Thursday, June 28, 2007

Another Human Moment

Every one of us, every last one of us has these moments from time to time. Things just happen. You have absolutely NO control really as to when or if things like this happen, but you can blog about it - and that makes it so much nicer for those who don't blog - because they realize that they are NOT the only ones experiencing these events. If I can spare a life, or make a smile just by letting you know how freakin' human I am, I have completed my life's tasks for the day!

I work in a building where the restrooms have little dial-up light saving mechanisms so that when you enter the restroom you simply turn a little dial (on the outside of the room) to turn on the light and the fan for a specified amount of time - not to exceed 5 minutes. I suppose if anyone was in the restroom for any longer amount of time it would be a real problem for the landlords and their wallets. When the timer runs out of time - you run out of lights.

I entered the room because that's what I do. I turned the dial -it's expected. Obviously, as it turns out, I didn't turn the dial far enough, because as I was .... well, you know ... making a decision about how I was going to change the paper roll from the right side to the left so that it could be utilized - pull down and actually used, as opposed to hidden behind a metal protector - the lights went out. OUT! Now, at first I thought it was my boss - young man that he is, he could have taken the opportunity to play a little joke on me. Hahahaha....no, I was as they say "You-know-what Out of Luck" - with my pants pulled down, on the toilet, no lights whatsoever, not even coming from under the base of the door because the lights in the hallway are also rather ergonomically designed to save the building owners a little money from time to time. If you're not in the hall the lights dim a bit - Fun times for me!

In order to move the toilet roll from the left side to the right side, one has to rip the cardboard roll off the right side. Not an easy task if you can't find the little roll-away corner that pulls and then easily unwinds the cylinder of the roll - making it an easy task. Then there's the little metal button that you push on while you slide the fuller roll over the metal bar to the right - locking it into place to use. I was still fiddling with the corner (are there corners on cylinders) of the little cardboard roll that wouldn't give up its secret edge so I could pull it. The event was coupled with a bit of irony because I came to work early to get some things done before my boss arrived, so I couldn't even call him on his cell from my cell phone because my cell was in my purse, which was on the cabinet, which was about 10 feet from the toilet. Eventually I had to make a decision to leave the toilet to retrieve the cell - which I ended up using as a pseudo light source so I could somewhat see the corner that I needed to pull. FINALLY - the task was accomplished, and FINALLY, I was able to exit the restroom - unscathed.

Upon my exit I ran into my boss - he was coming into the building - the lights came on in the hallway when he entered the door of the building - how special. I just nodded a good-morning nod, and told him I'd be back - I deserved a little Starbucks break after that one.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Maybe I Just LOOK Stupid

It's funny. Nearly every week or so I get a phone call or perhaps an e-mail from a newspaper, a magazine, someone asking me to write for them on a weekly basis - without pay. Hello! Who in their right mind would write for anyone on a professional basis and not be paid? Well, obviously someone willing to sacrifice everything they needed in order to get exposure - but isn't that what these blogs are for? I don't get paid to write here - and here's the great part, I don't have an editor to please! It's me. It's just me. I always please me - well, most of the time. There are those moments when even I get angry enough to take myself out back - I threaten, but I don't actually do it. I'm not really all that scared of me.

This week it was a publication from a school - often it is. Being a professor of English has a great deal to do with that- they wanted me to write something funny, maybe add a little contest, a little work, a little adventure for the students - - and like every other college in the country, they didn't want to pay a penny for it. Just a smile, a thank you, perhaps a cup of coffee for me when they bag me someday and force me to come talk to their alumni group because of all the praise I was getting for the column. Oh, or maybe they believe that the exposure, the thrill of the ink will be my motivation. Nope - pay my bills thank you. Then we'll talk.

I'm not mean. I'm really not mean at all - if I had millions in my bank - if I had even hundreds of thousands in my bank (make it easier on myself), I would write for free. I would give it away more often, it would be a privilege and an honor to be hustled around the globe to talk for nothing - but that just isn't in the plans today....maybe the Vanderbilts will adopt me and keep me, then I can - I'm good for a few soirees and I can always hold my own in a well orchestrated conversation, be it religious, political, analytical - doesn't matter. I'll even discuss quantum physics with an air of authority - you just have to know more than I do to catch me when I lie through my teeth, or say something completely off just to watch your reaction. (Now, that's mean, but it's in me - bred that way.)

OK, so maybe I look sweet and people think that I'll be an easy pushover -which by the way, here's the secret, if you're a kid, or this is for an Armed Forces paper - I'm probably going to say yes. I'd write for the Stars and Stripes for nothing. I'd write for Highlights, kid's readers, maybe even some animal magazines - but not for long. After my work became so popular, so demanding, so incredibly irresistible, that the readers demanded more, more - got to have more they'd beg - then, I'd have to get compensation. The Army would simply have to fly me out to Ft. Wainwright to see my baby, or I could go to Washington D.C. and get over to the two major military stations there - see the boys and girls I love so much - I'd do that. (Anyone out there with that sort of pull? Call me!) Other than that, I do have a price - not a high one, I've done so much for so long with so little that I can do just about anything with nothing nowadays - old saying, but a good one.

Just pay me, OK. You'd expect it. I expect it. I have a teenage monster to feed. I was suppose to be emancipating her, but she's decided to hang on a bit longer. Work got in the way - in that it wasn't fun like she thought it would be. She's back home and I'm picking up the slack on that one. You remember the day you thought about growing up and then changed your mind don't you? It was a great day - I crawled back in bed and slept a little longer that morning.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Scorpios UNITE!

After writing a little tell-much blog on the fact that I am actually a Scorpio and not a Sagittarius, as the newer Astrology books place those of us born on November 22, I have become inundated by e-mails from people, mostly Scorpios, claiming that they also fit the mold of what is typically considered Scorpion behavior. Let us revel in our passion!

Some of the more famous Scorpions can be found at this site: http://www.saidwhat.co.uk/quotes/star_sign/scorpio On the site you'll find many powerful people, world leaders like Condolezza Rice, Theodore Roosevelt, I. Ghaundi, and it is believed that Ghangus Khan was born near the end of October as well. You'll find authors, poets such as Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, John Keats, Ezra Pound and many many novelists. You'll see doctors, lawyers, singers, songwriters, actors and actresses and you'll find infamous people like Edward Teach and Captain James Cook. Painters too, Claude Monet, with his grace, and Pablo Picasso were both Scorps- talk of passion! There's Larry King, Rodney Dangerfield, the lovable Sally Field, and Will Rogers, but did you know - and this thrills me to NO end - My HERO, Sojourner Truth was a Scorpio. Yes she was, so is Billy Graham, and one of my favorite authors - Robert Louis Stevenson. I was named (middle name Leigh) for Vivian Leigh, another Scorpio - and what a match of personalities it would be on screen to see Jodie Foster and Ethan Hawke - or Mauriel Hemingway paired with Scorpion counter Bryan Adams - HOT.

Laura Bush is a smouldering Scorpio - did you know that? Oh, what lies behind those eyes, and that pyrate's smile of hers. I love that woman. Demi Moore, Ted Turner, Goldie Hawn, Grace Kelly - absolutely beautiful people - all with a few really heady and forceful things in common, they don't give in, they don't give up, and they don't compromise much - Martin Scorsese, another famous Scorpio; Julie Roberts...the list goes on. One of the MOST famous Scorpios is not an actor, he's not really an activist, he's more of a generous, stubborn man with the fortitude to never say quit - Mr. Bill Gates. So when I think of the things created, pushed forward, fought for, illustrated, and performed by some of the greatest men and women - many of which I have not taken the time to acknowledge, but would be worth knowing - go see the site - I am simply blown away by their stamina, their zest, and their zeal - I want to be another world contributor. In short, I want you to know that where the great Archers of this world have done what they do, I would prefer to be counted with Sojourner, Mr. Roosevelt, Whoopi, Keats, and Monet.

Be very careful when you come across a Scorpion, we're poised to strike, but often we would prefer to love - with the very same, and the equalled force.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Scorpio-Scorpio!

It's funny. I pick up a book about Astrology and find that I'm no longer a Scorpio - much like the planet Pluto is no longer a planet - too damn bad, after 45 years of being who I was when I was born, I have no intention of accepting the Archer's bow as my sign - I am the killer insect, thank you. Some of the newer books claim that November 21 is the last day of Scorpio - don't turn your back too soon. The books are wrong!

