Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Preparations

Here it is, late at night (or early in the morning depending on how you look at it), and I've been working on decorating the humongous, fake Christmas tree that I dragged down from the attic today. I'm having a hard time getting in the spirit of things this year and feel like I'm just going through the motions. I have yet to put on any Christmas music at all; I'm just not in the mood. I feel so... so... Grinch-ish. Still, every once in a while I come upon something that stirs some sort of memory from Christmases long ago: The Swedish angel chimes, the candle holders that clip to the branches of the tree and boxes upon boxes of white candles for them, or some glittery glass ornaments that remind me of the ones that we used to have when I was a girl. Despite the fact that my heritage is largely ignored by my husband's relations (I'm not from a proud Chinese heritage, like they are... I'm just "white," right?), Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the year in Estonia; before the Christians usurped it, the celebration of the Winter Solstice was a huge thing for my pagan ancestors, too, so perhaps some of it is hardwired in me. Anyway....

Sorting through the various bins and tubs of Christmas decorations and things, I felt a pang for the Christmases of my childhood again. A myriad of memories from my childhood came flooding back to me, like the fragrant smell of spruce hanging in the air (we only had real trees as a child, balsams with the wide open branches and small needles), the smell of freshly snuffed candles, the colorful glass ornaments, opening our presents Christmas Eve while still dressed up from a candlelight church service, the smell of spritz cookies or cinnamon wafting from the kitchen. There wasn't always snow on Christmas day, but from the bay window in the front of our 1930's house in upstate New York, you could look out over the rhododendron bushes to the huge beech tree that was right in the middle of our front yard and practically see the cold. It was usually nice and warm by the fire, though, where it was nice to warm up stocking feet that were a bit cold from the hardwood floors.

Tonight, as I continued to decorate the tree, I kept flashing back to the one thing that I knew would be a balm to my aching soul right now: Körp. This is my ultimate comfort food from my childhood and, though we ate it at all times of the year, it reminds me mostly of Christmas. It's a sweet-ish type of cookie-like crust pressed into a 9x13 pan and filled with a mixture of cream cheese, cottage cheese, and I think egg, along with sugar and whatnot, and then sprinkled with cinnamon and baked. When cut up, it's like an extremely light sort of cheesecake with cinnamon on top, a cake that you can cut up into easy-to-handle pieces. It's simply delicious (this is seconded by my non-Estonian friends who've tried it).

Of course, it's got butter, cheese, and possibly egg in it, so that rules it out completely right now because of Second Son's egg and dairy allergies. I'm, well, sorrowful. My mother had given me a recipe for it long, long ago and I have no idea what happened to it (this was after she finally figured out ingredient amounts... before she did that, the instructions were more like "put in flour until it looks right," or "add enough [ingredient X] so that it looks/feels right"... very specific instructions, you know). Of course, it's a moot point because I can't have most of the ingredients in my house and I suppose that only makes my longing for it worse. If I actually had the recipe, I suppose that I would probably try to borrow a friend's kitchen just to get a few squares of Körp. That would be a happy thing indeed.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I've pulled all of my posts. They're not gone; they're just pulled. This post may also be pulled very soon, but not before I've had a chance to get it all out there before sending this post off into the ether with a few keystrokes.

I don't really know why I did this. I don't want to delete my blog or at least not right now. If I'd wanted to do that, I'd have done it already. After all, Blogger makes it as easy as two mouse-clicks to delete a whole blog, as all you blogspot bloggers are aware. No, I've just pulled the posts until I figure out what I want to do. And for those of you who've been around long enough, I've reverted to my original black background.

As you may have guessed lately, I'm not happy. As a matter of fact, I've not been happy for over a year now, but have been increasingly unable to blog about it. In all honesty, that's why I've posting so infrequently. I've been unable to put on a happy face and try to blog about something unrelated. I've felt as trapped and unable to express myself on my blog as I have been in real life.

Basically, I'm tired. I'm tired of having to be the strong one all the time and would love, for even one lousy day, to have someone hold me in their arms and say, "I'll take care of you. I'll be strong for you. I'll protect you," and that I'd actually feel taken care of, able to lean on them, and actually feel protected and, for once, safe. Perhaps I can feel safe if I wrap my arms around myself. I'll be in the arms of someone who's used to having to take control, to carry their own weight and other's. That's the only solution that I can come up with.

So be it.

Muse has been serving as a soundtrack lately. Most of you will probably not like these two videos at all (right, Mom?), but I've been immersed in their music for the past few weeks despite the dark places that they take me.

That perfectly symbolizes the free-fall my mind's taken lately.

