Monthly Archives: July 2012

Defined

define: a : to determine or identify the essential qualities or meaning of defines us as human>

Used in a sentence:  Hallmark does not define me.

Now I just need to repeat that approximately 500 million times or until I believe it.  You see, for as long as I can remember, for as long as I have been writing and being a word nerd and creating things on paper, I have wanted to work here.  I have wanted to be a part of the company that makes communication possible for the non-communicators of the world.  I have wanted to be a part of making “the very best.”  I fought to become a part of this.  I clawed my way into this place.

I completed a portfolio that wasn’t so good.  And then I waited a couple of years and realized that my work needed to be better.  So I wrote a better portfolio.  Because, dammit, I wanted into the club.

And my work was better, and I finally got in.  I was doing what I thought I had wanted to do my entire life.  (Well, at least my entire life after I stopped wanting to be an astronaut and a cook at Hardee’s, because let’s face it, the sandwiches at Hardee’s could use some improvement, and I was determined for a long time to be the one to do that.)  And then what?  Then I wasn’t good enough again.  Or I was good enough, but not consistently better enough to move forward.  My dream and I were very clearly moving in a different direction, and I had to either embrace those different directions or force myself into a place where I didn’t seem to fit.

The thing my dream doesn’t seem to understand about me–and that I keep trying to tell it–is that I am an immediate-gratification kind of girl, and if I don’t get some sort of positive sign that I’m moving in the right direction, I assume that I’ve taken off in the wrong direction…AGAIN.  I like change.  I like momentum.  I like movement.  I don’t like stalemates.  I don’t like stagnant.  And I hate controversy.  I like diving in currents.  I like diving in wrecks and caverns and exploring the unknown.  I love looking at sharks face-to-face.  I like pushing myself, but I also like knowing that I’m going to survive.  I wasn’t so much getting the feeling I was going to survive creatively during this last adventure.

So the place that seemed to define me for so long, no longer defined me.  So maybe it never defined me.  That’s what I’m having to learn about myself right now.  Maybe the only thing that can define me is ME…not a place and not a job and not a company.

So, I’m off to define myself.  I’m going to write and be poor and write some more.  And I’m going to create and probably mess up…a LOT, and instead of being defined by a place, I will take what I have learned and know that a place can only add experience.  But, damn, I will miss all these wacky creatives and their wacky wackiness!

And sorry to my usual readers…this one’s not funny, but it’s a turning point.  Stay tuned for more funny and quirky tomorrow.

How to Look Like an Idiot

This is complicated, you guys, so play close attention.  Also, I make this look like an art form, so don’t be too hard on yourselves if you can’t quite reach the level of idiocy described below on your first attempt.
Here’s one way to do it:
  1. Realize kid’s birthday is coming up.
  2. Ask kid what he wants for his birthday.
  3. Respond favorably to the request for an effing pterodactyl-looking prehistoric lizard thing.  (Because, duh, it sounds like a GREAT idea at the time.)
  4. Decide that it’s very expensive at Petco to buy the entire set-up, so look first on craigslist.  Sift through assorted serial killers and rapists on craigslist for reputable person actually selling a reptile and not severed human body parts.
  5. Set up the “drop,” or the pick-up, as it were.  Pay college kid who repeatedly says the word “dude” a sum total of $150 for freaky looking lizard creature and giant glass tank, complete with dead crickets, worms, and other assorted nasty food sources.
  6. Hold scaly creature and exclaim, “Aw, he’s really sort of cute.  Maybe we should keep him!”
  7. Get look from husband that seems to say, “I will check your ass into the local asylum if you say that again.”
  8. Agree to give reptile to kid.  Call kid on phone and announce, “Yay, we have a birthday surprise for you!”
  9. Meet kid in yard, but insist on holding scaly creature to present it in theatrical way to kid.
  10.  Wait for kid to approach and watch freaky creature blow up its jaws in puffy, freaky fashion, which in turn, freaks your shit out.
  11.  Watch retarded lizard thing do exactly what “dude” told you it could not do, which was jump about 10 feet into the air.
  12.  As hybrid-lizard-kangaroo-creature leaps from your hands, scream loudly as if being attacked by a wild ape.
  13.  Watch helplessly as stupid prehistoric scaly thing (that you just paid $150 effing dollars for!) scampers into the grass, fearing for its very life.
  14.  Scream, “Oh, shit!”  Blame everyone else for scaring the stupid scaly lizard thing.
  15.  Leap into action.  Quickly grab cardboard box lid in an attempt to capture the damned creature.  Scream again for good measure.
  16.  Watch as grown son and husband throw themselves bodily on the dried-out lawn, attempting to catch—yet not smash—stupid, retarded, dumb-assed lizard monster.
  17.  Look on in horror as son finally lands on stupid mini-dinosaur’s tail and grabs it around increasingly puffing head.
  18.  Watch as son gently places thoroughly ticked-off lizard back into aquarium.
  19. Refuse to make eye contact as son and husband glare at me, wiping grass and sweat from their clothes and faces.
  20.  Happily wish son, “Happy Birthday!”
I am so not going into herpetology.  Those little things are fast and stupid, and I don’t care what they say in the books—they can jump.  (Ok, maybe I threw it just a little when it made that ridiculous hissing, puffy face, but OMG, who DOES that?!)

