probably quite the opposite of what most people who've never been to Texas picture when they imagine our state.

  • I began composing my will.
  • BH's youngest son, F, came to live with us. On Monday. It was rough, but the best thing for this kiddo who needs his dad in his life.
  • Many tears were shed.
  • Adjustments were made.
  • F started school at his new school today. Scary, I'm sure. Remember sixth grade?
  • I canceled our trip to Ireland, which was supposed to begin 2 weeks from tomorrow.
  • I found out I need a root canal. And I'm getting it done today.
  • I found out we're getting a fat tax refund, which was originally earmarked for our trip but some of which will now go to pay for my stupid root canal. Sexy.
  •  My wonderful friends Joshelle from Portland and their kick-ass kiddo Ruby Bird arrived in Austin for a visit.
  • I dreamed that I was at a Sammy Hagar ("I Can't Drive 55"/Red Rocker-era Sammy) and Stevie Nicks concert at a waterpark (Sea World), and I was going down this massive waterslide that, of course, went over the stage where Stevie and Sammy were performing, and somehow, I ended up dangerously clinging to the outside of the slide tube. And who saved me? In front of the performers and the crowd? Why, MacGyver, of course. That's right: Richard Dean Anderson showed up, frosted mullet and all, and saved my ass.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Talking With My Daughter About Prince

Yesterday while I was at work listening to my iTunes on random shuffle, Prince's "Baby I'm a Star" came on. I cranked it up all the way, did some borderline embarrassing chair bopping, and had to restrain myself from bursting into song. "Might not know it now, but baby you'll find out I'm a STAR!" I was already in a pretty good mood, but this musical boost put me over the top.

Later, when I left work, my Prince sing-along hit full tilt in the car on the way to pick up The Geej. Selections from "Purple Rain" were joined by classics from "1999," "Parade," and other albums of his. However, when I got to the Geej's aftercare place, the iPod was turned off, and the concert came to an end.

Until this morning.

We got in the car to head to school, and memories of the prior day's joyful, funky songfest made me hungry for more, so I turned on "Baby I'm a Star" again--where it all began.

This is the conversation that followed.

Geej: Mommy, can you turn it down.
Me: No.
Geej: Just a bit?
Me: Okay (turning it down one notch).
Me: "Baby, look me over/tell me do you like what you see?
Baby, I ain't got no money, but honey I'm rich on personality."
Geej: (Sort of horrified that I'm so in to it and clearly not "feeling it" as they say) What IS this?!
Me: This is Prince! Isn't it awesome?
Geej: No! It's HORRIBLE!
Me: (Ignoring her and continuing to sing) "I don't wanna stop, til I reach the top...I'm a STAR...whoa YEAH!"
Geej: Do you really like this?
Me: Um, clearly. Is it just too funky for you? (Smiling at her in the back seat)
Geej: (Unimpressed) No, it's just too awful for me.
Me: Oh come ON! This was one of my favorite albums in high school...it was one of the biggest albums of the decade! Prince is super talented. He can play a ton of different instruments--piano, guitar, bass, drums... And you should see him DANCE. He's AMAZING!!
Geej: Is he still alive?
Me: Yes.
Geej: How old is he?
Me: I don't know...maybe around 50.
Geej: So he's older than you.
Me: Yes. He's practically dead.
Geej: No, but when he's 50 MORE years old he'll be 100, and then he'll probably be dead.
Me: Do you want to see what he looks like (picking up the iPod to show her his picture).
Geej: (In a totally dry, teen-agery tone and timed perfectly with the soulful first solo guitar notes of "Purple Rain") No, Mommy. I don't care about Prince, and I've got to get out of the car or I'm going to be tardy.
Me: (Turning down the music) Okay. Well...I love you (kiss), and I'll see you this evening. Have a great day.
Geej: Okay. Love you. Bye. (Gets out of the car and walks toward the school doors).
Me: "Never meant to cause you any sorrow. Never meant to cause you any pain..."

