Sunday, October 30, 2011

Maybe old dogs can't learn new tricks, but apparently old cats can.

Lucy has been an ideal pet for the last 12 years, but one thing that always bugged me about having a cat was the litter box.

Having a box of pee and poop just sitting somewhere in the house was never that I came up with a brilliant solution: a doggie door to the garage! Instead of having that stinky, portable outhouse indoors, we could keep it outside!

In a matter of days, my plan was being put into action. The little door within the bigger door had been installed.

I showed Lucy and was met with a less than enthusiastic "meow?"

It took 3 weeks, 5 boxes of fruit roll ups and countless accidents in what she had designated her new toilet: the guest room...but we did it.

Lucy who was already 8 years old at that point, learned how to use a doggie door.

I was thrilled. Everyone told me it couldn't be done, but I proved them wrong!!!

There was just one small snafu: I forgot to put any time and energy into training my husband to close the garage door consistently...

I wasn't worried about Lucy leaving...that was not an issue. Lucy is not motivated to venture out into the unknown. She got out once when she was a kitten and I think the memory of being stuck in the rain with fleas was enough to scare her straight.

The thing we had to be worried about was the opposite. We had to be vigilant about the other animals in the neighborhood who were motivated to do some exploring.

The first time I realized that closing the garage door was important was on a lazy Sunday...

Aaron and I were napping on the couches in the living room when I sat up straight.

"What a weird dream. That baby wouldn't stop crying, and I couldn't figure out where it was coming from." I shook my head reaching for my bottle of water.

I was just about to take a drink when I heard it again. It was the baby from my dream! I put down my water and stood up. The sound of the baby was getting louder.

I walked into the kitchen and found the source of the crying. It was no baby. It was a large, fierce-looking black and orange cat. He was howling as he circled a cowering Lucy.

"AARON!! HELP!" My husband jumped up, looking bewildered. "THERE'S A CAT IN THE KITCHEN!!!"

"Lucy?" He asked.

I shot him an exasperated look and said, "ANOTHER cat!!!"

We used a two pronged approach. Aaron grabbed the feline intruder and I grabbed Lucy, checking for wounds.

In a matter of minutes, the frenzied panic in the kitchen was over.

"We have to remember to close that garage door!"

Aaron nodded. We didn't have another incident for at least two weeks...until Jonathan decided to stop by.

It was a Saturday afternoon. I was in the living room doing paperwork and Aaron was outside pulling weeds.

I looked up from the computer just in time to see Lucy sprinting down the hallway toward our bedroom which was weird because Lucy never sprinted...anywhere.

I got up and headed into the kitchen to investigate, and I found him.

A small beagle was standing in the middle of the room. When I entered, he ran right over to me, trying to lick my face.

"What the...?"

I glimpsed the doggie door and noticed an inordinate amount of sunshine peeking through. Not again...

Of course, we had left the garage door open again and another little guy had decided to pay us a visit. I checked his tag and saw that his name was Jonathan.

I scratched his ear and said, "Well, hello, Mr. Jonathan." Under his name, was a phone number. I grabbed my cellphone and dialed. No answer.

I waited until I heard the voicemail click on and left a message, letting the person know we had their dog.

As I hung it up, I noticed that Jonathan was sniffing Lucy's food bowl. Could dogs have cat food? It must all be the same. I poured some of Lucy's food into a bowl and offered it to Jonathan.

He sniffed it and looked up at me.

I guess not.

Wanting to be a hospitable hostess, I opened my refrigerator, looking for something more appealing.

My eyes landed on a leftover steak from a meal we'd had the week prior. I opened the tupperware container and sniffed. As I did so, Jonathan licked his lips. I guess he could smell it, too.

"Is this more to your liking?" I cooed at him. He wagged his tail. I cut it up into bite sized pieces and set the bowl in front of him.

He gratefully wolfed it down.

I was sitting on the kitchen floor watching him eat when Aaron walked in, finished with his yardwork. "I'm starving. I think I'm going to make a quesadilla with that leftover steak."

I looked up at him. "It's gone." Jonathan barked.

Aaron did a double take. "Where did that dog come from?!"

"Someone forgot to close the garage door again."

Aaron looked sheepish. "Oops. Does he have tags?"

I nodded and told him that I had already called and left a message.

"You didn't give him that steak...did you?"

"I..." The sound of my ringing cell phone cut me off.


"Hi. You called about Jonathan?"

"Oh, hi! Yes, I did. He came through our doggie door. We have him here at our house. He's fine. I'm sure you were worried." (actually he didn't sound worried at all...)

"Thank you for taking him in. I'm not even sure how he got out."

"It happens." I heard a sigh on the other end of the phone and waited for the man to tell me when he was coming to get his dog.

"Do you think you could just keep him overnight?"

I was stunned. " Sorry. We have a cat, and well, we don't really have any food for him." (I didn't mention the steak.)

The man sighed again. "Alright. It's just that I'm right in the middle of know?"

"MmmHmm." I waited. The man on the phone waited. After an uncomfortable silence, I asked, " you want our address then?"

He sighed again. "Yeah."

I gave it to him, and he said he'd be at our house within the next few hours.

As soon as I had ended the call, Aaron was all over me. "What did he say?"

"He wanted us to watch him overnight!"

"What?? Was he relieved that we had his dog?" I shrugged. "That's told him we couldn't keep him...right?"

"Of course."

"Ok. Now, back to this steak...what made you think it would be a good idea to give a strange dog some strange meat? What if he gets sick?"

"Oh! Blah! He's fine." I crooned, scratching Jonathan under the chin.

Aaron shook his head.

We both looked up in surprise when the doorbell rang. That was fast.

Aaron opened the door and immediately told Jonathan's owner that I had fed him steak. What a tattle tale!

Luckily, Jonathan wasn't on any sort of special diet. (Seriously...why does Aaron have to be such a boy scout!?)

The man thanked us and that the was the last we saw of Jonathan.

Since that time, we have moved to a new may be happy to know that it is a house with a non-functional garage door opener.

So...we can't park our cars in the shade, but on the bright side, we haven't had any more uninvited four-legged visitors either...and I'm proud to say that Lucy has not forgotten how to use the little door that leads to her toilet.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween is fun when you have kids or pets to dress up in embarrassing costumes...

Halloween is a holiday built around candy and costumes...and for some...humiliation.

My mother was not the crafty type when we were growing up....until a morning show called "Home" came out.

My brother and sister were lucky enough to have outgrown trick or treating by the time she viewed the "make your own costume" special...but alas, I had not.

Every year, we had a choice for Halloween. We could be a witch, a clown or a tiger. Those are the 3 costumes we had at the Orth was boring. It was predictable. It was comfortable....but of course, being the true original that I am, I had to balk at the idea of wearing my sister's hand-me-downs.

It's true what they say. Be careful what you wish for...

It was 1987....a simpler time, a simpler life. There was no "Political Correctness" or "Children's rights"...people were inappropriate all the time, and no one ever batted an eyelash.

I was 9 years old, wanting a new, original Halloween costume, and luckily (or unluckily), my mom had an ingenious idea-r.

I remember sitting in the passenger seat of my mom's Chrysler, listening to her excitedly talk up the costume idea she had for me.

"...I saw it on that new show I know the one...Home, I think it's called? Anyway, they dressed this kid up in an outfit, using only things they had around their home...get it?? Because the show is called Home?? Isn't that clever??"

My mom was so excited, I thought she might eat her own tongue in the process of jabbering about this new costume.

When I was able to get a word in, I asked the most important question about a detail she failed to mention. "Well, what is it? What am I going as?"

She paused to build the anticipation and then said dramatically, "A hobo."

I stared at her. This is what she had been so excited for?? Tommy Gillihan dressed like a bum every year!

I felt duped. This was nothing new.

BUT...being the awesome daughter I was back then, I didn't want to hurt her feelings so I plastered on a fake smile and said, "Sounds good, Ma."

She could sense my lack of enthusiasm.

She tapped my leg and whispered, "I haven't told you the best part yet."

I raised my eyebrows. "What?" I was expecting her to tell me I got to have a cool accessory like a live dog wearing a bandana or a life-like shank.

"You get to have stubble!"

At age 9, I had no idea what "stubble" again, I just stared at her. I was wondering if "stubble" was another word for "shank". (Why I knew what a shank was at 9 is a whole other story...)

The enthusiasm with which my mom relayed this last bit was contagious.

I was finally getting excited. I get to have stubble! Now THAT is something Tommy Gillihan did NOT have....and also, considering it was Halloween morning, I didn't have that many options...

We got home and my mom and I scavenged the house for "homeless looking clothing" (Like I said, PC is not something that even existed in the 80s...)

An hour later, I had my getup on. I was wearing my brother's "garbage" jeans that had holes and grass stains in the knees, a tired looking flannel shirt that my dad had put in the Goodwill bag that was so big on me we had to roll the sleeves up 5 times and a stocking hat (it was the midwest...Halloween was usually so cold that I had to cover my costume with a hat and a coat anyway...but this year, my costume was so versatile that I could wear my jacket underneath.)

I stood in the kitchen waiting for my mother to reveal how we were actually going to get this elusive stubble on my face.

She smiled broadly as she took out the syrup and some coffee grounds.

As a kid with some major sensory issues (I ate only Lipton soup for breakfast and lunch for 3 years for Christ's sake!), I couldn't believe my eyes.

Surely she was not thinking of putting that shit on my face...I took a deep breath and waited for her to make a snack out of these ingredients while she got the real stubble out.

No such luck.

I watched in horror as she squeezed the syrup onto one plate and spread coffee grounds on another.

