Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cha Cha's Stuff of 2008: Cha Cha, This is Your Life edition.

So, there are about four and a half hours left in 2008. I'm going to head out and go bowling here in a bit, because that's how I roll.

I'm not big on new year's resolutions, but the end of the year does warrant a bit of reflection on where we've been and where we're headed. Here's what I think.

2008 was ...
2008 was the year that so did not end up like I had planned. I would have been shocked - probably wanted to punch you in the mouth, actually - if you told me on January 1 that not only would Mr. Wonderful and I not be engaged by the end of the year, but that he would have dumped me after 17 months of dating and more than a year after we agreed to marry. In the words of my sweet friend A., this is so not what I signed up for.

Biggest gift of 2008
See above.

A little time has provided a bit of painful clarity. Thank you, Ex-Boyfriend Formerly Known as Mr. Wonderful.

Biggest loss of 2008
This one is a tie between The Ladybug and the Geriatric Poodle. I know a lot of people would be horrified to think of a poodle being on par with a going-to-be-stepdaughter human little girl. But they didn't know the Geriatric Poodle.

Basically, the entire second half of 2008 feels like one giant, painful loss. Fuck you, 2008. Good riddance. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Best rebound ever
Oh, Zoloft. No one loves me like you do.

Which is a glib way of thanking my lucky stars for friends who dared to suggest that I just might be clinically depressed, for the people who love me who convinced me to get help, and for the lovely doc who promised that everything would be ok and then made it so.

Best discovery of 2008
Honey barbeque sauce from Chick-Fil-A. I'm not kidding. It's made with real crack.

Worst discovery of the last hour
When you need to go to the grocery because you don't have any food, but you're hungry now and make Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese with extra butter and some water because your milk is sour? The end product isn't that great.

Greatest blessings ever
My family and friends. This most definitely includes my blog friends, who always seem to make just the right comment at just the right time. Thank you so, so much.

Most empowering realization of 2008
This is also a tie. I just can't choose between the realization that despite everything, I'm still here, and the realization that I have filled my Shit Quota and now am facing wonderful opportunity and adventure. Yahoo!

Most gratifying realization of 2008
The thing that makes me feel better, no matter how shitty I feel, is helping other people.

Most exciting cliffhanger of 2008*
I am making a handful of very minor new year's resolutions, and a rather large resolution tied to my most gratifying realization. Tune in tomorrow ...

*if you live in a cave and have never seen actual TV.

Thanks for making my day every day. Many blessings to you and yours in this bright new year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cha Cha's Stuff of 2008: Entertainment edition.

So, there are about 29 hours left in 2008, and it's that time of year when we're inundated with "best of" lists. Critics' choices for books, TV, film, blah blah blah.

At some point, I totally lost track of the fifth-grade Cha Cha who listened to Casey Kasem every Sunday so that she would know what songs were popular and therefore not be a total outcast at school. No, somewhere along the way, I morphed into Cha Cha Who Doesn't Give a Shit.

Case in point? Of the top 10 singles of the year, as named by the music critic in my city's fair newspaper? I have heard one.

And all those movies that everyone is talking about right now? Umm, yeah.

I saw Mamma Mia twice in one afternoon! And it was great!

So, here are my choices for Cha Cha's Stuff of 2008. Keep in mind that this is all stuff that I liked, disliked, or continued to like or dislike in 2008 - not necessarily stuff that was new to the world.

Best TV show
30 Rock. I want to be cool like Tina Fey. But mostly? Mostly, I love the absurdity of this show. I love that they had a show called MILF Island. I love that Tina's character dressed like Princess Leia to get out of jury duty. I love that Alec Baldwin ran over his mom, Elaine Stritch, and then waited eight minutes to call 911. I love this show.

Best cable channel
TBS. Specifically, TBS on Saturday mornings. TBS can make or break my Saturday. I roll out of bed, grab some breakfast, and test the waters to see what movie is playing on TBS. A few weeks ago, it was Something's Gotta Give, which I've seen, like, four times. This meant that my Saturday was shot - I watched the whole movie and eventually got dressed at 3:30. I *heart* you, TBS.

Best movie - comedy or musical
Mamma Mia. Duh.

I also liked the sing-along version, but, umm? I discovered that I didn't need the lyrics on the screen. I sort of already knew them. Because I am cool like that.

Best movie - traditional holiday fare
Always have, always will love this one. Last year's winner, and - dare I say it - a favorite to win in 2009 as well. Trading Places. It's just not Christmas without Eddie Murphy.

Movie that all the critics loved that left me scratching my head
Burn After Reading. Yeah, Brad Pitt was funny as a doofus. And I should act all cool like, "Wow, the Coen brothers' movies are such a statement about our society." But mostly? Mostly, my friend L and I were like, "Umm? What was that?" when we left the theatre. Because we are not cool. And the violence sort of creeped us out. Because we don't go around, like, murdering people.

Favorite book - memoir
Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson. I love Bryson's stories, and his audio books are a special treat - they're like listening in on one of your dad's buddies telling a particularly good tale. Bryson also has my undying love for noting that Jello is the state fruit of Iowa.