And scene.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Long, Stupid Story of My Lost/Not Lost Wallet

Back in December, I'd gone grocery shopping one Saturday morning, and while at the store, picked up a few stocking stuffers for Christmas. When I got home, I hurried to my closet to squirrel away said stocking stuffers, away from the eyes of husbands and children, then I headed to the kitchen to unload the rest of my purchases.

It was a fine day, and I was looking forward to a massage and salt-glo body treatment I'd scheduled later that afternoon at a day spa near our house. Earlier that month, I'd unearthed a gift certificate to the spa given to me by my mother the previous Christmas, and needed to use it prior to the expiration date.

When I grabbed my purse to make sure I had some cash with which to tip the massage therapist, I discovered my small, adorable pink metallic wallet that I bought in Portland last summer was missing. I fuh-REEEKED out. I immediately got in my car and flew back to the grocery store, asking the cashier in the lane I'd gone through if she'd seen it (no), the Front End Manager if it had been turned in (no) and the store manager if it had been turned in (also, no). My freak out continued. I am generally good in a crisis, say, if you cut the tip of your finger off and need to get to the hospital or if I back in to a police car when leaving a parking space. Cool as a damn cucumber. However, when I lose stuff that's important to me...stuff that I need RIGHT THAT MINUTE, I lose. My. Shit. I literally had to pop a Xanax just to deal. I immediately called the spa and cancelled my appointment (how would I pay them? My gift certificate was only going to pay for a portion of my services), and that just bummed me out even more because my gift certificate was expiring the next day. Then I ran to the bank to cancel my debit card and get issued a new (temporary) one. Then I got online and on the phone and started canceling credit cards. Thankfully, I don't have but a couple, but it was still a pain in my ass. I looked at my calendar, trying to figure out when the hell I was going to have time to deal with getting a new driver's license--a fate almost as horrible as having to go to the Social Security office for...well, for anything. And the whole time I'm going through all of this, I'm thinking to myself, "Where the fuck IS that damn wallet?!" I don't like it when stuff doesn't make sense--you know, like algebra and when wallets seemingly disappear in thin air. I was in a shitty, shitty mood for the rest of the day.

The next day, I found my fucking wallet on the floor of my closet, right near where I'd hidden the stocking stuffers.


Fast forward to this past Sunday. The Geej and I go to The Lorax. During the movie, I hang my purse between our seats, on the arm rest. Shortly after getting home after the movie, I realize that, DAMNIT TO HELL, my wallet is not in my purse. Grrrr... So, I put The Geej back in the car, and we head back to the damn theater. When I got there, I checked with the ticket booth (nope, but here, fill out this tiny "Lost and Found" slip in case we find it), the snack bar (no) and then asked the pimply 15 year old working the ticket checkpoint if I can go in to the theater and look around where Geej and I had sat to watch the movie. His answer: No. The movie's just started, so come back in about an hour and a half, and you can go in when it's over.

Um, no, Junior. That's not going to work for me. That's my fucking wallet filled with all of my Important Stuff and the cash I'd gotten from our pre-movie trip through the ATM, so you're going to need a bit more accommodating or get me your goddamned manager because your policy? Is stupid.

After speaking with the manager, I was allowed to go in to the theater. The previews were still running. There was a man and his son sitting in the seats Geej and I had occupied. I explained to him what was up, and he got out his phone (for the flashlight effect) and helped me look under and around the seats. No luck.

Having learned my lesson with the whole December "lost" wallet situation, I held off cancelling everything, and instead waited until Monday, hoping that the last clean of the evening at the theater would yield my wallet or that some nice citizen would turn it in and I would get a call. But no.

So Monday, I took the day off to hang with The Geej who--have I mentioned?--is sick. She'd been running a fever off and on since Friday evening, and I wanted to get her in to see the doctor on Monday morning. A good chunk of Monday is spent dealing with her under-the-weatheredness (diagnosis: bad bronchitis) and also, the whole wallet debacle. I even dragged my poor child to the driver's licence office so she could experience the fun that is our Government At Work.