When she felt everything was ready, she turned to me. "Ok, now all we have to do is roll your face in this syrup and then roll your face in the coffee grounds...and...wah-lah! Stubble!"

I was reluctant. I was grossed out. I was pissed.

Just then, my dad walked up behind us. "Aren't you going to get your costume on? Trick or treating starts in 8 minutes. If you want to fill up your candy bag, we're going to have to get a move on." (My dad was a bigger sugar hound than we were...he loved Halloween because it meant an unlimited supply of candy for 2 days...or less.)


I had no choice. I plunged my chin into the syrup, grimacing at the sticky feeling.

My dad watched with a confused look on his face. "What the hell are you doing? Get that shit off your face and get your costume on!" (Again, it was the dad freely cussed whenever he felt like it...except when he was singing hymns at church...)

"Larry!" My mom scolded. "This IS her costume. She's a hobo and we are making her a beard!"

My dad shook his head and said, "You're going to keep that shit on your face all night, kid?"

I shrugged. I was merely a pawn...a frankenstein of my mother's making.

I tried not to drip syrup on my shirt as my mom helped me mash my face into a pile of coffee grounds.

When she had finished, she took a step back to admire her handiwork...and burst into a fit of giggles so intense she had to lock her knees together and squat down to prevent an accident.

I opened my mouth to protest and tasted the bitterness of the coffee grounds.

"It's itchy!" I complained. "...and you're laughing! This doesn't look like crubble!"

Now both of my parents were laughing.

"It's STubble...not crubble...and of course it does. I'm only laughing because I'm not used to seeing you that way. Now go on. It's already quarter after. You're going to miss out on the big bar house."

That was enough to get me moving. There was one house in our neighborhood that was known for handing out REGULAR sized candy bars...not the fun size...REGULAR SIZE...but they only did it until they ran out and then they would turn their lights out.

Yep, this reminder snapped me back to reality. I grabbed my pillowcase and whistled for my dad to follow me. We had candy to get! There was no time to waste...itchy misery or no itchy misery.

That Halloween was rough. All night my dad would slap my hand away if I looked like I might scratch my face so I had to learn how to be a facial contortionist. I wiggled and frowned and grimaced and puckered, trying to figure out a way to get the itching to stop....but nothing worked.

I'm not sure how I did it, but I made it.

I made it the whole 4 hours without itching that damn thing off my face...all for a good cause...kid crack...CANDY.

Too bad the next day, half my booty was gone.

I was the only one who was still young enough to go door to door, but I wasn't the only one with a sweet tooth.

I thought that I had found the perfect hiding spot for all of that sugary goodness (the back of my closet...let's face it, I was no mastermind)...but my brother and sister were wise to me and had eaten more than half my stash before I caught them.

If only I had the guts to give those two "stubble" while they were sleeping.

I guess there's still time....what's that old saying? Revenge is a dish best served cold?

Those two hooligans better sleep with one eye open the next time I visit the midwest...

Actually, on second thought, I should give stubble to the instigator of this torture costume.

All I have to do is wait for her to take an Ambien. She'll never know what hit her. Hell, have you ever listened to the warnings for that drug??

(said in a soothing voice in hyperspeed: Sleep walking, talking and/or driving with memory loss for the event is not uncommon when taking Ambien...)

Yes, the more I think about it, the more I like this idea.

Watch out, Lynn.

Sleep stubble with memory loss for the event is coming your way this holiday season!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Did you have the big box of crayons when you were a kid?

I've really been slacking on the upkeep of this blog lately....and today is no different. Well, actually, that's not true. It IS different because I am creating a new post....but I have to admit, I'm merely recycling an old blog I wrote back when blogs were made out of paper and were called 'columns'.

I originally wrote this column in March 1998. I was a sophomore at Purdue University and I had a gig writing for the school newspaper.

I wrote a weekly column, but this one was a last minute gem. It was a result of equal parts procrastination, panic and utter desperation. I was the editor of the opinions page, and if a writer didn't turn in his work, I had to fill the hole. Without much further ado, here is what filled that hole...

Original Title:

Crayons color Orth's Memories

(Disclaimer: Information provided in this essay may or may not be exaggerated for entertainment purposes only.)

Do you stay in the lines?

Last week, a close friend of ours celebrated its 40 birthday.

First announced on the "Captain Kangaroo" show in 1958, the 64-crayon Crayola box with the built-in sharpener continues to be an icon in the elementary art community....and for those no longer of age to be considered part of this younger society, it is something that still frames many childhood memories.

Some may look back at the big daddy of crayon boxes with nostalgia and others may not feel so warm and fuzzy about it.

Picture it. Indiana. 1984....

In what seemed to be an idyllic first grade classroom, there was a darker subtext which was mostly ignored by adults that witnessed it. It was an unspoken hierarchy governing each and every student...the Crayon System.

That's right. As young as six years old, children are able to spot designer brands and more impressive belongings...even in what seem to be the most inconsequential accessories....crayons.

The Crayon System was a good, old fashioned social schema based on material posessions alone.

It was quite simple really.

Those with the 64-crayon box were the elite.

Those without it were shunned from elementary school society.

No matter how much I begged, my mother just would not break down and buy me that beautiful box with its many, many colors and exotic sharpener built in.

In her mind, she was being economical and rational. She thought, why does any child need that many colors!? ...And a sharpener? Puh shaw! Just rub your crayon back and forth at a 30 degree angle to the paper until a point emerges or a hand cramp forces you to take a's character building!"

My mother had no way of knowing that the extra crayons in that big box not only represented a better color selection....they represented a better way of life.

FORTY more crayons could open a lot of doors for a first grader like me...

I remember pulling out my tiny box of crayons on the first day. My eyes darted around the room as I took stock of what the others kids had.

The 64 kids would hoard their exotic array of colors while us peasants tried to make the best of our paltry selection. As we were trying to decide whether to use orange or yellow for Barbie's face, they would relish in the authenticity of their flesh tone colors....but the inequality did not end with the peach color alone. Oh no, there were others.

They had all the good colors that didn't even exist in the 24-box world...colors like burnt sienna and carnation pink and cornflower and magenta. They did not just have "red", they had brick red and violet red and original red. At Christmas time, they had gold and silver...the presents they drew under their "forest green" pine trees looked tantalizingly real...and fancy.

How I longed to create such colorful images!

On most days, I was content to make up for my lack of choices in innovative ways. If I needed grey to color an elephant the appropriate color, I learned to use black with gentle the illusion of grey. When I wanted to make a tree seem more lifelike, I blended shades to represent the cornucopia of color on a fall day.

Most of the 64 kids admired my ingenuity and gave up trying to make me jealous but every group has that one jerkface that finds a new way to show off.

Bobby Smardle was my arch nemesis. He not only had the 64 box. He had multiple 64 boxes at his disposal for when his favorite colors got too run down for his liking. He was the kid who had everything.

If we were talking about Alexander Graham Bell, he'd have to raise his hand to point out that his house had TEN phones and he would be sure everyone knew that he even had one of his very own in his bedroom.

When we read "James and the Giant Peach", he had to tell everyone about the peach tree his grandma had in her yard.

He even claimed to have a drinking fountain in his own house one time! (...but I'm pretty sure he lying about that one.)

This kid had an annoying anecdote for pretty much every topic our teacher introduced.

Ok, I know this sounds cruel, but sometimes, on days when Bobby Smardle was feeling particularly mean, he would run down his crayons ON PURPOSE just so he could sharpen them right in front of us! He didn't stop there, either. He would often rally the other 64 kids to do the same, turning into a mass sharpening us 24 box kids had to suffer through. (I know what you're thinking...and I agree. They were mean little fuckers..)

Oh, we would try to shake it off, pretending not to notice; pretending not to care when our pencil sharpeners got clogged with crayon wax...but inside? DEEP down? We HURT.

A lot of kids cracked under the pressure. They would lose it and try to steal a wayward crayon when one of the 64 box kids weren't looking.

Others tried to sneak a sharpening in here and there.

It affected me, too. I became a crayon hoarder.

Because I had such a limited supply, I tended to be somewhat overprotective of my crayons.

Every crayon had its own special place in the box. In order to borrow a crayon from me, people had to first prove that they were worthy. It was of the utmost importance to weed out the irresponsible crayon borrowers...those who ate them; those who broke them; and those who tore the beloved Crayola wrapper off. (In case you are not aware: Once the wrapper was gone, the crayons were essentially garbage.

Crayon memories...there is a neverending supply of them in this rambling old mind of mine, but I've got to stop at some point.

Yes, the crayon hierarchy was, indeed, an influential piece of my history pie...but I'm proud to say I overcame this early experience of segregation and discrimination.

I may not have had the most colorful pictures to hang on the wall back then, but I certainly have a wealth of shades in my memories.

Maybe that's why my mother chose not to get me so many colors.

Perhaps, she knew that the colors I had inside of me could outshine anything that Crayola could think up...yes, now that I see it in print, that must be the reason...

Not that any of this matters anymore. I'm an adult now. Crayons are crayons! I'm over it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of crayon sharpening to do before lunch.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Debbie Downers in your Life...

I love the Saturday Night Live character "Debbie Downer".

If you are not familiar with the character, here is a quick tidbit from Wikipedia for you: Debbie Downer is a name of a fictional Saturday Night Live character which debuted in 2004, and who was portrayed by Rachel Dratch. The character's name is a slang phrase which refers to someone who frequently adds bad news and negative feelings to a gathering, thus bringing down the mood of everyone around them. Dratch's character would usually appear at social gatherings and interrupt the conversation to voice negative opinions and pronouncements. She was especially concerned about the rate of Feline AIDS, a subject that she would bring up on more than one occasion.

