Saturday, January 31, 2009

A love letter.

Today is my parents' 40th wedding anniversary.

Forty years. And, like, they're still speaking to each other.

First all, my mother would probably like to point out that she was a child bride. And at different times, they've both proclaimed that they can't believe they were allowed to get married at 20 and 22.

But my dad needed a roommate. And he's said that when he saw my lovely mama crossing the room towards him at a fraternity mixer, he knew that she had him in her tractor beam and that he was toast.

I am so very, very fortunate to have these two remarkable people as my parents.

Lately, I've come to appreciate that one of the greatest gifts they have given me and my brother is the freedom to be ourselves. Because my parents are who they are. They don't always agree. But they always love each other. And they always love us.
And so, Poochie and I are free to be our slightly nerdy, rather interesting, you-know-you-want-to-sit-at-our-table selves.

My folks are always behind the camera, not often in front of it. But here's the happy family they have created. It's a crew I'm proud to be a part of.

Friday, January 30, 2009

No wallowing! Only looking ahead!

Tonight, I went out for margaritas and fish tacos with my friend Kate. We've known each other since her freshman year of college, my sophomore year. Yes, we were sorority sisters. Like, omigod!

Anyway, there is no other human on this planet who is as laid back as Kate. So, if you're ever looking for a booster of "it's not you, it's him, and it's all good," have a margarita with Kate.

And now Foxie Doxie and I are hanging out. I have a mud mask slathered on my face, and Foxie was dying for a taste. And I'm figuring out the camera built in to my new laptop. It was one of those times in life when you know something amazing is about to happen.

Obviously, Foxie tasted the mask, and obviously, it wasn't to his liking.

And how much do we love the vintage school map? I've found that it makes me want to travel and explore, which is exciting.

Something else that is exciting? A friend's mom e-mailed me and asked if she could give my e-mail and number to the son of one of her friends. I sat on this request for a few days, given the events of this week and the fact that the man in question has the same first name as The Ex-Boyfriend Formerly Known as Mr. Wonderful.

Could I really date someone with the same name?

I've decided that not giving him a chance just because of his name would be like someone not dating me simply because I'm short. So tonight I responded and gladly gave my contact info. After all, Foxie and I are looking forward, and we're looking for adventure.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tomorrow is No Wallowing Friday. Yay!

Today was a very hectic day at Corporate Behemoth. I ran from meeting to meeting to meeting, but I was only there physically. Emotionally? Mentally? I was thinking about how my swollen eyelids resembled pink, translucent jellyfish. I put mascara on this morning, but it was sort of a joke. I didn't even think of wearing my contacts.

I'm allowing myself a little wallow today. I dined on peanut butter toast and am starting to watch all of the episodes of Grey's Anatomy that I have stored up on my DVR. It's almost a year. I'm a little behind.

The episode I just watched is from last season. A woman with a brain tumor has been going on and on about her boyfriend ... a boyfriend whom no one has met. No photos exist of him. Finally, the good Dr. Shepherd gets her to realize that the boyfriend is a product of her brain tumor.

It's all very melodramatic and is the stuff you either love or hate about Grey's. The tearful woman looks at Shepherd and says, "He was never there?"

And that, my friends, is the way I feel about Mr. Wonderful.

He was never there. The man I fell in love with never actually existed. Because surely the man I fell in love with would never have berated me for buying yogurt that had an illegible expiration date on it. The man I fell in love with wouldn't have kicked a clinically depressed Cha Cha out of his house, saying he couldn't have me acting despondent in front of his daughter.

I'm starting to feel sort of ... completely and totally pissed off.

Alice left me a voice mail today. She is pretty much the most no-nonsense person on the planet. She basically said that this whole dating Lisa thing means he cheated on me and that he's a total dick and deserves to die and it's just yet another reason why we, collectively, are so glad that I am rid of him.

My therapist said that more often than not, the cheater gets cheated on. Like a karmic circle of life.

And BFF's husband, whom I talked to at 11:30 last night? When I was sobbing and realized that one thing that sucks about being a grown up is that you don't have people you can call at 11:30 p.m. because everyone you know is asleep? And I realized that I could call BFF, who lives in fucking Africa, except that that bitch had already left for work?

Her husband listened patiently to my tears and my tale of woe. "My ex is an asshole!" I wailed.

BFF's hubby didn't miss a beat. "Which one?"

And that made me laugh. So, puffy eyes and homicidal plans aside, I'm going to be just fine.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe.

My friend Annie came over tonight. We were going to do a burning bowl ceremony - you write down all the things you are ready to release, forgive, forget, and you set your intentions for starting anew as you burn the paper. It's good stuff.

We got to talking. As you do. And as the one and only person who knew both me and The Ex-Boyfriend Formerly Known as Mr. Wonderful separately before we dated, Annie had a bit of an update.

You see, towards the end of our relationship, Mr. Wonderful admitted that he had feelings for a coworker. Let's call her Lisa, because that's her real name, and if I had her phone number, I'd post that, too. But I don't.

I was devastated by the revelation, and hurt even more deeply by the fact that he refused to stop seeing her in social situations. I understood that they worked together. I didn't understand why Mr. Not-So-Wonderful wasn't willing to cancel social plans he had made with Lisa despite the fact that he knew I was horribly, painfully, words-can't-describe upset by it all.

Mr. Not-So-Wonderful promised me that nothing would ever happen because Lisa was "really religious."


Dude, I have seen Footloose. I know all about church girls.

He kept his social events with Lisa. And at one point, he admitted that while things between the two of us were rocky, he figured that if we broke up, it would take a long, long time before he was ready to date anyone. But when he was, he could date Lisa.

You can see where this is going.

Annie went to a party at Mr. Wonderful's house. He and Lisa are dating.

Evidently, "a long, long time" is a few weeks.

I told Annie I assumed that my picture was no longer on his refrigerator.

Annie replied that no, the fridge was covered almost entirely in drawings of bunnies. And that's when I totally lost my shit.

Drawings of bunnies made by the bunny-obsessed Ladybug with crayons and paper that I gave her. Drawings displayed in the kitchen where my Monaco Grand Prix poster hangs because it looked better in his house than in mine. The kitchen right off the bathroom that I helped remodel, just up the stairs from the basement where I spent an entire weekend of my life organizing a playroom and family room.