Born at 2:56 p.m. on the afternoon of November 22, 1961, I literally was born 4 minutes before the cut off of the great Western horoscope zodiac sign of Scorpio - but I am a Scorpio. Don't fool yourself, never try to outwit, outplay, or outdo me - you'll find my pyrate's smile to be somewhat flattering as I nod your way, pretending to allow you to pass unscathed - you won't pass at all, not without being stung first. I don't say that because I'm vicious, mean, nasty, outrageous, or evil - I say that because it is my very nature, down to my core, to be first - I push myself, I don't need anyone else to do it for me. I have this thing about losing, I don't do it well. I don't play chess - I devour. Therefore, I choose most often not to play anyone - except my son, because he's so tender - irresistible, and if he's foolish enough to ask me to sit across from him - I will stomp his heart out - and then buy him ice cream. I think the boy just probably likes his ice cream, and being the Aries that he is, he doesn't mind running fully into a hornet's nest to get it.

Scorpio just suits me. OK, you're not into it, but I am to a degree - I wasn't, not until I began studying it in college, and found that not only do I fit the mold perfectly for what the Zodiac calls the 3rd Scorpio, those born at the end of the time period reserved for the sign, I am also the epitome of the sign's femme fatale when it comes to getting exactly what I want, when I want it, because I want it, and the good thing is - I'll make you think and feel that it was your idea! Don't worry, I'm actually quite tame - when left alone. As a partner I find it absolutely imperative that my partner be as loyal, and as monogamous as I am - which if you had to rate it on a scale of 1-100 you had BETTER not be less than a 99, because I'm not about to cheat, and I'm not about to give in, and I'm not about to stop loving, caring, caressing, dancing, smiling, or making love at all hours of the clock, so you should know that you will be expected to return each and every ounce of devotion that I conjure up for you...but then again, I've been celibate for over 8 years - care to guess why? I haven't found anyone who would be willing to be as faithful as I would be - so I've just kept it simple - I'm with me!

Because so many legends and rumours fly over the internet and in books about the mystery of the Scorpio woman, her allure, her luster, her decision to become powerful, her will to stay at the top always - you would do well to read a few sections online before taking her on as your lover or even as your friend. Jeannie (my best friend) has been my best friend for almost 30 years and there's a reason for that - she's never stop loving me. She and I are both water signs, she being the nurturing of the two of us - she can tell you that I piss her off more often than not, but my will to survive and my devotion to her as a friend will always outscore the alternative. My other two best friends were both Scorpio women, make that three - and my best boy/friend, he was a Cancer, another watersign. Without exception, the Scorpio woman simply must be the hardest woman to get to know - but if SHE accepts you, (friend, lover, companion) you will be loved fully, always, and without ceasing - in fact, you may become so loved that you can't see straight, or breathe again on your own. Be very careful what you wish for.

There is a flip side - Scorpios, (and I am NO exception) will not forgive easily - not forget ever. You've heard that saying "Hell hath no fury than as a woman scorned" - it was written because of a Scorpio woman - and it is most actuate. There should be another saying, another proverb written for the Scorpio woman for when she chooses to love - that would be: "Eternity holds no time to that of a Scorpio woman's patience" we will wait - we will, and we're usually the one in the corner, wearing something slinky, something black, something just a little - interesting. Don't stare long, once your gaze is caught it's a lot like Hotel California - You can check out any time you like, but with a Scorpio woman, you can never leave.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Mom, I got a TRUCK!

My son cracks me up! The boy calls me at the strangest of times, he's in the Army, he should be marching or something - it was 5:00 a.m. his time - he was too excited for his own good. He was telling me, in the overly hypertensive way that he explains any and everything new and exciting to him, that he was driving a new Dodge! A truck! He was driving it all over the town of Fairbanks, and he didn't have to give it back to its owner for 10 days. The boy was in Heaven. He's wanted transportation in the Klondike for months. Transportation other than the Stryker tank/vehicle that he drives when he's actually being the greatest soldier on the face of the Earth that is.

"Mom," he cried out "I'm in Anchorage." He's stationed 6 hours away in Fairbanks, this was a concern for me. He continued: "My buddy came through the dorm asking if anyone wanted to take him to the airport, he was going on leave - Hell yeah! I got out of bed faster than snot! (his words) I was there man! I was there!" Then there were some screaming noises, hoots, and a few more obscenities that I don't wish to bore you with - the Army doesn't curtail the language thing - and it's clear that they may actually encourage it. Reuben excels in explicit exchanges. What had apparently happened was simple: The buddy needed a ride to the airport, trusted my son to take him, handed his keys to my boy, and went to Birmingham - probably praying that his insurance carrier never got the call that he was filing a claim on an occasional driver from Fairbanks while he was doing a little R & R in Alabama. The minute the buddy stepped foot out of his truck, the truck was gone! Gone as in 10 days of wasting gas, driving endlessly through the highs and hills of the never-ending mammoth that is Alaska - Reuben's always wanted to see exactly how far it was from Fairbanks to Anchorage - June is a good time to test that in a borrowed truck.

Makes me think - would the Army buddy had been better off taking a cab? Doesn't Fairbanks have a metro bus that picks up and takes people from point A to point B when necessary? At least one thing is certain - the mileage on the Dodge will have increased and the smile on my son's face will not have decreased - not for some time.

The Big House!

My friend Niki and I like to pretend. We like to go to open houses, not only on Sunday, but anytime we see an open sign, or sign showing that a home is a model home, and we like to go into it with the pretense that we're rich and famous and we'd like to consider it for a purchase. You know, for the kids, because we couldn't possibly live in such a small house of say 3000 square feet. We much have the Chateaux!

Going to model homes on Sunday must be a way of life for some families - a form of entertainment. I like to stand back in the dining area and listen to the families coming into the house and watch the kids screaming and running up and down the stairs "calling" rooms, and claiming their space. We did that. When I was a kid, we would go to homes on Sunday after dinner and we'd pretend it was our house - or going to be. Like the kid I was in the 1960's, Niki and I go and look, pretend, wish and dream - making statements to each other, but we don't even try to fake out the mortgage guy, the realtor, or the person showing the open house. We're beyond that. We just lie to each other, and try to out do each other when it comes to the lawn being just so, or the master bedroom's closet being far too small for all of our clothes. We can't buy this one I'll say, because the island in the kitchen is too close to the cabinet. We can't buy this one she'll say, because the fireplace doesn't have the right ambiance. Not conducive to the lifestyle we have been accustomed to. (Then we smile and giggle just a little before we leave)

Today's last home was a bit different - it felt like I could actually get it someday - someday meaning after the first of the year when my books are mainstream, and the contract for the next three books are picked up. Maybe, just maybe, we actually walked through my future home. If we did, I'll be living on Carriage Way in Oklahoma City, rather than in the high rise condo I have been so painstakingly looking for in Chicago - IT may become my fantasy home, the one that got away - or perhaps I'll end up subletting for a few months each year to write and/or get away from the brats. That's it - the house I looked at today was big enough, 3600 square feet, to be in the house with the kids, and not even realize it - not if they were on THEIR side of the house. We could draw a line really - they could have the South end and I would take the North. I guess the kitchen's island, which isn't too close to the Galaxy-Black granite cabinet, could be Base. We could keep our hands on it and be safe - like in that game Tag - you have to have a Base...never mind, I'm digressing, just trying to take you with me down that memory - you get it.

This house had 3 garages, but one of them was separate, apart from the house, had it's own drive to it - that's where the Christmas stuff would be stored. You have a 3600 square foot house and you're going to have a 12x15 storage unit for your seasonal needs. The 2nd living area is the "Christmas Tree Room" in our family - always has been. Recently the poor thing has been stuck in a corner, squashed against the bricks in the den, or between the dining room and the hall because there wasn't room to walk around it properly otherwise - not in this house, it has its OWN room - maybe I'll get another tree for the formal dining, just to keep the squishing tree tradition going! Family traditions shouldn't die just because I can afford a bigger house!

If this were, or going to be my new house - I'll be happy when I see myself in the overtly deep Jetta spa in my bathroom - candles burning, bubbles bobbing, steam rolling - and Buble on the CD...NO one better interrupt this woman's pleasure - well, someone, but not a kid! Like the moment the dog makes the sighing sound, the sign that they've retired for the night - this woman will make the aaaaahhhhhhhh "I'm-in-the-tub-now" sigh, and that's all she wrote. (All she wrote, get it, I'm an author - all she wrote! Never mind, it was funny, I laughed.)