I am fortunate enough to have a limited amount of Debbie Downers in my life, but every once in a while, an ANONYMOUS stranger likes to make sure they shit on my rainbow.

I don't mind it though...I've got a rainbow clean up crew that's always itchin' for overtime.

The fact that there can be so many different reactions to and interpretations of the same topic is fascinating.

It makes me wonder what it would be like to see the glass half empty, so to speak. I picture it being exhausting....and stressful. You're always eyeballing this imaginary glass, thinking to yourself, "DEAR GOD. WHEN, oh when...WHEN will the liquid run out?!?!" (said in a dramatic 40s style overdramatization...imagine a black and white version of me biting my balled fist)

Me? I much prefer the illusion of fullness. "Relax ya'll. There's plenty of wetness left in that there glass...we don't need to fret, child, there's bunches of refreshment for all." and "Chill, bitch! We gots the sauce..a plenty! Shiiiit." (To be said in a friendly, Julia Roberts style southern drawl and Gangsta' Easy E style, respectively)

It's like when you're sharing a pizza with someone, and you can tell as they eye the pizza, then your plate, then the pizza again, that they're doing pizza math in their head. They are mentally sweating as they calculate the number of people in the room vs. the number of pieces left. That's when I like to immediately say, "I'm full" whether I am or not...just to give the other person a break. Here's a few minutes of stress-free eating, buddy. Enjoy it. I guess it's just my magnanimous nature.

Recently, I had an encounter with a Debbie Downer Stranger...or maybe it wasn't a all. (to be read in a Keith Morrison ala Dateline voice) Cue taboo voodoo idol music from the Hawaii episode of the Brady Bunch...

Yesterday, a reader of my blog who would only identify himself or herself or shimself as ANONYMOUS pointed out my lack of mores and sensitivity in regard to our impressionable youth and the turbulent state of our economy.

(ANONYMOUS commented on a blog I wrote last week called "Flash Mob Mentality". The blog is still there in its original distasteful format and the comment is right below case you need to catch yourself up.)

I couldn't argue with this mysterious stranger. He or she or Shuh-he is absolutely right.

What a selfish viewpoint I have. If I were Catholic, I'd be doing 5o Hail Marys to make up for my harsh depiction of such obviously disturbed children. In fact, I'm booking a flight to the city of brotherly love right now. I'm going to get to the bottom of this. I need to personally help those kids that are only eleven-teen (which is most likely 5th or 6th grade). Maybe I could pretend to be Jonathan Smith from Highway to Heaven and show up at their doorstep! All I have to do is rent the spare room that is next door to them. Then I will casually become a part of their life so that I can help them through this difficult time, but first, I've got to make amends for what I've done!

Ok...for my first act of contrition, I immediately tried to regurgitate any residual Starbucks setting up camp in my stomach, but alas, it was too late.

Maybe I should go buy just one more drink...only I won't drink it. I'll give it to one of the homeless dudes I see standing by the freeway, waiting for spare change. Maybe it will give him the jolt he needs to start kickin ass in his life. Yeah...I could change someone's whole life! You've inspired me, ANONYMOUS.

From this point on, I'm only buying Starbucks for the needy... I might steal two to three sips per drink, but only when I'm thirsty or fully hydrated.

I'm also making big, BIG changes to my shopping routine. How could I possibly set foot in Nordstroms again, when I know that there are people suffering?

This DEFINITELY has inspired me.

ANONYMOUS is right...I'm turning over a new leaf. Big changes...they are a brewin'.

This is going to be a whole new life for me!

Fuck capitalism!

I'm going to sell all my worldly possessions.

I'm going to sell my, no...I'm going to set up a free shelter in my house...yeah, that's what I'll do.

Then I will go on a Starbucks run for the homeless guys getting back on their feet on my way to free any and all primates from captivity.

I will also provide the primates with beverages, but NOT Starbucks. I hear that their social conscience is way too developed to indulge in such frivolousness.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Farts are funny...

I've met quite a few people lately who fart freely. They will let it rip whenever they feel like it, no matter where they are or who they are with.

I'm not hatin' on people who like to cut the cheese every once in a while. It can be a good ice breaker. It brings people together. It's humor everyone can matter their age, sex,'s a universal gag. That being said, I should probably say that I, myself, am not a free farter...and I am ok with that. I don't even let one go in front of Aaron, and we've been together for over eight years.

I've had friends and family members who like to let a peep out here and there, and of course, kids are always tearing it up, but professional gas is something I've not experienced very often. (When I say "professional gas", I don't mean pro as in 'experts on flatulence'....I mean gas in a business-related setting).

Ironically, Aaron and I both had therapy sessions yesterday with two different families that were free farters.

Aaron was seeing a kid for the first time, and right when he got there, he thought he heard some audible gas, but he shook his head, thinking, "No, that can't be it." He pretended that he hadn't heard it and kept working.

Then, about half an hour later, he saw out of the corner of his eye, the dad lift his leg ever so slightly.

There was no denying it that time.

What he heard rumble out of that man was unquestionably... a fart.

Not sure how to react, he ignored it again.

I must have looked unimpressed because Aaron quickly went on to say, "It was LOUD!" Then he imitated the sound by putting both hands over his mouth while blowing out. I burst into a fit of giggles. Aaron said, "Don't get me wrong, I LOVE farts. They're fun! I fart all the time! ...BUT not in front of strangers!!"

This was almost too much to take. I ran to the bathroom, and Aaron followed me. "Where are you going?!" I was already shutting the door in his face. "I HAVE TO PEEEEEEEE!!!!!! I'm laughing so hard...I'm afraid some is going to eek out!"

When I caught my breath, I said, "You know, this is so weird because I had an adult farter today, too! I have to admit, though, it kind of made me mad, not glad."

It was Aaron's turn to chuckle. In a rush of air, I went on, defending myself. "Well, they didn't have any air conditioning!" Now I was laughing, too. "The heat intensified the smell! It was just festering in there, Double! It smelled so bad, and I was so hot! I almost couldn't take it."

Hearing it aloud just made the situation all the more ridiculous...I doubled over, snorting and hiccuping.

We laughed so hard for so long, my cheeks and stomach are sore today.

The moral of the story?

Try not to worry about things that irritate you...because one day (...or even the same day) it may provide you and your loved ones with hours of entertainment.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sometimes I can move things with me mind...

I got up early today to hit the gym, and I as I was pulling out of my driveway, I realized that I had forgotten my phone. So I turned off the car and ran back in to get it. When I started my car again, the air conditioning was not blowing.


I felt a panic slowly rising up in me.

(You may think I'm being overly dramatic, but this is Phoenix and it's do the mental math)

It was only 5:30 and it was already hot...really hot.

I drive around for work...I can't show up to people's houses a hot, sweaty mess! What am I going to do?!

As I was reviewing my options and pleading with Loretta (my old and *knock on wood* reliable Jeep Grand Cherokee) to be agreeable, I saw the light ahead turn yellow. At almost the same instant, I noticed a police car coming to a stop at the intersection adjacent to the stoplight. I slammed on my brakes. I heard all of the toys in the back crash as the car lurched forward. I glanced over at the cop. He was engrossed with his cell phone and hadn't even noticed me.

I let out a big sigh. I hadn't realized that I'd been holding my breath. I could feel sweat trickling down the side of my neck. I stared at the vents in front of me, willing them to work. I turned the A/C off, then on again. Nothing. Shit.

Just then, out of nowhere, the air conditioning started blowing out cold air full force.


Maybe I'm like Drew Barrymore in Firestarter!

After all, I was willing it to work with me mind...

(for some reason, I'm making this statement in my head like an old west miner...two teeth, bandana around the neck, scraggly beard, old cowboy hat, whistling s sounds and pitch breaks often when talking...hence the use of "me" instead of "my"...I use me mind! Seeeeee????)

I'm just hoping I won't have to use my powers again today...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My gum stuck to my lips today...

Have you ever had a day that you thought couldn't get much worse... but then it does?

Today, I popped a piece of gum into my mouth before I headed into a speech therapy session with an active little 20 month old boy. (Chewing gum is something I am addicted to...I like to have fresh breath at all times and mints are too much of a hassle. If I could brush my teeth every hour, I would...but clients might think it's weird if at the end of each session, I said, "Do you mind if I use your sink to brush my teeth before I go??")

My little friend really gave me a run for my money today. We jumped and climbed and ran and crashed and threw balls and kicked balls and squished balls! We were busy that I forgot to consistently chew my gum. Because of that and maybe partially because it had been in the oven on wheels that is my car for several days, that little nugget of gum was a nugget no more. Somehow, my gum had started to dissolve, and as it did, it worked its way out of my mouth and onto my lips. At almost the same instant I became aware of this situation, the timer was going off and it was time to clean up.

I sat facing an audience of family members who had been observing our session. Grandma had questions and so did Dad. It was then I realized that my lips were COMPLETELY COATED in sticky dissolved gum goo! Shit. I tried not to panic as I nonchallantly worked the residue off my top lip with my teeth. I wondered if it was noticeable. I took a sip from my water bottle. I was hoping the water would help, but no luck. I went back to my method of alternating discrete licks with fervent biting. I was desperate to get this shit off my mouth without anyone noticing.

It was useless. Getting this sticky goo off my face was going to take a good firm rubbing with some sort of napkin or cloth, preferably in front of a mirror. I didn't have any choice. I'd have to hope that the damage was subtle, and that I could answer their questions quickly without sparking more discussion. A little voice inside me said, "Maybe they haven't noticed it!"

