Friday, August 28, 2009

He Who Hesitates Is...

... usually pretty lucky. She who hesitates however usually gets shafted.

I think by nature most women are planners, organizers, schedulers.

We are the Keeper of All Things To Be Done. We need to know when, where, why, with who and of course Plan B. And C. Some say Control Freak. I say Multi-Tasking Guru.

Take vacations, for instance. Our vacations are booked well in advance. I'd book into 2018 if I could, except the stupid reservation systems have this limit of only 365 days in advance. Whatever.

Before we go anywhere I research the destinations of interest - is there something we should not miss when visiting? I check hotel ratings on Tripadvisor - are the rooms old and worn or modern and sleek? I check average temperatures for that time of year - monsoon season offers great discounts but I'll pass, thanks.

Do we need a car? Shots? Passports? Friend for Ziggy? Our own beach towels? Our own toilet paper? I'm making a list and checking it twice my friends. It's just how I roll.

TK, on the other hand, is more of a last minute kind of guy. If there's a trade show that he'd like to attend on October 1st he mentions it in May. I am all over it - here are your hotels options, book now for discounts, registration ends on such and such a day, you'll never get it if you don't grab it now, blah, blah, blah. He thanks me and says he'll think about it. Which he does.

But not until again, say, September 25th. At which point he calmly calls the show management, explains he "forgot" to register, not only gets in but also gets the early bird discount (what???!!), finds a room at the preferred hotel, gets upgraded to Club Level and scores a First Class seat while using a ticket someone comped for his flight.

If that were me, I'd be flying the unfriendly skies wedged between two frat boys who had partied all night, never slept - or showered - were both still legally drunk despite the fact the alcohol was now seeping out of their pores and into the oxygen around me. They'd order beers as soon as we took off so they could play a drinking game that involved how many people used the restroom during the flight, resulting in high fives over my head with every sip. Did I mention they hadn't showered?

I hesitate for a nanosecond and BAM! The concert is sold out. Traffic is jammed up. The last bagel is stale. Brad Pitt marries someone else.

It just doesn't work for me.

Hesitation. Averseness. Ponderance. Ambivalence. Tentativeness. And the big P word - Procrastination. Heavy, ugly words that sound ominous and gloomy. I think I hear organ music thundering in the background and I'm getting the heeby-jeebies. Blech.

Prepared. Primed. Arranged. Decisive. Certainty. Aren't those just music to your ears? And not the foreboding organ music of passivity but oh, maybe more like something with a beat that you can dance to. Yeah.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Happy Anniversary!!! Or something...

Anniversary. Now there's a scary word, huh? For some people of the male persuasion it's a word that can bring about a case of the shakes as terror fills their eyes. "Ummm, anniversary? Yup, I have one. When? Oh, yeah, it's uh, right around the time the golf course opens for the season. Thanks for the reminder, I should get a card or something." Guys don't forget, your wife had that date inscribed on the inside of your wedding band for a reason. Hellll-lllloooo!

Ok, so you check your ring and what do you know? It's next week. Now what? Dinner out? Dinner in? Gift or no gift? Little gift or big gift. Here's a little hint - when in doubt, go large. And make it sparkle baby.

One of the most important relationships in your life is commemorated and celebrated on that special day, year after year, decade after decade. As it should be!

But what about the other important relationship in your life? The one you share with that special someone, the one you call the morning after a romantic evening with your husband, or the one you text when that same husband is driving you crazy. The one who stays over to help clean up after a party, watches your kids and rearranges your furniture, follows you across state lines as you search out the perfect pair of earrings, or shoes, or dining room chair, or hot tub.

How many of us celebrate our Friendiversary with the same joy that we show when celebrating our Anniversary?

To be honest, Doreen and I have known each other for 8, maybe 9 years but neither one us can remember exactly which it is. I know who I was dating at the time, and what I was going through. I remember where she was in her life and the challenges she was facing at the time. And these circumstances were what brought us together. That, and our ability to joke about it in a way that no one else seemed to understand.

Last night the subject of anniversaries and special occasions came up as a group of women sat on my back porch talking about all things important, as we tend to do when we're together. We talked about favorite restaurants, taxes, Jeff Dunham and children, and suddenly Doreen and I realized we never have celebrated our Friendiversary. In fact, we weren't even sure when it was / is.
But we know now. It may not be the official date we met, or even the first time we crossed the line from acquaintances to friends, or from friends to soulstas but no matter. We celebrate so many other things in our lives, how could we not celebrate the friendship that has carried us through breakups and heart break, through finding a new love and marrying a soulmate? Well, we decided, it's time to right the wrong.

And while we find ways to celebrate our friendship in little ways throughout the year with thoughtful cards, funny gifts and even random poetry, having an official Friendiversary gives us one more reason to celebrate. And maybe throw a party.

And us being us, we didn't just pick a date, we chose a day. You know how Thanksgiving is the 3rd Thursday? And many of our national holidays aren't a particular date but fall on the 1st Monday of the month or whatever? Well, as ours is no ordinary friendship, so our Friendiversary is no ordinary date. Our Friendiversary (yeah, credit me wherever you use that word in the future) will be celebrated on the 3rd Saturday of September. Subject to modification, of course. We have a song. And yes, we will probably dance to it. It's the theme to the Muppet Show. Think about that song. Seriously, think about it. Stuck in your head now? Good.

Now call your local Hallmark store, insist they carry Friendiversary cards, an occasion almost, if not more, important than an Anniversary. And if you're thinking of getting us a little special something to commemorate our day, like salt and pepper shakers maybe, well, that would be so very thoughtful.

Friendiversary. Yeah, I like that word.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Zumba-licious


In my quest to get healthier and shed the many unwanted pounds, I joined a Zumba class. You may have heard of it. It's the latest craze in aerobic exercise. Zumba combines aerobics with Latin dance. I watched Zumba videos online and it looked like it was more fun than exercise so I figured I'd give it a shot. Their slogan, "Ditch the workout, join the party". Who doesn't love a party?

