Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Searching for Cynicism
Apparently if you use Yahoo search engine, typing in 'newsweek cover staring dixie chicks' will show Cynical Rantings (the blog of yours truly) as the first site on the list. I guess because of this.

I didn't notice the Chicks as staring on the cover, per say. Maybe starring. But I guess if you stare at it long enough, they might stare back at you.

How exciting.


Idol Whatnot
So, apparently my Idol Dream was in fact, just a dream. I suspected as much. Oh well.

Last night's Idol evening as a whole was an amusing event for me. While I was sad that my dream didn't come true, especially the part where I dreamed Trenyce fell off of her stool while performing, I was able to find immense pleasure in the fact that someone did a search and found my blog last night using the keywords 'trenyce smells'. Thank you, whoever you were! You have no idea how funny that is for me.

What a night for cameo celebrities on American Idol!! Oh, the glamorous were out in full force last night. Did you spot the girl from Mr. Personality in the audience last night? Me neither, til Ryan pointed her out. And you know someone had to tell him she was there, who she was, her name, and her exact seat number. She has a completely unrecognizeable face. And I think the only people watching her show are herself (whatever her name is), and her mom. I also spotted Tia and Tamara Mowry, from another show nobody ever watched, Sister Sister. Apparently they don't realize their show was canceled a long time ago, because there they were, still together, looking almost exactly alike, much like on their show, I would imagine. Did you notice the first shot of them with their names at the bottom of the screen happened to be of two girls sitting next to them? Yeah, the show producers don't know who they are, either. I wonder if you're a has-been, or not-quite celebrity, when you come to American Idol do you fill out a form saying who you are, and where you are sitting, so that the show knows you are famous and there? I wonder if Ryan Seacrest has to fill out that form every week?

In fact, I honestly would not have known who Neil Sedaka is, or if I just spelled his name right, or that he wrote all those songs, had they not told me so. I mean, I know the songs, but had no idea (nor have I ever thought about) who wrote them. How do they come up with these celebrity judges? I mean, I actually really liked him and all those songs performed last night. I thought he was a great celebrity judge. But seriously, why haven't they had Britney Spears night? Or N'Sync night? Or Marilyn Manson night? Something more targeting the audience of pre-teens screaming behind the judges. Who wouldn't want to see Ruben perform "I'm a Slave For You"? I'd love to see Marilyn Manson and Simon duke it out to give the most 'honest' responses.

Anyway, on to the actual show. FOX again managed to stretch out what should be a 30-minute show into an hour. How? By making the Idol-ees sing not one, but two songs. Now, on one hand this can be a good thing. I have no problems listening to Ruben or Clay or K. Lo sing twice. They are worthy of gracing my ears with more than one tune. But, the rule should be: if you suck the first time out, you don't get to make us listen to you again, twice in the same night. Yes, Josh Gracin, I'm speaking to you. He should have been sent to scrub the latrine with a toothbrush for the rest of the show after his first song.

Ruben was in fine form, as usual. And I'm just so proud of him for continuing to ditch the 205 gear. He looks fabulous, even with his scared 'deer in headlights' look right after he sings his final notes, which Simon so accurately pointed out. His brother still proudly displays the 205, and I think that adequately covers the 205 bases. Good for them, working together as a team. Did anyone notice during one of Ryan Seacrest's roams through the audience, he stopped by the large fellow wearing 205 and asked, "So how 'bout that Kimberly Locke? Let's give it up for Kimberley, singing . . . (yada yada, whatever she sang)." Later, the large 205 wearing fellow joined Ryan and Ruben on stage as none other than Ruben's brother. I would assume the bro' was not interested in being on tv in support of a contestant other than his brother, Ruben. Good call, Ryan. Next time when seeking support for K. Lo, pick one of the people holding a K. Lo sign. Just some advice.

I have to say that I was really impressed with K. Lo last night. Clay and Ruben were good, as always. Clay, definitely a tad less cheesy with the facial expressions, which I do think will work in his favor. But I think K. Lo was my favorite last night. I anticipate a really fabulous final showdown between Ruben, Clay, and K. Lo.

Trenyce and Josh are currently involved in a dramatic duel for who gets to go home tonight vs. who gets to go home next week. America, if you do something stupid and send someone home this week or next, who isn't Trenyce or Josh, I will be very, very upset with you.

If America truly votes according to performance, and not favorites, Josh will be heading home tonight. He's been going downhill the last few weeks. Trenyce annoyed me last night, as usual. But Josh, in fine Marine form, was the very best at singing poorly last night. Semper Fi!

And, I thought we were finally Carmen-free, at long last. The show had a much lighter feel to it. There was an air of freedom, now that something evil back to Bountiful went. But it seems she merely switched networks, because there she was on David Letterman last night, doing the 'Top Ten Reasons You Know You're Voted Off of American Idol'. Reason number one should have been, 'Because I'm here doing this Top Ten, while the rest of my former contestants are still in LA, singing.' My question is, when will the truancy officers realize that she has skipped school for the last two months, and is now apparently in New York, staying up way past her bedtime? I mean, she's just flat out taunting them at this point.

Oh well. At least she didn't sing the Top Ten. Yikes.

Josh, pack your Marine-issue duffle bag, rinse out your highlights, drop and give me fifty. You're heading back to base.


Tuesday, April 29, 2003

One Less Thing to Observe
What I love, and also not-so-much love, about writing so much is that it forces me to constantly notice what goes on around me. I have to be observant. I have to take notice. I have to remember things. I have to let things hold meaning. This is sometimes tough for me, being a hermit and all. I have to force myself to be in the world, in order to see what's going on there. I often prefer just to sit and watch and let time pass, requiring nothing of myself to passively observe. But I'm learning to enjoy things going on around me, still being an observer, but making sure to observe productively.

I'm often inspired to write and think by things I see and do, and whatever weird or poignant take I have on it. I've commited to this writing thing, that I will make an effort to write at least something here most days out of the week. For the most part, it's not an effort. I really enjoy it, so it's not hard to make myself type out whatever is on my brain. I often find myself 'writing' throughout the day, either thinking through things I want to get on paper, or just finding that my mind wanders into a description of something I later write out as a story or whatever you'd call what I write. I may actually be turning into a writer, which is fun for me. It's kinda something I do all the time now, without making a point to do it. Everything else is becoming a break from that.

I'll even admit that during church, while we are supposed to be silently meditating or praying, sometimes my thoughts stroll over to something I haven't had a chance to write out, yet. Something about the silence and emotion of worshipping in church, well, it seems to be conducive to creativity for me. I know. I'm horrible. Sometimes I have a focus problem. I will ask forgiveness.

I've found that I just can't help but be triggered by things, people, situations around me, all the time. It can seem like nothing, yet I can manage to turn it into something interesting, at least to me. I exaggerate, satirize, dramatize tiny snippets of life into something hopefully worth reading about later. Sometimes I never know when I'm about to see or do something worthy of writing about. But I also have some consistent sources of material. People and places and situations that I know will not fail me for a good story on most occassions.

So yesterday the strangest thing happened. My difficult co-worker was fired. It caught everyone by surprise, especially first thing on a Monday morning. A strange way to start the week, with this new twist in the dynamic of the place where I'm forced to be all day. I am relieved, yet in shock, and trying to be graceful about this unexpected turn of events in my favor, as related to my job.

Now, I'm not completely heartless. And I realize out of all the issues involved in the situation of this co-worker, how it affects me outside of my job is really the least of them all. But still, as I listened to the news of his demise, as the day wore on, and as I begin to let the true weight of his absence henceforth sink in, I realized that I have just lost a major source of good writing material.

Not that I don't have plenty of other sources. And I don't wish for him to return. But still, he was a true gem in the sense of ink for my pen.

See? I was able to find something good about him after all.


Monday, April 28, 2003

Merely Mortal
I realized this weekend that I am but a mere mortal. No, it's true. I'm sorry to disappoint.

This is a hard fact for me to accept. We forget how fragile our bodies are until we are rendered nearly helpless by a tiny flu bug, or something equally debilitating. Even a week after my bout with illness, I am not quite back to healthy. I've only recently regained some of my appetite, and I still am very, very tired most of the day. I've lost trust in my body. Where I once new what to expect from it depending on how I felt, the unexpected display of sickness that came over me last weekend has now caused me to second guess every twinge, ache, or gurgle coming from my body. I'm unsure of myself, what I'm capable of, or what I might do.

This all comes at probably the worst possible time, as I'm in the last few weeks of an intense training program for a 100-mile bike ride. The dastardly flu bug rendered me unable to exercise for about a week. I haven't eaten well in at least a week, so my strength and energy level is not where it should be to exercise properly, as I had been before the ailment.

I attempted to get back on schedule for the weekend, although I took it easy on Saturday with only a 30 mile ride. I needed to do more for Sunday, but I wanted to be smart about it. However, in my fourth lap around the lake on Sunday, I simply ran out of energy. I had to quit at 38 miles, far below my 56 mile mark for the day.

It was something I hadn't experienced since I was a kid battling the effects of asthma while trying to run and play with the other kids. Even then, it wasn't like what I felt yesterday on my bike. I just simply couldn't keep going. I pretty much coasted back to my Jeep for the last few miles. I knew it would be foolish to try and force any more biking for the day. My first few laps felt fine, and I felt sure I'd get in all the mileage for the day. But the fourth lap just zapped me of all strength.

It depressed me for much of the rest of the day. I was disappointed that I couldn't will my body to perform at the level I needed it to perform. My training had been going really well up until the flu hit. Now with only a few weeks left until the big ride, I need to make every moment count towards increasing my stamina and endurance. This was a setback I hadn't planned for, and I was frustrated with my body for not cooperating. Why can't it just do what I've asked it to do?