By the end of the day, everything was cancelled, new cards were ordered, and I had my new paper driver's license folded up in my too-big-to-EVER-lose-it-without-noticing-right-away wallet.

Yesterday, I stayed home again with The Geej who, although no longer feverish, was still coughing like Lucille Ball. During an afternoon call with my boss, my other line rang and I answered it. It was the movie theater: they had my wallet.

Well, great.

I headed to the theater to pick it up, expecting all of the cash, etc. to be missing, but sweetbabyjeebus, it was all there! In tact!! I couldn't believe it!

But I've decided that I'm still going to carry the Big Ass Wallet from now on because this cute little pink sucker is too easy to misplace.

In non-wallet related news, we've discovered Cam Wow, and omg The Geej and I laughed ourselves to tears playing around with it yesterday.

Hell, even Doug got in on the fun.

Alright, that's all for now. More soon, chickens!

Thursday, March 08, 2012


Last night, at the Radiohead show at the Frank Erwin Center, there was a guy in the "floor" section of the arena who decided that the best idea for experiencing they show was to, you know, lie on the nasty horrible uncomfortable ground while gently playing the "drums" on his substantial belly. He did this for about four of five songs and only changed his position (and eventually got up) after people started staring at him as they walked by and one guy checked on him to make sure he wasn't dead.


We have instituted "no TV" nights at our house on Mondays and Tuesdays in an effort to get The Geej to focus more on her homework. It's been working really well. Today, on the way to school, this was our conversation:
Geej--Since I haven't watched TV this week and I've done all my homework, can I watch TV tonight when we get home?
Me: Sure.
Geej--Yay! I'm gonna have a TV fuhganza!
Me: What's a "fuhganza"?
Geej--It's where I go CRAZY with the TV!


Austin's favorite cross-dressing, thong-and-heel sporting, bearded, crazy homeless man, Leslie passed away today. I remember going to see a show at Stubb's one night (inside), and Leslie showed up wearing a half t-shirt and a tiny red, shiny thong with high heels and painted fingernails. He got one of the band's promotional bumper stickers and plastered it across his naked butt cheeks. Then he proceeded to get up on stage and shake everything God gave him as the band played. The audience was pretty much unfazed. I've got photos somewhere...


Today, on the way home from work, I was traveling down S. Lamar (like I always do). It was drizzling and the traffic was creeping along. I reached the strech just north of Oltorf--where there are literally three Mexican food restaurants in a 1/2 mile stretch--there was a half-trailer parked in the lot of the middle restaurant, La Feria. In this trailer, was a HUGE camel. He seemed oblivious to the rain and was steadily munching on the palm fronds of the tree his trailer was parked underneath.


Last weekend I was lucky enough to travel to Florida to visit a couple of girl friends. I was on a mission to see some manatees, but that was not to be. However, we did see some freaky wildlife.

We drove to Marco Island (near Naples) for the day on Sunday. And somehow, we happened upon this place called Stan's, which is apparently legendary. There were cars EVERYWHERE, and when we asked a kindly old British man what was up, he said, "Well, on Sundays, Stan likes to sell beer, and a lot of people like it apparently."


It was a white person palooza! Lots of trashy, drunk people inexplicably crowded into this indoor/outdoor waterside bar, drinking specialty drinks called "Buzzards" and listening to a southern rock cover band. (Yes, they played "Sweet Home Alabama." Twice.)

That's Stan. He's apparently 180 years old, and his wife, The Buzzard Queen, works the joint with him. She was there decked out in her black, sequined and feathered regalia, dirty dancing with strangers, taking dollar bills out of mens' waistbands with her teeth and posing for pictures. Classy couple, those two.

