Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Cat Eye Glasses

Way back in the day, I remember hoping one day I would be able to wear cat eye glasses. I really wanted to wear them. They were very popular in the early sixties and I thought the women who wore them, especially if they were secretaries, were at the top of their game.

Why, oh, why, did I have to have great eyesight?

When I was little, I wanted to be an actress when I grew up. But, not just any regular actress. I wanted to be a smoking actress. You know what I’m talking about; the ones who adorned gowns, strategically placed a wisp of their hair over their left eye, smoked, and said, “Dahling” a lot. That’s what I wanted to be.

Until I saw my dad’s secretary wearing cat eye glasses.

I used to spend a lot of time after school and some Saturday’s at my dad’s real estate office. I played secretary a lot and pretended I could type at a very fast speed. Most of my creations were quite sad, but it was fun pounding the keys on the black typewriter. Back then, ink ribbon was used in the typewriter, so I am sure my dad’s secretaries were not happy to come back on Mondays to see the ribbon needed replaced. I sure as hell wasn’t going to do it.  There was no way I wanted purplish ink on my fingers, especially when my dad often took me over to Mom’s Lunch for lunch. How can you possibly pick up a french fry to dip in ketchup when you have purple ink on your fingers?  Besides, I was a kid. Kids weren’t expected to change typewriter ribbon, right?

So, imagine how my jaw dropped when I saw one of the secretaries wearing cat eye glasses for the first time. Now, you have to understand that both of them were young and very pretty, so the cat eye glasses didn’t make them look like nerds or anything. On the contrary, it made them look smart and beautiful, which was a pretty great combination. As my mom repeatedly told me, “You have to be pretty on the inside before you can be pretty on the outside.” I thought that was a stupid comment, because I was pretty sure lungs and kidneys were not pretty. But, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

After staring at my dad’s secretary, I wanted a pair of cat eye glasses. I couldn’t wait to go home and ask my mom to take me to the eye doctor. I had to have these glasses.

“Vickie, you have perfect eyesight. You do not need glasses.”

“I really do, Mom. I can’t really see what is written on the board.”

Yes, I lied. I was, after all, a big fat liar, minus the fat part. So, off we went to the doctor. Looks like my left eye was perfect and my right eye was just a little weak, but not enough to need glasses. But, after my mom told him I had a hard time seeing the board, I got a pair of glasses “to use as needed.”

Shit.

They didn’t have cat eye glasses for kids. What? Sure they do. You must be mistaken, Mr. Doctor.

I came home with a pair of brown glasses that looked an awful like my mom’s. I was not a happy liar. I think I wore those glasses a total of four times. My mom wrote a note to the teacher to make sure I wore those damn things, but I think it somehow got lost before I gave it to her.

So, it looked like I was back to wanting to be a smoking actress when I grew up. My hopes of being a secretary with cat eye glasses were dashed.

But, maybe my mom could get a little spiffy looking with a pair.

I wished my mom wore cat eye glasses because she had a pair of  what she called “Ben Franklin” glasses and they just looked stupid on top of her mop of a hair-do. I couldn’t understand why there was a line running right through the middle of each lens.

She was about as stylish as my dad, who wore suits every day and looked  dapper, but who could not coordinate casual clothes to save his soul. He wore stripes with plaids and couldn’t understand why he didn’t match, as long as the same color was in both pieces of clothing. He also had no problem wearing black socks with sandals.

I was surrounded by the misfits of Toy Land.

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He was pinching her butt in this photo….

I have to admit I have never been back to the eye doctor. I know, my bad, especially since I’m pushing sixty.  I do wear Dollar General or Walmart Foster Grant reading glasses, mostly on top of my head like a head band.

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I don’t think I look like a secretary. I look like a pretend photographer.

 

 

Cicada Love

I am here today to defend the poor cicada. I believe I am the only one on the planet who appreciates their dogged determination to live 17 years underground, emerge to have sex, and then lay eggs for the next generation. I find them fascinating and don’t think they are “gross,” the adjective I’ve been hearing a lot to describe them. They aren’t gross at all. They are harmless. Did you know they have five eyes? That right there makes them quite special, I would think.

But, no. My facebook friends, in general, do not share my love of these winged monkeys. I don’t know why. You can pick them up and pet them. This little guy in the photo below hopped onto my leg, wanting to be picked up. You can’t have too many friends, even if they only live about 6 weeks.

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When I was young, everyone called them “locusts.” I believe they were even called locust the last time they emerged in 1999. “The year of the locust.”  But, just to be straight, cicada is a member of the cricket family, where locust is a member of the grasshopper family.  Regardless, people aren’t afraid of crickets, so why should they be afraid of cicadas?  Could it be their red eyes?  One facebook friend said they were creepy looking.

Brood V made their appearance last week and I couldn’t wait to find one. Finally, one morning, I watched their arrival. They crawled out of the little lair and climbed up the tree from whence they fell 17 years before. They then struggled to get out of their bug shell, and once they did, clung to the tree bark for a few days to get ready to test their wings.

I had to laugh at a poster who took a picture of a cicada that just emerged and wrote, “omg, an albino cicada.” You have a lot to learn, Grasshopper. Cicadas all look like the photo below after emerging from their shell.

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Today was the first day I heard their chorus. It was loud, and sounded as if there was a spaceship hovering above the ground a la the movie “Day the Earth Stood Still.” It made me smile. I like the sound. It’s like the sound of spring peepers, but not really.

So, imagine my surprise (not really) when friends began posting on my facebook page  links to sites where people are making cookies out of the little fellows to sell at local Memorial Day festivals. What the hell, bakery guy?

Cicada abuse.

 

In the end, I hope all of you will step out of your comfort zone and approach a cicada and wish him well. He is only here for 5-6 weeks. He won’t bite you . All he wants to do is fly around, sing, and have sex.

And what’s wrong with that?

The Soap Sliver Dilemma

I keep forgetting to replace my old bar of soap when it gets down to being a little sliver of its formal self.  This morning I cursed when I had to use the thin, wafer-like bar.  The new bar of Dove was sitting on my sink counter, laughing at me.    So, I slid it into my hand and then noticed wafer #1 and wafer #2 were also on the chrome slotted shelf hanging under my shower head. Those were  older bars which I never bothered to throw away.  I decided to make a soap sandwich and piled them on top of each other.  That should do the trick.

Big fail.

I should have known that wouldn’t work. They slid off of my body and fell into the pool of water that rises every morning when I take a shower.  Over time my lovely fallen hair clogs the drain and I wait until the water is ankle-high before I bother to use Draino on the obvious hairy clog.  I had to play Marco Polo in order to find the wafers under the soapy water. One of these days I am going to slip in the shower  and hit my head, which will render me unconscious, and I will drown, just because I don’t know the rules for shower safety. I should wear a life vest.

But, the bigger picture is not the thought of floating naked in a bathtub with soap wafers  bumping into me until the paramedics find my body, but the thought of why I don’t keep an extra bar sitting on the chrome slotted shelf, waiting like a relief pitcher to be called into the game when the bar I have been using needs to retire.

I bet I am the only person who uses a baseball analogy for a bar of soap.

Anyway, as I was using the wafer,  I thought of Grandma Orpha. She  had a jar of soap slivers on a shelf in her bathroom above the towels. I thought maybe she was just a cheapskate. When I would stay overnight with them when I was young I was lucky I would get two inches of water when she ran water for my bath.

So, I wondered, “Are other people soap hoarders like some hoard  toilet paper tubes?  (My elementary school teacher friends can relate to that one).

Do people actually get creative with slivers of soap?”

I am not a frugal person, as I just toss the soap in the garbage when I get around to it. Maybe I should be frugal. I want to retire in four years, so maybe I should tighten my purse strings and learn how to “waste not want not.”

And so began my research.

I typed recycle soap into the Google search field and was sort of shocked with all the links to creative uses for old soap. There is no graveyard for soap slivers on these sites.  I think of myself as a creative person, but would I go to these lengths just to use up a bar of soap?

Oh, hell no.

I’m lucky I make my bed in the morning or put the dishes in the dishwasher right away after dinner.  I can’t imagine spending any time shaving soap slivers to use in another venue. But, I admired some of the creative ways people found for using soap slivers.

And I bet some of them were able to retire early.  I admire their tenacity and I admire myself for admiring their tenacity.

1.  Make a loofah- I’m not a loofah gal, but if you go down to your local dollar store and purchase a mesh bag, you are on your way to Loofah-ville. Place the slivers of soap in the mesh bag and use it in the shower  to exfoliate your skin.

2. Create soap balls- Use a cheese grater on the little slivers (remember to wash it after using it or your provolone will taste a bit different)  and then soak in warm water to make it easier to manipulate into little balls. It takes a few weeks to dry completely, but you will have pretty soap balls for your guests to use when they come visit you. They will be impressed with your creation and may even offer to buy you dinner the next time you meet out somewhere. (They may think you must be strapped for cash).

3. Liquid Soap-  I really don’t want to use my blender for soap slivers. It was bad enough I would have to use a cheese grater on the other idea. But, get about 6 slivers of soap, put them in a blender (ew) with a little water, and blend for about 25 seconds until you have the creamy texture you deserve. Voila! Liquid soap. Just fill, using one of the 3 almost empty liquid soap bottles sitting under the sink in the bathroom cabinet. (I don’t save them, but you know there are people who do).

4. Fresh as a Daisy- If you are one of those people who store out-of -seasons clothing and wish you could prevent that awful musty smell from permeating your clothes, stick a sliver of soap in with your clothes. You won’t smell musty,  but you will smell like you washed with soap and forgot to rinse off.

5. Soap on a rope- This is awesome because it brings together old pantyhose with a run in it and slivers of soap. This is a marriage made in heaven. Cut off the panty hose and place the soap down in the toe of the pantyhose and just tie a knot and you have yourself soap on a rope.  I can’t imagine getting in the shower and finding one leg of pantyhose with soap slivers hanging out in toe area. It would just depress me, knowing that I must be poor to be doing this.

6. Make a beautiful sachet- Make a sachet by wrapping a soap sliver  in a used fabric softener sheet (See how they never throw anything away?) Tie the top with a pretty ribbon, and place it anywhere you want a soapy scent, such as your car, or beside the kitty litter box.  (That one was my idea. Yeah, put it by the cat litter box or in a kid’s stinky tennis shoe (when they aren’t wearing them, of course).

7.  Put it in your toilet tank- Now, I would try this one to see if it would work.  This is supposed to keep your toilet bowl clean. I’m thinking slivers of Irish Spring soap would be awesome to use. Well, awesome makes it sound like I’m eager and chipper about this possibility. I’m not. But, I will try this.

Here are some links for those of you who would like to find a better home for your thin wafer-like soap urchins.

How to make a new bar of soap from old bars of soap. This is actually pretty good.

Howcast: Make a new bar of soap from soap slivers– They add oatmeal and some lemon in this recipe. Do I want to wash my face with oatmeal? Maybe.

And here is a message board where other soap aficoanados go to discuss their thrifty fun uses for soap slivers.

 

Here are my ideas for using soap slivers:

1. Practice your whittling. (Notice my whittling knife in the background) This actually helps the earth by not whittling on tree branches. I think. And your hands will smell nice and you won’t get any slivers in your hand….you know, the real kind of  wood slivers. I hate when that happens.

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2.  Shower with a friend.  I realize this is the same soap sliver from above, but I didn’t want to wasteful. 🙂

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3. Photography- Slivers of soap make for a pretty picture.  I could enter this in a photo contest. I am sure no one else would think of this.

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In the end, I have spent too much time researching soap slivers.

I’m not going to change. I’m going to leave the little fellows up on the chrome shelf until they get so thin they will either fall through the slots into the bathtub, or I actually pick them up and put them in the trash.

Or in a jar.

 

 

Bluey

We have been having quite the winter here in north central West Virginia.  Right now the wind chill is -15 and I have to go to Walmart. I hate the cold….and I hate Walmart, so I’m not looking forward to venturing out in this Siberian express of a mess. It just takes me back to when I was a child.

I might as well just get to the point. The neighborhood kids called me Bluey.  Oh, not all the kids, just the older boys who went sled riding down our backyard hill without permission. We lived in a subdivision on a corner lot with a decent hill with a nice bump in the middle which could make your sled jump in the air. It was hard to keep the neighborhood thugs away. And I call them thugs because they called me Bluey. 

You have to understand I looked like a poster child for anorexia, except for the fact  I really did eat. I loved homemade bread and ketchup sandwiches. Of course that has nothing to do why I was called Bluey, but everything to do with the fact I probably did just enough to keep a bird alive. I had to hear that idiom all the time.

“She is so skinny.  I bet she doesn’t eat enough to keep a bird alive.” I have yet to see a starving bird sitting on a sidewalk… Will fly for food.

So, yeah, I was quite skinny and my lips would turn blue when I got cold. My fingernails would also turn blue, but they were usually hidden under my mittens I was wearing at the time. I had mittens with the long connecting string that my mom would weave through the sleeves of my coat so I wouldn’t lose them. Of course, I did lose them at times, which even I have no idea how I accomplished that feat.

So, my mom would bundle us up while smoking a Salem cigarette in one hand until she had to zipper our coats, and that’s when she would put the cigarette in her mouth and try to talk out of  the corner of her mouth at the same time.

“Vickie, quit squirming.”

I was squirming because the smoke from the Salem cigarette was entering my nose and heading down to visit my weak, naive lungs. Well, I also didn’t want to go outside…… I really didn’t want to go outside.

But, it was a chance for my mom to sit at the table, drinking her Maxwell House coffee and smoking her beloved Salem cigarettes in peace as she had one child who was nicknamed Cricket  because she was so hyperactive, (and sometimes nicknamed Bluey by neighborhood thugs) and another child who could move objects with her mind in the middle of  a multitude of daily temper tantrums. The only normal child, my brother, couldn’t wait to get outside and sled ride all day long.  I can’t even tell you how many times he walked back up that hill after flying through the air down the hill. No, I can’t even tell you because I didn’t stay out there long enough to count past 3.

Yes, Bluey  here had a self- imposed time limit of outdoor winter fun: approximately 15 minutes or the time it takes to roll the bottom layer of a snowman. I never got to put a damn carrot into a snowman’s head. I always asked for a carrot, but would usually pass it to my sister or my friends who came up the street to play with me. They knew the routine all to well. Plus, I also had to pee as soon as I put on my snow suit.

And what really sucked is the fact that my mom,  now calm after being separated from a hyper Mexican jumping bean and a destructive screaming meemie for a little bit, would make us hot chocolate when we came in. I hated hot chocolate. I hated chocolate milk. She knew this.

“Vickie, don’t wrinkle up your nose, it will stick like that one day.”  (I’m 58 and it hasn’t stuck yet, Mom.)

“Vickie, just try the hot chocolate. It will warm you up.”   Uh, I don’t see that happening……See, this is why I was hyperactive. My mom was constantly enabling my active nature with more sugar.

So, I would just grab a handful of those little tiny marshmallows that for some reason are put in a cup of hot chocolate like a garnish, I guess. I never did understand how the hell hot chocolate and marshmallows went together. Does it remind people of tiny snowman parts floating in a hot chocolate bath? I didn’t get it.

In the end, I guess some people just love the snow and cold and learn how to ski and snow board and become  outdoor winter enthusiasts for the rest of their lives. I ain’t one of those people. I apologize for using bad grammar, but it seemed appropriate as I was writing.  I ain’t one of those people.

If I were smart, which apparently, I am not, I would own one of those fancy remote starters so I could start my car from the school building I teach in.  I am also not smart enough to own a scraper/brush and I have to use my $.99 Walmart gloves to wipe the snow off of my windows.  I don’t buy expensive gloves because, like sock monsters, there is something stealing just one of my gloves on all occasions. I need connecting mittens. I  also wish I could hire one of the kids who wait for the last bus to scrape my windows, but I am sure there are child labor laws for that kind of thing.

So, sitting here today, under a quilt and wearing a sweater on top of a sweater, I notice my fingernails are a little blue. Ok, that’s a lie. I have the heat cranked up to 72 degrees. My townhouse is three levels and my living room is directly above the garage, and seeing that heat rises, it is a sauna on the bedroom floor, and chilly on the living room level.  It’s cold.

So, this Bluey has decided to let the mail pile up for a few days. I will open the sliding door to my deck in order to fling bread out to the waiting crows, but that’s about it. We are under a winter storm warning tomorrow with a forecast of 5-8 inches of snow headed this way. You won’t see me heading to Snowshoe with skis strapped on the top of my car. No sir re Bob.

I hate the cold.

I hate snow.

And I still hate those thugs who called me Bluey……  I can hold a grudge.

snowman

 

I may not like to build snowmen, but I pass judgement on them. This guy has no nose. This kid gets a B-.

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This is about what my snowmen looked like, minus the head.

