Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Cyber Monday, Have You Bought Anything Yet?

Me neither.
I'm sure I could eliminate all talk of numerous gifts if Santa would just bring a puppy, but I'm not there yet on the dog thing, so I'm gonna have to go it alone.
It seems that this year, more than ever, retailers are FREAKED OUT about where you're going to spend your money.  I get it, I understand--last year was tough, and this year, somebody claimed that the American people have more money to spend, so, we're getting badgered left and right to buy heaping piles of stuff for Christmas, with all that extra dough we supposedly have, so we can rescue those retailers from last year's nastiness.
So, how are YOU doing?  Feeling any richer?  I do, a little, but that's because I gave myself a raise by switching jobs, while simultaneously cutting my commute in half.  Doesn't mean the cable guy isn't wondering where this month's payment is (yeah, yeah...I got it...calm down...), but, it's coming around.
It's coming around just in time for many someones to try to coerce me into spending it all on unnecessary crap.  And, like with the dog thing, I'm not quite there, yet.  I just can't picture dropping the kind of cash that retailers seem to think I have.  Who does this?  Who puts themselves into serious debt at Christmas?  Clearly, somebody must, or the people trying to sell us things wouldn't be trying so hard.
My children have been asking me what I want for Christmas, and I tell them that I don't know, which is not unusual for me--"I don't know" is my stock answer for anything relating to gifts that I would receive, because when I want a thing, I go out and get it myself. 
Apparently, this is annoying to potential gift-givers.
Sorry, but I just think that asking for a specific thing, or shopping for a specific thing for someone because they asked for a specific  Sucks huge.  It eliminates all thought, and makes it not about giving someone something because you thought of them, but because they wanted a certain thing, and heaven help you if you got something slightly different from that certain thing, because it's not the thing they wanted.
And this is what we have become.  Freaked out and panicked about THINGS.  We worry that if someone is going to buy us something, it will be dumb, and not the thing we want, and if we buy something for someone, we worry that they'll think it's dumb.  Every time you buy anything, the store asks you if you want a gift receipt, assuming that anything anybody buys is not what the receiver wanted, and it will need to be returned or exchanged.
How screwed up is that?  I mean, really....did you ever stop to think about that?  You buy things under the assumption that it will need to be returned or exchanged...Why bother buying it?  That's just stupid.  I'm so ANTI "gift-receipt", I can't even talk about it without getting grouchy.
So I just want to warn everybody up front, as we head into December, that, even though I love you all, I'm probably not getting you what you want.  Actually, I'm not even going to ask you what you want--how do you like that?  I'm just giving everybody the same thing this year--an invitation.  Because "stuff" needs dusting--experiences do not.  Instead of buying some things, I would rather do some things--grab a meal with friends, at a place we've never been, or maybe someplace we all enjoy--either/or.  Try out some new recipe on some unsuspecting recipient (food is always the best holiday gift, seriously--anything the other person doesn't have to prepare is all good).  Or maybe take a thermos full of schnapps-laced cocoa to a parade, or skating, or...out to the back yard.  Whatever.
And so this is Christmas...let's de-stress and have some fun out there!  Decorate, and Celebrate!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chillin' On The Road

300 Miles of straight and flat road ahead, and The Diva is behind the wheel. This is some funny stuff...

Last night, as we neared my friend's rural home, on a two-lane strip of pavement only lit by our headlights, she spent the entire 11 miles driving 40 mph, because the scene reminded her of Jeepers Creepers, and she was waiting for some psycho-killer to pop up in the middle of the road.

I'm giving her the day shift today. We'll see what monsters pop up.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Random Wednesday!!!

  • Lady at Walgreens?  You made my morning.  It's 6AM, some half-asleep woman (me) wanders in to buy concealer and mascara, looking very much like she is OUT of concealer and mascara, and you were the bubbliest, sweetest thing.  Thanks for the blessing, and have fun cooking for your family!
  • The day before Thanksgiving, and I'm craving ham.  Ham.  Like a ham sandwich would be the very greatest thing right now.  Guess what's in my cooler for the road trip?  Uh-huh.
  • Also bringing the Spaten, because I hate for the beer to be left home alone.  Not that I will be able to enjoy it during the actual road trip, but there are beer stops built in to the schedule.
  • I get off work three hours earlier than usual today, and yet...working today is the biggest DRAG!  Seriously...I'm trapped in an office and compelled to look at traffic maps and weather reports.  this can't be a good thing.  Remember the days before online traffic maps?  When you just winged it?  I'm going back to that.  After I get out of town, I mean. 
  • By the way, what brainiac decided that it would be a good time to close the 35W/Crosstown exit?  Thanksgiving?  The most traveled holiday of the year?  All of Southwest Minneapolis, Richfield and Edina would like to give you a good swift kick.  Where do you want it?
  • *exhale*  It's just'll get there when you get there.....breathe....
  • I know it's supposed to be "vacation", and at some point I'll probably stop worrying about all the stuff that needs to get done before I can enjoy "vacation".  I'll be sure to let you know when that is.
  • OK, it's now.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Didn't Think I Needed That Until Just This Second...