I wasn't sure what to expect at my first class. The location I chose was very difficult to find (and not just because I am geographically challenged). I left my Road Nazi at home on the charger. Not that she would have been any help since our last excursion when she stated "you have arrived", as I stared at an empty parking lot.

So I'm trying to locate this "Wellness Center" and it's getting later and later. The little voice in my head (the evil one) was saying things like "just forget it, you're going to be late" and "Hey, it's not your fault you couldn't find it - let's go get an ice cream". But I've become good at ignoring the evil voice and my persistence prevailed. Finally I found the Kismet Wellness Center.

I checked in at the front desk, got a tour of the place and took a moment to admire some really buff guys with six pack abs kickboxing in front of a huge glass wall. What? A girl can look right? Everyone was very friendly. But my biggest concern was that I was SO out of shape and I don't really dance. Not to mention my predetermined notion that it would be a class full of chicks in belly tank tops with rock hard bodies who would wonder who let me into their class. I was sure I'd look like a fool and bump into people or quit mid-Zumba.

The class was full of real people, who admittedly were better at Zumba than I was but I never felt like I didn't belong there.

The music started and we danced. I didn't get all the steps, I couldn't even do some of them - but I never stopped moving and before I knew it the class was over. I didn't quit like I was sure I'd do. When the music finished, I was hot, sweaty, tired and exhilarated. I made it through and I felt Zumba-licious!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Remember when we were kids?

My sister called the other day. No, that in itself is not so blog-worthy but be patient. Keep reading.

Mother to my three teenage nieces, Spendy was on her way to the movies with the middle one, Brainy, when somehow the subject of my blog came up. Imagine my surprise when I found out Brainy reads Reality Covered in Chocolate! Now that is blog-worthy!

Anyway... after Brainy asked me when I was going to stop fooling around on vacation and get back to work writing the blog (Brainy is also a little Bossy), Spendy and I took a little walk down memory lane, as we often do.

Spendy - "Remember when we were little and we used to sleep in a tent at Poppy's camp?" Poppy was my grandfather, camp was his cottage on the lake.

Me - "Of course I remember."

Spendy - "Well, we never did that. Ha! Gotcha!"

Me - "No, wait. I camped outside several times in a tent. You weren't there I guess. You didn't like the mosquitoes so you slept inside all the time."

Spendy - "Oh, that's right. I forgot about that."

Me - "Um, no. It really never did happen. Ha! Gotcha!"

I don't remember how or why I started this, but many years ago I would ask my sister to recall a memory of childhood. Maybe this is where my storytelling first began, who knows... I would get her so wound into the story that I could make her believe what we were reminiscing about actually happened.

Now every so often Spendy tries to get me at my own game and, well, you see where that gets her. Not sure why she even tries. An attempt so pathetic I almost feel sorry for her. Almost, but not quite. No one gets me at my own game, I mean, puh-leez!

Our childhood wasn't all picket fences and puppies. But I can make anyone believe that it was, even if they were actually there. So when I find myself in need of amusement, which is pretty often, I weave a big fat lie around a tiny bit of truth and sure enough, she falls for it every time. Sorta like this:

Me - "Hey remember that babysitter we had when we lived in Hicktown? What was her name, Flo? Jo?" There really was a Flo. This is me, dangling the bait.

Spendy - "Flo, it was Flo. She was horrible, huh?" She's circling, nibbling a little.

Me - "Most of the time, yeah. But there was that once... Remember that day she played store with us? We set up our toys in our rooms to sell to each other? And then we took it a step further and emptied our piggy banks?"

Spendy, reaching back deep into her childhood memories - "Piggy banks? Uh, I had that green-ish glass one." Oh yeah, bite the hook baby, bite the hook. I totally forgot she really did have a piggy bank. Perfect!

Me - "Yes! That's the one! So when Flo went to watch her show we bought and sold our stuff, cramming it all into shopping bags and trekking it back and forth across the hall to our own rooms. I think by the time dad came home we had completely sold every single thing in our rooms to each other except the furniture. And we had spent all our money, too. Boy was he mad! Remember how he made us keep the stuff we bought and didn't let us swap back for like a week?"

Spendy - "He sure was mad! And I don't think you ever gave back my day-glo Barbie, did you?" Not only has she been reeled in, she's been skinned and breaded and I'm frying up some sister-fish up with a hint of lemon.

Me, giggling uncontrollably, diet coke coming out of my nose - "Ha ha ha ha, thpendee, ha ha ha, rutpht, ha ha ha, vevvah, ha ha ha, humphanned."

Spendy, eyes narrowed - "What? What's wrong with you? I can't understand you, retard."

Me, taking a deep breath, wiping the laugh tears from my eyes. "Spendy, it never happened."

Spendy - "What never happened? Huh? You lost me."

Me - "None of it. None of that ever happened. Whose the retard now?"

Spendy - "Yes it did! Flo was our babysitter! I remember!"

Me - "Yes, she was. But that's it. We never played store. We never bought each other's stuff. It. Never. Happened."

Spendy - "You're a witch. And still a retard. And you're buying dinner now, too. Retard."

Me - "Yeah, I think you said retard twice there."

Spendy - "Retard, retard, retard. Now I've said it three more times. Want to tell a story about that too, retard?"

I paid for dinner anyway. It was worth it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jumping Through Hoops / Amy Sue Nathan guest blogs!!!

Guest Blogger Alert!!! Our final guest blogger, Amy Sue Nathan, joins us to share some insights on why she no longer jumps through hoops.


There was a time in my life when it was important for me to be part of the in-crowd, to have certain clothes and particular accessories, to read specific books or magazines and go to the right places to see and be seen. I did not want to miss out. I cared what people thought of what I had and where I was and how I behaved. I never followed anyone off a cliff, but at the appropriate time in my life all that integral to my existence. I think that was called high school.

