Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spontaneity Rules

Rule #1: Anything goes, as long as it wasn't planned in advance.

"Whattid ya say, Mom?  I can't hear you!  Guess I'll just stay in the water a while longer."

Weird lip thing due to trying to show his gum in the picture.
Recently, 6 y.o. decided he's going to be a Marine Biologist when he grows up, and has been watching a lot of shows about sea animals and rescues.  He's also been behaving really well at school lately, unlike in previous months, so Husband and I have been coming up with various ways of rewarding him for "green" days.

This week, we decided to take him to the marine science center, and it just so happened that they were planning to release some rehabilitated sea turtles back to the ocean on Saturday, April 27th.  Turns out, I wasn't the only one who had decided to go to the science center for turtle day.  Fortunately for the turtles, unfortunately for us, the marine center had advertised very well.  There were cars and people lined up for more than a mile around the center.  Unfortunately for the turtles (maybe-not exactly sure) the release was canceled.  I decided to park on the beach and walk with the kids to the center.

After approximately 1/4 mile of sand walking with the stroller and the boy, the walkway from the beach to the mainland (and the science center) finally came into view, and with it, dozens of stairs.  Stroller.  Stairs.

"Hey, 6 y.o.!  You wanna just stay on the beach, instead?"
              "YESSSSS!  We can watch for dolphins that strand!"

We walked back to the car, where we all 3 removed our shoes, 6 y.o. removed his shirt, and I applied some sunscreen to the two of them.  I instructed 6 y.o. to only get his feet wet, since I hadn't brought him a change of clothes.  Somehow, he "fell" as soon as the first wave touched his ankles.  I gotta say, it's hard for a Mama to be annoyed by disobedience like that when she's having so much fun, herself.  Baby had been to the beach one other time, last year, and she had screamed all the while.  This time, she was ecstatic.  She tried to touch the sand with every part of her body, and cackled with laughter as I held her while the waves washed over her tiny feet.

We spent 45 minutes or so, got ourselves covered in sand and dripping with saltwater, and then had to drive all the way home without even so much as a towel to sit on.  It was totally worth it.

Speaking of spontaneity, I've been working on a different blog post all week.  Suddenly, I decided to share this story first.  See how impulsive I am?  I can do all kinds of things without lists and plans.  You should, too!

Every had a spontaneous decision backfire?

Wanna vacuum out my car?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Are You Ready To Rock?

I am.  Pretty much always am, except for when the kiddos are around and the lyrics are unedited.  For a while before I posted it, I teased you all with my story of how I became a runner.  You should know that I have been teasing myself with the writing of this concert recollection post for longer than you would imagine.  It's a big part of the reason I started a blog, actually.  For years, the desire to share my experiences with music and french fries was almost irresistible.  Then, I had running stories and mothering stories and wife-ing stories to share, too, so here we are.  You may remember that I am obsessed with enjoy writing lists, and this will be easier on all of us if there is some sort of organization.  Without further ado, I present my live concert recap by the numbers.

Okay, a tiny bit more ado.  I don't think anyone will mind a bit of rocker baby to set it off, though.
Countless: The number of times I've wished I had the foresight to buy a souvenir from every show I attended.

Approximately 1 million: Calories consumed at Steak-n-Shake, which has been Husband's and my stop after almost every concert we've attended together.

Technically able to be counted, but I haven't bothered because the number boggles my mind: The number of bands I've watched.  Also, the number of painted bosoms I've seen at outdoor music festivals.  Side note- I determined that the women who choose to have their chests painted and walk around shirtless are actually not strippers or whores.  Strippers and whores don't crave attention being drawn to their assets when they're not working, I believe.  The painted women, rather, are everyday gals with low self-esteem, a need to please, no college degree, and, I would argue, an abusive boyfriend and a poor relationship with their father.  

Fiftyish: The number of concerts I've been to since December 29, 1999.  Before that, all the live music I saw was in a church.  It was good music, too, for the most part.  I listened to a lot of Petra.  The message was excellent, and the concerts rocked, inasmuch as folks can rock without actual rebellion and angst behind their music.  I don't know that it was because I had turned 21, but very shortly after my birthday, I became kinda obsessed with seeing Metallica in concert.  I had been listening to secular music for a few years, despite the warnings against it that some guy preached about so vehemently in a lecture at our church that my mom certain people might still believe that subliminal messages in rock music really will be the death of us all.  As a Christmas gift, the guy I was dating at the time bought me 2 tickets to see Metallica, Creed, Kid Rock and Sevendust at Tropicana Field in St. Pete.  Side note- The next time I would be at Tropicana Field would be at mile 11 of my first half marathon race.  It's the circle of life.  Or, it's a random fact, but I watched The Lion King with 6 y.o. recently.