But more than that, I was scared. As I sat in the Jeep at the lake, drinking fluids to recover from the ride, and pondering what had just happened, I realized this was the first moment that the thought of not being able to complete the training and the ride was a real possibility. Everything had been going so well. I was so excited about my progress to date, and even more excited about the big day. I've never trained for anything like this before, and I was amazed at how well I was responding to the training. I hadn't been sick til last week, I hadn't been injured, I'd sacrificed time doing other things and spending time with people for the sake of doing this thing right. I'd bought all the right equipment to really commit to the event. I'd pictured everything going as planned, down to the last second of crossing the finish line after it was all over. But at that moment, sitting still at the lake, the fear that I might get out there that day and not make it through the ride became a reality.

This shook me up the rest of the day. I hated the way I felt. I was tired, I was weak. And I was defeated.

I knew this before starting the process of training for this ride. But yesterday it became even more clear to me that the strength it will take to complete my training and conquer this ride will not come from me. I am merely mortal.


Friday, April 25, 2003

Weird Celebrity Showdown
Well, once again I'm glad I never tried out for the Dixie Chicks. Who was the biggest weirdo on tv last night: Michael Jackson and his home movies, or the Dixie Chicks and their plea for public acceptance?

By now we all know the profound statement made by Natalie Maines during a London concert, in which she mentioned she's ashamed that our President is from Texas. I happened to catch some of last night's interview with Diane Sawyer. I'm amused by the whole thing. I saw some desperate Chicks fumbling their way through an attempt to regain their fabulous image and public adoration from before the messy comment. Is it just me, or did they used to be a lot cuter and fun, and less whiney and scary looking? What is with their hair these days?

My synopsis of the entire situation is this: First, the Chicks said something dumb. From their account of the concert told to Sawyer last night, the comment wasn't prompted by anything. Apparently Maines just felt like blurting out a blasphemous comment about Bush, at random. And she explained it away as the wrong wording for having questions. Ok then? Whatever. Had they been giving a concert, say, in Texas or anywhere in the U.S., would she have said such a thing? I doubt it. Was she searching for sympathy or looking for answers from Londoners who paid to see their show? Again, I doubt it. Let's just all admit that was a dumb thing to say at that time and place. I would have loved to have been at that concert at the moment she made the comment, to hear the silence and crickets echoing throughout the concert hall immediately following what she said. Did she just pick up and go into the next song, like no big deal? Did people complain? Oh, to have been there to witness the event.

Next, the Chicks feel they've apologized, yet they are really disturbed at the public's lack of acceptance of their apology. Hence the big unveiling of "The Truth Behind Natalie Maines' Comment and the Aftermath" on Primetime last night. Their fervent attempt to set the record straight. Now, I'm not endorsing all the silly things people have done to boldly proclaim their hatred of the Chicks as a result of this comment made by Maines. But, people have a right to speak out and show disapproval. I find it funny that celebrities get so bent out of shape when the public complains about their use of fame and the media to spout their views. You know, most people don't get an audience of thousands of people to make silly war comments and take a stand. If I say anything, my audience is at best, 3 people. And I usually don't have their attention unless I have a tasty treat to go with being around me. So if folks want to run over some cds with a tractor in protest, well, just let 'em. Really, what does it hurt? They are using their humble resources to respond to celebrity idiocy. It's silly vs. silly. Except the celebrities can command a bigger audience and make a bigger fuss when their feelings get hurt by their adoring fans.

Finally, the magazine cover. This I just don't get. Why must we always resort to nudity to make such a bold statement of protest? This just makes them appear sillier than before. For one, I don't care to look at the cover long enough to read the statements on their skin. And two, I just can't take it seriously. I can't help but laugh at it because it's Entertainment Weekly, for one thing. Why not pick a halfway respectable magazine to answer back, like Time, or Newsweek, or at least People? And really, there has to be a better way than nudity on a magazine cover to make a good point, to redeem yourself as a good celebrity when you do something stupid. I wish someone would have shown the Chicks a better option before the photo shoot. Couldn't they wear clothes and just hold up signs with these phrases? Put together a flip book of phrases, like flash cards, on the inside of the magazine? Maybe a scratch n' sniff of stinky smells over each phrase? Make your point, but for goodness' sake put some clothes on! You don't see the folks on tractors running over the cds in the nude. Why? Because that's sillier than just running over the cds.

Now, while I am not a country music fan, I will admit I've been a fan of the Dixie Chicks. It was a big breakthrough for me, but I do own all of their cds. I even went to a concert, and quite enjoyed it. I won't go so far as to say I am no longer a fan. I am a Texan and I do support G-dub, so I didn't especially appreciate Maines' comment. But I don't place much stock in what celebrites spout out on tv or at concerts or otherwise. Their words have no more bearing on my political stance than Joe Schmo or anyone else who may say the same thing. You just have to consider the source no matter who says anything about whatever these days. I mean, really, it's the Dixie Chicks! When did they become such political experts worthy of people getting so bent out of shape about, anyway?

But just on the sheer annoyance factor of what they said, how they said it, and how they've handled themselves since then, I just can't help but cringe a bit at the thought of popping in a Chicks cd. They've truly outdone themselves as 'unjustly' treated celebrities, unhappy that their sales and popularity plummeted as a result of their own actions. Are they really suffering much because they haven't sold many cds in the past few weeks? Maybe emotionally, from embarrassment. But in the grand scheme of things, I think they'll be okay. If you're gonna spout off in public about stuff, I just think you have to be prepared to weather the consequences of your actions.

All they need to do is lay low for awhile, let the whole thing blow over, and take some time to put together a new cd. The public will forget about the whole brew-ha-ha and be back to downloading their songs to replace the tractor-ed cds in no time. If people can still tolerate Michael Jackson's music after his ultimate display of celebrity weirdo-ism, the Chicks have nothing to worry about in the long run.

The new cd should be something steering completely clear of politics alltogether. And nudity. No more nudity. I'm thinking puppies and sunshine and rainbows. With lots of clothes.


Whatever Happened to . . .
Sinead O'Connor?

Apparently she's set to retire from the music scene in July. By taking time off from producing new CDs, from performing, and from living in the public eye for the last decade, she found the time to ponder and reach this bold decision to no longer produce new CDs, perform, or be seen in public. She requests that we now leave her alone so she can live a private life.

Thanks for the heads up, Sinead.


Idol Dream
Ok, maybe I've been too obsessed with American Idol lately, because last night I had a dream that I was ON American Idol. Yep.

You know how you dream something, and it resembles that something, but it's a little weird and dream-funked? That was the general feel of my dream. I played the role of myself. Somehow I managed to be a contestant in the final six or so. I couldn't tell exactly how many of our gang were still there, but I was part of the group.

For awhile, I was in the front row of the audience, watching someone perform. Not sure who it was. I noticed the couch was sitting out there on stage, with the not-currently-singing contestants hanging out there til it was their turn. This all seemed like normal show protocol to everyone.

Then suddenly I was supposed to go on next, and apparently I wasn't supposed to be sitting in the audience, because I wasn't ready to go on stage. I needed to go to the bathroom first. Some stage manager guy yelled at me, so I ran around the side of the stage, looking for the bathroom. But the stage manager said I didn't have time, so I had to sneak backstage and wait. I thought I was heading over to the stage couch to join my Idol friends, but they handed me a microphone and told me to sit backstage because I was on next.

Well, my perch on the stage behind the curtain happened to be right behind Trenyce, who was performing while sitting on a stool. I must have made a noise because she turned around to look at me, lost her balance, and fell backwards off the stool. Now that I'm awake, I'm sad this part was just a dream. Back to the dream, I just watched her topple off. She laughed and kept on singing. Apparently that was no big deal. She suavely incorporated it into her act. I guess because she's Super Suave Trenyce or something.

She finished her song, and suddenly it was my turn. I wandered out on stage with bright lights pointed right at me. I saw the judges looking at me from the front. No deal on figuring out who the mystery celebrity judge might have been in my Idol Dream. The crew on the couch was sitting and waiting for me to begin. Their faces were a blur, so I'm sorry, I can't consider my dream a premonition of who may be left after next week.

Then I realized I have no idea what song I'm supposed to sing. I decided to use Trenyce's stool, like it's part of my performance. So I dramatically sit and wait for the music to begin. I look into the audience and I see Kimberly Caldwell a few rows back, sitting all by herself, smiling hugely and frantically waving at me like I'm her best friend. I assure you I am not her best friend. That part of the dream was the weirdest part.

The first few notes play, and still, no idea what the song is. So I just start making up words, singing at the top of my lungs, with my eyes closed. So it looks passionate, I guess. If I remember correctly, in my dream-like state, the words I kept singing were, 'Why me? Whyyy-eeee-yyyyy meeeeeeee?' I know that sounds dumb, but it made total sense in my dream. It was a ballad.

A short ballad, apparently. I got through about two choruses of Why Me, and the song was over. I looked over at the Couch Crew, somewhat stunned that my thirteen seconds of fame was already over. They applauded like it was the best thing they'd ever heard. The judges were on their feet. I kept seeing Randy's face, so maybe he was the only judge that showed for the night.

Then the alarm went off this morning. Dream over.

The best part was that Carmen was nowhere to be found.

So, that's what I remembered as my dream. But the weird thing is that I received a call this morning from American Idol. Apparently I won the competition. My new single, Why Me, will be in stores in about a week.


Thursday, April 24, 2003

Things People Say That Really Help
Sometimes people are so helpful. Like when you are finally well enough to crawl back into work, you really appreciate the people who ask you what you had, and when they find out it was flu-like rather than sinus related, they offer their support by taking a giant step back from you, staring at you like you might spew right in front of them, then following you around the office at a safe distance all day saying, "Stay away from her! She thinks she had the flu!" when you come near other people.

They just really know what to say to help a sick girl feel better.