That was going to be my family.

And then The Ex-Boyfriend Formerly Known as Mr. Wonderful went off the deep end. I've honestly written him off as crazy. His behavior was so irrational and hurtful and just weird. I was lucky to get out.

And yet? He still has power over me. I didn't think he could still hurt me. But I was wrong.

We didn't do the burning bowl ceremony. I wasn't in the right frame of mind to look forward clearly and look back with no regrets. I was too busy crying.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lovin' you is easy cuz you're beautiful.

My dad has this buddy named Jack. Jack has never been married and is a confirmed bachelor. Basically, Jack has been alone too long to ever be anybody's partner. He's too set in his ways. And I'm not even kidding - he and my dad took a road trip once and Jack cleaned his side of the windshield, but not my dad's.

He's not malicious, he's just completely unaccustomed to considering other people or making concessions around what other folks might want.

I live in fear of getting All Jacked Up. Right now, I'm taking a lot of joy from doing what I want, when I want, mostly because I was so focused on what other people wanted for a good while. But I'm scared that at some point, I'll pass the point of no return and completely lose the ability to play well with others.

Maybe this is why I have a tendency to be a little too forgiving in the early stages of dating. I look at weird actions and habits and think, "Well, maybe that's normal. Maybe he's nervous. Maybe I'm PMSing." Maybe, maybe, maybe.

So, this means that I have had mental wars with myself over weird dates, the rational part of my brain knowing a red flag when she sees it and the I-don't-want-to-be-Jack part of my brain thinking, "Well, maybe ..."

This means that I have dated men who sucked phlegm down their throats in the midst of talking, assumed that I didn't want dessert and, as I mentioned earlier, peeled callouses off their hands and ate them.

Now, with the callouses. We were sitting on my couch, watching TV. He was already on thin ice because he'd turned off the light without asking, saying he preferred the dark. I was so ready with my self-defense moves. But, instead, we just sat watching Working Girl. It was sort of our second date.

So, we were watching the movie, and I realized that he was doing something with his hands in his lap. At first, I was afraid he was getting ready to put the moves on me, if you know what I mean. But then, I noticed that he was pulling with one hand, and then bringing that hand to his mouth. He was pulling skin off his hand ... and then putting that skin in his mouth.

I was flabbergasted.

And then, I realized that I had glaucoma. Because no human being outside of that one remote aboriginal tribe would pull callouses off his or her hands and then eat the skin. Especially not in the presence of a member of the opposite sex that they were trying to woo. No, clearly, my eyesight was at serious fault.

I started planning my glaucoma treatment plan. Obviously, I'd need to eat a lot of carrots, and learn to smoke pot. Because my glaucoma was really, really bad, because it looked like he ate more callouses.

Now, the next day, I sent my girlfriends this very long, detailed "WTF?" e-mail, explaining the entire episode.

And they didn't respond.

I started to think that it was just me. Maybe my standards were just too high. Maybe I was being a prissy little Episcopalian and should just shut up and realize that the entire world was not a Laura Ashley store.

The Callous Eater asked me out again. I said yes. Because I was young and spineless and figured at the very least, I'd get a really good story out of it.

And then, I happened to ask my girlfriends about The Callous Eater and they were all, "WTF? We didn't get any e-mail! He did what? What?"

And I was vindicated and realized that I didn't have glaucoma and that I should darn well trust my own judgment moving forward.

And then I went on one last date with The Callous Eater and he introduced me to a hooker.

But that's a story for another time.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cha Cha, queen of all media.

I feel like the cool kids in junior high just asked me to sit at their lunch table.

Yep. I got tagged. Many thanks to Magic27 and Christy at Fiona Foo, who both tagged me today to dig through my photo folders and then post either the fourth or the sixth photo that popped up. Magic27 said fourth, Christy said sixth, but since I only have five photos in my photo folder, I'm going with the fourth.

Yes. I have five photos on my new laptop. Why?

I hope you're sitting down.

I decided to join the new millennium. Yes. I bought a digital camera.

I know!

Now, I hope this doesn't make that 97-year-old Siberian lady and Bud, my Amazonian tribal high priest pal, feel bad. We had a little support group going, us being the only three people left on the planet who didn't own digital cameras. I hope they understand - like Oprah, one medium just isn't enough for me. I need to expand my horizons.

This, of course, means exciting, life-changing images for you, my bloggy friends.

Hard-hitting photojournalism.
Unrivaled artistic composition that portrays a mosaic of emotion.
Photography that peers into the very soul of its subject.
And, yes, the fourth photo in my photo folder.And a photo subject who is starting to get annoyed. Modeling? It is difficult.
Images courtesy of ME! And Foxie Doxie!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Back on the bus, y'all.

Another Sunday, another opportunity to celebrate femininity and American womanhood.

Yep. Another episode of Rock of Love Bus.

So, there was a challenge, and then the winners of the challenge got some stuff, blah blah blah. But the really important thing we learned from this episode was that evidently, it's an everyday sort of thing for some people to go number two in their shorts.

Ok, so I don't think that actually happened on the show? But this nasty, mean girl got all drunk and barfy?
And while drunk and barfy, she got all indignant with the other contestants. This girl actually said:

"Get over it. People puke. And they poop their pants. Where's the garbage?"

Then she barfed in a trash can in a hotel lobby.

But let's revisit her pearls of wisdom. People poop their pants? If you're hanging out with a Depends sort of crowd, maybe. But the 20-year-old, wearing-a-thong crowd?

Obviously, these girls are just drunk for the duration of the show. Wherever they go, there's booze. There's booze in the bathrooms. There's booze on the bus. I'm sure the show would be a lot less entertaining if they were all sober-ish.

But that got me to thinking, as Rock of Love Bus so often does. If I was drunk all the time, what sort of crazy-ass, reality-show-worthy sort of stuff would I do?

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't poop my pants.

I'd probably sing embarrassingly in public places, more so that usual. And I'd think I was really, really funny. But mostly, I think I would stop people on the street and critique their outfits.

Yes. I am that woman. I am the woman who judges your outfit in the elevator. I am the woman who while waiting in line or for a friend or whatever judges you by how the length of your pants works with your shoes.