~Thirty: The number of concerts (now) Husband and I attended together in 2003.  Yeah.  It was a very good live music year.  During the Summer, MTV recorded many concerts at Hard Rock Live in Orlando, near where we lived.  For $10/ticket, we were able to be a studio audience, of sorts, for several great shows that were later shown as part of a series when the music television station used to play music, on television.  The house lights were on while the bands were on stage, but that was one thing on a short list of cons when it came to attending those shows.  We saw Nickelback (before everyone, us included, grew tired of them), Godsmack (They did the most amazing wasn't a solo, because there wasn't just one person drumming, but it was in.cred.i.ble.  Both times, as it had to be re-recorded for the sake of the television show.), Staind, Cold, and our favorite, the Queens of the Stone Age (more on that show, later).

Thirty Seconds To Mars: The band I was most surprised to enjoy seeing.  I wanted to make fun of them, a lot.  Both Husband and I went into the show where they opened for Seether and Audioslave totally prepared to be all, "Oooo, I'm Jared Leto!  I'm a seeeenger!  Oooo!  Look at me!  I used to be on tv, but now I have black hair and I play muuuuusic."  But, they seriously rocked.  They rocked the sarcastic, not-even-well-thought-out comments right out of my mouth.

Fourteen: Venues at which I've had paid-for tickets to see musicians play.  Not all in Florida, but all in the U.S.  Anyone wanna fly me and Husband to Castle Donington, UK or to Chiba, Japan?  All the best bands are playing together there, these days.  :(

Thirteen, Eleven, Eight, or Seven: Number of celebrities I've met at concerts, depending on your definition of "met" and "celebrities".  Thirteen, if you count being within earshot, as that number would include Corey Taylor and Josh from Stone Sour.  Eleven, if you count definite eye contact at close range, as that would mean adding Elias Soriano and Rasheed Thomas from Nonpoint, and Raine Maide from Our Lady Peace.  Seven, if you think actual conversation and handshakes are all that count as a meeting.  My friend Jessica was engaged-but-thankfully-never-married-to a tour bus driver, and her connection got us on Goldfinger's tour bus.  They gave us vodka.  Lots.  A while later, after their performance, we were to meet back on their bus, but all the vodka led us onto the wrong bus, so we met the members of Eve 6 on their bus the same night.  Many years pre-Metallica '99, I got to hang out with an old friend of my parents' who happens to rock, Doug Pinnick from King's X.  If you consider local radio personalities to be celebrities, then the number goes back up, to eight.  Daniel Dennis was on Orlando's talk radio station when my sis and I met him at a concert in 2000.  We all stood outside of the arena, smoking like it was cool, and talking like we actually knew each other, in between Counting Crows and Live, and whatever other band opened for them.

We totally acted cooler than this.  I'm (almost) sure of it.

At least five: Bands whose music I've heard live, but by other bands.  My first date with Husband was to be a concert.  It actually ended up being a Buccaneers Superbowl win watching date (Woo Hoo!), soon followed by a concert.  Seether, at a tiny, wonderful venue in downtown Orlando called The Social.  They covered Nirvana's "You Know You're Right" that night, and it was magical.  Seether also covers Alice In Chains, sometimes, which is also a treat.  At our wedding we danced our first dance to 311's cover of The Cure's "Love Song", as we had seen 311 play it live shortly before our engagement.  Audioslave (technically) covered a couple of songs by Soundgarden, and Nonpoint's cover of "In the Air Tonight" was amazing, especially when we heard them play the acoustic version.  <3 <3 <3

Four: Times I've been in a mosh pit.  It's about like you would expect, only maybe a little stinkier.  If you have no idea what to expect in a mosh pit, then you should probably not join in one.