Favorite book - novel
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner. I've read all of Weiner's books, and enjoyed some more than others. But this one almost made me run off the road while I listened to it. It's a continuation of the tale started in her debut, Good in Bed. A fun read that's a little more substantial than you might think.

Favorite book - nonfiction
Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities by Alexandra Robbins. My book club read this and it was fascinating. As a sorority woman, I read it partly like, "Oh, yeah, I remember that" and partly like, "OMG, what were we thinking?" This book inspired a really great book club conversation about women's organizations as a whole, too.

Best periodical to grab while headed into the bathroom
Entertainment Weekly. I somehow scored a free subscription when I ordered some concert tickets, and this magazine has been showing up in my mailbox for the last four months. I have friends who salivate over EW and look forward to its arrival. But since I am woefully not with-it about my entertainment choices, I end up reading weeks-old issues while, erm, sitting on the can. It's a great time to reflect on the the great TV shows that I missed because it took me three weeks to get around to reading EW.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that EW did alert me to the new Muppets' Christmas special, which was wonderful. And I actually saw the special because EW talked about it three weeks early, so I read about it, like, the night before it aired.

Worst choice of reading material
A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father by Augusten Burroughs. I have read all of Burroughs' books, from Running With Scissors to Sellevision his excellent essay collections. But this one? I hate to admit it, but ... it was so self-indulgent and fake artsy that I listened to only one disk of the eight-disk audio book. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood to hear unsure recollections of a shitty childhood. Or maybe it's just a shitty book.

Best group of young ruffians that almost killed me and my family
The University of Missouri football team. The boys from my alma mater did their very best to lose last night's Alamo Bowl to the Northwestern Wildcats - a very likable team. But the Tigers held on to win in overtime. My parents and I were all exhausted by this ugly game. At one point, my dad turned to me and said, "If these were the Iowa Hawkeyes, I would have had a heart attack by now."

Worst college football coaching choice
This one's a tie between Penn State giving 957-year-old Joe Paterno an extension and Kansas State rehiring their retired coach, Bill Snyder. Seriously? I guess folks under the age of 70 don't understand the intricacies of college football and can't relate to or effectively coach 18-year-olds.

Best life partner
DVR. I *heart* you forever!

Best concert
Obviously, My Boyfriend Dave Grohl. Even though his lawyers have asked me to stop calling him that. They also said something about not weeping in his driveway in the middle of the night ...

Best gift
Did you even have to ask?
Tomorrow: Cha Cha's Stuff of 2008: Cha Cha, This is Your Life edition!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Oh, Krampus. You came and you gave without taking.

The people have spoken, and demanded more Olan Mills-esque magic featuring Krampus the Christmas Frog.

Or, maybe I just have a nasty cold, can't think of anything to write about, and have a sick fascination with posting photos of myself without make-up.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ribbit, the herald angels sing.

My family learned some really important things this Christmas.

First of all, we're really glad we aren't German. Secondly, frogs are awesome.

Christmas eve, my parents, my brother and I all attended mass. Our midnight mass now starts at 5:30. Having served as an acolyte during my formative years and struggled every year to stay upright through a midnight mass, I'm sort of disappointed that the service is actually at a normal-ish time now. Back in my day ...

But it gave us a chance to have a leisurely dinner after the service and to begin ingesting the four dozen Christmas cookies that we were all required to eat. This doesn't even mention the Christmas Cracker Quota, as my mom bought crackers, lost them, bought more, and then found the original crackers. Not eating enough carbs makes baby Jesus cry.

During dinner, Poochie started telling us about different Christmas traditions. The one that really stuck with us was Krampus, a German dude who looks sort of like a devil. He comes around on December 5 and loads up all the bad children into his basket and carts them off.

If you need a visual, click here. Be warned: Krampus has horns, hoofed feet and a generally sour attitude.

So, instead of visions of sugarplums, we all went to bed worrying about Krampus.

But Christmas arrived, Krampus didn't carry any of us off, and we had a wonderful time.

I was truly overwhelmed when we opened gifts. At Thanksgiving, we all decided to give each other just one gift and to do good deeds in lieu of an orgy of Christmas presents. We did, however, also draw names for gag gifts.

When it came time on Christmas morning to open gifts, the good deeds were first. I started crying - it was amazing. Families received Christmas gifts, winter coats, and food. A gift was given in honor of Foxie Doxie and Shih Tzu Magic, and in memory of Geriatric Poodle to an animal shelter. Food banks received a little help restocking the shelves. Salvation Army bells were rung.

It was pretty much the best Christmas ever.

And yes, it did involve a group hug.

Then, we opened the gag gifts. I received a dancing and singing Christmas frog.

He's sporty, with a scarf, a Santa hat, and, of course, red leg warmers. He dances and ribbits along to "Stupid Cupid," which, if I'm not mistaken, isn't even a Christmas song.
This frog is so hideous and fantastic and nightmare-inducing. Of course, we welcomed him as a new member of the family. And we named him.

Krampus the Christmas Frog.

We've spent the last three days cleaning out the basement, being iced in, gorging ourselves on Christmas cookies and hiding Krampus the Christmas Frog around the house.

