Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Open phone, insert foot . . .

Last week, I was in Corpus Christi for a conference for work. During the conference, the Unit I work for had its annual meeting where all the different divisions get together for updates on protocol, etc. When we came into the meeting, we were given a packet of information in a large envelope. About halfway through the meeting, our boss called attention to the new phone lists for each division that were included in the packet. LITERALLY - yes, literally - 30 seconds later, I get a text from a number that's not programmed in my phone and the only thing the person said was "hello".

Naturally, I thought it was someone in the room who had just gotten my number from the new list and thought they'd mess with me. I tried to slyly look around the room without actually LOOKING like I was looking around the room. You know how that goes . . .

ANYWAY, my mysterious texter and I then had a little text exchange that went like this:

Mystery texter: Hello
Me: Hi! Who is this?
MT: Your worst nightmare
Me: Well, I doubt that. My worst nightmare is a Little Debbie Factory on fire. So try again . . .

[I secretly congratulated myself on that witty little quip and tried to avoid smiling at my own joke since someone was watching me. But I nonchalantly looked around to see if anyone was cracking up at my off-the-charts hilarity . . .]

MT: oh well not for long its going to be ME
Me: [going in for the kill, congratulating myself a little too early at the wittiness I'm about to whip out] Well, you use poor punctuation so you might be right . . . :)

[Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooh!!! Burn!!!! Whoever this is will laugh now and give in. We'll have a moment where we'll make eye contact across the room and he or she will give me a nod as if to say "Touche, my friend. Touche. You win." Like my own Mentos moment.]

I began to look around the room for my moment of victory. And then the next text came in . . .

MT: Hey im 11 and my initials are a.s.

Oh . . . crap . . .

Did I just insult an 11 year old's punctuation?????

Yep. That's what I did. My little friend Annie had just gotten a cell phone and was texting me for the first time from it. What are the chances that she would text me only SECONDS after my number was distributed around a room full of people I know? And on a day that I felt particularly feisty? It was the perfect set of circumstances and the worst possible outcome. I felt about an inch tall.

So, ironically, it really DID end up being my worst nightmare . . .

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Horror Boat

On Friday night, my family took me out for my birthday dinner at Cheesecake Factory. Right outside the restaurant, there is a waterway that was made to SORT of resemble the Riverwalk in San Antonio. Our waterway is a little too young to be the cultural and social mecca that the Riverwalk is but it's growing. There are businesses and restaurants along it and there are Waterway Taxis that take people from place to place or just give a tour of the Waterway to those who are just along for the pretty ride. Since this story is about our boat ride, I thought it might be nice for you to have a good mental image of what I'm talking about. Here's what the Waterway and the taxis look like this . . .

As we were sitting on the patio of the Cheesecake Factory, my nieces and nephew kept coming up to me and whispering loudly in my ear things like: "LET'S GO ON THE BOAT FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY! CAN WE?!?!?" or "TELL MOMMY, CATCHY, SO SHE'LL SAY YES!!" or "Did you ask yet, Catchy? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease??"

How on EARTH am I supposed to say no to THAT??

We told the kiddos the good news and then my mom went to find out when the next boat was. She returned with some bad news. We had JUST missed the 8:00 boat and the next boat didn't leave until 9. The kids looked from one adult to the other, silently begging us to wait for the next boat. So we thought "what the heck?" and decided to just kill some time so that the kiddos could enjoy a nice evening boat ride.

They were SO excited . . . 9:00 could NOT come fast enough. We headed down to the boat at around 8:45 and the kids half skipped and half ran to jump on board. They were giggling with anticipation. As we approached the boat, the driver stepped out and pulled the boat so that it was flush with the dock. Then he greeted us by barking:

"Step over the crack. It WILL rip your foot off."

Oooooooooooooookaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay . . . We should have abandoned ship at that point. Literally. Instead, we paid our money and took a seat. The kids were barely able to contain their excitement. Then the driver began his tour with some fun little tidbits. This is the gist of what he said:

"I'm gonna start by telling you that this boat weighs 30,000 pounds. I have put life jackets all around this boat. They are under all of your seats. Now if this boat were to sink right here, we're only in about 3 feet of water so you would have water up to your knees. But when we get out into Lake Robbins, the water is 12 to 20 feet deep so this boat will sink straight to the bottom and you WILL drown. Now, I have put the life jackets for the kids over here by me. The reason for that is that when the water is flooding in through the windows, I don't want to have to go all the way over there to get the jackets for the kids. Now, speaking of kids . . . we will be going through narrow passes. These passes are 15 feet wide and this boat is 14 feet wide. Put it this way - it's a tight squeeze and I will have to get us through there safely. Do not let your children walk around this boat or put their arms or heads outside the boat. Basically, if their hand gets caught on something, it takes 30 yards for this boat to stop. [looks around] It weighs 30,000 pounds [shoots us a warning look and then continues] Put it this way - if their hand is caught and the boat takes 30 yards to stop . . . just use your imagination to figure out what will happen. The boat keeps going, the hand stays. [then, as if we didn't get it . . .] It WILL rip their arms right off."

The kids sat there stunned, their excitement giving way to pure terror. That's when we realized that we had a driver who took his job as a Waterway Taxi driver a LITTLE too seriously. Perhaps he had missed the cast calls for Deadliest Catch? I don't know. I just know that the mood on the boat was not unlike that of a post-iceberg Titanic. Minus the band. And that he was the suckiest tour guide in the history of tour guides . . .

He put the boat in motion and started down the Waterway. He pointed out the various restaurants and points of interest along the way. Fairly quickly into the tour, we approached Lake Robbins. Now let me tell you about Lake Robbins: it's a small "lake" on the perimeter of the mall that really resembles a pond. There's a fountain in the middle and a few business around the perimeter of the water. It's actually more of a water feature on the Waterway. In fact, I was surprised to hear it called a "lake." And the boat kind of cuts across the side of it on its way to the other half of the waterway. It's really no big deal. As we entered it, I expected to hear some interesting little tidbits about when it was made, the businesses that were on it - something to that effect. Not so much. Instead, Captain Sunshine says, "Ahead is Lake Robbins [dramatic pause] . . . the reason we have the life jackets on this boat. Do NOT move around." Then he clicked the microphone off and put both hands on the wheel so that he could navigate us through the danger.

