Thursday, December 31, 2009

This I shall resolve . . .

I don't really do New Year's resolutions anymore because I ran out of creative ideas. I mean, I did all the usual ones that EVERYONE does: lose a ton of weight, stop drinking Cokes, eat better, stalk Mike Rowe and have his babies . . . blah blah blah. You know, the normal ones. But that gets boring after a while so I stopped doing that and started, instead, to name the year in a way that would create a goal for me work on for the next 12 months. For example: "The Year of Home Improvement" or "The Year of Self Improvement" or "The Year of Marital Status Improvement" . . . you get the idea. But now I'm tired of that method, too.

So I think this year, I'm going to make my New Year's resolution a political one - something that has the potential to really impact future generations and leave an indelible mark on the country: I'm going to fight tirelessly to have the 3rd Amendment to the United States Constitution repealed. Don't remember what the 3rd Amendment is? Let me refresh your memory:

"No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner prescribed by law."

If you can look past the comma splices (I know it's difficult) and look to the substance of this poorly thought-out law, I know you'll find yourself asking the same question I asked myself:

Who's bright idea was it to keep soldiers out of my house?

If the government wants to force me to house soldiers, I think it should be able to. I mean, who am I to say "No, Mr. Soldier with your bulging biceps and your training in hand-to-hand combat which I find strangely attractive, you cannot sleep in my house with me. You cannot be here in the evenings so I can just HAPPEN to make candlelight dinners that we can both enjoy. And I don't care how perfectly that camo brings out the green in your eyes, you cannot lounge on the couch with me while we watch movies so that I fall asleep on your ridiculously muscular arm."?? Who am I to place those kinds of limitations on our soldiers? It's madness. And it's an affront to the people of this nation.

Mark my words, friends - 2010 will mark the fall of the 3rd Amendment and its resulting injustices.

Look, it's either that or E-Harmony. Soooooooo . . .


Happy New Year's, friends!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My mom the car aficionado.

My mom, in addition to being a great source of blog material, is a GREAT sport about all the fun my sisters and I make of her. She endures being the butt of our jokes with such a great sense of humor that I almost feel BAD when I blog about her.

BUT . . . what're ya gonna do?

Last night my mom and I were walking into the movie theater for a late show and we had this conversation:

Mom: So what kind of car do you think you'll get next? You know - when you're ready for a new one.
Me: Ummmmm . . . I don't know. Maybe an Infiniti G-35? They're really pretty.
Mom: Oooooo! An Infiniti? Who makes that?
Me: Infiniti.
Mom: I know. But who makes it? Lexus?
Me: No - it's an Infiniti G-35. It's just an Infiniti.
Mom: [sighs in exasperation] I KNOW. But is it a Lexus or a . . . something else . . .?
Me: [laughing now] I'm answering your question! It's an Infiniti. Period. That's who makes it. You would go to an Infiniti dealership to get one.
Mom: [shaking her head like she's giving up]
Me: Your question is like asking if a Ford is made by Dodge.
Mom: No - no it's not. It's like asking if an F-530 is made by Chevy.
Me: Wow . . . you . . . that's . . . you need to stop talking. You know I'm going to write about this now.
Mom: Well . . . that's fine. But you're wrong on this one . . .

Thanks for being such a great sport, Mamasita!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Avery's One-Two Punch

My niece Avery was recently at my house hanging out with me. She is four and I was able to talk her into helping me clean my room - it's so great when kids are that easily influenced. After a while, though, she'd had enough and decided she wanted to watch a movie while I finished cleaning. So we went out into my game room so that she could look through the DVDs to decide what she wanted. Beside the DVD player, she saw a PlayStation game controller that a friend of mine had brought over in the hopes that it would be compatible with my Wii. She picked it up, showed it to me and then we had this exchange:

Avery: [showing me the game controller with a confused expression on her face] Catchy, why do you have this?
Me: Oh, it's my fr-
Avery: I mean, you don't have a husband . . . [shaking her head with a meaningful look that seemed to finish her sentence with "and we all know only husbands play with these."]
Me: [Wow. Low blow, Avery. Low blow. Don't think it gets much lower than that . . .]
Avery: And you don't even have a DAD . . . so why do you have this?
Me: [Wow. I stand corrected . . .] Ummmmmm . . . if you need me, I'll be in my room in the fetal position sucking my thumb.

Good times. Good times.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Nora-ful Christmas

Christmases in the Palmore family have always been AWESOME. My parents always made it such a fun, magical time for us - there would be so many presents under the tree that it would be obnoxious. And we ALWAYS got what we wanted . . . ALWAYS. They really didn't believe in denying us much. This year was no different - my mom absolutely spoiled us ROTTEN. She gave us everything we asked for - way more than we would have ever expected. She made us her awesome turkey and dressing that we love so much. She gave us her world-famous Rice Krispie treats to snack on.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand she gave me a few Noraisms to share with you . . .

That's not quite the same thing . . .
My sister Tammy recently found out that she had some cancerous spots on her skin so her dermatologist told her that she has to wear a sleeve on her left arm to protect her skin from exposure to the sun. In most families, a warning like that from a doctor would earn you a lot of sympathy, concern, and pampering. In the Palmore family, all it gets you is a lot of laughs - we have been endlessly entertained by the thought of Tammy driving around with a sleeve on her left arm only or going to the swimming pool in the summer with a suit with one long sleeve. Things of this nature. You have to admit, it's a funny mental image. Anyway, my mom got online and found a company that sells these little sleeves that you can wear and so she ordered Tammy a pair of Cheetah-print ones. They arrived via UPS at 2:30 on Christmas Eve and my brother-in-law Matt, upon hearing what had just arrived, told my mom: "You could have gotten those at Academy - everyone in the NBA wears them so they carry them there now."

Fast forward to Christmas Eve and we're opening presents. Tammy opens her Cheetah sleeves and we all have a good laugh as Tammy models them for us. Then my mom tells Tammy the whole story of how she found them online and how they almost gave her a heart attack by delivering them so late and then says: "And then Matt tells me today that, after all that, I could have just gotten them at Academy because everyone in the NAACP is wearing them!" Having not been there for the conversation she'd had with Matt, I was a bit confused. Why would the NAACP be wearing these sleeves? Was it a peaceful protest of some sort? A show of solidarity? And what does the NAACP have to do with Academy? So many questions flooded my mind until Matt spoke up and told us what he ACTUALLY said. We, of course, all laughed. And my mom just shook her head and said "You kids . . ."

We don't actually sell that here . . .
My mom bought me an iPod Touch for Christmas and I was so excited about it. She also bought me software called Mobile Me by Apple which basically allows you to carry your life with you on your iPod and sync up with your computer wirelessly. My mom wasn't sure if I really needed such a thing so we decided that we'd go to the Apple store after Christmas to talk with someone there about what benefits I could gain from it. So the day after Christmas, my mom and I popped into the Apple store with my Mobile Me software in hand, walked up to the first Apple representative that we could find, and then my mom says "I bought her a Mini Me for Christmas and we need to find out if she even needs it." The Apple rep looked briefly confused and like she might want to say "We don't sell those here" until I said "Mobile Me" and handed her the box that I had received for Christmas. She looked relieved and explained what it was and then I decided that I really didn't need it after all. Later, I saw a watch at Fossil that I LOVED so my mom and I decided to use the money from the Mobile Me to buy the watch. My mom loves the watch, too, and keeps telling everyone: "Look at Catherine's new watch! She traded her Mini Me in for it! Isn't it great?"

Trust me: if I'd gotten a Mini Me for Christmas, there is no WAY I'd trade her in for a watch.

How does your brain even go there?
My mom has a slightly morbid view of things. She can tell you about any tragic death with a 50 mile radius of wherever we are. When we were kids, a young girl was abducted from the bowling alley by her boyfriend, who later murdered her. We were forbidden from ever setting foot in that place after that. Even though none of us dated murderers.

The good thing about my mom's brain is that it's very creative so, even when she doesn't actually KNOW about a tragic event in a specific place, she can imagine one for you. For instance, I went to law school in Birmingham and frequently had to drive home to Texas for extended breaks (i.e summer, Christmas, Spring Break - you get the idea). My parents really didn't want me to have to make those trips myself so they would fly someone out to drive back with me. My mom flew in several times to keep me company on these drives and having her along for the ride was particularly entertaining. I don't know if you've ever driven through Mississippi but, as you traverse the entire state on I-59, you can see nothing but trees. I think there are towns BEHIND the trees, but you can't see them. So the entire state appears to be one big forest. I always thought it was beautiful - it was nice to not be surrounded by billboards, car dealerships, and neon lights. So I always enjoyed it - enjoyed the peacefulness of it. But not my mom. As we would drive through some of the more forsaken-looking parts, my mom would look out the window and shake her head. Then she'd say to me: "Look out there. There's nothing out there. No civilization. Someone could drag you out there and do God knows what you to and we'd never know. We'd never find you. That is really something." And this observation would be repeated about every 50 miles or so throughout the state of Mississippi; one minute I would be driving through the pretty wilderness enjoying the peaceful view, and the next I was being ravaged in the woods by some toothless back-woods Mississippian. So it was always comforting to have her as my co-pilot on those trips.