Know that if you take a shower, you'll most likely come out to find Krampus greeting you in the hall. Need some breakfast? Krampus has been sitting in front of the cereal allll night, just waiting to serenade you.

Poochie and I even posed for some new, Olan Mills-esque Christmas photos with Krampus.
It's a Brave New World, courtesy of Krampus the Christmas Frog.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas stuff that makes me laugh.

Tonight, I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas and White Christmas. I watched these classics while wrapping gifts and generally getting ready to head to my folks' house tomorrow.

Yes, yes I did help friends wrap their gifts. Yes, yes I am just now finishing wrapping my gifts at 11 p.m. the night before I'm supposed to leave for Iowa. No, I haven't started packing. Shut. Up.

The funny thing about How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

I *heart* Max.
And I *heart* Foxie Doxie.
Separated at birth? I say yes.

The funny thing about White Christmas?

First of all, the "Sisters" fan dance is perhaps the greatest musical number in history. I know Green Girl agrees with me here. My mom and I do an awesome rendition, although we are yet to perfect the fans.

But also? Also, I think of my dad and my brother.

Poochie hates White Christmas because he can't stand the "Snow" number. I have to admit - any song with the lyric "I want to wash my hands, my hair, my face in SNOW!" is, umm ... stupid. And written by someone who has never been north of Burbank.

My dad likes White Christmas ... but every time we watch it, he gets totally disgusted with Rosemary Clooney's character and her making-assumptions-and-being-difficult ways.

Basically, every time I watch White Christmas, I hear my sweet daddy saying, "Oh my god, what a bitch!"

And really? That's what Christmas means to me.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Caroling, caroling, now we go.

I'm pretty particular when it comes to Christmas music. I can't stand it until the month of December. And I'm a purist of the Andy Williams / Johnny Mathis school: if you've ever had anything to do with American Idol, your Christmas album is dead to me.

So the Andy Williams / Johnny Mathis thing is, like pretty much everything, totally my mom's fault.

I hear Nat King Cole and Eddy Arnold and Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis crooning about Christmas, and it makes me think of my childhood. It just feels like Christmas. We had all these records, and to this day, I cannot think of Johnny Mathis without picturing him on the slopes, a la this album cover:
This music makes me think of wrapping gifts and making cookies. And of being very cold. I did grow up in Iowa, after all.

Now, a pain point in my parents' 40-year relationship has always been a certain reel-to-reel tape of my mom's. It contains all sorts of Christmas music from her childhood, and my dad just cannot stand it, even though they are the same age. (Ok, she's two years younger, just because I know she'll point that out. Hi, Mom!)

The reel-to-reel has long been in the crawlspace, but a cassette of this infamous tape survives. It includes songs that are never on any radio station, but really should be. To make me feel especially decrepit, I've been unable to find audio or even lyrics to a few of them ... which adds credence to the idea that I hallucinated parts of my childhood.

Little Gayla is famous for her soulful rendition of "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas," but this song is actually my favorite. It's the tale of a little doll who was sent to Santa for repairs and is to be delivered home Christmas day. And she's plucky.

Another question song, and the single most depressing Christmas song ever. To be totally fair to my dad and his hatred of this entire tape, I would generally go hide in the bathroom when this song came on. It's just so painful. Go ahead, click the link. You know you want to.

Little Johnny Snowball / Bow Wow wants a boy for Christmas - Red Buttons
I don't remember much about Little Johnny Snowball, but Bow Wow is the second saddest Christmas song ever. It's all about a puppy who just wants a boy. And there are cute little dog barks throughout the song. And in this season of missing the Geriatric Poodle and being sooooo tempted to adopt another dog? Well, this song pretty much makes me want to die.

I'm gettin' nuthin' for Christmas (cuz I ain't been nuthin' but baaad)
I can't find who sang this, but as a child, I listened on with disdain. Surely this was a kid who ate paste.

Willy Claus - Molly Bee
This was evidently the A side to "I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus." It's about Santa Claus' son, Willy, who saves the day when Santa gets sick. Willy seemed like a bit of a kiss-up, if you asked my childhood self. I guess I was looking for a song about a kid who didn't eat paste but who wasn't trying to take over for his old man.

Christmas don't be late - The Chipmunks
Obviously, a classic. My mom and I do a great rendition of this one.

What weird holiday tunes make you feel like it's really, truly Christmas?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Joy to you and me.

I have a snoring dachshund who has his nose buried in my armpit. His little snorts and grunts are the loveliest noise.

Tonight, I was searching for the perfect Christmas accessory for Foxie Doxie. I pulled out the bag of bandanas in search of a holiday-themed scarf for the dude. I came up short, and instead ended up sorting the bandanas. Most of them belonged to the Geriatric Poodle. Most of them are filthy and torn. I pulled out a few that are still usable, and returned the rest to the little brown shopping bag to throw away.

It was then that I realized that the raggedy brown paper shopping bag with the broken handles was the Geriatric Poodle's overnight bag when he would be boarded. It dates back to when he was an only child and features a stamp of a black dog, his name in black Sharpie, and a bulleted list of the toys contained therein.

I looked at the bag with amazement. Evidently, I was once That Woman. I sent my dog to be boarded with a bag that I had carefully decorated. I guess I was nesting, or trying to be Suzy Homemaker, or practicing for a human baby.