Online, isn't it?
Never mind the fact that we're all freaking out on the Buy Sh*t You Don't Need Train To Holiday Insanity.  What's super-fun is that when you go online to compare prices on things, and you get the other suggestions, like, shopping for a Wii somehow makes me an interested party in a Stationary Band Saw, for example.
I....didn't know I wanted that....but now I totally DO!
Kidding!  Juuuust kidding....!  Where the hell would I put it?
Anyway....I'm doing my online plinking around a bit early, because A) I don't leave my house on Black Friday, usually, and certainly don't get up early to do so, if I do, and B) I do hit up some online shopping on Black Friday, but this year, we"ll be away from home, so I want to be sure of exactly where it is that I am going online, beforehand, to make it quick and easy.
Lucky for me (I guess) there is no place out there, online or otherwise, that appears to be shooting out any significant deals on Wii systems, so, it doesn't appear to matter where it comes's $199.  Period.  I think I like that. Not that I would get up early if someone was selling them for 20 bucks somewhere--I would not.  Besides...I'm going to be miles away from retail this Friday.  I noticed a short window of time this week in which I can drive out to see the family, so, I'm gonna jump at it, and head West.
Here is what going to my parents home means...and, for those of you familiar with the high plains of Western North Dakota, please feel free to skip this part.
If you look at my cell phone coverage map, and find my hometown, you will note that there is only roaming coverage for a couple of hundred miles in all directions, and in the very center of the "Could Be VERY Sketchy" coverage my hometown.
Uh-huh.  Phone-addicted me, in forced recovery.  For the record, I would likely be roundly chastised by parent and sibling alike if they saw how much usage that bad boy gets in a day--Internet, email, text, Twitter, FB.  I mean, my father once made a comment about my using a freaking HAIR DRYER, OK?  And if he thinks THAT was techno-addicted scary, well...need I say more?
I'm going to be a bit twitchy.  Roaming doesn't scare me, but, the possibility of ZIP coverage is cause for concern.  I've already warned the children.  They are steeling themselves as we speak.  These are little people who have scarcely known life without texting...I'm just sayin'.
The second item of concern, which I was very used to when living out there, but totally NOT used to anymore, is the part how you MUST plan ahead any purchases you need to make, because the corner store?  It's not there.  And if it is there, it is very unlikely to be open on Thursday.  When you "do" a trip across the state of North Dakota, especially on a holiday, you plan accordingly, thank your lucky stars for Pay At The Pump Gas (which can STILL be as far as 50 miles apart), and you pack a cooler.  Towns big enough for fast food (or any) restaurants are fairly widely spread apart.  If you happen to break down anywhere, well, you're alone, at least for a while.
Those are the cons.  The pro's?  It's beautiful.  You can see the sky for miles and miles.  And it's dead-silent.  You've likely never heard this kind of quiet before, which is probably one of the reasons why extraneous noise is so annoying to me now, all these years later.  And if you do happen to break down anywhere, it doesn't matter who finds you first, you're in good hands. (Ahem...Qualifier:  I'M in good hands because I'm a girl and can feign helplessness, which has a much more receptive audience in the middle of nowhere than it does in a city.)
Yes, there are more people living on my city block than live within a 40 mile radius of where I grew up.  There are more people in the city where I live than there are in the entire state where I grew up.  Hell, there are more CARS in Minneapolis than there are people in North Dakota.
Different world.  Really different.  It's not something I am very good at explaining.  On the one hand, everybody is super-nice, and at the same time, they're all pretty happy that the desolation keeps the "riff-raff" out.  Life there means commitment--keeping a tiny town, or a farm, or anything like that, alive means all hands on deck.  You do because you must.  Everybody does.  And in a major population center like Minneapolis, you're not personally called upon so very often.  Not that we're all "riff-raff"...just that in a time of need, opting out is more of an option here, and you feel like less of a jerk if you do.
I often say that, in the future crazy days, when tsunami's wipe out large chunks of both coasts and all level of insanity hits the major population centers, that the survivors will all find their way to the Dakotas.  The land that was so unlivable will suddenly seem pretty attractive.  Just remember...everyone in both states owns a gun, so, be nice.
We'll be heading that way on Wednesday night, and, this trip really wasn't planned--just popped into my head on Friday morning.  I must say, I really didn't think I needed it until somebody brought it up.  But I do.  And unlike the stationary band saw, I'll take it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Like I Said...

...The headstone better read "Saint Raychele" or something...because I'm taking the martyr road, that's why...
Just kidding.
You can't let life keep you from doing things, or stay flat on your back for every little ache and pain.  You need to get up, and go to your job, and get yelled at by some angry physician's assistant in Milwaukee (it's like people there are either jolly as hell or they just want to jump up and down on your head.  WTF?  I'm just sayin'... I see that "414" pop up on my work phone and I never know what I'm gonna get...)  People who do this miss out on a lot of life--trust me on this--I know a lot of these people.
Also, when you have a weird diagnosis like a Chiari Malformation, which some people have from cradle to grave with no symptoms whatsoever, and some people, uh, don't, there appears to be a vast and open space in which people with the diagnosis roam, free to be as affected by it as they choose.  And some of them are REALLY affected.  Like, life stops, affected.  Most unfortunate. don't want to say anything to people who are handling it differently than you.  Questioning whether or not someone is actually experiencing pain is very, very, tricky business.  I mean, I can tell you what I think (I think you should BUCK UP AND STOP YER WHININ' is what I think) but, you don't want to accuse anyone of over-stating the effect of pain on their lives, because then you sound like a complete bitch. 
Ahem...yeah, I'm a complete bitch.  But I'm OK with that!  I really am!
I blipped through a few articles about Chiari this morning, because I am curious if there is anything new happening in the medical world, and was both amazed and disheartened by post after post on message boards and comments, from people who hear a diagnosis and immediately turn it into a pity-party.  One lady lamented how "once again", her family went out to do an activity, and she had to stay at home because of Chiari. 
Um...what the hell kind of activity was it?  Were they getting shot out of cannons?  You couldn't go along and watch?  Or maybe more importantly...what kind of assholes do you have in your family who can't think of a way to include you in things? 
"I'm gonna sit on my ass and complain about the pain, online" seems incredibly stupid to me.  I say (and I say this because sitting at a computer is NOT a good thing to do all day if you have any kind of spinal or muscle issues, weakness, etc--you should be WORKING that shit...) that if the pain is bad enough that you have to sit still, but you can still manage to get yourself in front of the internet, then why can't you manage to get yourself to a seated position someplace else?
See, this is why I come off as a complete bitch.  Sorry.  Sort of.  I know that trying to maintain a decent weight, and doing some yoga or meditating is not for everyone.  That stuff is just for the people who don't use pain as an excuse. 
Yeah, I said it.
Anyway....I'm working.  And stretching.  And drinking 27 bottles of water.  And all the other stuff I do to make myself feel better. 
All so I can get bitched at by the 414.  Because when I'm not being a complete bitch, I'm a martyr, that's why...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gonna Be Really, Really Old For A Little While

So if you don't hear a lot from me, sorry.  Gosh, and I was doing so well, in November!  hehe...