Three: Memorable moments at concerts about which I will tell my grandchildren (and they'll think I'm so cool- I just know it!).  1. When the Queens of the Stone Age played for the MTV show at Hard Rock Live, we were treated to great music, but it wasn't just their flawless playing and singing that made it awesome.  It was at the end of the show, when Nick Oliveri started bashing the giant AT&T guitar that was hanging by the stage for advertising with his guitar, that my heart started pounding.  "This is rock", I remember thinking, as the band continued to destroy all the pop-ey, branded, commercialized, materialistic instead of musicalistic stuff around them.  It gave me goosebumps then, and still does, now.  The fact that all of that awesomeness was edited out for the television show made it even more rocking to have witnessed it live.  2. We saw Snoop Lion nee Dogg open for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2003.  When he came out on stage, we could see through the haze of smoke (barely) that he looked just like the cool rapper guy we'd seen on tv, and we could hear that he was covering Metallica's "Sad But True".  To recap:  coolest rapper, covering coolest rock group's song.  So cool.  3.  Back to Metallica, again.  I'll never forget the first time Husband heard/saw them take the stage.  I had seen them once before, remember, in '99, so I was able to sit back a bit and observe him experiencing the awesomeness for the first time.  We were holding hands, barely in like with each other, and I felt him start to tremble, just a little, at the same time that I started to feel their music in my belly, like you do at a rock show.

Three way tie for "best seats" at a concert.  In West Palm Beach, we had floor seats in row 12 (or close to it) for Incubus, Audioslave, Queens of the Stone Age, and Jane's Addiction.  Awe. Some.  Just last month, we went to see the Deftones and had 2nd row center balcony seats.  Awe. Some.  At almost every other concert we saw together at Hard Rock Live, we stood off to one side, near a specific column, very close to the stage.  Once, we were paid $50 for that spot from the people directly behind us.  Apparently, everyone else eventually figured out that it is the best standing spot in that venue, because the last time we were there, they had it roped off and guarded, with only 2 people standing in it.  Probably the President and First Lady, or some other VIPs.

Three: Bands whose music I would not listen to again if I were paid to hear it in my own back yard.  If you like racism and child pornography, then Turbo Negro might be your favorite band!  If that's the case, please go ahead and click on "next blog" up top there, because this is not the one for you.  Just last weekend, Husband and I saw Steel Panther in concert, and were assaulted by the songs "Asian Hooker", "Gold-Digging Whore", and one about STDs.  Although, there were a lot of STD-related lyrics in all their songs, come to think of it...  The third band is kind-of a cheat, since I haven't seen them play live, but Dave Matthew's Band is, well, gross.  I believe there are two kinds of people in this world: those who like DMB (I like using that acronym for the band, too.  It looks like the word 'dumb'.  Ha!) and those who can hear properly.  Wanna make something of it?

Three: Bands I haven't seen live, that I want to, and will mention here- Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, and Tool.

Three: Concerts I've attended while pregnant.  It's totally safe, don't worry.  Loud music can't hurt a baby's ears until after they're born, according to my doctor.  Good thing, too, because Disturbed, Korn, and Bush are all pretty loud bands.

Three: Shows I was not looking forward to attending (a.k.a., Concerts from a music genre other than awesome rock): The Dixie Chicks (who put on a good show, despite all the country songs), Tim McGraw (or possibly, some other guy who sings with a twang- I really can't remember for sure) and Dashboard Confessional (I knew that one song of theirs!)

Two: Times the very best vocalist has postponed shows to which I held tickets.  Once, he (Chris Cornell-dur!) and Audioslave decided to keep heading south and play in Cuba on the night they were supposed to play in Orlando.  The second time, he had "laryngitis" that kept him from "singing" at "several shows." (Annoyed by the excessive quotes?  I would be.)

Let's be friends, Chris.  Can I call you Chris?

Two: Bands I really, really, really wish I had noticed earlier.  Twice during The Summer of Music and Like (that's what we'll call '03 from now on-we weren't in love, yet, that we knew), Husband and I went to see Metallica with Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Mudvayne and sigh The Deftones.  We arrived late to the first show, and only caught a bit of the performance by The Deftones, and purposely went even later to the second show and missed it entirely.  We just had no idea what we were missing, unfortunately.  In the past 3 years, we've seen them play 3 times, and each time, we regret that we didn't notice how great they already were back in the Summer of Music and Like.  Very, very recently, Husband put some music by Thrice on my iPod.  I was cleaning the floor while listening to it, and as soon as I heard their second song, I stopped mid-mopping to send Husband the following text message:  "To think, all this time, I believed you loved me.  How could you keep this from me?"  He seemed confused, so I clarified.  Turns out, he had only recently discovered Thrice, also, and hadn't been keeping their music secret from me for years.  Even more disappointing than the fact that we missed so many years of great music is the fact that the band has now disbanded (do we just call them a disband?), and that they played without us at the Hard Rock Live during our Summer of Music and Like.
At my first Deftones show when I was actually listening to them.
Two: People who made me scan for the exits and plan an escape route or two, during a concert.  First was a guy who had been walking around, all normal seeming, until Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff" started. Then, he started punching the ground as if it had made one too many "yo momma" jokes to him. He pantomimed a chainsaw, which seemed to have a mind of its own, taking him around in circles until he went back to the ground.  Second was at the recent Deftones show we attended.  The guy was in front of us, a few seats to the right, and at first, I thought he was just a regular ol' drunk.  But he didn't sit down.  He didn't stop using his middle finger while yelling at the stage.  I actually saw him pull down his pants and moon the band.  Twice.  His apparent anger led me to believe that he was a ticket scalper who had gotten stuck with some good seats, and decided to get wasted and act as crazy as possible.  I was nervous that he was going to fall out of the balcony, and I was nervous that he was going to take out his anger on those around him at the slightest opportunity.  He didn't, though.  Woo!