Of the three toys listed on the bag, two are long gone. And that sweet little dog who loved them so is dead.

And I'm throwing his old stuff away.

As the fourth Sunday of Advent, today is all about Joy. I have been known to sing to both of my dogs a variation on that most annoying vacation bible school song: I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my paws!

Today, the officiant at my church talked about ... The Grinch. The soloist even sang "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch."

I *heart* my hippie church.

But the lesson was all about finding your light and your joy, and how The Grinch was so grinchy because he lost sight of his light. The congregation was tasked with finding our joy, and considering the things that get in the way of our light.

This was an easy one for me. I'm too fucking sad to be joyful. The grief has been overshadowing the light.

And it's hard to be grieving this time of year. On one hand, I have many opportunities to give, and that makes me forget the grief, so I often underachieve in the grief-stricken mess department.

On the other hand ... I think about last Christmas, and how I was blissed out of my gourd to be spending the holiday with a man for whom I was over the moon. It felt important, like the first of many celebrations we would share.

And this Christmas, I'm sitting on my couch, alone, wearing sweatpants and covered in dog hair.

I'm sure the sweatpants and dog hair will contribute to the alone in the future, but I will be sure to omit these details should I ever create an online dating profile or be asked why, exactly, I am single.

The strange thing, though, is that it's just ok.

I'm so sad about the Geriatric Poodle, but I want to get rid of these nasty-ass bandanas. And that's ok. And I miss the idea of The Ex-Boyfriend Formerly Known as Mr. Wonderful, but I'm sort of relieved to be alone. And that's ok, too.

But I had a great weekend. I helped some friends, and I prepared some surprises for friends. I'm so looking forward to seeing my family in a few days. And Foxie Doxie is dreaming right now, his little body twitching as he runs in his dreams.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Work it! Own it!

Tonight, I did a little bit of last-minute Christmas shopping. This took about six minutes and 27 seconds.

And then, I spent an hour and a half trying on clothes. Thanks to a darling boy named Michael, I tried on approximately 30 pairs of pants. And he was the type of retail associate who practically has a spasm when you walk out looking hot, which, honestly, made my day.

I don't particularly like shopping for clothes by myself. I don't trust my judgment. And at this point, I have two serious needs. One, I need some ego stroking. Two, I need some pants. Pants that don't fall off my anti-J-Lo, nonexistent ass.

I've lost some weight.

Anyway. So, Michael hooked me up, and I now have three whole pairs of pants that fit. Actually, they don't just fit. They make me look gooooooood. Real good. Hot-blooded-check-it-and-see good.

There's nothing like a doting gay guy to make you feel attractive. Evidently, I have a darling figure. I just have to own it.

I also need to own a very kind award given to me by the lovely and amazing Marsha at Tumble Fish Studio.

Marsha named me a Kreativ Blogger. Now, Marsha is an incredible collage artist and is truly talented. She named four other artists the winners of the Kreativ Blogger award ... and me.

Check out what sweet Marsha had to say about Noodleroux:

Though Cha Cha doesn't share art projects on her blog, she shares the project of life, her life in detail and with pure brave honesty. She shares this with the rest of us and she deals with it in the most charming creative and inspiring ways. I am forever a fan of Cha Cha's.

It has taken me several days to post about this, mostly because I am so humbled and touched and feel so not worthy of such kind words.

But, I'm coming to realize that just like those really hip jeans - the ones that are so in-style that I'd never imagine they would look good on me, even when in reality I rock the tiny SIZE FOUR pair that's ON SALE - well, I just have to own it.

So, thank you. Thanks for the kudos, thanks for reading, and thanks for helping me realize my street cred.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Be as you are, as you see, as I am, I am.

I had a weird revelation today.

I'm no longer freaked out by free time. Which is good, because I'm finding quite a bit of it as of late.

I used to both crave free time and be completely discombobulated by it when it actually came around. I would fret about all the work that I wasn't doing - fret so much that I didn't enjoy my free time, which wasn't free at all. It was stress time. Time I was held captive by supposedly relaxing.

Now? Now, I am really enjoying my couch. I'm chillin' with Foxie Doxie. I'm sleeping. I'm seeing friends and doing The Target Stroll, pushing my cart up and down every aisle because you just never know what you're going to find, especially on those clearance endcaps.

I was always the kid who fretted about what I was supposed to be doing. I played the flute for a month in fourth grade, and when I decided I didn't want to play the flute, I cried because I thought it made me a quitter, and that the band teacher would be mad at me. And, I've followed that same pattern in different variations throughout my life.

I don't know if it's the antidepressant, getting more in touch with my real self, finally wearing out the Cha Cha Who Tries to Be Perfect, or some combination thereof, but ... I just might be learning how to just be.

It's a skill. I am just in the training wheels stage. But it's a bit of a rush.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bend me, shape me, any way you want me.

A funny thing has been happening over the last 10 days.

Ex-Ex e-mails me. Like, every day. Like, he looks for excuses to e-mail me.

Do I have recommendations for yoga studios? Or hey, he was at Neil Diamond last night, and here's a picture of Neil.