Not any more.

What I do and where I go and what I have is done for me. I like nice things and have enough of them, but they are not used or worn to impress anyone — nor are the bargain basement items obtained for shock value.

I know adults who drink to get drunk, I do not. I’d rather stay away from that be around it at this point in my life. I know people who use illegal drugs and I stay away from that too — not really understanding the appeal and having no need to fit in to that niche.

Perhaps the forced separatism I experience because I’m a single mom has not only made me able to fix toilets in a single bound, but it has made me realize that actions and acquisitions are not the stuff that friendships are made of. If I have to do more than be kind and honest and generous to be your friend, I’ll pass. If I have to have certain things to be in your closed circle, then I’ll make one of my own.

It baffles me that adults — both men and women — strive to fit their square pegs into round holes. I guess it’s human nature to want to be like everyone around you, and to use metaphoric camouflage to do so. But I have found that if you look hard enough there are always people with whom you mesh in one way or another - however and whomever you happen to be for real.
Even in uncomfortable situations I am comfortable in my own skin. I don’t mean that I don’t think about what I’ll wear or say or whether I’ll be an outcast or the center of attention, but the outcome will be what it will be. I’m polite and certainly look for welcoming eyes when I’m in a room full of strangers. I do not force myself to be who I’m not. I cannot be coerced into something I don’t want to do or somewhere I don’t want to go. Ask anyone who has tried.

The appeal of running circles around myself to fit into a group holds no appeal for me — frankly the thought of it exhausts me. I watch with a sad sense of wonder when I see women elbowing their way into a group or obsessing over how to fit in.

I’ve come a long way since jumping through hoops in high school in the ’80’s - and maybe even college and the ’90’s. Maybe my marriage, divorce, kids, moves around the country, jobs and lifelong friends have enabled me to step back from it all and watch without being part of of the rigmarole. Maybe I have the secret ingredient for self-actualization. Maybe I am fully evolved.
(Yeah, that sounds good.)

Or maybe I’m just too tired to jump.

Amy Sue Nathan is a writer, editor and single mom whose work appears just about everywhere including The Huffington Post Chicago, NY Times Online and The Examiner.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My bad

As some of you may remember I posted a blog entitled Gym Membership. It was a series of emails from David Throne to a manager of a gym. I cut and pasted the text from an email forward that I got because well, it was funny and I wanted to share it with everyone. Plus, I admit...I kinda wish I had this dude's sense of humor.

Recently the originator David Thorne (don't ask me how) found our little blog and made a comment. He was a little peeved that I cut and pasted his stuff and didn't attach a link to his work. I don't blame him one bit. In my defense, I didn't know the dude had a blog/web page of his own. I just thought it was this funny email that I got. I have a full time job and a life, so to be honest I didn't do research as to who the originator was nor did I get permission to use his stuff. Turns out, he's even got his own merchandise, cups and t-shirts with the name of his website. Again, my bad.

I wrote David and apologized because I really didn't mean to make such a major cyber fopar. He was totally cool, laughed it off, said he was just messing with me (which I'm sure he was) and in his subject line he even put "Reality Coloured in Chocolate Frogs" Which cracked me up. "Coloured" love those Brits. Anyhoo (yup that word is for you Sharon) I am going to do what I should have done the first time and include his link.

Warning!!! While I find this guy hilarious,
others may find some of his work distasteful or vulgar. So proceed at your own risk. If you don't like his stuff, hit the little "X" at the top of your screen and move on. Please don't send me messages saying how you disapprove, nobody likes a hater.

David Thorne: Party in apartment 3



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Magazine Addict? / Jill Kemerer guest blogs!!

Guest Blogger Alert!!! Jill Kemerer takes a break from dishes, life and writing romance (and hopefully living it too!) to share a little secret with us, her bloggy friends.


I really didn't want to do dishes, so I figured it was the perfect time to write the guest post.

I'm a junkie. I'll admit it. The rows and columns of magazines at the grocery store check-out send shivers of anticipation up my spine. My pulse races when Star's "Best and Worst Beach Bodies" comes out. My chest tightens when I catch a glimpse of the latest InStyle. And don't get me started on the covers of Gourmet, Family Circle, Money, Good Housekeeping, In Touch, Architectural Digest...

Do I subscribe? Uh-huh. Only to a few. Like one or two. Maybe four. Six tops.

How many magazines do I subscribe to??

My heart is thumping in a bad way, now. I can count seven magazines off the top of my head and that doesn't even include all of the issues I check out of the library each week.

I have a problem.

But those headlines just grab me! I mean who doesn't want to "Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days" or find the secrets on "How to Save Hundreds Off Your Bills"? Me! Me! My hand's in the air!

And what about the gorgeous homes, delectable food, pretty people, super fashions, funky crafts, and Hollywood gossip? All can be found in the glossy pages of a magazine.

Must. Buy. Magazines.

What about you? Do you have a magazine addiction? If not, what's your favorite guilty pleasure?

Thank you very much, Sharon and Doreen, for inviting me to blog here today!


Jill spends her days writing contemporary romance novels and dreaming of the beach. When not hanging out with her family and eating chocolate, she's spoiling her gigantic Himalayan cat.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The race is on

Those who know me know I have a weight issue. The issue is simply that I've got too much of it. I've struggled all my life with my weight, yo-yo diets were a way of life for me. I was always the girl who people said had a great personality and such a pretty face, if she lost weight she'd be a knock out.

Sometimes these words were motivating, often times frustrating, but mostly if I'm being totally honest it hurt. I've made up excuses, "I have a thyroid problem so I have to work twice as hard as anyone else to lose weight". "I'm just too busy to work out". "I'm too exhausted when I get home from work to go for a walk".