I don't vocalize this internal monologue. But if I was drunk on some reality show? I probably wouldn't be able to stop myself all the time. It might be fun, though. I could finally have the intervention I've always dreamed of with a guy I see at Corporate Behemoth. He wears a pinky ring and displays a fondness for short-sleeved mock turtlenecks with dress pants.

Short-sleeved mock turtlenecks.

Way worse that pooping your pants. I know.
Image of mean, hateful Ashley courtesy of And yes, that is a tattoo of Hello Kitty on her shoulder.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mental breakdown in Target: thwarted!

When I was having such trouble sleeping, I decided one night at about 2:30 a.m. that my bedroom needed redecorating. It needed to become more of a boudoir, a haven.

I also decided that I could no longer sleep underneath an artist's depiction of my dead dog. The poodle and dachshund artwork would have to move to the office, despite the entertaining fact that from a certain angle, the black poodle looks like Darth Vader.

I'm still working on the artwork, but am close to ordering a giant decal from etsy. Anyone have experience with giant stickers as wall ornamentation?

But today, I spent the afternoon schlepping about town, looking for new curtains. I looked at all the "gee, I hope this is on sale" stores. And I finally had my prayers answered by Barbara at the JCPenney home store, who gave me the pricing that starts tomorrow on the drapes that I bought today, because she didn't want me to have to drive all the way back to the store.


I was deep in suburbia when I hit this home decor jackpot. And so I moseyed across the street to the luxurious Super Target. As I was pulling into the parking lot, I remembered that this was the Super Target just a few blocks from where The Ladybug lived with her mother. This was the Super Target where The Ladybug reported shopping several times a week.

I needed a baby shower gift. I had to go to Target. So I went about my shopping, unable to fully experience and enjoy The Target Stroll. No, I was instead worried about what would happen if I ran into The Ladybug.

Yes. I was afraid of a 5-year-old girl.

Would she remember me? Would I say hi and then have to say, "you know, I was friends with your daddy?" If she was with her mother, would the earth just swallow me whole? Would I have to explain that the Geriatric Poodle went to heaven to play with her old dog? Would her mother be even taller and blonder than I remember and look disdainfully at the selection of items in my cart?

Or what if she was with her dad? I was totally in The Ex-Boyfriend Formerly Known as Mr. Wonderful's 'hood, although not his preferred Target.

And then? And then I had a giant "fuck it" moment. I bought a delightful floral place mat to put under Foxie Doxie's water dish. I scored some baby shower swag. And then I went home.

My Saturday night was spent ironing curtains while watching Miss America. Alone. And really? It was great.

Friday, January 23, 2009

And then we saw Cheech!

No, we didn't run into Cheech Marin on the second date, although that would have been really nice symmetry with our Tommy Chong sighting on the first date.

Mr. Date Guy and I saw Frost / Nixon. It's a really great movie - very thought provoking. And in my current growing-out-my-hair state, I now know who I want to be for Halloween. With just a little overzealous blowdrying and about a can of AquaNet, I think I could be late 70s-era David Frost:
Seriously. The hair in this movie was to die for!

As for the date ... Mr. Date Guy got a headache during the movie and asked me if I had any aspirin, which I didn't. After the movie, we went to a restaurant, figuring that surely someone there would slip us a Motrin or something. They kept promising but we were denied.

So. The first date, he had slept in an airport the night before and was exhausted. The second date, he had a headache. Both dates were fun-ish, but he has been sort of impaired for both.

I must admit that driving home from Corporate Behemoth today, I called Alice for a pre-date pep talk. She was spellbinding in her succinctness.

"Of course you should go. What the hell else are you going to do on a Friday night? Sit on your couch?"

We *heart* Alice.

I will share these facts:

  • Mr. Date Guy looked really cute.

  • At one point, Mr. Date Guy put his arm around me while we were walking and I liked it.

  • Mr. Date Guy informed the waiter that we wouldn't be having dessert without asking me or explaining that his headache was raging, and that sort of pissed me off. Because Cha Cha? Needs her daily recommended dosage of refined sugar. No, not really. But because it was assumed that I was sort of along for the ride.

  • Mr. Date Guy has shown a proclivity for answering questions and not asking questions in return. I'm not sure whether to chalk this up to exhaustion / headache; I'm-a-guy-and-have-weak-conversational-skills; or a complete disregard for Cha Cha as a human being.

  • I had forgotten how much work dating is. It's exhausting.
I say all this and yet ... I would be willing to go out again. Let me see Mr. Date Guy when he's not going on an hour of sleep or nursing a headache. Because even when he's not at his best, he's still got potential. Way better than the guy I dated who peeled callouses off his hands ... and ate them. But that's a story for another day.
Image courtesy of

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Letters, oh we get letters.

I would like to say that the best thing about blogging is the art of the writing, stretching my creative muscles. But really? Really, the best thing about blogging is the comments. I love to hear what other people have to say. Usually, comments make me laugh. Especially in the last few months, comments have bolstered me and given me the courage to trudge on.

Thank you.

I’ve had some questions posed in the comments lately that are just too important not to address in this public forum.

When I discussed the various challenges that would face would-be-suitors should they compete for my affections on a Rock of Love-esque reality show, my sweet friend Gretchen posed a very important question: In the IKEA challenge is the profanity a pro or a con? Personally the more you use the better the piece of furniture it turns out to be! :)

Mmm. I’d like to apologize for not being clearer about my intents with the IKEA challenge in the original post. To be fair, the profanity is a place to earn style points. I’m looking for creativity and a lack of malicious intent. Basically, make me laugh but don’t make me afraid to be in the same room. Realize that much like the dad in A Christmas Story, my old man works in profanity the way others work in clay or oils. I appreciate a good profanity-laced tirade.

On that same post, You Gotta Wonder noted, The key to remember is that you can't change the person you fall in love with, so you'll have to take the bad with the good. Are there weighting factors for your criteria or are all things measured equally?

Sadly, I do know you can’t change the person you fall in love with. Because, people, I have tried. As for weighting factors for my criteria … I have to say that the PMS challenge trumps all others. I can live without a partner who is good at flea markets or who can put together IKEA furniture. But showing kindness, especially to a loved one in need? That’s not negotiable.

