Friday, September 28, 2007

Lacking Nostalgia

My parents are moving into a quaint 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1 story apartment in Cuyahoga Falls tomorrow. The overall complex is beautiful, complete with swimming pool, tennis courts, and a dog park. The flat land area will be much easier for my Dad to navigate and the smaller living quarters will simplify life around the house for my Mom. Giving up landscaping, repairs, and an astronomical heating bill will only make it easier yet. But given all of these perks I'm still a little surprised at my lack of emotions regarding them leaving the house behind.

My parents have lived in their house for 33 years. The house was built in 1927 with 4 bedrooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms, hardwood floors stained a dark walnut, and a massive front porch the size of a family room. They paid $20,000 for it, but somehow they're still strapped down by the mortgage payments.

If anything the house was a little shorter and a little wider than most other colonials in our area, but from what I could tell, none of them had the same intricate details inside. It has 8” tall baseboards, crown molding, built-in bookshelves, built-in china and storage cabinets, and doors that joined rooms through closets that we always referred to as secret passages. Most of my friend's houses didn't have any type of separation between the front door and the main living area, but my parent's house has actual vestibules with doors at either end for both the front and back entrances. Aside from enclosed porches I've never been to another house in which you had to enter twice. My parents used to have their own photography business and they built a dark room in the basement where my Mom would print the wedding pictures my Dad caught on camera the weekend before. Before I started preschool I would hangout down there with her, and if the wooden locker where she kept the Kodak paper was nearly empty, I would climb in, close the door, and pretend to be buried alive.

These are all the little things I never appreciated until now, but they aren't enough to squash my excitement for their new apartment.

One thing to keep in mind is that, yes, these are all wonderful attributes to a family home and it is very sad to be leaving it for good, but the house is 80 years old, and the house has seen 6 unruly children, and all of their unruly friends, and then all 15 unruly grand-children. The house has seen 33 years of family, but also 33 years of mediocre up-keep. The bathrooms were renovated in the 1970's and the wood paneling and orange accents have gone untouched since. The hardwood floors desperately need refinished, the walls repainted, the gas fireplace brought up-to-code. It's all work my parents are just too old and too poor to have done.

I think that's why I'm so thrilled they are leaving it, moving to a place where a handyman will fix everything and a lawn crew will keep it all green. My Dad won't have to face 1 1/2 flights of stairs each night to go to bed, and my Mom will finally have a reason to purge 33 years worth of belongings to live the simplistic life she has wanted for so long. Of course, they are moving tomorrow and she has hardly made a dent, but we'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!


This young lady* has finally learned the meaning behind the bell!

It's been 7 long months of vigorous training. She has endured countless looks of disapproval, but she has finally overcome the language barrier between human and dog. She can now tell us when she has to get outdoors to pee. Macy May Keenan has proven that she is not only a pretty face; she is also well on her way to becoming a canine genius.

While her brother Jack has always preferred to swipe a paw at the jingle bells that hang from our back door (hence all of the scratches in the wood), Macy has a much more subtle technique. She quietly walks to the door with a cheerful swagger and ever so gently presses her little black nose against the bottom bell. This movement will emit the very faintest of jingles, but it's just enough noise to draw your attention in her direction. After ringing the bell she will look to us with a very firm plea to be let outside. And if for some reason we do not hear the initial chime (or maliciously choose to ignore it), she will resort to the bolder tactic of turning around and whacking the bell with her stub of a tail.

Thus far she has rung the bell five times; once to pee on the already wilting hostas, and four more times in an attempt to retrieve the dirty ball I will not let her bring in the house. I continue to look at each ring as progress; however, because she finally understands that ringing the bell is her ticket outside.

Well done, Macy! You have proven everyone wrong, and you can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks!

*I would just like to note that I do understand that Macy is only a dog and not an actual lady.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Game Of 20 Questions

"Can you buy it at a department store?"
"Is it something you obsess about?"
"Well, that eliminates anything decorative like pillows or curtains."
"What? Were you thinking curtains? Because you're psycho about decorating!"
"Yes I was thinking curtains but I'm not obsessed with them!"
"Yes you are."
"Whatever. So who won that round?"

Monday, September 17, 2007

Things I Learned in New York City

1. Don't bother saying "Excuse me." The natives don't care and the foreigners can't understand.

2. In a cafe full of construction workers it is every man for himself. The fastest road to breakfast is with a loud voice and pointy elbows.