And this one is the Muse video that got me hooked, though I first heard Muse in the van from Alabama to Atlanta, Georgia, when I did an iPod swap with someone else. On the one hand, Justin Theroux, the actor who is featured in this video, is quite nearly the physical ideal in my mind with his very lean, muscular build, but I've been on the receiving end of male rage like that a long time ago and have mixed emotions. It's at once terrifying, yet hard to look away from despite bringing back some ugly times. But the body, oh, the body... the irrepressible libido speaks yet again...

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Dark Horse

If we had any doubts about our younger son not being able to compete with his older brother in the creation of awkward moments, they were officially laid to rest. A male friend of mine was over eating dinner with us last night when our five year old son offered this interesting tidbit very audibly for all of us to ponder:

"I beat my penis!"

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a new winner, folks. And of course I exhibited my usual grace under pressure with my response of "most males do." Um, oops.

So, the younger brother has raised the bar, at least temporarily. It will only be a matter of time before one of them bests that one.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Happy You Know What

Yup, it's Thursday and I thought that I'd post an old photo of myself that I found in the small suitcase of photos from long ago. And yes, I'm half... um...well... I'm in a state of partial dress. Oh, well, whatever. Guess it's technically an HNT photo, as some folks were egging me on to do. To me, it's more a tribute to the long, hot, uninhibited days of summers past.

I used an old photo because it's what I had. I had something different and current in mind, but what I wanted to shoot was a bit complicated to do by myself. Maybe some other time. As a sort of a side note, this was taken before I started climbing, so I'm in a bit better shape now. Funny, that's not how it's supposed to work, is it?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Summer again. Great.

If you don't want to read about sex-type stuff, then this isn't the post for you. Sorry, I'm just in that type of mood today and sometimes you just need an outlet. If you find this kind of thing to be offensive or don't want to ruin the pristine image of me, then maybe you should just stop here. Just thought I'd mention it.

"Did you do those today?" The Mister looked more closely at the kitchen counter.

"Yes," I coyly answered. "I wanted to see if I could still do it."

"Um, why?" The Mister sounded a little suspicious. Oh, sheesh.

We all know what tying a cherry stem in your mouth is rumored to signify, but I don't know what the fuss is all about. They're only cherry stems and I don't know how it could possibly mean anything. But I must confess the truth: warm weather gets me thinking about sex. Of course, I can't really blog about it because The Mister very clearly spelled out that he doesn't want to read about any exes (I don't blame him) and I don't think that he wants to broadcast our own business on the internet (especially in front of my mother, Egads!).

Still, as the temperature starts to rise the heat triggers memories of older days kind of like the way that smells trigger memories. Temperatures increase, clothing decreases, skin wears a thin layer of dewy sweat (this is the nicer version of ewwwy sweat and infinitely more sexy), and bodies become more languid in the heat. Now I watch passively as others go through the whole rituals of seduction and attraction. They participate in the hunt and they get to feel the spark of chemical attraction, to experience the thrill of that first touch or being able to finally get the chance to breathe in the intoxicating scent off the skin of a new lover's neck.

This kind of stuff is for other people now, but, like a phantom limb, my libido surges forth in the warm weather and brings back distant memories of when it was my constant companion, best friend, and worst enemy. If love is a battlefield then lust must be a four-star General. There will be no more battles for me these days, but it's nice to know that I still know some of the maneuvers.

Hee hee.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

I couldn't let this day go by without posting at least a little something about my father. This is one of those weekends where Father's Day and his birthday fall on the same day, followed the day after by the anniversary of the day that he passed away. He would have been 73 today, but unfortunately he died the day after his 59th birthday. These kinds of weekends used to be very raw in the beginning, but it's been 14 years now and it has mellowed to merely a remembrance.

My father wasn't perfect and it wouldn't be right to turn him into a saint. He had really grumpy moments. It was my father who once, when he didn't want to speak to his mother when she called, added the phrase "tell her to go sh*t in her hat" to the family lexicon. (In his defense, she wasn't very nice.) He rigidly held to the attitude that his opinion was always the right one. He was not very patient at times.

There were many good things about him, too. Even in the grumpiest mood, he was never, ever negative. He could be lots of fun and he definitely knew how to laugh at himself when it was required. For example, he and I went food shopping during a trip to France and he bought a huge can of what he took to be mixed fruit ("Apples and apricots, what an interesting combination," he had said at the supermarket), but when we got back to the chalet, my brother took one look at it and said, "Dad, do you know what you bought? 'Confiture' is jam." Now realizing what a silly mistake he had made and faced with the most enormous can of jam that any of us had ever seen, he laughed, got out four bowls, dished out several spoonfuls of jam in each bowl, poured mineral water over his and sat down to eat. "Come on, kids, it's great with mineral water!" Of course he didn't expect us to eat it, but we gamely took a bite each when we weren't laughing. Making light of these kinds of mistakes was really his way of dealing with them.