My dramatic recounting of my blind date had my dating partner in crime Dallas Diva asking the question on everyone’s mind: So, any unsolicited over the top touching or was it all ok? Kiss at the end of the night?

What do you mean “unsolicited?”

I kid! I kid!

Mr. Date Guy hugged me when we met and hugged me at the end of the date. I felt that the nice-to-meet-you hug was a good sign. At no point did he attempt to find my tonsils or do a pap smear. Which is good. And is paying off for him, as we are going to a movie this weekend.

I need your commenting power now more than ever. Any ideas on good, non-chick-flick date movies? It can’t be a movie that will make me cry, because I am not an attractive crier. And Marley and Me is so very obviously out for so many reasons. Thoughts?

Oh, and cndymkr / jean? Don’t worry. I’ll shave my legs. I don’t remember why it’s important, either, but who am I to fight tradition?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Figuring it out at kitchen tables.

I wasn’t going to post about the inauguration, because after all, what could I possibly add that hasn’t already been said?

Well, I can add my voice to the chorus. What an amazing day. My heart is glad for the change in direction and for the hope.

Today reminded me very much of Clinton’s inauguration. We had a snow day that January day, my senior year in high school. I was too young to vote. But I watched the festivities with rapt attention, feeling like a part of history, like I was a part of something very important, sitting at my parents’ kitchen table in Iowa.

And today? Today was like that, but amplified. Because it’s not “Yes he can.” It’s “Yes we can.”

We’re all part of the solution. Act. Volunteer. Make a difference.

I saw this video several months ago and have been haunted by it ever since. It’s difficult to watch, but it puts today’s events in a very important perspective. And, every day is a good day for Mavis Staples.

One of my very young friends refers to our new president as “Rock Bama.” I love that. Rock on, Rock Bama. Rock on.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two completely unrelated anecdotes.

Because it's Monday and I'm late for a hot date with NyQuil.

1. I started out the day at Corporate Behemoth by being in the elevator from the garage to the lobby with a coworker who evidently didn't apply cologne this morning. He bathed in it. My dry, sad little nasal passages were screaming in agony. And then, Fragrant Coworker and I were, of course, on the same elevator from the lobby up to our offices.

I think he thought I was being rude by not chatting. I was holding my breath.

2. Does anybody else think it's sick and wrong that this evening's programming on We: Television for Women included Sleeping With the Enemy - a scary-ass movie about an abusive marriage - followed by several hours of Platinum Weddings and Rich Bride, Poor Bride?

Just me? Oh. Ok.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Prove your love.

My sinuses have been killing me today. I'm not sure if my house is just too dry, or if I'm on the cusp of a cold, but I've spent some quality time with my couch and my life partner, DVR.

This quality time has given the opportunity to really examine the latest episode of Rock of Love Bus with Bret Michaels.

It's been a treat to really give this show the intellectual and academic attention it deserves.

Every episode has the girls competing in some sort of challenge. The winner(s) of the challenge get to go on a date with Bret. Needless to say, competition is fierce.

Previous seasons have had mud football and motocross challenges. This week's episode featured an ice hockey challenge with an introduction by Bret about how fitting it was because he's such a huge sports fan. Considering I've been ice skating exactly once, I would never win an ice hockey challenge for a date with Bret Michaels.

However, this all made me wonder: if I had a dating show where men were competing for a date with yours truly, what would the challenges be?

Heh heh heh.

The flea market challenge. Men will be judged on their potential as my junking bitch. Contestants will haggle for antiques, pack the treasures into a wagon, cart that wagon across a muddy fairground and then pack all the goods into a too-small vehicle. Dudes who complain or forget sunscreen will be immediately disqualified.

The carrying on a decent conversation challenge. This one is tricky - the contestants won't know they're participating in a challenge until it's complete. Each man will have a brief getting-to-know-you conversation with me, during which they receive points for taking an interest in me and keeping the conversation going. Contestants who are asked a question like, "What sort of music do you like?" and answer without in turn asking me a corresponding question are disqualified.

The IKEA challenge. Contestants will assemble particleboard furniture with an L wrench and instructions that are in Swedish. Participants will be judged on time and profanity. Extra credit will be given to men whose furniture actually stays together.

The PMS challenge. I'm starving and cranky (just pretend - I know it's a stretch). Contestants will prepare an expeditious, home-cooked meal for me while also soothing my hormonally charged nerves and telling me how pretty I am. The first dude to hand me a glass of wine while simultaneously rubbing my back is an automatic finalist.

What other worthy challenges am I overlooking?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

High art.

The date? Went well. We met at an art museum.

And at the art museum? We saw Tommy Chong.
As you do. We were looking at a photography exhibit and I caught a glimpse of a dude with really nice silver hair looking at the photograph next to us. Something in my brain went, "OMG! Famous person!" I alerted my date via oh-so-subtle whisper, and he moved to oh-so-subtly attempt a positive ID. The results? Inconclusive.

But later, we were walking along a corridor, discussing the pros and cons of an actual Tommy Chong sighting when the dude walked towards us and made that "Yeah, I'm famous. Give me a break" eye contact. It was most definitely Tommy Chong.

So, after that, we went out for Thai food. Because stalking Tommy Chong makes you hungry.

The date was fun. It felt natural to be hanging out with a new person, trying each other on for size.

But then I came home and immediately felt the need to put on my fleece pajamas and sit on the couch and drink tea. Because pretending to be normal for several hours is exhausting. But I loved Dallas Diva's comment to think about dating as practice - practice until you find the right guy.

Immediately after reading that, I discovered that My Sometimes Boyfriend Dave Grohl had not one but two concerts on TV tonight. Was my date just practice for sitting on my couch, watching Dave Grohl?

I'm going to guess probably not. But it was a nice one-two punch.

Image courtesy of Getty

Friday, January 16, 2009

The week in review.

Most awesome comment from a coworker: "I wish it was still deer season. I need to shoot something."

Favorite Billy Mays-promoted product: Hercules Hooks. For real. My friend CB helped me hang an old-school pull-down map with just three of these suckers, no drill and no hammer. It's been 48 hours and the map is still on the wall. If that's not success, then what is?