3. Russian women are most entertaining when trying on shoes without a mirror. They will grunt, stomp their size 11 Gucci heels, and exclaim "I cunt see enyting!"

4. Don't Eat the Nuts! You have no idea whose hands have been in there.

5. Forget trying on shoes; the oversized benches in the middle of Century 21 are best for looking studiously aloof while beginning your "Things I Learned in New York City" list.

6. Subways are quite possibly the coolest thing in the world, but understanding how to get from Point A to Point B is an art form all its own.

7. Movies give cab drivers a bad rap. I mean, our driver only narrowly missed three pedestrians and half a dozen stationary objects.

8. I know how ants feel.

9. New Yorkers do not care if you've only had two hours of sleep. You better keep moving.

10. The Empire State Building is magnificent, but the elevator ride back down is a doozy.

11. I wish I could have seen the World Trade Center.

12. The vendors in Chinatown are only trying to sell you knock-off designer handbags and perfumes, but the monotone advertisement they whisper in your ear as you walk by somehow feels threatening.

13. My new record is standing through 5 subway stops without falling on my ass.

14. If your companion asks if you would like to share a sandwich while having dinner at a deli say Yes. That is too much food for only one person to consume.

15. I keep saying I could never live there, but it's only two days later and I'm already itching to go back.

Didn't Everyone Love Felicity?

"We should go to Dean and DeLuca!"
"What's Dean and DeLuca?"
"It's a great coffee house. You'll love it!"
"O.K. Wait! Isn't that where Felicity worked?"
"Who's Felicity?"
"She was a character... Oh. Nevermind."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Empire State Building, Anyone?

I work two exits south of Cleveland Hopkins Airport on Interstate 71, and if I'm feeling particularly frustrated at work I'll head out to the lawn behind our office building and wait for an airplane to pass over, sometimes arriving and sometimes departing, but always doing something that I've never done--flying.

I tracked Jon's flight for most of the day, hitting refresh on the Continental Airlines site every 30 minutes or so, trying to reaffirm that last years debacle wouldn't reoccur with his flight coming in 10 hours late. To my surprise they left 5 minutes early, and then I continued to watch as he flew over Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, and finally neared Cleveland. At 15 minutes to their estimated arrival time I went outback and waited, and wouldn't you know, a plane came flying overhead, low enough for me to see and hear it loud and clear, and then it swung out far to the East, making a large U-turn for landing at the airport, then disappeared behind some trees. I waited a few minutes and then went back inside to refresh the webpage one last time, and found the status had upgraded to Landed, Taxiing to the Gate. I was a little doubtful, but mostly convinced that my husband had just flown over my head.

Tonight I leave for New York but I'm not flying, rather I'm headed out on a long coach bus ride. I have a few things left to do yet:

1. Scuff up my two week old sneakers.
I'm headed out on this very exciting trip to New York City and all I can think about is an article I read on last summer. They accused Mid-Western tourists of continuously wearing ugly shoes. And while I can say that my sneakers are not bright, white Reeboks or even clunky, plastic Crocs, they aren't roach killer Manolos or sporty, uncomfortable Sketchers either. No, my shoes are white and green KSwiss that I picked out specifically for this trip and with the Gawker blog in mind. I felt they were comfortable yet fashionable, but perhaps they could use a little more dirt to make them look worn-in.

2. Change purses and wallets.
We all know I'm notorious for leaving my purse behind (see that time I left it in a shopping cart at the grocery store), but I've always been fortunate enough to get it back. Something tells me I won't be so lucky in New York, and so I'm moving everything from my little leather handbag to a somewhat larger, almost-messenger-bag-type-thing. I figure this way I can always wear it around my neck and across my chest and not have to worry about setting it down. Not to mention I can fit an umbrella and camera along with the other necessities. I figure so long as I'm not wearing a fanny pack I'll be just dandy.

3. Dump the pictures from Vegas.
You can tell Jon was a little intoxicated on the night he opted to roam around Vegas and capture a few shots. Most of the pictures are just colorful blurs of lights or photos of the fountains after the water had done all of the intricate acrobatics. Of course, my favorites are the pictures of Mexican men who stalked up and down The Strip passing out fliers with a photo of a very sexy woman, promising a good time if you call this number. Anyway, I have to clear the photo card of colorful Las Vegas and make room for what looks to be a cold and wet, but very, very large New York City.

