Thursday, September 29, 2005

This N' That

There are so many things I want to say today. Bear with me on this one.

To my boss: I’d like to say, “SHOVE IT.” You made a horrible decision without even asking what staff thought and now we are the ones to take the full brunt of the issue. I am NOT on your side, I do NOT believe you acted professionally and to stoop to the level you have come to is to regress to Junior High status. Grow. The. Fuck. Up.

To the woman who called me today asking if I was still job hunting: YES!! Thank you. Thank you for remembering me after all this time. Thank you for your referral and your words of encouragement and support. This job may or may not be for me, but I appreciate the fact that you thought of me and went out of your way on my behalf.

To the man who has the position open: PLEASE DEAR GOD let it be a good position that would make a good career move for me. Do not treat me like a child. I can bring great experience and skill to your organization. Give me the chance to do so. I will give you the chance to be part of my career growth.

To Burger King: I say: “Picture menu available at window” on your drive-up menu is disturbing. If someone requires a picture menu because they cannot read, how can they read this helpful tidbit of information!?

To my dear friend Joe: I miss you. I’m sorry for being a stubborn, sensitive, girl. Truly.

To my Little Man: You are a joy. Thank you for a fantastic walk by the lake tonight. Thank you for laughing when you fell in the water and laughing even harder when I fell in. I can’t wait to see the pictures we took. Thank you for cooking dinner. What an incredible child you are. I will miss you this weekend. I hope you always know how much I love you.

To Gabe: Please stop eating things. Two throw pillows, two books and now a little pumpkin. (I only know he ate the pumpkin because he left the seeds and literally NOTHING else on the carpet). I love you. I walk you. I give you enormous amounts of attention and praise. Stop eating my things.

To my brother: I hope you are well. You are working 24/7 trying to get out of a hole you put yourself in. You will move to Atlanta perhaps as early as next week. I hope that it is nothing but positives for you. I hope that you grow roots and develop a career and find true happiness there.

To my sister: Tonight you reminded me of apples. Every year the bushels of Ida Red apples that I somehow get from Michigan to Pennsylvania. Thank you for remembering, for suggesting that perhaps you’ll travel this way this year. For allowing me to make jars and jars of applesauce again with Jacob from the best apples ever grown.

To Jimmy: Thank you for solving some of my quandaries. I appreciate finally understanding.

To Poka: Do you not have any tv at all? Amazing Race isn’t currently on cable it’s on network TV, so I’m hoping you were still able to see it. I won’t say a word about it though.

To W: I am a long shot from being Kate (from LOST). Maybe someday I’ll find the motivation to deal with the issues that stand in my way from losing weight. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy looking at Jack every week even if the plot is weak. (You can have Sawyer). But thanks for the sweet sentiment nonetheless. I needed it today.

To Miladysa: Can I move in? Ghosts or not, you have the most beautiful land around your home I could ever imagine. Enjoy it for me, if you would.

To Sarah (McLaughlin): Thank you for your music. Over and over the words strike me at soul-depth and shake me to my core. You speak to me, you move me. Today I listened to “Ice” a thousand times and I will never grow tired of it. You are talented beyond my comprehension. Thanks for sharing your gift.

To the Red Sox: WTF?!?!?! HELLO!?!? That’s all I can muster today.

To God: Thank you for all the blessings you gave to me today. Thank you for this incredible autumn day. For the scent of leaves in the woods. For the sound of water lapping at the lake’s edge. Thank you for my son, for my family, for my friends. Thank you for this day and all the days you have given to me. Help me to not take a single one for granted.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Just A Swingin'

Tonight was a beautiful night. Just cool enough without being at all cold. Sun shining. Feels like autumn without looking like winter just yet. When I arrived home, Gabe peeked at me and then ran into the living room – an immediate sign of trouble. I thought I noticed a hint of “fluff” on the stairs and sure enough he had eaten a throw pillow and two of Jacob’s books. He knew he was in trouble and laid in his bed for awhile until I calmed down. Since he hasn’t done this in many many months, I took it as a sign that he was asking for attention, so we headed off to the park.

I love going to the park with pup. There are oodles of little pee-wee football teams practicing, moms and dads sitting on the sidelines watching their boys practice ball and the girls practice cheering. (Don’t email me about women’s rights on this one, it’s too Pollyanna). Kids flock to Gabe. They have no fear of this 200 pound dog, they run right over shouting “can I pet your dog, pleeeeeaaase?” For me, who loves kids and dogs alike, it’s a win-win. However…. As I stood surrounded by kids just after arriving at the park, one of the kids shouted “Hey! There’s a little dog!” and I turn around and there is LISA. (insert scary music here.)

Lisa is my neighbor. I met her last spring out walking my dog. Over the course of the summer, I hung out with Lisa from time to time, mainly to go walking around the neighborhood and get our dose of girl-talk squeezed into our lives. She would invite me over to hang out with friends of hers, for a glass of wine at the end of the day or to sit at the pool while he son went swimming. It didn’t take long to realize that Lisa was extremely candid, open and remarkably uninhibited. I knew more about her than I was prepared to know in such a short amount of time.

Anyways, long story to short, I had a lightbulb moment with Lisa one night while walking around the neighborhood. She was talking to me about the vacation she had just returned from with her husband and son. They had spent a week with some of both of their families in Virginia in a house they had rented. She talked about how she and her husband went on a dinner cruise together one night, just the two of them, then progressed to a strip club, then back to the pool at the house with another couple for some skinny-dipping. I’m not always the quickest to pick up on these sorts of things, but I started to see all the conversations adding up and realized that Lisa and her husband were perhaps the first “swingers” I had met, and I feared beyond all fears that the next thing out of her mouth was going to be an invitation.

Call me conservative, call me a Midwestern freak of a girl, call me whatever, but this isn’t for me. I had to break off this friendship. I just didn’t know how. She kept calling and calling, and she’d stop by all the time to see if I wanted to hang out. Finally, one night, she must have rung my doorbell 3 times within an hour span and I finally went to the door with the phone in my hand explaining I was on the phone with my dad (lie). She held up a bottle of wine and looked sadly pitiful asking if I wanted to ‘catch up’. I explained that I was on the phone, and that I was headed out to play poker in 10 minutes (truth! Whew!) She looked absolutely defeated. I felt horrible. I wasn’t sure what to do.