Very best answered prayer: My uncle was diagnosed with necrotizing faciitis this week. Yeah, that's the street name for flesh-eating bacteria. Thankfully, he turned a corner, is off the vent and should be ok. He's looking at several skin grafts and three to four weeks in the hospital, but we can deal with that. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Best new word that I must incorporate into my vocabulary: Redog. As in, "I miss having a dog. I'm sure I'll redog at some point."

Most exciting reasons why I've whitened my teeth, exfoliated my face and done laundry tonight: I am nervous. And out of practice. And I have a blind date tomorrow.

Like, OMG! I know!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

?Quien es mas macho?

This afternoon, I answered the phone even though I didn't recognize the number.


There was a slight pause. "Grandma?"


I guess it was fitting. I'm feeling ancient. The recent passing of Ricardo Montalban isn't helping, either, as Mr. Roarke is supposed to live forever.

He had a really interesting life - pretty much created the Latin lover Hollywood stereotype, then created an organization to highlight Latino contributions to the film industry. He was married for 60-plus years. And, of course, there was Fantasy Island.

But I can't stop thinking about the soft, Corinthian leather.

And let me just say, one of my high school friends had a Cordoba, and the hood of "The Small Chrysler" was roughly the size of a tennis court. That car was gigantic and floated on air. We could fit a dozen people in there easily.

So, yeah, it was basically the best car ever. Ricardo would never lead you astray.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Big me.

Today is a very, very special day.

My Boyfriend Dave Grohl turns 40 today! Happy birthday! is featuring a quote from Dave that makes me love him even more. This is Dave's take on celebrity train wrecks:

They need to get their asses out of nightclubs and have a barbecue with their --ing family once a week. It's not rocket science.

Dave! Stop making me love you so much!

Actually, since I've become single, I've been spending a lot of time at Dairy Queen, because I always figured that's where Dave and I would meet. He'd buy me a chocolate dipped cone and it would be obvious and immediate true love. Between me and Dave, I mean. I'm already in obvious and true love with chocolate dipped cones.

But Dave never shows up at the Dairy Queen. And it turns out that in addition to turning 40, My Boyfriend Dave Grohl and his lovely wife are expecting their second child.

I hate to admit this, but I think it just might be time for me to bow out gracefully. I think My Boyfriend Dave Grohl is settled and happy and enjoying a wonderful adventure. And isn't that what we all want, for ourselves and the people we love?

So, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Dairy Queen to buy my own damned dipped cone.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happiness requires courage.

A weird thing has been happening for the last week.

I've been sleeping.

Like, I've been sleeping without any pharmaceutical assistance. No Advil PM. No Benadryl. No fancypants prescription. Just Cha Cha, Foxie Doxie, and a whole lot of exhaustion.

Foxie obviously has badger hunting in his ancestry, because he loves getting in a burrow. And by "in a burrow," I mean "underneath any sort of fabric." The bed is his natural habitat, and I love to listen to his little snorts of satisfaction. For Foxie, all this time sleeping is a dream come true.

For me, it's a dream come true as well. I'm starting to appreciate that I spent a year and a half trying to operate at someone else's speed, a speed that is waaaaaaaaaay different than mine. And I'm fucking tired, you know?

But mostly, I'm finding comfort and I'm happy, and so I'm sleeping.

Today Dorothy commented that I seem much happier since I'm not being told on a daily basis the myriad of things that are wrong with me.

She's got a point.

I'm just alright, you know?

I must admit, though, that I worry about this blog. Being in crisis provides an endless array of writing topics. Having a mental breakdown at Walgreens? Being stalked by your Ex-Ex? Oh, yeah. I got your blog fodder right here.

But being happy and settled means you write about ... what? Rainbows? Unicorns? Help a sister out. I want to continue to be honest and engaging, but without every post being about grilled cheese sandwiches and knitting.

Although I do love grilled cheese sandwiches and knitting.

But putting this in writing is probably the kiss of death. I'll find out that much like an insurance co-pay, a Shit Quota starts over at the beginning of the year and I will have drama galore.

But probably not. I'm due. I just hope I still have something worthwhile to write about.

Monday, January 12, 2009

In the beginning.

It was Monday, and Cha Cha wore new black dress pants and pink argyle sweater. The peoples bowed before her attempt to brighten a dreary Monday, and it was good.

And then came the plague of meetings, like locusts from the sky did they fall. And Outlook said, "Go, forth!" And Cha Cha did.

Like the people of Moses wandering 40 years in the desert before them, Cha Cha and her peoples sat through a friggin' three-hour segmentation workshop. Verily unto you, I proclaim that two hours of that was one single PowerPoint presentation.

And like a false god, the black pants and pink argyle failed to save Cha Cha.

But she and her peoples were delivered from the segmentation workshop. Like the parting of the Red Sea, the doors of the meeting room opened. And the peoples rushed to check their 75 new e-mails.

But vengeance would fall upon Cha Cha for worshipping her false idol. And her 75 e-mails all required immediate attention, long after the sun set and the ass and the lamb settled into their mangers. And so it was.

And lo, my friends, this is why today's post sucks.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Go, Cha Cha, Go!

Foxie Doxie and I just got home from a lovely dinner date. We visited some friends I've known since forever, their 5-year-old son and soon-to-be 3-year-old daughter.

Foxie Doxie thoroughly enjoyed himself, as the kids enjoyed sneaking him chips and even a piece of steak. Life is good for Foxie.

And I? Had a really hard time being a responsible adult and not laughing hysterically at stuff that was so funny but that shouldn't be condoned. Like, a little boy trying to drop his sister's socks down the front of my shirt.

Although I was assured that there was no editorializing going on, I can take a hint, buddy.

My favorite, though, was the soon-to-be 3-year-old telling Foxie Doxie that he should come to her birthday party. Her dress-up birthday party.

When her mother pointed out that it was a dress-up party and perhaps Foxie Doxie wouldn't be comfortable, this brilliant child gave her mother that look. And then she announced that Foxie could dress up as Diego, from Dora the Explorer.

It all made such perfect sense to my little friend that she was annoyed at the closemindedness of her adult companions. We really do get in the way with our nonsense.

Yesterday, I drove to Des Moines on the spur of the moment to meet my mom for a brief shopping excursion. It was a stupid thing to do. The weather wasn't great, and I spent more time in the car than I did with my mom.

