Tuesday, October 26, 2010

only in social services...

You may or may not know that the Center for Respite Care (where I work in fund development) is physically attached to a nursing home via a large breezeway. We share a parking lot in the back, so we know their staff pretty well, and we get to know their clients too. Well there is one particular nursing home client, who looks exactly like Ziggy Marley, and he is in a wheel chair. He’s a super nice guy – way too young to be in a nursing home. He likes to sit outside, in the back of the nursing home - which is the back of our building (which is a house), so it’s shady and pretty, as it probably was 100 years ago when the house was built. He has long dreads, and he smokes like a chimney – he just hangs out. Enjoys being outside. Every day, I say “good morning!!” in the chipper way that I do, and I wave.

So I drive in this morning with my Starbucks in hand, la di da – typical happy me. But I notice that today, Ziggy Marley is sitting on the sidewalk (next to the parking lot), and his chair is sitting next to him. He is smoking away, and there is an older-ish woman standing next to him talking. I assume they are related, or she is visiting or something like that. I roll down my windows and holler out “good morning guys! It’s a beautiful day!” And I pull into my spot. And I get out all my bags, like I always have. And I grab my Starbucks, and I look over at them again, and I wave – “Have a great day!” And I start walking the opposite direction toward our front door. But I hear something that catches my attention – “yah, it just snapped….” And it occurs to me – hmmm – maybe Ziggy is not sitting on the ground because he wants to be. (now I know what you are thinking… really, Mary Jo?? REALLY???)

I turn around and walk back, and I get all concerned that something is dreadfully wrong with this situation. So I say, "Do you need help? Is something wrong??" And he looks at me kind of funny, and he says, "Um, yah, my chair broke. The wheel just fell off. Just as I was coming down the slope."

Blank stare. Crickets chirp. Then, I chime in with my second classic act of the day, and I say to him, "Oh my god. I have to tell you this. Honestly – I swear – I thought you were out of your chair sitting on the concrete because it’s nice and cool. Umm. You know, because, well, your wheelchair seat is plastic. I thought maybe it was too warm. You know – no air. And I feel like such a jerk, because that’s actually what went through my mind!" (Seriously, Mary Jo?? You said that??)

And Ziggy looks at me dead on for just a couple of seconds, the throws back his head, and he totally cracks up. And I do too! Then he says, "Girl! Thank you for the love! And your honesty!"

And then we both laugh some more. (Well, I am pretty sure he was laughing at me...) And the morning goes on, and the aids next door bring him a new chair. And everything was fine. But I still feel like a total dope, and I told about five people the story – everyone was in tears laughing at me. But I feel good, because I was totally honest with him.

And this is why I love what I do – working in services. It’s all honest and real, not warm and fuzzy like some people like to say. It’s REAL. You just can’t make this stuff up! But stuff like this happens almost every single day. It’s amazing to me to see how people get by, how they cope, as if nothing is wrong at all. And then to deal with someone like me who comes along intending only good, but is sometimes clueless (and often not). And to laugh about it. Life is good.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ADHDers Checklist(s)

Today I tried to explain to my boss why I keep two different calendars. “OK, I use Outlook for just about everything – appointments, due dates, email organization, contacts, categories, recurrences…but, I use this calendar to keep track of the tasks that lead up to the deadlines and appointments. Does that make sense? (Um, no not really.) Because for tasks, Outlook is just too disorganized. (Pause) And I can write and erase on this calendar. (Crickets) Well, and I’m a visual person. I like to see things when things are going to occur. (Pause) Uh, and, I can hang up this calendar month by month on the wall. And I can see when things are coming up.”

My coworker yells from across the room, “Why don’t you just keep everything on a list?” (Oh, shut it ya’ show-off!)

But therein lies the problem. I can’t keep one list. A. Lists get lost. B. Lists don’t organize the way my brain does. C. I’m just not that organized. So over the years, I’ve just learned to adapt with the times.

Trapper Keepers: so pretty, and so sleek! But, they didn’t have enough colors to match all the subjects in high school. Very frustrating. And who could afford to buy two of them?

Franklin Planner: tried it, and even got the pretty eco-friendly paper and stuff. Didn’t work. Couldn’t remember to carry tasks forward. Plus I looked like a dork. Didn’t fit in my purse.

Voice memo recorder thingy: hated it, plus wasted too much of my time rewinding; can’t see the recordings and I'm a visual person. Plus, I can’t make it “title to text” to alphabetically organize my thoughts!

Target dollar bin notepads in pretty designs: LOVE THEM, don’t work for the office because they peel off easily and get lost. But, great for grocery list (but gets lost in the car with coupons) and list of bills I have to pay; tapes easily to refrigerator, and often comes with magnet on the back so at least I look organized.

Notebooks: by far my best method, but now I have too many because I can’t keep track of them, so I buy more. But I can buy multiple colors for each area of my life: blue is for work, yellow for personal, red is for something I can’t remember – maybe blog ideas? I don't know what the one is with the Pug on it. It's just cute so I bought it. 

Outlook: hmmm. Now this could work. But I don’t like the way it organizes tasks, so I will have to get a notebook for that. And carry the notebook in my very large bag, that has lots of compartments organized by category. And it carries my lunch. Dude – that is SO organized!