I asked the advice of several people and they all came to the conclusion that she was not on the same page as I am and I needed to find a way to end this. A couple days later, when I knew she wasn’t home (cause I’m a wuss), I called her home phone and left a message saying how much I appreciated her efforts to hang out and such but I had really gotten busy lately and Jacob was going to be home next week and then school was starting and I just rambled on and on with some incoherent excuse for basically why I didn’t think we could really hang out anymore. I hate lying, I loathe lying. But I just couldn’t bring myself to say, “I’m not a swinger and I’m uncomfortable hearing about your lifestyle.” Anyways, not a word since. No calls, no knocks, nothing. I figured she realized at the very least that I just wasn’t interested anymore and let it be.

Until tonight. It’s been well over a month since I last saw her. Tonight, in order for her to have been that closely behind me when I arrived at the park, she must have followed me most of the way. I’m thinking that she probably saw me walk past her house, and knowing Lisa like I do, grabbed her dog and came running out hoping to strike up a conversation. Trust me, she’s like that. I was frozen at the park, not knowing what to say. Something deep inside me forced me to say aloud, “I’m going to go this other way, I don’t think Gabe will handle your dog well tonight” (true). Whew, I walked away and never looked back.

Call me lame, call me a wimp, I just don’t have the heart sometimes to tell the truth if I know it’s painful. And maybe just maybe Lisa doesn’t want anything more from me than a friendship but I’m not ready for any more sexual confusion in my life. I’ve had my fill. If she wants her husband to stop by a certain bar on the way home to check out a certain “hot bartender” (female) so be it. I just don’t need to be in on all that.

The moment I walked into my house tonight, the phone rang. I waited for the machine to pick up but they hung up on the third ring. Three times. I think Gabe’s going to have to fill in as my best friend for a little while. Considering my alternatives, I’m really okay with that.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Quandaries

Things that I’d really love to understand if someone could explain them to me in such a way as to not make me feel completely stupid for asking in the first place.

1. How do they determine how far above sea level some place is?
2. How does a call come across my cell phone? I mean, how does that signal ONLY come to my phone, and how does it travel that fast? Why do I never pick up my phone to say, “No, I’m sorry, but I think you’ve accidentally reached the wrong phone.”
3. Why are operas performed in a foreign language?
4. Water towers. We pump water up, so gravity can pull it back down?
5. How much would it cost to feed all the hungry people just in America for one day, and how does that number compare to the price of a fighter jet?
6. Why is a dollar worth more or less on any given day in other countries?
7. How can the Egyptians build pyramids that have stood for thousands of years and we can’t build a levee system to withstand a hurricane?
8. How can weather-people be so INCREDIBLY wrong so much of the time?
9. How could we put men on the moon decades ago but it takes 3 years for Pixar to create a computer-animated film?
10. Why isn’t Sign Language a universal language?
11. How does bleach remove color from clothes?
12. How can the American Mastiff’s origins be in the “working dog” category when all mine does is sleep?
13. How do they know a nuclear bomb isn’t a dud?
14. Two words: Dry. Cleaning.
15. I get the general gist of a camera. I don’t get how it captures colors.

Anyone? I’m sure there are more, I’ll let ya know. Let me know what’s occupying those cells in the back of your brain that are so busy you can’t remember where you put your keys.

Le Chat

I took six years of French. Four in high school and two at the collegiate level. I remember reading “La Petit Prince”. What a bizarre story with the strangest of words I’ll never need to know. I can say ‘sheep’ but I can’t remember how to ask for a pencil. In college we learned Christmas carols in French. Oh joy. To the world. A) singing in front of people. B) singing in a language I never did pronounce worth a darn. My dad took French in high school, back when I there were only 3 languages in all the world or something, but he can still sing the French anthem. That’s at least impressive.

I have decided that French was a lousy choice. Out of French, Spanish or German, it might have been the best of the worst, but it really hasn’t served me well at all. The fine folks in Paris still snubbed their noses at me. During my exchange to Belgium my host family wanted to practice their English.

If I could go back, if I could make a wiser, more applicable choice during freshman orientation, I would choose differently. I would choose to study “Feline”. Maybe today I could pick up “Cat for Dummies” or “Meow 101” from my local bibliotheque. Maybe. It’s probably a language better learned at an early age, before your mouth becomes incapable of forming some of the sounds. ‘Meeeeeow? Meeooooooww?” Maybe even if I were to master the language now, my cats would still laugh at the way I pronounce the ‘r’s like ‘l’s.

Maybe I could just get away with learning the psychology of cat-speak. Why, after an entire day of silence from Jonah, does he decide to make quite a proclamation from atop the bookshelf? What at that exact moment prompted him to speak his mind? And what satisfied his outburst so that he was able to simply turn and go back to sleep? Nothing has changed, no one has moved.

Scout rarely speaks. Well, except when she went in heat and never-for-the-life-of-me-shut-up. Scout will talk to me when I go into my room at night and find her already warming the bed for me. But I understand her, I can relate. She’ll tell me she’s been waiting for me to come to bed for an hour now and that she was kind enough to get it cozy for me. She’ll also ask for some love before the beast comes in to ruin it all. Then she’ll be quiet again. She knows if she talks too much, Gabe will come running.

Jonah talks at the strangest times. Certainly I get the usual “HEY! We’re outta food! How did you NOT notice our bowl was empty!?! HEY!!! Before you get in that shower, com’on, cut us a break! I might not eat it for hours, but still, I should be fed FIRST!! And what's with Iams for the third year in a row? Enough already!”

But the one that gets me the most is after I turn off all the lights, check that the door is indeed locked and head to bed. When my head hits the pillow and blankets are all drawn up to my chin, alarm clock on and the dog is at my side on the floor, Jonah will start. He will walk through the house proclaiming something that by the sounds of it should really be paid attention to. I have no idea what this diatribe is all about. I do not know if it is his way of announcing his superiority, reminding all of us that Alpha Dog in this house is a cat. I do not know if he is simply claiming his prize for being the last one awake. But it’s every night. And it goes on for several minutes. All I can say in response is, “Ou v’est le W.C.?” and even then, I’ve probably just asked a rude question about your uncle and not the location of the bathroom.