 

 

Pill Compartment Thingy

When people turn 40, 50, or 60, they usually get gag  gifts from friends who want to rub it in their faces that they are getting up there in the age category,  Black balloons add a festive touch to the marked occasion. And when the fun is over, the balloons burst and the gag gifts are put in a closet and forgotten about until they can be re-gifted when their next broken down friend reaches the golden age of creakiness.

I’m all about re-gifting goofy presents to the next birthday boy or girl, but wait a minute. What if you can actually use a gag gift? I think I can.

When I turned 50, I received some strange gifts to mark my creaky, decrepit, broken down, sapless body.  Some people receive prune juice, arthritis rub, or Depends undergarments. I was presented, among other treasures, a magnifying glass, a saggy boob bra, and a pill compartment thingy.

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It’s actually pretty big, you know, for all my medicine. I laughed when I opened this one, but after the party was over, I walked my rickety legs over to closet and shoved it somewhere to sit forever beside the rest of the gag gifts. I did later re-gift the bra to the friend who bought it for me since she was just a year behind me.

One day, a year or two after the wonderful birthday party, I couldn’t remember if I took my blood pressure pill or not. Strange. I mean, what the hell? Did I take it or didn’t I? Well, shit, this was frustrating. I didn’t want to take another one because maybe it would kill me or put me in a coma.

Hey, where is that pill compartment thingy my dear friend Debbie bought for me? I could actually use the thing.

And I have for several years now. Every Sunday morning I put a new week of blood pressure pills, calcium pills, and multi-vitamins in each little container so I won’t forget to take my medicine. Good grief, I am old!

When I travel, I really don’t have the room in my purse or bag for this giant pill reminder, so I carry pill compartment junior when I hit the road.

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Pretty sad, aren’t I?  I’m using my gag gift and purchasing more for my benefit. Yes, I am an old fogey now. But, I need to remember to take my medicine since I have little brain cells left.

But, take a look at the photo….

Yes, that’s right. You can barely see some activity going on in compartment M (which means Monday 🙂 Today is Saturday and on Tuesday I realized I missed my Monday medicine.

I obviously need a 24 hour nurse.

Driving Through Manhattan

My daughter usually takes the Megabus or Greyhound from New York City when she comes home to West Virginia for a visit. I don’t know what got into me this last visit, but I offered to drive her back to her upper East Side apartment so she wouldn’t have to take the bus back. Why did I do that?

I never wanted to drive in New York City. I have been there now about seven times to visit my daughter, and the traffic is a nightmare. I have either taken a plane or Amtrak, but knew I would never drive into Manhattan. Oh, I don’t mind sitting in traffic. That doesn’t bother me. What bothers me about New York City traffic is how other drivers don’t seem to mind cutting people off.  It should be called Sideswipe City.

But, I prepared myself. I had my trusting  GPS system, which I named Maggie, and I marked the route I wanted to take to avoid most of downtown Manhattan. She lives in Yorkville, which is in the upper east side. I was ready.

It was a nice drive for the most part. I really enjoy driving on Route 68 through Maryland. I have driven that route many times. But, I then had to turn north and head on Interstate 81 and then Interstate 78 in Pennsylvania and immediately noticed the heavy volume of long haul trucks. I mean, it was like being in the middle of a truck parade, minus truckers throwing candy out of their windows.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind driving in the least. I love taking road trips, but I had to wonder if this interstate is a main thoroughfare for truckers. Not only where there many many trucks, but there was a huge debris field of rubber tire pieces lying in the road and off to the side. It was a tire graveyard in some respects. Oh, sure, I see tire pieces along our Interstate 79 all the time, but this was different.  And then we got to see one in the making.

A truck had blown a tire and as we passed him we could see the tire shred right before our eyes. He managed to get off to the right side of the road, but not until he left a wake of rubbery debris in the middle of the road. It’s a wonder it didn’t fly up and hit another car.

Well, as I thought about this, a car in front of us ran over another tire shred and it flew up in the air and came right at us. And there was nothing we could do. It hit my front passenger headlight and then went under my car. Thank goodness it didn’t hit the windshield. I looked in my rear view mirror to make sure nothing was punctured and we continued on our semi-merry way.

As we approached New York City, after about 7 hours on the road, my GPS told me to take the next right. I looked up at the road sign that clearly said to stay on this road, as I needed to take the George Washington Bridge, but my daughter told me to follow what Maggie is saying.

Where are you , bridge?

Well, Maggie was banned to the glove compartment after she took us down by some loading docks along the river in New Jersey. This is after she made me go through a toll. I immediately turned around  as I  knew something was very wrong.  Maggie then took me the wrong way on the toll road.

“Dammit, Maggie, I don’t want to go West.”

After paying a toll three different times, I  found myself in front of the Holland Tunnel……..the $13 entrance fee Holland Tunnel. Seriously? It costs that much money to drive through a damn tunnel?  I was mad at Maggie, who made me backtrack three times and pay a toll three times only to drive me to the $13 Holland Tunnel. This is where she went into the glove compartment.

The Holland Tunnel is considered to be one of the most high-risk terrorist target sites in the United States. Is that why I had to pay $13 to travel through it? I didn’t understand.

Did not want to go this way…sigh

This was not good. The George Washington Bridge would have taken me along New Jersey and I would have been able to drop down from north Manhattan right onto the FDR Parkway, avoiding those mean Manhattan streets. But, now, with traveling through the Holland Tunnel, I would be deposited onto South Manhattan, where the street names don’t start with a number yet…..and I had to travel all the way to 95th Street. Great.

My daughter didn’t recognize any of the streets at first, but quickly got her bearings. I began seeing NYU flags on some of the downtown buildings, so I knew she would be able to pin our location. We were on the west side of town and we needed to get over to 1st Avenue, which would take us to her apartment. We passed through Greenwich Village via my daughter’s directions. I hoped she was going to do a better job than Maggie. After all, the glove compartment was too small for my daughter. I put my trust in the fact that this was her city and she was taking me on the right roads.

The traffic wasn’t so bad on the side streets. Oh, it was congested with a mix of cars and people on bikes with no bike lane, but it was manageable. You have to understand that I did not want to do this.  I was adamant in the fact that I was never going to drive through Manhattan. If there was a bucket list for things not to do before one dies, this would be #1 on my list. But, I now had no choice. I was in Manhattan…..in a car.  I’m not Catholic, but felt like doing the sign of the cross as we approached 1st Avenue.

Once we turned left on 1st Avenue, I gripped the steering wheel and charged on.

Drivers in this city are crazy. The best advice I can give is to never hesitate. Once you hesitate, a double decker sight-seeing bus will pull into your lane, even if you are there. I had to honk my horn, which is illegal in many places in Manhattan. We were almost side-swiped  more times than I can count on my fingers. Taxi drivers must have their own laws, bikers zipped in and out of traffic, and buses think they are the only ones on the road.

I found out quickly not to drive in the far left lane as delivery trucks will just stop there to unload and then you are stuck. People won’t let you back into traffic. Motorists in New York City aren’t courteous. They have places to go and people to see. My license plate clearly stated I was from West Virginia. And I was being eaten alive. I think other drivers smelled my weakness, as they were changing lanes right on top of me. I hope that some day they had to drive through West Virginia and were stuck on the top of Mt. Storm after a heavy snowfall. Yeah, city drivers, take that.

My daughter was nervous, as she was the passenger and on the side where most of the potential side-swiping was taking place. After driving about 45 blocks, with about 50 more long blocks to go, my daughter, who was holding on to something on her side of the car, looked over at me when we stopped at a red light and said:

“You’re sitting there, smiling, you weird-o.”

I was smiling. I couldn’t help it. I was driving in New York City! I guess I was having fun with the realization that I was doing something so brave, so daring, as to actually drive 95+ blocks through Manhattan. I deserved a prize or something. I was not scared at all. In fact, I was kind of enjoying the drive. I have been a guest in a taxi numerous times on these streets, sometimes wondering if I was going to arrive alive, but this time I was in charge of my own fate in my naive West Virginia Subaru.

I arrived on her street with no new dents or scratches. I was just going to drop her off and get the hell out of the city before rush hour.  But, she talked me into staying and I found a place to park on the street just one street over. We had a nice afternoon in Central Park north and we headed to a great Thai restaurant that is a requirement each time I visit.

I left the next morning at 4:15, hoping to beat morning traffic. This city never sleeps.  I followed the FDR right over the George Washington Bridge and back the way I was supposed to travel on my way in. It was so much easier.

But, I would never have had this experience. I can honestly say I drove through New York City.

Thanks Maggie. I may let you out of the glove compartment next trip.

S’mores

I have always loved picnics. Since I was the pickiest child on the planet, it was hard for my mom to find something I liked. No problem at a summer picnic, because there was a lot of food for me to put on my thin, wiggly paper plate. I would eat corn on the cob and watermelon. Ta-da. Ok, there were other foods I would eat. I wouldn’t touch the potato salad because whoever heard of putting chopped up potatoes in a whitish mixture ? I could also see little bits and pieces of unidentified food that I knew would take me forever to dig out. But, there was no way I was going to eat potatoes and white stuff in the first place and then call the damn thing a salad. Made no sense to me…potato salad. Give me a break. I saw no lettuce.  There was no way I was going to try that…ever. They did the same thing with macaroni noodles and called it macaroni salad. Macaroni is supposed to be with cheese or with beefaroni (which we called slop in my family.) Sometimes these ladies at the picnics brought the weirdest food.

I liked hamburgers with ketchup, but I would give the guy at the grill a dirty look if he tried to scoot a cheeseburger onto my bun. Um, Mr. Barbecue man, did I say cheese? No…who would ever put cheese on top of a piece of beef? That had to taste terrible. I would eat sliced Velveeta cheese at home and got pretty good with that cheese slicer thingy, but I would never put a slice of that on top of a hamburger. You just can’t mix things like that. So, sometimes I would just skip the hamburger and grab a fresh hot dog bun and put ketchup on it. I loved ketchup sandwiches! And in the end, I didn’t starve and picnics were great.

When our family would stay late at a picnic, usually a campfire would be involved. The adults whittled sticks and would place a hot dog in one hand and slide shove the stick through the middle of the hot dog halfway and would hand them to the kids. The first time I saw this happen, I didn’t know what the hell was going on.  What is this for, exactly? Everyone would then move close to the fire to get their hot dog nice and cooked.  Well, ok, but why not just throw them into a pot of  boiling water and be done with it? I didn’t much care for hot dogs on a grill because some of them had black pieces on them. The blackened burned spots would peel off like a scab, but again, it was too much work. And now someone was trying to get me to stick my hot dog in a blazing fire.

The whole problem with a hot dog impaled on a whittle stick was the fact that what if there was a sliver of wood that came off in the hot dog? I would put my hot dog near the flame, just enough to get it warm, and then take the hot dog and stick over to my mom and ask her to take a look at the inside of the hot dog to make sure I wouldn’t get a splinter in my throat. You know that could happen, right? My mom would shoo me away because I guess I already bothered her for most of the day, so I would take a plastic knife and dissect that damn hot dog to see if it was ok to eat. Again, though, this just took too much work, so I would just eye the hot dog bun and put some ketchup on it.

So, this whole  picky Vickie story leads up to the whole problem with s’mores.

S’mores. The word even makes me cringe. I don’t think I saw them until I was in junior high. I was still picky in junior high, but I wanted  to be cool, so I had to pretend I was all about s’mores and not complain like I did when I was at a campfire with my family. The first part of the whole s’more experience was getting that damn marshmallow warmed up and gooey. First of all, I wasn’t a fan of getting gooey fingers. Not going to happen. Oh, sure, I would impale my marshmallow down on the stick after slyly checking the stick for errant splinters. I would hover my marshmallow over the flame for a second and while everyone else was watching their own marshmallow, I took mine off and would eat it. I hated warm marshmallows. I hated melted marshmallows. But, I wanted to fit in with the other kids and if I told them I hated s’mores, then, well, they would hate me and maybe call me “Picky Sticky Vickie” or something.

By the time some of the other kids got their marshmallow off their sticks, I was already by the picnic table grabbing two graham crackers. Thank god I liked graham crackers, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to share them with melted white goo and a hunk of chocolate.  I decided whoever mixed these three food items together for the very first time must have had rocks in their head.

So, it was like this every summer at every picnic I went to. I had to work hard and perfected my s’mores avoidance technique: Put the marshmallow on a stick for like 5 seconds, take it off, pretend it is gooey, go to the table and on the way eat the marshmallow. One time I thought I was being watched, so I made the whole damn thing and then….oops, dropped it on the ground. There is no 3 second rule in the woods or any place with me.  There was no way I was picking it up.

It wasn’t until college  when I was invited to a picnic and offered a stick, that I realized a lie didn’t take much work at all.

“I’m allergic to marshmallows, and you can’t make a s’more without marshmallows.”  Damn, why didn’t I lie earlier. I lied about everything else.

In the past twenty years it has been easier to pass on the s’mores.

“Oh, hell no.”

The Time Change and Church

For those of you who follow my blog, you know tomorrow is my least favorite day of the year. I’ve surely written enough about Daylight Savings Time and how it turns me into a zombie for a few weeks after the time change.

Daylight Savings Time Ends….Again

 Spring Forward into the River

Hello Circadian Dysrhythmia

Go Fly a Kite, Benjamin Franklin

So, how many times can I beat this dead horse? Apparently, at least five times. I guess I just need to really get my opinion out there. Daylight Savings Time just sucks the life out of me…….and millions of other people too.

But, I have to admit, the whole time change did have one perk: church. Now, don’t judge, but I just did not care to attend church when I was younger. My dad was a Sunday school teacher, so we had to get up every Sunday morning and drive downtown to church. And, I’m sorry, but I just didn’t like it. I had a problem with the whole Noah’s Ark story when I went to that private hell of a Catholic school from first through third grade, and was tired of arguing about it with Sister Maria and then at Sunday school. I just didn’t buy it. I was mad at God for drowning animals. Taking only two of a kind was really mean, and when I was little, I held a grudge for a tremendously long time.  So, I just thought the whole church thing was a big ole fat lie to get money in a collection plate.

So, there was one Sunday each year that I didn’t have to go to Sunday school, and that was when it was Daylight Savings Time. Oh, I remember my parents talking while sitting on the couch about how they had to remember to turn the clocks ahead before they went to bed. I always wanted to try to sneak into my parent’s room and change the Big Ben alarm clock my dad kept by his bed, but after getting caught the first time, I decided I was doomed and would have to go listen about multiplying fishes and walking on water. None of the Bible lessons were believable to me. People can’t get that old. I told my mom Caspar the Friendly Ghost cartoon was more real than church. I remember my dad looking at me like I needed an exorcism. His Bible was all marked up and his handwriting in the margins. He was clearly into it, but his  nine year old heathen daughter wasn’t buying any of it.

I know  my dad would change the kitchen clock above our lovely gold refrigerator that Saturday night before he went to bed. He would change the time on his wrist watch. He would change the time on his Big Ben alarm clock and set the alarm to get up for church. But, every Daylight Savings Time Sunday morning we would always miss Sunday school. We slept it! My mom would yell first.

“Elwood, wake up! We’ve missed church!” I would wake up and smile. But, then, my mom would march into my room and ask why I pushed down the alarm clock so it wouldn’t go off.

The problem with all of this is that I was a great liar and lied every chance I got. So, when I really told the truth and tried to explain that I didn’t do it, no one believed me. I would be just like me to sneak into my parent’s room and push in the alarm buzzer thingy.

For years I thought my sister was the culprit because she would laugh at me for getting yelled at for turning it off. She wanted to go to church because she liked wearing her white patent leather shoes. She would deliberately put on a pair of white anklets that had a hole in the big toe so she could entertain while sitting in the pew at church. But, you know, I never ever pushed down the alarm button to keep us from waking up on time. I mean, I wouldn’t wait until Daylight Savings Time to do that. I’d do it every damn Sunday.

Years later, when I had my own children and complained how my husband wanted to go to church the next day when it was Daylight Savings Time, I would always try to balk. “Oh, come on. We are losing an hour. Let’s just sleep in.”  My mom was visiting during one of those time changing moments and just smiled when I was complaining about being blamed for turning off the alarm.

“Mom, I really wasn’t the one who would push in the alarm so we could sleep in after losing an hour.”

“I know.” I looked at her and she was wearing a shit-eating grin on her face.”

“God dammit, Mom! …….You were the one?…….and then you came in and blamed me?” She smiled and nodded.

Well, there was only one thing I could do….

I stood up and clapped.

“I needed that hour,” she said with a shrug.

So, in the end, the heathen’s mother threw her own daughter under the proverbial bus in order to garner a lost hour of sleep once a year.

Well, played, Mom, well played.

What The Hell, Seagull?

I saw a seagull today. I realize that is not an unusual observation for many. People always see them at the beach. After all, that’s where they belong. So, why the hell are they flying around my local Walmart’s parking lot? In West Virginia.