Blackberry: a-ha! Puts the calendar in a handy gadget that fits in my purse, so I will always know when my appointments are and - bonus! - I can merge everything with my home computer! Unless I forget to merge and then double-book myself. No matter. I will keep a notebook of things that I need to add to Outlook and I will do that when I get to work.

Post-it Notes: to heck with technology! I’m going back to lists. Look at all these cool colors and shapes – awww – they even have Pug Post-its! Perfect! I’ll never forget anything with these posted all over my computer!

iPhone: pretty Blackberry, with more distractions and more apps that are supposed to help me track and remember things, but now everything is in a different application and I can’t get them into one place. Wait! I will find an app that merges all my apps!

Organizing makes me anxious. I told my coworker that for me, the only perfect organization method would be a personal assistant. Someone to keep up with my random thought patterns. Here’s a scenario while driving: “Assistant, add these things to my day: call the pediatrician, pay the vet (that’s overdue). Don’t forget that grant is due tomorrow, and I don’t have a budget. Oh, crap, call my mom – it’s her birthday!! Oh. My. God. What an ASS! I can’t believe he cut me off like that! Wow. Look at my windshield. SO dirty. Gotta clean that. Assistant? Pull out the grocery list – add Windex wipes to that….”

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gansta, Schmanksta

Yo. Mentioned in my last post that while I was on The Sabbatical, I completely revamped my workout. Let me expound, shall I? Remember Nigel? Quit your yackin’ and do more push-ups Nigel? Yah – him. Well, when I finished up his boot(y) camp class, I got all revved up to make some tough changes in my fitness regime.

But when one starts down the path of the more, shall we say “aggressive,” workout, one cannot get agro to Frank Sinatra: Fly Me to the Moon just doesn’t have the forceful undertone that I am looking for. Neither does Witchcraft. Sammy Davis? Nope. Wicked soundtrack? Ummm, not quite (though I know every word). Ira Glass and This American Life podcasts? Unfortunately not.  I’d go on, but I would only further embarrass myself. And you – because you are supposed to be my friends.

Hmmm. What’s a suburban chick to do for more inspiring workout music? Well, maybe I’ll try this rap stuff (she says with gleeful naiveté)! OK wait – I have to be honest. I actually started with Pandora and typed “Top 40” into the station search engine. That’s where I discovered Pink. And Beyonce!! And then I found Fergie (who I adoringly call Isabella when I am having senior moments), and she lead me to the Black Eyed Peas. Ooooooooh. Now what is this stuff?? My foot starts tapping… By the way, I know what you’re thinking. YELLLLL-O. What rock has this gal been under for 15 years? I can answer that! Firmly planted in the world of American Musical Theatre. And NPR. Sprinkle in some Dixie Chicks here and there, and that about covers it.

Anyway, from the Black Eyed Peas, I just went cuckoo. Where has this stuff been all my life? I think I remember telling my friend Nick about 8 years ago that I didn’t like hip hop and rap because they were too cacophonous. (Yes, I actually used the word cacophonous – so sad.) Dude. Really?? Just how repressed was I? Can someone shed some light on this because I really don’t remember being quite that, umm, rigid. Yah – you heard me! Girlfriend’s having a little confession here, ‘k?

HELL YAH! So all the sudden, I’m all about iTunes and my latest gangsta fix, though just to keep myself real, I like to screw up their names. Oh, alright already! I screw up the names because I am a naïve white suburban girl, and then the names just stick. B.oB.? Just Bob, please. It’s much easier for me to remember. Usher? I call him Smiley Guy. Will.i am? He’s “the Obama song guy.” And for you mom’s, he’s also the Big and Chunky hippo from Madagascar.

He also happens to be brilliant. Damn, all of this stuff is brilliant, and I just wasn’t listening. I sure wish I had been because I missed out on some pretty amazing messages from this genre. But I’m listening now, and that’s what’s cool. I’m pushing 40 and learning things about life that I can actually relate to. So if ya’ll will excuse me now, I’m going to put on my old, foamy 1980s headphones from my Sony Walkman, and get jiggy with Snoopy.

Yo. Out. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

No, really. I'm blogging. I swear.

Hey yo! Sorry to have disappeared for a spot – it was that pesky unemployment thing! I got a little bogged down trying to figure out my place in the world – funny how that happens every so often. It’s kind of like having allergies – every seven years or so you get an itch from something you didn’t know you were allergic to. Bah!

I’m happy to report that I am I am gainfully and happily employed – and I love it. And the new gig comes with a guilty pleasure: a laptop. Heh heh – I’m in heaven! I will even admit – I like it better than my iPhone. Upside:  my thumbs aren’t feeling like they are going to fall off; I can watch Big Bang Theory and work on a mail merge; lacrosse camp? Boredom is not a problem! Confession: I am in bed right now and just happily typing away. It makes the snoring animals and husband a little easier to tolerate.

Downside: can’t think of anything. I will defer to the snoring things. But clearly they aren’t bothered.

FYI – I did accomplish a few things while out on what will now lovingly refer to as The Sabbatical. I don’t want ya’ll to think I sat on my toosh and cried (though I did do that more than once). Mind you it’s a short list, but short is better than total depression. I revamped my website. I got a tan. I totally reconstructed my workout routine – almost obsessively. Downloaded lots of new music (think: new workout routine) Kidnapped G-nome (where the hell is he??) I moped. I thought a lot. And here’s the list of things that I should have done but really didn’t give one crap about and therefore never got to while on The Sabbatical: clean (anything); paint bathroom; work diligently on photography; organize closets; clip dogs’ nails; steam clean carpet; clean out cupboards; clean baseboards; read; weed; mulch; wrestle.