That's just the way her brain works.

Today we went to the Alley Theatre to see the Santaland Diaries and we decided to park in the parking garage across the street. As we pulled in the garage, we joined a slow-moving line of vehicles making their way through the entrance. We passed the little booth where the cashier or the person giving you your parking ticket normally sits but no one was there. So we slowly inched our way passed it and followed the other cars in front of us. I figured there was no cashier there because there was must be some sort of automated system up in front of us that we just couldn't see from our current position - you know, like the little system where you push the button and your ticket comes out? I think that was the most logical conclusion. But not my mom. Her conclusion? I'm glad you asked:

Mom: Well, I certainly hope that cashier is okay. She could be dead in there for all we know and we're all just driving right passed her. She could have been murdered.
Erin: Wow.
Mom: I can see the headlines "20,000 people drive passed murdered cashier on their way to see a play."
Me: [laughing incredulously] What? Why do you-- you know what, just keep talking. You're giving me stuff to write about.
Mom: Well, you laugh but that kind of thing happens. And we're just driiiiiiiiiiiving by . . .
Erin: [as we approach the cashier who we now see is standing by the automated ticket dispenser taking money] Man, she should really go post a sign back at the booth to let everyone know that she's not dead in there.
Mom: [shaking her head at us] You kids . . .

Oh, what would we do without our Nora??

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas memories.

I love Christmastime. I love the decorations, the lights, the colors, the cookies people give you that you HAVE to eat. I love it all.

And I love to think back on Christmas memories, too.

I remember the Christmas that I asked for a "stereo" and Erin enthusiastically agreed that she, too, wanted a "radio." When, on Christmas morning, I stood in front of my huge stereo from Santa and she stood there holding her Pepsi-bottle radio with a bewildered look, we both developed an appreciation for vocabulary . . .

I remember the day Erin and I found a bunch of presents in my parents' shower but didn't say anything because we didn't want to get in trouble for snooping. And then, when those presents were in our living room from Santa on Christmas morning, we confronted our parents about it. How could those presents be from Santa when they were in their shower just a few days before? I remember my parents NEVER skipping a beat and saying that Santa had dropped them off early because he wasn't going to be able to get to ALL the houses on Christmas Eve. So he had asked them to help him by putting the presents out for him. I remember the feeling of relief that flooded through me - OF COURSE . . . that made PERFECT sense. Erin and I had a good laugh that we had EVER thought that maybe Santa wasn't real - how silly we were - and went back to our toys with relieved hearts.

I think back to elementary school Christmas parties and how proud I always was to give my teacher a present. I think about a Barbie mansion I got when I was a kid - that present still sticks out so vividly for me. I think about my mom's perfect cursive spelling out "Catherine" on my stocking on the fireplace. I think about the magic that has been and always WILL be Christmas for me.

And, of course, I think about my dad. So many of my memories are wrapped up with him: Dad videotaping us opening our presents. Dad going on and on about an ugly orange ice-scraper I gave him when I was a kid. How his voice sounded when we he was putting on a show of excitement over our little gifts. The way he let us stick bows from our presents in his hair as we opened each package. How he loved watching his grandkids opening their gifts. And just the way he loved making Christmas the most magical time of year for his girls. If I wrote for a million years, I could never craft a sentence that would sufficiently capture how much I miss my dad.

But, thankfully, he lives on in the great memories that he left behind.

For instance, I remember my second grade Christmas party in Ms. Armstrong's class and how Santa came all the way from the North Pole to visit our party. I got to sit on his lap and tell him what I wanted and that was VERY exciting to me. But as I sat there, I started to get a bit suspicious because Santa had shoes JUST like my dad. And he smelled like my dad, too - like Old Spice. It all seemed a bit too familiar. But I shook it off because that was silly - this was SANTA and I was wasting precious time by thinking about his shoes, of all things. I needed to recite my list quickly before I lost my opportunity. So I looked up at his face and opened my mouth to begin my recitation when I noticed his eyes - they looked AWFULLY familiar . . . my dad had a twinkle in his eye that was unmistakable. And then I knew it was him. He looked like he was holding back a laugh so I'm sure he could see the recognition on my little face. When I got home, I asked him if he had played Santa but he, of course, said no. And had a million perfect answers for my million questions. I hounded him about it for days but he just laughed and said it was Santa Claus. I never really dropped it - I probably asked him once a year until I was thirty to see if he'd ever tell me the truth. But no matter how old I was when I'd bring it up he would swear it was the REAL Santa Claus. Ironically, as he denied it, he'd get that telltale twinkle in his eye . . .
Another memory that keeps coming to mind is a tradition - my absolute FAVORITE Christmas tradition - that my dad started on our street: each year on Christmas Eve, the neighbors get together to do luminaries. My dad always got the bags and sand and coordinated with the neighbors so that we could light up our little cul de sac with over four hundred luminaries. He had scientifically developed a proper folding method that had to be taught to our neighbors each year so that the bags would look pretty and not all mangled up. And he had to get WHITE sand so that the glow from the bag would not be overshadowed by a layer of dark sand at the bottom of the bag. It was all VERY well thought out. Each year we tried to do more luminaries than we had the year before - we Palmores are naturally competitive, you see . . .

While my dad was here, our record over the years was 476 - we've since done 500. On a nine house cul de sac, that is a sight to see! He loved that tradition because it got all the neighbors out and visiting on Christmas Eve and because he loved trying to break the previous year's record. We did it for my dad's last Christmas - all our neighbors had felt so strongly about coming together to light up the street for him that year. He managed to make it outside to visit for a few minutes but he was too sick and probably too emotional to really enjoy it. Even though there is sadness associated with that memory, it's also one of my favorites because of the love that everyone showed my dad. I will remember it for the rest of my life. We've been blessed with wonderful people in our lives.

We do the luminaries now as sort of a tribute to my daddy. To the light that he represented in the lives around him.

I wish my dad were still here. I wish I could hear him laughing at the kids as they open up their gifts and say funny little things. I wish I could give him a hug and tell him thanks for being such a great dad and for playing Santa Claus at my party in second grade. I wish I could hear him deny that it was him. But even though I can't have him back, I'm so thankful that I had the kind of dad who left me with great memories to make me laugh and make me miss him. I hope to be that kind of person in my life, as well. It's something to strive for.
I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas celebrating with your friends and families and that you make lots of memories to hold on to for years to come. My wish for you this Christmas is that you are part of bringing light into the lives of those around you and that whether you are disguised by a Santa costume, buried under a mountain of gifts that have to be wrapped, or standing in a long line at the mall, that you will be recognized by the twinkle in your eye . . .

Merry Christmas, my friends!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The worst idea EVER.

I stopped by Walgreen's this morning to pick up a gift bag and some tissue paper for a friend's present. As I was standing in line, I saw something that made me do a double-take. Something that made me actually say "Surely not . . ." out loud. Something that made me say "Who on EARTH would buy this??" And something that made me say "I'll take one of these please . . ."

It was a reindeer that looked like this:

On the bottom, it has a little orange thingy (that's a technical term) that looks like this:

You put your thumb on the orange thingy and you slide it forward and then the reindeer's tongue comes out like this:

And it's a lollipop.


This was not well thought-out, friends . . .

I'm supposed to buy this for some kid so he or she can lick a reindeer tongue?? Until it disappears into a nub back at the reindeer's tonsils?? Can I be arrested for that?? What pervert came up with this idea?? And what perverts approved it?? And what perverts didn't fire the perverts who pitched this idea??

I'll never be able to look at Rudolph the same again. Now I understand why the other reindeer didn't let him join in any reindeer games.

The tag on the lollipop says "The only pop that can lick you back!" Like they're proud that they're the first ones to come up with this idea and tap into this market. Well, yeah - you're the first, geniuses . . . because all the other candy companies fired this guy when he pitched it to THEM. It's disturbing. And possibly the worst candy idea EVER.

Unless they make a Mike Rowe version . . .

Monday, December 21, 2009

I do love a door.

I wasn't able to get out for any Christmas shopping until about 6:00 this evening. Luckily, everyone has started their "Holiday Hours" so I was able to shop until about 8ish. You should have seen me - I was the fastest shopper this side of the Mississippi. I was quite impressed with myself.

My sister and I finished up at the mall just before it closed and then we decided we'd head on over to Old Navy to look around at what they have. But I really had to go the bathroom. I mean, it was BAD - it was like every glass of water I'd ever consumed had passed through to my bladder at the same moment. So we walked up to the bathroom by the food court because it's the nicest bathroom at the mall - relatively speaking, of course. I walked into the bathroom and headed for the first open stall I could find. Normally, I would examine each stall and pick the one with the fewest amount of disease-catching possibilities. But this was an emergency so I just had to go with the first one. I walked into the stall and turned to shut the door.

But there was no door.

Nor could I find any evidence that there ever WAS a door - no hinges, no hardware. It appears to just be a random, doorless stall in the middle of the bathroom:

I stepped back out of the stall to look around and make sure that I hadn't accidentally wandered into a women's prison unit.

Nope, I was still at the mall.

And that was a relief for a lot of reasons. I mean, I had to go too badly to worry about trading cigarettes for protection now.