It's one of those things you don't think about much, until there's some kind of shortage...uh-huh.  That's right.  Talkin' 'bout spinal fluid.  Whacky's kinda like Dura-Lube, only, for your body.  You start to notice the system shorting out when things like your right forearm, or your left ring finger start to hurt, for no particular reason.  Like, you feel dried out on the inside.  Weird.  Small wonder my body is not craving the cigarettes lately.  Wanna know the other weird thing?  I haven't had one since yesterday, and I haven't had any withdrawal symptoms.  At all.  THAT's how busy my body is, being miserable with other shit right now.

Though it's not something that immobilizes me completely--moving doesn't hurt much more than not moving, and stretching feels like the most wonderful, wonderful, wonderful thing in the world--I find that the exact, perfect, propped up (or  propped down) position feels pretty good, and sitting at a computer for any length of time feels like hell.  Spice must flow, as they say, and, sitting at a computer tends to make spinal fluid circulation issues worse, for me, anyway.  

So there you go.  See you in a couple of days.  Or, maybe tomorrow.  Chiari.  Tons of only slightly predictable neurological fun.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Closing In

Getting very close...inch by inch.
I can feel my body telling me that smoking time is drawing to a close.  Just about there.  It's one of those things where the action no longer serves it's purpose, so it's likely to change soon.
Along with that, I have a strong desire to run a marathon.
HA!  Had you going for a second there, didn't I?   So NOT running a marathon...
But here's the job, new body.  Can't help it, it's just happening.  At my old job, I was at my desk a lot.  At my new job, I'm at my desk.....MORE. 
I mean, "Crap".
Every inch of my body can feel the "sitting around", because we're not terribly busy at the moment, so we quite literally Sit Around.  A Lot.  I'm all crinked up like a ball of paper. and my Everything hurts.  On my breaks, I crave movement much more than nicotine.  (Listen to your bodies, people...I think that a lot of people who have aches and pains a lot of the time, have them because of lack of movement.  There are things for which you take a pill, and things for which you take a walk.  I'm just sayin'.).
So, I might accidentally quit smoking.  If I keep replacing my lunch time with a stroll around the parking ramp, it could happen.  I know...don't carve that in stone or anything...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thing 1

She's been photographed approximately 872 kajillion times.
(Yes, there ARE pictures of Day One. No, we will not be sharing them.)
She didn't start to get hilarious for a few months after that, anyway.
Sometimes posed.
Sometimes wanting very much not to be posed.
Sometimes saying, "OK, Grandma, can we give it a break?"
Through it all, so much laughter.
And so many chickens.

And other random things to pose with.

And like us all, the self-portraits are the most telling.
I've seen her look like everything you could imagine. My blog name for her is "Diva", but, she wouldn't have become one without 16 years of nudging, by those of us who find her amazing, fascinating, aggravating, short-tempered, funny as hell, driven, creative, and somehow still pretty easy going. Look out, world...she's coming your way.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Is it true that in this picture, I decided not to wear my coat outside, even though it was 20 below, because I wanted to look cool?

Yes. Yes, that is true.
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And don't think my siblings didn't call me on it.
Although I notice now that Baby Bro (The tall one) is Sans Parka, too. Hmmm...
Favored child status always went to the shortest one--that's the guy wearing the giant red bow in this picture.

His name was Chance, and obviously, he was a lot cuter than the rest of us.

My father had to put him down a couple of years ago, and counts that day among his most difficult. Tougher than being on the ambulance crew when your son is involved in a car accident (on my father's 50th birthday, I might add), and tougher than having to drive to Montana in the middle of the night because your kid ( got arrested for being all of 17 and somehow possessing ridiculous quantities of wine. In Montana. (OK, OK...Montana was just four miles from our house, but still...)
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More Signs That I Might Be A Mutant

I keep seeing all of these online tips for making Thanksgiving less stressful, and all they ever talk about is cooking dinner. 
I'm fairly certain I could make this meal in my sleep.  Where's the stress in that? 
IS cooking Thanksgiving dinner stressful?  Really?  Turkey?  Stuffing?  Some variety of potato/vegetable/thingy?  Pie?  Hell, you can make the pie and half the menu the night before.  You can buy a frozen pie for that matter--what's the big deal?
This is the second year in a row that I am not making Thanksgiving dinner.  I would like to--I really would.  I've been threatening to just make all the food for the hell of it, even though we were invited to someone else's house on the day of.  It would be a pre-holiday turkey dinner.  Last year, I offered to bring mashed potatoes, and my offer was met with a quiz about how I make the mashed potatoes, what kind of potatoes I use for my mashed potatoes, and what ratio of milk/butter/etc. is in the mashed potatoes.
Mashed Potatoes.
I'm happy to disregard the fact that traditional mash is less awesome than my preferred, and better tasting "Garlic Smash", for the sake of this holiday--on this one day, I can set aside those delightfully rustic yummy-yum-yummy spuds where you leave the skins on and smoosh the potatoes with a glob of sour cream and/or cream cheese and some garlic.  I can NOT make those.  I can be traditional.  I can make stupid, mashed, Whitey McWhite Guy, Idaho freaking potatoes.
I just prefer not to.  Which, I suppose, is why I got the quiz on how I would be preparing the potatoes.  Gee, it's like they know me or something!  No wonder they don't trust.  Last year, I showed up with Dairy Bomb Potatoes, which are still white, so they pass inspection, but in this dish, your boring potatoes take a bath in butter, cream cheese and sour cream.  They're so good you wanna die.  I'd bring them again, but I'm sure I'm banned.  Those potatoes were like a trojan horse at the dinner table...
This year, I offered up sweet potatoes.  This was met with another quiz, yes, but, it's apparently a lower expectation item because the cook of the house doesn't like them, so, when I bring some kind of stellar, incredible, sweet potato thing, I don't have to worry about any disapproval from on high.  Let her suffer on her own for refusing to taste them.  The bummer part is that there is some kind of marshmallow requirement, but I'm thinking, on my Bowl Of Whipped Sweet Potato Deliciousness I'll do half Amazing Praline Topping That Would Make You Push Your Aging Mother Out Of The Way To Get More and half Stupid Miniature Mashmallows.  Then I'll just eat out of one side of the casserole.  Or at least that is my tentative plan, though I'm not at all sure how to make a half and half dish look attractive.  Hmmm..., making Thanksgiving dinner is not stressful.  What is stressful?  Having some kind of specific expectation about what Thanksgiving dinner should be.  There are people coming up with new and delicious ways to prepare this core group of foods, every year.  I really think I came up with Praline Sweet Potatoes on my own?  Are you kidding?  Stole it from somebody else, a hundred years ago!  So it's not just me and my mutant weirdness bringing this stuff to your table, m-kay?

