The Wink is a labor of love, occasional source of ire and constantly influenced by the toddlywinks in my life- my daughters. There's also the HunkyWink. You'll read all about them as The Wink unfolds. Please feel free to wink back!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Change, Change, Change....

Recently I've come out of whatever post-partum, delusional state I've been in for the past two years and decided two things:
1. I am not happy with the way I am living my life now.
2. I've got to start making changes now, rather than waiting for a decade to go by and hitting my mid-life crisis like global warming is hitting Minnesota right now (it's mid-winter and 45 degrees here).

To make the changes and move my life in a positive direction, I also have to move on, forgive and forget. Ah, but forgive and forget what, you might ask? Hold onto your seats kids, what I am about to tell you is not well known, even by my friends, and up until today only by my immediate family. Here's a little history - after less than 2 years at my company, I was promoted to my dream job, and a year after that got a very favorable review acknowledging my success in the position and their excitement for me to continue. I was newly married, expecting a baby, and in a great place in my career - what more could I have asked for? I'm soon going on maternity leave and trying to tie up all the loose ends before leaving. A month later, less than two weeks before I go on maternity leave, Iget a new "boss" (not to replace me, of course, I was assured).

Then bam! out of nowhere it hits - with a four-month-old son, I was fired from my job for "not fitting in". Did you think I was going to say for blogging? Oh, but that's so 2002 and I've learned from other bloggers' mistakes. Had it actually been for something I did, rather than a personal vendetta, I could have evaluated, improved, and moved on. Instead I was left with a lame excuse and fired by someone who had been my boss for less than 5 months - with 2 of those months being maternity leave.

At the time, it was a perfect excuse to tell friends, "I'm taking some time off to be with my son". True, well, partially. While I can't disclose any details, I can say I was able to take that time off without worrying about about cash flow. Although my husband thinks I should have really put on the screws so we could worry even less, for a longer period of time, I just wanted to be done with it. Even saying this is probably too much, but well, sue me if you can nail down how this post causes you monetary damage.

I tried doing the stay-at-home mom gig, and it was fun, freeing, and utterly exhausting. And also, just not for me. I also discovered that I need outside accomplishments and stimulation (when your only conversation is what color the poop was today, you starting wondering if you need to get out more). But I still wanted to be close to my son and not spend 80 hours a week in an office. So while I didn't take the first job offered, I took one that was close to the house, 9 to 5 hours, and one that promised working from home occasionally (ha, don't believe that one unless you get it in writing).

An ok job, in an ok, blah, suburban company. Nice people, nice environment, so nice I could puke from the gray walls and cubicles to match. Not my thing. The one good thing that came out of it was what I like to call my "Internet education". It's the reason I started blogging and how I ended up in my current job, so I can't complain too much. I worked with and found a great friend, who knows more about the inner-workings of the Internet than I could ever hope to learn. So when a perfect (and I mean, the stars aligned, angels sang, time-stood-still sort of opportunity) job just happened to be listed on Craigslist, I emailed, met, and accepted it within less than a week. I swear I wasn't even looking for a job yet.

Fast forward 7 months to a much better job, people I enjoy working with, and silly as it sounds, exposed brick and colors on the walls! Ah, I can breathe again. But still not moving in entirely the right direction. Have the right job, the right family, but something is just not clicking. For over a year, I had wanted to write a letter to the woman I saw as a mentor at my old job (actually she was my boss almost the entire time I was there, but didn't have the balls to attend the termination meeting). I kept telling myself to forget it, move on, wait and the urge to write will go away. But after so long the things I wanted to tell her were still on my mind, so I finally sat down and wrote.

And, wow, just getting it down on paper felt so good. Damn! (Yes, the swear is needed here.) If you are harboring any sort of ill-will or things left unsaid type of emotion towards someone, find sometime to get it down on paper, posted in your blog, or in your podcast. However, I take no responsibility for things that happen after that and I recommend you have someone else read it before sending it along to the recipient.

Did you think I would stop there? Nope, not a chance. After sitting on the handwritten version for a couple of weeks, I typed it into the computer, edited it several times, and took that final step. I put it in an envelope, licked it closed, and stuck a stamp on it before I could change my mind. The best part, I have absolutely no regret at all, in fact, I don't care if she never answers, because, at least I got to say what I needed to. This is not a "I-hate-you-my-life-sucks-its-your-fault" kind of letter. It's a letter explaining my dissappoinment, saddness, and lack of confidence in myself as I came back to who I'm really meant to be.

And that change I'm making, it's coming. For the past two weeks I've actually used a planner, putting down in writing what I need to get done, professionally, personally, and family-wise. Have I done everything on the list every day? Not a chance. But you know what, I'm getting there, one step at a time. Here's to more change to come and finally putting the past where it belongs!

Happy 2007 everyone - what have you always wanted to change? Start now, because no one is going to do it for you!

This has been a guest post by Kat: Woman, Wife, Mother trying to do it all (sometimes). Remembering that perfection is overrated and technology is worth every penny, but it's even better if you can get it for free. You can read her every day over at WOWIMO.

Thanks for the post Kat!



Saturday, December 30, 2006

Better Left Unsaid*

"I cannot even believe that you just said that." I said indignantly.

Stunned silence and then, "Great, just great. That's going to make the blog isn't it?"

"No, honey. It's fine. I won't put that up. I don't want you to feel like you can't say anything."

"Too late."

"Honey. I'm sorry. I promise, ok? But you have to admit, that'd be some funny shit. Tell me you wouldn't laugh or say Poor son of a bitch."

He gave me a "touché" smirk.

A couple of days passed. I can't remember exactly what happened, but it involved some serious antagonizing.

"Going to put that on the blog?" He taunted.

"No." I said with the inflection and petulance of a 14 year old.

"How about this,gonna put this on?"

"Sean, stop. I said I'd leave it alone."

I warned him, but he picked and picked like a kid in the back seat on an interminable road trip with an itchy, crumbly scab.

"This is going to make it on though, right?"

"No. The other thing is going on."

"Go ahead then. After all, the blogs with me usually draw more interest."

"Come on!" I said with mock outrage.

"Well, they do, don't they?" he said with a smile, very similar to the "I am totally lying" smirk and the "She is so busted" grin.

"Fine. You want me to do it?" I spat.

"Hey, I can't help it if I'm your best material." He said as he strutted back to the living room.

"Ok, then.."

* The other morning I was getting dressed in an outfit I had put it together in my mind the night before, and there, it had looked good. Dawn's early light showed another reality. The length of the pants on me in a word would be: abbreviated. I don't think of myself as having abnormally long legs, yet I often find myself lamenting a missing half to inch and a half on the inseam of my pants. Turns out that ridiculous wall sit to check the length in a dressing room isn't so silly after all. After moving around the house for 30 minutes in the usual pursuit of matching socks for Briar, unsoiled onesie for Avery, pony tail holder for my frizzy mop and clean coffee mug for the requisite cup of java, I realized that I simply could not abide the too-shortness of the pants. I walked over to a hamper to search for a solution. Sean came and stood beside me. I grabbed a t-shirt just to avoid explaining my seemingly imminent "I hate everything I own" melt down.

"What's that?" He said with a playful twinkle in his eye.

"Oh, just a t-shirt." I muttered quickly as I moved away.

"Oh, are you changing your shirt?" he asked as he side stepped to stay in front of me

"No, I ah, just wanted to make sure I had this." Turning away.

"Make sure you had it? Are you putting it on under the shirt you have on?" Stepping chest to chest with me, still with that adorable twinkle in his eye.

"No. I'm not." I said as I made a move toward the stairs.

He stepped in front of me. Dear god he stepped in front of me again like he wanted to play.

"Look, I just needed to find something." I said trying to move away.

"So you found it, right?" He said as he slipped in front of me still looking like he wanted to play.

I blew past and went into the kitchen as I said, "I just need to get something."

"What?" He asked with a grin I could feel even though I had my back to him.

"Damnit!" I thought. "If you have to know, my pants are once again too short. I am just trying to find one fucking thing that doesn't make me feel ridiculous."

The universe stopped for a moment and there was silence as Sean looked at me. He looked into my eyes, down to my pants, and then up again. He had such a look on his face of wanting to help that I was immediately sick with shame for having snapped at him.

"Why don't you start shopping at the Big and Tall shop?" He asked without a hint of sarcasm.

It hung there.

Big and Tall Shop.
You. Big. Tall.

And then, "You are abnormally huge, fat and hideous" seemed to ricochet off of every wall. A montage of every bloated menstrual cycle, every embarrassing moment of pregnancy immobility, every fat, clumsy and zitty teen memory danced before me.

A look of confused horror crossed Sean's face like a cloud passing the sun and he looked at me.

"Let me just offer you a piece of advice Sean, a guy should never, ever suggest to a woman that she SHOP AT THE GODDAMNED BIG AND TALL SHOP."

And then, having assessed the situation, he spoke. This is what the came up with:
"Well, what is the complaint you have about your pants? The legs are not big enough, the leg is not long enough, right? So a Big and Tall shop could fix that."


"I just-"

"Don't. Just don't. I can laugh because this is so ridiculous, but just please, don't say another word."

* Sean has respectfully requested that I let everyone know that whilst I am maliciously posting this story he is toiling tirelessly. He is in fact currently beneath our downstairs bathroom inhaling fiberglass particles as he hangs insulation in a dirty, damp, nasty, spider web infested crawl space. He is doing all of this in the name of my delicate, high maintenance ass that finds the toilet seat too cold to bear. For this, and much more I thank him, but it has touched nary a heart string that would keep me from posting this gem.