I've tried to go the quick route and looked into bypass surgery. I would have done it, but unfortunately my insurance doesn't cover it. Immediate depression set in and I felt hopeless.

Dating in your 40's is no picnic. Being over weight in your 40's and dating is a nightmare. Sure I get the occasional "chubby chaser" but I always feel like they like my body now but what if I lost weight?. Then I get mad at myself for being so cynical. Then I met someone who likes me for me and still I can't seem to appreciate it because I am not happy with myself.

I have accomplished so much in my life, I've worked hard at being successful professionally. I've never backed away from a challenge and have always achieved my professional goals. So I've decided to tackle this "weight issue" with the same mindset. I have a goal - lose 80 lbs in 40 weeks. That's 2 lbs a week. And my wonderful, awesome, supportive BFF and I will celebrate by taking a Caribbean vacation once I've achieved my goal.

There is no quick fix, no easy route. Exercise every day, eat right and stay focused. That's the plan. The long, hard plan. But if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. I've learned that if you don't work hard for what you want, if it comes too easy - I lose focus and before I Know it I'm back where I started.

So off I go, the race is on and I am going to win. I'm always open to suggestions on good healthy lifestyle tips so please feel free to share.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cohabitation Station / Little Miss J guest blogs!

Guest Blogger Alert!!!! It seems that what happens in Vegas does not actually stay in Vegas.

Joining us from the land of the lost is Little Miss J, a good friend that I had the pleasure of meeting at last fall's Backspace Conference. A wise, witty woman who is considered "Inner Circle" by our standards. Be sure to visit her blog at Miss J Writes.

And although I promised no poop talk, well, I lied. Read on...

Cohabitation.

It sounds foreboding, doesn’t it? There’s nothing like having the love of your life look at you with those glimmering eyes, full of love, hope and a picket fence, “I think we should move in together.” You imagine lazy days in bed, giggling over newspapers that you don’t even subscribe to while your crisp white 500 count sheets make a love haven for you, a la Obsession for Men 1994. Had the love of my life turned to me with a sack of trash and a checkbook in hand, “I think it is time we consider cohabitation,” I would’ve understood the black and white of the situation.

Before I found Mr. J I wanted nothing more than to cohabitate with a living, breathing man. My best friend, Mags, showed up bleeding on my doorstep one day while I was cursing my single status. She was wearing a helmet.

“What happened?”

“Matt and I got in a fight so I left. I was on Blue Diamond and I fell off my bike into some rocks when I went across the train tracks.” Tears were streaming down her face.

“You got in a fight and jumped on your bicycle?”

“I wanted some exercise.” She began pulling pebbles out of her knee.

I ushered Mags to my kitchen where she sat cross-legged on the floor while I poured Hydrogen Peroxide on her cuts. My fabulously gay roommate, Chris, had already filled her hands with a plate of lemon cake smothered with thick cream cheese frosting.

I looked at my train wreck of a friend, “Ok, what happened? Why were you and Matt fighting?”

“He was such a jerk. He is so inconsiderate!” She started crying, tears welling up, voice shaking.

“So were you mad because he said something or did something? Or didn’t do something?”

Mags put the fork down on her plate and closed her eyes while she found the words. Her bottom lip quivered, “He ate my canteloupe.”

I paused for a moment. “Give me my cake back.”

I was ready to throw Mags out of my house, because Dear Lord, she had a man that loved her. I mean, I did too. Mine made me lemon cake and woke me up for pancakes on Saturday, but he kissed boys.

It was a year later that I held my hands to my head over nachos and kvetched to my friends, “Mr. J is disgusting. He can’t find a trash can to save his life and God forbid he flush the toilet. Have you ever heard this, ‘Yellow’s mellow, brown goes down,’ nonsense?”

Mags gave me a snarky look, “And you tried to take my cake away?”

“He ate your canteloupe. Mine thinks it is funny to pee on my feet in the shower.”

“I had already cut the canteloupe into bite size pieces.”

“Give me your nachos.”

After screeching, threats and a few “we need to talk” moments I decided to be creative. I found a stack of multi-colored Post Its, some glittery pens and set out about the house.

The garbage can - “I eat garbage. It sure is delicious. I get so hungry sometimes. Please feed me.”

The dishwasher - “I clean your dirty dishes. That’s right! Plates and cups and pans, oh my! I do it for you! Let’s be friends.”

The toilet - “Please flush me after each visit. I get indigestion otherwise. Even pee.”

The Post It notes were true conversation pieces whenever we had company, dinner parties or game night at our house.

And that’s about it.

Mr. J and I have been living together for three years now. We’re in negotiations over a housekeeper so I don’t impale him with a ladle and it is quite possible that a Roomba just saved our marriage. I remind myself of the qualities that he has that I love when I find a plate under his side of the bed. He tries to find the trash can more regularly and we’ve agreed that yellow is certainly not mellow, although I’ve forgiven him the occasional sleepy morning pee when he’s shuffling and scratching his ass.

That’s what you do when you’re in love.

Or have given up.

Whatever.




Jeanette Schneider’s article Backspace Writer’s Conference Uncovered was published on the Backspace Writer’s blog STET. She recently completed her coming of age memoir, White Like Snow, and is the author of a yet unnamed collection of humorous essays. She is a member of Backspace Discussion Forums and the Las Vegas Writer’s Group. Her blog www.msjwrites.blogspot.com has become one of the Top 50 Networked Blogs on Facebook in Las Vegas.
Jeanette lives in Las Vegas with her husband, Trevor, and two rescue dogs, Toby and Ginger. She is a Senior Vice President at a large financial services firm, sits on the board of a major charitable foundation and works as an advocate within the community to promote environmental awareness.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Unexpected Family / J. E. Taylor guest blogs!!!

Guest blogger Alert!!! Backspace friend, paranormal suspense writer and all around great person J. E. Taylor joins us today and gives us a glimpse into her not-so-paranormal life.