To Have And Have Not

This is probably my favorite picture of him despite the blur (Sorry...I messed with it as much as I dared). I call it the "Bogey" shot because it reminds me so much of Humphrey Bogart--piloting a boat, cap on, a couple of days worth of beard happening, smoke hanging out of his get the idea.

I remember one time he walked into a radio station where I was working and one of my female co-workers, who didn't know who he was, gave me a hard nudge, mouth dropped open, while saying "Holy Sh*t! Did you see that guy?" She was ready to crawl into his lap, and considering that he and I were freshly divorced at the time, I wasn't sure quite what to say.

He was a bit of a rule breaker, which I always find charming, and we were young, and therefore dumb as hell, so it was bound to end as explosively as it began. Our daughters would not be the same hilarious, devilish, wonderful people without him as a dad, though, and, probably not nearly as cute.

Some people regret failed love affairs, but try as I might, I never can. Throwing yourself in all the way might make you do crazy things, and the outcome might hurt like hell for a while. You might even think back on it years later and feel bad about the stupid things you did. But it is only through these kinds of relationships that you find your true place. You learn about yourself and about other people, and you learn what works and what doesn't--hopefully you learn before you cause each other too much harm. In the end, four years of crazy is far better than a lifetime of nothing special.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Pictures Of You

My daughter dragged a huge box of photographs out of the hall closet because she needed an actual, printed on photographic paper, picture of our cat for a school presentation she was doing.

There it sat...the huge box of photographs. I might have been able to resist if my other daughter hadn't dived in and spent a good part of Sunday saying, "Oh, Mom, you gotta see this one..."

Soon enough, I was sitting on the floor, piling through hundreds of photographs--more than 25 years worth of things I cared about enough to take a picture. I was struck by the fact that it has been a long time since I felt the need to snap a photograph of anything, and it saddened me. The last time I took pictures with anything other than my phone was Spring 2008, when the family took a day trip to an old fort on the Gulf Coast.

And there we had it...the reason for the lack of recent photographs...the "family" thing. No family trips, no family holidays. No, "Hey, lets take the day and go skiing" or, "Let's head down to the beach for the afternoon", or "Let's go to Mount Rushmore on an 892 degree day". As much as those things might have seemed like forced marches to the children (or me) at the time, the photos don't lie--everyone was smiling.

I am going to cut myself a slight break because during the last year and a half, I've been buried in rebuilding, and too broke to do anything except work and go home. Also, l have been exhausted, just trying to get to a place where I can feel like it isn't all going to disappear if I don't keep ramming away as hard as I can, every minute. I'm just about there.

I'm not so full of myself that I can't admit that if I had never decided to leave my husband, we'd still be doing things together like that--I'd still have a willing participant if I wanted to go do something, and so would he, and the children would mope about it but have fun when we got there. This is something I desperately miss--being inspired to go do things, because you will always have someone to go with you. Even if it turns out to be dumb, you can always just shrug and say, "well, that was a bust--wanna go get a drink or something?"

The lack of willing participants in my grand schemes of late has been rather disappointing. I love my friends, but...they never want to do anything. I say, "hey, let's go to this show!" and they say something like, "I dunno...I can't stay out late, and it's on a Monday, and there's traffic, and I'm old, and they don't have any chairs at that bar so I'd have to stand up the whole time..." blah, blah, blah, excuses, excuses, excuses. It's depressing that a lot of people I know would rather sit at home and watch TV than get out and experience anything. They act more like 70 year olds than 40 year olds. I say, yes, you'll be exhausted, yes, you'll have to stand up all night, yes, you'll have to fight traffic. But more importantly, you'll have something that can't be taken away--good times, good memories.

If you actually recall any specific dates or details involving a television schedule even one year from now, congratulations. But I bet you won't.

And so it is resolved...I shall get out and do more things, and I will take pictures. I will drag my kids to more things, and, I will take pictures. I'll invite other people, but I won't let their lack of enthusiasm prevent me from going myself. Let them get old without me.

Also resolved? Prepare yourselves...I'm going to be sharing some pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. I'm going to flip through my past for you, to make way for the future. A little Shelly Payne memory book. We'll go back to...the mid 1980's. All the cute boyfriends/spouses and funny friends, all the smiling children. And while I will NOT be posting any photographs in which my hair is truly embarrassing, yes, there will be pictures of me, which is kind of a bloggy first around here.

The thing is, I've had a lot of fun in my life. A lot. Lots of funny stories, and love affairs and hilarious kid moments. I'm ready to have some more. Who's with me?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wow...I Really Am Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

Ever get the feeling that you dodged a bullet?

Like, the guy you decided NOT to give your phone number turned out to be a psycho killer?

( come the only guys who ask for my number are psycho killers?  What's up with that?  OK, OK...I admit it...the NON-psycho killers bore me...wouldn't even know how to have a conversation with someone who wasn't deeply troubled.  But ANYWAY...)

I heard from a former co-worker that they just broomed a bunch of people at my previous job.  Jeeez.  Seems the company accidentally overspent several million dollars on stupid crap, so, in order to save those big management jobs, they had to slice off a good chunk of little people.

I feel so bad for my friend, and so glad for me.  I especially feel bad because they had the audacity to fire her, then ask her if she could come in on Monday and train some of the people who didn't get fired in how to do her job.

Man...That's like dumping a girl, then asking her to pose as your girlfriend so you can ditch some other chick you also don't want to hang out with.  Ruuuude!