It was in that moment that I realized that I could never make it in prison. NO DOOR??? I mean, how do people go to the bathroom with everyone watching? Would they let me fashion a screen out of a towel like I did for the glass shower door in my college dorm so that I could have some privacy? Would my cellie stand watch and let me know if someone was coming so I could hurry up before anyone saw me? Would my cellie be a nice girl who was in prison for rescuing too many puppies or would it be a woman named Butch who used to ride with the Hell's Angels until she murdered a family of 4? Would Butch let me hit my snooze for an hour and a half like I do now? Would the other prisoners hate me because of my snooze-button habit? When my fellow prisoners talked about the good ol days in juvie, would I talk about how I was tardy to class a few times in junior high? Would they hate me for that, too? Would I have to get a tattoo to fit in with everyone and make them like me? Would the tattoo be a picture of butterflies and daisies or would it say "Property of Butch"? How would I -

But my musings were interrupted by the most heart-felt rendition of the pee pee dance I've ever done. So I ran to the next stall.

And shut the door. The glorious, metal door that no one could see through.

Then all was right with the world again . . .

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Catchy name.

I got an email the other day from a new friend of mine who reads my blog and suggested that I explain how I got the nickname "Catchy." I thought it was a good suggestion but it's not much of a story, really . . .

When my older sister was pregnant with her first child, Emma, we were all trying to figure out what we wanted to be called. It's really a big decision because it's the name you're going to have for the rest of your life so you want to make sure that you pick the right one. My mom opted for "Dearest" because she had always loved how the little kid in the movie Little Lord Fauntleroy (never thought I'd have to spell THAT in my blog . . .) called his mother "Dearest." We reminded her of the whole "Mommy Dearest" connection but she was not budging. My dad opted for Grandpa - a classic for a classic man. My younger sister, Erin, and I decided that we would just be Aunt Catherine and Aunt Erin or whatever Emma decided to call us.

When Emma began talking, she called my mom "Dearsie" and my mom loved it. So she declared that "Dearsie" was her new name and we all stopped calling her "Dearest." Emma had no problem with Grandpa or Auntie Erin but, for some reason, she said "Catherine" as "Catchy." And that was it. It was my new name and it took on a life of its own: people in all areas of my life began to call me Catchy - work, church, friends . . . everyone. And I love it.

I also love that it was THIS nickname that caught on like wildfire and not my childhood nickname . . . . Wee Wee.

Yep. Wee Wee.

How did I get that name? I'm glad you asked . . .

When my mom was pregnant with my sister Erin, she was REALLY sick the whole time and spent most of her pregnancy lying down. Tammy was five years older than me and helped to take care of me when my mom was sick. And she gave me raw hot dogs all the time because I liked them. I know - classy, right? So my family started calling me "Weiner" and then that morphed into "Weenie."


So that name stuck for a while until after Erin was born and started talking. She couldn't say "Weiner" so she said "Wee Wee."


So you can understand why I'm so thankful that "Catchy" is the name that stuck. And I'm thankful for what it stands for, too - for the wonderful privilege of being an aunt. I love that role and am so thankful that the Lord has entrusted me with that responsibility. It's so much fun.

Tonight I was at my mom's house with my sisters and their kids. The kids were upstairs playing and my mom, my brother-in-law, and my sisters and I were sitting down at my mom's dining room table talking. My youngest niece, Avery, came downstairs and stared at us from a distance until someone asked her what she was doing. She pointed to me and said "Catchy, I'm drawing a picture of YOU and I need to know what color your eyes are." She squinted to try to see from where she was but then she decided to come over and get a closer look. So she got right in my face and stared at my eyes for a small eternity. Then she went back upstairs to finish her picture. Here is the final product:

It's quite a remarkable likeness, don't you think? But I think my favorite part is how she spent so much time nailing down the color of my eyes aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand then gave me blue hair. It's like she spent all the attention-to-detail energy she had on getting the eyes right. Hilarious. And is it wrong to be jealous of a picture's lips? Because I kind of am. I mean, I'd love to have lips so big that my face can't contain them.

As an after-thought, she added the sunglasses so that I could be "peace out."

Yep . . . I love being Catchy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Prisoners Say the Darndest Things . . .

I have told y'all a million times that I love my job so I know that you're probably sick of hearing about it. But I really do! I love it for so many reasons - too many to go into here. But one of the reasons I love it is that I get to enjoy the funny things that prisoners say. They don't mean to be funny most of the time - they just are. For example, I was reading a file today and ran across this little gem . . .

Q: How do you spend your free time? What do you do when you're not working?
A: Roaming from house to house for drugs. My girlfriend and I would also go to the zoo.

Well . . . at least he's well-rounded . . . ?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Easy target.

Since there are only 10 days left until Christmas, I thought it might be a good idea for me to get out there and actually do some Christmas shopping for my family - I'm always one step ahead like that. I did some shopping up at Market Street (which is this great little area here in my hometown) and then I decided to run over to the mall real quick before it closed. I was short on time but that was okay - I knew exactly what I was getting and where I was getting them, I knew exactly how long it would take me to get from store to store, and I had the most efficient route planned so that I could get everywhere I needed to go before the mall began to shut down. I had thought of everything.

Except for the salesmen at the kiosks along the way.

I don't know why I can't just say no to these people. I feel rude when I do. So I look at them and smile and try to politely decline their offers but once you make eye contact with them, you're toast. And I know this. I KNOW this. But I can't seem to help myself. And they see me coming, too. It's like they can smell my fear and it makes them salivate - I can actually hear them slurping up saliva as I approach. They'll look past all the other people walking by and zero in on me. I don't know how they do it.

I try to avoid them - believe me I do. I've tried looking down, ignoring them, ducking into a nearby store until their attention is diverted - a million different salesman-avoidance techniques. But I somehow still end up standing there listening to the greatest new buy-one-get-four-free deal they are offering for one night. It's so frustrating.

I've discovered that two of my salesman-avoidance methods are fairly successful. Each one of them has allowed me to avoid 99% of the kiosk salesmen I encounter. Let me share them with you.

Technique 1: Fake cell phone conversation . . .
As I'm approaching any given kiosk and see a salesman eyeing me with greedy delight, I act like I'm getting a call and then I proceed to have a lively conversation with absolutely no one on the other end. 99% of the time the salesman just smiles at me and then flags down the guy behind me. The only real problem with this technique is that I feel like I need to really commit to the charade. This results in me continuing to talk into my cell phone even after the "danger" has passed - I mean, I feel like I need to see the conversation out to its logical conclusion, you know? I can't just hang up on my pretend friend. That would be rude. And my fear of being rude is what got me into this fake phone conversation in the first place. You see the problem?

So what's the exception? Who is the 1% that gets around this charade? T-Mobile guys. They are the WORST. And they have ABSOLUTELY no respect for the fake cell phone conversation. They see me on the phone but they yell at me anyway: "Ma'am! Ma'am! In the pink shirt!! Yeah - you!" And then just start talking to me until I have to finally tell my fake friend that I'll have to call her back. And then I get stuck listening to the guy's spiel for 10 minutes, all the time trying to convince him that I'm happy with my service provider.

Technique 2: Got one already . . .
Lately, I've opted to not use the fake cell phone conversation because, frankly, I'm getting tired of listening to my pretend friend gripe about her life. So my latest salesman-avoidance method is to tell the salesmen "Oh! I already have one of those!" and then just keep on walking. The problem with this method is that it involves eye contact and once you make eye contact with them, they won't let you off that easily.

If you decide you want to try this technique out next time you're out at that mall, I need to warn you that it doesn't work on the people at the Seacret kiosk. Do you have this kiosk at your mall? It's like a nail care system that uses a four-sided buffer and makes your nails look like they have clear polish on them. It's actually pretty cool. How do I know this? Because every time I try to avoid these salesmen, I ended up getting my nails buffed by one of the Russian salesmen while they tell me how great the product is. And I've bought the nail care set . . . twice . . . and have never used either one. So you might want to try the fake cell phone thing with these guys.

Tonight it was the guy at the Seacret kiosk who got me to stop. He actually started waving to me from about 50 feet away - like we were old friends and he was super excited to see me. I have no idea how he knew I was the easy mark but he did. I said "Oh! I already have one!" And he said "Really? Let me see your nails." The blood instantly drained from my face, I got the "Oh crap - I didn't see that one coming" look on my face, and began stuttering: "Well, I - I - I haven't done them - my nails - it's just that - see I -" And then he asked me "Lazy or busy?" So I stood there ashamed while he admonished me and then I had to explain that I was in a bit of a hurry tonight and didn't have time to have my nails buffed. He said okay but he looked really sad and it made me feel bad.

So I'm thinking that maybe I'll go buy another one from him tomorrow to make it up to him. I mean, you can never have too many nail buffers, right?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mama mia!!

I met my friend Diana for lunch today at a restaurant that's between our houses. It's called Mama Juanita's and I'd never been there before today. We were originally supposed to go to a restaurant called Guadalajara in The Woodlands because Diana really had a taste for their food. But, being the thoughtful, considerate friend I am, I asked if we could go to Mama Juanita's instead so that I could see if they had any good art for me to blog about.