I came to Fairmont to go to college in 1974 and there were a few seagulls in the Middletown Mall parking lot. I was confused then and I am confused now. They have no business being in the mountains of West Virginia. That is against the laws of nature. Why, that would be like seeing a polar bear on a Miami beach, a rattle snake crawling along in the Arctic, or a moose hanging out in Central Park. So, after going through more “animals out of their element” scenarios, I decided I needed to learn more about seagulls and why they are in Fairmont, West Virginia. We only have streams and rivers. And they aren’t even cool rivers, like the Columbia…..or the mighty Mississippi. No, my seagulls are near the Tygart and the West Fork Rivers. There is no sand, no waves, no crabs to peck at. Why, oh why, are they flying above me in the freaking Walmart parking lot? The search was on.

Many people are perplexed as well. A woman wrote from Iowa about seeing seagulls in her Kmart parking lot. Many other land-locked puzzled people were wondering the same thing. Is it a migration route? And if so, where the hell are they coming from or going to in Iowa? That makes no sense at all. Iowa is too far away. And a blogging friend informed me that the seagull is the state bird of Utah. Utah!  Seems that years and years ago locusts were eating a lot of crops and all of a sudden seagulls appeared and ate the locust. The Mormons saw that as a sign and the next thing you know, they’ve got a state bird. Apparently, the seagulls in that state like the brine in the Great Salt Lake.

Maybe the seagulls think West Virginia is part of Virginia. They, afterall, have Virginia Beach, seagull capital of a small stretch of beach. There are a lot of geographically challenged people out there who think West Virginia is western Virginia. Maybe the seagulls think the same.

Years ago, near Point Pleasant, West Virginia, people thought they saw a strange flying “thing” that was dubbed Mothman. Hysteria reigned in that small Ohio River town for many years afterwards. Mothman supposedly had red eyes, a large wingspan and could pick up a German Shephard and carry it off. There is even a statue to Mothman and a Mothman festival. But, a wildlife biologist said all along it was a sandhill crane,  a large American crane almost as high as a man with a seven foot wingspan featuring red circles around its eyes. He said  the bird may have wandered out of its migration route.

I guess not all birds know what the hell they are doing. Sure, Canadian geese flaunt their knowledge of their ABC’s by flying in a V formation. They fly south for the winter. Well, they used to until they decided that since these silly Americans are  feeding them, they’d just stay all year long. We can’t get rid of them or their trail of slimy algae green poop.

So, maybe my Walmart seagull got lost on his way to Bora Bora or Aruba or where ever they fly on their migration route. I had no idea there were so many varieties of gulls. All I know is that they can attack. I know this because I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Tippi Hedren got pecked in the forehead by one.

In the end, I guess I feel sorry for the seagull who is living at the Walmart parking lot. Where does he sleep at night? Sitting on a light pole can’t be fun. Doesn’t he miss the sound of the ocean waves lulling him to sleep?  And if he doesn’t leave, will the crows let him hang out with them? They are usually a tight group, not making friends easily.

I did just read that we may be confused by their name, as it implies the “sea.” Someone wrote there is no such thing as a “sea” gull.  Gulls can adapt inland. Well, then maybe their name should change. Canadian geese are no longer Canadian….. Hermit crabs are quite social……a teddy bear hamster is not a damn teddy bear……

and a jumbo shrimp is not a big little thing. Whoever is naming animals is on drugs.

Daylight Saving Time Ends….Again

For those of you who have been following my blog for several years now, you know it is time for my Daylight Saving Time rant. Yes, it is time for all of us to take down our  clocks and turn them all back an hour tonight. Well, it ends at 2 a.m. I am sure there are some people out there who are OCD enough to wait until exactly 2 a.m. to turn them back. The rest of us will change them before we go to bed tonight. I shall be mumbling and cursing as I change each time machine.

I just re-read my Daylight Saving Time posts from the past and it is clear I have issues with the stupid time change. And it is stupid. My economics professor son told me once there is a savings. I say “No way, Jose!”  It messes up the workings of my inner clock and that’s all I care about. It takes me almost two weeks to feel normal again. Well, as close to normal as one can feel.

All I know is that it will now get dark earlier until Daylight Saving Time begins again on March 10, 2013, when we spring forward yet again. I find this yearly thing a little monontonous, especially when there are problems associated with this procedure…. My beside alarm clock adjusts itself. Well, my former clock adjusted itself and it is now in a landfill somewhere nearby. It decided to change back an hour on a Wednesday in the middle of October. I woke up an hour later than reality and barely made it to work on time. Damn Daylight Savings Time. I got to school and realized that I only put mascara on one eye. Maybelline hates Daylight Saving Time too, I imagine.

I think the only good thing about Daylight Saving Time is that it is also known to be a time to change the batteries in your smoke detector to make sure they work. The Energizer battery company endorses that, you know. So, you will be reaching and dusting and changing clocks and changing batteries tonight. Life just sucks.

Arizona, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa do not observe Daylight Savings Time. These are the smartest people on the face of the earth. There are also 75 countries that do not observe the time change. Again, smart people. The rest of us should rise up against the machine. I have no idea what the hell that means.

Here are my Daylight Saving Time rants. I would write more today, but how many times can one beat a dead horse?  Apparently, I try more than three times. See you in March for my next rant. I am not a happy camper when that one enters the picture.

Peace be with you, Daylight Saving Time people.

Spring Forward into the River   Hello Circadian Dysrhythmia    Go Fly a Kite, Benjamin Franklin

You know, this is all George W. Bush’s fault. Yes, I realize he has enough blame on his plate, but he is the one that changed it to the first Sunday in November. I remember the day well:

On Monday August 8, 2005, then President Bush signed into law an energy bill that extended Daylight Saving Time by four weeks beginning in 2007. Since 1986 the United States had observed Daylight Saving Time from the first Sunday in April through the last Sunday in October. The new bill calls for Daylight Saving Time to begin three weeks earlier on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November. Why? Why can’t this madness just end? No, Georgie wanted three more weeks of Daylight Savings Time….so we all could save what? I don’t know.

The mastermind behind Daylight Saving Time is Benjamin Franklin…. inventor, statesman, and someone who played out in lightning storms one time too many. He wanted to save candle burn time. Well, guess what? We now have freaking electricity.

In the end,  I’m not saving a damn thing that I can tell.  I’m wasting. I’m wasting time writing about Daylight Saving Time when I could be doing something more productive……like changing the batteries in my clock or something.

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Jumping in Mud Puddles: A Memoir of a Picky, Hyper, Big Fat Liar

Feeling Mousey (Part One)

  When I decided that I wanted to take a solo trip somewhere, I thought hard about the places I wanted to go. My ultimate adventure is to take a train across Canada. To get ready for such a solo venture, I needed to pull up my big girl pants and journey on, alone. At first I thought I would go to the beach.  The relaxation would be nice, but it wasn’t how I wanted to test myself.

 Yes, I guess I felt the need to test myself. You have to understand that I was married for 25 years and really didn’t have to do anything by myself. I was a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t have to take out the garbage, although I was the weekly “house gatherer.”  I didn’t have to fiddle when my car started making noises like a mechanic was traveling under the hood of the car, banging on something that would soon smoke.  I didn’t do anything that inconvenienced me. I guess I pretended to be a princess. I made my husband check the air pressure in my tires about once a week because I have issues with my tires looking low. Everyone has issues. Mine are pronounced, however.

 Well, fairy tales don’t always come true, and next thing you know, you’re divorced after 25 years of marriage, you no longer can get by acting like a princess. I mean, there are limits to how long one can get away with that. (imagine Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane). One day, you wake up and actually have to work for a living, and make your own appointment to get your car fixed. And I think I’ve done well. Well, I still whine about garbage night, but really, I honestly don’t think I should do that one. But, someone has to, right?

 Ok, so I felt the need to scratch the beach trip off of my list. I needed to go somewhere that was filled with families, with couples ogling each other, and friends laughing and pointing. If I could get by a few days of being inundated by this test, I could go anywhere by myself.  Remember in Sex and the City, when Carrie went off to Paris to be with the Russian? She saw four girls walking by and immediately called home, lonely. And she was only there for like a day.  I didn’t want to be Carrie Bradshaw. I didn’t want to phone home and cry..in the middle of a train trip across Canada. No, I had to make sure this solo travel is for me. And so that is why I chose a harsh environment for a single traveler. I chose…Disney World.

 Say what? Yes, the one place where people don’t go by themselves. Disney World. I thought that if I had many “boo-hoo” moments, then solo travel would not be for me. So, I made my reservation, and decided to embark on a quest to celebrate my independence, to acknowledge that I had fortitude and perserverance to sit by myself at an eatery, and to leave and return still inflated. That was my goal.

 So, I made my flight and hotel reservation through Orbitz. Now mind you, I haven’t flown in 30 years. I have inner ear problems. But, I was ready. I had my gum to chomp on, my ear plugs and yawning techniques so the descent wouldn’t make me grimace in pain. After all, there would be no one there to listen to me whine.  I had to…..(worst phrase EVER)…..”Buck up.” 

Well, I did fine. I’ve been to Pittsburgh Airport plenty of times. I just never had to park all the way in section 19E in the extended lot. I could have hopped on the shuttle, but I was trying to toughen up, right? So, I strolled with my two bags and my lead laden purse all the way in my “clompy” shoes to the terminal…only to find that the People Mover was not moving..More walking. No problem, I can walk.

 Checking in was a breeze. Disney had sent me a voucher book called Disney’s Magical Express. And magical it was. They also sent me a yellow tag to put on my checked suitcase. Once in Orlando, I could bypass baggage claim and just hop on the Magical Express bus to my resort. How easy does that sound?  I was feeling pretty princess-like once again. Once at the resort, my bag would be in my room, waiting on me, or there shortly after my arrival.  Well, up to 3 hours perhaps. So, I packed things I needed in my carry-0n.

 My flight to Orlando left on time. I liked Air Tran. They are ranked the safest airline in the United States. I was feeling pretty safe.I sat wedge in between a man who was with his family, who were seated across the aisle, and a dermotologist from Ohio. We talked most of the way. The descent was pretty bad on my ears, and although this is funny now, I couldn’t hear a damn thing for a few hours after the flight. It was like the ear plugs were still in my ear. I am sure I was shouting to people. Poor Helen Keller.

 The Orlando airport was easy to manuever and great that I got to bypass the baggage claim. I could walk straight to my waiting Disney Magical Express. What efficiency. People from three resorts were jammed into a very comfortable thirty minute bus ride to the resort. For those of you who do not know this, Disney World is actually located in Kissimmee, Florida, not Orlando. Which is nice, because Orlando is the 3rd. most dangerous city in the United States. Really. I’m glad I was staying on Disney property.

 By the time I go to the resort, it was about 9:45pm. That was probably a stupid move on my part. I should have arrived early early to take advantage of the day. But, hey, you live and learn. But, it was a cheap flight with a safe airline, so I booked it. The check-in was quick and easy. The one thing that I couldn’t believe is that there was no wi-fi in the resort. AND there was a $9.99 fee for 24 “contiguous” hours. I thought that was a loop hole, because I had no idea what contiguous meant.  But, yeah, I want internet. Put it on my charge. Sure, two days at the Disney parks. Just put it on my charge.

 The Port Orleans French Quarter resort is inspired by New Orleans. The man holding the door open reminded me of the Mayor of Munchkinland, only a tad bit taller.  After check-in, they gave put beads around my neck, Mardi Gras fashion.   I got to my room and my suitcase was not there, smiling at me. Not to worry. They said it may take up to three hours to get my luggage.  I was surprised to see a fully refurbished ugrade. I was supposed to have a room with 2 double beds overlooking the parking lot. When I got to my room, it had a king sized bed and was beside the Sassagoula River, which was quite pretty. Upgrade. Yay!  There was also a greeting on my bed, created by the lady who had my room spotless each day. I’m talking spotless. Immaculate. Never in my life have I seen a room so clean. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that the room was totally re-done in March. I loved my comfy room.

I was starving. So, I changed out of my “It’s damn cold in West Virginia” clothing, and threw on some shorts and flip flops. I went to hunt for something to eat. The Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory is a warehouse where old Mardi Gras float props are hung. It was 10:30pm and luckily the place stays open until midnight. I decided to go with a meatball hoagie. Well, the meatballs were huge and one actually fell out of my bun and onto the floor. I sat and stared at it, looking back at me. Well, the whole thing was a mess and so I ate as much as I could with my 25 napkins, and gave up on the mess.  Time to get back to the room and plan my next day. I was heading to Epcot Center.

Oh, did I forgot to mention that someone knocked on my door with my suitcase at 2:29a.m.? Yeah, that’s what I thought. What’s worse, is that I was half-asleep and opened the door without looking  in the peephole. Just glad I had on my long buttoned down sleep shirt, because I obviously didn’t reach for a robe that I didn’t bring with me. I was half asleep. Glad the 3rd dangerous city in the United States robbers didn’t pretend to bring people their luggage at 2:29 in the morning.

 (See Feeling Mousey (Part Two)

Guinea Pig Children

With Christmas just around the corner, it reminds me of  the toys and games I received for Christmas when I was young.  The 1960’s and early 197o’s were the decades of  “The Misfit Toys.”

I don’t think they had testers back then. If someone invented a toy or game, perhaps the toy manufacturers just packaged it and put it on the shelves. I really think that  if there were toy testers back then, some of them surely would have died. I’m thinking specifically of  my first chemistry set. I can’t find any research on “toy tester deaths.”  I did look. If they would not have perished,  toy testers  would have received brain damage,  an amputated finger, or if not injuries, than stains on their clothing. And on the carpet. And on the couch.  Which piss mothers off to no end. Probably worse than the brain damage. This mother hates glitter. Just thought I would add that because if glitter gets in your eye, you WILL  go blind. For that reason, it is banned in my house.  I know I read that somewhere. You can’t dispute facts. Especially if you make them up.

Anywho,  children got to be “guinea pigs” when the product actually game out.  And of course you know that a “guinea pig”

is a person  is a person who is subjected to experimental or other observational procedures.  Like children of the 1960’s and early 1970’s. That would include me. I very well may have been one of the “Guinea PigChildren.”   I was, after all, hit in the temple by flying clackers.

I loved my Clackers…. until  THE incident. Clackers were popular in the early seventies, when I was about 13-16 years old, perhaps.  Clackers  were  two hard plastic  marbles, (if marbles can be plastic), each about two inches in diameter. They are attached to a ring with a sturdy string. A person  puts their index finger in the ring, allowing the marbles (or balls) to hang below. Through an up-and-down  motion, the two balls swing apart and together, making the clacking noise that give the crazy toy its name. With practice, it is possible to get the marbles swinging so that they “clack” together above and  below the hand.

Clackers were discontinued because children were being injured. I continuously hurt my fingers while honing my clacker craft. Not all children follow rules. They also made an excellent weapon. If you swing them over your head, and let them go, they could fly across the room and either hit or strangle a kid…. Or a poodle. I read that cave men used Clackers. Or bola’s, as the South American gaucho called them. (See, I do research). I heard that if struck too hard, the acrylic balls could shatter, with flying consequences. I became really good at clackers. I could hit them above and below. I was the Crystal Lane Clacker Queen.  Self-imposed title, perhaps, but queen, nontheless.

One day, several of us were “clacking”, and mine flew across the room and knocked over a glass of water that was on the coffee table, which in turn, spilled the water, which then flowed  into my mom’s pack of Salem cigarettes. I guess water-logged cigarettes aren’t easy to light. I tried to get one out of the pack and it just wilted in half. So, I put it back in there. We were done clacking for the day. My sister told on me and off to my room I went. When I came out, my Clackers were gone.  Damn….

 

I really don’t know what the fascination was with Clackers. You didn’t win anything. You didn’t have a high score. But, you could be timed to see how long you could “clack.”  Time clackers, so to speak.  Maybe it was a lesson in eye-hand coordination.

I really think that I could have been a ninja assassin with my clacking skills. But, I preferred to grow up and become a teacher.

Same thing.

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D-i-v-o-r-c-e

I have been divorced since May, 2009. I guess you could say it was a friendly divorce. We even rode together to the divorce hearing.  The judge was a little shocked. “Well, in all the time I have been doing this, I’ve never heard of the divorcing couple car- pooling to the courthouse.” But, we did. We also didn’t use lawyers, so it was quick. He even treated me to lunch at the 8th Street Confectionery after the hearing. A meatball hoagie and a divorce on the same day. Life is good.

My ex-husband and I remain close and he still calls me a couple of times a week. So, it is nothing out of the ordinary to hear his voice on the other end of the phone line.

One day this past spring, Magoo (my nickname for him because he can’t drive) called me with some unsettling news. He asked me if I had received a certified letter from the clerk of the circuit court. Nope, never received one.  I always seemed to get mail a day later than he did. That was normal.  There was a pause on the other end of the phone. “Why?”