The Joys of Publishing

Yes, yes, the joys of publishing your fourth book - they don't hold a candle to the thrill, the excitement, the unbridled fear that you experience the first time you step out and decide to go that last step and PAY someone to publish your book because NO ONE seems to be interested in publishing it...sadly, I know that feeling well. The really cool thing about being a self-published author is the control - not that you actually have any, but you can lie to your friends, community, people on the street - anyone willing to listen really, and you can tell them all about the control you have. You can tell them that the publishing company has to wait on YOU to be ready to go the next step, that you have the last say, that you proofread, and that you edit, and that you are the master of your own destiny - not one bit of it is truth, but if they're not into paying someone to produce a book they won't know.

The first time I threw in the towel on trying to find a real house to publish my books was in 2005. I realized that sending out manuscripts to agents or potential agents just wasn't cutting it. I didn't even get the descent courtesy from most of them to even write me back a nasty little letter saying no thanks. All I got was dead-air, white space, nothing, time just wasting away - finally I had stopped the waiting game. I took my forehead off the wall, found myself looking up self-publishers on the internet and settled on Xlibris because I didn't like the names of the other publishers. I didn't like Author House for instance - too boring. I didn't like First Books - that said to the world that I was a new author. At least with Xlibris I had the chance to break the ice with someone who questioned the pronunciation of the name! I could spell it out for them, take the second or two to get their attention, maybe start a conversation about how they, the bookstore, could be willing to purchase or order a few of my books to put on their shelves. At least I had that.

So, Xlibris it was. Little did I know that Xlibris, for all it's fancy-schmancy name would be hard to work with - hard to manage at times, and certainly not willing to cooperate with ME the AUTHOR of the book I PAID them to publish. The first experience was a roller coaster to put it bluntly. I learned so much that first time around that the 2nd and 3rd times I went in fully armored, and with an attitude of the Grand Bitch just so I could get through the first few layers of watchdogs they put on the phone who are paid to not let you through to the people who actually do the work on the books themselves - or the finance people. Trying to get answers about the amount of books actually printed was a nightmare.

My first book "With a Little Faith" came back with so many errors after I had sent it off nearly error free (English professor, I do actually proofread my work) that I was compelled to not only complain, but threatened to fly to the Philippines where it is worked out to rip off a few heads. The distance notwithstanding, was not the issue. The issue was that my book, my baby, was being subjected to a rewrite or at least a once-over that included changing words. It was explained to me that several passages of the original had been lost in a "glitch" and that the editors had repaired my book. I asked for it to be changed, but it was not. The book was printed, and 37 typographical and/or grammatical errors later - I was livid. Not to mention the book was not the size I had asked for. It was the size I had marked down, but not the size I had subsequently spoken to the leader of the project about - after I saw the prototype. Oh, and speaking of the prototype, it took six extra weeks from the time I was told it would be in my hands. That made my 2nd editing go a bit faster. I was unable to go through the book entirely due to the fact that I was going on the Montel Show to showcase it in less than a month.

Well, needless to say - I did cry when it came out. Both because it was out, and because it was out with errors. Sort of like seeing your child for the first time and realizing its has a bigger nose than you thought possible, you cry - you're excited, but you're thinking "Where did that come from, is it going to go down?" There it was - in it's glory - yes, I got the e-mails for months. "I thought you were an English professor" and "I found a mistake in your book, you may wish to contact your editor." Thanks. Nothing like being reminded 300 times a week that you were the ultimate one in charge, you were responsible, it was up to you, after all didn't you say you SELF published?

Well, this time, the fourth time - I'll have a bit more say. I had a little more say after we were on Oprah, Montel, Maury, and a few other shows. After the 50th book signing at military stations, and after about 20,000 books were printed - and only 12,000 paid for - that's the other thing about self published books, you really DO NOT KNOW, and you can't know, how many books are actually printed. You'll never know how many of your books are really sold - you can't. How can you know? You can't stop them from printing and if they simply don't report to you - you won't know. The fourth time, this time - a little different. I'm going into it knowing the ISBN will be picked up by someone down the road if only because the others were - it works that way. Having the book out there, ready, on the shelves and in the system makes it easier for an agent, a producer, a film maker, anyone to pull it off the computer, buy it from Amazon, and make a decision about it - that goes for real publishing houses too. They can track the sales from Amazon, anyway - because THEY report correctly.

This fourth book? What will it be about? Oh, you're reading it. My blogs! Sort of like a modern day Erma Bombeck. She was my hero - always will be. What a gal - what would she say about the way self publishers treat their clients? Probably something funny, probably something profound, but she'd smile a bit too, because it wasn't available when she was writing - the pain of waiting and the game of kissing tail was a monopoly of a collective few - we've come a little way - soon, we, the self published authors may be the norm. But, will any writer REALLY be considered NORMAL? Gosh, I hope not.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Not Tested on Animals!

I picked up a bottle of Aussie brand shampoo - some of the best hair products are wearing purple. Just thought I'd let you know. One of the things that I found rather odd or off about the shampoo was their company or corporate claim that the products made by Aussie weren't tested on any animals - but it was OK for me to use. I thought about that. We can slaughter pigs, chickens, cows, goats, and sheep - but we can't shampoo or condition them - that may harm the animal. People cut off the feet of chickens for voo-doo, they chop off a rabbit's foot for good luck - at least they used to in the day - but we've actually stopped shampooing and we've stopped conditioning the hair of the hare! Does that concern anyone besides me?

Rats can run around in little mazes, be injected with steroids, the various viruses, AIDs, Hepatitis; monkeys too - but don't clean them. Don't put gel on their fur - don't deodorize them, and for gosh sakes don't put mousse on a mouse. This actually made me stop and think before I bought the product. I stood there in the aisle at Target - deciding rather to support the continued effort of animal friendly Australians, or to go with my gut instinct and buy the junk whose company's owners could boast about holding down the little varments and cleaning up their act before injecting them with something lethal - I want clean dead animals, I don't want dirty, stinking, filthy dead lab rats....lather, rinse, repeat!

OK, I'm lying, I didn't take more than a few seconds to think it over before laughing to myself, making myself look like the idiot I am - and I moved on. I moved to the checkout stand, but when I got home, I exploded into adventure. I grabbed the dachshund (well, he's 1/2 dachshund and 1/2 beagle) and I threw his tri-colored butt into the tub. I started the luke warm water flowing, and much - much- much to his chagrin I poured a healthy amount of Aussie shampoo onto his animal body! I worked that liquid goo into a plethora of foaming lather and I scrubbed the dog clean. There wasn't an inch of mutt left that wasn't interrogated, manipulated, forced into bubble-mania froth - that dog was tested! The 3-minute condition was another story, he did actually refuse to stand still in the knee-high water long enough for that to take effect. He had the 30 second conditioning, but he got conditioned by-golly!

After a tight toweling, and a few wiggle shakings that dogs do, throwing their ears into helicopter spins - the dog was pissed. He was clean as a whistle mind you, and he had been cleaned by some of the best human-tested products on the face of the Earth, but he was spotless. He smelled good too - but he didn't care. He's not really talking to me right now. My other dog Faith, she took the thrashing and the growling from Matrix to mean that her fate may very well be sealed - she may be next. That wouldn't be necessary actually, my fun was over. I just wanted to prove it could be done. Sort of like when chickens cross the road - to prove to the armadillos and the skunks that it can be done!

You'd Have to Understand My Parents.

To try and explain my parents to you in a blog would be really hard to do. You'd just have to know them, know the type of person, the country souls that they are - in order to fully grasp the reasoning behind SO MANY things they say and do. Sometimes I stand back, shake my head, and just walk away. Other times I laugh boldly, and throw out a suggestion, something bringing them both back to the 21st century, because clearly, like you're precious parents probably, these people are from WAY OUT THERE.

This morning I drove the nearly thirty miles to the "farm", which isn't a farm, but an overgrown patch of grass out in the sticks that is literally surrounded by acres and acres of other people's patches of grass that is overgrown, thicketed, bordered by trails and endless winding gravely roads that lead to absolutely nowhere. If I told you the name of the township that they lived in you couldn't find it - except that it does actually have a strong connection to the historical Route 66 with its round red barn, and the borders which were ever important on the day of the land run for the unassigned lands, what most people believe to be the ONLY land run in Oklahoma, dated April 22, 1889. There were two subsequent land runs, no one really knows that fact. Nevertheless, this is the place, the spot that my parents decided was perfect to settle into about 22 years ago, and like the mud they live on top of, they are not going anywhere soon. They are stuck in their ruts, and the word "impasse" just won't scratch the surface to their stubborn nature when the topic of moving comes up.