He devoted himself to his family despite not having much patience for the nuts and bolts of child rearing. Instilling honesty, a good work ethic, cultural appreciation and excellent manners were of utmost importance to him. Academic achievement was really important to him. Over the years, he made a lot of sacrifices for his family and always worked really hard. When we were younger, he would often be gone for work before we got up and come home from work after we had gone to bed so that he could support his family. Weekends were always about family and because of his love of the outdoors, much of our childhoods were spent in the Adirondack Mountains, hiking, kayaking, x-c skiing, or camping, all on a shoestring budget. When we were a little older, he finally switched to a corporation which eventually gave him the opportunity to work overseas, which, with the excellent pay and hardship benefits, would earn enough money to pay for college and offer the opportunity to show us some of the world. He strongly believed in trying new things and he encouraged me to take flying lessons, learn to scuba dive, and study abroad during college.

I have many really good memories of my father, but I'm going to share one of my favorites. Right after I graduated from high school, I met my parents in Vienna, Austria, before we headed to the middle east for the rest of the summer. Early one evening, we went to the Stadtpark (City Park) for some cake and wine. There's an ornate, old building there where a small orchestra plays on the terrace where they've put a dance floor and my parents got up to dance a waltz. My father was a really wonderful dancer and I sat and watched them disappear and reappear amongst the other couples. At other times, I watched the peacocks wandering amongst the beautiful flower gardens and across the lawn. It was lovely.

As the sun was setting, we finally got ready to go and were only a little way down one of the gravel paths.

"Why didn't you dance?" he asked me.

"I don't know how to waltz," I confessed.

"You don't? Here, let me show you." He showed me where to put my arms and hands and there on the path in the twilight, to the orchestral music that was floating across the gardens, he taught me how to waltz. Of all the memories of my time with my father, those several minutes, dancing on the path in the twilight with my father is the one that makes me smile the most.

Happy Father's Day and Birthday, Dad, and Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Night of the Living Food Protein

I was standing in the waiting area at my son's gymnastics class on Monday, uneventfully waiting for the hour to tick away. It's a comfortable waiting area with spacious, carpeted riser-like steps for you to wait and watch the classes through the wall of windows that looks into the gym. From there you can see your kids do their graceful cartwheels and handsprings or, alternatively, trip over their own feet and fly through the air in an impressive display of flailing limbs. Whichever.

Anyway, the first thirty minutes had gone by quite uneventfully. That was until I glanced over to the entrance of the hallway that leads to the front door and I saw it on the floor:

The Cheez-It Square of Death!!! (cue Psycho shower scene music)

My pulse raced and my breathing quickened. I broke out in a cold sweat. I kept looking over my shoulder at the bright orange, one inch square cracker. It sat there looking all innocent as it mocked me, just waiting for the right moment to strike! Aaaaagh!!

Okay, so that seems a little bit extreme, but it really is true that those things really wig me out. Cheddar cheese goldfish crackers? They're like the piranhas of the snack world to us and they and their inevitable shower of crumbs are simply everywhere where you find kids.

Still seem a bit extreme? The bottom line is that it's hard to have a child with a deadly milk allergy in a world that's littered in cheddar cheese cracker crumbs. They're everywhere from playgrounds and sports venues to regular retail stores where they're knocked off the stroller trays of snacking children and then are selectively ignored by the young child's parents so that someone can step on them and spread the crumbs all over the store from the bottom of their shoe. And if anybody's going to find that trace bit of crumb, it'll be my son. He finds them often enough that I lament that Benedryl doesn't come in a multi-vitamin supplemented formula, y'know, to kill to birds with one stone, so to speak.

Anyway, the place where my son goes for his gymnastics class is no exception to the ubiquitous goldfish cracker rule. The carpeting is a veritable smorgasbord of cheddar cheese cracker crumbs, cookies, sandwich crumbs, and spilled milk. We watch the kids scarf down all this milky goodness and then go running into the gym without so much as wiping their mouths or hands on a napkin, subsequently spreading all that milk-protein all over the equipment. This is why my younger son can't take a gymnastic class even though he'd be quite good at it, but has to sit out in the waiting area in a stroller the entire time.

Yes, he's turning five years old and he still sits in a stroller while we wait, but only because the last time that he was out of the stroller at the gymnastics place, he was gagging on his tongue by the time that we got home. There's nothing like giving shot of epinephrine into your kid's thigh, taking a scenic ambulance ride, and enjoying the hospitality of the hospital overnight to give you the reason to dread kid snacks when you see them.