So that sums it up. Having two months off has completely put me behind schedule. But I now have a laptop. I think that’s fair. I totally came out on top. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Upside of the Downsize

Oh, I so wish I were talking about my weight!

But back to reality. Today, I had the unpleasant experience of being let go from a position that I dearly loved. Basically, what I do – did, rather – is work in a community connecting people from all kinds of backgrounds who never knew the other existed. Pure bliss and incredibly gratifying since I am happiest when embedded in and connecting people in communities of any kind: gym rats, urban Cincy folks, bird nerds; it pretty much doesn’t matter who, what or where.

When talking to people today about what happened, the question I kept hearing was – Well, I’ll keep my ears open – so, what are you looking for? Huh. Stumped. I’m 38-years-old – aren’t I supposed to know this by now? But – I haven’t really thought about it from my own perspective lately, instead of CareerBuilder's. What am I looking for? It’s sort of refreshing to stop and think about it like that: In a perfect world, what would I do if I could create my own job?

Let’s see: I love to write. I am crazy cuckoo for editing. I adore grammar. I love photography. I am a communicator. I love to help. I want to help. I value humor and honesty. I like asking questions so that I can understand the way things work. I like responsibility (to a fault). I like direction. My family always comes first.

There! My resume in a nutshell: Zealous, experienced potential employee seeks long-term relationship with employer searching for an articulate, inquisitive and creative editor and/or blogger to write about and take pictures of people in communities, and pontificate about the value family and friends. Any takers out there??

So, though I am devastated that I am no longer going to be an integral part of a community that I love, I’m determined to make lemonade from this bunch of really tart lemons. And, to make that lemonade just a little sweeter, I have some extra time to spend with my son, do some real spring cleaning, stalk that elusive Pileated Woodpecker, and blog. It’s the upside to the downsize: time to myself to figure out my place in the world and get a few things checked off my list.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bird Nerd

I have no idea where my obsession with birds came from. I’ve never been interested in them before. And then last year (or the year before, I can’t remember), I started putting out a feeder and I was simply amazed at all the different types. And my neighbor (who shall remain nameless until I have her permission…) knew all the bird species and went on and on about them. Now, I am not going to say my competitive nature didn’t kick in, but I was a little bit jealous! After all, I’ve spent half my life outdoors – back country trips and hikes, climbing in all sorts of places – yet I couldn’t name a bird. Ok – I could name the Cardinal. But who can’t name the cardinal?!!

I have officially become a bird nerd. Apparently, I am not along in this. As soon as I started mixing my photography with birds, I started getting all sorts of private confessions from friends through email. You’re a bird nerd, too? Oh my gosh – so am I! And it felt kind of good! So I am now a frequent customer of Baker Feed and Seed down in Old Milford (this place is great – best seed variety at the best prices) and when I walk in, the old man who runs the place just sort of smiles at me and asks how many pounds I want this week. I am ashamed to admit I don’t know his name because he kind of intimidates me. He’s one of those old country folk types. I know he knows everything there is about country life, birds, and livestock, and I’m sure he looks at me in my skirts and thinks to himself: Amateur. Reminds me of Curly in City Slickers (RIP Jack Palance).

So to all the secret bird nerds out there, I encourage you to come out of the closet. It’s really fun out here! I can’t tell you how many iPhone apps there are for bird songs, bird identification, how to attract birds (Birds USA is my favorite) – you name it. And when you are lazing on the deck in your skivvies, you can pass it off as bird watching. Honey, can you get me another Diet Pepsi? I’m watching this Northern Flicker and I don’t want to make any sudden movements.

Some day, I will confess about my obsession with tea pots. They are not as interesting to photograph, but beautiful nonetheless.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Separated at birth

I have a sinus issue. Ugh. I hate it. It’s one of the miseries of living in the lavish Ohio valley. I’m on perma-pills for my allergies, and I think sometimes that gives me this false hope that someday, I’ll be cured of my ailment. I read somewhere that every seven years, your body adjusts and things that you were once allergic to suddenly aren’t, well, what’s the word? Allergiable? Whatever. That hasn’t happened to me yet – but I remain hopeful.

But I digress. Back to sinuses. I hate how it all starts – the drippy crap in the throat that makes me sound like I’m a two-pack-a-day lounge singer. Then the stuffy headache. The cough. And this is my favorite part – people call, and then they casually say, good lord, what the hell is wrong with you? You sound awful. That a frog in your throat? Gee. Huh. No – that would be SNOT, thank you very much. And they say - Well, I’m just saying, you sound husky. And, just to add to my humiliation, my husband assures me that when the sinus gods have their way with me, I snore. Apparently, like the Pugs. Oh, gawd. This is my worst nightmare.

I try not to give this much thought, given my years in therapy overcoming anxieties that are surely far worse then this. Money well-spent. Right?

Um, maybe not. I’m thumbing through my photo folders, trying (not very successfully) to organize them differently. And I find this photo in a folder marked MSC. Oh, heavens. I have a flashback of fourth grade when Tina Davidson used to pick on me by holding her nose up with her thumb: PUG NOSE! You have a PUG nose!