It turned out to be a good decision.

As I was walking up to the front doors of the restaurant, I noticed that the neighboring liquor store had decorated its windows for Christmas. Someone had painted a Christmas tree, some holly, the words "Merry Christmas", and this . . .
I'm not really sure what this is. I mean, on one hand,I feel confident that it's an angel. On the other hand, I feel confident that it's a shrimp. So I guess it's a Christmas Shrimp . . . Angel?? I don't really get it. Maybe I need to drink more?

Then I walked into Mama Juanita's and saw this picture on the back wall. I call it "Miguel and Lolita Spend a Cold Day on the Lake":
I don't know why we had to make her so anatomically correct for this mural. Was that really necessary? Well, I guess it WOULD be cold there, what with the snow-covered mountain in the background. So I guess it makes sense. Anyway, when I look at this picture, my eyes are not drawn to Miguel's freakishly small right wrist or the apparent skin graft on his left hand. And they're not drawn to Lolita's broad left cheek. No, my eyes go right to Lolita's right hand. What's going on there? Is she wearing a prosthetic or does she have some rare finger-length equalizing condition? Either way, it's intriguing. You'd have to really think twice before you chose to pinky swear with her on anything - she could seriously injure you. Wrap that thing around your pinky 10 times before you knew what hit you.

I ventured around the restaurant and saw this one. I call it "Wait - Corn Grows on Trees??":
Huh. A corn TREE. This is maybe something the artist should have researched beforehand. I wonder if those are carrot and potato trees in the background . . .

And can we talk about her shirt? What happened here? I think we might have an artist with a boob fixation, friends. I mean, why draw her this way? Is she trying to seduce the tree? Is that how she got it to grow corn? Is she using a distraction technique to keep us from noticing her large right thigh? I don't know. All I know is that this is a fashion trend I'm NOT going to be able to get behind.

But my favorite picture in the whole place was this one. I call it "Just My Luck."
This is exactly the kind of thing that would happen to me: I'm all dressed up in my cute white dress with my purple flower in my hair and matching purple anklets and I get into a dire situation - one that requires a dramatic rescue. Like maybe I fall and hit my head or get lost or pass out - something along those lines. I'm finally the damsel in distress and I'm waiting for some cute Marine to save me. Or a cute firefighter. Or a pilot . . . you know, some man in a uniform who would no doubt fall in love with me in the process of rescuing me. But, instead, I'd get THIS guy. This half peacock/half man with a shrunken head and weird knees who cops a feel while he rescues unconscious women (see what I mean about the boob fixation?). And the sad thing is that if this guy really did rescue me, I wouldn't even be shocked when I came to. It would make sense to me instantly because that's my life. I'd probably just look up at him, shake my head, and say "Son of a . . . "

So Mama Juanita's did not disappoint.

And the food was pretty good, too. Must be the special Tree Corn . . .

Friday, December 11, 2009

The apple didn't fall far from the tree.

My mom thinks I'm the most stubborn person in the world. She also uses other nice adjectives like "pig-headed" - she's so good to me . . . Anyway, I try to point out to her that the only reason she thinks that is that I resist HER stubborn efforts to make me do something I don't want or need to do. In fact, if you want to know the truth, she is MUCH more stubborn than I.

Allow me to present my case . . .

Exhibit A:
This is a typical conversation that we might have:

Mom: What're you doing?
Me: Just figuring out what I'm going to make for my party. I'm looking at some recipes and trying to decide which ones to try.
Mom: You should just go buy some stuff so that you don't have to make anything.
Me: Well, I want to make something myself.
Mom: You should just go order a Chick-Fil-A tray or something.
Me: Well, I have some recipes I've been putting aside and I really wanted to try them so I'm actually looking forward to making them.
Mom: You know, I was at Randall's the other day and they had a BEAUTIFUL fruit tray that you could buy. Just do that.
Me: No, I think I'm just gonna make this recipe - it looks really good and I've been wanting to try it out.
Mom: You're so stubborn.

I never quite understand why I - the one who was sitting there innocently when the onslaught began - ended up being the "stubborn" one.

Exhibit B:
Last Christmas, she and I were out Christmas shopping for my sisters. We were in Sur La Table (which, for those of you don't know, is a kitchen store) and we were looking at some different things that my sisters had wanted. She also wanted me to point out things that I wanted so that she could keep them in mind in case my sisters needed any ideas on what to get me. We were over by the silverware organizers/trays and we had this conversation:

Me: [picking up a stainless steel one] I like this stainless steel one. If anyone wants to get me this, I would LOVE it.
Mom: Really?? What about this this one? [showing me a white plastic one with rubber grips on the bottom]
Me: No, I really want the stainless one.
Mom: But this one is expandable . . .
Me: So is this one. See? [pointing out big word "EXPANDABLE"]
Mom: I think you'd like this one better.
Me: No, I really want this one. It's nicer looking and it would be easier to keep clean.
Mom: I think your silverware will fall out of that one.
Me: I don't think it will. I think it will be perfect.
Mom: Are you sure? I really think you'd like the plastic one better. It has rubber grips so it won't slide around.
Me: No, I'm sure. I want the stainless one.
Mom: You're so stubborn.

That Christmas Eve, my sister Erin handed me a present and said "I hope you like it. Mom pointed it out for me and said you really wanted it." I tore the wrapping paper off and I'LL BE A SON OF A GUN if it wasn't that white plastic organizer. I just started cracking up. Which, in retrospect, was not a very nice way to react to my sister's present. When I was finally able to tell everyone what was so funny, my sister started laughing and my mom - who had HONESTLY remembered the above conversation differently - had to laugh at herself. She wasn't trying to intentionally ignore what I wanted, she just had convinced herself that I really wanted the white one. God love her - she just gets an idea that I will like something and nothing I say will convince her otherwise.


Exhibit C:
The other day, we were out looking at Christmas decorations and we kept passing these white ceramic Christmas trees that had glittery snow on them. Every time - and I mean EVERY time - we walked past them, we had this conversation:

Mom: I think these are beautiful. What about these for your house?
Me: Well, they're very pretty. And I can appreciate them in someone else's house - just not mine.
Me: Yeah. They're not my style.
Mom: Well, I think they're just beautiful.
Me: Yeah. They are. But I don't think they're for me.
Mom: You're so stubborn.

So yesterday, my mom and her neighbor Stephanie (who is a talented decorator on the side) came over to my house to take my Christmas decorations up a notch. I had to stay upstairs while they were doing it so that it would be a surprise. When it was time for me to come down, I had to walk down the stairs with my head down and then close my eyes in my foyer until they told me I could look. When I opened my eyes, I looked at my buffet and I'LL BE A SON OF A GUN if those white Christmas trees weren't sitting on my buffet! Hilarious. So when I mentioned later that I wasn't sure I liked the little Christmas trees (translation: I don't want them in my house), my mom said - with genuine surprise - "REALLY?? Those are the ones you liked!!" So, through my laughter, I reiterated our conversation that we'd had and she, again, had to laugh at herself. She wasn't trying to get her own way - she just had convinced herself that I loved the trees as much as she did. So she just remembered the conversation differently.


I rest my case.

But I am certainly able to admit that I inherited this trait from her. I mean, even after her many valiant efforts . . . I DO have a stainless steel silverware organizer, I do NOT have any ceramic white Christmas trees on my buffet now, and I have to end my blog now so that I can get some sleep and get up in time to make a bunch of food for my office Christmas party.

So I rest my mom's case for her, too.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More than you want to know about my dog . . .

I had to take my dog to the vet on Sunday because he was having some problems. I'll spare you the details but suffice it to say that he had to sleep in the kitchen for a few nights in case of any "accidents." Anyway, since my vet was closed on Sunday and it was sort of an emergency, I ran up to the pet hospital up at PetSmart. As I walked up to the vet's front desk, I noticed with much surprise that the floor in front of the desk looked very . . . ummmm . . . soiled. Like there was a stomach bug going around and all the dogs in the neighborhood were in for a little look-see. It was quite disconcerting. I mean, I get that we're in a store where pets are welcome but that was just a little much for me . . .

The vet came in to look at Jacques (that's my dog) and I watched him take a stool sample. Have you ever seen this done? They take a long plastic instrument that has a loop at the end - it kind of looks like the eye of a needle, only bigger - and they stick that thing up your dog's . . . ummmm . . . rear. Then it comes out with poop in the little eye of the needle-looking thing. I always hate to watch it but I can't seem to make myself look away - the horror pulls me in like gravity. Anyway, the vet did that to Jacques, who just looked up at me with a humiliated expression that seemed to say: "What the heck did I ever do to YOU?" At that moment, I thanked the Lord that I'm not a dog. I mean, the sleeping-and-eating-and-sleeping-some-more gig would be nice but, really, the first time someone tried to stick that thing up my REAR, I would say "Forget this! I want a job and opposable thumbs!" And then I would bite the hand at the other end of that plastic thingy.