So, as we got ready to go at the end of the class on Monday, I looked back and the cracker was gone. Gone?! I hustled off to the car just in case it had snuck off and was waiting to pounce.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Musical Interlude: Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

Ooh, two posts in a day! I really like Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and when I found this, I knew I had to post it. Hope you enjoy it.

(Oh, and if you liked that, check out the video on the bottom of the video screen for "Gatemouth Brown- Pressure Cooker". It was a toss-up which one to post.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Call me Delilah

It's been another long absence. Um, oops. The Mister was out of the country for most of last week and I usually don't sleep very well when he's gone, so I ended up too exhausted to be able to construct a coherent sentence. Not only that, Sasha and JP were over for movies many of those nights to keep me company, so there goes that blogging time as well. As for this week, I've been working in the yard or just recovering from last week.

Anyway, enough excuses and on to the subject of my post.

I hardly ever talk about my younger son. He's the biggest pill on the planet sometimes, that is, when he's not being completely charming and happy. He can go from "joy" to "headache" in a heartbeat, usually over something really minor like changing clothes, eating, toilet training, or leaving the house when he doesn't want to, or, as the case has been lately, letting me cut his hair.

It's been months since he would let me cut his hair. We were jokingly starting to call him "Hippy". He would whine, protest, thrash and even throw himself off the haircutting chair if we tried to get him to sit for a haircut, running a great risk of my severely cutting him with the scissors and making it necessary for The Mister to hold him down so that I could finish the haircut that my son, by some miracle, had reluctantly let me start. It usually makes me break into a cold sweat just thinking about his next cut. We had eventually resorted to begging, time outs, even bribes, but they were all useless and it looked like I was losing the battle until I happened to read a post by Heart in San Francisco at Guilty With An Explanation where she wrote about how she used to cut one of her son's hair while he slept. Ingenious! So, that's what I did last night or at least attempted to do and I'm happy to report that, while I take no real pride in the quality of the cut (not one of my better ones... no surprise there), I got the job done.

One thing that I wasn't looking forward to was the scene that he was going to make when he woke up and found that his carefully protected locks were gone. I had the aspirin ready and waiting for the inevitable stress headache. As it turns out, he didn't even notice. Ah, sweet victory.

(Thank you, Heart in San Francisco, for the idea that had never occurred to me. You're a genius. Oh, and I have no idea how your blog disappeared from my links list, but I've fixed that. Your blog is fantastic and I want to spread the joy.)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Where does he get this stuff?

Our eldest son has a way of catching us off-guard sometimes.

This past weekend, The Mister was working on the computer while our almost seven year old son was playing nearby with his Lego Star Wars figures and, since our son rarely stops talking, he was explaining his play scenario to his father.

"Luke and Leia are getting married," he informed The Mister.

"They can't get married, son. They're brother and sister," my husband replied.

"It's too late. Leia's pregnant."

Oh. My. God.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Parental Advisory- Explicit Lyrics

As some of you know, a lot of the music that I listen to is not exactly kid friendly. For example, the Beastie Boys are not known for their wholesome lyrics. However, this doesn't stop me from listening to the kind of music that I like to listen to, but it does present a rather interesting conundrum when it comes to my kids. They're always, and I mean always around.

At home, this isn't a problem. I just plug myself into my iPod and they're none the wiser, but in the car, music proves to be a little more problematic. So, what's a girl to do? I've become very good friends with the volume knob. It helps to know the lyrics very well. When some explicit lyrics are coming up, you get your hand ready on the volume control and, when you get to the objectionable lyrics, you turn the volume completely off for the duration of the word/phrase that you need to blip out. Done correctly, this technique will help preserve the purity of your child's vocabulary until their friends (or, by sheer accident, you) lend a hand in mucking it up.

Having heard me talk about doing this and also being in the car with us to witness it, Sasha sent this to me. Thanks, dude. ("Dude"... mwaahahahaha!)

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Night at the Movies

I saw the movie "The Lives of Others" with a JP and Sasha this weekend and I'll have to say that I'm still thinking about it. If you're not familiar with the film, it's a German movie about a German secret police wiretapper/interrogator in 1984 East Berlin who is ordered to wiretap and eavesdrop on a couple, a high profile author/playwright and his actress girlfriend. The movie got all sorts of awards internationally, including the Best Foreign Film Oscar this year. Rightfully so, I think.

Still, when I see movies or hear stories about these kind of activities of paranoid and controlling governments, it makes me perhaps a little more uncomfortable than it might make others around me because it hits sort of close to home. This movie got me thinking about what my mother went through as a child in the Baltics in Europe.