Magoo told me that the letter informed us that since lawyers were not used in our divorce, part of the divorce process was not completed and the certified letter was sent to inform us that they had to render the divorce null and void. We were supposed to come back to the courthouse for a meeting with the family law judge who granted our divorce. There was silence on my end of the phone, because I was at a loss for words.  I am never at a loss for words. I could feel my blood pressure rapidly rise and I thought that my head was going to explode.

“What the f*&%????…….  Are you saying that we are still married? ………. Oh my God! ………..Read it to me!”  I couldn’t believe that a judge could be so inept to overlook protocol in a divorce proceeding. What a moron. I called her worse names.  I was a torrential ranter. My sentence structure was nothing but a long string of adjectives….

“That stupid, moronic, inept, worthless, incompetent, bumbling, absurd, insipid, lame, banal, unfit, impotent, brain-crippled, window-licking  short bus riding bitch!……”

He read it to me. “blah blah blah….protocol was not followed……form 425 not signed or notorized……..blah blah blah……divorced rendered null and void……must appear before Judge _____ within 30 days to begin divorce process…..”

I was shocked.  “Are you freakin kidding me?” I looked at the clock and then asked if he wanted to meet me down at the courthouse right now. He replied, “I will come and pick you up in about 20 minutes. Vickie, this means we are still married.”

“Shit, Magoo, this is absurd!!” I was ranting and rambling and I was so mad I couldn’t see straight. I wondered if we should call the Judge’s office to find out what the hell was going on.  He said, no, we should just drive down. I asked him to read the letter to me again, one more time. He said he already read it to me once.  I didn’t give a shit. I wanted to decifer it. Tear it apart with a fine toothed combed. He went to get the letter. I guess he walked with it into another room while we were talking.

As I was pacing, waiting for him to come back to the phone,  I stopped by my front door and just happened to look at the calendar. I just couldn’t believe that after almost a year, we found out that we were never divorced. I also found out something else.

Magoo got back on the phone. I yelled into the phone, “YOU SON OF A BITCH!”

I noticed on the calendar that it was April 1….April Fool’s Day………Damnit, he got me!

His laughter was deafening. It went on for quite a while. I let him have his fun. It was the first time he was ever able to pull an April Fool’s joke on the Queen of April Fool’s jokes.

He tried to talk through his hyena-like howling. “I am the Master!……After 30 years, I am FINALLY able to pull an April Fool’s joke on you.”  And he began cackling again. Cackling like a little school girl if I may say so.

He must have written down some of my remarks, because he was able to regurgitate everything I had said. He was a regurgitator.

He called me back two more times that afternoon. All I could hear was laughing. I hung up on him.  And then I smiled.

That was a good one.

Before…

After…..still smiling 🙂

Well Intentioned Untruths

It’s just part of life that you remember who peed their pants and cried in second grade. You remember the kid who ate his scabs and the girl who got gum caught in her hair and had to have it cut out, making her look really bad. You remember their names. And use them when you get older.

As a teacher, I am faced with weird predicaments on a daily basis.  I always worry about the kid who puts an eraser in his mouth,

the girl who continually rocks on her chair, the boy who plays with pencils.  So, I bring up names from the past.  “Do you want to end up like Kenny Myers?” I asked today.  A kid put an eraser in his mouth. They know a story is coming.

“Well, in fifth grade, I watched Kenny swallow a bic pen cap. They had to take him to the hospital and have his stomach pumped. His parents had to pay a huge bill just because Kenny put something in his mouth that wasn’t food. So, if you want to end up like Kenny Myers, put a pen cap in your mouth.”

I have no idea what happened to Kenny. He may have swallowed the little blue part on the other end. I didn’t see it. I heard about it. And remembered it, I guess, so I could pull a story out of the “Useless Information” file I have stored in my brain. Now, you have to understand that my kids know I am pulling their leg, so they just sit there, smiling. They are in fourth grade and understand what’s going on.  But, they also know that I have drifted off topic once again. They keep tally marks.

I have another student who rocks on her chair. They know that that is the number one no-no in my classroom. I hate rocking on chairs. My son was a notorious rocker. He still rocks on his chair. He is 25 years old, and I had to tell him to quit rocking  just last week. I don’t know why it bugs me so much. Probably because of what happened to Joey Minco.  Years ago, I was sitting next to Joey and he was rocking on his chair. He then tipped back too far and went back, hitting his head on the corner of a desk and then landing smack on his head.

“He cracked his head open and had to go to the hospital. Joey had a lot of problems remembering his name after that. So, please quit rocking, unless you want to end up like Joey Minco..or whatever his name is…” Lie. Joe Minco was an old man who lived across the street from me.

On breaking pencils on purpose- “Do you want to end up like George Dragovich? (Another old neighbor. I have no idea why I use neighbors from my youth.)  George broke the tips off of the pencils so he would be able to get up in front of everyone to sharpen his pencil. He slipped on a piece of paper on the floor and landed on the pencil. It just missed his eye and the lead is still under his skin right here…(as I point near the corner of my eye.) So, if you don’t want to end up like George Dragovich, quit breaking your pencils on purpose.”

Chewing 23 pieces of gum at the same time- “Are you chewing gum? Do you want to know why I don’t allow chewing gum in my classroom? When I was little, there was a girl name Ethel Mertz  (sometimes tv character names come out of my mouth). Ethel was very poor. Her dad worked very hard to save up so Ethel could have a brand new dress. He bought it for her for her 10th birthday. She couldn’t wait to wear it to school and show off her beautiful dress. But when she sat down in her desk chair, someone had put a wad of gum on her seat, and she sat in it. Back then, you couldn’t get gum out of anything. It stained and turned dirty looking over time. Her dress was ruined and school hadn’t even started yet….

And you know who put the gum on her seat?….No, not me…..Joey Minco. He thought it was the wastepaper basket.”

Walking down the hall at the end of the day with a sucker in their mouth- “Hey! You’re not allowed to have suckers in school…..Why, when I was little, I had a sucker in my mouth and fell down the steps and you know what happened to me?……..A piece of the  sucker stick is still stuck in my throat. I can’t eat anything solid…So, quit walking with a sucker in your mouth unless you want to eat pudding for the rest of your life.”

On taking your shoes off in class every single day- “Please put your shoes back on. Do you want to end up like Gladys Kravitz?……Poor Gladys. She was my cousin…..WAS my cousin………..Gladys was in fourth grade, and always took her shoes off. One day there was a fire drill. They thought it was just a fire drill. Gladys took her time putting her shoes on…..when the class got outside, the teacher noticed that little Gladys was nowhere to be found….I’m not even going to tell you what happened to her. But, if you want to end up like Gladys Kravitz, go ahead and take your shoes off.”

I really can’t stop. I continually make up scenarios for kids because if you just explain why it is unsafe to rock on a chair, they won’t

remember it. But, if you give them a vivid description, something they can put a face to,or in my many cases, a name,  they will remember it. I mean, I don’t use blood or guts, because that is just wrong for a great teacher like myself to do. And I guess I should mention that the kids know I am lying, right from the beginning…but they seem to love my “Unless you want to end up like….” stories.

When I was little, my mom told me that  there was a special  place in hell for liars. I know, because Lars Peters is in hell.  My mom told me that Lars always lied and he is now in hell. “So, Vickie…if you want to go to hell like Lars Peters, keep on lying.”

Sigh……I really have become my mother.

Vertigo and Meniere’s Disease

In 1999, our family went to Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh and rode on a stupid roller coaster called the Steel Phantom.  I was so damn mad at that ride when we got off. I was crying because my neck hurt so badly. I swear we all had whiplash. I found out that the Kennywood people re-vamped it after many complaints. It wasn’t too long after that “Ride of Misery”, that I started having problems with my ear.

One day out of the blue, my right ear started feeling like swimmer’s ear. It felt full. Well, I had been swimming in our pool that afternoon. That night when I rolled over, it felt as if water was leaking out of my ear. I was sure my pillow was soaked. Nothing. It was such a weird feeling. This went on for a few days. It felt like someone jammed cotton in my ear.

I woke up one day and everything was spinning. I mean, around and around and around. It ended up being for 36 hours straight. I had to crawl to the bathroom. I had to crawl down the stairs when everyone was in school or at work. I threw up non-stop. I crawled back to bed. I crawled. The one thing I did realize is that my vaccum cleaner wasn’t doing a very good job. I was up close and personal with my carpet. And the toilet. I think vomiting is just so….sickening. I was about to name my toilet, we became such good friends. It was there for me. Tammy Toilet,

I really never thought I was going to get better. I was just going to be a spinning, vomiting, crawling cry-baby for the rest of my life. The carnival ride of death. I took Dramamine and threw it up. I was a mess. Finally, after 36 long, tortuous hours, I felt a bit better and called  and made an appointment with an ENT in Morgantown. I explained the tortuous event, which he named Vertigo.  Vickie Vertigo. I remembered the Jimmy Stewart movie, Vertigo.  He suffered from acrophobia, a fear of heights. Vertigo can be triggered by looking up or down. My vertigo was triggered because I looked.

Actually, according to earsurgery.com, Vertigo is described “as a sudden loss of normal balance or equilibrium. The room may suddenly begin to spin and rotate at high speed. Focusing is difficult, and if the vertigo continues, nausea and vomiting may occur. Vertigo is commonnly caused by acute labyrinthitis (a viral inflammation of the inner ear), benign positional vertigo (a condition due to abnormally floating crystals in the inner ear that stimulate the nerve endings of the inner ear), delayed symptom of head injury, or result of cervical spine problems.”  In a nutshell, I am screwed.

So, back to my visit to the ENT. They put me through some weird tests. They put a balloon in my ears and put water in them, and then blew them up or something. Seriously? Can you imagine the first person they did this to. “Sir, what we are going to do is put this balloon in your ear, and blow it up and then put some water in it.”  They tried to make me dizzy. Thanks alot. I had hearing tests and another where they shut the light and watched my eyes. I don’t know. I guess I should do a google and write the procedures here for you guys to understand, but I’m not feeling it this morning. Anywho, they said my eyes move too much (nystagmus) and that I had Meniere’s Disease.

I had a disease? Hell, a disease sounds contagious. He told me to come back the next time I was having an episode. Sure, I will just have my husband peel me away from the toilet and let him drive me to Morgantown right in the middle of  spinning like a top. This was rotational spinning that would not stop. The ENT told me that Meniere’s Disease is marked by four main symptoms: progressive hearing loss, tinnitus, ear fullness and vertigo. All wrapped up  with a bow on top and given to me. Nice….Oh, and he added, “Stay away from caffeine, salt, and stress. And don’t climb any ladders.”  Funny guy.

So, I went home and did some research. It said that Meniere’s Disease was rare. I joined a forum and found out that it wasn’t rare at all. I made some good friends from Nova Scotia and Saskatoon, Canada and Upper Michigan. People all over the damn place suffered from symptoms of Meniere’s Disease. I started an online group on Yahoo, The Meniere’s Disease Club, which now has over 2,000 members world-wide since 2000. So, no, it isn’t rare. Dizzy is dizzy.

Each person with Meniere’s Disease may have different symptoms. Some lose their hearing over the course of a few months. Some lose it gradually. Some don’t lose much at all. Some people have vertigo attacks daily and can no longer work. It can be a debilitating disorder. I have only had 2 full blown vertigo attacks. I do, however, also have BPPV,  which is short for Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It sometimes starts at night, when I lie down to go to bed. If I roll over, I get dizzy. Basically, BPPV is vertigo induced by head movements. Well, hell, just put me in a whiplash collar and send me on my merry way. Great. It was bearable when I was a stay-at-home mom, but when I have bouts now, I can’t really look down at the kid’s desks, or turn my head. And I veer while walking down the hall.

I noticed that in the grocery stores, my buggy veered to the left. When I drove my car into the garage, I veered to the left. Don’t know why. I veer. I can’t walk a straight line if my life depended on it. I hope I never get pulled over and asked to walk a straight line, because they would be hauling my butt off to jail for DUI. It would have to be DWM, for Driving With Menieres. It is such a stupid disorder.

Another symptom of Meniere’s Disease is tinnitus. William Shatner has tinnitus. “No! JIM!”  Tinnitus is noise in your ear. Mine sounds like a high pitched whine. According to Wikipedia, Tinnitus is usually described “as a ringing noise, but can take the form of a high pitched whining, electric, buzzing, hissing, screaming, humming, tinging or whistling sound, or as ticking, clicking, roaring, “crickets” or “tree frogs” or “locusts “, tunes, songs, beeping, or even a pure steady tone like heard in a hearing test. It has also been described as a “wooshing” sound, as of wind or waves.” I guess mine would be described as the “pure steady tone like heard in a hearing test.” Fun stuff I have.

The only good thing about having Meniere’s is that I can sleep on my right side and not hear a dog barking. Or someone breaking into my apartment.  I also am affected by the change in barometric pressure. My right ear begins to  hurt before it rains. Sometimes my ear hurts so badly, like a pencil is being shoved in my ear slowly. I also feel the sensation of a bug crawling deep  in my ear. I just want to jam a Q-tip in there, and kill it. And you know how your ears pop when you travel into a higher altitude? Well, my right ear won’t pop. It just starts hurting. I think my head will explode when I travel by plane to visit my daughter in France next spring. Again, fun stuff.

So, this is my life. Thank goodness my Meniere’s symptoms are very mild. I make fun of myself, so that helps when I have flare-ups. I haven’t crawled to visit my friend, Tammy the toilet in years.

If you have any of these symptoms, hold on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.  Damn roller coaster. At least when someone calls me a “dizzy blonde,” it really will be the truth.

Update: March 2014….just wanted you to know that I haven’t had a full blown vertigo attack in years, but have a lot of postitional vertigo. I have found that my salt intake is a big part of whether it gets worse or not…also, I have come to the conclusion that diet plays a big part of mine…I can’t eat a turkey breast sandwich from Subway anymore….I think it may be the salt…Weather and change of seasons or a quick change of barometric pressure seems to give me ear pain…everyone with menieres has different little triggers, you have to experiment to find yours….but I believe diet is the culprit….for me.

Hello, Circadian Dysrhythmia

Benjamin Franklin was a very wise man, but I still curse him twice a year, nontheless. He was credited for coming up with the idea of Daylight Saving Time.  Ben thought that we should go to bed early and rise early so we could be healthy, wealthy and intelligent. I don’t think it works that way.  He thought that more daylight meant saving wax for all the candles. Maybe he was tired of reading his almanac by candlelight.

All I know is that I physically change all the clocks in my house, but my  biological, circadian clock won’t budge. We SPRING forward and FALL behind.  Sure, I gain an hour in the fall, but the time change messes with me for a good week. I am not looking forward to this at all. Sunday marks the end of Daylight Saving Time and the beginning of my moaning and complaining.

If you have ever suffered from jet lag, then perhaps you can understand what a shift in time can do to a person. I am tired. Circadian dyshrythmia. I have lost my rhythm. I become awkward in oh, so many ways.

So, who else can I blame for this? Surely not Arizona, the only state that will not buckle to the pressure to lose and gain time. Arizona has more sunshine than Florida, the Sunny Sunshine state. They don’t need a time shift.

In 1918, the United States adopted  Daylight Saving Time for the duration of  World War I. This allowed  people to spend more time hanging out in daylight, thus saving costs on fuel for lighting. It was abolished, brought back, abolished and then in 2005, Congress enacted the Energy Policy Act, which changed Daylight Saving Time dates again. As of March 2007, Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday of November. It just sucks. Daylight Saving Time stays around now  past Halloween, where some little trick-or-treaters were getting hit by cars at night. Well, that is what reflective tape is for, my little munchkins. Trick or treating during daylight is just wrong. But, no one listens to me.
I would really like to know what the hell is saved? I know that it is a reminder to change the batteries in your smoked detector and Arm &Hammer let’s us know that it is time to change the box of baking soda in your refrigerator, but hey, that is just to strum up some business. The energizer bunny doesn’t suffer from the time shift. I bet more batteries are purchased around this time than at Christmas. Well, maybe not, but it’s a gimmick to change your smoke detector. But, as most of you know, the smoke detector will let you know when it is time. It will freakin beep at 3 minute intervals until you change the damn thing.
  The only thing that was fun about the time change was accidentally sleeping through church when we were small. Oops, Mom and Dad, you forgot to spring forward. Aw, shucks, we missed church. Looks like we can think about God from our warm beds.  I did convince a college roommate that it was against the law to change the clocks before 2a.m. I told her that it was a law enforcement thing. If the police were called to a residence for anything after 11pm and they wrote down the wrong time, it might be a critical mistake, so a law was enacted in West Virginia that stated that all clocks could not be turned back before 2a.m. or a $500 fine would be imposed on anyone who turned their clocks back earlier. She believed me and set her alarm for 2am to set her clock back. She was so easy.
  In the end, I still haven’t found anything that is saved.  All the deer in the United States live in West Virginia and cross the road on my way to work.  Do they suffer from circadian dysrhythmia? I bet they do.  Daylight Deer Time. Will they now operate an hour earlier or hour later?   School children will be standing at the bus stop in the dark, wrapped in reflective tape. Or wait. Won’t it be daylight if we turn back our clocks? That means they are wrapped in reflective tape just because. See, now I am confused about when it will be dark and when it will be light. This just sucks. I don’t need to be anymore confused than I already am.
I guess there is some good to Daylight Saving Time. Raccoons will have more time to pillage through garbage cans.  Robbers can eat breakfast at the home they are robbing.
I really can’t stress how much I hate the time change.
Damn you, Ben Franklin.