Anyway, we came out of the little vet room about 2 hours later - no exaggeration. I was SO tired of playing Bejeweled on my phone by the time we were done. As we walked out of the room, I noticed that some dog had peed all over the floor in front of our little room. It's like this dog walked by and said "That dog in there is getting violated in the worst possible way right now - think I'll mark my territory right here and REALLY make his day." I've seriously never seen so many accidents around that place - I was beginning to wonder if it was Incontinence Awareness Day at PetSmart. I gave my best "I can't believe someone would let their dog do this" look and stepped over the little pool o' pee and went on my way.

I thought I would buy my dog a little candy cane bone to enjoy for the holidays, especially since he'd just had such a traumatic experience. So we went over to the holiday display and looked at the different types. I was talking to my dog while I looked at them, saying things like "Well, this one is kinda cute, Jacques! But THIS one has more red on it . . ." You know, things that make me look crazy. Then I looked down in time to see him hiking his leg up and peeing on the bottom row of candy cane bones. Awesome. I hissed out my best "No!" and then followed it with my best stern look. He just looked up at me innocently, as if to say "Hey, when in Rome . . ." And I really couldn't argue with that. In fact, I thought about peeing there myself just to make the experience complete . . .

Despite his atrocious lack of etiquette, Jacques DID get his candy cane bone. And since his stomach has finally settled, he finally got to enjoy it tonight:
I think he likes it and I'm glad - it was the least I could do to compensate for his humiliation.

And, don't worry - if you ever have a plastic thing shoved up YOUR rear to get a poop sample, I'll buy YOU a candy cane, too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thanks for trying, Mom!

So my mom was out shopping for Christmas decorations the other day and, as usual, was keeping an eye out for things that she could buy for me and my sisters. My mom LOVES to buy things for us - it's quite a nice trait to have in a mom. Anyway, she always has trouble with my decorating style for some reason because our styles are pretty different - she has a very traditional/cottagey style and I have a more contemporary style . . . Z Gallerie is my mothership. But when it comes to Christmas, I have a more playful/whimsical style in my decorations. But still contemporary. And she has a hard time figuring out what kinds of things I would like. But, God love her, she tries. After she got home from shopping the other day, she called me up in high spirits and had this conversation with me:

Mom: I saw some BEAUTIFUL decorations for you today!
Me: Oh, really - where?
Mom: Lots of places. It was so fun to try to guess which ones you'd like. You know - which ones were "you." I think I did a pretty good job!
Me: I bet you did!
Mom: I saw this one thing and I thought "Now THAT is Catherine. She would LOVE those." So I'm going to describe them for you to see if I'm right. You can be honest with me if I'm wrong - it won't hurt my feelings . . .
Me: Okay . . .
Mom: They were BEAUTIFULLY done Christmas carolers.
Me: [long pause] Christmas carolers.
Mom: Yeah. But they were BEAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTIFULLY done.
Me: I guess I'd have to see them. I tend to go for more contemporary stuff and that doesn't sound too contemporary.
Mom: Well, I think you should see them.
Me: Okay.
Me: Yeah, I picked up on that . . .

So we went to the store where my mom saw them and, as we were walking up to these little figurines, my mom started laying out her defenses preemptively by saying things like "You used to always say you wanted these." and "These are the little carolers that you've always loved." You know - things that would make it harder for me to say I didn't like them. She's pretty sneaky that way. So we rounded the corner and she stopped in front of these figurines - these beautifully done Christmas carolers - and she folded her arms against her chest, sighed with admiration, and shook her head slowly as if to say "I mean, have you EVER seen anything so lovely?"

I had a different reaction. I raised my eyebrows, blinked quickly a few times to fight off the laughter, and immediately began making fun of them.

The first one I noticed was this man:

Is he supposed to be singing?? Because it doesn't look like it to me. I can't decide if he has slipped into a catatonic state, has been hitting the egg nog too hard, or if he's trying to make out with me. It's very disconcerting. But, let's be honest, if he really WERE trying to make out with me, I'd probably buy him. Don't judge me.

Then I saw this lady:

She looks positively stunned. Like some heckler just interrupted her song by yelling "Hey, Lady! I've got your jingle bells right here!" Either that or she is shocked that her fellow caroler keeps trying to make out with me . . .

Then I saw a young boy who appears to have suffered a tragic temple injury:

But, God love him, he keeps on singing.

After I convinced my mom that I was NOT interested in buying any of the "beautifully" done carolers, we continued to look around the store while she tried to point out things that she thought I'd like. At one point, she spotted these little elves and exclaimed with pleasure "These would look great in your house! They're VERY whimsical!"

I looked at them and wanted to ask her if she was talking to me or if she had another daughter named Catherine who she was shopping for. Because they looked positively frightening to me. And possibly evil:

I don't like the way he's licking his lips. He looks like he's hungry and that he thinks he might come eat my nose off my face while I sleep. He will NOT be perched on MY mantle this season.

Then I turned around and saw this guy:
I don't really know what to say about this guy . . . except that he scares me. I actually gasped when I saw him. And felt the sudden urge to talk to him about boundaries. I mean, why is everyone trying to make out with me??

So my mom has decided to NOT try to pick out Christmas decorations for me anymore. And, really, I think that's probably best.

But I DO wonder if that caroler has been asking about me . . .

Monday, December 7, 2009

Guh - ross

I've noticed recently that gross things seem to happen to me a lot. I don't go looking for them - they just seem to find me. It's really discouraging and, honestly, rather frightening.

Like the time I was house-sitting, sleeping on my side with my head on my arm, and was awakened by a roach crawling on my arm towards my face. Luckily my reflexes were pretty good - even though I had JUST been dead asleep - and I hit it off of my arm before it could reach my nose. Unfortunately, I smashed it at the same time. On my arm. It was disgusting . . . and it smelled like bug spray. I tried to go back to sleep after washing my arm for 30 minutes but all I could do was lie awake wondering if he was like some sort of soldier roach who had built up an immunity to bug spray by ingesting it bit-by-bit. I imagined a special forces group called the "RAIDers" that sat around roach hotel lobbies, drinking bug-spray cocktails, laughing at RAID commercials and plotting attacks like the one I had been a victim of. I couldn't sleep for weeks.

And the time that a bunch of my friends were hanging out on my porch in college and I took a swig of my Dr. Pepper from my plastic cup, crunched down on the ice, and then, because of the strange texture in my mouth, wondered who dropped the popcorn in my cup. Until I realized that there was no popcorn around and that I had just crunched down on a June bug that was apparently taking a dip in my Dr. Pepper. I brushed my teeth 20 times, went through 5 packs of gum in the next 24 hours, and then switched to 20 oz bottles. With lids.

But the reason I'm writing about this now is that I recently had two HORRIBLE, disGUSTing things happen to me in less than a week's time and I wanted you to suffer along with me.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I was standing outside of my house talking when I felt something on my left leg, under my jeans. I instinctively hit the back of my left leg with the top of my right foot - kinda like you would do if you had an itch on your leg and wanted to scratch it without having to bend down. I instantly felt something wet on my leg and quickly pulled my jeans up to investigate. On my left calf, were the carcass and crushed innards of a very large tree roach.

ON . . . MY . . . LEG.

I screamed for someone to get me a tissue but tried to stay calm - if you can scream and "stay calm" at the same time. I wanted to be brave - I really did. I wanted to handle it like a mature, rational adult who would realize that it's just a bug. No biggie. But instead, once I was able to get the guts off of me, I spent the next five minutes doing the Heebie Geebie dance and making strange, unintelligible noises that were either voo doo chants or cuss words in other languages.

So now I'm paranoid . . . my calves have never felt so vulnerable. And, for the first time since 7th grade, I'm considering bringing back the tight-rolled pant. This is a dire situation friends - do you REMEMBER how unflattering tight-rolled pants are???

As I was considering the marketing necessary to convince the public that the tight-roll is the way to go, I found myself at Chili's with my mom. We had decided to get dessert after my church's Christmas concert this weekend and we always love the Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie from there. If you haven't tried it, you haven't lived. Anyway, we finished our dessert and chatted at our table for a while and JUST as we were getting our purses to leave, our waitress brought me out another Diet Coke. It was really sweet of her to do that and so I felt obligated to drink at least half of it before leaving - you know, so that she wouldn't feel like her sweet gesture was unappreciated. So I put the straw in my mouth and began the process of sucking down half the soda.

That's when I felt something in my mouth.

And tasted an enchilada.

I began to pull chunks of a foreign corn tortilla out of my mouth. My eyes were wide and my nostrils were a bit flared but, otherwise, I had a FAIRLY controlled expression on my face - like a cross between "I'm okay. I can handle this." and "Holy crap. I need a barf bag. STAT." I couldn't very well do the Heebie Geebie dance or cuss in other languages right there in the middle of the restaurant so, instead, I sucked down some of my mom's drink and chanted "I love Mexican food. I love Mexican food. Even other people's."

And, besides, it could have been a June bug again, right? So I was lucky in comparison . . . right? RIGHT??

So it's been a tough week for me, friends. I have roach remnants that will probably never come off my leg and I may have contracted a strange, incurable disease from a corn-chip-loving Chili's patron.

Don't you feel sorry for me??