Keep in mind that Ex-Ex and I had the mother of all break-ups. The fact that we are on friendly-ish terms is, to put it bluntly, fucking amazing. With an extra "Holy shit!" thrown in for emphasis.

So, today I was in a two-hour meeting that ran three hours. Tempers were flaring and I was exhausted. And towards the end of this marathon, I received an e-mail from Ex-Ex. Would I like to meet in half an hour for a beer?

At that point, I would have made the beer myself if it meant enjoying a frosty brew. Plus, I was curious. What the hell does this guy want, anyway?

Well, one beer and an hour and a half later (yeah, I nursed that drink), I can tell you. What he wants is ... an audience.

He just talks. He doesn't ask a lot, and he doesn't listen a lot. But he talks. A lot.

Part of me thinks, "Did I really spend seven years of my life smiling and nodding like this?"

But mostly, mostly I think that in my last two relationships, I was appreciated for how I fit into my boyfriends' lives and met their expectations. I was not necessarily loved for who I am as a person, as an individual.

I was exhausted when I parted ways with Ex-Ex tonight. Perhaps he is lonely. Perhaps he needs the ego stroke of thinking we're friends. Perhaps I don't care.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Brother Love, I love you.

Tonight, I was reunited with the love of my life, the one man who has ever understood me, the man by which all others are measured, the man who fulfills all of my needs.*
If you have never seen The Solitary Man in concert ... go. Go now. This was my fourth date with Mr. Diamond. He is a showman, and he's still got it.

Forever in blue jeans, indeed.

*And no, no I'm not 75 years old. I'm just a child of the 70s. Shut. Up.

Image courtesy of Google Images.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Again, the word of the day is FAITH. Duh.

Today is the third Sunday of Advent, and the theme of the day is Love.

Love, and crazy-ass weather.

I rolled out of bed this morning to walk Foxie Doxie, and he was a bit perturbed by the fact that we got to the end of the driveway and I made us go back into the house. My long winter coat wasn't going to cut it at all - I peeled it off and instead ventured out in a lightweight jacket. It was about 55 degrees out, and sunny.

Yeah, in December. I know!

I went to church, wearing a sweater and a shawl. We talked about love, and how you can't be angry or hurt if you're truly living in the present moment. We are in charge of where our minds go, and letting your mind be angry about the past or worry about the future gets in the way of love.

Right on.

And I was totally in the moment when I left church and it was about 35 degrees out.

I was also totally in the moment this evening when I left my warm little house to join Leeza at her church's vespers service. I was in the moment when I realized that it was maybe 20 degrees out and my gloves were sitting on the kitchen counter.

The service was Bach's Christmas Oratorio. And it was lovely.

And my brain was totally not in the moment.

I'd never been to a Baptist church before, although this wasn't a handling-snakes-and-denouncing-evolution sort of Baptist church (sorry, stereotype). I'm an Episcopalian who attends a hippie, everybody's-gay-and/or-bi-racial sort of nondenominational church. I like my church because we clap after music. So I sat through this hour-long oratorio, sitting on my hands because I was afraid I would forget and clap. Even though Episcopalians don't get jazzed up about anything to clap.

And then? And then, I started thinking about The Ex-Boyfriend Formerly Known as Mr. Wonderful.

I loved the way he smelled. I loved the crook of his neck, and how silly he could be. I loved his smile, and the swell in my chest when he flashed it my way.

And fuck you, grief. Fuck you for rearing your ugly head during a Christmas service that's not about Sad Little Cha Cha, but is supposed to be about eight-pound, five-ounce baby Jesus in his gold fleece diaper.

It was the church's pale blue walls. They reminded me of the blue walls of Mr. Wonderful's church, which I attended exactly once.

But, again, it's the third Sunday of Advent, and the focus of the day is Love.

I loved Mr. Wonderful with my entire being. I am capable of such things. And I will feel that way again, and it will be deeper and better and more.

This, I keep telling myself.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Because the people demand an update.

Ok, not really.

But some of you may recall my trials and tribulations as I attempted to grow out my formerly pixie haircut. As anyone who has grown out a shortshortshort hairstyle can attest, it went through a very pelt-like helmet stage.

And then, it was just fine. I was making progress. I felt like I had options. My hair was the one thing going right in my world in the month of October. But then it started to feel like late 80s Bon Jovi. When really, it looked like late 90s Bon Jovi.

And one day, in my quest to not sit alone on my couch and sob, I sat on a couch and read magazines at a salon while Alice got her hair colored. She and I have both been going to the same salon for a few months, and our insane stylist is, well, insane. She dazzles us with stories of her porn star roommate. And when asked about the then-upcoming election, she laughed, "Oh, honey, I can't vote - I'm a felon!"

So, Crazy Stylist and Alice - with the help of reading beauty magazines for three hours - convinced me that I should make an appointment and get the mulletasticness cut off and just clean up the rest. The growing out was going fine, I just needed to clean up the edges to keep it presentable. Oh, and go for a chocolate color to winterize my light brown hair.

I went back four days later. Crazy Stylist looked at my hair, then announced that I needed strawberry highlights in lieu of chocolate because I have strawberry tones anyway, and it would be easier to maintain.