Making Mountains out of Molehills

I really should have a full head of gray hairs. I probably do, but thanks to Clairol #whatever, I am keeping the gray away.  But, one of these days, I am going to wake up to white hair that no dye or shoe polish will be able to cover. It’s either that or a stroke.

I think it goes back to when I really wouldn’t let my kids climb to the top of the really high sliding board.  I would stand there and picture them waving at me from the top, “Watch, mommy!” and as they wave their little wave, lose their grasp and fall backwards to the ground and explode. I could create scenarios in my head one after the other. My cause and effect machine was working overtime. I had one hell of an imagination.

Fast forward to their college years. They were both at WVU, about 30 minutes up the road from our home. That was just far enough away, but close in case we had to get their fast. We took homemade soup when they were sick and drove them home when they needed extra pampering. But, nothing prepares parents for the news that they both want to study abroad.

“You mean, like Canada, right?”  I could only hope. Canada was a great country. They could learn all about their culture, such as hockey, curling, Canadian bacon, and could come home, saying, “Eh, dontcha knowl.” That sounded great. They just looked at me.

So, off they went. The first summer, Adam went to Strasburg, France for a month. He flew by himself. Why the hell he didn’t travel with the rest of the WVU students and teacher is beyond me.  He was also the only one who rented a bicycle and toured the countryside while he was there. I didn’t want him to ride a bike, because I would probably get a phone call, in French, “Madam, do you have zee son named Adam, with zee red hair, smashed under car..we send him home in a box, oui.”

After he came back, Alex went to Santander, Spain with a WVU Spanish group. Nothing is worse than two weeks of crying on the other end of the phone. She hated it. She said there is nothing worse than “forced admiration.”  She said that being part of a tour group is horrible. She wanted to go off by herself and see the sights that she wanted to. I pictured getting that phone call. “Senora, Alexandra was at the end of the tour group line, when someone must have abducted  her.. All that was left was her camera. We will send that home to you…in a box..Ole”

This is awful but I was sitting home, saying to myself,  “2 down, 2 to go.” I still had 2 more study abroad experiences to live through, and I wasn’t even leaving my home. I was exhasusted. Adam went to Morocco for 4 months. Luckily for me, WVU had asked him to blog every day and his blogs were entertaining and scary. I think that is when I started going gray. He traveled in an old, small plane from Casablanca and could see the runway as they landed, bouncing down the runway. He climbed the second highest mountain in Africa and I had him frozen like Jack Nicholson in the Shining. He wrote about how he and a friend from Italy rode horses bareback through the woods. Whaat? On tv, people who race horses through the woods always catch their neck on a low tree branch. That always happens.

When he came home, Alex went to Guanajuato, Mexico. She loves Mexico. I didn’t. She said that they don’t have screens in their windows and she would wake up with bug bites all over her body. Her roommate was stung by a scorpion that was on the dresser handle. Gray hair….She joined a Mexican ultimate frisbee team and traveled 6 hours on a bus by herself to Mexico City,then traveled in a van with frisbee players she never met before. She didn’t tell me until much later that their van was hit  broadside by a truck. We sent Adam down during his spring break because she was so sick, we thought he was going to have to bring her home. After several trips to a hospital, she recovered and they were able to ride horses up to a volcano. Horses? Volcano? Deathly ill? Scorpions? Open windows for rapists and questionable flying bugs?  I was a mess for those 5 months. She, meanwhile, took private salsa lessons and had a blast. I never left my home and thought about drinking heavily.

I thought I would be done worrying while they traipsed around the world, having fun.

Adam in the Alps

But no, they weren’t done driving me crazy. Adam climbed part of the Matterhorn and drove a compact car around the Alps one summer. Alex worked for the Japanese embassy and the JET program for a year and was placed in Kobe, you know, the place that had the devastating earthquake. And yes, there was an earthquake while she was there. Seems that Japan has earthquakes somewhere almost every day.

She flew to Korea for a long weekend, so I had her accidentally stepping into North Korea. “Hello, Alex mom?  She in North Korea. Not good. Must be spy. Never coming home. Goodbye.”

And today, I have spent the whole day in tears. Alex went to teach in France. So, of course she was up in the Eiffel Tower several weeks ago when they evacuated it because of terror plots. She flew to Japan last week to see her boyfriend and she was supposed to be back last night. No word from Alex. No word all day today. I saw on CNN where South Korea was cracking down on airport security because of a supposed bomb on planes. She had a 2 hour lay over in Seoul. So, that had to mean her plane had a bomb on it. I was ready to call the airlines, because I was sure her plane disappeared over the Meditteranean Triangle, or a taxi driver abducted her. When we finally talked on skype, she told me that she was sitting at the train station in Paris, when security people came and asked her row of 6 people to please leave the area. Next thing you know 300 people were evacuated and they taped off the area where Alex had been sitting. She went to a cafe after seeing a friend from Moscow (probably the bomber) and they heard a loud boom and they ran outside. She said she never heard what had happened, but that her train had left on time.

I’m ready for the looney bin.

When Grandpa Falls Asleep

Every parent has a “puke and poop” story about their kids.  You just think that yours tops them all. Well, I don’t think this is the puke story of the century, but it rates.

When my two children were very young, they would head to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s for the evening every once in a while. My husband and I had to go to one of his work parties, so my in-laws told us to bring them on over. We picked them up around ten and back to the house we went. I got the kids ready to go to bed, and all was right with the world. Or so I thought.

I was awakened by Alex crying out for me, “Mommy!”  I ran into her room, turned on the light. “My tummy hurts real bad.”  I sat on her bed, and she sat up and promptly puked all over herself , the comforter, and me. It was black. I was scared because I had never seen black vomit before. I got her up out of bed, and she threw up again. She did the vomit walk all the way to the bathroom. No sooner than I got Alex to the bathroom, I heard Adam yell for me. “Mommy, I threw up!”

I yelled for my husband to help. Why should he get to sleep? He balked at changing dirty diapers and turned green when he saw blood or vomit. He was generally useless, but I needed help. Adam had at least tried to aim for  his wastepaper basket by his bed, but threw up all over the his nice light grey berber carpet. It was black vomit.

Oh, Dear God, they have some terrible virus, I thought. A black virus. Her carpeting was a very light pink and white berber and I knew I had to scrub fast before it really stained. Alex wanted to try to go back to bed, but as soon as she got in the hall, vomited again. She was a vomit walker. I ran and got the wastebasket in her room for her to hold while I took her bedding off and put new sheets on her bed. I should have just picked them both up and put them in the bathtub so they could just puke in an enclosed area.

I told my husband that their forehead didn’t feel warm. I was ready to rush them to the hospital. I’m telling you that the vomit was jet black. I was stunned. Jet propulsion vomit. Vomit splatter. CSI style. My babies probably had a rare, contagious disease I couldn’t pronounce.

Jay just looked at me and said, “They smell like oreo cookies.”

What?  Oreo cookies? That couldn’t be. How could kids vomit so much blackness from just an oreo cookie or two. “Well, that is probably the last thing they ate.” I replied. Then I thought that Grandpa probably gave them a couple cookies late, but that shouldn’t make them vomit, for goodness sake. I was pretty strict with the junk food. I never gave them pop and I limited their cookie eating every day. No, they must have that rare, 5-syllable disease I was thinking of before.

So, my husband started the  questioning. “Adam, did you and Alex eat oreo cookies at Grandpa’s?”

He nodded. “We had oreo cookies and root beer.”

“How many cookies do you think you ate?” my husband asked.

“Like 2 bags.” Adam said and then threw up again. I can’t stress the blackness enough.

I looked at Adam like he had three eyes. “You mean 2 cookies, right?”  And that’s when Alex chirped in. “Grandpa put the bag of Oreo’s on the table and gave us a Root Beer.”

“He let you eat more than 1 or 2?” I asked, my blood pressure slowly rising.

“Grandpa fell asleep in his chair. We ate the first bag. It didn’t have many cookies in it, and we threw it away.  He woke up and Adam told him we were out of Oreo cookies. So, he got us another bag. And poured us some more root beer.” Alex noted in detail.

Adam added, ” So, when he fell asleep again, we ate  the second bag.”  He looked at me like it was no big deal.

“YOU ATE A WHOLE BAG OF OREO COOKIES?…. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”  I was ready to call my in-laws. I didnt’ care that it was 1:00a.m. My kids shared  more than a bag of Oreo cookies and had several cans of Root beer each. I was beyond furious.

“Mommy, it wasn’t Grandpa’s fault. He was sleeping.”   Yeah, that makes it better.

I scrubbed the vomit walk in both bedrooms and the hallway. I changed the sheets on their beds and put blankets on top of their sheets since their comforters were caressed with Oreo upchuck.

Yes, Oreo upchuck. That’s what I called it. Like it was an episode on tv- Oreo Upchuck, brought to you by Tide, when your whites can’t get white enough. When your children spew black Oreos on their pajamas. Let Tide bring the color back to life.

Needless to say, Oreo cookies could not be brought into my home. You couldn’t even say “Oreo cookies”, unless you wanted to see my death stare.

I still hate Oreo cookies. Not too fond of Root Beer either.

Mono…The Kissing Disease

When I was in high school, I was lucky if I weighed 90 pounds. I used to fry up two hamburgers most mornings before the bus came in order to gain weight. That is probably where the high cholesterol came from. Nothing worked. I was still skinny.  So, imagine my horror when I was diagnosed with….mono.

In 1973, mononucleosis, or mono, for those with mono who are too fatigued to say the longer term, was called “The Kissing Disease.”  I was pissed because I didn’t kiss anyone. I think it should have been called the “Water Fountain Licking Disease.” I don’t think I got it from there either. I really don’t know where I got it, but I remember there was a football player who had it a week or two before I was diagnosed with it. I bet he licked the water fountain and the bugs jumped up while I was getting water one day. I really didn’t mind people teasing me about kissing this guy, but alas, I was just a blurp on his radar screen.

I specifically remember my symptoms. The sore throat was intense. Mom mom got out a small flashlight and kept checking my throat. “My goodness, Vickie……There are patches of white all over your throat.” Thanks, Mom. Now it hurt even more. Later, it was found that they were pus patches, which is disgusting. “Hey, I have pus patches on my throat..Wanna see with the flashlight?  Hey, I know, let’s go lick some water fountains.” I really wanted others to experience this wonderful thing called mono.

I had a very high fever.  Before I was diagnosed with mono, I called what I had, “The Shuffle Flu.” I remember wearing those scruffy slippers and shuffling around the house because with each step, my head pounded like you wouldn’t believe. So, I couldn’t walk like a normal person. I was a shuffler.

The worse thing for me were the swollen glands. I had them wrapped around my neck. I had no idea there were glands behind your

neck. My neck hurt so badly. I wanted to wear one of those whiplash collars to keep my neck from moving. I felt awful. I might as well look stupid. I even had hurtful swollen glands in my armpits. I was a mess.

One symptom of mononucleosis that I couldn’t handle was the extreme fatigue. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that a trip from the  couch to the kitchen sink was like running a mile as fast as I could. By the time I would shuffle over to the sink, I would be sweating, my pulse would be racing, and I was spent, drained of all energy. I would shuffle slowly back to bed and sleep for hours. It was horrible. I would not wish this on anyone.

I had an enlarged spleen. I wasn’t allowed to pick up anything heavy. So, my mom wouldn’t let me even pick up my dog, Cricket. I just remember my mom saying that there was another boy who had mono in our city at the same time and he had an enlarged heart with his mono.  Oh great. I didn’t want an enlarged heart. I’d take some enlarged breasts though.  Too bad that wasn’t a symptom. So, now there were two guys and me with mono. I sure got around.

I can’t remember how long I was out of school, but I had been preparing for a Voice of Democracy Speech in Speech Class for weeks before mono attacked me, and I was determined to be in that damn contest.  Oh, what a mistake that was. I went to school for a half day and went to the contest at the local VFW that night. All I can remember was standing at the podium, breaking out in a sweat, dying for a glass of water, which someone gave me in the middle of my speech. I downed like I had been out in the desert for a month. Who the hell was I kidding.? I wasn’t going to win. I may have won for “Best Attempt to Utter a Sentence Without Passing Out” award.  I had to hold onto the podium with both hands because I was so fatigued. Stupid, Vickie, stupid. But, teenagers are stupid, so you know, you learn.

So, there are some ways for you to keep the mono bug out of your mouth. Don’t share anyone’s drink or straw. Don’t borrow anyone’s lipstick. Don’t use anyone’s used Kleenex. Ok, that would be gross, but I do want to mention that mononucleosis is spread by saliva and mucus, so don’t flick boogers at people. Ok, still being gross.

Mononucleosis is not fun. Diseases usually aren’t. Just take it easy if you are diagnosed with mono, and don’t rush back to your every day activities. I have found from watching others with it over the years that it can delay the return of your energy if you don’t take time to let your body rest. You could have relapses of fatigue for a while.

And just don’t spit on anyone, Luggie-style.

Did I Unplug My Curlers?

Have you ever left your home, only to turn your car around and head back because you weren’t sure you unplugged your curlers?  Well, I mean, bald guys wouldn’t have this to worry about.  But, some women do.  Like  me. I worry that I don’t have things unplugged or turned off.  I am a “turner-arounder”.  That is a person who turns around and comes back home to double check. I guess you could call it a “Double checker”.  Or a “Go back homer”.  There are many things to call people like that.  But, do we have OCD?  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?   I don’t think I am OCD by any means. If I was OCD, I would first have to re-arrange the letters to CDO so they would be in alphabetical order.

I am going to share a few of the things that make me a “Go back homer” or a “Turner-arounder”, or a “Double checker.” I really like all of these phrases. I just don’t know which one to use. I will have to think about this for a few hours, OCD-like…But, read on and see if you can relate.  Maybe we have one or two in common.

1. “Did I close the garage door?”-This is really important, because if you left the garage door open, thieves could just walk in and take your…paint cans or wheelbarrow or tool (I am sure we had more than one). Better yet, raccoons could walk in and then fall asleep and then when you come home at night and drive your car into the garage, and shut the door, they would become trapped in your garage and poop all over your car and scratch, “LET ME OUT, YOU JERK” on the side of the car. Or, someone like Ted Bundy would be waiting in the dark, and when I would step out of my car,  kill me, well,  just because. Then he would leave a note like, “She really should have shut her garage door….Love, Ted.”

2. “Is my toilet running?”- Yeah, that gets me all the time. I always use the bathroom before I leave the house. Isn’t it great how I can share my “pee time stories” with strangers? Well, I have to drive 30 minutes to work and I drink a lot of water. Anywho, I usually wait by the front door until the toilet stops making that “I’m filling back up with water now” noise and then I shut and lock the door.And drive off. “But, wait. Did I wait this time? I can’t remember. Did I go to the bathroom before I left? What if my toilet ran all day? I wonder what the hell my water bill would be?… Shit…I better turn around.”

3. “Are my curlers unplugged?” This is the worst one, because I never can remember. I know in my mind that I unplug after I put the last curler in my hair. But, did I really unplug this time? My poor family would all pile in the car to go somewhere and we would get halfway down the driveway and I would say, “I am not sure I unplugged my curlers.” It got to be to the point where as soon as we would get in the car, my husband or kids would ask me. And I would ALWAYS go back. Now that I am divorced, and live by myself, I stare at the plug outlet and say to myself or sometimes out loud if I was really feeling like a loser, “Unplugged.” And I would wrap up my curlers and put them under my bathroom sink. But, my mind is not free. While driving, I would then think, “hmmmmmm, I wonder if I put those curlers away too warm? Could they start a fire?”

4. “Did I leave food for the cat?”- Well, this is important, because if I have a car accident and my head is wrapped in gauze, they won’t be able to hear me saying, “My poor cat has no food.” Therefore, it is imperative to leave her dish full of food and…just in case, the bag nearby. That way, she can knock the bag over when her dish is depleted of food and she can just eat out of the bag until I am released from the hospital. I do have one of those self-feeders, but my cat won’t eat out of it. I guess the food gets stale tasting if it is out too long and she sticks her nose up at it. Well, think about it. Would you eat a piece of toast with butter and jelly after 6 hours of being on the counter? I didn’t think so.