Getting Skooled

I have learned several things from my 5-year-old boys.  I know, I know—this is surprising, considering the fact that this is not our first rodeo.  After all, the boys are numbers four and five, respectively, so you would think that as parents, by now, we would know all there is to know, right?  Wrong-O.  These little guys have done gone and SKOOLED us.
Two 5-year-old boys together are a force to be reckoned with.  Much like a tsunami combined with a hurricane that happens right after a Category 5 tornado, they can leave one with that stunned feeling—you know the one?  Right after you get hit on the head with something really hard?  Or when you turn around and think are going to walk freely but end up walking into a wall instead?  Yeah, that feeling.  That’s the double-5-year-old-boy feeling.
So here are some of the things I have learned from “The Boys”:
  • They will drive you crazy by fighting all day and then sneak contraband M&Ms into their room at night, because they know you will pretend not to see.  Because, you guys, SO not worth the battle.  Just not worth it.  And they know this.  They are smart that way.
  • Apparently, it is HILARIOUS to get out of the bathtub and then immediately jump up and down to feel one’s private bits wobble.  I’m not sure what makes this funny, but I have learned that this will make two little boys howl with laughter.  The best thing to do is wrangle them quickly and get some SpongeBob undies on those little butts STAT.
  • Pajamas are meant to be hung in the closet, shirts belong in the toy box, and pants are not necessarily mandatory.  They do not follow the same wardrobe rules that we do.  Nor do they seem to notice the stares as we go in public wearing mismatched shoes and pajama bottoms.  (I believe this might carry forward into adulthood for many males.)
  • A good game of hide-and-seek is the best way to dust under any bed in the house.  These little guys will invariably crawl into the dirtiest places, and with their short summertime haircuts, they usually come out looking like the working end of a Swiffer duster.  Be prepared to toss them in the bathtub afterward.
  • If something is uncomfortable, they are not shy about adjusting it, scratching it, announcing it, or simply outright protesting it.  This will usually occur in public, so be warned.  Also, it usually has something to do with their underpants, so um, good luck.
  • They will set lofty goals.  Currently, Jadon wants to be a ‘sterminator.’  This is because Billy the Exterminator rocks and is the coolest bug-stomping, raccoon-trapping, bumble-bee-shooing dude ever to grace Netflix.  This also means they will carry around water bottles and spray anything that looks like it might be a bug, because, you guys, ‘Sterminator!’
 They will be sweet and crazy and funny and snuggly, and some days they will drive me to my wit’s end.  And those are the days they will ask why Mommy’s lemonade smells really funny.  And I tell them that my lemonade smells funny because it is Mommy’s very special lemonade that is just for grown-ups, and then after a couple glasses of my special lemonade everything gets all funny and cute again, and even though the house is wrecked and pajamas may be spinning from the ceiling fan, we are all having a great time.  Because boys are awesome!

High Score!

