Friday, May 29, 2009

Ode to the Nugget

We've discussed the ways in which my new job has increased my vocabulary. But words are not the only way my job has expanded my horizons. No, my friends. Today I had the experience of a lifetime. I ate lunch at Buc-cee's.

As in the gas station.

My friend Gardale sent an email saying he was going to run to the Buc-cee's in Madisonville and get a graduation present for his nephew. I know what you're thinking - "Wow. Lucky kid to have an uncle like that . . ." - but Buc-cee's t-shirts are pretty cool and Gardale wanted to get him one. And he was going to grab a bite to eat at the deli there so my trial partner, Christina, and I decided to go along for the ride. Look, we've exhausted all the other lunch options in Huntsville so we were up for the change, ok? Don't judge us . . .

Have you ever been to a Buc-cee's? It's a pretty unique place. It's basically a gas station but it's really big and REALLY clean. Their stores are really bright, happy places and their bathrooms are legendary. They have lots of home decor items. Yes, I said home decor items. And they have a gazillion bags of goodies like chile lime peanuts, chocolate covered pretzels, honey roasted almonds, etc. As my snack drawer has been a little bare lately, I decided to load up. I found a bag of honey roasted sesame sticks and a bag of honey roasted almonds. I saw a bag of "Beaver Nuggets" and was mildly curious but didn't pick them up. Instead, I went over to the deli and ordered my panini.

We got to the register and were informed that they were unable to process credit or debit cards at this time. Since we didn't have cash, a manager directed us to a "debit machine" a/k/a ATM machine. We went and stood in the line of the "debit machine" and found ourselves behind a young girl who was wearing a criss-cross bra under a shirt with an open back. I thought "how classless." And then remembered I was holding a panini from Buc-cee's . . .

We got back to the register and I was about to pay when suddenly I found myself face-to-face with another bag of Beaver Nuggets. I asked the lady what they were and she said "They are hard to describe. They're like little balls of goodness." Christina overheard this from the next register and laughed to herself. She knew that "little balls of goodness" was all I needed to hear. I was sold.

We got back in Gardale's truck and, as we were all curious about these little balls of goodness, I opened up the bag. The glorious smell of butter and sugar wafted through the air before we tasted our first nugget. We each popped one in . . .

I never thought these words would ever be uttered from my lips . . . I love Beaver Nuggets.

They are like a heavenly mix of so many different flavors. It's as if Captain Crunch, caramel popcorn, and a syrup-soaked pancake had a baby. Gardale contemplated turning the truck around to go hug the lady who recommended them to us but we didn't want to stop eating them long enough to hug anyone. That's what Beaver Nuggets do - they command all your love and devotion. I'm not kidding.

So this lunch trip definitely expanded my horizons. I mean, I've eaten gas station food when I'm on a road trip but I've never gone to one as the actual lunchtime destination. It was a first for me and I'm glad I did it. And in case you're wondering . . . The panini was ok but I'd probably get something else next time. The sesame sticks actually tasted like a gas station - like if you could actually bite into a gas station. So that was a disappointment. And the honey roasted almonds? You know, a big bag of almonds might SEEM like a good idea but, really, it's not. But the Beaver Nuggets?

They have changed my life.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Et tu Brute?

I've had a bad back since I was about 15 and I've just learned to deal with it. This sounds like a fun blog so far, huh?

A few years ago, I bought a great mattress that I LOVE and that was intended to help ease my back pain. It's super firm (and, thus, supportive) but it has this great pillow top on it that makes it feel like the softest mattress you've ever laid on. It's awesome. But, even with the great mattress, I wake up almost every morning with a stiff back and that is NOT fun. My back was really bothering me recently when I went to San Angelo and I was worried that the hotel bed would make it worse. But the next morning, my back felt AMAZING. This is when I had my horrible realization . . . my great mattress is making my back hurt! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

My mom called me the other day to remind me that we need to go look for a new mattress so that I can finally have a morning when I don't walk like Igor. After all, if I'm going to walk like Igor, I should at least have the benefit of knowing a mad scientist who can make a man for me. Right? ANYWAY, as my mom is talking to me about how we need to get out there and shop for a new mattress for me, my mind wanders back to the night I bought my current mattress. Let me take you there with me . . .

[Mattress Giant parking lot, circa 2004. Mom and I are sitting in my car while Mom gives me a pep talk about buying my first mattress.]

Mom: Now listen to me, these mattress salesmen are worse than car salesmen.
Me: Ok.
Mom: They'll say anything to get you to buy a mattress TONIGHT so don't let them talk you in to that, ok?
Me: Ok.
Mom: I mean, they'll say "We're having a sale but it ends tonight." or "I have to meet my quota so I'll sell this mattress to you for this much." or "If you buy it tonight, I'll throw in free delivery."
Me: Ok.
Mom: But you just tell them that we'll come back. Tell them this is the first place we've stopped and you're not ready to buy one just yet. And you can always tell them that you have to go home and get your checkbook. If it's a really good deal, we can always go right back in and buy it.
Me: Ok.
Mom: Ok, let's go. Remember - we're just looking around . . .
Me: Ok.

[Inside Mattress Giant, after I've found the mattress that I want]

Salesman: Ok, the price on that mattress is $1200.
Me: Ok, thanks. We've just started looking so we have a couple other places we need to check out.
Salesman: Well, it's on sale today and the sale ends tonight. Tomorrow it goes back up to 1500.
Me: Well, thanks for the information.
Salesman: Tell ya what . . . I haven't met my quota tonight and I really need to sell a mattress so I'll knock the price down to [punches some numbers on his calculator] $1000.
Me: [Wow - Mom is goooooooooooooooooood! She called it!] Ok, well I think I want to look around some more. This is the first place we've stopped so we want to keep looking.
Salesman: Well, I hate for you to lose out on this deal.
Me: Well, we'll probably be back but we want to look around a bit more.
Salesman: Well, let me see if I can make it a harder decision for you. [punches on calculator] Tell ya what - if you buy this mattress tonight, I can sell it to you for $800.
Me: Ok. Well, I need to think about -
Salesman: And I'll throw in free delivery.
Me: Well, I need to -
Mom: [wide-eyed, turning on me] YOU'VE GOTTA BUY THIS MATTRESS.
Me: Wait - what . . .? [Is she testing me??]
Mom: [with frantic look in her eye] You've gotta buy this mattress.
Me: [Et tu Brute??] Well, I need to go home and get my checkboo--
Mom: [now she's almost breathless] You can use mine. You can just write me a check later.
Me: Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay . . .

But even though it was one of the most supremely confusing moments of my life, it resulted in me getting a great deal on a great mattress. So I'm kinda bummed that it has to be replaced. But, on the bright side, going mattress shopping with my mom will no doubt give me ANOTHER good story to tell. I'll just have to make sure I leave my checkbook home again. But, then again, I'm not sure that will do me any good . . .

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Names. I want names.

I should probably never be a politician because, if elected, I would lobby to have stupid commercials made punishable by death. It's a pretty radical opinion, I admit, but I feel pretty strongly about it. I don't know how some of these commercial ideas actually make it through to production. How many people had to approve it before the director yells "ACTION!"?? I'm telling you, there's just not enough accountability, people . . . someone should be made to pay.