*sigh*  I'm not naming names, I'm just saying that they SUCK.  Fire one VP or upper management person instead of 20 people who actually work, and you might come close to solving the real money problem, you morons!  *grumble*

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

What an excellent day so far!  Got to go to a local store that was blaring R&B Christmas, that wasn't me dancing in the aisle to Luther Vandross.

OK, maybe it was.

What can I say?  When Luther sings, "Everybody kiss somebody," it just makes me want to kiss somebody, which translates into a good mood.

I made it out of the store without kissing anybody.  But I bought a lot of Christmas ornaments.

From there, in my car, I found myself sitting at a stoplight a half block away from a Dunn Brothers and THOSE BASTARDS with their delicious smelliness FORCED me to pull over.  Damn it.

Hit the grocery store and EVERYTHING WAS ON SALE...gotta love that.  Delighted in the guy having the deep discussion with his wife/girlfriend/sister/who knows? about how he KNOWS she doesn't like white bread and never eats it, but, 48 CENTS!  Come on!  48 Cents!  Be reasonable!

I tried not to get involved, but I had to brush past them in order to pick up my two loaves of bread so heavy with whole grain that I could barely lift them.  I gave her the "don't take your boyfriend/husband/brother/who knows? to the grocery store with you, and you can buy whatever you want" look, but I had to walk away before I heard how that stressful situation resolved itself.

Hey, there's a reason I leave the kids at home whenever possible.

Then, I could swear I saw John Holmes at Michael's.  He was in the cake decorating aisle.  You know....if you look an awful lot like John Holmes, you gotta figure a weirdo like me is going to wonder what the hell you're doing with all that frosting.

Christmas coming together nicely--this year's theme colors?  Lime green and fuchsia.  Oh yes it is.  And I am really happy that I am in the MOOD for the holidays.  I'm in total nesting mode right now.  Don't think ill of me if I Christmasify this place, like, next week.  I need to decorate, OK?  NEED!!

Too bad my nesting thing also involves cleaning the house...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Growing Up To Become A Girl

I know that you are used to deep, insight-filled posts about important things like, How can there possibly be toilet paper all over the bathroom floor in the office? What person with a job is that lazy that they can't hit either a garbage can or the toilet? (and it's not used toilet paper, just...random strips of TP all over the floor. What the hell is that all about?)

But today, we're going to talk about something entirely different.
I was looking at a book of historical photos about families coming to the midwest and was struck by a particular photo of three sisters walking together, on their way to an afternoon of shopping or a movie or whatever. The picture was from the 1940's or 50's, and these were grown, married women, all dressed in nice skirts and shoes, nylons, hair done, etc. Then there was a picture, taken 50-odd years later, same three sisters, now in their 70's or 80's, in which they are all wearing T-Shirts and casual pants, comfortable shoes.

Got me to thinking...

When I was a younger person, right after high school (and, obviously this was in the 80's and not the 40's), I stuck to jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts, and any variety of "There's not really a girl under here" wear that I could find. I wore baseball caps. A lot. If I wasn't at work, and, sometimes when I was at work, I threw my hair under a cap. Working nights in radio was a beautiful thing--oh, I was supposed to get there before 5PM, but I rarely did, because that would mean that I would have to dress in "office casual", and I was having no part of that. I even had a weekend shift "uniform" that consisted of jeans, T-shirt under a hoodie, and favored cap d'jour. I delighted in the opportunity to wear that stuff into the office while the sun was still shining. Shortly after I met my husband, who worked in the same office as me, he admitted to me that he hadn't been sure if I was a woman, just based on the clothes.

Yes, I was hiding out. Duh.

When I was younger, lot of...being female...also meant, to me, anyway, being a victim. Sometimes it meant that in a literal sense, as some things were wrought upon me that would have never happened if I was male, but largely, it was just the time, and the family dynamic--four brothers pretty much had a lock on the place, not that my mother let them do whatever they wanted, but I don't recall them ever doing the dishes...that was for my sister and me. To my mind, the boys got away with more, without falling out of the good graces of my mom. I remember my brother coming home from a friend's house one Christmas Eve, completely stoned out of his mind, and my mother laughing and saying that there probably weren't any munchies in any of his gifts. That same woman literally kicked me in the butt one time when I was 24 years old and was smoking a cigarette in her presence. I smoke this stuff, it's better than if I smoke this other stuff? Huh...who knew? And my brother (same brother) also drank himself a lot of booze (still does) and got maybe an eye roll or two from mom for that, but I get picked up on a minor with a bunch of friends on graduation night? I got the silence thing for about a month. I realize that my mother was probably very concerned about the fact that (insert Elayne Boosler joke) I had a vagina with me and could potentially get into all kinds of trouble--of course, that didn't mean she would ever speak to me about that sort of thing. No, dirty whore-ness was only strongly implied--never spoken aloud. Awesome.

Not that growing up was any uglier for me than it was for a lot of other people, but, something about all of those implications made me uncomfortable with girlness, like it was a bad thing, hence the tom-boy-ness. All of that not-so-girly stuff oozed into my radio career, as well, because I tended to take the same stance on things as the men and was just as aggressive when driving toward the punch line. Most of the men in the business would tell me "I hate female announcers--except for you. You don't sound like any girl I've ever heard." Good. That's what I wanted to hear. There was a reason why none of them liked women announcers: Women announcers sucked. A lot of them still do. I got me to thinking. There were the three sisters, in their dresses and hats and shiny shoes--what I would consider a uniform of vulnerability--doing some girly thing, like, getting their hair done. Yes, it was a different time, but I didn't get the impression that these women were as un-nerved about being female as I was. They seemed very strong, and, quite confident, walking along. They had each other, and, probably a husband or family member who would step in and makes things very, very clear, were there any questions about their honor.

I, on the other hand, grew up with a group of people that would more likely side with the questioner, believing me capable of just about anything. My response to that become capable of just about anything.

Oh, I HAD honor, very much so, but I was also juuuuust off-kilter enough so that it wouldn't take much to convince anyone that I was up to no good.

If I only had a dollar for all of the strange, strange, untrue things that have been said about me...Funny, how, in my quest to not be a victim, I actually became one, many times over, because my own unconventional behavior laid the groundwork for a lot of character assassinations. Co-workers, step-children, etc, all had very receptive audiences when the topic was me and their made-up stories of my "bad" behavior. Might as well have tattooed the words "Easy Target" right across my forehead.