My grandparents had an apartment in the capital city where they lived much of the time, but they also spent time out in the country on the family farms. My grandfather's and grandmother's family farms were near to each other and they had known each other since grammar school, which is where they met (apparently my grandfather used to dip my grandmother's pigtails in the inkwells). After my grandmother and grandfather both finished college, they got married in 1928. Since my grandfather's early life had been centered around agriculture, he went to school to study dairy bacteriology and went to England to get his master's degree. Unfortunately, World War II intervened and he had to leave the country to go home before he could defend his thesis, so the actual degree was never received even though he did all of his work and research.

When the Germans came and occupied my mother's country, my grandfather spent time in a prison camp because he was educated in England, but one of my grandmother's brothers was able to convince them that they had no reason to suspect him of anything subversive and win my grandfather's release (apparently, this great uncle was a pretty respected member of the military and could use his influence effectively).

The Russians also occupied their country and, because my grandfather had studied abroad and was considered a possible threat, the Russians had a KGB agent living in the house with them as a "precaution". Of course, the woman whom they'd placed there couldn't be there all the time, so she would have "talks" with my mother about who had come over when the agent wasn't able to be there and what they'd talked about. My mother was four years old at the time.

One summer day during the Russian occupation, they were at my grandmother's farm when the Russians came and took all the neighbors from the nearby farms away in buses, but by some stroke of luck or fate they didn't go to my grandmother's farm. My mother said that they saw the bus hesitate at the end of the long drive to the farm and then drive away. They're not sure what happened to the neighbors or why the Russians didn't come to take them away, too, but after sleeping in the woods during the night for a time in case of a nighttime raid, they finally packed up a horse cart with all they could carry and left the farm, trying to get to the coast to escape. In the end, they got cut off by the oncoming Russian front and ending up living as refugees in Germany before they could get sponsored to come to the US years later.

All in all, they ended up better off than many. Many of my relatives had been put on cattle cars by the Russians and were sent to Siberian labor camps. Several didn't even survive the trip there, including some relatives in their 80's and some children. My dad ended up in Berlin with his mother after his father was taken away when he was 7 years old. His side of the story is less clear, since he never talked about it when he was alive, but I do know that he had to survive the nightly Allied bombing by lying in trenches during the air raids and he finally got out of Berlin by clinging to the outside of a train for 11 hours with his mother, who had to struggle to keep him awake through the night so that he wouldn't fall off. I don't know much other than that.

Having heard about what my parents have had to go through, I see movies like "The Lives of Others" with a particular chill, not to mention a bit of added perspective about all the petty things in my life that have been bothering me lately. Those things can go on the back burner and, with any luck, stay there for good.

Oh, and my mother, through an offer by the present government of the country where they came from and lots of sweat, paperwork and red-tape, has now gotten both the family farms back. My grandparents would have been happy to see it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

My Glorious Weekend

Okay, so posts have been coming less and less frequently lately and I've been visiting and/or commenting on your blogs less frequently, too, but I wanted to say that it's not that I've lost interest in you all... I miss visiting your blogs terribly, really I do! Things around here have been sort of crazy, so I haven't been getting on the computer much at all these days. (It's even gotten to the point where I've been hiding from my primary e-mail account with its 200+ unread messages that I have to deal with. Ugh.) I've been trying to catch up with reading your blogs when I can, but I'm so very far behind. And I haven't been posting much at all, nothing that takes any real thought, at least.

So, what's been keeping me busy, you ask? Oh, not much... just getting a jump on having a mid-life crisis. For those of my readers who are older, you may say that I'm being stupid, but, hey, it's my head problem to deal with. It's not fair how men are thought of as "wise" and "experienced" as they get older and women are thought of as past their "use by" dates. Or even worse... not thought of at all. And I'm having some temperature adjustment problems making the transition from being thought of as "hot" to being thought of as merely "cool" (not my words, someone else's). It sucks. And to make matters worse, I'm really starting to hate the phrase "for your age"... the next person who says that to me is going to get poked in the eye.

Mostly, I've been pretty pissed about it all, but I've been trying to deal with it constructively. On Friday, I spent the day plugged into my iPod, blasting the age inappropriate music that I love so much and ripping through the house like a tornado, sorting and throwing stuff out (recycling what I could, of course). When I finally became bored with the brand new mess that I had made, I spent three hours of quality time with the chainsaw taking apart the big logs and stumps that were left over from last weekend, only stopping when it finally became dark. On Friday night, I actually went to bed early for a change.