As we were entering Lake Robbins, Erin looked over at Savannah and noticed that she looked positively terrified. Erin asked her if she was having fun and she shook her head quickly, as if she were too afraid to speak. I told her to come over and sit on my lap and she started shaking her head and crying because she wasn't supposed to stand up in the boat. It was like I was betraying her by asking her do something she could get killed doing. So I stood up, walked over to her, picked her up, and brought her back to my seat. That's when she saw that Brian's elbow was hanging out the window and she started crying all over again, whispering pitifully, "Tell Brian to put his elbow back iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin. Tell him, Catchyyyyyyyyyyyyy. So it won't get pulled oooooooooff." I tried to explain that nothing was going to happen to his elbow but she wouldn't rest until all of his appendages were safe. She muttered over and over: "I wish we'd waited for the next boat or that we just hadn't gone on a boat ride. This is NOT fun at ALL." Then she asked Erin, "Mommy, can I sleep with you tonight? Because this is gonna be in my head."

Fun times. Fun times.

We saw what appeared to be Otters on the bank of the lake and the kids starting pointing at them excitedly and yelling "Look! Otters!" Captain Sunshine quickly got on the microphone and said, disdain dripping from every syllable, "Nooooooooooooooo. Those are NOT otters. They are Nutria." Then clicked the microphone off and went back to driving.

Somewhere in there, he noticed some condensation running down one of the windows. It was, at most, a mild irritation to the lady who was sitting by that particular window. But he told her that he had a shammy in his bag for the water and that she should get it. She stood up, resulting in a collective gasp from the kids on the boat, and walked to his backpack. He said "It's the red shammy right there in that pocket." The lady looked at the backpack, momentarily confused - it must have had at least 20 zippered pockets. But he didn't give her any time to figure it out before he started yelling "Right THERE! The red thing! In the POCKET!" And then he said "I'll GET IT!" as he backed away from the wheel, grabbed an opaque tube from the backpack and pulled out a slightly orange shammy. And the whole time he was doing it, he was looking desperately back and forth between the shammy tube in his hands and the waters ahead of us as if he were thinking "If I could only get this shammy out in time to save the boat from sure destruction!" You've never seen a shammy retrieval handled so dramatically. It was like Sophie's choice for him . . . all for a little condensation.

It was right around that point that Ben turned to Erin, pointed to an opening by the door of the boat, and asked, "Auntie Erin, is that where the water is going to come in when the sinking part comes?" Poor guy thought the sinking/drowning part of the ride was a sure thing. Erin explained to him that there would be no drowning tonight.

Then we began to approach the narrow arm-ripping passageways that we had been warned about. (If you scroll back up to the top, you can see a picture of them in the background behind the boat.) Captain Sunshine took the opportunity to warn us again and that, of course, prompted the kids to do a panicked appendage-check to ensure that all of our arms and limbs were out of harm's way. He put his hands at 10 and 2 and had an intensity on this face that would rival that of the Irish captain from Jaws. One poor kid on the boat made the mistake of moving from his seat and relocating to a seat along the front of the boat so that he could get a better view. This elicited a bark from Captain Sunshine: "Hey! Do NOT move! It will redistribute the weight and send us DIRECTLY into the side of the passage!" As we went through the passageway, I noticed that we had at LEAST three feet on each side of the boat and had NO problem navigating our way through it. Plus, we weren't going fast enough to be in any danger, even if we HAD run into the walls. In fact, there was a jogger running alongside the waterway with a Yorkie so you can imagine the speed at which she was moving . . . not very fast . . . AND she was outrunning us. By a lot. So even if we had plowed into the side of the passageway and ricocheted our way through it, we would have come out on the other side unscathed and most likely screaming with our arms up roller-coaster style.

After our near-death experience in the first passageway, we continued on toward the turn-around point which is a large basin at the end of the Waterway. The driver turned us around and headed back toward our beginning point. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand then we approached the "narrow" passageway from the other side. As soon as it was in sight, he started talking about the skill necessary to navigate through it safely. He started talking about how he was going to approach it and then make a sharp 90 degree turn and it SHOULD coast right through. He only hoped that no part of the boat would hit the walls. He must have reviewed the technique with us at least 5 times - he was going to head straight for the bushes and then do a sharp 90 degree turn. None of it mattered to me but apparently it was really working Savannah up because when Ben stood up to get a better look at what could be our last sight on this VERY dangerous boat ride, she said very sternly "BEN! Sit down!! He's about to do the 45-5-whatever." And then she held on to me for dear life.

If it wasn't so funny, it would have been sad.

As we pulled out safely on the other side, Erin sarcastically shouted "Praise Jesus!" and everyone on the boat cracked up. I guess we weren't the only ones who had picked up on this guy's dooms day approach to tour-guidism. Not surprisingly, we made it through just fine and headed back to our starting point. At that point, Ben looked up at me and very seriously asked "Catchy, when is the arm-ripping-off part gonna come?"

That man TRAUMATIZED those kids!

As we headed back to our starting point, the driver was telling one of the passengers about how much strength it took to drive one of those boats: "Basically, it takes a lot of strength to drive one of these. Put it this way, I have a workout I do. This boat weighs 30,000 pounds." Then he saw two ladies waiting for the taxi and he yelled out, "Here we go! Remember how I told you this boat takes 30 yards to stop? Well, here's your perverse thrill!" And then he proceeded to slow it down so that the could pick the ladies up.

Someone was AWFULLY impressed with himself and wanted us to be impressed, too. It was NOT a perverse thrill.

Erin and my mom tried to warn the ladies that they should run for their lives but they got on and the driver yelled at a little girl who dared to put her hand on one of the pylon that we were docked against: "Do NOT touch that ballard! It is NOT a toy! This boat weighs 30,000 pounds! It WILL rip your hand off!" Then the girl got yelled at by her father for touching the ballard. She was having as much fun as our kiddos were.