At Stan's they welcome dogs. Even if they're on the table while you're eating.
We were classy too, having brought our own snacks to a restaurant. But everyone was too drunk to notice or care.
I think the coolest thing was the fact that I found a license plate featuring my pseudonym parked right next to my buddy's La Turista's daughter's pet name.
Kind of cool, right?

Monday, February 20, 2012

In Perspective

You know how you've got those friends on Facebook--the ones from high school who maybe you weren't all that close with. You knew them, they knew you. Maybe you were in some classes together. Maybe you were both in the band. But you ran in different circles. Nothing mean about it, that's just how it was. But, because your town was small and your high school was small and you pretty much went to school with the same people from kindergarten on, you knew each other. But after high school, you didn't keep in touch. And maybe you saw each other at the ten year reunion and said hi and caught up a bit, but it was mostly because of the shared and awkward feeling of somehow simultaneously knowing and not knowing one another, not because you were trying to deepen your friendship. And then, another ten years went by, and you went to the twenty year reunion, but you didn't really hang out much doing reunion-y type stuff because you had family committments and kids, etc. Did you see this friend at the twentieth reunion? You can't remember. But then Facebook came along, and all of the sudden, you were friending and being friended by people who you had to go to your yearbook to remember: "Oh yeah! I remember him! He sat behind me in English. But didn't he move away our junior year?" You know what I'm talking about.

And some of these new/old friends you got closer to and communicated with more than you ever had in high school, and you wondered, "Why in the hell weren't we closer? She's really cool!" And you saw what life had done to them. Maybe they were heavier. Or gray-headed. Maybe they were divorced with kids in college while yours was in elementary school. Maybe they still lived in your hometown or in Switzerland or Kentucky. You began to learn if they're really religious or Republican. Or both. Or neither. You saw vacation pictures and Christmas trees. You had these glimpses into their lives and wondered if they were looking at your posts and pictures too.

My friend Wendy is one of these people. We were not close in high school, but she has become my friend through Facebook. And right now, she is lying in her bed, receiving hospice care because this time--her second time dealing with breast cancer--she is losing her battle. I have gotten to know Wendy over the past few years like I never knew her when we were growing up. She has two adorable children. She loves John Waite and Motley Crue. She likes wacky hair color and funky glasses. And she is, more than anything, a fighter.

She may never know how much getting to know her--having our silly Facebook conversations over the past couple of years--has meant to me. To know someone with so much to live for who has been working every day for years to persevere in the face of terrifying odds humbles you. I am honored to now call this brave woman my friend.

Thank you, Wendy. You are one of the most courageous people I've ever known.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Shit's Getting Real

A couple of posts back, I mentioned that we were starting to get serious (finally hallelujah) about putting our house on the market. Well, I'm pleased to say that we're making actual progress in that direction.

First, I researched some real estate companies here in town. I know at least a half a dozen people who are realtors and BH knows a realtor or two as well. But we agreed not to go with someone we know personally for several reasons, the biggest of which is the fact that we want this whole process to be a business transaction/relationship.If we went with a friend as our realtor, it could get messy. Anyhoo, we decided to go with a locally-based agency and set up a meeting with a guy who specializes in our part of town. Let's call him "Tom" even though that's not his name but it's what BH insists on calling him, which is really confusing. I spoke with Tom on the phone and covered some preliminary stuff, and then we set up a time for him to come see the house and speak to us both. Because I'm a genius, I scheduled our meeting with him on a Friday right after our housekeepers had come, so our place looked pretty great. We walked him around, inside and out, and pointed out upgrades and work we'd put into the house along with areas of concern. He liked what he saw and said, "I'd show this house in five minutes," which made me nearly burst with pride. Tom is cool. He doesn't seem like a schmaltzy used-car salesman type. He loved on our pets and we talked music and kids (he's got two young ones). Plus, he seemed smart and had really done his homework on our neighborhood. He had a couple of suggestions for us to do to get it staged and photo-ready, but (thankfully) nothing too major. He told us he'd call us on Monday with a suggested listing price, and we could go from there.