If anyone out there speaks Cat, let me know. I’d at least like to make sure Jonah isn’t insulting me to my face. How humiliating that would be. “Hey everyone (meow meow) did you know this woman might keep a clean house, but have you actually looked in her closets?! (meow meow)” or perhaps “I saw you eat a bowl of ice cream AND a bowl of popcorn (meow meow) you can’t fool me! (meow!!)” So if you can help me translate, great! If not, can anyone teach me how to say “the only good cat is a dead cat” in feline? You know, just in case.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

My Sanctuary

My bedroom is my sanctuary. Years ago, I heard the advice that your bedroom should be the most welcoming, comforting place in your home and I took heed. You didn’t need to tell me twice. I love lazy mornings in bed, I love reading before I sleep, and it’s the one place that both my kitties will come snuggle with me despite the fact that the beast lies just a few feet away. How could I NOT cherish this room?

The bed and dresser are antiques from my grandparents. They are truly beautiful. A quilt hangs on the rack Bear made for me (the rack, not the quilt), which hangs over my mom’s hope chest. A beautiful antique table sits under the window with my prized bell jar, a plant or two and of course, a lantern. The only think I think the room is lacking is a big oversized reading chair and ottoman, but that will come in time.

Today I sought to conquer the issue of curtains. I have blinds, thank goodness, as the neighbor’s window would otherwise look almost directly into mine, but I needed some simple touch to the window that would add to the room in a subtle, elegant manner.

My first attempt failed miserably. I recognize that I’m a visual person, but I can pick things out in a store that are beyond comprehension when I get them home.

My second attempt, however, was far more successful. I found curtains that have a subtle leaf pattern to them which matches my personality and decorating style just perfectly. I hung them just a tad too low, but not so much so that I’m going to move them (that would mean spackle and touch up paint which I just can’t bring myself to do).

As I walked into my room earlier to change into my jammies I felt such a sense of accomplishment and peace over something so simple as curtains. I suppose it’s just all that the room adds up to. Touches of my past mixed in with my hopes for the future. It demonstrates the distance I’ve come through in the last several years since my divorce. This is my room. This is my home. It is certainly my mortgage! I will sleep tight on this cool autumn night with my kitties curled up in the bed and Gabe snoring next to me on the floor. I will wake up in the morning and cherish the light of day coming through the shades. This is my room. This is my heaven. This is peace. My sanctuary.

Kleenex for G

My brother, G, and I have not lived near each other since I was in college and he was in middle school. About the time he went to college far from home, I moved even further to Pennsylvania. He moved from southern Illinois to Tennessee. Then to Alabama. And in a couple of weeks, he’ll be moving to Georgia. We’ve always been close despite the eight years and hundreds of miles between us. We talk on the phone and email several times a week. Most nights we catch each other on instant messenger.

G is the sort of little brother every big sister enjoys. He’s funny, he’s smart and he’s irresponsible in that envious, courageous way. He has changed jobs more times than I can count. He moves to a new state without so much as a second of hesitation. He stays during a hurricane when the local officials (and his big sisters) are telling you to evacuate. But he always comes out on top and I’m always jealous of his bravery even if it just comes from a lack of outside responsibilities and obligations.

Off and on all weekend, I’ve touched base (a family term for “checking in on”) with G to see what he’s up to and to just feel like he’s not so far away. Tonight, after finishing household chores, taking a hot bath and finally eating a bit of dinner, I sat down on the couch to enjoy my Sunday night ritual of football. G, on the other hand, turned on Extreme Makeover Home Edition. As we chatted back and forth about what we were watching, I realized he was REALLY into his show. He loves Eli Manning and yet is not watching the Giants? Something was amok. As the conversation went on I realized something about my brother. He is a softie.

G is in the construction business. He can build a house (if he wanted to). He volunteers for Habitat and has helped many people out during the hurricane recovery. He is watching this Home Makeover with his heart. He is captivated by the family situation (wounded veteran) and loves what the team produces to honor this family.

I keep posting updates on the game.

He asks for a tissue. He says he’s kidding, I’m not so certain.

I tell him the Giants just scored a field goal.

He says “shush, I’m watching the tear-jerking show.”

I tell him the Chargers are on the one yard line.

He says “they paid their mortgage off and gave her a scholarship.”

I tell him he’s missing fans with jeans so low they’re almost indecent.

He switches channels to catch the game but only because Makeover is on commercials.

I love my brother dearly. He is the first one to make me laugh when my life seems beyond salvation. If I tell him I fixed the toilet this weekend, he’ll be the first to say he wishes he were closer to do it for me. And if I get stuck on a project, he’ll lend me all the advice I ask for and not a drop more. Tonight, as he tries to laugh off and joke about his softer side, I know that this is the very part of him, the very heart of him that some woman is going to fall in love with someday. I know that his sentimental, almost romantic side is what gives balance to the rest of his hard-working, independent lifestyle. Tonight I might laugh at the irony of me watching football while he watches a chick show on ABC but I know, deep down that we’re both just expressing the sides of us often reserved for the opposite gender. I hope that my love of football will serve me as well with a significant other as his softer side will for his relationships. Somehow, knowing how lucky and unabashedly fearless my brother is, he’ll beat me out on that one, too. I’ll still love him anyway. But don’t think for a moment I’m going to let him get off scott-free for having teared up during a Sunday night show on network tv. This will come up again. I would be remiss as an older sis if it didn’t. My recommendation: don’t give me the mic during your wedding, G. It’s your own fault if you do. Ya big softie.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Traditions

Every Saturday night that I have the Little Man we enjoy “Movie Night”. I started this tradition a few years ago in an effort to create quality moments and memories with LM before he decided parents were the enemy. It has been a huge hit ever since. He even introduced his grandparents to the idea over the summer.

Most of the time I surprise him with my choice of movie rentals. I introduced him to the Indiana Jones series, Back to the Future, War Games and Movie Night was the original introduction to Star Wars that got LM stuck on it for life.

Movie Night is also Pizza Night. We make ours from scratch, another effort to create bonding moments that will serve not only to strengthen our relationship but also to teach my son some basic cooking skills so he can impress the chicks later in life! The Little Man has progressed from just getting drinks and napkins, to gathering the ingredients to his new position of Head Saucier. I make the dough for the crust and he works the sauce. He knows exactly what spices to use, and chooses to follow his mother and ignore basic measuring tools. He knows that we prefer to go a little heavy on the garlic, but not too much crushed red pepper. When he is finished shaking and stirring, he proclaims each and every time with all the pride of a nine year old boy, "That this is the best sauce ever!" Later, while we're eating, I will tell him how amazing the sauce is, that it is perhaps the best ever, and he will humbly declare that it must be in his genes to be such a good cook.