I considered this. Yes. I decided, was possible I was the only one who knew! The more I thought about it, the more i convinced myself. All I have to do is just pretend nothing is there. I can do this. I'll just talk around it until I can get the hell out of here!

I took another sip of water and felt my top lip get stuck in a curled back position.

Fuck. This can NOT be pretty.

My lips made a loud smacking sound as the gum intermittently forced me to pry open my mouth with so much force that my jaw would lock in an open position for a few seconds. I barreled on, and I had one joyful moment when I thought I had made it. I had done the impossible.

No one noticed!

I was pretty pleased with myself until I saw Grandpa point to his own mouth with a perplexed look on his face as he whispered something to his wife.

Fuck. They totally saw it.

I cleared my throat. It was time to address the elephant in the room. "You probably noticed that I have this gum stuck to my lips." They looked at their hands. They looked at each other. They looked anywhere but at my face."Somehow when I was running around, my just dissolved....and well, now, as you can see, it's just stuck on my face." Everyone looked uncomfortable. With a note of pity in her voice my little friend's mom said, "Do you want a wipey?"

I accepted it gratefully and rubbed the shit out of my face as I walked to my car. I started the engine so the air conditioning would begin to blow and then immediately flipped down the visor so I could see myself in the mirror.

What. the. fuck.

I stared incredulously at my reflection. The dissolved gum particles still stuck to my face were neon green.


I broke into a big belly laugh as I pulled away. I flipped through mental photographs of myself running around the living room with a bucket on my head saying things like "Woohoo!" and "Yippee!". How long were my lips covered in that shit before I noticed??? I shook my head. I do not even want to think about the conversation that happened after I left that house.

I craned my neck to check traffic in both directions. I am never going to be able to make a left turn here, I thought. After a few minutes, I saw my chance and I stepped on the accelerator getting to the other side of the street seconds before a shiny red minivan zoomed by. In the process, some of the things in my car shifted...including the tall travel cup that had the remains of my morning coffee in it. I watched the cup helplessly as if it were happening in slow motion. It toppled and dumped into the driver's seat. I tried to avoid the light tan liguid, scooting quickly to the edge, but it was too late. I felt a warm sensation as the coffee spill spread out under me. In a matter of minutes, it had been soaked up by the butt of my light blue scrub pants. Awesome.

The rest of my day was more of the same. The GPS sent me in circles; a kid decided to sit on me with a leaky, poopy diaper (that was fun...), I burned my finger on the hot, silver keys at the self serve pump and I spilled gas on my foot.

Blah, blah, blah. Ok, I'm done complaining...for now.

Tomorrow is a new day. Today was too ridiculous not to laugh at. (Actually, on second thought, it might be the wine that is making it so funny...Yes, yes, now that I am reflecting, I don't remember feeling all that giggly when I was walking around in the hot heat with poopy, coffee pants...yeah, that definitely was not funny one bit...)

P.S. My lips are STILL sticky!!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Flash Mob Mentality

I just heard a disturbing little nugget on the news...the once joyous and entertaining "flash mobs" have garnered a new purpose.

No longer are groups of nerds organizing outings to surprise and delight unsuspecting onlookers with renditions of Michael Jackson's Thriller dance. These nerds have now joined forces for a new purpose...a more sinister and evil purpose, I'm afraid.

The general idea is the same...arrange a place to meet, get a large group together and move into action, in sync, at an agreed upon time. There is just one small difference....when you are done, the crowd doesn't give you a hand...usually because their hands have been broken...and/or tied behind their backs. These flash mobs are like swarms of killer bees....rising up and attacking unsuspecting men, woman and babies out for their afternoon stroll.

Apparently, there has been an outbreak of "violent" YOUTH flash mobs in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, and other ironic locales across the country. One reporter said, "Teenagers as young as eleven years old (apparently the word "teen" has been added to's not "eleven"'s "eleven-teen") are joining the stealthy cover of flash mobs..."

I am still trying to wrap my head around all this. I'm picturing myself in this kind of scenario: I'm in downtown Chicago with a Starbucks in one hand, a Nordstrom's bag in the other; chatting away to my sister as we walk down Michigan Avenue...when all of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I see a flash mob forming. I exchange an excited look with my sister, and she takes out a bag of Garret's popcorn which we immediately start munching on as we settle in for the show...then....WHAP! "This isn't that kind of flash mob, bitch! This is a BASH mob!" I look up in confusion as an angry looking 5th grader in bad jeans and a Lord of the Rings t-shirt whips me with an old computer mouse....

This is the world we are living in, people. A new Planet of the Apes movie was released to theaters last weekend. I haven't seen it yet, but something tells me the idea of apes becoming more intelligent than humans may not be that out of the question...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My eyes are my major malfunction...

I went to the eye doctor on Monday, and I'm sorry to report that my eyesight has not improved since my last visit. In fact, it has gotten a little worse. As I sat in the waiting room, I saw a little girl with her mother also waiting, and it made me remember the sighted years...

When I was 5, my mom took me to our local optometrist to have my vision checked. After all, my dad was legally blind in three states and my siblings, ages 8 and 11, were already sporting spectacles on a full time basis. I can still remember the smell of disinfectant and listerine in the doctor's office, and the rows and rows of glasses. I sat next to my mother, waiting for the receptionist to call my name. When it was my turn, I patted my mom on the shoulder and said, "I've got this, Mom." (I was a tough kid. In my mind, I wasn't a baby anymore. I was in kindergarten.)

I followed the tall, thin woman back through a winding hallway until we got to a room with a masssive chair in the middle of it and a giant picture of an eyeball hanging on the wall across from that. I gulped. Maybe I'd been too hasty when I had decided to leave Mom back in the waiting room...

"And who have we here?" I turned around and came face to face with Dr. Gailmark. I introduced myself and he showed me where to sit (I was secretly thrilled that I got to sit in the gigantic spaceship chair I mentioned earlier).

I was eager to get started. I could not WAIT to get glasses. (I was already picturing myself taking them off during circle time and casually wiping them clean with my shirt before I replaced them on my face. I was thinking of getting purple, but I remember thinking that I might have to settle for pink because I had taken a quick peek at the selection and I hadn't seen any purple glasses...)

"Ok, can you tell me what you see up on the wall there, sweatheart?" I craned my neck, pretending like I was really trying to see the pictures and the letters. "Hmm." I squinted my eyes (I had seen my brother do this when he tried to watch the tv without his glasses). "Nope. Not a thing."

Ten minutes later, the eye doctor walked out to give my mother the news. "Well, based on the results, Erin needs glasses." (I immediately starting looking more diligently for those purple frames.) My mother sighed. The doctor wasn't finished. "But...I have a hunch that she may have been faking it." My mother raised her eyebrows. "If these results were accurate, I'd expect her to be having much more trouble." He lowered his voice. "She um...couldn't 'see' the big E on the eye chart." They both started laughing. "We can give her a fake pair of glasses if you'd like." My mom regarded him like he had just told her that she could set money on fire if the house got too cold.

Needless to say, I didn't get my purple glasses that day....but two years later, all of my wildest dreams came true. I guess whoever said, "Be careful what you wish for" ended up blind like me...

My vision gets a little blurrier each year...and each year, when I go in for my checkup, I keep expecting the eye doctor to look at me and say, "Well, Erin, I'm afraid your contact and glasses days are behind you, but I can give you this handy, dandy white cane here..."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Repeat Nobodies...part 2

I blogged about RNB's a few months back...most notably mentioning Red Cooler Guy (who we just recently ran into at a local pub after not seeing him for a few years!). He walked past us, and I leaned over to my husband, excitedly whispering that I couldn't be sure (because he didn't have his cooler with him) but that I was fairly certain I had just experienced a Red Cooler Guy sighting. Of course, Aaron couldn't resist the temptation to confirm...and yes, indeed, it was Jeff...aka 'Red Cooler Guy'. We called him over, and he eventually recognized us after a few minutes of awkward reminders. Aaron fills him in on my blog....even saying, "People all over the world have read about your cooler!!" Red Cooler Guy couldn't help himself. He was impressed...until he realized I was referring to him as "a nobody". He stood by our table and read the blog I had written about him aloud on his I-Phone while I shredded my napkin in my lap. After he had finished, I smiled at him sheepishly, and offered him a chair at our table, but surprisingly, he declined.

Well, we have a new RNB in our life. His name is Skinny Old Man. He is down by the lake that is about a block from our house, fishing under the same tree, rain or shine...110 degrees or not...EVERYDAY. He is dedicated to suburban lake fishing. Lately, I have been thinking about taking up fishing...just so I can mess with skinny old man. I want to plant myself in his spot...and see what happens.

This is one of the ways I entertain myself...what do other people do when they're bored??

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I'll be back

If you like to read my blog, bear with me. The last few days have been HEC-TIC!!!! :) I'm busier than a one-armed makeup artist at a wedding!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I'm running away...

The wedding stress that I swore would never touch me has now enveloped me in its dark smokey cloud of due dates, demands for money, and drama.

What's a girl to do?!

It's taken me 32 years to realize...I HAVE NO COPING MECHANISMS!!!!

I usually eat my feelings when I'm stressed but that is NOT an option for me right now. I'm actually shocked that I have had as much will power as I've had. (Visions of back cleavage pouring out of the back of my dress are scary enough for me to wave off temptations...)

The day after the wedding, I think I'm going to have my favorite childhood treat: My own invention: The most delicious sandwich EVER...I call it the's 2 pieces of Wonder white bread with a generous amount of smashed doritos in between...I know what you're thinking...mmmmm....and you are right. It. is. to. DIE. for!!