Pug nose?

Thumb back to folders (dozens of them) marked DOGS. O.M.G. Pug nose! Snoring! I think Tina (that little snot!) must have given a prophecy of some kind – it must have been. The sinus gods are having a hardy laugh right now. They were living for this moment when I discovered that there is a reason I snore like a Pug. Come on – you know you see them resemblance…

Monday, March 22, 2010

Weren’t you forgetting your ham?

I’m not sure how comfortable I feel posting this after my “I want a piglet!” declaration – but oh well. I do eat ham. Oh, and for those of you who don’t know, I came out of the no-longer-vegetarian closet a few months ago – just so ya’ know.

Anyway, this is another of my classic ADHD issues – the one where I start looking for something, only to end up finding another, far more interesting something that I wasn’t looking for, but non-the-less am happy to have found. Or – the “I’m going to put the laundry in the dryer” scenario, when my intentions are good, but I never actually make it to the dryer because something along the way has taken priority in my brain and redirected my path – unbeknownst to me, of course. I cannot claim responsibility for when my brain shifts into autopilot.

So - this morning I was late for the gym, the unfortunate victim of my snooze button. And though I always pack my bag the night before, invariably I forget something – this morning it was my gym shoes. They had disappeared, only to be found right where I left them. Duh. (Don’t you love those moments when you find what you’ve been searching and searching for, only to remember why you put it there in the first place? It’s all perfectly logical!)

I tossed all my stuff into the car. Then remembered I needed breakfast. Split back up the stairs to grab a banana. Got it! Then – oh yah! – I need to grab a straw (don’t ask). Back down stairs to the car – and there is my husband watching the drama – I think he finds it charming sometimes. Phew – got breakfast – but oh crap, I forgot my lunch.

Hi honey, I forgot my ham…. Zoom past husband and back up the stairs – and HEY! There’s my banana – how did that get there? Oh yah – the straw – must have put the banana down to get the straw. Grab banana – back down the stairs. And there is my husband, patiently waiting to tell me goodbye. Hi honey – geez I’m late. But I got my banana!

Um, weren’t you forgetting your ham?

Back up the stairs….

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I want a piglet

Last week, I helped a friend of mine with her son’s third birthday party. Ok, well, help is probably a strong word. All I did was take photos of the party so that she could be free to hang with her son and all pals. And – it was at Sunrock Farm in Wilder, Kentucky.

I’d never been, but seen the billboards posted along the highway. A real working farm where kids can learn about connecting to the natural world. Gotta admit - didn’t care about that. But only one little phrase caught my attention: spring babies are arriving!

Yah – taking photos was great. It’s my love. But when we got to the barn to milk the goats, there was Tina, the potbellied piglet. And I melted. She squealed when I picked her up, but she settled into my arms, warm piglet breath puffing in the chilly air. And I looked at my husband, who rolled his eyes – he knew exactly what I was thinking: Can I pleeeaasssse have a pig? NO. But I want a pig. No. But they’re clean….NO. They can be housebroken. Nope. Why not?? NO. But I want a PIGLET! No. No. Double no, nope, sorry Charlie, no can do, fuh-get about it, get it out of your head, absolutely not.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Like Socks

I like socks. Lots of them. What can I say? They make me happy. To me, they are one of the “look something shiny” staples in my life. Gotta say – Target has made my little sock habit quite difficult to kick. But I don’t really see the harm in purchasing $1 Target bin socks by the red basket-full. By season. Holiday. Pet day. Whatever. So what if they aren’t thick and comfy (though some of them are)? They’re pretty! And colorful! And when I wear them out, Target has plenty of new ones in the dollar bins for me to purchase. By the red basket-full. (Is that actually a word? “basket-full?")

Friday, March 5, 2010

this job is stressing me out

Last week, my nephew gave me the nicest compliment about my blog posts. He wrote “your blogs are awesome! whenever im gettin stressed at work i read them and it pretty much brightens my day. lol.” Now – how sweet is that? And he is only 21 – so I consider that a pretty big impression, considering I’m an old lady comparatively speaking. But the last thing he said completely cracked me up: “I thought about blogging myself but it would turn into a giant negative rant every time... this job stresses me out!”

Let me point out the context of the humor: He’s an EOD Tech in the US Army – Explosive Ordinance Disposal. Now – for a long time, I couldn’t remember that, so I just called him a “bomb guy,” or, “you know, the guy who deactivates the bomb thinga-ma-jiggys.” Funny – people always seemed to know want I meant. But, this from the woman who called him PVC, instead of PFC. Huh. Maybe they didn’t know what I meant but just nodded their heads and smiled because they understand that I am slightly deficient…

Anyway, “whenever im gettin stressed at work” just seems like kind of an understatement. Whenever? Really? If I were a bomb exploder chick, I would always be stressed. Is it the red wire, or the blue wire? But – I guess it really doesn’t work that way anymore, and he assures me it’s much more dangerous now. Great.