Case in point . . .the Burger King commercials with the scary king guy. You know which ones I'm talking about? Like the one where the guy wakes up in bed and the king is sitting next to him with a sausage and egg biscuit? Or the one where the king is swinging on a swing while scantily clad women surround him? What happened in that marketing brainstorming session? I would accept "we were high" as an excuse but then my next question would be "how did this make it past the marketing executives?" The latest commercial produced from these folks is the one with the "King Ons" where TWO scary king guys appear in a guy's living room, freeze his dog, and steal his girlfriend and Burger King drinking glass. Honestly, I find myself angry after one of these commercials. Angry and slightly frightened. It has ACTUALLY turned me off of Burger King. The death penalty . . . it's not so crazy, is it?

I saw a new commercial tonight for a personal injury lawyer named DJ something. It starts off with him saying "You're the victim" and then talking about how he can help you with whatever your injury is. He then says "I'll work hard until I hear you say . . ." and then a client pops on the screen and I can SWEAR he says "DAMN! I got me a good lawyer!" I LITERALLY shake my head in disbelief, stare hard at the TV, and wish I could see it again. As if by divine intervention, the commercial repeats - DJ has apparently paid for back-to-back slots. I watch - and listen - more carefully. Again, he says "I'll work hard until I hear you say . . ." and then a different client pops onto the screen and says (MUCH more clearly than the last guy) "DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN I got me a good lawyer!" Seriously . . . who let him think that was a good idea?? The best part about it is that the lawyer is ULTRA serious. I think if that's the slogan you go with, you need to have a little personality in your commercial. Otherwise, all I come away with is DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN that guy's boring.

I also saw a new Nationwide Insurance commercial that is just NOT well thought-out. It's one of those commercials with an "actual" representative talking about the company. I didn't memorize the script but this is my best reproduction of what the guy said: "I don't mind complaints because if people aren't giving us feedback, we'll never know something is wrong. If we don't know it's wrong, we can't fix it. Complaints really help us grow. If I get a complaint, I know that there's an opportunity for me to make a customer happy. I don't look at complaints as a failure. I look at them as an opportunity to improve. Getting a complaint does not ruin my day, it helps me to focus my efforts." Who thought this was a good marketing idea? All I learned about Nationwide in that commercial is that this guy gets a LOT of complaints and, apparently, no one has fired him yet.

So who is writing these things? I want names. Even better, they should have to list their names and addresses at the bottom of the screen so that we can find them and riot outside their homes. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand that information would help me narrow my search when I get my Commercial Death Penalty bill passed after I'm elected to office. Until then, I'm gonna have to satisfy myself with my own righteous indignation here in my living room.

Well, friends, it's past my bedtime so I'm going to bed and will likely dream of a scary king guy who keeps yelling "DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN I hate my Nationwide Insurance adjuster!"

Someone must pay . . .

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


When I first started blogging, I thought "This will be easy. Crazy stuff happens to me or a member of my family all the time - I'll have something funny to write about everyday." This has not proven to be true. As soon as I started blogging, my life got boring. What the heck?? This has made my life, well . . . boring, but it has also made blogging a little stressful!! I mean, what do I write about when nothing "blog-worthy" has happened to me?? I guess there is only one solution: when I have a blah day, I'll just bring you along for the ride. So here is my day summed up for ya . . .

I have back-to-back trials in a couple of weeks so I spent my holiday reading depositions in one of my cases. Sometimes I accomplish more if I have background noise so I'll turn on the television. Today was a Law and Order marathon on USA so I turned it on and watched several episodes of Law and Order SVU - you know, the Special Victims Unit. So basically, I spent my holiday reading about pervs and watching them on TV. I'm not sure that's how Memorial Day was meant to be celebrated.

Then I went to meet my family for dinner. We decided to meet at this new place called Which Wich. It's a sandwich restaurant that has attempted to take the tired idea of a sandwich shop and put a new twist on it. So when you walk in, there is a big menu with 10 categories of sandwiches and little brown paper bags that correspond with each category. You pick which sandwich you want, select the corresponding paper bag, and then check off the extras you want which are printed on the little bag. You turn the bag in and, in a few minutes, your sandwich is ready. I stood in front of the menu, trying to decide which wich I wanted (ahhhhhhhhhhh, I get the name . . .) and noticed two things that troubled me. First, there was a "Spam Classic" sandwich on the menu. This was mildly interesting and slightly troubling but I thought "to each his own." Then I selected the bag for my sandwich and started checking the particulars for my chicken parmesan. I got to the cheese section and noticed that "Cheez Whiz" was listed as a cheese. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Now, I'm not a snob - I love Cheez Whiz as much as the next gal. On a Ritz cracker. At home. When I was eight. I've never seen it listed on a menu. This troubled me and, although my sandwich was good, I'm just not sure how I feel about a place that could feasibly serve a Spam and Cheez Whiz sandwich. Can I get an Amen?

We sat outside and ate our sandwiches. My sister Tammy went inside to check on her kids' milkshakes. I started eating my dinner and chatting with my family. After a while, I started thinking it was strange that Tammy hadn't come back out yet. I ACTUALLY began wondering if she had been abducted and was being held hostage in a back room somewhere. I made a mental note that Law and Order marathons might not be the best thing for me.

On my way back home, I was trying to change lanes and the guy in the next lane sped up to foil my efforts. This got me thinking about the kind of personality one must have to go to that kind trouble. I mean, is he in his car shouting "NO CUTS!!" or "THIS IS MY LANE!!"? Did he just lose an argument with his wife so he is attempting to re-assert control somewhere? Does he think I'll get in his lane and slow down to 5 mph and make him late to wherever he's going? I have no idea. But I know that in those situations, it is incumbent upon me to be the more mature person. So I move over two lanes, speed up, and get in front of him from the other side. This made me WAY too happy and that started me thinking about my OWN personality . . .

When I got home, I had a couple of NCIS episodes that I had recorded so I decided to watch them. Have you watched this show? When I first started watching it, I thought it was a little cheesy but it's grown on me. So I watched a few episodes of that, too. On one of the episodes, the director of NCIS was kidnapped and held hostage. Her captor had her handcuffed with her hands behind her back and he made her kneel down. A few minutes later, he pointed the gun at her from across the room and made her stand back up. Rather than being focused on what a scary predicament she was in, I focused on how hard that would be to do. I pictured myself in her position. I'd be kneeling there with my hands cuffed behind me, he'd point the gun at me and tell me to stand up, and then the circus would begin. First, I would bring one knee forward with my foot planted firmly and attempt to stand but, without my hands, I would likely lose my balance and fall backwards with my hands trapped beneath me. Then I would have to try to flop around until I could roll myself over onto my stomach and get off my hands. I would lay there for a second, catching my breath and trying to figure out how to get up off my stomach without my hands. I would somehow work my knees up underneath me so that my butt would be in the air and my face would be smashed into the floor. From that position, I'd have to really do some core work to get my upper body back up off the floor. I'd count to three and grunt as I tried it and then I'd curse myself for not being more faithful with my Hip Hob Abs. I'd think to myself "Shaun T. could do this with no problem." Somehow I'd manage to get back up on my knees, completely out of breath and with my back to my captor who would no doubt be dumbfounded by what he just witnessed. I'd put one knee forward and try to stand again. I would most likely be shot at that point.