On Saturday, I went to my stylist (I adore that man and have been seeing him for over ten years now) and I came out freshly cut, colored, styled and looking fabulous as only he can make me. Still, things weren't quite right. My husband, very mindful of my state of mind these days, sent me out that afternoon to get myself some clothes for spring before they all disappear, y'know, it still being winter and the summer clothes are just about on the racks by now. I just couldn't get into it because the clothes out there seem to be either too old for me or too young. Still, I was able to get some nice things (among other things, a nicely fitting, hot pink, cashmere, cropped-cardigan sweater with elbow length sleeves... it just begs to be touched.)

While I was still out trying on clothes, my husband called and said that I should take myself out to dinner and a movie. It's not my first choice to do these things alone, but I took him up on the offer. The wait for a table at my chosen restaurant was over an hour, so I left the restaurant and had an oh-so-sumptuous culinary experience in the sophisticated ambience of... the mall food court. It was quick. It was cheap. It was mall food. But it would get me to the movies sooner, right? That's how I rationalized my disappointing meal. I got to the movies and the only thing that wasn't sold out at that late time was "Music and Lyrics," the romantic comedy with Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant. Given my age-related, gender inequity mindstate at the time, was I enough of a masochist to watch a movie that glorifies a romantic relationship between a 46 year old man and a 32 year old woman? What, are you crazy?! No. Thank. You. That movie would never sell with the genders reversed and I just wasn't in the right frame of mind for that.

Dammit. The bookstore was all that was left at that point, so off to Barnes and Noble I went. Not that I minded. I absolutely love books to the point of it nearly being a fetish. While browsing, I picked through all sorts of very useful books, most notably a couple of books on such subjects as how I'm supposed to dress for middle age (egads, I'm not wearing that, EVER.) and another one with some new and interesting techniques for giving mind-blowing hand jobs. As interesting as the latter book was, I settled on buying a sequel to a memoir that I had been waiting for in paperback. The bookstore finally closed and, not feeling like going home, I decided to go to one of the local eating establishments that had a bar to have a drink. Again, not my first choice of things to do alone, but I had nobody to go with and thought that it would be a nice change of pace regardless of that fact.

But maybe this wasn't such a good thing for my ego, either, it turned out. I found one single bar stool and asked the young guy sitting on the next stool if anybody was sitting there. Judging by the disgusted look on his face, if there had been a thought bubble over his head it probably would have read, "Is this dried up old cooch hitting on me?!" Whatever. I ordered a beer and the bartender carded me because they card everyone (literally) to be on the safe side. He handed me back my ID and said, "Huh, you're doing pretty well." It's a good thing that he didn't add "for your age" or I would have had to reach over the bar and poke him in the eye. That would have greatly affected my service and I wouldn't want that.

After getting my beer, I got out my memoir and started reading until I was interrupted by a 50-something year old guy asking me about my book. He then started going on a bit about how everybody in the bar was so young and how the suburbs were really bad for finding places to drink. After some more general conversation, he finally left to go home and I went back to my book for a long while, completely and unfortunately undisturbed while finishing my beer and a large water before leaving to drive home. Oh, well.

Maybe I would have actually had more people talk to me if I had been reading the book about hand jobs instead. Maybe next time. I went back the next day and bought it.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Foreign Foods

As if that that isn't enough, there are "Mini Dickmann's" and regular "Dickmann's" in addition to the "Super Dickmann's."

Apparently, only the mini-sized ones come with a white chocolate coating.

Oh. My. God. Where does one even begin?!

Of course, here's their homepage to check out if you're curious.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Target is a No-Fun Zone

My friend, Sasha, and I were asked to leave Target the other night. I've never been kicked out of Target before. This was a first for me. The problem was that we were face to face with a woman who, judging by the blank yet miserable look on her face, had no sense of humor whatsoever. To her it seemed life was a very serious thing indeed. Unfortunately, Sasha and I didn't share her serious outlook on life and that was at the heart of the misunderstanding.

Now, there are things in life that I actually do take very seriously, like safety issues concerning driving, climbing, water safety, or anything where I could possibly be endangering someone else's life or my own. Also, I'm not out to expose my "personal attributes" in public, either, because I'm sensitive to other people's conservative outlooks where some body parts are concerned and I wouldn't want to subject other people to that kind of psychological trauma. There are even times when I deem it necessary to polish up the old boarding school manners and put them on for a while.


This was neither the time nor the place for such seriousness. I have no qualms with generally causing a scene in public or acting like an idiot for my own and/or others' amusement. To be truthful, with the exception of those "prep school manners" moments, I'm not particularly concerned about offending someone else's sense of propriety. Not acting my age? That's my specialty. I take particular delight in romping about like a deranged puppy because there's simply just too much fun to be had.