The following Monday (which also happened to be my birthday...43...yee fucking haw) rolled around, and he called just like he said he would. His number landed exactly where I was hoping it would, and so we are definitely going with him and his agency to list.

Since then, BH has been working his adorable booty off doing projects around the house--inside and out. As I type this, he's painting the dadgum kitchen--taking it from a bright, cherry red to a cool, pale gray. We're also painting the front door (going from white to terracota) and doing some other tweaks here and there. I think the next BIG thing we'll do will be move some of our stuff to storage in order to declutter a little bit.

Crazy, but exciting.

On my end, I've created this "New House Scorecard" spredsheet that has a list of subjective criteria (ex. "Style of home") that can be rated on a scale of 1 to 5 and then more objective stuff (ex. His/Hers Closets in Master) that is given a point value like +10 points the house has it, -10 if it doesn't. The moer important the item is, the higher the point value. Dorky? Yes. But I'm hoping that it will help us when we start looking for a new place in earnest.

The thought of a new house--that we purchase together--makes me all tingly.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I see what you're doing, Luby's, and I do NOT approve.

Much like my love for baby animals, my love of Luby's is well-known. Is the food great? No. Is the atmosphere special? No. Do I get some sort of special deal for publicizing my love of this Texas institution? No. And I've tried to explain my enduring devotion to Luby's to non-Texans, and it just does not compute. But what it boils down to is the comfort factor--I ate there a lot as a kid, and other than some cosmetic alterations, occasional fluctuations in quality and some annoying operational changes (I miss the damn tea cart, yo!), dining at Luby's has remained a fairly unchanged experience for over thirty years.

Until this past weekend.

Ask any Texan, "What's the one thing that Luby's is sort of famous for?" and you can almost bet money on the fact that they'll respond with: the fried fish. Oh. My. God, y'all. I love the SHIT out of this nutritionally devoid mystery fish. It's rectangular and fried and I smother it in fresh squeezed lemon juice and go to fried fish heaven. The sides change, but the entree is always ALWAYS the fried fish for this Pine Curtain Gal.

This glorious image, courtesy of The Gluttonous Chinaman.

So The Geej (who has inherited my love of Luby's in a BIG way) and I go to have some lunch while running errands this past weekend, and when I slide my tray to the entree section of the line and ask the server for the fried fish, I notice...it's different. My fried fish rectangle I've been eating FOR DECADES has shrunk by at least 1/3. I mean it went from being about the size of my hand to the size of just my palm. Not okay, Luby's!! Why you gotta go and mess with my fish? And yes, my ass is bigger than it should be, so I know this smaller portion is "better for me" and all that shit, but I never ordered the fried fish for health reasons. And I feel, I dunno, betrayed. And little pissed. You just HAD to go and fuck with THE ONE THING that hadn't changed since I was small enough to have to get help carrying my tray to the table.

Luby's has messed with their sacred cow, and this dude does not abide.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Things I've Never Done (with comments)

I refuse to call this a bucket list, despite the fact that yesterday was my 43rd (FORTYFUCKINGTHIRD!!) birthday. These are simply things that I hope to do...at some point...in no particular order...before I croak.

  • Perform a stand-up comedy set--THAT KILLS--in front of a live audience.
  • Snorkel in a coral reef.
  • Hold a baby sloth.
  • Go to a silent meditation retreat.
  • See an opera.
  • Attend an SNL performance.
  • Spend a week volunteering at a service dog training center.
  • Go sailing.
  • Learn how to dance with a partner.
  • Really connect with my step sons.
  • Go to Estonia and Maldives.
  • Join a choir.
  • Finish my memoir/Become a published author.
  • Wear a size 10 again.
  • Attend a Texas Rangers playoff game.
  • Dye my hair red. Again.
  • See all those movies I should've seen but haven't (e.g. Citizen Kane, It's A Wonderful Life, Gone With the Wind, Raging Bull, etc.)
  • Get a radical, professional makeover (e.g., "I'm a frumpy flabby 40-something working mom and I want to be a 50s pinup girl!").
  • Re-learn to read music.
  • Be able to handle stress in a healthy way.
  • See PJ Harvey live.
  • Become my daughter's hero.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Things I've Done Recently (with comments)