We FINALLY got back to the starting/ending point and, when we did, Captain Sunshine announced "Folks, here's one more perverse thrill for you - I'm gonna stop this boat." And then, with an air about him that said "I'm the coolest person you know - and I saved your life 5 times tonight," he stopped the boat.

We filed off and he gave us one last parting "Watch your step. This WILL rip your foot off - that boat is 30,000 lbs." We unanimously agreed that it was a HORRIBLE ride and quite traumatic and that we would never ride his boat again. Then we staged a couple of photos for you.

Here are the kids re-enacting how excited they were when we were getting on the boat:

And here they are giving their best "That was the worst, arm-ripping boat ride EVER!" looks:

(Note: Avery was too traumatized to participate in the photo shoot. She was seeking the shelter of her mother's arms.)

So if you find yourself walking along the Waterway saying "I'd love a good perverse thrill today," hop on one of those 30,000 pound boats and see where it takes you.

But, for goodness sake . . . DON'T touch the ballards.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy birthday to MEEEEEEEE!!!!

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday, dear meeeee-eeeee, Haaaaaaaaaaaaappy birthday to me!!

So what does one blog about on one's birthday? It's a big decision. Does one blog about oneself or does one pick a birthday-neutral topic? Does one refer to oneself as "one"? No, that's annoying. I have no idea how the Queen does it.

ANYWAY, today is my birthday. The 34th anniversary of the glorious day of my birth. I'll allow you to take a moment to give thanks . . .

Done? Are you sure? You didn't take very long. Try it again . . .

I really can't believe that I'm 34. I don't know how it happened. It seems like yesterday I was sucking food out of my braces and praying someone got me the New Kids CD I asked for. And then BAM! Out of nowhere I've got 6 gray hairs, I groan when I sit down, and I find myself agreeing with my mom that the sound system in the movie theater is too loud. What's happening to me?? It seems like it all happened in the blink of an eye. And the worst part about it is that there are so many things that I had planned to do by this point in my life that I haven't done. So I've decided to compile a list of things I want to do before my next birthday. Some are new and some are old dreams that never reached fruition but the one thing they have in common is that they are top priority for the coming year . . .

1. Create an adult-size Sit N Spin. Why hasn't anyone done this yet? I can't be the first one to come up with this idea. It's like a black-hole in the toy market and it's just staring us in the face. This must be corrected.

2. Change social norms so that eating a bacon cheeseburger with guacamole is considered dainty and attractive. Grilled chicken salads be damned!

3. Petition the Catholic Church to admit Little Debbie into Sainthood as the Patron Saint of My Fat Roll. She deserves the recognition.

4. Marry a doctor who worked his way through med school as a mechanic. Think about it - all of our major bills would be taken care of. He could come home and say "Honey, I got sued today." and I could say, "No problem. I'll take care of it. Oh and sweetie . . . I've got a cough and my brakes are squeaking." Dream. Team. And I don't think that's being too picky AT ALL.

5. Go to Italy. I had planned to save this for my honeymoon but since my future husband is apparently not an innovative go-getter who can find me while I'm sitting at home watching NCIS re-runs and playing Solitaire on my computer, I'll have to go by myself. We're gonna have a BIG talk about that when he finally knocks on my door.

6. Win a contest that lets me go on a 90-second shopping frenzy in a toy store. Don't ask me why. It was something I saw on some game shows when I was a kid and it stuck with me. And I would STILL go straight for the Cabbage Patch Kids.

7. Open for the New Kids on the Block. Don't you judge me.

8. Single-handedly take down the skinny jeans trend. It needs to be done, friends. Worst fashion idea EVER.

9. Be in a Hostess Factory during an earthquake so that I can eat my way out of the rubble.

10. Go skydiving. I'm really not sure why this is on my list but it's something that I used to want to do so I think it should be carried over onto my new birthday goals list. But it probably won't ever happen. I mean, I had to climb up onto the third rung of my ladder to change the light bulbs in my kitchen the other day and almost had a panic attack. Plus, I would be so self conscious jumping tandem with someone and would no doubt take offense if they said something like "Wow - we're falling a lot faster than I've ever fallen with anyone else. I hope our parachute has been eating its Wheaties!" Yeah, skydiving is a BAD idea. Better take that one off my list . . .

So will you pledge to help keep me on track this year? Will you promise that you will not let me rest until I'm in Italy with my doctor-mechanic husband on an international skinny-jeans-burning tour with the New Kids?

If you do, I promise I'll let you use my Sit N Spin . . .

Have a happy my birthday! :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Contradictions all around!

Lately, I have felt surrounded by contradictions.

It started when I was at my mom's house talking to her about her new One A Day vitamins. She was very excited about them because they were like gummi bears only in the shape of fruits. She had me try one and I must admit that they were pretty good - I even went back for another one. Before doing that, though, I decided to read the information on the back of the bottle. That's when I noticed that the instructions said to "take two a day."


How can a vitamin called One A Day require you to take TWO a day?

A few days later, my friends and I went to Subway for lunch. I don't know if you've been to Subway lately but they've been running a promotional Scrabble game. It's kind of like the Monopoly game that McDonald's used to run. You buy a drink with your meal and there are little game pieces on the side of the cup that you peel off. As we sat there eating our sandwiches, I peeled my game piece off. I got one piece that had a letter on it (for the Scrabble game that I'll never play and, therefore, useless to me) and I had another piece that said "Instant Winner" on the top. I was very excited and looked further down to see what my instant prize was. But, to my dismay, in the spot where my prize would be listed, all I saw was "You are not an instant winner."


I've never gone from winning to losing in such a short amount of time.

Today, we went to lunch at the local Chinese Buffet. I know, I know - a Chinese buffet in Huntsville is enough of a contradiction. But there's more. We walked in, found our seats, and then dove into the goodies on the buffet. We were surrounded by Chinese writings, Oriental decorations, and other items consistent with an Asian motif. We sat down and dug in. As we were sitting and chatting, I became aware of the music playing over the PA. I thought I heard "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!" so I listened more closely and, sure enough, it was straight-up gospel music.