We make individual pizzas, each big enough for one with plenty of leftovers for Sunday lunch. He makes his with a tiny bit of ham, green pepper and pineapple. I leave off the pineapple and double up on ham. Each makes their own to their own preferences and tastes and then into the oven they go.

Both of us look forward to Movie Night all week. Sometimes we plan in advance what movie we want to rent. Often times we shop together for pizza ingredients ahead of time. Every now and then I take him out to a movie at the theatre just for something different. We enjoy our pizza and movie in our jammies, curled up on the couch together. We’ll make a little toast to a great night together, and say a prayer for all the people we love before we eat. I'll have to remind him his pizza is hot and to wait and then blow on it a little. We'll giggle and talk about the weekend and life in general. We'll do "H.A.L.T." a daily discussion of our Highs, Lows and Thanks. The dog will try to steal our napkins. Later on we will share either a bowl of popcorn or some ice cream to top off a night of indulgence. And at the end of it all, when I tuck him into bed we’ll both relish the feeling of knowing we are loved.

As we sit here tonight, smelling the great heart-warming smell of homemade pizza cooking, as I enjoy a glass of wine and he reads another chapter in his Star Wars book while we wait, I know that there is no place I would rather be on a Saturday night than right here. There is no one I would rather be spending the evening with than the love of my life. There is nothing else that heals my soul and makes the love in this house overflow than the time we spend together, side by side on the couch for Movie Night.

Monday, September 19, 2005

How Low Will A Mosquito Go?

So as not to leave the impression (at all) that I do not enjoy every single moment of being a mom, I wanted to share a quick anecdote from my evening. After watching football with me for about a half hour tonight, the Little Man headed into the bathroom to change into p.j.’s, brush, floss, gargle, etc. When he came out of the bathroom he said, “Hey mom, wanna hear something funny? I have a bug bite on my BUTT!!” “My Little Man, have you been sitting in the grass naked again?” “MOM!!!” This amused him for more than 10 minutes. He is the sweetest, funniest, smartest kid I have ever known. But of course I’m going to say that, I’m his mother! (postscript: He's STILL laughing about this as he turns out his light singing, "I've got bug biiiiiites on my butttttoooooockksss")

Sunday, September 18, 2005

100 Things I Know About Me

In an effort to pay homage (you may read that as "rip-off", but truly, I copy her with the utmost respect) to Tequila Mockingbird, whom I believe (only through reading her blog) to be a kindred spirit and worth the read, here is my list of 100 Things I Know About Me.
1. I snack according to a genetically predispositioned salty, sweet, salty, sweet pattern.
2. I do not like beer or coffee but I have recently learned to appreciate the bagel.
3. I suffer from an ever-increasing fear of abandonment.
4. I can play the piano. In a pinch I might recall how to play the flute and oboe, too.
5. I graduated with a 4.0 in my degree from college.
6. My favorite book is “The Chosen” by Chaim Potok.
7. I am, for good and for bad, a middle child.
8. I give great gifts.
9. I hate grasshoppers more than most any other insect.
10. I love Sunday Night Football even more than Monday Night Football.
11. I have nearly 40 plants in my home.
12. Jose Cuervo and I are on a first-name basis.
13. Although I am a natural redhead, I have more blonde moments than I'd like to admit.
14. Despite being religious, I enjoy Sunday mornings at the Bark Park more than church.
15. My favorite flavor of ice cream is Ben and Jerry's Heath Bar Crunch.
16. I am addicted to Texas Hold ‘Em poker (but I never play for money).
17. My favorite day of the week is Thursday.
18. I was a virgin when I got married.
19. I would rather be adamantly vocally wrong about my rights than silently right.
20. I can be overly-analytical of myself, my relationships and others.
21. I am a candle burner, not a candle duster.
22. I listen to Sarah McLaughlin at least once a week.
23. I have never learned to appreciate hockey, despite briefly dating a Canadian.
24. I believe a first date should never cost more than $20 or involve a chain restaurant.
25. I balance my checkbook to the penny.
26. I have watched a person die.
27. My dream job would be to be a photographer.
28. My biggest worry is that my son will be gay like his father.
29. Once every 3 years or so I cut 10-12 inches off my hair and donate it to Locks-of-Love.
30. I drink a Diet Coke almost every day.
31. I love country music and country dancing.
32. I am incredibly disappointed that I will more than likely never celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary.
33. I watch The Amazing Race religiously.
34. I love that my son thinks I’m crazy funny.
35. Pineapple lifesavers are my favorite.
36. I believe ice cream should be a food group.
37. I own books on finances, divorce and meditation that I have never read.
38. When I count my blessings, my son always tops the list.
39. “Serendipity” is one of my all-time favorite movies.
40. so is “Seven”
41. I cheered for the Patriots and Matt Kenseth before they won championships.
42. but I jumped right on the Red Sox bandwagon.
43. My sister and I are absolutely nothing alike.
44. A man with a goatee automatically scores extra points with me.
45. Even more if he also drives a truck.
46. If I had to choose between a man and my dog, my dog would win. Paws down.
47. I strongly dislike two out of three of my co-workers.
48. I would rather travel to Maine than Florida.
49. I rarely, if ever floss, despite insisting my son floss every night.
50. I could subside entirely on Italian food.
51. I’m a soda-pop wine drinker. If it has a cork, you paid too much.
52. I refuse to watch boxing.
53. I am Pro-Life. Without exception.
54. When I fall in love, I fall hard.
55. I have been truly in love only once in my life.
56. I will kill anyone who ever hurt my child.
57. I have never broken a bone.
58. I have, however, undergone all the shots for rabies.
59. I drink orange juice with breakfast, never milk.
60. I have never played competitive sports.
61. I would rather read the book than see the movie.
62. I have a lot of acquaintances, very few close friends.
63. I have more male friends than female friends.
64. My favorite foreign word for hello or goodbye is ‘ciao’.
65. If I could only have one channel on my TV, I would want ESPN.
66. The girl name I had picked out when my son was born was "Emily Claire".
67. When I get to Heaven, I plan on asking God why He didn’t make chocolate as good for you as broccoli. Or why doesn’t broccoli just taste like chocolate.
68. I also want to ask why he let my friends lose two babies at birth. Two.
69. I do not own or watch porn.
70. I am not always proud to be an American.
71. Despite being otherwise great at math, I cannot figure out how to give a cashier an extra nickel or a dime to make the change they give me round off better.
72. It’s a moot point anyways, because I never give a cashier change, only bills.
73. I’m one of those annoying people who knows that ‘moot’ actually means “debatable”.
74. Suzy Kolber is the only female football announcer I can stand to listen to.
75. The only time I ever doubted the existence of a God was when my mom was diagnosed with Cancer. The way she handled it and lived with it demonstrated to me that there WAS, indeed, a very loving God.
76. “Mad About You” is one of my all-time favorite sitcoms. They got married when I did (almost the same day) and had a baby shortly after I did. I loved it.
77. I was married for exactly 8 years and one day.
78. Selfishness is the personality trait I have the least amount of tolerance for.
79. Patience is the personality trait I have the least of.
80. My “love language” is “Quality Time”.
81. I know all the lyrics to "American Pie".
82. Every spring I have an innate desire to get my hands into dirt.
83. I am the best singer to have ever sung in my car.
84. I can’t stand talk radio. I have little tolerance for dj’s talking at all.
85. I would rather email than talk on the phone.
86. I have always wanted to be the girl someone loved so much they fought for.
87. I still hold onto the hope that I will have more kids.
88. I refuse to buy any book that has “Oprah’s book club” printed on it.
89. I didn’t appreciate how fun college was until I graduated.
90. I am deeply afraid that I will never be a success in my father’s eyes.
91. My two biggest fears are outliving my child and dying.
92. I eat sweet pickles in my chili and grape jelly on my grilled cheese.
93. I don’t like celery or coconut.
94. Kissing is an art that should be taken as seriously as sex.
95. Sex should not always be taken seriously.
96. Living within 20 miles of a Wal*Mart or McDonald’s is way too close for my tastes.
97. I not-so-secretly wanted a girl when I was pregnant, but am ever so thankful God gave me a boy.
98. I miss talking with my mom.
99. I do not posses the right chromosome to program my high def remote.
100. As head coach, I would never punt on fourth and inches even if it was the smart play.