After will be on to NUTTY BARS! Then, I will wash all that down with a big fountain pop.

Is that a white trash dream or what??? White bread, doritos, nutty bars and pop...Just call me Erin Dirt.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Does Karaoke Exist in the Absence of Alcohol?

If I drink enough Bud Light, I think people actually want to hear me shout Bon Jovi lyrics obnoxiously into a microphone.

Ooh-ah; ooh-ah; ooh ah; ooh-ah...Tommy used to work on the dock, the union's been on strike. He's down on his's tough, oh so tough...EVERYONE! Ooooh! Living on a Prayer!

Tonight will NOT be one of those nights...I have agreed to be the designated driver which means I'm probably not going to be the designated train wreck like usual...

Who knows? Maybe I'll do the ultimate and sing one of my favorite tunes sans alcohol. I do it everyday at work...but that's only in front of one kid and one adult usually. (It IS a sacrifice on my part...BUT I do it for the kids.)

So I guess this is a fake blog because it's really just an extra long status update, but it counts...right?!?!

What is this....EIGHTEEN in a row!?!?! That is longer than I've committed to MOST things, my friends.

Friday, March 4, 2011

My cat is a beach ball with paws.

"Your cat is obese." The veterinarian had animal print glasses on the tip of her nose and a look of disapproval in her eyes. Aaron looked like he was about to say something, and I was relieved because I certainly didn't know how to explain Lucy's extra poundage.

(...well, I guess the fruit roll ups, cheese poofs and whip cream didn't help matters, but I really didn't feel like telling this lady the reason my roly poly cat was so chunky was because I'd been loading her up with high fructose corn syrup...she was already openly judging me and she didn't even know how bad I really was yet, and well, I was kind of hoping we wouldn't have to go down that road so...)

"Do you see how small her head is?" We stared at Lucy's melon and she stared back. After a minute, she meowed. I think she was saying, "So I need to lose a few pounds! Who doesn't!?"

Now the vet was grabbing Lucy's haunches. "Have you noticed how big she is back here?" I heard Aaron mumble, "How could you miss it?!" The vet didn't hear him and continued, "It's not very proportionate to her small cranium... now is it??"

I looked from Lucy's head down to her tail with exaggerated neck and head movements (I wanted the doc to know I was taking this seriously...).

"Ah...I see what you mean." I nodded my head and cupped my chin. "I guess I just thought she was 'pear shaped' know...bad genes??" The last of this came out as a squeak.

"When I took her in the back room, we wiped down her backside with a warm wet rag and that seemed to take care of the situation back there." The vet lowered her voice as she said this. I looked around and it was still just the three of us.

Aaron was picking wayward cat hairs off his jacket as he said, "Yeah, we were wondering about that. Is there anything we can do? She seems to get a lot of stuff stuck back there if you know what I mean..."

"You can take a warm washcloth and just wipe her down back there. That should do the trick. She's such a sweet girl. When we were cleaning her hiney, she was just licking away at her little paws, trying to do her part." She patted Lucy. "A lot of the bigger girls will try to groom where they can when we clean them up."

Aaron was mulling over what the vet had just shared about Lucy's hygiene. "You mean to tell me we gotta wipe her butt for her because she's too FAT to reach it herself??"

"Yep." The vet acted like everyone followed their pets around, waiting for them to defecate so they could wipe them. I was considering the logistics of this new responsibility myself. What kind of washcloth were we going to use?? How would we get it clean? Would we use a brand-new one each time? How often would we need to do it? I had MILLIONS of questions, but I felt like it made me seem uncaring to balk at the idea of cleaning up my own cat's back door.

"There's something else I wanted to ask you about." The vet was looking from me to Aaron. I leaned in, hoping she wasn't going to ask me what kind of treats we gave Lucy (Aaron would rat me out for sure!). "There are two scars on her back. What are they from?" Aaron looked uneasy as he shifted his weight from foot to foot and scratched Lucy under the chin.

I was hoping this wouldn't come up. The vet at the emergency animal hospital had made me feel like a criminal when we had taken Lucy in a couple of months prior.

"Oh...those. Well,, what happened was..." Aaron saw me floundering and stepped in.

"She cut Lucy on accident. She was trying to give her a haircut and didn't realize part of her skin was mixed in with all the hair. We had to take her to the ER. She needed 8 staples!"

I interupted him, exclaiming, "I didn't know! Her hair was so long, and I couldn't get her into the groomer and I was working a lot of hours and it's been so hot and I didn't even know I was hurting her! Honest! She PURRED through the entire thing!!! What kind of animals purrs while you chop up her back?! I felt terrible...I still do! Lesson learned! No at-home haircuts for cats!" I was talking a mile a minute and I had started sweating.

The vet sighed. I was starting to feel a little nervous. How had I become a dead-beat pet owner?! When did this happen??

She was treating me the way I'd seen burned-out teachers treat clueless parents in meetings about their failing kid that was bringing firecrackers and nunchucks to school. I could tell she was very close to her breaking point, and I started to wonder if there was an animal cps.

"Look, I'm going to say this nicely." She paused and took a long, slow drink from her "Dogs are wooftastic!" mug. I swallowed, on the edge of tears. This was not me! I didn't have my pets taken away! I was responsible! "You might want to buy a book and learn a little about your cat. Cats purr when they are happy, but they also purr in times of distress as a means to calm themselves down."

"Oh." I said this with a rising and falling intonation to indicate to the doctor that I had received her message. I wanted her to know that I was having an 'a-ha" moment.

She didn't seem to notice as she scribbled something in Lucy's chart before shutting it abrubtly and hugging to her chest.

"Rhonda has some diet cat food for you in the reception area. Please make sure she has 8 small meals a day and try to get her to be more active." Immediately, I thought, Who the hell is going to feed Lucy all these times per day?? How do other people do it? Are they stay-at-home cat people?? That can't be!

As if reading my mind, the vet said, "You can get an automatic feeder. It will dispense just a small amount of food every few hours. We're going to give you some low-carb food. She'll be on a kitty version of the Atkins diet."

Ok, I thought, but how am I supposed to get her to move? It wasn't like I hadn't tried. I had! I got her a harness and made an attempt to take her on walks, but she just rolled over on her back trying to attack the leash. Even when I'd tugged, assuming she'd pop up like my childhood dog would, she didn't. I dragged her for a few feet before I gave up.

Other people must have the same difficulties, I thought. After all, she had told us about the automatic feeder. Maybe she knew how to make Lucy get fit. I cleared my throat and said, "Do you have any suggestions on how we can get her to move more? I tried to take her on a walk, but she wasn't being very agreeable."

The vet looked at me for a full minute which I'm sure, probably seems like a short amount of time to you, but when someone is staring you down, it feels like forever! She sounded aggrevated as she shook her head saying, "Cats don't go on walks. Dogs do. You can try dangling yarn or feathers. You can get a laser pointer. Go to pet smart. Take a look around."

I nodded, feeling like an idiot.

We picked up our little sausage and headed to the check out area. She nuzzled into my armpit, hiding her beetlejuice head. (If Lucy can't see you, she assumes you can't see her either...)

We paid the bill and headed home with our fatty patty pet.

For the record, we bought not one, not two, but all of the toys the vet had mentioned. We were hopeful when Lucy seemed excited to explore her new exercise equipment. She worked on eating each item for a full three minutes until she discovered they weren't actually food. Then she went and took a nap for the rest of the afternoon...

...and I got busy eating the rest of the cheesy poofs and fruit rollups that were left in the house to get rid of the anxiety I was having about facing our vet at the next appointment (Lucy and I are both emotional eaters).

I'm not sure how we're going to get Lucy to do some cardio. I wish there was a Biggest Loser Fat Camp for cats...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Helping people that don't actually want your help...

Scent of a Woman is one of my favorite movies. I find a way to quote it or reference it at least once a quarter. Sometimes it's appropriate, most times it's not.

If you haven't seen this movie yet, you're crazy! I will try to catch you up to speed as quickly as I can: it's about a disgruntled blind man and a younger guy who can see.

In one scene, Al Pacino, the blind man, is in a taxi with Chris O'Donnell, the younger guy who can see. When they get out of the cab, Chris O'Donnell grabs Al Pacino's arm at the elbow, and the following conversation goes down:

A.P.: Are you blind?
C.O.: Wh-wh-what?
C.O.: No...
A.P.: Then why do you keep grabbing my Goddamn arm?! (pause) I TAKE YOUR ARM!!!!
C.O.: Oh...sorry.
A.P.: You don't know any've been watching MTV all your life...

This scene is amusing because Al Pacino's character, Frank, is just SO blunt, but at the same time, concise and witty. I also enjoy the look on Chris O'Donnell's face when his offer to help is declined. It is one of pure shock, he can't comprehend why this handicapped person would refuse his help and would even go as far as to yell at him.

It makes me wonder if there are a lot of people out there like Frank in Scent of a Woman....people with disabilities (or without) who are tired of ignorant people around them grabbing their "goddamn arm"???

I would venture to say that there are quite a few...

Although I have always had the best intentions, I have mistakenly "helped" people in ways that really was no help at the time in college when I ran up to help a woman who had slipped on the ice about 10 feet in front of me. It was the middle of Januray in Indiana and the sidewalk was slippery and uneven due to snow melting, then re-freezing into ice. I was trying my best to be careful as I hussled over to save the day, but when I finally made it to her, I too lost my balance...instead of helping her up, I landed on her. (I'm just glad she wasn't able to reach her mase before I was able to explain that I wasn't actually attacking her.)