Well, makes sense - fried rice always makes me want to put on my choir robe and have church. Love that stuff.

As I was driving on 45 today, I came upon a slow vehicle so, naturally, I decided to pass it. I moved over to the left lane and then I noticed that the car was swerving over the line into my lane so I slowed down to keep a little distance between us. Then the car swerved over onto the shoulder. I started to wonder if the driver was drunk and then I saw that she was reading. READING. She had a packet of paper on her steering wheel and was just swerving all around. I was just disgusted with her. DISGUSTED. I quickly passed her, gave her a glare, and then pulled out my phone to text Jill about it.


Oh well - the contradiction thing was bound to rub off on me sooner or later . . .

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hangin' out with the kids.

I love spending time with my nieces and nephews. I love listening to them talk because they invariably say and do hilarious things that make me crack up.

Case in point . . . on Friday night, I went to the Highlander football game with Erin and her husband, Matt, and all the kiddos (Erin's and Tammy's). After the game, we had to run by Wal-Mart real quick so I stayed in the car with the kids while Erin ran in. While she was gone, Savannah and my nephew, Ben, had this awesome conversation:

Ben: Catchy, are you a mom?
Savannah: [before I could get an answer out . . .] No, Ben. She's just a regular lady. She's not a mom because she doesn't have any babies. You have to have babies to be a mom. [I could actually FEEL my ovaries getting defensive.]
Ben: Oh.
Savannah: You have to have a husband but she doesn't have a husband.
Ben: Oh.
Savannah: She isn't even married. That's kinda weird.

Awesome. I silently braced myself for what I thought would be the natural progression of her statements, i.e. "She's all by herself. She doesn't have anyone else sleeping in her bed. Her bed is lop-sided because there's no one sleeping on the other side. She doesn't even have cats so she can't even be a weird cat lady. She's gonna die miserable and alone, on a lop-sided bed, without any cats." You know, things of this nature. But, instead, she scrunched up her face and asked me some questions:

S: Catchy, don't you want a husband?
C: Well, sure! Do you think I should get one?
S: Yeah.
C: Why?
S: So you won't be all alone in your house.
C: [Preach it, sistah . . .]
S: Catchy, were you married but then you got divorced?
C: Nope. I was never married.
S: You were just NEVER married?
C. That's right.
S: Like when you were a teenager, you didn't get a man?

Wow. Ummmmmm, Erin - I don't know what you're teaching your daughter but you MIGHT want to talk to her about this at some point . . .

C: Nope. I never did. Isn't that crazy?
S: Yeah. Did you not want one?
C: No, I did! I just never found one.
S: You NEVER did?
C: Right.
S: Oh. Did your mom tell you that you couldn't have one?
C: Nope.
S: Did someone else tell you you couldn't?
C: No, uh-uh.
S: Well, if no one told you that you couldn't, then you CAN.

What great advice from a 6 year old. Savannah, my dear, you are wise beyond your years . . .

Then on Sunday, I took Savannah and Avery to church with me because Erin had a headache. On the way to church, Savannah told me that Avery had wasted a piece of paper by crumbling it up and throwing it away before she even drew anything on it. Avery got very defensive and turned her entire body toward Savannah so that she could adamantly protest this accusation. She raised her voice and said, "SaVANNah! You TOLD me to throw it away. I was only doing what Indians do!"


So I said "What do you mean? What do Indians do? Then she turned toward me and said, just as passionately as she had to Savannah, "They 'rumble paper up and throw it away!" I never knew that about the Indians. But kuddos to Avery for coming up with the perfect argument stopper - when you make it an ethnic thing, it makes it difficult to refute.

After church, the kids wanted to drive with the top down (of my convertible, that is. Although maybe I SHOULD start driving with my "top down" so that I can get Savannah and her "Get a Man" crusade off my back . . .). ANYWAY, we decided that they needed some shades so that the sun wouldn't be too bright for them when the top was down. We also decided that I needed some better music in my car for them. So we went to Target and got some sunglasses and a Hannah Montana CD. As we pulled out of the Target parking lot with "Hoedown Throwdown" blaring from my speakers, I thought about how many cool points I was losing by playing that song. And then I realized that playing the song wasn't what was making me lose the cool points - it was the fact that I was bopping my head and singing along. Well, what can I say? I do love a catchy tune . . .

After Target, we met Erin for lunch at Lupe Tortilla's. The waiter brought our food and we were getting the kids situated with their enchiladas when Savannah suddenly exclaimed: "Man! I haven't had a bath in a LONG time!" Erin looked around, laughing nervously and quietly mouthing "yes she has . . ." I just sat there praying that she didn't start talking loudly about my utter lack of a man again. Although, there IS a cute manager there it wouldn't hurt to drop a hint or two in front of . . .

But I digress.

After lunch, the kids wanted to come back to my house to watch a movie so that's what we did. Then I took Savannah and Avery to Kroger's with me to get some groceries for dinner. They wanted to get one of the grocery carts with the little car on the front end so, of course, that's what we did. They rode in the little car and I pushed them around the store, listening to them yelling at their imaginary kids in their imaginary backseat. They kept telling "Allysa Allison" that she was going to have to go home if she didn't behave. About halfway through our shopping trip, Savannah starts leaning out the side of the car, gesturing impatiently with her arms at some imaginary person in front of us, and shouting "Dude!" It was the first instance of grocery store road rage that I've ever seen. And, friends, it wasn't pretty.

And is it wrong that when I heard her say "Dude!" I looked around to see if it was a SINGLE dude?

That girl's in my head now.

Friday, September 18, 2009

More deposition fun!

I was preparing for trial recently and had to read the deposition that I had taken of the offender. I blogged last week about my discussion with him about drugs because I had to laugh at my ignorance about that subject matter. But as I was reading the rest of his deposition, I noticed something else that made me laugh: my complete inability to let his grammar mistakes go . . .