Anyway, I’ve had one heck of a week with loads of work stress (certainly my stress can’t compare). His comment has been stuck in my head, but I can’t get 10 minutes to myself to write about it. Shut my door, someone knocks. Turn off the phone, I get 20 messages. How can I get people to just leave me alone so I can get my work done? But today, it dawned on me. I have the perfect way to make folks get the hint that I’m stressed and to please leave me alone. I’m taking my cue from my nephew and buying myself an official United States Army, military-issue bomb disposal suit (see above!). How funny would it be to wear that to my office? Knock, knock. Come in!! Door opens. (Insert facial expression here.) And that thought, my friends, brightens my day!

(ps - lower case letters and lack of punctuation provided by my nephew, PVC Ruwe)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Get a Life!

 Someone at the gym asked me what was on my iPhone, and my answer sort of surprised them – and me too, quite frankly! The answer: Brittany Spears! Though I don’t feel like I owe anyone an explanation for my musical taste, I took the time to do it – and it made me feel pretty good!

I always thought that being hyper-responsible was going to give me a leg-up in life. For the past 20 years (give or take…), I've kind of reveled in that because it was easier to define myself by things I thought made me somehow seem more grown-up. But what I found out was that defining myself by things I thought other people wanted me to be can make a person pretty unhappy.

This past year has been so defining for me! I've learned that I spent so much time trying to be perfect, I missed out on some great stuff. I was once offered the opportunity to be a guide on the Gaully River in West Virginia. I turned it down because I thought it was too irresponsible. Full-time climber? Nope - I had a career to pursue! Music? Only classical, jazz and American Musical Theatre. The rest of that stuff makes a racket! Pop music?? I only listen to NPR. I could go on - but why?

But I'm happy to report that I'm making up for all the years I spent being hyper-responsible. No - I'm not going sell my house and hit the road, but I am going to try to loosen up a bit. Here are a few things I figured out this year.
  • Top 40 music is fun – damn that Beyonce got some pipes!
  • NPR is boring. Seriously. Boring. And if I ever hear Daniel Shore give another drab dissertation, I am going to happily roll my eyes and yell BOOOOORING.
  • It’s ok to read the entertainment section before the real news.
  • It's ok to be late every so often. The world won’t end.
  • I don't HAVE to work 60 hour weeks. Really. I don't.
  • It's ok - even good - to let other people be responsible for the important things like bills.
  • I don't have to finish Anna Karenina if I don't want to. Damn, I don’t even need to read ANY Russian authors if I don’t want to! Woo hoo – what a relief!

This year, that list is going to grown. And I am going to be a happier, healthier me and get a life!

Friday, February 19, 2010


I've been really diligent about not using my phone in the car - been watching all those drama-driven PSAs with teens and regular folk having horrific accidents while texting and driving. Yah - It's a bad combo. But, I can't quite bring myself to commit to the full "No Phone Zone" pledge - it can't hurt anything if my iPhone is sitting next to me. Right? In the little console. Where I can keep an eye on it? (Maybe I could strap it into a carseat in the back and use one of those "check your kids" mirrors?)

But, this morning, I was in a hurry. I dumped my big gym bag into the passenger seat, and, not thinking about the safety of my iPhone, I put it on top of my bag. I was zipping along to work and a light changed faster than I anticipated. I stepped on the brake a bit hard, and then it happened: I did the "arm-swing-to the-side-in-vain-attempt-to-hold-back-person-in-passenger-seat" thing. (We've all done it to our kids and spouses, yes?) I actually had a vision about my iPhone cracking open on my windshield. Phone innards everywhere. Eeeew. But luckily my superhuman adrenaline-induced strength was able to hold back the entire pound and a half. Phew. That was a close call. I think I'm going to get that child seat. Because that's what good parents do. iLove.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

 Team Steam has turned a corner! I am no longer timid about the steam room – as long as nobody else is in it. But I think that’s really good progress. Don’t you? My therapist would say I am learning to take charge of things. Some of you may find that kind of funny since I’m sort of known as the bossy type.

On Monday, just before White Death Part Three took over Cincy, Midge and I went for our third visit to the steam room. And guess who was chatting it up? ME. Yup. Uh-huh. Oh yah. And, I even stood up to get to the hotter air (I know what you are all thinking – don’t go there….). And we’re sitting there chatting when Midge says to me, “Wow I can’t believe how far you’ve come.” And I laugh and said, “Yah, I’ve come a long way, baby! Ooooo – that’s my next blog.” So here it is. And it’s uncharacteristically short.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I haven't been blogging lately, but I have a really, really good excuse. Well, I have lot of good excuses. On top of the usual suspects - working, homework, tired - my camera sensor died, and I got irritated with my BlackBerry camera. I can't blog without photos, can I? It IS the whole reason I started in the first place! So for 2 months, I've been researching camera phones. Droid, Google, HTC - all of them. Everyone kept telling me to get the iPhone, but honestly I was resisting joining the crowd. But guess what? If you didn't already read my signature, I became a member of the iPhone cult. Gulp.

Now I'm going to confess my biggest reason for my lack of blogginess: the iPhone keyboard has no directional arrows. Do you know it took me and entire week to discover the little magnifyer thingy? How am I supposed to arrow back to a word I want to change? And I still haven't figured out how to select mutiple words (no shift and scroll??). Another thing - everytime I type "L" I accidentily hit backspace, resulting in interesting iSuggestions from the supposed smart speller. This little touch keyboard has me all flustered! Forget writer's block!