Having explained that, I can now tell you that I found my dear mother at the kitchen table, which is never ever used as a table, but as a storage for food that could be easily stored in the cupboard dad made for her about a month ago. The cupboard, more or less an overtly ornate armour, suitable for display, as dad does happen to be a top-notch cabinet man, actually sits inside the closet where the washer and dryer would be, if they weren't out in the barn. Are you getting this? Do you understand? OK - there she is, at the table, and she's sewing - - wait for it, a new dust collection bag, one that fits a Rockwell drill that must be at least 30 years old. Why is my mother sewing a new canvas bag for my dad, and why is she using his old jeans to do it? Because the cat (Pretty Kitty, a 16 year old delicate feline) has killed yet another 1-pound pack rat out in the "shop" where dad stores his tools, and the rat's family has eaten through the canvas (rather than using the handy zipper at the base of the bag) to get to the sawdust that is inside the bag, rather than using the sawdust that is so readily already spilled out onto the floor of the shop under the table saws. Why must rats be so inconvenient?

Mom's making a dust collection bag out of jeans. Dad is de-ticking the 16 year old cat, but not sure if what he's pulling off of her is an actual tick, or if it is part of her body, a tumor or something, he's not a vet, but he's examining it - and muttering something. The house REEEEEEKS of a strange bacon fat odor, something that I'm not used to because I don't eat that stuff - and since their bacon comes from the real farmer down the road - it smells differently than the bacon that I would buy if I bought it - if I ate it, I don't. It sticks in the air, hangs there and won't let you go when you walk through the aroma like a paste over the stove.

Don't get me wrong. I love my parents, but if I were to call them and say "Hey, what's going on, what are you guys doing today?" I wouldn't hear a pair of happy, chirpy voices from folks in their 70's looking to have a little Saturday adventure in town - they're not the opera type, the concert type, the shopping type, they're not even the going to town type - except on those rare occasions that something they bought in bulk runs out. What I got was an old man muttering about a pack rat in the shop. It had more than 5 pounds of cat food stored away in a hidey-hole, and looks like the dang thing took a screwdriver, a watch band, a few nuts and bolts, and what appears to be a sock, but my dad didn't get the flashlight to work, so he couldn't tell. Didn't matter the cat killed another one. This one makes 4 now, in a week. She's old, but she's good.
Mom, on the other hand told me she was sewing - me, I assumed it was a dress.

I just went by to check up on them, skinny man - maybe 120 pounds at over six foot, and mom sometimes forgets to wear her knee brace when she gardens. I just never know what I'm going to get, see, hear, or find out when I get to their place - except one things always certain, they're still in love.

Friday, June 22, 2007

MATH is a Four-Letter Word

Being an English major - well, an English professor, I have a tendency to not want to work mathematical problems in my head. When the need arises (because math happens to the best of us) I usually do OK writing out the problem, working it slowly, double checking to make sure I haven't carried over the wrong number or taken away a number when I'm suppose to be adding a number, and then I just throw up my hands and hand the checkbook over to the banker and say "You get paid to do this!" - and I just let him work through my mess.

I have a couple of accounts. One I don't mess with. It's the REAL account as I call it. The other account is a little checking that I use strictly for Ebay purchases, online payments for books, and other things I simply can't live without and have to get on sale - otherwise I feel as if I'm paying full price, and the Scots in me just gets all riled up. I love, love, absolutely LOVE www.half.com, and if you haven't gone - go! The 2nd account is the one that I mess with and mess up all the time. I can't seem to make it to the bank on time every time and it causes problems. It's not entirely my fault - I went to school to learn Humanities not Math. I do Math, but it's more like the way I speak Spanish - only when I have to, and only under stress as well as duress.

It would be great if during the 1960's someone thought to teach me Spanish, my educational path led me through my own native language, the history of it, the usage of it, the syntax, and the breakdown for every single type of clause plausible - but no one thought it good to teach me Spanish. I have tried. Oh, I try - and the students I teach who are natural Spanish speakers - they laugh at me. "Oh, Miss Stringfellow, you're so funny, so cute. Do you know what you just said?" I don't think I want to find out - I probably insulted their goat or something. Most of my kids had a pet goat - which of course they weren't allowed to have in city limits so they kept it inside - YOU do the math on that one. I laughed at them when they came to school and used the old excuse of their goat ate their homework. They weren't lying.

So my checkbook was out of whack because of the automated withdrawal from the gym that I no longer attend. My banker explained to me that putting money in my account from the other account would be best - so we set that up. Overdraft protection. God, I love my banker - he's so smart. I needed this in the 80's when I was young and stupid, now that I'm old and stupid, it's a great security blanket. $250 worth of screw ups....all covered. But I know I still won't be able to make it to the bank fast enough for it to count. Somewhere down the line someone will call me and say "You might want to raise that O.P. to about $300, maybe more, what do you think?" Or, here's a suggestion Jude, stop buying so much on Ebay! Oh, I shutter to think that! No, I can't do that. My post man would think I was mad at him personally. We see each other every day. Sometimes he stands around and waits for me to open the boxes and the packages to see what I got for nothing - plus shipping and handling.

English is good. I like English. Often (in these blogs, too) you'll question my use of the language. You'll say "Hey, she's an English professor, why would she say something like that?", but if you do - and you will - I'll just laugh at you and say something like "At least I left your goat out of it!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bring Your Dog To Work Day.

Didn't you know - today was Bring Your Dog To Work Day - at least that's what I told my boss when I showed up to his Farmers Insurance agency with Faith. He laughed - took it well, he's cool like that. The building's occupants have been entertained and in one case outright amazed! The front door opened and an Australian man looking for a certain business came into the common lobby. He stood back and looked first, thinking something to himself before approaching and before sheepishly inquiring - "Is, is, is that Faith?" I smiled. Yes, this is Faith. He laughed out loud, immediately causing the dog to bark, dogs do that, they panic a bit when someone bends over laughing and grabbing their knees - she barked, he laughed again, my boss motioned for me to go to the lobby so he could finish his call. No doubt the service center for Farmers wondered where Will was calling from.

Faith is a cave-dwelling dog. She sits under or she'll lay under the desk, a chair, the bed, something where she can hide her head from the general public. We laugh at her quite often as she actually is the World's Most Photographed Animal, and here she is hiding - we should put a little pair of Ray Bans on her so she looks the part of the celebrity avoiding the paparazzi. She's hiding - shhh, don't look! She has in the past, come to my work place quite often, and in the past 15 months we have been working very closely together, so when I took the position recently to be Will Liebl's Agent Producer - something of a change for me, but definitely a change for the yellow one. She felt left out, left behind, forgotten. I'd come home and she'd burrow under the bed even further so I could reach her - only coming out when it was time to eat, go outside, or go to bed - she sleeps on top, but she still tried to avoid me due to her feelings being hurt a little. So, this morning, I used the words - gave the command "LET'S GO" and she was up! She was out of the house, in the drive, running to the car, and hopping like mad! She was really ready to go! She likes going - doesn't matter where, she likes going.

The work place is calm - we sell insurance. We have had some fun with the clients, and no doubt we'll use her status in the future to lure and persuade those hard to reach clients - come in, see the dog! She won't try to sell you anything - righhhhhht....pet the puppy!

Go ahead, ask your boss if you can bring Fluffy to work - see if he/she lets you. Just be sure and stop by your Farmers Insurance agent first to pick up that $1,000,000 umbrella policy for the hands that may suffer the worst from it. Heck, bringing my dog to work is a lot safer than bringing the kids. I used to tell the apartment managers to forget about the pet deposits, that kid-deposit needs to be enforced!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Boys and Their Boogers.

I simply love my kid. I really do, but when I went to the car detailer today he told me not only that I had a kid, he was actually able to tell me that it was a boy. I asked him how he knew because I didn't have anything, not one thing in the car that remotely looked like a boy had been in the car. I have a few girl things - perhaps the detailed minded detail man assumed those items in the back pouch of the front seat were mine. His answer - BOOGERS. You have a bunch of crusty old boogers on the right side of both the driver's side and the passenger side. He then made it clear that he'd never assume I was the nose-picker in the family. He stated that more booger-seats come from boys than girls, and when the boogers are on both seats in virtually the same pattern (I think the man watches CSI) that he assumed again, that I had a boy. A tall boy he added - because the boogers were pretty low on the edge of each seat.