Q. Is [the tattoo] like pictures of y'all?
A. No. Just like teardrops with the initials beside them.
Q. And what does that mean?
A. Just the tears that I've cried to myself about them certain individuals.
Q. And THOSE people are your mom, your dad, your sister --
A. No, my dad ain't in there.
Q. Your dad IS NOT in there. Okay.

I also had to laugh at our discussion of his gang involvement. He had spent some time in the Crips and then left the Crips to join the Klan. I had read that in the file before deposing him and I was very curious about that - those two groups seem pretty mutually exclusive to me. So when I deposed him, I asked him some questions about it. But it didn't really clear any of my confusion up for me . . .

A. I'm not part of [the Klan] no more.
Q. Right.
A. I got a letter from the Imperial Wizard telling me I'm no longer.
Q. Right. [Said more like "Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight."] Because of your sexual offending history?
A. Because when this right here started that's when he dropped me.
Q. Okay. How did the Imperial Wizard know about your offenses?

[Did I just really use "Imperial Wizard" in a sentence?]

A. The lady named Jackie, she does background checks to see what's going on in people's lives.
Q. Okay.

[Wait - I was too busy laughing at the fact that I just said "Imperial Wizard" with a straight face . . . did he just say that the Klan does background checks?]

A. And they found out about --
Q. She works for the Klan? [A look of disbelief on my face . . .]
A. Yeah.

[Yep - that's what he said. Keep a straight face, Catherine. Whatever you do, don't smile. DON'T SMILE . . .]

Q. I'm sorry. I'm smiling. That's so rude. It's just I never thought of the Klan as -- as, you know, doing background checks. That's why I'm -- it's just -- I'm sorry. I'm not trying to be rude. I'm smiling, but that's rude. [Pull it together, Catherine!] OKAY . . . So she did a background check and found out that you had the sexual offense history. And so she -- that's --
A. She told the Imperial Wizard, and I got a letter telling me I'm no longer.
Q. Your -- your membership was kind of revoked?

[This is hilarious.]

A. Yes.
Q. Okay. So I'm confused on how you are a member of the Crips and then become a member of the Klan.
A. I -- I dropped the Crips myself.
Q. And so [how do I say this?] the -- the Klan -- so I -- I -- what -- what confuses me is that the Klan is typically a -- I mean, that's -- that's -- you are -- it's an Aryan --

[Well, that went pretty smoothly . . .]

A. Yeah.
Q. an Aryan brotherhood. Right?
A. Organization.

[Okaaaaaaaaaaay. "Organization" it is.]
Q. Aryan Organization. So you don't like people of other races. Correct?
A. That -- it's not that. I had say -- I see different people as -- as a skin.


Q. I'm sorry?
A. I see different races as a skin.

[Wow - that's profound, buddy.]

Q. As a skin. Different --
A. To a certain extent.
Q. To a certain extent. Okay.

[Why do I keep repeating what he's saying?]

A. And what they did, see how people disrespect my race, the white race.

[Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight . . .]

Q. Okay. Because you were a member of the Crips, and aren't the Crips -- would that be primarily African-Americans?
A. Yes. But everybody -- the Klan really ain't a hate organization.
Q. It's not?
A. No.
Q. Okay . . . Because I thought it was.
A. No.

[Well, they might want to hire a new PR person, then . . .]

Q. Are you called The Night Walker?
A. That was my Indian name, yes?
Q. That was your Indian name?
A. Yeah.
Q. Okay. Well, how --
A. My religion -- my religion was Native American. I'm a quarter Apache.

[The Crips, the Klan, and the Apaches. Say what you want about him, this guy's pretty well-rounded.]

Q. Was this before you got involved in the Klan?
A. Yes.
Q. Okay.
A. Another Apache gave me that name.
Q. What is the Klan's view on Indians?
A. I mean, they basically say not -- not considered white.
Q. Okay.

[Yeah. Basically.]

A. Klan -- Klan believes that they're the Aryan -- the Aryan race is the chosen race.
Q. Okay.
A. They're -- I can't say that word. "Superior" --
Q. Uh-huh.

[Ahhhhhhh, the irony . . .]

Friends, I've said it before and I'll say it again . . . I love my job!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This should be fun . . .

I recently bought a Mac and very shortly thereafter discovered video chatting. I know it's been around a long time and that I'm waaaaaaaaaay behind the times but the important thing is that I've discovered it now. And I LOVE it. Right now, I only chat with a few people - my sisters and their kiddos, Jill, my best guy friend Andy and his wife Kacey, and my mom - you know, people who can see me and, despite the unflattering angle of a laptop camera that's looking up at me and my double chins, still love me.

Of all the people I can chat with, I have the highest hopes for video chatting with my mom. "Why?" you ask? Well, let me tell you . . .

See, my mom started taking Ambien a few years ago. Do you know what Ambien is? It's a sleeping pill and my mom started taking it to, you know, help her fall - and stay - asleep at night. If you go to the Ambien website, you'll see that the side effects of it include sleepwalking, sleep-related eating, and sleep driving. Sounds very exciting, doesn't it? Well, friends, let me tell you how it has played out with my mom . . .