Friday, December 29, 2006

New Year's MEME

1. What did you do in 2006 that you’d never done before?
Gave birth to a second daughter.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Didn't have any. Won't make any.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Myself, our friend Sara, our friend Liz.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no.
5. What countries did you visit?
I chose to enjoy my country of origin.
6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?
Ummm, cash and free time?
7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May 14th and May 15th. The former being the last night I spent alone with Briar and the latter being the day that finally brought us Avery.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
See #'s 1 & 7.
9. What was your biggest failure?
October Discover bill payment, or lack thereof.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
There was the viloent stomach bug I had at 8.5 months pregnant that presented me with the distinct honor of vomitting in the carpeted lobby of my workplace.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Without question the Eureka Uno or our Outback.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Briar's. After 2 relatively short weeks she accepted the arrival of her sister.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
So many candidates, so not willing to divulge in this forum.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Siding and Huggies.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Meeting Avery.
16. What song will always remind you of 2006?
Invincible, or as we call it Broken Stuff.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier in a new way.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner, oh so very much thinner.
c) richer or poorer? Richer in life.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I am fairly uncritical of what I managed to accomplish in '06...cannot believe I just said that.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Done spent it marvelling at the ability our girls have of making everything magical.
21. Did you fall in love in 2006?
Yup, it was at first sight when they put our second daughter in my arms.
22. How many one-night stands?
None of those, but plenty of all-nighters as we tried to introduce our girls to overnights away (much better to do in a cabin unattached to others than in a 5 star resort with people next door.)
23. What was your favorite TV program?
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is pretty strong, maybe just the drunk who crashed near our home, and that's really settled into more pity than hate.
25. What was the best book you read?
Larry Miller, Spoiled Rotten in America...really it's just the most recent, but it's hilarious.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The off switch on Briar's piano.
27. What did you want and get?
28. What did you want and not get?
Can't think of anything. Or if Sean is reading: slippers.
29. What was your favorite film of this year?
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Gave the girls their first bath together. 33.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
3 more hours a day.
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?
Aiming for as close to clean as possible.
33. What kept you sane?
Sean. And WNTW on Friday nights...ooh, it's Friday afternoon as I type this!
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The mayoral debacle in the town I call home.
36. Who did you miss?
The cast of West Wing. John Spencer.
37. Who was the best new person you met?
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006.
You simply cannot please all people at all times. Ever.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Excerpt from Me & My Gang. So many afternoons dancing with a daughter in each arm.

Thanks to Linda at All & Sundry for this MEME. Happy New Year to all!


Thursday, December 28, 2006

MINACS Strikes Again

Why does the music have to get turned down at precisely the moment that I say
"What a backstabbing hag."
Why do I share a truly inappropriate video clip with my husband when his young, impressionable staff is around?
Ok, so maybe they aren't that impressionable, but still, I'm the boss's wife. Idiot!
Never fails, you try to be witty and it comes back to bite you in the ass.

I was sitting at the computer this afternoon working on an HTML email template. My two year old was beside me using her half of the monitor to watch Pluto's Ball for what I think may have been the 79th time. We had been enjoying ourselves, each engrossed in the what was happening on the computer when the phone rang. I picked it up and waited a beat.

MINACS 248-553-4112
"You're kidding!" I thought. The phone rang again.
"What the hell?" I said to myself.
Click. "Hello." Silence. Static.
"Ah, hello. Anabada?"
"No way. Anabada?" I couldn't believe they had found a new way to fuck my name up. I started laughing and said, "Oh no," and promptly hung up. I immediately typed "anabada" so that I wouldn't forget the clueless genius of the mispronunciation for future retelling.

Brring. The phone rang. I smiled thinking it was Sean and that I could share this with him. No such luck. It was MINACS again. Now, if I had been my usual, fact finding, internet sleuthing self I would have typed "MINACS" into Google before I ever posted anything. Have I learned nothing? But I didn't, so when I answered I did so with cocky, I'm smarter than you attitude.

"Ah, hello," a female voice with a southern accent said after the obligatory 3 second telemarketer phone call pause
"Hello" I said with incredible rancor. I could not wait for the opportunity to mock these fools again. "My name is Amanda, uh-man-duh, as any grade shooler with an attitude could tell you," I plotted.
"Ah, Annabelle or Amelia is it?"
"No. No! It's Amanda." I said with a mixture of contempt and delight.
"Oh. Ok. Well we are calling on behalf of the Subaru dealership. We just wanted to let you know that you are probably due for your 3,500 mile check up and you can schedule for whenever is convenient for you."
"Well, thank you." I said in a mortified whisper. My face went 8 shades of crimson as I realized that the operators from yesterday and today had resorted to getting their supervisor with a southern accent to come and deal with the bitch in New York who kept hanging up on them.

For the second time today I am apologizing for being a total idiot. The first had to do with the aforementioned video, which, for the record was "hella funny" according to young Pete, or Treat as I call him, but it's not like it sounds, Treat. It's an easy mistake. He works with Trina. Pete and Trina...Treat. Pina...never mind. Ahem. Despite having secured a name for myself in the annals of the telemarketer house of shame, I reserve the right to suggest that MINACS begin coaching their operators to check names before calling.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go schedule a routine service for my car.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Baby Nate has come home!


May I speak with Amdalah?

"May I speak with Amdalah? Amalda?" asked the female caller with the middle eastern accent.


"I am wanting to call to speak with Alamdah, " she told me.

"I'm sorry. You must have the wrong number."

"What is your name being?" she continued.

"What?" I asked as my mouth fell to the I'll be staying wide open and slack for the next little while position.

"I say, what is your name being?" She said a touch louder.

" No."

"You are not telling me what it is your name?" She asked with surprise.

"No. I am not telling you what is my...look, you have the wrong number. Thank you."

"It is ok, I do not need Amdalada. I can with you speak, miss." She said quickly.

"Ah, no. I have to go. My name is Amanda." Click. I hung up.

What possessed me to toss the correct pronunication of my name out in the end is beyond me. She was no doubt thinking, "Whew boy, that woman sured showed me!" Seriously though, is it just me or are the majority of tele-terrorizers foreign? Is the accent a sly way of throwing us off, making us more willing to listen or forgive things because they are not speaking their native tongue? Is practicing my name before they call too much to ask? Even if they mispronounce it, just so long as they try to stick with the original letters of my name.

Because I can, the call came from:


Feel free to call and ask for "Amanamigdala


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Did that really just happen?

Sometimes annoying people or behaviors are so outrageous that you almost have to nod your head and say,
"Ok, you know what? That was good. I'll give it to you, that may have been the most annoying thing ever. Great job. Way to be the best at what you do."
There are times when the behavior is so over-the-top ridiculous that you pause to see if maybe, just maybe, Candid Camera has come a'callin' and you are about to have some well coiffed every-man with sparkling white teeth chuckle and say,
"Ha ha ha, Amanda. Why don't you take a look right over there and smile? Because yooooou are on Candid Camera." Alas, it seems it's never a jovial Allen Funt plant, but another annoying person.

For example-

The people who argue with store clerks as you wait with your half gallon of milk. They usually have a companion waiting outside the store idling an obscenely bumper stickered car and blocking the entrance. As you head home that same car pulls into the lane ahead of you just as you reach the light. The ta-tick, ta-tick, ta-tickety of your blinker fills the car as you wait to turn, absentmindedly reading the bumper stickers ahead.

I brake for unicorns.
Get off my tail or I'll flick a booger on your windshield.
My other car is a broom.
I'm a Pepper.
I ♥Mariah.
Camo is my favorite color.
My child is an honor roll student.

Tiring of the bumper stickers you crane your neck to look up at the still red light. Surely they didn't pull ahead only to sit through the light. They could have done that in the other lane. The brake lights go off and you sit forward to put the car in gear. False alarm. Just creeping toward red. You inventory the menagerie of stuffed animals lining the back window of their car. You get to wondering about the Kleenex in the center of the Gund kingdom. Can they reach it from the front? Is it ornamental? Who uses it? Allergy prone backseat passengers? Your reverie is broken by the light changing to green.

They turn. They waited nearly five minutes with no blinker, and yet they turned. A block later the brake lights go on and you slow to allow them to turn. But wait, they aren't turning. What's that? Oh, of course, it's the dome light. They've stopped.They've stopped in the middle of the road alongside a parked car to ensure that you have no hope of moving forward until they have figured out what in the name of sweet baby james they are trying to do. What? What is the problem? Can't find the Kleenex? The still burning end of a cigarette shoots out the window and is quickly followed by an empty Mountain Dew can. Why do people like this even exist? Your eyes light on the honor roll bumper sticker again. They have bred. Damnit. Move.

Eventually they do move, but you already feel the remorse of having thought truly awful thoughts about somebody's mom or dad. But then again, maybe these people don't have a kid. Maybe that damn honor roll bumper sticker is just covering up a a rust spot on the back end. Maybe it's a used car and they didn't bother to remove the bumper stickers.
Clearly I need a hobby.



The other day I had something happen that truly left me in a quandary. Since it happened I have found myself in a slow burn as I try to either rationalize or relive it so that I might have the opportunity to respond with a clear head. Before I explain, let me clarify that I am not in middle school, I am not even in high school. I am a college educated adult of gainful employment, with a spouse, 2 children, a mortgage and 2 pets. I like to think of myself as capable of making adult decisions.

I think you'll understand my being perplexed when I found myself at a meal with 6 other adults, a 7 month old and a suprise pile of ham. What's a suprise pile of ham you ask? Let's see if I can explain it. I was feeding our 7 month old daughter while I ate the dinner Sean had set for me. It's a back and forth that I am pretty accustomed to, but perhaps the person responsible for the surprise thought that my mind was taxed by the split focus of pureed prunes from a jar and a plate of food. I was nearly finished feeding the prunes to my daughter and just about finished with my own meal when I moved to take a bite of ham.
"Hmm, what's this?" I thought. "I began with 2 slices of ham and now there is a heaping pyramid of ham on my plate. Literally heaping."