I do have a strict set of rules for my misbehavior, though:

1. Don't do anything that might hurt innocent bystanders.
2. Leave things the way that I found them or neater.
3. If I break it, I buy it.

Hey, it's the least that I can do. I'm a mischief maker with a conscience.

So, fate led us to Target the other night after Sasha and I had gorged on Mexican food at a restaurant nearby. I had thrown down the gauntlet last week and challenged him to a light-sabre duel at Target to defend my honor and the time had come to make good on my challenge. We headed to Toys. Were we inconspicuous? Nope. Sasha is six foot four inches tall and isn't inconspicuous anywhere. Not only that, it was nearly closing time and the aisles were deserted.

Well, except for "the toy department woman", that is. I think that I heard her mutter, "Oh, no," when I grabbed a ball from the big ball bin and threw it down the big aisle to Sasha and then grabbed a bat for a few attempts to send the ball out of the park. She was ramping up. By the time that we got to the bikes, she tersely asked us if she could help us and told us that we could sit on the bikes for size, but couldn't ride them in the store.

But we weren't really that concerned about the bikes because we had something more serious to think about: the duel. We located our weapons and then took our positions in the aisle. After a few warm-up hits, the fight began in earnest. As he had predicted, Sasha's reach was a clear asset for him as we swung at each other. He knocked my light-sabre out of my hand and picked it up as I scrambled to re-arm myself. I threw myself into the fight with renewed vigor. At one weapon to his two and with a distinct height disadvantage, I was starting to smell defeat when we heard it from the next aisle over.

"That's it! You two have to go!"

It was Toy Department Lady. And she was mad. She fumed around the corner as Sasha went to put his weapons on the shelf. I looked at her for a moment. She stood there with her hands on her hips, staring at us with a blank yet angry expression on her face that made her look a little like a pissed off turtle.

Thoughts tumbled madly through my mind as I stood looking at her. "Why?" was the first thing that popped into my mind, but looking at her, I knew that she wasn't going to have a good answer for that. I'm sure that it would have just led to a talk with the manager or one of the security folks and Sasha and I had already planned to get a cup of coffee at Barnes & Noble, so we just didn't have the time for that kind of nonsense. I put everything back, undamaged and the way that I had found them, under her stern and unimaginative gaze. I know that she was taking her job of getting her department in order just before closing very seriously, but she didn't know me and didn't know about my "three golden rules of misbehavior," all of which I intended to honor. It just wasn't worth the argument, so we left the store and headed off to the bookstore for our coffee.

Still, the most important thing that I learned that night was that I got my butt whipped and Sasha must have out-hit me by at least two-to-one. Now there is another contest in the works and this time it has to be something where he can't use his height to his advantage. I proposed a tricycle race. He accepted. At nearly a foot shorter than him, I think that this one might actually work in my favor.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

My Most Embarrassing Moment?

There are times in life when something so embarrassing happens that you want to crawl into a paper bag. Then there are times that something so embarrassing happens that you would crawl into a paper bag if the situation weren't actually so funny. This is about the latter situation, which should have been the most embarrassing moment of my life, yet somehow wasn't.

As you might know by now, I moved to Philadelphia the day after graduating from college. Not long after that day when I first dropped my duffel bag in center city Philly, I found myself at Dirty Frank's, the dingiest dive bar that I have ever or will ever set foot in during my lifetime and which I set foot in many, many times in the few years that I called Philly home. What made it interesting was that it drew an unusual mix of art students, non-art students, hipsters, closet hyper-educated people, and just regular folks, everybody looking for an odd mix of personalities and ages to kick back with and, well, drink. That was the main reason to go there. No pick ups. No pretensions. That was Frank's in a nutshell. I could do a whole post about it, but maybe some other time.

Aside from the music/club/South Street scene, this is where I got to know a good portion of my friends and acquaintances. It was here that I met my friend...hmmm.... let's call her The Siren. She was smart, exotic (she hated that description, but it fit like a glove), and one of the most alluring women that many of the men around there had ever met. There was just something about her that made men fall hopelessly in either love or lust with her, but she acted like she wasn't even aware of it, even though I know that she was. It was a carefully nurtured persona. Subtle seduction was her talent. Many women would hesitate to be out with a woman like that for fear of standing in her shadow, but it was never a problem. We were very different in appearance and each attracted different types of men. It was a good match.