Ohhh - But now I'm addicted to these little apps! Gotta say those apple geeks must have taken classes and learned all about addictive personalities. They nailed it. News, word games, photo apps - yah -I've become a nerd nightmare! And I love making pages and photos bigger and smaller - cool! How did I not have this before?? So iPeeps, yah, I'm totally sucked in. Hopelessly addicted to my new gadget. But now I have to change my signature to read: Sent from my iAddiction. Please excuse iTypos as I no longer have no directional arrows. But look what I can do with my photo apps! How cute is that photo?? Can't do that with a BlackBerry....

Sent from my iPhone, iAddiction thingy

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Man and His Mutt

This is my husband, Jackson. And that's his girlfriend - Maggie the Pug. (FYI - When she's in trouble - her name is Margaret - or Mutt, as I call her.) My husband is an ex-military guy. He's big, he's burly, he's more than a little intimidating. He doesn't have a lot of tolerance for frivolity, or silliness in general, and he definitely is strict and focused on many levels. For instance, when he and his burly pals do Strongman workouts, it's not a real workout till he's puked. Get it?

But little Maggie here has him all a twitter. Picture this manly man fixing Maggie's dress when it got a little rumpled. And yell at her?? Are you serious? All he has to do is wrinkle up his face and glare at her, and she rolls over on her back and looks up at him with liquid brown eyes. Add familiar Pug head tilt: "Please, daddy, I didn't mean to eat the 6 cupcakes left on the table," or "oh, daddy daddy, the cat poo is just so yummy I can't resist!" And he melts. Yah - it's just all wrong.

When he vacuums, she barks and barks. She wants her dinner? Bark. She wants scraps? Bark bark bark!! Add in the typical Pug antics: walking all over you with no regard for you privates, your boobs, your face, their butts. They lick everything. EVERYTHING. Legs, bald heads, other dogs' ears, butts, walls, windows, and sometimes nothing at all - just lick, lick lick into the air. It's a Pug thing.

And Jackson just adores her. And I admit, she's pretty darling most of the time. (But I draw the line at the incessant yipping, which apparently Jackson is immune from hearing.) Just look at the photo - like he is daring you to pick on her: "Come on, I dare ya! I'll break your neck with my pinky!" And Maggie clearly understands this. That's a Smug Pug if I ever saw one. She sees right through that macho exterior, and she seems him for what he really is: her pillow. And she's not givin' it up for anything.

Sent from my BlackBerry device from Cincinnati Bell Wireless

Friday, January 22, 2010

Simply Mom

I was in a mood today and really needed some alone time. So I decided to bypass our street on my way home, and I took a scenic detour so I could collect my thoughts and detox a bit.

About 10 miles from our house is one of the few historic covered bridges in Ohio. It sits along Stone Creek, and just up the creek from a beautiful old Catholic Church - St. Philumena. It's a historic landmark in the county, and it's said to be haunted.

The air was cool and damp this evening - matching my mood - but I decided to get out of the car and stroll over to the cemetery that sits on a steep hill next to the church. I expected the grave stones to be old and crumbling, but to my surprise, there were many modern stones mixed in among the well cared for historic markers. Some ornate - lavish even - but some I noticed were plain, with words noting only that person's role was in life: "Sister of Charlotte." "Brother of Barbara." But even these stones were larger - a foot high, 2 feet across. Then my foot slipped on what I thought was wet grass, and I looked down to see. I was standing on this tiny grave marker - maybe 8-9 inches across. And I quickly sucked in my breath.

My reaction was one of sadness. I wondered who would ever mark their mother's grave with this little and insignificant piece of rock? But then - when I bent down to look at it and take a quick snapshot, I thought it was beautiful. Simple. Peaceful. "Mom."

I've been struggling lately with my own role as a mom - a working mom - and feelings of inadequacy - am I doing everything I can to provide my son with the things he will need to be a sensitive and caring human being? A good man? A good father? I fear the worst - that I need to keep improving, get him a better education, better things, access to sports and gadgets. Even though I know these won't make him a better person, I fool myself into comparing myself to what others are doing. And I'll be honest - I want to measure up, and sometimes it hurts that I can't do what some other moms do - financially, emotionally - sometimes I feel like I am out of my league.

But maybe it's much simpler than I am making it. When I pass away, what will I want my grave stone to say about me? Do I want it to tout my achievements, my roles, my loves, my beliefs, or even the educational choices I made for my son?

I know that if I had to pick one word, unpretentious, yet filled with the greatest achievement I could ever dream, what better word could I choose than this: Mom. All those other things don't matter. When I die, the thing I would be most honored for my son to say about me is, "She was my Mom."

And let's be honest - there's a distinction between "Mom" and "Mother." Anyone can be a mother, but not everyone can be a Mom. Sure, nature says I'm made for birthin' babies. But nurture says - hey lady, you need to make some improvements! So I'm going to keep this little snapshot of the "Mom" grave stone; it's simple and beautiful, and it will remind me that there are things in life that I need to teach my son, not just give him. My son doesn't need "things" as much as he needs his Mom.

Sent from my BlackBerry device from Cincinnati Bell Wireless

Why Is This Man Smiling?

He's back and he's mean as ever! Yah - it's Nigel. I'd love to hear any thoughts about why you think he's this happy. Here are some hints: people are in pain; there might be some puke somewhere on the studio floor; someone's probably sitting on the floor crying for his mommy. Rest assured, that's not me though, because I'm taking the picture.