  • Ice skated. (Busted my ass on the ice.)
  • Tried coconut water. (Didn't enjoy it.)
  • Ate treats cooked in an Easybake Oven. (Not so good.)
  • Put a TON of old grad school stuff in the recycle bin. (Yes, I still had papers and stuff from grad school. Shut up.)
  • Tried not one, but two new restaurants within walking distance of our house. (Both were delicious!!)
  • Found a couch I want at Crate & Barrel that's like a jillion dollars. (Not really, but might as well be.)
  • Suffered from Cedar headaches. (Cedar allergies are zero fun, y'all.)
  • Roller skated. (Busted my ass on the rink.)
  • Went to see Kathy Griffin do stand-up. (I she's 12 years older than me but has 100x the energy.)
  • Tried to go a day without caffiene. (Failed.)
  • Helped The Geej open up her very own savings account at the bank. (She thinks that $77 has the buying power of about $3k.)
  • Signed up for a "Vocal Technique for Musical Theater" class. (Random, right?)
  • Discovered the best loose leaf tea in the galaxy. (It's this stuff. And it's spendy, but SO worth it.)
  • Admitted to myself that this whole psoriasis thing isn't going away. (Fucking sucks.)
  • And finally started talking seriously about putting our damn house on the market. (Yay! But, scary.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Girl Problems

Last weekend, while considering her reflection in the full-length mirror in my bathroom, The Geej asked me innocently, "Am I skinny, Mommy?"

The Geej who has yet to reach 50 lbs.

The Geej who wears size 7 super skinny jeans that have their adjustable waistbands taken all the way in so that they'll stay on her body.

The Geej who is almost always cold because she has zero body fat.

The Geej who is only seven and a half years old.

My heart sank with her question. I answered her honestly, "Yes honey, you're skinny."

But then I followed up with, "But what if I'd said that you weren't?" She looked at me, bewildered. I told her, "Not being skinny isn't a bad thing, honey. You know that, right?" She nodded her head, a bit confused, and returned to brushing her hair while gazing at herself. After a few seconds she asked, "But I AM skinny, right?" I didn't answer.

So this is what our world is like. With all of the advances women have made in most societies, how they look and dress still plays a huge part in how the world perceives them, and how they perceive themselves, and it makes my feminist blood boil.

But it's more than just the appearance thing that gets me. It's the fact that, now as the mother of a young girl, the overt gender stratification of the world around us leaps out at me as never before.

Go to Target, to the toy aisles. There are, clearly, aisles of toys intended for girls and aisles of toys that are intended for boys. The way the simple act of play is marketed and merchandised almost ensures that boys will not explore "girl" toys, and vice versa. When I first spoke to The Geej about reading some Harry Potter together, she balked at the idea because "Harry Potter is a boy's book." Same with Star Wars movies. [NOTE: I read the first Harry Potter to her, and she LOVED it. We're now reading the second. We'll get to Star Wars soon.] She's already self-limiting what she is willing to experience because of some "THIS is okay; THAT is not" bullshit that has seeped into her young brain.

And she is beautiful. Stunningly so. People--including strangers--comment on her looks all the time and always have. I rarely tell her she's cute or beautiful, choosing instead to focus on how smart and kind and funny she is. As a goofy looking kid, I didn't have people commenting on my looks very often. You know, if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. But to The Geej, she's already started to believe that her looks are one of the most important things about her. And how, as her mother, do I instill in her that they're not without bruising her confidence?

Being the mother of a girl is hard.