5. “Off, off, off…off..off..off..”-In OCD talk, that means, “Go make sure the oven knobs are all turned off.”  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have turned around to make sure my oven was turned off.  And as I touch each knob, I would say those words..”off, off, off, off, off, off.” And then I would stare at the oven, just one last time. Yes, they are off ….for sure. I would even ask the kids to check. I could hear them say, “off, off, off, off, off, off” in that mocking manner. They were probably thinking, “What the hell? We’ve eaten out for the past 2 nights.”

I guess we all have our idiosyncrasies. That word looks weird….I guess we are all weird in some way or another. I forgot to mention that I make sure that the match I use to light a candle stays in a little jar of water for at least an hour before I throw it away. I heard about a match being in a garbage bag and then smouldering and then burning down a house about a year ago..I like to burn my hazelnut cream candle about every day and don’t want to burn my apartment down. So, the match gets to drown to make sure it is not a fire hazard.

So, do I have OCD? Should a “turner-arounder” be labeled as having an obsessive behavior? I really don’t know the answer to that.

I do know that I have to stop writing this blog now because it is bed time. I have to go make sure my alarm clock is set. You never know when the electric will go off and you would then sleep in for work.

I am pretty sure I have it set… Maybe…..shit….maybe not….I will have to check after I make sure the tires on my car are not flat for the drive to work tomorrow.

Old Wive’s Tales

I have a sore throat.  It made me think of homemade remedies. Which made me think of old wive’s tales,

which made me think…I wonder how many were made up out of spite? I mean, if I didn’t like someone, couldn’t I easily make up something that would be funny, and not work?

For example, let’s say a friend who really isn’t my friend tells me  that they were going to the beach. I could say, “Don’t forget to pack some glue…..in case you get stung by a jellyfish. Pour glue on it and then rub it in with sand.”   And then add, “I read about it on the internet.”  And if you don’t lie, write it on your blog, read it, and then it isn’t a lie.You did read it on the internet.  There are all ways to cover yourself from going to hell.

Years ago, people didn’t have the communication options that we now have. They lived far apart from each other and had to travel a long way to get to town. You had to make due with what you had on your homestead. So, if  you got injured or sick, let’s say, burned, you  just went and stood in the backyard, and thought, “hmmmmm, what to do, what to do…” and then  you would grabbed some butter from your cold storage place and rubbed it on a burn. Actually, placing butter or similar greasy ointments directly on a burn is counterproductive since it can seal in the heat. People used plants like purple cone flower and herbs to help. Trial and error. Someone had to be the first to try it. I always wondered about the first person who drank milk..”See that cow over yonder…I think what I am going to do……”  Yuck.

My mom used to tell me things all of the time. I am sure they were passed down from her mother, and so on and so on. Momisms..I have used a few myself. But, not the ones my mom used.  Here are some of the Old Wives Tales  my mom used to tell me…

1. “Quit cracking your knuckles. You will get arthritis like Grandma.”- Well, hell, Grandma’s fingers went every which way but they way there were supposed to. I could stare at her fingers forever. Well, not forever, because that would be stupid, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of those fingers. There were like bird claws. She was in pain alot. That’s why she took her “medicine.” Yeah, Grandma was a regular Granny Clampett. For real. I did ask her one time, “Grandma, did you crack your knuckles when you were little?” She replied, “Why do you ask me that, Vickie?”  Well, hell, Grandma, take a look at your knuckles… I really wanted to know if her toes looked like that. She did walk weird…

2. “Don’t sit on the cold cement. You’ll get hemorrhoids.”- We didnt even ask what those were when we were little. I thought they were butt boils, but kept that to myself.

3. “Wash behind your ears or you’ll grow potatoes back there.”- I mean, seriously?  Like I was going to fall for that one. Who the hell made that one up?

4. “Quit wrinkling up your nose. It will stick like that for the rest of your life.”- Ok, that only happened once…on an episode of the Twilight Zone. I always wrinkled up my nose. I was a picky eater, so that went hand in hand with, “Vickie, eat your carrots…..Quit wrinkling up your nose, it will stick like that for the rest of your life…..What do you mean, name one person?……Vickie, eat your carrots…..I can think of plenty of  people whose faces have stuck……..Well, Reverend Harold for one.”  Ok, I almost believed her then, but what I didn’t know is that Reverend Harold had a stroke, so every thing on one side of his face drooped. Harsh.

5. “Don’t swallow your gum. It will stick in your stomach.” -Well, I think it would be wrong if you shoved 5 pieces of bubble gum in your mouth and then swallowed it. You are just asking to choke and die. But, my mom said that gum stays in your stomach for 7 years, so if you keep swallowing it, your stomach will stick out. And then she added..like a Biafran baby. Well, I knew what a biafran baby looked like..we had the National Geographic in our house. That would be sooo politically incorrect nowadays. But, that’s mom for ya!

 

6. “Don’t so close to the tv. You will go blind.” Sometimes she would change this to “Don’t sit so close, you will go cross-eyed.” -Uh, wrong Mom…I could see going to school on a Monday with glasses and a cane. “Awww, poor Vickie, she must have been sitting close to the tv.” But, we liked sitting close to the tv while watching Casper and Romper Room. We didn’t have color..Just static from the rabbit ear antennae.

7. “Put that toad outside! It will give your warts!”- I was always bringing critters into the house. It was nothing to bring home salamanders, lizards, or baby bunnies on any given summer afternoon.  She always told me I was going to get warts. I never did. Well, I had planters warts on the bottom of my foot. I guess she would say that is from walking barefoot where toads hopped..

8.” You have to wait a 1/2 hour to get back in the pool or you will die!”  We heard that one all of the time. Like we were going to jump right back into the pool and do 50 laps. Come on!   We splash and yell, “Hey, Mommy, look.” We are not going to get cramps. Other kids were able to go swimming. Not the Mendenhall kids. We sat out, with our towels wrapped around us, watching the big clock on the pool house wall. I didn’t understand. “Mom, why can’t we go back into the pool?”  “Vickie, do you want to die? Do you?”

I enjoy reading Old Wive’s Tales. They are amusing and possibly painful.  So, the next time your kid swallows 7 pieces of bubble gum,…..

Get ready to do the Heimlich Manuever..

The Pistachio Nut

When I was little, I was allergic to Mohair and bee stings. I was a tiny, fragile thing, probably no bigger than a chihuahua. I had an intense love of animals and had my first experience going into anaphylatic shock after putting a wasp to my cheek after I accidentally stepped on it with my shoe. The poor thing was half-dead, so I picked it up to console it.  It promptly  perked up and stung me. Yeah, I wasn’t too smart. I was rushed to the hospital.

Fast forward many years. My family is hanging out in the kitchen, chowing down on some food. I know it was around Christmas, but I can’t remember how old my son was when this happened. I am pretty sure he was 8 or nine. He looked at me and held his hand to his throat. He was able to talk, so we knew he wasn’t choking. He said something was stuck in his throat. My father-in-law had a sliver of a fish bone stuck in his throat one time, so I was thinking whatever it was needed to be dislodged. Drinking water didn’t help.

Einstein here decided that he should try to swallow a small piece of bread to see if he could dislodge the item stuck in his throat. That didn’t work either. I decided not to mess around and got my shoes on and told my husband I was going to take him to the emergency room.  “Why you taking him to the hospital?”  He asked. Mother’s intuition. Something was not right.

On the way to the emergency room, I asked him to tell me everything he had eaten. The last thing he said before he mentioned that he was having a hard time breathing were the words, pistachio nuts. Uh Oh!   My heart raced. Oh shit….I felt my foot press harder on the accelerator. My son was having an allergic reaction to pistachio nuts.

Yeah, took me a while to figure that one out. And here I was, trying to get him to eat bread. Sheesh. So, after sitting at 2 hospitals (the first one didn’t see us as quickly as I wanted) and a shot of epenephrine or something, we came home with a diagnosis. Adam was deathly allergic to pistachio nuts.

Hundreds of people have died from a severe reaction to peanuts. It made me a very nervous mother.

We did pretty well watching what Adam ate when he was growing up and it wasn’t until he was 18 that he had his second attack. We were all sitting at a wedding reception near the table with the mounds of dessert. Adam remarked that he must have eaten something with pistachio in it, because his throat was closing in. Thank goodness we were about 2 minutes from the hospital. My husband decided to drive him. After all, he drove like Mr. Magoo and could get there quicker. The only thing I said as they left was, “Make sure they give him a shot of epinephrine.”

They weren’t gone very long and we hopped back into the car for the ride home. I was mad because they didn’t give Adam a shot or anything. The only thing they gave him was a pepcid for an upset stomach. We were pulling into the driveway when Adam said he didn’t feel well and his voice sounded gurgly. “Oh my God, he is going into anaphylatic shock, damnit.”  We jumped out of the car and my husband raced Adam back to the hospital. They had to put him in ICU under oxygen and shots to settle it down. I was so mad at the hospital for giving him a pepcid and sending him home. What a crazy place. He could have died. Can you believe the hospital charged me twice? After threatening a law suit, they took off the second bill.

Adam didn’t have anymore episodes. I was nervous when he told us he was going to study abroad in Morocco for 6 months. I had him go to the doctor to get a prescription for an epi-pen. When he landed in Morocco, the custom people didn’t understand what this strange thing was. Adam performed sharades for the people, and I guess they understood what it was for.

Adam had to spend Thanksgiving Day away from home. It was nice, though, because the university people in Ifrain cooked up a great turkey dinner for the Americans who were studying there. Adam was excited, because he was hungry for some American grub. When they brought out the turkey, it was smothered with a pistachio paste of some sort. Adam couldn’t eat any of it.

Adam is 25 now and has stayed away from all things pistachio.

And I stay away from that stupid hospital… Giving a person a pepcid and sending them on their merry way….

That’s just nuts….

Winding Roads, Feeble Drivers

So, I packed a bag this morning and had grand plans to drive to the gym right after school this afternoon. I was ready. I haven’t been on the elliptical for a month now, and was excited to get back into my exercise regiment. But, alas, it was not to happen.

After school, I changed in the teacher’s bathroom, put my hair back in a ponytail, and I was off to Healthplex. Just the thought of going put a spring in my step. Or I just liked the feel of my ponytail swishing back and forth with each perky step. I know myself, and if I drive home right after school, the chances of me going to the gym are slim. Once I sit down, I’m done. I haven’t even been walking on the Rails to Trails. And it is seriously right outside my apartment. So, I was ready.

I hopped in the car, pulled out onto the main road and looked at my watch. It was 3:45. I should be at Healthplex in 30-35 minutes. I got behind a school bus and about 5 other cars, which is normal every day. No biggie. The bus driver is great and pulls over after about 2 stops and lets the traffic go by. I wave to thank him every day and then I am off. But, wait. Why is this goldish Buick not speeding up? The bus just pulled over for us.

Dear God, I couldn’t see anyone driving. That only meant one thing- Old Lady Driver. And it was. And she had an even older, shorter woman as her passenger. She was driving about 10-20 miles per hour and almost came to a stop every time a car came toward her. Are you kidding me? It was a winding road and too narrow for her liking.

The old lady had her foot on the brake all the way down the hills. I guess she thought there were some icy patches on the road…in October. I am a patient person, but the speed limit is 40, and I think people are obliged to drive the speed limit. I don’t think she saw the 25 cars behind her. Every time there was a place to pass, there was someone coming in the opposite direction.

I started talking  to her. Yes, I realize that she could not hear me, but I needed to start ranting. Some of the things that were coming out of my mouth were-

“I bet you’re going to Walmart to get cat food, right?”

“Oh, Dear God, lady, pull over and adjust your pace maker.”

“Figures….Are you freaking kidding me?…….Do not turn right…Do NOT turn right…..Shit…Figures….Of course you’re turning right.”

“Don’t you see me? I can see right up your nose , I am so close to you. Speed, up, damn you, old lady.”

“Freakin turtle………………..”

“Don’t even turn left!!!!  Shit…….I am going to hit you!….I should hit you….and bump you out of the freakin road and into that cow pasture….How would you like that?”

“Come on!!! It’s 4:00..Why the hell are you out this late anywho?  It’s going to be dark by the time you get to Walmart and drive back home……Shit, it will be midnight…Come onnnnnn!”

I am sure the person who was behind me was highly amused. I didn’t even look in my rear view mirror to see if it was a fellow teacher or anyone I knew. It was probably one of my student’s parents, laughing at my venting. Vickie venting. I had one hand on the wheel and was talking with the other like I was Italian. I thought the old lady would get the hint and pull over. Then it dawned on me. She wouldn’t be able to look in the rear view mirror, because that would make her drive off the road. She never used her mirrors once. Her eyes were above the steering wheel looking straight ahead. She wasn’t even talking to her passenger. Maybe her passenger was dead.

My rant continued for 30 minutes. ” Freaking Blue-Haired Turtle, pull over!!! She went my entire route. I just knew she was going to Walmart. She never went over 20 miles per hour the entire drive. I was thinking that it would be amusing if she flipped me the bird as I passed her, but she didn’t.  I would have flipped me off. I was right on her butt the entire drive. She had to know I was behind her.

Well, I was quite mad  by the time I pulled into the Healthplex parking lot. And the parking lot was about full. So, I just parked and sat there for a second, and then said, “Shit.”  I was spent. I was done. I had no desire to punish myself on the elliptical. I could have taken my frustrations out on the machine, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t even turn off the car. I was pissed.

When you are that mad, there is only one thing you can do….

I went through McDonald’s, ordered a Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal and drove home.

And I am too mad to write a blog this evening.

Sun Lamps and Lying to a Priest

There is no doubt in my mind that if I have to contract some sort of disease or illness, it is going to be skin cancer. It’s just a fact. I totally abused the sun worshipping and then I had to go and do something so idiotic in college, that I imagine  a diagnosis is right around the corner.

When I was a freshman in college, circa 1974,we weren’t too bright, I must admit. We were on the loose, away from home and are parents for the first time in our lives. We were little banshees. I think that was especially true for the kids who had very strict parents. I could point them out during the first month. They were really making bad decisions. But, alas, I had no right to talk about anyone after what I let happen.

I lived in a dorm room my freshman year with my roommate, Paula, who went to high school with me. Upstairs, Debbie and Jeri shared a room. They too, went to high school with us. The four of us did a lot together that first year and ended up renting an apartment the next year together. Debbie brought something back to school with her one weekend, and that next Wednesday evening, brought it down to our room. It was a sun lamp.

Ok, I never sat under a sun lamp before. It looked like a make-up mirror, with no mirror. I know that makes no sense, but that’s what it reminded me of. Debbie had us wear sunglasses or goggles and we all took turns sitting under the sun lamp. Except there was a big problem. We let Debbie position us in front of the sun lamp. And we really didn’t know how long was too long. I just remember that it was pretty hot.

The next morning, Paula woke up to use the bathroom about 20 minutes before we were supposed to get up. She had this biological clock going on and always woke up about 20 minutes early before her alarm was set to go off.  That always woke me up. Well, especially today when I heard her sort of scream in front of her mirror, on her side of the dorm room.

“Oh my God, Vickie!. My face!!!!” I sat up, still pretty groggy and asked her what was wrong. “My face is so burnt! Come look!”  But, I guess I took too long getting up, so she bounced over to my bed, turned my night stand light on, and said, “Oh MY GOD!!!!”  I didn’t think she looked that bad. I mean, she was pretty red, and had  lines where the sunglasses were, but she didn’t need so many exclamation marks in her voice.

Found out pretty quickly that she wasn’t talking about herself anymore. “Um…Vickie, you better go look in the mirror.”  The look on her face was hard to describe. Pity, sympathy, wonderment…something was going on. I got up and walked over to the mirror. What I saw was not me. I am not exaggerating with this description.

My eyes were ok. So far, so good. But, for some reason, they were swollen a bit. Maybe that is because the rest of my face was swollen. Never mind the redness, let’s talk about my lips. My lips were swollen to the point that my upper lip was under my nose, blocking my nostrils a bit. My lower lip was just as swollen and covered most of my chin area.  The only thing I could say, and it was in a whisper, was “I look like a Ubangi.” I was shocked. I looked over at Paula, and she looked sick, like I was going to stay that way for the rest of my life.

“Call Debbie and tell her to get down here, NOW.”  Debbie didn’t particularly enjoy being awakened so early, but Paula told her it was an emergency and to come downstairs. I just sat on my bed, cross-legged, cradling one of my pillows. Paula still had that,  “You are the ugliest thing I have ever seen in my life” look on her face.  I looked at her and said, “And so, what were you wanting to tell me about your face this morning?”  I felt like the Elephant Man. “I am not an animal. I am a human being.” Except that that movie didn’t come out until 1980. But, that’s how I felt. Like children were going to scream and run away from me. My peers were going to laugh at me. Ok, like in “Carrie.”  “They’re all going to laugh at you.” (Damn, 1976…) Ok, you get the picture..