I turned to Sean, "Did you put all this ham on my plate?" He looked at me as if I had lost my mind, because of course he had been the one to put the ham on my plate when he fixed it for me. Then he looked at my plate, the plate that he had prepared for me with 2 pieces of ham. I watched him think it through, quickly tabulating the amount of ham he could recollect giving me and the substantial load of ham that now occupied nearly every portion of surface area on the plate. He shook his head. "I honestly didn't touch it." He said to me.
"Who put the ham on my plate?" I asked aloud, thinking that whoever had done it might speak up, explain why they had done it. Perhaps an, "Oh, I was just putting it there while I buttered my bread." Not that that would have made sense, but does tossing half a pound of ham on someone else's plate make sense either?
Silence, then snickering. "Hmm, will anyone say anything?" I thought.

No. A table full of adults and no one said anything. It was like I was in some alternate reality, more like a cruel school yard prank or an episode of a conniving reality show, not a holiday meal. Lest you think that I am some sort of Nicole Ritchie eating disorder mess let me just say that I am a huge fan of eating. I am particularly fond of ham. However, I am not fond of eating to the point of pain or just eating loads of shit, or in this case, ham. Call me crazy but the feeling of anything more than air coming up with a burp distresses me. I did not eat the unasked for ham, nor did I get an explanation. Am I crazy? Would you have eaten the ham?

I do not like unasked for ham
I do not like it, Man-I-am
Do not like it here or there
I do not like it anywhere.

Not in your house, not on my blouse
Not here or there, not anywhere
I do not like unasked for ham
I do not like it, Man-I-am

Could you? Would you? In a bowl?
Could you? Would you? On a roll?
Could you? Would you? With a meal?
Could you? Would you? On some veal?

Not with a bowl. Not on a roll.
Not with a meal. Not on some veal.
Not in your house. Not on my blouse.
Oh, no!

Not with a fork. No more a'this pork.
No wait and see. You let me be!
I do not like unasked for ham!
I do not like it, Man-I-am!

I do not like unasked for ham!


Monday, December 25, 2006

Adirondack Princess

Briar continues to dazzle with her sartorial ingenuity. Today she has paired a paired a blonde mukuluk and rose petal leotard, complete with its own pert tulle tutu. Underneath she is wearing the latest in size 4 Cruisers, a Dora motif and supreme fit. If she were to turn and face the camera you would see a meticulous arrangement of sparkles in blue, pink and silver along her brow.
She is a vision of Adirondack royalty ala Walt Disney.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Fleecey Crush

I have a crush. It's on fleece. Baby fleece. I know, I'm weird.

Since having babies I am truly outraged at the chenille, fleece and cotton confections available only in baby sizes. I must get to work on a business plan so I can start selling this stuff to adults. I can see a second home in the Bahamas already.

Try it.
Buy it.
Love it.
Be it.

Again, I know, I am weird, but it's just so soft. Prepare to be impressed.

I give you i play baby wear,in particular the Winterwear.


Friday, December 22, 2006


Have you ever been in a meeting and heard someone say something and thought,"Was that a word?" You look around the table thinking maybe you can exchange a knowing look with someone. And, nothing. No one else seems to be too concerned. No sign of rolled eyes or chuckling. You begin to think you might be a little crazy or just a lot stupid. Yesterday morning I had a meeting with my boss, a co-worker and a person who uses office space in our building, and who, for reasons unknown to me has the entire world seeking new ways to do her job for her. Perhaps I exaggerate, when I say "the world", let's just say, a significant number of people I once considered of at least average intelligence are working overtime to keep this woman in a job.

My boss: "So what needs to happen is one quarterly mailing and monthly emails, right?"

Woman: "Uh, yeah, I guess."

My boss: "Amanda can you handle these emails?"

Me: "Sure."

My boss: "Great. And , Mellissa, the mailings?"

Woman: "I just need to get the company's impicia so I can git movin'."

Me thinking: "Impicia? She's going to get the company's impicia for mailings? Would you really have a word so similar to indicia? No one else is saying anything, maybe I heard wrong"

Woman: "Once I have the impicia I can really get things goin'."

By the way, she does not have a southern twang. She is from here (a place with no twang). It comes across as if she just doesn't have it in her to say the whole word.

Me thinking: "Ok. I didn't hear incorrectly. But WTF? I swear it's indicia."

Woman: "And as far as the emails I want to en-crouch the info tight so it's interestin'."

Me thinking: "What the hell is encrouching? Could she mean encroach? That makes no sense. Encrouch."

Woman: "The whole email thing is hard for me because my computer tells it has programs it doesn't. Remember Jim, that time when you came in and it told one thing but had none of it. Weird."

No, go ahead, read it again. I didn't type it wrong. Didn't even embellish. It was even harder to understand when she said it. It's like she's got an inner scrambler. I can't decide if she's brilliant and is just getting out of doing anything, or if she is slowly short circuiting and approaching total meltdown.

I watched her, judiciously keeping my trap shut. She was completely disheveled, from the animal print fleece coat with Big Mac sized faux wood buttons over a candy apple red camisole straining to cover her plentiful chest, to the peeling white snakeskin pumps that looked like they'd lost a fight with an animal, perhaps a raccoon or feral cat, topped off by a black dress with off kilter lace accents over heavily snagged stockings. Her hair was to my best guess, styled with tree sap. She smelled a bit like closing hour, and inexplicably had a haughty air about her each time she looked at us.

Me thinking: "I really can't believe my boss is making us do this. She is just so...yech! Guess I'll just have to suck it up."

Woman: "What's real awesome is having folks,you know, such as yourselves who can support my efforts on things like this really well read newsletter. Not having a staff, well wait, actually now it's like I do. Cool. So can I expect to see stuff soon?"

Me: Trying to prevent my head from simply exploding.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Contractors, or as I've come to know them:
Lying sacks of shit

I work for a chamber of commerce, which is often mistaken for a Better Business Bureau. I can't count the times I have listened as people have spun their tales of woe: thousands of dollars paid without a single nail hammered or leak fixed, renovations that never passed the demo phase. There is nothing I can do, but I hope in some way the fact that I listen and commiserate helps. Having been burned myself, I doubt it does. After our wedding we bought a drafty, leaky roofed, plumbing challenged piece of shit lovely older home with tons of potential back in 2003. We did what demo and rehab we could ourselves, which was actually a lot. We gutted, rewired, stripped wallpaper and hardwood floors, hung sheetrock, insulated, installed a fireplace and updated fixtures. We opted to contract for: roofing, plumbing, flooring, windows, and furnace installation. I went into each relationship thinking that they really wanted to help us, that they admired our chutzpah for taking on as much as we did, for not being wusses and having someone else do the grueling dirty work.

Knowing what I know now I think they resented not being given the bigger job for the greater mark up. I was pregnant for most of it so I couldn't even try and play the cute, dumb chick card. I was just the bitter knocked up mouth. Together we were penny pinching jack asses to each and every one of them.

Gerry - the extraordinarily long waisted, mouth breathing, yellow toothed cousin of our banker, Jack.
Jack "Just sign here and we'll work it all out once the baby comes" Smith. Jack "I don't really remember saying that, it's really just not possible" Smith.

Irv - the affable, dim, fast but shoddy carpet installer. "All I'm saying is I wouldn't want my kid falling on the kind of pad you picked. Gonna pop down and never bounce back up. But you do whatcha want."

Shawn- the manorexic, chains-moking ex of the blonde cross-eyed hussy from classified.
Shawn "You know that isn't my fucking responsibility anyway" Jones.

Sloth- the slack jawed giant who's girlfriend unexpectedly delivered a nearly full term baby they "didn't know was in there" over the weekend and would probably be out for a few days. No quote from him, just thinking about it I start rocking back and forth, humming.

A tributary cascading down our bathroom wall created by the new roof.
Errant carpet staples, roofing nails and ductwork shavings.
Vertiginous piles of scrap metal and foul cigarette butts.
Checks already written and a maternity leave almost completely spent in the aural wake of porch destruction-
Uh, did you hear that last bang? Fuckin' porch must be rotten. Yuh want us to tear it down?
I found myself biting my nails, cursing my luck, wearing steel toed boots and setting up rain pots. Once it was over I stood, like Scarlett over Tera, bosom heaving, calling God as my witness, and vowing to never hire a contractor again.

Two winters in the Adirondacks and it was clear our house needed something more than we could do. Try as I might to make do with blankets under doorjambs and heavy drapes on every window, the cold air found its way in as easily as if we'd thrown the doors open. You could make payments on a Maybach for what we were sending off to Nimo each month. New siding and storm doors it was.

Enter Fred.
Fred "I'll tell ya, I'm not like these other guys. I just want to do right by my customers" Hall.
We signed the contract in July. I wrote the final check today. December 21st. 5 months. I'm no mathemetician, but it seems a touch long.

I told Fred from the get go that I needed him to be honest with me. Let me know when your guys will be working. If they aren't coming that's fine. I promise not to be a pain in the ass customer if you'll just shoot straight with me.

"Absolutely Amanda. Matter'a fact, I am going to be here when the guys start. I want to make sure these guys do right by you. Ok?"


Fast forward 3 and a half months.

"Hi, Linda? This is Amanda. Fred was going to be here last week to get our job started. Could you give me an update?"

"Who now?"


"What was Fred doing for you? Was it a roof?"

"Ah, no. Siding and doors."

"Ok, Amanda. I am going to have to get back to you. Fred had to leave town unexpectedly."

A week later some guys showed up to begin tearing the siding off of our house. Sean went out to talk to them and see if Fred was ok.

"Aw, yeah, Fred. Been up at a huntin' camp for couple weeks, does it the same time every year."

Great. Strike one.

Another few weeks pass, no sign of Fred.

"Linda? It's Amanda."

"Hi, what can I do for you?"