So I sat with foil on my head and read magazines for an hour. And then she washed my hair, and started cutting.

Now, I have very, very thick hair, so even if I'm just getting a trim, it seems like there's a whole lot of cutting going on.

There was a whole lot of cutting going on. A whole lot.

Finally, I was like, "Umm, how much are you cutting? You know I'm growing it out?"

Crazy Stylist laughed. "Not anymore! I love it when girls come in after bad break-ups, because they are up for anything! Cut that man right outta my hair!"

I was shell shocked. My hair was back to its pelt stage!

I went home and sobbed. Just because I could. I knew that it was actually a cute haircut, but, well, I was directing my emotion about other things onto my not-what-I-expected hair.

It's since grown out a bit, and actually looks pretty good. The back needs to be cleaned up again. I think I'm going to aim for a very short, tucked-behind-the-ears sort of bob. Because if Linda Evangelista can pull this off, then obviously it will also be a good look for me.

It's good to have goals.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Back away from the remote.

You know how sometimes you have to gorge yourself before you start a diet?

Mmm, yeah.

I have watched approximately 937 hours of TV this week. I blame Alice and her "You really need a new TV" intervention. Because the flat-screen teevee? I can actually see the picture, unlike my old, hand-me-down TV. And unlike that old beaute, the new flat-screen doesn't remind me of when my sweet grandpa would hug us extra tight to make his hearing aid buzz.

Ohmygosh, I miss my grandpa.

And I am not missing my flat-screen, or my couch. Because ohmygosh? We have had waaaaaay too much quality time as of late. Like, I should be embarrassed. And I should probably weigh enough to be featured on some sort of Discovery Channel show.

I don't have any plans this weekend, which is sort of odd and sort of fantastic. It's a little unnerving, actually - between work and Mr. Wonderful, every evening and weekend used to be booked. And now I have more free time and less stuff to fill it.

I've actually offered to babysit or wrap gifts for my friends. I feel like I need to be useful, and I know I'm pretty much the only woman with time on her hands right now. And it's time that makes me border on lonely.

And strangely, watching E! and Sex and the City reruns aren't combating the loneliness. Who knew? I'm pretty sure my weekend isn't going to involve a lot of couch time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bloody Mary? Don't mind if I do!

I've been working waaaaaaay too late tonight. Busy time at Corporate Behemoth, but at least I've been working while parked on my couch. WiFi? So luxurious.

In the spirit of tired blogging and the season of family and canned snow, I am pleased to share with you The Greatest Christmas Song Ever. I know I posted this last year, too, but this year I found a new video that's too fab not to share.

Mad props to Robert Earl Keen, college roommate of Lyle Lovett and a heck of a troubadour in his own right. This song hits a little too close to home ... especially if you've ever spent the holidays in Texas.

Noel, noel.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A few things I've noticed.

1. Left to my own devices, I don't eat very much. I think this is due to working my way through grief. And also? And also, I am lazy. It's really hard to feel like cooking when I could just as easily have a bowl of cereal and have that much more time to sit on my couch and spend quality time with my life partner, DVR.

2. I am one giant bruise right now. I'm going to blame it on having Foxie Doxie walk on me in the middle of the night, and the fact that I'm probably just worn down in general. I'm just glad that it's winter and I don't have to wear short sleeves. Everyone would think I was in an abusive relationship. Which I guess I am ... Foxie!

3. Speaking of my abusive boyfriend ... Foxie Doxie is a constant source of entertainment. Case in point: I, uh, passed gas? And Foxie looked at me in alarm, then looked at my backside as if to say, "Damn, woman! Did anything come out?"

Obviously, it's been a very full day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Auld lang syne.

I am a baaaaad doggie mama.

Tonight, I abandoned Foxie Doxie to go hang out with a girlfriend. We drank wine, ate animal crackers and watched TV. Oh, and I entertained her puppy. For three hours. Life was very good.
We also had to pause the TV to talk about my Monday night.

You see, Monday night, I had drinks that morphed into dinner. With my ex-ex-boyfriend.

We had dated for seven years. We broke up four years ago. Of those four, I was mad at him for about three and a half.

We met to toast the Geriatric Poodle. And so that I could see that Ex-Ex isn't the ogre I once thought him to be. Ok, maybe that last part wasn't on his agenda, but it was on mine. That, and a little something called closure.

It was nice to hear about his family, about his parents whom I loved very, very much. It was odd to hear about the house that we once shared, the house that I adored with every fiber of my being. And it was especially odd to see old patterns still in place.

He talked. A lot. And made his every action sound like a fabulous, witty adventure. He kept using the phrase "well, you know me ..." And finally I thought, "Yes, I do know you. So stop bullshitting me."

He made me laugh, like he always did. We both apologized for various and sundry sins in our past. We toasted the Geriatric Poodle with some very fine whiskey. And I felt peace.

I wish him the very best, and I told him as much. He hugged me goodbye, and held me a bit longer than I held on to him. I didn't feel the surge in my chest that he used to give me. Instead, I felt an odd straightening of my back, and a weird sadness in my belly.

It took me a while to figure it out.

He is unsettled. He is not at peace with himself. This makes me sad for him.