I tested the man's theory. I called a few of my friends who had boys and girls both. I asked them to let me talk to their kids, not to them, they wouldn't have admitted it if they were putting the nasty, sticky, gooey, nose mucus on their seats - kids will cop to anything if you make it fun enough. Sure enough, the boys won out over the girls 11 boys to 2 girls. That means either the other 4 girls were lying - or they don't do that sort of thing. I know these girls, they lie, but something tells me that this time they were JUST as amazed as I was. How many boys over the age of 15 did I speak with - 11. EVERY boy stuck their boogers on their parents' cars. EVERY boy without exception. Their parents were more than shocked - well, they were out-and-out, flat-busted amazed at what they had been subjecting themselves to because as one of the moms told me, she had to sit in the passenger seat of her own car on several occasions and now she's thinking she has streaks of grossness all over her clothes and legs - old or not, there may be a transfer.

How come we don't see that fact on CSI - speaking of CSI. I want Mac Taylor to do a segment where he's investigating a murder, and the suspect is unknown, but they DO KNOW that he or she was in the car JUST before the murder took place. (Lie and wait sort of thing) Mac could find fresh boogers on the side of the driver's seat and Stella could give him that upper-lip curled look of hers. She could shake her head and say "How did you know that?" Mac could be honest and say he doesn't always have a tissue handy when he's out in traffic - flinch! Oh, that would be priceless - another in depth human trait of yet another character - revealed, and now we love the guy that much more. Could be a skyrocket for the ratings - air it during Sweeps Week!

I paid the man. I drove my freshly cleaned Focus home (His name is Steve, named him after Steve Irwin in fact). I thanked Steve for being so patient and forgiving of my son. Then I got on MySpace and looked for my 3rd "friend" RUBY. We talked.

My Favorite Agent!

I have a few agents. I really do. As an author I have an agent - as a dog trainer I have another agent - I have two or three different managers who vie all the time for my time, my dog's time, my kids' time, and to be honest - I love it. I wouldn't have it any other way, because if I had it another way I wouldn't have any time to work. I'd be looking for places to go - book signings - deals, contracts, shows and engagements on my own. I would like it if THEY were busier than what they are, but that will come in time. Oh, but I have another agent - one I don't pay. I don't use him for much either, unless I have a desire to go look at $1,000,000+ houses so I can pretend and fantasize. He's my realtor, my sales agent! Jeff York of Keller Williams, Oklahoma City, and if you need one you can borrow mine, I don't mind - I let him out of the cage to prowl around every once in a while. A man has to be able to stretch his legs, right?

I met Jeff in the most unusual way - he was laying on a couch of a house he was showing. The owners left him there to fend for himself, and they trusted him to watch not only the house, but the pools, the land, the gates - everything. He even had his fingerprints all over the SubZero frig, the granite bar, the remotes for the 70" plasma and there he was - laying on the couch, eating hummus and watching a golf game. The fact that he literally lived across the street from his clients probably helped that he was trusted enough to man the place.

With his shoes off, and a waving hand from the 2nd living room, he ALLOWED us to enter. It was an open house Sunday. The house was just under $580,000 and around 6,000 sq. feet. In Oklahoma that's not a steal - it's an overpriced house, but he was willing and able to explain to me that the house came not only with land, an in ground pool, barbecue deck, and slate roof, it had alarms, two staircases, matching his and her full baths, and a 600 square foot closet on her side. All this information he gave to me while taking in the golf game, munching on crackers and spreading the hummus with a jalapeno pepper. (Don't bother getting up - I'll just look around.) The fact is, I don't think he had any intention of selling the house. If he did he wouldn't be able to get away from his wife when the neighbors were out of town! (She's wonderful, I'm kidding.)

So, Jeff has been my perfect realtor. We call him "Uncle Jeff". He takes us to mansions, through woods and dales to see garden-lined cottages far too far from town, but just perfect for pretending and for fact gathering for that next chapter of my fiction-based book "Wuthering Heights II", which of course will be written around a central character, a man with a flaw, an evil man with a sense of nobility, a mind full of contempt, but a woman's soul can crack his stoned heart and send him into fits of rage - or to the refrigerator to get another beer. I'm not sure which direction the sequel should go - anyway, the garden-lined cottages play a key role, and to get there you have to have an agent willing to take you when he/she knows you aren't going to buy anything - that's Jeff. Great man - he's waiting on me to strike it rich, then he knows I'll call him with a real offer...maybe I'll buy two!

Never Say Never!

I woke up this morning and it hit me - I have a job! I haven't had to work in over 15 months, it was rather enlightening actually. I'm working for a couple of reasons really. When I set out to buy a house in March I was told that I couldn't because - get this - I didn't have a job. I had money, but I wasn't working and the mortgage companies frown on people who wing it I guess.

So, I'm working. I'm selling insurance again. It's a commission based position, so that's about the same as not working - at least for 6 to 8 weeks anyway. Maybe after that time I will be a millionaire - everyone will want to buy their life, health, car, and home insurance from me, and I'll be set for life. That, or maybe I'll win the lottery. I do actually spend money trying. Working for Farmers Insurance this time, and since I don't want to embarrass my boss I won't give you his name yet -- and I don't want the creditors finding me. Hahahaha, just kidding. (My mom is at home this very minute shaking her finger at me and saying "That's not funny!")

Working is great. It gave me an excuse to run to Stein Mart and get a few new outfits. I hadn't shopped at a Stein Mart in years but over the Father's Day weekend I heard about 10 commercials on the radio for them - had to go. Three skirts, six tops, pants and a few pairs of shoes later - I was set. That was until I saw that Ebay had a great selection of Antonio Melani shoes for less than $1.00 + shipping. Please...I'm now knee deep in gorgeous pumps, all being shipping to the post office box, my mailman is going to love me. With their 75% off rack, and my love for saving - mostly Scottish you know, I may never see a paycheck, but my closet will be full and I'll look great while I'm making those sales. I had a sale this morning that just sort of happened. You get that in the insurance business. A lady meant to walk into the landscaping business just down the hall - when she realized that she needed insurance for her car. That policy led to a house policy so she could get the discount, which led to a life policy so she could totally save another $200 a year off the house policy that she just bought to get the policy on the car that she realized she needed to cover - state law. I wonder - does she shop at the 75% off rack too? She's probably Scots like me!

Well, work is awesome. I drove the twelve miles in, blasted KANSAS up really high on the stereo - got a Starbucks and did the 9-5 thing - but I'm still here, and it's nearly 9:00 p.m. It's in me - it's in me. You can take the girl out of the insurance business, but you can't take the insurance business out of the girl - Viva La Farmers!!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Everyone Should be a Baptist - for the First Twelve Years of Their Lives

Being raised in the Fortieth Street Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, meant getting up really early on Sunday mornings and driving eight or nine miles to the church from where we lived. It's not like we didn't have another Baptist church around the corner from where we lived, or even somewhere in between - but you have to understand - we were MEMBERS of the 40th Street Baptist Church - so we drove to the 40th Street Baptist Church!

Often times when I'm asked what denomination of Christian faith do I claim I will answer that I don't claim anything - I'm a Christian. I attend a few different churches, and to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure I'll ever be a member of another one. I just don't feel as strongly about membership as others do - but I do believe that every single person who has even the slightest bit of interest in knowing what lies between the pages of the Holy Bible should become a Southern Baptist - for as long as it takes to get that information into your head, and then get the heck out of Dodge! I did, I think back on my upbringing, and yes, I'm extremely glad to have been trained, drilled, force-fed, and guided through the Word...it truly is a light unto my path at times - when I'm in the depths of the daze, sadness, depression, seemingly endless out-of-control life-spinning events - I have a refuge. I have that foundation! I have the knowledge, and because I'm allowed to have my own thoughts and can make my own decisions - I have the belief that I will be taken care of. God really is out there, and He really is interested in me.

Being raised in the Southern Baptist church, I learned every single detail of every single story - except, it did take the teachers and preachers a little longer to explain to us that the 12 sons Jacob fathered weren't just from his first wife, or his second wife, or his first concubine, there was a fourth - but you know, those types of details aren't that important really - not during Vacation Bible School, at least I know he had 12 sons, the became the 12 tribes of Israel, as Jacob was later called Israel - and I know that he had a daughter too. Which begs the question, why didn't Israel have 13 tribes? But, again - ours is not to ask at that tender age. Being raised a Southern Baptist I was encouraged to make a stand early on regarding my decision to follow Christ's teaching - I didn't really have a choice in the following part, but at the age of 6 I realized I might not make it to an adult age - having been as sick as I was all the time and I wanted to be sure that if anything happened, if I was sent to the hospital again and forced to breath from inside a plastic tent like I was, I wanted to be sure I was going to be able to see Jesus - and I made that point very clear to my Mom. Dad wasn't much help in that area - he always referred religious questions over to Mom, but he was there when I was baptised.