Condiment Quandary

Again, a conversation I cannot quite explain but for different reasons altogether.

For the past five years since our separation, my ex husband has shared custody of our son with a typical every-other-weekend and one-night-a week arrangement. This conversation went EXACTLY like this: A voicemail was left from my ex while I was out walking the dog. All he said was, “hey, I have a question for you about Jacob, can you give me a call as soon as you get in?” Thinking it’s quite important, I call.

Me: “Hey – got your message, everything okay?”

Ex: “Hey – sorry to bug ya, I just wanted to know, does Jacob eat Hellman’s or Miracle Whip?”

Me: (pausing long enough to let him listen to his question and try to get him to realize we WERE married for 8 years and our son is now NINE years old, and I’m sure that overnight his mayonnaise preferences haven’t changed dramatically – but, he still awaits my answer.) “I buy Miracle Whip. But… Jacob eats mayo at the deli, and was at your folks’ all summer, so I think perhaps he’d eat about any kind.”

Ex: “Okay, so Miracle Whip. Do you buy the Lite or the Fat-Free or just the Regular?”

Me: (Okay, I did NOT think this question could get worse. I mean, seriously, he is so concerned about his son’s preference in mayo that he called his ex wife on a Tuesday night to ask?! I think, I’d just ask the kid – but hey, that’s just me.) “Whatever is on sale, I guess. I don’t think it matters.”

Ex: “Oh, okay, great. THANKS!!”

This conversation is really just one in a series. I have received at least two other thematically-related calls in the last couple of years, one about Jacob’s preference in syrup and one about what Caesar dressing he’d like.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking, he’s not actually calling about mayo. Maybe he just wants to talk to me, the mayo (syrup, dressing) is just an excuse. Silly, silly, blogmates. If you really think this is at all remotely true, please refer to my Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo blog to better understand how I am NOT my ex’s type and he’s certainly not looking to reconcile.

Now, can someone pass the mayo?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Thanks, Mr. Bell, Thanks A Lot!