Look at him. Sick, isn't it? In his element, taking delight in other people's misery! But, I guess I can't fault him too much. We do actually pay him to torture us three times a week. And we keep coming back. That parts still a mystery to me. Though I will admit, I might be getting a tiny bit stronger. Today I managed to do "real" push-ups instead of doing them on my knees. Granted, I only did them like that for one and half sets out of the 4. But that's progress, right?

So if the price of progress is getting up at 4:30am just to see Nigel giggle with delight every time I writhe in pain, I guess I'll pay it. I'm 38, after all, and progress in this class is about all I have going right now. The only thing I have control over in my life is my health, and that's only until it decides to take revenge on me for letting Nigel beat me up in Boot(y) camp class. Geez - I can't win!

Sent from my BlackBerry device from Cincinnati Bell Wireless

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Torture Chamber

Hey! I discovered this handy little tool so I can now blog from my BlackBerry! This should be illegal, right? Just how many updates can I make from out and about in the world? Heh heh - don't tempt me!!

But I digress. Above - photo of the torture chamber. Just look at Nigel in all his glory, givin' Midge the what for on how to go over the top of the step board. Mmmm - don't tell Midge this - but I think she was at the end of the line when god was passing out the coordination gene. Now before you think I'm all mean and everything, blogging 'bout folks who can't defend themselves, let's get one thing straight: I would tell this to Midge right to her face. Because I love her to pieces and she's my BFF. Plus, it's about the ONLY thing I have on her. She can seriously kick my arse when it comes to strength, and she runs marathons. Eeeew. Yuck. Mentally unstable. But, me - I'm all about the coordination thing. Just sayin'.

But where was I?? Ah - torture chamber. Yes - I think Nigel maybe went a little easier on us today. But, I might have been high on my peppermint tea. It's hard to say.

Check back on Friday when I plan to post the best quotes of the 2010 Boot(y) Camp class. Preview quote: "I got a lot 'a booty to lift." Yup. It's just good stuff.

Sent from my BlackBerry device from Cincinnati Bell Wireless

Monday, January 18, 2010

Team Steam

My workout partner, Midge, and I have been going to the Y for years (give or take); we have a certain familiarity with almost everybody. We know who’s happy, who’s getting a divorce, who’s got grandkids and how many, past careers, retirement plans, who owns what business, who’s in therapy, who needs therapy, and who gets the wrong idea when you smack your workout partner on the bum. You get the idea – familiarity! Like one big happy family!

Midge and I are a great team. We’re fun, we’re silly, and sometimes less than lady-like. We sling mud at the boys and drop the occasional trashy joke. Boo-ya! All is great! But then one day, Midge suggests we check out the steam room. Ummm. Ok. Sure, I’m game – we’re a team, right?

And today is the day. Ready? Set? Read note on the door: STEAM ROOM AND SAUNA ARE CO-ED. PLEASE WEAR SOME CLOTHING AND/OR TOWEL. And/or? Co-WHAT? I throw up in my mouth a little. Anxiety and panic creep in. But Midge doesn’t think twice.

She throws open the door to the steam room while waving me in and looks back at me with these huge eyes that say, “Get ready – brace yourself!” I’m straggling about 7 steps behind her, whispering to myself, oh shit, oh shit… at the last second, I slink in. Gulp. Co-ed? Try NO-ed. Just guys. Jokes flying, old, practically see-through swim trunks, flabby, hairy bellies, sitting there like Romans in all their glory. I can’t even look up, though I am in a swimsuit with a towel completely wrapped around me. But there’s Midge, already yukking it up: “So – do you guys come here often?” This gets a big laugh. “Wow – I could sit here for hours…” She’s as chummy as can be!

Me? I’m totally mortified. Can’t get a word out. On top of which, I can’t breath. Then the steam pipe (or whatever it’s called) kicks in, and I am sure I am going to die, asphyxiate, writhing on the hot tile floor which surely must be covered in - eeew, gawd - I can’t even think about it! (Note to self: bring Crocs.) Some of the guys exit – see you ladies tomorrow! – leaving one old guy, who does some little magic number on the steam thingy, and it starts belching out more hot, stuffy stuff. Then – the unthinkable – he walks over and sits next to me, and he just starts talking. At this point I’m frozen, staring at my feet, heart rate about 210, and I’m positive this old fart is going to hit on me. I’m sure of it. It’s a steam room nightmare. But there’s Midge – just as relaxed as relaxed can be – like she’s sipping a Corona on the coast of Tahiti. She looks at me: “Isn’t this great?!”

Long story short, I made it out alive and un-hit-on by old man. Midge says I’m just glowing: “You look great! You know, we could work this right into our morning schedule.” I think I’ve slightly overestimated familiarity.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Send Message to Self

If any of you know me really well, you are probably painfully aware that my Blackberry is attached to me at the hip. I don’t go anywhere without it. Yup – even to Nigel’s Boot(y) Camp. It sits on top of my sweatshirt, taunting me to snap off a couple of photos and post them up on facebook. And you know I do just that: Oh, that’s hilarious! Let me take a photo…click…upload…chuckle…give myself positive self-stroke: aren’t I clever?!