Ding-Dong the Pitch-Challenged Contestant is Gone
At long last, we are Carmen-free!!! I did a modified version of my Bye-Bye Carmen dance last night, seeing as I'm still a bit woozy from the Easter Bunny Flu. But still, it was a victory jig all the same. Thank you, America, for allowing us to enjoy the rest of the season in peace, and Carmen-free.

Over the next two weeks, Josh and Trenyce will go. As Simon said, it really doesn't matter which one because neither one is good enough to win. In fact, I say we just go ahead and boot them both now, saving us one, possibly two more weeks of having to lock up anything of value in the building, to keep things safe from Trenyce.

Oh, how I do love this silly show.


Wednesday, April 23, 2003

A Few More Idol Words
I'm a bit distracted today, after being away from my blog for so many days and coming out of the fog from my weekend ailment. So I'm just now collecting more thoughts for my Idol Recap O' the Week.

I'm not sure why FOX decided we needed an extra beating of Idol singing this week, but Monday's non-voting show reinforced to me that these kids are more starved for attention than anything else. As is Ryan Seacrest. But without the judges' witty banter and annoying comments, there really isn't much point in parading the contestants out on stage to sing songs we've already heard from them. Monday's show was a waste of my time. Had I not been sick, delirious, and too weak to lift my finger to change the channel on the remote, I totally would not have watched it.

Last night's regular voting show would have been enough for this week. And still I'm perplexed at how they manage to stretch six contestants singing minute-and-a-half songs into a full hour. Do we care that Herbal Essences arrived in an RV to do their hair? No. We do not.

I think if you total the notes Carmen has actually hit correctly in all of the songs she has performed throughout the competition, after last night's performance we would almost have one complete song of good notes. She was terrible. And yes, the goat thing is very annoying. Quite an accurate description from my fellow judges.

I actually wasn't impressed last night with any of our hopefuls. It was probably the Diane Warren songs and the high cheese factor. But Ruben looked great, and sounded good enough. I'm so thankful he ditched the 205. I didn't think Kimberly Locke sounded great, but the judges thought she did. And she looked great, so I hope she sticks around for another week. I like her more and more each week. Clay was the same as usual. And I agree with Simon's assessment that he would be great on Broadway. Trenyce was horrible. And she has some weird lip quiver thing going on. I've grown weary of her. I think she must have stolen some Crest Whitening Strips or a dentist, because her teeth looked uber-white last night.

Other than Carmen's horrible display of warbling, Josh was a close second for Worst Performance of the Night. As Simon put it, 'singing through his nose' was a generous compliment. It was just flat out really, really bad.

I predict tonight's bottom three will be Carmen, Trenyce, and Josh. As stated earlier, Carmen will stay because Randy and Simon enraged her fans by saying she won't win. Trenyce or Josh will go. Either is fine with me. I'm anxious to be rid of the rif-raf, so we can get down to the showdown of Ruben, Clay, and K. Locke.


Days Since Last Puke Incident: 3
Previously it was approximately 2,555 days and counting. But the Easter Bunny apparently brought me the flu for Easter this year. Or something resembling the flu. Whatever it was broke my seven year puke-free streak. Now I must start the count over again.

To be puke-free for so long is a major accomplishment for me. I was a very pukey kid growing up. For one reason or another, whatever illness I had at any given time would inevitably lead to spewing at some point. Especially the migraine headaches. Those were vomit-sure, without a doubt. Puking became one of a few major things that I absolutely hate to do. I try to avoid it at all costs.

As I got older, I slowly began to outgrow the puke-iness. To the best of my recollection, my last puke incident was sometime during my sophomore year in college. Since then, I've managed to be sick, but without the puke. Until Easter night a few days ago. . .

I have a funky tummy, in that it acts up more than it should, for a variety of reasons. But, usually at the opposite end of puke, if you know what I mean. It makes life interesting, but I can manage it fairly well by watching what I eat and investing in Immodium by the case load. I've grown used to it, and since I refuse to go back to the doctor since I feel I've seen more doctors for more ailments already in my lifetime than any human being, or lab rat, should ever have to see, I deal with the problem myself. Most days, I'm good and functioning like a normal human being. But sometimes, well, I'm not so good.

So when the problem is not what I'm used to, and things are returning to me out of an orafice further north than usual, it totally freaks me out. I head for the toilet expecting things to come out one way, and I'm in total shock when it arrives via another venue. These are times when I desperately want my momma.

This was the case for Easter a few days ago. A perfectly lovely visit with my Mamaw and family ended with a puke-fest of epic proportions. Apparently celebrating the resurrection of Christ resurrected everything I ate for the occassion. It left me stranded a day away from home, but in the care of my dear Mamaw. Who, incidentally, was also completely freaked out by my puke-induced possession. If there was an exorcist available in the small town where Mamaw lives, I'm sure she would have put in a call post haste.

So, three days and counting. Now puke-free. That's me.


All Singers Named Carmen Are Bad
Thanks to emergingminister for this link. He apparently agrees with my longstanding annoyance at the hand of Christian artist, Carmen. I only wish the article were true.

Based on last night's American Idol, Carmen once again proved herself to suck at the whole singing thing. Simon and Randy said it well. She will never win the competition. She is far from the best. However, by saying that I fear they challenged the Carmen Fans Anonymous to rally behind her and vote more than ever to keep her in the competition. I fear we still haven't seen the last of her, yet.

When will the world be rid of bad singing Carmens???


Thursday, April 17, 2003

Sometimes Life is Like a Mariachi Band Stranded on the Side of the Road
I was driving once, and I saw a mariachi band stranded on the side of the road. It was four hispanic guys dressed in full mariachi garb, head to toe. They were standing around an older car that was haphazardly pulled over to the side of the road, still semi-blocking traffic in one lane, but mostly out of the way. It looked like the car had conked out on them, and they'd just managed to ease it halfway into a parking lot before it completely gave out.

What was odd about them, besides the fact that they were a mariachi band stranded on the side of the road, was that they were all kicking the tires of the car. I mean, with much gusto, they kicked. Aside from the sad fact that it seemed their car was not getting them where they needed to be, it was quite humorous to witness. They were very clearly angry at the car, and apparently they decided the best thing to do was just to kick it. I'm not sure what they hoped to accomplish by the kicking. And I don't think they realized how odd the whole show was for passersby to see, or the attention they were attracting. The car didn't move, and naturally it didn't magically start running again. But as I passed by, along with lots and lots of other cars, there they continued to kick in frustration. And that's the last I saw of it.

Not that it's anything deep, but sometimes in life I just feel like getting out and kicking the tires for awhile, til I feel better. Then I remember I'm wearing my mariachi gear, and it's silly to put on such an odd display for so many people. But then, I don't care. I just need to kick the tires for awhile. In my own way. No matter what other people think as they pass by.

And that's okay.


Carmen for President
Seriously, why should she stop at Miss American Idol 2003? She clearly can't be stopped, so she should just keep going until she rules the universe.

Most of what I predicted for last night's show happened. Except that Kimberly Caldwell was booted, in lieu of Joshua. And Kimberly Locke was spared the bottom three. Deservedly.

I totally saw Ruben toss Clay, and Carmen could hardly wait to bust out her tiara and sash. Not only did Trenyce steal Ryan's hairpiece, she stole a small child from the third row. I saw the whole thing. The kid must have been wearing Old Navy.

And did anyone else see Kimberly C. kiss Carmen? There may be some truth to that whole K.C. as drag queen rumor from awhile back. . .

I'm dumbfounded about Carmen. I mean, I knew she would not get kicked off last night, but it still makes no sense that she should still be on the show. I think the only thing that could hurt her at this point is if her head just simply fell off and it was replaced by the top of a wooden totem pole. And that would only hurt her because the effect of her hypnotic eyes and warbling vocal tones o' mind control would be replaced by an immobile and silent wooden head, causing her to soon lose power over the 21 million homeless people voting using the free cell phones she bought them.

Can next week's show be a death metal theme? Perhaps some gangsta rap? I'd love to see Carmen sing her way out of that, complete with the gold lame pants.


Wednesday, April 16, 2003

UPS Warning
This is a public service announcement. Apparently there is a rogue UPS delivery person on the loose, holding packages of Barney merchandise hostage, for no apparent reason. I knew I should never have lifted my Barney Boycott.

I arrived home after work on Friday to see a note from Mr. UPS saying he'd attempted to deliver the item I ordered from Barney World for my cousin's kiddo. Since I wasn't there to receive the package he would try again on Monday before 5:00. Usually UPS leaves packages at my apartment office when I'm not there to greet them. Upon closer inspection of the note, the box was checked for 'signature required'. This was odd, since I didn't request a signature confirmation when I paid for shipping. But I guess I can't blame the guy for wanting my autograph.

So, Monday when I left for work, I signed the back of the note, which authorizes delivery of the package. I left the note on my door with a message to leave the package at the apartment office, since I knew I wouldn't make it home before 5:00. However, when I arrived home, I found another note on my door saying the office was closed, and that Mr. UPS would try to deliver again on Tuesday after 5:00. Again, I thought this was odd since the office is always open during the day, so if he truly came before 5:00, as his note specified, he would have been able to leave the package at the office. I began to suspect Mr. UPS was playing a game with me and my Barney package. I was seriously not in the mood to be hassled by Barney, or UPS.

Tuesday, I again left a note on my door, signing the back of the slip in the appropriate spot, and leaving instructions to just leave the package in front of my door. The office would be closed if he came after 5:00, and I was not sure when I'd make it home for the evening. I doubted anyone would steal it, and even if they did, they'd be sorely disappointed to receive a Barney hat for their efforts of climbing three flights of stairs. And I'd be out ten bucks. No big deal.