There are just too many examples to list!

Offering to push the cart at the grocery store, only to hit the heels of the person I'm shopping with; volunteering to carry items into my friend's new home and breaking or chipping half of them; making dinner...and messing up the recipe with resulting food poisoning for all.

Yes, the list is long and shameful, but what's an accident-prone good samaritan to do?!

The best idea I could come up with was to get into a helping profession that didn't require a whole lot of gross motor coordination....and yet, somehow, I still manage to wreak havoc.

One such incident involved "saving" an eight year old from a life with no friends. I'm just hoping that the assistance I provided doesn't permanently give her an unflattering nickname on top of having no friends.

The girl that was lucky enough to have me helping her was upset because she didn't have anyone to sit with at lunch. My heart broke for her. I racked my brain for a solution and it seemed easy to me.

"Hey! I know some really nice girls that would love to sit with you at lunch!"

This was how my elaborate plan began. Somehow, it evolved into me joining these third grade students for lunch in the cafeteria at a school where I worked (this was my genius plan to help her make friends....SMOOTH).

I had arranged a friend-blind-date with some other third graders I knew. I followed Lucky into the line for food. As I stood there, towering over my fellow patrons, I got several wary, confused stares from the other kids in line. A little boy with tangled-looking hair and a smudge of dirt on his face asked me, "Are you somebody's mom?"

I watched Lucky get her food on a small styrafoam tray and directed her to a table where I could see the other kids I knew.

"Hi girls! Mind if we sit here?" The girls on the other side of the table stared at me and Lucky, but said nothing. I took their silence as consent and motioned for Lucky to grab a seat next to me as I tried to squeeze myself into the small seating area designed for much smaller bodies than mine...bodies with much shorter legs.

As I lifted my knee to clear the bench, it caught the bottom of Lucky's tray, sending it flying into the air. I watched it in horror, unable to stop what was happening. Lucky looked up just in time to get hit in the face with the raining mac 'n' cheese and peas the school cafeteria considered a healthy lunch....

So...again I say, what's a good samaritan to do if she is hopelessly clumsy??? Maybe I should only try to be of assistance to those that are at remote locations from now on...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mini Blog...sounds like a European car with small tires

Today has been pretty busy, and it isn't showing any signs of letting up. Therefore, my blog will be very brief today. I know what you're thinking...why bother blogging at all? (By the way, 'why bother blogging' is fun to say outloud...try it)

Why bother blogging you say. Well, I guess it is for selfish reasons...mostly because I don't want to break my streak. They say it takes 14 days to form a new habit. Today is Day 15 of my blogging and I'm ready to slack. Where are the habit helpers in MY brain? Maybe they need more time with an activity to get that attached. (I've tried to form OTHER new habits besides writing everyday including running daily or even just exercising in general on a daily basis. To the casual onlooker, it would appear this one has taken effect, but you would be fooled! The exercise I do daily is no habit! It is an obligation, a committment to fit into the most expensive dress I have ever worn and/or probably ever will wear.

So that's it for today. Sorry to disappoint...(I feel like I'm talking to myself...kind of like when I was a kid and I used to tell my diary that I would "write again soon"...Who did I think I was talking to? Did I think there was some troll living in the binding of the book dying to read about my latest dilema which usually involved things like: 'Recess: What's a kid to do? The Merits of playing Four Square vs. Socializing w/older, cooler kids' or 'How can I convince Mom to put less jelly on my PB&J's???')

Signing off for now. Over and out. 10-4 little buddy...or was it big buddy? What is that from anyway?! Is it something only me and my siblings would say, but now that I'm old, I think it's actually from a legitimate source like some movie or tv show??

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Don't underestimate kids with crayons...and an extensive knowledge of dirty words.

"Just call me Leo, alright?!"

I knew who was in my office before I even turned around. It was my favorite decidedly disgruntled kindergartener. His name was Kevin Williamson and even though he looked like an average five year old, inside, he was really an 80 year old man that was royally pissed off...but, somehow, he passed for a little kid day in and day out.

One of his favorite things to do was to "officially" change his name. He'd announce to his classmates and teachers that he would like to be called "Troy" or "Bob" and it would take a few weeks, but eventually everyone would switch over to the new name. Ar first adults balked at the idea of calling a child by an incorrect name, but after a while his persistance paid off. No one even bothered to argue with him anymore. When people would try to call him Kevin, he would ignore them or belittle them as if they were the ones that were mistaken, not him.

One day when Kevin was in my room, it was pretty hectic. The room was comparable in size to a one-seater bathroom at a Circle K and there were six five year old boys squeezed around a narrow table that was a little bigger than an ironing board.

The session was a whirlwind. After everyone was gone, I gathered their papers and as I picked up the last one, I noticed that there were black crayon marks on what had once been a clean table. I angled my head until I was able to read what it said.

The first thing I saw was: LEO Then, underneath it in smaller letters was: FUK




A small chuckle escaped me, and I realized I wasn't even mad. I was impressed! You had to hand it to the kid, he didn't just dabble in graffiti, he was a PRO. From what I could tell, he had written down every curse word he knew...and he did it while sitting less than two feet away from a teacher?!

Now THAT took some balls. (No wonder he wrote that word was true. He DID have balls...)

The best part was when I called him back in to ask him about it, he didn't even look concerned that he was getting in trouble. He just looked incredibly annoyed that I had interupted his recess. (I almost felt like I should be apologizing to him for pulling him away from the meeting he'd been having with what appeared to be a small group of protege`s from the first grade).

"Kevin..." He threw a hand up and in an exasperated tone said, "It's LEO."

"Right. See that's the thing, LEO." I emphasized the last word pointedly. "I need you to come to my office with me. There's something I'm a little confused about, and I thought you might be able to provide me with some answers."

He shrugged and followed me back. When we were both standing in front of the defaced table, I pointed down at the words between us. (Leo, fuck, shit, bitch, balls) He, too, directed his attention to the scribbled profanity.

Neither of us spoke. I was waiting for him to break down; admit guilt. I had, after all, caught him red-handed. Several minutes ticked by and still we stood, silently studying Kevin's handiwork. I was sticking to my original plan: I would play dumb and wait until he confessed. I felt it meant more if the kid was able to recognize his own wrongdoings rather than have me point it out to him (I was watching a lot of Dr. Phil at the time).

"Leo, do you see this table?"

He nodded.

"I have to tell you...I'm pretty upset."

He looked at me for a moment, then back down at the table. He was getting close. I almost had him. What a life lesson this one would be!

I decided to give him one more nudge. "I just don't understand this." I gestured toward the words. "Can you help me?"

Kevin sighed and looked up at the ceiling as he raked his fingers through his hair.

He didn't seem very happy.

I figured he was feeling stressed because he knew it was OVER. The jig was UP. He probably figured he was in for it now. I almost felt a little sorry for him. I took in his wrinkled forehead and wringing hands. Aw...poor guy. He must be anxious about possibly losing privleges or candy and prizes.

I horribly misjudged him.

When he finally opened his mouth, he used the same tone my mother had reserved for the moments she could not bear to be pestered any longer, like when she'd been trying to finish dinner or organize bills.

"Miss Orth." He paused, pushing the palms of his hands down on either side of the evidence as if he were a district attorney making his opening remarks to a grand jury.

I sat quietly, anticipating my apology. I was planning to make him clean the table himself, but first he'd have to tell his teacher why he was going to be in my office when...

"Look, I was in the middle of something out there." Kevin throws his right arm in the direction of the playground. "I can explain what these words mean, but it will have to be later. I'm just too busy right now..."

Monday, February 28, 2011

Working at the Tanning Salon...

I was living beyond my means in Arizona when I got the job I always dreamed I would get...when I was 16 years old. Eight years,two bachelors degrees and 3,000 miles later, I finally made that teenage dream a reality...

When I was in eighth grade, I convinced my parents to let me tan a handful of times before my graduation ceremony..and that was all it took. I loved the way my skin looked so much healthier and vibrant after a little time in the sun. Not only that...once I discovered the way having a tan made all my lipstick shades pop; made my skin clear up almost instantly; and made my legs appear thinner, I was hooked.

I may have been an idiot, but I wasn't a fool. I knew the risks. Somewhere in the back of my mind was the fear of cancer and wrinkles, but I was usually able to squelch those thoughts with a fabulous new outfit that only looked good with a nice tan or a rationalization or two. "Wrinkles, Shminkles. I'm not above getting plastic surgery one day..." or "I only use the beds that have more UVA not UVB lights....those are the lights that aren't as harmful...or was it the other way around?"

Therefore, you can imagine my excitement when I thought a tanning salon right by my home might be hiring. I was on the way home from a friend’s house one day when a large red sign caught my eye. It read “Grand Opening” and in smaller letters underneath that it said, "TANNING". I parked, got out of my car and looked at the large glass windows lining the storefront. Inside, I could see two leather couches, a display counter with a cash register and a tv. As far as I could tell, no one was working. I wondered if they were open. I decided to try pulling on the door.

When it opened, I walked inside, calling out, “Hello?” An extremely tan girl with mousy brown hair pulled up into a messy bun came running out from the back of the store. Breathlessly, she said, “Hey, sorry…were you waiting long? You here to tan?”

I stepped forward with my arm outstretched. “Hi. I’m Erin. I noticed your sign out front, and I was just wondering if you guys were looking for help. I work at a school during the day, but I could work evenings and weekends.”