Which brings us to today. One of the reasons why I ended up leaving my husband was simply that he didn't have my back. To be fair, it's not something I ever asked of him for the first five years of us being together--I mean, send a man in to defend me? Not a chance in hell I would ever do that--I would put up my own dukes and take all the punches myself before I would ever ask anyone to fight my battles for me. Then, something changed. At some point, I noticed that, well, he didn't stand up for me, and at some point, it started to bother me. Other girls have guys who stand up for them and defend their honor. I have honor. Why can't I get some honor defending over here? Sure, it's possible that I had him fairly well trained not to, but what I was seeing was that he didn't even want to. The end came when I asked him to, and he wouldn't. I mean...he actually refused, even though helping me meant zero physical or economic danger to him.

Really? Refusing to defend a GIRL? A girl who is asking her man for help? Isn't NOT defending me, especially when I ask you to, the same things as agreeing with all the bad things being said?
That was when things fell completely and hopeless to pieces. I left.

For all intents and purposes, that was also when I grew up to become a girl.

Most women, the three sisters included, as they get older, they push a lot of girlish things to the side. They dress in comfortable shoes instead of high-heeled shiny ones. Or maybe they don't wear earrings anymore, or they don't pretty themselves up or wear a skirt to go shopping. I've gone a bit of the opposite direction. I look at my pre-break-up wardrobe and wonder what the hell I was even thinking. Huge, huge, huge clothes, chosen for my ability to disappear in them. 57 million sweatshirts (my gawd, I loved sweatshirts). An entire dresser-full of t-shirts, which are now an entire dresser of not terribly attractive pajama shirts. Yes, I might occasionally still leave the house in a baseball cap and hoodie--did it just this morning, as a matter of fact, to drive my kid to school--but it's pretty rare for me to want to hide anymore. My shoes are less comfortable and more shiny, and not only do my clothes fit, but most of them imply "female" without even hinting at the "easy" thing my mom was so afraid of.

Kind of a miracle.

It took me this long to be OK with my ability to walk around looking, well, like a girl, with my hair and make-up done most of the time, and curve hugging clothes on, and not think of it as inviting trouble. It is truly incredible what a parent, or anyone else, can do to your head if you let them, but much more incredible are the ways the the universe shows you how much bullshit all that negativity is. All of those unexpected lessons about things to which you were barely conscious, but they ended up meaning so much. I'm truly thankful, every day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In The Gutter In The Morning

I remember about a week ago thinking that maybe I was too old to start my days at 5:30AM and plow through them at top speed until around 8 or 9 at night.


That schedule doesn't seem like such a big deal at the moment.

Anyway...I'm dog tired today, because yesterday I was up at 5:30AM and finally fell into bed at about 1 o'clock this morning.  But, all good--had a couple of oddly large beers, was thoroughly confused by two-way downtown streets, and got a few good panicky moments out of my "navigator".  As I said to my friend when strong-arming him into coming to the show, "We'll sleep when we're dead"  Here is the YouTube of where I was and what I was doing...  Cruise in about 50 minutes on that to get to the Enter The Haggis part--that's actually a post of their web cast of the show, so they start shooting the stage well before they ever get on it... (Warning...picture is shite, but the sound is good.  Well, it's board good--sounded better in the room.  You may also notice that the sound and the picture sync up about as well as a dubbed Godzilla movie, but, just do what I do and open it in another window/tab to listen to while you're doing something else...)  There's a little something for everybody on this--rock, trad, Celtic moosh, blues, progressive, jazz--they have a lot going on.  Go in about an hour and 33 minutes to get to my faaaave song from last night's set list, "Life For Love", which is just flat-out stellar piece of music.

On to the vitally important business of the day:  Did you know that there is some "other" Shelly Payne out there posting junk on a blogspot blog?

Ahem...That will be quite enough of that, young lady.

OK, OK....I think she had to do the blog for a school project or something, and her name appears to also be "Shelly Payne", and I'm sure she is a lovely person.  

But...she can't spell, and, well, her blog is not all that entertaining or interesting, so it pains me to see it, because I'm a freak.  I'm a freak because Google Alerts is my very good friend, and though I don't personally Google myself, my little friend sends me an email every time somebody Googles, uh, me (and a lot of other things...).  And when somebody Googles Shelly Payne and they get the poorly spelled, not all that interesting, blog of Student Shelly, I wince a little.

It's not that this blog is my livelihood or that Student Shelly is taking food of my children's mouths or anything.  Its because when you're like me and you sign your name to your work and your words because you give it effort and you're proud of yourself,  it's not fun to be associated with something half-ass.  Maybe I'm old-fashioned.  Right or wrong, I rarely say things I don't mean, and I think signing your name to something should signify that--it's your own personal seal of approval.  It means you stand behind it, which is a very big deal in my world.  I don't want to be a McDonald's and run everybody named McDonald who wants to open a restaurant out of business...I just sincerely hope Student Shelly nukes that blog the second that class is over.  In about six months, if it hasn't gone away yet, maybe I'll stop by with some words of "encouragement".  And a style guide, dictionary, thesaurus, and, oh, maybe a spell check.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yay! Enter The Haggis Night!

Since I didn't post on Sunday, I'm posting twice today, and, that TOTALLY counts in my lame attempt to post every single day in November.
Yeah...suck on that...
Anyway, just a reminder to check out Enter The Haggis tonight at 7th Street Entry if you're in's some related linky-doo's...
(shut up, I thought that was funny...)

Some Questions...