And now I'm sitting here in my living room thinking about what a great idea it would be to create an ab workout video that utilizes this whole "hands cuffed behind your back" thing. It would be unique and unquestionably an amazing workout. Unfortunately, though, it's late and I have to get to bed. But seriously, someone ought to run with that idea . . .

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day!!!

I love Memorial Day. I grew up in a very patriotic family and we always celebrated patriotic holidays in style. When I was a kid, my dad would gather us together on days like Memorial Day so that we could hang the flag on the center tree in our front yard. He would call us downstairs and then we'd all line up, march outside, watch while he hung it up, and then we'd all do our best salute. We always had fun doing that with my dad . . . I love memories like that.

My dad served our country after he graduated high school by serving in the Air Force. I don't know all of his assignments while in the service but I know that, for a while, he was a dental assistant. As many airmen did, he had to pull the night shift at the infirmary a few times and, on those nights, he and his fellow airmen would bring a piece of fruit with them to eat in case they got hungry. One night, their snacks disappeared. The next night, same thing. They determined that the civilian staff was lifting their fruit so they concocted a plan . . . one night, they injected the fruit with novocaine and left it out. Sure enough, the next morning it was gone. Needless to say, they never had anymore problems with civilians taking their food! I would LOVE to have heard the thief's call to work to let them know he would not be making it in that day . . . it's hard enough to talk when the dentist just deadens ONE side of your mouth!! I bet he was slurping drool for a week.

I have so much respect for the men and women who serve our country because they put their lives on the line for each and every one of us, even though they've never met us. That's a pretty remarkable thing. But that's not the only reason for my admiration. I also respect them because, frankly people, I would not last a DAY in the military.

First, I can't do push ups. And I don't think that any branch of the military would allow me to do girl push ups and quit after doing 5. Plus, I doubt that my superiors would encourage me through them by telling me that I'm amazing like the guy on my workout video does.

Second, I hate running. I become keenly aware of all the jiggling and worry about how long it will take for the jiggling to stop. I can't IMAGINE having to run long distances, with a huge backpack on my back, while being forced to echo back a song. Add a few stops in there for some push-ups and you've got my own personal Hell.

Third, I need positive re-enforcement. If someone got in my face and started yelling, I would just cry. I mean, one of my love languages is words of affirmation . . . drill sergeants probably don't really care about what your love language is. If I didn't cry, I would probably raise my eyebrows and go passive aggressive on him and that would no doubt make the situation worse. Plus, when someone's up in your face like that, the chances of spit hitting you in your face is pretty good. If that happened, I would NOT be able to remain nonchalant.

Fourth, I'm not a morning person. The first time I had to get up at 4 am to a bugle, I would go AWOL. I mean, I grew up with my mom waking me up with breakfast in bed and my dad giving me "5 more minutes" as many times as I asked. Currently I wake up to an alarm set to a country station, after hitting the snooze button 5 times. Something tells me this would be unacceptable in the service.

Fifth, I would NOT be a good soldier if captured. The second someone threatened to cut off any part of my body, I would sing like a bird. This is not what the military is looking for . . .

Soooooooooooooooooo my parents didn't raise girls who could hack it in the military but they made pride in our country part of the tapestry of our lives so that we each swell with pride when honoring those who serve our country. I'm so thankful for the men and women who sacrifice their time, energy, and sometimes lives to keep us safe. I will endeavor to be a life WORTHY of saving . . . as long as I can sleep in.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wait - what is he saying there?

I love music. When I'm in my car by myself, I'm pretty much the most amazing singer EVER. As you'll never be in the car with me when I'm, you know, by myself, you'll just have to take my word on this one. Sometimes I'm jamming away to some great song when it occurs to me that I need to make a call. Most people would turn the song down when they pick up the phone to actually make the call. Not I. I keep it cranked up so I can keep jamming until the person on the other end picks up. This way, I don't lose any "I'm freakin' awesome at this song" time. My best friend, Jill, has the uncanny knack of picking up the phone right at the end of a ring so that I don't actually realize that anyone's on the other end of the line until it seems like there's been an unusually long interval between rings. I quickly turn down the radio, say "helloooooooo??" hoping that my signal just died, and then hear just enough noise to know that Jill is the middle of the silent laugh. You know the silent laugh - where you're laughing so hard that no sound is coming out? Jill enjoys those moments . . .

It's funny now to hear songs that I loved when I was younger and to realize that I've had the words wrong all these years. These are a few of my favorites:

"No More Rain" by Blind Melon (1993). The chorus of this song goes:

I just want some one to say to me
I'll always be there when you wake
Ya know I'd like to keep my cheeks dry today
So stay with me and I'll have it made

I realize that now. But when I used to sing this song at the top of my lungs in my car back in high school, I didn't get those words right. Instead of singing "you know I'd like to keep my cheeks dry today," I sang: "you know I like to keep my teenage drogeny." I had no idea what a drogeny was but I figured it was some form of the word androgenous - perhaps the noun? Like maybe an androgenous person was called a drogeny? I wasn't sure but it made sense to me. I thought "You know, it's about the time the drogenies had a love song written about them!" I wasn't sure it was entirely appropriate for him to be wooing a teenage drogeny but who am I to judge?

"Saving All My Love for You" by Whitney Houston (1985). The bridge of this song goes like this:

You used to tell me we'd run away together
Love gives you the right to be free
You said be patient, just wait a little longer
But that's just an old fantasy

If you remember the song, my girl Whitney goes up really high on the end of "fantasEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE" and really holds it out. I used to sing (with all my heart, mind you) "but that's just an open tuxEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE." Had NO idea what that meant. But that was okay because I knew enough to know that these lyrics were about "mature" things so I just figured that an open tuxee was something that adults talked about. I felt really worldly singing it.

"How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston (1986). The chorus goes:

How will I know if he really loves me?
I say a prayer with every heartbeat.
I fall in love whenever we meet.
I'm asking you
'cause you know about these things.
How will I know if he's thinking of me?
I try to phone
but I'm too shy - can't speak.

Whitney tripped me up again! Instead of singing "but I'm too shy - can't speak, I would sing "but I'm too shycastic." I thought that "shy" was just the shortened form of "shycastic." Like slang, if you will. I thought I had stumbled across a new vocabulary word and you can bet I used it conversation. I would say things like "she is so shycastic." It never really caught on . . . my friends continued to use the word "shy." Poor uneducated fools.

"Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" by Crystal Gayle (1977). Every verse ends with the same line. Like so . . .

I didn't mean to treat you bad
Didn't know just what I had
But, honey, now I do
And don't it make my brown eyes
Don't it make my brown eyes
Don't it make my brown eyes blue

When I was a kid, Crystal Gayle was my FAVORITE singer - nay, my IDOL. Loved her and loved all her music. I wanted to grow my hair out like her but it was too hard to brush everyday so that didn't work out. I'm sure that Crystal didn't use "No More Tears" to wash her hair - she probably utilized a conditioner . . . that would make it SO much easier. ANYWAY, back then I used to lament that I didn't have blue eyes like my sisters. The color of my eyes were a curse upon me and I hated that I was the only kid with brown eyes. And, perhaps it was wishful thinking, but I thought Crystal was singing "Darnit! Make my brown eyes blue!" And, believe me, I sang that with ALL my heart.

