Monday, December 31, 2007

Joyful, joyful, we adore thee.

Ah, 2007, we hardly knew ya.

I have a secret love of all the year-end recap stuff - best movies and music, people of the year, and, especially, the remembrances. I guess that last one is for the same reason I love reading obituaries - people are so interesting! And so much of real life, you couldn't make up, and if you did, no one would believe it.


So, here are my personal year-end picks.

Best movie
I saw exactly three movies this year, which is humbling and mostly embarrassing. Knocked Up, Superbad and Dan in Real Life were all good flicks. However, I have to give the crown to Superbad. This movie made me giddy and was the first flick to which I've ever snuck in beer.

Juror's Award goes to Once, which is actually making many year-end lists. I didn't actually see this film, but my periodontist talked about it for an hour and a half while I was supposed to be knocked out during a very painful gingival graft.

Best music
In 2007, my iTunes list continued to bring me joy and embarrassment. I don't think Gino Vanelli is going to make anyone else's Best of 2007 list. However, my brother saved me and got me James Taylor's One Man Band for Christmas. I've yet to watch the DVD, but the audio CD is amazing. Sweet Baby James is still the man. Mad props to his tricked-out version of Slap Leather.

Best book
Oh, so many to choose from! Seeing as how I have no energy for keeping up with the latest releases, this is a new-to-me category. However, I loved Pontoon by Garrison Keillor, which is actually new this year. And I discovered that, err, mass production chick lit on CD is a great way to pass the commute. Jennifer Cruisie, Janet Evanovich and Mary Kay Andrews, you have my ear. And my gratitude.

Best discovery
Roasted Garlic Triscuits. Need I say more?

Best realization
This one comes courtesy of my coworker Dorothy, who, in an inebriated moment of clarity, proclaimed, "I'm obsessive. But you're a workaholic."

Holy shit.

She's right.

And it's not funny. I'm concerned about what food I put in my body and what chemicals I rub on my face, but I'm actually poisoning my body with stress and tainting my life with a skewed sense of reality. This brings us to ...

Best resolution for 2008
I'm going to remember what's truly important. I'm going to see Corporate Behemoth as a means to an end, not a source of identity. I'm going to relax, and let go of the fear that keeps me stressed. I'm going to focus on joy.

And, of course, I'm going to eat more Roasted Garlic Triscuits.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Better living through Braille.

We’ve determined that Geriatric Poodle finds his way around by running into stuff.

At first, I didn’t understand, and it made me very, very sad. But having compared notes with Mr. Wonderful and having watched Grandmaster Fluff work a room, it’s really pretty ingenious.

He rams his head into stuff to get a point of reference. Then he goes on his merry way until he rams his head into something else. Another point of reference. We’re cooking with gas now!

He’s mastered not only my house but also that of Mr. Wonderful, who has a big carpeted stairway. Although Geriatric Poodle occasionally wanders aimlessly because he doesn’t realize everybody went downstairs, he’s adapting really well. And we’re learning not to abandon him in a different part of the house.

I walked Foxie Doxie and Geriatric Poodle three times a day, every day, rain or shine, for the two looooong years I lived in an apartment. Admittedly, I bought a fenced yard with a house attached. And so, I’m so excited about not having to walk them that I often don’t. Bad mommy!

However, Mr. Wonderful relishes walking the pups, and the extra exercise is making a difference. Geriatric Poodle has a spring in his step. I can’t even begin to imagine all the smells and delights that he finds, so the fact that he trips over the sidewalk is ok. He’s adapting seamlessly, and I should wake up and appreciate his example.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

From my family to yours.

I'm tired. And grouchy. And generally don't even like myself at the moment.

You want to read more, don't you?

I'm doing about 27 different things simultaneously, and I'm not doing any of them very well. And a very merry Christmas to you, too.

So, in celebration of overextended women everywhere and the true meaning of the holiday, I'm sharing my favorite Christmas song ever - it even tops Bruce Springsteen's version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and that's really saying something.

I know I've posted this before, but it's a sweet little reality check against Martha Stewart, who would have you believe that everyone else's holiday features crystal, brie and Cornish hens. Let's hear it for bloody marys and Robert Earl Keen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why didn't they sing "Cat Scratch Fever?"

Ladybug's preschool Christmas program was this afternoon. She goes to a preschool in a church, and the program was held in the sanctuary.

As expected, the program was a hoot. Kids dressed in holiday finery waved to parents. Kids didn't know when to stop singing "Jingle Bells" - but, to be fair, that song really has no ending. But sadly, no kids cried or hid underneath pews, which was one of the high points of the program I went to last year to see a girlfriend's little boy.

I guess there's a big difference between the 2-year-old program and the 4-year-old program.