Friday, December 4, 2009

Adventures on a Tornado Tour - Part 7

So the Season Finale of Storm Chasers was this past weekend BUT I realized today that I never posted my last entry from my tornado tour since I didn't blog last Thursday night, what with being in a Turkey/Pumpkin-Pie-induced coma and all. So here is my report from the last day of my tour this past Spring . . .

Hope y'all enjoyed the show!!!

* * * * *

April 26, 2009

We got to sleep in a bit today because we didn't get started until noonish. As we were getting on the road, we listened to the local weather and heard them issue PDS tornado warnings. What does "PDS" stand for, you ask? Particularly Dangerous Situation . . .

I'm sorry - what???

That's never a good sign!! Matt and Dave heard that the National Weather Service had declared Oklahoma high risk for tornadoes. They were excited about it but a little reserved because, apparently, high risk in Oklahoma NEVER pans out. But we kept our fingers crossed and hit the road.

The radars looked CRAZY. Granted, I have NO idea how to read a radar but there were LOTS of little thingies on it. :) Just kidding. You could see lots of storms lined up across Oklahoma - one to the North and like five lined up in the Southwest part of Oklahoma. Matt and Dave made the decision to stay South so that we could increase our chances of seeing a tornado. So the chase was on. It seemed like we chased after several but, in reality, we could have been just repositioning around the same one - it was hard to keep track of that part of it. At one point, we saw a wall cloud and positioned ourselves so that it would pass right over our heads and then we just parked and watched. It went RIGHT over us, allowing us to see the circulation - it was really cool. It was eerily calm and there was a LOT of lightning. The lightning is so cool out there because you can see it hit and then just pulse. It's so amazing to watch. Anyway, the storm passed over us so then we raced to catch up with it. The day went like that - racing and stopping and racing and stopping. We saw some small funnels peek out but nothing ever happened with them. So no tornado for me this time around . . . bummer, huh? Oh well, guess I'll have to go again next year!! :)

We met up with Reed and Chris and their group for dinner. They had made the decision to play the north storm and, wouldn't you know it, they saw a tornado! DANGIT!! Well, I mean - congrats to them but DANGIT FOR US!!! They uploaded it to the website and it was an awesome tornado . . . you need to check it out when you get a chance! Matt and Dave were bummed that they hadn't picked the North storm but how the heck were they supposed to know?! Sticking with the greater number of storms seemed like the best call to me, too, so I still think they did a great job! In the end, it's really just a crap shoot . . . Anyway, our last night together was so much fun and I laughed and laughed and laughed. It was so sad to see it all come to an end!

Even without a tornado, the trip was a TOTAL SUCCESS for me. I really had a great time. The chase experience was really cool and our guides impressed me at every turn with their knowledge of weather and the storms we were chasing. It was not at all unusual for them to say a forecast was wrong and to make their own prediction of what the storm would do or where it would go. And they were right every time! How can you not feel safe in such capable hands!?!? And my fellow tourists were AWESOME - except Shane, of course. :) I love the friendships that I developed with them and with our guides . . . seriously GREAT PEOPLE!!

So I headed home to The Woodlands and got home just in time to get a call from my friend who was stuck in traffic down at Greenspoint and saw a funnel develop right over her.

SON OF A . . .!!!!

She said that she was sitting there and saw it peek out and her car was rocking back and forth!! So it turns out that I could have just donned a bullet-point vest and braved Greenspoint on Monday rather than spending a week chasing in Oklahoma . . . but i think it likely that the gangs of Greenspoint would not have been as patient with me as Matt and Dave. :)

So that's it!! I loved my experience and will definitely do it again . . . some of us are already talking about a reunion tour! So exciting! I highly recommend it - check out Extreme Tornado Tours if you're interested. They are a GREAT group of people!! And DEFINITELY watch the next season of Stormchasers on the Discovery Channel and check their website for videos throughout the season!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Random . . .

Sometimes my life is just a series of random observations of the world around me. I see things that make me laugh and I snap a picture so that I can remember to tell people about what I saw. I really don't know what I did before I had a phone with a built-in camera - I guess I just had to DESCRIBE things to people. What a pain in the neck that must have been . . .

ANYWAY, I saw two random sights this weekend that made me kinda laugh so I thought I'd share them with you. You know - so you can enjoy the randomness with me.

First, when we were all at my mom's house for Thanksgiving, with the kids running around and playing, my sister noticed this medicine bottle in my mom's room. It said "Keep out of reach of children."

Well, I guess if you aren't gonna keep it out of their reach, you might as well make it as easy as possible for them to ingest it . . .

Then, on Sunday morning, I sang at one of my church's satellite campuses and saw this sign as I was leaving after the service:
You know, I'm not a donut snob - I'll take them any way I can get them. Fresh from Krispy Kreme when the hot donut sign is on or left over from the day before - either way works for me. But a donut RESALE shop? I think I might have just found my limit . . .

So there you go - a glimpse into my random life. Nice to have you along for the ride!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Wait - that's not what I meant . . .

So the Thanksgiving weekend is over and I am officially pumpkin-pied out. Well, not really. I'm just saying that so that you won't judge me. The truth is that I could eat pumpkin pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the rest of my life and I'd be just fine.

ANYWAY, the weekend was great. I had lots of great family time, lots of down-time for reading, and saw lots of movies. Well, I actually only saw 4 but that's a lot for me these days - I've been in a little bit of a movie drought.

One of the movies I saw this weekend was "Precious." Have you seen it? It's about a girl from Harlem who has a HORRIBLE childhood - sexually assaulted by her mother and father, verbally, emotionally, and physically abused by her mother, and just utterly alone in this world. Very sad. Very depressing. And VERY uncomfortable to watch with your mom sitting next to you the whole time saying "WHAT did she just say?" There are certain things a girl should never have to repeat for her mother . . .

My friend Christina (who is also my trial partner at work) came out to see "Precious" with my mom and my sister Erin. Before the movie, Christina and I ran out to get everyone's drinks and popcorn and whatnot. As we were leaving to head back to our little theater with our arms full of everyone's goodies, I saw a friend of mine who was waiting in the line next to us. I introduced him to Christina and this was the exchange that followed:

Me: This is my trial partner Christina.
Friend: Your trial partner?
Me: Yes. We're both in the perv court.
Friend: The perv court?
Me: Yeah. You know, the sexually violent predator court in Montgomery County.
Friend: Oh yeah!
Me: And Christina is my trial partner.
Friend: So not your permanent partner?

This is where the conversation went terribly wrong. He was trying to be funny by saying "permanent" as opposed to "trial" partner as if to insinuate that I was trying Christina out on a trial basis as my partner at work. Just an innocent play on words.

I thought he was asking if she was my LIFE partner . . .

I didn't know how to fix the apparent miscommunication and HE didn't realize that I wasn't getting his joke. So we kept talking to each other while having two very different conversations. The result was an awkward mess:

Friend: So not your permanent partner? [looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to get his joke]
Me: [HUH?? Oh crap. How do I fix this without it getting awkward?] No . . . no . . . ummmm . . . my trial partner. For work. We're lawyers.
Friend: Ahhhhh - not your PERMANENT partner.
Me: [What the . . . NOOOOOOO!! Act casual.] Nope! Just friends from work . . .
Friend: [probably thinking "she's not getting my joke . . ."] Still trying it out . . .
Me: [Oh for the love of . . . ] Ummmmm . . .? [Should I shout "I like boys!" right now? Would that be too awkward?]
Friend: Not permanent . . . [looking at me knowingly - trying to make me understand his joke.]
Me: Nope. [I need to abandon this conversation NOW.] You can't make that too clear these days! [What does THAT mean?? Uh oh . . . here comes the verbal diarrhea . . .] Yep! We're here with my mom and my sisters. Not by ourselves. [SHUT UP, CATHERINE.]

Before I knew it, I had beads of sweat on my forehead and I was trying to remember if I had put my deodorant on that morning. I had a sudden urge to start talking about how hot all the guys in the concession line were. Or to go grab a random guy's butt just to set the record straight. But I fought the urge. Then, as I walked off, his joke finally dawned on me. I was mortified then at my responses - how immature my reaction was!! But I had to smile at myself.

And say "Man, that guy's HOT!" loud enough for him to hear - just for good measure . . .

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving thanks.

Ahhhhhhhh Thanksgiving. A time for giving thanks . . . and consuming my weight in pumpkin pie. Although it will NEVER supersede Christmas in my eyes, Thanksgiving is a darn good holiday. I love it for the family time, the latest centerpiece on my mom's dining room table, the turkey and dressing, and the pumpkin pie.

And I love the reminder that we should give thanks.

At some point during our dinner today, we will go around the table and say what we're thankful for. We did this one year and my sisters hated it. So then I started bringing it up year after year just to get on their nerves. I love to see them glare at me when I say "Oh wait! We haven't gone around the table to say what we're thankful for yet!" Immature, yes. But I do love it.

Each year, I give thanks for the same things: my family, my relationship with the Lord, my friends. And I mean it when I do. These are the most important things in my life - the most amazing blessings a girl could ask for. But there are other things that I'm thankful for that I don't specifically mention by name at the table on Thanksgiving because, if I did, everyone would realize instantly how utterly shallow I am. And I try to hide that from everyone as much as possible.