While enjoying a luxurious weekend of breezy 107+ degree temperatures in our exotic hometown, the boys and I had to get creative with our activities.  We attempted to do anything that involved NOT going outside.
We went to see Brave, which was awesome.  I highly recommend it.  I do not, however, highly recommend getting the large, overfilled bucket of popcorn if you are sitting next to a hyperactive 5-year-old, because I guaran-damn-tee you that his skinny little butt will not hold down his movie theater seat, and when he folds up in it like an accordion, his feet will kick the bucket, sending popcorn flying all over the theater.  Of course, this is merely a hypothetical scenario—we would never be so crass.  Pfft!
We went to Burger King.  I ordered two kids’ meals and nothing else because I was trying to inconspicuously smuggle in my Wendy’s salad, which is way better than any salad you could find at Burger King.  The little cash register guy asked me, “Nothing for you?”  And instead of just letting me say, “No, thank you,” Jadon piped up, “She doesn’t need nuthin’—she’s got a salad right there!”  Awesome.  Yep, smuggling it in right here.  Thanks, kid.  Luckily, we did not get thrown out, but in an act of motherly revenge, I made them actually eat their meals before they got to play.  Ha!  Take that!  (Ok, well maybe they had to eat part of their meals before playing.  Who am I kidding?  We were there for the gerbil trails.)
We went to the grocery store.  Holy Mother of God, did we go to the grocery store!  In fact, I’m pretty sure that Hy-Vee may be closed for the week in order to recover from our little jaunt, but hey, when it’s that hot outside, a trip to the milk section sounds like great fun.  If I said, “Get out from in front of the cart,” one time, I swear I said it half a billion times, yet they still kept sticking their little feet right under the wheels of the cart.  (It’s wrong or immoral or something to purposely run over them, right?)
I said “No!” to about 50 different varieties of cereal and chips and cookies, and I gave in to getting cold Lunchables for dinner, because I’m an awesome cook, and, “Voilà, kids!  Mommy made Lunchables for dinner!”
Then, drum roll please, we got to the produce aisle.  Now, before I go on, let me just say, that I have skipped over numerous threats of early bedtimes, removal of electronics, taking away of desserts, bodily harm, etc…in the many aisles leading up to the produce section.  You can only imagine the horror, and I can’t bring myself to thrust it upon you.  Suffice it to say I felt the need to place a suggestion in the store suggestion box for a Xanax dispenser at the midway point, somewhere near the cereal aisle, so that parents may cope with the entire shopping ordeal.
So here there we were, at the produce aisle, finally.  The last aisle.  The light at the end of the tunnel.  I was peacefully gathering my apples, a sweet bunch of Granny Smiths, when I heard the commotion.  And the first thing I thought was, “OMG, whose kid is THAT??!  And where in the holy hell is that child’s mother?!”
When suddenly it came to me.  “OMG, that is MY kid!  And I am THAT kid’s mother!”
And there stood my sweet little two-horned monster, Jadon, having just recently released an apple, in skee-ball fashion, up and over the triangular mountain of produce.  Having cleared the top of the mountain, the apple flew into the air, thereby earning a, “High Score!” from my child.  Holy Fuckballs.  (Is it wrong to beat children with celery stalks?)
So I bought the bruised apple and loudly proclaimed, “We don’t throw apples!”  (When, clearly, we DO throw apples.)  And we are going to have homemade applesauce soon.  Or mushy apple slices.  Or something like that.  And when the hell is my husband coming home?!

Naked Charging Rhino

There are few things more intimidating than a charging rhino—except maybe a naked, wet charging rhino that is fresh from the shower.  But I have an explanation, really and truly I do.
Here’s how it all went down.  I’m home by myself with the two 5-year-olds, and unless I want to accumulate an unholy bodily stench over the duration of the week, I eventually need to find times that are conducive to bathing.  That’s not always easy with two curious and busy and crazy and insane boys, but I do what I can.  So in this particular instance, I occupied Jordan with the television in the boys’ bedroom.  He was watching Dora or something equally as entertaining and borderline educational.  (That is how I justify it.  Do not judge.)  Jadon was downstairs being a nerd with the ipad.  Sood he will become a computer programmer and wear a pocket protector, but for now I will shield him from that by allowing him to download such things as Angry Birds.
So the sitch was normal.  Every thing was status quo.  I was set to take the shortest shower in the history of mankind.  I quickly verified that the boys were not lighting the house on fire, and I made a run for it.  And the plan was flawless—until I got out of the shower.  About the time I had wrapped the swami towel around my hair and had prepared to dry the rest of myself off, I heard the most awful, gut-wrenching scream from downstairs.
I quickly raced into action, knowing in my instinctive heart of hearts that a while boar or zombie or bear was surely eating my child alive.  I could tell by the severity and length of the scream.  Having no time to worry about such things as modesty or the fact that my children were about to be traumatized for the next several decades, I barreled forward from the safety of my bathroom, towel on my head, water flying behind me.
I raced down the stairs, screaming, “Jadon!  Jadon!  Are you ok?!”  As I stood there in all of my dripping-wet and panicked nakedness, my 5-year-old looked up at me with astonished eyes from his perch on the sofa.
He slowly and sort of post-traumatic-stress-syndrome-like replied, “Um, yeah, I failed my Angry Birds level.  Why you naked, Mama?”
Aw, shit.  Well, at least he knows I have the reflexes of a charging rhino when I feel that one of my kids is threatened.  As for the damned makers of Angry Birds, I have a few choice words for them.  Apparently, Jadon is going to show his frustration vocally when he is unable to clear a level.
Also apparently, we are going to have thousands of dollars of therapy bills to pay.  Because the site of your naked, wet mother charging through the house with a towel on her head is not one that is soon forgotten.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The pyromaniacs are out in force.  The neighbors are trying to burn down the house by launching flaming barrels of pyrotechnics into the sky, each launch beating the record set by previous launches.   I find myself continuously checking our home-owners’ insurance just in case our house spontaneously bursts into flames.  The kids can’t sleep, and in fact have been asking for the past 24 hours to blow things up.  The dog is doped up on doggie Xanax.  Yep, all signs that the 4th of July has arrived.