She shook my hand awkwardly and seemed confused. “What sign did you say you saw?” I motioned toward the front door. “The big red sign that says ‘grand opening’?” She rolled her eyes and started wiping down the display counter with Windex. “Oh…that. Shawn puts that out there every now and then to attract new customers. Never had anyone come asking about a job before though.” I realized there was probably no job for me here. I sat down on the couch, feeling defeated.

“How long have you worked here?” I asked the girl out of curiosity. “Oh, not long. I’m really an accountant. Shawn…he’s the owner….well, he’s my friend…actually…my husband’s friend…but anyways, I got laid off and Shawn needed a manager for his store so…here I am…for now, at least. What about you? Why are you looking for a job if you already have a job?”

For some reason, this girl and I had instant rapport. I felt like I was talking to an old friend, and when I answered her questions, I wasn’t in interview mode, I was just being myself. “I’m broke. I love what I do, but it doesn’t pay much. I’m going to school part time, too and I refuse to alter my life plan.” She raised her eyebrows. I rambled on about wanting to get my masters degree and the order of classes I needed to take. She sat there and listened quietly, asking questions every now and then. I came to learn that her name was Lori. She was married and had two girls, ages 6 and 9.

After about an hour, my stomach started to growl. She noticed right away and starting organizing takeout menus. “You hungry? Me, too. You like Chinese?" Without waiting for a response, she continued, "Let’s get some China Express. I’ll call and order it and you can go pick it up. It’s right next door.” I nodded eagerly. I was starving. As we sat and ate Kung Pao Chicken, Lori decided to create a part time position for me at the Happy Valley Tanning Salon. I was ecstatic. Not only was this going to be a cake job where I could catch up on my schoolwork, but I got to tan for free as much as I wanted!

I was working at the tanning salon from 4-10pm four nights a week and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9a-6p. Just as I had predicted, it was pretty easy. I was able to read my textbooks, make notecards to study for tests, and color coordinate my classnotes; I could talk on the phone for free as much as I wanted; and (as if that weren't enough) I got enough tanning in to make my face into a leathery mitt well before I’m in my golden years.

Most of the customers were girls my age, teenagers or older women of varying ages. There were the teens that tried to tan more than one time in a day during Prom season. There were the prima donnas who asked me to watch their tiny dogs while they tanned (which I did...for a reasonable fee.) There were the new moms who tried to tan with their slumbering baby laying in a car seat next to them (which is a 'no no' in case you were wondering...) There were a few normal people that came in often, but mostly there were ALL kinds of nuts that made the tanning salon their home away from home.

One of the first Saturdays I was scheduled to work alone, the store was busier than I'd ever seen it. There were ten 'lay down' tanning beds; one 'super' bed; and two stand up units...and EVERY one of them was being used. There were also eight more people waiting in the tiny lobby. There were two people on each of the leather couches; two people standing near the far wall, pretending to shop for lotion and two people studying the flimsy jewelry in the glass case by the register.

"Are these real shark teeth?" I looked up from the towels I had been folding and regarded the 30-something no-neck muscled man in front of me. I thought back to the day the necklaces had arrived; when I had asked Lori the same question and I remembered her response. "Well, there are 30 of these things in here and they are all the same size, shape and color...what do you think?!" In that moment, I had felt so I was some sort of niave boob. I decided to save this guy some, to be honest, I worked on commission.

"Yeah. They're real alright. The guy who owns this place goes deep sea fishing every year...he usually catches at least two or three sharks on each trip." I said this non-challantly as I continued to fold the towels.

No-neck's eyes widened. "Really?" I nodded confidently. "Cool! I'll take it." I told him he had made a good decision as I took his money. Then I upsold him a bracelet, some lotion and a pair of overpriced sunglasses that were way too small for his face.

I know what you're thinking...I'm a terrible, heartless salesperson. It's not true. I'll admit, I MAY not have treated all of the customers equally, but it was with good reason. When you're working in the customer service industry, there are some people who just take advantage and No-neck was one of them.

No-neck always came in post-workout: a sweaty, smelly mess. He would leave a puddle of sweat in the bed and the whole place would smell for at least an hour after he had left.

Whenever I saw his muddy, school-bus yellow jeep pull up, I'd groan as I started turning on fans and opening windows. He'd come sauntering in with his arms held at awkward arcs (due to his excessive muscles) and grunt his name at me with a number which represented the amount of minutes he wanted to be in the bed.

At first, I tried not to judge him based on his appearance, smell and demeanor alone, but then, it happened.

It was a Tuesday night, and I was a little behind on cleaning the beds because American Idol had been on the small tv that was positioned in the corner of the store. I'd been procrastinating as I watched Simon crush young hopefuls' dreams. "Seacrest Out!" I turned off the tv with the remote, grabbed some cleaning solution and a rag and I headed toward the back to start cleaning.

I knew No-neck had used the last room on the left before I even went all the way in because I could smell his signature stench. It was like a mixture of dirty feet, old ham and mildew. A gag escaped me as I crossed the threshhold and I plugged my nose and coughed as I tried to stiffle it.

Then I saw it.

I couldn't believe it. I thought it had to be anything else than what I feared it was. There...on the tanning bed was a dark brown streak that looked unmistakenly like...well, doodies.

That's right folks, not only had No-neck stunk up the joint, he'd left behind a SKIDMARK! Right there, due south of his disgusting sweat puddle was an actual shit stain.

I recoiled in disgust and let out an anguished, "YOU. HAVE. GOT. TO. BE. SHITTING. ME!!!!!" (The irony of my remark was lost on me in that moment due to my preoccupation with the unpleasant task at hand...) That night, as I took in the sight and the incredibly intense and unremarkable odor, I had NO jovial thoughts. Instead, an inner dialogue something like this ran through my head: 'MOTHERFUCKER..I cannot even BELIEVE I have to clean up after this nasty stooge! How much do I make an hour? Is it six fucking dollars or is less than that? Whatever it is NOT worth it!'

I sighed, took a deep breath and wiped down the bed as fast as I could. I then took the rag I had been using, keeping it at arm's length, and I ran down the hallway, screaming until I had whipped it into the open dumpster behind the building.

After that horrible incident, I thought of the skidmark every time No-neck came in. I couldn't help wondering if he intentionally left the streak behind. How did he not notice it before he left? Then again, why would anyone in their right mind want to leave poop stripes at a place they visit two or three times a week?!

I was DYING to ask him. However, I wanted to keep my professionalism. I couldn't rightly say, "Hey No-neck, thanks for leaving me the shit stain on your last visit, but I'm not allowed to accept tips."

Instead, EVERY time he came in following that day, as soon as his room was ready, I'd sweetly say, "We have a public restroom all the way at the end of the hall if you need to use it. You can use it ANY time...before OR after you tan."

If he had any self awareness about his own grossness, he never showed it. He even had the nerve to hit on me at one point! It was a Saturday, right before closing. No-neck was headed toward the front. (I knew because I could smell him coming...) I looked up from my textbook when he got closer and said, "See you next time!"

I realized he hadn't left yet after he had been standing in front of me for several minutes (like I said, his odor lingered so how was I supposed to know??).

"Studying?" Although this is what No-neck had intended to say, it came out more like, "S-uh-huh-ing?" I stared at him as I tried to figure out why he wasn't driving away in his Wrangler. "It's SA-TUR-DAY NIGHT!!! Wee oooh! I'm feelin pretty good!"

I had no idea what to say in response so I just smiled and said, "Mmmm Hmmm." I was trying to breathe out of my mouth without making it too obvious.

"I like to PAR-TAY on Saturdays!" He slapped the counter enthusiastically as he said this, sending a rack of lotion samples tumbling over.

"Cool." I said politely as I tried to refill the rack of spilled packets. My mouth was getting really dry from all this mouth breathing. When the hell was No-neck gonna get his stinky ass out of here???

"My buddies and I always go out to the bars in Tempe on Saturdays. So, you like to party?" I did a sort of half head nod/shrug which he took as a full out "YES". He smiled, reminding me of the kids at work that had just earned the right to dig through the candy jar. "You got a boyfriend?"

I was a little slow. It wasn't until that moment I realized No-neck Shit Stains was trying to hang out with me. FUCK. I wasn't prepared for this. I had no excuse ready and I was a pathetic liar.

"Oh...ah, well, no, not right now, and I would hang out with you guys, but I can't."

No-neck looked confused. I rushed on to say, "The owner has a strict policy, so..."
I didn't want to say too much (like I said, I'm a bad liar) so I left it at that, hoping No-neck would fill in the blanks and take a hint, but life is never that easy.

We were talking about a guy who thought it would be a good idea to hit on a girl when he smelled so bad, it took every fiber of my being not to gag in his presence.

As if I hadn't mentioned the owner's policies at all, No-neck kept talking. "You ever heard of 'Have a Nice Day Cafe'? It's not even really a cafe's a bar. They got these really strong drinks that they serve in fishbowls and they got these sexy go go dancers up in cages. If you stand in the right spot, you can see right up their skirts and guess what? Some of them don't even wear no panties at all."

He was almost giddy as he recounted the details of the his favorite drinking hole. Again, I tried to very graciously and politely decline his offer to join him and his friends for drinks at the cafe that wasn't really a cafe, but he would NOT take a hint.

What was it going to take to get rid of this guy?! Unfortunately, No-neck was persistent or I was stupid, but I agreed to meet him and his friends that evening. Five vodka and lemonades later, I was laughing hysterically as I told all of my new friends INCLUDING No-Neck the story of finding the stinky surprise in the tanning bed.

In the sober light of day, I felt bad about my indiscretion, but when I never saw No-neck again, I KNEW it had been worth it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How do you decide who you want to be when you are only 18?!