One Saturday evening in summer, we ultimately planned to end up at Frank's, but decided to get a bite to eat first at Taco House on Pine Street, which was one of the really cheap yet mighty good eateries in our area which attracted a number of the hipster and music scene crowd. There were usually people there who I knew at least by face, since I travelled around the edges of one of the cool South Street crowds. I wasn't one of the really cool people (thankfully... too much pressure, not enough opportunity for stupid fun), but people recognized me enough to exchange that perfunctory cool-person wave and "hey, howya doin' " if we were to bump into each other. And so it was when we entered Taco House that evening. We went, we saw, were seen, we ate, we left.

By that point, it was much too early to head to Frank's. We were going to be making a long night of it and wanted to pace ourselves, so we decided to head to her apartment down the street to hang out for a while and enjoy the last of the daylight, have a drink, and talk. I walked into her apartment and threw my old jean jacket onto a chair as she got us some drinks and we settled in to watch the sun set from her apartment window. It had been a good day.

After the sun had set and we were finally ready to go to the bar, she went down the hall to the bathroom as I grabbed my jacket off the chair. Stuck on the tiny silver bells that I had sewn on the back of my ratty jean jacket were a pair of panties.

"Hey, Siren!" I called to her. "A pair of your underwear got snagged on the back of my jacket!" She came walking out from the bathroom and looked at it.

"Those aren't my underwear," she said, looking more closely at the skivvies dangling off my coat. I looked a little more carefully. Oh. My. God. They were mine. Slowly it dawned on me. I had been walking around Philly with a pair of my underwear hanging off the back of my jacket. Perhaps it wouldn't have been so bad if it had been one of the black, lacy panties that I owned. Hell, that borders on free advertising. But, noooo. It was a pair of the utilitarian cotton undies that you wear on laundry day. The kind that you would never, ever wear on a date. The ones that you eventually turn into dust rags.

I did a quick calculation and, from the time that I put on my coat in my apartment to the time that I put my jacket on her chair, I figured that I had been walking around the city with ugly underwear hanging on the back of my coat for about an hour. Around the places where the cool people go. The cool people who knew me. And Nobody. Said. A. Thing.

I should have been embarrassed. No, I should have been mortified. Yet I found it so funny that all I could do was remove the offending tag-along garment, put it in my jacket pocket and laugh. I asked The Siren why she didn't say anything and she swore that she hadn't noticed and, thinking back on our time out, I agreed that she hadn't walked behind me the whole time. Under the circumstances, it's a good thing that I had a sense of humor about it. I at least hoped that some other people got a laugh besides me because that was something that you just don't see every day.

So, there it is.... the moment that I should have been embarrassed about, yet somehow wasn't. In the end, I was thankful for two things: 1. at least the undies were clean, and 2. I was with The Siren... everybody was probably looking at her and didn't even notice.

Oh, and I still have the jacket all these years later. I can't bring myself to get rid of it. It makes me laugh.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Penis Almighty

If you've been on the internet enough, you've seen and read stuff way worse than this, but if some ultra-conservative folks just happen to come across this blog, let me warn you that this post is about... you guessed it... penises. If that offends you, just stop reading right now. Seriously. Stop.

(01/06/07 updated disclaimer: to the GUYS who may take this post wrong, I adore men. Really I do. Many of my best friends have been men. I think guys are peachy. I think PENISES are just peachy. Just thought that I should mention it.)

Okay, the rest of you may continue.

Starting at around four years old, young boys go through a stage where they're particularly fond of their penises. This phase peters out (hee, hee, pun intended) at about six years old and then they pretty much forget about it until around puberty, from which time on it becomes a huge influence in their lives until, well, the end of it.

We've already survived that first infatuation when our older son went through it, but our younger son is just entering it. My son seems to think that "Penis" deserves the respect that is afforded all the rest of the family. Penis talks. Penis laughs. Penis tells me when it's time for dinner. Penis apparently shoots bullets and missiles capable of taking down my son's imaginary foes. In his mind, Penis has phenominal cosmic powers.

Left on his own with only a male viewpoint as an influence, I'm sure that this belief would persist unchecked up through adulthood. Still, as the only female in a house full of males, I feel that it's my responsibility to put things into perspective. Being a girl isn't because there is a lack of penis, but just having something something other than a penis. Having a penis doesn't make you superior to women, just different from them. Okay, so that difference will dominate much of his thinking when he grows up (if that's the way he is inclined), but why spoil the plot for him now? Come to think of it, no matter how he's inclined, it's one body part that will rule his life. He'll discover that fact during puberty well before he bestows Penis with a name of its own.

Don't get me wrong, I think that penises certainly do have their good qualities. I really do. But my son must learn that his penis is really just a body part and, even if it's a really amusing body part, it's not the Master of the Universe.

Until I can get that through to him, though, it's "All hail Penis Almighty!"

I sure have my work cut out for me on this one.