"Redneck Girl" by The Bellamy Brothers (1982). I think we all know the words to this song but the chorus goes like so . . .

And I pray that someday I will find me a redneck girl
Oh give me a give me a give me a redneck girl
Give me a give me a give me a redneck girl

Oh give me a give me a give me a redneck girl
Give me a give me a give me a redneck girl

When I was a kid, I thought he was saying "Oh give me a give me a give me a big black girl." This was way off. I know that now. And he says "redneck girl" A LOT in that song, by the way. I was singing (again, at the top of my lungs . . .) lyrics like "big black girl likes to cruise in Daddy's pickup truck" or "big black girl got a name on the back of her belt." It's seriously in almost every line. It never crossed my mind that I was singing it all wrong. I just thought he knew EXACTLY what he wanted and I, for one, hoped he found her. With her name on the back of her belt and all . . .

So those are the highlights of the lyrics I've messed up in my life. I know that all of you have at least one song like this - a song that you realize now you were singing ALL WRONG. Most of you read this blog without commenting and that's okay. But not today. Take a second to share YOUR messed up lyrics with all of us . . . come on, don't be shycastic.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Recession: Nobody is safe.

I think the effects of the economy are being felt by pretty much everyone these days. We all know someone who has lost his or her job, lost money in the stock market, can't find a job, or at least paid too much for gas. But these things are to be expected during times such as these. However, there are some people who should not be affected by the ups and downs of the market - people who Americans need to know are immune from such things.

Recently, my niece Avery went to her first dentist appointment. Avery has been sucking her thumb since she was a baby so the dentist wanted to talk to her about the importance of stopping that habit. She talked to my sister Erin about it but Erin wanted the dentist to handle it so that she didn't have to be the bad guy. The dentist told Avery that she had a beautiful smile and Avery was glowing. Then she started to explain how Avery needed to stop sucking her thumb because it was making her teeth crooked. It was the one-two punch and poor little Avery's smile started to fade . . .

The dentist quickly saved the moment by offering a great idea. She told Avery that if she did a good job of stopping the thumb-sucking, that Erin would let the tooth fairy know and that the tooth fairy would bring her something special. This made Avery's smile return. The dentist, unable to stand the sight of a child smiling, apparently, then turned to Erin and said "Or you can tell her that she can continue to suck her thumb but that, if she does so, she must do so in her room because you and the rest of the family do not support that decision." What the . . .? Avery's smile? Gone. The dang one-two punch again . . . we should have seen it coming.

Avery began making the effort to stop the nasty habit. She would start to put it in her mouth and then would realize what she was doing so she'd stop and look longingly at her thumb before putting her hand back down by her side. She was such a big girl about it.

The next night, she and her sister Savannah had a slumber party at my sister Tammy's house with Tammy's kids, Emma and Ben. She did such a good job of not sucking her thumb and was excited that the tooth fairy would be coming soon if she kept up the good work. They went to bed that night and, when they woke up, Avery was ecstatic to see that the tooth fairy had visited! And had left her a note and some HEB Buddy Bucks . . .

That's right, I said HEB Buddy Bucks . . . as in the grocery store HEB.

Turns out my eight-year-old niece Emma wanted to play tooth fairy so she waited until the rest of the kids were asleep and slipped a note under Avery's pillow, along with some HEB Buddy Bucks. Wasn't that sweet? All of the kids joined Avery in her excitement. Except Ben. He was crying because the tooth fairy had taken his HEB Buddy Bucks and given them to Avery . . .

So it looks like the recession has hit the tooth fairy, too, and that she's been forced to get her Robin Hood on. And that's just wrong, people. If we can't expect the tooth fairy to remain solvent, what CAN we expect?? I've been optimistic about the economy but this shakes me to the core. What next??

I'll tell you right now, if Santa brings me HEB Buddy Bucks, I will NOT be pleased. And neither will Ben . . .

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A hairy situation.

I had a date with my mom tonight and we went to dinner at P.F. Chang's. The weather was beautiful so we sat outside to enjoy the evening while we ate our fried rice. We looked at the menu and decided that we couldn't decide between the vegetable fried rice and the chicken fried rice so we just decided to order both, in addition to our entrees. Our waiter was a young, slightly awkward guy who had the good manners to stop us while we were ordering to tell us firmly "That's REALLY going to be a lot of food." Well, thank you very much, Jenny Craig - just put our order in.

We chatted for a while and then our food came out. The guy who brought our food put the plates on our table, no doubt silently judging us for all the food we had ordered. I think I saw him give a knowing look to our waiter. ANYWAY, we started eating. My mom was eating her beef and broccoli and her vegetable fried rice when she discovered - horror of horrors - a hair in her food. She picked it up and turned to our waiter (who was right behind us) and showed it to him. She was looking over her glasses at him, as if to say "Now who's judging who . . .?" Needless to say, my mom's appetite suddenly disappeared.

Our waiter, continuing his awkwardness, came over and began questioning my mom: Where did it come from? Was it in the beef and broccoli or the fried rice? Are you sure it was a hair? Could it be ginger?

I'm sorry - did you say COULD IT BE GINGER???

Why does hair in food freak us out so much? I remember seeing a Jerry Seinfeld bit where he was talking about how people will go on and on about how beautiful someone's hair is, they'll even reach out to touch it and talk about how soft and silky it is. But as soon as it's in their food, they think it's disgusting. It's so true!!

I bet the chef at P.F. Chang's had a LOVELY blonde coiffure that day. She probably woke up, showered, put some mousse in, styled it JUST RIGHT with her roll brush, and admired herself in the mirror. When she walked in to work that night, people probably said "Wow! Your hair looks AWESOME today, girl!" She was probably feeling pretty great, frying up some fried rice and talking about what a big order that was for Table 19. Maybe she was even flirting with a cute cook in the kitchen, feeling pretty confident because she was having such a great hair day. Then the beef and broccoli and vegetable fried rice from Table 19 come back and suddenly the news is all over the place: her hair ruined some lady's appetite and cost the restaurant $24.50 . . .

What a blow to the self-esteem, huh? I bet she even stopped flirting with that cute cook.

I'll be honest. If I find a hair in my food, I'll just pick it out. It really doesn't bother me. Well, except for that one time that my mom and I got Krispy Kreme donuts in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and she found a hair in the box. Let's just say it was not the TYPE of hair you want anywhere near your food. I hadn't seen it and I had my mouth open, donut on the approach when I heard my mother yell "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" and dive for my hand. That time, we just closed the box quickly and vowed never to speak of it again.

So why does hair delight us and disgust us all at the same time? I don't know. And frankly, I can't think right now because I'm really full. I had kind of a big dinner . . .