Two: Concerts that make me feel sad to remember.  In 2002, I went to see Live, live, at Hard Rock Live (and said that catchy phrase over and over and over and over again) with my friend and co-worker, Doug.  5 years later, at the age of 33, he died of Lymphoma.  That concert was the first time he and I went anywhere outside of work together, and we became really close friends.  We lost touch a while after we stopped working together, but I always think of him with fondness and sadness that he's gone, and I always think of that concert nostalgically.  The other sad show was the one at which the Summer of Music and Like ended.  Fuel played the background music at House of Blues while then-Boyfriend broke up with me.  I will leave the rest of that story, and the "I told you so"s for another day.

One: and only one, man who is my perfect concert companion.  It isn't just that we share the same taste in music, we also share the same concert etiquette.  I've nothing against those who choose to make out at shows, or do that whole guy-behind-the-girl-with-his-arms-around-her-chest-but-not-exactly-groping-her-as-they-hold-hands-over-her-midsection, or the people who decide that it's important to drink all the alcohol, or those who bring signs, lift their shirts, get dehydrated and make disgusting sacrifices in order to stand in the front row, or those who wear earplugs.  Husband and I are concert soulmates.  We both know when to stand, and when to sit.  I "Wooo!" while he "Yeah!"s.  We hold hands on the way in and out of the crowds, but during the shows, we know our hands should be put to other uses.  We don't have to talk over the music to make jokes about the things happening around us, we can usually just make eye contact.  I don't have to stay awake on the way home, if it's past 11 p.m.  Even after he broke up with me, we remained friends and occasionally, went to concerts together.  While walking in to the House of Blues to see Disturbed in 2008, he put his hand on the small of my back, and that, as they say, was that.  (Since it wasn't technically during a concert, I didn't add it to the "memorable moments" part up there ^).

There was the whole, "can you see us back together" discussion that he started that night, the "I love you"s exchanged, and much later, the "will you marry me" thing, and now there's all kinds of made-up songs performed nightly by us and our kids (I'm particularly proud of my "No Babies In The Fridge" song).  Sometimes, we move furniture around to dance together as a family, and it's not a pretty sight (6 y.o. enjoys Mexican party music, Baby loves 80's ballads).  Husband puts songs on my iPod that he knows I'll like.  He finds the set list for the concerts we miss, and puts CDs in my car with the live versions of the songs, in the order they were performed.

You're here for advice, though, right?  No?  Well, too bad.  I'm here to give it, and it's good:  enjoy the soundtrack of your life.  Mine is epic, if I do say so myself.  Yours might have some jazz music or some DMB, and I won't judge you for that.  The important thing is to experience the everyday music and the extra-special music with those who appreciate it the same way you do.  I'm sure that there will come a time that all of our favorite bands have either stopped touring altogether, or are playing cringe-worthy reunion gigs when they're much too old to remember the lyrics to their own songs and their tattoos are all blurry on wrinkled skin.  I'll certainly miss going to concerts, then, but I'll still be able to rock with my rocking Husband.

Best concert you've attended?  You can choose more than one, it's okay.

p.s. My husband rocks.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mission: Impossible

I've got to say something about it, even though I feel like I don't have the right words.  Horrible.  Tragic.  Sickening.  Maddening.  Scary.  Motivating.  Unifying.  Gut-wrenching.  Nothing new, I know.  I was thinking that I needed to know more details about the who, how, and why before I could write about it, but then I realized that I kind-of already have those answers.