But not today. Today I'd like to take a moment to make my appreciation of these other things known . . .

1. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Seriously - whoever would have imagined that powdered cheese could be so good?? It's such a comfort food for me. And please don't insult me by serving me the Velveeta version. It's an abomination and I'll never forgive you for it. Look, I told you I was shallow . . .

2. Little Debbie. I don't know if you know this about me but I'm quite fond of my little Deb. She brought Oatmeal Creme Pies and Swiss Cake Rolls into my life and I am forever thankful. If I could meet her and hug her, my life would be complete.

3. The color black. It's a nice, slimming color that helps hide my flaws when I wear it. Aaaaaaaand it comes in handy after a dinner of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Swiss Cake Rolls.

4. My DVR. This is simultaneously the greatest and worst thing that has ever happened to me. I have never watched so much television in my life. It used to be that my busy life kept me from all the good shows that were on in the evening. It kinda stunk but at least I didn't spend that much time sitting in front of the television. But now I have my normal busy schedule AND have to somehow watch 8 hours of television every night. It's killing me. And it's glorious.

5. Dirty Jobs. I love that show and I'm so thankful that Mike Rowe exists . . . he gives my salivary glands a reason to live.

6. The word "smidge." It's a great word and it really rolls off the tongue. I try to use it at least once a day: "Can you move over a smidge?" or "Can you turn the TV up a smidge?" or "Can I have a smidge more Macaroni & Cheese?" It's the greatest. You should try using it more . . . I guarantee you'll be giving thanks for it next year, too.

7. Stupid people. You can't really specifically give thanks for stupid people when you're sitting around the dinner table on Thanksgiving telling everyone what you're thankful for. It's not a very nice thing to say and it makes you sound like kind of a jerk. But let's be honest - I love stupid people. And I'm thankful for their existence because they make life so much more entertaining. Aaaaaaaaand they give me something to write about.

8. And last but not least . . . YOU. I have no idea why you continue to read my posts but I'm so thankful that you do!! You have made this whole blogging experience so much fun and I love you for it!! You are DEFINITELY not stupid people . . . :)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Never say never.

So I just finished reading the Twilight Saga. I'm sure you've heard of it but, just in case any of you haven't . . . it's a love story about a vampire named Edward and a human named Bella, to sum it up succinctly. I had heard it described as a pure love story - a Pride and Prejudice for vampires. This made me angry, of course, because nothing should be compared so lightly to my precious Pride & Prejudice. Nothing. Anyway, the saga comprises four books: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn - in that order. And I had no interest in reading them. I had SWORN that I wasn't going to read them and get caught up in the craze that appears to have swept the country.

But I just couldn't help myself.

And I really don't know why I resisted so much. I mean, it's not because I am averse to blindly following pop culture phenomena - I AM still in love with the New Kids on the Block, after all. And it's not like I don't love to read. Because I really do. I think it's because I'm not that into the whole fantasy genre thing and a vampire love story just smacks of "fantasy," does it not?

Ahhhhhh. How foolish and misguided I was . . .

6 months ago at lunch with my sister Erin:

Erin: Hey!
Me: Hey! Ummmm . . . are you ACTUALLY wearing a Twilight t-shirt?
Erin: Uh huh.
Me: In public?
Erin: Yep!
Me: Wow.
Erin: [smiling proudly]
Me: You're 32.
Erin: [smiling bigger]
Me: And married.
Erin: [still smiling]
Me: And a mother of two.
Erin: Don't judge me.
Me: You know, your reputation is your own business but when we meet in public, you can't bring me down with you like this. I've got a reputation to uphold. And I'm not married yet so looking cool is still kinda important to me. I can't afford to be seen with uncool people . . . like a grown woman in a Twilight t-shirt - it affects my odds.
Erin: Edward wouldn't care . . .

Fast forward two months. I'm meeting my sister at the mall . . .

Erin: What's up?!
Me: Nothing mu- . . . does your shirt say "Team Edward"?
Erin: Yep!
Me: That's embarrassing.
Erin: Shut up. Don't judge me.

Fast forward a month and half. I come home and my roomie Melissa and a friend are watching Twilight. I roll my eyes. I sit down in the living room with them and get my laptop out so that I can check my email real quick and get to bed. With absolutely no intention of watching the movie. 2 hours later, my email remains unanswered and I'm totally sucked in to the movie.


The next day, I go to my niece's birthday party and confess to my sister:

Me: Sooooooooooooo . . . I need to tell you something.
Erin: What???
Me: I watched Twilight last night.
Erin: [gasps, opens eyes in horror, and then screams . . .] Without meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee???
[children look up frightened and run to their mothers]
Me: Yeah. Sorry. It was good, though. But now I have a bunch of questions.
Erin: Hold on. [gets phone out and dials her husband] Matt? Can you bring my copy of Twilight with you? It's on the Edward shrine in the bedroom. [Ok - she didn't really say that part. Her Edward shrine is in her living room . . .] Ok. Matt's bringing it. You have to hurry up and read it and New Moon because the movie for New Moon comes out in two weeks!!
Me: Two weeks?? Are you crazy?? Erin, there is no WAY I'll read them that fast. I mean, I just don't read books as quickly as you do. Plus, I have trial next week so I'll be working on that. So . . . it's probably not gonna happen . . .

Fast forward two weeks. I've read all four books, am totally in love with Edward, have now added "Must growl or hiss at anyone who tries to hurt me" to my list of must-haves in a husband, and am standing in line for the 9:40 showing of New Moon:

Erin: This is so exciting!
Me: I know! I can't wait!
Random man in front of us: Are y'all actually wearing Edward t-shirts??

Don't judge me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Adventures on a Tornado Tour - Part 6

Here's my report from the six day of my tornado tour! Don't forget to watch Storm Chasers this Sunday night on the Discovery Channel!!!

* * * * *

April 25, 2009

Ok, today was sooooooooooooooooooo fun . . . well, after I hauled myself out of bed after only 3 hours sleep! We stayed in Wichita last night and had to head to Southwest Oklahoma or the Texas Panhandle so we had to get a pretty early start. We hit the road and drove like the wind to Erick, Oklahoma. We pulled into a gas station and saw the T.I.V. 2 (Tornado Intercept Vehicle). The TIV is the brainchild of this director named Shawn Casey who was on both seasons of Stormchasers. He's super strange and kinda bugs on the show and his vehicle is notoriously unreliable, breaking down all the time. It was kind of cool to see it in person.

Reed, Chris, and Joel pulled into the parking lot, too, and then it was time for the intercept vehicle show down! They parked next to each other and checked out each other's vehicles and chatted for a while. You can tell that Shawn doesn't like the SRV - I couldn't hear what he was saying but I could tell from the body language! Can't wait to see the show to hear what he was saying.

The TIV is built around a chassis of an old truck (I think) and it's really heavy and totally impracticable. Plus, the chassis is the only part of the original vehicle remaining under the structure of the TIV. The SRV, on the other hand, is basically just an armor-covered Tahoe. That's really simplified but the point is that it drives like a Tahoe and is much a much better-designed vehicle. In fact, 10 minutes after the TIV left the parking lot, it broke down and they are having to get another vehicle. Shawn is gonna hate the SRV running circles around him! It should be an interesting season!! :)

So then we left the parking lot and started our chase. Shane encouraged Eric by telling him that he has nuts that clank. Man, I'm so glad I'm not a guy. Shane also said that he has never been on a roadtrip with so many people he doesn't know. Thank GOD his victim pool is so limited!! It was an interesting day with him, actually. Within the same day, he was the most intolerable he's been yet and then, an hour later, the most enjoyable he's been so far. But every time he opens his mouth, my butt clenches.

We saw lots of awesome storms today and saw some funnel clouds that dissipated before anything came of them. It was lots of driving like the freakin' wind and hearing Matt freak out when he saw something significant. It was a REALLY fun day - I'm so glad that I came on this trip!! Tomorrow should be an awesome day for us - Matt and Dave said it could be the best day for chasing in the last three years. There should be LOTS of tornadoes and even some strong ones.

I'm so excited . . . wish me luck!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The joys of working out . . .

I really prefer to work out at my house - I've always been that way. The thought of going to the gym and working out in front of a bunch of people in spandex who are all there to judge me (that IS why they're there . . .) makes my arm pits sweat. And if you START your work out with sweaty pits, it's all downhill from there.

Yeah, the gym is a nightmare to me. You know, walking on the treadmill next to the girl who appears to be training for some sort of sprinting contest. Or holding on to the side of the elliptical machine, gasping for air, and hoping that the guy next to me won't see that I've only been on it for 2 minutes and 9 seconds. Or having to get the 10 lb weights in front of the guy who just benched 250 . . . aaaaaaaaaand then having to go back and get the 8 lb weights because 10 lbs was just a BIT too ambitious. These are all scenes out of a nightmare for me. A horror movie. My own personal Hell.