I arrived home late Tuesday evening to find yet another note, and still no package. The note said this had been the final delivery attempt, and left instructions on how to get my package, or it would be sent back to Barney world. I was furious! Can Mr. UPS not read my handwriting? Why can't he just leave the dang package!!! I'd ordered one simple little thing, in an attempt to do something nice for this kiddo, and now it was turning into a major hassle. Time was growing short. I would be seeing the kiddo in a few days, and if I didn't get the hat before then, the hat would have to live in my house for awhile. That was something I did not want. No Barney en la casa.

I called UPS to get to the bottom of the situation. This was no simple task. I found you have to go through about a million questions and punch in a gazillion numbers and speak a bazillion spoken responses, and even do a strange jig (which again I thought was odd), to finally get to a real live person. By the time I made it through the phone gauntlet, I was a wee bit frustrated with UPS.

I explained the situation to the poor girl who was unlucky enough to draw my call. She started to let me know my options to pick up my package. PICK UP??? Um, no. I paid to have the thing delivered, because it is convenient. If I have to pick it up, I want my $3.95 back. Besides, if I wanted to pick something up, I would have forced myself to go to Toys R Us and sift through the kids and the Barney mess there. Now that I am running short on time, I certainly do not have time to find this mysterious UPS package holding location, and retrieve my package. It had already been to my house three times. It was not my fault it was not allowed to stay here. It can certainly find it's way back to me without me having to chase it down.

I asked for another option. She said they could re-deliver again in two days. Two days? What is that? It was supposed to be here last Friday, so why do we now need to give it a day off? Besides, there was still the whole mysterious signature issue. I would still likely not be here during the day in two days to give a signature, and since Mr. UPS seems unable to make it to the office or to leave the package alone at my door, we would run into the same problem in two days. The girl offered to redirect it to another location. So I very clearly spelled out the location of my place of employment for redelivery in two days. She assured me that anyone at my office can sign for the package, but if no one is available when Mr. UPS arrives, the package will go back to Barney World.

By the way, about that signature thing? I asked her. I explained that I did not request a signature confirmation, so I was very confused as to why my signature was required to deliver the package. She said signatures are requested by the shipper, even though she couldn't check to see if Barney World had in fact requested my signature. And even if I sign the slip of paper the driver does not have the authority to override the shipper's instructions. Bottom line, without a signature from me or someone accepting the package on my behalf, I ain't getting that package. It still didn't make sense to me, but I finally turned the girl loose and hung up the phone.

This was all sounding very strange to me. Why would Barney World request a signature on something, a cheap something, without telling the customer so arrangements can be made to supply a signature of some sort? It's not like I'd ordered Barney himself to be delivered to my door. You can bet I'd not sign for him, either. I'd leave him in that box and let him ride around in the UPS truck til they send him back from whence he came.

I decided to contact Barney World customer service and let them know of my dissatisfaction. I wanted to get to the bottom of this signature situation. I knew no good would come from breaking the Barney Boycott. But I did it, and now I was paying for it.

Barney World very promptly emailed me back in response to my complaint about the three delivery attempts and the signature request issue. They said it is the discretion of the UPS driver to require a signature, and that Barney World does not require a signature unless the customer requests it. Wha-huh? Do they think I'm as easy to fool as the toddlers who fall in love with a huge purple dinosaur? It makes no sense that UPS drivers can just drive around, adding signature requests to any packages at their own discretion, holding merchandise hostage until they get the appropriate autograph. And since I didn't require the signature, why would Barney World decide to require one on a $10 hat?

Barney World accepted no responsibility for the problem, but hoped I worked everything out with UPS so that I can soon enjoy my Barney product. Likewise, UPS accepted no responsibility for the problem, but really didn't care if I enjoyed my Barney product or not.

So I'm here to warn you that there apparently is a rogue UPS driver on the loose, requesting signatures on Barney merchandise at his whim. He apparently likes to attempt to deliver a package several times for several days, finding no obstacle in repeatedly climbing flights of stairs in carrying out his master plan. It's likely a conspiracy between Barney World and UPS. In fact, I don't even think Barney is real. Or UPS, for that matter.

You can bet I'll be watching out the window all day tomorrow, alerting all staff to be on the lookout for Mr. UPS and that dang Barney package. They will have strict instructions to sign for anything delivered here tomorrow, no matter who delivers it or what it is. The kiddo will get that hat on time, and he will like it . . .


I Wish I Knew How To . . .
Sometimes I hear words and I know what they mean. But I wonder what the words really mean in a literal sense. Like . . .

Saunter - Does anyone actually do this? I see walking, even strolling. But what makes it a saunter?

Gesticulate - Is there a difference between gesturing, and gesticulating? If so, teach me.

Postulate - There is arguing and making demands and asserting truth and assuming. But I would love to really let loose and postulate.

Lollygag - I can waste time like nobody's business. When is it truly a lollygag?

Putter - I hear of people puttering around. But what makes an effective putter?

Mandate - I can tell people what to do and make up rules and whatnot. I want to take that to the next level.

Bask - . . . in something. I enjoy warmth and sunshine, typically associated with basking. But how do I go from just enjoying, to actually basking?

Emulate - I can imitate and aspire to be, fairly accurately and without much difficulty. I just need to know how to tweak that into emulation.

Stifle - I can interrupt and suppress, even smother. But stifling seems a little trickier.

I don't intend to master all these things at once. Just eventually.


After last night's performance, it was proven once again that there are a few bad apples still remaining on the show. Apples grow on trees, hanging on for dear life til they fall, either because they can't hold on any longer, or because someone shakes the tree. No rhyme or reason. I see this contest situation now as Idol-a-Tree. We just don't know when these bad apples will finally fall.

In a perfect world, America would vote based on performance, and Carmen should definitely be going home tonight. Even Smokey Robinson couldn't muster up anything kind to say to our poor young pitch-challenged contestant. She somehow manages to get worse every week. But since we know Carmen has bought 21 million AT&T cell phones and given them away to homeless people in exchange for them voting for her as many times as possible within the two hour voting window, we can almost count on her sticking around for at least another week. 21 million homeless people with cell phones can be very dangerous.

As I watched the show last night with ears and eyes that can hear and see, I saw that there are clearly two levels of talent in this competition. On one level you have Clay, Ruben, and Kimberly Locke, who continue to perform at a high standard every week. They may not always be perfect, but they are serious about winning and they come on stage to deliver a performance. On the lower level you have Carmen, Trenyce, and Kimberly Caldwell who seem to not be aware that people can hear and see them. They perform as though they are singing into the bottom end of a tennis racquet or a hairbrush in front of the mirror in their own bedroom, in stolen Old Navy underwear. Cheesy, loud, and worthy of many, many jokes at their expense. Joshua lives in the floor between the levels. Sometimes my ears can stand him, other times, not so much.

So I predict for tonight that the bottom three will be Kimberly C., Carmen, and Kimberly Locke, only because America seems to forget to vote for KL, and she keeps ending up in the bottom three. But in a surprise twist, still sitting on the couch thinking he is safe, Joshua will be booted from the show because he's worn out his welcome as America's favorite Marine. Kimberly C. will cry so much it will turn into a kicking, screaming tantrum on the Idol seal in the middle of the stage, before she realizes she's not going home. Kimberly Locke will stand perfectly still, hoping America continues to not notice her as a target for next week if she pretends she's a statue. Trenyce will steal Ryan Seacrest's hairpiece. Ruben will toss Clay into the air in a triumphant juggling attempt. And Carmen will take a victory lap around the stage wearing her Prom Queen tiara and a sash that says 'Miss American Idol 2003'.


Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Bruise Conundrum
Why do bruises on a banana make that part of the banana taste different than the non-bruised part?

If someone took a bite out of me, would the big bruise on my leg taste different than the non-bruised part of my leg?

If you know, I'm interested. I don't want to find out the hard way.


Why didn't talking cars catch on?
The only true Knight Rider is Hasselhoff. But somehow I don't think he'll be able to pull it off this time while sporting Baywatch swim trunks.

Who will take his place driving the fabulous K.I.T.T.?


Automobiles My Jeep Could Beat up in a Fight
I drive a Jeep Liberty. It is a fabulous automobile. Since I've been driving it, I've contracted a Jeep attitude. Consequently, lately I've noticed quite a few autos that would definitely lose in a fight with my Jeep. Here are a few:

1. Toyota Echo - Quite possibly the world's poorest excuse for a car. It just shouldn't exist. This would be no contest for the Jeep, or actually any other car on the road. But it deserves to be at the top of the throw down list to make the point that it needs to go.
2. Honda Element - This is new from Honda, and is sorely asking my Jeep to kick it's arse.
3. Kia anything - All Kias bow to the power of the Jeep.
4. Nissan Xterra and Ford Escape - These are in the same category because they are equal in the amount of effort it would take to beat up these two SUVs. The Jeep is heavier than both the Xterra and the Escape, and therefore would win by shear muscle strength. Plus, the Jeep is just plain cooler.
5. Any automobile made before 1990 - Age is the factor here. My young, agile Jeep would have no problem out maneuvering an older vehicle.

The list will continue . . .


Things I . . .
The last sip of Coke, because I know it will be a whole day until I'm allowed to have another Coke.

Coming to work the day after a fresh haircut, because the new 'do' will attract the attention of all the homeless men here. Some who feel led to pay too many compliments about it, and some who are literally distraught because they prefer my longer locks.

Hearing the fourth snooze alarm, because that means I absolutely have to get up for work.

Turning that last corner before I get to my office building, because I know I'm just at the start of another long day at my deplorable place of employment.

Doing actual work at work.

Buying fresh fruit and vegetables, because there is always the possibility of picking bad fruit or veggies, but I won't know til I get home and bite into it.

Filling up the Jeep at a gas station that is unfamiliar.

Softball games that are rained out.

