Monday, March 31, 2008

mandated hookey

I can't say that I'm a huge fan of serving jury duty, but I do like leaving at 10:30 and being told you're done for the day.  Did I go back to work?  

Heck no.  I'm excused for the day.  No way I'm going to show up and let them think I'm available to work.  Only a fool would do that, and my Mom didn't raise a fool.

Although there was a Fool today who showed up.  He was mad that he had been drafted to civic duty.  And he talked back to the judge twice.  She raised her voice and told him that she "didn't appreciate being talked to like that".  Fool kept mouthing off, and I walked out of the room as she stood up and raised her voice even louder.  I thought, poor Fool.  He's going to be held in contempt...  and we went back to the big juror holding room.  About fifteen minutes later, Fool came into the room.  He didn't say anything else the rest of the morning.

Nope.  I'm hanging out, and the cat is so excited that she left her sleeping perch on the bed and has come to sleep next to me instead.  I rank.

Apparently there were three trials today, but two pleaded out, and tomorrow I have to show up for jury selection of the third trial.  Maybe I won't get chosen.  I'll have to pick out a new book.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

life soundtrack

So, here's how it works:

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie

Here's what mine came up with:

Opening Credits:
Rod Stewart, “If You Think I’m Sexy"

Waking Up:
Todd Snider, “Beer Run”

First day at High School:
Hootie and the Blowfish, “I Go Blind”

Falling in Love:
Bob Seeger, “Old Time Rock and Roll”

Fight Song:
Bob Marley, “Redemption Song”

Breaking Up:
Sting, “Fields of Gold”

Bread, “Mother Freedom”

Eva Cassidy, "Imagine"

Counting Crows, “American Girls”

Harry Connick, Jr, “A Wink and a Smile”

Temptations, “My Girl”

Birth of Child:
James Taylor, “Sweet Baby James”

Final Battle:
Snoop Dogg, “Drop it Like it’s Hot”

Death Scene:
Disturbed, “Down With the Sickness”

Funeral Song:
John Denver, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”

End Credits:
Dean Martin, “Memories Are Made of This”

Fun, fun. Let me know if you decide to play, too, so I can come see what tunes were decided for you! And no, I don't typically wake up thinking about beer.

PS: We really did use "My Girl" at our wedding! That's what was on when we walked out of the sanctuary.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

toilets that spit

There had been a story in my head that I wanted to complain about a certain aspect of public bathrooms, especially the stalls that are so small that you have to walk in and your pants leg touches the toilet in order for you to shut the door. That's so utterly gross to me that I now have a mental note in my head of restaurants whose Ladies' Room I refuse to use on that principle alone.

And these aren't low-key eating establishments, either. We're talking real chain restaurants.

This can't just affect me. The last time I noticed this I pulled out my handy tape measure in my purse (the one that Mom was sure I needed in my Christmas stocking) to see for myself what kind of clearance they had created. Two inches. TWO INCHES. I don't care if you're a skinny skinny girl, in order to use that stall and shut the door, you're going to have to brush against the public toilet.

Gross me out.

But I think I've found a new gross that's grosser than that gross. This, in fact, could be the grossest of all.*

This afternoon while still at work I decided to make a pit stop in a restroom I don't usually use. I was trying to be spontaneous. After I had pulled and tied my pants back up I turned around to flush the toilet. And that's when it happened.

It spit on me. On my arm. From my wrist to my elbow, and I'm sure some of it got on my scrubs. And not clean water, mind you -- I'm talking about pee water that I had just deposited, not to mention whatever else was growing in there from the last time it had been cleaned.

I stood there for a moment, just a little shocked. Had that seriously just happened? Was it after the clean water had been exchanged? The scientist in me flushed again to verify -- and yes, indeedy, it was BEFORE the clean water entered the bowl. I had, indeed, been unintentionally baptized by pee water.

I immediately ran to the sink, washing both arms over my elbows. Three times. The whole point of pee'ing in a toilet is so that I don't have to wear it, yet that's exactly what I ended up doing anyways.

So now I have a new boycott list in my brain as it pertains to public bathrooms. I will share them with you as part of my duty to provide important Public Service Announcements:

1. No stalls that require you to get up close and personal with the toilet in order to shut the door.
2. If it smells so bad your eyes water, hold it until you get home.
3. If the toilet plunger is obviously soiled and sitting in the sink, hold it until you get home.
4. No toilets that spit.

This is not a static list and will be updated on an as-needed basis.

* Grossest of all: I changed my mind. The grossest of all is when you're in the bathroom with strangers and they don't wash their hands after they have used the facilities... and then walk back to their table to help feed their kid. The Hater always likes to come back from the restroom reporting who did not wash their hands after using the urinal. (This takes place right before he braggs on himself for washing his hands.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

chocolate-covered cancerversary

There's an elephant in the room.  The c-bomb fell in our laps two years ago today.  