  • Why does the parking garage at work smell like a barn?
  • Why is it that when I am stuck in the morning mash Crosstown/35-W/Lyndale fiasco, the same song pops into my head every time?  For the's "Who's Bed Have Your Boots Been Under", a song I have not heard since...WE Fest???  What the hell is up with that?
  • Did I really go to WE Fest?  My 20's are kind of a blur...which is probably why I was thinking that "Who's Bed Have Your Boots Been Under" was a Lorrie Morgan song and not a Shania Twain song...thank you Google.  I'm one less question away from Complete Moron today.
  • Do Wells Fargo execs sit around in meetings and think of things and say, "I know...THIS will REALLY piss off the average consumer!" and then pat themselves on the back while they implement new, dumb "Terms and Conditions"?
  • What do you do with your old driver's license when you get a new one?  I mean, the old picture is absolutely heinous, but there must be some kind of shredded collage art project I could do, to highlight the hilarity of the monstrously bad picture...anyone?  Anyone?
  • Does a bullet point post really seem like grasping at straws, just to put something on the blog?  It used to be such a fun it just seems desperate.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Going Back In Time

Literally and figuratively...

Here is a link to Ghosts Of North Dakota (DOT COOOOOOOM....because every web site is an Expedia commercial to me...)

LINK!!!!! It's a LINK!!! Click on it!!!

Go check out the home country. Yes, I grew up there. Yes, it is beautiful. Yes, there are hardly any people there. No, this post was not here on Saturday--I'm totally cheating and back-dated it. HA! And you thought you were losing your mind, didn't you???

But seriously, folks...the cool thing about Ghosts of North Dakota is that they go around and take pictures of ghost towns, and, although there is some beautiful photography, it's not all sugar-coated...rust and decay are not necessarily glamourized. There are less people in the entire state of North Dakota than there are living in the city where I currently reside. It's different there, but cool...wide open spaces, y'all...

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Get To Write Again Today? That's AWESOME!

There is nothing so off-putting as a "have-to".
I "have to" take out the trash.
I "have to" drive my kid to hockey/soccer/violin practice.
I "have to" read that long-ass blog post that Shelly published yesterday...
I "have to" write a new blog post every day for the entire month of November.
You know...stuff.
I got into the habit, around 15-odd years ago, to exchange the words "have to" with the words "GET to".  I won't lie, I sort of did it to annoy people--like if someone said, "I have to have a mammogram" and sounded all mopey, I'd say, "You mean you GET to have a mammogram?"  And I'd add a super-enthusiastic "That's AWESOME!", just to sound as fake-cheerful as humanly possible.  The mopey person in question will generally shoot me a withering look, but, usually, they snap out of mopey.
Breast squishing!  Woot! (That ought to help my stats considerably, since people already visit this blog after searching "barely contained breasts".  Really?  What the hell IS that?  Do people still write like that?  Thats so dime novel...)
You see...I don't believe in gently massaging someone out of a crappy mood.  I'm more of a fan of smacking the crappy mood right out of them through the liberal application of absurdity.  You need someone to cut the tension?  That would be me, I've been doing this for 40 years.  (Um, yeah...classic middle child, semi-tense household situation growing up, you know the drill...)
Honestly, though, Tension Defense Mechanism aside, it makes so much more sense to me to make light of something than it does to let things be heavy.  To a large degree, heavy moods make heavy people--sometimes literally.  Think about it this way: if you looked at all of the things that you do each day, and make note of how many of those things are your responsibility, or, things you HAVE to do, you see quite a few things (that is, if you are an adult and you don't have "staff" to take care of those things for you...).  If you're going to be spending that much time doing "have to's", eventually, you're going to feel a bit downtrodden.  Just take a few of those "have to's" and make them "GET to's".  Do it just today, or, just this week, and see how it goes--changes your whole perspective, doesn't it?  If nothing else, you'll make the techs running the boob squisher wonder what you're up to...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Woot! Random Wednesday!

  • Horoscope from this morning.."It is time to give your beloved some special attention."  You mean...besides stating publicly on a blog that I want to roll over in bed and run into him every morning?  Jeeeez...attention pig!
  • Now that my car has had a fluid transfusion, it's all, "Take me on the highway!  Take me on the highway!" So I tried that...and the first thing I saw on the highway was a huge sign that said "Debris North of Diamond Lake Rd--expect delays" and there we sat, my car and me, for 40 minutes, trying to get from 66th Street to 46th Street.  Annoying!
  • And I know what you're thinking, Mike--Yes, a trip to Fargo would make my car very happy right now.  It would also make ME very happy right now...just need to hang out with some of my cronies once in a while to return my brain to the preferred, Belle Of The Ball state of mind.  I realize that this is a state of illusion (delusion?), but just let me have this one thing, OK?
  • Meanwhile, if someone would get all excited and finish the Road Construction Project From HELL so I could actually drive on the two highways that lead to my house, that would be SUPER!  Thanks!  (New bridge to replace the collapsed bridge?  One year.  New Highway on Dirt?  Six years.  Dude...I'm just sayin'...)
  • Everyone in my office has medical bills that they are appealing and contesting, with both the providers and the insurance companies.  It's not a One Out Of Ten People Think Insurance And Medical Billing is Confusing.  It's 4 Out Of 5 People WHO WORK FOR AN INSURANCE COMPANY Can't Figure Out Why They Are Being Billed The Way They Are Being Billed!  There are so many errors, which make a person crazy, and it's part of the reason why it's so expensive, and definitely one of the reasons why medical bills are crippling average American families.  You know I'm right, you know I'm right, you KNOW I'm right!  You wanna do something nice for America?  Wanna cut health care costs?  Stop screwing us around.  Put some motivated people behind the change!  Start with someone who is looking at their OWN huge medical bill, and I'm sure they'll come up with a creative solution in no time!
  • Dear Bank Holding My Money: ((insert raspberry))  That is all.
  • Other than Bank Fail, I must say, my life appears to be hanging at the cross-roads of "Woot!" Boulevard and "That's So F*cking Cool" Street.  I's INTERESTING, people!  I've had a lot of things make me smile this week, inwardly, and outwardly.  I've had a lot of things make me say, "Ah-Ha!" at the most delightful of revelations.  And, a lot of little lessons.  As usual, I have no idea where any of this is headed, but, the trip is never dull...Grateful every day!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Would I? Should I?

I'll give it a shot.  But I'm not joining anything, so nobody better step on my head if they notice that sometime around, oh, November 4th, there isn't a blog post.


Welcome to November, where, in theory, everybody who has a blog posts a blog every single day for the entire month.