Until recently, I thought that was the worst possible way to work out. And then I met a friend of mine for breakfast in a little area called Market Street (lots of shops and some restaurants) and saw something way worse . . . I shall call it "Mommy and Me Boot Camp" because all the women in the class had a stroller with a matching toddler. And the strollers seemed to be utilized as part of the class, as if the class were designed around that concept:

I felt awkward just walking BY them - there is no WAY I could do that in front of all those people walking around Market Street shopping. My heart is racing a bit right now just THINKING about it. It's the one time in my life that I found myself grateful that I didn't have kids and, therefore, did not have to think of a clever excuse to give in answer to the question "Hey - do you want to try this new Mommy and Me Boot Camp tomorrow?"

So no 24 Hour Fitness for me. No Gold's Gym or Bally's. And certainly no public shopping areas. Nope - I leave gym scene to my slightly exhibitionist friends and work out in my living room instead.

I recently switched from Hip Hop Abs to a new workout program called P90X. Have you heard of it? It's this really hard, super-intense 90 day program with lots of impossible moves and with the type of people who like to say "Bring It" and have push-up contests. You know the type . . .

Anyway, this new video is tough. And it makes me feel just as ridiculous as Hip Hop Abs did, but in a very different way: now I find myself yelling "WHAT?" and "How the HECK are you doing that??" and "I HATE YOU!" a lot at the television . . . it's really quite a difficult workout. For instance, for one of the moves you have to do a traditional push-up (i.e. no knees . . . i.e. impossible for me) and then, when you've done the push up, you lock your ankles together and roll to one side, making your body perpendicular to the floor and supporting yourself with your feet and one arm still in push-up mode. Having trouble understanding? Yeah - me, too. Here's a visual for you:

The first time I did this, I collapsed instantly and then actually heard my arm laughing at me. But I've improved each week and now when I collapse, my arm just cusses at me. So I think that's progress. You should try it sometime . . . someday when you're feeling really good about yourself and you think "You know what? I need a healthy dose of humility. I need to feel like a fool IMMEDIATELY."

Another thing you should do when you need a good dose of humility is get my mom to come sit in your living room and watch you while you work out. I had that honor the other day when she came over to watch Dancing With The Stars with me and got to my house while I was still working out. She just sat down in one of my chairs and played on my laptop while I kept plugging along with my DVD. I thought that she was otherwise occupied with email and various websites until I was suddenly treated to a running commentary: "Get your butt down. Your butt's too high. Look at him - his butt's down. Your arm should be coming up a little more. They're bringing their arms higher than that. No. No. Look at them - they're twisting their arms more than that. See? Twist. Twist. See?"

I tried to ignore her at first. Then I thought about saying something mature like "If you think you're so good, why don't YOU get down here and try it?" Then I thought about hitting her with my hand weights to make her quiet down. But I decided against that because, in the event she was seriously injured by my attack, I didn't want Exhibit A in my subsequent trial to be a set of 3 lb weights. That would just be embarrassing.

So I just decided that my best option would be for me to just get my workout done before she comes over to watch TV with me.

Or borrow a baby and a stroller and go work out at Market Street . . .

Monday, November 16, 2009

Deal Breakers

My roommate Melissa and I were just chatting tonight about being single. She was saying how she'd been listening to a radio talk show on her way home and that they were discussing singledom. Apparently the ladies on the show were saying that your best chance to find a mate is when you're in your 20s and that, after that, the odds of finding someone go down.

That made us feel all warm and fuzzy inside . . .

So Melissa and I, after a healthy dose of trash-talking about the talk-show ladies and their mothers, decided that we are going to be better about getting out there on the dating scene. You know, rather than sitting home on the weekend talking about radio talk shows about being single . . .

To help us in our quest for the future Mr. Catherine and Mr. Melissa, we decided we needed to identify our deal breakers. You know - to help us weed out the MANY suitors who will no doubt be beating down our door. This is the list we have so far - we'd love to know your thoughts and/or additions . . .

1. If you have a sticker on your car that depicts Calvin peeing on ANYTHING, we would prefer if you'd ask someone else out. I don't care what he's peeing on, either. The Chevy symbol, the University of Texas logo, or even Osama Bin Laden - it's a deal breaker.

2. In that same vein, if you have . . . ummmmmm . . . how do I say this . . . ummmmmm . . . "Buccee's Balls" (aka "TruckNutz") hanging from the tow hitch of your truck, you're out. And if one of my nieces or nephews ever points yours out to me and asks "Catchy, what is THAT?", you're dead.

3. If you own a Hooter's t-shirt . . . seriously?

4. If a middle-aged guy invites you on a date and then brings his mom and middle-aged sister along and THEN explains that they are also his roommates, that's probably a deal breaker. It might seemed far-fetched, but it DID happen to Melissa. Hmmmmmm . . . I wonder why she's staring off into space muttering "Never again. Never again."

5. If you have more than 5 pictures of yourself striking the "rocker" pose on facebook, we think you might get annoying. You know the pose I'm talking about - eyes squinted, tongue out Gene-Simmons style, and hands in the "Rock On" sign that I can never seem to get quite right and end up flashing the "Hang Loose" sign or the "Hook 'em Horns" sign or saying "I love you" in sign language. So maybe that's really why it's a deal breaker - we don't that embarrassing moment of miscommunication where we think that you've just declared your undying love for us in sign language. With your tongue out . . .

6. If you use "supposably" or "expecially" in a sentence, you won't want to go out with me anyway because I'll spend most of the evening banging my head into the corner of the table to make the pain stop. And that will just get annoying to you.

7. If you use "we was" in a sentence, I can't handle it. I can't even TRY to handle it. I will simply call you up and say nicely "Well, we WAS gonna go on a date, but now we's NOT."

8. If you don't get my family's sense of humor, then I will need to check for a pulse because I'll be convinced that you are a lobotomized zombie who has somehow infiltrated our ranks. Once I have verified that you are actually alive and just sadly devoid of humor, I'll ask you to leave. So that my family and I can talk bad about you.

9. If you prefer chin-ups over fajitas, you'll never speak my love language. So we might as well just end it now.

10. If you cry harder than we do in sad movies, we think we'll just keep looking. You know, for a GUY . . .

So that's what we have so far. I think we're being reasonable, though, don't you?? I mean, it's not too picky to have SOME standards, is it? I don't think so. But you never know - God could teach me to not be so picky and have me fall in love with a wonderful man who has a sticker of Calvin peeing on a grammar book.

No - God wouldn't do that to me . . .

Would He?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Adventures on a Tornado Tour - Part 5

Here's my report from Day 5 of my tornado tour from this Spring. Don't forget to DVR Storm Chasers on the Discovery Channel this SUNDAY!!

* * * * *

April 24, 2009

Today was lots of fun. We met downstairs in the lounge at 11 and we had to wait around a little for Reed and Chris. It's really interesting watching the Discovery people filming them because it's pretty staged. For example, both Reed and Chris were outside talking to us and then, when the production crew gave them the high sign, they went back in with their bags just so that they could walk back out and get in the car for the cameras while having a staged conversation about the chase plans for the day:

Then they pulled out of the parking lot while the crew filmed but came right back in the parking lot and waited around for another 15 minutes or so while the production crew loaded up their truck. Then we went and ate breakfast at a local restaurant. Reed and Chris were sitting at a table right next to ours and the production crew had to film them talking about their game plan for the day:

It's so weird to see how staged it really is!!! I mean, the chasing is real but the conversations? Not so much . . .

We left from breakfast before Reed and Chris did and we hit the road to catch some storms that were going to be happening up north. We stopped in a town in Nebraska (now I've forgotten which one) and waited to see what the storms were doing. It was cool to watch the clouds just pop up. I've never noticed it before but you can actually watch the clouds develop - they just start popping up like popcorn! They started like this:

And developed into this:

We were stopped for about 30 minutes, just hanging out and stretching our legs. Matt decided it was time to head North so we piled in and drove to Southwestern Iowa. On the way, we met up with Reed and Chris and joined the convoy of the SRV, the production vehicle, and the mechanics. We pulled over on the side of the road to look at the clouds forming (which was actually way more interesting than it sounds!) and, you guessed it, stage some shots for Discovery:

We decided to break off from Reed at that point and chase on to Iowa because we figured we'd go a little faster without the Discovery crew tagging along.

Unfortunately, all the storms we chased just evaporated as soon as we got there. Reed and Chris went a little further south from us but the same thing happened to them. We got a little rain but no hail. But we DID get some awesome lightning shows. I'm sure it's no different from any lightning I've ever seen BUT out there in the WIDE open with no trees or buildings to obstruct your view, it is AMAZING!! You can see the lightning connect with the horizon and then just pulse over and over. It was downright blinding at times!!! So that was cool.

We have to head to the Texas panhandle tomorrow so we needed to get to Wichita, KS for tonight. So we hit the road. Along the way, we took a heretofore unprecedented "fart" stop for Shane which added to his ever-growing charm. He had made the announcement/fart-stop request by saying: "I'm just telling y'all right now that I'm building up something big here and I'm gonna have to relieve myself. I'm cramping up bigtime."

Seriously, Lord . . . WHY?

So now we are in Wichita and will be heading Southwest tomorrow. They are still saying that tomorrow is gonna be HUGE and Matt said that there's almost a guarantee that there will be tornadoes - we just have to pick the right storm.

Aaaaaaaaaand make sure that we make the appropriate number of . . . ummmmm . . . stops for Shane.