I realized that it was hard to talk when your lips are swollen.I found that I had to take a finger and raise my upper lip up a bit so I could talk. But, that made breathing harder. I was screwed. When Debbie came into the room, I knew what her reaction was going to be. She laughed at me. Like really hard. Paula felt so badly for me. She was burned a little, as was Jeri. Why did Paula and I get so burned?  “We all sat under the lamp for the same time”, she stated.  I moved my lip up so I could speak, which made Debbie crack up. “Ok, Einstein, how close were we to the lamp? You put the glasses on us and had us sit down in front of the damn thing.”

I wanted to punch her in the face when I heard her answer. “I think you guys were like right up to it.”  I don’t know why the idiot didn’t think to move us back from the lamp. First of all, we found out that we sat under it way too long. Well, that was obvious. and secondly, we were right up to the lamp. So, that explains why I looked like a plastic surgery nightmare. Remember the Twilight Zone episode where everyone had to wear masks until midnight and then they couldn’t take off the masks, because the masks became their face? Well, that I did feel like.

Well, I couldn’t go to class, that’s for sure.  Paula brought me back breakfast, which I had such a hard time eating.  She brought me back a piece of chocolate cake after lunch, which took me a very long while to eat. I told them to not tell a soul what I look like. Yeah, like that was going to happen. Some of the guys on the football team that we were friends with and I was sort of seeing one, were standing below my window for a glimpse of the Elephant man. Great.

I took Friday off and drove home Thursday evening. I had to pull over numerous times because my eyes were burning and watering like I had allergies. My mom asked me “If Debbie jumped off a bridge, I guess you would too, right?”  She felt sorry for me because after all, I would have to live looking like this for the rest of my life. Thank God my dad sort of laughed at me. I was beginning to like getting laughed at than the pity, omg, you poor pathetic ugly girl scenario I was getting from everyone.

For some reason my mom didn’t take me to the doctor. I am pretty sure I had second degree burns on my face. My mom and dad had company Friday night, and the people brought their son, who was about 3 years older than me and was studying to be a priest or he was already there, or almost there, because he was a brother? I don’t know what the hell he was, but I do know that I lied to him.

“Oh my goodness what happened to you?”  I told him that I was driving in my car and had the window down and someone in front of me had hit a utility pole and the pole fell over and I was burned from the live wires that surrounded my car.

“Why wasn’t the rest of you burned?” he wondered.  “Because I had my bee suit on.”  I went on to tell him that I had a bee-keeping class as part of biology class and that I wore my suit home because I was running late, but took my head part off, but still had my gloves on, etc. Said it while holding my lip up with my index finger. I am so glad this was a priest/potential priest I was talking to, because I am sure I was pretty darn appealing.

Speaking of a-peeling, my skin started looking like layers of skin on top of skin. I later peeled so much it made for a bed bug feast. There was skin everywhere.

Anywho, I didn’t see the future priest for about a month. I had come home for the weekend and we went to visit them. When we pulled up, priest boy met me at the car….with a wheelchair. I guess he was ready for my next lie. I forgot to tell him I was lying, and his parents told him in the car about the sun lamp episode..I guess he laughed, but thought of a way to get me back. Wheeling me around in a wheelchair,to me, seemed like the joke was on him again…I enjoyed the scenery and stayed in the damn thing the whole time we were out on their patio.

So, if you are going to use a sunlamp, don’t let someone who is a ditz place you in front of the lamp. Just sayin.

****************************************************************************

Shameless plug:

Enjoy this story? Jumping in Mud Puddles is now an ebook  that you can download on your Kindle. Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Amazon will let you download their Kindle app FREE…Yes, free.  Have a look see.  :)  My literary debut….. Amazon.com for $3.99. It’s sort of funny.

Jumping in Mud Puddles: A Memoir of a Picky, Hyper, Big Fat Liar

Alice (and Ducks) in Wonderland

When I was in college I majored in Speech Communication and Drama (the first time around) and had to participate in one-act plays and stage productions. One of the big productions put on was Alice in Wonderland. So, my good friend and roommate, Jeri, and I went to try out.  When the parts came out, we looked down the list to see what parts we got. We knew we would get a part, because it was a pretty big cast.  We were hoping for a big part. Jeri won the role of the Red Queen. I was very happy for her. I secretly wanted to be Alice. I looked for my name. Yeah, there it was………….Vickie Mendenhall…………..Duck/card

I was a duck. Yeah, a duck. And a card. Like in a deck of cards. Wow. This was….such great news. (I am being extremely sarcastic, in case you can’t tell.) I mean, what the hell?  A duck?  And then, I had to change out of my duck costume, and don a card costume, and then back into the duck costume.  Oh, and it gets better.

Our director wanted to use a real baby pig for the part where the baby turns into a pig. She said that she had made arrangements for a farmer to lend us a baby pig, but needed someone to be in charge of doing the switch behind the curtain when it was time. She called out people who were free during that time, and my name was called. Well, I loved baby pigs. I had a pig collection in high school. Some people collect Pez and baseball cards. I collected pigs..Go figure..

Anywho, I raised my hand and said that I would be willing to do the pig switch, despite the fact that I had to be a duck, then a card, and then a duck. I would try to find the time. But, oh my God, there were problems.

After my initial disappointment, of you know, being a duck in a play…in college, I decided to  embrace it and be the best damn duck anyone had ever seen…because, I was a professional, damnit…sigh

I had to have a costume made for me. A duck costume. At least my face would show and I wouldn’t be hidden behind a duck head. I did look  like a duck, with yellow chicken legs and big feet. The feet would pose a problem in every performance. Meanwhile, the director couldn’t find anyone to take the little piggie home each evening. She didn’t think about that. So, she decided to keep it in her office. Yeah, real smart. Her office smelled like hay and piggie poop.

So, the night of dress rehearsal went smoothly. I decided to ad lib something while on stage both times I was on as the duck and I thought the director would stop everything and yell at me, but I heard her laughing in the seats. Someone who was sitting by her told me she was crying she was laughing so hard. I had to be in a scene with a jury of animals, like a mouse, and I don’t know what other animals were jury members. Some one used pepper somehow and we all had to sneeze, just a little sneeze. But, I made mine last forever, like I was trying to sneeze, over and over, and sounding like a munchkin from munchkinland at the same time. (I really could have been a voice-over for cartoons.)

Another time Alice was passing out candy to animals for some stupid reason and we were just supposed to take the candy and go stand back in the line. Well, I decided to stand there, fidgeting, holding out my hand each time , even though we were in a line, and then I looked at Alice with my eyes crossed and said thank you in my munchkin voice, and the girl playing Alice burst out laughing. Uh, Oh, I was going to get yelled at. But, the director told me to leave it in there for the performances. I was going to be a duck hit.

Well, the performance the next night was filled with some problems. Everything ran smoothly, but only because I am a professional, damnit. After I was onstage as a duck, I had to run downstairs and get the pig, in my duck outfit. And carry the thing upstairs. The farmer had showed me to hold the pig by its back feet with one hand and to put my other hand on its chest. He said hanging it upside down like that would pull on its vocal cords and it couldn’t squeal. Well, that part was true, and the pig did great. We made the exchange each time without a squealing pig behind stage before it was time. But, each time the pig had to run off stage and Vickie the duck had to run after it each time, catch it and take it back downstairs. Then I had to run back upstairs, and change into my card outfit.

Well, I tripped going up the stairs in my duck outfit and landed on my knee. The pain was unbelievable. It hurt so badly and I still had to be a card and a duck again. I was crying some real duck tears. Well, some older guy who was a community member who was some animal (I can’t remember), told me he had a pain pill and that I should take it. So, I did. Yeah, I am a stupid duck. I only weighed 100 pounds and I was loopy for the rest of the performance. I mean, very loopy. I didn’t really know what was going on. He probably gave me some LSD or something….Pyschedelic Duck….perhaps a Disco Duck…

The audience cracked up at my scene-stealing, but I was soo messed up. Then, Mr. Wallman, the old man that our theater building was named after, Wallman Hall, came looking for me. “Where’s that little girl duck?” he asked frantically. “I opened the door to Ms. Lough’s office, and the pig ran out.”  Yeah, the pig was on the loose.  We didn’t need the piglet anymore that night, and I had to change into a card, so poor Mr. Wallman had to hunt for the piggie on his own.

Well, they didn’t find the piglet for hours afterwards. They thought maybe someone stole it, but they found it sleeping in the costume room, all curled up in a hat. Weird, but not as weird as how I was feeling. I had no pain in my knee until I woke up the next morning. I woke up wearing a robe. I don’t even remember how I got home or how I got undressed. But, when I woke up, my leg was swollen and I was in pain. So, yeah, I took another pill that next performance, but cut it in half. I mean, no one else could fit in the outfit. I had the duck voice going on and people asking me afterwards what I had in my mouth to make me sound the way I did. I was like a Peter Frampton “How do you Feel?” voice changer duck..I had to perform. The show had to go on!

Some one filmed Alice in Wonderland and I wish I would have purchased a copy of it. My kids would see a high duck with ripped yellow hose (which the director loved) parading around on stage looking like….a duck.

I realized after that last performance that I could be an actress if I really wanted to.  But, no, I decided to stay in Fairmont, West Virginia, and become a dental assistant for the next four years. Yeah, that sounds much better.

What a lucky duck!

Circus Trauma

Years ago, people used to run away to join the circus.  I wonder how that worked. “Hey, where’s Ralph? I haven’t seen him in a while?”…..”Oh, haven’t you heard? He ran off and joined the circus.”  Seriously?  You could do that?   I would think that if you want to work with a bunch of clowns, many people wouldn’t have to go very far.

Since my dad was in the Clown Patrol with the Shriners, or whatever Osiris Temple is, we went to the circus a lot. I guess my dad felt a connection with the “real” clowns. They scared the hell out of me. They thought it was funny to sneak up behind you and honk that stupid giant-sized horn behind your head. What the hell is wrong with you, Bozo?  That is not funny. Probably why I have hearing loss in both my ears. Clown disorder. I also thought that they were a bit creepy, like sexually creepy. A couple of them would just stare at me. I was only around 12 at the time. They probably thought they could get away with creepy looks because they were basically hidden behind a mask. When I was little, we didnt’ know about “Stranger danger” and we didn’t have Amber Alerts,  but I am betting that  some of the clowns in the circus had some issues. So, they ran away and joined the circus so they could be with children. Yikes…

There seemed to be a lot of midget clowns. (We called them midgets back then because that’s what they were.)  Sort of made me mad that they got the really dirty jobs of walking behind the elepants with a pooper scooper, and smiling all the while like it was fun to clean up elephant poop. The elephants could have easily stepped on one. I worried about this.

I remember thinking that the circus was a dirty world. I felt so sorry for the animals and secretly wanted to see the lion bite off someone’s head. And I thought this when I was little.  They were kept in tiny cages and looked so unhappy. There were even little dogs that did tricks in one of the rings. Maybe they ran away and joined the circus too. Stray dogs put to work to earn their keep. Poor pooches. I decided very early on that if I was rich when I grew up that I would buy a huge piece of land and put all of the circus animals on it so they could just hang out and not have to do tricks every day. I was a wise child.

I noticed everything about the circus. Like how the girls wore fishnet hose with tears in them. First of all, why would they wear fishnet hose under their little costume?  They always had tears in them. Maybe swinging on the flying trapeze bars tore them up a lot. Which goes back to why they would wear them in the first place. I don’t know, I just thought everything was dirty. I knew then I had no desire to run away and join the circus.

My biggest concern with the circus was the tightrope walkers. The Flying Wallenda’s were a daredevil circus act famous for performing death-defying stunts without a safety net. They were also famous for being stupid. They had a 7 person pyramid with a chair and those long sticks to keep their balance, so they decided they didn’t need a safety net. Someone should have given them an IQ test. I knew that people came to the circus to see if they would fall. They did in 1962 at the Shrine Circus at the Detroit State Fair and two people died. They still didn’t feel the need for a safety net.  No one must have asked, “Hey, uh, Uncle Rufeo fell to his death last night. We gonna put up a net?”   More relatives fell and died. These people do not learn their lesson. I really had enough of the circus.

I remember my dad telling me about the Hartford Circus Fire. I think it happened in 1944. A fire broke out under the big top and 168 people died, along with many animals. I specifically remember him telling me about the fire while we were at the circus….sitting far away from the entrance…under a tent. Nice, Dad, scare the child even more. Most of the time we went to Wheeling Island Stadium, along the banks of the Ohio River. I bet the Flying Wallenda’s didn’t like the breeze from the river. But, back to the fire…I sat there listening to my dad tell me about the fire and I decided, once again, that we really shouldn’t go to another circus performance.

I don’t know how old I was when I went to my first circus. I do remember when I went to my last.

It was a flea circus. Yeah, a flea circus. A circus so small you have to look at it with a magnfying glass. I thought it was a joke. I was in college when I first heard about it. What is this world coming to? What are we going to have next, a cockroach rodeo?

Who the hell decided it would be a good idea to have a circus with fleas?

I’m thinking it must have been one of the Wallenda’s.

Ghosts in the House (Really)

You either believe in ghosts or you don’t.

For those of you who think there’s an explanation for those bumps in the night, you’re not alone. A poll by the Associated Press shows 34 percent of people believe in ghosts. Of those, 23 percent say they have proof ghosts exist because they’ve seen one, or been in the presence of one.  Maybe that is that cold chill that goes up your spine. And, for the politically minded, more liberals than conservatives are visited by ghosts, 31 to 18 percent.  My own poll states that 100% of  women over the age of 50 who have seen a ghost are highly intelligent, creative, humorous, and  very nice looking.

We used to go to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia a lot.  It was a great place for dead people. John Brown was hung nearby. He is probably really in his wax museum, hanging around. (literally)  We went to an antique shop that was at one time some generals headquarters, and the owner told me that she was always hearing soldiers walking up the steps and that the main ghost activity took place in the basement. So, she took us down there, because I was so excited. I would love to see a ghost. They even had a ghost tour of Harper’s Ferry.

I have always loved ghost stories. And I loved to scare people. I remember when I was in about 7th grade, I stayed with a neighbor girl and we stayed up to watch Chiller Theater and watched House on Haunted Hill with  Vincent Price. Scared me to death. When we went to her room to go to bed, the closet door was open, and her mom had put a hose over her face and was just standing in the closet. I screamed on top of screams. I had never been so scared. I loved it!!!

In high school, we used to go to a cemetery on Green Mist Road (Even has a spooky name) on Halloween and scare each other. So fun to hear guys scream. Halloween is my favorite time of year. So, yeah, I am all about ghosts. Just didn’t know that my wish was about to come true.

My ex-husband did not believe in ghosts. Such a left-brainer…”They don’t exist.” So, he wrote me off when I told him we had a ghost cat. Yes, a ghost cat. I told him, “I hope you see a ghost some day and you poop your pants  while you are screaming like a girl.”

We built our house on an old dairy farm’s barn. This barn was used to sell milk and other dairy products to neighbors in the small hill-top community. Our house was built in 1991, so many of you will probably think it would have to be an old house to be haunted. But, just give me a minute of your time before you send for the guys to put me in a white jacket.

We rescued a kitten from the animal shelter and gave it to Alex. We had an outside cat, Tiger, who died a bit earlier, and thought we would get an inside cat for her. My husband hated animals in the house, but I talked him into at least going into the animal shelter, just to look at the animals. Well, there was a kitten who fell in love with Jay. He said later it was like she did a top hat and cane routine for him. Ok, he said, we will take this one home for Alex.  As soon as we got her home, she turned on Jay. Hated him. She lives with me now. Still hates him. Such a smart, smart cat.

Anywho, Whiskers used to stare into the foyer all of the time. Her eyes would be wide and her tail fluffy at first. Then she would just stare. Like she got used to the thing she was staring at.  Sometimes this would happen right after I complained about it being cold. Sometimes when she would be sitting on my lap on the couch she would stare right behind me. Like someone was standing behind me. That used to freak me out. Then I would just start talking to it. Yeah, I am a  ghost talker.

But, about the ghost cat…I don’t know what you call it when a cat marches in place. Some people say they are kneading bread…Tap dancing….Making biscuits…I used to think they were just smoothing out someplace comfortable to lie. But, they all do it. Like how all human men scratch their butts. (Can’t think of anything else)

My husband would not let Whiskers on the bed. I had a cute little box in the hall, and she slept on that most of the time.  Well, one night I woke up because Whiskers was doing that kneading thing at the foot of my bed. Except when I woke up, she wasn’t there. This started happening almost every night. I never said anything until Alex told me that she thought Whiskers was in bed with her and when she looked, Whisker’s wasn’t there. “Mom, I think it’s Tiger. Tiger is a ghost now.”  Out of the mouths of babes.

I didn’t think it was Tiger. I thought it was a cat from the dairy barn that was built where our house now stood. And the foyer was a portal, that’s why Whiskers was always sitting in the foyer, looking up. Or maybe Whiskers had some issues.

Haunted chair?