"The guys haven't been here in 3 weeks. Any chance I could talk with Fred?"

"Hmm, that's going to be hard Amanda. Fred is out of town visiting his mom."

"Could you have him call me when he gets back?"

"Actually we'll be heading out on vacation and won't be back for about 2 weeks."

Right. That'll be strike two.

In all fairness the guys working on the house were great. They worked in some truly horrendous weather and made a laudable effort to keep their cigarette butts out of the yard. They loved on our dog and marveled at the hunting prowess of our cat, Barnaby, who became their feline idol they day he caught a chipmunk and "turned it inside out." And, they waved to Briar as she would supervise their progress from the windows. But then, I said contractor, not subcontractor or laborer.

Back to Fred, our contract stated that we would have 4 storm doors installed, 3 purchased by Fred and one that we already owned.

"That's great. No problem Amanda. We'll get those two doors and put up the 3rd you got."

"It's three plus the one we have."

"Oh, oh sure, ya that's right. Ya got the one and we'll get three, you just pick'em out. Now tell me again Amanda, which doors are they going on?"

"One on each porch and then the back door."


Two weeks later we got a call that our doors were ready for pick up, which we let Fred know about. A week went by.

"Linda? Hi it's Amanda again. Just checking up on those doors."

"Amanda, Fred says that you don't need four doors, your house only has three."

"No, we have four doors."

"So Fred'll need to buy...3 doors?"

"We already picked them out at Lowe's. I let Fred know they are ready for pick up"

"Four doors?"

"No, three. The fourth we have."

"Ok. We'll get those picked up and installed."

Two weeks later.

"Linda? Amanda."

"Hi Amanda. What can I do for you?"

"Just wanted to check on when those doors might be getting installed."

"Let me have Fred call you."

Worry. Not a good sign. Fred called.

"Ah, yeah, Amanda? 'Bout those doors. How many doors you got on your house, cause there are three doors here, but I thought you only had three doors and you have one, so one of these we don't need, right?"

It made my head spin. Was he trying to confuse me or was it really this hard?

"No, we have four doors in need of storm doors. We own one that needs to be installed. We picked out three as per our contract with you."

"Now see, that's what I thought. I says to myself, now the contract says 4, and I know Amanda is a bright girl, so maybe...ya know what I'm saying?"


"Sure. It's confusing. No worries. Can someone come by with those?"

"Sure thing. My guys'll be there first thing tomorrow. You'll be there, right? 8am."

"You bet."

A week later.



"Yup. Sorry."

"Let me call Fred."

So Fred showed up with the guys and they installed the doors. One is upside down and backwards, but it does keep the cold out so what the hell do I really care if it looks like an "allep" door rather than a Pella. He also tried to collect payment on our shutters.

"So that's $175 a pair and ya got, what, 2, 6, 9, 10, so 5 pair. And that's, let's see...ah shit Amanda, I don't have a calculator, but you just do those numbers and write a check. I'll wait"

"Ah, Fred? You quoted us $65."

"$65? Oh, did I? Geez, did I?"

"That's what I remember."

"Well let's just do whatever I told ya. I thought they were $175, but if I told you $65..."

How can you get confused between ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY FIVE DOLLARS and SIXTY FIVE? Am I that much of a tightwad? That's like blind date/internet connection bad.

"I'm 6'1" and blonde," he says.

"Well, look at that. You are 5'1" and...Thai?"


It was so inconsistent and impossible to believe I couldn't even get mad. I just took a breath, quickly inventoried all we had done for the house and realized that moving forward anything we need will be an emergency. No more contractors, just the occasional repairman. Breathe. Be done.
$175 became $65. I wrote a check. A big fat check, though not as big and fat as he would have had me write.


For Spidergirl24

I appreciate your comments about Suzy Kolber. Truly I do. Running the risk of sounding totally spineless, I'll go ahead and concede that Suzy knows her stuff. She is clearly passionate about what she does and works very hard, indefatigably even. I know that it can't be easy being a woman in the field of sports broadcasting. My comments about Suzy were more about personality, kind of like saying you prefer golden retrievers to cocker spaniels. Not saying cocker spaniels aren't good dogs, I just prefer a joyous, lumbering 100 pound dog to a frisky, lap sized, wavy haired licker. Perhaps I was too harsh on Suzy. I don't want to be seen as having anything in common with the imbecilic vitriol of Andy Rooney.

I know that there are plenty of people who prefer dainty, mild mannered girls. I am nearly 6 feet of straight talking tomboy. I have plenty of detractors. Plenty. I agree with and appreciate your sentiment that we are all entitled to our opinions. Or am I opening up another can of worms? For the record I think Melissa Stark and Robin Roberts are great. Along with a number of other female sportscasters. Would you agree that Jeanne Zelasko is annoying?

Let's do this, Greenbay is playing Minnesota tonight. I'm a huge Favre fan, you're a Kolber fan. We can combine the two and both be happy.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post and respond. I really do appreciate it!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Santa Says: Write to Tanner

Just got a little candy cane scented missive from the North Pole.
Jolly Old Saint Nick has asked that all of us moms and dads see if we can't slow down for ten minutes and write a letter to a friend of his. This friend's name is:


Tanner is a very cool 6 year old. He has all the regular things you would expect from a 6 year old, including an imagination that helped him to craft a drawing of an airplane he could fly to visit a new cousin. What you wouldn't expect is that he also happens to have Muscular Dystrophy.

Tanner is very brave about it and focuses more on having fun, than being sick. Some very special people got together and held an auction to raise money for MD research. The auction is over, but Tanner is still a 6 year old.

Do you remember being six?
Do you remember what it felt like to get a letter in the mail?
Didn't happen very often, but boy when it did. Super cool.

Now imagine having the power to give that kind of incredible feeling to an adorable little boy. I sent something out yesterday. The girls and I are going to send something else out this week. I am sharing Tanner's information with you all so that maybe you could send him postcard from your corner of the world. I'd even wager that sending it will bring you just as much of a rush as receiving it will Tanner.

Letters for Tanner
1518 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON
M6R 1A4

For more information you can visit Tanner's aunt.

Monday, December 18, 2006

An Eye for Fashion

Slim cut bottoms. Effortlessly chic, rumpled top.
Perfectly tousled tresses. Killer shoes. Devil may care attitude.

I am going to try and get over the fact that she calls my shoes "Dragons." It touches a raw nerve from having a size 9 foot by the 4th grade. I am going to believe she calls them that because they drag as she walks.


Ready for Some Constructive Criticism?

Who is ever ready for constructive criticism? My boss frequently asks me to rewrite or retool letters and articles he has written.
"There is absolutely no pride in authorship, so edit away." He says to me.
I take the stuff back to my office, read it and wince. Then I set about doing whatever I can to
a) shorten it
b) eliminate at least 3 exclamation points per paragraph
c) try to remove all: "really, really"s from the piece.
I inevitably have a moment when I think, "What the hell are you doing, girl? He's your boss. You can't tell him that this is awful. You can't say people will stop reading before they even start."
In his case he means it, or at least he has never let on to me that he doesn't. He warmly and enthusiastically accepts and embraces the changes I offer.
Last night when Sean asked if I was ready for constructive criticism I braced myself, smiled weakly and said sure, hoping to maintain the kind of attitude my boss has.

"Quit saying ya all the time."


"You say it over and over again."

"Is that all?"

"It's just over and over again. Ya, ya, ya."

Ok. I can do that."

"You write ya this and ya that. Ya, it comes off as either valley girl or north country hick."


"You shouldn't be saying ya, it should be yeah."

"Well, but I thought yeah was like Yeah team. Go. Yeah. I thought ya was like Oh, ya, that's what I'm talkin' about."

Heaven help me, I have no idea why the examples of what I thought things sounded like are so not anything I would ever say...Yeah team. That's what I am talkin' about. And for that matter the referring to myself as "girl" bit up top. What the hell? Sorry.

"No. Yay team would be written: Y-A-Y. Yeah is:Y-E-A-H, and that spells Yeah, let's do that."

"Y-A-Y? Are you serious? That's not really a word is it? Yay?"

"Honey, I'm just telling you, what you are writing, this ya thing, that is just either Like totally, ya or Ya, so we went fishin' up'n der and it were cold'n shit."

"I had no idea."

"Well there you have it. Constructive criticism."

"Ya. I mean yeah. Now I can do it right. Yay!"


Not Farvre Everyone

Oy, that was a bad play on words, even for the wife of one of the greatest fans of cheesey puns in the world. I'm providing you with a bit of low brow humor, that guarantees that if Hollywood ever comes knocking, it won't be for a cheese commercial...Farvre. Wisconsin. Cheese. Work with me people.

Please pardon the hateful sound of my voice. Yuck.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Miller Time

I have very little time to read. Read books that is. I can find all the time in the world to read bits of nothing here and there on the internet. For the most part I find that Jeff Goldblum's character in The Big Chill had it pretty right on when he said that the length of a magazine article should not exceed the time it takes the average American to take a crap, or the time it takes an American to take the average crap...definitely a distinction worth pondering on the can some day if you happen to not have a People Magazine handy. Most of the things I scan on the internet follow that guidline, though as internet obsessed as I am, I can honestly say that I stop short of taking a laptop in the bathroom to entertain myself. Actually, I don't get why people take reading material in there. If you aren't ready to go, wait. If you are, is the toilet really where you want to do your reading? Why not do your business, grab a beverage and snack and sit in a chair? No cold air on your bottom, no mirror reflecting something you aren't interested in seeing, just pure comfort and pleasant reading light.