I've always loved to write. When I was a kid, I used to spend my free time writing and illustrating my own stories. It would take me hours...sometimes days to get my mini books just right, but I didn't was a labor of love. When I had finished, I'd read them to an audience of Cabbage Patch Kids, Care Bears and Pound Puppies.

I dreamed of writing novels that people would rush out to the store to buy. I pictured myself going to the book releases in a series of disguises so that I could hear people's true opinions of my work, unfiltered and raw.

Sometimes, I'd have a head scarf on ala Laverne and Shirley with oversized glasses and a fake mole. Other times, I'd wear a long, dark black wig, an eye patch and a fat suit. Another getup I had in mind involved a handbar mustache, a trenchcoat and a fedora. I kept a running log in the back of my journal and any time I saw someone who had an interesting look, I'd write it down as a possible future alter ego.

March 3, 1986: Saw a lady today with skinny arms and legs, but fat middle; looked like a walking candy apple or the apple guy from the Fruit of the Loom commercials. Could use pillow to simulate apple-ness?

March 28, 1986: Man wearing ski mask, a vest with running shorts and knee socks. (This was the best discovery I ever made! I was beyond thrilled when I was able to find everything I needed to make a duplicate of this guy's look soon as Chris left for bowling practice one Saturday afternoon, I snuck up to his room and got the mask, the socks, and the shorts. Then I went on to Katie's room and found a green and orange striped puffy vest. Bingo! I grabbed it and headed back to my own room. I put all of the elements of the outfit together, and I turned to regard myself in the mirror. I jumped a little. My dog hid under the bed. I smiled triumphantly and moved this disguise from number 37 straight to number 1...)

April 4, 1986: Passed a lady in the grocery store today who kept the hood from her sweatshirt jacket fastened tightly in a knot so that you could only see part of her face and none of her hair. She also had on leggings and high-topped Reeboks. (Not sure if hood wearing was intentional or if knot was too tight....)

Aoril 10, 1986: Mom had a new friend over today. She had Farrah Fawcet hair; small, circular hippie sunglasses; tight-rolled jeans; and an oversized sweatshirt that hung off one shoulder. (Note to self: Cut bigger hole in neck of Rainbow Brite sweatshirt...)

April 13, 1986: Woman at 76 gas station: hot pink floppy bow, white lace gloves and tights, off the shoulders half-shirt and a stonewashed jean skirt. (Actually, I just wanted to wear this outfit in general...not necessarily as a disguise...but my prudish parents would never allow that to happen...I was forced to wear Oshkosh B'Gosh until my freshman year of highschool...)

Anyway, I'm getting off on a tangent again...maybe it's a good thing I didn't pursue that writing career after all...

My senior year of highschool, I visited several colleges with my parents and eventually decided on Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. In the spring, we made the 2 hour trip south once again in order to meet with a guidance counselor. The purpose of the trip was to register for classes and to determine a major.

As I sat in the passenger seat of my mother's emerald green Chrysler Concorde, I listened to her give me the same lecture for probably the 89th time....that day.

"Education is so important. You need to take this decision seriously. Now, if you want to major in Psychology, that's fine, but you're going to need to make a committment to go on to graduate school otherwise you'll spend four years getting a degree...and for what? To work at JC Penney? I don't think so."

My mother had no shortage of opinions on a wide array of topics, and she never had any reservations about telling anyone who would listen exactly what she thought about pretty much anything. Her heart was always in the right place, but her delivery sometimes was a bit misguided.

Pamela Waterson was a heavyset woman in her 40s with yellow blonde hair that had been meticulously curled and sprayed. It was pulled back on either side with tortoise shell clips that were fastened behind each ear. She wore a red sweater with embroidered puppies on the front of it. The sleeves were a little short, revealing a gold watch on her left wrist that was barely visible between the massive amounts of skin on her arm. I noticed bumps on her other arm that looked similiar to the razor burn I got if I shaved right before I went swimming. I stared at the raised redness and wondered if she shaved her arms..and if she did, why.

"So we were thinking Psychology, then?" Pamela's voice reminded me of Mrs. Pool from The Hogan Family. It was sickening sweet, but persistent.

I cleared my throat and moved to the edge of my chair, resting my elbows on her desk. "Um, actually, I was thinking I might want to do creative writing instead."

Immediately, I heard my mother shuffling papers, sighing; looking confused and irritated at the same time. "We never discussed you doing writing. We talked about psychology, obviously, and you said maybe pharmacy?"

I rolled my eyes. "No, mom. You said pharmacy. I don't want to count out pills for people all day! I'm just not interested in that."

"Well, they do more than that, and they make really good money."

Pamela interjected. "Well, if you are thinking about Pharmacy, you will have to go over to the Health Sciences building. This is the School of Liberal Arts. Pharmacy is not a major in this school, I'm afraid, but if you wanted to do creative writing, I could definitely help you with that.

My mother sighed, crossing her legs, uncrossing them, then re-crossing them in the other direction. In a tone that was a mixture of thinly disguised disdain with a condescending flair, she said, "And what...exactly...does one do with a degree in creative writing?"

Pamela smiled, her cheeks flushing slightly. "Oh, WELL...lots of things. There are all kinds of opportunities out there! She'll just have to be creative!"

My mother rolled her eyes and shot me a look. Looking back at Pamela, she said, "I see. Well, we've spent a lot of time discussing this, and I think she wants to major in Psychology. I just worry because a girl at work has a son who majored in Psychology and now he's working as a bag boy at the grocery store." She paused, looking first at me, then at Pamela. My mom was a big fan of dramatic pauses. She waited for the impact of her last statement to soak in fully , and just as Pamela had taken a deep breath and looked poised to formulate a response, my mom continued, "We just don't want our daughter to waste a lot of time and especially money on a degree that isn't going to get her anywhere. There's no point in spending thousands of dollars on a college degree if you're going to end up working at the mall." With that, my mother crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair, apparently satisfied that she had made a point that was impossible to argue with.

Pamela looked uncomfortable. She coughed and looked up at the clock on the wall as she swiveled in her chair to look at her computer before shooting me a sympathetic look. "The School of Liberal Arts is a broad major with lots of possibilities. Why don't we just sign up for some of the core requirements for now and worry about pinning down a major later?"

It worked. We decided to table the discussion of my future career (for now), and 30 minutes later, we were walking out of Pamela's with schedule in hand; my mother with a renewed sense of purpose. Me bringing up writing had been a major blindside. My mother had mistakenly thought that whole "creative writing thing" was out of my system. She had no idea that I was still considering it as a major, and she definitely wasn't ready for me to drop that bombshell on the day we were registering for classes. On the flip side, I had niavely thought that the guidance counselor would convince my mother that creative writing was, indeed, a worthy major.

"Let's go to the bathroom. Then we'll go to lunch and discuss this some more." I nodded as I followed her into the public restroom that was in the hallway right outside Pamela's office. "Don't you have to go?" My mother looked surprised when I headed straight for the sinks instead of one of the stalls.

"No, I'll just wait out here for you." My mother shrugged and headed for the closest toilet. As she closed the door, she was talking again.

"Where do you want to go for lunch? I kind of have a taste for Mexican food..." I heard the door swing open behind me and turned to see Pamela. She smiled shyly at me as she headed toward the sink to work on a stain she must have just acquired on her pale green pants.

I pressed down on the soap dispenser at the sink next to Pamela when I heard my mother say, "Can you believe that lady? 'She can find a job. She just needs to be creative.'" My mother said the last part in a high-pitched, mocking tone that sounded similar to Minnie Mouse.

I swallowed, concentrating on lathering the soap in my hands. (Anyone watching me would have thought I was being paged for surgery..."Paging Dr. Erin...Dr, Erin, you're needed in surgery stat" which I'd respond, 'Tell them I'm scrubbing in, DAMMIT!

When I didn't respond to my mother's commentary, she started calling out to make sure I hadn't left her. "Erin? Are you still there? ERIN? ERIN!!! ERIN!!!"

Shit. My eyes darted toward Pamela, and to my horror, she was staring at me. I smiled apologetically, and yelled in my mother's direction, "I'm just going to wait for you in the hall."

As I walked out, I heard my mother shouting, "What? Why? How come you didn't answer me??" The sound of her voice faded as the door swung shut. I leaned against the wall and waited her to come out. The door opened. Pamela breezed by me and headed down the hall to her office without a word. A minute later, the door opened again and my mom walked out.

"Why were you ignoring me in there?"

I grabbed her arm and said, "Ok, ready for lunch?" I told her that I knew about a great Mexican restaurant on the other side of town and ushered her out of the building.

As soon as we had reached the safety of our car...the privacy of our car, I recounted the whole scene that had played out in the bathroom for my mother. Instead of looking just as humiliated as I felt, she roared with laughter.

I stared at her.

"Mom! It's not funny! I'm probably going to have to see her again, you know. That was so embarassing!"

This only served to make my mother chortle even more, tears spilling down her cheeks. It was contagious. After a few minutes, I found myself also giggling. Finally, she caught her breath, wiped at her eyes, and said, "I'm sorry, but it's true. Trust me. You'll thank me one day."

So, I ended up getting that degree in psychology...with a minor in creative writing. The semester before I was to graduate, I got a job at Charter Behavioral Health which was a detox center for recovering alcoholics, addicts and just plain ol' crazy folk. It was interesting, but not for me. I decided to stay for another year and a half as I added a degree in speech pathology to my agenda. Luckily, it, too, was in the school of liberal arts so I already had all of the core classes finished.

I also didn't have to switch guidance counselors...which I'm sure Pamela was overjoyed to hear...