When she takes it, she has about 20 minutes before she hits what I now call the "Ambien Wall." And there's no warning. I've had many late night phone calls with her that go something like this:

Cat: So tomorrow I think I'm gonna go look at some shoes.
Mom: Oh great! Where are you going to go?
Cat: Oh, I don't know. Maybe Dillard's? Macy's? Probably just stay around the mall area.
Mom: Are you looking for anything in particular?
Cat: I think just maybe some sandals. Maybe some wedges.
Mom: Well . . . [long pause]
Cat: Yes?
Mom: You just never know.
Cat: Never know about what?
Mom: [slurring her speech] I'm just saying . . . you never . . . know . . .
Cat: Did you take your Ambien already tonight, Mom?
Mom: Mmmmm hmmmm . . . whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?
Cat: Oh, just wondering. Well, I guess I'll talk to you tomorr-
Mom: It was just a dog . . . it was like . . . this grilled cheese . . . you know? You never know. You just neeeeeeeeever knooooooooooooow . . .
Cat: Yeah. I know. You never know. [giggling]
Mom: What? Why are you laughing?
Cat: Well, your medicine has kicked in so you're not making any sense. [giggling]
Mom: Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm . . .
Cat: So I'll call you tomorrow, ok?
Mom: [silence]
Cat: Mom? . . . Mom? . . . MOM?? . . .
Mom: [soft snoring sound]

So that's what a conversation with my mom is like after her Ambien has kicked in. She's also called me at 3:00 in the morning, feeling very chatty and smacking in my ear:

Cat: Helloooooooooo?? [very groggy 3:00 am voice]
Mom: Hey, Catchy!! [smack, smack, smack, chew, chew, chew]
Cat: Hey. Are you eating something?
Mom: [With mouth full . . .] Yup. Ham sandwich.
Cat: Oh good. Is it good?
Mom: [smack, smack] Yup! [smack, smack]

I mean, I've never heard anyone eat so loudly. But she sure seemed happy to be chatting! And I'm apparently on her Ambien speed dial. But, even though I'm the one who gets all the late night Ambien phone calls, Tammy has the best Ambien story of all.

After Hurricane Ike came through Houston, Tammy and her kiddos went up to Dallas with my mom. They stayed in a hotel and got two rooms that were right across the hall from each other. When it was time for bed, my mom retired to her room and Tammy and kiddos got in their jammies and began the process of getting ready for bed. About 30 minutes later, my nephew, Ben, heard a knock on their door and told Tammy. But Tammy hadn't heard it so she thought he was just imagining things. About 10 minutes later, he heard a knock again and, this time, Tammy heard it, too. So she went to the door and looked out the peep hole but all she saw was the top of a head of hair. It looked like my mom's hair but it was sticking up all over the place and it looked like she was leaning her head against the door. Tammy said "Mom?" and heard my mom say in her best drunken sailor voice "Yeah?" So Tammy opened the door and saw my mom standing there swaying, with her hair a crazy mess. Ben and Emma came up behind Tammy and peeked around her to stare at the strange sight. And then Ben said the words that will live on in Palmore family legend forever: "Mommy, why is Dearsie in her underwear?"

Yep - that's right. My mom was standing in the middle of the hotel hallway wearing a t-shirt tucked into her underwear. And that's it. Tammy stood there momentarily stunned, her mouth agape with horror. Then my mom said, again in her best drunk voice, "Ya got any bananas?" Tammy and the kids just stood there staring. Then my mom said it again: "Ya got any bananas?" This snapped Tammy back to reality and she grabbed my mom's arm, pulled her into the room, and shut the door.

Once in the room, my mom again requested bananas so Tammy gave her two. Why did Tammy have bananas? That's a good question. She ALWAYS travels with fruit so that the kids can have good snacks. I'd prefer to travel with Swiss Cake Rolls and Oatmeal Creme Pies but to each his own, right? ANYWAY, so she gave my mom the bananas and sent her back across the hallway to the safety - and privacy - of her own room. Then Tammy had a horrible thought: there had been two knocks on her door with a 10 minute lapse between them. Did my mom go to the front desk in all her glory? Did she go knock on other doors in her quest for bananas? Tammy was horrified at the possibilities. And a little nervous to see the front desk guy in the morning . . .

The next morning, my mom woke up and saw two black banana peels on her nightstand and had no idea how they got there. She asked Tammy about them and Tammy filled her in on her late night banana escapade. My mom was so embarrassed. When she walked down to the coke machine on their floor and found a banana peel in the pocket where the coke bottles come out, she was mortified. My mom and Tammy figure that she must have been gallivanting up and down the hallway in her underwear, searching for and munching on bananas. As my mom remembered NONE of it, it was impossible to know how many people had seen her and, God forbid, talked to her while in that state. That's when she decided to never take Ambien again.

And she's really kept that resolution. However, recently, she's had to take it a few times because she's had some trouble getting to sleep. BUT . . . this time around, I have video chat. Can you imagine the possibilities!!?? I'm up late blogging every night so I'm fairly certain that I'll get some late-night video calls and I can't wait to see what fun stories I get out of THAT.

Oh, Mom . . . what would I do without you??

Call me!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ahhhhhhhh the awkward phase . . .

I do love a good awkward phase. I like to see them in the mall. Or at the movie theatre. Or on television.

Ooooooooooor in our old family photos.

Let me tell ya friends - the Palmore family doesn't do anything halfway. Including awkward phases. If you flip through a few of our family photo albums, you're gonna see your fair share of awkward phase photos. It's one of my favorite pastimes. If you had a key to my mom's house, it would be one of yours, too.

As you know, my awkward phase started in 4th grade, thanks to a fateful trip to Fantastic Sams that resulted in a permed mullet. But, unfortunately, it didn't end there. What can make a permullet worse? I'll tell you my friends . . . an off-the-charts growth spurt. I am 5'7" now and was 5'5" in 5th grade . . . I was TALL. It was fate's cruel joke on me. There I was entering 5th grade, wanting only to blend in but, instead, I was sporting the remnants of a permullet and towering over everyone around me like Big Bird. Luckily for me, that part of my life is memorialized in my 5th grade picture:

Check me out. I've got a permullet that's trying it's hardest to grow out, the shoulder pads of a linebacker, and I'm like 6 feet tall. Being taller than all the boys around you is NOT a good feeling when you're in 5th grade so I was SUPER happy when the photographer had me stand in the back center spot. But at least I didn't wear my Hard Rock Cafe sweatshirt . . .

On a side note, my luck changed the next year in 6th grade . . .

Thank goodness for Mike Hamm. I look positively overjoyed that he took the back center spot.

So allow me to recap: a permullet in 4th grade and a towering permullet in 5th grade . . . no, no one had a more awkward phase than me.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell, I stand corrected . . .