Who?  A coward.  Someone sick, and I mean that in the most literal way.  Probably, he (in my head, he's definitely a he, not a she or a they) isn't the most hateful person you would ever meet.  He's never picketed outside of a sporting goods store or worn a sandwich board condemning runners at a race.  He's probably never even been in a fight.  I doubt he pointed fingers at the race directors or wrote letters or made angry phone calls to protest the running of the marathon.  He's too cowardly for all of those things, I think.  Instead, he stewed and seethed and plotted against the physical representation of  his nemeses- power, strength, stamina, hard work, accomplishment, joy and unity.  The goodness that is evident when watching runners at a marathon, he can't find within himself.  He has probably never had people- strangers or loved ones- cheer for him.  He has probably never had to dig deep within his soul to find the strength to overcome pain, fatigue, and mental anguish to finish what is impossible for the majority of people on the planet.  And he made the rest of us suffer for his inadequacies.

How?  If someone offered me money, I'm quite certain that I could make a bomb.  (Please read the rest of my blog for context clues, Big Brother and airport security folks, and know that I wouldn't do it).  There are how-to videos on you tube, right?  Or is that just on how to cook meth?  I couldn't tell you right now, this minute, how to do it, but I think anyone with enough desire and time could do it.  I hate hearing these words, and I am a tiny bit disgusted with myself for typing them, but here goes: it could have been so much worse.  For the people injured, the families of those killed, I apologize, and I grieve.  But I think we can all agree that if the bomber had been more experienced or had been more determined to wreak havoc, he could have killed and hurt a whole lot more people.

Why?  Whatever the reason, it can't possibly make sense to us normal, healthy, sane individuals.  I won't say 'nonstop', but I've been thinking about this for a good portion of every hour since 3:ish on Monday, and I simply cannot come up with anything that would justify, even slightly, this action.  Was he trying to make a statement?  Well, nobody is going to agree with his point of view, now.  Was it political?  If so, it's seems counter-intuitive to protest against certain laws, regulations, or political figures with law-breaking actions that couldn't possible change anything for the better.  He accomplished hurt, pain, and destruction.  If I were to venture a guess, I would think that's pretty close to the definition of terrorism.  All of the "why" goes back to the "who".  He's sick, and his incapacity for normal human feelings has led him to terrorize.

For once, an all-over-facebook, fairly-sappy-messaged image that I felt the need to share.
I'm more proud than ever to be a runner.  Becoming a runner changed my life, and I'm far from able to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  I can say with confidence that as a community, runners are stronger, more unified, and tougher now than before.  And we were all pretty stinkin' strong, unified, and tough on Sunday, April 14.  We'll remember the victims whose lives were cut short, and we'll do all that we can to help their families, and the injured, to recover.  He scared us, yes.  Saddened us, to the core.  But stopped us?  Impossible.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Day In The Life Of Me

Are you ever so pleased with yourself that you are inspired to write bad poetry about your good decisions?  I was, yesterday, and even started a (terrible) poem on this very page.  Then, I was needed in the playroom as a Trouble referee, and had some time away from the computer to re-think my decision to wax poetic here.  Once I determined that I would just write a regular blog post, instead, I was again inspired, as I had made another great decision, and nearly burst into joyful song.  Quickly, I remembered how much better my singing voice sounds in my head than in my ears, though, and quietly sat down to just type like a normal person.
Rantom picture of my feet, Husband's back.  It's better than no picture, and better still than my poem would have been.

My day started at 4:20, when my alarm sounded and I found myself wide awake, barely even trying to talk myself into staying in bed.  Our running group meets for 5 a.m. runs 3 times/week, usually, and although I often tell myself I'll join them, it had been 6 months since I had actually found myself yawning in a dark parking lot with several other flashlight-wielding runners that early in the morning.  I was out of the house by 4:38, and at the meeting spot at 4:50.  (I didn't beat my always-early-for-everything friend there, though.  I thought I was golden, getting there 10 minutes early, but I guess I'll never beat her.  She even had to deal with her 4 yr old's potty accident before she left the house, and still got there first.  I mean, not that I care.  Whatev.)  Not only did this run start at 5 a.m., it was a speed workout.  We did a warm-up mile, then started Yasso drills- 800 meter (1/2 mile) 5k-pace repeats with 400 meter (1/4 mile) recovery walks between.  Most of the runners had done this workout in the preceding weeks, and had worked their way up to 6 repeats, but Kim and I decided to do 3, as this was our first speed training session.   
My friend Kim, after her first speed workout yesterday morning.
Okay, that's a lie.  This picture was taken 2 years ago.  
I must admit-even if it's annoying to read- I was really proud of my run.  My first 800 was 3:46, or a 7:31 min/mile pace.  Second one was 3:52, third was 3:50, fourth was 3:55.  My slowest pace was still well under 8 min/mile.  Which, it turns out, is my 5k goal pace.  And yeah, after 3 repeats, we started to sound like the drunkards I used to have to listen to when I was tending bar, "One more!  Just one more!"  We both had to get home to get kids to school and such, so we had to cut ourselves off after 4 instead of our planned 3.  I went home, stinky and sweaty and feeling like I could take on the world.