So today I was doing just that: Oh, look how funny it is when Maggie (our girly Pug) licks the Cool Whip bowl and you can’t see her head! Funny to me? Hilarious! Funny to everyone else? Umm, probably not. But I have high hopes for all of you. But back to the story.

So I click a few shots of her with Cool Whip on her eyebrows, whiskers, ears (very cute, if you ask me), I click a couple of buttons on the Blackberry, and WHOA! What is that? I notice something in the menu that I have never seen before in my facebook app: Send Message to Self. I smile. Why didn’t I think of that? And this gives me an idea. Yah, baby!!

Now – if you have ever worked with me, you know that I am like a pit bull when it comes to email. Here’s a scenario: Write email, click send, get up, walk down the hall, dramatically poke head into someone else’s office, “Hey there! Did you get my email yet? What did you think?” Here’s another: receive funny email, laugh hysterically out loud till I have tears in my eyes, click forward, re-write clever subject line, send, run down the hall…well, you get it.

Scenario three. I sit down at my desk, log in, get back up, do the morning ritual: Diet Pepsi into the fridge, use the restroom, cheerfully walk around to say hello to everyone, sit back down, open Outlook. (Sound of skidding, braking car) What?! I have no email? This makes me panic a little. Is the email server down? Did all those people not get my messages? Does nobody like me?

So now, my little problem has been solved. I’ll just start sending messages to me! Think of all the fun I’ll have sending myself funny little messages, forwarding funny videos, clever photos that I’ve taken! And better yet – my Inbox will be stuffed! And I won’t have to worry about that ever again because I can reply as fast as I want – to myself! And I can relish in the fact that it doesn’t matter if anyone else likes me – because I like me, and I can make myself laugh. And in life, it really all comes down to that, doesn’t it?

If you agree, forward this blog entry to 10 of your bestest friends, but make sure to include me in the reply…

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Just a lil’ Bigger

I have to start this post with a joke because it reminds me of this picture. I’m not the best at telling them – something about the delivery that I don’t always get quite right. So, pretend that it’s about 11:43pm and you’re watching Letterman, and I have gap in my teeth and a quirky yet endearing look. Got the vision? Ready?? Excellent!

Who is bigger? Mrs. Bigger, or Mrs. Bigger’s baby?

Before I give the answer, (and do not scroll down because you know it’s at the end) I have to give you the story behind this shot. That’s Big Boy. At least I think it is. But this is not the Big Boy I have known and come to love – the icon of the Big Boy enterprise across the USA. There are a bazillion Big Boy’s in our town, and they are all graced with the Big Boy, impish grin, freakishly out of proportion, pompadour hair style, a-la Adam Lambert. In general, they are creepy. The stuff of nightmares, really. Worse then clowns. But, I can tolerate them in the name of nostalgia.

Now is it just me, or is this particular Big Boy a little bit “off?” Legs? Umm, no not really. Belly? Appears to be the third trimester. Chest? See Belly. Head? Excessive. Expression? Uber-creepy. Burger? Huh. Just what is that oozing out of the burger? Across the river here in Ohio (I hope that doesn't completely give away where I took this), there’s red ketchup and sometimes yellow mustard. In the newer, healthier versions of Big Boy, you might even see some oozing green, which I presume represents lettuce, or some other type of green, and therefore vitamin-packed, vegetable.

Somehow, I get the feeling this is no Big Boy. He’s supposed to look like a fun little kid with checkered pants and a slingshot in his back pocket. This guy? He’s no boy. Just look at that come hither expression and his poochy little body. That just ain’t right. There is something about him that screams Deliverance. “Mister, I sure love the way you wear that hat.” Heh heh heh. And that's all I have to say about that. 

Oh - the answer to the joke? Mrs. Bigger’s baby, cuz he’s just a lil’ Bigger. One of my all-time favorite jokes…

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Boot(y) Camp

Meet Nigel. He’s a boot camp trainer. Allow me to introduce you. Yah – he’s mean. He’s lean. He’s a training machine. So let me tell you how I met this guy, whom I like, but don’t particularly care for.

A few months ago, I got a crazy hankering to increase my workout intensity. I work out at the Blue Ash YMCA with the zaniest group of morning folks you’ll ever meet. I was yammering on, complaining that the current offerings for Boot Camp class were all for the moms who didn’t have to work – 9:00 class?? Seriously? I’m 63 emails into work by then! “Nigel, come on, offer the class to those of us who really work out! We’re crazy! We come in here at 5am (most of the time…)! We’re hardcore!”

Lesson learned? Be careful what you ask for. So I have been getting the crap kicked out of me for about a week now (Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6am sharp), asking, red-faced and pleading, “Bear crawls? What the…again? How many times?” I am not much the praying type by any stretch of the means, but I tell you what – I’ve prayed quite a bit between the hours of six and seven lately. Please God, don’t let me puke. Please God, don’t let me be humiliated (again). Please God, when I do the 435th squat, don’t let me fart.

Which brings me to booty. Nigel’s answer to our pleading? “Do you want a tight butt, or not?” Ugh – yah – I guess I do. And so I have dubbed this little adventure "Booty Camp," where working girls like me go in hopes of (painfully) gaining that tight little, J-Lo, you-can-bounce-a-ball-off-it buttocks. Now, let me get in a quick little prayer before tomorrow morning: “May the Lord bless us and keep us safe from the wrath of Nigel…and please God, don’t let me fart.”