It's been a while since we've given any update, mostly because there's not a lot to tell right now.  The idea is that the I-131 I had in November will continue to work for six months, or approximately until May.

My next set of scans and labs have been scheduled towards the end of May.  I see the endocrinologist the week after that to get the results, and then it's just a matter of figuring out what to do next based on what we find out.  

It's been a matter of one day at a time for two years, and I wish I had a better premonition than to say we really have no idea what to expect.  The Hater says that I'm a pessimist, but I would totally disagree.  

A pessimist would claim that the cancer is still growing, that the scans will reveal persisting or new hot spots, but none of it would matter because we're all going to die anyway.  Conversely, an optimist would claim that everything will be clean and my tumor marker will be zero, but it wouldn't matter because life is grand.  

I don't really think I'm an optimist, either.  Not in this situation, anyway. 

I'd like to think I'm taking a realistic approach to this dog and pony show, but I honestly think I'm too close to realistically look at anything.  

This leaves us with few labeling options.  If we ignore the laws of mutual exclusivity, you might say I'm waiting with clouded realistic expectations that have slightly optimistic undertones, except for the pessimistic moments.  That's not to say it's a collectively exhaustive situation either, because some days I don't think about it altogether.  

Some days I just hope that we have fudgecicles in the freezer.

Easter is a time of hopeful optimism, a time to rejoice that no matter what mokeys we're carrying around now, there is hope that someday it'll all be gravy.  And not just any gravy -- we're talking warm chocolate gravy that's simply divine.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

kindness of strangers

My sister's first car was a 1984 Ford LTD, and she ended up driving it for about 5 years. It was a faded butter yellow with a dingy yellow interior. Although most of the cars in our family had official names*, the yellow car was never officially given a name. In high school, sister's friends called it "the tank" or "POS", but those names never really stuck.

One afternoon Sister, who was still in high school, noticed that she had lost two of her hubcaps. Dad went to the junk yard and found two more, neither of which matched the originals or each other. The car was also short one seatbelt, so while at the junkyard Dad found another seatbelt. When Sister asked him why it was red, he answered, "I thought this car could use a little more character."

Poor Sister. None of her friends wanted to ride the strip with her, which was good because she never had to pay for gas. But it was bad because that meant she had to straight-pin the lining of the ceiling all by herself.

This yellow submarine was also equipped with a "princess door" behind the driver's door. You had to be careful who you let sit in the back seat, because the door would not always open from the inside. Usually the driver would have to get out and open the back door, like royalty. Or -- if you were the lucky person who could open the door yourself, we'd call you a princess.

And although all of these things added to the flair of the yellow car, you could argue that at least it would get her from point A to point B. Except that wasn't always true, either.

The yellow car didn't like the rain. This was a big problem for living in middle TN, because Murfreesboro sits on top of a rain magnet. It's always raining. In fact, The Hater likes to tell a story that one semester he had an evening class on the other side of campus from his dorm, and EVERY week he had to either walk to class or back to his dorm in the rain. Lots of rain.

We both lived on campus at MTSU, and Sister and I would frequently call each other to see what was shaking. Sister called many times from lots of different places in M'boro, needing a ride because her car had just stopped in the rain. She learned that she would have to check the weather before she drove home because she was afraid it would die on her out in the boonies. I need to establish that the two of us literally had to push this car dozens of times - it was a constant wet affair.

One time Sister called and said she was outside my dorm. An unexpected storm had hit the rain magnet, and I went down to help her. The drainage system at MTSU was nonexistant... so big rains left the roads full of water. I was wading calf-deep in water when I got to the yellow car. We had to push it to the nearest student lot, which was up an incline from where we were. We'd done this many times, and assumed the pushing positions.

But this time was different. There were the usual gawkers with umbrellas staring from the sidewalk, but this time some guy dropped his backpack on a bench and started pushing with us. Sister and I were surprised - this had never happened before.

We needed the extra muscles getting the car up the incline, but with this stranger's help, we got her to a legal place where she could dry after the rains were gone.

We were all drenched. The rain had been coming down in buckets. We'd had to wade the car to higher ground, and we couldn't've done it by ourselves. We apologized to the now soaked hero, who said it was no big deal, picked up his backpack, and swam on. We thanked him.

But sometimes a simple thank you doesn't seem big enough to cover your appreciation.

A few years later a friend of mine broke her foot. She called me because I was in nursing school at the time, which meant I must have known what to do. We iced it down and suggested she go to the ER. She didn't want to go. We told her to call us when she changed her mind. She lived on the third floor of a dorm that didn't have an elevator - and only outside stairs.

This girl was hard core stubborn. She decided that she'd be able to get to her car herself, and hobbled down three flights of stairs herself on her way to the car. She admitted that by the time she got to the parking lot she'd take a few hops, cry, and hop again.