A few hours later, I had completed my usual morning tasks, showered (yes, that's separate from a usual morning task), remembered to put moisturizer on my face (which makes me feel so grown-up), and Baby had awakened from her morning nap.  She and I went to the produce market, where I remembered everything I wanted to buy, found the very best apples for a very low price, and I managed to keep her from grabbing and throwing any of the "bah"s ("Ball?  No, Baby, that's a lime.  And that's a potato.") she was so keen on pointing out.  
"Yes, that's a book."
So what if I captioned a different photo in almost the same way the other day?  These are our conversations.

Before Husband left for work, I made beef stew (recipe below) and put it in the slow cooker.  Then, I washed and sliced the strawberries and put them in a container for easy access, threw out all the rotten old produce in the fridge to make room for the new stuff, gave Baby a snack, and cleaned up the kitchen.

I got a great parking spot at 6 y.o.'s school (if you arrive too late you have to park next to the very slow-moving line of cars, and there's no easy exit from those spots), was happy to see him write "green" in the air as soon as he exited the classroom so that I would know he'd had a good day, and convinced him to leave the snail he found on the curb without any tears at all.  Baby and I had lunch when we got back home, 6 y.o. achieved a new high score on the Subway Surfers app on the Kindle, I completed step 2 to make No Knead Bread, and then Baby and I both had a nap.

The next few hours were filled with the delicious smells of bread baking and stew stewing, the delightful sound of children playing without fighting, and the continual self-congratulations, mental applause, praise, and back pats that I so deserved.

After dinner was thoroughly enjoyed and almost entirely cleaned up, I took Baby and 6 y.o. to Office Depot.  6 y.o. needed a blank notebook, he said, and I was happy to oblige.  Maybe it's like this for everyone, maybe it's just for me (and now, my son), but I find something so exciting and wonderful about having a blank notebook.  It's like the feeling I get when I finally have, in my hands, the last book of a really good series.  I don't know what's going to unfold as I turn the pages, but I know I'm going to like it.  I can't wait to get started, but I also don't want to be rid of that best kind of anticipation- the kind which will never disappoint.

Blank pages, sharp pencils, and fresh markers.  Almost as blissful a scene as the secluded beach picture above.
Baby had a bath, 6 y.o. drew some pictures in the first section of his notebook ("Section 1- science experiments, section 2- drawings, like of animals in their habitats, and section 3- sentences about what I'm feeling." Boy, do I love this kid!), they both went to bed with no trouble, and I settled in on the couch to write this post.  

Since I like to focus on the positive side of things (you should, too!), I will pretend that the day ended as wonderfully as it began.  The hours of Baby screams (teething?  sick?  hungry?  gassy?  all 4?) and soul-crushing weariness that followed are not the important things to remember about the day, or about life in general.  I see nothing wrong with my detailing the triumphs, big and small, and skipping over the failures, like being unable to slice the bread because it was stuck to the baking dish, or turning my back on Baby for her to hit her face on the floor and bite her tongue bloody, or not finishing this post until 14 hours after I started.  It was a great day.  I have a great life.  In general.

Let me congratulate you on a triumph!  What are you proud of today?

Beef Stew
I'm not going to try to figure out exact measurements, since this is not a cookbook or a contest submission.  If you need them, though, let me know.

1 lb. beef chunks                                    
3 Tbs. butter                                                    
1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper                                                      

Dredge the beef chunks in the flour, brown in melted butter over medium heat for approx. 8 minutes

2 cups water
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 bottle of chocolate bock or other dark beer (what you do with the other 1/2 of the bottle before noon on a weekday is your business)
Lots of salt                                                       
Minced garlic

Stir together in a slow cooker, add the browned beef chunks.


Chop and stir in the vegetables (except the peas, you don't have to chop those).
Cook over low heat for 5-6 hours.  Serve with rustic chunks of bread you've pulled off the loaf by hand.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

If Ever I Wished For Eye Bleach...

And now, a rare treat for your reading pleasure(?).  I hereby introduce my very own I Hate Popular Culture rant.  Enjoy(?)!