Personally, I worry about what I could possibly talk about.  Expect tangents.  Oh, and can we talk about cute boys and stuff?  Because my brain tends to hover on a few specific things: Deep thoughts, food, stupid and/or annoying people, and cute boys—in no particular order.  Sometimes, one of those takes over.  And sometimes the stupid and/or annoying person IS a cute boy, and almost always, the stupid and/or annoying person spurs a deep thought, because I'm just here to help.
Let's see what we have here:


Last night, my daughter and I watched The Girls Next Door and that Lorenzo Lamas reality show.  Back to Back.


STILL ALIVE!!  Woooooo-Hoooooo!


The Girls Next Door went "camping" in the backyard of the Playboy Mansion, which involved them setting up a tent (badly) and telling ghost stories while a succession of butlers brought them food (and hopefully cleaned up the horrendous mess they left out by the pool—my gaaawd, what PIGS!).  Then the sprinkler came on and everybody returned to the mansion.  Were I would normally take this opportunity to call them a bunch of pussy's, I think it might be inappropriate in this situation.


Now then…do we categorize this as "stupid"?  Or, "annoying"?  Both?  Anyone up for making those whacky situations reality "stars" get themselves into be a little less contrived?  I mean, less contrived than three hot chicks sharing a 70-odd year old "boyfriend"?  I used to like that show, when it was the other three hot chicks sharing the 70-odd year old "boyfriend".  Sure, there were whacky situations, but, at least all three of those ladies appeared to have brain cells in working order.  These three?  Not so much.


My brain cell barometer is a person's ability to set up a tent, by the way…if you are defeated by a tent, then you have no honor…




OhMyGawd, I cannot BELIEVE I am critiquing a reality show!  See what happens in November?  "Write something every day…" Jeeeeez…


After I excused myself for large chunks of the fake camping experience, I returned to the living room in time to watch Lorenzo Lamas take his hot daughter with him to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, where he was (rightfully) concerned about the possibility of her running around in ass-less leather chaps and getting into trouble.  He used the word "dangerous".  Yes, I think we can agree with that—couple of clueless hot chicks with lots of wiggle in their walks, surrounded by drunken horny guys?  Danger!  Danger! (Cut to shot of daughter and friend modeling ass-less leather chaps and wondering why the assembled crowd of men is ogling them).


OK….stupid?  Or annoying?




By the way, there are no prizes, but, voting is free, so go nuts.



I am not among those who blame reality TV for dumbing down America.  Never mind the fact that I have an IQ of 158—I could have an IQ of 73 and feel like a genius compared to some of the people on these shows.  You see, reality TV is here to make us feel BETTER about the fact that we are not hapless, helpless ding-bats.  And reality TV is doing a BANG-UP job, people.  That's right, as much as watching Spencer and Heidi makes me cringe, I do feel better about myself after every single episode of The Hills.  Why?  Because it appears that they have no discernable skills, meaning that they won't be competing with me for a job any time in the future.  Isn't that AWESOME?  Also, I know that eventually, these people won't be cute anymore, and that things on their bodies will start to sag, and when that happens they'll have literally nothing going for them, so, it's best for them to make their money now, then invest well and go into seclusion.  Please.  I'm begging you.  Go into seclusion.
Also, I can't picture any one of them being smart enough to hook three hot girlfriends when they are in their 70's.  I'm just sayin'.








Are you SURE you want me to write something every single day of November?  Really, really sure?  Cuz this is the stuff that comes out, you know…







Tomorrow, let's talk about boys!  Throw me some names—gimme the ones you like, and I'll see if they compare to the one(s) I like…and after that heated discussion, I'll see if I have enough recipes to fill the rest of the month.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'm So Chill, My Friends Call Me Frosty

I'm a pretty relaxed person.

Oh, I have plenty of freak-outs, but my freak-outs never seem to be about the same things my friends freak out about.

For example, I have a friend who absolutely FREAKS about spiders.  Do I like spiders?  Ick, no!  But unless they are lunging at my face, or looking like they COULD lunge at my face any second, I don't get all excited.

I also don't freak out if I don't change the oil in my car exactly at or before 3000 miles, and if there is some trash on the floor of the front passenger side, I'm not ashamed--I know that the trash is not permanent.  Oh, and since there is always a project brewing in my house, be it a knitting thing, or a cooking thing, or an "OMG, I MUST create a Link costume for Halloween" thing, I'm unlikely to have a coronary if there are bits of yarn, or a dirty dish or a half-million scraps of green fabric on the floor that I didn't pick up during, or immediately after, the completion of said project.

No big deal.

My house, my children and I are clean enough to be non-offensive 94% of the time, and the other 6% of the time, we are either showering or vacuuming or washing or tidying.  We recognize the difference between "untidy" and "unsanitary".  We know better than to try and share our presence or our home if the "ick" factor is too high.  Would I invite a bunch of people over to a messy house?  No.  Would I attempt to go out in public if I was so stinky or unkempt that I wouldn't want to stand near me?  No.

No worries.

But this weekend, I had a friend ride in my car with me, who made the statement that "if there wasn't garbage on the floor, it wouldn't be your car".  

Really?  Two times a year, you ride in my car, and you're gonna go straight to that?  Hmmm...

Here's the thing:  Never let yourself get so worked up about things that aren't important that you don't have time to enjoy your life.  Don't worry about your home being pristine all the time if you don't entertain people at your home all the time--isn't your home supposed to be YOUR sanctuary?  And if you are so busy maintaining your things that you don't have time to enjoy your things, or enjoy anything else for that matter, maybe you need less "things".


I feel bad for people who are trapped in that way of thinking.  At the same time, I would like them to keep their negative to themselves.  Nobody ever died or even got sick from my cooking, even though I don't wipe my stove off 18 times a day.  And our mental and physical health is fine, even though we may only vacuum and wash the slip covers once a week.  I'm a chronically safe driver who is GOING PLACES--that is what a car is for, isn't it?  Going places?  As long as you're safe and we get there in the same amount of time, does it matter that I rarely go through a car wash?  We're busy, OK?  Busy enjoying life, enjoying our friends, and busy doing things!  Don't be a buzz-kill!