In the Southern Baptist faith a kid can't be baptised until they become a Christian, which literally means they have to give their heart and soul to Christ through prayer, and in most cases they're required to make it public by coming to the front of the church and asking to be publicly baptized. Although my kids were raised in the Baptist church, Caity was baptized in a creek in a wilderness reserve - of course, and there was nothing public about it - she wasn't raised a Southern Baptist. I was raised in the Southern Baptist church and therefore, when the time came, I was baptized in the big tank of water just behind the pulpit on the stage - you've seen them in pictures. Usually a big painted mural of the Jordan River is behind the plastic or in my case the metal tub-like pool - and I was asked to undress to wear the white robe that would be "washed" with me. My mom made me a little white dress too, she was good like that.

The day came, and I was presented to the church commonly. I was asked two questions before everyone - Do you know beyond any doubt that if you were to die today that God would take you to His Heaven? How do you know? I answered in the affirmative on the first question, and didn't hesitate a second on the last - because He said He would and I believe Him - that's a good answer from a snot-nosed brat - right? I was led into the metal pool. Just as I stepped off the last step the water encased me. I was just a little shy of being tall enough to be able to set my feet on the bottom of the pool and still be seen by the audience. No problem - I was hoisted up by the preacher! He held me, laughed, and as he was talking he even made a little hand gesture over the water and scooped up a little brown spider that was crawling its way up the glass of the tank. With a chuckle and a wave, I was lowered again, this time horizontally, and "raised to walk in newness of life."

Being a Baptist isn't a bad thing. I've returned to the church and am actively an attender - just not a member. The church holds more for me than it does for some I'm sure, but in my lowly, and self-aware opinion - NO other faith offers as much information about the history of the church, its people, its legend, its tradition, than that of the Southern Baptist - at least I know I usually beat the socks off anyone if they engage me in a trivia contest over the Old or New Testaments - at least I got that one covered. Another really cool thing about being a Baptist - we know about the Rapture, we don't have to rely on books about being Left Behind - although I love the series - I prefer the original.

Stomping on the Grounds!

I took my friend Niki (with my daughter Caity) over to the area where I was raised, over to 2212 N. Mueller, Bethany, Oklahoma - and of course, surrounding neighborhoods. I wanted to show them where it began, maybe given each of them a little more insight as to why I ended up free, easy-going, rather stubborn, a little independent - OK, a lot self reliant maybe, but it was the hood I was raised in, blame it on the environment. The 60's in Oklahoma weren't really all that different from what they were in say - Chicago....except Chicago probably didn't have real, live-dead Indian bones just over the hill, or chained off, quarantined government reservations that were both dangerous and illegal to be traipsing through - but maybe they did.

Bethany wasn't crowded, it was in fact quiet - rather homely, a little woodsy, the neighborhood trees were young, but the woods and fields outside of our immediate homestead were certainly full of loud creatures at night, and scurrying little furry ones during the day. Snakes, lizards, anything that could get away from me did, and I was the first and the best at getting up real early to see the deer jumping over the chain-link fence clearly marked GOVERNMENT PROPERTY - DO NOT TRESPASS. Good thing the deer couldn't read - I used the same excuse for years. I'd actually USE the sign to hoist myself over the fence in order to get a better look at what lay just beyond the forbidden passage - not much actually, not in reality, but in my mind - oh yes.... a great deal of adventure. Sometimes real, and sometimes made up, but always vivid - always explored.

When I was old enough to go to school I had a half-mile walk to get to the building, but it wasn't a straight walk, it wasn't even a paved road walk. My first grade teacher, who just happened to live across the street from me, walked my happy butt (not so happy most of the time if we couldn't play along the way) through the orchards, through the meadow, over the dirt road called Rockwell that today is a 4 lane divided street - cars and everything, and we often hunted squirrels and rabbits along the way. 1967 - a woman in her 70's teaching at the public schools in our town was still allowed to bring her loaded 12-gauge to class with her, and to allow her littlest charge to hold on to the ammo when she wasn't actually shooting dinner. No, I'm not making that up - that part was real. The made up part was her letting me shoot the gun - I could no more have held it than anything - but in my head I did. I was the great hunter, the rabbit - my prey!

The neighborhood has certainly changed. The trees seem overgrown now, often where there wasn't a house before their are entire new sections of development, absolutely no orchards remain, and very little semblance to the days I used to hide out in the wickedly twisted creek rather than going to class - gone are the signs restricting anyone from venturing onto the grounds. That reservation became a park - and get this, it's still dangerous and illegal at night! I think God has something to do with that one, burial grounds should be sacred - or at least left alone so small children and deer can trespass just after dawn.

I drove the car slowly through the exact route that my good friends and I would take from 2212 N. Mueller, all the way to Dunkin Doughnuts on 39th Street, just east of Meridian - of course, I couldn't take the car over the fences, or through the backyards, and in one route diversion - through the living room of a friend's house, but I could go the way we usually walked if we had to walk like the kids do on Charlie Brown shows - taking corners very rigidly. Three point eight miles is the estimated distance - at 7, 8, 9, and 10 years of age - I'm surprised I'm even alive to write this blog - but those were different times. There was a day in 1966, I was just 4 and 1/2 years old, when my mom and I were on our way (walking just under three miles) to the bank to make a deposit - cash. The door wasn't opened for us, instead a very nice man tipped his hat at my mom. He held the door closed and told her she didn't need to make her deposit at this time. His buddy was making a "withdraw", he explained, and their car was still running - just outside the door.

That probably wouldn't happen in Chicago either - but it happened in Bethany that day. When I think about those days - when I let my mind wander - I love Oklahoma.

And the Cradle Will Rock!

OHHHH, how I love to listen to my music a little too loud when the kids aren't home. I can't really do it too often when they are home because they interrupt me, come into my room without permission, turn down my stereo, and tell me to grow up! Please, Van Halen is growing up, at least I can understand most of the words David Lee is screaming at me.

My kids were raised on REO Speedwagon, Journey, Kansas, Foreigner, Boston and yes, of course, Van Halen - then there were those moments, moments of actual parenting, when the Bee Gees were on the CD changer as well. All three of my kids know the words to all 2837 Bee Gee songs whether they want to know them or not - they were drilled into their heads early on. Somehow I just never really got into cranking the volume up too often on Barry and the boys, but let a classic rock song hit the air and WHAM! Steppenwolf! Credence! Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about - little Grand Funk - sorry kids, Mom has left reality, come again some other time, maybe when she's not jumping on the bed practicing her air guitar quite so vividly. If that image disturbs you - get over it, you're too young and you probably still drink Koolaid for breakfast.

Sometimes when I'm home alone, well - me and the dog - I'll throw in a concert DVD and hit the surround sound - leaving my room of sanctioned privacy and really let the amps work out. That's me, throwing on the sweats, clearing out the room of any and all furniture, and just dancing my legs off - 80's style - trying to keep up with my memory, trying NOT to wrench my right knee again - damn age thing! I hate that part about getting old. "Mom, don't forget your brace again - put it on before you dance." Whatever. I'm 16, I don't even know who you are - get out of my head you ..... person.... let me dance.

Welcome Home Soldier!



My Mom took this picture when she and Dad went with several hundreds of fans and friends to greet a group of 3 buses full of our U.S. Armed Forces last week as they came home from Iraq! This picture made me bawl my eyes out because I could have gone and forgot all about it until it was too late to make it in time to greet them. Oh, how I cried! I just wish I could have have a little bird inside of my head chirping at me to remind me. I love our soldiers, our men and women both who are dedicated, loving, and honorable - their love for you, for me, their country, and their sense of self and duty make me well up with pride to the point of crying just because I see digital green at the supermarket. I feel compelled to shake the hand of every single soldier I run across these days - please, forgive my complete ignorance for not making it to the station in time to see you arrive!

When our Oklahoma troops come home, and I'm sure it's the same absolutely everywhere across our great nation, we have parades. This was a meaningful, memory-filled evening as our men and women not only flew into the airport and were greeted along the tarmac fence by thousands of our neighbors - they then loaded up into buses and drove the short 10 miles to the closest base - Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City. Along Air Depot stood thousands more of our families and friends, waving flags, bearing gifts, standing on top of each other trying to get the first glimpse of what we all know to be the best, the bravest, the battle-ready, battle fighting soldiers of the United States Armed Forces. This group was fully represented by every branch!

What you can't quite see in this picture are the drops of water falling off the soldiers - as their buses were coming down Air Depot, the Midwest City Fire Department had lined up several trucks with spraying hoses literally showing them as they came into town! What a sight! Before they arrived, and after they arrived as well, dozens of fire departments from our entire state, any and every country represented by a soldier coming home, paraded their own fire trucks, rescue trucks, police and ambulances - dressed in banners, sirens blaring, horns honking - loudness raining off over the air - just to say THANK YOU!!! We truly, truly, love our soldiers, and I know every other state in our fine union does as well. (and they should!)