Be sure to visit J.E.'s site and check out excerpts from her latest and greatest!

Initially, I was going to write about how chocolate seems to sabotage any and all diets but considering tonight’s the last night we’ll be spending with the girls that have been living with us for the summer, I’m feeling a tad melancholy.

When we signed up to have two girls from the Midwest come stay with us while they sold Volume Libraries door to door, I don’t think we realized how attached we’d become or that we’d end up considering them an extension of our own family.


We worried when they were late, we ragged on them about their dorm room style – which, thankfully was only limited to the bedroom they stayed in, laughed at YouTube videos, watched movies with them, celebrated a 21st birthday, celebrated my 44th and almost torched the cake (they put 44 candles in it) and generally goofed around for an hour or so at night before they packed it in.

These girls worked hard – up and out of the house at 6:30 and we didn’t see them until after 9 at night. One of the girls flourished in the job and didn’t seem phased by rejections.
The other one struggled, rejection seemed to do her in and then she got the flu while we were on our first summer vacation and after that, she wasn’t the same. I think being so far away from home and sick to boot kind of dampened her spirit and drive and it just snowballed from there. The upside of this is we as a family got to know her very well and I felt for her. I’d see her get up in the morning with the best of intentions and she’d roll back home earlier and earlier – sometimes it was a migraine (I think the weather played hell with her allergies) and sometimes it was just plain desperation to talk with someone who made her laugh, someone she didn’t have to be in sales mode for and someone who wouldn’t reject her. She even accompanied us to a family event at my sister’s house for a much needed day of relaxation by the pool.

The second girl – the one who flourished in the job - is much more laid back and I only saw her really bummed by the job once. More often than not, she’d come in with some very funny stories about her day, the funniest of which was being hit on at a police station while she applied for a permit (and it wasn’t by one of the officers). Other hilarious situations include catching someone at home watching porn, taking a dive off a porch (but thankfully no real damage), fake southern accents, “can I have your number?” video, snow – inside joke – and the increasing hostile reaction to the phrase “All Set”. Unfortunately, her birthday is in December, so we didn’t get to celebrate it in the same fashion as the 21 year old, but we did get her and “early” birthday card just to make things even – like we do with our own kids. J

Now the selling season is coming to an end and the girls are getting ready to deliver their books while we’re heading off on vacation. I can’t help but be a little sad. I don’t know when I’ll see them again except via facebook and online communication and that’s bitter sweet, which is totally unexpected, and has me thinking about how much of a mess I will be when mine finally fly the coop.

But hey, at least there still is chocolate, right?
J.E. Taylor is a paranormal suspense writer and an Associate Editor with Allegory Ezine - an online venue for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror. Check out the September issue for her latest short under the staff submissions at www.allegoryezine.com!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

An oldie but a goodie

Since I'm on vacation this week, I'm reposting the first RCIC blog posting. Yes I'm being lazy, sue me :)

Is Tom Brady Pitching? (Doreen)

Sharon and I have been friends for about 8 years now. Our betting tradition began about 7 years ago when we were out at a a bar with a few girls. It started out very innocently, a good joke gone bad kinda thing. She never thought I'd actually take the bet. Ten bucks if I would go up to this hot guy that we noticed across the bar and ask him to spin around so my friends could see if the back looked as good as the front. This was my challenge.

Fueled by liquid courage (quite a bit of alcohol) I headed straight for Eye-Candy-Man. I did modify the "so my friends could see" to "my friend, the blond over there could see"... after all, I wasn't going to jump on board the humiliation train alone. So he laughs, does his spin...the girls clapped, I thank him, and head back to the group. Of course Eye-Candy-Man came over shortly after, but unfortunately his looks were really all he had going for him. We escaped about 10 minutes later after Sharon gave him a fake phone number. Don't judge, he was creepy and she didn't want to be mean. Giving a guy a wrong phone number saves him the shame of rejection in front of her friends or his. See how selfless we are?

So that's where it all started, in a bar in Portsmouth. Since then, we've set some rules...nothing illegal, nothing that hurts or humiliates another person (the goal is to humiliate ourselves for the other person's amusement), and we can't tell anyone at the time that "my friend bet me that I wouldn't do this".

While at a concert at the House of Blues, Sharon's bet was to walk up to a random couple and stand right in the middle of them, snap a photo of the three of them, then walk away. I was sure that she wasn't going to do it ... but on the way out, she came through. We of course found this hysterical. Tom and Warren thought we were retards.

This now brings us to the title of this post. I knew it was my turn next, and I knew after the "random-couple-photo op", she would show no mercy and it wasn't going to be pretty. I was right. On Saturday afternoon Sharon and I went to the Red Sox game. While we were walking to our seats, she laid it on me. I had to turn to the person sitting next to me and ask if Tom Brady was pitching. It was a good one, I'll give her that. Bitch. :)

So we take our seats, I was hoping that the person next to me was going to be a girl - maybe a "pink hat" (how men refer to women who really know nothing about sports, well actually they give that status to all women until proven otherwise). No such luck, it was a guy. A cute guy. A Vascular Surgeon guy. So I bided my time, waiting for the right opportunity and made idle chit chat (this is how I found out he was a surgeon). We talked about the Sox. We talked about why Youkilis wasn't playing, and he was clearly impressed by my knowledge of the game...I was cleared of the pink hat status.

Around the 5th inning I went in for the kill and asked "Is Tom Brady pitching?". There it was, the look. The "how embarrassing for you to ask such a stupid question" look. He just shook his head and smiled at me. Then he said in a tone that you talk to a 4 year old with "Tom Brady is the quarterback for the Patriots". I tried to recover by saying "Oh, I know but I thought Tampa Bay had a pitcher named Tom Brady". There was no recovering, he just shook his head and laughed. He then turned to his girlfriend, or mistress, or whoever she was and told her what I just said. Side note: during the game, this chick couldn't keep her hands off this guy and at one point she was giving him an ear massage. Now I have to ask, have any of you ever given or received an ear massage? Oh wait, let me rephrase...an ear massage at a sporting event? Seriously?