I was surprised, though. The program was very Santa-centric. Like, totally about Santa. Eight-pound, five-ounce baby Jesus did not make an appearance of any sort.

Now, I think matrons who wear puff-painted sweatshirts that say "Keep the CHRIST in Christmas" just need to loosen up. Besides, I find the all-caps "CHRIST" to be really condescending. Oh, Christ? Is he related to X-mas?

But it seemed really odd to be in a church sanctuary and have no mention of The Big Man.

Not the bearded one.

Well, except Jesus did have a beard later, since evidently he grew up to look like Ted Nugent.

You know who I mean.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A little perspective. And pudding.

Mr. Wonderful was visiting with an old friend this week. His friend is in the same boat as Mr. Wonderful – divorced dad dating. Choppy waters, indeed.

The friend shared that his 4-year-old is jealous of his girlfriend. The child will ask, “Who do you love more? Me or Girlfriend?” And when they’re all watching a movie together, the child will sit between the lovebirds and say, “I’M SITTING BY DADDY!”

Oh, lolly.

Mr. Wonderful wasn’t even finished retelling this tale of woe before my hands were raised in the air and I was falling out. I am so frickin’ lucky. Thank you, sweet eight-pound, five-ounce baby Jesus.

Mr. Wonderful’s daughter, whom I call Ladybug – not sure why, it just seems to fit – appears to really, really like me. When I arrived at their house yesterday, she had about 17 things she wanted to show me and stuff we needed to play with immediately. After about 10 minutes, I finally convinced her that we should go find daddy just to say hello.

And at dinner? She laughed hysterically when I told her that eating pudding was serious business and that there would be NO FUN EVER at our dinner table.

Later, she hugged me. Voluntarily. Completely unprompted.

And then later, we pretended that the living room carpet was actually a sea of pudding that all the stuffed animals kept falling into.

I think I’m finally loosening up.

One of my friends, who has had a stepmom or two, gave me what I now realize is priceless advice. She told me to just own it.

So, I’m trying to not fabricate an ex-wife/mom who judges my every move. I’m working on owning it. I’m a good person. I’m good with kids. And I’m not afraid to pretend like I fell off a couch into a sea of pudding and need to be rescued by a stuffed bunny and a 4-year-old girl.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I should have joined the A/V Club.

When I was in grade school, we’d have movie day right before Christmas. All of the grades would pile into our gym/cafeteria and the principal would project movies on to the painted cinderblock wall.

I think the teachers stood outside and smoked.

There was usually one longer-length main feature that was about the importance of family or some such thing. But there would be filmstrips, too.

Remember filmstrips? If you were super cool, you got to run the filmstrip while the teacher went out for a smoke. The cassette soundtrack would beeeeep! and you’d turn the little dial to change the slide.

Now, I distinctly remember one of the Christmas movie day filmstrips being about … the birth of Jesus.

Yes, I went to a public school.

And no, there weren’t any Jewish people in town.

And no, I don’t think Kwanzaa had been invented yet.

And no, I don’t think cultural sensitivity had been invented yet, either.

This all makes me laugh – teachers smoking in the breezeway while 250 kids crammed into a sweltering gym with one always-on radiator learned all about the birth of our lord and savior from a filmstrip.

Oh, yeah.

You know, if I had to spend the week before Christmas with 25 overstimulated little kids, I’d probably a) start smoking and b) abandon them to pretty much any filmstrip – Jesus? Charles Manson? Fine.

So, to all my old teachers – no hard feelings, ok?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


So, I was in the midst of writing this depressed post about how work is stressing me out and I’m popping antacids like Pez.

While it would have been a contender for Worst Post of the Year, I’m excited to report that Alice called me before I could finish my diatribe.

She’s getting a beagle puppy. Or maybe two.

I’m so very, very excited. Alice is one of my dearest friends and in need of a bit of change in her life. And what better change is there than welcoming a furball who loves you unconditionally?

Hi, I’m a crazy dog lady.

So, bully for Alice. And that lucky little dog or dogs who will soon claim her.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Just call me Tanya Harding.

Riding that mechanical bull evidently gave me a taste for the wilder things in life.

Keep in mind that I still haven’t figured out what my new life goal will be now that I’ve gotten that mechanical bull off my back. But I did a few things this weekend that rank right up there.

First of all, I went ice skating.

Big deal, right? Uh, yeah, it’s a big deal. Because, umm … I never learned how to roller skate. As a third grader, I was cool at the skating rink because I knew all the words to Weird Al’s “Eat it.” But I never actually, you know, skated. I put on the skates and then I sat on the bench. And since no one ever asked me to moonlight skate, well, it wasn’t a problem.