Keeping back the tears just writing this blog is impossible - not only because of my self blunder in forgetting the most memorable of moments, but because I dream of the day I'll stand in the line, screaming at the top of my lungs for the ONE soldier that just presses a little closer to my own personal heart - to know that lawn-chair waiting, flag-waving, siren-screaming friends and loved ones will honor him when he makes that trip back to my arms.

This event was made even MORE special because the Veterans of every other war and conflict were a part of the procession. Motorcycled veterans, walking veterans, float-riding, and open-car carried veterans wearing pieces of their original uniforms, hats, and berets - all being given the support and thanks they deserved so very long ago - perhaps some of them feeling the gratitude for the very first time after returning from Viet Nam - I want to hug them all - and in my heart, in my soul, in my dreams - I do. WELCOME HOME! WELCOME HOME!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What A Girl Puts In Her Purse ***

I was on the phone the other day with a really hot, young Italian stud - I had to say that - he's in Miami, working for Moving Costs -kid's name is Nicholas J. (We'll leave it at that, too many phone calls is just a personal annoyance.) NJ was helping me figure out the cost of moving my stuff to Chicago, when we decided it would be best to let me give the girls everything I own now, and just start over. We were talking about me being able to find a pen in my purse, and I must have laughed about something else that I did find - because his comment to the fact was "Hey, what a girl puts in her purse, well, you know - that's personal. I won't touch a woman's purse. I'd be killed!" Made me laugh. It also made me turn my purse upside down to see what all I had been subjected to through my girls adding and subtracting from my purse over a period of about a week.

Let's see: The first thing that just sticks out, and always gets in the way is the wallet - no biggie, but it does house over 40 Starbucks cards, I collect them. I don't collect credit cards, but I do collect Starbucks swipe-cards and from time to time I have to have the most unlucky of baristas go through them and tell me which ones actually have currency on them and which ones I can relocate to the box marked "no money cards" in my house where I keep the other 40 or so cards that I've been lucky enough to hide from the vultures.

I found a small bottle of Exederin Migraine, gotta keep that, normal things, papers, pens, caps for pens, caps for lipsticks without the lipsticks, and of course money - at the bottom of a woman's purse you should be able to find enough coinage to feed the family for the weekend to come. That's more or less a guideline - not a rule. But, some of the more interesting things I found in my purse - and I've been carrying these things on or near my person are: Pure Instinct cologne enhancement - geared to attract men (Caity). Cigars that look like brown pencils, hidden in one of the zipper compartments (Caity). A 1GB memory card for a playstation or something like one (Laura), a microphone cord - you always need one of those (Laura), and a razor blade - the old type, and God help the kid that thought of putting that in my purse! It went straight to the trash can, and we're going to have the "You-could've-killed-me" speech when they get home from work.

Yeah, I guess what a woman has hidden in her purse could be private enough that she didn't want to share it with the world per se - I also found a lens for a pair of sunglasses that I never owned. Business cards, and personal telephone numbers to people I have never been introduced to - and a note that simply reads "The Factory" and the address of said place. I think it's a teen-club - I could drive by, I use Mapquest rather well.

After thinking about it - I've decided to buy a little padlock and every time I set my purse down I'm going to close it, zipping it up really really tightly, and just locking the dang thing so I don't have to worry about my fingers bleeding, my phone ringing, men following my scent, or whether or not the lipstick thief will return my wares - I doubt she does - she's evil to the core, that one.
Makes me wonder about my glove compartment now - oh my gosh, what about my closet? You don't think there's any contraband there do you?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Trail Mix Diet


Well, it must be working! I'm on the road to being thin again - all thanks to the dedication, the devoted hours of forcing myself to not eat what I want, and to only partake in sinful eating habits when and ONLY when completely necessary. You know, like when there's a party and you're expected to be polite - Imagine me going around calling everyone in my address book (and others I had hardly known) to ask when they were planning their next soiree! But a woman has to eat chocolate - so that particular dietary supplement is not banned. In fact, the cacao is actually close to being worshipped in my life - above coffee, and that's saying something.
I really had to laugh out loud a few times this weekend. A few of my old colleagues from a school I was nearly fired from got together with the 110 students that I loved and cherished, we're planning a real time get-togeher, a day where we can hug, and talk, and get real again - without the darned administration hanging on us. I had to laugh because when I met with the two teachers who were behind all the hush-hush planning, they didn't recognize me. "Ms. Stringfellow, you were fat! What happened?" I wanted to punch the woman in the arm, but she was right - when she last saw me I was rather portly. I had been gaining because of the emmense stress that the job brought to me. Here I was trying to teach English to a group of beautiful (mostly alien) kids from Mexico, and I was being told that I couldn't use humor! Me, not use humor! Please - something had to give - and so they gave me my pink slip! (I won the vote in the subsequent hearing though - you can't simply walk a teacher because you don't like to see the kids laugh.)
Yes, the diet is worming its way through me ever so slowly - but in another 6 to 8 weeks I should be seeing even better results. When the kids see me - that will be hilarious! I'm hoping to show up in some of THEIR style clothing just to freak them out - short capri pants which were always being banned from the school because they showed calves (but dresses were OK? What's up with that?) I may even don a couple of tanks, layered bright colors, a bright lime green push-up bra so the straps show off really good - I remember laughing myself when I saw the girls trying to adjust themselves in class just to show off the color of their bra straps to who - the OTHER GIRLS! Boys don't care if you're wearing a lacy, pink bra with rhinestones - but the girls care! They love to call each other names, and giggle - hoping to find the same lingerie in their size for a price they can talk their cousin into buying - moms won't do it, has to be explained to dad, and cousins are the only way to get that done! (Learned that from the kids I taught - great cousin relations mean the world!)
So, trail mix rather than lunch, good eggs and soy chunks for breakfast, maybe a little eggplant on a slice of toasted pita, panini style with mozzarella! Oooooh, you got a day's full intake - the trail mix is the secret - it's all day, graze a little here, graze a little there - keep that water coming, and BAM! You're looking like the Queen you were definitely meant to be - well, you should be in my dreams. I'm already there - and I look gooooood. My daughter just about slapped me this morning when I put on one of her Hot Topic skirts - to be honest, I'm not there yet - not that I'll get there soon either, but it was sure fun to watch her face twist up and over like it did - the dance down the hall was the clincher - she died! She just keeled over right there - she'll probably never wear the thing again. Hahahaha...love that power we Moms have! Love that power.

Monday, June 11, 2007

You're STANDING Too Close!

A friend of mine is in Iraq - she's serving in the U.S. Army, (Hi Laura B.) and I simply had to blog to remind her, and every other soldier, to be a little careful about leaving the area and going site-seeing if what you're looking at appears to be a natural sand storm - spiraling in all directions. You could be facing an Angel at the gates of the Garden of Eden.

The Bible is quite clear about the location actually - if you follow history, know how to read a map, and aren't afraid of the truth. Here's an excerpt from the internet:

"*** in Genesis 2:10-14, (describing the exact location of Eden) “A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold…The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.” The exact identities of the Pishon and Havilah rivers is unknown, but the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are well known. If the Tigris and Euphrates mentioned there are the same rivers by those names today, that would put the Garden of Eden somewhere in the middle east, likely in Iraq."

Another theory is that where EDEN may be in Iraq, the GARDEN may be near Kuwait City, Kuwait - many soldiers have complained of isolated sand storms coming up against them as they approached certain areas in that region. The biggest problem with the storms they say - is that it is like little knives cutting them - from all directions. Hello - read the Word! Don't play with it - don't try to get beyond it - think about the scene in the first Indiana Jones movie when Harrison Ford is all excited, explaining how the men who actually touched the Ark of the Covenant were destroyed, even the believers - well, heck - especially the believers! They knew better. So, stay away from the swirly-swirl OK guys - girls, for me?

Can you imagine what it might be like if someone, somehow got beyond the curtain - which of course, they couldn't, but let's pretend for a second - would the Tree of Life be there? Could they take from it? Could they live forever? I'm not sure I'd want to - well, if I did I would also want to take from the Tree of Good Looks, so that when I was alive in 3030 I'd be hot, tall, maybe 5'8", 135 pounds - blond, with those stand up boobs and really long legs that seem to tan automatically - Oh, and I'd have like really cool clothes every generation because I'd know it was going to be coming back in style - and I'd be ready for it. I digress.