To my right, Sharon was laughing so hard I thought she was going to cry. With my pink hat status now confirmed by Mr. Vascular Surgeon I figured I'd just go with it, so when Tampa Bay changed pitchers I leaned over to him and said "Oh look, it's Tom Brady". Apparently only Sharon and I found this hilarious, he of course thought I was serious and said "No, that's not Tom Brady".

It's okay Mr. Vascular Surgeon guy, just enjoy the ear massage...we amuse ourselves and that's really all that matters.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dear Ms. Denali Diva;

I just wanted to say a quick thanks for the memorable encounter we shared today. When you almost smashed into me, and made me spill my coffee all over my lap, it was awesome.

No really, it was all my fault. After all, that stop sign was not meant for YOU.
I know how busy and important you are in your GMC Denali, you're quite the road warrior aren't you? I mean, clearly you were too busy to stop. I'm sure you thought the sign was just a suggestion right? I must say it was impressive how you never even slowed down as you were applying lipstick and talking on your cell phone. You go girl!

It was so kind of you to wave at me with your middle finger, but the person who beeped the horn was not me. It was the person behind me who just avoided hitting my car. I myself was preoccupied, as I had hot coffee burning through my skin or I would have gladly waved back at you. I'm only mentioning this because I'd hate for you to think I was rude.

I know you were probably VERY concerned, so I just wanted to reassure you that I only suffered minor burns to my thigh. My neck is a little stiff, what with the short stop and all that I had to make to avoid a collision. Seriously, don't even give it another thought. I'm sure that I'll be fine after months of physical therapy.

So thanks again, and I hope you have a superific day!

Doreen


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Parrrr-tay!!!

In honor of the 23rd Anniversary of the arrival of Lord Moose of Beck House, we celebrated in proper style - a keg party.

That's right, Moose turned 23 last week and for the first time since he was maybe 14, we had a party. There were rules, of course (I wouldn't be me without rules!).

NO smoking anything that is illegal

NO underage drinking

NO drinking and driving

And thankfully, they were a good group of kids and none of the mom-enforced rules were broken. I did, however, forget the "NO throwing logs through other people's back windows" rule. Not sure how I missed that one.

I have to say, the kids were a decent group of kids, everyone made it a point to introduce themselves, thanked us for having them and were polite to us in general. Over the course of the evening maybe 50 or 60 kids wandered in. Based on the headcount the next morning, about 16 of them found a couch, empty bed or some floor space to curl up on. Two of Moose's good friends flew in for the occasion, Kansas and Vegas - guess where they're from - and were two of the nicest boys we've ever had staying with us. Even offered to help with dinner every night!

Yeah, yeah, I'm getting back to that log thing. So here's what happened:

A friend of Moose's, let's call her Sweetie, came with her boyfriend. As they pull up in the car another female friend, Chickie, parks behind her with her boyfriend and an unknown friend of his. Let's call him Logger. Sweetie, Chickie and respective boyfriends all know each other. Only Chickie's boyfriend's friend, Logger, doesn't know anyone else at the party.

Got it so far?

So the kids are having a good time, hanging out, music playing, bbq is going, people getting thrown in the pool. Usual stuff. Logger seems to have an eye for Sweetie, despite the fact that she arrived with a mountain of a boyfriend who is easily twice the size of Logger.

Jealousy or who knows what inspires Logger to get a little nasty with Sweetie. Talking trash. Making inappropriate comments. Sweetie, sweet girl that she is, knows if boyfriend finds out there's a-gonna be some trouble. So she ignores him. Right up until she doesn't.

It goes sort of like this - they're playing a game called Beirut (don't ask, I don't know but it involves cups of beer). Sweetie tries to be funny and lighten Logger up a bit and makes a comment to the effect of "That's how we do it in America!" or some such thing. The game is called Beirut, right? Logger is from an undetermined country but not Lebanon. Or any Middle Eastern country for that matter. The kids thought he was from Puerto Rico and the last time I checked, it was still part of the United States. However he takes offence just the same. And says so, in a not so nice way.

Sweetie realizes she crossed a line and apologizes immediately. Moose is on hand, I step in as well and am told it's all ok, apology accepted. We're all good, happy party people now. Bygones.

Except moments later, Chickie, boyfriend and Logger leave the party. Chickie's ticked off, because Logger is pouting or whatever and is ruining her fun with friends. But she leaves anyway. On his way down my driveway, Logger decides to pick up a log from the pile TK has been cutting. A big fat log several feet long. And before getting in his car, he throws it through the back window of Sweetie's boyfriend's car that was parked ahead of him. Or to be entirely accurate, Sweetie's boyfriend's mother's car. Yeah.

Jerk.

Moose just happened to be nearby and saw it happen. Police were called. Reports were made. Party resumed.

But can you imagine going to a party, where the friends you are going with are well known to everyone there, and pulling something like that? Did he not think he'd get caught? Or that his friends wouldn't get in trouble, too?

Did I mention the kid was a jerk?

If I hadn't been at this party and heard someone else tell the story then I might have made some comment about how kids are out of control, no respect, who raised them, blah blah blah. But it was one kid. And all the other kids were awesome, really. Every last one of them pitched in to clean up the next morning. Offered to run to Dunkins. One kid asked for my slow cooker recipe for kielbasa. They brought food, and cake and birthday cards.

When one boy stubbed his toe something awful a young nurse sat with him for several hours, keeping him company and holding his foot to stop the bleeding (yes, I sat with him too). When he told her he didn't want to go to the emergency room because he didn't have insurance, she said don't worry, we'll all chip in and cover it for you.