Aside from being tempted to dip into the dog’s Xanax supply myself, I feel like the holiday went surprisingly well.  There were no major injuries or burns, and the boys and I had a great time out at Mom’s local church picnic slash light-things-on-fire festival.
I was quickly reminded that 5-year-old boys can be friends with anyone.  They don’t have to have known you for long.  Jordan latched onto this one poor kid and stalked him mercilessly throughout the evening, declaring at random intervals, “You my friend” as he chased him through the grass and weeds and dirt and rocks and oh-ma-gawd-did-I-even-mention-how-dirty-my-kids-were-when-we-got-home?!

I also learned that those little glow-in-the-dark necklaces are handily converted into nighttime swords if you simply refrain from connecting them into a circle shape.  Boys like swords WAY better than little glowy necklaces, by the way.  Just sayin’.

I’m pretty sure I yelled something like, “Don’t pick up the flaming, glowing, fireball parachute!” like 500 gazillion times, yet every time a flaming fireball parachute was launched in our direction, whose kids ran to pick it up?  Oh yeah, mine.  Because, clearly my kids’ hands are impervious to flaming fireballs, and their super-powers will protect them from fire and sparks and all that crap, so who cares what Mom says, because, “Pfft, what does she know anyway?  Dude, that’s a PARACHUTE!”

So at around 10:30 last night, I carted two very sleepy, very DIRTY boys home in the car.  I think they made it about 30 seconds before they fell asleep, which made for quite a pleasant bedtime routine when we got home, if I do say so myself.  I took their shoes off, noticed that there was actually a layer of mud-ish dirt CAKED to the bottoms of their feet and in between their toes and quickly weighed the benefits of giving them a midnight bath versus the downside of the crying fit that would probably ensue.  And what did Mom of the Year do, you guys?  You guessed it.  I ever-so-gently scraped off as much of the dirt as I could, vowed to give them a double bath and wash their sheets today, and then I tucked their grumpy little butts into bed.

I then got Druggy McDoperson the dog out of his crate so that he could do his business, and amazingly enough, he was not even interested in the fact that the neighbors were still acting like terrorists and trying to fire bomb our house.  I totally need to ask my doctor for some doggie Xanax.  That is some gooood stuff!

Evil Trolls of Summer

The evil trolls of summer have taken over my house, and things are happening that are seriously making me consider moving into a hotel until the school year starts anew.  I have to warn you that what I am about to tell you is, in many ways, akin to a haunting or a possession, and I am starting to fear for those of us who live among these creatures.  Some of their antics are nothing short of terrifying, and these creatures are reckless in their abandon, seemingly unaware of the destruction left in their wake.  This post is meant as a warning to unsuspecting citizens of summer everywhere.
How to Spot the Trolls
Your house may have been invaded if you notice any of the following:
Dirty dishes left randomly throughout the house.  These creatures love to wallow in their own filth and will allow dishes to sit for days unattended and unwashed, simply watching food air-dry until it crinkles at the edges and snaps off the plates and bowls.
Piles of laundry placed in every room.  I have learned that apparently, as soon as the working members of the household leave for the day, the summertime trolls enjoy frolicking in smelly piles of laundry that they scatter throughout the house.  Serving as mini playgrounds of sorts, these piles of stench-collecting fabrics are attractive to the trolls, and they will fight to maintain this element of décor at all costs.
Scattered bits of dry ramen noodles.  I cannot emphasize enough that the trolls LOVE ramen.  They love beef-flavored, chicken-flavored, turd-flavored…any kind of ramen, and it has become clear that instead of putting it in a pan to cook, they must simply stand over the kitchen floor eating the crusty, dry noodles with their little pointy troll teeth, allowing the remnants to fall to the floor.  This can be the only explanation for the thorough covering of noodle crunchies found on my floor EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. of God’s creation during the summer months.
Soiled socks, hair ties, rubber bands for braces, juice boxes, Lunchable containers, straw papers, bookmarks, water guns, string cheese wrappers.  If you notice any of these things, you have been invaded!  The trolls vary in their likes and dislikes, but one thing is universal amongst them all.  They are relentless slobs.
What to Do
There is little you can do, but here are some tips to ease your suffering until the school year begins, as that is the time when you will likely be able to reign in much of the intolerable troll behavior:
  • Call your local exorcist and explain the situation.  Ask if he or she specializes Troll Behavior Modification.
  • Turn your television up really loud and attempt to tune out troll behavior.
  • Avoid going home early.  Work a LOT.
  • Attend School Board meetings and become active in lobbying for a 12-month school year.
  • Drink heavily.