The UPS man who refuses to leave the package on my door or at the apartment office, forcing me to wait for days to get the package or to make other arrangements to pick it up.

The first sip of Coke, because I then have a whole entire Coke ahead of me to enjoy.

Getting a haircut and highlights, because it always feels great to have freshly shorn locks that do what they are supposed to do, regardless of how many homeless men I attract.

Not hearing any alarms and not having to go to work, because it's Saturday.

Escaping out the front door, hopping into the Jeep, and getting the heck out of the parking lot as fast as I can after a long day at my deplorable place of employment.

'Working' while at work.

Eating fresh fruit and veggies because I chose good ones that are quite yummy.

Pushing the gas tank past 'E' so I can make it to the gas station I know by my house.

Playing softball every week, even when we lose.

Finally getting my package from UPS, so that I don't have to track down the UPS man and deliver a kick to his ribs.


Monday, April 14, 2003

Garage Sale Musings
I participated in a garage sale with some friends over the weekend. It's the first one I've ever done, outside of our family garage sales when I was a kid. We all bring our junk to one house, then watch the garage sale madness throughout the day. I found myself this year going through a wide range of emotions as a result of this garage sale. It's just a garage sale, you might say. How emotional could that be? And you'd be right to point out the obvious. Still, during the event I found much humor, some sadness, and then anger.

Humor, because garage sale patrons are just extremely amusing to watch. They come with the intent to get as much of your crap for as little money as possible. They arrive before it's even light outside, looking for great early bird deals on the stuff you don't want anymore. They swarm in droves, pouring out of cars and vans with a mission to drive away with a fabulous treasure, for which they paid as little as possible. You watch as people examine stuff that's been the butt of many a joke in your own household, and it's just flat out funny when someone else takes home the candle holder, or strange glowing orb toy, or ugly shirt you've made fun of all day. Everything is already priced at ridiculously low prices, yet these shoppers are determined to negotiate down to even less. They look at the price stickers in disbelief, yet they have to have whatever it is. Do they really have a need for an antique plate that matches nothing they own? No. But it is certainly over-priced at $13.00, and they'll make sure you know that before they buy it for $8.00.

Sadness, because I have to part with sentimental items that leave with people I don't know. I will never see these items again. Not that I ever use these items anymore, or that they mean a lot to me, necessarily. But it had meaning at some point, even if it was useless or unwanted from the beginning. There's always a story that goes with it. It's likely someone gave this stuff to me for some reason or occassion. Or it was handed down as 'apartment furniture' from my parents' home to mine, when I first started living on my own. It's family stuff that's been around for years, and reminds me of happier times and family times. Memories wrapped up in the comfort of seeing something that's simply been around for a good part of my life, even though it long since stopped being something I need or use. It's tough making a decision to let some things go, and I feel silly about being so attached to certain things. I didn't even know I was so attached until I pulled it out of a closet, placed a price sticker on it, and realized it would be gone in the morning. That annoying, ugly, trick gold lamp that comes apart in the middle when you pick it up has been the scourge of my family for years. We complained and joked about it every time we'd move it. My parents bestowed it upon me to get it out of their house. But seeing someone else cart it off was like letting another small chunk of a life I once had ride off with strangers who don't know the lamp or it's place in my history. I hope it goes to a good home.

Anger, because I suck at garage sale. How hard is it to sell cheap junk to people who are specifically looking for cheap junk? Apparently, it's harder for me than it should be, and I'm just not good at it. Pricing all of my items and assuming that everything will sell, I anticipate an amount that would be a good profit for the day, figuring in a generous bargaining loss. I had three tables to sell, as well as a couple other good items. It was quality junk that I thought for sure would do well mixed in with all the other junk and clothes.

So, how much did I make? $28.00. WAY off my mark.

I'm still not quite sure how that happened. How did I end up getting the completely wrong end of the deal on my quality junk! I'd been waiting for a year to sell these tables, needing to get them out of my way to make room for new living room stuff. My goal was to make enough money to help a bit with the cost of new stuff. That plan totally backfired.

The only conclusion I can come to is that I just suck at garage sale. I mean, my friends are selling things left and right, raking in hundreds of dollars. They even sold an opened, not even half full bag of charcoal for $1.00. You can buy a whole bag of new charcoal at the store for close to a dollar. And who wakes up on a Saturday morning before it's even light outside and says, "Hmmm, I hope I find a few pieces of charcoal at a garage sale today." How did that sell?!?! I couldn't sell any of my stuff for full price, or even close to half price! And much of it went to the 'please take this free stuff' junk pile on the curb by the end of the day. It was good stuff! Way better than a few briquettes of charcoal. . .

All in all, it was an experience. Financially, it wasn't worth my time. But I will learn from the experience and know that next time I will likely make more money chopping up my tables and selling them as firewood. Firewood, with a story. . .


Friday, April 11, 2003

The Random Ads
I've been amused lately watching the random 'content driven' ads in the banner at the top of my page here. Apparently the banner picks up words in the blogs to find ads that relate to the content of the blogs. For awhile, it was stuck advertising places to buy scrubs. I guess it was fascinated with my blog detailing my wish that I could wear scrubs to work everyday. (my archived permalinks aren't working lately, or I'd link directly to my fine literary work about scrubs on 3/19, scroll down the page)

Now the banner is promoting links to grief and loss recovery and broken hearts and whatnot. I even saw an ad here earlier today advertising caskets and urns. That'll teach me to write about death, huh. I mean, I wasn't aware that the urn business really needed to be advertised. Seems like they've pretty much got the entire world population as a customer at some point. But I guess if I was in the market for a good urn, it would be helpful to have an ad for it magically appearing at the top of my page. However, since I'm okay for now in the urn department, I'll wait for a better ad to come along.

Please don't feel obligated to buy an urn from the link above on my account. You may want to also wait til something really fun is advertised above, based on words found in my blog.

Monkey doodle wishing for a pickle roasted hopscotch basket of marbled candied yams, with a helicopter swarming near Africanized killer bees wielding jackhammers in the balmy rainforest of Brazil, near a Krispy Kreme on the southside of North Hollywood, in the apricot scented candleshop by my mom's Harley Davidson museum arboretum. Bananas, she said. I need more bananas, topped with banana flavored ice cream, traveling by banana boat, near the banana trees in the banana district of Bananatown. Keeping the aardvark inside the station wagon, the pole vaulter ran over the vintage television showing the way to pour milk without splitting the atom, in a flowerpot. Gardening is the loophole of rocket science, often misread as a traveling shoe in the ocean.

Challenge extended to the banner . . .


I Hate Neighbors
Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood is a total farce. That kind of neighborhood with good, friendly, considerate neighbors just doesn't exist in reality.

I hate apartment life, and I'm trying desperately and as quickly as possible to get out of apartments once and for all. Apartments are just a horrible living arrangement. Community living with people you don't know, and likely don't like, and would probably never talk to or come in contact with if you didn't live a few feet away from them, separated only by a thin wall and whatever lives between the walls. I don't like to be around people I know and do like that much, much less people I don't know and definitely don't like.

I didn't think my apartments were this bad when I moved in, but they were cleverly disguised as decent apartments. They fooled me for awhile, but now I'm on to them. It's a horrible place to live. Not so horrible as, say, the apartments where my car was stolen while sitting right out in front of my door. But these apartments are a close second to that situation.

I live on the third floor of a three story building, which I thought was the best option. I still think it is, but there are some disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage being that I can't climb any higher to get further away from all the people who live around me.

When I first moved in, the building was mostly empty, and that was great. Nice and quiet. No loud neighbors, and no smoking neighbors. My two neighbor pet peeves. Well. . . and naked neighbors. But I didn't realize that should be a peeve until it happened last summer. It's something I've tried to block out of my memory, so we'll not go there now. But overall, it was peaceful, and I was pleased. The neighbor below me created some minor noise issues. I'd never met anyone who blasts NPR at enormously loud decibels straight through the night. But he did, so that meant I had to listen to it, too. He was nice and we talked about it, and he tried to adjust the volume, but soon moved out anyway. Quiet followed. All was well.

Then, people started moving in around me. A girl moved in below me, to take the place of NPR Boy. She was quiet for awhile. Then I discovered when the boyfriend and other friends came to visit, it was time to get their loud funky music groove on. I'm used to hearing loud music from time to time, and I can be patient with it as long as it's not keeping me awake at night. But these people are really creative with it, and into the wee hours of the morning. They play it up really loud for maybe five seconds at a time. Just long enough to be really annoying and get you up to either go down and yell at them, or to find the phone to call security. Then they get quiet for a few seconds and you think it's over. But just as you relax, they fire it up again, and they do this for hours. When you call security, they're quiet. So, security thinks I'm bluffing and they get annoyed that they visited a seemingly quiet apartment. When security leaves, the neighbors resume the funky groove, this time extra loud, just to show me they know I called security and that they fooled the Apartment Cops. These neighbors are not nice people. The loud noise and jerky attitude put them on my List.

Then, a couple moved into the apartment right next to me. Remember, I am a hermit. So I'm not particularly fond of new people, and I almost never approach people I don't know to introduce myself or make contact. For awhile I was able to avoid them, but one day the guy introduced himself. The thing they have going for them is that they are nice. Well, I assume they both are. I've never met the wife. But their downfall is that they smoke. A lot. Right in front of my door. The smoking itself is not the downfall. Smoke if you want to. I don't care. The downfall is their smoking location. Since I'm allergic to it and I've got the asthma thing going for me, I'd prefer the smoking not to take place in front of my door, or to come in through my door, since smoke triggers not being able to, well, breathe. The smoking put them on my List.