These are the kids you moms and dads raised. Be proud of what you've done and what they have become. I know I am.

(Oh, this doesn't apply to Logger's parents. Seriously, Logger's dad - take your son out back and teach him some manners the good old fashioned way.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Guest Bloggers, starting this week!

Beginning Thursday, Doreen will share the blog with some incredible guest bloggers from all over the country. Here are just a few of the upcoming visitors on Reality Covered in Chocolate:

From Las Vegas, the beautiful, witty and wise Little Miss J promises not to blog about poop. Or pole dancing.

Paranormal suspense writer J.E.Taylor will share a random peek into her not-so-paranormal life.

Amy Sue Nathan, editor-, writer- and woman-extraordinaire, brings a bit of Reality to our little corner of the internet.
Romance writer Jill Kemerer escapes her family and giant cat for a moment to herself. And instead of taking a relaxing hot bath, she writes a post for our blog.

Watch this site over the next few days as we announce more guest bloggers... there's still time, if you're interested in participating, send an email to us by tomorrow with your posting and/or idea.

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Best Things in Life are FREE...

Our lives are full of slogans, taglines, catchphrases and colloquialisms. You know them, you've heard them, and if you're anywhere near normal, you've used them.

This one, however, is one of the most confusing ones - The best things in life are free.

What is free, exactly? Is anything really ever free? No charge, no strings attached, nothing to pay up front or later on, nothing due in return or exchange, not even a little bit of guilt associated with what you've received.

I'm just not sure anything is actually 100% free.

For example: My company is offering FREE, aka complimentary (a pleasant, professional way of saying free) tickets to the Lowell Summer Music Series. No charge whatsoever to you, Mr. or Ms. Customer.

And yes, we are offering these tickets at no charge, no strings attached and you don't technically even have to be a customer. However we are only extending the offer to current clients and really good potential clients. And when you request them, one of our fine sales people will come by to drop them off, "Oh no, no trouble at all, in your neighborhood, anyway!"

The sales rep won't push for your business, they'll smile, ask how your summer is going, inquire after any vacation plans and if they know you well, maybe even ask how the kids are doing as they hand over the tickets. And ask for nothing in return.

You however, will feel a little tug of something. Somewhere deep down something is speaking to you. The voice that wasn't there when you requested the complimentary tickets, will now be chirping at you, prompting you to open your mouth and say "Say, since you're here, we have a little project that you may want to take a look at. Come on in and have a seat."

That, my friends, is called guilt. You weren't charged, but you paid anyway.

A Fringe friend calls and has excellent seats to see the Red Sox play the Yankees. No, no, don't worry about paying for your ticket. Totally on me. Really, no problem. And seriously, even if it were a Hanger friend, who could pass that up? So you go, giving up a Saturday night of catching up on your Netflix movies and head in town.

Where you don't let your friend pay for anything, since she gave you the ticket. For free. So you pay thirty dollars for the parking. Twenty bucks on Yawkey Way for sausages and beers. Forty dollars inside for the peanuts and beers. Another thirty on the cute Sox jersey and if your friend - the one who gave you the free ticket - mentions she likes it too, you might pick her up one as well to thank her for thinking of you. And if you were raised right, you would then pick up a thank you card the next day - two ninety nine at CVS - and mail it - 42 cents. So this free ticket cost you a grand total of $153.41. Never mind that you lost valuable Netflix time and didn't get to watch Dan in Real Life. Again.

Free ringtones? Sure, just give us your email address.

Free samples? Yes, just pay the $4.99 shipping charges.

Free subscription? For the first two issues, nothing to buy again ever. Just write cancel and the bill you'll receive and then, and only then, will we cancel the subscription you didn't order.

Free advice? Ha! Just try not taking any advice given and see what that will cost you.

See what I mean? Somehow, someway, you will pay.

There is an upside to this though:
Those free tickets your salesman dropped off may have just resulted in a great new partner for a career changing project.

Going to that game may have brought you and the fringe friend closer together, since you never get a chance to do more than exchange pleasantries at parties. Who knew you had so much in common? And wasn't that worth $153.41?

What's the last free thing you received? And what did you pay for it?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm sorry, this seat is reserved

I have the best friends on earth. Whenever I'm with Sharon and TK they always, ALWAYS make me feel like part of the family. I never feel unwelcome, even when I spend a whole weekend at their home (my own little resort).

I previously blogged about my and Sharon's quest to find the perfect hot tub. Finally we narrowed it down to the wet testing phase of our mission. While we wer
e testing the tub we actually chose, I called dibs on one of the seats. "This is so going to be my seat". Sharon's response was "Okay, we'll have a plaque made for you".

Last night I was surprised to find that she actually did! There it was, "This seat reserved for..."

Now I ask you, who's better than her?


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Today marks the 23rd Anniversary


This day in history, August 5th, the 217th day of the year is noteworthy for many reasons. For example:

1779 - The real battle for the Bronx began, New York Loyalists fought the Connecticut Brigade for the land. FYI, no, they were not the predecessors of the Yankees and Mets.

1861 - Lincoln imposes the first ever federal tax to fund the Civil War. Annual income over $800 was taxed at a rate of 3%. How times have changed!

1914 - The first traffic light was installed, giving women everywhere a moment to safely reapply their lipstick.

1981 - in answer to the 13,000 air-traffic controllers who first went on strike and then ignored the Presidential order to return to work, Ronald Regan fired 11,359 of them. Way to go, Ronnie! (Seriously, read about this. As an employer I found it fascinating.)

1986 - Moose, first child born to SharonK, arrived 12 days ahead of schedule. A more beautiful baby had never been seen, and if you weren't there to oooh and ahhh over him, trust me on this one.

Ok sure, all those things have changed the world, right? But hey, in the 1700s they were always battling over something over other. Tea, land, rights, blah, blah, blah.