Sean and I do however make ambitious trips to the bookstore, leaving with our arms laden with books. Oh the promise. Beach reading, massive historical tomes, low budget regional books, children's books, and whatever else appeals to us (for Sean that means cool cover designs, for me that means tactilely that a word? Tactilely? In a tactile way?). Sean is more consistently aggressive at finding time to read, I tend to waffle and end up leaving the books on the night stand. A recent exception to this was a book that I bought that surprised us both. I am usually pretty predictable, buying either the latest Oprah Book Club type paperback or straight forward pulp fiction with a medical examiner, detective or lawyer protagonist. I also buy paperback, partly because I am cheap and partly because I prefer to be able to fold my book in half and hold it in one arms get too cold in bed otherwise. Sean met me at the check out on this particular book buying spree.

"What'd'ja get?" He asked looking over at what I was holding, as he twisted his body so that I couldn't see his selections until he gauged how many I had.

"Oh, just this one book." I said non-committally, not wanting my lean selection to influence how or what he purchased.

"Spoiled Rotten...what?" He asked trying to read it.

I hadn't even looked at the title. It was a hardback. Full price: twenty something dollars. Holy shit.
" Spoiled Rotten America*Outrages of Everyday Life," I read as he gave me a questioning look.

In that moment I had a choice, I could say that it had been a mistake, put it away and then have Sean ditch all his selections. Or I could declare that it was perfect, that the idea of the book and all that it stood for was exactly what I had been seeking. I went with the totally lame declaration of awesomeness. Sean received said declaration with raised brow, but he let it go because he had some spectacularly awesome selections of his own and the idea of upsetting the Oh my god she is getting a full price hard coverness of it all was more than he could bear. So the book came home with us. $25.95 + tax stayed at Barnes and Noble. Or Borders. I have blocked the memory of paying full price.

The 25+ dollars worth of book sat on the nightstand until one night, after putting the girls to bed I found myself not wanting to go downstairs to get sucked into the internet, and not yet sleepy enough to sleep. What to do, what to do? Hmm, let's give this a try, I thought as I reached for the $25+ book...better laugh for me damnit. It was ok. It held my attention long enough for me to get past how fucking cold my arms were from both being out to hold the book open, and don't think I didn't try to get it to stay open with one, it wouldn't. I liked his way of being funny. Self-deprecating, catty, blunt. Lots of typical "I am a man, I love breasts. And asses. And breasts. And asses." I exaggerate, but he does talk about liking to look. A lot. By the end of Chapter 3 I had begun to give up hope that this book would really make me laugh. But oh my holy hell how Chapter 4 delighted me. This guy makes very simple, straight forward commentary that has you nodding your head and laughing. Then he tosses in some reference that makes you think:

a) Am I stupid for not knowing what the significance of the Olduvai Gorge is?
b) Should I be laughing?
c) Is he uncommonly brilliant?
d) Seriously, am I stupid? The second Boer War? That means there was a first?
Jesus I am stupid, let's skip ahead past this unwieldy reference.

Chapter 4 is titled My Slacks at Saks. I am not kidding when I say that I was curled in the fetal position, crossing my legs to avoid wetting myself, tears streaming down my face as I tried to read and keep my gasping laughter as quiet as possible so as not to awake the girls. And that was nothing compared to what happened to me when I reached page 179 and read his tale of the young, attractive masseur. I have literally not laughed this hard since reading Me Talk Pretty One Day. It embarrassed Sean, not the book, my reaction to the book. I read it on the T each morning. You know the kind of hysterical delight that makes you wish it would never end, that you could be suspended forever in breathless, teary laughter? Big, ugly, snorting, tearful, knee slapping reading. The only thing I didn't do was elbow the folks next to me as I read passages aloud. For months, just the name Sedaris would send me into mad fits of laughter...believe me when I say that snorting suddenly can be awkward when it happens in an elevator with dignitaries riding to the Israeli consulate.
This new discovery of Spoiled Rotten has made me into an incorrigible "Larry Miller groupie," as Sean puts it. He has a blog, Larry, not Sean. I have combed it. Trolled it. Lingered over posts.
Can we not all agree that when we find something that works we ought not mess around? Ladies, jeans. Find a good fit, buy an armload, right? Men, beer. Find a good one, buy it religiously. I figure since we no longer have the wealth of stand up on TV and most sitcoms aren't funny, if I find something that makes me laugh I am going to follow it The Office being an exception, as I laugh hysterically at the previews and then forget the show exists until the next week's previews begin running. So ya, I checked out his blog, reread the Massage bit. In fact I have shared the bit twice with other people, not sure if they are laughing at the bit or at me. I don't really care, it's hilarious. So is Larry Miller. I am hoping against hope that the 40 or so pages I have left hold at least one more of those spastic laughter inducing passages.

My gift to you: buy it cheaper than I did. Take your 8+ dollars you save and buy a nice Alex Delaware or Kay Scarpetta paperback.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Cart Pushing Train Wrecks (Them, not us)

Sean and I went out Christmas shopping the other night. We had a small window, as we knew it was prudent to get home before bedtime. It doesn't matter how great a sitter is, or how thorough your notes are, toddlers are maniacal. Throw an infant into the mix and it's over. So 6 to 8pm it was. We agreed to follow a list and a predetermined store route. Understand that this is difficult for me because I instinctively and involuntarily fight anything that resembles a planner, a priority list or an authentic schedule. Try as I might to be on time or 100% prepared, I fail. Luckily I pull off enough MacGyver type fixes in moments of urgent need that I escape being branded a complete imbecile.

First stop:Toy-R-Us. I hate that store. I hate it like I hate spiders. I'm not kidding. I might just subject myself to a Fear Factor type challenge to avoid it. Granted I don't have the buoyant rack capable of saving an entire jumbo liner of passengers from a watery death required to be on that show, nor would I normally be willing to get oiled up and set in a glass case of creepy crawly whatever-the-fucks to serve as some sort of post dinner fantasy for those sickos tuning in at home. But I just might do it to avoid the Toys-r-Us floor to ceiling neon displays with lemming tendencies and checkers who make no effort to conceal their contempt that you are preventing them from lighting up a joint in the stockroom. Sean also feels ill at ease in this hateful store, whispering to me at one point, "Is it me, or does it look like all the guys in here are deviants who belong nowhere near children?" His face pales and he says, "God, do I look like a creepy guy for being in here?" Something just seeps into you when you're in the store, like the bad slime stuff that bubbled up in the court room in Ghostbusters, transforming everyone from happy-go-lucky to ugly and mean...some of the people come in ugly and mean to begin with, so you can imagine what they're like after 20 minutes...
I realize this is another one of those sweeping generalizations that serves to further fluff the cushions in the little corner of hell already reserved for me. Screw it guys, just make me stay in the doll section of Toys-r-Us.
30 minutes. Gone. Never to be returned. They better love the...jesus, I can't even remember what we bought.

Fun stop 2: Target, for a kitchen, a princess nightgown and play thingie that has a rotating seat for Avery and space for Briar to play as well. After typing that why do I suddenly feel we have another variation on baby sister tether ball in our future? We managed not to bitchslap anyone at Target, which I personally think has landed me on the short list for sainthood. What exactly is it with these women who think that they should have immediate access to anything that catches their slow witted fancy?
I need to get at those Boggle games. Can't waste time asking her to move. Let me just, ok, here we go, if I move a little closer I think I can radiate enough body heat off my ample bosom to let her know I am back here. Maybe I can get my pleated Mom jeans front-bulge to brush her hip.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Am I in your way?" I ask.
She looks at me as if I have broken wind, grabs the Boggle, hosses it into her cart alongside a mountain of Bugles and Fiddle Faddle and nearly body checks me to speed sloth over to a Bratz Doll display. Keep moving, Amanda. Keep your eye on the ball. Just 55 minutes left. Must find the Princess nightgown. No problem, it's Disney, the Princesses are everywhere.
WRONG! Not a single princess sleep thing in the joint. Not a Cinderella, not a Sleeping Beauty, not even a Belle or Barbie knock off. What. The. Hell. We darted over to the girl section in search of a t-shirt we could modify. Nothing. I began to feel like my face was taking on the crazed look of the japanese women I saw on tv when I was 8 pummeling each other to get one of those creepy, oddly coiffed, butt faced Cabbage Patch Dolls.
I never had a Cabbage Patch Doll. All I can say is : No! Crimped? Permed? Promise me none of you out there are buying this crap!"

Looking at the time and gauging the how vital it was to eat before returning home we grabbed a kitchen (cute, non-plastic, comes with pots and pans but will still be at the end of our driveway three years from now with a "free" sign on it) and beat feet out of Target.

Because I am resolute in my refusal to ingest anything purchased at a drive thru, we ended up in a sports bar. It made the folks at Target and Toys-r-Us look like society's elite. I am not kidding when I say that it felt a little like Scottie beamed me to a planet that was just about to see its last generation of life as they had ceased to evolve after the stage of picking and eating mites from one another's hair. I hate to leave on a foul note, but you really don't want to hear about my meal or the light beer I used to sterilize my silverware.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Emergency Bulletin

I cannot believe I am dropping everything I am doing to hop on here to post a link to a site I just discovered. Between last night's post about WNTW and the breathless exclamation of the coolest fucking site ever ya'll are going to start to think I am a TV and internet zombie. It's not that, it's just that this site is so different, so refreshing. I don't want it to go by unnoticed just long enough for me to become attached only to have to close its virtual doors. I apologize for the f-bomb, but truth be told I use them all the time. I refrain when around the girls (most of the time) but once a tomboy in the scene shop, always a tomboy in the scene shop. Besides, every time I say "flipping" or "freaking" I just think:
We all know what I want to say and am not saying. Why bother?
It's like drinking an O'Douls. C'mon, just grab a 7up or drink a beer.
This site, Babble is incredible. It's a parenting site for those of us who don't believe that creating a life meant we had to forsake being cool, swearing and having a sense of humor outside of Mickey's one liners on the Mickey Mouse Playhouse. I feel like much less of a deviant in the parenting world knowing that there are other people who believe that Maisy is a poorly drawn, uninspired quasi-rodent who lulls our children into an unimaginative stupor with its inane "stories" which are really just 6 sentences spread over 8 pages amounting to nothing. Nothing I say! Thank you Shalom Auslander for calling Lucy Cousins out for the sham that she is.
So while I desperately love my girls, love being a mom, and believe that Santa, fairies and unicorns all exist somewhere, I am exceedingly grateful that I have found this little, trash talking oasis that allows me to have certain thoughts about certain things that don't fall into the "perfect parent" category.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Jacket

Confession No. 372 - I am a What Not to Wear addict.