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Homeboys and Rockstars

When I first started my job, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to pull off some of the words I now have to say on a daily basis. I'm not talking about all the, ummmmmmmm, anatomical words I have to use . . . I just pray and go to my happy place when I have to use those terms in front of people. No, I'm talking about the slang I hear - if you read my Street Cred entry, you have an idea of what I'm talking about. At least once a week, I run across or hear a word I don't know. I try to see if I can figure it out from the context but that usually doesn't work. At that point, I curse George Strait for not educating me more in his songs and then vow to listen to more Eminem or Kanye West. Then I think to myself "Is it Kanye West or Kanye East?" And I end up getting so frustrated with my obvious suburbanitis that I just shut down, stare blankly at the wall, and calm myself with mini Twixes from my candy dish.

So you can imagine my excitement when I ran across this little gem of a deposition excerpt and realized that there are lawyers out there who are MUCH whiter than me:

Q. You've mentioned home boy, you know, you've used the term home boy. Now some of the jurors may not understand that term. That doesn't mean it's your brother who lives in your home with you, is it?
A. No, ma'am.
Q. What's a home boy?
A. Someone from your neighborhood, somebody you kick it with all the time.
Q. And "kick it with" means?
A. Mean hang out with.
Q. And when you say dopehead, what kind of drugs -
A. He's a rockstar. He love rocks. He's -
Q. When you say rockstar, you don't mean he plays a musical instrument, do you?
A. No ma'am. I mean he's strung out on rocks.

Isn't it nice to find someone you can gloat over? Someone who's worse off than you? I mean, I would NEVER ask the questions this lady asked about the terms that she heard. First of all, I learned the term "homeboy" from the New Kids on the Block, thankyouverymuch. I also learned to rap from them . . . AND from "Mr. Wendel." (10 seconds before that song gets stuck in your head . . .) Second, I would not have known what a "rockstar" was but you can bet your britches that I wouldn't have asked if he played a musical instrument. I am WAY cooler than SHE is.

But, then again, I just admitted that the New Kids were my rap mentors and then I used the term "bet your britches" so I'm not actually sure who's winning at this point . . .

Where are my mini Twixes?

Monday, May 18, 2009

A blessing and a blog.

On Saturday, I had to mail some packages so I ran up to The Shipping Store in the shopping center near my house. I was in a hurry and really needed to get in and out as quickly as possible. I walked into the door of the place, loaded down with the packages and managed to get to the table right inside the door before all the packages fell out of my arms.

Just as I dumped everything onto the table, an elderly lady walked past me on her way out of the store. I smiled and said hi to her and she looked at me and said hi. Before I knew it, I found myself in the middle of a lengthy and, I might add, one-sided conversation. I thought I'd re-create it here for you, complete with my inner monologue in [brackets] . . .

Me: Hi!
Lady: Hi. (staring out door) Is it going to rain?
Me: I don't know. It smelled like rain last night but I don't think it ever rained.
Lady: It rained?!?!
Me: No. It smelled like rain (pointing to my nose and realizing she doesn't speak great English). But I don't think it actually rained.
Lady: But my grass was wet . . .

[Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay . . .]

Me: Oh! Well, I guess it DID rain!
Lady: It could have been the sprinkler.
Me: Yeah, that's true. It's hard to tell sometimes!
Lady: It rained really hard and my neighbor's tree fell on my house.

[This is not going the way I thought it would.]

Me: Oh no!
Lady: Yeah. During . . . (waving her hand back and forth to indicate wind)
Me: During Ike?
Lady: Yes. It was so big (using arms to indicate diameter of tree) and it fell on my brake-a room.

[What is a brake-a . . . oh . . . breakfast room. Got it.]

Me: Oh no! Well, I'm glad you're okay.
Lady: Yes. I was going to stay in my house and my daughter said I couldn't. She said I had to come stay with her. So I did.
Me: Well, thank goodness!
Lady: I almost didn't buy that house.

[This doesn't sound like a conversation that is wrapping up . . .]

Me: Oh, really?
Lady: No. I just didn't feel right. I had a feeling. I can feel that way sometimes, you know?

[No, I don't know, actually. I just met you a minute ago . . .]

Lady: My husband died.

[Yeeeeeeeeeeeah, I'm gonna be here a while . . .]

Lady: And I think "I shouldn't buy this house." But I did. (walks over to the table and leans against it).

[Uh oh. That doesn't look like "wrapping-it-up" body language . . .]

Lady: And I always do my paperwork in the brake-a room. Right there. And if I had been there . . . (eyes open big and eyebrows up and gives me a knowing look, as if to indicate she would surely have met an unfortunate end).
Me: Well, what a blessing that you weren't there!
Lady: Well, the tree wouldn't have hit me. It just hurt the roof a little.

[Wait. I don't get it.]

Lady: But if I had been there . . . (again opens her eyes and raises her eyebrows and gives me a knowing look).

[Yeah, I think I don't really know what that means.]

Lady: But it was my neighbor's tree. And she didn't want to pay to get it fixed. So I call a contractor and he comes out to look at it.

[Do NOT lean on the table, Catherine. That's the wrong body language. Don't do it.]

Me: (leaning on the table) Mmmmmm hmmmmmmm.
Lady: And he tells me it gonna cost 1200 dollars. (dramatic pause for my reaction)
Me: Yeah, that's a lot of money!
Lady: And he tells me I can stay in the house while he fixes everything but I don't want to breathe in the smell.
Me: Yeah, I wouldn't want to, either.

[What smell? What kind of contractor is this?]

Lady: So they fix it. But it was a big tree. And it was right next to my house. Like this. (starts moving my packages around to show me where the neighbor's house, her house, and the tree were) It was big.
Me: Wow.
Lady: Yeah. (smiles) Well, you need to mail your things - I will stop talking so that you can do it.

[Don't say it, Catherine. Do NOT say it. Do NOT say it.]

Me: Oh no, that's okay!


Lady: Really? Ok.

[Catherine, you stupid . . .]

Lady: My daughter's house didn't have any damage. She lives over there and I live over there. And her house - no damage. But MY house . . .

And so it continued. She just kept chatting with me and telling me about all of her repair problems on her house, how the contractor did, what the neighbors said, and a million other things. I think she talked to me for at least 15 minutes. Which is a long time when you are in a hurry and you were just trying to answer someone's questions about the weather. She finally realized that the store was about to close and I still needed to get my packages out. So we said our goodbyes and hugged and then she walked out.

As she was talking, I had two types of thoughts running through my mind. On one hand, I was amused. I kept thinking about how this kind of stuff always happens to me and how these people just seem to FIND me. I wanted to remember every word of this conversation so that I could blog about it since I desperately needed something to blog about. Or, at the very least, I could turn it into a funny story. And on the other hand, I was thinking about how this lady must be kinda lonely and maybe God crossed our paths so that she could get a smile from a stranger and someone to talk with. That line of thinking, of course, made me feel horribly guilty for planning my blog as she spoke with me . . . :)

But maybe that's exactly what God intended. You know - to kill two birds with one stone. He crossed our paths and gave us both what we needed . . . a blessing and a blog.

Amen. :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Road Trip!!!!

I love road trips. So when I found out that we had to travel to San Angelo for a deposition, I was so excited!! My trial partner, Christina, suggested that we fly but I just mocked her until I shamed her into not making such ridiculous suggestions. Apparently 6 hours on the open road is NOT her idea of a good time . . .

With each road trip I take, I'm developing a list of road trip truths and lies. Here is what I have so far.