She reports that a stranger came over to her and asked what was wrong. As she told the story between sobs that she was on her way to the ER because she thought she broke her foot, he put down his backpack and gave her a piggy-back ride to her car.**

I have no way of knowing if it was the same guy who helped us push the yellow car up the hill, but I like to think that it was. I'd like to think that he'll somehow stumble across this post and know that many years later, he's still remembered and appreciated.

I called Sister to verify the details, and she said that this morning she was thinking about the yellow car because she was driving the to grocery store and questioned hitting a puddle. She had to remember that her current mode of transportation would not stall in the rain. We both laughed and talked about how many miles we ended up pushing that car to higher ground.

* Poppy, Buttercup, Walter, Harrison, Trigger, Tonto, Bullet, Elvira, Eleanor, Neyland

In albums of pictures, Sister and I can't remember taking one of the POS yellow car. I stole this one from a google search.

** The girl in this story is Marianne. You can find a link to her page to the right under "Sightseeing". I don't think she'll mind me telling her story.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

not tired

The problem with not being tired at this hour is the later, not the now. I feel great right now. I'd be content playing video games for a few hours or watching a couple of movies.

But I can't... because I have to be at work at 7 tomorrow morning for a meeting. I wish I could justify to myself that it's an important meeting, which it is, but other than a sleepy face, I bring very little to the table. Which, in one way, is great because I'm just expected to show up.

Although I can show up exhausted, I'd prefer not to because it'd make for a really long day.

The Hater says he's ready for bed, but he's still playing Rock Band and not making any progress towards actually going to bed.

A yawn. Was that sincere or have I convinced myself that I'm tired? My brain probably doesn't know the difference.

But my eyelids do.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

misadventures in electricity

We've head a dead can light in the kitchen for a week or so. It's one of four overhead lights in the space, so missing one really made a difference in being able to see what you were doing.

On our list of things to do today was to get a new light bulb for said socket. This requires getting out the BIG ladder from the garage and clunking it around to get to the dead light.

The Hater took it out of the socket and the glass part of the bulb separated from the metal screwy-base. We took the info we needed to figure out what type of bulb we needed to get for a replacement.

Even as novices, we know it'd probably be smart to cut the breaker to the kitchen before we try to get the screwy part out of the socket. Imagine The Hater up on the ladder, cursing and reaching, while I'm on the ground trying to shine a flashlight up to him. It was awful, but we swapped it out.

We decided to go ahead and swap out the other three while we were already making a mess. The last three also came apart while he was trying to take them out. I really can't tell this story to give enough credit to exactly how annoying it was... so you'll just have to imagine... and then make it at least two times worse than that.

But it's done, and according to the light bub packaging, we won't have to change them again for 7 years. Even better, when we turned the electricity back on, they made the kitchen way brighter than it's been since we moved here.

You can see all kinds of dust that we'd not even noticed before. Fabulous. Thanks, Al.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

ten minute post

I have ten minutes to spare before I have to leave the house. So for the first time ever, I'm bringing you a ten minute post...

The Hater went to play poker this morning. I was going to sleep late, but the cat had other ideas. The Hater didn't win the tournament, but stayed around a little later to see the action on the tables. I've not heard how he's done with that yet.

While he was gone, I cleaned the house from bow to stern. We're talking dusting and vacuuming, people. My back is sore, so I must have done it right. I'm going to make The Hater do the bathrooms when he gets back to the house.

We still have laundry to do. That's our consistent weekend mantra... and this weekend is no different.

I've volunteered at the church to be on a team of note writers who send notes to people who are sick. My turn has come around again, and I've sent out 10 notes today. I want to say the last time it was my turn I had about 15 to write, but that was several months ago and I don't remember. But it's done, so that's good.

Except we're going to need more stamps. I'm out of stamps. That's another recurring theme in this house.

Tonight I'm volunteering for something that will take most of the evening. The Hater plans to get home shortly after I leave the house. That's not intentional timing, or so I assume.

My jonquils are doing well, but they're slow. Dad tried to force them this winter and gave them to me in a pot while we were home at Christmas. I've watered them and talked to them, and I now have about 8 or 9 shoots, some of them getting tall, none of them with yellow heads yet. I should probably turn the pot so that all the shoots don't end up growing like they needed more V8 in their diet. ( ///)

The Hater said last night that he wouldn't be opposed to a ficus tree in the house. So I guess we're now in the market for one of those, but I've got to read more about them to see if I've got a place where it will live. No sense in planning for herbicide.

When it gets a little warmer we're going to paint another coat of tinted sealant on the wood fence in the back yard. The other houses in the neighborhood who didn't seal their fences aren't looking nearly as nice as ours. The tint really makes a difference.

One more minute.