Stay out of the wind - and keep your heads low, you're in my prayers - Hooah!

Democrats Making Sense - Help me God.

The phone rang at 2:37 a.m. The voice on the other line was livid - absolutely livid! "Damn!" he stated, "I can't f*&^ing believe this. Hillary Clinton is making perfect sense to me Mom, what the hell am I going to do now?" It's moments like these that I actually refuse to wipe the sleep from my eyes in hopes that when I do get the boy off the phone he'll be a mystery to me in the morning - it will all have been a dream.

When he rants he rants, so I just let him go - from time to time I give the obligatory "yeah, I do understand, Son." Or something like "sure, sure" - but seriously, 48 minutes of listening to him debate with himself as to why Rudy wouldn't answer the gay-in-the-military question up front, why the Democrats have the time-line right, what the bleep-bleep is up with Romney anyway - the boy claimed he couldn't trust him, looked too slick, had that "hair" thing going on and the "guy whose name starts with a K", he had a hot wife. He still wasn't going to vote for him, but he had a hot wife. Sure. Sure.

Finally, after a while - I think I did follow through with the dream thing. Obama became president, Rudy was his V.P. They walked Bush and Cheney to the public library and sat them down in the Reference section and left them there. The walls of the White House began bitching over the uncertainty of the pair - being unequally yoked - and yet serving America as one. Maybe they were co-leaders, I don't know. About the time I wandered into Lincoln's bedroom and began rummaging through the drawers of the bureau - my son burped, bringing me back to the serendipity of the half-state I was suppose to be enjoying - I'm suppose to cherish these moments, I'm suppose to keep them all hidden in the folds of my endless heart - so I do.

About six seconds following the burp the boy realized that I had stopped murmuring to him, and that I was probably actually sleeping in the middle of the night. He explained to me that John McCain was supposedly ahead of Frank Thompson at this point, but that he didn't think the lead would last - however, he liked the fact that McCain would opening swear on camera. I remember him mentioning that to me before he sent me off to sand-city again. My dreams from that point were filled with - well, you don't really want to know about that - I'll just giggle to myself and think nice thoughts about a straight-mouthed man and his perky scarred up brows.

Come on Rudy! Answer the question - get back in the good graces of the boy - his could be the swing vote.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Erotica - Not for the Weak.

As a kid I couldn't see the big deal. My brother was always talking about sex, and he would literally sit on me and tell me all about the things he and his friends read in magazines that had nasty pictures in it. I couldn't wiggle out from under him easily because he was a great wrestler, and when I did he'd swear to beat me if I told my mom what he and my other brother Mike were telling me. First of all, none of it made sense, and even if it eventually did after I started really looking at the Barbie and Ken figures, I didn't believe him anyway - my parents didn't do that. He was lying!

What I guess I mean is, my parents really DIDN'T do the things Michael was talking about. Girls did those things with other girls - boys did those things with the girls when they were doing those things, and NO, my dolls didn't think that way because I didn't think that way. Oh, but there were those weird times I'd find my Barbies all huddled up in the back of the yard with several undressed G.I. Joes, and let me tell you, I told Mom all about that - if only to see my two brothers get their ears pulled off.

It's all coming back to me. I was about 20 - still a virgin, that's the way I rolled - and my good friend Kathy (who couldn't possibly be explained in just a simple blog) was into reading erotica to her boyfriend - don't ask me why. At that age I was still thinking it was pretty lame - but at least I wasn't wondering where to put the parts anymore. She'd have me over when Larry wasn't around, and we'd drink hard liquor and smoke cigarettes as fast and furious as we could in a matter of 10 minutes time, eating Dunkin' Doughnut "holes" and stuffing our faces with those really cool pink and white frosted LARGE, full-sized animal crackers. Remember those? Anyway, after we had the feast as she called it, she'd begin reading erotica to me - from the old stash of magazines she got at a recent garage sale. Cheap and nasty, and we were stoned so it was a great deal funnier at that point.

The rules were simple: If you laughed you had to drink another shot. Needless to say - I lost that game. I didn't have a chance - she had years of experience on me, and she had a real boyfriend. I just sat there and giggled myself to oblivion and went to sleep on her couch. The next day was hard to explain, but could probably be expressed best by a good puke. They say your sins come back to bite you - and they do.

My littlest is a writer. She's a dang good writer too, but she - at 17 - although still a virgin - has a much better grip on how NOT to giggle - she writes the stuff. When I asked her once why she ever got involved in reading it because it made me blush all sorts of purple at 17 - she said something that just blew me away. "Mom", she said "the adjectives are incredible in this stuff". She's right too - they'd have to be in order to keep your attention - sex can be really mundane if you think about it - too much, I mean. Too much thinking.

I'm glad I'm mature now. I never drink when I read that stuff anymore. But I do laugh - out loud and turn a little pink cheeked now and then too.

Pixie Stix!



Remember the Pixie Stix? Not the big, fat, plastic gizmo, but the real ones - the paper wrapped kool-aid type dusty garbage that we used to pour down our throats and gag like rats in the third grade after lunch? Our teachers ran screaming, calling our names and digging through the masses of children to find us in the barrel - the industrial sized and probably industrial left over, open-ended, metal barrel with the brads still in tact? Oh my God, what were those people thinking when they made that stuff?

I think I remember they came in packages, but you could buy them in the big lot, half of the sticks were leaking out - we tried to get them cheaper. Cheaper than what, a penny? We were all up in the clerk's face about it - "Hey, this ones' broken" and he was like "You broke it, you brat!" I remember my sister telling me to break them so she could come back and then try to get them on sale - I did it too, she was bigger than me. Pixie Stix! I found a site for them today and just had to blog about it - but after I started mentioning the sticks to my mom, and she didn't really remember them - it got me thinking. What else did Mom not really pay that much attention to?

The barrel! It was rusty, painted over with lead paint probably, bolted down with unprotected edged bolts to the concrete playground - concrete! The barrels came from somewhere that sold the old equipment to playground administration, but our school bought them from a parent - cheaper that way. They were used metal barrels with the tops cut out, and then filed over (somewhat) and the kids, if they played in them long enough like I did, knew exactly where NOT to put your fingers. Kids today use that wussy plastic stuff - imagine! We were real!

Oh, and we had Atomic Fireballs, the really hot red cinnamon type candy that we dipped in the syrupy cinnamon liquid that we also soaked our toothpicks in. Don't tell me you don't know what I'm talking about. Burned your freaking eyes out before it hit your mouth to do the real damage. Atomic Fireballs could be bought for 6 for a dime and sold for a dime each after they had spent the night in the hellish brew! We were rolling in the money - 9 years old and using Pixie Stix to neutralize the burning sensation in our mouths - of course we were hiding out in the barrel!

Our school had a creek too. Not really a part of the property though - but just beyond the imaginary line (no fence in '69) that the principals would sometimes remind you not to cross because the teachers on duty couldn't see you if you did - what an idiot. Four or five times a week my teachers called my mom about that creek - the answer was the same. "Yes, I'll talk to her, but she all but lives in it most of the time, I'm sure she'll be OK. Did she come back to class or is she still there?" Mom knew. That creek had fish, crawdads, tadpoles, dead animal carcases, algae - you can't imagine the fun I had after school - and yes, OK, sometimes during. Most always during lunch, it was a given - creeks and me, well - we got along.

I bought a hundred Pixies at the mall today - Candiopolis - awesome store. They have Now and Laters too, but they've been bastardized - smaller, not as hard - you can actually chew them now without having to suck on them and rub little holes in your tongue - where's the fun in that? Do I make my childhood sound as if it was one big pain after another? Come to think of it, there were trees to fall out of, stones to cut your feet on in the creek and the pond out back behind my house. The Indian burial grounds just past the pasture held a lot of promise for the government, for me it simply provided a new alternative reality - a fantasy of real cowboys, real fighting, real dead bones to be dug up and analyzed.

I had my fair share of skinned up knees, carried snakes and frogs to class on a regular basis and the occasional turtle that simply had to be saved. I know that my early years in the wilderness just going from my house to school provided the foundation and the fun-dation for my desire to rescue wayward tortoises and toads that just happen to have made the mistake of being seen by me as I drive through their neck of the world - they're probably just trying to get across that street and here I come - to the rescue - yeah, right.

Pixie Stix. I remember my brother lacing them with baking soda to make me burp. It worked. Maybe plastic wasn't such a bad idea for that candy after all. Before they used the melting technique on the tops, get this - they folded the paper over with a heavy press! (those were better times.)