Tammy wins. Man, this picture is awesome. Just AWESOME. This haircut was amazing - I call it the Q-tip, a close cousin of the mullet. And the glasses . . . wow. I mean, seriously - my family has a class action lawsuit against Fantastic Sam's. Yep - I concede victory to Tammy.

But Erin comes in at a close second. This is Exhibit A in our class action lawsuit . . .

Did someone use a hacksaw on her?? I shall never complain again.

You know, these pictures are great and all. But every once in a while you run across a picture that takes your breath away. A picture that you want to burn and frame all at the same time. That picture for me was this little gem that captured the convergence of all three awkward phases:

Wait for it . . .

Wait for it . . .

Here you go . . .

What do I like most about this picture? It's hard to say. There are so many awesome things to enjoy: the length of Tammy's pants, her brown boat shoes, Erin's choice of a St. Patrick's Day sweatshirt for our day at Dicken's on the Strand at Christmastime, my filthy velcro tennis shoes, Tammy's tucked in sweater vest, my Judge Judy collar, or my belt? They're all so great. But I think the best part was that this picture was an 8x10. Which means that my dad had it blown up because he loved and wanted to frame it. That's almost as hilarious as the picture itself.

Ahhhhhhhhhh . . . I DO love a good awkward phase.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Work it, girl. Work it.

I could never be a model. I mean, my main focus when I'm taking a picture is to make sure that I minimize the number of chins that will show up. That goal is all-consuming for me - I can't imagine having to focus on anything else. I would be horrible at it. You can't really flirt with the camera when you're sucking your stomach in, sticking your chin out, and praying that the camera only adds ten pounds to the girl standing next you.

But I think I would be better at it than some professional models out there. For instance, I get the White House Black Market catalog in the mail every month and it's always entertaining to me because there's a model in there who is TERRIBLE. I've never seen so many variations of an expressionless face. So I thought I'd share some of her pictures from this month's catalog . . .

Isn't it amazing how there's absolutely no expression in her eyes? How does she do that? And she's a fan of the parted lips look, too. I think she thinks that somehow makes up for the vacuous stare.

When the empty stare isn't enough, there's always the Distant Gaze:

Notice the parted lips, again. Adds a nice "I'm in a daze and I can't get out of it" effect to the look, don't you think?

This is one of my favorites. I call this one the "Yes, the lobotomy went well" . . .

Now granted, she's having to balance on one leg but don't you think she could muster a LITTLE expression?

I like this one, too. I call it "I love my lithium":

God love her. Even when she tries the seductive leaning-on-the-bathroom-sink look, she can't get her face on board.

You would think a big flower and the hand-on-the-hip move would give her the attitude she needs to eek out a little expression . . .

Not so much.

But she gave it her best shot on this one. I call it "When Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling."

I don't know what's more amazing to me: the fact that she can have a smile on her face and absolute emptiness in her eyes or the fact that she appears to be levitating. It's a toss-up for me.

But I shouldn't be so critical. I'm sure it's very difficult to achieve the freshly botoxed look on every shoot.

Not as hard as hiding three chins . . . but I'll give her some credit.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yeah - I have NO idea what you're talking about . . .

I'm seriously one of the most sheltered people I know. I've known that all my life but it has become painfully obvious to me since I began working in my current job. For those of you who don't know, I prosecute sex offenders. This is not an easy job for someone who is a self-proclaimed prude. I have to say words I never thought I'd have to say, talk about body parts that I would prefer to leave unnamed, and ask questions about things I know NOTHING about.

I was re-reading a deposition that I took recently and, when I got to the section about drugs, I just put my head in my hands, laughed, and thought "what the heck am I doing in this job??"

Since my biggest vice in life has been Diet Dr. Pepper, I'm a little out of my league when talking about drugs with these guys. The problem is that I don't want these defendants to realize that I'm out of my comfort zone on this stuff. I don't know why I feel like that - I think it's more of a pride thing than a strategic thing. So I try to word my questions in a way that makes it seem like I'm a little more savvy than I am.

Except in this deposition.

Here is some of the drug section with my inner thoughts inserted . . .

Q: What drugs have you done?
A: In the world?
Q: Anywhere.
A. In the world just regular weed and water.

[Wait - what? Water is a drug? Act cool, Catherine. Act cool.]

Q: And what? [blinking my eyes too much]
A: Embalming fluid. They call it wet.
Q: Okay. So you dipped the marijuana in the embalming fluid?
A: Yes.

[What bored coroner came up with THAT idea??]

Q: Okay. So you did marijuana just plain by itself and then you did the --

[Did you just say "marijuana just plain by itself?" It isn't ice cream, Catherine.]

A: Mixed with angel dust, PCP.
Q: Okay. Wait. Back up.

[Be cool, Catherine. Be cool. Don't look so confused . . .]

A: It's -- it's -- it's water, but it's mixed with PCP which is angel -- angel dust.
Q: Okay.
A: It's laced together.
Q: All right. So you did -- okay. So you dipped marijuana in embalming fluid that's laced with PCP?
A: Yes, ma'am.
Q: Is angel dust and PCP -- are those the same thing, or are they two separate things?
A: Separate.

[Act like you knew that. Nod knowingly and make him think you were just testing him.]

Q: They're separate. Okay.
A: PCP is dust, it's called angel dust. But the embalming fluid ain't 100 percent embalming fluid. It's mixed with other chemicals.

[What did he say? I didn't hear anything after "ain't."]

Q: So it's embalming fluid mixed with PCP and angel dust, though?:
A: PCP and angel dust are the same.

[Wait - I'm so confused . . .]

Q: Oh, they are the same?
A: The same.

[Act like you knew that. Nod knowingly and act like you were testing him again . . .]

Q: Okay. So the embalming fluid is mixed with PCP and some other chemicals, and then you dip the joint in there?
A: I've never done it, but I've smoked it.
Q: Okay. Have you done PCP separately from that?
A: No. PCP is angel dust. That's what you put inside the weed and you roll it up. And you've got some chemical embalming fluid and you soak it up and it makes it more intense.
Q: And the joint -- is the joint different than a regular joint, you put PCP in it as well?
A: Yes, ma'am.
Q; But you don't normally have PCP in a joint?