I think our tree in the front yard is dead. The Hater doesn't. He'll find out once it doesn't make any leaves this Spring. The shrubs look like they've done well over the winter. When it gets a little warmer I want to get a ground cover for the front bed. I've seen some around OKC that's a larger (leaves the size of your handprint) verrigated cover that seems to do well around here, but I have no idea what it is. We may also plant some monkey or mondo grass under the tree, if it lives, or under tree #2, if it's dead.

It's been crazy at work this week. And next week looks like it's going to be busy, too. Usually the third (or fourth) week of the month isn't as bad for me as the first and second.

Mom's birthday is tomorrow. Polly's was yesterday. HBDTY to you both.

Time's up.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

family politics

All of my adult family members are passionate about their political views, but none of them agree on the same things. This makes for exciting conversations at the horseshoe pit.

Dad says that his older brother, Jerry, was a Democrat until he started making money and decided to become a Republican. All I know is that all of my memories revolve around Jerry making Democrat jokes. He would even cut political cartoons making fun of Democrats out of the paper and mail them to Dad. Dad would of course reciprocate and mail political cartoons making fun of Republicans back to Jerry.

Jerry came to Tennessee to visit in the spring of 2001. While Mom and Dad were out, Jerry drove up with two 50 pound bags of fertilizer. He drove out to the field next to our house and spelled out “(MY DAD'S FULL NAME) REPUBLICAN” with fertilizer in the grass close to the road. The letters were five feet tall and nearly stretched across the entire field. He was so pleased and tickled with himself, and he made me promise that I wouldn’t tell anyone what he had done. (I told Sister because it was too funny, but she promised not to tell Mom and Dad.)

That summer I was in basic camp at Ft Knox. The letters I received from home explained that Jerry was chomping at the bit to hear if Dad could tell if the letters had grown out of the grass yet. Dad, who was supremely gagged, immediately knew that Jerry had been the culprit. The only way Dad could get back at Jerry was to pretend like there was nothing to report, and that’s exactly what he did.

Jerry called the house every day for weeks, asking questions about how all the plants were doing. Mom and Dad feigned ignorance and acted like everything was okay. Jerry called Sister and asked point-blank if the letters had come up in the yard yet. Sister, who had been coached by Dad, told Jerry that I had mentioned the fertilizer, but the field looked normal.

Truth be told – it was so extremely obnoxious that everybody noticed it. People driving down the road slowed down at the house to read it. Neighbors asked about it. Friends pointed and laughed. Dad couldn’t keep the field mowed short enough that summer… but it didn’t matter because those lush, dark green letters jumped out like the Queen of Spades after you led with a seven of diamonds.

Jerry knew that something had to be showing. He called family friends in Summertown, and asked them to drive to Lawrenceburg to see if they could see anything in the field. Good friends that they are, they drove over on a Sunday afternoon. They’d been sitting on the porch for a while before he asked Dad about the letters in the field. Dad explained to him that they weren’t telling Jerry that they could see them because Jerry wanted so bad to gag Dad. He went back home and called Jerry, telling him that he couldn’t see anything in the field, either.

It was fun for me because I was at Ft Knox for six weeks and I received installations of the story in letters from home. The best part is that Mom and Dad have a friend who has an airplane, and they went up to take pictures of the field from the air. They mailed a picture of the field to Jerry, who in turn was both tickled pink with its success and extremely gagged that everybody pretended not to see it.

* Dad says that Jerry also painted “(MY DAD'S NAME) REPUBLICAN” on the door of the catch’em house garage, but it didn’t last long before someone covered it.

my sandbox

This blog is my sandbox, my domain, my rules, my opportunity to practice free speech. If you don't like that, then you're welcome not to come back.

I have tried to keep the language between what would be considered PG by chance that an unsupervised youngin might land here looking for information about your hero and mine, Peyton Manning. (With the exception of one post that I can think of in the past 2 1/2 years.)

This is my gift to parents who don't monitor their children. I might watch the language I use, but I don't pull punches when things push my buttons.

I'd argue that I don't have a lot of buttons, either. Especially in the world of blogs. If I don't like what's written on someone else's blog, I don't go back. It's that easy. It's not my place to leave messages saying that I don't like what or how they posted or whatnot. It's their sandbox, and I go back to mine.

It's easy like Sunday morning.

The real purpose of this blog is to inform close friends and family about the boring drama in the lives of two full-blooded Tennesseans stuck in the land of Uglyhoma. It's a way to stay in touch without chunking up gas on I-40.

In short, this can be summed up by a quote from the great philosopher of our time, E. Cartman, on South Park, "Whateva! I do what I want!"

* Besides, if you don't like "The Bruce is Loose", then you must not be a Vol fan. This is the update: we're 26 and 3. The best season in the history of the program is a reason to celebrate. If this bothers you, you're the one with the problem - not me.