Let me start by admitting my own guilt, so that I can hate on everyone else without feeling too bad.  Our television is on for hours each day.  Most of the time, it's either tuned to a kiddie show for 6 y.o., or ESPN for Husband.  After the kids go to bed, Husband and I watch our shows, and they are, with a few exceptions, strictly for entertainment.  We don't watch many documentaries, or a lot of news shows, but we don't watch many reality shows, either.  We do tend to stick to shows that are, at the very least, thought and discussion provoking, rather than those that only leave us asking ourselves if so-and-so should have been voted off.  Many years ago, I did cast votes for the winner of Dancing With the Stars.

It was like his dancing shoes were filled with magical rainbows and shooting stars.  
Though I haven't kept up with watching every season of the show, it has been a guilty pleasure of mine for long enough to be able to tell a Tango from an Argentine Tango, and to notice when someone is too flat-footed in their Jive.  I've also watched many seasons of Top Chef, and, many episodes of Cupcake Wars, Chopped, and Iron Chef America.  I've watched many an annoying couple choose a house (that invariably has an open floor plan, finished basement, updated kitchen, plenty of room for their 2 yappy dogs to run around, hardwood floors, and is a little bit out of their price range), and I've watched even more annoying couples choose a house to fix up and then complain their way through the renovations, until ultimately bursting into tears when, surprise!, the professional contractor does a good job on the remodel and their house looks great.  I've watched small children's talented performances being picked apart by Howie, Howard, and Sharon.  It has been many, many years, but I must also admit that I did, at one (low) point, watch America's Next Top Model and The Bad Girls Club.  I can't even explain the appeal of those shows after having watched them.  They're just simply awful.  I cannot apologize for watching Hoarders, though, because I really, really like that show.  It makes me feel so healthy and normal!

I have never seen a Real Housewives episode- not even one.  I've never watched a single episode of Jersey Shore, Dance Moms, Toddlers and Tiaras, or anything with Redneck, Keeping Up With, or Honey Boo-Boo in the title.  I do have the gist of the horror of all of those shows, though, from watching Joel McHale poke fun at them on The Soup.
It was during an episode we watched last night that I, once again, found myself thoroughly disgusted by people as a group, and American television watchers specifically.  I will not share a video clip or link or picture here, because, as I found out the hard way, google doesn't understand that you might be searching for something just to make fun of it.  I really don't want to start seeing ads for any of the shows about the family whose last name starts with 'K' and rhymes with 'sickeninglystupidlargebottomednarcissisticthoroughlydisgustingandnotevengoodlookingshian'.  The video clip was from the actual show that follows these idiots, which actually aired on television, which people actually watched, and during which a lot of money was made.  Two of the Kbarfian sisters were talking about the smell of their respective private parts, and they then made a bet as to whose smelled better.  In order to settle the bet, they each wiped their lady part on a linen napkin and then had their third sister smell both napkins and vote for which one smelled the best.  As disgusting as the conversation, bet, and settlement of the matter were, I am not really upset about the occurrence of these events.  I am upset that the Kmorallybankruptian family makes approximately $65 million a year, and this is their job.  I am upset that 4 million Americans, on average, tune in to watch as they whine, shop, eat, drink, fight, yell, wipe and smell their way through life.
I'll let you decide whether I googled "K.K.'s vagina" or "disgusting skin diseases" to find this image.
During the hour their show is broadcast, there are approximately 4 gun deaths in the United States.  While millions watch the Kputridshians wipe and smell the private parts of their siblings, over 1,000 people in the world die of starvation.  30 children die of AIDS during that hour.  According to statistics, 1 person from the U.S. Military would have committed suicide while the wipe/smell/share thing was happening.  I know, I know.  It isn't the fault of the Ktrashians that so many people around the world are dying.  It isn't their fault that Haitian children have no shoes.  It isn't their fault that there are millions of homeless, jobless, ill and destitute people in this country.  If television executives are going to offer them gobs of money to be followed around by cameras and to say and do certain things, can we blame them for taking the money?  I guess not.  I mean, if someone wanted to pay me a 7-figure salary to say gross things and sit around on my generous behind all day, I can't say that I would turn it down.  And, according to the omniscient goog, they give a lot of money to charity each year.  So, much as it pains me to say so, my problem is not exactly with the Kspoiledbratshians.  My problem is with us.  We complain endlessly about the quality of the shows on television.  We know that the Kblahshian family should not be role models, and should not be admired, as they do not contribute anything of value to our culture.  We shake our heads and all agree that influential celebrities should have earned their voice, not by having a sex video on the internet, but by saying and doing things that are worthwhile.  All of that is true, yet I can't go a single day without seeing the K#@$%^&ian name in headlines.