Next, people behind me, and also behind and below me moved in. I share a wall and some floor with them. I soon found they also smoke, and that smoke oozes through the very thin walls and connected air vents. So, now I have smoke coming in the front door, as well as from behind me and below me. I'm surrounded. And suffocating. For someone who never smokes, and could possibly die from smoking one cigarrette, my whole apartment smells as though I'm a human smoking machine. There's nowhere in my home where I can escape the smoke. I'm literally being smoked out of my own home. The oozing smoke put these neighbors on my List. And me and my hermitage are now surrounded by neighbors I dislike.

As if that wasn't enough smoke, my friendly next door neighbor added a small BBQ grill to his smoking repetoire. He waited a few months to introduce this to the mix, but once he noticed the neighbors in the building across the sidewalk smoking meat in their smoker all the time, he decided he needed to join in that fun. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't have a problem with BBQ. I love BBQ. I don't love it, however, right in front of my door, with the rest of the smoke, oozing into my apartment and contaminating my lungs.

He'd busted out the BBQ a few times, near enough to my front door so that the smoke gently wafted in around and through the door, making my apartment aroma that of BBQ. It's a great outdoor smell, from a ways away. I love the smell of a good BBQ, outside. But when the smell and smoke come blasting through my apartment while I'm trying to, um, breathe, it is not so much a good thing. It's a bad thing. However, I could see that he was genuniely trying to split the difference between his front door and my front door, so I didn't say anything about it the first time or two. I decided to cut him some slack, since he is, in fact, a nice man.

But the other day I came home to see a roaring fire right in front of my door. At this point I was thankful I am non-fat, and that I am quite agile (although not exactly graceful) because I had to tiptoe and shimmy my way around the open pit of flames just to get to my front door. I assumed he wasn't trying to set me on fire, but if he was he certainly had a good set up for it. I was carrying grocery bags and a purse, and I was wearing work clothes and shoes. It was quite a task to maneuver around this nearly Olympic Flame, making sure I didn't catch on fire. Not only that, but the neighbor was across the sidewalk visiting with the Meat Smoker Neighbors, and not even attending his giant pillar of fire. 'Safety First', my favorite universal motto, was being seriously ignored.

He looked up, noticed I was trying to make my way around the inferno, and very nicely called up to me saying, "That's not in your way, is it?" After making sure none of my limbs were singed or charred, I decided it was time to make a simple request. I politely called back that it was okay for now, but if next time he could move the BBQ down the steps to the lower landing, away from my door and other doors, that would be great. I explained that the smoke comes right in my door, and that's not a good thing. Of course, there's also the whole Gauntlet of Fire thing, too. I prefer my obstacle courses with much less scorch potential. But I didn't mention that right then.

I didn't want to totally discourage his BBQ. I am pro-BBQ. But I figured it was a simple request that was really a result of my health concerns related to smoke inhalation. Because otherwise it would totally be a great idea to BBQ right in front of someone's door, in a fully occupied apartment building, with the wind swirling around the landing, while not watching the flames nearly reaching the ceiling of the breezeway. Nope, no risk of danger there . . .

I hate neighbors. I think I have a good case for that. And fortunately plenty of renter's insurance for the day the BBQ goes bad.

Of course, if Mr. BBQ ever offered me any of the good smelling items cooked on his BBQ o' Death that's been stationed outside my door, he could possibly move to a lower place on my Neighbor List o' Doom. . .


Drink Cooler Update
My place of employment seriously wigs me out most days. This week has been no exception. If you'll remember my drink cooler debacle, you will understand my quandry for this week.

I wandered down to the drink cooler today to find it stocked, to the top. But, not with drinks haphazardly strewn about in a chaotic fashion, as usual. Instead I found the cans removed from the plastic rings, stacked neatly according to flavor, with a well-balanced selection of each softdrink.

Ladies and gentleman, I was shocked. This is the first time I have ever seen the cooler look this way, without doing it myself. Who is this mystery person that suddenly discovered how to properly arrange a drink cooler? Is this a trick, a ploy, a challenge of some sort? I fear someone is messing with me. The whole thing has made me very uncomfortable.

I thought I would be happy with a tidy, well-stocked cooler at the hands of someone other than myself. But now I am more unsettled than ever, and seriously wigged out. I do not speak of my cooler concerns here at work, because I had come to the conclusion that it was a lost cause. It was easier to handle the chore myself. But someone here has apparently gotten into my head and is now taunting me with the non-in-shambles drink cooler.

Or perhaps the cooler has learned how to neatly stock itself? That is the more likely scenario.

The orderly drink cooler is certainly a sign of the apocolypse. I feel doomed.


Thursday, April 10, 2003

Song Lyrics Gone Wrong
If you'll remember my ability to not know the words to any song ever, I just remembered an example of how fun my interpretation of song lyrics can be.

Song: Love Shack, by the B-52's
Actual line from the song: "Wearing next to nothing 'cuz it's hot as an oven."
What the Tyrant hears and remembers: "Wearing next to oven 'cuz it's hard as in nubbin."

"Nubbin" obviously being Chandler's superfluous third nipple from the early seasons of Friends.

See how fun?


Is Softball a Sport?
The out of doors during spring and summer might just be my favorite place to be. I love just about any excuse to be outside. Well . . . except public flogging. I don't think I'd like that. But just about anything else taking me outside, I'm likely to enjoy it.

I also love playing softball. It's softball season again, and I'm very excited about it. I've been on the same softball team now for about two years, which equals about eight-ish seasons. I have a standing place on the team as starting Second Base Girl. I haven't missed a game (I don't think) in those two years. Once I commit to a team effort, I am totally there. It's been a great team. We play in a city league. We even won first place . . . once. Yep, once. Mostly we just have fun, and occasionally we play well, and occasionally the other teams are worse than we are.

But, is softball really a sport? Is it even exercise? It's got to be one of the lowest activity 'sports' in existence. Mind you, I don't play to get exercise. I just enjoy it. But still, I question the 'exercise' value of softball.

You get up to bat every ten people or so. Which means you spend a good portion of the game sitting, drinking water (or beer depending on which league you're in), watching minimal activity on the field, chatting with friends, and yelling at the umps for bad calls. Chances are you may not even hit during any given inning, depending on how strong your team mates can hit and keep things going. When you do get up to bat every once in awhile, and actually get a hit, you run a few feet and then take a break til the next person hits well enough to make you run a few more feet. Once you make it around the bases, you take a break back on the bench til it's time to do something else.

Even if you're up to bat, you can get away with not hitting, and not running. You can actually walk, if you wait it out long enough. They tell you to walk, and you drop your bat and wander over to first base. If you're out of breath, you walked too fast.

When you're in the field, you only have to move if the ball comes near you. You've got 9 other people out there chasing down the ball with you, so unless it comes pretty close to you, you get to stand and watch the ball move around the field without making any effort on your part. Being at second base, I get a good bit of activity. But still, I'm not exactly tired after a round of fielding and watching my team try to play defense. In fact, I think we get more exercise running after balls we missed and falling over ourselves in the process. Compared to say, running a marathon, or biking around the lake, a few minutes spent chasing a ball on the softball field is not a ton of exercise. In fact, I usually end a game of softball warmed up and ready for something more.

While softball does require you to wear athletic shoes and shorts, and you will likely sweat a bit and run and throw and hit and whatnot, to consider it exercise may be a bit of a leap. It's fun, and good activity. But let's not kid ourselves into thinking we got a great workout from a game of softball. I get more exercise walking from my car to the field. Sure, there's a ball and a team and rules and points and a winner. But let's not get too caught up in considering it a true sport, since even non-sports inclined people can alternately sit and wander a field for about an hour, to be considered 'playing' softball.

Is softball a sport, or even a true form of exercise? We may never know. But I think it's safe to say the point of softball is not the exercise. It's just a good excuse to be out of doors, without being publicly flogged.


Idol Wha-huh???
Ok, stop. Hold the phone, since apparently all America did was hold the phone and stare it when it was time to vote in such a way so that Carmen would be gone right now. What the heck happened last night? Not only is Carmen still with us, SHE DIDN'T EVEN MAKE THE BOTTOM THREE!! I question the voting accuracy of combining the votes from last week with this week, because this week totally didn't match last week, and I find that hard to believe. Something fishy is going on, and it's making a mockery of the Blog Alliance. America, do you realize what you've done? Forget the longterm plan of the Alliance. We now have to listen to Carmen for another week.

How did this happen? Does Carmen's daddy own American Idol or something? Has she formed a secret pact with Julia Demato, who may have been the sacrificial lamb of this dastardly duo, to somehow secure more votes than she deserves? Does most of America not have ears to hear the completely awful Carmen performance this week, and every other week? Come on! She was begging to be booted from the show! She wants to be home in time for prom, people! Did you see her face when Rickey was announced into the bottom three? She knew she was going home last night, and quite obviously couldn't believe it herself that she got to stay on that dang couch.

Hmmmm. Maybe we should be evaluating the seating arrangement on the couch each week. The couch could be behind the whole thing. . .

Ok, and then what was with the Ruben dreaming of multiple Carmens music video? Seriously, Idol has to be taunting us. They threw it in our face that Carmen gets to stay another week by cloning her in that ridiculous video. Poor Ruben. Carmens everywhere he looked. Couldn't escape her. I'm beginning to know what that feels like. . .

Well, I'm quite shaken up by this. I wasn't particularly sad to see Ricky go, but it wasn't his time, yet. Sorry, Hercules. However, this is a minor setback. Clearly, the initiative is still to remove Carmen post haste. America, could you really live with yourself if Carmen became the next American Idol? Have you completely lost your mind? No more messing around. Obviously she has a few tricks up her sleeve, so we need to get serious. She must be using something hypnotic, I'd imagine. She's not going without a fight. So, we're going to have to play dirty now.