However ... it did make perfect sense in that dress-Foxie-up-as-Diego way. I got to see my mom. We had a great time and are on the verge of being True Believers in Lancome. And mostly, I felt exhilarated to do something sort of crazy, especially since I didn't have a real reason not to do it.

It felt like stretching of the why-the-hell-not school. I didn't do it because I was supposed to or someone else wanted me to. I just did it because I wanted to and because I could.

I've been hemorrhaging money the last few months. I'm pretty frugal, so my idea of hemorrhaging money is probably more of an oozing wound versus a massive trauma. But it occurred to me that I'm buying stuff I like as sort of practice, practice to prove to myself that I can get what I want.

Funny concept, huh?

But if I can want a pair of boots and then just buy them, it sends a funny sense of empowerment into my brain. That little brain is starting to put two and two together to realize that I can want substantial things and then get them. Like peace of mind. Like happiness. Like reaching goals.

It makes Foxie dressing up as a cartoon character seem not so crazy or out-of-reach.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The people have spoken.

And, evidently, our diets are all severely deficient in elephant-related cuteness.

So, I want to share something that I saw on PBS, like, eight years ago. It has stayed with me and is such a statement about love and true, deep friendship. This story truly makes my heart glad.

This is from a documentary on Nature called "The Urban Elephant." The story is split between two videos here - the first is about five minutes, and the second is seven. I highly recommend both, but if you need the skip the first one, you can jump to the second one.

This is the story of Shirley, an elephant who was in the circus and lived 20 years in a zoo with no other elephants. She finds a new home at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

And then? And then, my heart exploded.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The leader of the pack.

I worked from home today, doing mindless work on my laptop while listening to the TV. Foxie Doxie and I spent most of the afternoon watching the National Geographic channel, or NatGeo as they're calling themselves now. So frickin' hip.

Anyway, it was evidently Dog Day Afternoon. They showed alternating episodes of The Dog Whisperer and DogTown.

I'm a fan of Cesar Milan and am working on some of his techniques with Foxie Doxie. Because Foxie? Needs to stop having a heart attack every time he sees another dog. But DogTown? That was a new one. Evidently, it's a facility in southern Utah that treats and rehabilitates dogs that can't be helped anywhere else. It's amazing.

And then?

And then, I just happened to make a return at Petsmart at the same time as a dog adoption event. Yeah. It was a coincidence. Sure. I hadn't looked at the dogs on Petfinder in advance or anything. Cough, cough.

I held a puppy. He was a black and white schnoodle - schnauzer / poodle mix. He was darling.

And then? And then I left. I am the first human in the history of the world to have ever gone to just look at puppies.

The deal is that I just didn't feel like any of those dogs were my dog. But also? Also, the women running the adoption group were not engaging at all. One of their 11-year-old daughters talked to me. But the women were busy arguing about whether or not one of them should move her van because it was parked in a handicapped spot and she wasn't handicapped. And meanwhile, there were all these people milling about, people who might have actually been interested in giving a home to a needy dog or cat.

It left a bad taste in my mouth.

Then, I came home to find a link to this video in my inbox. And I fell in love with dogs all over again.

Maybe I just need an elephant.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My prayers have been answered.

CNN recently reported that Gertrude Baines of Los Angeles is now the world's oldest person. Ms. Baines is 114 years old. She was born in 1894, the daughter of former slaves.

1894. You gotta respect that. Grover Cleveland was president when she was born.

According to CNN, Baines credits her longevity to "religious faith, doing the right thing, and the occasional piece of crispy bacon."


Sweet eight-pound, six-ounce baby Jesus in your golden fleece diaper - thank you. Seriously. Thank you.

Now, if you'll all excuse me, I'm going to IHOP.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mad propellers. I mean, mad props.

A few days after Thanksgiving, I sat in the booth of a Mexican restaurant with my parents. The Geriatric Poodle had just died, and I was feeling low. My folks sat next to each other across from me, joking yet again that the reason they got married was because my dad needed a roommate.

For some reason, I looked at them and asked if they were disappointed that they don't have grandkids. After all, my brother Poochie and I are both complete underachievers in the procreation department.

I was surprised and delighted by the response I received.

"Oh, God no," my dad said. "All the people we know who have grandchildren got really boring!"

Of course, this was followed with a "if-happens-we'd-be-delighted" caveat, and the reminder that me and Poochie excluded, my dad doesn't even like kids. It all made me laugh.

The truth of the matter, though, is that my parents are incredibly interesting people. Not in a "hosting a salon and drinking port and talking about The New Yorker" sort of way. No, they are truly interesting in that they are always learning and trying new stuff.

My mom is the reason why I held an entire table of friends captive - and silent - with an off-hand comment about the lovely quilt on my bed. They were shocked and delighted to hear that my mom made the quilt. She's an incredible quilter - and this is a fairly recent hobby.

For a birthday that ends in a zero, my dad decided that he wanted to become a pilot. He takes such joy in flying. And on Monday? He received his instrument rating.

Are my folks cool or what?

It occurred to me that in addition to winning the parental lottery, I have also won the role model lottery. It was always a given that you volunteer in the community. It was always a given that you be a reader and a listener. And, I'm realizing, it's a given that you keep growing and stretching and exploring.

And for that? I'm thankful. Even if my dad never wanted kids in the first place.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Because every day is a good day for Aerosmith.

A few days ago when I admitted that The Ex-Boyfriend Formerly Known as Mr. Wonderful is still floating around in my skull, wasting perfectly good brain cells, I received a beautiful comment from Marsha at Tumble Fish Studio:

I know you don't want to hear it necessarily, but there will be a time when you can finally let go of what's already gone. That's hard for most of us to do, to let go of what's already gone, and that's where our struggle comes in. We fervently and illogically try to hold onto something already beyond our grasp as it fades away with all that yesterday was - we prize it, try to keep it front and center in our memories and relive every drop of it. It's natural and we all do it. I love you Cha Cha.

Oh, and I love you, Marsha.

This comment actually blew me away - not because I didn't want to hear it, but because the sentiment is so obvious and simple and completely difficult.

I think letting go of what's already gone is such a powerful visual. I picture myself holding on to air as tightly as I can - my knuckles white, and my hands totally empty. It's wasted effort. But it's also the nature of grief - valid but not exactly rational.