Let's stop this.  Let's agree to make our ignorance purposeful, and ignore the people and things we all know we should hate, while paying attention to things that are important.  Child poverty, gun violence, mental illness, suicide, AIDS, world hunger--but it isn't just terrible, tragic things that need our attention.  Our kids need to be played with.  Sunshine needs to warm our skin.  Backyards need exploring.  Friends need a phone call, a laugh, to know they're being thought of.  Cookies need to be baked.  Running shoes need to hit the pavement.  Old ladies need doors held open for them.  Smiles need to be shared with strangers.  Closets need to be cleaned out.  Books need to be read.  Gardens need to be planted.  Spouses need a good, long kiss on the lips.  Letters need to be written.  Local government officials need to hear ideas and opinions from community members.  Volunteers are needed.  Laundry needs to be folded.  Floors need to be vacuumed.  Okay, now I'm just sharing my to-do list, but you get the idea, right?  If we all stop watching the garbage that's on television, they'll have to stop showing it.  For real!  It's going to take all of us, though.  Eventually, maybe the maid who had to launder the smelly linen napkins for the entitled, shallow, selfish individuals for whom she works will have to be fired because they can't afford to pay her anymore.  Maybe they'll have to drive themselves around and downsize to a closet that is the size of a bedroom instead of a whole house.  Wouldn't it be nice if we lived in a country whose people admired accomplishment and intellect over shocking scandal and manufactured beauty?  Can you imagine if the faces on the tabloids and magazines were actual heroes and villains of our time?  What if our teenagers knew world history instead of the dating history of models and sports stars?  My goodness, my heart is pounding as I think about all the possibilities!  I'm going to do it.  I'm going to set my mind on things that matter, and set my DVR to record shows that are not going to turn my brain to mush.  You should, too.

Have you ever seen anything worse on television than what I described?

Are you with me in my purposeful ignorance scheme?

Friday, April 5, 2013


I still consider myself a newbie when it comes to blogging.  Is there a certain number of posts I'm required to write before calling myself a blogger?  Is blogging like running?  I hear people say that you can call yourself a runner if you run, but I must admit that it took awhile for me to feel like a runner once I started.  Maybe I'm a blogger, maybe I'm a runner who has written a few blog posts, maybe I'm a 40-yr-old nerd, living in his parents' basement, stealing pictures from the facebook feeds of strangers, and pretending to be a thirty-something mom of two who loves her family, exercising, reading, good zombie shows, and loud rock music.  I guess, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't much matter.

This would certainly be the result if someone googled "cutest baby girl"

Because of my relative newness around the blogosphere, I sometimes feel like I'm not qualified to read or comment on certain people's blogs, and certainly not to follow them.  Leaving a comment almost feels like asking a celebrity for an autograph.  But then, I also feel like a weirdo when I read them all stalker-like.  The kids are in bed, Husband is playing Madden, and I'm furtively typing in or and quickly exiting if Husband shifts his weight and I think he's going to see what I'm doing.  It isn't just elite runners that I stalk, either.  It's some of the really good bloggers that totally amaze me (and everyone else) with their wit and talent.  And, sometimes I come across a blog like this one, or this one (with a breast, watch out!) and find myself nodding in agreement to like, everything written.  One of my favorite blogs to stalk, though, is shut up + run.  And, to be honest, the Moji giveaway is the only reason I'm admitting my even-weirder-now-that-I-see-them-in-writing blog reading habits.  Probably, I was supposed to mention the product and the giveaway in some normal, breezy fashion; like, "go check out my girl" or something.  I apologize if I've broken a blawg (Get it? A law for blogs?  Geez, I'm a dummy today.  I blame the cough medicine.), and I really do think you should check out her site and her giveaway.  Both are cool (unlike me).

While we're linking to great sites, I gotta mention (as usual) my sister's and my aunt's.  And since I'm already here, typing, I'll go ahead and complain for a moment.  I set a goal at the beginning of this year to run an average of 20 miles/week.  13 weeks into the year, and I was only averaging 10.  My IT band has been the thing keeping me inside, mostly, but it has finally started to feel (mostly) better.  This week, I had run 12 miles, and was going to have time to run the other 8 between today and tomorrow.  Being around lots of sick people finally took its toll on me, though, and I've been taken down by a cough from Satan himself, and head congestion to keep the cough company.  Whine, whine, whine, whine, whine.  And no, I can't have any cheese to go with it because dairy upsets my nursing Baby's tummy.  Poor, poor me.

My advice?  Read blogs.  And, don't be ashamed to like them.  Probably, the writers want you to.  I know I do!

Feel free to lodge a complaint in the comment section.  We can whine together.