While I didn't know Lincoln was the instigator of the whole tax thing, can't say I blame him. It was inevitable, right?

If we didn't have traffic lights we could put thousands of unemployed people to work, holding up Stop signs at every intersection. So I don't really see how this helped us any. Obama, listen up, I have found the solution for the unemployment problem! Ban traffic lights!!! You're welcome.

And while I applaud Reagan's decision, the unions are still around and still going out on strike all the time for one reason or another. Lesson learned? Maybe not.

So really, not any one of those events can even hold a candle - not even a birthday candle - to the arrival of Moose. After all, we've had hundreds of battles, billions paid in taxes, 44 Presidents and thousands of traffic lights. But there's only one Moose.

Happy Birthday, Moose! I love you!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Walking on Sunshine


You know the feeling when you start dating someone you're really into?

The anticipation of seeing them again makes you giddy with excitement.

You fall asleep thinking about your first kiss.

You can't stop thinking about them.

You want to call, but don't want to be labeled a stalker so you don't.

You call your BFF to discuss your date. (She is not wearing the "ga-ga goggles" that you have on so she sees things quite clearly).

When they send you a "I hope you have a nice day" text, you smile.

When they hold your hand, you get butterflies in your stomach.

When they smile at you, you melt.

This my friends, is walking on sunshine. I've missed that feeling, the newness. The untainted beginnings of something that you hope will turn into something more. Admittedly sometimes things don't always work out as you had anticipated and that good feeling goes away. Yes, that is the cynical romantic in me, always trying to stay grounded.

But for now, I'm going to enjoy this feeling.

I am walking on sunshine.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Camp Getchamuddy

Ziggy returned on Friday from her third and final camp this summer. No disrespect to the other camps, this one by far was the clear winner on the official Zigometer Rating of Cool Camps.

Camp Number One - Camp Local Stuff - had tons of potential. A day camp run by a local teacher, it was limited to kids in Upper School (aka Jr High or Middle School) and every day featured a different field trip. Activities I would've sold my sister for when I was 13. A typical day included amusement parks, beaches, climbing through caves or white water rafting. (Just out of curiosity, has anyone seen the flyer for the Mid-Life Camp laying around anywhere? I seemed to have misplaced mine.) I salivated as I read over the brochure of daily activities, "Wow, they start your day with a pancake breakfast? How cool is that? Then the beach!" To which Ziggy replied, "Mom, you know I don't eat breakfast in the morning!" As if she eats breakfast some other time of day? In all fairness, she did enjoy most of the activities, except for the cave thing where you squeeze through an 18 inch opening of rock called the Orange-Crush or Lemon-Squeeze or the Oh-My-Gosh-I'm-Stuck-Send-Help-Cave. I would NOT have loved that one either. Seriously, who do you know that's 18 inches wide??? But ultimately this camp was renamed Camp Been There, Done That.

Camp Number Two was Camp Girl Power (yeah, you know the one), a sleepaway camp all of 3 miles from home. Girls from 7 and up spent their week lakeside, sleeping in what amounted to tents on a platform, filled with bunk beds, mosquitoes, wet towels and giggling girls after spending their day learning somewhat impractical but fun skills. Did you know brownies baked in a shoe box over a campfire taste a lot like smoky cardboard? Anyway, this was the third year the Zigster attended Camp Girl Power and definitely the last. You know how they break the girls up into units based on age, interests, etc? The past few years have been enjoyable but this one, well, this year Zig was part of the "Older Girls Who Must Set the Example" unit. Funny, that's not the box I checked but somehow, someone must have confused the paperwork.

Set the kayaks up for the day? Oh the OGWMSTE unit will do it. Put away the crafts and supplies? Sure, no problem. Run down to the main building for the counselors? Get the tables ready for lunch? Or hey, how about clean the latrines??? Did I see OGWMSTE raise their hands? No? Well, do it anyway. Let's just say for the price of a night in a swanky 5 star NYC hotel, Ziggy was cleaning the rustic outdoor bathroom facilities and learning... what? Not sure yet, it may come to me later. Don't get me wrong, I have no issue with responsibilities and cleaning up after yourself, fully support it as a matter of fact. But bathrooms used by all 20 or 30 girls in her group? Uh, no. Upon her return home this camp was quickly renamed to Camp Never Again.

Camp Number Three earned the highest rating on the Zigometer - Camp Christian Kidz, later renamed to Camp Getchamuddy. We were all excited for Zig to go to Camp Getchamuddy. This was her first year at a faith based camp as well as her first year at a co-ed camp. Needless to say we were a bit worried. Would the counselors do a good job of instilling a solid belief system while making sure those beliefs kept the kids in their cabins after lights out? Would Zig come back feeling closer to God? Or further away?

Although she's been back since Friday, Ziggy is still catching up on her sleep. We catch fragments of her camp experiences between naps - the infamous Milk Chug Contest, the Food Factor and the Burping Contest (hey, what's camp without a little burping contest right?). The pictures I've seen on Facebook show happy, war-painted kids singing, clapping, rock climbing, sliding into mud and having a great time while working together to reinforce their beliefs. This camp received the highest of high praise from Zig, "I missed you but I really, really wish it had been 2 weeks long." thus giving it the highest ranking on the Zigometer. Thank you so much to the Pastors, counselors and staff that made this trip memorable for Zig and her friends, I think we'll see the positive results of this week for a long time to come.

It's Sunday night now, and Zig still had a smile on her face. I'm not sure if she's remembering the great time at camp. Or maybe she's thinking about the fun we had at the doctor's on Saturday morning, waiting to x-ray the knee that came home two times larger than when she left. It was sort of funny to see the look on her doctor's face when Zig explained how she got hurt at camp. Wearing a trash can. Over her head. Running across a field. Filled with other kids. Also wearing trash cans.

Christian kids wearing trash cans and knocking each other over on a muddy field. What kid wouldn't love that???