I hated the skating rink.

Anyway, in college, my blessed roommate attempted to take me under her wing and teach me how to skate. At a sorority/fraternity get together lovingly known as a “rollerkegger.”

As you might imagine, this was not the ideal time nor place to learn how to skate. Dear roomie had a full-body bruise to show for her philanthropic efforts.

So, cut to me being an adult and dating Mr. Wonderful. Mr. Wonderful grew up in Michigan. Where they have Winter with a capital W. And they have ponds. And evidently, everyone there just inherently knows how to ski and skate.

Mr. Wonderful thought it would be a romantic outing to go ice skating after a nice dinner.

I expressed my terror. And then I drank half a bottle of wine. And then we went to the ice terrace. (Notice how “ice terrace” is very similar to “ice terror.” Coincidence? I say no.)

He rented us skates. He put my skates on me. He put his skates on him. I sat in wonder of the multitude of little kids and teenagers around me who were all adept at walking on their skates. I was too scared to contemplate walking on the skates on actual, you know, ice.

We walked out to the rink in time to enjoy the Zamboni. That part was cool. The holding on to the railing while watching the Zamboni was also cool.

And then the Zamboni was done. The ice was shiny like a dagger just waiting for blood.

Mr. Wonderful promised I could hold his hand and hold the railing with the other. I wanted to barf.

We made it out onto the ice. After approximately two feet – and I’m not even exaggerating here – Mr. Wonderful, big stinking lying liar – told me it was time to let go of the railing. And then he pulled me away from it.


I held on to his hand with a death grip as gazillions of happy people whizzed past us. I had a stride of about two inches, but I didn’t fall down. And, strangely, Mr. Wonderful, the devil incarnate, looked really cute in his stocking cap.

I noticed another woman who was obviously skating for the first time. I felt bad that she was obviously about 10 years younger than me, but I immediately adopted her as my BFF.

It was maybe 30 degrees and I was sweating from nervousness (see a trend here?). But when Mr. Wonderful asked if I wanted to go around once more or call it a day, I wanted to go around again. And then again after that.

And I didn’t even fall down.

Strangely, I want to go back. Which is a little bit weird. I feel like I cheated death once and I should be glad for that and not chance it again.

But, maybe I’m all about new life experiences right now. Two nights after the ice skating triumph, Mr. Wonderful took me to a hard rock concert. Like, where the bands spit on the audience.

Because I’m 92 years old, I thought, “Now, that’s not at all hygienic.” But it was fun. And, even though I have a minor in women’s studies, I found myself laughing to a song called “She loves my c**k.”

I know. I’ve obviously lost my mind.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wishing you a fucking great Christmas.

It’s Christmas letter season again. I haven’t sent out cards since 2003, and I must say that the guilt is finally getting to me. I bought some cards at Target – on sale – and I might even send them out. However, I’m at a loss for what to say.

Do I just sign my name? Or do I include a brief note of my doings?

And how do I sign it? Stay sweet? Have a great summer? Oh, no, wait – that’s yearbooks. Definitely a little different than Christmas cards.

I love receiving Christmas cards because it makes me feel so very rich. I have so many amazing people in my life, and I truly love hearing from them. I love the photos of the kids and dogs and sunburned summer vacations.

Right now, the front runner for favorite card is from my friend who writes a hilarious newsletter about her family’s goings-on. She actually included a note about how their minivan window was smashed because some thug thought the diaper bag was a purse. She noted – in her Christmas letter – that her only regret was that the bag didn’t contain a poopy diaper. Best Christmas letter ever.

But so many Christmas letters are just so over the top and wrong. My parents get a letter every year that I make a point to dig out and read. It’s always full of exciting news about prestigious awards won, perfect grandchildren coddled, and trips to Gstaad. And, this close family member consistently misspells my mom’s first name. Klassy.

Then there are the cards that try so hard to make it sound like everything’s beyond perfect that they are desperate in their tone and so brittle that the paper practically cracks under the pressure. Those disgust me, but mostly they make me sad.

So, I took a stab at a Christmas letter from Casa de Cha Cha. Is it too much?

Happy holidays from the Cha Chas! Our holiday promises to be much more aware, culturally sensitive and smugly joyous than yours.

Geriatric Poodle is his usual adorable, young-for-his-age self. Foxie Doxie is actively pursuing his personal jihad against bunnies, squirrels, and all woodland creatures. I couldn’t be prouder of their many accomplishments. Both have been parasite free all year.

I continue to be fabulous. Adding to my fabulousity this year are a handsome, attentive new beau, a pair of gigantic new knockers and a startling lack of shirts that actually fit my bosoms.