So, when I find myself mourning, I'm trying to acknowledge the value of what I'm missing ... but also let it go, as it's already gone. So I might as well get with the program.

This sounds a little harsh. Someone I love very, very much is experiencing a deep, painful loss right now. And I want to fix it and I can't. But I would never tell her to get with the program - I want her to know that her grief is valid and that she is loved. And while the loss will always be there, it won't always hurt this much. But mostly? Mostly, I just want to sit next to her so she knows she's not alone.

So, maybe that's what I'm doing for myself with all of my couch time as of late. Me and Foxie Doxie. Hangin' on the couch. Regrouping. And being F-I-N-E fine.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A confession and an intervention.

I typically shy away from reality TV. Survivor? Nope. The Bachelor? Eh. I'm just not interested.


I have a strange fascination with Rock of Love With Bret Michaels and Rock of Love: Charm School, where none other than Sharon Osborne tries to teach the Rock of Love rejects some manners.

Charm School just finished up, and last night was the first episode of the next season of Rock of Love. After careful consideration, I have come to an important conclusion.

Bret Michaels better be in on the joke. If not? Boy needs an intervention.
But Cha Cha, why?

Lemme tell you. No man in his right mind would really, truly think that he's going to find love on a reality show, much less a reality show where - I'm sorry, but it's true - women of questionable character try to outwhore themselves to win his affections.

The catfights are entertaining. But the contestants?
Bret recognized this contestant from her, uh, film career.

I really wonder what this show would be like if they threw in some normal women. Make it half crazy, dirty girls, and half normal, clean girls. The strippers versus the librarians. What would happen? Would the dirty girls play the nice girls and trick Bret into eliminating them? Or would the nice girls use their collective brain power to show that smart is sexy?

The world will never know.

And the winner of Rock of Love Charm School, the winner of $100,000 and the praises of Sharon Osborne? She's lovely, and got rid of her bad blond dye job. And she earned Sharon's praises for saying she was going to use her prize money for ... a boob job. She has no big plans, no dreams, no crazy ideas about using the money for tuition or starting a business. She's getting boobs.

I think part of why this show makes me crazy is that I fear that somehow, some way, the dating scene will end up like this when I eventually make my way back into the fray. What about normal girls like me? I was a fucking Mathlete and I know the Dewey Decimal System. If that's not sexy ... well, then, I'm screwed. But not in the way you want to get screwed. You know.

So, uh, Bret? I hope this show is really reviving your music career. Because every time you tell some drunken "model / actress" that you're sure you're going to find true love among these ruins of womanhood? I die a little. Just like your street cred.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Write it down.

I have spent a good part of the day doing my duty.

Of course, by "my duty," I mean writing thank yous.

I am a true believer that thank you notes separate the women from the girls, the ladies from the skanks. Much like covering your privates in public, it's just something you do. Nevermind the fact that by the last three or four notes, my handwriting sucked because my hand was cramping up. The thank yous are done.

But just between us? The real reason I write thank yous?

It's so I can buy more stationery. There. I said it. I love stationery and I don't care who knows. My name is Cha Cha, and I am addicted to paper products!

My little problem aside ... the lost art of handwritten correspondence has a beauty to it because it's tangible proof of our stories. That's why antique stores are filled with old postcards. People hung on to them because they were important reminders, and a piece of the folks who sent them.

I received an awesome comment on my post about Christmas music. Wally Howerton wrote:

When I was 5 or 6 I had to sing "Bow Wow wants a Boy for Christmas" in front of our church in southern Virginia. This would have been the winter of 55 or 56 I believe. My mother practiced with me for hours/days. Even the church pianist/organist had a couple of run throughs with me. I had it down perfect! Well, the night of the performance, mom put a giant red bow on Chi Chi our Pekinese. I was in my suit and bow tye looking spiffy! The music started and I started to sing. Through all the practices, Chi Chi was absent after all she wasn't going to sing. Well, Chi Chi was the star performer that night. She started howling and didn't stop until the music ended. Mom was crying and mortified, I was frustrated telling Chi Chi to shut up, and the entire Church was literally rolling in the aisles. I was looking for the words to the song because I am writing and posting short stories for my grandchildren. That Christmas was a wonderful Christmas. I still laugh!

This comment made me howl with laughter! And how lucky are Wally's grandkids, to have written stories from their grandpa?

One of my greatest treasures is a stack of paper about 25 sheets high. It's two stories: an autobiography by my grandma, and one by my grandpa. My grandpa describes every car he ever owned. My grandma omits details like how her mean drunk of a father burned down his own son's house for the insurance money.

I read these stories and hear their voices, and remember the tales that fill in the spaces. Somehow, the tangible retelling of parts of their lives makes the people themselves tangible, even though they are both gone.

Maybe that's why I like blogging. By writing about my life, I feel validated - especially in the last few months, when I've felt completely washed away. But by recording my experiences, it's somehow proof that I am here. Sort of like how thank yous are proof you received a gift.

That's why I like reading blogs, too. They are proof that I'm not the only one! I'm a little amazed by the affinity I feel for many bloggers whom I have never met in person, but feel like I know very well. But, like, not in a show-up-at-your-house-uninvited sort of way.

No, I save that for My Boyfriend Dave Grohl.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

There's no such thing as overaccessorizing.

So, it's another uptown Saturday night at Casa de Cha Cha. I've been knitting for about three hours, and Foxie Doxie is ... uh ... licking himself. I guess he's enjoying his Saturday night. And we're listening to a 1981 Springsteen concert, thanks to Sirius Radio. Bruuuuuuuuce!

I'm in a weird place. I am both simultaneously glad to be sitting on my couch alone, but also lonely. I believe this is called learning to be still, in spite of everything. Just be. Peace be still. I have not been this still, like, probably ever. Ok, at least since my dad taught me to roll over. I fidget and fret and do and worry and putz. But right now, I'm knitting, and being shocked by occasional blasts from my flatulent little doxie.

And ... it's ok.

So, I'm sitting, knitting, dreaming about my boy Bruuuuuuuuce, and sporting some new bling, courtesy of Andi over at A Thousand Miles From the Place I Was Born. If you haven't visited Andi, you totally should. She's real and funny and a wicked writer. Wicked as in wicked awesome.