Obviously the most effective way to get people off this show is to reveal their hidden past of porn or criminal activity. Surely Carmen has a dark secret lurking somewhere. She's way too innocent to actually be so innocent. Has she killed anyone? Embezzled from the cheerleader fundraising stash? Vandalized a national monument? Was she caught drunk underage and topless at Mardi Gras? Did she steal the Old Navy clothes from Trenyce after Trenyce stole them from Old Navy? Perhaps she used to be a man? (Carmen for a girl's name? I don't think so.) Come on, America. Start researching. I need a mug shot with Carmen's name on it right now.

The night was not a total loss. I did discover my new career: American Idol Dancer. They were just too cool for words, and were the best part of Kelly Clarkson's performance. I do like Kelly, but it's all about the song choice, people. That song wasn't it.

Well, I'm exhausted and emotionally distraught. I will take some time to regroup, then forge ahead.


Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Possibly the Most Painful Place to be Sunburned
I biked 47 miles on Sunday. It's the farthest I've ever biked in one day. It was quite an accomplishment, especially since it was so windy that I'm pretty sure I was being pushed backwards, lacking forward momentum, for at least half of the 5 laps around the lake, resembling the mean old lady who turns into the Wicked Witch at the beginning of The Wizard of Oz, except without the black robe and pointy hat.

I've been sunburned just about everywhere the sun could possibly tastefully hit on a human body. I'm fair skinned with blue eyes, so chances are if I'm outside and the sun exists, I'll get sunburned a bit. Unfortunately for my sensitive skin, I love being out in the sun. Most of my childhood captured on film is evidence of my sister and I versus our enemy, the sun. We were pretty much always pink, yet still smiling and apparently oblivious to the fact that sunburn = bad. I'm sure I don't have to worry anymore about contracting skin cancer. If I don't already have it, I'd be very, very surprised.

After biking 47 miles this weekend, and forgetting my sunscreen before getting started, I discovered what is likely the most painful place on the human body to be sunburned. After three hours sitting hunched over my handlebars, I arrived home and caught a glimpse of an odd sunburn in the mirror. The gap between the bottom of my tank top and the top of my shorts left a strip of bare skin on my back aimed right at the sun for three straight hours, and was consequently very, very pink.

Two days later, the rest of my sunburned shoulders, arms, and legs have mellowed out a bit. But this spot on the small of my back is still uber pink, and extremely painful. It's a horrible location for such a severe burn. It hits the chair and car seat when I sit. If I lay on my back or side in bed or on the couch, it gets scratched by the fabric surface. Clothing, well, just plain hurts. Yet, I'm forced to be clothed during the day. Torture . . .

I think I'll not forget the sunscreen this weekend. Or at least try to burn a different section, to even things out.


What I've Learned From Cher
I happened to catch a bit of Cher's Farewell Concert on TV last night. Not intentionally, but it happened. Let me go ahead and say now that I am not a Cher fan. I've never owned, do not currently own, and likely will never own any of her music. She's a part of music history with some fun, catchy tunes to her credit. I give her props for that. But even not being a fan, and aside from the fact that her tour bus must have hit the Cirque de Soleil tour bus on the way to the concert and they all rolled in together to perform for the big show, I have to say that I liked what I saw of Cher last night. Here's why.

She loves what she does. She has a great time on stage. Granted, she's quitting. My first clue to this was the title of the show, Cher's Farewell Concert. But watching her perform, I saw someone who really loves what she does. I want that.

To be able to get up in front of people with such ease and comfort. To have confidence in who you are and what you bring to the table. To have that much creativity and the freedom to express it so vividly. To have that much influence on the history of something. To be excited about doing that for 40 years. To enjoy the people you are with everyday. To have fun and know that what you do is where you are supposed to be. That's what I want.

And to look that good at whatever age she is now. Except without all the wigs and headgear. Does she actually have her own hair? I fear she may be bald under there.

I don't want that. I want my own hair. Plus all the other good stuff I mentioned.


Idol Thoughts
Ok, so I missed the first half of the show last night, due to working later than I expected. I know, I know. That's no excuse. Nevertheless, it happened. It won't happen again.

But, I feel confident that what I did see of the show is perfectly aligned with the plan of the Blog Alliance. Here are my thoughts.

1. I made it just in time to see Josh. While I'm still not a fan of his anymore, he was much better than last week, back to singing a song better suited for him. It's all about the song choice, people. As if Paula and Randy haven't said that enough. So, Josh is off of my list for now. Or at least postponed for a bit.

2. Ruben! Finally did away with the 205 attire! I was so happy! He sang great, looked great. This dude could (and should) take the whole competition. See my fellow alliance member's blog for my exact thoughts on Ruben's attire. Remember, never doubt the power of the Blog Alliance. When we agree, we are very persuasive.

3. Trenyce is now on my list again. I did not enjoy her performance, and now that I've seen the mug shots of her crime spree through Old Navy, I can't get that picture out of my head. Does Old Navy make prison wear?

4. Carmen did not disappoint. In fact, she made this phase of the competition entirely too easy for America, as long as America was paying attention. She must have known she is next to go on the Alliance's plan of elimination, because she was at her absolute worst. The only other thing I could have asked for would have been to see her cry on stage after hearing all four judges totally diss her. Blondie? No one but Blondie is cool enough to pull off 'Call Me'. In fact, we played it in college basketball band, and we so should have been shot on the spot for tainting the tune with our lame-o arrangement. Carmen, start packing. You're heading home tonight.

5. Julia came back, this time masquerading as an audience member. Apparently she kept singing during the commercials, til someone kicked her in the teeth. I gave strict instructions to security to not let her in the building again, under any circumstances. Actually I had security escort her from the country, to a remote island near Antarctica. Penguins don't seem to mind her. But apparently she came in last night saying she was Jewel back for more Idol fun, and that fooled security. Did her hair salon job not want her back after she sucked for too many weeks on Idol? I wouldn't want her back, either. In fact, I've made it clear that don't ever want her back. I'd better not see her mug on camera at Idol again. I don't want to have to go all ninja on her sorry arse.

I only caught the other performances in the brief re-cap. But I think I saw enough to predict that the bottom three will be Carmen, Kimberly C., and Trenyce. Carmen will get the boot. Kimberly will cry off more mascara. And Trenyce will steal Paula's outfit from last night, even though it didn't come from Old Navy.

The Alliance has spoken.


Tuesday, April 08, 2003

I Can't Quite Vomit Fast Enough . . .
Is it a requirement this season for everone on American Idol to be a complete weirdo, and not in a good way? Did anyone else see this? Why will this ad make me support PETA? Eeeyewwww.

I'm just glad Ruben didn't get voted off first. No offense to Ruben because I love his singing. But apparently the first one off had to do the nude pose thing, and even though I'm sick of the 205 attire, I think I'd be sicker to see him posing completely without it.

Let's review real quick. What is our initiative for tonight? Carmen goes home tomorrow. Remember it and make it happen.


I Hate Barney
I haven't just discovered that I hate Barney. I've experienced this hatred for many years now. But for the record, I need to re-state that I loathe the purple beast named Barney. Why re-state this? Because I've just violated my long-standing Barney Boycott.

My cousin has a three year old son. I absolutely adore this kid. He is without question the cutest, most adorable, absolutely perfect three year old on the planet. Well . . . almost perfect. He has one major flaw. He loves Barney. And when I say 'love', I mean lives, breathes, and is all things Barney.

I've never seen a kid so nuts for Barney. He has all the videos, so whenever it's movie time you know your options are Barney, Barney, or Barney. He sings along. He dances. He plays along and acts out the videos. Spending time with him, or in his vicinity always results in leaving with that stupid Barney song stuck in your head for hours afterwards.

I tried to entice him away from Barney. I decided by the age of three he should be learning and experiencing things outside of Barney world. For his birthday I sent him a non-Barney toy, because I do not, under any circumstance, spend my hard earned money on Barney knick-knacks or paraphernalia. I searched long and hard and found these really great blocks, kinda like giant Legos, only slightly different. They come in a special storage bag for neatly putting away the blocks, and they are dishwasher safe. A mother's dream! I knew these blocks would be a hit for the kiddo, as well as for my cousin and his wife.

So, what does he do with the blocks? He builds a castle for Barney, because Barney lives in a castle. Duh. Apparently Barney cannot be defeated. Once he has a hold on a youngster, he just doesn't let go.

I will be visiting the youngster for Easter, and I decided to bring him a treat. I asked my mom for suggestions. I've racked my brain. I can think of nothing that will top a Barney something-or-other. So, I caved. I broke the Barney Boycott. I bought him a hat with Barney and Friends right smack on the front in the middle. Why did I choose this hat? Because Barney wears a crown in his castle. And up until now, the kiddo has been wearing a plastic tupperware bowl on his head, insisting that it is a crown just like Barney's.

If he's going to be obsessed with Barney, he should at least be dressed properly. No relative of mine needs to wear a bowl for a crown.

I hate Barney . . .


Beware, The Ice Cream Man
I know the Ice Cream Man is something that kids look forward to with great anticipation every summer. But after seeing many dueling Ice Cream Men lately out in full force, now that the weather is warmer and kids are out playing, I've made a startling observation. Why are ice cream trucks the absolute most scariest vehicles on four wheels? Without exception, they are the creepiest automobiles alive.

I don't go near the ice cream man in an ice cream van as an adult. The Man and the Van, all too scary, if you ask me. So you can bet I'd never send a kid over there, either. Not with all the scary TV shows about children disappearing coincidently as a psycho ice cream man roams a neighborhood, luring children to his van with that horrible song playing over and over. Yes, not only are the trucks and vendors scary on their own, but television has ruined the whole ice cream man experience for me.

If the intent is to be fun and pleasing to kids, shouldn't the vans be cute? Shouldn't they play a less creepy song than that steel drum-sounding, hauntingly awful rendition of 'Pop Goes the Weasel'? Shouldn't ice cream trucks and vans and the vendors be appealing to kids, and not frightening to the parents who let their children purchase frozen treats from them? Why are grown men typically ice cream sellers, anyway? And usually creepy men at that. It just doesn't seem right.