So the conversation went something like this…

Rob: “’ello?”
Me: “Hey Bear, is Jules around?”
Rob: “Yeah, I’m in the barn, let me holler for her”
Rob: “JULIE!!! JULIE!! PHONE!!”
Rob: “JULIE! GET THE PHONE!”
Rob: “JULIE! GET THE GODDAMN PHONE!”
Julie: (away from the phone) “What?!”
Rob: “PICK UP THE PHONE! IT’S FOR YOU! IT’S YOUR SISTER!”
Julie: (picking up the phone) “How am I supposed to know it’s for me?!? I heard it ringing and though you wanted me to answer it, but then it stopped ringing!”
Rob: “It stopped ringing because I answered it and I hollered for you because the PHONE IS FOR YOU!”
Julie: “Well GODDAMN IT, how am I going to know that? I can’t hear you from the barn!”
Me: “Um, hello?”
Julie: “Hey. Sorry. Don’t know why he answers the phone if he’s going to be all the way out in the barn.”
Me: “Well, I just called for a second,..”
Julie: “GODDAMN IT, WHAT?!? I CANNOT HEAR YOU! WHAT DO YOU NEED?”
Rob: (says something away from the phone)
Julie: “How am I supposed to know that’s what you wanted? I have no idea where it is RIGHT THIS SECOND. Can it wait until I get off the phone?!?”
Julie: “Sorry.”
Me: “It’s okay, I just wanted to ask…”
Julie: “Hang on a second. He can’t seem to wait until I’m off the phone.”
(All kinds of yelling in the background while they sort out where Julie left the tool she had that Rob now needs.)
Julie: “Ugh, sorry. He’s trying to get that loft broken apart before we head to Andrea’s tonight and he can’t wait for TWO SECONDS until I get off the phone..”
Julie: “WHAT?!?! Emily and Robby if I have to come up there you two are going to be sorry! What is the matter?!?! WHAT?! COME DOWN HERE! She did what? Robby, if you’re going to cry over every little thing that Emily does…. So don’t play with her anymore!”
Julie: “Sorry”
Me: “So, I wanted to know if I could…”
Julie: “GODDAMN IT! EMILY! COULD YOU PLEASE JUST HELP ROBBY WITH HIS SHOES? IS THAT ASKING TOO MUCH?? WE’LL GO TO ANDREAS IN A HALF HOUR!”
Me: “Seems like you’ve got a lot going on, I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Julie: “No, it’s okay, we’re just trying to get to Andreas so we can all go swimming but Rob had a bee up his butt to suddenly tear apart the loft even though it’s been sitting in the barn since we moved, what is that now, 8 months? Why he has to do this TODAY I’ll never know.”
Me: “So, I called because you mentioned that Bear’s company was matching..”
Julie: “I’m so sorry, can you hang on for a second?”
Me: “Sure.”
Julie: “EMILY GRACE! IF I HEAR ONE MORE WORD OUT OF YOU WE ARE NOT GOING TO ANDREAS! GODDAMN IT JUST HELP YOUR BROTHER. HE JUST WANTS HIS SHOES PUT ON!”
Julie: “Sorry. They can’t seem to get along at all today. They’ve been fighting the whole day and I’m about ready to cancel the whole swimming thing except we haven’t seen Don and Andrea in about 3 months and I know they’d be really disappointed if we didn’t come over tonight, and besides it’ll be nice just to sit and relax. Evan and Abbey always play with Em and Robby so well, so I’m sure we won’t have any trouble once we’re there, we just can’t seem to get out the door.”
Julie: “ROB!!! Are you about ready?! WHAT?! I can’t hear you in here!!”
Rob: (says something away from the phone that I am sure should not be repeated)
Me: “Jules, I just need to know about the donations for Katrina…”
Julie: “Hang on. He needs something again. WHAT ROB?!”
Julie: “Sorry, what did you want to know?”
Me: “If I send my donation for the Red Cross to you…”
Julie: “GODDAMN IT KIDS! THAT’S IT! I’VE HAD IT! NO ONE IS GOING SWIMMING IF THE TWO OF YOU CAN’T EVEN GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER! NOW GET YOUR SWIM BAGS, GET ROBBY’S SHOES ON AND COME DOWN HERE!”
Me: “Jules. If-I-send-my-check-for-the-American-Red-Cross-to-you, can-Rob-take-it-to-work-so-his-company-matches-the-donation?”
Julie: “Yeah, I’m sure he can….ROB?!?! SHE WANTS TO KNOW IF SHE SENDS A CHECK CAN YOU TAKE IT TO WORK SO YOUR COMPANY MATCHES HER AMOUNT, TOO? WHAT?!?! HANG ON, I CANNOT HEAR YOU. GODDAMN IT! Why does he think I can hear him all the way in the house? OH! He has to have it by Friday. Just tell me how much you’re sending and we’ll take it to work and then we’ll just deposit your check when it arrives.”
Me: “Great. Will do. Have fun at Andrea’s.”
Julie: “IF we ever get there! Hey, listen, I gotta go, the kids still don’t have their stuff together…EMILY!!! ROBBY!!!”
Me: “No problem” Click.

I have GOT to get that girl back on email.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Don't Ask Me How I Know

If there is a strange white-ish object on the floor that you can barely make out in the dark, don’t reach down to pick it up. It’s the dog’s half chewed rawhide, still gummy and slimy that will gross you out so badly that you’ll still shiver thinking about it a week later.

Do not use the phrase, “so I was talking with this friend of mine the other day…” to an older sister. They smell out the truth, no matter how hard you try to hide it and will KNOW that you have spoken to an ex-boyfriend that you swore to her you would never speak to again because you realize she was right all along and he was bad, bad, bad for you.

If you have an empty bottle (or two) of Smirnoff Ice sitting on the coffee table when the Little Man goes to bed, he will ask you if that’s beer. When you tell the truth and say, “No” he will know better and you will still get a lecture on choosing to “Just Say No to Drugs.”

The amount of vomit a creature produces is directly proportionate to their body weight and how recently you shampooed the carpet. If you are accustomed to the hair balls that come out of a ten pound cat, do not underestimate the results of a 200 pound dog who got into the trash. Buy the steam cleaner, don’t just rent it.

Tequila and tunafish don’t mix. On either the intake or the output.

A week or two after you start talking with aforementioned ex-boyfriend, you will stop, for all the same reasons you originally thought he was a jackhole (thanks, poka, for the word) however, a couple weeks after that, when you are starting to regain your sense of direction and progression, you will be staggeringly caught off guard by your cell phone bill from that conversational period and will have to donate bone marrow for two years to pay for it.

A younger brother will not remember your birthday, his niece’s or nephew’s birthdays, the day you got married or divorced, not even vaguely how old you are to begin with. He does, however, know the birthday of Nascar Rookie, Kasey Kahne.

Tequila and chocolate pudding don’t mix.

Donating bone marrow, while charitable, is painful.

In the midst of cleaning up said vomit, when you are in your sweats, hair hastily pulled back out of your way, smelling like a beast, your new, attractive, single neighbor will stop by to introduce himself. He won’t stay long.

When you finally realize your social life is in a slump and remember prior to Friday night to stop by Blockbuster for a flick or two for the weekend, and end up over-doing it a bit with a stack of movies taller than you are, you will return home to three messages on your machine asking you if you have plans for this weekend.

Tequila and gummi bears don’t mix.

Despite not having chewed a roll of toilet paper in well over a year, on an evening when it is pouring down rain, you just put the Little Man to bed and you have $. 37 until next Friday (literally) your dog will completely devour the last roll in the house.

Ex-boyfriends never creep back into your life because they recognize what it is you needed all along and are ready to give that to you now. They are really just back in communication because they recently bought stock in Verizon Wireless.

When you spend the summer months desperately trying to restock your son’s fish tank as a surprise gift when he returns home from a summer at Nana’s, upon arrival back home, he will kill all 6 of the fish in one massive over-feeding incident.