Well, not too long after that, I began hearing a loud whisper, “MOM!”  when I was alone. I thought I’d better keep that to myself for awhile. My family knows I am into ghosts and ghost stories, they are just going to think that I WANT to have these things happening. But, then the music started, which my husband and daughter did hear.  It was usually around 5:30am. It was faint, and didn’t sound like a music box, and I couldn’t make out what genre it was. But it was music and I was sure of it. When Jay heard it, I told him, “See, I’m telling you we have ghosts.”  We would get up and follow the sound and it was in the foyer. We had a 2-story home with an open foyer, and that’s where the sound radiated from. We couldn’t figure out what kind of music was playing.  He tried to find a logical explanation. “Maybe it is some kind of interference from an airplane flying by.  I would always say. ” Oh, please. That is such a stupid explanation. Why can’t you just believe that we have ghosts in our house?”  That’s when I told him about the MOM voice.

One morning I was listening to Alex sing in the shower. She would always get up around 5:30am or so for school. She was in the Madrigals, which is an accapella singing group that wore medieval costumes and they were unbelievable. So, I enjoyed hearing her practice a song I had never heard yet. “I loved hearing you singing in the shower this morning, Alex. You need to sing more often. I enjoyed it.” She looked at me like I was nuts. “Mom, I wasn’t singing. I never sing in the shower,”  And she wasn’t messing with me. Oh great, now we have a ghost singer.

The “MOM!” continued off and on for several years. Sometimes, I would go see what Alex or Adam wanted, because it was a child’s voice. I also tried to figure out when kids began calling their mothers, Mom. Was it the 1950’s? 40’s?  I started making up scenario’s for the cat and the kid ghost.

I think that maybe the dairy farm guy came in early and turned on a small transistor radio, hence the music. The ghost cat came from just having a cat hanging around the dairy farm. Ok, I don’t know why we didn’t have ghost cows or ghost chickens. (Skeptics, just shut the hell up). But, I think that the child was maybe hurt and was calling for his/her mother, or maybe hiding and whispering out. I loved it when Jay finally heard the “Mom!”

Alex had taken the car someplace and Jay was in the hallway leading from the garage and I was sitting at our kitchen island, doing something. “MOM!” came the voice, after being gone for several months, and the whisper was pretty loud. I said, “Is Alex home, Jay?” He quickly entered our family room/kitchen and his face looked white. “You heard that?”  I smiled and jumped up. “YOU heard it? You, the left-brained goober-head, the “there’s no such thing as ghosts” guy? Finally!”  I loved it that he heard it.

Christmas of 2008 was my last Christmas in our house. We were divorcing and I was planning to move out of the house. (Too much house land for me to take care of, so he bought me out.) Adam and Alex had stayed up late talking in the Hearth room. I went to bed and heard a door slam. And then again. Sounded like a door. The kids told me they got a bit spooked while they were down there. Adam told me that he got a quick glimpse of something that appeared between a blink of his eye and that it was an older woman with a lantern in front of her face, wearing a scarf on her head (tied in front, like a babushka)  and that she was gone “in a blink of his eye.”   He later told me that he made that up. Yeah, he is a left-brainer too. My dairy farm ghost scenario was the right one.

A couple months after I moved out and I was out at the house getting some more stuff, I asked my ex-husband if  he ever heard the “MOM” voice or anything any more. He said, “She is gone.” He then told me that one night he woke up and it felt like there were hands around his neck, trying to strangle him and so he called someone to get rid of her. He smiled after he said it. But, I know this man. She probably missed me and took it out on him.  Well, that’s what I am going with.  I always wanted to have a seance, and he would never let me. The catholic boy always said, “You may conjure up the devil.”  I had seances in college. Lit a lot of our sorority ceremony candles and invited people over, drank, and tried to bring back Houdini. I loved those parties.

Are there ghosts? Yes. Have I seen one? No. But, something was going on in my house.

So, the next time you watch Ghost Whisperer, think of me. 🙂

Friday the 13th

When we went to Myrtle Beach this summer, and stepped into the resort’s elevator, my son accidentally leaned against the numbers that you push for the floor you want to go to.  So, it took us a while to get to our floor. On our way up, Adam noticed that there wasn’t a 13th floor in our resort. So, we discussed how that superstition was a bit weird.  We thought, that perhaps, our people are beyond that kind of thinking nowadays. So, I have been reading. And  boy am I wrong. People were, are, and will always be superstitious.

There are several origin stories for how Friday the 13th superstition began. There is  a biblical reference to the unlucky number 13.  Judas, the apostle said to have betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest to the Last Supper. in Norse mythology, (and this sounds like I am getting ready to tell a joke)  12 gods are having a dinner party at Valhalla, Norse mythology’s heaven. In walked the uninvited 13th guest, the mischievous god Loki. Once there, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. Balder died, and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth was saddened. Not a good day. What the hell, Hoder. If Loki told you to jump off a bridge, would you? (Yikes, one of my mom’s sayings..)

For all of you who suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia, a fear of Friday the 13th.,  this is the only Friday the 13th in 2010. In 2009, there were three. It is estimated that about $800 million dollars are lost on this day because some people are afraid to fly, buy a car, or even go out to dinner. A great stock tip may be overlooked on this day. There are even some who are so paralyzed by fear of  Friday the 13th, that they call off work and stay in their homes. (I bet those types don’t even take a shower for fear of slipping and hitting their head and the bathtub has a slow drain and they lie in the tub, unconscious, facedown and drown. I mean, who wants to be found naked in the bathtub?  If they survive bathtime, they won’t go out to eat, for fear of choking, or getting  food poisoning. I know a couple of places that you really shouldn’t eat at anywho, let alone on Friday the 13th.

This is not a US phobia. In Florence, Italy, houses are numbered, 11, 12, 12 1/2, 14.  I wouldn’t buy the 12 1/2 house. Heck, I can count. I’m not that stupid.

I don’t think it is so bad. Think of a baker’s dozen. 13…. Are you going to turn away 13 items for the price of 12?? Huh??  According to CNN.com, one British couple bought their winning ticket on Friday 13 shortly after a mirror at their home fell off the living room wall and smashed. The lucky couple won $17 million.  I think the lottery commission should have pocketed some of the money and said the jackpot was $13 million, just to freak people out.

But, as a teacher, I do have believe in  the craziness connected to a full moon.  I will have to save that blog for another day, but trust me, teachers know when there is a full moon.  A full moon AND Friday the 13th?  Should be a day off for teachers… Seriously. The combination of full moon and Friday the 13th is rare, the last one happening in 2000.

Luckily, school will be out on Friday, June 13, 2014. That is when the next toxic combination occurs.

Now, I may stay in the house that day. I will make sure my bathtub doesn’t have a slow drain.

Red Rover, Red Rover, Let’s Mow Vickie Over

Ever wake up and see a clown sitting on the edge of your bed?  Pretty scary, right?  Well, that’s how I felt when someone mentioned playing  Red Rover.  I hated when we played that game when I was little. I mean, who invented this horrible little game? I’m thinking some German woman weightlifter named Olga.  It was bad enough that I had to sing about the plague with “Ring a round the Rosie”,  now I had to get a knot in my stomach every time Red Rover was mentioned.

“Oh, Dear God, Bozo, they want to play Red Rover today. What would you do?”

First of all, no one wanted me on their team.  Remember, I was anorexic skinny.  The other team loved not having me on their team, because they knew I was the weakest link. They didn’t even need to whisper, “Run through Vickie”…..or… “See that girl, the one with the shaking knees and…wait, ok, she was standing sideways,..anyway, see that girl with just a little bit of skin on her bones?… Yeah, the one who is crying…. She will let go of  Lee Ann’s  hand every time. Run at her!”

Now,you have to understand, I wasn’t bad at outdoor games. I was awesome at kickball. I didn’t have much power in the kick, mind you, but I could run.  I ran like a deer. A graceful anorexic deer. We played kickball in my neighborhood all of the time. In the street beside my house. I played Duck Duck Goose. (I’m laughing out loud at that one right now)… Mother May-I?…Freeze Tag….Red Light, Green Light….Hopscotch…Colored Eggs…..Do I need to go on?  Ok, I will.  Drop the Hankerchief….Hot Potato…Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?….Chinese Jump Rope (made mine with a bunch of rubber bands)…Ok, done..Wait..I really liked singing The Farmer in the Dell, but damnit, never got to be the cheese, standing alone….I remember one time when it was getting late, we started playing  Hide and Go Seek, and had Monica be it. We told her to count to 100 so we could find a great place to hide, and then we all went home..Yeah, that was my idea.

We would play outside all day long. We had to. Our moms kicked us out of the house. If we stayed in the house, we had to fold towels and do chores. We had freedom outside. The only times we ran in the house was to pee and to get money for the ice cream man. When we were very little, the whole neighborhood was pissed off at my mom because she called the ice cream trucks company and told them that the truck came when “her children” were taking a nap. How dare that ice cream truck. So, they came after dinner until we got older and didn’t take naps. What kind of pull did that woman have to get them to adjust their arrival times..Wow, what a witch…Anyway, the ice cream man came later…sigh…not when you were playing and it was hot, but after dinner, which  was not as gratifying. Thank goodness I was fairly liked by my friends, or they would be doing much worse things to me than trying to break my arm with Red Rover.

For any of you who have been living  in a bubble and have never experienced the painful game of Red Rover, let me tell you the rules. You get two lines of kids that don’t have anything else to do but inflict pain on each other, make them hold hands  and then you take turns calling someone over. “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Vickie over”  That person runs like hell and tries to break all the bones in your arm as the person you are holding hands with has a death grip on your hand and won’t let go.  And you know damn well they will try to run off-center and concentrate on Brittle Girl.  Every time.

In the end, all games foster cooperation and teamwork, teach social skills and help develop coordination for those who walk funny.

But, call me crazy, but I think Red Rover was a game for losers…..Yeah, that’s right….. Future loser bullies. Because it was those loser bullies who were the first to also want to play Dodge Ball.

Don’t even get me started on that brain-damage-inducing game.

Creative Play Sends Mom to Funny Farm

I love being a mother. I truly do. It is the best job in the world.  Sure, there are some days when you wonder if your children are idiots.  Or “Special.”  (Which means, retarded, but we can’t say that anymore)  Case in point, years ago, we  had just built our new house and we had just moved in. I had just scrubbed my kitchen floor earlier in the day and it was looking pretty. My husband and I had walked my brother-in-law out into the garage as he was getting ready to leave, when all of a sudden, Alex, who was only about 4,  came running out crying and pointing back into the house. “Mommy….unrecognizable blather….Adam”   I replied, “Ok, Alex, Mommy will be right in.”  I had no idea what the hell she just said, but if Adam was involved, it was going to be good.

We had a large kitchen with a dining nook and an eating bar on the island and on another eating bar by the family room. One big room. I walked into the family room, and Adam was standing still in the kitchen, like a marble statue. Like they were playing Freeze Tag and Alex quit and had walked away from him a while before. “What? I asked Adam. Then I saw it.  Shards of glass EVERYWHERE. Thousands upon thousands of mini pieces of glass, or shards, like I just said, all over the counter, all over the floor, all over Adam. Well, and in a path to the garage, because little Alex was covered in glass also.

“Oh my God!!!” Don’t move.  Adam, what happened?”  Now, you have to understand that Adam didn’t  really let anything bother him. I am sure he was thinking that it was an experiment that didn’t go too well. Like the time he and Alex covered their legs with toothpaste (Never found out what that was about). Or the time they poured the whole container of baby powder all over their bedroom in the old house because they didn’t want people to want to buy it. He wanted the  house to look “Yucky.” Well, son, it did look yucky, since the day before that, when you poured all of the cereal out of the boxes and stomped on it. Gave new meaning to “Snap, Crackle and Pop.” I had no idea he was trying to sabotage us selling the house. I just thought he was quite mental. Smooshing jelly beans into the carpet was a highlight.

I didn’t curse in front of my children. I really didn’t say a curse word in front of  them until Alex was in high school. Then, I realized I enjoyed it.  I curse all of the time now. Enjoy getting my friends to join in.   So, anywho, I didn’t curse that day, and I think even the most prim and proper person you can picture would have given their permission for me to spew out some expletives that day. “Adam, what did you dooooo?” (You idiot)

“We were sword fighting.”  Adam replied like it really wasn’t a bad idea.  “With what???” I couldn’t get to him, as he was surrounded by lovely pieces of glass shrapnel, intent on piercing and  living under the skin forever. This was just pissing me off.

“Light bulbs.”

Yes, my mad scientist son and his assistant, Igor, were sword fighting…with light bulbs. No, not the long ones that are flourescent bulbs, but the regular light bulbs. I believe they were  60 watt  bulbs. (Why am I mentioning that?)  Why would anyone in their right mind even think to sword fight with light bulbs. Pretzel sticks, perhaps, even soft, friendly Q-Tips. But not light bulbs. Right then I realized I was probably going to be put into a “home” before I was 60. (Only have 7 years to go.) And right then I realized that Adam’s elevator didn’t go to the top floor.  It went beyond.

I worked on that kitchen for hours. I first had to take their clothes off , examined their bodies, and I looked through their hair. Surprisingly, they had no glass there. I then handed each child to Jay, and he took them upstairs for bathtime. Even though they just had freakin bath time while my brother-in-law was downstairs talking to Jay. I then wiped off all of the counters. I swept the floor with a broom. I swept the floor with the vacuum cleaner. I then got masking tape and got on my hands and knees and put my face down close to the floor to look for pieces I missed and would dab them with the masking tape. Then I did the whole process all over again.  Each time I widened my circle. Hell, glass could have been in the cat dish for all I know. .All the while, I was trying to figure out why they would sword fight with light bulbs. I guess they went through a couple of the 4 packs.

The next week I stepped on an errant piece of glass that was out of my of cleaning  region.

“F&^%!  Son of a Bitch!!!”  No, didn’t make me feel any better. There was glass now living under my skin. I would be aware of it everytime I took a step. I talked to my mom, aka Joan Crawford later that day and told her what happened.

“Oh, those poor kids. Vickie, you should never leave kids alone, even for a second. You should know better than that.   They are so lucky that glass didn’t fly in their eyes and blind them. Why, I had THREE  kids and I never…………………………….(oops, hung up on her by mistake)

NOW I felt better.

Riding With My Hand Out the Window

I get car sick.  Pukey Vickie.  I’m surprised that nickname didn’t stick.  When I was little I got sick on the school bus almost every day. When I did throw up, my best friend, Ramaine, would yell out loud for everyone to raise their feet (especially if we were ready to travel up a hill).  Sometimes I would run up to the front and throw up on the stairs. I guess I thought it would be confined and easier for the bus driver to clean up. Except for the fact that each child would be taking home a piece of me each day.  That’s why people should take their shoes off in their homes. Anywho,  I know the bus driver hated me.  A couple years later he ran over my Chihuahua, Smokey. I am sure he did it for revenge.  Poor Smokey.

My parents kept a bucket and a towel in the back seat for me. And kept the air conditioning running, even in the winter.  On top of that, I rode with my hand out the window.  That really helped.  Anyone who says this doesn’t work  is wrong.  And no longer my friend.   Needless to say, weekend jaunts down the Blue Ridge Parkway were quite fun.  That road had many hairpin turns. I  know that  I would think twice about going on back roads if I had a child that was pukey.  I guess if you live in West Virginia, you aren’t going to have straight roads.  My brother and sister pleaded with my parents to turn off the air conditioner.  Next trip they had a blanket.  Now that I think about it, they were always sick.  I didn’t care. What was important was my well-being.

When I was in fourth grade, my mom handed me a little green car sick pill. I took it every day for a long time. Didn’t really seem to work. I did quit vomiting when I started sitting in the front of the bus and started watching the road. The bus driver (new guy) would have the window opened up a tiny bit, so I sat there, looking straight ahead, with my little bony arm stretched up so my hand could greet the air. I was in business.  I didn’t find out until I was in my 30’s that the little green pill was a mild tranquilizer. The hell you say!   Mom said it was given to me because I couldn’t concentrate on anything and I was diagnosed with hyperactivity.  I’m thinking she diagnosed me.  Then she added, “That’s why I taught you how to play chess when you were in second grade.  You needed to learn to concentrate.”  Meanwhile, I’m concentrating how to murder her and get away with it.  I mean, seriously, a mild tranquilizer?  Ok, yeah, I was nicknamed Cricket when I was little because I hopped all over the place. I was like a little Mexican jumping bean.  But, I am sure I was endearing. To stifle that energetic creativity with a tranquilizer is just so wrong.

Nowadays, as a teacher, I can’t go on field trips unless I take Dramamine, sit in the front and stare ahead. People think that if you get car sick, once you are stopped and out of the car, you are ok. That’s not true. I’m sick for hours. So, I try to take the day off on field trip days. Yeah, my kids want me to go, because I am incredibly fun. But, seeing me with my hand out the window diminishes great teacher status.

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