Road Trip Truth 1: Inexpensive hotels are not always bad hotels. I've been very impressed with smaller, less expensive hotels. You know, your Comfort Inns, Holiday Inns, etc. Currently I'm sitting in my room at the Fairfield Inn in San Angelo and, I must say, it's quite nice. I'm enjoying the freezing air that comes loudly out of the window unit - I, of course, cranked it down the minute I walked into the room. Why do I do this to myself in hotel rooms?? It's like a ruthless game of Freeze Out against myself. Except with my shirt on. And I'm not hanging out the window of a car. Ok, it's nothing like that, I guess, but you get the point. The only negative thing I can say about the room is that the WiFi is broken so I'm having to plug into the desk for the internet and the desk chair sits about a foot off the floor. I can't figure out how to raise it. So I'm sitting with my arms at shoulder-level, typing, and freezing my buns off.

Road Trip Truth 2: Combos are always good road trip food. I opt for the cheese and cracker ones and they never disappoint. Christina spent a few minutes mocking me for eating them until she tried them. And then asked for seconds. See? They are ALWAYS a good choice.

Road Trip Truth 3: Texas is a beautiful place. It really is. The different types of terrain we saw in the 6 hours we were on the road were all beautiful. San Angelo, on the other hand? Not so much.

Road Trip Lie 1: San Angelo is a beautiful place. See above note . . .

Road Trip Lie 2: Dairy queen bathrooms are clean. No one wants to use the restroom at a gas station. This is a universally acknowledged truth. Some are more tolerant of the idea, but no one WANTS to. I move that we add Dairy Queen bathrooms to that list. Any seconds? I mean, it always sounds like a good idea to combine the bathroom stop with the Blizzard stop but have you ever been pleased with that decision? The bathrooms are always tightly squeezed into the back, left corner like an after-thought. I really think they're trying to discourage us from using their facilities. Today, we stopped at one in Killeen and it was like a closet that had been converted to a bathroom:
The picture really doesn't do it justice. It was REALLY small and I wasn't altogether convinced that my knees wouldn't hit the wall. Christina is MUCH taller than me so I'm not sure how she did it! And I have no idea what that is on the ground . . . I didn't notice it until just now, thank GOODNESS.

Road Trip Lie 3: Local restaurants are the way to go. Sometimes you should just go with your gut and go to Johnny Carino's. Tonight we ignored our guts and went to the local "steakhouse" which has apparently been a "Texas Tradition for 60 years." It wasn't great but we had a great waiter so that made up for it. And next time, perhaps we'll try the special . . .
Seriously, people. PROOFREAD. Unless the chef's name is "Tommow," this is unacceptable.

So that's my list so far. I do love a good road trip so I hope that I'll be discovering more truths and lies as I explore the roads around me. In the meantime, feel free to enlighten me with yours!!

FLUSH already!!!

Have you ever used a toilet that just doesn't have much flush power? You know, the ones that you flush and then you just have to sit there and watch the toilet paper circle the bowl until the tank fills back up so you can try flushing it again. I HATE toilets like that.

Unfortunately, the toilet at my office is a feeble flusher. The other day, I went to the bathroom at work after downing a Route 44 water from Sonic. I flushed the toilet and started washing my hands. Before I left, I noticed that there was still toilet paper in the bowl so I flushed it again. I stood there and watched helplessly as the paper circled the bowl defiantly, as if it were saying "You're not the boss of me." Suddenly, I had to win. I had to teach the toilet who was boss. So I flushed once more, this time with passion. My whole body weight went into it and I held the handle down as if I were somehow opening some floodgate somewhere and just had to give it enough time for the water to make it through. That time I was victorious - the bowl was free of toilet paper and I was free to return to more important tasks . . . like my job.

As I started to open the door, I began to panic. How many people just heard me flush three times? What are they thinking right now? Immediately, my mind started brainstorming damage control ideas but all I could come up with is going into a nearby office and starting up a conversation that would no doubt go like this:

"Man. Did you hear me flush the toilet like THREE TIMES? Crazy. That toilet is CRAZY. I mean, I just had a big water but . . . you know . . . I haven't eaten in like 3 days so . . . just drinking a lot of water and stuff . . .I'm just . . . that toilet paper just would NOT go down. What kind do we use? I wonder if we should stop buying that kind . . . it's really buoyant . . . it's just . . . you should try it. It's CRAZY."

So I just opted to walk quickly back to my office with my head hung, not make eye contact with anyone, and hope no one knew it was me.

I HATE toilets like that!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

All I wanna do is DANCE, DANCE, DANCE!!

I went to my niece's 5 hour dance recital this weekend. Yes, I said FIVE hours. Her dances totaled about 7 minutes of that 5 hours. Yes, I said FIVE hours.

We got to the auditorium at the local high school and sat in our seats, which were approximately five miles from the stage. Seriously? As I had not thought to bring binoculars, this was mildly upsetting. "No worries," I thought, "I'll just look through my zoom lens on my camera." Just then, an announcement was made: "No flash PHERtography or regular PHERtography." Well, crap.

Dance recitals are a funny thing. The dances with the little kids are SO fun to watch because they either stand there, stunned by the lights and the 200 faces staring at them OR they are watching their teacher off-stage and trying to mimic whatever move she's doing back there. Everyone enjoys those dances - I mean, how can you NOT?? They are just so cute. There was one class that had a little girl in it that stood completely still through both of their dances. She didn't cry or pitch a fit - she just quietly abstained. Sort of the Ghandi of her age group.

Then you have the slightly older classes - like maybe 7-10 years old. These dances can be both cute and disturbing. I mean, it's cute when you see them all doing their moves at the same time to cute songs. But when you see a 7 year old with gyrating hips, shaking her finger to lyrics like "she ain't got no money in the bank," it's a bit disturbing. Especially if you're sitting next to my mom who puts her hand on her chest and says things like "well, now, this is ridiculous."

Finally, you have the teenagers. I decided that it's just a little awkward to watch these older kids dance. They are just in that sort of clumsy, in-between stage and I kept finding myself a little embarrassed for them. Each time they'd jump up and all come thudding down at different times, I felt myself squirming and trying to avoid looking directly at them. The jazz, Chicago-esque number using the chairs? Awkward. The ballet number where they all came out wearing lavender and looking strangely jaundiced? Awkward. The hip hop number where they wore Uggs? Awkward. The hip hop number where they all wore track suits and kept their hair in their faces for that "hard" look? Awkward. In fact - ALL the hip hop numbers? Awkward. And the teenagers danced AT LEAST 3 hours of the whole program. I was THIS close to curling up in the fetal position for them.

But my niece was NOT awkward. She was PRECIOUS up there in her little red costume, shaking her "tail-feather" as the song instructed. She even got STUDENT OF THE YEAR for her age-group . . . isn't that amazing?!?! Gotta admit, I teared up a little at that one! And, here's my favorite illegal picture I took of her. She's at the far left . . .

Isn't she just so precious?? Notice how she's concentrating, with her tongue in her cheek.