I think I have talked about my predilection for home shows, but it shades next to my passion for What Not to Wear. I am..

A fiend.
A zealot.
A devotee.

This is not to say that I necessarily remember to tune in on Friday nights. My delight in certain shows and my ability to tune in at the appropriate time are most definitely not in synch. Last year one of Sean's favorite activities was watching my face on Wednesday nights in the three minutes between American Idol ending and The Biggest Loser beginning. I forgot without fail each week, and each week I would sit on the sofa watching the screen like a caveman realizing just how much fire was going to change his way of life
Can this be real? You mean I won't have to eat the meat raw anymore?
Are Bob and Jillian really on the screen? Is it really on?

I'd turn to Sean as if to say,
"Honey, can you believe it's on?"
And he'd snort and say,
"Every week. Every week this show is on after American Idol. And every week you react like it's out of the ordinary."(Insert pathetic, wounded face.)
"It's awesome. I love that you forget."
But getting back to the title, "The Jacket." Any What Not to Wear watcher worth their salt knows it's all in the jacket.

Stacey: What a jacket does is complete the look.

Clinton: A jacket can really take a great pair of jeans and make them spectacular.

Stacey: Do you see how incredibly tiny your waist looks with the way it's nipping in right here under the girls.

Clinton: We want to see you in a jacket.

Stacey: Shut up! That jacket makes you look gorgeous.

If you don't know Stacey and Clinton you owe it to your self to tune in, but for the love of god TLC:
I apologize for the ridiculous, president of the fan club, bosom beating scene you are about to wirness...Don't split them up! Stacey and Clinton do not work alone, just witness the Macy's ads. As Perez Hilton would say "Whoreanus!" Stop these trashtastic episodes with them apart. And no more couples. Blech! Bring on the new moms, the newly single and newly thin. Help the heavy and unattractive, the poor and the clueless. Do not, I repeat do not ever waste another episode on a vain wife or middle aged beauty queens. Stick with the formula. Please, I beg you.

Back to the jacket. After watching the show many times and trying to imagine what Stacey and Clinton might say to me,

Stacey: Would it kill ya to style your hair?

Clinton: A diaper bag. To work. Change a lot of diapers there do ya?

Stacey: Do you have a thing against pants that fit or are you trying to fit in with the hip hop set?

Clinton: Do you even own a leather belt?

Stacey: Do you often go for hikes during the week, or are the boots a statement?

Ugh. I decided that between Briar calling my tennis shoes and hiking boots "Daddy shoes" and the Stacey and Clinton comments (and yes I realize that by invoking their names so often I begin to sound sort of like the woman who stalked David Letterman for all those years. No stalking here, just cheap, slightly vain musings.) perhaps I should consider wearing a jacket from time to time. So for the last few days I have worn jackets to work. You'd think I'd been coming to work smeared in my own feces.
"Wow. You look incredible."
"Hey Amanda. You look...amazing."
"Oh my. You look so nice."
Now, don't misunderstand, I love a good compliment like any self-respecting woman who has the occasional moment of "Oh my god, I can look kind of hot from time to time." Sometimes you just get to feeling a little weirded out when everyone from the construction worker outside your office to the teller at the bank tells you how great you look with the inflection more on the "you" than the "great." Like it's so far out of the normal way things are that you would look good, let alone great. But I guess that was the intention, right? To get out of a rut. I have to admit, I performed differently. The jacket, the response, my posture, they all came together to infuse me with an enormous amount of confidence.
There is definitely something about looking down past a jacket that nipps in at thewaist and seeing pert little amber leather toes peeking out from beneath killer slacks that seemed to have slid on, assessed my shape and said "Let us hug, caress, and cling as best suits your body" made me feel like a milllion bucks. In a jacket I am no longer Charlie to anyone's Lucy. There will be no kissing ass in a jacket, because in a jacket, it's your ass that gets kissed. Put me in a jacket and I am nearly 6 feet of pure, sassy tomboy sparkle. Stacey and Clinton would be so proud.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Candy Cane Surprise

I have started this entry several times in this last half hour. I know what I want to say, but everything so far has sounded so contrived. We bought our tree Saturday. Briar helped to decorate the tree, in fact she spent most of Friday night and Saturday declaring how she would,

"Help to mommy decorate the tree, me. Briar."

We were understandably excited to let her do it. I painstakingly examined our box of decorations and deemed half of our surprisingly small inventory to be unsafe. Putting aside the off-limits ornaments, we let Briar take different pieces to put up. Very few made it to the tree, so Sean picked up the slack while Avery cheered him on. It was about 5:30 when we finished. I was getting up to make dinner when something happened. There was a shift.
The light in the room changed, the glow of the white lights softened the room, and lacy patterns danced on the plaster walls and ceiling, the candles outside flickered and cast bubbly shadows on the window sills. Briar stood by the tree with a candy cane ornament I had fashioned from pipe cleaners last year. I had not put it out.
Her knees touched inward as she squatted ever so slightly, her bottom pushing out and her little fingers pressing together to hook the candy cane on a limb. Its perch was so precarious, the ornament so crude, I heard myself gasp. She walked away from the tree with a beaming face of accomplishment, never realizing that she had been watched. Something about that picture took me back - I was able to taste the magic of Christmas Eve, the unbridled excitement. That little bit of wire and colored felt, hung by a 2 year old seemed to hold the same mystique as a plate of mostly eaten cookies on Christmas morning with a thank you note from Santa or Santa's cane in Miracle on 34th Street.

In any case, I wanted to share the picture. Maybe you've seen something that has made you believe, or even just pause to be grateful for the little bits of magic in everyday life.

I wish a little bit of magic for everyone this year.


Not Being a Cat Person

If your cat takes a crap in the bathroom...

And you deposit said crap in your toilet...

Only to make your toilet sputter and back up...

Do you have a magnificently prodigious feline crapper?

Or is it more of an issue of having a fantastically shitty toilet?

Your wisdom is much appreciated.


Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Subaru Travel

Ever see one of those commercials that shows a sleek, sporty car hugging the curves of a road that weaves through rugged, mountainous terrain that makes you feel like if you just had that car you would go hiking, camping and generally live the wholesome active life that seems just out of reach?
Let me just give you a little peek inside one of those cars:


Conference Bladder & Other Maladies

I had an experience today that made me wonder a little bit about the whole overactive bladder thing. You see I had what could only be described as a fierce case of conference bladder. Let me preface by saying that after one small, flimsy styrofoam cup of the lukewarm, brown water being served I passed on drinking anything. I found myself desperately needing to go to the bathroom every single time the door to outside was closed. It was reminiscent of the last month of my second pregnancy when I had such a round the clock dire urge to pee (and give birth) that I feared doing anything other than crossing my legs as I sat absolutely still would result in a big wet mess.

Today's schedule wasn't all that bad and I was able to go (read: sprint) to the bathroom about every 45 minutes. Unfortunately, in the time that I had to wait I found myself afflicted with another condition that seems linked to quiet public settings: howling opera belly. I mean my god. I was appalled. Mortified and utterly appalled. I'm sitting there, next to a guy who says things like "It'll be resort casual." What the holy hell is resort causal? I have clean, dirty, and can't quite tell so I'll wear it on an early run to the grocery store. So I was sitting there in my chair (in only-dirty-in-a-certain-light business casual slacks and blouse) when I heard a noise that I did not immediately discern as coming from my person.

"Hmm, sounds like somebody should have snagged one of those gnarly stale muffins," I thought to myself. More distant rumbling sounded and it started to sound like a sort of reedy warble. "Good grief, that is ridiculous. Eat a donut, will ya? I wonder...oh shit. On no, please stop, maybe if I cross my arms and twist in my seat it will...shit?" Realizing that this potent wail was coming from my stomach, my perfectly well fed stomach which had a Harvest Bar, a handful of Peanut Butter Panda Puffs, a cup of coffee and a glass of milk, I panicked. Funny thing about public setting banshee stomach, the more you panic, the louder it becomes. And the more people around you turn away to ease the embarrassment, the more it resonates like a poorly rehearsed chamber choir. I wanted to disappear. My stomach wanted to be a star. It was hell on earth. I am not kidding when I say that I was so beside myself with the urgent need to pee and the inability to quell the caterwauling of my belly I honestly thought that I might open my mouth to ask a question only to have a thunderous belch come out, or that as I was released to dash to the ladies room I would suddenly find myself suffering from Fox TV type flatulence that would have me running home to die a hot cheeked death of humiliation. Before total decimation of self-esteem by public flatulence, my stomach eventually shut the hell up and "resort casual" man took center stage.
I owe someone somewhere something, perhaps a sacrificial rotisserie chicken.


Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Made Up Words

I may live in the Adirondacks, but that does not automatically make me a fan of local girl made it big Rachel Ray. Perhaps it's because I don't hail from these parts that I am unable to hop on her perky band wagon. Maybe it's that I don't like cooking shows. Or maybe it's that her schtick makes me feel the kind of uncomfortable, borderline panic of having to walk through the cosmetic and fragrance section of a department store during the holidays with a hangover. I find her scratchy voice obnoxious, her self-deprecating humor forced, and her aw-shucks thing more annoying than an eye tic on a cross country flight. She falls into what I like to call the "point guard" category. Another famous "point guard": Suzy Kolber . My loathing for them is palpable. Short, bubbly, aggressive, obnoxious.
So you'll excuse me if I don't celebrate the entry of Rachel's E.V.O.O. word into the American Lexicon. Ooh goodie. Cause frankly I was having a bitch of a time getting extra virgin olive oil out of my mouth. Come on. Can we leave her at Magazine Empress, TV Show Host, Cookbook Author and General Annoying Personality ? Do we have to bestow upon her the power to change our language?
I don't want this. I don't want this like I don't want to hear someone tell me that they need to get "orientated." When did this happen? When did saying "orient" cease to satisfy? Why did must people add the "ate"? These are the same people who say "supposably" , "anyways" and "irregardless." They aren't words people. And speaking of words, why do people say "verbiage" Are "words", "content", "copy", "language", "fill" and countless others not good enough?
Being that I am all fired up let's just get one more thing out in the open...Eatery. I bet Rachel Ray goes to eateries. It just sounds so, wrong. I cannot remember the last time I said,
"Hey honey? I feel like going out. But I really don't feel like going to a restaurant. Why don't you pick out an eatery?" Restaurant. Cafe. Bistro. Kitchen. Bar. All perfectly acceptable. Each capable of handling the responsibility of representing a place where you can eat. And yet, we still have people inserting Eatery in Downtown Shopping Directories.

Do you have a word that sticks in your craw?


Monday, December 4, 2006

I Love Your Earrings

Let me start by saying that I woke up this morning, a work from home morning, and decided to add earrings and a necklace to my standard jeans and fitted long sleeve shirt uniform. The necklace is six strands of silver loops, strong enough for toddlers and infant to hang on/from, yet delicate and sprakly enough to make me feel pretty. The earrings are a bright green stone that for the life of me I cannot remember the name. Bright, accented with silver, and simply stunning against the eggplant of my shirt. Bear with me, I am getting to something.

I took a quick run with Ella, our dog, to the grocery store to pick up name tags and tights for my event tomorrow. The name tags, of which they had none, were to be for attendees, the tights were for me. Just before leaving I did the requisite check of the teeth for whatever, the hair for errant bits of toddler snack, and the front of my top for another whatever. Everything checked out and I appreciated the little oomph from the jewelry. I buzzed through in record tim to prevent Ella from fogging up the inside of the car. A quick scan of the check outs led me to an express lane of 12 items or less. There was a woman ahead of me in what I guess you'd call a canvas duster. Under said duster was some sort of mohair or chenille sweater in a shade of pink reminiscent of old cotton candy. The woman's hair was, if this is possible, both permed and crimped and was the exact shade of yellow as Janice's, the closed eye guitar player from the Muppets. She had on the kind of loafers my grandmother used to wear that I have always associated with people with abnormally small feet and a life focus on church and salads not involving lettuce. As I unloaded my 5 items I heard the checker say,"Oh my gosh. I love your earrings." My head immediately popped up and a smile spread across my face as I tossed my hair over my shoulder so she could see the green stone...maybe she'd know the name. The "thank you" was just about to pass my lips when Pinky McDuster spoke up and said, "Thank you" tossing her brittle locks aside so everyone could see her earrings, her purple rhinestone hoop earrings. Hoops the size of english muffins. I literally did a double take. Who knew? A duster and rhinestones.

As the woman left I thought that surely I'd get a little something. Maybe a "Cute necklace" or a "Ooh, what stone is that?" I tucked my hair behind my ears and gave one of those "I am so sweet and kind to anyone I meet. I bake casseroles and pickle things. I floss daily and believe in unicorns" kind of smiles. But nothing. I got absolutely nothing. One big, "Will that be debit or credit?"


Make the Shaking Stop

You ever have a situation when you knew that you were being goaded? Every part of you is screaming,
"Hey. You! Don't bite. Don't do anything. Most certainly of all don't hit send and think that it will make one spit (Yes, 'spit'!) of difference."
Rationally I know that we are each the protagonist of our own story and that no matter how magnanimous, mature, or just fucking zen a person is, they are still the star of everything happening to them in life. So, duh, they aren't going to understand your position. They are not going to respond,
"Ahh, now I get it. Of course. I'm sorry, I was being so selfish. Now that I see it from your point of view I totally get where you are coming from."

And I know that it is entirely possible that in this very moment in time the source of my aggressive, jabbing of the poor innocent keys of this computer anger, is probably perched on a counter somewhere huffing to whoever will listen about my nerve, but as I said before , "We are all the...blah blah blah." I get to say this. But of course I don't feel any better. I feel worried that this person is going to see this entry and that I may spend the rest of the day shaky and anxious and generally pissed that people are stupid. Sound harsh? You bet.

I suppose these sorts of situations are exactly why Charles Schultz created the whole Lucy, Charlie and the football scenario. I think we all tend to distance ourselves from the Lucy character and joke about being like Charlie. We like to cheer for the Charlie types in movies and books, but we don't want to be him. We don't really think we are Charlie, at least I don't. I like to think of myself as having at least a modicum of power over the Lucys in the world. In a lot of areas I have a strong Lucy radar and I am able to put my hands up, start stepping slowly backwards and saying,
"Ya, know what? Why don't you just go ahead and hold on to that ball. Wait for the next Charlie, cause damnit today it ain't me."
Then of course there are days like today. I was pulled inexorably toward this dance. Every part of me stood on end, I knew I shouldn't do it. I fought the urge several times, from several different computers. But then, I did it. I held fairness and right and wrong up as my battle cries. I couldn't let these things go unsaid. No, I had to speak up for all those who had gone before me.
So very, very stupid.
I was warned, but I did it anyway. And everything I was warned of came to pass. I lay flat on my back, looking up at the sky wondering why the hell I thought I'd be able to change the outcome. Pissed me off too. Because I want to believe people are better than that. I want to believe that you can follow the rules, be kind, suppress the urge to do questionable things. I want to believe in altruism and trust. It also pissed me off on the totally fallible human, protagonist of my own story front.
"I'm right damnit. I don't care what your side of this is."
I really didn't want to hear another side and I really didn't want to hear from anyone else that I should listen. But the side of me that believes in an inherent goodness in most people, did listen. And when she saw a sliver of light, she shined as much right back as she could. And I know this sounds totally lame, but the two bits of light found each other, and the shaking anger of before, the unwillingness to see the other side? It slipped into the ether as fast as it had arrived.
Having started this entry at noon, and finishing it now just after midnight, I am relieved to say that both sides have spoken, both sides have assaulted their keyboards and both sides will live to spar again.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

A Chestnut

Another year is hurtling to a close, and I find myself pausing to look back. This year has seen the birth of our second daughter, the looming reality of passings of those dear to us, and losses that have already seared exquisite scars.
My mind reels as I explore this new capacity for joy and pain as a parent. I am realizing with each milestone my daughters experience, the day is drawing closer that I will turn and face milestones of another kind. My immersion into this beautiful family I have created has led to a natural distancing from everything and everyone else. It is not that I don't think of them, because I do. And it's not that I don't love them, for I do today more than ever before. I cannot explain what happened the day I gave birth, but everything about how I look at the world and respond to it has shifted, fallen into its rightful place. Looking back to an entry I wrote in August of last year I can see that my favorite things have not changed much except to include our wonderful new daughter to this affair of the heart. The entry was inspired by my grandfather, who I am blessed to say is still here, and who has embraced and encouraged my surrendering to the desire to live and breathe my role as mom and wife.

A Few of My Favorite Things
August 2005

I love it when my grandfather turns me on to an author or a song. We'll be in the middle of an ordinary conversation about very ordinary things and he will quote some little snippet from a poem or song.

"That's Robert Louis Stevenson, I think."

"Do you know Oscar Hammerstein? Great lyrics."

A few weeks back we were talking and I was sharing a story about having something remind me of his visit after Briar's birth. How I was feeling him in the house all over again.

"These foolish things, " he said.

"Huh?" I mouthed. Did I sound silly?

"These foolish things. Oh, how the ghost of you clings. It's a song. Very good. Do you know it?"

I didn't. But I knew I would seek it out. What I wouldn't give to have my grandfather's gift for language! Luckily I have him. I am posting the song lyrics, then I'll write some of my favorite things, though I am no Hammerstein.

A cigarette that bears a lipstick's traces,
An airline ticket to romantic places,
And still my heart has wings...
These foolish things remind me of you.

A tinkling piano in the next apartment,
Those stumbling words that told you what my heart meant,
A fairground's painted swings...
These foolish things remind me of you.

You came, you saw,
You conquered me.
When you did that to me,
I knew somehow this had to be.

The winds of march that made my heart a dancer,
A telephone that rings,
And who's to answer?
Oh, how the ghost of you clings...
These foolish things remind me of you.

The first daffodil and long excited cables,
And candle lights on little corner tables,
And still my heart has wings...
These foolish things remind me of you.

The park at evening when the bell has sounded,
The 'ile-de-france' with all the gulls around it,
The beauty that is spring's...
These foolish things remind me of you.

How strange, how sweet
To find you still,
These things are dear to me,
They seem to bring you near to me.

The sigh of midnight trains in empty stations,
Silk stockings tossed aside, dance invitations.
Oh, how the ghost of you clings!
These foolish things remind me of you...

These foolish things remind me of you.

Just a few of my favorite things-

The face my daughter makes when I swab her ears after a bath -
she becomes totally still, places one hand over mine, opens her mouth ever so much, stares straight ahead and a smile flirts with her face.

The feeling of Briar's hand tracing circles on my skin as she nurses.

The smell of her breath.

Fresh sheets.

Coffee I didn't make.

Briar's laugh.

The smell of the skin on Sean's forehead.

That first moment at the airport.

The smack of a softball hitting the inside of a mitt.

Making Sean laugh.


Running till it hurts.

Laughing till it hurts.