I felt sort of like flippin' Gandhi when I realized this. Oh, look at me, I'm so aware and balanced and mature and shit. But really? Really, it's just that I know this person probably better than anyone else knows him. And he really, really pissed me off. But we were drawn together in the first place for a reason, and he is a good person. A good person who is trying to convince himself that everything's great, when it isn't.

There's not a thing I can do or say to fix that. Which is ok, I guess. I have my hands full with myself.

But I was also sad for the 22-year-old me who fell so hard for him. I was sad for the hurt and disappointment she would weather. I was sad that she would end up sitting in a bar with a near stranger asking her if she'd had any more breast lumps since the lumpectomy she'd had at 23, eight months after they'd started dating. Absurd, much?

But I have to laugh for the 33-year-old me who responded, "Yeah, but they were just cysts. Did you know that when you have a needle aspiration, they wrap you in an ace bandage so that they don't refill immediately? It was just like when I played Pinocchio in a Greek Week skit!"

He laughed. "Yeah, I remember that well."

So, there is something to be said for people who knew you when.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Today I have been running errands and such. After two days of leaving my house only to walk Foxie Doxie, this has been a pretty good thing.

I went to Target and bought gifts for the family I'm adopting for Christmas. I bought a snowsuit and board books and the cutest little hat and a bunch of other great stuff. Not having little kids to shop for usually, it was fun to shop for toys and tiny clothes.

At Thanksgiving, my family decided that for Christmas, we'd each give one gift to each other, and then we'd adopt families and make donations to folks who really need a hand up. I can't wait to see what we all do. The unveiling of good deeds is when we open gifts on Christmas day. I don't want to write too terribly much about it, because talking about Saint Cha Cha isn't the point. But I will say, giving makes me feel good. Better than chocolate. Better than wine and chocolate together.

I also did a little correspondence today. I wrote thank you notes to our vet and groomer, letting them know about the Geriatric Poodle's passing, and thanking them for taking such good care of him.
It's sort of like all the stuff you have to do when a human dies. You have to write thank yous. And you are humbled by the kindnesses shown to you. And if you're lucky, you have your wits about you to pay it forward.

But Foxie Doxie?He is so over this gratitude shit. He wants to know where his belly rubbing is, woman.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Love, need and want you.

I finally put up my Christmas decorations and tree today. My tree has my "Faith" ornament front and center, right next to my favorite ornament, which is a glass globe with a picture of Ms. Patti LaBelle.

It was a dollar at Big Lots several years ago, and I just can't help it - I think it's the funniest thing I've ever seen. I love Ms. Patti, don't get me wrong - but it's a crappy screen printing job of a crappy photo. So, obviously, it's just not Christmas without my Patti LaBelle ornament.

Usually, it's not Christmas without stockings, but I made an exception this year. I have three stocking hooks, and they spell out "Joy." I have a stocking for me, for Foxie Doxie and for the Geriatric Poodle.

I was going to put up all three, but I just couldn't do it. And stockings without the Geriatric Poodle? Would spell out "Yo?" Or "Oy?"

It's just not right.

But his life partner, Camelia the Fleece Camel, is on the tree. And I put his collar at the very top of the tree, around the star. Which seems fitting. And I can't stop looking at it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Totally off the map.

You know you've arrived when you spend your Friday night hand washing your wood floors with your ex-boyfriend's old t-shirt - the one you used to sleep in - while watching Waiting to Exhale.

Just exactly where you have arrived? Yeah, well, that's up for debate.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nacho cheese flavor, of course.

Some days, I go all day trying to figure out what I'm going to blog about. And some days, I never quite figure it out. Case in point: yesterday.

But today, I knew within six minutes of rolling out of bed.

I threw on some clothes and took a very excited Foxie Doxie for a very cold walk. As we walked down the driveway, I saw my very kind neighbor walking his "puppy," Teddy. Teddy is a springer spaniel and although he's only eight months old, he's roughly the size of a Geo Metro. Both Teddy and his dad are sweet as can be.

Foxie Doxie, all 14 pounds of him, growled and charged Teddy.

I apologized profusely. "I'm so sorry! He's been acting up - my other dog just died."

Teddy's dad's eyes got big. "What? Oh, honey! When?"

"Friday." And then ... in my outdated walking-the-dog coat and my maybe-she's-a-chemo-patient stocking cap, I started crying in the middle of the street. Six minutes after I rolled out of bed.

Teddy's dad was kind, and he offered reassurance. "I know how hard that is."

And he does. Before Teddy, there was Fred, a geriatric cocker spaniel. Fred would meander down the block and back with his dad twice a day. The round trip took them about half an hour.

Sometime last winter, I stopped seeing Fred and his entourage.

And then last spring? I saw my sweet neighbor standing in his driveway with the biggest smile on his face. He was looking down at a small brown and white puppy.

So, he does know.

Even though my day started out with the delight of having tears freeze to my cheeks, it's been a good one. Today, things just are what they are. I'm here. And it's just all right.

Plus, my faith has been bolstered by dinner with a friend and drinks with three others. One of my coworkers sent a condolence card to me ... and one to Foxie Doxie. And ... DallasDiva's comment about dogs' feet smelling like Doritos? It's totally true.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The most rambly, pointless post ever.