Sitting at her dance recital reminded me of my first - and only - dance recital. When I was in fourth grade, I took tap and jazz at Boni's Dance Studio. I wasn't very good so I was always in the back row - you know, so people wouldn't see me. Awesome for the self esteem. So my sister Tammy (who is 5 years older than me) decided to try to help me. She came to watch our class a few times, learned the routine, and then started helping me at home. Tammy worked tirelessly to get me ready for the big performance and I started getting better and better. Picture Flashdance only with a fourth grader wearing a sweat band around her permed mullet.

By the time of the recital, I was the best in the class and had been moved to the FRONT row, CENTER spot. This was a big deal. And the only picture we have of the whole thing shows me going in one direction and everyone else going the other way . . .

Ahhhh the irony. But the fact that I was not in sync with my fellow dancers does not haunt me quite as much as the parachute pants, leg warmers, and the "Body by Boni" crop top.

Like I said . . . dance recitals are a funny thing. Don't you agree?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Oh, Nora . . .

In honor of Mother's Day, I thought I'd blog about my lovely mom. After all, no one in my life has given me more fodder than Nora . . .

My mom is a words person. Everyone who knows her knows that. She's an avid reader and if she runs across a new word in a book, she looks it up and will remember it FOREVER. It's really pretty remarkable. It's rather ironic, then, that she is TERRIBLE about remembering the names of things and it's always fun to try to translate her Nora-ism to plain language. I remember one night I picked her up to take her to dinner because she really had a taste for steak. As I was backing out of her driveway, I asked where she would like to go. She was very excited, clapped her hands down onto her knees, and declared with a big smile: "Starburst!" As there is no restaurant named "Starburst," this was not helpful information. So I put the car in park at the end of her street and started naming off restaurants until I had translated Starburst into Saltgrass Steakhouse. She tried to defend herself by saying that their logo looks like a starburst. Their logo is a cow skull . . .

Other notable Nora-isms include:
Martinique = Macaroni Grille
Killing Sergeant Somebody = Saving Private Ryan
Roadrunners = Roadside Sliders at Cheesecake Factory
Happy acres = Jolly Ranchers

Names are not her forte, I guess. :) But words certainly are. I remember when we were kids, we had to use a new vocabulary word everyday. She has made us all lovers of words and good grammar and I'm thankful for that. Even after we had grown up, she would teach us by using a strange word in a sentence. We'd ask her what it means and then she'd do the whole "Oh, you know what that means" thing and then she'd tell us. I remember one night, we were home from college and we had a bunch of friends over. We were all sitting around and my mom described someone's laugh as a "titter." My friends (mostly guys that night) got a kick out of that word because they had never heard it. She said "You've heard that word. It's just a laugh." And then the words we'll never forget: "Catherine, show 'em your titter." My friends got wide-eyed, most likely thinking I had the coolest mom, and then Erin quickly exclaimed "Oh God, Catherine - please don't." I don't know if any of us had ever laughed that hard. And, thankfully, my titter remained, ummmm, undisclosed . . .

I'm thankful to have a GREAT mom who has passed on her love for words to me AND who unwittingly gives me such great material.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Street Cred

In my job, I've learned lots of new words and expressions that are really helping to increase my street cred (which was just slightly decreased by the fact that I just accidentally typed street "credibility" . . . ). Here's what I learned yesterday:

1. Throwed off = Crazy. As in: "She was throwed off."
2. Jammed up = in trouble. As in: "They got her all jammed up."
3. Burn off = take off. As in: "We saw them coming so we burned off."
4. Out the game = to the extreme. As in: "They were dressed straight country out the game."

My new goal is to try to incorporate these words into conversation as often as possible. I think this will also help to improve my street cred, which is admittedly decreased by the fact that I'm actively planning to use these words in conversation . . .

My job also takes me to wonderful and exotic places. Today it took me to a shady part of San Antonio. As I drove into the neighborhood, I was immediately glad that I had such great new lingo to help me blend in a bit more. I was also glad that I have been improving my moves with Hip Hop Abs. I mean, with moves named "Flava Jam", it HAS to be increasing my street cred, right? They'd never know I was from the 'burbs . . .

We pulled up to the clinic where we'd be doing our deposition and determined it was straight ghetto out the game. (+1 street cred point). After looking around, we reviewed our "no man left behind" policy (-1 street cred point) and exchanged our lists of next of kin. We got out of the car and started unloading our stuff when we were approached by a Sheriff who was posted outside the door of the clinic. He asked if we were there for the deposition and then informed us that he had saved us a parking spot so that "no one will hit your car and stuff." I'm sorry - what? (-1 street cred point).

So I moved the car (-1 street cred point) and we went in to start the deposition. I walked in and noticed the sign that said "Fire ExtinGUSHer Inside"(-1 for unconsciously spell-checking things). Pretty quickly into the deposition we learned that the clinic we were in was a methodone clinic. (+1 for being in such a place). I suddenly found myself wondering if my new lingo would impress the heroin addicts there at all or if I needed a totally different set of new phrases. (-1 for being too excited about being in such a place). But, really, why would anyone choose to have a deposition there? Whoever it was must be throwed off . . . (+1 street cred point).

I sat through the deposition and listened to the witness say things like "I don't mean to beat a dead dog" and "he wanted to make him his b%$&@." (-1 for actually chuckling out loud when he said that.) It was a REALLY long deposition and I found myself pounding mint mentos (-1 for actually eating Mentos) to help the time go by. I admired a poster on the wall that read "Pot mayk me stoopid." (-1 for thinking it was a cute poster). Luckily, we finished before dark. (-1 for being worried about that). The doctor we were deposing commented on how it was good that we were finished before dark because it's not a good neighborhood. "Oh, really? I hadn't noticed." Then we loaded the car back up and burned off before we got jammed up. (+2 street cred point).

Oh, I do love my job!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"I feel funny."

I saw a video today that made me laugh so hard. And since I want this blog to be a place where we can all share a laugh with each other, I thought I'd post it here so YOU could enjoy it, too. Check it out . . .

Don't you remember that feeling of sitting in the dentist chair, basically getting gassed? I remember how they would put the mask over my face and I'd start breathing in that laughing gas and feeling so strange - like the way white noise or the snow screen on the TV must feel. Poor David was so concerned he would feel that way forever . . . don't you love how serious he is when he asks "Is this gonna be FOREVER??" I think I could list all my top dentist moments and none of them could compare with this video.

I could tell you about trying to drink a milkshake after a dentist visit in college and having my friend point out to me that the milkshake was actually running down my chin onto my shirt and I just couldn't feel it. But David would still win.

I could tell you about how I had my wisdom teeth removed and couldn't open my mouth bigger than about the size of a quarter and that my mom got me some mashed potatoes from Boston Chicken (before it became Boston Market) that made me sick. And how I suddenly found myself throwing up through a quarter-sized hole, hoping I didn't get "dry sockets" (what are those, anyway??)) while my sister and fellow wisdom tooth patient almost got dry sockets from laughing so hard at me. But it's just not as funny as this video.

I mean, his primal yell? Cracks me up every time. He looks positively crazed.

ANYWAY, that's good stuff, people. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Neighbors New and Old . . .