Making my grandpa laugh.

A Few of My Favorite Things
December 2006

Standing in the hallway seeing my daughters sleeping.

The etchings their births have left on my body.

Hearing Briar sing Pretty Little Blue Bird.

Avery's throaty laugh as I rub her feet.

The coolness of Avery's chin against my face.

Create World Peace tea with Sean.

Listening to Sean do bedtime.

Running with Sean.

My family.

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Friday, December 1, 2006

Guilty Pleasures

I think we all have them, these little guilty pleasures.
Maybe it's sneaking into the kitchen to get a "glass of water" and popping 2 or 3 (6.5)peanut butter granola cookies in your mouth, washing them down with milk from the jug and then walking out of the kitchen performing a swipe of the mouth reminiscent of a cat after a can of tuna.
Maybe it's sleeping late on Saturdays.
Not washing your hands after going to the bathroom. (Shame on you! I don't careif you didn't pee on your hands!)
Watching soap operas.

We're getting perilously close to my guilty pleasures.

I love coffee. I love it like some people love beer. I drink it every morning with a ferocity of passion you just can't know. I stand in front of the coffee pot to drink the first cup and I swear to you I lean down into the counter as I hungrily gulp the hot sweet liquid so that I can add Coffee-Mate for the second cup that much faster. It's sick. I have a problem. But I am so obviosly stalling here.

It's embarassing. None of you are going to follow my admission with secrets of your own. You'll just read and loftily scoff:

"Leans over in front of the pot. Ha. And CoffeeMate, how can she call that coffee?

You lucky lurkers, you!

Ok. Here it is - I love certain celebrity gossip. Not really traditional celebrity gossip. I love celebrity pregnancies. I started with a site called Celebrity Babies but then I discovered Celebrity Moms. I am not interested in seeing photos of mothers desperately shielding their children. I want to see the glowing, jubilant faces of pregnancy.

It's so tacky, right? So voyeuristic. But let's put it in perspective. (Sure, rationalize the addiction.)
I am a mom of two, a toddler and an infant. I worship all things pregnancy, parenting and baby related. I believe in the beauty of pregnancy and society's (Ok, some of society's) willingness to embrace this time and allow women to revel in the changes in their body. Pregnancy is nothing short of miraculous.So what I get with the Celebrity Mom site is images of people who are experiencing this incredible, awesome- in the truest sense of the word- time in their lives. They are happy and glowing.
I get cool ideas on pregnant mama secrets , funky, hip baby accessories, Daddy treats actually Dads are left out in the cold. Not a lot of cool stuff for them, just like with weddings, 100% focus on the women. Quick trip to EMS for a "diaper day pack" and we can treat good old dad!

Anyway, back to my guilty pleasures. In addition to the whole celebrity baby gawking thing...

for the record, I have the same incorrigible fascination in public. I am the sappy chick across the aisle at the grocery store smiling at you with starry eyes as you mull over whether to buy Cherry Garcia or Oreos. I'm sorry, I just get like a little girl who thinks she's spotted a unicorn.

My other one is a totally dated stereotype that I am so ashamed of that I pathetically try to hide it from my husband. We both know he knows, but it's embarrassing. I will watch any, and I mean any home improvement, home makeover, home renovation show. And I'll take it one step further and you can replace "home" with "person" and I'll watch that too! Teach me how to transform my bathroom, teacher, cousin, or backyard. Show me why pleats are bad on people with hips and paunches. Illuminate for me why I should consider tiki torches. I get chills just thinking about it. So many possibilities,so many houses, looks, co-workers that are so much worse than mine.

But god, I don't ever want to have someone say, "So what'd you do Saturday night?"

"Oh, you know, watched 2 hours of Design on a Dime , 2 hours of What Not to Wear , couple episodes of This Old House and something called, "When tragedy meets the surgery table Dr. Divine can help."

So when I'm watching and I hear someone coming I quickly click to C-Span or ESPN.

"Yup, just checkin' up on thing in the Senate...or that Bass Fishing Tournament I've been so looking forward to."

One person's Mallomars are another's...hell, I don't know.

Questing for Quality Caffeination

Two things before I begin:
I am often guilty of steadfastly refusing to buy anything without a red clearance sticker on it, or, if it's online shopping, without the benefit of a discount code. Second, my husband owns a small business (which gives me the mindset of a small business owner). These two things are often at odds with each other inasmuch that as a bargain shopper I'll go to Target or Sierra Trading Post , but as a small business owner I feel strongly that people should buy local as often as they can.

So on a recent trip to Lake Placid I tried to be the happy go lucky out of towner popping into the local coffee shop for a cup of coffee. We drove through the small town that we stayed in, but found no coffee shop. I don't like to think of myself as an addict, it's such an unsavory word, and yet it really fits in this area. I need my coffee. I can function and be cheerful without it (to many I am a cruel form of torture in the morning thanks to a preternatural need to chat...not many overnight house guests anymore, hmmm.) but I would prefer to pass my mornings with the benefit of a good cup of joe.

Actually, turns out I am a bit of a coffee snob and probably not worthy of using as casual a phrase as cup of joe... After 2 hours of being awake from a night of many intervals of awakeness at the hands of our diabolically sleepless when traveling toddler, my husband spotted a Dunkin Donuts and suggested we go in. I struggled. I'm all for John Goodman, but he's not the voice I hear for my lifestyle. I do not want to be a member of a world that runs on Dunkin. But hot and caffeinated was beginning to sound crucial to my ability to function. We hit the drive thru (Does anyone actually bother to get out for "Dunkin"?)

"Could we get 2 medium coffees?"

"How would you like those?"

"Do you have Splenda?"


"Ok, a little cream and Splenda in one. Cream and sugar in the other. And a low fat blueberry muffin."

The 64 ounce styrofoam torpedo that Sean passed me was the color of meringue, you know the little bits on top that get the tiniest bit carmelized? This liquid was so far removed from being coffee with cream...and then the taste. The pure Splendaness of best guess is one packet per ounce-
24oz coffee
24 packets Splenda
16 oz of transfat loaded milk-like creamer with a shelf life of 72.9 years.

By the looks of Sean I could tell he hadn't fared much better by opting for sugar. I would have pitched the stuff out the window, but then I wouldn't be able to talk about vandalizing the parking lot of our next disappointing stop in our upstate NY coffee gauntlet. And let's just say the muffin weighed 2 pounds and made up for its lack of fat (I have my doubts about that) with boulder sized granules of sugar on the top.

We stopped at a little cafe that I had disliked the last time we were in town (Oh my god I sound like a cross between Shelly Long in Troop Beverly Hills and Goldie Hawn in Overboard.) Sean stayed in the car while I went in and bought 2 unsurprisingly lukewarm cups of weak coffee and a stale, baked something or other with a mystery berry. To make room for the weak coffees I opened my door and poured out our first cups. Not half way through the first one and the parking lot started to flood, as the muddy river water looking liquid still remarkably hot, spread across the blacktop.

"Jesus Manda!"

"Well what would you do?"

"I don't know, but god!"

"Well quit your blaspheming and move it. Gawd!"

So we pulled out of the lot and I tried to sip some of the coffee, but it was more than just cold and weak. It was bad.

Sean piped up," Isn't there a Starbucks somewhere in town? I mean look, those people have a Starbucks cup."

The girls were beginning to wake up.

"I don't know honey, but now we are those people."

He gave me the "Huh?" look.

"Those people, the ones that come from out of town and nothing in town is good enough..?"

"Ya, but this is different, this coffee is bad!"

We rounded a corner and saw a cafe with a cute name. I really didn't want to go in. I just knew that at this point anything but the wavy haired goddess of coffee was going to be crap. He parked out front and I dutifully got out of the car with a sigh. Another $10 in hand. The jolly round European owner was chatting with a woman as I walked over to the coffee pumps (that always means lukewarm and sucky, it's a fact). The two kept talking as I doctored the steamless cups of coffee. I figured they were village chums.

I was wrong.

The jolly round owner was a talker. We talked politics- he said "Spitzer von't oh-ccomplish anyzeeng, he ees a boolldog" (huh?) we talked economic development- but WHY eez Glens Falls zo expensive, eet'z not like eet'z ~sniff~ Saratoga (Enough with the Saratoga!), we talked real estate- "Zey are all zecond homes." (Bet you have one too Mr. Uppity European cafe owner.)

I got to the car and handed Sean the coffee. He was annoyed. He almost said something, but somehow intuited that perhaps I might have experienced something annoying inside. Smart man.

"So?" he asked.

"It's shit."


"It's shit. I promise. Damn near 30 bucks of piss poor coffee and trashtastic pastries."

He gave me an exasperated look, took a sip and tried to hide the way his nostrils flared in offense as the "coffee" hit.

Cue babies. Both girls, wide awake and demanding.

"Let's just park and walk somewhere," he said.

"Ok." I was ready for a beer. Oops, not yet 10am.

We got the car set and the girls ready to go. Sean came back from tossing the cups and had a super shit eating grin on his face.

"I am the best. You know why I am the best? C'mon, why am I the best?"

This is the point in the movie when the drug fiend would go over to her pimp, rub herself all over him and say,"C'mon baby...and then slip into a fiercely gutteral scream and spit, "Quit messing with me and give me the goddamned shit."

I know that was harsh, but please understand, we were up most of the night with a 2 year old, and we'd been through much bad coffee and had not had the luxury of a shower. There are simply not words to describe what that is like. It takes you to another place, and it's a bad place. After you come back you need coffee, the freedom to swear and the latitude to use incredibly harsh analogies metaphors similies ways of illustrating your pain.

Let's cut to the chase shall we:

2 Venti Nonfat Lattes
1 organic Vanilla Milk
2 Reduced fat apple coffee cake slices
2 Starbucks Holiday CDs

Fucking Coffee Nirvana

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