Oh, and I remodeled the kitchen. Yes, of course that’s real granite.

From our sprawling house to your sad little shack, here’s wishing you a joyous holiday season. And thanks for understanding why I don’t return your calls anymore.

Cha Cha

Friday, December 7, 2007

It's boots and blood, it's dust and mud.

I just passed a fairly big milestone. And I was too busy living to remember or acknowledge it.

I think this means I’ve really, really moved on.

Three years ago, I moved out of my cute 1920s bungalow. I left behind half of my stuff and a bad relationship. I moved into a tiny apartment. I cried the entire time.

When I decided to move, I had $25.35 to my name.

But I was wealthy in the really important ways. I had so many wonderful friends who went out of their way to help me in ways that I didn’t even know how to ask.

One of those friends took me out for drinks one cold January night. We sat in a booth and made fun of a girl in zebra-striped pants in a smoky bar. It was one of the first times I remembered really, really laughing in forever.

We made plans for white trash pub crawls. And right then and there, I decided I needed to ride a mechanical bull.

While we have visited our share of white trash bars – bars of the people, if you will – we’ve not yet visited an establishment with a mechanical bull. But the allure of the electric rodeo will not be denied.

Riding a bull has been in the back of my mind for lo these three long years. Some people want to run a marathon or visit every state. I just want to sit upon and then get thrown from a bucking mechanical contraption that’s supposed to represent a sexually frustrated mammal.

It’s good to have goals.

So, I had completely forgotten about the anniversary of my big move. I was busy doing Stuff. Take, for instance, yesterday.

Yesterday, my department at Corporate Behemoth had our holiday outing. We went to a steakhouse. We drank. We rode the mechanical bull.


I was totally game. And then I chickened out. And then I just up and did it.

I rode a mechanical bull in front of all my coworkers. I was sweating profusely, and I’m sure they saw sweat when I raised my arm a la Urban Cowboy. It seemed like I was on the bull for about two weeks, but actually, it was maybe five seconds because maybe the guy felt sorry for me and didn’t make it buck me immediately.

But, I rode a mechanical bull. My entire body hurts, I have a weird bruise on the inside of my thigh, and my hand is bruised all to hell. But here’s the thing:

I did it.

Just like how I went from $25.35 to owning my own home. Just like how I went from completely destroyed to forgetting about it.

It wasn’t pretty. But it’s done. And now I need a new life goal.

And if anyone suggests marathon, I’m giving you a roundhouse kick to the skull.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A spring in my step.

When my mom and I went Christmas shopping, we also spent an hour and a half at DSW.

I know what you’re thinking. You can’t buy shoes for other people for Christmas.

And you’re right. We didn’t. Between the two of us and our four size 6 ½ feet, we bought six pairs of shoes. For ourselves.

I would like to mention that most of the shoes were on sale. And, I had a coupon. And only two of those six pairs of shoes were mine. And, I put not two but three pairs of shoes in my Goodwill pile when I got home, so I’m actually down a pair of shoes.

I fell in love with a pair Franco Sartos. How could I not feel sassy and classy in subtle, coppery goodness that looks dynamite with a pair of jeans or dress pants? Indeed, I could not.

Until a full day of wearing them. My dogs were barking. And howling. And begging for the sweet release of death.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ll totally wear them again. I’m marking this one up to breaking them in. Work with me here.

I didn’t want to risk two bad new shoe days in a row, so I wore some favorite standbys yesterday. And today, I pulled out these new Skechers.

The heavens opened, the angels sang and I have found myself happy all day. I’ve been running from meeting to meeting at Corporate Behemoth, yet every time I’m walking down the hall, I think, “My feet are so happy! These shoes feel so good!”

The other day, Mr. Wonderful’s daughter was sitting on the kitchen counter, dangling her 4-year-old feet. She started kicking the air and proclaimed, “Look! My feet are having a party!”

That’s the way I feel today. A 4-year-old trapped in a corporate drone’s body.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Don't make me kill you.

I am a giant baby and loser.

The BCS bowl selection show made me cry hot, steamy tears. My team got the shaft. We didn’t get a BCS bowl, but two teams that we beat did. We were ranked higher than four teams who got BCS bowls.

Now, crying because you went 11-2 and are going to the Cotton Bowl is absolutely ridiculous. Ree-deeeeck-you-luss! But I’m overcome by the sense of it just not being fair. I feel like a kid trying to make sense of one of the world’s great injustices.

But the absolute worst? A girl at work whom I don’t even remotely like came up to my desk today for the sole purpose of taunting me and my team.

I told her that I wasn’t going to take that shit from her and she needed to step back.

Because she has zero social skills, she thought I was kidding. I've got your school spirit right here, sweetheart.