I had really awful allergies and did five years of allergy shots. They changed my life and were totally worth it. My sweet allergist with the slightly crossed eyes was a bit dumbfounded, though, when I asked when I would get my sense of smell back.


I have a sense of smell, but I guess it isn't as strong as other people's? But I think it's just fine?

Anyway. I love the smell of honeysuckle, and of lilac. And pot roast with all the carrots and onions and potatoes with it. But my favorite smell?

My kids.

Now, people talk about the way new babies smell, and moms identify their kids' smells. But I'm talking about my furry kids.

I loved to smell the side of the Geriatric Poodle's face, right between his ear and his eye. That was my baby.

I keep smelling his favorite toy, and his collar. They don't really smell like him. And that makes me kind of sad.

But Foxie Doxie is snoring on my lap right now, and he smells very warm and dog-like. When he hasn't been rolling in decomposed squirrel, he actually smells very sweet as well. He smells like my dog. And that's just comforting.

Foxie Doxie was sniffing at the Geriatric Poodle's kennel. Lil' Fluff was totally the alpha dog, and Foxie Doxie would often sit in his brother's larger kennel, as if trying to make a move for dominance. But now that the Geriatric Poodle is gone, Foxie hasn't stepped into the kennel once.

I know I need to break the kennel down and put it in the basement. Just not right now. Same with all of the Geriatric Poodle's medications ... I should throw most of them away. Just not right now.

Because right now? I'm busy with a sleeping dachshund.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Can I get a witness?

A few weeks ago, I made the mistake of going to Joann: Experience The Creativity! with Alice. Notice that this is different from a regular Joann Fabrics. It's more of a crafty superstore, and you can run around telling shoppers to "Experience the creativity!" Because it's funny.

Now, if Alice ever asks you go to Joann with her, don't respond. Don't try to come up with a polite excuse. Just run. Run for your life. Even if she tells you she has a bunch of coupons. Because if you go to Joann: Experience The Creativity! with Alice, you will spend several hours and lots of money. However ... you will also have a damned good time.

We bought fabric and wreaths and holiday garland and frames and paper and all sorts of things to help us Experience The Creativity! While Alice was getting fabric cut, I meandered through the Christmas ornaments. It was that time a few weeks before Thanksgiving when all the Christmas decorations are 40% off, and you think that if you really had your act together, you would grab a few to use on packages or as Secret Santa gifts. But you don't, and then you wish you had later.

Except that I did buy an ornament. Not for a package or a gift, but for me.

It's a silver star on a red ribbon. It's plain, but engraved in the middle is the word "Faith."

I've had it hanging in my office. And tomorrow, I'll put up my Christmas tree and faith will have a starring role.

I'm putting up my tree because it's Christmas, dammit. And I'm going to be happy. I'm going to watch "Love Actually" and open a bottle of wine and decorate my tree with all of the ornaments that make me happy. I have many favorites - the Sesame Street ornaments that Santa brought me when I was in first grade, or the ornament my parents got for my first Christmas. But the ones that get me the most are little felt and yarn ornaments of snowmen, ice skates and stocking caps that were made for the annual bazaar at my grandma's church.

I had my tonsils out in third grade, the Friday before Thanksgiving. And my grandma gave me a series of brown paper lunch bags, one to be opened every day while I was recuperating. These ornaments were inside.

I looked forward to opening each day's bag. And I felt so loved and so special - I couldn't imagine the planning that such a multi-day gift entailed!

I love Christmas, and I love these precious reminders of good people and good times. So I'm going to put up my tree, and I'm going to have faith. It takes a lot of faith to look at a baby in a freezing cold barn and believe that he's going to bring you salvation. So I can probably manage to believe that things are going to look up here, too.

Monday, December 1, 2008

You can close your eyes, it's all right.

The first time I saw the psychiatrist, I was just so relieved and desperate and sad that I couldn't hide what a mess I was. She was very kind, and I felt like it was ok that I walked into her office and basically fell apart ... even though I wanted to kill her receptionist.

So when I went back for a follow-up ... it's weird that I was just like, "I'm fine. Everything's fine. Give me a refill."

I'm not fine. Everything isn't fine. I guess I just didn't have the energy to talk about it. It was easier to pretend. Which is why I told her that the sleeping pill she gave me knocked me out too much but that I could sleep without it.

Which is a big fucking lie.

Which is why I was up at 2 this morning, eating oatmeal, drinking NyQuil and watching Rock of Love Charm School.

I should totally have my own reality show. Obviously.

Anyway. I don't know if it's the added anxiety and loss surrounding the Geriatric Poodle or what. But short of the prescription or at least an Advil PM, I am wired. I need help sleeping. I just need help.

And Foxie Doxie needs his mama. He is attached to my hip, and won't even let me go to the bathroom without him. I want to fix his broken heart, to calm his fears.

So, we're just doing what we can. He's asleep with his head buried in my armpit. My mom called and she is going to pick up the Geriatric Poodle's ashes tomorrow. She promises to take good care of him until I go home for Christmas.

Foxie and I? We depend on the people who love us. And tomorrow will be a little better. We have faith.