When you wake up in the morning, it will be a new day. You will open your eyes, stretch and jump eagerly out of bed, stepping directly onto the slobby, slimy rawhide left there by your pooch as a Monday morning present. As it turns out, Tequila can help you forget all about rawhides.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Love Stamps

As part of my parental requirement to teach responsibility to my only offspring, my son gets the mail from the box on his way to the house from the bus each day after school. I arrive home shortly after he does (the continued age of the latch-key children) to a pile of mostly crap that may or may not include one valid bill. My son, in his infinite wisdom and maturity has already taken account of everything in the mail and will quickly point out pieces he deems “important”. If perhaps, Chase Financial sends me two identical credit card offers, the Little Man firmly believes it doubles its priority. He has learned over the last two years that anything that arrives with my former married name on it is indeed as much junk as my marriage was. Pieces of mail that read “Open Immediately”; “Dated Materials Enclosed” or “Special Offer” he stacks on top. As I quickly rip up each piece and place it in the trash pile, his eyes get wider and wider in disbelief. He will even stop to say, “Mom, that one there is from your college.” as though it will change my mind on using my single-mom budget to support a small liberal arts college in Illinois rather than putting money aside for his collegiate education. All this from the same child who once called my cell phone on my way home to alert me to a message on the answering machine. “Mom. Don’t erase this one until you’ve listened to it the whole way through. The man says he can reduce your interest rate on your MORTGAGE payment!”

I must admit, there was a time when I was as enamored with the U.S. Mail System and all that it delivered. But somehow, during that mythical and intangible time when you stop being a child and start being an adult, when you stop having the ability to hand off the bills to someone else to worry about, you realize something has changed about the mail. Those envelopes with handwriting on them are a thing of the past. No packages arrive unexpectedly anymore. The mail rarely holds any good surprises. It is full of bills, useless catalogs (you would not believe the obsession the former home-owners here had with mail-order everything) and offers to put myself further and further into debt if only I’ll sign here, or cash this. What a sheer joy it would be to sort through my mail to see my name handwritten on an envelope. When the Little Man receives a letter from a pen-pal many states away, I am often more excited than he is. Perhaps because I don’t have the task of sitting down to pencil and paper to write him back, the absolute, most inconceivable form of torture known to a nine-year old boy. I am sincerely jealous of this small treasure that he has received.

In the back of my closet, in a worn old shoebox I have a collection of letters. The letters themselves, I’m sure are unremarkable except for the label on the box itself. My mother, whom I lost to cancer 12 years ago, wrote on the box full of letters my sister and I wrote to her from college in the years leading up to her death, “Letters Saved for a Rainy Day”. Not only does it touch my heart to know that she saved letters from the two of us to help cheer her up during the rough days, but it touches a deep part of me to know that I am remarkably like my mother in the way that I covet handwritten tokens of love. I intend this week to put ink to paper and send off a few sentiments to old friends. I hope to find a return letter on top of the pile one day, but even if I don’t, I will treasure the thought of my friends finding their name handwritten on an envelope mingled in with the bills. Maybe they will brighten up another rainy day.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Indivisible

I was sitting at my desk listening to the radio when I heard a familiar DJ say “we’re looking a live shot of New York, it appears the World Trade Center is on fire.” I called my sister in Michigan and before I could even tell her to put on the news to see what was happening, the radio announcers moved from local to Katie Couric and Matt Lauer on NBC. They, too, seemed puzzled by what was going on. As the nation watched, slowly turning their attention to the events transpiring, we heard and saw and felt the second plane hit the towers. Within the hour, another highjacked plane went down in my state, Pennsylvania. My phone rang, my sister begged me to go to the bank, take out my money and get in my car with my son and leave. “Leave now,“she said. “It is not safe to be near Philly. Get out”. “They” won’t come to Michigan. Even as I recall her voice, I cry. She was so scared for me. Today I watch for the second week in a row news about Hurricane Katrina. I hear stories of police forces being shot at by vandals. I hear about suicides and families who don’t know where their children are. I see rescues of babies and children without parents. I see the images of homes underwater. Survivors with nothing but what they had with them. This is America. This is my home. Refugees are what you see when you fall asleep with the TV on and wake up to see advertisements touting “for pennies a day…” They are not people in my country. They are not people who live 30 minutes from my brother. They cannot be. It cannot be the Trade Center that was struck – it couldn’t be intentional – someone is mistaken. But they aren’t. And it was. And it’s reality. I have sent money but it felt so empty. I have helped gather clothes, toys, books to send. I don’t even begin to feel like I have helped. How can I sit in my beautiful home and see plants, animals and my child, not to mention all my belongings, every memento from my childhood and his intact; how I can sit here and feel peace, feel as if I deserve to have this more than those on the Gulf Shores. I do not know how to help. It seems I only know how to sit and mourn and cry and feel completely overwhelmed with complete devastation happening here at home. Just a few days ago, I overheard someone tell a joke about New Orleans. I was stunned. Infuriated, I commented, how insensitive that was. The man seemed to act as if the Hurricane did not effect him at all, and besides, it’s over now. Flipping the radio last week all I heard were voices of locals complaining about the rising gas prices. “How can we be paying $.30 more today than yesterday?” I could not believe how small the world seemed to get, and how remarkably selfish people seemed to be. People don’t have water to drink for days on end and we are upset over the price of gas? Our nation rallied behind the effect of 9-11. We donated, hung out our flags and sought to hold accountable those who led the attack. The Gulf Shores need us even more. The rescue workers themselves do not have homes to return to at the end of an 18 hour day. They have nothing. Their own families have been transported to another state for safety. Thousands of people are still in their homes, too frightened or stubborn to leave. Their lives are in danger. And the hundreds of thousands that have temporarily relocated need permanent homes, permanent jobs, new lives with nothing to start from. I do not know where to begin. All I know is that I know someone who does. And I have to turn things over to Him now, turn these peoples’ lives over to Him, to put this crisis in His hands and allow him to work through the devastation and into the heart of this nation. If ever, we as a nation needed to realize and respect these words, it is now, for we truly are, One Nation, Under God. God Bless America.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Fantasy Football