Sweet Andi is making me blush with this fierce bling!

The Superior Scribbler Award

Love Your Blog Award

I am humbled and delighted that anybody reads, much less comments, not to even mention visiting again, or giving me bling. You all have made a huge difference in my life.

Ok, I'm collecting myself. Ok.

So, the deal is that I now get to pass these fine awards on to four fellow bloggers. Yahoo! Here is a mere sampling of the blogs that bring me joy. Check them out.

It gives me pause. Written by You Gotta Wonder, this is a blog you gotta read. She shares a lovely perspective that's been good for my weary soul. And! And our sweet friend is published! Be sure to check out this post about her very cool magazine article ... an article that hit home so much that it made me cry. But don't tell anyone. I wouldn't want to tarnish my street cred.

LaDue & Crew. Note to self: accept any and all invitations to mealtime - any meal - at the home of Ms. LaDue. Her blog features her sweet, snarky stories and all sorts of recipes and cooking adventures. And you know you'd be friends because she, umm, put some English toffee in a dish for holiday guests? And then sort of hid it? Yeah, she's my kind of hostess.

Green Girl in Wisconsin. When Melissa is a famous novelist, you can be all "Oh yeah? Well, I've been reading her work forever. Everybody who's anybody is familiar with her blog. I've actually memorized entire posts." Which would be doubly funny because the dear blogger in question is so down-to-earth and funny and fabulous. I would like to tailgate with her at a Big 10 football game. Just because that seems like something we would do.

The Gift. AnastasiaSpeaks vowed to write every day for a year and, really, we're the ones who receive the gift. A recovering lawyer who is working from home with her young ruffians, Anastasia writes with a refreshing honesty. She is kind and smart, wonders what the hell she's doing, laughs about everything, and is a voice of reason. Yeah, you'll like her.

Happy reading, all!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Here I go again on my own.

For the last five days, I have been luxuriating in the glory of vh1's 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs.

Yes, I love those stupid compilation shows. I can't help it. My people are a simple people.

But this one is great, because in addition to showing clips and talking about where the bands are now, they also interview people who really know what they're talking about. If the guys from Judas Priest say that somebody is a hell of a rocker ... well, who am I to disagree?

I've had two favorite moments in this five-hour odyssey of awesome. The first was Iggy Pop saying that in the beginning of The Stooges, if he was nervous before a show, he'd think he needed 20 white Russians to calm down. Now, if he's nervous before a show, he thinks he needs to do Tai Chi.


The other great moment was realizing that Ronnie James Dio, he of Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio, the guy whose very visage creeps me out and always makes me think he's going to show up in a black cloak, croaking, "I've come to collect the children" ... that guy?
He's only 5'4"!

Or, as Chris Jericho described him, he's got the voice of a rock god coming out of the body of Carla from Cheers.


The problem with the 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs is that while I've enjoyed it so much that I've watched each episode multiple times ... I can't help but think about how much fun Mr. Wonderful and I would have had watching it together.

We would have laughed and debated the choices and enjoyed all the random, useless trivia.

It's just a continuation of a little voice whispering in my ear last week. I wondered how he spent the holidays. I wondered what Santa brought for The Ladybug. I wondered if they wonder about me at all.

I miss them. And I'm sad.

And watching and rewatching shows about slick guitar riffs and tight pants brings me both joy and pain.

One of my sweet friends gave me a Louise Hay day-by-day calendar. Today's entry is "The past is over and done. I release it with love - blessing every person, place, and experience. I welcome the new."

Which is lovely. But my first impulse when I read it this morning was, "Dammit. Not today." Because while I know it's good and right in theory? In practice? It's difficult. Because releasing the past leaves me even more alone.

I know it also makes me more agile and able to move forward. I'm trying.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Dick Clark got nothin' on me.

Happy new year, all!

My new year's eve turned out to be a study in Why it Sucks to be Alone. I have been fighting a cold for a few days, and last night I just felt craptastic. So I went to the bowling alley, as planned, but didn't take off my coat. Instead, I just tried to pay and leave. I just wanted to be alone with my couch.

Well, my friends didn't let me pay, but they gave me well wishes as I headed off to the grocery to procure Kleenex and NyQuil. When I pulled into the parking lot, I was afraid the store was closed. But no, no it's just that only total losers go to the grocery store at 9 p.m. on new year's eve.

I saw a beautiful woman in a full-length fur agonizing over flavors of gourmet ice cream. I wanted to hug her and tell her that I was having that sort of new year's eve, too, but I think my cart and snot told her all she needed to know.

So, Foxie Doxie and I fell asleep on the couch and were roused by a surprising number of fireworks at midnight. I tried to remember how I spent last new year's eve, but it's a bit of a blur. I think Mr. Wonderful and I played games with his friends. I was excited about the upcoming year.


But I am excited about 2009. My cold is mostly gone, so that's an awesome start. But I'm also excited about a handful of resolutions.

I like to be crafty, but that's something that I haven't made time for very much in the last few years. 2009 will be different.

I also like to cook. I'm going to do more of that in 2009.

But the big resolution?

Well, BFF works for The Government. In October, she moved to a struggling African nation that is working to get its shit together, including standardizing its education system. Due to the nature of BFF's work and the fact she works for The Government, I can't go into too much detail, but suffice to say she's awesome, it's a cool job and I am waaaay proud of her.

But we are both astounded by some of the basic issues faced by the lovely people of her new home.

Countless girls miss a week of school every month because they don't have feminine supplies.

Libraries aren't well stocked and are hardly ever utilized by women.

Well, if there are two things I love in this world, they're books and feminine hygiene. So, my big resolution this year is to send care packages to BFF - one a month - containing pads and paperbacks.

We aren't sure about the cultural issues surrounding tampons. But I don't think not being able to swim is a big deal as long as the girls can freakin' go to school.

I'm pretty excited about this. I love shopping for bargains, and for books, and for gifts, so this is perfect. I do need some help, though.

I need suggestions for books that will appeal to women, are kind of a junior-high-ish reading level and would be considered part of the American canon. The best example I have so far is To Kill a Mockingbird, but I'm also thinking about I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and The Diary of Anne Frank.

What are some other books for which I should be on the lookout?

And how are you resolving to spend 2009?