4. Fill out my permission slip.
It's actually what the bus company has dubbed a Get To Know You Card, but could have been more accurately named an Emergency Contact Form. I have to provide them with my husband's phone numbers and my mother's contact information and answer a few personal questions about myself. I have a bad feeling that they will formally introduce me on the bus, which I'm not looking forward to, but at least they will know who to call should I try to jump out the window.

5. Pack and prepare.
The nice thing about a weekend trip is there isn't much packing involved, but there are a few odds and ends that I have to bring along like the aforementioned camera and umbrella, some snacks and drinks for the ride there, and a travel tooth brush. I'm sure I'm missing something and I'll take this down to the wire like always, but I'm really trying not to stress about it. After this weekend I will finally know what the big deal is about New York, and can decide once and for all if the Big City Life is for me or if I really am just a country bumpkin.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Little Give and Take

The Good News: After a short meeting with my Dad I am back on the internet! Apparently I unplugged and re-plugged everything but the power to the modem. Duh.

The Bad News: It was at the expense of a burnt-out headlight on the car, seeing as I had to touch/drive it to my parent's house for the meeting with my Dad.

Is there such a thing as the Un-Midas touch? Because I think I'm infected.

Destructive Behavior

In my last phone conversation with Jon I very calmly informed him that when I get home from work today I am going to do nothing but sit on the front stoop. This understandably confused him until I explained that it is the only safe place for me. It is the only place lacking something for me to break.

It all started on Monday with the Internet connection. As recently as this morning the small icon located in the bottom right-hand corner of the monitor indicated that we have a good signal coming from the wireless router, but try as I might, Internet Explorer won't recognize it and is accusing me of not being connected. I've unplugged and re-plugged everything, I've set the system back two days, I've done everything short of calling our cable/internet provider (I know I should do this, but I also know I'll come off as a total ditz), but it just doesn't work. Add to it that I didn't know what I was doing when I set the system back to September 9 and I lost my 114,145 words/156 pages Word document in which I had invested two days and too much blood, sweat, and tears to count. I did manage to figure out how to restore the system to the current date to recover the hours of painstaking work, but any damage done thereafter has gone unrecognized and I'm sure Jon will find it when he returns.

As if going a week without the Internet at home wasn't bad enough, in the last three days I have also managed to destroy two remotes, a television, and a DVD player just with my touch. I swear to you I have not thrown, stomped on, or beaten a single thing. They just don't like me. I have a sinking suspicion that karma is messing with me, a practical joke of sorts, because why else would only the items that I haven't the slightest clue of how to operate, except on a very basic level, be malfunctioning while my husband isn't around to fix it? And isn't it ironic that they are also my main sources of entertainment for while I'm alone?

And so, to be on the safe side, I'll be making a night of the front stoop where I'm far away from the circuit breakers and the water heaters and, God forbid, the yellow Mitsubishi Lancer parked in the garage.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I never took the time to mention that my little sister had her baby two weeks ago. Isaiah, my newest nephew, arrived on August 28 with big, brown eyes, feet the size of a toddler's, and hands almost large enough to cover his entire face. He was only 6 pounds, 11 ounces.

I'm still debating over whether he actually is the cutest baby I've ever seen or if I just want one so much that all newborns have stopped looking like creepy old men and now appear to be adorable little gnome children. He's so alert and curious, he loves to cuddle, and he seems to likes me. This is how I know I'm bias. I'll favor any baby that doesn't cry when I hold it.

My sister is doing well. She made labor and delivery look so easy it's disgusting, and Isaiah couldn't behave better for her, because he came home sleeping through each night and even most of the day. It seems she's maturing with each day as a mother, and she couldn't be more in love with her son. Her days of self-gratification and capriciousness appear to have ended and she is more than happy to fill her days with feedings and sleep schedules, and talking to a little boy who can't quite respond yet. She's so comfortable doing all of this that she looks like a professional, like she's been changing diapers and interpreting cries for years. She baffles and amazes me, and her actions and reactions have convinced me that I could do it, too.

The Same Difference

Written yesterday, but due to unforeseen server problems and my lack of knowledge to fix them, it is being posted late.