[Yeah - just lost all street cred with that question. He's on to me now. He knows I spent high school singing New Kids on the Block songs and wearing bows in my hair.]

A: No, ma'am.

[Act like you knew that. Act cool. Sell it, Catherine. Sell it.]

Q: And the effect of the embalming fluid is just to make it more --
A: Intense.
Q: -- the high is more intense?
A: I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
Q. Okay. Why?
A: it could be dangerous.

[What was your first clue, buddy? The fact that it's dipped in something they put in DEAD PEOPLE??]

Q: Okay. And you also huffed gas?
A. Yes, ma'am.

[Did I just use "huffed gas" in a sentence and keep a straight face? I think I kinda pulled it off . . . ]

Q: What else did you do.
A: Gas or paint, paint thinner.
Q: Okay.
A: What is that y'all females use on y'alls fingernails?

[Finally!! Something I know!!! Ummmmm . . . quick, Catherine - throw something out there!]

Q: Fingernail polish?

[Why am I smiling so excitedly??]

A: No the --
Q: Fingernail polish remover?

[Wow - did I just interrupt him with another excited guess?]

A: Remover.

[Boooooooyah!! I OWN this game!! I mean deposition. Calm down, Catherine. Play it cool.]

Q: Okay.
A: Whiteout. Besides huffing paint that's it.
Q: So you huffed gas, paint, paint thinner, fingernail polish remover, and Whiteout?

[I said "huffed gas" again and kept a straight face! I'm getting so mature!!]

A: And that - - I can't remember what kind of glue it is, but it's got a -- a strong aroma to it. I can't think what kind of glue it is.
Q: Like Super Glue or rubber cement or --
A: It's like -- it's used when you're kids when you in --
Q: Like Elmer's Glue.
A: Yeah.
Q: Just the white glue?

[Were you in my second grade class? Sitting next to the boy who ate his erasers?]

A: White, but it's -- I don't know how to say it. I guess you might want to say it's Elmer's Glue.

[Ummmmmm . . . I DID say it was Elmer's Glue. Remember? I think you've huffed yourself out of one too many brain cells, my friend.]

Q: Is it like the white bottle with the orange pointy top and you stick it up your nose and huff it like that?

[Why is he looking at me like I'M the weirdo?? Besides, that's how the kid in my second grade class sniffed glue . . .]

A: Oh, not -- you don't put it in your nose and huff it. You huff it through the --

[Act like you know what he's talking about . . .]

Q: Through the -- okay. [Didn't work. He's still looking at you for the answer.] Through a --
A: Yeah.
Q: -- thing? Okay.

[Nice . . . well played, Catherine. Well, played.]

Huh. Interesting . . . all this talk about laced embalming fluid and huffing makes me want a Diet Dr. Pepper.

Should I be concerned?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Not so much into "planning" . . .

As I told you yesterday, I was in Tyler this weekend for a wedding. We spent Saturday morning running errands and taking pictures of bad business signs and whatnot. When we were done with that, we had a few hours left in the day before we had to start getting ready for the wedding so we decided to go to a local plantation for a tour.

Well, let me correct that. It was really my idea to go do something "Tylerish" while we were there. Jill said she was really just as happy to relax around the hotel but she'd go for me. I told her that I had read about a few of the plantations online the night before and had found one close by that does free tours. I assured her I had it all worked out and we'd be so glad that we did it. And in true Jill fashion, she said she was up for anything and went along happily.

So I plugged the Plantation's name into my navigation on my phone and we hit the road. About 30 minutes later, we arrived at Roseland Plantation. We pulled up the drive and admired the beauty of the main house. But we suddenly became worried that maybe we were on private property rather than historical property. Our suspicions were confirmed when we saw a sign on the side of a smaller house on the property that said "The Shaws." Actually, I think it said "The Shaw's" but I ignored it. Upon seeing that, Jill sucked in air through her teeth and said something like "I'm neeeeeeeeeeervous!!! I don't think we're supposed to be here!!"

I called the main number and asked about tours. Before the lady could answer, I told her that I had seen online that they offer tours and that admission was free but we didn't know where to go. That's when she told me that they only did tours at 10 am and that the tour cost $12.75 per person. I turned down the volume on my phone and smiled excitedly at Jill, hoping that she wasn't hearing what the lady was saying. Then I cupped my hand over the phone and tried to whisper to the lady that we were already here so could she please give us a tour so that I didn't look like an idiot FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. I winked at Jill and gave her the thumbs up.

The lady was so sweet and told us to walk up to one of the buildings and they'd give us a private tour. See - great things happen when you don't read websites thoroughly and just show up 6 hours after the scheduled tour . . . you get a special treatment!

I had three favorite highlights from the tour. The first was a lamp that the owner pointed out to us:

It's made from a corset. Check out the waist on that thing. I seriously don't think that I could fit that around my thigh. And can I just say that I'm not sure how I'd feel about my undergarments being made into a light fixture?

My second favorite highlight was this piece of furniture:

It's called a courting chair. Back in the day, the lovely couple would sit on either side of the chair and, you know, court. I've decided that I'm going to put one in my living room. Front and center. I figure if you have one of those, the courters will just start lining up outside . . . Right? . . . Right? It's worth a shot.

And my third favorite part of the tour was when the guy told us that the main house - you know, the PLANTATION HOUSE - was not on the tour because it's privately owned. Ahhhhhhhh - so THAT'S why we felt like we were trespassing when we first drove in. I smiled and waved at Jill and tried to change the subject.

The tour was great and we enjoyed ourselves despite all the setbacks. The owner made it a super-quick tour since we only had about 45 minutes before we had to head back to the hotel. After we were finished, we hopped back into the car and pulled out of the driveway. We waved at Ms. Shaw who was out raking her yard and we headed back to Tyler.

And now I know that it was a local museum that offered the free admission.

I was close . . .