I was walking my dog the other day . . . because I'm trying to be the pack leader, thank you Cesar Milan. ANYWAY, we were ending our walk and were crossing back over to my little street when I saw something strange down at the end of my block by my house. There was a large, old, shirtless man with a towel around his neck. He wasn't "big boned" large but "lots of beer and bacon" large. And he was waving his arms around to air out his armpits. This was mildly interesting to me. There were three others with him and, although I have no idea what their relationship was, I have decided that they were his wife, his son and his daughter-in-law. He was not walking with them but it was clear that they were all together. They were clearly on a mere stroll so it seemed overkill for him to be shirtless . . . with a towel . . . airing out his armpits. But to each his own, right?

As I got closer to him, I wondered if they might be new neighbors and if this fantastic display of old man belly might be an everyday occurrence on my street. My dog was getting more excited as we approached him and he started to drift toward the man, wagging his tail. I noticed that as we got closer to him, he moved to the other side of the street, as if I were a car and he needed to give me room to pass. He was clearly not going to be friendly but I said hello anyway . . . because that's what I do. His response? It was a cross between the bleat of a goat and the fit that Sloth pitched when he couldn't reach the Baby Ruth that Chunk threw to him. And he never stopped waving his arms. My dog quickly retreated to the other side of my legs and we all kept walking in our own directions. I quickly realized two things: 1) they would clearly not be inviting me over for dinner and 2) my dog would be no help if I ever got attacked by a man waving his arms and grunting unintelligibly.

It got me thinking about how my family has had some interesting neighbors in its time. We've had some AWESOME ones, of course but we've had some crazy ones, too. For instance, there's the lady on my mom's street who walks her big American Standard Poodle over to everyone else's yards to poop and won't say hello when you try to talk to her. Or the guys next door to us in college who kept their windows covered in foil . . . why? But I think the best bad neighbor we've ever had was Kevin Carnes.

Kevin was a bully who lived on our street in Garland when I was 5-7. He was horrible. When I was 6ish, he and his brothers turned a hose on me and knocked me off of my bike and then proceeded to rip my shirt off of me. I hope you're as horrified as I was when this repressed memory came back to me a couple of years ago . . . :)

I remember one day, he ran over my sister's legs with his bike and we ran in to tell my mom. She was admittedly a little crazy back then so this was a bold move on our part - would we solve our bully problem or lose our mom to a federal prison? As we expected, she was seriously DISpleased to hear that this boy was, yet again, bullying her kids and she went outside to take care of the situation. I remember watching her walk across the street to where Kevin was standing, her muu muu blowing forebodingly in the wind. Kevin's face went white and a shout of victory went up from our side of the street. We had pulled out the big guns and had won the battle! A mad mom in a muu muu is TERRIFYING.

For years I have reported that my mom told Kevin that if he ever messed with her kids again, she would rip his arms off and beat him with the bloody stumps. However, my mom recently corrected me . . . it turns out that she told him that if he ever came near her girls again, she would rip off his arms and stuff the bloody stumps into his ears and then, if he ever wanted to ring a doorbell, he'd have to lean in with his head.

That's much better . . . don't you think?

Well, I better get some sleep. I have a walk with my dog in the morning and I need to be alert . . .

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A creepy little village . . .

My roomies and I had dinner at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants last night - Rico's in Alden Bridge . . . have you been there? It's yummy, yummy! ANYWAY, we normally sit toward the front of the restaurant in a booth but this time they sat us down in the back room where we had the good fortune of viewing a large, three-wall mural of a village market. There are no words to describe this mural and, honestly, there are some parts of it that are positively frightening. So I thought I'd share my favorite parts with you.

First, there's the girl from "The Ring" . . .

Try enjoying fajitas while she's watching you. I'm actually not sure what curse I've brought upon myself by taking her picture and posting it to this blog. If your computer screen turns to snow, I'm sorry.

Next, there's the Ring girl's evil and possibly mute brother . . .

This picture really doesn't do it justice, though. I mean, he's SPOOKY and he looks right at you . . . no, right THROUGH you. And I'm DEFINITELY not buying any of his avocados. Unless his sister tells me to. I'll do whatever the hell she says.

Next, there's the young man I like to call "slopey shoulders boy" . . .

Seriously? What an unfortunate body shape. And I'm so glad that when I eat things, they go straight to my hips and not to my right arm. His right shoulder must be so tired by the end of the day.

Next, the village zombie . . .

He's clearly stumbling into the market after having all the blood drained from his body. Either that, or he's recovering from his lip transplant surgery. Those lips are awesome. I think I should get my 4 year old niece to do their next mural.

Next, the village pervert . . .

Where is his hand? Someone arrest that guy.

Then we have the local boy suffering from elephantitis of the bicep . . .

Not sure if he's frolicking around the village, dancing, doing Hip Hop Abs, or racing off to his next arm-wrestling match but God bless his joyfulness while lugging that thing around.

Finally, we have the young amputee . . .

I wonder what kind of tragic mural-village accident could have caused this kind of unfortunate deformity. Maybe he stared into the eyes of the Ring girl? Maybe there was a tragic arm-wrestling accident with the bicep boy and this kid's arm was snapped off? After all, can we expect bicep boy to really understand the power of that thing? Well, at least we know our young amputee is 50% less likely to fill the village pervert's shoes when he grows up . . .

So there you have it - the colorful and strange mural-village that entertained, frightened, and perplexed us while we ate. Now, I didn't take a picture of the woman with the 5:00 shadow or the boy staring at the crucifix but, don't worry, they are all there waiting for you in the back room at Rico's in Alden Bridge . . .

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hip Hop Abs . . . teaching me humility.

So I've started doing Hip Hop Abs. Stop laughing.

It's a video taught by this guy named Shaun T. and his whole theory is that you can have rock-hard abs with his "Tilt, Tuck, & Tighten" move and without ever doing a single sit up. Sounds promising, right? I mean, I definitely do NOT have Hip Hop abs at this point. I have more like "flip flop" abs . . . because they flip and flop, not because they look like a pair of flip flops. That would be a situation too dire for even my guy Shaun T . . .

ANYWAY, I popped in the video to give it a shot and was immediately grateful that my roommates weren't home. This video has proven to me, definitively, that I am decidedly white. I have no rhythm. I guess I have fooled myself all these years because I can sing, can clap on beat (unlike my mom . . .), and can two-step. But I now know - without question - that I do not have a rhythmic bone in my body.

So let me tell you how this whole Tilt, Tuck, & Tighten thing works. You stand there and you roll your shoulders forward while also rolling your pelvis forward and then you tighten your abs. Then you put your shoulders back, your butt back, and kind of arch your back. You should try it . . . pick a beat and just go to town, back and forth. You start to think "This is a breeze. This is all I need to do for good abs? I'm gonna go buy some skinny jeans." Then he tells you to walk toward him . . . this is when things go downhill for me. When I try to TTT WHILE walking, there are bones in my hips and back that separate unnaturally and my right leg starts to do something that resembles a violent spasm or epileptic seizure, like I'm suddenly trying to kick something. Why only my right leg? I would love to know. Then while I'm trying to get the walking down, he has me start throwing a jump or two in there. The leg spasms begin to escalate and I find myself standing there confused and acutely embarrassed. It really has made me want to verify the quality of my blinds . . .

So right now I'm not feeling it in my abs as much I'm feeling it in my dignity. But I'm gonna keep working on it and see if I can get the best abs in town, one leg spasm at a time.

I'll keep ya posted!!