Why can't they drive around in cute, new, brightly colored VW Eurovans, playing Britney Spears, or N*Sync, or something less creepy (albeit still annoying) to send out the Ice Cream Man signal? I'm thinking a cooler, Hip-Hop themed van and vendor would sell much better, and not send fear into the souls of parents everywhere as they let their kids chase after the ice cream van making its round through the neighborhood.

Unless they revamp the whole Ice Cream Man/Truck industry, my future kids will never experience the tradition of the Ice Cream Man. In fact, we may live somewhere really cold all year round, just to be safe.


Monday, April 07, 2003

I Don't Know the Words
This came up in the comments to an earlier blog, but was reinforced to me over the weekend. I hereby admit that I don't know the words to any song. Ever.

I know lots of songs. I can recognize them when I hear them. But I have no idea who sings any song, or the name of the song, or the lyrics. Any lyrics I do know are likely wrong. (ie: 'pour some shook up Ramen' = 'pour some sugar on me'; thank you T-Mobile)

I tend to hear the music over the words, so again I can totally recognize a song when I hear it. But I couldn't tell you what it is when I hear it. I just know that it's a song I should know.

I can hum the tunes, or sing a bass line, or catch the drum part. But I would fail miserably at any song naming or lyric reciting contest. The words just don't stick in my brain. I know I am very, very lame.

It does, however, make for interesting interpretations of lyrics. And often the feeling of being a total loser while all my friends sing along to the great classics, word for word, while I can only smile and nod. I'm sure I technically have an illness of some sort. I don't know what it is, but I blame an illness, whatever it is.

I also can't dance, but that's a whole other issue.


Friday, April 04, 2003

World's Most Consistent Conversation Killer
It almost never fails. I can kill a conversation and scare just about anyone off, any time, any place. I don't talk about it that often anymore, but it still comes up at times because it's a big part of my life. In fact, there are people who know me now who don't know that I had a sister, or that I lost a sister, or what I've been through over the past almost four years. But whenever I write or talk about something involving death, grief in general, or the loss of my sister, I'm often rewarded with silence, awkwardness, and general stares and lack of response. People just don't know what to do with that. Especially when they are used to someone being funny and seemingly far less sensitive. I think people are surprised when funny people have a painful side to express. Even if it's as simple as something that comes up in the get-to-know-you, "Hey, do you have any brothers or sisters?" "Well, yes I did. But . . . " You'd be surprised how often that happens, and how quickly that conversation ends and I find myself standing alone.

I've run off a lot of people in my life over the past few years. Much of it likely somehow related to them not enjoying knowing someone dealing with the pain of grief. For awhile, you're a novelty. The sad friend or loved one that people want to help and fix. People flock around you, some even really making a stand to stick with you through the tough stuff. You latch onto that because it definitely helps to have people around, showing that they care. You don't know what else to do, so when someone offers to be there and hold your hand a bit, you take it and you cherish it. It's brave of them to offer, and brave of you to accept it. You need people you trust to lean on, someone steady in your world that has just been severely and tragically rocked. But I think people actually think they can fix the grief for you just by being there and listening, and they are disappointed when you don't snap out of it sooner. Or when you act in ways that aren't especially nice. Or when you aren't able to return the favor of 'being there' quite yet. When they realize it'll be awhile before you resemble a human being again, they get discouraged and move on to things less depressing.

You feel like people value you past being entertained, because they make efforts to be there when you are not laughing, and even crying. This gives you courage to talk about the most painful parts and cry about it with the friends who take the time to listen. The few people that really step up and care for you when you're at your worst, you really come to depend on them because they make it easy and safe, when everything else at that time is scary and difficult. It helps tremendously for someone to want to know you in the darkest times of grief, when it's frightening and uncertain and embarrassing, and you don't know who to turn to or what to do with what you're feeling. The ones who reach out, you really feel like they care. They probably truly do. They probably truly want you to heal and be happy again, and not just funny-happy. But when you really open up about the true affects of grief, and they start to see it's not a quick fix or simple solution to make you funny again, they begin to trickle away, needing some air after all the doom and gloom.

I can't say that I blame them. And maybe it's too much to expect people will stay invested for the duration of healing. It's time consuming to be that friend to someone in pain, and not fun. It's a committment. It's tough for them to stomach, to watch a friend grieve, and to deal with the affects of being the friend who is there by your side. I can understand the non-appeal of that. It's not a glorious job to volunteer to undertake, by any means. But they don't know the half of the situation and what's hard about it. And I don't think they understand the effects of what it does when they decide they've had enough and they leave a friend in pain. I can understand not wanting to be involved as a helper anymore after awhile, but when they leave I have to deal with the hurt of their rejection and absence in addition to the hard stuff I'm already dealing with.

It's hard and likely mostly unrewarding to deal with grief that isn't your own. But I'd say it's a bit tougher to deal with the death of a loved one, and feel like you have to do that alone as you watch the people you consider your 'rocks' fall away around you. As you watch them go, you begin to feel like a burden, like the sad friend that isn't a novelty anymore. Just a drag, because you aren't 'fixed', yet. You wonder what friends are for and why they don't stick when you really need them. Admittedly grief brings out behavior that isn't pleasant for others to be around. I've done a lot that I'm not proud of, in dealing with my grief. But on top of the grief, it becomes tougher to deal with all of it when you also experience the loss of friends who can't commit for the long haul when you really, truly need them in the middle of the worst times. You feel like you're losing everyone, starting with the death that began the whole twisted turn of events. You wonder if anyone will be left when you begin to feel whole again.

It's not like I asked for this. I feel punished by it everyday. People leave because of who I am now, what I've become, how I act differently than before, yet it wasn't my choice, and I can't go back. I don't get to say "Enough!" and move onto something else when I'm sick of it. I was sick of it a long time ago. Yet the suffering goes beyond just missing her and having to completely re-learn who I am now and how to go on minus this person I knew and loved for 21 years. Once I deal with just that part of it, I'm still forced to deal with it everyday as I come into contact with new people who are just beginning to know me during and post-grieving. Or when I think about and miss the people who were once my best friends, but who now seem to prefer not to be involved with me much, since I got sad and harder to be around than when I was fun and easy to care about. I feel like I've disappointed everyone because I can't be who they liked before. It's just not who I am anymore, although not by choice. And it seems there's not much I can do to help them see me as someone besides the sad friend they once knew. I'm actually not so bad now. Just not quite the same as before.

Losing someone becomes a part of your personal profile, much like a criminal record, I'd imagine. It's something that affects you everyday for the rest of your life, in ways that you'd never know until they happen. You can't shake it, you can't avoid it. You have to learn how to remake your life so that you can deal with it and still be happy, successful, and not bittered by it. You have to resign to accepting that you are not who you were, and that it will take some serious work and help to be someone who can carry on now. It takes a lot of prayer and faith. But even with all of that, one of the hardest parts is dealing with the people, coming and going. You want relationships, but you are unsure of people, old and new. Your confidence is gone, because you are unsure of who you are now and how to be with others. You feel like your reputation preceeds you as the 'freaky' girl with the dead sister, or the girl who 'used to' be fun til her sister died. You're certain the friends who left you during the worst times probably don't want you back now, and even if they do you don't know which 'you' they'd want. You're not sure who to trust. You never know how people will react to something you say or do now, and you always hope the people you call friends and family will react better than the ones who don't know you. Each reaction from anyone, good or bad, leaves a mark. Although it seems to hurt more from the friends and family you'd expect to see you through the grief, and love you more than just react. Not to say that everyone has left me. I've got some keepers. But many have wandered off and created space, including many of the ones that really mattered to me. It's unfortunate that the things we deal with in life end up driving away the people we wish we could hold close when it matters.

It's much easier to read, write, and talk funny stuff. It's easy for me to be funny. I prefer to be funny and silly. Some of my funniest times truly come in the midst of pain, because that's the first place I go: the easy fun place. I've got plenty of fans and friends when I'm an entertainer, keeping people laughing and the circumstances light, fun, and simple. It's when people become afraid of what the 'sad' girl might do or say that they get skittish and keep their distance.

Sometimes, life isn't easy, or funny. Yet I still have things to say and write and talk about. Things that are valuable in knowing me, besides my ability to entertain. Writing about the fun stuff is really fun for me, and I love that. I'm truly a quirky person at heart. But the real beauty I find in expressing things through words is describing myself and what I've learned in life, past the funny part. I haven't lost the funny stuff people enjoy. I think people fear that when the funny stuff takes a break for awhile, it won't come back, and in its place will be an angry, sad, bitter person who sucks the life out of everyone. For me, the funny is not gone. It takes a break sometimes, but I will always be a funny person. When the funny is hard to see sometimes, it's likely because I've gained some perspective on top of it. And even some joy that I didn't have before.

What I write and talk about may not always be funny, but it's valuable. Even if I'm rewarded with silence and stares and uncertainty, with few people left interested in hearing what I have to say or in knowing me now, I find great fulfillment in writing and talking about it. It's tough sometimes, but it's nice, too. The value I find in writing about the un-funny is that I've learned through it, I've overcome the messiness that allowed me to come to a deeper understanding of something, and I appreciate parts of life that can't always be found in funny. I've still got a lot to work through, and probably always will. But I've reached a better place, where I even find the healing and happiness that people once desired for me at the start of my grief, even though many of them aren't around much to share in that with me now. I can breathe a bit again, and turn my experiences into words for people to read, and that's nice for me. That's a huge accomplishment. Hopefully I can express what I've learned and found in words that communicate the value in it. Even if it isn't as fun to read or hear as the fun stuff.