I am exhausted. I had a fairly easy time falling asleep last night. I even think the extra room to spread out helped me with that, but the dogs... Oh, the dogs. I think they still expected Jon to come walking through the door even after I turned off all of the lights and climbed into bed. With every little sound they began howling as if an army of squirrels were setting up camp in the living room. They were alert, primed, and ready to protect me, while waiting for Jon to come home at any moment. It feels as though they woke me up every hour on the hour, and I had to reach out to them, to pet them, and to coo at them, and give my most convincing "Everything is okay." Around 4:00 I realized that I was going to lose this battle, and so I just started mumbling "Shut up" from under my pillow. I'm hoping they will let me sleep better tonight, although I'm half convinced that I'm tired enough to sleep right through it even if they keep up the shenanigans.

I've taken on a new project for while Jon is out of town. I decided it was time to take those 3 years worth of online journal entries from my teens off of the 10-year-old floppy disk they have been stored on. I've been so worried that the disk would be accidentally erased and everything I felt and thought during the time would be lost with it. And so one by one I am streamlining the design in a Word document, numbering the pages, creating headers, and printing them off. I looked into doing my own binding, but right now I'm going the easy route with a three-hole bunch and a few $4 binders from Walmart that resemble old leather books. Unfortunately the project has proven to be anything but easy, and it has been extremely time consuming. I'm finding that my 15-year-old self wasn't concerned with what my 25-year-old self would have to go through in order to do this. Most of the entries weren't even saved in a Word document but in HTML, which means white text on black backgrounds and strange page layouts that don't work well for copying and pasting into new documents. I'm also finding that I either didn't know about spell check or didn't care, because each newly pasted text comes with a rainbow of spelling and grammatical errors. I started editing and correcting the earlier entries from 1998, but soon realized that reading over every entry could take me months and I wanted to have this done in just a couple of days. My final plan isn't set in stone yet, but I dove in with grandiose plans and high expectations, so we'll see where it leads me.

While it may not have been the most interesting or disciplined writing, I was shocked to find just how much of it there was. At last count I had 114,145 words on 156 pages (I'm using a small font), and I haven't made it through an entire year. That's a lot of words for someone who doesn't speak up much.

I'm also learning through the little proofing that I have done that I haven't changed all that much. I'm still immature, confusing, and easily amused. I'm still fickle, self-conscious, and expect too much of myself. What has changed is my outlook on life. I no longer think I'm incapable of being married, because well, I am, and that it is possible to survive your teens because I'm still here. It's one of those If I Only Knew Then What I Know Now experiences that I have all too often anymore. I want to swaddle that poor girl writing all of those sad words and in the nicest, most heartfelt way, tell her to get over it, because life does not revolve around what your friends think of you--they'll be history in a few years anyway, and the world is not out to get you--it's all in your imagination. I couldn't sugarcoat it and say it would always be easy, or that she will always be happy, but the sun does come out again and she will be content. I am content.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Rated NC-17

I've had the same email address for 5 years now, and somewhere in that time I managed to become a target for spam email, but not just any spam--porn spam. It really sucked at first because I would get all excited about having 31 new messages in my inbox, but when I actually looked at the list of senders they were obviously not from anyone I knew. A few of these emails are too funny not to share.

Subject: My boyfriend's putz keeps slipping out.

Body: Girls always giggled at me and even bucks did in the national WC! Well, now I whoop at them, because I took M_E GA D IK for 7 months and now my penis is dreadfully largest than usual.

Subject: My boyfriend's tool is too big for my mouth.

Body: Ladies always laughed at me and even bucks did in the federal bathroom! Well, now I whizgiggle at them, because I took Mega. Dik for 6 months and now my prick is badly longer than civil.

Subject: When I tried to give him oral sex, I practically choked. How do I do it without gagging? Please help!

Body: Chicks always whooped at me and even chaps did in the civil WC! Well, now I sriek at them, because I took Mega. Dik for 7 months and now my tool is dreadfully weightier than national.

Subject: Thank you, your request completed, one of our sexy girl wants to meet you.

Body: Local girls who like to have fun are waiting for you. These girls came to find a fuck buddy. Someone who is ready for a good fuck with no strings attached. Are you that person? Visit us!

Subject: I just started dating a guy I like, but his putz is on the small side and doesn't really satisfy me.

Body: Boytoys always hee-hawed at me and even chaps did in the unrestricted john! Well, now I smil at them, because I took M eg ad ik for 4 months and now my prick is very much bigger than civil.

WTF!? I don't know about you, but they haven't tempted me to buy any Megadik to make my putz dreadfully larger, and I'm most certainly not providing advice on how to give a good blow job. In fact, I'm more inclined to wash out their mouths with soap for using such horrible grammar.