I am in love. I didn’t realize it until today when the rush just fell over me. I’ve known him for quite some time. Our relationship comes and goes with the seasons, but today, the moment I heard his voice I knew. I am in love with Chris Berman. I might not like his entire pre-game staff that joins him at the ESPN sports desk on Sunday afternoons (3 out of 4 ain’t bad, but man, that ONE) – but Chris more than makes up for it. On the opening day of the 2005 professional football season today, Chris handled with grace, eloquence, wit and charm the games of the day. Beyond that though, he handled the recent events of Hurricane Katrina, not only as it affected football teams and games but how it has affected us all. He did not overlook nor overplay the anniversary of September 11th, either. Reminding us all that football is just a game, and yet in many ways today it brought hope to the hopeless and simple joys in times of great sorrow and upset. Watching news clips today of Brett Favre’s mom trying to reach him after the hurricane leveled her home was tear-jerking. And that was Sunday pre-game material. There is no crying in football! Today he handed a primetime game ball to the New Orleans’s Saints simply for bringing something to the refugees in our own country that no one else is as capable of bringing…a distraction, laughter, joy, hope. On any given Sunday, Berman sings, jokes and out-smarts any other announcer in the sport. He knows his history, his players, his movies and his audience. He is never insulting or cruel. He is not quick to give too much credit until it is well-earned, either. He is balanced and poised. Sure, there are more attractive men in football that I could shine my admiration upon. In a pinch, Howie Long will certainly make some cerebral comments, but overall, no one combines the humor with the smarts like Berman does. There are many many players that captivate my attention on the field, but none holds a candle off fiel to Chris. Sunday nights in the fall are a favorite of mine. Dishwasher and dryer are done for the day, Little Man is in bed, puppers is sleeping at my feet, cat curled up on my lap, glass of wine, bowl of popcorn and football. In preparation for the game, I listen to Berman recap the days events in football. He has educated me in the game of football. He is my coach. He puts it all into perspective. I love football. But I love the game because Chris Berman makes it what it is. He keeps it from being taken too seriously. He allows the game to enter my home as entertainment, fun, and lastly, almost, as an athletic challenge. Welcome to the 2005 football season. Chris, my love, I’ll always wait up for ya.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo

As a child, I read them all. The fairy tales, the nursery rhymes. Wearing my mom’s high school tiara and prom dress I would dance and sing, confident in the knowledge that some day my own prince would come. When he did, it lacked the expected fan fare. No pumpkin carriage escorted me to a grand hall where we danced the night away. There was no long-awaited kiss that awakened my soul. I didn’t even have a fairy god-mother to turn my average girl-next-door looks into that of a princess. I was on my own for this one. But I was certain we would live happily ever after. Eight years after we said our vows, the judge signed the papers releasing us from the ever-after part. We were happy, unlike most divorcing couples. But I began to realize I hadn’t read Disney’s fine print. If I had only paid attention to the details I could have saved myself years of trouble!

Consider Cinderella. Nice girl. Hard working. Not well-liked by her siblings, but nonetheless catches the attention of the Prince at the biggest ball in town. Or did she? If you reread the story, you realize the Prince was really interested in her SHOE. He searched all over town for the woman that wore that shoe. He wasn’t so much interested in her, he had a shoe fetish is all. It should have told Cinderella something right then and there about Mr. Charming. My guess is he had a closet full of designer clothes and walked just a little light in his own loafers if you catch my drift.

Snow White. I have two words for you. Seven dwarfs? Anytime seven men spend that much time together it isn’t a good sign and these seven lived and worked together. Did any of them ever make a single move on ol’ Fair-skinned herself? Nope. Instead, she falls asleep by a spell and sleeps until her prince arrives. What took him so long? My guess is he might have been more interested in the dwarfs.

Little Red Riding Hood. I learned in my Children’s Lit course in college that this story is full of underlying tones of male dominance, submission and a theme of conquest. On second glance, it really seems to be to be a story about a big, burly, hairy male dressing up in women’s clothes. My first encounter with a drag queen.

Maybe, if I had paid attention to the real story and realized fairy tales were about fairies I would have been prepared when my husband came out of the closet. At the very least, maybe I would have felt as though I were in good company. Either way, I know I won’t be dressing up in my gown and tiara anytime soon – my ex got those in the divorce.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

River Chaser

I dream of kayaking. To actually do it would be a laughing matter, I fear. Pale, uncoordinated girl in a boat just doesn’t fit the image I have in my head. The sound of a river does magical things to my soul and seeing the world from the middle of the water is a sight to recall for years to come. This is not, however the sort of river I have been chasing. The ‘river’ is the last card played in a Texas Hold’Em Poker game. Poker has become my latest addiction, although that may be an understatement, I’ll have to check with my therapist. I do not play with money, do not gasp and forward my mail to hell just yet. There are free tournaments throughout the area at local restaurants every night of the week (and three times on Sunday!) This addiction began about a month ago, when I was desperately missing my son and found that I could not only engage my mind, but do so in a room full of MEN! What better way to spend my evenings! (Turns out, men who are playing poker are really not at all interested in chit chat, and I became far to serious about getting good at the game to notice the attractive potentials at my table). The first night I played, I came in 18th out 71 players and was so incredible proud of myself. The second night, I won the tournament, taking home a cash prize of $100, thus catapulting the addiction to therapeutic levels. What I have learned about myself through this experience is that I have no patience. Those who know me are already laughing, wondering how it took me this long to figure this out. It’s not that I didn’t realize it before, I just didn’t realize the extent. For those unfamiliar with Texas Hold’Em (I shudder at the thought) it goes something like this: Each player is dealt 2 cards, face down. After a round of betting, the dealer lays down three “community” cards in the middle called “the flop”. After another round of betting, the dealer lays down a fourth card, called “the turn”, and then after more better, the dealer lays down the last and final card, called “the river”. Each player is to make the best 5-card hand with the 7 possible cards available. I can never wait for the River Card. I cannot play for a straight draw, or a flush potential if I have to wait on the river to get it. People win BIG on the River. Not me, I have long since folded. I have no patience. I cannot possibly depend on that ONE final card, with all the odds against me to make my hand THIS is perhaps why I suck at this poker game. That and I’m too conservative. I only want to play when I have cards to play and good players don’t need the cards, they can simply play the players. This, as it turns out is a direct reflection on my life. I can’t possible create one more lame metaphor to spell it out, but it’s true. I have no patience for what MIGHT come my way. I have this need to cling tightly to what exists only right in front of me and to disbelieve anything that has the odds for coming down the road. It’s the fear that what I need most will never come. That the one thing I am banking on (literally in poker) won’t actually materialize. What I am learning is that I need to take more chances. I need to risk more to win more. I need to put myself out there and hold my breath just a little longer. Good things might happen. They might not, too, but I have nothing to lose by trying! Tonight, I am off to play in my Tuesday night game. I am going to try to risk more, take chances more often, play more than just my cards and to hold my breath for the river. Even if I am out in 10 minutes, I will know that I at the very least, I sat down at the table and played. If this doesn’t work out, there’s always the kayaking thing. Let’s hope this works out. ;)